So here we are. Supposedly, the saga is complete, and I’m left with mixed feelings. I’m glad that Dread really goes for it, that it wants to make you feel hunted and disadvantaged and that it’s willing to feel hostile in order to accomplish that. The result is a feeling that survival itself is a reward more meaningful than all the upgrades in the world, a feeling I rarely get from games anymore. But ZDR never captivated me the way previous Metroid settings have, and as a conclusion to the story arc, Dread seems to misunderstand what made the early chapters resonate. Samus is wonderful, a survivor, an icon, and she endures. But when I think back on my time with her over the past several decades, Dread will forever dwell in the shadows of my favorite Metroid memories.
Psychonauts 2 isn’t about gunning down the big boss at the end and cheering over their dead body. It’s about understanding that even the biggest asshole is still a person, and deep down they may just need some help. We all need some help sometimes. The key is asking for it. Today, in 2021, it’s easy to look around and see people who seem cruel and evil, and to assume they are lost souls, not worth saving. Psychonauts 2 says otherwise. It says that everyone can change. I’m not sure I fully believe that, but I’ll be damned if that’s not one hell of a hopeful message.
It’s a shame that Biomutant isn’t a better put-together piece of software. Its world feels unique, the way it blends different combat styles is fun and it’s a visual treat to look at on a big 4K TV. But countless bugs, performance issues, overly talkative NPCs, boring quest design, and a sense of overall jank makes it hard to excitedly share this game with people.
Village may not live up to the potential of its immediate predecessor, but it’s a safe new entry in the series that induces the same entertaining anxiety as my favorite Resident Evil games and provides a few interesting wrinkles for where the franchise might go next.
New Pokémon Snap is pretty magical as well. It takes the unique formula of the 1999 original and expands on it just enough to feel like a completely new adventure, without diluting the simple joy of riding and snapping photos of impossible creatures.
This year is only barely two months old, but I can confidently say Persona 5 Strikers will be on my game of the year list. I didn’t expect a musou spin-off to be a competent sequel to one of my favorite games of the last five years. It’s almost unfair to call Strikers a musou game, as it doesn’t feel like a Dynasty Warriors game at all. For as much as I love Koei Tecmo’s tentpole action series, Strikers’ combat is too slick and too varied, and too stylistically Persona to be called a typical musou. And I think it’s that combat that saves an otherwise sparsely appointed game.
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury is essentially the same game on Switch that some of you may have experienced on Wii U. While there’s no denying that the new hardware can’t keep up with the game’s ambitions at times, this bundle is at its core another fantastic Mario experience.