3899 Published Reviews
Ruined King: A League of Legends StoryPS4
Ruined King: A League Of Legends Story has set the bar for future forays into League of Legends lore. The story Airship Syndicate tells here delivers in a big way, turning these six champions into the new faces of the franchise. The JRPG Airship crafted around its story is also wonderful, creating a feeling of playing League of Legends while actually playing a turn-based RPG battle.
HALO InfiniteXbox Series X
It turns out that was a risk worth taking for the franchise, as Infinite is an incredible game. Certain story elements are on the weaker side and the amazing Grappleshot makes the rest of Chief's equipment feel a bit lacking in comparison, but these are small shortcomings in what otherwise feels like the best Halo campaign in years and an excellent evolution of what Halo can be.
There's a reason this space is so dreamily built--Solar Ash takes place inside a massive black hole, after all--but the game is at its best when it isn't treating those reasons as if they matter all that much. The late game leans a little too heavily into the story, including swapping out the strong boss battles in favor of a binary choice in the game's climactic moments. But, most of the time, that story is where it belongs: in the background. And, thankfully, Solar Ash has some gorgeous backgrounds.
Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. BrainSwitch
Big Brain Academy, and the entire brain-training sub-genre of puzzle games, were never as medically precise as they purported to be. But they were always about the fulfillment of self-improvement, not bragging rights. Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain, thanks to its new competition hooks, feels just a little bit coarser.
Portal lets you relive the Battlefield games of the past, but on the 2042 side, DICE has cherry-picked from popular trends like hero shooters and battle royales. The best part is that, mostly, it has done a really effective job of curating those additions so that they bring more to what players already like about Battlefield, rather than change what already works.
The central mystery is uneventful until its final moments, but the cases surrounding it are consistently excellent, and the role you play in solving them is incredibly gratifying. The open world is more of a backdrop than anything else, but it expands the game with dozens of side cases that are just as alluring as those found in the main story. Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One may stumble at times, but it scratches that investigative itch like few games even attempt to.
Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive EditionPC
It's hard not to think about the games that this trilogy would inspire--stuff like Mafia, Saints Row, Yakuza, Sleeping Dogs--and how well each of those series have been preserved and updated. The fact that the Godfather of open-world crime sagas has been outclassed so thoroughly in that regard is infuriating enough to push fans into a rampage. Thankfully, it's raining outside.
So far, Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl keep enough classic elements to feel like a comfy nostalgia trip, while smoothing over enough of the rough edges that they feel relatively contemporary with other recent Pokemon games. It can't be easy for a storied franchise to pay homage to its legacy while also modernizing in this way, but in my experience so far, Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl strike the right balance.
Not only is the core card game at its best, but it's also where those mechanics are best served by the richly atmospheric trappings surrounding them. The following two acts admirably offer new twists on the mechanics and a different perspective on the narrative, but neither prove as satisfying as the original. Alone, Act 1 is one of the best games of the year, but everything that comes after drags it back into the pack.
As it stands a little over a month after launch, New World offers a solid PvP-focused, player-driven MMORPG experience that has long been missing from the genre, albeit one seriously held back by outdated quest design and a lack of interesting endgame content.
Bright Memory: InfinitePC
It's a fun shooter for as long as it lasts, though, offering a satisfying mix of fast-paced gunplay and dynamic action. It's also hard not to be impressed that this came from the talents of a lone developer. Unfortunately, a dismal stealth section, unintelligible story, and some major technical issues hold it back, while its terseness does make it difficult to recommend, even at a low price point.
Age of Empires IVPC
Age of Empires IV is a satisfying game, but its more innovative ideas are overshadowed by a gameplay formula that rarely deviates from the revered legacy of Age of Empires II. Dated graphics, annoying AI, and a thin selection of content holds Age of Empires IV back from establishing an RTS kingdom that can stand the test of time, but thrilling campaigns, a passion for history, and factions that feel truly distinct from one another makes for satisfying RTS comfort feud.
Call of Duty: VanguardPS5
Elements of Vanguard feel like good additions to the franchise, but its ideas also don't always mix well with the series' framework. That framework is still strong, and the solid gunplay, exciting multiplayer, and inventive moments of the campaign are worth seeking out. But forcing those two parts together exposes the seams in Call of Duty: Vanguard at times, weakening both parts of the game rather than pushing either one to the forefront.
