Overall, the survival genre is very saturated. Grounded is a unique take on a tired formula and is genuinely a breath of fresh air in the space. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel but it doesn’t have to, it’s chosen a premise and has adapted it beautifully and skillfully. While some improvements can be made in combat and other areas, the game is a well-made experience that survival fans will love. I personally can’t wait to jump in with three friends following the full launch. It can get lonely out there all alone in suburbia.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise rarely had a miss with games back in the ’80s and ’90s and this compilation exemplifies that. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection is a love letter to fans of that era that can be equally appreciated by old and new generations of Turtles fans alike.
Destroy All Humans! 2 – Reprobed is a really good game that doesn’t take itself seriously. In some ways, it’s a relic from another era, a reminder of how simple and fun games used to be; a time before the endless grind. Heck, there’s even couch multiplayer, once a standard feature in games that has slowly faded out over the years. Despite its heritage, Destroy All Humans! 2 – Reprobed feels and plays modern enough with refined controls, decent visuals, and enough over-the-top fun to easily overlook the few shortcomings.
The Last of Us: Part 1 is the definitive version of Naughty Dog’s classic. Sadly, I’m afraid the conversation, at least among the old guard who first took Ellie under their wing all those years ago, will hone in on the economics rather than the breakthrough emotional storytelling and the grounded gameplay.
There’s value here, for sure, as a visceral stomp through a beloved fantasy world that offers the rare luxury of being entirely playable alongside a friend. It’s swift, slashy, and simple, but comparing it to other games of this era that have been ported to modern platforms – Okami, Resident Evil Remaster, and Silent Hills 3 and 4, to name a few – you’re paying double to quadruple the price. Buying it at this price point feels like it could set a precedent that shouldn’t be supported, tempting though it may be…
But it’s to Bioshock’s great credit that that’s its most glaring problem when played today (that, and the fact that ‘Arcadia Merlot’ wine actually says Cabernet Sauvignon on the label). To stretch that wine aside into an analogy, Bioshock really has aged like a fine Arcadia Merlot. It remains one of gaming’s great explorations of one of gaming’s greatest environments, even if you can see through Atlas’ bullshit like you can see Rapture’s glorious skyline (sealine?) through its oddly pristine glass corridors.
If you fall in love with the main loop and the freedom to design and interact with your followers, then you can expect to take at least 30 fun hours out of it, but don’t go in there expecting anything innovative in either the rouge-like or management-sim departments.
Arcade Paradise lives up to its name by essentially being a modern plug-n-play TV compilation (remember those?) wrapped in a competent and rewarding business sim dressed up in the most garish of 90s fashion, complete with dial-up internet, Solitaire on the PC, and more turquoise tracksuits than I’d ever like to see. The collection of games on offer is massive, and the earn-buy-earn loop works well at keeping the game from becoming too stale too soon.
The subtle and ambient piano music goes well with each scene and it adds another layer of immersion in the princess’s situation. The fictional world doesn’t leave much of a lasting impression, but the characters, their bonds, and their intertwined fates are compelling, making Long Live The Queen an exceptional choice-based game with a depth of possibilities that makes it far more than just your usual ‘princess maker’ game.
As a PC player of Rimworld, I’ll be returning to the more bespoke experience I’ve turned the game into on its home platform, but I’m also delighted that games like this are coming to consoles, and being ported with this much care and attention. This is one of the best management sims and story generators around, brought to console in almost all its glory. The quality of this console implementation should be a guiding light for other games in this traditionally PC-only genre to do the same.
Barring these minor user interface issues, Bear and Breakfast was a joy to play. It doesn’t do anything revolutionary for the genre, but it successfully carves out a niche by perfectly matching its tone, gameplay and narrative. Bear and Breakfast accomplishes exactly what it set out to do, it’s a charming little management sim that doesn’t take itself seriously. It might not be for everyone, but I think a lot of people will find joy in this wholesome project.
While the length may be an issue, there is a flip side to it. Just as I was starting to tire of the guns and sword combo fest, it was over. It wasn’t long enough for me to get tired of its main selling points: the top-tier graphics and the chaotic combat. The visuals are stunning, granted, but the game takes place more or less across very similar environments, except for the gunfight on the wing of an airplane hurtling toward a black hole – Neil DeGrasse Tyson would pull that scene apart in a second. If the game ran for a further six hours but locked in with the linear locations I’d tire of it before the end. The combat, while being fun and encouraging experimentation, doesn’t have the depth to carry the game for much longer – I’m sure that by hour four I’d completely drop the melee side and just stick to running and gunning, and then it’s no different to most other shooters out there.
I’m conflicted when it comes to PowerWash Simulator. On one hand, it’s an absolute bore and a chore with one-dimensional gameplay – can I even call it gameplay? – but on the other, it’s still strangely fun and moreish, and seeing the grime trickle away and the percentage done counter ticking slowly upwards was enough to keep me wasting water for hours on end. It’s an oddity, for sure, but one that I can’t seem to peel myself away from, and the more I play it, the more I wonder if the world wouldn’t be a cleaner place if we could all get the job done with a gamepad.
While playing Stray you can’t help but feeling if some things went differently during the development process then it could have been a great game. Unfortunately, while Stray captures the cat experience very well, it doesn’t score well on any of its core gameplay loops. While fine for a casual experience and not long enough to become annoyingly repetitive, Stray ultimately doesn’t stand on its own four paws as an engaging video game experience.
After all that, it seems a bit dreary to talk about things like price (bleh), but at $8/£6.79, it really is a generous price that pretty accurately reflects the price of a dessert in relation to the main course. Despite calling itself ‘The Last Course,’ it’s hard to imagine that this is the last we’ll see of Cuphead, though the prospect of seeing what else Studio MDHR could come up with is no less tantalising as a continuation of this series.
As a fan of the original arcade coin-suckers, I can say that Shredder’s Revenge hits the right notes in all departments. However, modern gamers who didn’t grow up with cartridges that needed a good blow and a bang might find the admittedly simple and one-direction gameplay a bit too basic. Basically, if you’ve used a VHS player in real life, you’ll get what Shredder’s Revenge is all about. If you’ve never touched a floppy disk, you might get bored of button bashing by Episode 6.