FUSER Articles RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com FUSER RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network Essential Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S Games for the 2020 Holiday Season https://www.gameskinny.com/nbia6/essential-xbox-one-xbox-series-xs-games-for-the-2020-holiday-season https://www.gameskinny.com/nbia6/essential-xbox-one-xbox-series-xs-games-for-the-2020-holiday-season Fri, 18 Dec 2020 22:21:48 -0500 GS_Staff

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Control

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ESRB Rating: T
MSRP: $39.99
Platforms: XB1, Series X|S
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Control may very well be on of the greatest games of the last generation. Developed by Remedy Games — who also brought us the incredible Alan Wake, as well as Quantum Break and Max Payne — Control wows with super slick gunplay and super power usage.

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It's a game that pulls players into an engaging world with engaging combat.  The Federal Bureau of Control is under siege and supernatural abilities are commonplace. Fans of the X-Files or sci-fi horror should not miss out on this action-adventure game.

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We couldn't help but gush about it in our review, saying that "Control is undoubtedly Remedy's biggest and weirdest game yet. In many ways, it's also their best, all while it paves the way for a Marvel-like connected universe." Yeah, it connects to all of their previous games in some fashion, creating a video game universe unlike any other. 

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/90ef2a99d434aa12fc369b80c16cbf43.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/90ef2a99d434aa12fc369b80c16cbf43.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"13520","description":"

Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning

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ESRB Rating: M
MSRP: $39.99
Platforms: XB1, X|S
Get it on:

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Kingdoms of Amalur didn't get the fairest shake with its original release on the Xbox 360, but the Re-Reckoning version of the game on modern platforms brings this much-talked-about RPG to life  and with a wealth of additional content on top of the original version's already robust world and gameplay.

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This is one of those re-releases that original fans dream of, but also one that's accessible to new fans. Thankfully, many of the hiccups from the original game have been ironed out here, so it's both faithful and the best way to play the game. 

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If you're a loot hound — or know someone who is — and like RPGs, Re-Reckoning is a no brainer. 

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In our review, we said that "Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning feels like a breath of fresh air. Just like the game's protagonist, it rises from the ashes, with a blank slate and zero expectations, to deliver a powerful story, addictive gameplay, and a shockingly stylish world that's pulsing with personality and is ripe for exploration."

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/4b9441f4a9fca5e244f97184d0471920.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/4b9441f4a9fca5e244f97184d0471920.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"13528","description":"

Wasteland 3

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ESRB Rating: M
MSRP: $59.99
Platforms: XB1, Series X|S
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After waiting for a sequel to Wasteland 2 for six years — and suffering through a few delays along the way — fans finally got their hands on Wasteland 3 earlier this year. Luckily, it was all well worth it. Mixing tried and true CRPG mechanics with modern sensibilities, Wasteland 3 is an unmitigated success. 

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There's no surprise that there's a lot to do in Wasteland 3, a game that can take upwards of 71 hours to beat for those looking to uncover everything. Sure, a single playthrough isn't as long as some other RPGs on the Xbox platform, but there are so many different builds and ways to play the game, that multiple playthroughs are almost essential. 

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There's story, there's strategy, there's combat. It looks absolutely fantastic, and it's funny, to boot. 

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We said that "Wasteland 3 is, without a doubt, one of the best games of the year. Despite its dark, gloomy atmosphere, it manages to shine through humor and characterization. The world-building is second to none, with a wide range of locales to visit, creating a sense of epic-scale and adventure. It’s a game where your choices have real consequences as you play judge, jury, and executioner."

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/66e871aab2adc9a72ca9f3a61e987ecd.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/66e871aab2adc9a72ca9f3a61e987ecd.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"13530","description":"

Streets Of Rage 4 

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ESRB Rating: T
MSRP: $24.99 - $34.99
Platforms: XB1, Series X|S
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They say you can't keep a good fighter down, and with Streets of Rage 4, developer Dotemu proves that one of the best beat em' ups of the 1990s is still one of the beat em' ups of 2020s. 

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The most obvious change is the game's updated coat of paint, which looks absolutely gorgeous on last- and current-gen consoles. Peel back the surface just a bit, and you'll find a game that pays respect to the franchise but makes enough thoughtful changes to forge its own path. Combat is as you'd expect it, though that doesn't mean it's any less effective. 

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After playing Streets of Rage 4 earlier this year, we said "Streets of Rage 4 is the best kind of revival. It absolutely revels in the franchise’s roots, but the designers have put a lot of thought into what does and does not work in the old arcade beat-‘em-up formula." Read more here

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Maneater

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ESRB Rating: M
MSRP: $29.99
Platforms: XB1, Series X|S
Get it on:

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Maneater may be one of the most surprising games of the year, and if you like action-packed chaos and mayhem, one of the best.  

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Fans of Jaws and Shark Week will revel in the chum-filled waters of Maneater, which follows an orphaned bull shark out for revenge. As your growing shark swims from the alligator-filled swamps of Fatwick Bayou to the sailboat-clogged harbor of Prosperity Sands and beyond, you'll chomp down on everything from fish and turtles to swimmers and bounty hunters. 

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You'll even unlock new skills, evolutions, and deadly shark skins along the way, giving you extra bones to rip your prey to shreds or electricity to shock them when they fall in the water. 

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We gave Maneater a 9 because of all of the things it does so well, with our review saying "In a time of global crisis, however, a game where you can turn your brain off and eat anything and everything in sight is just the kind of detachment we need. Even if it wasn’t on your radar at all, Maneater is a title that will gobble you up for a few hours of blissful escapism."

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Dirt 5

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ESRB Rating: E
MSRP: $59.99
Platforms: XB1, X|S
Get it on:

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Dirt 5 isn't to be overlooked if you've got the itch for a good racing game, especially if you enjoyed its predecessor, Dirt 4. It improves on many of that game's mechanics and systems, even if the Xbox versions aren't able to use the awesome haptic feedback features available in the PlayStation 5 version. 

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Dirt 5's varied terrain, comprehensive career mode, and lush visuals are a feast for anyone who enjoys the genre even a bit. But don't go into this thinking it's Gran Turismo: this is a rally racer through and through. 

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You can read more about Dirt 5 and all it has to offer in our review, where we said it's "a huge racer with tons to do," has "gorgeous presentation," and comes packaged with "tight, responsive controls." 

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Ghostrunner

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ESRB Rating: M
MSRP: $29.99
Platforms: XB1, Series X|S
Get it on:

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Ultra fast-paced and brutal, Ghostrunner can put even the highest skilled players to the test with its cutthroat swordplay and silky smooth maneuverability. An action-packed platformer set against a neon cyberpunk futurescape, Ghostrunner is part Mirror's Edge, part Ninja Gaiden where precise timing and movement a strategic keys to success. Get hit, and you die. You'll have to start from the checkpoint. 

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This is a solid buy for anyone who's all about gameplay and isn't too worried about story, at least in the traditional narrative sense. If you pay attention, there's a lot to learn from its world.

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We gave Ghostreunner a solid 8, saying, "it's fast, frenetic, and, even in the face of its weaker moments, endlessly satisfying."

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Cake Bash

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ESRB Rating: E
MSRP: $19.99
Platforms: XB1, Series X|S
Get it on:

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There's nothing better for the soul and bad for your interpersonal relationships like a good, old-fashioned party game. Cake Bash doesn't just make you compete with friends in its minigames, campaign, and multiplayer modes  it makes you hungry too! You are trying to become the tastiest treat around, after all.

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Our review for this indie darling perhaps says it best: "With a variety of entertaining games, some lively stages, and good replayability, it’s a fun experience, especially with friends. We only wish there was more of it on offer. Though some minigames feel a little finicky, it’s otherwise a sweet treat all around." Read more about Cake Bash here

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/e5bfe7df695bbdc24d46ad61eb9efaf2.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/e5bfe7df695bbdc24d46ad61eb9efaf2.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"13514","description":"

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2

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ESRB Rating: T
MSRP: $39.99
Platforms: XB1, Series X|S
Get it on:

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There's no series that does skateboarding better than Tony Hawk's Pro Skater. Sure, there's the Skate series, which has received favorable marks over the years, but nothing holds a candle to the prolificness of the THPS franchise, or its grip on the cultural zeitgeist 21 years after the launch of the first game. 

