I loved playing through Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana, clocking in almost 200 hours over the last few weeks. The PS5 allows the game to run super smooth and without any performance issues at a solid 4K and 60fps (or 1080p and 120fps if you adjust the system settings), delivering the definitive console edition. The combat is satisfying, the story is intriguing, there’s always something to do, and mapping out the entire island is very addictive and fun. If you’ve not played the game before or you loved it on last-gen machines, this enhanced version is for you; if you’ve recently played it on the PS4, this is essentially the same game but at a higher resolution and with no option to import your saves.
The Chant is a very atmospheric horror game that has a perfect balance of combat, exploration, puzzles, and frights. It’s refreshing to play a character that acts like a real person, not someone trained in martial arts or a closet bad-ass just waiting to beat the crap out of anything that moves – instead, she waves the weapons around, falls over when rolling, and reacts the way I would; she runs away! There were a few good jumpscares, the combat was heavy and satisfying, and the narrative had me hooked from beginning to end, I seriously can’t recommend the game enough. The only thing which would make it better is a robust photo mode and a NG+ mode.
Despite the first few chapters moving quite slow with far too many unforgiving stealth segments, by the time I’d completed A Plague Tale: Requiem I was in love with its narrative, gameplay, visuals, and outstanding voice acting and music. Although the game feels very similar to the first one, the new mechanics, companion abilities, adaptive skill tree, and new larger environments help create a new experience that’s familiar but not identical. There are some performance issues and technical flaws which will (hopefully) be resolved, but nothing hampered the enjoyment and excitement I felt throughout my entire playthrough of this GOTY contender.
So far we’re six months in 2022 and AI: THE SOMNIUM FILES – nirvanA Initiative is already at the top of my GOTY list for this year. The story is very funny, mysterious, and exciting, the gameplay is intuitive, there are a lot of things to look out for and unlock, and there’s a great balance of serious and immaturely pervy humour throughout. If you liked the first game, you’re going to love the sequel – although they aren’t related so prior knowledge isn’t required. My only disappointment is that there’s no current-gen version, the loading times and low-resolution visuals would have really benefited from it.
Kao the Kangaroo (2022) is the perfect modernised reboot of the classic early 2000s 3D platformer. The game delivers a lot of nostalgia despite being a new game in the series, taking me back to my childhood when games were simple yet highly addictive and fun to play. The story offers around ten hours of gameplay, more if you’re wanting to grab the platinum trophy, which is a perfect length in my opinion. Whether you played the original games or not, fans of 3D platformers should certainly check this out – it’s just so colourful, fun, and satisfying to play.
Lawn Mowing Simulator takes a mundane activity and turns it into a very satisfying and relaxed experience that quickly becomes super addictive. Although the Career Mode is very relaxed, starting off solo and then allowing you to hire NPCs to help you out, the challenges will certainly test your patience, speed, and efficiency. If you’re willing to overlook the incredible short LoD, which results in pop-in a few feet in front of your vehicle, and the frustrating spike in difficulty within a few of the challenges, then those looking for a relaxed casual simulation experience should pick this up today.
Eternal Threads is a superb story-based adventure game that plays like a puzzle game thanks to the seamless dynamic narrative. The characters, voice acting, and environment are all fantastic, delivering a believable household in the North of England populated by a variety of strong personalities. Although I wasn’t fully satisfied with the final conclusion, I simply adored every second I played and found myself determined to save everyone in the best possible way as it’s what they deserved after everything they’re going through. I simply can’t recommend this game enough.
Paradise Killer is easily one of the most memorable and mesmerising games I’ve played this year, sucking you in with the request to solve a mysterious murder, yet keeping you hooked with the awesome soundtrack, brilliant narrative, and casual yet intuitive exploration of the soon-to-be destroyed Island 24. Despite potentially spending hours simply walking around as you talk to the inhabitants and seek out hidden items, the time will fly by without realising it – you’ll be absorbed within the world, building bonds with friends and potential criminals alike. If you have any love for games such as Danganronpa, Ace Attorney, or any visual novel with a focus on solving crimes, you’re gonna love Paradise Killer.
Despite the tedious trophies, annoyingly numerous random battles, and lack of damage/experience information, The Cruel King and the Great Hero is a gorgeous and emotional experience that all turn-based RPG fans should pick up. I thoroughly enjoyed not only the main narrative but the numerous side-missions and random conversations you have with the friendly creatures who live within the world, leaving me with the desire and want to help out everyone, rather than making it feel like a chore. Certain trophies were a pain, yet it was incredibly satisfying to work out the solutions and complete them, requiring a little thought and thinking outside of the box.
Submerged: Hidden Depths is one of the most relaxing and chilled games I’ve played in a long time, almost acting as ASMR as you glide through the ocean waves and listen to the ambient sounds. Although the experience will most likely last less than ten hours, even if you’re aiming for the platinum, it’s a very magical and visually stunning experience – you’ll also feel very satisfied upon completing all of the collectable trophies. If you’re looking for a game to play at your own pace, feel rewarded for exploring, and casually discover new things, then you should check out Submerged: Hidden Depths today.
