While the idea of a poker roguelike might sound like a niche game, the flair and fun found within Balatro makes it an absolute must-play for fans of the genre. Breaking the rules of poker to score millions of chips in a single hand was a rush, and I was always chasing ways to push it even further beyond. While there are a few times you can feel snubbed by the luck of the draw, these are wildly overshadowed by the moments where you hit it big.
While Helldivers 2 may look like a tropey action game on the surface, what lies underneath is one of the most fun co-op shooters I've played in recent memory. Endless explosions and unyielding foes makes for heart-pounding gameplay as you spread democracy across the galaxy one dead bug and bot at a time.
Jujutsu Kaisen: Cursed Clash feels like nothing more than a soulless cash grab that likely exists only to fleece money from unsuspecting fans of the series. With lackluster combat, bare-bones modes, janky controls and an overall sense of unrefined gameplay, there is almost no reason I can recommend this game, even to JJK super-fans.
Grotto is certainly a unique narrative experience, but one that may not be appreciated by all audiences. Communicating through constellations creates a particularly refreshing experience of branching conversational paths, but one that is ultimately housed within a slow and repetitive gameplay loop.
The Cub is a functional platformer, but not a flashy one. Movement can feel stiff at times, but the colorful landscapes and levels will still carry the experience. If you're a big fan of platformers, you'll certainly find some enjoyment within the approximately four hour experience, even if it can feel less than ambitious at times.
Even though there is fun to be had in this server-snatching raid, there's more errors found here than just syntax. The heist itself may be short and fairly linear, but it's still an enjoyable addition to the main game with the cosmetics and weapons being a bitter-sweet cherry on top. It's always great to add to my crime-closet and upgrade my arsenal, but the extra cost does make it feel like maybe I'm the one getting robbed.
For pinball fans, this is a home run, for everyone else though, it's a mostly-fun arcade experience even if a little short-lived. The five tables at launch are each engaging in their own ways, and provide creative uses of classic horror licenses. The flashing lights and thrilling modes however can unfortunately be dulled at times by seemingly helpless ball-outs and odd camera angles. Despite finding itself deep within a niche, there's still fun to be had in spite of the drawbacks, whether you're a pinball enthusiast or casual arcade-goer.
Revealing the occult mystery bound to the quaint town of Kieferberg is captivating, both in terms of an unbelievably gorgeous setting and charming gameplay. Whether you're making ritual wine for a golden serpent or tending to the village hens, it's an intriguingly dark story into the folly of greed that is a delicacy to the eyes and one that is equally delightful to play, even if there are some slight hiccups.
Jusant may seem like a game about just scaling a tower, but the calmness of the climb manifests itself in a way that feels peaceful in the ascension. Movement is focused and deliberate without feeling clunky, and the involvement of the terrain is wonderful. The breezy cliff sides and beautiful landscapes make for a short and sweet experience that anyone can appreciate.
The joy of pulling off an elaborate heist is alive and well within Payday 3, if you've got the crew to back it up. Holding out against an unstoppable police force or sneaking around undetected to haul out as much cash as you and your friends can carry is a blast, but it's an experience that is severely hampered when queuing up solo. The mission structure and heist objectives are enjoyable, but carry risks of becoming repetitive when things go loud, which they often will when playing with strangers.
While this episode is short in length, it certainly isn't lacking in excellent narrative execution. The final confrontation between Europa's Bane and the Artemis culminates into an intense altercation with death being a constant threat throughout the episode. A fitting conclusion to Drummer's struggle to survive, even if gone too quickly.
In spite of the occasional bug and basic gameplay systems, Ad Infinitum manages to capture my attention through its imaginative exploration of the horror of battle. Delving between the shell-shocked home of the Von Schmitts and the ash swept trenches of war was a unique perspective on the horror genre that I found to be both poignant and well worth exploring.
While a lack of story-changing decision moments and elementary gameplay systems mar the experience of this episode, the incredible characters and looming narrative climax continue to drive the series as a whole. With guns drawn on both sides and threat levels at maximum, I'm hoping Telltale has enough left in the tank to execute Drummer's story properly with the upcoming finale.
While not the strongest entry so far, episode three still manages to feel like it takes the narrative forward with a powerful revelation and climax. Learning the history of some of the first belt settlers was fascinating, however a lack of decision-making opportunities bogs down the gameplay loop. While it may not be the middle act I was hoping for, Telltale certainly still has its hooks in me with Drummer's story.
Under fire from the Europa's Bane pirates, Drummer must make the call to save her crew. This episode turns up the heat with the introduction of an antagonistic faction, while still allowing smaller moments to bond with the crew members in a way not present in the initial episode. While it feels like more of the same at times, this is a stronger episode in general from the first that gets to the action much more quickly, and has me looking forward to the next stop in this space-faring voyage across the Belt.
While Camina Drummer may not have been the captain of the ship at the start of the mission, she absolutely takes the reins by the end. Telltale has stepped it up in terms of both visual quality and game play, with a solid yet short intro to their take on a gripping sci-fi narrative. The true depth of which however remains to be truly tested going into further episodes as the narrative progresses.
Master Detective Archives: RAIN CODE manages to live up to its mystery adventure predecessor and establish a name of its own in the process. Removing the shroud of mystery around each case was intriguing, and made for some of the best twists that I couldn't have seen coming. The wonderfully eccentric cast balances out the dark and gritty narrative in a way that manages to create a stellar adventure of investigation and seeking the truth at any cost.
Preserving the true timeline alongside my AI companion was certainly an interesting investigation. Finding clues amongst the crowds was a simple yet entertaining gimmick, often making for enjoyable short play sessions. With a large amount of story missions alongside a decent free-play mode, there's definitely fun to be had even if the gameplay lacks complexity.
At its core, Bramble: The Mountain King is a storybook brought to life in the best way possible. Olle's search for his sister is a wonderful journey inspired by Nordic folklore that is aided by magnificent landscapes, unsettling mythological creatures and an intriguing narrative that culminates in a touching tale of bravery in the face of darkness.
The simple gameplay of Kabaret is rescued by a beautiful artstyle buttressed against a fascinating narrative that is rooted richly in Southeast Asian folklore and mythology. Jebat's struggle to understand his own feelings towards humanity is absorbing in the way that it explores self loathing and doom, while ultimately allowing the player to shape the future of the Kabaret.