Co-op Tagged Articles RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com Co-op RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network Fueled Up Review: It's a Gas https://www.gameskinny.com/uujcx/fueled-up-review-its-a-gas https://www.gameskinny.com/uujcx/fueled-up-review-its-a-gas Thu, 20 Oct 2022 10:05:45 -0400 Will Borger

Ever since Overcooked burst onto the scene in 2016, there's been a notable uptick in chaotic four-player party games starring cute animals and lovable weirdos that could be best described as "Overcooked but..."

Fueled Up is the latest game in the "Overcooked but…" genre, but instead of cooking delicious food, your team of intrepid adventurers is tasked with fixing, fueling, and transporting damaged spaceships to safety. You must do so before they're destroyed by the evil space octopus, who will be chasing each and every spaceship you salvage for the duration of the game.

It starts simply enough: take a fuel crystal, refine it, and put it in the engine to keep it running. But you'll also have to deal with debris, which periodically peppers your ship with holes. Failing to do so will tank your ship's durability. If it gets low enough, your ship will explode. Then, of course, there are batteries, which do things like keep the airlocks closed and need to be regularly replaced unless you feel like taking an unexpected spacewalk.

You'll also have to manage asteroids, which will explode into fireballs or green goop that slows down anyone walking through them if not disposed of quickly. Sometimes you'll be separated from your teammates, and you'll need to throw switches to open doors for one another or pass items along conveyor belts.

As the game goes on, more challenges get added. Early levels might task you with managing only one or two things, but later levels might have you contending with almost all of the game's mechanics – and by the end, there is quite a bit.

As the title implies, keeping your ship fueled is the key to victory. As long as your ship is moving, you'll gain points. The more points you gain, the more stars you'll earn, up to a maximum of three. The better condition your ship is in, the more points you'll get, and adding fuel to an engine boosts your multiplier.

If your engine runs out of fuel, however, your ship stops, and you start losing points. Running out of power also gives the evil space octopus time to catch you. If it catches you, your ship will explode, and you'll have to start the level again, no matter how well you did up until that point. Make it far enough, though, and you'll jump to hyperspace and safety.

Things get even trickier when you have a ship with multiple engines because each engine must have fuel to keep the ship moving, and each engine has its own fuel capacity that must be managed separately. While most engines can take simple fuel refined from a single crystal, some engines are a bit more complex, requiring you to add an additional crystal to already refined fuel and refine it again, essentially doubling the time it takes to power the engine.

Playing Fueled Up is pretty simple. You can pick up, put down, and use items, and move your character. That's about it. The difficulty comes from the decisions you'll have to make. Do you dispose of an asteroid before it can explode or replace a dead battery to close an airlock? Should you put out a fire or finish refining a crystal for an engine that's about to run out of fuel? Do you fix holes on a ship that's at low health or throw water on a generator that's about to overheat and explode?

At its best, Fueled Up requires you to manage several things simultaneously while coordinating with your team and trying to maximize your score while keeping your ship from exploding. Levels are highly chaotic and wildly inventive. Ships are populated with teleporters, toxic waste pits, moving platforms, and even a volcano.

Deciding what to do – and doing it without falling into toxic goo, blocking a crewmate's way in a narrow corridor, or getting sucked out of an airlock – and trying to control the chaos around you is part of the fun. The fact that you can play as a cat in a space suit, a disembodied brain, a banana, or a sentient balloon is just icing on the cake.

Even the most challenging levels are pretty doable when you have a full team of four, but later levels can feel impossible with smaller crews; the game doesn't seem to scale with how many people are in your crew at a single time. This doesn't matter much when you're only dealing with a few things.

But when you're worried about fueling up multiple engines, moving asteroids, making sure your battery-powered airlocks have enough juice, fixing holes in the hull, managing conveyor belts, and putting out fires, a single mistake can often be the difference between a ship that's running efficiently and one that explodes or gets caught by the evil space octopus.

On later levels, having at least three players seemed mandatory for success. You can beat about two-thirds of the game's 32 levels – which are divided into five worlds – with two players, but at a certain point, there's simply too much to manage for two people, no matter how well-coordinated the group is or how familiar they are with the genre.

One level in world four took my partner and me over 20 attempts, and when we did complete it, it was by the skin of our teeth. Adding a third person instantly made the following levels much more doable. Developer Fireline Games has released a patch that does rebalance the difficulty, but this was a notable point of frustration in the pre-release build I played.

The game's other major problem is legibility. By default, the camera is incredibly zoomed out, and it can be hard to see your character, how much fuel an engine has left, or where items are on the ground. This issue is somewhat mitigated by options that zoom in the camera and add heavier highlights to items, but it can still be a problem in some levels.

Even with those options enabled, the game's chaotic nature can often make it hard to tell what's going on or where things are in the more visually busy levels.

But when Fueled Up works, it feels amazing. It controls well, looks great, and features a wonderful soundtrack that perfectly fits the hectic pace of the levels while providing a sci-fi feel. The game also provides a lot of accessibility options.

The aforementioned option to zoom in the camera and toggle the highlights is great. Still, you can also choose to hold buttons instead of mash them – an option I immediately enabled to save my fingers some wear and tear. I played it on PC, but playing it with a controller, remapping my buttons, and determining whether I wanted to see Xbox or PlayStation button prompts was as easy as enabling a few options.

Fueled Up Review — The Bottom Line

Pros

  • Lots of accessibility options.
  • Chaotic and challenging, especially with friends.
  • Wonderful music and art design.

Cons

  • Levels don't seem to scale based on the number of people playing.
  • Sometimes it can be hard to see what's happening or where things are.
  • It's fairly short (though there is replay value to be had).

Fueled Up isn't a long game – you can beat the whole thing in a few hours – but there's plenty of replay value here when it comes to chasing high scores and completing bonus missions; each level has two, and they vary quite a bit. Some ask you to keep the engines running throughout the whole level, open an optional safe, or use a limited number of batteries. The best ones, though, lean into Fueled Up's weirdness – like asking you to feed the monster living in the goop puddle or having everyone jump out of an airlock at a particular moment.

These objectives are purely optional – you don't get anything for doing them – but they're a welcome change of pace that makes levels both more challenging and more fun.

It would be easy to dismiss Fueled Up as another game in the "Overcooked but…" genre, but it's much more. This clever entry blends cooperation and chaos in a way that is challenging, fun, and often laugh-out-loud hilarious. If Fireline can fix the game's scaling issues, they'll have something special here. Until then, make sure you have a couple of friends to play it with.

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Conan Chop Chop Review: An Adventure of Highs and Lows https://www.gameskinny.com/toe0r/conan-chop-chop-review-an-adventure-of-highs-and-lows https://www.gameskinny.com/toe0r/conan-chop-chop-review-an-adventure-of-highs-and-lows Thu, 10 Mar 2022 12:14:07 -0500 Joshua Robin

After the surprise success of Conan Exiles, the Conan the Barbarian series has returned to the realm of video games with Conan Chop Chop. This entry, developed by Mighty Kingdom, is a 2D roguelike with a comedic tone, set up from the beginning by an introductory cutscene with a few charming, if not obvious, jokes.

That lighthearted throughline continues with the art style. It's reminiscent of the same style used by the webcomic Cyanide and Happiness, where each character has stick figure arms and legs but blocky torsos and heads. Playing Conan Chop Chop looks like you’re hacking and slashing your way through a Conan-themed version of the comic strip.

Despite being derivative everything looks nice and is readable. Enemies are always visible, and it’s clear when they’re about to attack. Similar to the visuals, the music is enjoyable as well, fading into the background and swelling when needed to give the sense of adventure through exploration and combat.

Beyond that, Conan Chop Chop is an adventure of highs and lows that feels like a game running in place. Its characters serve it well and combat is fun when it works, but other parts still need some work.

Conan Chop Chop Review: An Adventure of Highs and Lows

The story begins with Thoth-Amon failing to fully revive Xaltotun. Thoth’s ritual only restores half of Xaltotun, so he concocts a plan to start a competition of strength that will lure Conan and friends to their lair. Once the heroes arrive, Thoth-Amon plans to use one of their bodies to completely revive Xaltotun.

To reach Thoth-Amon's lair, you, and potentially up to three co-op partners, travel through the world of Hyboria exploring forests, deserts, tundras, and a volcano. Each area is made up of challenge rooms strung together, where entering one room locks you into that room until all enemies are defeated.

Once the enemies are gone, there are (most likely) multiple routes to choose from. Only one route leads to the area’s dungeon and the boss. Mighty Kingdom graciously marks the dungeon route by highlighting it a different color, so if you want to head straight to the boss, you can.