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This faithful remake of the first two games in the series can't be beat — even compared to more recent entries. it makes you forget that 2012's Tony Hawk's HD ever existed. 

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Featuring absolutely no cut content from the first two games in the series and even some new additions (skaters, boards, and online multiplayer), as well as tricks from later games, Pro Skater 1 + 2 isn't to be missed.

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That doesn't mean it's perfect, but we gave it high marks for its graphics, faithfulness, and old-school arcade feel. Read more about it in our review.

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Immortal Fenyx Rising

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ESRB Rating: T
MSRP: $59.99
Platforms: XB1, Series X|S
Get it on:

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Immortals Fenyx Rising may look like just another open-world Ubisoft game, and while it may share certain aspects with games like Assassin's Creed Odyssey, such as its Greek mythology trappings, it takes some of those elements and flips them on their head. 

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As expected, there's a lot to do here, with plenty of places to explore, myriad items to discover, and tons of skills to unlock. There's "breezy combat and excellent writing," and the art style is inviting. It helps that the game is funny too. 

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For us, "Immortals Fenyx Rising has undeniable charm." It's well worth the price of admission for fans of Ubisoft, open-world games, or just plain ol' well-made games.  

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Journey to the Savage Planet

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ESRB Rating: T
MSRP: $29.99
Platforms: XB1, Series X|S
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You may not have heard about Journey to the Savage Planet since it had a relatively quiet launch way back in the beginning of 2020, which was about 624 years ago at this point. But that doesn't mean it isn't a 3D action-adventure game well-worth checking out. 

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Zany, satirical, and totally bonkers, Journey to the Savage Planet sends you to planet AR-Y 26 as part of an exploration expedition meant to find a habitable planet for humanity. It's a tale we've played through before, but the character behind Journey to the Savage Planet — not to mention its creative design choices and fun gameplay — make it stand out. 

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Players can explore and conquer solo or in co op, though co op is relegated to a purely invite-only system. There's unfortunately no couch co op or online matchmaking here. 

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We gave the game an 8 for getting "exploration and traversal" right, as well as it's "colorful and light-hearted" world. We said that "Journey to the Savage Planet is an amalgam of many genres in a single 15-20 hour experience" that stands as a "charming debut from a promising new studio."

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Star Wars: Squadrons

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ESRB Rating: T
MSRP: $39.99
Platforms: XB1, Series X|S
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  • Amazon (XB1, Series X|S physical)
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Star Wars fans have waited a long, long time for a proper space-flight combat simulator — since the days of the legendary X-Wing and Tie Fighter series. Star Wars: Squadrons delivers (in spades) a thoughtful and respectful modern take on that classic gameplay. recent updates to the game have added the much-requested B-Wing, custom multiplayer matches, and new starfighter armaments. 

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Between a campaign worthy of the storied series and the intensely immersive flight and combat to the blood-pumping multiplayer that serves as a nice middle ground between the old games and Battlefront 2's Starfighter Assualt mode, Squadrons is not to be missed by any fan.

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In our review of the game, we said "Star Wars Squadrons is an instant classic and an ode to the space combat sims that came before it. It's the closest thing to a new X-Wing or Tie Fighter we're going to get."

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Watch Dogs: Legion

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ESRB Rating: M
MSRP: $59.99
Platforms: XB1, Series X|S
Buy it from:

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Watch Dogs: Legion is the third installment in the Watch Dogs franchise that began back in 2014. While it features similar gameplay and world-building as its predecessors, the most interesting mechanic Watch Dogs: Legion brings to the table is the ability to recruit any character in London to the grander cause. Such an ambitious addition works extremely well, too, adding a sense of depth unseen in the first two games and a whole heck of a lot of character types to dive into.

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Never before has being a part of a rebel hacker group been so slick, so much so in our review, we said that WDL "throws out a decade of Ubisoft's cluttered-map open worlds in favor of exciting systems that deliver unique emergent moments consistently."

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It's not perfect — as of this writing, there's still a pesky game-breaking bug near the end of the game in the Series X version that Ubisoft is working to fix — but it's a solid entry in the series all fans should check out. 

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Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War

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ESRB Rating: M
MSRP: $59.99 - $69.99
Platforms: XB1, Series X|S
Get it on:

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This year's Call of Duty should be a given for any FPS player with an Xbox Box One or Xbox Series X|S. The perennial first-person shooter's newest offering brings with it a ton of multiplayer gameplay and plenty of weapon customization options to keep any fan busy. There's a sizeable campaign mode, to boot, not to mention the always-popular Zombies mode. 

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Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War is on both Xbox One and Xbox Series X natively, though owners of the Xbox One version is backwards compatible with the Series X, or it can upgrade to the Xbox Series X version at no additional cost. So it's really a win, win, win. 

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In our review of Black Ops Cold War, we gave it top marks for a "tight, high-action campaign mode, tons of weapon customization options in multiplayer, [and for having] plenty of content right away." We also said that, unsurprisingly, "zombies mode is hard to put down."

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Grounded

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ESRB Rating: T
MSRP: $29.99
Platforms: XB1, Series X|S
Get it on:

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  • Microsoft Store (XB1, Series X|S Digital)\n
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    • Currently included in Game Pass Ultimate
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If you've ever wondered what it would be like to play in the backyard of Honey, I shrunk the Kids, you'll want to give Grounded a look. It's a survival adventure game where you're small and the world is big — literally. 

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Grounded may only be in Early Access through Xbox Game Preview with its story and systems still in development, but it already has a lot to offer. You'll craft spears and shovels, hunt bugs, build shelters, and survive myriad dangers — all while trying to get un-shrunk. 

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On top of what's currently available, Obsidian has been dutifully adding new elements and mechanics to the game since it released in July. The extensive development roadmap can be seen over on the Grounded website

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In our Early Access review, we said that "Grounded proudly reveals its unique take on the well-tread survival genre by injecting familiar mechanics with a youthful spirit. With Grounded, Obsidian walks back years of survival games moving ceaselessly toward dreary post-apocalyptic worlds and instead imagines a colorful little-big sandbox where insects are intimidating behemoths."

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Gears Tactics

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ESRB Rating: M
MSRP: $59.99
Platforms: XB1, Series X|S
Get it on:

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  • Amazon (XB1, Series X|S Physical)
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  • Microsoft Store (XB1, Series X|S Digital)\n
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Xbox One actually has a surprising number of good tactics games in its catalog: XCOM and XCOM 2, Wargroove, Battletech, Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun, Mutant Year Zero, Battletech, and Into the Breach are just a few. But fans can add Gears Tactics in as one of the best entries. 

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As with other similar genre games, there are squads, there are over-head perspectives, there are action points, and there are abilities like overwatch. Since Gears Tactics is a prequel to the original Gears of War, the story gives Gears fans another look at the franchise's universe, 12 years before the first game. 

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We played the game when it released in early 2020, saying "Gears Tactics takes the intense third-person action of the console game into the realm of PC-centric turn-based tactical strategy. Thanks to intuitive controls, Gears Tactics is easy to get into even for players who have never played a turn-based tactical squad game before. It’s just a shame there’s not more here."

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Ori and the Will of the Wisps

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ESRB Rating: E
MSRP: $29.99
Platforms: XB1, Series X|S
Get it on:

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  • Microsoft Store (XB1, Series X|S Digital)\n
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    • Currently included in Game Pass Ultimate
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Ori and the Blind Forest is one of the best platformers to launch on any platform in recent memory. Released in 2015, it currently has an 88 on Metacritic and a commanding 90 on OpenCritic. So how would Moon Studios and Microsoft Studios follow that? With a sequel that's just as good — if not better. 

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Ori and the Will of the Wisps takes most everything fans love about the original game and improves upon it. It's draw-droppingly gorgeous world is only rivaled by its tight platforming mechanics and fulfilling Metroidvania design. There's a lot to do in Will of the Wisps, making it a game fans can come back to again and again. 

