1307 Published Reviews
The Darwin ProjectPC
There’s nothing like that in Darwin Project, which has you performing and working towards the end from the first moment you spawn. The game accomplishes the same tense atmosphere of the best of battle royale while still trying something new, learning from Fortnite and the rest without outright cloning them. Darwin Project isn’t an also-ran, it’s a trendsetter, and anyone still interesting in dropping in hot should take notice.
Life is Strange 2PS4
Although the whole season is playable now and the release schedule won’t affect those just starting it, Life Is Strange 2’s various other complications don’t evaporate so easily. Clunky dialogue from a cast of inconsistent, cliché-ridden characters are present whenever you play it and often override the strength of its overall message and presentation. It results in a game with noble intent without the skills to fulfill its potential, showing that sometimes life isn’t strange, but disappointing.
DRAGON QUEST BUILDERS 2PC
Even those that bounced off the original will find a reason to see this through to the end thanks to the more-structured story and its easy to follow quest system. Dragon Quest has usually been strictly associated with RPGs and Builders 2 proves that the series can work outside of those confines. And, if anything, the PC version makes that even more clear.
Detroit: Become HumanPC
Detroit: Become Human is inarguably Quantic Dream’s finest release yet, but it’s not really fair to say that it’s any better on PC. It still looks great, and players with powerful computers will appreciate the extra bump to resolution and overall framerate. But the heart of the experience—the story with such obvious overtones that it borders on satire—remains unchanged, for better or for worse.
Assassin’s Creed: The Rebel CollectionSwitch
Both Black Flag and Rogue are unique among the Assassin’s Creed franchise. Their characters are jollier, their worlds are more interesting, and they seemingly care less about all the Templar and Assassin nonsense. Somewhere in the neverending tale, Ubisoft made a couple of the best pirate games to come out of gaming this decade, and it’s certainly worth revisiting them on the go. Nothing about the design of the open world ages them too much, and the combat is breezy enough to warrant portable play.
Red Dead Redemption 2PC
Red Dead Redemption 2 on PC is an even better experience than it was on consoles. Now that Rockstar has ironed out the launch issues, PC is the premiere platform for the game. The framerate increase alone is an amazing improvement, and as long as you have the horsepower, the game is even more stunning than it was when it released a year ago on PS4 and Xbox One.
Both titles do share a connection with number two and while Death Stranding is more focused on weaponized excrement, Wattam is content with having you chuckle at its poo, which is symbolic of the game’s successes. Witnessing its wholesome, nearly childlike view of the world through a bunch of nonsequiteurs is pleasant even if playing through them isn’t always quite as enjoyable. And while Wattam seems to want to avoid descriptors and can get away with it at times, that playability is important for a video game.
Shovel Knight ShowdownPC
Needing other people is what downgrades Shovel Knight Showdown below its legendary kin. Despite good intentions, this smattering of modes and options never quite come together as something worth seeking out on its own. It’s a solid choice for local multiplayer gatherings, but there’s not enough shine on this armor to take things beyond a passing novelty. That’s probably fine. Considering its origins, it’s a wonder that Shovel Knight Showdown got as much love as it did.
MechWarrior 5: MercenariesPC
This game is a great example of how a small series of design decisions can break gameplay. Each of the complaints above is fairly small on its own, but when all of them combine, they cripple a game that has a firm foundation at its core. MechWarrior 5 has the potential to be a really great mech sim. In fact, for the most part, it would probably just take a small rebalancing to solve some issues. Most of the time when I have these kinds of complaints about a game, it’s because it’s fundamentally broken in some way. That’s not the case here, though.
Shovel Knight: King of CardsPC
That pretty much sums up all of Shovel Knight: King of Cards. Like each campaign before it, King Knight’s quest is a uniquely thrilling 2D experience that needs no asterisk assigned to any praise. This isn’t a retro throwback or an NES hanger-on, but a masterful platforming action that stands up to any and all contemporaries. This may be the weakest of the four Shovel Knight experiences simply due to the disappointing card game. Still, that’s no reason to pass up the chance to experience more first-class platforming from some of the best talents in the genre working today.
Darksiders Genesis masterfully shrinks down the long-running franchise into a top-down action game that’s just plain fun to play. Outside of losing a few navigational skills, the game still features all the colorful characters and intense combat you’d expect. It’s also a hell of a value, clocking in around the same length as its predecessors even if you’re rushing to the finish line. Not merely a spin-off, Genesis stands side by side with its numbered brethren, providing a worthy entry in the franchise.
If you’re someone who doesn’t “like to read” or wants a lot of action in their games, Disco Elysium might not be the best pick. It does an excellent job of bridging the worlds of literature and gaming, and offers a unique blend on the venerable CRPG formula. However, its design does limit its appeal somewhat. It’s not a game that seeks to universally please, but that’s okay. Those who dig CRPGs and don’t mind some heavy reading with fall in love with Disco Elysium. I know I did.
