Thinking back to GameSpot's original review, it's interesting how much the game has improved, yet also how much has stayed the same. The game still has issues with repetition and lack of explanations for its more complex systems, but it's managed to overcome their severity by introducing so many events and revisions that continue to elevate it. While there are inevitable bouts of frustration here and there, I always manage to center myself once I move on to other opportunities. In a lot of ways, that's what Warframe manages to do best.
MARVEL ULTIMATE ALLIANCE 3: The Black OrderSwitch
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order excels because of its character diversity and the ways its disparate heroes work together. For this reason alone it's an ideal co-op game, whether you're playing with another friend in the same room or with three friends online, but the AI more than holds its own if you're playing alone, too. It falters in places, but there's still nothing quite like the Ultimate Alliance series, and this long-awaited third entry makes it a triumphant return for a superhero brawler that feels more relevant than ever.
Apart from the slightly more challenging platforming puzzles, however, the electrifying thrill of discovery has largely subsided--you've already found all the secrets, after all--and there's little incentive to revisit it. By the end, even the allure of these small worlds isn't enough to make you return, with only the yearning for more remaining in its wake.
Dragon Quest Builders 2Switch
Dragon Quest Builders 2 is a great game, combining exploration, sandbox-building, questing, and town-management into a delightful package that will gladly suck up your time and put a big smile on your face. It's the sort of game that you'll intend to play for a little while, only to find that hours have flown by once you manage to actually put it down. Don't dismiss this one when you see big square blocks on the box--you'll be missing out on a very fun twist on an excellent gaming foundation.
It presents itself as a noir mystery, but the murders you’re investigating are the least interesting narrative element. Night Call’s real strength is in the stories it tells about Paris, about the people who live there and the meaningful connections you can have with them no matter how brief or unexpected. It's these people you'll remember once you've solved each case, not the fares you charged them.
SolSeraph could have hemmed slightly closer to the conventions of its clear inspiration, and it may have been better for it. The changes to the sim aspect create gameplay depth at the expense of tonal depth, and the action segments can be annoyingly clunky, especially with the unnecessary addition of enemies that are untouchable until an unclear point in time. The willingness to riff on one of the most beloved classics of an entire console era shows a remarkable amount of audacity, and it actually halfway works. It's the half that doesn't that makes SolSeraph such a qualified recommendation.
198X is a great idea with middling execution. While its games offer some brief enjoyment, there's not enough here for the game to feel like a proper ode to '80s arcades, nor does the Kid's plight, and his longing to escape his current life, totally connect. There's definitely a spark of something here--and Shadowplay, in particular, is a lot of fun--but 198X feels more like a proof of concept than a final product.
For a story that starts with a laser focus on your character's motivations and misgivings, it tells a tale that ends up being the biggest and the best that Final Fantasy XIV has ever told. Equal parts redemption, vengeance, cruelty, and sassy Elezen, Shadowbringers promises a hell of a lot when you take your first steps into Norvrandt and delivers a truly spectacular finish even if it stumbles a little along the way.
Sea of SolitudePS4
The story, and the way it confronts a universal but often misunderstood part of life, is Sea of Solitude's biggest draw. The gameplay is passable at best and tedious at its worst, but this is still a journey worth experiencing because of the way Jo-Mei Games has managed to weave a heartbreaking tale out of genuine characters and believable grief. Kay wants to know why she turned into a monster, and this is the driving force behind the whole game.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the NightSwitch
All of Bloodstained's excellent qualities make the Nintendo Switch version even more disappointing. Though 505 Games has acknowledged its technical shortcomings and committed to issuing updates, at launch it is simply too compromised for its own good. If you have no choice but to play on Nintendo Switch, it may still be worth overlooking the weak spots and taking in the experience. If you have other options, though, play on a different platform. The portability of the Nintendo Switch could have made it the absolute best version for a retro-inspired game like Bloodstained. Instead, it's the worst.
They Are Billions remains a tight and compelling strategy game. The knowledge that you're always just one misstep away from disaster creates a gripping, tense atmosphere that's unusual for the genre. And the cycle from defense to offense and back again as you progress from one wave to the next offers both well-paced urgency and the ability to set clear short-term goals. It's a smartly designed game at its core. It just needed to realize that sometimes that's enough.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the NightPC
It's that sense of comfort in its own skin that makes Bloodstained such a treat. This isn't a bold modernization of the genre or a departure from its roots. It is exactly what it set out to be: a return to the style of a bygone era, with a few modern improvements. Its perception was always going to be affected by how well it invoked the feeling of a classic Castlevania game, but Bloodstained does that and better. With more flexible combat and level design that always beckons to check just one more room, Bloodstained shows that a modern Metroidvania can stand alongside its predecessors as an equal.
F1 2019 Anniversary EditionPC
F1 2019 is yet another strong step forward for the now decade-long franchise, with a ton of refinements over last year's game as well as some great new features to help elevate it to a new level. The Formula 2 cars are superb to handle, and the new additions to career mode, like driver swaps, add some much-needed drama and excitement that real Formula 1 has been missing for some time now. F1 2019 is a masterclass in how to make an engaging and alluring racer, and once again stands tall on top of the podium.