Hyboria itself is randomly generated. Starting a new run remixes everything from the route to the dungeon, the challenge rooms along the way, and all the loot found in those rooms, though it never truly changes how you play. Each of the enemy rooms never asks you to play differently or looks all that different from other rooms. There are different enemies with mildly different attack patterns, but they can all be finished the same way; whether an enemy attacks once or in a two-hit combo doesn't really matter. So a greater variety in enemy types would have lessened that feeling of familiarity.

The lack of enemy variety is especially disappointing since combat is interesting. Conan Chop Chop plays like a twin-stick brawler where melee attacks are bound on the right analog stick. Holding that stick in any direction has your character attack repeatedly in that direction. The combat is very aggressive with a focus on effective movement. Using your three tools — a shield, a roll, and an i-frame ultimate ability — to dodge enemy attacks while also pumping out constant damage is very satisfying. 

The four playable characters all have unique strengths that rely on their various abilities. Conan and Valeria both favor swords, but Valeria is more focused on moving around the battlefield with a large number of dashes while Conan focuses more on getting close to enemies. Pallantides is the slowest character, who depends more on parrying. Bêlit makes the most use of bows and is focused on constant movement to keep distance.

Each character manages to feel unique despite having the same tools at their disposal. Unfortunately, after multiple runs of the same structure and with the same character abilities, things still feel repetitive.

This feeling of repetition is alleviated somewhat by Conan Chop Chop's loot and progression systems. You can level up your characters with experience points gained in each run. After a run ends, your level increases and earns you points to be spent on intrinsic buffs or new skills.

These change how each character interacts with the battlefield and enemies. Bêlit gains increased movement speed after doing damage with her bow, for example. These buffs are all permanent across every run once unlocked, giving a sense of progress between runs. 

The loot found in chests or purchased in town can be one of four categories: Charms, Weapons, Armor, or Shields. These all have different stats and attributes that change how you might approach combat. A specific shield will spawn fire tornados by parrying or a certain charm can let you spawn allies by using your bow. These have the chance to create micro-adjustments that ask you to try parrying or using the bow more, but the amount these attributes change the flow of combat is pretty low. Generally, success comes from using all the tools at your disposal, not just one.

Conan Chop Chop already has playerbase problems. It heavily emphasizes its co-op nature from the character selection screen, from always showing slots for other players to a few charms only being viable in a party. Unfortunately, multiplayer isn't really an option. People aren’t using online matchmaking.

Even in what should be peak hours, there were too many times I went online trying to find another player and just found nothing. When I did find someone to actually test the online multiplayer, it worked well. Performance was solid. Gold picked up by one player earns gold for the whole party. Enemy health is scaled to the number of players. Players can still start Chop Chop solo; however, playing it that way feels like a four-course meal missing a course.

Conan Chop Chop Review — The Bottom Line

Pros:

  • Each character feels unique.
  • Combat is satisfying when everything clicks.
  • Art style and writing work well together to create a lighthearted tone.

Cons:

  • Online matchmaking playerbase is low.
  • Loot doesn’t affect gameplay enough
  • Fighting the same enemies becomes repetitive.

Conan Chop Chop is a conflicting game to play. For every clever or charming idea, there’s another idea that doesn't pan out or isn't implemented ideally, making the whole experience uneven. That, combined with multiplayer mostly being an option only if you know people already playing, makes Conan Chop Chop more disappointing than fun.

[Note: Mighty Kingdom provided the copy of Conan Chop Chop used for this review.]

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Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania Will Feature Over 300 Levels https://www.gameskinny.com/w865f/super-monkey-ball-banana-mania-will-feature-over-300-levels https://www.gameskinny.com/w865f/super-monkey-ball-banana-mania-will-feature-over-300-levels Thu, 17 Jun 2021 13:26:37 -0400 Ashley Shankle

If Super Monkey Ball seems like it's been around forever, it's because it has been. The series made its home console premiere in 2001.

Sega have something in store for AiAi and friends to celebrate the series' 20th anniversary in the form of Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania, an HD remaster compilation of the first three games in the series.

Banana Mania will feature over 300 levels from Super Monkey Ball, Super Monkey Ball 2, and Super Monkey Ball Deluxe; along with 12 minigames for players to challenge themselves and their friends at. It seems these classic stages will be given a new wrapping in the form of a new campaign as well as new playable characters.


Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania
will release for all modern platforms on October 5, sandwiched between the 20th anniversary of the Japanese and North American releases of the original Super Monkey Ball on the GameCube.

If you're a fan of the series and want a little more banana to your Monkey Ball, you'll be able to grab up either the Digital Deluxe Edition featuring classic skins, customization items, and the classic soundtrack; or you can splurge on the physical 20th Anniversary Edition featuring an art book, collectable sleeve, and further in-game cosmetics.

Find out more about Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania on the official website, and look for more news on this upcoming title here on GameSkinny.

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New Back 4 Blood Trailer Showcases Cast and Enemies https://www.gameskinny.com/vub2s/new-back-4-blood-trailer-showcases-cast-and-enemies https://www.gameskinny.com/vub2s/new-back-4-blood-trailer-showcases-cast-and-enemies Fri, 21 May 2021 12:34:39 -0400 David Carcasole

Back 4 Blood, the spiritual successor to the classic co op zombie shooter Left 4 Dead, has been pumping up fans of Valve's title with every news look.

The latest trailer from Turtle Rock Studios shows off the eight different playable characters you'll be able to choose from, and it also introduces some of the different types of zombies, or "ridden" as they're called, that you'll get to haply blow to bits. You can watch the trailer below. 

The trailer is narrated by one of the characters you can play as (named Holly) as she introduces the rest of her team, the Cleaners. All of the members bring something unique to the fight, whether they be a medic, support, marksman, or outright assault fighter. 

We also get some information on each of the characters' backstories, along with what turned this world into a zombie infestation in the first place. The different enemy types on display, such as Breakers, Orges, Snitches, and Hags, all seem to present their own unique challenges and have specific weak points for players to take advantage of.

Back 4 Blood is set to release later this year, on October 12, 2021, for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC. 

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Hood: Outlaws & Legends New Gameplay Trailer Ahead of May Launch https://www.gameskinny.com/mndqa/hood-outlaws-legends-new-gameplay-trailer-ahead-of-may-launch https://www.gameskinny.com/mndqa/hood-outlaws-legends-new-gameplay-trailer-ahead-of-may-launch Fri, 30 Apr 2021 16:23:30 -0400 David Carcasole

Hood: Outlaws & Legends from developer Sumo Digital and publisher Focus Home Interactive is due out for release in May, and the game's latest gameplay trailer gives a full, in-depth overview of the different classes players will be able to choose at launch. Sumo and Focus have previously released individual class trailers, but this goes a bit further. 

The trailer takes an in-depth look at the different ways the classes can be used in Hood: Outlaws & Legends, as each has its own key strategic value in pulling off challenging heists. 

The four main classes players can choose from are the Ranger, Brawler, Mystic, and Hunter. They have unique abilities and perks that allow players to make many different builds that suit their playstyle. Some abilities allow for quick, life-saving decisions, while others are crucial for executing well-thought-out plans through solid player communication with a thorough ping system. 

Hood: Outlaws & Legends is a co-op/competitive PvE online game where two teams of four race against each other to be the first to the treasure. Along the way, they'll have to work together to avoid both the enemy team and the Sherriff and his men. 

Hood: Outlaws & Legends releases on Xbox and PlayStation consoles and PC on May 10, though if you're keen to get in on the action, you can pre-order now to gain access to the game on May 7.

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GTFO Gets New "Rebirth" Update With New Environments and Dangers https://www.gameskinny.com/l3u8l/gtfo-gets-new-rebirth-update-with-new-environments-and-dangers https://www.gameskinny.com/l3u8l/gtfo-gets-new-rebirth-update-with-new-environments-and-dangers Thu, 29 Apr 2021 15:14:59 -0400 David Carcasole

Survival-horror co op shooter GTFO is getting its latest content expansion on April 29 in the form of what developer 10 Chambers Collective calls a "Rebirth Update."

This is the fifth major update to the game and the largest expansion yet, adding a whole new area to the game, an "evolving underground facility [called] The Complex," and new gameplay mechanics. Alongside the larger additions, the patch also includes a number of bug fixes, polishes, and balancing changes. 

GTFO is a four-player co op first-person shooter where players fight tooth and nail to survive every minute spent in a game world overrun with terrible monstrosities. It launched in December 2019 and is currently still in Early Access on Steam.

GTFO is known for its punishing difficulty; even the description on Steam warns newcomers about what they're getting into. For those who did take the plunge early on, GTFO continues to receive overwhelmingly positive reviews from fans who love the mixture of challenge and legitimate horror.

