I’ve got very mixed feelings about Borderlands 3. Overall I like it and it’s fun to play, but it could have been so much more and the writing feels like time traveling back to your high school days and being surprised and a little disappointed at how immature everyone is. Few things in life are as embarrassing as the person you were five years ago. If you’re not embarrassed, then I’m sorry to say that you may well be the Borderlands 3 of your friend group; stuck in the past unable to grow or change in any meaningful way, relying on fart jokes as a stand-in for your personality.
Daymare: 1998 feels like going back to visit a friend from school who still lives a youthful life free of responsibility. It's fun for a while, but you eventually realise that there is a reason you left that lifestyle behind. Were this released before Capcom's own Resident Evil 2 remake, its issues might not have been so apparent. Oddly stranded in time, this now feels too clunky for newcomers and is one for genre aficionados interested in the evolution of survival horror.
Sayonara Wild HeartsSwitch
Truly incredible, Sayonara Wild Hearts is a pop-culture gem that celebrates music and games in a passionately individual way. There has never been anything else quite like it, and if you have even a passing interest in gaming’s inherent value you need to play it. And then play it again.
eFootball PES 2020 Standard EditionPS4
eFootball PES 2020 may be a symbolic start of a new era for Konami, but it feels like not much has changed over last year's version of the game. In fact, it might even be that last year's version plays a shade better compared to this version. When PES 2020 works properly it is sublime, but issues on the pitch need addressed to really be considered worth upgrading.
The Ninja Saviors: Return of the WarriorsSwitch
I couldn't be happier about the return of the Ninja Warriors. The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors takes classic arcade action and updates it for a brand new era of ninjas. Combat is slick and addictive, and every level is more enjoyable than the last. Unfortunately, the ride just ends far too soon, and without any extra modes or stages to battle your way through after the credits roll, this is an excellent but ultimately far too short experience. I hope the Ninja Warriors stick around longer the next time they return.
Super Dodgeball BeatsSwitch
Perhaps the biggest crime though is that the music isn’t exciting enough. Sure, it’s funky and distinctly cheerful, but it’s just not characterful enough, and later on I still found myself relying on the visual cues for the beats rather than the aural ones. The game’s presentation at least is fantastic, with bright, manga-styled visuals and cool-looking characters, but it’s let down by the less-than-inspiring action.
Once you fall into the groove, Oninaki is greatly enjoyable, even if it initially falls flat because of its repetitive combat. The story heads to dark places surrounding the central theming, occasionally in a ham-fisted way, but still manages to have emotional impact. Ultimately though, Oninaki is a gem of a game if you’re persistent in putting in the work. Tokyo RPG Factory have done it again
Daemon X MachinaSwitch
Daemon X Machina sets the bar for robot action games. The addictive mecha fighting is almost flawless, but it's complemented by so many other incredible parts to the game. There's a rich, unique world filled with incredible and memorable characters, endless and addictive customisation, gorgeous visuals and a jaw-dropping soundtrack. Daemon X Machina rarely stumbles, and even when it did, I still couldn't help but be impressed by this amazing new experience.
Blasphemous is a great little 2D Souls-like which will definitely appeal to fans of dark and difficult games. It doesn’t have the polish of the likes of Dead Cells and is more linear than true Metroidvanias like Hollow Knight, but follows in the bloodied footsteps of titles like Death’s Gambit and Slain: Back From Hell. It isn’t a game for everyone but there is plenty here to get your teeth into with lots of secrets and some excellent and challenging boss encounters. All in all, it's bloody good fun.
Greedfall has an ambitious story, but it's not backed up by the clearly repeated environments, simple combat and dull abilities that take ages to unlock. Seasoned RPG players might well be able able to look past those flaws in favour of the interesting, well written stories about political manoeuvres and oppression that make up the bulk of the quests in this pretty dark, deep world.
