The Blackout Club is a fascinating take on the stealth-horror genre. Balanced between genuine fear and co-op laughter, starring vulnerable yet capable protagonists, and featuring a creepy atmosphere and goofy characters, the game is full of contradictory ideas that somehow work together really well. Best played with friends, but also enjoyable solo, this unique take on a horror game has something for everybody.
Stranger Things 3: The Game is only for really big fans of the show. Even then, the title is hard to recommend since it is an inferior version of the television season. While the gameplay is not bad, it is too repetitive to be enjoyable on its own. The game would perhaps be best played just before season four comes out, as a novel way of recapping the previous season.
The challenging gameplay, gorgeous sound design, and stunning aesthetics all make Etherborn a worthwhile experience, even for those not fond of puzzle-platformers. Every level demonstrates a craftsmanship that encourages the curiosity to think and engage with the world. Completing puzzles is satisfying, even if the length of the game is not. Some minor issues may crop up along the way, but Etherborn is still a clever, fun game that challenges players and their perspective of the world.
Given that Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is a crowdfunded game, the amount of love and attention evident in its production comes as no surprise. The level of quality that is present in this package is truly astounding, and the appreciation grows even more when considering the free content promised for the coming months. Perfection should not be expected from Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. However, the result is exactly what was promised by the developers, and fans could not ask for more. Throughout its development, Igarashi-san provided continual assurance that he desired to make the game a product of its fans. By listening to criticism and acting on it, he fulfilled his promise with Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night.
The Sinking City is one of the best Lovecraft-inspired games available and, despite some slightly awkward controls in places, the game is brilliantly crafted. Fans of horror will love its atmosphere and those who enjoy investigative games will quickly become absorbed in the depth offered by the gameplay. Those who loved L.A. Noire or Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem, and players of the tabletop game, should definitely give thought to picking this title up.
My Friend Pedro is worth every cent and deserves to find an audience. Players are indulged with unique mechanics that are both clever and fun, allowing the creation of violent visual masterpieces. Every element of the game from the art to the story, work together in harmony to create something magical. If players want to sit back and enjoy some senseless fun, then My Friend Pedro is a much needed addition any gaming library.
That Judgment drops the Yakuza moniker from the title is surprising, as the game feels like a Yakuza game through and through, with the signature sprawling open world of Kamurocho, combo-based brawling combat, and kooky sidequests. Yagami’s new detective abilities add some enjoyable variety into the mix, but the title would have comfortably fit into the main franchise. That being said, Judgment stands out as one of the very best in the series and serves as a perfect entry point for anyone curious about the Yakuza games.
Warhammer: Chaosbane is a functional though fundamentally unspectacular addition to the Warhammer universe. The number of missions, the multiple playable characters, and the additional modes available after completion give the game a thick padding that could provide weeks of entertainment for the right player. However, the core experience is more bones than meat, which means that that ‘right player’ may be a rare breed.
In some ways, those adjectives suit Draugen as a whole. Slightly dated game design and some poorly telegraphed narrative elements aside, the game makes for a wonderful four-hour adventure. The town of Graavik is a delight to look at, and the stories it hides drag players deep into the mystery. The design tropes of walking simulators are backed up with more logical cause than is often the case, while the story leaves just enough open to keep the player thinking after the credits have ceased to roll. Draugen seems unlikely to win any awards for originality, but it shows what mastery of the ‘walking simulator’ format looks like.
American Fugitive, simply put, is fun. Fallen Tree Games has added its own unique twist to a classic gameplay formula, and utilised a simple but engaging narrative and a beautiful original score to maintain the player's interest until the very end. Despite a few minor flaws in gameplay, the game stands strong against its competition. Players looking for a fast, fun, and mature sandbox game should not miss American Fugitive.
Observation is almost a great game. Characters are interesting enough to hold up an often-surprising story, gameplay sweats intensity and is rewarding more often than not, and what No Code has managed to put together in spite of its small budget is tremendous. What stings more than anything is the thought of what could be. The game has a lot of things that need fixing, even if the hiccups are mostly surface level and technical. Observation truly seems to be only a few patches away from cementing itself as a worthwhile experience in the narratively-driven genre of games. Until then, Observation’s shot at the moon left it drifting into space.
Simply put, RAGE 2 is a strange beast. Perhaps that was inevitable as the follow-up to a middling first effort developed across two very different studios. Perhaps that shared production is also the reason for the lack of unity. Whatever the reason, RAGE 2 is clearly best suited to a particular kind of player. The game offers an often-beautiful environment combined with easy, enjoyable traversal mechanics. Comprising the bulk of the experience is some of the finest and most diverse gunplay combat to be found gaming today. However, these charms are let down somewhat by the lacking story and structure and a general feeling of a tonal mismatch between the bland protagonist and the madcap world.
Team Sonic Racing does not do anything that is revolutionary, but the single-player mode is a significant improvement on previous Sumo Digital racing titles, since the teamwork and customisation options add quite a bit of depth. The result is clearly meant to promote local multiplayer, but players can still have lots of fun solo. Team Sonic Racing definitely packs enough entertainment in to be worth the cost of entry.
Asobo Studio has crafted an exceptionally dark atmosphere that brings the journey of its innocent characters to life. Both action and stealth-oriented players will find something to love in the mechanics despite their leading nature towards a particular playstyle. Those that love an immersive experience will be engrossed by the highly detailed, grim world. Some frustration with later levels may hinder the impact of the ending, but, regardless, A Plague Tale is a gorgeous game with endearing characters and smooth gameplay that showcases the potential of Asobo Studio.
Fade to Silence contains many interesting elements, but they simply do not combine well. The mix of a meditative base builder with clunky combat and the stress of permanent death results in a gameplay experience that is certainly unique, but unfortunately not enjoyable.
Close to the Sun is a spectacle piece for the explorative player that is well worth sinking time and money into. Despite the horror label, the game is not so scary that it cannot be enjoyed by everyone. The game may be short with a frustrating conclusion but this should not deter players from picking up this title. From highly detailed environments to smooth gameplay, Close to the Sun is a short, but unique experience that deserves players attention.
Jupiter & Mars is a calming experience overall. In small doses, the title could be a great antidote to a stressful day, particularly if played in VR. However, the game’s short length and lack of threat makes it too dull for long-term or repeat play. The soundtrack is the project’s major stand-out element, and the OST album would be worth buying on its own—if and when it ever becomes available.
SteamWorld Quest: The Hand of Gilgamech is a wonderful, fun RPG adventure that has a lot of depth to delve into, secrets to explore, and story to uncover. The game looks beautiful, sounds brilliant, and has a smooth and absorbing gameplay flow. SteamWorld Quest, is surprisingly easy to get completely sucked in to, with the card game elements providing an impressive amount of complexity to the combat. Any RPG fan should give serious consideration to adding the title to their Nintendo Switch library and fans of previous SteamWorld games will find a lot to enjoy in the art and lore, too.