If this sounds right up your alley, 10 Chambers Collective is celebrating the release of the Rebirth update by discounting the game 20% off its original price on Steam for a limited time.

We took a look at GTFO and said "this grimy horror-shooter from developer 10 Chambers Collective features deadly monsters, a creepy setting, and requires teamwork and strategy to find success. It's challenging without being unfair, and it's perfect for those who have a dedicated group of gaming friends". You can check out the rest of our Early Access preview here.  

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Eville Preview: Wouldst Thou Care For a Murder? https://www.gameskinny.com/z21r2/eville-preview-wouldst-thou-care-for-a-murder https://www.gameskinny.com/z21r2/eville-preview-wouldst-thou-care-for-a-murder Tue, 30 Mar 2021 14:37:54 -0400 Josh Broadwell

The sun peeks through your curtains and signals the start of another lovely day. You get up, and, remembering the local herbalist needs some materials from you, get ready to head out. The birds are singing, and all is well — except the village mayor is lying dead five feet away from your doorstep.

Welcome to Eville, a town where murder and other deeds most foul are afoot. It’s a social deduction adventure from VestGames, but don’t let the tagline “Art thou sus?” fool you. Eville is closer to an interactive game of Clue than it is an Among Us lookalike.

I had the chance to play a few rounds thanks to Vest Games and UberStrategist, and despite still being in its early development stages, Eville promises to be a wagon full of gruesome fun.

Eville supports up to 12 players, and the development team said bigger parties are ideal. It’s easy to see why as well. Once the round starts, Eville assigns each player a specific class.

The naughty ones are the Conspirators: barbarians, thieves, slanderers, and smugglers. Their goal is stealing from and/or murdering everyone in town. The other players are Villagers of varying types, ranging from Seers and Detectives to the Mayor, among others.

By day, it’s (hopefully) a normal village. You can mill around, see what others are doing, take on quests, and other totally normal things such as buying traps to keep people from assassinating you in your sleep. Night is a different story. Few characters can venture out after the sun goes down, and it’s when all manner of mischief can happen.

Most murders and poisonings happen then, but the more brazen Conspirators can bump people off in broad daylight too.

Each class has a role to play. Barbarians slay under cover of darkness, for example, while Trappers set traps (obviously) for catching Conspirators, and Ghost Whisperers can glean clues from the departed. 

I ended up as Detective and Seer in my two rounds.

Detectives can enter people’s homes and, once per day, examine their belongings to see what role they might have. They can also venture out at night once per game to see who is behaving badly. Seers can track suspicious villagers and set up night cameras to monitor certain areas.

These roles are where Eville’s greatest potential lies because you can only gather so much information as one person. Piecing together the rest of the mystery means working with villagers you think you can trust, while always seeing who might be lying and whose actions are inconsistent with their stated roles.

Eville lets you accuse others of having a certain role, whether good or bad, and you can claim one for yourself. It’s instant chaos, throwing a wrench into what you thought was a clever deduction plan.

Yet it also gives you a hint at how to use your skills. In the first round, I realized the person who claimed they were the Mayor couldn’t be, because my Detective’s skills showed me the real Mayor was dead. Sadly, my ace sleuthing didn't extend to realizing the browser muted my microphone. The killer remained at large until they murdered someone in the town square.

The game switches to a "judgment mode" whenever someone discovers a body. There’s a period for placing blame, and then the accused undergoes another trial. Everyone takes sides to choose whether they think the accused is guilty, and the majority opinion determines whether they live or die.

Murder victims, alongside the falsely accused (and subsequently murdered), exist as ghosts after death. The test build I played didn’t include it, but VestGames said they’re adding ghost quests to later builds so the dead won’t be bored.

Outside all of the sleuthing and killing, Eville gives you several other tasks to complete. NPCs have requests you can fulfill for money, there’s a shop with useful recovery items and traps, and the local herb witch is on hand to sell you potions should you find yourself inexplicably poisoned. It’s here where I ran into my only hesitation.

The day cycle is fairly short, so having time to actually find and complete a task in the same day is rare. There’s a distinct sense of injustice when you’re dispatched before finishing a quest too.

For all I know, though, the planned ghost quests could be “unfinished business” where you can still do most of what you could in life. Still, restricting skills to once per day or per game also makes the cycle feel more limited than I’d have liked.

These are minor complaints, though. Eville is already highly polished, much more so than I'd expect from an early alpha build. The unique classes and skills add a surprising amount of variation in each game, and the deduction element, so far, makes for one of the most enjoyable mystery experiences I've encountered in games. I can’t wait to see what’s in store when it enters early access later this year.

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It Takes Two Review: A Genre-Bender Like No Other https://www.gameskinny.com/51s5n/it-takes-two-review-a-genre-bender-like-no-other https://www.gameskinny.com/51s5n/it-takes-two-review-a-genre-bender-like-no-other Mon, 29 Mar 2021 14:11:21 -0400 Mark Delaney

In 2013, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons reinvented co op as a single-player experience no one had seen before. In 2018, A Way Out became a co op game built on permanent split-screen and tough compromises. Now in 2021, Director Josef Fares and developer Hazelight have mastered their last decade of ideas in a new experience, It Takes Two.

While the game misses its narrative mark as a heartfelt journey of two soon-to-be divorcees, level design, gameplay mechanics, and music are all so varied that you'd never know this is an EA Originals game. It feels like a big-budget success story.

It Takes Two offers variety in its gameplay that I didn't think possible, but what's more impressive is it matches that quantity of experiences with consistent quality.

It Takes Two Review: A Genre-Bender Like No Other

In It Takes Two, May and Cody are splitting up. It's a sad place to start the story, and even sadder for their daughter, Rose. Like most kids, Rose doesn't want her parents to get divorced and blames herself for their intentions to do so.

It's not long before the game's fantastical premise takes over, foregoing some quasi-sci-fi explanation as to why the couple is morphed into toy dolls Rose made. Instead, they and players alike are quickly thrust into their new little-big world where suddenly wasps are kamikaze pilots, squirrels are hardened soldiers of a backyard war, and stuffed animals like Moon Baboon are Rose's protectors, shielding her from the hurt caused by her parents' latest scuffle.

Like with A Way OutIt Takes Two operates on mandatory co op. The game is almost always played in split-screen, and each character always has their own unique abilities, no matter the scene.

In that regard, It Takes Two is the college thesis to A Way Out's high school book report. Gameplay variety is on a level that I don't know anyone's ever seen. Led by the permanently gyrating, anthropomorphic Book of Love, Dr. Hakim, the couple works through counseling by way of 15 or so hours of platforming excellence.

There is a startlingly low number of revisited mechanics, to the point that the game feels at odds with how I understood game dev to work for as long as I've been alive. Whereas you typically build a foundation, then add layers to it with each successive gameplay hour, It Takes Two chucks that book into the fireplace. Early on, with my wife as my co op partner, I flew a plane crafted from my human-sized underpants through the backyard while my wife battled a squirrel in a 2D fighting game on the wings, with health bars and all.

In the opening hours, the game gifts Cody with nails and May with a hammer, and they use their unique abilities to solve problems along the way, like May smashing a board into a horizontal position, then Cody quickly nailing it in place, so it becomes a new platform to jump from.

Later on, they get new tools, like a nectar gun and flamethrower, the ability to clone herself or his move that can stop or rewind time, and much more.

Each of the game's seven chapters follows this format. A new location brings brand new tools, and no two levels play, look, or sound at all alike. There are some sections that change things so drastically that I don't even want to spoil them here. There are also lots of fun homages to other games, like a race on a familiar-looking Rainbow Road and a daring escape level where the player runs toward the camera a la Crash Bandicoot.

As a platformer, It Takes Two is reliably precise, unforeseeably varied, and celebratory of the genre greats that came before it. 

Just imagine a game where your camera perspective, gameplay mechanics, and set design are all up for debate. How Hazelight could make a game like this, with seemingly so few reused assets, such a wide variety of musical stylings to suit each setting, and most of all, the everchanging UI and gameplay tentpoles, has truly blown my mind over the past few days of playing it.

It's not only that each chapter brings new central mechanics, it's that each of them even introduces one-off sections, like the 2D fighter or an extended action-RPG scene, that would impress us quickly, then disappear forever. In the best way possible, it hurts my brain to wonder how this game was made. It seems like one should have to sacrifice polish for variety or vice versa, but It Takes Two masters both at once in a way I don't think the medium has ever seen.

Just to really show off, the game even features 25 hidden mini-games players can discover through exploring each level, thus introducing yet a greater variety of elements at every turn. Things like Whack-a-Mole, chess, shuffleboard, and some wholly new ideas are sprinkled through each level and can be replayed at any time from the menu. The game even tracks all-time and per-game scores, so you and your co op partner can fight for bragging rights. 

