Marvel’s Midnight Suns is a refreshing delight. One you know went through rigorous stages of pitching and proposal and, at one point, may have been left on the cutting room floor. I am so glad this game has been made as it offers a fascinating insight into characters you know and some you may not. It tells a compelling tale that has room for humor and typical Marvel fun. Most of all, it has intriguing gameplay mechanics that evolve over time and individually suit one of the most impressive rosters we’ve seen in any Marvel title before. Midnight Suns is simply brilliant and a must play whether you love the franchise or just fancy a bit of strategic action.
Swordship is definitely a tough game to love at times and it doesn’t go easy on the player from the word go, but if you manage to get through its early challenges, start unlocking better ships and items, the game really opens up and the creativity and quality begins to shine. That, sadly, can be quite a big ask for a game with such hyper-sensitive controls, regular insta-deaths, and enemy frequency and brutality.
World of Warcraft Dragonflight is one of Blizzard’s best expansions to date. The areas are massive, completely content rich, and there’s so many optional things to see and do. Dragon riding is a game changer for this franchise, opening up World of Warcraft in even more interesting ways and the cinematic quality and overall polish is impressive for an eighteen year old game. Dungeons remain a bit of a question mark for me and I did have some early frustrations with the dragon riding, so I’m looking forward to presenting some final thoughts in the near future. But if you’re worried this expansion doesn’t live up to the hype or you don’t believe it’s possible to get drawn in by WoW again, this is the best the game has been since the early days.
New Joe & Mac – Caveman Ninja doesn’t match up to the charm of the original, despite the beautifully created art. The gameplay is often frustrating and unbalanced, new mechanics included make the experience unnecessarily hard, and it’s quite barren for its price tag. With enemy pathing and aggressiveness really over the top, and the remixed sounds barely audible, you might be better served sticking with the original despite the extensive support coming post-launch
Pokémon Scarlet and Violet is the revolution the franchise needs. Years of work has built up to this moment with an open world, flexibility in questing, and an interesting collection of monsters to gather and fight with. Multiplayer possibilities, with a renewed focus on matchups and fresh ways to fight ensure the foundations and cores of the series are as strong and intact as ever. But as well nuanced as it all is, performance, exploration restrictions and some aesthetic issues hold the game back from its full potential.
Syberia – The World Before is a wonderfully directed, well-flowing story that keeps you guessing and invested through developing mechanics, varied puzzle solving and well written characters. There are some minor performance issues but nothing that holds the adventure back from being a fitting, apt conclusion and the best installment in a series that began nearly 20 years ago.
Pentiment has unexpectedly shot towards the top of my favourite games of the year. It’s yet further proof of the amazing talent and creativity bubbling away in the Obsidian studios and is one of the best examples of a game that dares to be different by not trying to do everything, instead focusing its approach. Smartly written, beautifully drawn, and masterfully designed, Pentiment is an intelligent, humorous adventure that is as enriching as it is enjoyable.
Gungrave G.O.R.E does well enough with its gunplay and action, keeping itself suitably arcadey and enjoyable, and that’s when the game is at its best. But movement is annoyingly staggered, visuals are washed out and the varied mission types are usually misses, ending up frustrating pretty sharpish with unfair victory conditions.
Evil West has a fun, entertaining gameplay flow that is engineered very well, and moves along at a healthy, enjoyable pace, introducing mechanics gradually and smartly to keep everything feeling fresh. While the combat is first rate, it unfortunately gets bogged down by the game’s insistence on blocking everything into arenas, removing some of the dynamism. This is also coupled with some graphical issues. There’s a strong foundation for a very exciting future here, though, and I hope to see more from Evil West in the future with a game that fully explores the scope of this interesting new world Flying Wild Hog have built.
The Devil In Me has its faults with glitches, narrative hiccups and visual issues, but from a character, pacing, decision making and entertainment standpoint this is the best of The Dark Pictures Anthology so far and ends Season One with a suitable bloodthirsty, gripping finale that will leave you hungry for much more
Bloody Ties drops you right in at the deep end yet it keeps you waiting for the good bit until an hour or so in. When you do get there, the action stays fresh, different, and oftentimes interesting, and the story has enough twists and turns to keep you guessing and invested. It’s a nice mix of everything you’ve seen in Dying Light 2 already, not really pushing boundaries or doing anything new, but still justifying its value and adding even more content to a game already loaded with it.
Somerville isn’t perfect and does struggle to get some things right with its physics, puzzles, and interaction, but this is still one of the best-paced games I’ve played this year, with a story to match. With stunning visual effects, Somerville just oozes atmosphere and stands among the most interesting, engaging sci-fi epics in recent memory.
Bravery & Greed is an ambitious dungeon brawler that manages to land favourably on most of its concepts despite an incredibly high bar of difficulty. Epic boss battles, varied classes and creative card systems keep the experience feeling fresh, but while each run is intended to feel different, most do tend to see you fight a huge amount of enemies in one room so it can feel a bit grindy and dull at times.
Sonic Frontiers takes the Hedgehog in an exciting, fulfilling direction. The controls feel cohesive and coherent, the open zone concept is a smart game-changer, with the freedom of exploration coupled with a genuine feeling of enjoyment. It doesn’t always get its choices right, it doesn’t look as crisp as it could and there’s a few things holding it back from being the game it should be. Ultimately, though, the future of the franchise is looking less blurry and more bright!
God of War Ragnarök is a masterpiece in every sense of the word. It’s visually enchanting, has world-class acting, is complete with a scintillating musical score, and pacing that puts it head and shoulders above everything else in the AAA space. This isn’t just the best God of War game ever made, it’s a generation-defining title that makes the best of PlayStation 5 and leads the line in terms of accessibility, care, attention to detail and quality. If you’ve been waiting for the game to justify your journey into the next generation, this is it!
Shootas, Blood and Teef is an unexpected delight at times. It’s not perfect, has some performance problems on Switch and is over in pretty short order, but there’s few better entry points into the Warhammer 40,000 world, and certainly not many that bring a smile to your face. The Orks are great and prove it in heavy rock-and-roller fashion.
Them’s Fightin’ Herds is one of the best surprise packages I’ve played this year. It’s a tight-fighting package, with an absolutely stunning art style and a decent range of modes. The roster is a bit too slight and there are some controller frustrations and rough difficulty spikes, but this is a smart genre hybrid that may just become your fighting mane.
Lucy Dreaming is among the best point and click adventures in a year that has been full of some brilliant ones. It starts out as a homage but it ends with its own identity and the promise of an all-new humorous franchise. Some tonal frustrations aside, this is definitely comfort food for adventure game purists and a must play!
Finding the Flowzone is a blast! Each track plays out like a skating rollercoaster, experimenting with the wind mechanic in smart ways. Across the five layers, the difficulty stays finely balanced, and the journey to Radlantis, for the most part is a good one. My favourite memories and moments in OlliOlli World came from this DLC.