"Resident Evil 4 is brilliant" is a statement that rings as true today as it did almost 20 years ago, with Capcom turning in yet another fantastic remake that revives and, to a degree, reinvents a classic for a new generation.
Wo Long has a wonderful rhythm and flow to it, and it always feels great to deftly deflect your way through a relentless barrage of blows, wearing down your enemy before breaking their resolve and landing that fatal blow. It's a bit of a shame that the achievements don't encourage you to engage with the Rising Dragon endgame mode as it's a hearty challenge, but hopefully, Wo Long's fantastic fundamentals and rewarding combat will be enough to get you to explore the post-game on its own merits... I know they are for me.
It's a shame that rough dialogue lets the otherwise brilliant world down somewhat, and that the game doesn't always manage to feel like the full-on power fantasy it could with so many neat powers and gadgets on offer. But Atomic Heart remains mechanically solid and has enough impressive highlight moments to still be worth a play despite these and several other dubious design decisions. Good luck with the completion for the time being, though...
If you're out for some janky, old-school action that doesn't take itself seriously in the least, there's a good chance you're in the minority that will very much enjoy Wanted: Dead. But at the same time, I imagine a lot of people would bounce off this somewhat scuffed throwback pretty hard.
Hogwarts Legacy is a magical experience that is bound to go down well with fans of the Wizarding World.
Monster Hunter Rise is a fantastic action game that will keep you busy for hundreds of hours, and the upgrades on Xbox compared to the Switch original are considerable.
Blacktail is beautiful, from the sun-kissed rivers found in its summer-themed areas to its foreboding spider-infested caves, every inch of the world has been a pleasure to explore. While the morality system doesn't offer the impactful experience we had hoped, it's a lovely way to measure your interaction with the world, adding to the game's overarching enjoyability. Combat is fun and well-balanced but sits behind Blacktail's explorative elements as the most exciting feature on offer. It's stunning to look at, exciting to explore, and enjoyable to play... charming.
Gungrave G.O.R.E proves that keeping with a series' core elements, no matter how old, can be a positive weapon to use when bringing an older franchise back to the masses. Its arcade-style gameplay loops offer quick ten-minute bursts of explosive action that are thrilling to play out while challenging to master at higher difficulties or chasing top ranks. Iggymob has created a game that brings nostalgic PS2-era mechanics to the latest generation of consoles and Xbox Game Pass, and you should definitely check it out. Grave remains the badass hero we need in our lives.
Evil West feels like a fresh take on the typical 'Old West' settings we see, offering a satisfying combat system and enough gore to sate the appetite of the most bloodthirsty of vampires. Its dark narrative and compelling characters are both engaging, but some questionable level design choices hamper the experience a little in places. There is no doubt, though, that Evil West should be played by anyone with a love for the Western setting and occult references. In good cowboy fashion, this is a tale filled with sadness, pain, action, and perseverance through adversity, and it does a damn good job of it!
Overall, Somerville has a fantastic and intriguing world that’s begging to be explored from the off. Wonderful art and sound design compounded with excellent character animations really bring this narrative adventure to life, but a smattering of bugs, lacklustre puzzle elements, and an ambiguous story that left me feeling unrewarded after posing so many initial questions, really hampered the experience.
The slow pace and amount of reading required may put some people off, but I'd encourage you to try it all the same — it's a fascinating period piece that tells both history lesson and original narrative while reflecting on the importance of art and stories, and comfortably one of the best examples of its genre in recent years and best Game Pass games.
Gotham Knights' situation as a game aptly reflects the struggle of its protagonists — the new team has big boots to fill now Bats is gone, and while they can't quite live up to his legacy, they still manage to make an impression by doing things their own way. Combat is decent once it opens up, and traversal and the overarching gameplay loop are both great, but it's a shame that Gotham Knights' performance leaves a lot to be desired.
A Plague Tale: Requiem is a fantastic stealth game with an intriguing story (once it finally gets going) that Xbox Game Pass subscribers and fans of the original really shouldn't miss. Requiem's gorgeous, yet bleak and harrowing world is a joy to explore, and thanks to expanded combat and additional options that allow you to approach stealth sections in whatever way you see fit, the gameplay really is a step up over Innocence. A few performance issues, some slightly underbaked characters, and a constantly whispering Amicia do detract from the experience, but overall, Asobo has created a fantastic sequel here that demands a playthrough.
Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed brings a welcoming and whimsical approach to the asymmetrical multiplayer genre while ensuring that it remains faithful to the franchise's incredible history. Taking on the Busters as a Ghost offers you plenty of opportunities to be cheeky at every turn, just as you would expect from the creatures in Aykroyd's universe. While a couple of issues have stopped me from scoring this a little higher, I have no doubt that fans and newcomers alike will have a great time with this well-crafted gem. If you've grown a little tired of the dark and foreboding theme found in similar games, I highly recommend you pick up the phone and call the Ghostbusters now to apply as a new recruit. It's time to get busting!
Overall, I enjoyed my time with Beacon Pines. Its eye-catching storybook art style catches your attention which is then held by the game's fast-moving and suspenseful plot. There were times when this story felt too convoluted in some areas whilst a little lacking in explanation in others, but it's still an easy recommendation. Just don't trust its cutesy appearance too much — Beacon Pines might start out at the beginning of Summer, but that eerie undertone makes it a great contender to play in the run-up to Halloween.
Saints Row doesn't try to reinvent the wheel, but it doesn't need to — it's a solid open-world adventure with loads going on, and one that is really only a good helping of polish away from sitting among the genre's better games.
I played this game during a heatwave, and it was wonderful to find a distraction from the heat in the investigative shenanigans of these well-spoken animals. Lord Winklebottom was full of unexpected surprises, and kept me laughing throughout. If you’re a fan of point-and-click games, detective stories, or are looking for something that’ll get a few chuckles out of you, you might want to consider stepping into the shoes of Lord Winklebottom. I spent around nine hours in the game, and aside from a few frustrations, I really enjoyed my time with it. Here’s hoping for more Lord Winklebottom cases in the future!
Bright Memory: Infinite is a promising new entry from a small studio, with visuals and a gameplay loop that give it the opportunity to sit alongside some of the heavy hitters in the genre. While it's lacking in a few elements that could carry it through to greatness, it's also dripping with potential and could be the start of a successful franchise if FYQD-Studio polishes some of the game's foibles. All-in-all, it's a short romp through action-focused levels that's sure to offer any FPS fan a burst of fun and have them feeling like a killing machine in the process.
For the most part, As Dusk Falls excels as an 'interactive drama.' With wonderfully crafted and relatable characters, superb voice acting, and unique art direction and animation style that lends itself to the story. The first few chapters alone are excellent, and they’ll have you gripping onto your controller when things are tense and utterly deflated when you’re forced into making a tough decision. The game is only let down by a weaker second act and a rushed final chapter, but overall, it’s still a great narrative adventure filled with dramatic moments, tension, and tough choices.
The solid and gratifying combat system is perhaps not fully explored, but any mistake in Trek to Yomi is whisked away by its brisk pace complemented by a great artistic vision. Trek to Yomi is a katana-sharp experience that impresses with its flashy skills — use the joyous time it gives you well.