GRID Legends is the place to go when you're not sure what type of racing you want, but you know you want to drive fast. The vast array of modes and vehicle categories make it a jack of all trades sort of racing game, and while Gran Turismo 7 may appeal to the racing enthusiasts a little more when it launches next week, GRID Legends has a brilliant story mode and the chaotic nature of online racing means it's the prime racing candidate for a laugh with your mates.
The craziness continues to ratchet up as you reach the finale, and Giulia proves an evermore unreliable narrator. While the narrative here is undoubtedly the strongest element of Martha is Dead, the gameplay loop lets it down enormously, meaning you'll likely be desperate to know how it ends while simultaneously longing for the credits to roll. There are far worse horror experiences out there, but this is one that would be much better off on a streaming platform instead of as a game.
Horizon Forbidden West is an exceptional game. Its greatest pitfall is that the combat isn’t always great and while it's immensely satisfying most of the time, those moments of frustration cannot be ignored. For those looking to get lost in exploring a beautiful landscape, this may be the greatest open-world ever made. The writing is world-class, both on a personal character level and in its grander sci-fi scope. Where the first game washed over me as just another open-world game, Horizon Forbidden West enraptured me and took me for a wild ride I did not expect at all.
It may sound reductive, but Elden Ring is a fourth mainline Dark Souls title in all but name. The game’s open-world structure feels very organic - there aren’t lists of activities with checkboxes that players need to cross off. The Lands Between is filled with visually stunning locations and deadly enemies to ensure that the perilous journey to become the Elden Lord is at least pretty to look at. While Elden Ring stumbles a bit in some areas, it still has all the hallmarks of what makes FromSoftware’s games so enticing: it’s fun, challenging, and rewarding.
As much as I adore Total War: Warhammer 3, the graphical and performance issues I faced took the shine off what was a near-perfect experience otherwise. The difficulty spikes also seemed a little unfair and could lead to a campaign being sent back two or three saves to correct the smallest issue. Despite this, Total War: Warhammer 3 is a fantastic overall package that rounds out a trilogy in an honourable fashion. Fans of the source material will have plenty to sink their teeth into and new players will find themselves with a friendly pathway into a whole new world of fantasy.
All of this boils down to one of the best King of Fighters games ever made. The series has abandoned many of its traditions and embraced modernity, meaning it has found its look and feel in a 3D space, and will be a solid base for all future entries. This is the KoF game of the future thanks to being flush with features and cutting-edge online technology, so the future looks bright. Right now, King of Fighters XV has absolutely found itself rubbing shoulders with the other giants of the genre.
KINGDOM of the DEAD is the best game I’ve played in 2022 so far. It’s a simple game at heart, but it feels so unique and fun that returning to it throughout the year will be a delight. The levels and regular checkpoints mean it’s a title that’s easy to pick up and put down, and getting my zombie-slaying fix comes with ease. This is a prime example of a game that knows exactly what it needs to be and doesn't get too ambitious. It's one of the best experiences in the horror FPS genre and has unique qualities and elements that make it stand out, without trying to cram too much in.
It's as much a combat puzzler as it is a button-mashing beat-em-up, and has proven itself to be one of the best brawlers in recent memory. However, Sifu goes one step beyond that, offering an addictive, highly replayable, and all-consuming game that will undoubtedly stand among the best of 2022. Even after you've beaten this game, you'll feel the urge to go back, knowing you can do better.
Dying Light 2 does little to shake up the open-world formula, because it could be so much more, especially after the initial reveals promised so much. With that said, if zombie decapitations, sick parkour moves, and true next-gen graphics are what you're looking for then Dying Light 2 certainly fits the bill.
Back when Skyrim launched in 2011, a fake mock-up of a Blastoise emerging from behind some trees in glorious 3D did the rounds on the internet. Pokemon fans everywhere, myself included, salivated at the thought of such a game coming to fruition. Pokemon Legends Arceus is the closest thing we've had to that dream yet and while performance issues and lack of graphical fidelity do throw a spanner in the works, not to mention the often lonely open world with lack of meaningful landmarks, this shake-up of the formula is a return to form for Game Freak.
Ultimately, Yu-Gi-Oh Master Duel is a must-play for fans of the franchise, and they'll fit right in despite the lack of beginner-friendly design. If you're new on the other hand, it's hard to recommend unless you can bear with the frustration that's sure to plague your first games and put in the effort to learn the myriad of mechanics. If you can overcome the hurdles, you'll be blessed with one of the most electrifying and rewarding TCGs on the market, with richly tactical gameplay, stylish presentation, and some of the friendliest monetisation that can be found in free-to-play gaming.
