Platformers Tagged Articles RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com Platformers RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider Review — Mecha Gaiden https://www.gameskinny.com/897bq/vengeful-guardian-moonrider-review-mecha-gaiden https://www.gameskinny.com/897bq/vengeful-guardian-moonrider-review-mecha-gaiden Thu, 12 Jan 2023 16:27:06 -0500 Bryn Gelbart

There are two kinds of retro style games. There are throwbacks like Undertale and Tunic — games that are doing things visually and architecturally that 16-bit consoles were clearly never capable of — and then there are games like Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider.  

Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider, the latest title from Blazing Chrome developer JoyMasher, is a throwback to SNES and Genesis era that feels like it could have been released in the 1990s. 

Think Shinobi or Ninja Gaiden by way of Mega Man and you'll start to have a picture of what Moonrider is going for. By and large, it hits these marks and the result is a brief and charming nostalgia trip that lacks much replay value. Still, if old-school action platformers are your jam, you might want to take a gander at Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider. 

 

From its onset, Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider is a satisfying experience. The pixel art is detailed and evocative and the combat itself feels great. If you are familiar with this type of throwback, the controllers will feel immediately intuitive. The three-button gameplay isn't complex, but it allows you to soak in the rocking ninja-mech vibes the game is putting out. 

You are introduced to the totalitarian state Moonrider takes place within during a fairly simple set-up. You play as the titular Moonrider, a state manufactured killing machine who rejects its intended purpose and rebels against its creators. In this Mega Man-influenced journey, you are able to take on any of the six main levels and their bosses in any order you choose. Like its classic predecessor, whenever you beat a boss in Moonrider you will acquire its weapon. 

In addition to a growing roster of alternate weapons, Moonrider also hides Power Modules in all its levels. Your mech has only two slots for modules, but there are a dozen hidden throughout the levels. Each one of these feels like a significant advantage. From reduced damage to MP and HP regen to a module that allows you to detect secrets within all the other stages, the more Power Modules you get the tougher it gets to choose a loadout. 

The Power Modules gives you a number of ways to overcome the more difficult levels of Moonrider. While the game has an open ended structure, it becomes clear the difficulty curve increases as you follow the path from right to left on the map screen. In this way the structure is at odds with itself — tackle the levels in whichever order you choose, but there will be ones that are objectively more difficult than others regardless of which upgrades you have. 

Image via The Arcade Crew

Still, the amount of build variety on offer is impressive. By far the best part of Moonrider was experimenting with different builds in order to figure out the best way to tackle the tricky later levels. At first this felt frustrating, but it led to some of the most satisfying victories I had over the game's bosses — of which there are multiple per stage. 

While there are certainly difficult segments of Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider, it is fairly forgiving as far as these types of throwback titles go. Nintendo and Super Nintendo games were brutally difficult, but Moonrider is extremely generous with its checkpoints and extra lives.

Sometimes you will have to start a level from the beginning if you lose all your lives, but the stages are short enough that rarely feels like a punishment. Plus, your character is a lot less fragile in Moonrider than in many of the games it is inspired by. 

Image via The Arcade Crew

Even though Moonrider is short — only 3 hours to complete all the content— there is an impressive amount of variety to these levels. Vehicle sections break up the action and they are surprisingly just as engaging as the on foot gameplay. The only disappointing aspect of its short length is the lack of replayability once you've found all the modules. 

For example, I would have loved to unlock an addition module slot after finishing the game. There is an awesome module that allows you to customize the coloring of you mech, but it takes up an entire slot that a helpful ability could be in. This pretty much ensures that most players will not use it or even touch the customization options. Limiting this option to a Power Module felt like an odd choice in the first place and adding an unlockable slot would remedy this unfortunate restriction.

In these handful of hours, Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider attempts to tell a story about revolution and the power of fighting back. I say attempts because the translation of the dialogue leaves a lot to be desired. The sentence construction and use of the English language is so shoddy that the story fails to be a factor when judging this game. Good thing narrative nuance isn't what most players will be coming to this throwback title for. 

Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider Review — The Bottom Line

Image via The Arcade Crew

Pros

  • Smooth combat and platforming.
  • Jamming soundtrack and nostalgic pixel art.
  • Power Modules offer a compelling risk-reward layer and open the game up to an impressive variety of playstyles.
  • Checkpoints and life system is well balanced.

Cons

  • Cosmetic customization locked to a power module.
  • No post-game unlocks.
  • Difficulty curve and opened-ended structure feel at odds with each other.
  • Poor translation takes all impact out of the story.

Far from revolutionary, Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider is a tight and varied old school action platformer that doesn't overstay its welcome. What it lacks in length and post-game unlockables, it makes up for with sick pixel art and a roaring chip-tune soundtrack.

[Note: The Arcade Crew provided the copy of Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider used for this review. Featured image via The Arcade Crew.] 

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GameSkinny's Best Games of 2022 https://www.gameskinny.com/h3xxb/gameskinnys-best-games-of-2022 https://www.gameskinny.com/h3xxb/gameskinnys-best-games-of-2022 Sat, 24 Dec 2022 14:56:02 -0500 Jonathan Moore

2022 was a fantastic year for games. God of War: Ragnarok, Horizon Forbidden West, Dying Light 2, and Pokemon, among many others captured our collective attention. That's not to mention the amazing indie that release this year, as well, such as Signalis, Prodeus, and Citizen Sleeper just to name a few. Across PC, Nintendo Switch, and PlayStation and Xbox platforms, we've collected our highest-reviewed games of 2021 into a "best of" list. 