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In our review of the game, we said "Ori and the Will of the Wisps is another triumph return for the series — a beautiful game with only the smallest blemishes to its luster. If you want to play a beautiful, often difficult Metroidvania with some of the most satisfying combat and traversal mechanics the genre has to offer, Ori and the Will of the Wisps will give you plenty to be excited about."

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The holiday shopping season is here, which means it's time to stock up on games — or buy them for other people, of course. 2020 marked the launch of Sony's PlayStation 5 and Microsoft's Xbox Series X and Series S, all of which are backwards compatible with their respective prior platforms.

\n

Although Halo Infinite was delayed out of the Series X|S launch window, leaving the consoles without a launch exclusive title, there are tons of great games ready to fill the void, some third-party, some first-party. 

\n

In making this list, we tried to avoid overlap with our other list marking the essential games for the PlayStation 4 and PS5. Maybe it's a misguided endeavor because so many great games launched for both platforms, but we had to draw the line somewhere for each list or both would go on and on. 

\n

Here's that list so you can find even more great Xbox One and Series X|S titles, like FUSER, Assassin's Creed Valhalla, Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time, Doom Eternal, Resident Evil 3, and more. 

\n

Here we're focusing on some of the other essential titles for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S owners to pick up this season and into 2021, from shooters and space flight sims to everything in between. There's something for any sort of gamer in this list, so let's get started.

"}]]]>
GameSkinny's Best Games of 2020 https://www.gameskinny.com/is88r/gameskinnys-best-games-of-2020 https://www.gameskinny.com/is88r/gameskinnys-best-games-of-2020 Thu, 31 Dec 2020 09:00:02 -0500 GS_Staff

To look back on the year that was in video games, we've collected our highest-reviewed games of 2020 into a "best of" list. We're a small staff at GameSkinny, so going the traditional "staff voting route" doesn't really make a whole lot of sense for us. The most democratic way to make a list like this is to include any game with a score of "8" or higher. So that's what we've done. 

This list will not include DLCs (such as The Foundation or AWE for Control), expansions (such as Destiny 2 Beyond Light), or hardware reviews. It will contain ports and remakes of games. 

Here are our best games of 2020, starting with a real good one and getting better from there. 

13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim

Publisher: Atlus
Developer: Vanillaware
Platforms: PS4
Rating: 10/10

What we said: 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim mixes smart design with superb storytelling, then slathers the whole package in gorgeous style. 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim spins a web of mystery around you, then chuckles smugly as you think you've found your way out only to realize you're in the middle of a maze.

Read the review

A Fold Apart

Publisher: Lightning Rod Games
Developer: Lightning Rod Games
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, iOS
Rating: 9/10

What we said: A Fold Apart is about hope and how love can get us through even the toughest of times. In that way, it's timeless. 

The game is so incredibly charming and so accurately depicts the rigors and pleasures of being in love that I can't help but adore it. The first title from Lightning Rod Games isn't perfect by definition, but even with a few tiny blemishes, it's only a fold apart. 

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Amnesia: Rebirth

Publisher: Frictional Games
Developer: Frictional Games
Platforms: PC, PS4
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Though its scares don't reach the heights of the original, Amnesia: Rebirth remains a must-play horror game for delivering a story more akin to a brilliant novel.

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Among Us

Publisher: Innersloth
Developer: Innersloth
Platforms: PC, Switch, Mobile
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Flaws aside, Among Us is a clever game that deserves its time in the spotlight. It works a surprisingly complex concept into a simple and accessible package where matches are quick, fun, usually hilarious, and sometimes even intense.

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Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Platforms: Switch
Rating: 10/10

What we said: The latest Animal Crossing is also the best, full of life, charm, and near-endless ways to make your very own island paradise.

New Horizons is bursting with personality and charm, with opportunities to create something new and completely you. It's compelling and also one of the most chilled out games you'll ever play. In short, there's nothing quite like Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

Read the review

Assassin's Creed Valhalla

Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Stadia
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Assassin's Creed Valhalla builds its world around a familiar formula, but with a compelling story and plenty of things to do, it's a game series fans will find inviting.

Read the review

Astro's Playroom

Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Team ASOBII
Platforms: PS5
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Astro's Playroom proves that the DualSense's haptics and adaptive triggers are for real — and that Astro Bot could have a very bright future on PlayStation 5. Though it's short and may lack enemy variety, Astro's Playroom makes up for it in character and heart. 

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Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk DX

Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Developer: Gust Co. Ltd
Platforms: PS4, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Atelier Ayesha DX is a solid entry starting off the Dusk trilogy, with compelling crafting and gameplay loops, as well as plenty of loveable characters. Overall, Atelier Ayesha DX is a great entry in the series whether you're new to it or just finding it now. 

Read the review

Atelier Escha and Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky DX

Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Developer: Gust Co. Ltd
Platforms: PS4, Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Atelier Escha & Logy DX refines the formula Ayesha laid out and other new features that make it not just the best in the Dusk trilogy, but one of the best Atelier games in general. All in all, Atelier Escha & Logy DX is easily the best entry in the Dusk trilogy  With refined mechanics, better combat, and seriously compelling crafting systems, it even stands among the top entries in the Atelier series on the whole.

Read the review

Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea

Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Developer: Gust Co. Ltd
Platforms: PS4, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Though Atelier Shallie falls short in some ways, it's still a solid package with compelling crafting and combat systems. Atelier Shallie is the weakest part of the Dusk trilogy. It's ambitious in doing away with the time system and trying for a more flexible approach. But there's just not enough worthwhile content to make the freedom and flexibility a satisfying trade-off for the systems it does away with, and it doesn't make good use of its own strengths.

Read the review

AO Tennis 2

Publisher: Big Ant Studios
Developer: Big Ant Studios
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: AO Tennis 2 feels like a sports sim built first and foremost to correct its predecessor's mistakes, and that's a directive that pays off for tennis fans. Not without issues, AO Tennis 2 is my pick for the best tennis game on the market today. There's obvious room to grow, but this has quickly become Big Ant's best series in their ever-expanding catalog of sports titles.

Read the review.

Before We Leave

Publisher: Balancing Monkey Games
Developer: Balancing Monkey Games
Platforms: PC
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Before We Leave is a relaxing take on the post-apocalypse and city building, with enough benefits to overcome its hiccups.

Read the review

Bloodroots

Publisher: Paper Cult
Developer: Paper Cult
Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Bloodroots is a high-speed slash-and-bash extravaganza that always makes you want to beat "just one more level." A good game can be really fun when things are going well and you feel skilled and empowered. A great game remains fun when you feel like a useless idiot who can't do anything right. Bloodroots is a great game. 

Read the review.

Blood Rage

Publisher: Asmodee
Developer: Exozet Games
Platforms: PC
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Blood Rage: Digital Edition is a strong port of the popular tabletop game that's challenging for both newcomers and veterans alike. Blood Rage: Digital Edition is a really strong port of a popular tabletop game. 

Read the review

Battletoads

Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
Developer: Rare
Platforms: PC, Xbox One
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Battletoads returns after 26 years, and it's a love letter to gaming past and present. The urgency at which it propels you through its runtime is both a blessing and a curse, as it’s hard to put down but ultimately a short affair. 

Read the review

BPM: Bullets Per Minute

Publisher: Awe Interactive
Developer: Awe Interactive
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Rating: 9/10

What we said: BPM: Bullets Per Minute is a challenging rhythm shooter that’s difficult to master but highly satisfying. It's not a forgiving experience, and though it's difficult to master, BPM proves surprisingly easy to pick up and play. 

Read the review.

Bubble Bobble 4 Friends

Publisher: ININ Games
Developer: Taito
Platforms: PS4, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Bubble Bobble 4 Friends is, for the most part, exactly what fans would have hoped for. It’s a modern classic that keeps all the charm we loved about the original 80s game. There’s a significant graphics improvement of course, but the gameplay itself is largely identical.

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Cake Bash

Publisher: High Tea Frog
Developer: Coatsink
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Stadia
Rating: 8/10

What we said: There’s a lot to love about Cake Bash, and High Tea Frog has made an excellent party game for their debut title. With a variety of entertaining games, some lively stages, and good replayability, it’s a fun experience, especially with friends. We only wish there was more of it on offer. Though some minigames feel a little finicky, it’s otherwise a sweet treat all around.

