805 Published Reviews
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE EncoreSwitch
Whatever you think of port-begging, it's justified with Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore. Not only does #FE Encore give us a chance to play a great game that was overlooked on the Wii U, but it also adds a new dungeon, new songs, and content that was previously DLC. A lot of new Persona fans have been minted since #FE's initial release in 2015, and this is one song they should all enjoy.
Some significant technical issues manage to do little to hold back the charm and wit of Wattam. It's a game that's great fun for both kids and adults, with slapstick humor and a sweet message of understanding people, despite your differences, at its center. It's made with today's toxic climate in mind, boiling the world's issues into something that doesn't feel cloying, but instead feels positive and welcoming. That, to me, is an achievement.
Shovel Knight: King of CardsPC
Shovel Knight: King of Cards revisits the formula one last time with new maps and bosses, as well as a brand new card game. It's ambitious, but it's also the least essential of the major Shovel Knight episodes. If you own Treasure Trove, play Shovel of Hope and Specter of Torment first, then circle back to King of Cards if you still want more.
Shovel Knight ShowdownSwitch
Shovel Knight Showdown takes the popular indie platformer series and turns it into a four-player arena battler, with great results. With a large amount of unlockable content, in-game challenges, and solo modes, it's a deceptively robust package that has the potential to be a long-term party staple. Shovel Knight Showdown is great even if you've never played the original games.
Life Is Strange 2 has a better core relationship at the heart of its game, but it fails them with the episodic adventure's at times boring, formulaic episode structure; something its predecessor did not suffer from. Some of the story beats are preachy and unearned. Where Life Is Strange 2 hits its stride is more a technical feat: in how its core relationship between brothers Sean and Daniel becomes a game mechanic in itself, and how all the choices you make shape Daniel as he grows up.
Phoenix Point fits firmly on the foundation of modern XCOM, but rethinks combat with an action point system and the ability to free aim. While the latter seems like a gimmick, it's actually a wonderful tactical option that pushes the strategy forward. It's a shame then that a reliance on procedural generation leads to a lack of variety, weapon balance isn't great, and the technical execution is rough. Phoenix Point is a great starting point for something amazing, but it's not quite there yet.
Shenmue 3 suffers from hamfisted exposition, tedious repetition, monotonous grinding, and a heap of other fundamental flaws that are inexcusable in 2019. However, its environments are so confident in their sense of place that exploration is a capable redeemer, and the game is at times, on that ground alone, worth playing.
Pokemon Sword and Shield's single-player experience is filled with neat characters and a new region that's brimming with personality, but running around the Wild Area with other players offers a special kind of fun. Quality of life improvements to the metagame, including the ability to change your Pokemon's nature and rent teams for fights, gives you good reason to stick with the game after you're crowned the new champion of the Galar region. Despite the controversy, Sword and Shield offers a great time.
STAR WARS Jedi: Fallen OrderPS4
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order comes painfully close to being the best action game of the year, but it ultimately falls short due to pacing problems and a host of technical issues. Still, this is the first step into a larger world for a franchise that has persistently struggled since its acquisition by EA.
Need for Speed HeatPS4
Need for Speed Heat is a conglomeration Need for Speeds past. A little Payback, a little Rivals, a little Hot Pursuit, a little Underground. The result is a good foundation to build upon, but weird AI issues, a lack of variety in events, and some poor tuning in cop chases mean it's not great. Maybe next gen will see Ghost Games bringing a little more real heat.
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020Switch
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 offers a glimpse of what the series could be if it fully committed to a story mode or really invested in becoming a sportier companion to Mario Party. Most of the minigames are fairly strong and the whole package is dripping with polish. As far as minigame collections go, this one can carry the torch just fine—but maybe it’s not the one you pick to light the fire at game night.
Death Stranding might be Kojima's boldest game to date. It may also be his most tedious. Either way, its originality outweighs its sometimes exhausting structure and poor pacing... but only just. Maybe not a game I would recommend to everyone, but certainly one of the most interesting games of 2019.
Call of Duty: Modern WarfarePS4
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare steps it up in the pure game-feel department; its guns, its movement, its action: it all feels the best it's ever been. Even with thrilling new modes like Gunfight and the Counter-Strike-like Cyber Attack, the maps and Spec Ops end up disappointing. The campaign itself remains a return to form for the staple Call of Duty campaign, for better or worse. Modern Warfare as a whole ends up feeling like it has the foundation for something better than it is right now, and in the months to come, it very well might be. But for now, it's just merely almost there.
