It's surprising just what an impact the new animations have in Steins;Gate Elite -- the additions take an already excellent visual novel and makes it feel much more dynamic and intense. What's more, being able to finally play Linear Bounded Phenogram in English is just the icing on an already very scrumptious cake. Elite is the complete visual novel package, and pretty much the best that the genre has to offer.
Far Cry: New Dawn can quite easily provide a weekend of fun, but when it comes to recalling your favourite games of 2019, don't expect to remember this post-apocalyptic adventure. Its streamlined RPG elements do add some welcome structure, but this trek through Hope County may seem familiar to a fault. It's almost a shame that Ubisoft didn't go all-in on making New Dawn a totally over-the-top spin-off, rather than a sequel that struggles to tell an all-too-serious story.
Following on from its predecessor, DiRT Rally 2.0 is the pinnacle of rally on PlayStation 4. The simulation handling is brutal, but a lot of fun to learn and brilliantly satisfying to conquer. The raw driving experience is highly intense as you travel at insane speeds, always verging on disaster. While it's missing some of the more casual-friendly features of DiRT 4, the suite of modes and options will keep any rally fan going for a long time. Even if the sim label puts you off, we'd encourage you to take this for a test drive; it's easily one of the most thrilling racing games in recent years.
Eden-Tomorrow's noteworthy narrative drowns amongst a sea of repetitive, mediocre gameplay. It does nothing to differentiate itself within an increasingly cluttered genre, and so the experience is forgotten about before you've even had time to comprehend the potential of a deeper meaning.
Jump Force can be fun with friends when you're just looking for a quick and easy scrap, but as a celebration of all things Jump, it's a borderline embarrassment. Thanks to a truly egregious art style and comically bad story presentation, this is an accessible and often fun crossover brawler let down by its disappointingly shoddy packaging. Ultimately, it's difficult not to feel as though all of these classic manga and anime properties deserve much better than Jump Force.
While Metro: Exodus delivers on its promise of deep and meaningful combat situations that let you approach encounters from any angle you can think of, its technical shortcomings are simply unforgivable. Combine that with a plot that doesn't answer its most intriguing questions and you've got an experience that will please at times, but will also disappoint those looking for something meaningful outside of the distribution of bullets.
Conarium is a good, plot focused and atmospheric walking sim puzzler. Though it's billed as horror, it serves to get under your skin, rather than producing any massive frights. That said, the world created is wonderfully realised and quite beautiful in its freakishness. The way that the game captures the otherworldly vibe of Lovecraft's work, and develops such an engaging story quickly, is something to applaud. Ignoring the poor voice acting, bad character models, and the odd frustrating puzzle, if you're looking for a disturbing, plot focused walking sim experience, or you're just a huge Lovecraft fan, you won't go far wrong here.
There are moments in The King's Bird where it's easy to lose yourself in the gameplay and striking visuals. Rocketing around colourful stages and indulging in the serene soundtrack is fun, but frustrating puzzle mechanics and little variance in the gameplay taint the experience.
Away: Journey to the Unexpected begins as a fun and lighthearted romp with a few very unique wrinkles to its gameplay. Unfortunately, this quickly unravels and is severely hampered by poor design choices that sour what was first an enjoyable experience.
Spike Volleyball's gameplay loop isn't atrocious, but poor animations and ugly visuals demonstrate the low-budget nature of the project. With glitchy online play and a rudimentary career mode, it's extremely difficult to recommend this release – especially when you consider that it's retailing at a price point five times greater than what it realistically deserves.
God Eater 3's another frenetic action RPG where the enjoyable rhythm and flow of combat is enough to outweigh most of the negatives. Whether you're up for a lengthy session or you're just stopping by to farm some materials, the game's easy to sink your teeth into, and there's plenty to chew on should you find yourself hooked thanks to the in-depth character progression. While more could and probably should have been done to bring God Eater's visuals and cumbersome menus up to speed, there's still plenty of skilful hack and slashing on offer here.
The fact that Kingdom Hearts III even managed to release could be considered a miracle in of itself, but what's perhaps even more surprising is that the finished product defies all expectations. As an unforgettable experience, Kingdom Hearts III is exceptional, essential, and most of all, undeniably special.
The Hong Kong Massacre's inspiration is clear, but unfortunately, it doesn't have the gameplay, the personality, or the energy to stand alongside it. The slow-mo shooting can be fun, but with tough enemies and a janky dodge manoeuvre, you'll more often than not be frustrated by death after death. With a little more polish, it could've been an entertaining romp, but as it stands, redeeming qualities are few and far between.
Life Is Strange 2 feels like it's flying under-the-radar, which is unfortunate because this sequel has all of the hallmarks that made its predecessor a success. Episode 2: Rules is slow, but DONTNOD is still easing its new cast of characters in. There's definitely something good brewing here, but for whatever reason we can't shake the feeling that the developer has utterly failed to capture the imagination of Arcadia Bay's biggest fans.
A Fisherman's Tale is a typical puzzle-solving first-person VR experience that stands a cut above with a good-quality gimmick that doesn't overstay its welcome. It barely stays long enough to finish saying hello, but it has the wit, charm, and novelty to make it worth the single sitting it's asking for.
Although the gameplay feels a little on the shallow side, Wandersong is a disarmingly joyful game. Singing your way through this cutesy adventure may not offer much of a challenge, but mixed in with a varied cast of characters and a sweet story, it's definitely a hard game to hate.
Vane is exhausting, ponderous, bewildering, endlessly frustrating, needlessly obtuse, narratively unsatisfying, mechanically clumsy, and technically shoddy, all shot through a camera so ill-equipped to deal with the rudimentary task of showing you what's happening on screen that you might as well pop a blindfold on and try using The Force.
Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown is a top entry in the long-running series that sees a return to the PS2 glory days. The war opera story is enjoyably charming, despite a rather flat cast of characters, while the gameplay is, crucially, as dramatic and slick as it's ever been. Online multiplayer and PSVR are both implemented well, and serve as great companion pieces to the main campaign. Whether you're a diehard fan or coming to this game fresh, Skies Unknown is a joy, and a series highlight.
Shadow Heritage is another fine addition to Assassin's Creed Odyssey.