ACE COMBAT 7: SKIES UNKNOWN has some really solid missions that deal with political and military intrigue, a fantastic weather system, and constant chatter that wouldn't normally be tolerated by any military force. It's a bizarre and endearing title that's an absolute a joy to play. ACE COMBAT has been sorely missed for the past twelve years (we don't talk about 2012's Assault Horizon). ACE COMBAT 7: SKIES UNKNOWN is a triumph, and return to form.
ASTRONEER is as long or as short as you want it to be. It’s the kind of game that de-stresses you at the end of the day, and something you can play with friends for zero friction. You’re always making progress, and the game saves often, in addition to entering vehicles and bases to save as well. System Era Softworks have made an incredible crafting and exploration game in ASTRONEER. In learning the systems means you become more proficient at trying out the new planets and the challenges they offer. As such, you’re never marooned in one place too long, and you never want to be – there’s so much to see and do.
There is no shortage of puzzle platformers in this day and age, but there is certainly a shortage of games in this genre which are actually good. The advent of lower barriers to entry on various game marketplaces has allowed for many indie success stories, but also for a greatly increased amount of shovelware to wade through. Octahedron: Transfixed Edition is luckily a solid game with a strong, consistent visual style and a thumping soundtrack that helps to complete the sense of “being there” as well as any other component of the game. If you’re looking for a new platformer on the Switch to fill your time, look no further.
The Hong Kong Massacre is just short of something great here. But many things that works against it, and things that it lacks. And VRESKI clearly have some work to do to get the game in better shape. When it works, the game really starts to flow like a stream of blood carrying spent shell casings. This feels especially good when you finally clear a level you’ve been stuck on, as it feels truly sublime, like you’re unstoppable. And that’s when The Hong Kong Massacre is at its, and your best.
FutureGrind is incredibly well thought out and designed. It understands what it is, and what it asks of you. The instant restarts are a feature it couldn’t live without, and it’s story mode is more than enough to carry you through. The game is wide open for DLC and expansions to do more of what it does so well. What this all amounts to, is that FutureGrind quickly becomes technically demanding for you to do mental and physical gymnastics with the controls. It never is anything insurmountable, but rather constantly forcing you to reteach your brain what bike you’re using, and what modifiers are on the track. This kind of thinking is necessary to reach the end, and work towards those diamonds. FutureGrind feels familiar and fresh all in the same breath, but it is certainly a standout title from Milkbag Games that’s the first must play of 2019.
There may be something here for you if you’re looking for a game that simulates the experience of planetary colonization so accurately that it includes every ounce of tedium that would come from a solitary life as a Martian colonist. There is also something to be said for being able to take this game on the go, if that’s your thing. However, for a product which fails to inspire a sense of mystery and wonder beyond its opening moments and which is still so rough around the edges, there are simply better, more enriching and more engaging options for your money on the Switch. In other words, don’t listen to Hauser; don’t get your ass to Mars.
Rain World shows up to the table with a lot of good ideas but fails to execute successfully on many of them. What should probably be a challenging but enjoyable game feels more like a directionless, unintuitive slog that, while mostly pretty to look at, is confusing and possibly overly difficult for the sake of being difficult. I can see a situation where just a few tweaks to character movement (namely improved speed and agility) would go a long way toward making this game feel like a properly balanced challenge. It’s entirely possible that the point of the game is to be really hard, but if so I find the controls, mobility and systems design is at odds with that intention, because as a player I never felt empowered to deal with the challenges laid before me so much as at the mercy of the whims of whomever is pulling the strings.
Elastic Games gets it right with Last Year: The Nightmare as it easily gets its hooks in you from the start. With a free content road-map outlined for 2019, the future looks bright going forward. It has a few bugs that keep it from greatness, but nothing to keep anyone from playing it right now. As you get paired up with random people and are forced to work together, this is the kind of game you make friends from. If you want to see what the definition of a successful Kickstarter is, look no further than Last Year. Upcoming platforms are in for a treat, as Last Year: The Nightmare is a killer game.
