Be the ultimate badass and kill your enemies in slow-motion. There are a lot of games that try to be like Hotline Miami, moving from area-to-area murdering with sheer ruthlessness, but few games match the execution and style like Katana Zero. Great pixel art, a wonderful use of color, and fantastic synthwave soundtrack. From start to finish, it's a fever dream worth having.
Anno 1800 is a city-builder that caters to new players. It's gorgeous, has a campaign that's a huge tutorial, and players don't have to worry about sim aspects like traffic and power distribution. While there have been improvements to the Anno formula, some mechanics are simply not explained and the user interface is lacking for a game built so heavily around trade and economics. It's a good game for sure, but it needs some tweaks to make it fantastic.
Heaven's Vault may have one of the most well-realized video game worlds ever, with your curiosity and personality molding your story through the Nebula. Whether you're fascinated by history or just by a personal sense of duty, there's a lot to love about Heaven's Vault, even if the clunky movement and frustrating sailing sour the overall experience.
Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain plays around with the concepts players have gotten used to with previous EDFs. Classes are open, and the new Prowl Rider offers a new flavor of play that hasn't been seen in the franchise before. Weapons are open, giving more player freedom in terms of character loadouts. But Iron Rain loses some things from the main series, notably the huge swarms of enemies in favor of larger, more meaningful enemies. It's a fine entry in the EDF franchise, but it doesn't step far beyond its predecessors sadly.
There's no denying that breaking down an arrogant witness, and ultimately winning a case in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney feel fantastic. Fitting in the right pieces of evidence to find contradictions is extremely satisfying, I just wish there was more depth, and a little more nuance, to both the witnesses you're breaking down, and the game at large.
Sony San Diego overhauls almost every single aspect of MLB The Show with this update, with the outstanding March to October and Moments modes leading the way. At least for right now, it seems destined to go down as the best baseball sim of the generation, and maybe as one of the best sports sims as well.
Apex Legends spices up the battle royale formula with hero-based shooter pizazz and its revolutionary pinging system, which helps everyone feel welcome to the team. Though its Season One rollout has been disappointing content-wise and its visual flair remains bland, Apex Legends still has the solid foundation necessary for a free-to-play shooter to survive in the long run. And with 50 million players reached in its first month, it's not like it's slowing down anytime soon. We're all jumpmasters now.
The visuals in Yoshi's Crafted World speak for themselves. Every corner you turn presents something new to wonder at. The game's a bit on the easy side, but that's not necessarily a bad thing if you accept Yoshi titles are more about exploration and collecting than serious platforming. It's a great little "spring game" that should fill out your Switch library nicely.
Sekiro is a demanding and rewarding game. Harrowing to the point of emotional exhaustion, some players will bounce off after a few of the meaner boss encounters without the now-classic FromSoftware multiplayer. Brave individuals that persevere, though, will dig through a rich, textured game crammed with spectacular levels and enemy encounters.
Recent games have reminded me that sometimes great execution is better than a noble failure, and The Division 2 executes on its concept with finesse. The story is lackluster, and the real-world aesthetic will turn of some players, but it doesn't matter because the core and flow of this looter shooter is great. There are something things that could be tweaked, like enemy density and their ability to one-shot you, but overall The Division 2 is a sequel done right.
Capcom fills fans' dark souls with light! Devil May Cry 5 is an excellent return to form for the franchise, setting it up for a bright future. Nero's here, Dante's back in pitch-perfect form, and V provides a brand-new style of play. All Capcom really needed to do with Devil May Cry 5 was repackage the classic DMC gameplay with a modern coat of paint, but DMC 5 is an excellent, thoughtful update.
Dead or Alive 6 carries much of the franchise's risque DNA, but shows a bit more initial restraint. The more revealing costumes are unlockable and the jiggle physics tend towards a bit more realism now. Combat remains accessible, but new moves like the Break Blow and evasion add new layers for DOA vets. Dead or Alive 6 could use a little more graphical polish and its netcode needs to be better, but it's a pretty good fighter all around.
Trials Rising adds a layer of annoyance on top of its already-winning formula, with its clunky world map and tedious level gating. Luckily, beneath that exterior it's just as electrifying as it's always been. The tracks are all a joy to race through as you chase landing on the leaderboard or overcoming tough Contracts. With its international approach and attention to detail, each level's design—from an art and gameplay perspective—feels like the best Trials has ever been.
Anthem is a frustrating experience. There's a core gameplay idea that's fun, but it's not enough to keep the experience alive in endgame and beyond. It wants to sell us on flying and combat, but Grandmaster levels stop that dead. It offers a wide world to explore, but offers no reason to do so. Anthem ultimately doesn't feel like the best BioWare can do, and that's a horrible shame.
Crackdown 3 isn't an instant hit, but after a slow start it rapidly builds into an action-packed shooter with brilliant character control and movement. While orb collecting is the key for prolonged play, the campaign in Crackdown 3 is always entertaining and visually there's a lot to appreciate if you look at the bigger picture. Crackdown is back. Shame about the multiplayer Wrecking Zone, though.
Far Cry: New Dawn cuts away some of the bloat of its predecessor Far Cry 5, to deliver a cleaner, more focused experience. The visual style breathes a good degree of life into a setting we've seen before, and Expeditions add more variety on top of that. The systems push you towards repeating content, but the boring rewards don't back that up. And hunting, once one of the core parts of Far Cry, is mostly an afterthought here. Despite those problems, New Dawn's short running time is a boon and the story provides closure to those who played the previous game. If you played and loved Far Cry 5, pick up New Dawn. If you didn't, know that it's still fun, but you'll lose some of the context.
Metro Exodus is a solid conclusion for a cult series that made its name in rough charm. The open world and stealth systems of the conclusion to the trilogy are largely missteps, but it's when Metro Exodus returns to its horrific roots, with a bunch of caring comrades, that the game fires on all cylinders.
Astroneer is definitely on the soft side of the survival spectrum. It looks inviting and fun, whether your lone explorer is bounding across the colorful landscape or mining deep within underground caves. Collecting resources and crafting them into new tools is the main focus, and Astroneer falters in not having more interesting things to find within each planet. In the end though, it's a lovely little game if you want to survive without all the pesky hunger and thirst you find in other games.
Wargroove takes a classic formula and repurposes it for a more traditional swords-and-sorcery fantasy setting (with battlepups). With its large number of modes and impressive suite of creation tools, it's almost enough to fill the Advance Wars-sized hole in our heart.