QV is one of those games that ticks all the right boxes for its particular niche. As an isometric puzzle platformer, there’s little else like it at the moment, and so it manages to have an audience even among so many video game releases. It’s a comfortable and well-designed puzzle romp complemented by some genuinely catchy tunes.
LoveKami: Divinity Stage gives us a fun story of idol Goddesses just trying to make it in this world. Its comedic elements and lewd imagery carry the narrative but don’t expect to feel too attached to the characters after the conclusion. Ultimately, the Switch version holds this release back with a lack of additional features and low-quality assets. At least the CGs are their to hold the reader’s attention.
Pac-Man: Mega Tunnel Battle is a unique approach to turning the Pac-Man formula into a battle royal experience. I think the way it was handled works for this type of game as you independently work on getting high scores while invading other’s boards to rob opponents of possible points. Still, it loses its charm so quickly, given that the online community doesn’t seem to want to lean into the new systems while they focus on clearing their boards in simple Pac-Man fashion.
Observer: System Redux is an excellent presentation of the masterful environments that indie teams can create on newer hardware. Out the gate, Bloober Team has raised the bar of what we can expect to see graphically, but the gameplay portion of this supernatural adventure limits its overall appeal. Still, I can’t stress enough what a work of art this experience is through its narrative and brilliant sound design.
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War acts as a return to form for the series as Treyarch takes a safe approach to design and online modes. The campaign’s choice-driven narrative is a huge plus as it helped introduce a level of immersion that the series desperately needed, but it relies a bit too heavily on the big twists than the smaller story beats. With a foundation as good as this laid out, it will be interesting to see how it evolves in future updates.
The Pathless is a gorgeous adventure with an entertaining traversal mechanic and a subtle but effective narrative. Running, jumping, and gliding around with your eagle friend while solving enigmatic puzzles is a real joy. While some lackluster stealth sections and difficulty maneuvering during some boss sections are present, it doesn’t take away from the overall experience. Whatever direction you decide to travel, The Pathless leads you to some special gaming moments.
Visage requires patience as you progress through some truly horrific chapters, rewarded with even more nightmares as you encounter many supernatural elements. There are some beautiful environments to investigate, but the reused assets and unused space only hurt this game’s immersion. In many ways, this works as an adventure inspired by PT, but it’s defining elements are found in its unique features.
No More Heroes is a game that sounds like it could be fun, and then on closer examination, looks bizarrely empty, full of padding, and shallow in terms of story depth. However, when you actually experience it, you’re left with an experience that experiments with just how much it can employ the concept of “less is more.” It’s got a down to earth yet absurdist narrative that is incredibly rewarding with an extremely cool and satisfying combat system providing an unstoppable feeling.
No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle has some great gameplay moments, even though it misses the mark on what the original did so well. The adventure hosts some great boss fights, a responsive combat system, and an unlockable difficulty mode that makes the entire experience even more enjoyable with the addition of a kick-ass soundtrack. Still, it remains in the shadow of its predecessor. It’s less goofy and more absurd and ends up being a heavy-handed retelling to correct the original’s plot. If this weren’t a sequel, I would have been praising it far more, but it spends most of its time desperately struggling to figure out what its own identity is.
Ghostrunner is an incredibly addictive action game that requires a high level of skill for its difficult systems. It’s unforgiving in that regard, but it does a great job of teaching the player how to master each element to become a parkour badass with a sword. There are some moments where the action is brought to a halt due to layout, but there’s honestly nothing standing in your way from getting the most out of this adventure. Well, only if you aren’t counting the hundreds of enemies and obstacles ready to take you down.