Psychonauts 2 is easily one of the most entertaining platformers that I have played in recent years. The level design is so impressive and constantly throwing new ideas at you that creates a fresh gameplay experience throughout the games lengthy story. Once again, Double Fine Productions have instilled themselves as some of the finest writers on the gaming scene with a narrative that successfully manages to walk the fine line of merging comedy with sensitive mental health themes and being completely respectful of the subject matter. Raz has equally become one of my all-time favourite gaming protagonists and I really hope we won’t have to wait another 16 years to jump into some new mind-bending experiences.
Murder Mystery Machine is a thought-provoking puzzle game that requires you to think outside of the box if you wish to obtain the best grade. Rather than having you solve the crimes committed by simply talking to and arresting the suspects, you must piece together the who, why, where, and how through the use of the initiative crime board mechanic. However, in order to get the best result, you must leave no stone left unturned and ensure you link every possible clue and conclusion to the correct reason and motive – which is very hard, even for veteran puzzle gamers. It delivers an interesting story over eight cases, full of suspects, clues, red herrings, beautiful dioramas, and victims, but can a rookie solve one of the biggest cases of her career?
Timothy’s Night is the much prettier, dolled-up twin-sibling to the original colour-less 2018 edition. Instead of simply porting the same game to the PlayStation 5, the developers have added more content, changed the whole colour scheme, updated various mechanics, boosted the visuals, and expanded the world, so despite being technically the same game, it felt fresh and new. Due to the ambitious visual overhaul, the game feels like it dips below 60fps at times, but not enough to distract you from the brilliant use of the DualSense controller and fun gameplay. Whether you’ve played the original game or not, Timothy’s Night is a fun game to replay or experience for the first time. There is no free upgrade, as it’s more of a remaster than a 1:1 update, but the 6-8 hours is well worth the price of the game. Also, it’s great to see a small indie developer fully utilise almost everything the PlayStation 5 offers in order to enhance their game and deliver a product closer to their vision, rather than a simple port with no changes.
I have to agree, Hades deserved every single award and critically acclaimed review it received, it’s one of the best roguelike games I’ve played on PlayStation. The visuals, voice acting, music, and gameplay all work perfectly together, creating a very polished, addictive, and challenging, yet rewarding experience which you’ll instantly become hooked on and find hard to put down. The game does suffer from a lack of variety when you’re playing in long sessions, but that’s because the game is beautifully hand-crafted rather than procedurally generated, so it’s to be expected. If you’re not mesmerised by the satisfying combat, strategically planning your upgrades and boon pick-ups, or wiping your sweaty palms after an intense boss fight, you’ll be fully engaged with the brilliant narrative and interesting NPC interactions.
Microsoft Flight Simulator offers the most detailed, realistic and impressive flight simulator package which is also an absolute marvel to play on Xbox consoles, whether it be the Series X or less powerful Series S. Asobo Studio should be congratulated for their accomplishment in bringing this game to consoles, especially with the fact that the game offers the whole world to explore, including real-time mapping and weather systems. For newcomers to the series, that may initially find the thought of a flight simulator daunting, you can be assured that the accessibility and assistance options, along with the flight training challenges, all help to offer an experience that is enjoyable whilst still feeling authentic. For flight enthusiasts, you don’t need me to tell you that Microsoft Flight Simulator is an absolute must-buy!
The Falconeer: Warrior Edition is one of the best dogfight games I’ve ever played, it looks beautiful, plays brilliantly, sounds amazing, and contains a lot of interesting gameplay and story to keep you entertained. If you feel the combat or missions are getting a little repetitive, go exploring and seek out hidden ruins and settlements, then return to the main story when you’re ready to progress, there’s no pressure to stick to a linear path. Casually take your time, bond with your warbird and enhance your abilities, then help out another faction as you uncover more of the story – it’s one of the best indie games I’ve played this year.
Death’s Door is easily one of the best and well-rounded action games that I’ve played this year. It gets all the basics right and then excels with a compelling story and cast of characters, a gorgeous and interesting world to explore, and combat that is intense and extremely enjoyable. It’s an absolute must and has left me now never quite looking at a crow in the same way, always wondering whether it’s about to attack and reap my soul!
Ironically, The Forgotten City is a game I’ll never forget – it’s a brilliant narrative adventure that requires you to think about how your actions will affect others in order to achieve your goal. I never played the original mod but if it was even half as good as this, I can see why it was universally praised by the three million people who played it – it’s a very unique and well-executed concept combined with an interesting narrative, fun gameplay, satisfying multi-possibility solutions, and trophies that push you to change the way you play the game. All-in-all, it’s a fantastic experience that is best played with no guides or walkthrough, simply set aside a few hours and see if you can solve the many small events which lead up to the big mystery.
Despite being a very simple HD re-release of the PSP original game, AKIBA’S TRIP: Hellbound & Debriefed has as much charm, lewd narrative, and addictive gameplay as its superior sequel. Once you get stuck into the game you’ll begin to overlook the fuzzy assets and simplified gameplay, becoming enthralled by the comedic writing, addictive stripping combat, many side missions, and questionable dialogue. There’s lots of replayability due to multiple paths, endings, and characters, with a massive list of tasks to complete, not to mention the insanely difficult ‘Holic’ mode. AKIBA’S TRIP: Hellbound & Debriefed may not be a looker in terms of modern JRPGs, and I may prefer the sequel over this original game, but I’m glad that we finally got a chance to play it in English officially on modern consoles. If you enjoyed Undead & Undressed then you’ll enjoy this one too, as long as you can look past the very low-quality visuals.
Despite the rocky launch due to a critical bug, Song of Horror: Complete Edition is a brilliant horror game with a unique concept that works really well, permadeath. The fear of death is emphasised by the fact that if you lose a character, they’re gone for the entire game, so you’re forced to proceed with caution and think about every action you take if you wish to survive. Each location is very different, based on horror tropes, giving you creepy and unsettling buildings to explore as you fight or hide from the evil within. If you like horror adventure games, which focus more on exploration than combat, then you’ll love Song of Horror: Complete Edition.