Influences from other games are quite present in Solar Ash — Tony Hawk's line-following, Super Mario Galaxy's wraparound camera, Shadow of the Colossus's massive bosses. While those together may seem incongruous, they come together to make it an exciting, fast-paced platformer that gives you the tools to move smoothly and complete the challenges before you. It's so satisfying to nail those obstacle courses, clear anomalies, and topple skyscraping Remnants. The roller coaster of Solar Ash is well worth riding.
Battlefield 2042 is an unpolished buggy mess that has kept my attention for days. It has its fair share of quirks, bugs, and performance issues that need to be fixed, but it really presents the player with something that can’t be found anywhere else in the FPS market. There’s nothing like loading into a game with 63 teammates as infantry, jets, tanks, helicopters all push the same objectives.
Ironically, despite trying to plow a very different furrow to the base game, that same rule applies to the Vaas: Insanity DLC that many folks use for Far Cry games in general. If you enjoy the combat then you will enjoy this. While it is interesting to see Far Cry explored through the lens of a roguelike, it all adds up to little more than a few hours of reasonably repetitive entertainment which is unlikely to bring any new players into the Far Cry fold.
Forza Horizon 5 doesn’t stray away from the successful roads that have been paved in past years. The fifth title of the Forza Horizon series offers an incredible amount of depth, and its gameplay finds the right balance between simulation and just pure fun.
I have now spent over 50 hours playing Shin Megami Tensei V — a game that I adore, but also one with a few faults. This RPG on the Nintendo Switch will bind you in its tangled, storied web of angels versus demons, of power struggles to see who will take the Throne of God, but the web is marred by some unfortunate navigation and technical issues.
I was never completely won over by Age of Empires IV. Still, I had a great time playing it, and everything clicked together really well without feeling too overdone. The fact an Age of Empires game could be made in 2021 and not feel like something that’s trying too hard to lean into the nostalgia of the original games is a huge accomplishment.
Despite its mechanical flaws, in depicting a story of flawed characters, it’s hard to pass up on Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. This title feels free of franchise-building and shady business practices. While it tries to ape on your familiarity with the property, it somehow all stands on its own. The visuals, lovable characters, and the promise of hijinx in space are inviting, but within this off-beat exterior is a solid emotional core.
While the quests are thin, Disciples: Liberation has a fantasy world where good and evil don’t feel like a huge factor. It gives you the chance to immerse yourself in the game’s tactical combat, cleverly using your units in each encounter. You’ll use the quests to assist you in bolstering your forces to ensure you come out on time with the right allies on your side, leading to the ultimate conflict.
Supermassive Games fails to understand that they can’t direct their art with such indignation. Rather than letting consumers enjoy their titles in sometimes unintended ways, they’ve come to limit the gameplay experience as a means of controlling the community. In the process, they have damned the conversations that could have risen, with House of Ashes acting as yet another middling product, free of the soul that leaves a lasting impression.
On the other hand, HUT, Be a Pro, and Franchise mode don’t look that much different. The lack of changes does bring down this game a bit, but is it worse off than before? Absolutely not, and NHL 22 should give those who might have been worried about a NHL 15-like debacle some comfort.
The Hinokami Chronicles feels different. The battles alone make this game stand on its own two feet. And even though Story Mode leaves some things to be desired — namely, nail-biting intensity — it’s a retelling of the story which does Demon Slayer justice.
The Jackbox Party Pack 8 will probably not be the end of the line for this series, and even though the games today are far more complicated than something you’d see from the first or second packs, iteration is the key to a fun pack of games. Gather your friends together (if it’s safe) and get cracking on uncovering the intricacies and strategies of these games — hopefully with a ton of laughter in between.
Metroid Dread manages to do incredibly well by marrying moments of action with extreme tension and doing so from the flow of organic gameplay instead of using tools such as cutscenes and dialogue. In Metroid Dread, language is a kinetic thing. Samus Aran’s body is a moving sentence, and her weapons and abilities are punctuation. How you interact with the world you move through is how you tell your story. This is how the very best games in the series have always been and are true of all the best examples of the Metroidvania genre.
Overall, Back 4 Blood is a great game with glaring flaws that bring it down a little. Maybe as time goes on Turtle Rock can address the issues and elevate this to a perfect game for me. I am so happy to have a Left 4 Dead successor that feels current for this gaming landscape and is genuinely a blast to play.
Regardless, Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl serves as an example of how surgical marketing can be, feeding competitive players with specific bullet points while trying to cast a wide net with its popular IP. Playing it may certainly make you smile, and moments of hype can follow. But in the end, it’s an extended meme at best and a monument to capitalistic cynicism at worst.
Far Cry 6 isn’t reworking the formula that has been developed over the years, but it is doing just enough to bring something fresh and new to the series. More importantly, where those elements don’t quite work is not detrimental to the game’s core experience. If you are in the mood for another action-filled story with lots to see and do, then Far Cry 6 is a solid investment.
Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania is a collection of content I wish more gaming series would take for a blueprint for their revisits. It takes the most beloved aspects of the series and improves it in a rerelease that I bet old Monkey Ball fans will love and pull in new fans like myself along the way.
There’s still a little bit of magic left in the Diablo 2 bottle to make Resurrected a worthwhile adventure, even for players who have been consistently going through the original game every so often with friends or by themselves. Resurrected gives a good amount of life to a game many may have only heard about but never went out of their way to try.
If you’re looking for a game with dynamic environments and nostalgic JRPG combat, Astria Ascending ticks those boxes. Its inclusion of Final Fantasy greats such as Kazushige Nojima, Hitoshi Sakimoto, Hideo Minaba, and Akihiko Yoshida makes it a wonderful turn-based RPG that reminds me of the series I grew up with in the 1990s.