For the first time in the series, WRC 10 feels fully featured. It’s brimming with modes and ways to play, sure to make a fan out of anyone and give you more than enough replayability into next year. It’s a shame then that some of the bugs and issues from prior years have persisted into this year’s entry. There’s nothing egregious with the issues, but it’s rather surprising they haven’t been stamped out. The 50th Anniversary Mode is sure to be a favorite, and the highly-requested livery editor will satisfy long-time fans. This game captures the thrill of taking hairpin turns at high speeds like a pro, and drifting through snow with elegance. WRC 10 is authentic to the sport, something that’s not to be overlooked.
This is Cyan’s Myst opus. It’s a massive rework that is so impressive to experience all over again. It’s near-perfect, and simply must be played. This manages to be both how I remember it, yet a wholly refreshing experience, that captures the spirit of the 1993 original in new and exciting ways. There’s something for veterans and newcomers to enjoy, with longevity to spare, thanks to the new randomizer mode. With this, Myst remains the best puzzle and adventure game ever.
Aliens: Fireteam Elite is a lot of fun whether solo, or with friends. It feels rather disjointed not having any cutscenes or meaningful threads for any of the campaigns. The crashes, bugs, and audio flatness get in the way of its overall enjoyment and longevity. Cold Iron Studios have post-launch content lined up, and so there’s promise of these issues being fixed and there being more to do in the near future. Aliens: Fireteam Elite lacks the connective tissue and spectacle that the films are known for, yet manages to provide entertainment for mindless, late-night sessions with friends.
Death’s Door has some fun lore and a fantastic main character; I mean, I love birds, and what’s not to love about a little bird with a sword? The combat is tight, and battles with enemies and bosses never feel unfair. If anything, each failure felt like it was my fault, something I could fix in a future run or my playstyle overall. Everything comes together so well in Death’s Door; it’s just so enjoyable to play. It has become a top ten contender for my games of the year list so far.
Axiom Verge 2 is a thoroughly enjoyable game that hits most of its notes perfectly, and is easy to recommend. Where Axiom Verge 1 was a clear love letter to Metroid, Axiom Verge 2 establishes more of its own identity, both in how it fleshes out the shared universe of the series, and the ways it blends elements of its predecessors and its inspirations together to create something really unique. Like the first game, it feels both familiar and entirely new. The sense of mystery and wonder, combined with excellent mechanical execution, will keep you going on a breakneck pace from start to finish.
Neon Giant has some minor performance issues to iron out with RTX and DX12. The developers have made a game that’s as complex as you want, but doesn’t overcomplicate anything. Every system has a purpose, and is a weapon of opportunity for you to overcome obstacles. I love when the game isn’t having me fight everything in sight, and allowing me to take in the world. No game has made me want DLC or more content than The Ascent has. Simply put, The Ascent is a brilliant game, that absolutely lives up to the hype.
I was hoping for more, but I can’t say I’m disappointed with what I got. SkyDrift Infinity doesn’t try to do anything more than it claims to be. It’s a fun-for-all ages game that will take several hours to see all the content, and many more hours in order to do everything that there is to offer. SkyDrift Infinity is wonderfully engaging and enjoyable spectacle, just not an essential purchase.
I enjoyed what Tate Multimedia did with Steel Rats in a motorcycle platformer, but the Urban Trials series has really landed for me in Urban Trial Tricky Deluxe Edition. From pursuing every challenge, to the high score hunting, and besting every time, there’s something for everyone and a means to achieve it. Whether you’ve got fifteen minutes or a couple of hours, the game fits in either direction to satisfy and make progress. Urban Trial Tricky Deluxe Edition is great for any age, and a casual experience to get started with expert nuance in the later levels that really defines the experience.
I want to love Stonefly. It has all of the right pieces to make something great. When those pieces come together, though, the fit isn’t quite right, and the resulting whole has its share of holes. This is a game that’s big on concept and playfulness, but translating those qualities into something that you interact with as a player fails to cleanly make the jump. Most specifically, the game play isn’t quite there; the mechanics are all fine, but the balance is off in some crucial ways that disrupt the experience and cause the game to get in the way of itself. Stonefly is at its best when its showing off its beautiful artwork and telling its story, and the parts in between where you fight lots of bugs and gather too many resources feel in opposition to that side of the experience rather than in service of it. I still enjoyed a lot of my time with Stonefly, but this feels like an experience that would have benefited from being shorter, and more focused on exploration and its narrative.
For an annual release, Codemasters manages to top themselves year over year, and this time is no different. After being bought by EA, I can only see positives by this relationship, and shows a promising future for the F1 series. The story of Braking Point is an absolute highlight, the return of fan-favorite Two Player Career mode is a delight, career mode is as fun as ever, and makes for a wonderful package. With raytracing, DLSS, and other next-generation features, F1 2021 feels truly fresh and exciting, like it hasn’t been before.