Night School Studios have made hell intriguing and complex, with punchy dialog and relatable characters, be it human or demonic. The humor and writing is where Afterparty shines the most, breathing life into every character it touches—be it short and sarcastic, or emotional and reverent. Like the Beastie Boys' "Fight for Your Right (To Party)," what seems like dumb entertainment can evolve into something a lot more meaningful if you're willing to look beneath the surface.
Luigi's Mansion 3Switch
Luigi's Mansion 3 occasionally suffers because of its fixed camera and a ghastly boss fight here and there, but the "goo" overwhelms the bad in this haunting adventure. Sucking up stuff with your Poltergust is still satisfying, and slamming ghosts into each other feels so right. Add buckets of charm, and you have a game that proves—yet again—that Luigi is the superior Mario Brother.
With the remake of 1998's MediEvil, Other Ocean has done great work bringing the PlayStation title in 2019. Visually, this game is a winner. The problem is the decision to keep the gameplay largely the same. MediEvil's combat is muddy and its level design lacks any sense of exploration. This needed to be a more extensive remake. As it stands, it's only for those with heavy nostalgia for the property.
The Outer WorldsPC
In an alternate reality where modern Fallout retained the the focus on choice and role-playing, The Outer Worlds would be the result. Obsidian Entertainment delivers this small window into that alternate reality, a game that prizes picking the right skills to tackle weird and wild situations. The Outer Worlds shines in the writing, but the combat doesn't equally rise to the occasion. Likewise, the planets you visit could use a few more quests or interesting spots to explore. The Outer Worlds is still a fun romp though, something that will hopefully build to something bigger in the future.
Disco Elysium wants to get you in touch with the voices in your head. This detective RPG calls back to the old Infinity Engine games like Planescape: Torment and Baldur's Gate, but it put a unique spin on everything. With a beautiful oil painting aesthetic, it also features a system that treats your skill like additional party members, each with their own opinions on your actions. Ultimately, every lengthy run-though of Disco Elysium is about the consequences of your choices and actions, adding up to some fantastic stories. A great, surprising entry into RPG canon.
Little Town HeroSwitch
Aside from its cute art direction, there's not much joy to be found in Game Freak's Little Town Hero. Its battle system has a glimmer of potential, but finds itself muddled in system after system, making what should be its standout boss battles a tedious affair. Even for a budget price, this is a town you probably won't want to visit for more than a day.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IIIPS4
Trails of Cold Steel 3 doesn't offer much in the way of gameplay innovations, but if you're even glancing in the direction of this game, you're not interested in new ideas. No, you're interested in continuing the dramatic, twisty-turny story of the Erebonian Empire's shenanigans. Trails of Cold Steel 3 resumes the series' magic-infused story of politics and scandal, and the unique battle system still holds up well.
Concrete Genie is certainly easy on the eyes and ears, with brilliant colors popping out of the screen and a light, airy score to coaxe life out of your paintings. It even successfully switches around the perspective of a strained parent-child relationship compared to what we've seen in other games. Unfortunately the monotonous nature of everything in between creating Genies, from dodging bullies to dousing Denska with Super Paint, drags it down.
Destiny 2: ShadowkeepPS4
Destiny 2: Shadowkeep is the same satisfying Destiny 2 you've been playing (or not playing) all along. The combat feels good, the art direction's stunning, the lore is mysterious in all the right ways. But it also fumbles in a lot of areas: its campaign is among Destiny's weakest, there isn't a lot of new loot, and its newly introduced systems are so convoluted that I found myself wishing there was a tutorial buried in a menu somewhere.
John Wick HexPC
John Wick Hex has a solid enough foundation, but it largely fails to build on its core concept. It's a one-dimensional tactics game that moves at a glacially slow pace and features few unique wrinkles. It offers a slightly deeper look at the lore, but otherwise it adds little to the burgeoning John Wick-verse.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon BreakpointPC
Ghost Recon Breakpoint is a game that wants to evolve, but has trouble picking a direction. There's an extensive amount of loot, but that can get in the way of player choice in terms of specific playstyle. Equipping loot to keep up your gear score is needed to fight drone enemies, but most human enemies can be killed with a headshot, making it useless at the same time. The survival system is a selling point, but it can be largely ignored. Breakpoint needed a real direction, because what's left is just Wildlands 2.0. And doing the same thing has less impact years later.
Indivisible's unique blend of platforming and action-heavy monster fights will take some getting used to, but everything feels good once it clicks into place. Indivisible has some problems with its camera and map, but you'll be too busy marveling at its wonderful graphics to feel much of a sting.