And, look, I don't blame anyone for this. You don't secure the Baldur's Gate license and the lore around it without committing to D&D as your ruleset, and the places where the design team has worked on the toolset for the game (such as how versatile jumping is) feel great. In previous games, the shortcuts that were made in the adaptation from tabletop to digital game made for a faster experience. Combat worked in a fast pause-and-play mode that felt as much like a real-time strategy game as it did an RPG. Skill checks rarely happened in dialogue, so you didn't have to grind to a halt to make a roll three or four times per conversation. They were not extremely quick experiences, but by comparison, the classic games feel fast and loose where Baldur's Gate 3 can often feel like a constrained, slow slog through various systems stacked on top of each other. When I am in the groove with the game, it's exciting and it moves right along. Getting into the right mindset to start remembering what all the buttons, skills, and abilities do is another matter entirely. I'm hoping that feedback over the early access period will give us a more varied experience, or at least a wider set of approaches.
From racing against the computer to taking on friends with their own karts to designing the perfect track to just exploring your place through the eyes of a tiny, kart-racing Mario, this is a toy in the best way: a portal to inventive, constantly changing play that’s fun no matter how you decide to interact with the platform. Your home is now Mario’s own set of challenges and opportunities, and that’s a jump I did not expect from the Mario Kart franchise.
From inside my HTC Vive Pro, I feel totally immersed in the action. I'm surrounded by cockpits that look just like they do in the classic films. My ears are filled with familiar Star Wars sounds that I can immediately recognize, and Squadrons' excellent binaural audio brings it to life all around me. I can look in any direction, moving my head as fast as I want without the game struggling to keep up with me. Even while boosting, rolling, and turning to keep a bead on other players during multiplayer, I always felt in control.
As just a mode in another game, the original Kirby Fighters was an interesting diversion. As a stand-alone title, Kirby Fighters 2 has to work a lot harder to pack a punch, even at $19.99. It’s curious, cute, and lacking much definition, just like its namesake character.
Rally driving, for me anyway, is about plowing headlong into the unknown, understanding the risk of fast driving in a way you can’t on an oval or a well-known circuit. That makes taking a square left perfectly, or drifting through the full 180 degrees of a switchback, seem even more high-five-myself awesome. And I got exactly that in Art of Rally. If that’s the experience you want, too, Art of Rally will serve it as much as it will an escape from the present day, for a delightful joyride through a beautiful countryside.
Try as I might, I cannot find fault in Hades. It’s even created a calm in me that no other similar game has. Loss isn’t a frustrating experience met with loud swear words and the sounds of scrambling feet made by my previously sleeping cats. Failure is just another step on a long adventure with one of my favorite games, years in the making and well-worth the wait.
Rivals is quite charming and, at only an hour or two long, doesn’t wear out its welcome. If Return of the Obra Dinn is the chart-topping hit of this growing little genre, Rivals is the local garage band album that gets a glowing write-up in the alt-weekly: small, messy, lovable. Rivals is seemingly built with one audience in mind: older weirdos like me who don’t mind a little more Wilco-style music in their detective games.