Samurai Shodown is a great reboot. It captures what made the original fun and unique, but also at a time when high-damage, high-stakes fighters like this are a rarity, making its combat feel both fresh and familiar. Its accessibility and easy-to-grasp gameplay belie a lot of strategic depth that makes for very intense, bloody struggles. While the single-player experience is a bit lacking, it doesnât drag down the whole significantly--Samurai Shodown is a fighting experience well worth taking up the sword for.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the NightPS4
It is exactly what it set out to be: a return to the style of a bygone era, with a few modern improvements. Its perception was always going to be affected by how well it invoked the feeling of a classic Castlevania game, but Bloodstained does that and better. With more flexible combat and level design that always beckons to check just one more room, Bloodstained shows that a modern Metroidvania can stand alongside its predecessors as an equal.
Super Mario Maker 2Switch
What I've played so far has proven, once again, that the Mario series is worth all the admiration it gets, and Mario Maker 2 is an excellent tool for picking it apart by pushing its enemies, mechanisms, and Mario, to their limit. I've yet to make a stage of my own that I think is worthy of sending out to other players, but I'm committed to getting there. Whether exploring the full potential of a single element or throwing things at the wall to see what sticks, I've got the itch to join the creator's club.
The Sinking CityPS4
It's hard to resent a game as unapologetically dweeby as The Sinking City. It's an old-fashioned, bookish mystery rooted in the mythology and mysteries of a pulpy, cult-favorite mid-century American novelist--an effort not without charm, to be sure. But no matter how fond your affection for H.P. Lovecraft and the idea of a wide-eyed, slow-burn literary adventure, the poor design, cliched writing, and lumbering pace make this far more tedious than delightful, let alone unsettling or terrifying.
Crash Team Racing Nitro-FueledPS4
Simply put: This is a remaster done right. Nitro-Fueled maintains the spirit and rock-solid foundations of a childhood favorite while building on it and modernizing it where necessary--even if the handling might take a bit of getting used to. Adventure mode's classic variant feels a little tough, but your first race on Roo's Tubes or Sewer Speedway will bring a nostalgic grin to your face regardless. When the nostalgia fades, Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled remains fun and engaging enough to keep you racing on with a smile on your face for much longer yet. It's good to have Crash back.
It's disappointing to realize that Judgment is at its best when it veers closer to the mold that it came from. Even though the game's familiar fighting and side activities will happily keep you occupied, it's a shame that the most intriguing and unique additions are also the dullest things about Judgment, because the new roster of characters have been wonderfully crafted otherwise.
It isn't consistently exhilarating throughout the entire campaign, but My Friend Pedro is worth playing because it’s full of moments where you can jump down a shaft and shoot in two directions in slow motion, or kill an enemy by kicking the skateboard you’re riding into their face, or take out a room full of bad guys with the help of a frying pan. When it dedicates itself to letting you be inventive and weird with how you rack up your kills, My Friend Pedro is wildly enjoyable.
Mordhau is tough, violent, beautiful, and doesn't pull its punches. Despite an intense learning curve that could be better alleviated with more tutorials or better practice tools, its supreme swordplay and combat mechanics eventually outshine any initial frustration. The scale of battle is overwhelming and chaotic, but there's a definite sense to all the nonsense that, once you uncover it, gives you an incredible rush every time you go toe-to-toe with the enemy--even if you don't come out the other side intact.
Imperator: Rome feels undercooked. As it stands, it's a strange mish-mash of several of Paradox's existing (and, let's be honest, superior) games without much to distinguish or recommend it. Paradox recently outlined a "One Year Plan" for the title in an effort to reassure players that they are aware of its shortcomings and intend to address them. That roadmap appears insubstantial to my eyes, but we'll see when we get there. For now, Imperator: Rome remains a decidedly modest strategy game.
Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer Featuring the Legend of ZeldaSwitch
Cadence of Hyrule is a fantastic Zelda game in its own right, even though it adopts the gameplay mechanics of another series. Beyond the aesthetics, it nails the satisfying sense of exploration and increasing power, and it revels in the joy of discovery, as all the best Zelda games do. It's an extremely successful melding of two great game series and an experience that makes you feel eager for Nintendo to do more interesting things with their major licenses.
Outer Wilds’ deeply captivating narrative and plentiful mysteries push you further into exploring its richly varied and stunning solar system. The time loop you’re trapped in lets you craft bite-sized expeditions that all end up telling their own stories, irrespective of whether you make a monumental discovery or simply encounter a playful interaction.
Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth3DS
But a few annoyances don't drag down Persona Q2 significantly. As a dungeon crawler, it's challenging and engaging, but doesn't drag or feel overwhelming. As a piece of Persona fan service, it delivers the goods with delightful crossover character antics and an enjoyable theme. It all combines into a solid little RPG that can keep you hooked for its entire runtime. The curtains may be closing on the 3DS, but Persona Q2 is a terrific way to end the show.