The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria is the kind of game that doesn’t do anything well enough to satisfy any of its intended audiences. For survival fans nothing is done better than titles they’re already playing, and in fact does plenty worse. And for diehard Lord of the Rings fans, the strange lore deviations and limited vision of Khazad-Dum and the canonical events portrayed aren’t any more attractive.
I was drawn in by the visuals and utterly hooked by the musical scoring, the expansive areas and the implied lore that was further cemented by my own character’s evolution. The combat, when it was good, was SO GOOD and the reason I kept coming back is because I wanted to be as precise and murderous as the game thought I could be. There is no death, no save points, no turning back and no way out but through. You find more, you see more, you fight more and all you want is more. It is a hunger that spawns from the epoch of creation.
Virtual reality makes PowerWash Simulator more intuitive and immersive, but still very relaxing. Sure, the convoluted nature of having to put a visor onto your face for lengthy periods of time means that this game won’t be played in sessions as long as the ones you’ve been playing on PC or console. Still, you’ll still have tons of fun with PowerWash Simulator VR. I sure did. The superior control scheme, and the novelty of playing such a game on VR are enough to make this particular port of the cult hit my favorite, even though I don’t think it’s the best one, at least technically speaking.
In short, Assassin’s Creed Nexus was one of the most impressive surprises of the year. I wasn’t expecting much from it due to Ubisoft’s lack of pre-release promotion, but what I ended up getting instead was a true testament of what the Quest 2 can do, and how to properly adapt a third-person action-adventure series into VR. It’s shorter than your average Assassin’s Creed, but still substantially meaty for a VR game, complete with occasional pseudo-open worlds with extra challenges to discover.
Barton Lynch Pro Surfing satiates, at least momentarily, the need for a surfing game. It’s such a shame that it’s so utterly hideous to look at, because, for the most part, it is indeed a decent game, with intuitive controls and enough content to keep you busy for a while. If you really want to play a surfing game, this works out just fine. If you’re not particularly into the sport, I doubt there is anything in here that will grab your attention for too long, however.
Don’t get me wrong, Until the Last Bullet is far from being considered a good game. With the exception of admittedly having a good usage of the Joy-Cons’ gyro functionalities, this is a super low budgeted shooter that is so unbelievably crappy-looking it almost looks endearing. But this is what makes it oddly charming in some twisted kind of way. It feels honest in its crappiness.
Against all odds Baldur’s Gate 3 is everything it’s hyped up to be. An RPG with few if any equals. A project of passion, made by RPG fans for RPG fans. A niche game, developed with AAA quality graphics, sound, and animations. Phenomenal writing, compelling complex characters, and some of the best turn-based combat I’ve ever enjoyed. And best of all, for me personally, is that it does its predecessors proud.
Sociable Soccer 24 impresses with its ludicrous amount of playable clubs to choose from, but I think that’s basically where the novelty ends. At its core, it’s a fun little throwback to simpler electronic footballing days, but maybe it is TOO stripped down of features. Even other titles from the 90s featured more mechanics and customization options.
The Invincible lacks imagination in its gameplay, which is pretty much walking in a straight line, and fails to capture any potentially interesting mechanics. However, The Invincible‘s compelling narrative, strong themes, and great characters make this an experience well worth playing. If you are a fan of science fiction, this is a must-play, assuming you can get past the lacklustre gameplay.
In conclusion, Yohane the Parhelion: BLAZE in the DEEPBLUE is fun, but it fails to stick the landing totally. Several mechanics felt disjointed. For every crafting system that I lauded, there’s a hiccup to balance it out. Nitpick or not, the slight delay to melee is annoying. I’m known for my kamikaze ways, and I’m invigorated by panicked kills, but I can’t do that here. I did enjoy the homage to a renowned indie gem, though.
While Don’t Nod is no stranger to titles that focus more on exploration and emotional pull, they rarely do so with such Annapurna levels of “indie”. Yet that is exactly what Jusant is: a silent, emotional, walking sim where the true puzzles are collecting all the remnants of the civilization that has been lost, and the mystery of what exactly happened. In this, Jusant is as beautifully presented and told as any before it, but I just couldn’t escape the feeling that I have already played this game, five other times, every year.
Apparently, it only took Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio six months to develop Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name. I would like to laud each and every person in this team for coming up with this magnificent entry to the franchise in such short amount of time. It might be shorter, but its story is a lot more focused. It’s still packed to the brim with side content, with the Coliseum being one of the most entertaining (and hilarious) side modes to have ever been added to a Yakuza game.
Invincible Presents: Atom Eve could have been a great concept for a video game, but the end result feels more like a hollow cash grab. While parts of it are technically a new adventure, certain major story beats have already been covered in the comics and show, making this journey feel unnecessary. Your choices don’t really matter and the combat is as shallow as a puddle. If you’re looking for the thrill of the Invincible universe, I’d recommend just rewatching the show or reading the comics. Invincible Presents: Atom Eve lacks the punch and ferocity that makes Invincible so enthralling.
Godzilla Voxel Wars is a novel little thing, but it’s also a game that overstays its welcome quite quickly. As unique as its concept and gameplay loop can be, there’s not a lot of variety in its stage design, presentation, and puzzles. Sure, there are hundreds of them in this package, but they aren’t exactly that unique or different from one another.
The thirteen-year wait for Alan Wake 2 has been one surrounded by a lot of worry that it wouldn’t live up to the hype or lofty expectations. It is an occasionally uneven experience, but thankfully that doesn’t detract from the overall experience too much. Alan Wake 2 has been well worth the wait and is an absolute must-play.
There are elements in which Alien Hominid Invasion feels like an improvement over its predecessor, whilst it feels like a step back in a few others. It is vastly more accessible, being easier to detect and avoid enemy attacks, with slightly improved controls, and its mission-based structure makes it a perfect fit for a portable like the Switch. On the other hand, it is a lot more repetitive, and its level design doesn’t feel as inspired as the sheer lunacy featured in the original Alien Hominid.
As odd a journey as it was, I sincerely enjoyed my time with Amazing Grace – What Color Is Your Attribute. It was quite a feat to craft such an intensely dark plot without ever going fully dark itself. Any talk of arson, kidnapping, or murder happened bloodlessly, without the need to showcase the horrors that befell someone (looking at you, Higurashi). It’s cute, sweet and full of moments of absolute humanistic connection while also intermingling chaos, amusement and serious questions regarding the evolution of society.
Even if the controls are still a bit confusing, Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 feels a lot less janky than its predecessor. In fact, it's a vast improvement over it in basically every single aspect. It looks slightly better, its framerate is a lot smoother, it features more characters and stages, and it's chock-full of single and multiplayer modes, with endless replayablity and a lot of unlockables.