Nonetheless, if you are tired of mindless co-op shooters and are on the hunt for something more engaging, there is nothing currently better than Rainbow Six Extraction. It loses some of its appeal when played solo or with a random voiceless squad, but with a full squad of friends, Extraction will have you screaming and commanding your way into a functioning unit. It is hardcore, deliberate, tactile, and tense, and if that isn't Rainbow Six, I don't know what is.
In the end, Expeditions: Rome rises above the previous entries clearly, with more polish and refinement than ever before. The game may not fully achieve its aims due to some underdeveloped systems and inconsistencies in the design, but as a historical role-playing experience, it stands unrivalled. It's a must-play for anyone with an interest in Ancient Rome, and it offers more than enough for fans of CRPGs.
The problem is that Scarf doesn’t deliver on the platforming side and, unlike the fantastic Journey, Scarf never reaches that satisfying conclusion where all those small introspective and grand sweeping moments add up to a crescendo that sticks with you even after you stop playing. Instead, Scarf falls a little flat and, while there is a lot of fun to be had, it doesn’t quite stand up to those games that inspired it.
In the end, The Gunk sits in the middle of the pile. The core of sucking up the Gunk is satisfying for the roughly four hours of playtime, but the lack of a difficulty curve for the puzzles or combat lets it down. Its story makes an honest attempt at character drama that works for the most part, but the short playtime doesn't leave us quite enough time with the characters or world. It's by no means bad and there's not much poorly implemented content here, but it's a plainly inoffensive experience that settles when it could have punched slightly higher.
Ultimately, Halo Infinite's multiplayer is a victim to its progression system, that stands in the way of the excellently refined core of the game. It's certain to be a mainstay for years as the developers work out the kinks and factor in the fan feedback. Their work still paid off though, because the gameplay of Halo Infinite is the best of any multiplayer shooter from recent memory. It's just sullied by the egregious implementation of artificial hurdles to that gameplay, which knocks a point or two off the score. Without this abhorrent progression? Halo Infinite would be one of the best multiplayer shooters of the last 10 years.
The redeeming aspect about Halo Infinite is that underneath the unnecessary open world format and cookie cutter story missions, the core gameplay is Halo at its best. While it's much faster paced than the Bungie-era, Infinite improves tenfold upon the disappointing 343 releases so far. The story is nothing to write home about but engaging in a full blown scrap with a squad of Banished feels brilliant. This is largely down to the new tools at Master Chief's disposal, along with the added weapon variants. Few things are as satisfying as grappling a grunt and electrocuting all the surrounding enemies, then finishing them off with a sweep of a Sentinel Beam or perfectly placed Mangler shots. The downside is how this is surrounded by bloat, in a new direction for Halo that doesn't quite land on its first outing, despite being incredibly polished and excellent from one skirmish to the next.
Chorus offers a fairly middling take on a space combat shooter. The gameplay is really where Chorus shines, when you combine piloting, powers, and weapons in just the right way, you can reach a sweet spot that makes the game a delight to play. It just takes too long to reach this point, so you'll likely lose interest before then. If you enjoy space flight games there is almost certainly something here for you to enjoy as the minute to minute action in Chorus is mechanically sound, it's just been done better elsewhere (see: Elite Dangerous, Everspace 2). The real shame of Chorus is that the story can’t match the excitement of the gameplay. Lacking any real characters, the game relies on Nara and Forsaken, and unfortunately, their dynamic is so underdeveloped that it makes the climax of the game feel undeserved. Nara’s journey to overcome her guilt is an interesting one, however, the game doesn’t do enough to capitalise on the promising premise.
Solar Ash combines complex ideas with simple and exciting gameplay in a way that few games are able to, and the final product is nothing short of remarkable. The visual style and soundtrack create the atmosphere, and the excellent writing of Rei and her journey use it to tell a story of grief, and how we can use it to build something better. Heart Machine's passion is clear, and Solar Ash is a triumph that manages to be incredibly fun despite its deeply emotional core. The game's world may be cold and unfeeling on the surface, but that'll only make you want to connect with it more. Solar Ash is an example of Heart Machine's exciting, compelling, lightning-in-a-bottle brilliance, and more than deserves to be considered among 2021's greatest games.
Fights In Tight Spaces is a fantastic example of a turn-based strategy game. There's so much depth to the mechanics and different strategies that can be utilised, that paired with the roguelike elements, makes for an endlessly replayable experience. The purposefully minimal presentation helps to make the combat the centrepiece of the game, highlighting the momentum and force of the fighting. It hardly reinvents the wheel, but it explores melee combat with a vehement focus that you don't often see, making for a tight fighting experience.