Dead Space is one of the true legends of the survival horror genre, and EA Motive's new remake does the original game full justice while also introducing a variety of fantastic new additions and reworkings. Other than some slight disappointment in its visuals on a technical (but certainly not artistic or atmospheric) level, this is a remake that finds a near-perfect balance between retaining the heart and soul of its predecessor and reanimating its body in some unexpected (but positive) ways.
High on Life continues Squanch Games' propensity for skewering video game tropes, this time in the form of a first-person shooter. Unfortunately, a lot of the game plays like a first draft, and armor of detached irony doesn't do enough to protect it from its many, many kinks. Roiland's personal brand of gross-out parody and "oh, geez" improvisational humor is already starting to feel routine in video game form, but there are a few standout bits. Thankfully, there's a pretty fun shooter underneath all the alien semen, though stiff animations and some buggy moments can make it look slightly underbaked. If you're a fan of Rick and Morty (or, more appropriately, "Doc and Mharti"), then High on Life might just be the pickup you need-but it never fully develops any of its really good ideas into a satisfying final draft.
The Callisto Protocol feels like a throwback title, for better and worse. While the Dead Space comparisons are unavoidable, director Glen Schofield's return to survival horror does bring with it several new concepts, but many, like the melee combat system, suffer from poor execution. Still, if you're looking for a fun, B-movie disaster story with some famous Hollywood faces and a more straightforward, linear single-player experience, you could do worse-at least until the Dead Space remake launches next year.
While I’m not sure how the more hardcore racing fans will receive the game, this is the kind of release that’s perfect for those of us who come to those genre entries that offer something that’ll capture our imaginations (and reignite that occasional need for speed). And, if nothing else, Need for Speed: Unbound is available as a 10-hour full-game trial through both EA Play and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which is more than enough time to see if the game will do for you what it’s done so far for me.
Pentiment is a true achievement of marrying story, style, and theme into a magical and cohesive whole. In lieu of 3D graphics that try too hard and still fail to represent an authentic-feeling world, Obsidian's artists opted for a more illustrative aesthetic to tell their gripping story of a murder in an abbey, a choice that resonates throughout the entire game. While it might not satisfy every player, especially those expecting a more traditional RPG or adventure experience, those who can immerse themselves in Pentiment's vision of 16th century Bavaria will find one of the best games of the year.
God of War Ragnarök is a worthy continuation of (and conclusion to) 2018's God of War, building on that already strong foundation to deliver an experience deserving of a spot in gaming's pantheon. New tools and greater enemy variety elevate combat, and the expanded environments and cast give this sequel the epic scope its story demands. But the beating heart of the game remains its characters, and Ragnarök delivers an immensely satisfying next chapter for just about everyone-Kratos and Atreus, returning friends, and new faces alike.
Gotham City might never have looked better, but Gotham Knights' gameplay repetition and lack of length to the main narrative might deter all but the most hardcore Batman fans. Co-op adds a fun layer to all the crime fighting, and every character feels truly different from one another, even if the combat system takes some getting used to. Overall, there is a solid core here that hopefully can be built on in the future.
Even if you haven't played the first game in the series, Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope is a great introduction to a certain type of strategy game, iterating on a now-familiar formula with a readable, predictable approach to combat and some fun innovations in character movement. It knows where to streamline without sacrificing depth, all while starring mascots that fans know and love. Its exploration elements might slow the pace a bit too much, but you won't mind too much thanks to the gorgeous art direction.
Siblings Amicia and Hugo went to hell and back in A Plague Tale: Innocence in their quest to survive an inquisition, endless hordes of rats, and the humans that looked to take advantage of the young boy's curse. And now, in A Plague Tale: Requiem, they must pay the devil his due. This is the tale of the duo wanting to control their own fate as the fragile peace they had found falls apart, and the harsh lesson that their choices have consequences. As a game, Requiem is a bigger, better, and more ambitious adventure over its predecessor, but as a story, and a look into the lives of the characters that inhabit it, it's so much more.