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Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War

Publisher: Activision
Developer: Treyarch, Raven Software
Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War is full of content that series fans will enjoy and offers a few unexpected surprises along the way. The vast amount of content at launch is enough to draw players in, while the promise of more will keep players around. 

Read the review.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Remastered

Publisher: Activision
Developer: Beenox
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Modern Warfare 2 Remastered is a mostly commanding return of the game's classic single-player, though not without a few hiccups. It is a functionally updated retelling of a story millions know and played in their formative years. The characters and politics are somehow as relevant today as they were back when the game first released, and it still sounds, plays, and looks better than most shooters on the market.

Read the review

Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions

Publisher: Bandai Namco
Developer: Tamsoft
Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions is legitimately the best arcade sports title to come out since Rocket League. The simple, easy truth here is that if you're craving an arcade soccer game, you really should buy Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions. 

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Carrion

Publisher: Devolver Digital
Developer: Phobia Game Studio
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Carrion is a beautifully orchestrated symphony of blood, guts, and dismembered limbs. While Carrion won't win any awards, it plays out much like a late Friday night feature, full of gruesome horror and satisfying effects. More importantly, it doesn't outstay its welcome.

Read the review

Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time

Publisher: Activision
Developer: Toys for Bob
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Ultimately, Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time had a lot riding on it. Being the sequel to a 22-year-old game likely presented Toys for Bob with some developmental challenges, but the development team nailed nearly everything about this sequel. The Crash series has seen its fair share of mediocre (or even bad) entries, but Crash 4 is a big step in the right direction, and the future of the series couldn't be more exciting. 

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Crusader Kings 3

Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Developer: Paradox Development Studio
Platforms: PC
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Crusader Kings 3 is the best looking and most accessible the series has ever been. If you've always been intrigued by the idea of Crusader Kings but bounced off of it, Crusader Kings 3 is the best way to get started. 

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Deliver Us the Moon

Publisher: Wired Productions
Developer: KeokeN Interactive
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One
Rating: 8/10

What we said: A narrative journey through space so intriguing and full of compelling puzzles that it easily papers over some minor cracks in execution and major leaps it asks the player to make.

Just as the interesting minutiae of the plot are enough to overcome some of the issues I had with the macro-level concept, the overall experience was more than enough to make up for having one or two bouts of irritation.

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Demon's Souls

Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Bluepoint Games
Platforms: PS5
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Demon's Souls is an instant classic, one of those rare retellings that stands triumphantly alongside the original as an essential experience. This remaster stands as a shining example of how transformative reimaginings can be, and how, with loving dedication, a remaster can be just as revolutionary and memorable as its source material.

Read the review.

Desperados 3

Publisher: THQ Nordic
Developer: Mimimi Games
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Desperados 3 is a much-belated sequel that strikes the right balance between classic gameplay mechanics and modern sensibilities. It's a welcome return for the series. Mimimi Games has proven once again that they know the genre, as both Desperados 3 and Shadow Tactics demonstrate.

Read the review.

Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition

Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Platforms: PS5, Xbox Series X|S
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition makes a great game even better with a new character, new modes, and overhauled visuals for next-gen consoles. Devil May Cry 5 may not have a whole lot that's truly new to offer, but what it does add and change manages to elevate an already excellent action game into the upper echelon of the entire genre.

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Dirt 5

Publisher: Codemasters
Developer: Codemasters
Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Stadia
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Dirt 5 continues Codemaster's tradition of creating some of the finest racing games around that have neither the words "Gran," "Forza," or "Speed" in the title.

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Disgaea 4 Complete+

Publisher: NIS America
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Platforms: PC
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Disgaea 4 Complete+ is the definitive version of the game, with upgrades galore, tons of content to get lost in, and one of the strongest casts in the series. Disgaea 4 Complete+ is one of the stronger entries in the series, with its outlandish cast and relevant, if loose, story.

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Doom Eternal

Publisher: Bethesda 
Developer: id Software
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Stadia, Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Doom Eternal absolutely delivers on all-fronts by blasting us with one of the most intense and satisfying single-player shooter campaigns in years. From the moment you kill your first enemy with the starting shotgun to when you revel in the explosion of blood from your final enemy, Doom Eternal is a nearly non-stop thrill ride that exceeds almost every expectation.

Read the review.  

Dragon's Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age Definitive Edition

Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Rating: 10/10

What we said: Dragon Quest XI Definitive Edition makes one of the most joyous and downright wonderful gaming experiences of all time even better. The Definitive Edition of Dragon Quest XI is the perfect salve. It's a game unashamed to be a video game, and it's one that embraces its roots in a charming, beautiful way. It's unashamedly jolly and light, but most importantly, it's comforting.

Read the review.

Dreams

Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Media Molecule
Platforms: PS4
Rating: 9/10

What we said: On one hand, Dreams is a bottomless bag filled with toys, vignettes, and indie games. On the other, Dreams is a must-own for anyone who's ever been curious about game design. Dreams is the best platform for anybody who loves playing tons of indie games, or who would like to make one themselves, or even just those who'd like to network into a game development community.

Read the review.

Fall Guys

Publisher: Devolver Digital
Developer: Mediatonic
Platforms: PC, PS4
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Despite unbalanced team-match dynamics and pesky server issues (which the developers are ironing out) sometimes interfering with the fun, the simple approach of Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout makes these negatives seem meaningless in the long run. This is not only the game we want in 2020 — but it's the game we need. Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is a comfort blanket that provides some warm, friendly fun with friends.

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Final Fantasy 7 Remake 

Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Platforms: PS4
Rating: 10/10

What we said: Final Fantasy 7 Remake faithfully updates Midgar and the original’s enigmatic cast of antiheroes for a new generation, masterfully weaving its own grand tale in the process. In fact, it could be the best Final Fantasy game I've ever played — period.

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Fort Triumph

Publisher: All In! Games
Developer: CookieByte Entertainment
Platforms: PC
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Fort Triumph expertly blends genres into a strategy experience that's infinitely fun and endlessly charming. Fort Triumph is just a lot of fun, and the charm oozes from every arrow wound, spell singe, and sword strike, making it a very easy recommendation indeed. 

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Fuser

Publisher: NCSOFT
Developer: Harmonix
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: FUSER would be an incredibly special game if it came out last year. But now, in late 2020, it almost seems necessary. This game is already something very, very special, and it's only going to get better as the community grows. After all, it's always better to make music with friends.

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Gears Tactics

Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
Developer: The Coalition
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Gears Tactics takes the intense third-person action of the console game into the realm of PC-centric turn-based tactical strategy. Thanks to intuitive controls, Gears Tactics is easy to get into even for players who have never played a turn-based tactical squad game before. It’s just a shame there’s not more here.

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Get Packed

Publisher: Coatsink
Developer: Moonshine Studios
Platforms: Stadia
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Get Packed is strangely not the only indie co-op arcade game about moving furniture to launch recently, but it ends up standing out with its own kind of hilarious chaos. Get Packed is playable for up to four players in local or online play and across several modes, including a campaign, versus, and destruction. Whichever you choose, the colorful and bubbly characters and levels you've come to expect from games like this are back once more.

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Ghost of Tsushima

Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Sucker Punch
Platforms: PS4
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Ghost of Tsushima offers an amazing open-world experience and satisfying combat, only mildly held back by its writing and characters. Ghost of Tsushima does a lot of things right. Its got fun combat, a wonderfully designed world, and top-notch sound design. Neither the story nor the characters moved me in any real way, even though I could tell both were trying.

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Ghostrunner

Publisher: 505 Games
Developer: One More Level
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: In Ghostrunner, a single slash divides life and death. It's fast, frenetic, and, even in the face of its weaker moments, endlessly satisfying. Ghostrunner offers satisfying combat in a well-constructed, beautiful cyberpunk world. You will feel more and more powerful as the game moves on, and moving through the world is always a wonderful experience.

