Pure Xbox's Reviews
SteamWorld Build is yet another triumph from the maestros at Thunderful. Here we have a slick and addictive addition to a wonderful steampunk franchise that manages to meld elements from across the entire series into one cohesive whole. You've got wonderfully detailed city-building, addictive mining action and intense tower-defense aspects all in the mix here, and it tells you everything you need to know about this one that all of these elements work in harmony. Xbox Game Pass just netted itself another banger.
Persona 5 Tactica is another very solid and self-assured spin-off for Atlus' stellar RPG franchise. Placing the Phantom Thieves in tactical turn-based battles works a treat here, with addictive and challenging strategy complimented by a slick sense of style, strong writing and a campaign narrative that will keep fans happy. Whether you're here for Persona specifically or you're just wanting a solid slice of tactical action to dig into, this one has got you well and truly covered.
Like A Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name is another fine slice of Yakuza action from Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio thart serves up a little bit of everything over the course of 15 or so hours. This may be a shorter affair than usual by quite some margin, but what's here still manages to deliver lots of exciting action, very silly gadgets, drama and deep cuts for the fans. If the intent was to whet our appetites for Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth, then consider that mission well and truly complete. Roll on January 2024.
Where Alan Wake was a very good idea executed with a few too many flaws, its sequel serves up a survival horror masterclass. Yes, the combat is still not 100% there, but this one slight misstep aside, what we've got with Alan Wake 2 is superlative stuff. This is an incredibly clever, refreshingly grown-up and wonderfully well-made slice of psychological horror. The acting, writing, sound design, graphics... every aspect has been nailed in a game that makes for another addition to 2023's incredibly long list of absolute bangers.
Forza Motorsport feels like a game that's set up for the future. The technical underpinnings on show in Turn 10's Xbox Series X|S debut are remarkable, and this sort of solid foundation is always a good start. While there's still hours and hours of fun to be had with what is here, genre fans will quickly be reminded of what's missing - making the new FM feel like a launch pad for what's to come rather than a complete experience at launch. When Turn 10 gets around to adding more unique career events, tracks and bonus features, this could become one of the very best sim racers ever to grace Xbox. For now, it's a brilliant effort that doesn't quite finish in first place.
Mortal Kombat 1 might not necessarily be the evolution some were hoping for, but it's still an incredibly polished production. The 'Kombat' is perhaps the most refined it’s ever been in the series' history, Kameo Fighters add a new level of strategy, and reuniting with classic characters in Liu Kang’s reborn universe is an absolute blast. It’s a promising refresh for this legendary series that’s arrived at the perfect time. Here’s to another 30 years of blood, guts and Fatalities!
This dystopian tale of Pinocchio does a lot to stand on its own two feet, but when you strip all the set dressing away, it is simply a terrific love letter to Bloodborne. It is rough around the edges with some balancing issues and environment clipping causing you to get stuck in corners too easily, but with enough persistence (and skill), Lies of P is one of the best non-FromSoftware soulslikes yet.
Starfield is Bethesda's best RPG to date, an enormous space odyssey that serves up some incredibly evocative and engaging exploration, satisfying combat, and a narrative that had us hooked right to the end. Yes there are issues here with the usual jank, and some very messy and fiddly menus and interactions, but all of these problems feel minor when compared to everything this game gets right. In a year that's been packed full of absolutely essential games, Starfield manages to sit right up top with some of the best of them. After all the hype and bluster, this is just a very, very good RPG and a game we'll be playing and replaying for a long time to come.
Sea of Stars is an exhilarating and absorbing indie gem that serves up delightfully clever turn-based RPG action in a world that's packed full of great characters, fun puzzles and genuine emotional heft. Sabotage Studios served up a bonafide banger with 2018's The Messenger, but this time around they've gone a step further, crafting an RPG adventure that's every bit the equal of the stone-cold classics it takes inspiration from. Don't spoil this one for yourself, dive in as blind as you can and enjoy a truly magical journey that's easily one of the best games you'll play this year and an absolutely essential addition to Xbox Game Pass.
Aliens: Dark Descent sees Tindalos serve up a cracking RTS that manages to capture the essence of this terrifying sci-fi series whilst giving players plenty of sweet strategy to sink their teeth into. Tweaking the established XCOM setup to better suit the nature of the enemy at hand, this is an Aliens adventure that leans into stealth, studious preparation, consideration of resources and slow-burn exploration as you manoeuvre through evocative environments whilst attempting not to disturb the deadly xenomorph hordes. There are a few rough edges here and there, and some strategy fans may mourn the loss of individual unit control, but overall this is one express elevator to hell we absolutely recommend taking.