On new-gen consoles, the game is already optimized as well, so on top of it playing and sounding excellent, it looks that way too, with the game seemingly running at a high framerate despite the split-screen, which I always heard made that sort of thing very hard. It Takes Two feels like a miracle in game design. 

It Takes Two intends to hang its hat on its unpredictable design, but it ends up owing a bit more than expected because narratively, the story doesn't really carry its weight. Cody and May's relationship should be an interesting one to explore through this Pixar-like lens, but they rarely come off as earnest and only really do so at the very end. Cody is permanently sarcastic and May forever exasperated. It makes it so the physical progress they make as toys is never quite correlates emotionally, even as the game suggests it should.

Dr. Hakim's involvement is also a superfluous one as he only serves to spoon-feed the game's metaphors to the player, like May's cloning ability being a stand-in for her busy schedule, or Cody's dream of gardening rotting away like the actual garden the couple explores in a late chapter. Without the intended heart of these characters shining through, the space between each remarkable setpiece and every unpredictable new mechanic is left feeling lackluster. 

It Takes Two Review — The Bottom Line

Pros

  • Gameplay variety on a level of its own
  • Polished, gorgeous, and ever-changing levels
  • Music is just as varied to suit every new setting
  • Fun minigames to discover 

Cons

  • Characters never quite sell the heart of the story
  • Routinely spells out its metaphors 

It Takes Two is a game marvelously directed but only middlingly written, thus souring some of its lasting impact overall. Though the story never lands as intended, it's enjoyable enough to act as the backdrop for all the unending fun there is to be had elsewhere. 

From a gameplay standpoint, It Takes Two is one of the year's greatest achievements. I say that confidently no matter what else comes out in the next nine months. I've simply never heard of a game doing this much on a presumably less-than-AAA-budget. Even then, I don't think any game has really gone to the lengths this does, reinventing itself roughly every 15 minutes. 

It Takes Two is one-of-a-kind.

[Note: Hazelight provided the copy of It Takes Two used for this review.]

 

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VestGames Gets Eville in New Medieval Social Murder Game https://www.gameskinny.com/8dtv1/vestgames-gets-eville-in-new-medieval-social-murder-game https://www.gameskinny.com/8dtv1/vestgames-gets-eville-in-new-medieval-social-murder-game Thu, 04 Feb 2021 15:16:04 -0500 Josh Broadwell

VestGames is leaping into the social murder deduction field with Eville, which has a demo out now. Hendrik Holle, Eville's creator, describes the game as a cross between Among Us and the classic tabletop game One Night Ultimate Werewolf. Like Among Us, the goal in Eville is either murdering everyone in town or identifying the culprit and dealing with them, which is a nice way of saying "set them on fire."

However, like WerewolfEville features multiple character classes, along with items, merchants, and even upgrades to try and stay alive or not get caught.

Eville's trailer highlights a bit of what sets the game apart, including murder methods, such as traps and melee attacks, abilities, the village itself, and even a day/night system. 

There's an Eville demo live now as part of the Steam Game Festival, though as yet, Eville doesn't have a solid release date. Whenever it does launch, PC is the only confirmed platform for now.

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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.

Read the review

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Read the review

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.

Read the review

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.

Read the review.

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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Among Us Review: Paranoid Murder Fun for the Whole Family https://www.gameskinny.com/rda10/among-us-review-paranoid-murder-fun-for-the-whole-family https://www.gameskinny.com/rda10/among-us-review-paranoid-murder-fun-for-the-whole-family Wed, 23 Dec 2020 16:13:07 -0500 Jason D'Aprile

Among Us exploded onto the scene and into pop culture over the last eight months, but it certainly didn’t appear from nowhere. Originally released in 2018, this clever multiplayer gem deserves all the popularity and kudos it’s finally receiving.

That upward rise should get a boost thanks to Nintendo's fanfare about the Switch release and other console versions coming soon after.

It’s this translation to the Switch that we’re largely focused on here. If you’ve missed the boat entirely, Among Us is a plucky indie effort that takes the classic themes of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None and John Carpenter’s The Thing and mashes them into an addictive game with surprisingly adorable 2D visuals.

Among Us Review: Paranoid Murder Fun for the Whole Family

The premise here is simple: 4-10 people are shoved onto one of three sci-fi maps with maintenance jobs to do, but the rub is some of them aren’t human. Instead, part of that crew is an Imposter — a shapeshifting alien hungry for murder and destruction.

In proper bureaucratic style, when a dead body is found, an emergency meeting is called and players can chat it out and vote on which of their fellow crewmates they think is the alien. There’s a lot of subterfuge and psychology at work in these bits, as the humans try to work out who was where, what were they doing, and who might be lying.

The intent is whoever gets the most votes gets booted out into the void. The imposter players, of course, are just trying to mislead — and outright lie — to not get voted off, continuing their murderous subterfuge. 

Imposters can win the match by either killing the rest of the crew or causing a self-destruct sequence, while humans win by either killing the imposters or preventing said self-destruction by completing all their assigned tasks.

Among Us is a brilliant game in that it keeps everything simple. The tasks are mini-games meant to be easy to grasp and complete on a touchscreen, with a mouse and keyboard, or a control pad. The action buttons are entirely contextual. If you’re near something interactive, you just follow the prompt.

Among Us isn’t an action game. Even murder (generally done in private corners with, you hope, no prying eyes) is just a button press when the prompt shows up. That focus on making a game that works across any potential platform serves Among Us well, because players on all those platforms can actually play together. This includes the Switch version, so there’s no shortage of matches online at any given time.

The core of Among Us, no matter the platform, is excellent. It’s just a fun game, full of clever twists, creative maps, and accessible gameplay. Bringing it over to a console, however, highlights certain shortcomings that were easier to overlook on mobile and PC. A problem exclusive to the Switch (but probably very temporary) is the lack of any in-game purchases, so you can't buy any of the pets and extras you might see on players from other platforms. 

This whole microtransaction thing needs an overhaul in that each platform —be it Steam, the App Store, Google Play, etc. — is its own island. Since there’s no central account associated with the game (like where Minecraft uses an Xbox account to let all your DLC purchases follow you), any purchases on, for example, iOS won’t transfer to Switch, Android, or PC (and vice versa). 

Specific to the Switch (and certain to apply to other console versions), there's simply going to be issues associated with any game where text chatting is an important element. Playing the Switch version as a portable, it works exactly the same as any mobile. You either mind touch typing on the screen or you don't, but it's workable.

Doing the same with a control pad is another story, even with the usual bits of shorthand and horrible diction that goes hand in hand with this type of thing. There's been no attempt to streamline the process or aid players in quickly relaying pertinent information (about, say, locations and colors). This means console players will likely feel compelled to curtail any lengthy sort of chit chat, which isn't ideal.

Among Us Review — The Bottom Line

Pros

  • Incredibly clever concept merged with fun, accessible gameplay
  • Adorable graphics really offset the horror
  • Cross-platform multiplayer means there's no shortage of matches to play
Cons
  • Text chatting during a timed meeting with a control pad feels awful
  • No unified account means purchases from one platform don't track to another
  • No microtransactions on the Switch yet, so you can only look sadly upon other player's pets and cool customizations and sigh (for now)

Playing Among Us on a variety of platforms is proving the game, while unabashedly excellent, might not be able to grow as rapidly as its popularity has. 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.

[Note: The copy of Among Us used for this review was purchased by the reviewer.]

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Outriders Post-Campaign Content is a Loot-Heavy Mode Called Expeditions https://www.gameskinny.com/59jt4/outriders-post-campaign-content-is-a-loot-heavy-mode-called-expeditions https://www.gameskinny.com/59jt4/outriders-post-campaign-content-is-a-loot-heavy-mode-called-expeditions Thu, 05 Nov 2020 21:59:38 -0500 Jonathan Moore

Outriders fourth broadcast unveiled something that I, and I'm sure many other fans following the game, have been waiting a long time to hear about: post-game content. The strength of any looter-shooter lies in its ability to reward players with meaningful loot as they progress through the game and into higher difficulties. We've known that Outriders' campaign mode should be able to provide this sense of meaningful progression from going hands-on with the game a few times this year. 

But what happens when players complete the 40-hour campaign? What comes after that keeps us playing? Enter Expeditions. 

According to Square Enix, Expeditions are hard-as-nails missions that give leveled Outriders players a set of brand new challenges — and the opportunity to score potent gear in the process. Square Enix says that there will be 15 missions to complete in the post-campaign mode, culminating in the 16th and final mission, the Eye of the Storm. 

The cool thing (at least on paper) about Expeditions is that these aren't "recycled levels." People Can Fly have developed unique levels for this mode. They "have their own mechanics, challenges, and storylines." It reminds me a bit of Ghost of Tsushima's Legends mode, just on a grander scale. 

