The arrival of Pokémon Sword and Shield was a turbulent journey, and it’s clear more than ever that Game Freak is itching to change the formula as it transitions to new hardware. Although a lot of its efforts went land well, the good points feel too shallow while there are glaring issues with the game that make it hard to stand on its own two feet as a complete entry in the Pokémon series. Ongoing updates may be able to sustain the player base past the initial release, but Pokémon Sword and Shield wasn’t ready to leave its mark for the franchise’s first home console outing.
Grimshade is, in a word, a mess. There are seeds of good ideas that can be seen in the world writing and combat, and the art and side quests are mostly good. However, mountains of dry writing, numerous translation errors, bugs, performance issues, and the overall lack of depth to the combat make the experience drag. What's truly a shame is there is clearly potential in the game, but it's choked out by all of the issues it has.
In a slew of releases from Capcom for many of their well-loved series, Devil May Cry 5 continues the trend as a solid entry within the DMC mythos. By expanding upon the established combat systems and making sure the characters are looking slick and stylish while hacking through legions of demonic forces, the developers chose to spend their time tightening up what they do best, and it shows. Incredible combo depth, distinct character styles, and plethora or difficulties are sure to make for one hell of a ride.
Baba is You is a rare sort of puzzle game that I think everyone should play. It may not have the production values of a big budget game, but everything present works incredibly well together. The pacing, visual and sound design, level design, and implementation of its core mechanic create one of the best puzzle games I've ever played. What really puts it over the top for me is how it translates complicated logical puzzle solving into a concrete form that is easily understood. It's simple, accessible, and immensely gratifying.
Kingdom Hearts III is the game that fans have been craving for all these years but at the same time is a daunting endeavor for rookies to dive head first into. While veterans of the series are used to Kingdom Hearts’ confusing plots lines and odd idiosyncrasies, the great moment-to-moment gameplay and awkward storytelling has a large potential to create a lopsided experience for first-timers. At its core, it’s a truly enjoyable game with adventures to be had, but is unfortunately bogged down at times by its own story.
Chances are if you enjoy tactics games, or the games Wargroove so clearly draws inspiration from, you're going to enjoy Wargroove. Mechanical changes to critical hits, and settlements, as well as the puzzle mode, beefy content editor, and overall unit balance make for a fairly enjoyable tactics game. Despite the litany that sets in from the campaign and lack of overall variety in the commanders, there's still a huge amount to love about Wargroove and the many ways to play it round out a tactics game that is easy to recommend.
Not without its minor faults, Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition brings the enhanced version that fans in the west have been asking for nearly a decade. Despite the age, the graphical improvements and still solid gameplay mechanics keep it from feeling antiquated compared to the newer entries in the series. The definitive edition of the game is sure to delight fans who had played the original or those getting to experience it for the first time.
It almost feels redundant to write it here, but Slay the Spire comes highly recommended. All of its mechanics work together to prevent repetition through encouraging the player to take calculated risks and forcing them to think strategically about how to utilize their available card selection. The variety is also delivered to the player as they continue to play the game, so as to prevent overwhelming with the sheer volume of what's available. The additional game modes in the daily climb, custom game modes, and mods help to fully round out a game which already has an immense amount of diversity. While I wasn't a fan of the art style, that is only a minor gripe against Slay the Spire. It is one of the most well-designed rogue-likes I've played and a decidedly engaging deck building game.
A fantastic co-op game, Overcooked 2 is an easy recommendation for those looking for a game to play with friends and family. The pacing, mechanics that encourage cooperative behaviour, the addition of a much-needed arcade mode, and accessibility all make for a decidedly fun game. The lack of variety in the arcade and versus' mode stages is a bit disappointing, as is how much of the game's identity is owed to what came before it, but these are only minor misgivings in the face of what Overcooked 2 does well.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate delivers on what it promises to the player: a complete package of all things Smash past and present. A lengthy and engaging single player campaign, reasonable gacha mechanics, and a refined multiplayer experience all come together to create the ultimate experience. Although it's not certain if the series will continue or if Sakurai will be back at its helm, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate delivers more than enough to satisfy any gamer's appetite.