This particular revisit gave me a newfound respect for Yu Suzuki and his singular vision for what Shenmue is. It’s easy to make fun of something so low key in such a bombastic industry, and I’ve had my fair share of laughs at Shenmue‘s expense. However, meeting it at its level, living in Ryo Hazuki’s shoes provides a calming experience that can’t be had anywhere else in gaming. As long as you go in wanting more of that and less of a childhood-affirming revelation, you’re set. After all, Ghostbusters 2 may not be Ghostbusters, but it’s still pretty dang good.
If you’re not sick of the formula, or if you’re new to the franchise, then it’s easy to forgive the meh story, subpar visual presentation, unchanged battle system, and messy multiplayer. It’s a solid Pokemon game that anyone can enjoy. Nothing more, nothing less.
STAR WARS Jedi: Fallen OrderXbox One
Despite polish issues, Jedi Fallen Order is a ton of fun. It’s raw Star Wars just like we used to get with the Dark Forces series. I haven’t been very hopeful for the gaming future of Star Wars since EA took over the license, but that changed with Jedi Fallen Order. For all its flaws, it’s a game that taps into my nostalgia in a big way, and I very much hope that this is the first in a new line of games that aren’t just rabid, designed by committee money grabs.
Need for Speed HeatXbox One
For years, Need for Speed has felt like a burnout, a franchise stumbling in the dark searching for a sense of purpose through an entire lazy generation. Since there seems to be no end in sight despite this, here’s hoping that Need for Speed is radically retooled when it is inevitably dragged out once again in the next few years. But if Heat is any indication, it’ll be almost better left to rot in a junkyard.
Linear takes on roguelikes often feature lots of variety and plenty of unique hooks. The world of Sparklite feels drab in comparison. It feels like you’ve been here a hundred times before in a hundred other games. It’s yet another game in a long line of titles like it that use the trappings of roguelikes without really delving into what makes that genre tick. Sparklite is a painfully static game that can’t overcome its inspirations or its ambitions. Whether you’re looking for a retro throwback, a new obsession, or something in-between, there are far better options than this sleepy clunker.
Football Manager 2020PC
Football Manager 2020 isn’t radically different from FM 19. If you were hoping for a huge overhaul from last year, you’ll be disappointed. Equally, if you get bored of a save after two or three seasons and start a new one, the benefits of these new features will be lost on you. FM 20 is more than just a DLC pack for FM 19, though. It’s more immersive, experimental, and enjoyable thanks to its suite of big and small changes.
A blast whether you play it by yourself or with a friend, The Stretchers is bound to put a smile on the face of anyone that plays it and showcases how talented a developer Tarsier Studios is. The team went from creating one of the creepiest horror platformers in recent memory to a lighthearted romp that is clearly inspired by the work of Josef Fares. From the controls down to the red and blue color scheme of the characters, The Stretchers is made for the Switch and that commitment benefits the experience as a whole as well as the creative execution of its silly ideas.
Despite a few limitations, Superliminal succeeds where it counts. It’s only a few hours long, giving you a tour of interesting mechanics wrapped in an intriguing scenario. There should have been a bit more focus on the main ideas, though, as there’s plenty of untapped potential and not a lot of room for a traditional sequel. But perhaps that’s the point. Rather than repetition, Superliminal wants to keep you guessing until the very end. It might not be for someone who is brand new to the genre, but veterans will spend a memorable afternoon trying to wake up from this hard day’s night.
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020Switch
Ultimately, Sega has produced yet another solid Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games installment. However, it’s far from the must-own that it could have been with some further refinement. The middling story mode wastes a really solid concept, and the best events lack the structure that could make them appealing to play for hours rather than just a few minutes. It’s a fun party game to whip out at social gatherings, which is what it was designed to be after all, but it could have been so much more.
Guildmaster Story does a great job of making a well-thought out critique of capitalism and the society it has brought forth into an easily digestible puzzle game. Without any of the roadblocks on mobile, the PC release is the perfect way to enjoy the story. It's one of the more memorable titles in the past few years not only for its dark, hilarious lines that hit far too close to home, but because of how it adeptly skewers the very time period it was released in.
Yakuza 4 RemasteredPS4
Yakuza 4 remains a very important title in the series even if it puts Kiryu in the background more than any other title. All four characters have interesting backgrounds that lead to their sections of the campaign feeling quite different from one another. It’s not the best title in the series from a gameplay perspective, nor is it the most thematically consistent title due to its varied protagonists, but it’s still an interesting crime thriller that manages to impress. While its immediate sequel, Yakuza 5, did many of these things in a more impressive fashion, Yakuza 4 laid the important groundwork to make it all possible.
Hellish bugs might significantly diminish the experience but Afterparty still gives players a convincing enough argument to take an express elevator down to the fiery pits of torment. The colorful take on the underworld is unique and the characters are endearing enough to give the player a vessel to experience the aforementioned otherworldly vistas. But the game doesn’t quite live up to its superb premise because of its consistently poor comedy bits, immersion-breaking technical mishaps, and handful of rushed or superfluous story beats.
It’s always struck me as weird that people look down on games as some “lesser” form of entertainment than books, TV, or movies. Death Stranding stands defiantly in the face of that attitude, and I’d put its story against anything that’s come out in the last decade. Sam’s journey is a true epic that spans the whole country, and it inspires the hell out of me.