The game shows that not only can Purple Lamb Studios give games the proper remake treatment, they can also follow them up with something refreshingly new, and I can’t wait to see what else the studio cooks up in the future. Especially if it’s another SpongeBob game, because if Cosmic Shake is any indication, Purple Lamb Studios clearly “gets it” concept wise, and are fully able to execute that concept to the fullest.
Not only is the 2023 Dead Space remake good, it takes everything that made the 2008 game good and makes it better, even outright swapping out certain weak points of the original to make a top-to-bottom must play for anyone looking for a good scare in their games.
Forspoken's magical parkour system has a lot of potential and can be fun. It offers a novel means of traversal, if nothing else. However, the combat and the vast world aren't enough for me to overlook many of Forspoken's other issues, which mainly start with Frey Holland herself.
Despite fumbling at the finish line, Children of Silentown presents an intriguing story that illustrates how fear can cause people to lose sight of what’s important. The puzzles are reasonably challenging and varied, with appealing visuals that help amplify the game’s moody atmosphere. Although the pacing drags in certain areas, Children of Silentown is an enjoyable point-and-click game overall and I would recommend it for both fans of the genre and puzzle game aficionados alike.
Lone Ruin will test your patience, but let’s all be grateful the arcade action comes without the arcade cost. The “just one more try” gameplay benefits greatly from the snappy load screens and menus, even on the Nintendo Switch version, making it easier to recommend this brutally difficult and magical indie hit from Super Rare Games.
Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider is great in a lot of ways. Even if it stays almost too close to the Mega Man X formula, it still utilizes it well. The visuals and music are definite highlights that put this game apart, but it also just feels satisfying to play. The ride is over all-too-soon, but I’m happy to have taken it. It was another good challenge and we cut up tons of machines, fascists, and fascist machines along the way. More than that, I’d love to see some speedruns of this game because it looks ripe for excellent players to learn and master. If you want a decent action platformer to kick 2023 off with, you can’t go wrong with Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider.
One Piece Odyssey is a wonderful trip down memory lane for fans of the series. The game’s original story is earnest and the endearing bond between the Straw Hat Pirates comes through loud and clear. The engaging combat system and a decent number of side quests don’t hurt either. Sure, new players might get overwhelmed by some of the rushed chapters in the midgame and the flow between chapters could be better, but it’s hard not to notice the amount of heart and soul that was poured into the game. More than just a fantastic anime-based video game, One Piece Odyssey is an impressive JRPG and already one of the best surprises this year.
Dragonflight feels like one of the best things to happen for World of Warcraft in sometime. Its reworks of base systems are fun and enjoyable, but its new content really stands out as impressive. Players will find exploring on their faithful companion, whether on the ground or in the sky, is quite the fun time, and the Dragon Isles themselves are well worth the journey. It may feel like jumping in the deep end here for newbies, but top to bottom, Dragonflight still feels like a great reason to play WoW.
Hello Neighbor 2 feels more like an updated version of the first game. It’s considerably larger than the first game, and the expansion of the AI technology to additional characters is a welcomed decision. Outside of that, there is very little separating the two games. Hello Neighbor 2 still has a clunky UI, unsatisfying controls, and problems being consistent with its own rules. Where there was a real opportunity to take the franchise to the next level, this sequel just feels like more of the same.
Originality is a rare quality in games, and Blacktail has this in spades – the Slavic folklore, the surrealist narrative, the unusual plot structure, the craggy yet dreamlike artstyle, the archery-based gameplay. Sure, some of the systems could be simplified and streamlined, but at least they aim to test the boundaries and seek a different point of view. Blacktail may not be a graphical marvel or a masterstroke in action gameplay, but this indie title has a fascinating magic all its own that’s difficult to define and even harder to find in games today.
There’s combat and light puzzle-solving, but at its core, High on Life is a narrative sandbox adventure that requires little more than your time and attention. As someone who’s been feeling a little stressed and seasonally depressed lately, I sincerely appreciated that (and the ability to watch Tammy and the T-Rex, that’s also pretty rad).
Despite the growing pains, Darktide is a solid co-operative action game that’s great for a group of friends to play in spurts. At launch, the experience is limited in progression and variety, but the gameplay is challenging and viscerally satisfying enough to keep your attention. It doesn’t hurt that the soundtrack slaps and, performance issues aside, the graphics pack a punch. Since Fatshark is known for updating the Vermintide series over time with frequent content updates, Darktide is expected to improve as well. It may even deserve a higher score within the next six months, but I can only review what’s available now. So if you’re considering a purchase of the game, think of it as an investment that will likely pay off in a few years. It’s more than understandable, though, if you would rather wait for Darktide to meet your standards for a full release.
The Callisto Protocol is a deeply immersive sci-fi horror experience that firmly grabs you at the start and doesn’t let go. While this immersion shows its cracks during the transition into new areas, it’s not enough to ruin the overall experience.
Evil West is a straight shooter. It doesn’t pretend to be something more than it is — a game about cowboys slaying vampires without mercy. Despite being a tad unvaried, the combat is viscerally gratifying and confidently uncomplicated. And for that alone, the game is largely able to overcome the hiccups with the limited multiplayer, graphics crashes, and awkwardly edited story. Though the campaign is fairly short given the asking price, it has a permadeath mode and new game plus for replayability. Evil West may be rough around the corners, but it’s worth a shot of whiskey down at the nearest saloon.
The Devil in Me often subverts your expectations in such a way that diminishes player agency and makes your own choices feel arbitrary. Although its added gameplay features make for a more interactive experience, they hardly break the mold and were poorly executed. Technical issues tarnished the experience overall. The game still relies heavily on QTE-based survival mechanics and does little to set itself apart from its predecessors. What had the potential to be a truly horrific conclusion to The Dark Pictures Anthology amounts to little more than a lackluster thriller with a predictable narrative that opts for shock value and jumpscares over quality.