1267 Published Reviews
In the earlier, sandy hours, that restlessness is a boon—the work of a developer surveying the drier sweeps of a genre and divining a bright pool of ideas. It’s essential playing for horror buffs. What about everyone else? If you’re hungry for frights, this will do the job, and much else besides. But if you want a story that stays grounded, and a mood that hones and hangs around? Forget it.
The Solitaire ConspiracyPC
Why, then, would I recommend The Solitaire Conspiracy? There are two reasons. The first is that it was clearly forged from a love of Solitaire, and even its failures feel like restless, riffled expressions of that love. They seem like an exploration of its opaque design, at perhaps too great a cost.
Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About TimePS4
Toys for Bob, on the other hand, has to contend with the now—an altogether wearier epoch, less wide-eyed—and its strategy is to strain for intricacy by heaping on the mechanics and the clutter, in the hope of stopping it all from rusting up. Whatever the antic designs of Dr. Tropy, there is a deeper story here, and it’s one that centres on a far sadder subject: it’s about time.
STAR WARS: SquadronsPS4
The art direction, led by Mike Yazijian, offers up a feast of backdrops. One fight unfolds just off the shore of a cracked moon, whose bone-white innards unspool into the void; another rages through a blood-red nebula, as though space were suffering a bout of eczema. Forget about the stale story. Leave the briefings behind. Get your head in your cockpit!
Mafia: Definitive EditionPS4
If you’re hoping for a sombre tale of lives brought low by the touch of darkness, my advice would be to go for a ride, take in the sights, and, in the encouraging words of one of Tommy’s fellow-crooks, “Just don’t think about it.”
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2PS4
As the Tony Hawk series rolled on, it amassed a muddy crust of gimmicks—storylines, peripheral hardware, Bam Margera—that jammed the clean, whirring wheels of its appeal. The new studios pay both respect and homage to the original releases by valuing their clarity above all else.
These gripes, I expect, won’t bother those gripped by the prospect of continuous Avenging, who will frantically anticipate the raft of new heroes being piped in via DLC. Power to them. There may well be the feeling of a missed opportunity here, but no matter. Almost worthy is still pretty good.
The more I played the less the goings-on of the narrative bothered me, and the more I relished the wavelike rhythm of the action: the roll and crash of sailing and breaking to alight for supplies.
Samurai Jack: Battle Through TimePC
What’s on offer here is a version of what would only have been available, back then, from a top-flight studio; a haven for those who crave a hit of Tartakovsky; and a hack-and-slash hardly ahead of the curve but happy to polish the past. In short, a place between time.
Blending both adventure and management sim, the player cares for these characters and wanders into the wonder of this world, which lights up with each new island discovered. It explores the role of both parties in death; is it the responsibility of the spirit or the Spiritfarer to sew together the uncomfortable threads of loss?
If you’re willing to devote a weekend to its mood of windbitten despondency (it’s only fifteen or so hours long), you will not emerge from Mortal Shell unrewarded. For one thing, you will have lunged and hacked your way through a carefully wrought, underwritten, but satisfying action game—one faithfully arranged in the patterns of From Software’s masterwork, with its shrines, its currency (lost, but recoverable, after death) and its difficulty (not as alpine as that of its inspiration).
The designs of Elizabeth’s family aren’t so much foreshadowed as foreshouted, and the plot soon wavers off-key and winds up shipwrecked. But something about it hangs around, like the hum of an unsettling tune.
Fight Crab shares a lot of similarities with the glorious gladiatorial battles of Ancient Rome, which were what made primary school history lessons actually fun. Though, like the sporting spectacle, it might not be everyone's cup of tea.
I would recommend the remake to anyone with a nostalgic thirst for the original, but so, too, to those that like their laughs with a dark bite. It isn’t without its blights. For one thing, the art direction isn’t to my taste; compared to the dirt-dry palette of the original, the colours in the new game are glucose-sharp, with lawns that practically glow. Characters have a warped style and a rubbery shine, with hair and features like frosting.
Carrion abounds with the thrills of being the monster, then, but, less common and more cosy, with the kick of being in a monster movie—of slithering in celebration over the tropes of the genre. The good news is that, for a while, it works.
As the hours tick by, these protective layers peel back and fade away, and the real conflict corrupting The Terminal becomes clear. Its characters, silly and cruel, good-natured and detached, flirtatious and depressed, are enlivened by the presentation and the enchanting writing. You understand why Maddy got herself into this pickle in the first place. You don’t want to say goodbye.
Ghost of TsushimaPS4
Nor could it, in a blockbuster video game that demands a generous supply of action and flash. Still, when you’re cantering through its serene peaks, reenacting your favourite samurai-movie battles, it’s difficult not to come to a simple conclusion. That was brilliant!
The mission, as Yurkovoi outlines it, is “to drill to the centre of the Earth, and find out if we could establish a city there.” What could be a more perfect symbol for the Soviet Union during the Cold War? A country tunneling into itself and praying for a promised land. Workers of the world, unite! Everybody’s gone to the rupture!
Disintegration poses interesting questions about how we will define the human experience in a recognisable future. It's not going to answer those questions, sadly, but the gameplay is so creatively rewarding and satisfying. Plus, cool robots.
The Last of Us: Part IIPS4
Where it succeeds isn’t in how close it scrapes to the level of prestige TV, or to films. Its coup is not, “Look how closely we can make games resemble highbrow art.” It’s more, “Look what previously fenced-off realms we can get interactivity into.
Skelattack is a masterpiece in the art of the pleasant. Your quest is broken up by trips back to Aftervale (courtesy of a minecart and a fast-travel tunnel network), where you can buff your sword at the blacksmith, purchase upgrades to your powers (I recommend extra Boom-a-rib range), and check out the pages of lore, which you find hidden out in the world.
The price that Maneater pays for its satirical too-muchness is the true wonder and horror of the unadorned depths, summed up nowhere better than with its star. The body of a shark—the long, lethal slash of grey, the basins of impenetrable black, and the impossibly widening maw—is a nightmare of natural design. It needs no mutation.
It’s that latter film that’s been going round in my head, since playing Huntdown. Its closing lines are fired between a policeman and his prisoner: “You’re pretty fancy, Wilson.” “I have moments.” Huntdown isn’t fancy. It rarely swells beyond the sum of its parts; with parts as precision-tooled as this, it doesn’t need to. But now and then throughout, there are sights to be treasured.
John Wick HexPS4
This is hardly the nerve-igniting spectacle available in the films, which are, in effect, a string of level-winning replays. What we are offered instead are the chilled thrills of the cerebral superman; the man who lives in an existential rhythm all his own; the man for whom the stresses and distractions of others are like distant thuds against a wall of ice; the man who comes and goes as easy and cool as the wind. In short, we are offered the chance to be Keanu Reeves.
Streets of Rage 4PS4
The people that have been waiting for this, in one way or another, for over two decades, may well feel some missing part of their soul slotting back into place, like a silicone cartridge. I can’t vouch for such powers, but I will say that when the credits rolled, I felt better, gunning for action, as if life were a thing to rage through with a smile on your face. How often does that happen?