As indebted as the game might be to the bones and essentials of Devil Daggers, Hyper Demon truly looks and plays like nothing else I’ve encountered in 2022. In a year with no shortage of twitch shooters like Neon White and Metal: Hellsinger, Hyper Demon reigns supreme as a bullet-hell shooter par excellence.
But in the end, all there is to remember about No Place for Bravery is the red from all his murderous encounters — the bloodletting Thorn has committed from brutalizing his foes, the insurmountable pain of his cheap, repetitive deaths, and the immense frustration of never seeing the game reach its fullest potential.
Return to Monkey Island is yet another game in the Monkey Island franchise that makes only a slight effort to reflect the ever-shifting gaming landscape, while confidently clinging to the DNA that made it so beloved in the first place. And if you’re looking for the secret to creating an enduring franchise, you could do a lot worse than that.
There is a lot to evaluate in NBA 2K23, and a lot of that evaluation is yet to come from its restive community, various influencers, and people like me. But NBA 2K23’s appeal and value, for once in a very long time, far outweighs its raw and constant calls to spend money, and the guilt and icky feelings that brings. As I said back in August, if nothing else, no one can complain that Visual Concepts did nothing for its franchise mode. So if the microtransactions truly bother you that much, you can always go to MyNBA Eras and rewrite 40 years of history at no extra cost.
It’s hard to picture Metal: Hellsinger being as memorable as it is without its lineup of popular artists. After all, the soundtrack can’t be divorced from the game’s main appeal. But even though I would have liked to see more risks being taken with its core pillars (similar to BPM: Bullets Per Minute’s experiments with roguelike elements and more varied weapons), Metal: Hellsinger achieves a pulsating, vibrant synergy, and it knows how to pull your strings.
The Chaos Wastes introduces a mass of randomness and unpredictability to your playthrough, changing up things as fundamental as the construction of levels, with certain paths being blocked off, or starting and ending points being moved about or even reversed. Loot also takes on a more significant role, as the game isn’t afraid to let you become overpowered, or even just oddly built, with bizarre combinations of boons. All is stripped away after completion. This is Vermintide 2’s endgame — and its best facet. Forget all the cosmetics; forget your “Power Level,” specific equipment, or career. Jump into the Chaos Wastes, with friends, and smash your way through the hordes, relishing in the fact that you’ve no idea what’s next. Since the beginning, Vermintide 2 has had a solid core, capturing much of what makes these kinds of horde games so enduringly popular. But it’s also proven, over time, that it has something new to offer, with The Chaos Wastes adding some much-needed volatility to this endless procession of fantasy brawls.
The Last of Us is very much a product of its time, and there’s certainly issues there. But now that I’ve seen how well it’s aged overall, I can really appreciate it — not as a cultural relic or a stepping stone, but as its own grisly, beautiful creation.
In exploiting this fan-like thirst for knowledge as authority and authenticity — even if it occasionally undercuts the storytelling — the game also creates an easy choice for the curious outsider: Either play, or don’t. Immortality embodies the most enticing hallmarks of the “if you know, you know” meme — there’s no quick recap for a politely interested stranger that can adequately sum up the question What happened to Marissa Marcel? The only way to fully appreciate the scope of this project, flaws and all, is to throw all expectations of story and structure out the window, and realize that the simplistic divide between film and games is holding us back from doing so much more with either medium.
It’s been a long, long time since F1 fans have had a licensed management sim that lived up to the dramatic highs of the real thing. The recent explosion of interest paved the way for the perfect timing for a return to this style of F1 game. But even more impressive than its timing is its execution, which leaves extremely little to be desired. It’s been more than a two-decade wait — but it was more than worth it.
Even so: I can’t help but marvel at the scope and imagination with which Creative Assembly has brought Warhammer’s fantasy world to life. And maybe I can forgive Immortal Empires for occasionally not working properly because it’s so packed with factions that already bend the rules by design. There are leaders whose army buffs I haven’t even touched, and parts of the world I haven’t yet set foot in. But if my past few campaigns have taught me anything, it’s that there are trees falling everywhere, and they’re making quite a lot of noise.
So, anyway, yeah, Rollerdrome is Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater with a gun, but it’s also a commentary on the capacity of violent entertainment to dull our senses to the violence in our actual lives. Good luck remembering that when you’re chasing an S-rank score.
Even with Cursed to Golf’s punishing difficulty, I’ve found myself getting closer and closer to the vaunted 18th hole on each run, with no desire to stop until I’ve reclaimed my mortality. It’s a testament to the craft of developer Chuhai Labs, which was willing to take such risks with such a proven formula that I haven’t stopped even after several punishing deaths. And I won’t stop until I finally remove this dreaded albatross from my neck.
Digimon Survive was difficult to play, boring for the first half, and mostly just disappointing. The framework for something much more compelling exists underneath the prattle, inconsequential combat, and shallow character development, and you can catch a glimpse at what might have been in some of the story’s better moments. I hope Hyde and Bandai get the opportunity to create another visual-novel-style Digimon game, building on Survive’s foundations to create a lasting and more memorable experience.
It just comes across as Psyop being afraid that the player is laughing at them and not with them. The narrative is focused on preemptively reassuring you that the developer knows this is a joke, and is not taking this seriously, and yeah it would be pretty cringe if this was serious but it isn’t. It’s all very unnecessary, and I kind of hope Behaviour and Psyop take another swing at the dating sim genre without all the self-conscious narrative clutter — because the good stuff is very good.
More than once, I’ve wished the entire game could be as satisfying as those research stations. But these little side quests don’t advance the plot, and they offer barely anything in the way of story tidbits or character development. They don’t even put a strain on my graphics card. But they do offer a glimpse at what could have been — a version of Spider-Man who helps out where and when he can, not using the power of a massive surveillance state, but rather his own eyes, ears, wits, and web-shooters. It’s a lot easier to maintain this illusion on the Steam Deck, only halfway paying attention to the plot as I swing through Central Park and rescue a homeless man’s pet pigeons. Spider-Man should stay small. He’s a friendly neighborhood type, after all.
Electronics Arts has said an update toward the end of this week will be deployed to fix these bugs and others. It’s certainly not an ideal rollout for a highly anticipated expansion pack like High School Years, but once that fix rolls out, the expansion is well worth a look.