Will you like Shenmue III? I can't say. This is likely the last new game I'll play before the year ends, and it's a sure win for my Game of the Year. Shenmue III spoke to me on a level few games have. I thought about giving it a 10/10, even began gearing myself up to argue that with my editor. But Shenmue isn't perfect. It defies real perfection, because life is imperfect. Shenmue III is knobby and requires tremendous, repetitive effort before it gives up the special, unique warmth.
I do wish there were more to Luigi's Mansion 3, that the controls were tighter and more precise, but I also find myself wanting to play it more despite these problems. I don't know that I'll pick it back up when my partner and I finally collect every last gem, and suck out every last coin from every possible hiding place. But the liveliness and charm of its world, the bizarre questions it doesn't ask but gestures to, and the happiness I've had playing it with my partner on the couch will likely stick with me for quite some time.
As much as I'd like to see the full Pokédex in a Pokémon game, what would be the point? Every Pokémon deserves a detailed treatment, and Sword and Shield don't achieve that. It's nice to hunt Pokémon in a more expansive playfield and I plan to completely fill out the rosters on both games. But its potential remains not entirely realized, as tantalizingly out of reach as our ability to catch 'em all.
Obsidian is on to something good with The Outer Worlds. The writing has an irresistible humanity, and the factions, skill system, and dynamic companion interactivity offer a beautifully complicated depth that makes me mourn the loss of Fallout 4 all over again. With it, I don't have to miss Fallout: New Vegas anymore—I can just enjoy what its core features have become. So far, this new horizon looks promising.
Its several systems gracefully combine to create a cog that you want to keep turning until you reach the end. Ultimately, most of us are just cogs in a larger machine operated by those at the top. Neo Cab chooses to see the importance of the little cogs, and that's why it'll stick with me.
Many years have passed since I played the masterpiece that is Ever 17, and I'm still in awe of his ability to weave in so many strands, concepts, and plot twists and still create something that isn't just coherent, but also adrenaline-inducing and emotionally resonant. Every game is a team effort, but Uchikoshi's brilliance is what's made many of the visual novels he's directed and written become cult classics. AI: The Somnium Files isn't his best work, but it's entertaining from start to end and a game I'd recommend to anyone interested in visual novels, murder mysteries, or simply a great story.
It's a shame that Borderlands and I are no longer a good fit. What I miss most of all is its personality. The aesthetic and surface changes to the series don't make it a stranger; the change in temperament does. We just don't have as many laughs as we used to. Better to cut things off now, and remember the relationship for what it once was, because it doesn't get any better from here.
Luckily the foundation of the series is still strong in and out of the campaign, with the multiplayer suite of Horde and Versus being as fun as ever. Escape, clearly inspired by Left 4 Dead, is also a great way to kill an hour if you've got competent squaddies for the ride. Ultimately, I had a fair amount of fun tearing my way through swarms of foes with shotguns and chainsaws, but there's definitely a part of me that's disappointed Gears 5 isn't the evolution its bloody heart is set on being.
There's no "best Final Fantasy game" because Final Fantasy has become largely indefinable—something most franchises can only dream of. Maybe, no matter the feats this incredible series continues to achieve, Final Fantasy VIII is the lighthouse to which the series should constantly look back to. It'll always be there, waiting, serving as a reminder that Final Fantasy can tread new grounds while maintaining the brilliance that has made it one of the most influential series to exist.
Wolfenstein: Youngblood is a stylish detour that allows the series to safely explore some new directions while setting the scene before the next game. But it's not taking the risks where it really counts. In an era where right-wing extremism is an increasing threat, and the line between fantasy and reality becomes blurred, the visible politics of Wolfenstein can't shoulder the weight of the game alone.