Press Start's Reviews
Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is an immense and expansive middle chapter of this ambitious remake trilogy. A reimagined and redefined behemoth of a game that simultaneously plays on nostalgia and forces you to question your memories of the original. While it suffers from some rote open world elements and a few technical issues, Rebirth is another magnificent entry into the gilded halls of Final Fantasy.
Helldivers 2 is a masterstroke, a sensational sequel to one of my favourite games and an absolute must play for people who enjoy simple, cinematic, and irreverent fun. The shift in perspective, the upgraded graphics and sound design, and the hard lean into satirical humour have launched it easily into one of my favourite games of 2024. I highly recommend that you suit up and hit the Hellpods soldier, I'm doing my part, are you?
Just like the Daewoo Lanos I inherited from my sister when I eventually got my license, Pacific Drive is an imperfect but undeniably charming experience. It's filled to the brim with sensational atmosphere, intriguing mystery and edge-of-your-seat cinematic adventure. If you can buckle up and push through the foibles of this otherwise fantastic survival 'roadlite', I guarantee you won't regret getting behind the wheel.
While its ship customisation revels in aesthetic delights, little else here allows for the kind of pirate fantasy we've been waiting for since 2013. Despite some early promise and admirable endgame ideas, Skull and Bones charts a fairly unremarkable course through its gorgeously empty ocean.
Mario vs. Donkey Kong is a great remake – implementing a strong shift in artistic direction, engaging co-op options and well-crafted puzzle and platforming elements. Co-op is an especially clever inclusion, and combined with difficulty options, broadens the appeal of an otherwise niche experience to a wider audience. While hardcore players might be let down by the lack of difficulty, Mario vs. Donkey Kong is a sensational update that fans of the series and even newcomers will enjoy.
Tomb Raider I-III Remastered is the best example of a remaster I think I've seen in years. Where some titles have played fast and loose, with full overhauls of their game mechanics or visual styles, Aspyr has taken a classic trilogy and revamped it as a love letter to its origins, bringing memories of old back to life. As more and more titles get the reboot or reimagining treatment, it is refreshing to see an old classic come back in a new style.
Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden is well beyond anything Don't Nod has ever done. It successfully merges their renowned knack for solid characters and great stories, engaging and enjoyable combat and a unique setting to create an experience like no other. It's a incredible fun and easily the studios most ambitious game so far. It doesn't get much better than this.
Ultros takes the durable, and fortunately resurgent, genre of Metroidvania and places a clever roguelike spin on it that incorporates memory and gardening, placing it all within a cosmic womb orbiting a black hole at the edge of space. It'll be El Heurvo's art that's sure to capture your attention at first, but Ultros' several wedded ideas flower into a game that does well to keep it.
Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League is a serviceable action game bogged down by an insistence on being a live service title. While the characters are well written and the comedy is on point, a handful of repetitive objective types betray the intentions of an otherwise strong combat system. There is potential here – perhaps over time, Suicide Squad can evolve into something better – but for now, it's something that only absolute diehards will enjoy, and even then, that's not a guarantee.
Persona 3 Reload is a confident remake of a truly seminal RPG that cements itself as the definitive way to play Persona 3. It's clear that careful thought and deliberation has gone into every aspect of Reload to respect the legacy of Persona 3 while preserving its timeless charm and atmosphere. An absolute must play for any fan of the franchise, and a great point to jump in for those looking to take the plunge into Persona.
Tekken 8 shows just how easy it is for a long-running franchise to remain fresh and relevant, while still offering a familiar experience to established fans. An engaging Story Mode coupled with Character Episodes keeps the narrative running, while Arcade Quest and Tekken Ball gives newcomers the opportunity to learn the ropes. While some fans may not like that their favourite character is missing from the roster, Tekken 8 fills the gaps with fresh new faces and the hint of more characters on the horizon. It's time to get ready for the next battle!
Infinite Wealth is a stellar follow-up to Yakuza: Like a Dragon in just about every way. It's bigger, bolder and with some smart tweaks to combat it's a significantly better turn-based RPG. Series fans have a ton to look forward to in the larger-than-life story and emotional character moments, and though there are some glaring issues with its dungeons and post-game offerings, the end result is the franchise's best entry yet.
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy completes the goal of bringing all Ace Attorney games to modern platforms with great ardour. While the three games included are more contentious favourites amongst fans, there's no doubt that Capcom has put in some great effort in bringing these games up to scratch for modern audiences. So, while the writing is still witty and the narrative mostly enthralling, this collection is also easily the best the series has ever looked and a collection many fans will appreciate.
The Cub is a short but sweet little tribute to licensed Mega Drive platformers that revisits the fantastic world set up in Demagog's previous game, Golf Club Wasteland, and comes out just as striking and memorable. Crucially, the warm tones and cool tunes of Radio Nostalgia from Mars are back to have you vibing in your seat for a handful of hours as you throw a small, mutant child into mortal danger over and over again.
Another Code: Recollection breathes new life into a dormant series by creating a cohesive narrative in a remake with updated visuals. While some great effort has gone into modernising the games from a presentation standpoint, some of the creative liberties taken and frustrating motion-controlled puzzles will no doubt leave fans longing for a more faithful recreation.
The Last of Us Part II Remastered might ring up an emotional toll that some aren't ready to part with so soon after its original launch, however it's still a worthwhile release thanks in large part to its celebratory behind-the-scene glimpses at how the game came to be. Adding more value to the package is No Return, an excellent, compact roguelike that feels like an apt showcase for the game's blunt force combat.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Lost Crown. It took me a little under 18 hours to finish the game with quite a bit of exploring off the beaten track along the way – and the next day all I wanted to do was pick the game back up get to more exploring. It's got compelling exploration, great feeling movement, engaging combat and satisfying puzzles. Genuine innovation in the genre and smartly integrated accessibility features make The Lost Crown a game I heartily recommend.
Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince is a middling entry into a once legendary spin-off series. For every element or system the game nails, there's a confusing design decision that holds them back. While The Dark Prince is far from terrible, it doesn't reach the heights of recent entries into this storied franchise.
Kratos is here to contemplate his future purpose and learns to forgive himself for his past deeds while still acknowledging and learning from them, making for a potent mix of the Greek and Norse sides of the franchise with some returning characters, locations and other bits that I wouldn’t want to spoil. It’s a treat for longtime fans as well as a very appreciated bit of history for those who jumped on in recent entries.
Somewhat appropriately, Echoes of the Fallen feels like a vague echo of CBU III's epic RPG, faintly calling back the game's excellent combat and intriguing Fallen lore in mostly expected ways. With The Rising Tide promising a substantial new chapter with plenty of content and the final piece of the Eikonic puzzle, fans will have to wait until Autumn 2024 for a deeper return to Valisthea, though for now this serves as a brief but welcome last check-in before the year's end.