3871 Published Reviews
Back 4 BloodPS5
The landscape of cooperative shooters has changed a lot in the past 12 years and Back 4 Blood might not live up to the heights of Left 4 Dead at its peak. Nevertheless, Turtle Rock's return to the genre it created is still excellent fun, provided you have others to share in the zombie-bashing.
More than anything else, Metroid Dread feels like going back to a place of comfort after a long time away. Though the gameplay is refined and new features have been added to the mix, Dread sticks closely to the formula of its predecessors. In the end, for longtime fans like myself, that's probably for the best. There's nothing to dread here. We're home again.
Far Cry 6PC
Far Cry 6 is often a fun game that feels like it's throwing everything at you, and if you want a heap of content, Far Cry 6 absolutely has you covered. In isolation, a lot of its elements are fun. Taken together, though, it feels like a lot of disparate things that keep taking your attention back to menus and map icons, and away from the fun and the story.
If you've never played Alan Wake before, or you're itching to re-experience Alan's descent into the darkness, this is absolutely the way to do it. Control's AWE DLC tells us we'll soon be returning to Bright Falls, and this year's Deer Fest is a perfect excuse to enjoy the amped-up beauty and inky darkness of Cauldron Lake.
Jett: The Far ShorePS5
Jett: The Far Shore is at its best when you're speeding through the air and provided with the agency to figure out how to reach your destination, not slowly hovering around a space and having someone hold your hand through every step of a puzzle. Regular occurrences of the latter drag down the whole experience, and the overall narrative--though intriguingly set-up--ultimately ends in an unfulfilling way, with protagonist Mei feeling too detached from the story and the themes it's trying to explore.
Sable is a little rough around the edges, then, yet these shortcomings are far outweighed by its numerous strengths. This is a relaxing adventure that's both familiar and quite unlike anything else. It gives you the freedom to approach things at your own pace--in your own way--while managing to dispel any notions of aimlessness. Even if you don't have a particular objective in mind, you're guaranteed to discover new sights and sounds by hopping on your hoverbike and simply exploring.
Kena: Bridge of SpiritsPS5
It centers on characters who tried valiantly but failed to help one another, and what dealing with that pain did to them. It's about exploring a world and seeing what it once was, and helping to restore it again. And while Kena: Bridge of Spirits is full of familiar-feeling combat and exploration, its ability to find different ways to look at those ideas makes for a beautiful, emotional, and exciting journey.
Lost Judgment improves on its predecessor by cutting down on some of the more tedious elements of its design rather than outright changing the mechanics to make the investigative side of the equation more engaging. In this sense, it's disappointing that it doesn't lean into what makes Judgment unique compared to the Yakuza series and instead remains at its best when sticking close to those origins.
Toem is a slight game--just around three to four hours--which keeps it from overstaying its welcome. Going back through every area to collect every last photo for your collection will extend its playtime, but on the whole it's just short and sweet. When you reach Toem, the event itself, it really does feel spectacular in the context of the game. More important, though, is what it represents. Toem is a simple, cute fable about growing up and engaging with the world. And like the phenomenon, it's really best if you see it for yourself.
The Artful EscapePC
Challenging as that may be, The Artful Escape is nevertheless a thrilling adventure that commits fully to showcasing its gorgeous art in soaring set pieces. Though some of the dialogue doesn’t work, the game is largely successful at stripping out anything that would distract from its masterful presentation. Unlike Francis Vendetti at the beginning of his journey, The Artful Escape knows exactly what it is.
Lost in RandomPS4
Lost in Random may have the look of a grubby Dickensian child, yet there's a surprising amount of meat on its bones. It may not always do its world justice, but there are charming and stirring stories to find if you can see through the dreary fog. In one memorably witty scene, it even manages to redeem its consistently incorrect use of "dice" to represent the singular. And best of all, there's a great combat engine that smartly implements deck-building mechanics to reward both strategic preparation and tactical invention. Make it past the slow start and you'll be lost in no time.
Standing back and looking at the bigger picture, the uncharacteristic choices and unexpected behaviors feel necessary--essential even. Maybe it's just what I need to believe to give all that killing meaning, but when I began the final loop and carved a perfect, bloody path through Blackreef's Visionaries in a single day, I made no ripples.
