Rival Megagun, as I said, is a fun experience. For those that played a lot of these types of titles back in the day, it'll draw some serious nostalgia. Even now listening to the music while writing this, it sounds very reminiscent of the 16-bit era. My only major concerns with the game are the keyboard controls (easily fixed by using a controller) and the shortness of it. Like I mentioned earlier, the story mode is excellent, but once you've run through the handful of levels with multiple characters, it loses some of its charm. Sure you can play on harder difficulties, but that's mostly in the form of challenge only so you can collect some more cards. Expect to win some and lose some while playing online, which I hope will continue to have some legs. I was able to find matches quickly, but it's hard to judge what the community will look like in 6 months to a year.
Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom is everything that you'll want in an official sequel to the Monster World franchise. Regardless of the late game frustrations and spike in difficulty, it is one of the best modern day platformers I have ever played.
The well-designed and vibrant post-apocalyptic world of Darksiders III is simply a joy to traverse. The narrative is well-written, and the boss encounters, including the interactions between characters, before, during, and after encounters are quite enjoyable. Although the game takes its inspiration from new titles and genres, it still feels like it belongs in the series I've been playing for the past eight years. On the technical front, the game suffers from occasional hitching and slowdown, even on an Xbox One X.
Speed Brawl has a lot more to offer than standard beat ‘em up titles. I certainly dig the unique and colorful stylized animated characters. The game features satisfying local and online multiplayer for the game's 50+ events. There weren't any joinable open online parties while testing, but I was able to invite a friend without issue. There are global leaderboards for each of the events if you are into that type of competition as well.
Steel Rats may be the surprise I've been looking for as we get into the busy (and crowded) holiday season. It combines a rather robust motorcycle combat system with a slick movement system. The developers even threw in massive boss encounters that utilize all of your abilities. It wasn't apparent at first that you can freely switch between biker members, but once realized, you can tackle any situation. Each biker has their own set of skills, but regardless of who you use, the game is simply fun and engaging. There are also unlocking bike and character skins for each of the four characters. Playing on a PlayStation 4 Pro, however, textures seem to take forever to pop-in, which is disappointing as the rest of the game is mostly impressive visually.
I wanted to enjoy this game, I honestly did. However, The One We Found suffers from a case of "no polish." There's a lot of good ideas and gameplay in theory, but the practical aspect falls short of expectations. If this had received some more time to fix the overall buggy experience and improve upon some of the clunky control aspects and elements, I feel this review would be in a much different tone entirely.
2064: Read Only Memories draws its inspirations from the greats of the old-school adventure games like Grim Fandango, Myst, and Monkey Island. This point-and-click adventure title has all of the trappings of games made upwards of 20 years ago contained in a beautifully rendered pixel art world with a fun, quirky cast of characters behind it. For fans of slower, puzzle-based games, this will be a must-have on their consoles. However, it is better suited for the PC and feels a little sluggish and off-putting using an Xbox controller when trying to manipulate objects. Plus, with how the game is slower paced and requires a lot of backtracking and managing of objects to help fill out the game's world and provide humor, those seeking faster and more direct gameplay/humor will turn away quickly.
Without question, Call of Cthulhu captures the nightmarish Lovecraftian cosmic horror feel. Even if you haven't read any of the mythos or haven't experienced the tabletop game, it is still a satisfying investigation into madness. It's impossible to see everything the game has to offer in a single playthrough, but the stealth and equally awful boss encounters and gunplay (one section near the end of the game) may turn players off from returning. An option to autocomplete these sections may be a worthwhile addition, especially for those that want to experience the wonderfully dark storytelling and see all of the alternate choices.
GRIP: Combat Racing is a blast from the past, with intense racing and thrilling arena-based competition. The developers set out to make a modern Rollcage and have thoroughly succeeded. The inclusion of split-screen multiplayer, a rarity these days, is much appreciated, especially with the highly customizable online experience.
While it can be challenging, Phantom Halls is a cheesy horror movie lover's dream game. The combination of fun gameplay, RPG elements, and an oddball story about the "Slayer Club" (wink wink) in their efforts to save their town show just how far Incedium is willing to go to show their love of B-movie Horror. There are so many callbacks to iconic franchises (Evil Dead DLC anyone?) There's some definite challenge as well, which I think many will enjoy.