Shin Megami Tensei VSwitch
Shin Megami Tensei V is a game that demands a lot of the player--its slow pace and punishing difficulty will more than likely turn some folks off. But those who stick with it will find an incredibly rewarding experience that only gets better the further in you get. SMTV truly makes you feel like the weight of this crumbling, conflict-torn world of mythological nightmares rests firmly on your shoulders--but it's a burden you'll be glad you chose to bear.
Forza Horizon 5Xbox Series X
Its alterations to progression are welcome, too, letting you focus on the events that you love while also giving you even more event types to make effective use of the varied and fun map that has been designed around Mexico's best hits. It's not going to convince you to give it a go if Forza Horizon's brand of racing hasn't done it for you in the past, but Forza Horizon 5 still stands head and shoulders above anything else in the genre.
These are unfortunate blemishes on what is an otherwise fantastic game. Riders Republic is a thrilling, approachable, and incredibly varied extreme sports game, featuring an awe-inspiring open world that impresses with both its scale and diversity. There's nothing else quite like it, and while it's too talkative for its own good, there's a sprightly energy to the whole thing that makes it easy to recommend for anyone seeking an exciting adventure.
Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon RoarsSwitch
The games' all-card structure actually works within the confines of a traditional role-playing game, and it does it with so little fat that it never overstays its welcome. It also sacrifices some of the more jaw-dropping moments I want in a Taro game--what I expect most from him is the unexpected, and it's why Nier: Automata 2 is such a bad idea. But failing to make my eyes fill with tears as I contemplated the nature of my existence and the necessity of hope a second time isn't exactly striking out on three pitches.
I peered into the life of someone else and saw myself. It compelled me to look back on my own experiences, the good and the bad, through the simple act of unpacking the contents of their life. Unpacking may be a zen puzzle game that's just relaxing for some, but for me it was a more profound experience that I'll never forget. Sometimes we put our past into proverbial boxes; ripping off the tape and rediscovering what we hid away can be cathartic and illuminating.
Mario Party SuperstarsSwitch
Mario Party Superstars certainly provides the highs that the series is capable of, but unless you're restricted to playing on the Switch Lite or itching to play with a Pro Controller, there's a better version of this game available for you and your loved ones to play in Super Mario Party.
Unsighted balances this so that you're not always stressed by its time constraint, but prodded enough every now and then to be made aware of how your actions have tangible consequences. It's an engrossing twist on a set of systems that, while familiar, are sharply honed to create an engaging combat system and rewarding puzzles, making Unsighted one of this year's best-kept secrets
The Good Life is a curious and uneven experience. As a sort of hybrid RPG meets life-sim, it's certainly competent, despite the grind it demands. Surprisingly, the novel premise takes a back seat for the most part, but it's never anything less than adorably easy-going, carried along by a carefree attitude and endless charm.
Marvel's Guardians of the GalaxyPS5
The game instead shines via its storytelling, which is enhanced by a talented collection of voice actors and a wonderful soundtrack. If this game is your introduction to the titular heroes, it's not the best first impression, but sometimes when the galaxy needs to be saved, you can settle for good enough.
Resident Evil 4 VRPC
RE4VR is an essential game to have in your Oculus Quest 2 library, right alongside Beat Saber and Superhot. It is a welcoming version to newcomers that are VR-capable, and, most excitingly, not only will new players get to experience RE4 in a new way that doesn't compromise the original's greatness (and even its quirks), but a new generation of players will get to hear Leon S. Kennedy's campy one-liners. And that's a prospect I'm very excited about.
The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of AshesPS5
It might not be particularly fear-inducing, but its action set-pieces are fraught with peril for the fate of its characters, and the final act sticks the landing with a satisfying payoff. The series might still be stuck in the smothering shadow of Until Dawn, but House of Ashes is a step in the right direction.
Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the LeviathanPS4
Honestly, the best way to summarize Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan was performed by Cyndi Lauper 35 years ago. This is a game about showing one's "true colors" to the world, teaching that being oneself is the best way to approach all aspects of life. Its messages of love, friendship and self-discovery are inspiring, the sort of Ted Lasso-esque positivity the world could use a lot more of right now.