Putting all the bugs aside, Fallout 76 feels uninspired and soulless. It takes a step backward in the areas that Bethesda was an expert at, and at the same time, tries its hand at too many others. Clashing ideas and features create an identity crisis for the game: Is it an RPG or an FPS? A social or narrative-driven game? The online component only adds to the complexity, leaving the game as a barebones, jumbled mess. Although future mod support from the community may salvage the game from its initial disastrous state, Fallout 76 has already done enough damage to tarnish the reputation of a 20-year-old franchise.
Tsioque didn't set my world on fire, but it's an adorable game and pleasant way to spend a few hours. The visuals are used to great effect and are nice to look at, which helps to make the entire experience pleasant. The real star is the design for the puzzles and checkpoints, both of which make for a fair and enjoyable experience even if mistakes happen. While the animations dragged out exploration, the other elements worked well together to create an enjoyable point and click game that is worth checking out if you're into the genre.
HITMAN 2 tends more to the safe side and relies on the framework of its predecessor to provide more of its signature brand of assassination. The most notable change is the incredible size of the locations as well as spending that extra time to make sure each area has a purpose and feels satisfying to explore. The disguise mechanics leave a bit to be desired, but there is still the capability to take on challenge runs through the Contracts system that enact various restrictions. Plenty of reasons exist to keep going back into the locales, increasing replayability significantly and help keep the limited number of regions from getting too stale as Agent 47 continues his worldwide tour.
Despite its shortcomings, I think CrossCode is a must play game for fans of RPGs. Its homage to MMOs is too faithful causing CrossCode to inherit negative qualities associated with the genre such as an abundance of fetch quests, and repetitive enemies. However, this same authenticity to MMOs also creates a believable meta-world. The combat, puzzles, aesthetic, and especially the characters all combine to make CrossCode a deeply satisfying game to play, which compelled me to stay with it for over fifty hours. If you haven't already played CrossCode, it is well worth your time to do so.
Despite a few oversights, Megaquarium is a fine game and easy recommendation for fans of management sims, or someone who wants to make their unique aquariums. While it lacks financial management the challenges presented with managing fish, the layout of your aquarium, staff, and prestige all more than make up for it. Aligning each of these variables so that everything continues to run smoothly is just as enthralling as it is in other similar simulation games. The exhaustive menus, lack of contextual information, and missing all-in-one fish display are annoyances but don't negate all the things Megaquarium does well.
Super Mario Party is a return to what made it great. While it doesn't do much to radically innovate the series, Nintendo has proven that sometimes simplicity is best left untouched. This is a party game that will bring back nostalgic memories, ruin friendships, and provide a delightful time for whatever sized party you may bring.
Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise can be appreciated for taking the base combat system and changing up the attack styles and enemy variety to more effectively reflect the established lore of the FotNS franchise. The weak story and somewhat ineffective use of the game world leaves a lot to be desired and may make it difficult for those looking for an in-depth story with a more incorporated game-world. Despite that, it creates a spectacle that fans will likely enjoy seeing as well as attract anime junkies to a more "extreme" Yakuza brawler.
Despite the lack of depth and content, I still believe Floor Kids is worth a look, especially for fans of rhythm games. The aesthetic truly captures the street culture that led to the inception of breakdancing, and the simplicity of the game makes it great for short fun bursts of play. It won't set your world on fire, but Floor Kids is a vibrant game that is immensely fun to play and one I'd most certainly recommend.
The art, music, exploration, and quests all make for a very enjoyable game, and the pinball concept is novel enough to distinguish the game from other members of the genre. The bosses and a large number of underwhelming upgrades don’t manage to overshadow what the game does well. While I found the pinball mechanics frustrating, your mileage may vary depending on your skill at pinball, and I still believe Yoku’s Island Express is worth a look in spite of this.