Like the campaign, Expeditions will use a dynamic difficulty system, but instead of World Tiers, it's called Challenge Tiers. There are 15 Challenge Tiers, and each gifts new Epic and Rare loot. Players are judged on their completion time for each tier, with faster completion times awarding better gear and more Challenge Tiers.

For example, as shown in the broadcast, bronze times could reward 3x Rare gear and a Challenge Tier, silver times could reward 1x Epic gear and another Challenge Tier, and gold times could reward 1x Epic gear, 1x Rare gear, and yet another Challenge Tier. The best completion times unlock three Challenge Tiers at once, making progression through a mission's difficulties faster. Of course, that means faster movement toward even better loot, as well. 

Tiers can be changed at any time, but lower-level tiers will reward lower-level loot, and overall progression through Expeditions will be slower since Challenge Tiers also help players unlock more levels. 

Square and People Can Fly confirmed in the broadcast that player level will max out at Level 30 at the end of the campaign. However, the loot players receive in Expeditions will increase their weapon level, which maxes out at Level 50 in the mode. 

Weapon and armor modding also gets a big spotlight in the video above. I dabbled with the modding system a bit in my hands-on from August, but what's shown here really has me excited for the heights the system can reach. Players will be able to mix and match an insane number of attributes and passive skills. Some increase the potency of class abilities, while others imbue weapons with class abilities.

It looks like a really robust system of countless possibilities, especially when you consider that players can respec their skill trees at any time, mixing and matching branches and paths. 

Outriders was delayed from Holiday 2020 to February 2, 2021. It will release for PC, PS4, Xbox One, PS5, and Xbox Series X|S on that date. The Google Stadia version of Outriders will come sometime in 2021, though there isn't a concrete release window just yet. Stay tuned to GameSkinny for more on Outriders

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Phasmophobia Game Does Not Exist Error Fix: Server Version Mismatch https://www.gameskinny.com/1t4eu/phasmophobia-game-does-not-exist-error-fix-server-version-mismatch https://www.gameskinny.com/1t4eu/phasmophobia-game-does-not-exist-error-fix-server-version-mismatch Tue, 27 Oct 2020 16:33:10 -0400 Hunter Boyce

The burgeoning success of indie game developer Kinetic Games' breakout title Phasmophobia has not come without its problems. Following the game's ever-rising popularity, some players have begun to experience major server issues. Now, however, a solution to the Phasmophobia "game does not exist" server version mismatch error has been discovered.

While attempting to play with others in private lobbies, players have been unable to launch co-op multiplayer games with friends because of the "game does not exist," or "server version mismatch," error. 

As the game is still only in Early Access, bugs and glitches come with the territory. That being said, the increasing prevalence of this particular error has caused many to search for answers.

Though Kinetic Games is aware of the error, there are a few things you can do to fix the issue until there's a permanent fix.  

1. Identify your server region

First, you will need to ensure that you and your friends are all on the same server.

Every player's server is chosen based on their region. Consequently, you will likely end up on the "EU" server if you live in Europe or "US" server if you live within the United States. That being said, you can switch your server if need be.

This is important because you will receive the "game does not exist," or "server version mismatch," error if your entire co-op team is not on the same server.

To change your server, simply visit the server region tab in the top right of the "Server Lobby" screen as shown above. From there, you can adjust your server region as necessary.

If you and your friends still receive an error message after adjusting your server regions, then it is time to move on to the next step.

2. Check if you are using the beta version of Phasmophobia

Now that you have ensured your server region is correct, the next step is to double-check if you are still opted in for the game's beta.

If only some of your team is out of the beta server, then you will also receive the "game does not exist" server version mismatch error.

As seen above, the steps are: 

  • Open up your Steam page
  • Right-click on Phasmophobia 
  • Select "Properties"
  • Go to the "Betas" tab
  • The "Beta Build" will either be selected or deselected
  • Deselect the beta build listed within if it is currently active

You'll be able to quickly determine if you are opted into the game's beta version. The beta version of the game can be quite buggy, so it is suggested that your entire team choose to deselect the beta build at this point.

3. Update your game

If you are still having issues playing with your friends, there is one final fix. This time around, you will need to update Phasmophobia.

Without the most-recently updated version of the game, you will not be able to play in private servers. As a result, you may have to manually jumpstart the updating process from time to time.

The steps here are similar to checking it you're in the beta branch, with one important difference:

  • Open up your Steam page
  • Right-click on the Phasmophobia game
  • Select "Properties"
  • Go to the "Local Files" tab

From here, select "Verify Integrity of Game Files." This will re-download any missing or corrupted game files that may be causing the error issue.

After following all of these steps, you should now be able to get around the "game does not exist" error and play Phasmophobia on private servers with your friends. That being said, as an Early Access release, Phasmophobia is still susceptible to new bugs and glitches. So check back in to make sure you are up to date on the latest glitch fixes for Phasmophobia.

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Ghost of Tsushima Legends Raid, The Tale of Iyo, Coming in October https://www.gameskinny.com/tlly7/ghost-of-tsushima-legends-raid-the-tale-of-iyo-coming-in-october https://www.gameskinny.com/tlly7/ghost-of-tsushima-legends-raid-the-tale-of-iyo-coming-in-october Thu, 22 Oct 2020 17:38:27 -0400 GS_Staff

Ghost of Tsushima Legends, the free co op multiplayer add-on for Sucker Punch's samurai epic, launched on October 16 without the expansion's raid. A relatively meaty story mode and survival mode have kept players busy since then, though some have already blazed through the content and unlocked loads of legendary gear, waiting for the raid to arrive. 

Luckily, they won't have to wait much longer. The Ghost of Tsushima Legends raid will release on October 30. Called The Tale of Iyo's Realm, the raid will be Legends' hardest challenge. For anyone who's already beaten the expansion's story content, it was obvious the raid would have something to do with Iyo. 

According to Sucker Punch, the raid will be trying for even the most battle-hardened samurai, requiring a group of four players at Ki level 100 to complete. Sucker Punch says that there will be no matchmaking for the raid, so players will have to partner up to take it on. 

There was no time given for when fans might hope to jump into the raid on October 30. 

Sucker Punch also announced that regular updates will be coming to Ghost of Tsushima Legends every Friday, starting with the raid. These will take the form of nightmare-difficulty weekly challenges and will feature content for both two players (story content) and four players (survival mode content). Raid-ready gear is one incentive, but being featured on mode-specific leaderboards each week is another. 

Stay tuned to GameSkinny for more on Ghost of Tsushima Legends and its raid. If you're looking for tips on the expansion, consider checking out our guides on how to get going with multiplayer and a full rundown of each class, including its strengths and weaknesses. 

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Cake Bash Review: Cream of the Crop https://www.gameskinny.com/n09su/cake-bash-review-cream-of-the-crop https://www.gameskinny.com/n09su/cake-bash-review-cream-of-the-crop Thu, 15 Oct 2020 14:14:22 -0400 Dylan Webb

Let’s be honest: Whether you’re the type to visit the local bakery frequently or you simply enjoy an odd biscuit with your cup of tea (or coffee), many of us can’t resist indulging in the occasional sweet treat.

Usually seen as comfort food, sweets aren't traditionally associated with competition, especially a four-player brawler. But that’s exactly what Cake Bash aims to dispel.

Developed by High Tea Frog, this party game is a frantic multiplayer experience both online and locally. Though you can play the game's campaign mode alone against the AI, Cake Bash's wider appeal lies within its multiplayer component and party options. Tastefully, it delivers a thoroughly enjoyable time.

Cake Bash Review: Cream of the Crop

It’s a lot of fun with friends

If you ever wanted to beat up a cupcake as an eclair or have ever fancied wailing on other baked goods as a donut, Cake Bash has you covered in more ways than one. 

Get Tasty is Cake Bash’s campaign mode, which can be played alone or with friends. It offers several rounds of games where players vie to become the tastiest cake. There are seven playable sweets available, all of which are based on common cakes and pastries, and each has its own name and different skins, adding a gentle touch of personality to the mix.

Depending on your performance in the campaign mode, Get Tasty rewards you with chocolate coins, which are used to buy cake toppings between rounds. Those toppings give you points as well, awarding bonuses if you get a matching set of three. Whoever has the most points at the end wins.

The rest of the game's action is split into two categories, Bash and mini-games. There are five Bash modes in total, each awarding points for completing set tasks.

Sweet Victory sees you collecting toppings for your cake and punching other players to knock theirs off. Fruity Pie has you throwing fruit onto a pie. Cookie Bash tasks you with smashing as many fortune cookies as possible. Hundreds and Thousands has you competing to gather the most sprinkles. And Sprinkler sees you holding onto your sprinklers for as long as possible.