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Hades

Publisher: Supergiant Games
Developer: Supergiant Games
Platforms: PC, Switch
Rating: 10/10

What we said: Hades is everything great about the roguelite genre all but perfected. Few games aim as high, and fewer still reach their goals. Hades does, exceeding even the loftiest expectations.

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Half-Life: Alyx

Publisher: Valve
Developer: Valve
Platforms: PC
Rating: 10/10

What we said: While the "VR-only" part may alienate many current PC gamers, it's a triumph that a VR title as excellent as Alyx exists at all.

The release of a VR game like Half-Life: Alyx is a momentous occasion. Not only is this one of the very first AAA VR games to break the bubble, but it's also a revival of one of the most beloved game franchises on the planet, following up on a nearly 13-year hiatus that left us all on a very inconvenient cliffhanger.

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Huntdown

Publisher: Coffee Stain Studios
Developer: Easy Trigger Games
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Huntdown is a throwback run and gun shooter that cares about style and rewards precision. Huntdown understands the genre and its influences, and it carves its own path. It's short enough that you can play through it in a single sitting, taking four to six hours, depending on the difficulty you choose. 

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Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Omega Force
Platforms: Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is a heck of a Warriors game and a fantastic love letter to Breath of the Wild and Zelda in general. Maybe Age of Calamity is a stop-gap to tide fans over until Breath of the Wild 2, but no effort was spared in making it a quality game.

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Iron Harvest

Publisher: Deep Silver
Developer: King Art Games
Platforms: PC
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Iron Harvest leverages its unique setting and strong design into an impressive and memorable RTS. If you're looking for a strong, single-player RTS with a unique world to explore, Iron Harvest is a perfect option. 

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Immortals Fenyx Rising

Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer:  Ubisoft Quebec
Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Switch, Stadia, Amazon Luna
Rating: 8/10

What we said: It may look like a Breath of the Wild clone, but Immortals Fenyx Rising has a lot of unique charm that makes it a must-play for fans of the genre. Immortals Fenyx Rising has undeniable charm. Your mileage may vary, but don't sleep on this one. It's worth the adventure.

Read the review.

Journey to the Savage Planet

Publisher: 505 Games
Developer: Typhoon Studios
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Journey to the Savage Planet is a satirical and colorful Metroidvania that survives its corny jokes thanks to fun traversal and worthwhile exploration. With an intriguing world and creature design, the right amount of retro principles, and a surprisingly long post-credits tail worth chasing, Journey to the Savage Planet is a light-hearted, charming debut from a promising new studio.

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Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory

Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Melody of Memory is a nostalgic, rhythmic celebration of Kingdom Hearts that fans of the series and the genre will adore. Drawing upon a rich soundtrack that ranges from original songs to Disney hits, there’s a lot to love in this new spin-off, but don’t expect any major story developments.

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Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning

Publisher: THQ Nordic
Developer: Kaiko
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning changes little from its original release because it doesn't need to. This is immediately one of the best RPGs you can play this entire generation.

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Kunai

Publisher: The Arcade Crew
Developer: TurtleBlaze
Platforms: PC, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Classic components come together to form a stellar slashing platformer, with the titular kunai providing a particularly high note.

Metroidvania games remain a popular niche in the gaming community with good reason, and KUNAI is a worthwhile addition to the genre. It's easy to pick up and get going, but it provides enough escalation as you progress to keep you interested as you move from sector to sector, picking up new toys and perks along the way.

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Maneater

Publisher: Tripwire Interactive
Developer: Tripwire Interactive
Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Maneater's deep combat and deeper oceans provide just the type of blissful escapism we need right now. Even if it wasn’t on your radar at all, Maneater is a title that will gobble you up for a few hours of blissful escapism. 

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Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales

Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer:  Insomniac Games
Platforms: PS4, PS5
Rating: 10/10

What we said: Insomniac wanted to please Miles Morales fans with their latest Spider-Man adventure. The result is a damn near perfect action-adventure game. It’s also close to being perfect when it comes to representation. Black and brown people fill out most of the roles and do so with gusto. Their performances, at times, eclipsing what came before. I’m thoroughly pleased with what Insomniac has accomplished.

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Magic: ManaStrike

Publisher: Netmarble
Developer: Netmarble
Platforms: Android
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Magic: ManaStrike is a very familiar strategy game that includes some classic characters to make for an all-around fun time. There is a constant stream of rewards for those who don't want to spend money, too, so you never feel hamstrung for not wanting to buy in-game items. It's fun and has enough depth to make for some interesting strategies, the more you play. 

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Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection

Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom 
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection is an excellent little package that is sure to please fans both old and new.

Overall, you'd be hard-pressed to beat the Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection. All of the games are enjoyable, the new features make them far easier to consume for modern players, and the love to the series spills out of every frame. It's just a very good collection of very good games, even if the title is utterly absurd. 

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Metro Redux 

Publisher: Koch Media
Developer:  4A Games
Platforms: Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Metro Redux arrives on the Nintendo Switch with a bombastic statement: absolutely nobody's safe from Switch-ification. 

Metro Redux on Switch feels like one of those rare Switch games that shouldn't exist. I mean that in a very, very good way. I also mean it in the sense that, thematically and technically, it doesn't seem like it would be a great natural fit for Nintendo's portable gaming console.

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MLB The Show 20

Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: SIE San Diego
Platforms: PS4
Rating: 8/10

What we said: MLB The Show 20 doesn't rewrite the script, but its numerous tweaks to gameplay, modes, and options makes it the best baseball game around. MLB The Show 20 still feels like the most complete baseball title available — comfortably so, in fact. But it doesn't feel like a significant evolution over last year's entry in the series. 

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Mortal Shell

Publisher: Playstack
Developer: Cold Symmetry 
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Far from being a pretender, Mortal Shell is a sometimes exceptional entry to the genre. Its stumbles are noticeable only because there is so much to enjoy.

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Moving Out

Publisher: Team17
Developer:  SMG Studio
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Moving Out's familiar brand of local-multiplayer party-game fun lets everyone join in on the fun, laughter, and cursing. Whatever your preference is, Moving Out certainly provides the same flavor of co-operative tension and burst-out-loud laughter as Overcooked. 

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Murder by Numbers

Publisher: The Irregular Corporation
Developer: Mediatonic
Platforms: PC, Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Murder by Numbers is an exquisite detective puzzler with wonderful writing, gorgeous graphics, and masterful music. The comparisons to the Phoenix Wright series are instantly evident. Not only do the visuals share the same motif of hand-drawn 2D sprites, speech boxes, and thick lines, but the gameplay is very similar, too. 

The soundtrack is lively, bouncy, and upbeat. It's inspirational and uplifting when the moment is happy, it's imposing and harsh when the pressure is on, and it's cold and gloomy when the protagonist doubts themselves. 

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My Hero One's Justice 2

Publisher: Bandai Namco
Developer: Byking 
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: My Hero One's Justice 2 is a lot like the original, with a few minor adjustments that might entice you to enter the arena once again. Make no mistake, My Hero One's Justice 2 is a good, fun arena brawler on its own merits. Taken on its own, the game really does provide an amazing adaptation of the My Hero Academia franchise.

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NHL 21

Publisher: EA
Developer: EA Vancouver
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One
Rating: 8/10

What we said: NHL 21 provides more of the same, and with the uncertainty of the real world season, even less of what few changes fans come to expect of yearly releases.

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Nioh 2

Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Team Ninja
Platforms: PS4
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Nioh 2 takes everything great about the first game and dials it up. Despite a few returning gremlins, this is an instant hit for fans of the series. Nioh 2 is essentially more Nioh, but better. Fans of the series will find plenty to enjoy here, and newcomers won't feel like they had to play the first game to appreciate what it has to offer.

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Not for Broadcast

Publisher: TinyBuild Games
Developer: NotGames
Platforms: PC
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Who knew that overseeing a bunch of media personalities who say so little by saying so much could be so fun? Not For Broadcast is excellently paced. As soon as you pull up behind the switchboard, you're presented with a smorgasbord of screens, buttons, and switches. While it would be easy to overwhelm new players with options, the game takes it slow.