Apsulov: End of GodsPC
Apsulov: End of Gods is a worthy counterpart to other great Norse games of recent years. With only a small development team, it can't match the presentation of some of the games that inspired it, but it makes up for this with a distinctive character. Taking the ideas of Doom 3 and Dead Space and mixing them up with Norse mythology, this is a really interesting and enjoyable horror experience.
WRC 8 FIA World Rally ChampionshipPS4
What WRC 8 gives in career longevity, mode variety and stage choice, it takes away with unrefined vehicle handling and some rough edges. This is still the best official WRC game to date, but bear in mind that until the driving feel becomes the main focus of development, this series can’t be placed into the pantheon of all-time greats.
Monster Hunter: World is deservedly Capcom’s most successful game to date, and the Iceborne expansion amplifies everything positive about it. More incredible monsters, new lands and a wealth of ways to upgrade your Hunter will have fans in rapture, while new players yet to experience the delights of monster hunting can rest assured that there’s never been a better time to join the hunt.
GEARS 5Xbox One
Gears 5 is a brilliant experience which can be enjoyed alone or with friends in equal measure. It keeps much of the series' core gameplay and feel, but also takes it in some new directions. It's great to see Gears evolving, opening the door for even more positive changes in the future.
Rebel Galaxy OutlawPC
Rebel Galaxy Outlaw manages to take plenty of familiar elements and whisk them together into a completely original package. The dusty trucker atmosphere combined with the sharp and agile dogfighting gameplay kept me engaged for hours, although the back-tracking and cash grinding wore me out before too long. Even with those issues, there's something special about the aesthetic of Rebel Galaxy Outlaw that demands the attention of anyone looking for some good, dirty spaceship action.
An enjoyable retro-style rogue-lite; in RAD you should expect brutal gameplay in a gaudy and synthesised world. The random nature of the world sometimes proves to be a problem, but not enough to diminish what is a fantastically loud take on the genre. If only for letting players smack about mutants with their engorged limbs and a baseball bat, RAD lives up to its name. Just try to stop playing it, you’ll struggle.
There's a lot of things to like about Blair Witch, from the way it invokes the imagery of the original film, to some inventive camcorder puzzles and intriguing depictions of trauma, but most of these aspects aren't given the time to really develop. There's the skeleton of a really good horror-based walking sim here, and while it's still worth checking out for horror fans, it feels more like a first episode of a series rather than a standalone game. A missed opportunity; all Woody and no real Buzz.
Hamsterdam is a delightful homage to Golden Era kung-fu movies, but if the martial artists were all small mammals. It might get repetitive quite quickly, but if you’re looking for something you can play in short sprints or something fun for your kids, Hamsterdam is a genuine treat.
Catherine: Full BodyPS4
Catherine: Full Body has aged like the finest of wines. For fans of the story, the new characters and plot threads fold in fantastically after an awkward start, and they're coupled with a wealth of new dialogue and beautifully animated cutscenes. For fans of the gameplay, new remixed levels and difficulty options add brand new challenges for even the most hardcore Catherine enthusiasts, and with support for the game's niche competitive scene to boot. And if you've never played the game before, all of these additions make an already classic video game even more of a must-play experience.
Redeemer: Enhanced EditionPS4
I'd love to be able to recommended Redeemer: Enhanced Edition to you. Its top-down shoot and beat 'em up combat is tremendous fun, and the local drop-in and out co-op mode is treat, but there's way too many game breaking bugs and glitches that hold up any recommendation. If these issues are fixed with a patch then feel free to add a few points to the score, otherwise you're best off looking for your gory thrills and spills elsewhere.
The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of MedanPS4
Mad of Medan looks and sounds gorgeous, but it's spoiled by some technical issues and, depending on your choices, characters doing stupid things just so the plot can continue, both of which break the flow of what could have been a decent horror story. It's an excellent night or two's entertainment with a bunch of mates in a dark room and plenty of beer, though playing by yourself or online with a chum is an altogether more muted experience. This is a fair start to The Dark Pictures Anthology.