All this mayhem occurs within several creatively designed arenas, too, taking your cakes to five hazardous locations. From a patio table to the sunny beach, each stage has a series of hazards, such as pigeons or beach balls, that players must carefully navigate, keeping action quite lively.

Individually, there isn’t much to these games, but as a collective, they offer good variety in bitesize portions, and it’s a lot of fun with friends.

It doesn’t take too long to unlock the bulk of this extra content, which is a shame, but it strongly encourages replayability to keep players coming back.

Bash games generally share the same gameplay mechanics: a standard attack that allows for quick combos, which can also be charged up for a “megabash” to stun opponents, and a dash that keeps cakes from getting hit. Adding more strategy to each game, the dash can only be used three times before it needs to be recharged — and it has a long cool down. 

Weapons also drop onto stages, letting you whack other cakes with lollipops or launch throwable items like saltshakers, temporarily stunning your opponents. Put together, it's a basic set of gameplay mechanics but one that’s rather easy to pick up, letting anyone join without difficulty.

Minigames, on the other hand, are considerably shorter affairs, but these also diverge from the standard campaign gameplay. There are eight mini-games altogether, and that includes the world’s first Gateau Royale, Fork Knife, where players avoid getting hit by cutlery on a gradually shrinking cake.

Fondue or Die lets you skewer chocolate covered fruit for points, whereas Campfire lets you roast the finest marshmallows. Though they make for an enjoyable alternative to bash modes, certain minigames require more precision than you might expect from a game like Cake Bash, leading to some mistakes and a little frustration. 

Progressing through Get Tasty unlocks each game for individual play, too, and each can be selected via the Recipe Mode.

Finally, Cake Bash also has unlockable collectibles in the form of new skins. Nabbing them all involves hitting set criteria, like playing three matches on a particular stage. It doesn’t take too long to unlock the bulk of this extra content, which is a shame, but it strongly encourages replayability to keep players coming back.

Cake Bash Review — The Bottom Line

Pros
  • Excellent fun in multiplayer
  • Great variety of modes
  • Plenty of replayability
  • Cute visual aesthetic
Cons
  • Can unlock all the content pretty quickly
  • Minigames feel a little too precise at times

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.

[Note: Coatsink provided the copy of Cake Bash used for this review.]

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Embr Early Access Review: Fight Fire with Fun https://www.gameskinny.com/dmgka/embr-early-access-review-fight-fire-with-fun https://www.gameskinny.com/dmgka/embr-early-access-review-fight-fire-with-fun Wed, 20 May 2020 10:50:10 -0400 Mark Delaney

These days you can get pretty much anything through an app. Need a ride? Call Uber. Hungry? Postmates will be there in 30 minutes. Looking to get your face made into a cartoon? There are like 10,000 people willing to do that online right now.

It makes me wonder, "Where does it end?" Which jobs will we not outsource to a market of independent contractors? 

Built deliberately without unions or benefits, we've traded worker's rights for consumer convenience, and it's all starting to get a bit dystopian. In comes Embr to offer a sarcastic, darkly humorous future where even firefighting runs through an app. If only that possible future could ever be as fun as Embr is.

Embr Early Access Review: Fight Fire with Fun

Embr is a new game hitting Early Access for Steam and Stadia on May 21, making it the first-ever Stadia Early Access title. In it, up to four players can strap on their helmets and ride off in first-person co-op to the next home or business engulfed in flames. The cartoonish colors and bouncy soundtrack tell players right away that Embr is meant to be silly, and that's one of its best qualities.

Answering an app as an Embr Respondr, your task is to get people out of these burning buildings before they die, only instead of valor and community service, you're in it for the tips and the ever-desirable five-star rating.

Typically, there are two types of survivors inside any burning building: the apathetic phone-scroller, who doesn't even bother to look up as you pull them to safety, or the panicked survivor, who is running around the place like they're already on fire themselves. 

In both cases, your task is to get them outside to a safety zone. Sometimes there is more than one of these areas, and once the rescuees are in one, they're safe for good. No need to worry, the game even encourages you to chuck them across the threshold, provided they're at a safe distance from the ground.

It's getting them there that makes up this puzzle platformer disguised as a chaotic co-op experience. Using customizable loadouts of ladders, water hoses, trampolines, axes, and much more, players are expected to bring the right tools for the job and work efficiently.

There's a great sense of player choice in this aspect of Embr. Earning cash and unlocking and upgrading my gear has been one of my favorite parts of the game so far. It reminds me a bit of Sea of Thieves in that the game hardly suggests what to do with any of its items. It gives them to you and lets you use them how you'd like  "tools, not rules" as Rare calls it. Given there are always countless ways to solve each level, this sense of freedom is exciting.

Do you bash down the front door and spray your way up the stairs, or do you prop a ladder against the house and climb through the second-story window? Either way, there's never a level where you can totally put out the fire and you shouldn't bother doing so. You're here to rescue customers so they can tip you, not save a home from burning down.

You can merely quell the flames momentarily while you get people to safety, even if they're too busy tweeting to thank you. Electrical fires cause additional problems, while other obstacles like classic red barrels can make things worse too. Each level gives players a new mix of layout, objectives, and funny, frenzy-inducing obstacles.

Then there's the moral quandary of deciding how many people to save. Each level tends to have you rescue only some of the total number of humans left in the fire. For example, you might only need to save four of the would-be victims, or you can stick around for all eight. Hidden stacks of cash can sometimes be more enticing than the humans too, which only furthers the game's comically cynical view of late capitalism.

Billboards seen throughout the game do well to establish that cynicism too, like a takedown of Deadspin's recent fall from grace through an ad for "SportsShow: Just Sport. No Politics," or a beverage called H2Oh! with the tagline "It's almost water!" It's clear who Muse Games sides with in the ongoing struggle for consumer and worker advocacy, and it's not the bigwigs at the top.  

Scurrying around each level makes replaying for better scores and more cash enticing, especially as you unlock better gear and can clear prior areas much faster. If only I was able to enjoy it all with others. In my time with the game ahead of its Early Access launch, I wasn't able to find any co-op partners.

It seems the game doesn't yet offer crossplay — hopefully, that's planned for later  so I was left fending for myself during the review period. I expect that problem will be solved quickly, but it does mean I'm missing an important portion of the Embr experience.

Speaking of what's missing, given that the game is in Early Access, there are currently several areas that need improving. Though the core gameplay is a joy, the controls can sometimes feel a bit too loose. Some of this is deliberate, like a ladder that can easily topple over if you don't prop it up well, but just climbing the ladder feels off too, and not in the same broken-for-laughs way.

I love the physics-driven gameplay of Embr. Being able to move the contents of any room around to solve platforming problems and complete objectives is inventive and rewarding, making me feel like I'm thinking outside the box often. But controls need to be tightened up. There's a fine line to walk between floaty and unwieldy, and currently, Embr is stumbling to the wrong side.

In the menus, the ability to rename loadouts is apparently not working at all. This isn't a huge concern as at launch, you start with two loadouts and one of them is the default loadout that you'll quickly outgrow, but it does remind me that this game isn't done yet. There are also too few levels right now, so hopefully those keep getting added over time.

Embr Early Access Review  The Bottom Line

Pros
  • Inventive and chaotic gameplay
  • Fluid level design lets players choose their playstyle and change it on the go
  • Cynically comical world-building
  • Enticing upgrade tree
  • Welcome accessibility options
Cons
  • Wrinkles to iron out such as unresponsive menus and a dearth of levels
  • Controls are a bit too floaty at the moment

I noticed the game has several smart accessibility options right away, including a fine-tuned difficulty slider, reduced gravity (I assume to make trampolines less deadly), and even a profanity filter. With that last one, Embr is a game my son and I can enjoy together, and I wish more games offered such a feature.

I know to expect growing pains in an Early Access game, so today, I don't consider them dealbreakers for what is otherwise another great game in a string of titles that take stressful jobs and turn them into colorful romps with friends.

If you've enjoyed games such as OvercookedTools UpMoving Out, and Get Packed, there's every reason to expect you'll also enjoy Embr. Grab a seat in the firetruck, because Embr is just getting warmed up.

[Note: A copy of Embr was provided by Muse Games for the purpose of this Early Access review.]

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Moving Out Review — So Many Ways To Move It, Move It https://www.gameskinny.com/btqda/moving-out-review-so-many-ways-to-move-it-move-it https://www.gameskinny.com/btqda/moving-out-review-so-many-ways-to-move-it-move-it Thu, 23 Apr 2020 14:44:07 -0400 Jonny Foster

Moving Out is the newest party game published by Team17, set to rival Overcooked for the mayhem-inducing physics-based local-multiplayer crown. While the charm and appeal of Moving Out certainly mirrors Overcooked, beneath the surface beats a different rhythm. 