There is light that developer Deck Nine just never allows darkness to touch, and there is joy to be had in being able to play some small part in making sure they all do better. But the disconnect between that vibe and the turmoil that brought Alex here to begin with is tangible, and the game would achieve brilliance if those two concerns could connect. Dropping by Haven Springs is still time well-spent--but it's simply a pleasant visit, rather than a powerful, emotionally resonant one.
The Big Con is ultimately about its story, though, and it's a story that mostly works despite an inescapable sense of familiarity. There aren't many beats here that you haven't seen before, and while that lends the closing hours the feeling that expected pieces are simply falling into place, the game has enough verve and style that it manages to hold it together. The writing isn't especially funny or clever, but there's enough personality in the art style and story conceit that I was still entertained for the bulk of the six hours that I spent with it.
No More Heroes 3Switch
If you had a mandate for all of the things a No More Heroes game shouldn't be, "boring" would be near the top of the list, but this sequel frequently is just that. No More Heroes 3 lacks the irreverent charm and personality of its predecessors. Combat picks up the slack, and there's a degree of vivid style to be found there, but the game falters in so many other areas.
Humankind strains under the weight of too many complex systems that too often find themselves colliding rather than coalescing. By turns disjointed and confounding, Humankind is nonetheless fascinating, at least to this experienced 4X strategy player, even if I couldn't say I truly enjoyed it.
There's so much satisfaction in customizing and managing a handful of classes with enough depth to transform them into the Colonial Marine you need at a given time, along with a plethora of great weapons to make the moment-to-moment action engaging from the first time you pull the trigger. What it lacks in dread it makes up for in pure white-knuckle action, making Aliens: Fireteam Elite a great place to engage with this iconic sci-fi franchise again.
Psychonauts 2Xbox Series X
On the surface, Psychonauts 2 is an engaging, ambitious, honed-in take on colorful 3D platformers. However, the most rewarding aspect hasn't just been mastering its platforms or combat, but peeling back the layers to see what's beneath it; to take a closer look at its characters, the depth of their struggles, fears, and regrets, all of which serve as the game's foundation. It's an emotional, hilarious, and, at times, devastating story, but a story about forgiveness and second chances.
Madden NFL 22PS5
When everything's working as intended, Madden 22 marks a recent high point for the series. The gameplay doesn't move the needle much mechanically, but changes to the AI make for a more interesting and varied challenge, while Gameday Atmosphere and Momentum brings every team's fans to life to palpable effect. With Franchise making the moments between these games more engaging, it's relatively easy to sink hours into building a team to challenge for the Super Bowl.
Ghost of Tsushima Director's CutPS5
Where Iki Island excels, though, is in adding some new dimensions to the rest of Ghost of Tsushima. Its exploration of Jin's backstory and his character bring more depth to the base game's tale that improve it overall, and its beautiful new landscape provides both more of what works about vanilla Ghost and a few good, if slight, tweaks on the formula.
Warren Spector, director of Deus Ex, has said that he would like to make a game focused entirely on one city block because the small space would allow for unmatched mechanical depth. 12 Minutes reduces Spector's scope further, and finds a rich vein for interaction and storytelling. This game may limit its loop to 12 minutes, but I found myself wishing I could stay for much, much longer.
It's this careful mix of themes and the effortless manner in which The Forgotten City serves them up that makes each of its many memorable moments stick with you long after credits have rolled. They provide the impetus that drives you to discover more, with the game teasing you to discover its alternative endings for the most comprehensive conclusion to its often morally-complex tale.
Simple combat, forgettable boss fights, and a reticent narrative--not to mention an overly vague map--are the only dampeners on what is an impressive sequel, despite never quite feeling like one. The unsuspected changes and additions are bold and mostly pay off, with consistently engaging and rewarding exploration that's propelled forward by an ambitious central mechanic. Axiom Verge 2 is a game that constantly evolves and delights, but just lacks the same bite as some of its contemporaries.
Loading times were never slow on other platforms, but especially when compared to the Nintendo Switch these new SSD-powered consoles make transitions between areas and runs overall feel a little zippier than before. These are small improvements that you might only notice if you've already sunk numerous hours into Hades on another platform, but they create a strong foundation for its debut on new hardware. Hades is the same brilliant rougelite that it was last year, but now with even more places to enjoy it than before.
NEO: The World Ends With YouSwitch
What good is a place you love without the people who matter most? Many stories have asked and answered this--and maybe the game puts too neat of a bow on it--but I find the way NEO TWEWY answers the question the most satisfying part of the experience.