Red Dead Redemption 2 may just signal the dawn of a new era for open-world games, and it's an experience that I have no doubt players will be investing tens (if not hundreds) of hours into its immense, deep world and completing its story full of action, suspense, and deeply investing character moments.
With this episode, Telltale Games wonderfully balances character development, story progression, and a hearty amount of good laughs all in one 90 minute to two hour session, setting it as a bit of a double-edged sword for the series as both its highlight (so far) and a tough bar to reach for the subsequent episodes.
Though Clementine's story may be drawing closer and closer to some grim truths and hard choices, "In Harm's Way" proves that The Walking Dead: Season Two is not worth looking away from just yet.
Though it's still too early to tell just yet on the prospects of what we can expect for Season Two of The Wolf Among Us, the concluding episode of the first season brings out the absolute best that the series has had to offer across five episodes, and thankfully shows that the case for The Wolf Among Us hasn't been closed just yet.
Mixing together so many different influences and styles of gameplay together could have made Pyre an unwieldy, confusing experience. However, Supergiant apparently found just the right mixture of ingredients to make Pyre work almost perfectly, as its addicting Rites “combat” shows. Thanks to a compelling mix of gameplay and atmosphere bound by an incredible art style, Supergiant Games has crafted one of this year's most unique titles that's equally tense and thought-provoking throughout its journey. Coming from the studio that already has provided memorable titles like Bastion and Transistor, Pyre has me eagerly waiting for the next story that they have to tell.
Previous Borderlands titles have taken us from Pandora, to the moon, and back, but the first episode of Tales from the Borderlands has already shown that there are plenty of other places in the Borderlands universe that we have yet to explore.
While obviously there are still four more episodes to go and we're just playing the start of Clementine's journey, Episode 1 of The Walking Dead: Season Two gets the new season off to a thrilling start that proves the wait was well worth it.
With only two episodes left until the case can (presumably) come to a close, the third episode of the series brings us back on the path to the killer and takes where we need to go for the bitter end of The Wolf Among Us — even if it's to places we may not necessarily want to wind up.
It's been over seven years since I first fell in love with the series with Fallout 3, and obviously with 4 on the horizon, there's no way of knowing when (or long) it will be until we can jump back into the wasteland once again. However, all I can think of in my time with Fallout 4 is how great it is to be back home again: I don't mind staying for a while.
Like the hauntingly beautiful ocean that ABZU has players explore, the real thrill and joy of playing ABZU comes down to going deep beneath the surface to experience its sights and sounds it offers, and the personal and emotional connections that are bound to be found. ABZU may be short on deep, complex gameplay or a lengthy narrative, but is more than capable of providing one of the most stirring, surreal gameplay experiences that (I hope) players will experience this year. As long as you're willing, ABZU is absolutely an experience worth being swept up in and letting you take it wherever it goes.
But on a technical and artistic level, Cuphead is a stunning achievement in both gaming and interactive art, and unlike anything I've ever played before. Some of the game's levels had me on the edge of sanity trying to best them, and I ended Cuphead with a few sore spots on my thumbs because of it. More importantly though, I had a smile on my face the whole time through it all.
From the very start, I was expecting a fun, light-hearted take on a series that already doesn't quite take itself too seriously; by the end, I didn't know what to expect from a series that kept me guessing at every possible turn, and more importantly provided one of the funniest and most enjoyable game experiences of the year. Even in theater and film, it's often said that comedy is a heck of a lot harder to pull off than drama, yet Telltale Games' Tales from the Borderlands pulls off laughs, shocks, and cheers nearly effortlessly.
Though it may lack some of the heftier features of previous titles with no long-form Classic or Adventure Modes, Super Smash Bros. for 3DS instead opts for truly-refined and lean gameplay that not only works well for the portable platform on 3DS, but proves to bring some exciting new additions like Smash Run just as engaging and fun as the regular bouts of brawling in the ring. As a love letter to Nintendo fans, Super Smash Bros. for 3DS brings together the best of gaming into one of the best 3DS games available, and although the portable title may be a warm-up for this holiday's Wii U version, it will be hard not jumping back in for a few more practice rounds on the 3DS.
Kirby may be small and cute, but he doesn't let looks deceive anyone, and neither should those that look at Kirby: Triple Deluxe. With a wide variety of charming levels and an even greater assortment of fun, inventive power-ups and abilities, Triple Deluxe's slightly gameplay misgivings are easy to overlook, even if it's only because of Kirby's inescapable cuteness and charm. Although Kirby may not have the big presence of Nintendo's other franchises, this gamenevertheless makes a case as one of the system's most refreshing and feature-packed platformers yet, and provides a fun, old-school experience that is all too easy to get sucked into.
Despite that pressure, The Coalition have proved with Gears of War 4 that the team is more than capable of providing an experience that falls in line with the titles that came before it by staying reverent and faithful to the original games (sometimes to a fault), but with enough layers of intrigue and new additions to make Gears of War 4 an admirable continuation of the Gears story. Like with the relationship of Marcus and J.D. throughout the game, Gears of War 4 sticks close to the legacy of its predecessors, but along the way is on the way to writing one of its own.
Back in 2012, Dishonored was a title that surprised many its striking world and engaging gameplay rooted in old-school stealth, and with its sequel, Arkane Studios thoughtfully (and smartly) builds on what made the original one of the highlights of the last generation of games. Dishonored 2 will still satisfy those looking for a challenging (but rewarding) stealth experience, but more importantly does so with an incredibly varied toolset of abilities, skills, and options more than ever before. If Dishonored was the student that displayed great promise, Dishonored 2 shows the series well on its way to becoming the master.
Instead of the b-movie cheesiness we’ve come to know and love from previous games (sorry fans — no boulder-punching this time around), Resident Evil VII reaches levels of dread and fear we haven’t seen since the days of the original, and that (mostly) works to the game’s advantage when it comes to reinvigorating the franchise. Though it appears like a complete reinvention from the outside looking in, Resident Evil VII is very much made from the same DNA that made the original games the revered horror classics that they are today. Like the game’s intro that has players sitting down for supper with the Bakers, Resident Evil VII has welcomed players back not just to the series’ horror roots, but to a grim, disgusting feast that you just can’t turn away from.
The game takes players off into some far-off places when it comes to its dream sequences and vignettes, and while they're purely based in the fantastical, there are plenty of elements that every player will relate to on some human level throughout the journey; sadness, disappointment, heartbreak, love, joy, and most of all, the will to experience life to its fullest. What Remains of Edith Finch may only provide a brief glimpse into the lives of its characters like a family photo album filled with moments that have long since passed, but by the game's end, it's sure to leave a lasting impression.