You can see why it's taken Blizzard over six years to get this one out the gate when you look at the end product. Diablo 4 is a natural evolution of the series with its new open-world design and gameplay, enhanced social and multiplayer experience, and a live service that promises to keep players returning to the world of Sanctuary for years to come. These strong foundations and scale of the whole experience, combined with the five unique classes and seemingly limitless customisation options for builds, should keep even the most diehard demon slayers busy for a very long time. With all of this in consideration, Diablo 4 is a must-play if you're a veteran of the series and it's a great starting point for newcomers. We can't wait to jump back in! Now, fingers crossed we just don't have another 'Error 37' at launch.
Street Fighter 6 feels like a direct and hugely effective response to criticisms over the anaemic state of its predecessor at launch. Capcom has fully loaded three huge modes here, giving wannabe world warriors a veritable feast of fisticuffs to get engaged with. World Tour is a great big cheesefest that revels in its madcap style whilst providing a fun story, engaging RPG elements and a great way to learn the ropes all rolled into one. Arcade Mode offers up a solid roster of 18 excellent fighters to choose from at launch, and the all new Battle Hub already looks and feels as though it's gonna be a great place to hang out and challenge other players once multiplayer kicks off properly. It's been a minute since we've had a new Street Fighter on Xbox, and this one's been more than worth the wait.
LEGO 2K Drive is at its best when it focuses on the last word of its title - driving around and taking part in wild and wacky side missions as you run into them is the best way to tackle this open world racer. The actual racing lets it down a touch, and we think the game is a bit pricey for its presentation levels, but this is still a fun and varied affair for all the family. If you're itching for a bonkers LEGO-themed take on Forza Horizon this pretty much nails it, just don't expect the same levels of AAA sheen as you'd get from the Xbox exclusive series.
Redfall sees Arkane experiment with melding genres, to mixed results. There's plenty of flashes of the style and narrative flair we've come to expect from this incredible studio as you explore the town and face off with its undead inhabitants. However, the mixing of FPS action and story beats with open world exploration and a relatively relaxed pace leads to a balancing act that may leave hardcore shooter aficionados and Arkane super fans alike wanting more. If you come at it looking for a chilled out bit of vampire hunting there's still plenty to enjoy here, but some irksome AI issues and a lack of clarity over what it really wants to be leave it feeling a little lost in a limbo of its own making.
Minecraft Legends looks like Minecraft and somewhat feels like it, as you would probably expect, but it really does play like its own proper game with the action strategy elements - even if it doesn't quite match the depth of certain other titles within the strategy genre. Overall, Mojang and Blackbird Interactive have done a good job adapting this mega video game IP to yet another category, and have definitely provided a fun multiplayer experience, despite some learning curves which might be a challenge for younger Minecraft fans and newcomers. This is a welcome introduction to the strategy genre and is worth a look if you're seeking more adventures in the Minecraft universe.
Forza Horizon 5: Rally Adventure is not only a love letter to the actual motorsport but also the video games that have paved the way and inspired series like Horizon. It might not be what everyone was necessarily wanting from the second and likely final expansion for FH5, but the driving experience here is fun from start to finish and remains the core focus - with dirt roads and tracks that will keep you on the edge of your seat, and all sorts of bumps and surprises along the way. It's well worth your time if you're looking for more adventures in the land of Horizon.
So, yeah, where do we even start with summing this one up? A recommendation depends on your own interest with the world of Atomic Heart, we must admit. The game's premise remains intriguing throughout, and its main missions provide some great combat scenarios to get stuck into, especially when it comes to using powers and the skill tree system to create character builds. Yet, the game's overworld is largely skippable which is a huge bummer, and its main storyline does little to enhance the incredibly interesting world Mundfish has created. Atomic Heart is well worth a play for the immersive FPS fanatics out there, but it's wise to temper your expectations when names like BioShock and DOOM are being thrown around in comparison. Atomic Heart is a solid alternate-history shooter, but it takes a bit more than building an intriguing world to become a true great in the genre.
It felt like Hogwarts Legacy was always going to struggle to live up to the hype, but somehow Avalanche Software has managed to deliver an absolutely fantastic open world adventure that will surely go down as comfortably the best game based on the Harry Potter franchise so far. If you've been following its progress for a while and were keeping your fingers crossed for good reviews, we're pleased to report that it's definitely been worth the wait.
You can feel Shinjji Mikami's influence all over this one, it's got that Vanquish magic, that God Hand swagger and attitude, all wrapped up in a delightfully colourful world full of good time vibes that's put us in a properly positive mood over the past few days. More of this kind of thing please!
Pentiment is one of the most unique and clever games we've played in a very long time. It may be the fabulous art style that first draws you to this one, and it really is quite the looker, but it's actually the very obvious care that's been poured into the narrative and the exacting detail in every aspect of the world-building here that ends up selling the whole thing so well. With a story that really goes some places, tons of history to learn about, lots of fantastic characters to meet and plenty of fun and surprises along the way, this is one medieval murder mystery you should absolutely check out as soon as it hits Xbox Game Pass.