Here, the name of the game is removals. You and up to three other players are tasked with moving fragile boxes, hefty furniture, and even livestock into a moving van before the timer runs out. 

As you might expect, things aren’t easy. There are all manner of traps, hazards, and trials for you to navigate around on your way to the moving van. 

 

Moving Out Review — So Many Ways To Move It, Move It

Sometimes ghosts will haunt the mansions you’re moving items from, chasing and stunning your movers, while smaller houses often have awkward twisting hallways that make moving a bed or sofa nearly impossible. 

In these situations, grabbing the furniture with a partner and throwing it out of a window is often the best course of action — not to mention such teamwork is gleefully destructive fun, too. In fact, Moving Out is littered with destructible knick-knacks that make the world feel more interesting and alive. 

Only specific items need to be packed during each level — though you can interact with pretty much everything you see — and hurling a chair at a nearby TV because it’s in the way of the table that you need is exactly the sort of bonkers nonsense that makes Moving Out so enjoyable. 

To change things up, there are also dynamic levels that take place on moving vehicles, on a river — with passing logs, a la Frogger — and more. The level variety is actually really impressive considering the fairly limited scope of a moving company being the game's conceit. 

Much like Overcooked, there are three tiers of rating for each level — gold, silver, and bronze medals — but there are bonus objectives this time, too. Each level has three additional objectives, such as “break all the windows” or “jump over the pond," which add a good level of replay value and competition. 

Completing these objectives also unlocks Arcade levels that will test every fiber of your resolve and patience to complete. 

Of course, not everyone will enjoy the level of challenge that Moving Out provides, and others still may struggle to compete under the standard ruleset. Thankfully, this is where the game's fantastic accessibility options shine. 

Moving Out features a wide array of accessibility options, from extending timers and level skips to single Joy-Con controls and less hazardous levels. Honestly, if I could only praise a single aspect of Moving Out, it would be the extensive lengths taken to improve accessibility. 

The humor is another strong area for Moving Out; whether it’s the fact that you’re labeled a “Furniture Arrangement & Relocation Technician” (F.A.R.T) or the 80’s-themed instructional videos, it’s hard to keep a straight face while playing. 

The catchy soundtrack is also wonderfully 80’s-inspired, with disco tracks that you’re sure to find yourself humming along to. 

Moving Out Review — The Bottom Line

Pros:
  • Like Overcooked, gameplay is fast-paced, frantic, and fun
  • Wide range of accessibility options make Moving Out fun for everyone
  • Clean aesthetic with surprisingly deep character customization options
Cons:
  • Controls, mechanics, and level-designs can get a little frustrating, making some levels more of a slog than they should be

Unfortunately, not everything about Moving Out is a resounding success. Here, cooperation is far more important than in Overcooked. Heavy items will be difficult to fit into the moving van if they aren’t packed first, some items can’t be moved or thrown at all without a second helper, and so on. 

Not being able to function efficiently in a conveyor belt fashion feels like a weakness in the game mechanics; Overcooked is equally insane and raucous, but any job can be undertaken by one person if the other chefs fall into lava or get distracted by a pack of thieving rats.

In Moving Out, however, there can be a lot of waiting around for other players to return if they get caught by a ghost or walk a little too close to a passing car. 

On the flip side, my partner found the increased emphasis on teamwork more engaging and this is now her preferred party game, so your mileage may vary.

Whatever your preference is, Moving Out certainly provides the same flavor of co-operative tension and burst-out-loud laughter as Overcooked. With 30+ levels in varied environments on top of tons of bonus objectives to strive for, there’s lots to enjoy in this entertaining party hit.

[Note: A copy of Moving Out Was provided by Team 17 for the purpose of this review.]

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Ubisoft Free Trials Month Kicks Off with Rayman Legends https://www.gameskinny.com/xxvmk/ubisoft-free-trials-month-kicks-off-with-rayman-legends https://www.gameskinny.com/xxvmk/ubisoft-free-trials-month-kicks-off-with-rayman-legends Wed, 01 Apr 2020 11:19:45 -0400 Josh Broadwell

Ubisoft is doing its part to encourage self-isolation by offering free games and a number of free trials throughout the month of April. First up is the excellent platformer Rayman Legends. If you haven't yet played it, now's your best chance.

Rayman Legends

You can download Rayman Legends for PC through Ubisoft's website now until April 3 at 9:00 a.m. in your time zone. We gave it high praise back when it first launched in 2013, calling it the best platformer of the generation. It's zany, colorful, full of clever stage designs — especially the much-lauded music levels — and is packed full of secrets and things to find.

Ubisoft Free Trials

Ubisoft is offering a number of free trials all month as well. These include trials for games like Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Breakpoint and Trials Rising, and there's even a trial for Rabbids Coding if you fancy a coding lesson with Ubisoft's insane mutants.

And there's more to come. Ubisoft promises additional free offers and trials for games in series like Assassin's Creed and Just Dance. We'll keep you updated as Ubisoft posts more.

All this is great news, considering most of last month's free games aren't free anymore or soon won't be.

You can see the full announcement over on Ubisoft's website. If you're desperate for something to do and are willing to pay for it, we've got you covered there as well:

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Vitamin Connection Review — Take Your Medicine https://www.gameskinny.com/rb827/vitamin-connection-review-take-your-medicine https://www.gameskinny.com/rb827/vitamin-connection-review-take-your-medicine Fri, 06 Mar 2020 16:47:17 -0500 Greyson Ditzler

Vitamin Connection is the kind of game that deserves to succeed. It's easy to pick up, exhaustively fun, and vibrantly creative. It's loaded with charm, replay value, and oodles of original ideas. It's the kind of game that every Switch owner should have in their collection one way or another.

Recently-released in digital form on the eShop, Vitamin Connection comes from indie giant WayForward Technologies, the same studio responsible for games such as Shantae and the Pirate's Curse and River City Girls. 

It very well might be one of the best games on the Nintendo Switch. 

Vitamin Connection Review — Take Your Medicine

Open wide y'all, it's time for the pill.

In Vitamin Connection you play as Vita-Boy and Mina-Girl, two miniature beings who pilot a tiny capsule-sized spaceship. They are mailed to the residence of the Sable family, all of whom are afflicted by some sickness or malady. The two tiny teammates use their ship to tackle everything from tickling tonsils to tuning troubled televisions. 

Every sprawling level sees Vita-Boy and Mina-Girl moving on rails through the colorful, bacteria-ridden insides of each family member. Branching paths mean that some backtracking is required, but re-treading areas isn’t the slog it might seem. Not including the game’s nicely varied level design, new hazards present themselves to shake things up. Add to that a wide-ranging catalog of enemies and the more Metroidvania sections of Vitamin Connection are easier to digest. 

Luckily, each level has a full map that fills out as you go so it's hard to get lost, and there's often a collectible hidden down the path less-traveled, compelling you to move forward. 

To get through it all, you'll need to twist and turn your controller, aim and fire your weapon, and control the movement of your ship all at once. In single-player, you do this by yourself using either two Joy-Cons or a Pro controller. In co-op, you can split the controls between two people. 

It can be a little frightening at first; every scenario involves quick thinking and fast reflexes popping as you swap between traditional controls and several types of motion controls. Luckily, it doesn't take too long to adjust to things. Any failure ends up being a light smack, especially with the game's relatively lenient checkpoint system.

In lieu of boss fights, each level subjects you to several mini-games, each of which use the Joy-Con motion controls in a different way. One minute you may be playing a rhythm section with two sets of instructions, the next you'll be guiding a hoop around a wire. In others, you'll be playing air hockey against a computer opponent. 

These sections build off of each other without compromising the game’s light combat focus or its relaxed tone. Consequently, they nicely crescendo into the actual boss fight at the very end of the game. 

It's showing various symptoms of "Early 2000's-itis"

Vitamin Connection reminds me of the early 2000s, a time when Japanese imports flooded the U.S., stunning us with starry-eyed wonder. Vitamin Connection could have easily been a forgotten classic of that era; it carries so much of the same style and energy.

Vitamin Connection’s presentation really is something special. The game’s signature panache comes from Lindsey Collins (also known as 'linzb0t”), who was also the lead artist on the bright and stylish Cat Girl Without Salad: Amuse-Bouche. Her signature round and cutesy style shines through while still looking wholly unique.

Made up almost entirely of simple shapes with bright, primary colors, Vitamin Connection lacks sharp edges and angles (unless when necessary), instead opting for rounded, inviting shapes. This works in tandem with the game’s cartoonish but earnest writing, and its equally heartfelt dialogue. Every cutscene and exchange is fully animated and voice-acted; the production value is quite high considering this is an independent production. 

