Aside from its cute art direction, there's not much joy to be found in Game Freak's Little Town Hero. Its battle system has a glimmer of potential, but finds itself muddled in system after system, making what should be its standout boss battles a tedious affair. Even for a budget price, this is a town you probably won't want to visit for more than a day.
Disco Elysium wants to get you in touch with the voices in your head. This detective RPG calls back to the old Infinity Engine games like Planescape: Torment and Baldur's Gate, but it put a unique spin on everything. With a beautiful oil painting aesthetic, it also features a system that treats your skill like additional party members, each with their own opinions on your actions. Ultimately, every lengthy run-though of Disco Elysium is about the consequences of your choices and actions, adding up to some fantastic stories. A great, surprising entry into RPG canon.
Trails of Cold Steel 3 doesn't offer much in the way of gameplay innovations, but if you're even glancing in the direction of this game, you're not interested in new ideas. No, you're interested in continuing the dramatic, twisty-turny story of the Erebonian Empire's shenanigans. Trails of Cold Steel 3 resumes the series' magic-infused story of politics and scandal, and the unique battle system still holds up well.
Concrete Genie is certainly easy on the eyes and ears, with brilliant colors popping out of the screen and a light, airy score to coaxe life out of your paintings. It even successfully switches around the perspective of a strained parent-child relationship compared to what we've seen in other games. Unfortunately the monotonous nature of everything in between creating Genies, from dodging bullies to dousing Denska with Super Paint, drags it down.
John Wick Hex has a solid enough foundation, but it largely fails to build on its core concept. It's a one-dimensional tactics game that moves at a glacially slow pace and features few unique wrinkles. It offers a slightly deeper look at the lore, but otherwise it adds little to the burgeoning John Wick-verse.
Destiny 2: Shadowkeep is the same satisfying Destiny 2 you've been playing (or not playing) all along. The combat feels good, the art direction's stunning, the lore is mysterious in all the right ways. But it also fumbles in a lot of areas: its campaign is among Destiny's weakest, there isn't a lot of new loot, and its newly introduced systems are so convoluted that I found myself wishing there was a tutorial buried in a menu somewhere. Still, it's a promising start for the future of Destiny 2, which is really what this expansion seems to be as a whole: the baby steps for something bigger, with no end in sight.
Indivisible's unique blend of platforming and action-heavy monster fights will take some getting used to, but everything feels good once it clicks into place. Indivisible has some problems with its camera and map, but you'll be too busy marveling at its wonderful graphics to feel much of a sting.
Ghost Recon Breakpoint is a game that wants to evolve, but has trouble picking a direction. There's an extensive amount of loot, but that can get in the way of player choice in terms of specific playstyle. Equipping loot to keep up your gear score is needed to fight drone enemies, but most human enemies can be killed with a headshot, making it useless at the same time. The survival system is a selling point, but it can be largely ignored. Breakpoint needed a real direction, because what's left is just Wildlands 2.0. And doing the same thing has less impact years later.
The Surge 2 is a better game than its predecessor in many ways, and shouldn't be overlooked in a growing crowd of soulslikes. Pathfinding can still be a bit vague like its predecessor, but the dense environments are fun to explore and complement its weighty combat and robust gear upgrade system. Deck 13 polished what made the first Surge a decent B-tier game and doubled down on what it's good at, showing us how a good developer can learn and evolve from release to release.