While its best ideas are held back by its lack of refinement, the adventure remains surprisingly compelling, even as you’re wasting hours away on levelling up your favourite monsters, and experimenting with battle tactics. It doesn’t quite live up to its competitors in the monster-catching genre, but it’s certainly a memorable game, and one defined by its devotion to being fun, silly, and wonderfully weird.
Ubisoft has made safe choices in its overall design, yet on the strength of its world design and exploration mechanics, Frontiers is able to shine as a sweeping, standalone adventure. For anyone longing to return to the world of Pandora, this adaptation is a wonderful salve to those clinically-recognised feelings.
Very few expansion packs for The Sims 4 feel like they overhaul gameplay entirely, but For Rent does just that, reimagining how your Sims live their lives, and how they interact in the real world. While there’s not a whole lot more to the expansion pack than that, its changes to rentals and the introduction of community living makes it a stellar addition to The Sims 4.
This is the Warhammer 40,000 experience that I’ve wanted from a video game for two decades. A game that gleefully wallows in the medieval futurism of its setting. A game that isn’t about winning wars on the battlefield, but focuses on all of the grim-dark insanity that goes on behind it all.
In balancing each of its aspects, Ubisoft makes a solid case for VR games to be far more ambitious in scope, going forward. From wandering through the Vault of Odysseus, to letting off fireworks in the heart of Venice, to solving interplanetary Myst-like environment puzzles and flinging yourself across deadly dungeon caverns, there’s plenty of awe-inspiring novelty in this journey.
Seeing Jusant to the end felt like returning from a brisk walk in the woods, your lungs full of fresh air, and your mind alert from a cool breeze – which is an astute achievement for a game with such deep connections to the natural environment, and the act of physical human movement. You come away feeling sated, satisfied, and refreshed, the sense of achievement and clarity of thought it offers clearing your headspace for whatever challenge comes next.
In Stars and Time is the type of game that is excellent to discuss theories and nitty gritty details with a friend, an element which adds to an already thought provoking experience. With a cast of exceptionally loveable characters to tether you to its remarkable world, it will stick in your mind long after you’ve put it down.
Even if tell you that I think Bluey: The Videogame deserved a bigger budget, more development time, and bigger emphasis on the narrative, if the target market keeps pestering me to hang out in it every day, can I really ignore that intrinsic enjoyment?
Throwing the cast of Persona 5 into a world of turn-based tactics works incredibly well, and the mechanical twists made to support it pay off in a very gratifying way. Outside of that, there are very few risks taken in the narrative – it’s a low-stakes plot that bubbles along, gives the game a stop-start feel, and ultimately feels like the peripheral side-story that it is. But when your favourite characters are tearing up the battlefield and wiping out whole armies of enemies in a big All-out Attack, Persona 5 Tactica feels like the best interpretation of the Phantom Thieves spirit.
While dated design means other parts of the tale don’t hold up quite as well as its biting comedy, Super Mario RPG remains a strong adventure with challenging combat, and plenty of unique quirks. By maintaining its spirit beneath a fresh lick of paint, Nintendo has created a welcome opportunity to experience or re-experience one of the most important games in Super Mario history.
Nostalgic about the past, and hopeful for the future, Naruto x Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections is more than just a simple revisitation. While there was a fear it would tread water like its fellow side-story spin-off, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution, this collection provides ample reason to revel in the past, reminisce about the passage of time, and look forward to a bright future.
Regardless of your relationship to Call of Duty, your feelings about military shooters, your investment in the rebooted Modern Warfare saga, or how much or little you like to play the new Call of Duty online multiplayer every year, the Modern Warfare III campaign feels more like an indicator of a series in decline than a misstep.
As always, it’s those intimate and emotional human elements that make Like A Dragon Gaiden so gratifying. Whether or not we needed to see Kiryu be pulled back so heavily into the underworld against his will is another question entirely, but if we believe at this point that the end is truly nigh for Kiryu in Infinite Wealth, this one last go-around to spend a few more deeply personal moments with him is something to be cherished – as a bittersweet way to get ready to say goodbye (for whenever that time actually comes around).
Super Mario Bros. Wonder is built on an abundance of whimsical surprises, and the delight that each new one brings will keep you smiling from beginning to end. It’s a significant, impeccably refined creative leap that resoundingly demonstrates that there is still a lot that can be done to a near 40-year-old idea, and one that continues to spark a fulfilling sense of newfound joy through play.
Alan Wake 2 almost feels mad in its approach, with an overwhelming array of threads in the tale that threaten to collapse under pressure at any moment. Yet with clear and incisive logic, matched with a devotion to delightful absurdity, the team at Remedy has managed to craft a breathtaking story – one that plays out in clever, fascinating, and horrifying ways.
Eternights deftly captures the essence of growing up, as told through the motions of an action-packed JRPG. Through its storyline and dialogue, the game manages to weave life into this classic genre with the aid of modern-day meme jokes and ‘anime humour’. Its simple but effective combat system, and a smattering of puzzles and mini-games, are entertaining enough to keep you hooked as you watch the plot unfold. Eternights showcases a level of complexity and refinement that is impressive, especially for Studio Sai’s debut title.