Director James Montagna has mentioned that both Katamari Damacy and Jet Set Radio were major inspirations for Vitamin Connection’s visuals and music, and it shows. Vitamin Connection has such an amazingly robust and highly-produced soundtrack that most of its songs could have easily been Billboard Top 40 songs from 15 years ago. 

The game is jam-packed with original music from a variety of different artists. The soundtrack spans many different genres, though J-pop certainly dominates. Cheerful lyrics in both English and Japanese are belted out with accompaniment from a variety of both synthesizers and real instruments, creating a happy, high-energy atmosphere that never lets up.

Even when the music drastically switches style, the soundtrack always feels appropriate for each level, whether it be in the form of a rap song or a gothy ballad.

The sound design, in general, is excellent, creating a consistently cartoonish and thematically appropriate soundscape. There are songs unique to each level, and songs play on a shuffled playlist every time you start a level, cutting down repetition significantly, which isn't much a problem anyway because every song is catchy.

The developers even went so far as to have an extra layer of music play whenever the Vitamin Beam is firing and made most songs have their own unique layer. That's just awesome.

There honestly isn't much I can find wrong with Vitamin Connection. Sure, it's a little hard to figure out at first, but the game teaches you all the basics, and doesn't punish you too hard for struggling at the start. Not everyone will dig the style and music, but speaking as someone who enjoys this sort of thing, the whole team executed it perfectly.

Vitamin Connection Review — The Bottom Line

Pros
  • Very fun and creative
  • Totally unique gameplay and controls
  • Good by yourself or with a friend
  • Lots of content and replay value for $20
  • Great soundtrack and graphics
Cons
  • Somewhat steep learning curve for controls, especially in co-op
  • No 2-Player VS. mode for the various unlockable mini-games
  • Minor backtracking may bothersome

To bring this love-letter in disguise to a close: Vitamin Connection is a game that everybody should play. Not just because it's a great game for families and kids, but because it's just a great game. Creativity and charm like this should not just be celebrated but rewarded. 

The only things I wish Vitamin Connection had that it doesn’t is some sort of 2-Player VS. mode and a longer campaign. But it's also important to remember that when your worst complaint about a game is, "I wish there was more of it", you've still got a great game on your hands. 

Vitamin Connection is available now exclusively on Nintendo Switch. 

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Baldur's Gate 3 Preview: Larian Is Crafting The Ultimate D&D Video Game https://www.gameskinny.com/aenhv/baldurs-gate-3-preview-larian-is-crafting-the-ultimate-dd-video-game https://www.gameskinny.com/aenhv/baldurs-gate-3-preview-larian-is-crafting-the-ultimate-dd-video-game Thu, 27 Feb 2020 16:00:01 -0500 David Jagneaux

The world's greatest roleplaying game is, of course, a staple of any tabletop gaming discussion, but it goes far beyond that. Dungeons & Dragons has spawned several successful lines of fantasy literature, board games, and plenty of video games as well. Perhaps none more recognizable in the realm of computer RPGs than the Baldur's Gate series.

The first two Baldur's Gate games were published by Interplay and developed by Black Isle Studios and Bioware (yes, the same studio now known mostly for massively popular franchises such as Mass Effect, Dragon Age, and Knights of the Old Republic, as well as the ill-received Anthem) and are often regarded as two of the finest RPGs of all-time. A third game, The Black Hound, was in development but ended up getting canceled.

During E3 2019, Larian Studios revealed they were developing and publishing the next full installment in the legendary franchise, dubbed simply Baldur's Gate 3. Larian is the studio behind both Divinity: Original Sin games, which are regarded as some of the best modern RPGs of this generation, so you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone better suited for the job.

Earlier this month, I was invited to a pre-PAX East showing of the game in San Francisco, CA, that consisted of a hands-off demo presentation showing an impressive introductory CGI cinematic and a couple of hours of actual gameplay. As someone that has played and enjoyed both of the Divinity: Original Sin games, everything about Baldur's Gate 3 was immediately familiar in all of the best ways.

Larian has done a wonderful job adapting their style to fit with the classical fantasy tone of D&D without losing the core of what makes their games stand out. 

Character creation is as deep as you'd expect. In addition to picking from classic D&D races like humans, half-elves, drow, and more, you can assign a background as well, which works similarly to D&D fifth edition, as well as Divinity: Original Sin 2. This gives a bit more color and detail to your character's origin, providing them a separate, more personal purpose beyond the game's larger narrative. But it's all optional: you can make a character from scratch instead if you'd prefer.

By default, the game appears to be presented from a top-down angled perspective with a floating camera, but you can zoom in to emulate a third-person over-the-shoulder style instead if you'd prefer. 

What's immediately apparent to anyone that played the original Baldur's Gate games is how combat is handled differently here. In the past, Infinity Engine games and most D&D games from past years use a real-time with pause format. This means that combat happens in real-time with player characters, NPCs, enemies, etc. all moving around, attacking, and using their abilities as they're available concurrently.

That can get very hectic, so you're often given the ability to pause everything, issue commands, then resume combat. It's a well-respected hybrid approach that's still used to this day for many RPGs.

But in Baldur's Gate 3, combat is very similar to Divinity: Original Sin 2 in that it's entirely turn-based. Ironically, combat in Baldur's Gate 3 now more closely resembles combat in tabletop D&D. Characters take turns moving around the battlefield, performing actions, and trading blows as determined by their initiative order. It plays out just like a real game of D&D would and it flows extremely well.

Since this is heavily based on D&D, dice rolls play a huge factor. Rather than make you manually click specific dice to do things, everything is calculated under the hood so you just see the results. But there's a log that you can toggle on and off if you want those nitty-gritty numbers and details.

Though, there are two exceptions to this that I saw, which require your awareness of the all-powerful dice rolls. One instance is when you land a critical hit. In this case, a d20 shows up on-screen just before getting sliced in half to celebrate your big damage. The other instance is during certain key ability checks.

For example, let's say you want to persuade a guard to let you through a door that they're protecting. Depending on how proficient you are in that skill, you'll need to get a certain number on the d20 roll, just like actual D&D, so the result on the die is randomly selected on-screen as if you had actually rolled it. This adds some unpredictability to everything and very clearly ties the game back to its roots. 

Just like in Divinity: Original Sin 2, dialog is handled very carefully in Baldur's Gate 3. One thing I always hated about RPGs is that you're forced to pick dialog options that are pre-scripted by designers and writers that just don't think like you do. As a result, the options usually never really capture what you want to say.

Larian's response to that is to remove actual dialog options and instead give you a list of tones and feelings to pick from, then you fill in the blanks in your head.

For example, if a bandit says you have to pay up or else you're dead, rather than letting you pick between, "No way! Eat this!" or "Here's 100 gold, sorry for the trouble," it might instead say something like, You refuse and threaten him back, or, Pay the bandit and go about your business. Notice the difference?

The story in Baldur's Gate 3 is still a bit vague from what I've seen thus far, but I will say it appears that knowledge of the previous two games isn't really required. The CGI cinematic we saw at the start of our demo was tremendously epic, complete with a mind flayer abducting people from a city, injecting disgusting illithid tadpole leeches into their eyeballs, and nearly evading an onslaught of powerful dragon attacks while barreling through the sky. It was an excellent cutscene. 

The demo picks up after the actual introductory moments a short ways into the adventure. After surviving the capture and crash, the player discovers that unless they figure out what's going on and how to cure themselves or remove the tadpole from their skull, they'll eventually transform into a mind flayer as well. That is not a desirable outcome.

What proceeds is sort of like a greatest hits of D&D moments. There were some epic fights against large groups of enemies that used the terrain in clever ways, things went horribly wrong after some bad misses and poor die rolls, and eventually, victory was achieved by thinking outside the box. 

Even though I didn't get to go hands-on with Baldur's Gate 3, based on Larian's experience and track record, the history of the franchise, and the iconic nature of the D&D brand, I have no issues in saying that this is clearly shaping up to be one of the best RPGs in recent memory. In fact, if the flow of gameplay between combat and non-combat experiences feels right with its turn-based mechanics, this could very well end up being the greatest video game based on D&D of all-time. Fingers crossed they pull it off.

Baldur's Gate 3 will support multiplayer in the form of both local split-screen couch co-op for 2 players and up to 4 players total online, but I didn't get to see that in action during the demo presentation I attended. At this point, all we really know is that the game is coming to Early Access on PC in a few months.

Stay tuned to GameSkinny for more on Baldur's Gate 3, including coverage of the game's official gameplay reveal at PAX East.

[Note: This preview is based on a hands-off demo presentation of a pre-release build seen during an event in San Francisco, CA, hosted by Larian Studios.]

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