Scorn is a daring aesthetic experiment in virtual, interactive science fiction. Taking inspiration from the art of H.R. Giger and Zdzislaw Beksiński, developer Ebb Software seems hellbent on giving its players a surreal, nightmarish experience, and it mostly succeeds. While combat can feel like a secondary concern, Scorn's puzzles provide just enough challenge to keep the game from feeling like a "walking simulator." Really, though, the main attraction is Scorn's compelling world, a fully realized artistic vision that will haunt you for days after experiencing it.
Look, I’m not going to present this to you as a definitive judgment on the game, because I haven’t put in the time I’d usually put into a real review. But part of the reason I’m calling it quits is because I have zero compulsion to play any more than I already have, and I think that’s a kind of verdict of its own.
Asterigos: Curse of the Stars has launched at a point in time where I have too many other things going on to give it the attention it’d need for a full review. And yet, after spending some time with it, I really wanted to at least give it some attention. This is the type of release that a lot of you could easily miss, and it’s got enough quirks and rough edges that I think some who try it might give up before getting too far. The more I’ve played Asterigos, though, the more I’ve wanted to keep playing. It doesn’t get everything right, but it does craft a game that feels genuinely unique for everything else I’ve played this year. I might have first discovered Asterigos due to expectations of it being a Soulslike, but what I found was something a little more.
Taiko no Tatsujin: Rhythm Festival is a solid new entry in Bandai Namco's rhythm game franchise, offering a roster of fresh music to enjoy, some creative new game modes, and more unlockables to have fun collecting. The game doesn't offer as many multiplayer options as its predecessor did, but does feature more to keep solo players occupied. Rhythm Festival also offers what is arguably the biggest addition the franchise has ever seen, the Taiko Music Pass-a new music subscription service that can greatly expand the life of the game while also bringing with it some additional concerns over our subscription-laiden future.
Desta: The Memories Between can't quite figure out how to make the most of its odd genre mashup. Though the individual elements are solid, a lack of commitment to roguelike randomization in the single mode available at launch means the systems don't really mesh together how you'd expect, and the replay value suffers as a result.
Shovel Knight Dig isn't just a cash-in on the series' popularity. It's a game that stands on its own merits as a worthy prequel to the original. The titular hero's moveset translates perfectly to a more vertical orientation, and Nitrome's bite-sized level design makes full use of Yacht Club's well-established gameplay style. The 16-bit-style visuals and music are an absolute treat, especially for fans of the series, and the roguelike elements present a nice sense of progression and replayability. Shovel Knight Dig might not be the exact sequel that fans have been clamoring for, but it's the next best thing.
You Suck at Parking introduces a creative twist to the isometric racing genre where "stopping" is the entire point. Its campaign is surprisingly extensive, with enough new obstacles and traps introduced throughout to keep things interesting. Unfortunately (and surprisingly), it's the multiplayer that lets the game down by not offering enough variety or reasons to keep coming back, even with a season pass hanging over your head.
Steelrising is a new Souls-like twist on the French Revolution that unfortunately doesn't see all of its lofty ambitions grow into accomplishments. While its gameplay is enjoyable once you get far enough to earn some unlocks and get main character Aegis more decked out, it tries to mimic elements of FromSoftware's action RPG classics without always understanding what made said elements work. When Spiders leans less on taking inspiration from other games and more on presenting its own ideas, however, we get an intriguing-and surprisingly deep-alternate take on an important moment in France's history.
Sure, this might be the third time that Naughty Dog has released The Last of Us, but it's also the most fully realized version. The enhanced visuals and animation bring Joel and Ellie's story to life in a way that was previously unimaginable, and the gameplay still holds up, despite not totally catching up to Part II. Whether or not you want to pay to play the same story for a third time is up to you, but that won't change the fact that it's better than it's ever been.
Immortality finds creator Sam Barlow building on the found-footage FMV framework of Her Story and Telling Lies in ambitious and surprising new ways. That boldness pays off in the frame-shifting narrative, which encompasses three meticulously crafted feature films, their creation, and the sinister truth of what happened to the woman who starred in them. But the "match cut" system you use to navigate between clips and discover new ones means the actual process of piecing together the story is messier and less satisfying than in his previous work.
Saints Row pairs a great open-world city and respectable gameplay fundamentals with repetitive, dated mission design, a story that never finds its footing, and too many bugs to count. Depending on what you prioritize in a game, you may get some enjoyment out of it, but at best you're looking at a diamond in a whole lot of rough.