Drunkn Bar Fight on Halloween aims to provide those looking for a quick and easy VR experience to share with friends and family during Halloween. It is a very streamlined version of the game, featuring only the one level and populates it with hordes of the undead. The inclusion of firearms and new weapons is appreciated, but once you get your fill, there isn't much else to do. It's a decent addition to the full game, but the trimmed down stand-alone experience is lacking
Catch & Release is the epitome of a relaxing VR fishing experience. It feels so great to unwind on a lake in the middle of nowhere and fish for an afternoon, without worrying about mosquitoes. The single location in the game is large enough that I never grew tired. It's almost harkened back to the days where families would return year after year to their favorite vacation spot.
The Jackbox Party Pack 5 is going to be the go-to party game for family get-togethers for the rest of the year and beyond. The distinctive games are mostly charming, and each one should have legs to keep you from getting bored, except for Zeeple Dome. Jackbox Games is indeed not afraid to experiment with new gameplay mechanics and designs, and more often than not they tend to work out.
NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 feels like an evolution from the first game, providing a smoother gameplay experience and a deeper online offering. Anyone can jump into the game and perform a self alley-oop double front flip dunk with ease. It's as accessible as you would expect and demand of a traditional arcade game. However, the inclusion of microtransactions is disheartening. Sure, you can only purchase cosmetic packs, not actual player cards, but you can negate the entire grind in the game, by unlocking all players for a price. The Xbox One version of the game occasional hangs at least once a day, forcing a restart.
The Missing: J.J Macfield And The Island Of Memories is a heartfelt yet dark emotional tale, wrapped in a side-scrolling puzzle-platformer. It has macabre overtones, especially considering you are required to lose your limbs and at times throw them to dislodge objects to advance. There is a sense of poetry in The Missing, tying together emotions of death and rebirth. It's quite an intense emotional personal tale, but outside of collecting donuts, there isn't much reason to play through a second time.
Being the penultimate episode in The Council, Burning Bridges has set the stage for what should be a stunning conclusion. The newly added ability, which I won't spoil, combines both a new gameplay mechanic and helps fill in some missing gaps in the narrative. It also opens up all new questions and hopefully things can be solved in the final episode without feeling rushed. If it weren't for the continued technical failings, Burning Bridges would be scored higher. It was a shame that some of the most pivotal choices in the game don't alter how all the other guests react to you.
Overall if you are looking for more in-depth fishing, then you might need to look elsewhere. Dovetails Games' Fishing Sim World came up short in creating that tense reeling experience, but it scores points with its variety of maps and beautifully rendered locales. The predefined equipment makes it easy for new players to start fishing without learning any of the smaller details that fishing entails at a more advanced level. There is an online multiplayer mode, letting you fish freely in a relaxing setting or set a goal, such as seeing who can land the biggest catch.
The Nintendo Switch lacks in titles that fit a gaming niche as the one Wasteland 2 fills. Yes, there are RPGs on the system, but the mixture between the tactical combat gameplay and the extensive RPG story is a small category of games. Given how much possibility Wasteland 2: Director's Cut has, I think it's a solid title. What detracts from the game are the gameplay issues, awkward camera controls, and the unfortunate visuals. Players willing to put the time in and overlook these flaws will find an intensely rich game, but I'm just not sure everyone is willing to do that on a system that continues to gain new titles.
Destiny 2: Forsaken cements itself as the savior that was desperately needed to reinvigorate a dwindling player count. It has been a long road, but Bungie has been committed to turning the development of the game back to the very loyal and adamant fan base. While some of the changes feel that they were done to appease the dedicated players and leaving everyone else on the outside looking in, there is indeed some great ideas that can be expanded upon. The inclusion of in-game triumphs tasks dozens of various tasks to be completed, some of which you'll already have done. Not to mention, all of the game's lore can be read and viewed from within the game. The collection section includes every weapon (all rarities) you have collected, as well as ghost shells, ships, and more. You could reacquire any item if you previous dismantled it for a reasonable cost.