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One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4

Publisher: Bandai Namco
Developer: Koei Tecmo
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 is not only one of the best One Piece games but possibly one of the best Musou games around. When you throw in the ability to grind out your skill trees and chase ever more impressive kill counts, One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 is a game with an incredible level of replayability.

Read the review.

One Step From Eden

Publisher: Humble Bundle
Developer: Thomas Moon Kang
Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: One Step From Eden is a fantastic rogue-like deck-building game that is a few small tweaks away from perfection. Like most roguelites, One Step From Eden is brimming with replay value but can easily be played in short stints, too; each run takes 30-60 minutes to complete — or, more often, 5-10 minutes to lose.

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Ori and the Will of the Wisps 

Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
Developer: Moon Studios
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Ori and the Will of the Wisps is another triumph return for the series — a beautiful game with only the smallest blemishes to its luster. If you want to play a beautiful, often difficult Metroidvania with some of the most satisfying combat and traversal mechanics the genre has to offer, Ori and the Will of the Wisps will give you plenty to be excited about.

Read the review.

Othercide

Publisher: 
Developer: 
Initial Release Date: 
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Othercide is a modern gothic take on turn-based tactics. It's stylish, difficult, and a solid addition to the genre. If you want a tough take on turn-based tactics, Othercide is a great pick-up. If you've tried the genre before and bounced off because of the gameplay, it isn't going to change your mind.

Read the review

Orcs Must Die 3

Publisher: Google
Developer: Robot Entertainment
Platforms: Stadia
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Though its name offers no way around it, the creative ways you dispatch foes makes Orcs Must Die 3 perhaps the most addictive Stadia exclusive to date.

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Orwell's Animal Farm

Publisher: The Dairymen
Developer: Nerial 
Platforms: PC
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Orwell's Animal Farm faithfully recreates and even reinvents the classic allegory at a time when it's never been more relevant for some players. There's absolutely an audience for this game, and if you find yourself in it, Orwell's Animal Farm is a timely, effective reimagining of one of the last century's most notable allegories.

Read the review.

Paper Mario: The Origami King

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Platforms: Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Despite a combat system that gets old quickly, Paper Mario: The Origami King's writing, puzzles, and worldbuilding make it the best entry since The Thousand-Year Door.

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Persona 5 Royal

Publisher: Atlus USA
Developer:  P-Studio
Platforms: PS4
Rating: 10/10

What we said: Persona 5 Royal improves on the original in almost countless ways, big and small, to deliver a top-notch RPG for new and old fans alike. If you haven't played Persona 5 countless times, you're in for a real treat. Persona 5 Royal is easily the best Persona game yet and one of the best RPGs available right now.

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Pikmin 3

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Eighting 
Platforms: Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Pikmin 3 Deluxe is the best the series has to offer, a showcase of creative design and smart strategy. It's one of the most enjoyable experiences on the Switch.

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Pumpkin Jack

Publisher: Headup
Developer: Nicolas Meyssonnier
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PS4, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: With levels reminiscent of beloved 3D platformers and an irresistible audiovisual experience, playing Pumpkin Jack this Halloween is exciting and youthful like trick-or-treaters finding the house giving out full-size candy bars.

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Rune Factory 4 Special

Publisher: XSEED
Developer: Neverland
Platforms: Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Rune Factory 4 is an abundant RPG, full of fun characters, things to do, and a compelling network of interlocking systems. While Rune Factory 4 might not reach the epic heights of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 or Dragon Quest 11 S, and as a simulator, it might get overlooked for Animal Crossing: New Horizons. However, Rune Factory 4 manages to be something else entirely and manages it very well.

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Resident Evil 3 Remake

Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Resident Evil 3 is a decent horror-action game that falls short of the Resident Evil 2 standard. To be fair, though, RE3 is trying some new things. It's much more of a straightforward action game than RE2, keeping a lot of the trappings of survival horror while emphasizing RE4-style shoot-'em-up gameplay. 

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Robotics;Notes ELITE & DaSH

Publisher: Spike Chunsoft
Developer: Mages Inc.
Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Robotics;Notes ELITE & DaSH give fans lighthearted adventures with the Robot Research Club in the Science Adventure universe. Fans of the Science Adventure series, and visual novels in general, will enjoy Robotics;Notes ELITE. While it doesn’t quite reach the incredibly soaring highs of Steins;Gate, it is more enjoyable than the underwhelming Chaos;Head.

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Sackboy: A Big Adventure

Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Sumo Digital
Platforms: PS4, PS5
Rating: 9/10

What we said: After a six-year absence, PlayStation’s knitted icon returns in stunning form in one of the year's best platformers. With an A-list cast, superb visuals, and some strong co-op gameplay, Sackboy: A Big Adventure successfully proves that Sackboy can thrive without LittleBigPlanet’s creation mechanics, all while still paying homage to his roots.

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Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin

Publisher: XSEED
Developer: Edelweiss
Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch
Rating: 10/10

What we said: Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin is a bold genre fusion that pays off with superb farming and combat systems plus a cast of characters you'll remember for a long time to come. It might ask you to take it on its own terms from time to time, but that's a small price to pay when the experience is this rewarding and unique.

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Sakura Wars

Publisher: SEGA
Developer: SEGA 
Platforms: PS4
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Sakura Wars' unique LIPS system, thoroughly charming cast of characters, and great writing more than make up for its less than stellar combatIt's a strong reboot, and one I truly hope heralds an encore for the series. There's nothing else quite like Sakura Wars, and that's a compliment.

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Samurai Shodown

Publisher: SNK
Developer: SNK
Platforms: Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: 2019's Samurai Shodown is finally available for the Switch, bringing one of the foundational Japanese fighting games to a brand-new audience. Samurai Shodown has managed to make the trip to the Switch without sacrificing more than a little bit of graphical fidelity. 

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Sayonara Wild Hearts

Publisher: Annapurna Interactive
Developer: Simogo 
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Rating: 10/10

What we said: In its one-hour runtime, Sayonara Wild Hearts transcends video games and becomes not just a playable pop album, but a hypnotic self-help soundtrack. It's an endorphin factory. Sayonara Wild Hearts is more than a game for me. It's a catharsis vessel. It's a story of self-love. It's a reminder that some things break but that doesn't make us broken. It was once a dream and now forever a memory. It's transcendent and undying, but, of course, it is. Wild Hearts Never Die. 

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Serious Sam 4

Publisher: Devolver Digital
Developer: Croteam 
Platforms: PC, Stadia
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Serious Sam 4 is a delightfully old-school first-person shooter that doesn't bring a ton of new stuff to the table but still hits all the right notes. Serious Sam 4 is a strong, polished, old-school shooter. The massive, open-air firefights are a fairly unique element to first-person shooters, and panicked kiting of hundreds of enemies is the name of the game.

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Shantae and the Seven Sirens

Publisher: WayForward
Developer: WayForward
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Shantae and the Seven Sirens is a welcome return of a now-classic platforming series. Shantae has been weaving her magic for nearly 20 years and still feels distinctive amidst the sea of other platformers. Her latest romp might not feel quite as fresh as Half-Genie Hero, but it’s still a worthwhile, highly entertaining adventure.

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Spiritfarer

Publisher: Thunder Lotus Games
Developer: Thunder Lotus Games
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Stadia
Rating: 10/10

What we said: Spiritfarer is a finely crafted piece of artistic commentary on what it means to let go, and it's far and away one of the best games to come out of 2020.

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Star Wars Squadrons

Publisher: Motive Studios
Developer: EA
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Star Wars Squadrons is an instant classic and an ode to the space combat sims that came before it. Squadrons does a lot of things right. And it's the closest thing to a new X-Wing or Tie Fighter we're going to get. Though it's a stand-alone game, it's also a fantastic complement to Battlefront 2's starfighter assault mode, giving aces new and old two very good options to choose from. 

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Stories Untold

Publisher: Devolver Digital
Developer: No Code
Platforms: Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Stories Untold is a boundlessly smart and stylish adventure game that both celebrates the past while changing the future. Stories Untold is a unique adventure game smothered in atmosphere. Switch players will have to contend with the port's less-than-ideal UI, but provided they can get over that relatively small hump, the rest of the game is an unsettling, intelligent, fourth-wall-breaking success.