Demetrios – The BIG Cynical Adventure REPLASTERED was just as fun to play through as it was back in 2017. Despite not having any extra content, simply being a new coat of paint over the original game, I’d still recommend people check out this version, even if you’ve played it previously on a last-gen console. The story is very silly, the characters are whimsical, and the deaths are quite amusing, it doesn’t take itself very seriously and delivers an entertaining story that’ll last between 8 and 12 hours depending on how engrossed you are with the many clickable interactions.
Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream is my new favourite Atelier game, it is a fantastic and perfect instalment to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the franchise. Every gameplay mechanic and process has been improved upon, making Sophie’s latest adventure feel very fresh, new, and even more exciting than usual. The story was engaging, introducing new characters that you’ll instantly fall in love with due to their strong personalities and abundance of charm. If you’re a fan of previous Atelier games or JRPGs in general, you really should check this out.
Martha Is Dead was more disturbing and shocking than I thought it would be, delivering a brilliant story with gorgeous (if rather gruesome) visuals and a hypnotic soundtrack. The photography mechanics were implemented well, allowing you to capture every moment – it’s just a shame the photos didn’t manifest as actual pictures on the console. Despite the commotion pre-release, the game is fully uncensored if you wish it to be, you just can’t participate in the horrific cutscenes via interactive QTEs, which doesn’t affect the game in any way. If you like slow-paced psychological horror games with an interesting story that’ll have you hooked until the credits roll, check out Martha Is Dead today.
Despite missing a lot of features from the previous Empires game in the franchise, I quickly became addicted to the strategic and hack-and-slash gameplay within Dynasty Warriors 9: Empires. Once the management mechanics click, it’s easy to lose hours as you command your minions or follow your ruler’s orders. However, we can’t overlook the amount of content ‘missing’ when compared to DW8: Empires, various customisation menus, Free Play, Gameplay Modes, and co-operative options, all absent without any comparable or additional features. But, if you’re a fan of Musou games and aren’t too bothered about playing with a friend or having full control over customising everything and creating your own scenarios, then you’ll enjoy Dynasty Warriors 9: Empires.
Happy’s Humble Burger Farm is a simple game with some good initial scares that sadly wear off after a while. When the gameplay works it’s a smooth and enjoyable experience, but the main problem is that I found it to be quite fiddly and inconsistent at times, affecting my overall opinion. The combination of a cooking simulator and a horror game is one I’ve not seen before, resulting in an often frustrating and challenging experience. I thought that the Endless Mode was a good idea, extending the simulation gameplay, but the only problem for some is that they will have to endure through a complete playthrough in order to access it.
To me, 343 Industries have succeeded with Halo Infinite in two of the most important gaming aspects, its brilliant gameplay and story. Graphically it may be underwhelming, on the Series S at least, and it could have at least done with six months more of polish, but this was easily the most fun I’ve had with a Halo game since Halo 3. The open-world setting of Zeta Halo breathes new life into the series and gives players the freedom to explore with plenty of opportunities to fight the Banished in whatever way you wish, whether on foot, via ground vehicles or by air. This is a major return to form for the Halo series and it’s great to see Master Chief back to finish the fight!
Beyond a Steel Sky is a brilliant sequel to the 1994 classic point-and-click game, Beneath a Steel Sky. The gameplay and mechanics have been perfectly modernised without losing the humour and style of the original game, reuniting both Robert and Joey once more with the same witty dynamic. The new hacking mechanic greatly enhances the puzzle elements, combined with good old-fashioned inventory and environmental puzzles, offering a fun distraction from the well-written narrative that’ll have you hooked. It may have been 26 years (ten in-game), but it was worth the wait – let’s just hope we don’t have to wait that long for their next adventure!
Overall, Forza Horizon 5 is easily the champion of racers. The variety and freedom on offer, from the vast quantity of activities to vehicles and the different biomes of Mexico, all create the most enjoyable racer I have ever played. The Showcase events feel epic and are greatly complimented by the games’ gorgeous visuals, especially the dynamic weather system that adds an extra layer of excitement with dust storms that can engulf you and the tropical storms that you can see rolling across the sky for storm chasers to seek out. Whether you’re a racing enthusiast or not, Forza Horizon 5 will have you belted in for a complete joyride!
Thanks to the addictive gameplay, fantastic visuals, and interesting story, Chorus is easily one of my favourite games of 2021. The gameplay is solid, smooth, fast, and very exciting, hooking you immediately with the mechanics yet keeping you addicted via the engaging and intriguing story. Even if you’re not a fan of the dogfighting genre, or you’ve not played one before, if you have any interest in arcade-style combat enclosed within a mysterious and exciting narrative, then you’ll love Chorus.