Forza Horizon 4‘s first DLC goes for the extreme and dangerous, a decision that’s sure to be divisive. There is something for everyone, but a lot more could have been done with it. The weather, effects, dangerous roads, and treasure chests are the best things about this expansion. The content is a bit short, and the lack of housing is disappointing for those wanting to find permanent residence. Overall, Fortune Island isn’t what you do in it, but what you do with it.
If you’re looking for more Overcooked 2, Surf ‘n’ Turf is that second helping you’re asking for. The kitchens are well designed and the pace is just as tense. It’s got that same flavor as before, but is just a little heartier, satisfying your growing appetite.
I really wanted to like my time with the sequel; really hoping that they would improve upon the first game. Instead, it’s slow, frustrating, and dull. For all the things the game tries to do right, there’s just more that hampers your experience. If you disliked the first game, this one will not bring you in and if you enjoyed the first, I may still pass on this unless they fix things via patches.
Developer New World Interactive have plans for post-launch support, and possibly a campaign in the future. There’s a limited number of maps and modes here, but there’s a lot of game all the same. Insurgency: Sandstorm is heart-pounding in every match and mode, and there’s little room for error. New World Interactive’s vision is unmatched, though notably niche. You’ll not find another first-person shooter in a hardcore setting than what Insurgency: Sandstorm provides.
Hitman 2 brings in more of what I loved about the first game and then some. The tight gameplay, the serious but comical undertone, and the plethora of challenging bits to accomplish make Hitman 2 an amazing package. It’s unfortunate that IO forces you to connect to a server to actually access the challenge information, let alone be able to save your progression of them. It leaves a nasty stain on such a pristine, near perfect white suit.
DUSK looks, feels, and acts like a classic first-person shooter from the 90s, but doesn't rely on anything but itself to impress you. From the first moment when the ominous voice saying "KILL THE INTRUDER", DUSK sets a tone that it delivers every step of the way. The DUSKWORLD multiplayer is mildly disappointing, but doesn't take away from what an amazing offering the campaign is. DUSK revives the first-person genre with a customizable retro aesthetic, a head-banging soundtrack, and levels that rival modern first-person shooters; DUSK is the FPS dreams are made of.
Just Cause 4‘s villains never have enough screen-time to warrant their position of power or revenge, but this game is the equivalent of a popcorn flick for video games. It’s as ridiculous as the series gets, where the bad guys are trying to control the weather (the weather!), and Rico is the perfect person to remove them from power. Just Cause 4 is at its best when it isn’t too serious, and focuses on the fun and silly – which this game has in spades. Just Cause 4 is a great ride from start to finish.
Battlefield V feels less like an experiment, and more of a refinement for the series to-date. It doesn’t have much in the way of environments that recall World War II. From its War Stories single-player to its robust multiplayer offering, this feels like a World War II movie with how the gameplay feels, the visuals look, and the sound punches. Battlefield V is a game that’s going to evolve over time, and as it stands, has the foundations of something great. I look forward to the improvements DICE will be putting into the game throughout its lifespan.
Megaquarium is a fun and enthralling tycoon game. I found there to be a deep amount of depth to each tanks ecosystem and the requirements to bring in more guests. As I mentioned earlier, any other game would have probably just had the player pick a tank of fish and mainly focus on your patron's happiness. But Megaqquarium brings the micromanagement of an actual fish tank to your computer screen. As the team continues to make improvements, leading to an overall better experience, they’re creating more fun along the way. Fun that doesn’t require you to murder a million fish, but to take care and nurture them.
The Swindle is an enjoyable enough game which I would probably rate higher on other platforms, but the additional shortcomings with the Switch version in handheld mode make it a little more difficult for me to recommend. If the technical issues aren’t deal breakers for you, and if you’re looking for something you can play in short bursts and which will let you progress quickly, this is a fine enough choice. If you can play it on another platform, I’d suggest going that route instead.