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Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town

Publisher: Natsume
Developer: Marvelous Interactive
Platforms: PC, Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town might not re-invent the wheel, but it's an excellent reminder why the formula the original helped create is so beloved and long-lasting.

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Streets of Rage 4

Publisher: Dotemu
Developer: Dotemu
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Streets of Rage 4 is a surprisingly decent return to form for a franchise that's been collecting dust for over 25 years. It plays a bit of a trick on you if you’re a fan of this sort of game, where you fall into your old patterns almost immediately, but the game is built to smack you down if you do. Instead, it’s got a simple combat system with some real depth to it, and which only gets more fun as you add players in co-op.

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Surgeon Simulator 2

Publisher: Bossa Studios
Developer: Bossa Studios
Platforms: PC
Rating: 8/10

What we said: While some sequels fail to build upon the entries that came before them, turning into bloated, convoluted messes, Surgeon Simulator 2 reshapes the original idea into something entirely new. 

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Super Mario 3D All-Stars

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Platforms: Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Little effort was put into modernizing Super Mario 3D All-Stars, and somehow, that's still more than enough. Super Mario 3D All-Stars is a satisfying gift for the series' 35th anniversary.

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Super Mega Baseball 3

Publisher: Metalhead Software
Developer: Metalhead Software
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Super Mega Baseball has never been given the accolades it's deserved, but this is the year baseball fans will finally notice this all-star. Don't let a lack of MLB licensing turn you away. This is a serious baseball sim in every way except for the silly naming conventions of its athletes.

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The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel 4

Publisher: NIS America
Developer: Nihon Falcom
Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Trails of Cold Steel 4 brings the Cold Steel series to a spectacular conclusion with some of the best storytelling in the genre and improvements to every gameplay system.

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The Last of Us 2

Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Naughty Dog 
Platforms: PS4
Rating: 8/10

What we said: The Last of Us 2 is an emotional rollercoaster that doesn't always hit the mark with what it tries to pull off. It does, however, provide enough amazing highs to outweigh its unfortunate lows.

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The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners

Publisher: Skydance Interactive
Developer: Skydance Interactive 
Platforms: PC, PS4
Rating: 8/10

What we said: The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners would be a great game even if it wasn't in VR. Suffice it to say Saints & Sinners definitely suffers from some modern-day VR problems, but it's still a great sign of the immersive and exciting things to come.

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Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2

Publisher: Activision
Developer: Vicarious Visions
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 makes good on its promise of revitalizing a legendary franchise, but it's modern twists aren't all clean landed.

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Vitamin Connection

Publisher: WayForward
Developer: WayForward
Platforms: Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Vitamin Connection is one of the best games on Switch. It's extremely fun, creative, and great with a friend. An easy pill to swallow. To bring this love-letter in disguise to a close: Vitamin Connection is a game that everybody should play. 

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Void Terrarium

Publisher: NIS America
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Platforms: PS4, Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: There's a lot to love about Void Terrarium, with its touching story and unique approach to the mystery dungeon genre, even if does occasionally frustrate. Void Terrarium is special for how it balances challenge and accessibility to create its own unique identity, a balancing act many other games struggle with. If you're new to the genre, it's a great place to start.

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Wasteland 3

Publisher: Deep Silver
Developer: InXile Entertainment
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Wasteland 3 invokes feelings of classic RPGs such as Fallout and manages to nail the feel and tone perfectly in a modernized setting. While the game often falls into some of the genre's more vexing traps, such as percentage damage idiosyncrasies and lackluster character models, it’s hard to deny its engaging power. 

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Watch Dogs: Legion

Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Toronto
Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Stadia
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Watch Dogs: Legion throws out a decade of Ubisoft's cluttered-map open worlds in favor of exciting systems that deliver unique emergent moments consistently. Watch Dogs: Legion drastically revises the Ubisoft open-world blueprint it has leaned on for over a decade. 

Read the Review.

Wintermoor Tactics Club

Publisher: Versus Evil
Developer: EVC
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: The indie strategy game Wintermoor Tactics Club is one of the better children's books I've ever played. Kids will love it, but adults may find it too simple. Really, the highest recommendation I can make for Wintermoor Tactics Club is that it’s a funny, weirdly true-feeling interactive children’s book, with just enough tactical action to keep you interested throughout.

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Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Monolith Soft 
Platforms: Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition makes one of the best RPGs even better, despite not spreading its improvements evenly over the whole package.

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Yakuza: Like a Dragon

Publisher: SEGA
Developer: Ryo Ga Gotoku Studio
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S 
Rating: 10/10

What we said: Yakuza: Like A Dragon isn't just a great Yakuza title — it's legitimately one of the best modern role-playing games there is. Yakuza: Like A Dragon is an uplifting and hopeful story told with heart, supported by satisfying RPG gameplay and a host of entertaining side-missions and minigames. 

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Ys Origin

Publisher: Dotemu
Developer: Dotemu 
Platforms: Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Ys Origin on Switch is one of the most focused, fluid, and exhilarating action RPGs around. Read our review to see why it absolutely should be on your radar.

Read the review

Zombie Army 4: Dead War

Publisher: Rebellion 
Developer: Rebellion
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Ever wanted to dodge zombie sharks while on a quest to destroy the undead animated by evil wizard-Hitler? Well, it doesn't get much better than Zombie Army 4. The game's shooting mechanics, its level design, and its ranking system come together in a much more satisfying way [than the core Sniper Elite series]. 

Read the review.

That's it for our list of the best games of 2020. What were your favorite games? Let us know in the comments below! 

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FUSER Review: The Next Generation of Music Gaming https://www.gameskinny.com/hz9zd/fuser-review-the-next-generation-of-music-gaming https://www.gameskinny.com/hz9zd/fuser-review-the-next-generation-of-music-gaming Fri, 06 Nov 2020 08:05:28 -0500 RobotsFightingDinosaurs

FUSER really couldn't have come out at a better time. What I'm about to say will sound cliche, but it's true nonetheless. Going to see people play music live, and playing music yourself, is a healing act. There is something special about being in a room filled with people who are there just to hear music. There's something even more compelling about making music for people who are special to you.

Feeling the power of music in that way is hard right now. The feeling of community that comes from music, just like most other feelings of community now, is heavily filtered and diluted in this post-pandemic world. 

FUSER doesn't fix this problem. How could it? But by rethinking what the heart of a music game should be, FUSER kindles enough of that magic to be something truly, truly remarkable.

FUSER Review: The Next Generation of Music Gaming

[FUSER] does a really great job of teaching players everything they need to know.

FUSER is unlike any music game you have ever played before, and that's by design. Earlier in the fall, I spoke with Harmonix about their philosophy for the game, and they said in no uncertain terms that the rhythm genre is inherently flawed. No matter how good a rhythm game may be, the fact remains that (with the notable exception of Parappa the Rapper), a perfect score on a certain level will always sound almost exactly the same.

This was the question at the heart of FUSER's development: is it possible to have a score-based rhythm game that actually allows for true creativity, where no two playthroughs will sound alike? 

Harmonix's answer to that is a mashup-based core gameplay loop that keeps scoring very general. The way it works is this: players fill their crate with a selection of over 100 licensed songs (each of which is broken up into up to four instrumental parts), as well as effects and instruments before taking the stage.

Players drop these instrumental loops onto a DJ deck UI to create bespoke Girl Talk-style mashups. Imagine layering the guitar line from "Killing In The Name Of" with the drums from "Push It" and the iconic vocals of Dolly Parton's "Jolene."

Scoring is based on how well you handle audience requests, how often you change up the mix, and how you time everything while doing so. Dropping an instrument loop on the beat earns points, as does triggering effects, ejecting loops, or muting or soloing tracks. You get bonus points for accommodating fan requests, but even these aren't all that prescriptive. They never force you to revamp your whole mix; they just request a certain instrument, a certain song, or a certain track from a specific decade or genre. It allows for a lot of wiggle room. 

What this creates is a scoring system that allows you to create something unique while still getting the deep, base rush of "haha! Yes, number go up!" Not to mention that the unique thing that you're creating, thanks to a whole lot of brilliant beat and key-matching software, usually sounds amazing (or at least hilarious).

