It can’t be overstated just how much a Dead Space remake always seemed like a sure thing, and after my time with it, that perspective hasn’t changed. It’s easily one of the best modern horror games, and the fresh lick of paint to really bring its grimy, snarling interpretation of sci-fi horror into sharp new relief is very welcome, especially when it maintains such faith in the source material.
A Space for the Unbound only looks pixels deep, but it is a masterpiece for its breadth of storytelling, its authenticity, and how it tackles difficult topics, from cultural expectations to mental health. As the game ended, it left me with a beautiful feeling of closure, accompanied by a hankering for cherry-chocolate-flavoured cake and Indonesian food.
Revisiting Colossal Cave is a peculiar, uncanny experience. I understand Roberta Williams’ desire to bring it back to life, even if I’m not convinced the format she’s chosen to present it in does justice to the original’s pioneering spirit or the grip it managed to hold on the imaginations of those who played it. But perhaps that was always an impossible task.
Fire Emblem Engage is focused on making the series’ enduring turn-based tactics more compelling, more exciting, more stunning – and the game does an excellent job at that. Smart new mechanics add much to the feel of battle, and once your army begins rolling through enemy forces across the continent, it’s hard to stop.
One Piece Odyssey walks the line between being a great anime adaptation and an engaging video game admirably. It feels happy, bright, and true to the tone and content of the source material, and it succeeds in making you feel close to the characters as you join them on their grand adventure.
While Crisis Core‘s shorter length is surprising, given the depth of the story it tells, the hooks it digs in are well worth unearthing. The trio tale of Angeal, Sephiroth, and Genesis is a relatively hidden side chapter of the FF7 Compilation, but it provides a deep, emotional core that will likely resonate in Rebirth and beyond. Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7 Reunion is an essential chapter in the modern Final Fantasy 7 mythos – and the most important spin-off in the entire series.
Even as omnipresent as Darktide‘s technical woes are, it’s the exhilarating thrill of a mission run that shines most brightly in my mind when I think about my experience with it. Even on low graphics settings, shining your rifle’s underslung torch down a dark corridor, only to see a horde of Poxwalkers glaring back at you before your whole squad unloads on them, provides an utterly giddying rush.
There’s a solid game at the heart of Black Iron Prison, but every opportunity the game gets to subvert expectations or do something new is instead a moment of deferral to one of Callisto’s many inspirations. It’s nice to see Callisto try to be a new brew, synthesised from many parts, but an entirely new vision would have stuck around in the bloodstream a little longer.
While its ideas may be supernaturally-charged, and inspired by one of the strangest periods in Marvel Comics, it remains grounded and personal – imbuing its excellent tactical combat with high emotions and stakes. In dark times, light can still shine – and in Marvel’s Midnight Suns, you and your team of heroes are that light.
There’s always more blood on the horizon, making Gungrave G.O.R.E. feel like a break-neck romp with little room to move or breathe along the way. While dotted with moments of joy and violent freedom, the action of the game quickly devolves to repetition – making it a largely enjoyable romp, but one that only rarely makes a meaningful impact.
While Scarlet and Violet aren't a complete reinvention of the formula, and technical performance issues certainly hold them back, they're still an essential leap forward – both in storytelling and gameplay mechanics. New features and clever tweaks along the way make this adventure feel fresh and encouraging, in ways that past games haven't. As a reinvigoration of the Pokemon formula, Scarlet and Violet are some of the best modern games in the long-running franchise.
Through interactions with these people and many others – the insights into their lives gleaned from talking to them while they work, or the hopes and fears they reveal around the dinner table as you share pottage and bread – Tassing comes to feel like as real a place I’ve ever visited in a video game. As the months and years roll by, you feel those layers settling in, the weight of decisions these people have made – and that you’ve made too – shaping the history of the place.
Horse Tales: Emerald Valley Ranch bites off more than it manages to chew. It has the makings of a grand immersive adventure and a detailed life simulator, but it doesn’t excel enough in any of its core elements. Between the lack of a fully actualised world, flawed controls and technical glitches, I had to work hard to feel invested. There’s a certain charm to its overall style and environments, but its issues greatly hinder the horse fantasy it wants to foster.
There’s a real tonal dissonance in Sonic Frontiers. It wants to be a fun platformer. It wants to be a high-speed exploration puzzler. It also wants you to feel a sense of power as you take on towering bosses, and save a world from certain destruction. But in striving for success on multiple fronts, it achieves none of these goals – instead arriving as an ambitious but lukewarm adventure-platformer pockmarked by deflating choices.
Nothing about God of War Ragnarok feels anything less than meaningful. Refined to the highest degree, every hour you spend with Kratos, Atreus, and the memorable characters of Ragnarok feels fulfilling – whether it be journeying across the Nordic realms with your companions, taking in the beautiful sights and enjoying idle chit chat, overcoming the odds in invigorating and varied melee combat encounters, or sharing in the deeply emotional connection between incredibly strong and nuanced characters.
The strange politics of its dystopia feel fresh. Numerous cuts to other points of view leave you disoriented in a way that only adds to the intrigue. There’s also a pleasing glitch aesthetic that permeates every aspect, from the writing to the art direction, raising doubts whenever something tangible threatens to materialise. It’s a mystery well worth falling headfirst into.
While it does attempt to carve out its own identity with its slower pace and more intimate storytelling, it’s hard to separate this game from the Batman games of the past. But regardless of its lack of originality, Gotham Knights remains a compelling experience – one littered with intriguing and thoughtful interpretations of characters, and a creeping sense of dread that will keep you rushing through case files, determined to save Gotham from itself.
As a slower-paced story, it lacks the action and zaniness of its predecessor – but by opting for a quieter, more intimate tale, New Tales from the Borderlands carves out a deeply heartfelt, character-driven adventure that highlights the power and potential of friendship in a barren land.
Sparks of Hope has a real sense of twinkling charm – one that could pull a smile from even the most hardened heart. There’s a vivacious, beating heart at the centre of this adventure, and it makes every new world, and every new fight a veritable joy to complete.