Anyone Can Be a DJ

If juggling all those plates sounds a bit complicated, that's, well, because it really kind of is. The game's campaign mode is shorter than Rock Band 4's by a significant margin, with six unique stages that feature six levels each, but that's largely because the entire campaign works as an extended tutorial for each of the game's systems, from the basics of dropping tracks and cueing them to creating custom instrument loops, effects, and filters, recording, sharing and...

Okay, deep breath. 

The point is, the campaign mode, although it occupies that uncomfortable space between too-short-campaign and too-long-tutorial, does a really great job of teaching players everything they need to know. And since FUSER is almost as much a digital audio workstation as it is a video game (there's a robust recording system allowing you to record, edit, and perfect mixes on the fly), that kind of granularity is necessary for players to really be comfortable with everything the game has to offer. 

I did have a few issues with the campaign in regards to introductory cutscenes not loading correctly. Still, these were all fixed with a simple restart (and may have already been addressed fully with a pre-launch patch, as I haven't had the issue since updating).

Mixing With Friends

I didn't see myself enjoying [competitive multiplayer] when it was first introduced, but I'm hooked.

FUSER's core gameplay translates very well both to a weird kind of social co-op play (in this case, defined as playing the game with my fiancée next to me making song suggestions) and actual in-game multiplayer modes.

Co op multiplayer allows you to create a mix online with up to four other players, and it deserves special mention because it really does recreate the deep soul satisfaction of playing Rock Band with friends, except, in this case, everyone is creating something new, unique, and informed by their own tastes. And they're all doing it together! It's incredibly special.

There's also a competitive mode that switches up the core gameplay loop to put you head to head with another player. In these "battles," each track you lay down has a power value that's augmented by how good your timing is and how many audience requests you can fulfill with that one track.

Each track on your deck attacks your opponent for as long as it's active, its power level ticking down every time a global attack timer runs out. If your opponent plays a more powerful track than yours, your track gets ejected from the mix, and you can't play a track if your opponent has a more powerful one in the opposing slot.

It's a pretty simple concept, but it takes the plate-spinning FUSER gameplay to the nth degree, upping the intensity level as you try to quickly puzzle out which track to play (and when, and where!) to get an advantage. I didn't see myself enjoying this mode when it was first introduced, but I'm hooked.

FUSER Review — The Bottom Line

Pros

  • The first truly creative rhythm game I've ever played
  • The song list is terrific so far
  • Freeform expression in both gameplay and customization options
  • It's the safest music festival that'll be held for a while

Cons

  • Visual stuttering on Switch

FUSER isn't a perfect game. Playing both docked and in handheld mode on Switch, I experienced a few stutters that threw a wrench in the rhythm. I also wish there was a separate story mode other than the extended tutorial, in the same vein as Rock Band before it.

But those gripes pale in comparison to the fact that this game is unlike anything else I've ever played. It is built on creativity. The character creator allows for expression across the gender spectrum, not locking any creation options, from clothes to dances to body type to male and female categories. Every time you play FUSER, you feel like you have created something new, something special, and something that only you could have made.

If you're a fan of the rhythm game genre, you owe it to yourself to pick up FUSER. Not only is it a treat on its own, but Harmonix has already begun giving the game a live ecosystem, with live challenges that allow players to create, share, and vote on mixes made under specific constraints to earn in-game rewards.

This game is already something very, very special, and it's only going to get better as the community grows. After all, it's always better to make music with friends.

[Note: Harmonix provided the copy of FUSER used for this review.]

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FUSER Hands-On Preview: A Music Festival At Home https://www.gameskinny.com/2nkyq/fuser-hands-on-preview-a-music-festival-at-home https://www.gameskinny.com/2nkyq/fuser-hands-on-preview-a-music-festival-at-home Fri, 11 Sep 2020 05:44:15 -0400 RobotsFightingDinosaurs

The Harmonix staff opened their remote press preview for FUSER by throwing a surprising amount of shade at the rhythm game genre. Despite countless innovations, there is an unshakable truth lying at the heart of nearly every single rhythm game: there is very little room for creativity.

A perfect score in any given Rock Band or Guitar Hero song will always sound the same, no matter who is playing it. There's no real space for the stuff that makes music special. Scoring is prescriptive, and there's no real room for true self-expression. 

I can't speak for anybody else that was on the Discord call for the preview, but it was stunning to hear the rhythm game genre's most recognizable company laying out, in very clear terms, one of the genre's biggest failings, one that extended to the majority of the games that Harmonix themselves have made.

It was even more stunning to hear them claim that with FUSER, they think they've solved the problem.

So far, it seems like they weren't lying.

FUSER Hands-On Preview: A Music Festival at Home

Self-expression is woven into every aspect of FUSER.

At first blush, FUSER appears similar to Harmonix's cult hit Dropmix, a board game/card game hybrid that challenged players to make wild mashups by mixing and matching different parts of different songs.

The core gameplay of FUSER is the same. The game features over 100 songs, and each of them has been divided into different tracks for drums, bass instruments, lead instruments, and vocals. The game uses some really impressive beat and key-matching software to match all of them to one another, allowing you to create endless mashups of your own. 

But where Dropmix separated score and creativity, FUSER attempts to connect the two. When you jump into the game, you'll be taught how to drop tracks on the beat, eject them on the beat, and change up the mix.

The game never forces you to drop a certain track in a certain place to boost your score; specific score-boosting "audience requests" encourage you to play a particular song, but it's up to you what track from the song you use and where you put it in your unique mix.

Self-expression is woven into every aspect of FUSER. The developers have created a pretty robust DJ customization system where no option is locked to a gender binary, allowing players to express themselves however they want. Players can customize stage projections and pyrotechnics along with their selected songs, effects, and instruments to make the whole show their own. 

FUSER isn't just a game, it's also kind of a digital audio workstation.

Speaking of instruments, not only does the game feature hundreds of songs, each with multiple tracks that allow for millions of possible permutations, but it also features a wide variety of instruments, each with dozens of loops that you can switch between at any time, essentially composing your own instrument track.

Ditto for live DJ effects like stuttering and filtering. Doing all of this to the beat isn't just creative, nor does it just sound great, but most importantly, it's integral to getting a high score.

As you progress through FUSER, it becomes clear that it's a misnomer to call it a rhythm game. There's DNA from programs like FruityLoops and Reason here. It's simplified, yes, but FUSER isn't just a game, it's also kind of a digital audio workstation.

Sharing is Caring

It scratches a very human itch: you're making something creative with other people.

And what's a DAW without the ability to edit and export your work?

FUSER takes a bit of inspiration from modern racing games and implements a rewind system in the game's sandbox-style Freestyle mode, where you can clip a particularly chef's-kiss-beautiful portion of your mix, rewind it, and perfect it bit-by-bit until everything sounds perfect. 

At the end, you can post the mix to your own FUSER profile, but you can also natively export the mix to social media in the game as well. In a world where the next in-person music festival might be years away, this is very, very much appreciated.

The game also includes cooperative and competitive multiplayer, though I foresee the cooperative multiplayer becoming more popular, as players all work together to refine a mix until it's headbang-worthy. It scratches a very human itch: you're making something creative with other people. Together. And you can all save your work at the end and share it with folks!

November Can't Come Soon Enough

FUSER is so much more than a spiritual successor to DropMix; it represents a massive shift in what a rhythm game can actually be.

Oddly enough, it's kind of reminiscent of how the Jackbox Party Packs reinvigorated the party game genre by tying creativity to gameplay elements in a cohesive way. 

It seems like such a small, insignificant thing, but the overall effect is that when you're really locked in, not only do you achieve that ascendant state of rhythm game flow, but you also have a deep soul satisfaction at doing something creative. It's akin to singing karaoke with friends and having a whole room cheer for you, or dancing at a club where nobody cares how much of an idiot you look like.

It's hard to explain if you haven't played the game, but suffice it to say, it's an incredible experience to be making the music that you're losing yourself in.

I can only hope that the final product lives up to the expectations the limited demo has set. FUSER is set to release November 10 for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. 

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