Since we're a small staff at GameSkinny, going the traditional "staff voting route" doesn't really make a whole lot of sense, as has been the case the past few years. Though it means there are more games here than on other lists, the best way we've found to highlight the best games of the year in 2022 is to include any game with a score of "8" or higher. So that's what we've done. 

The Best Games of 2022

Among Us VR

Image via Innersloth

Publisher: InnerSloth
Developer: InnerSloth
Platforms: Oculus Rift (reviewed), Meta Quest 2
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Simple is an overall theme for Among Us VR. At launch, the game lacks most of the advanced modes and options of the core game and only comes with one map. That said, when the original launched, it was just as limited in scope, and we expect regular updates in VR to make this version just as robust. Even with just the single map, this is a superb Among Us experience. Read the full review here

As Dusk Falls

Image via Xbox Game Studio

Publisher: Xbox Game Studio
Developer: INTERIOR/NIGHT
Platforms: Xbox Series X (reviewed), Xbox One, PC
Rating: 9/10

What we said: There are so many layers that I'll be unpacking for the next several weeks as I wrap on my second playthrough. I likely won't be the only one exploring everything that As Dusk Falls has to offer. It's a stellar entry in the interactive narrative genre that will only be exceeded by what its dev team has planned next. Read the full review here

A Plague Tale Requiem

Image via Focus Entertainment

Publisher: Focus Entertainment
Developer: Asobo Studio
Platforms: PS5 (reviewed), PC, Xbox Series X, Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: A Plague Tale: Requiem is an enthralling sequel that makes real refinements to the original. Its narrative manages to feel both utterly crushing and incredibly hopeful at the same time. And the degree of freedom in its gameplay options means there's never a dull moment. Read the full review here

Atelier Sophie 2

Image via Koei Tecmo

Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Developer: Gust
Platforms: PS4 (reviewed), PC, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream is a vast improvement over its predecessor. Borrowing exploration elements from the Atelier entries while keeping its traditional turn-based combat system is a great way to help it stand out within its own franchise. On top of that, the battles have more depth than ever before. Sophie Neuenmuller’s new adventure is well worth it for veterans and newcomers alike. Read the full review here

Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium

Image via Capcom

Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PS4, PC, Xbox One
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium continues in the fine tradition of the original Stadium with a great collection of classic coin-op games. While these retro compilations are largely for the overly nostalgic older gamer, there’s a lot of great action to be had here, especially with friends playing in the same room. Read the full review here

Capcom Fighting Collection

Image via Capcom

Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Platforms: PS5 (reviewed), PS4, PC, Xbox One, Series X, Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: For fighting game lovers, the Capcom Fighting Collection is a treasure trove of '90s goodness. Aside from finally being able to play the Darkstalkers series again, the inclusion of Red Earth, Cyberbots, and others makes this a thoroughly entertaining package. Read the full review here

Citizen Sleeper

Image via Fellow Traveller

Publisher: Fellow Traveller
Developer: Jump Over the Age
Platforms: Xbox One (reviewed), Series X, PC, Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: With mechanics inspired by contemporary tabletop RPGs, Citizen Sleeper feels fresh, tense, and engaging throughout its 6- to 8-hour run time. Balancing your actions, resources, and story progress is a tight-rope act that's engrossing the further you get into this stellar sci-fi world. Read the full review here

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion

Image via Square Enix

Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Platforms: Xbox Series X (reviewed), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Whether you’re a returning player or you’ve had your eye on Crisis Core in the past, Square Enix has delivered again in its ongoing saga of overhauling FFVII for a modern audience. For better or worse, there are no surprises of the ilk seen in Remake, though I would have happily seen some liberties taken with the events here, even if just to tidy up the game’s finale a little. Read the full review here

Dying Light 2: Stay Human

Image via Techland

Publisher: Techland
Developer: Techland
Platforms: Xbox Series X (reviewed), Xbox One, PC, PS4, PS5, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Dying Light 2 does so much so well. You never know what you are going to get when you venture out into Villedor. Every handcrafted quest and environment tells a story, something that many other games aspire to, but few achieve. The movement is thrilling, the musical score is tremendous, and there is a bounty of good, but optional content. Read the full review here

Elden Ring

Image via Bandai Namco

Publisher: Bandai Namco
Developer: FromSoftware
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X
Rating: 10/10

What we said: What FromSoftware has accomplished with Elden Ring is staggering. The culmination of more than a decade of trial, error, and success, Elden Ring raises not only the bar for the genre but for FromSoftware itself. It will send a ripple throughout the industry at large, acting as the new standard-bearer for open-world games. If there's more Elden Ring to come, count me in. Read the full review here

Evil West

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Publisher: Focus Entertainment
Developer: Flying Wild Hog
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Much like Flying Wild Hog’s flagship series Shadow Warriortheir latest release in Evil West is again an entirely over-the-top and bombastic affair designed to elicit a chuckle as much as it’s meant to appease your lizard brain with its almost non-stop action. But Evil West has done something fairly remarkable by dragging the sort of shlocky, B-tier, 360-era action games into 2022 with basically all of the quality-of-life upgrades you’d expect from a modern title. Read the full review here

F1 2022

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Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Codemasters
Platforms: Xbox Series X (reviewed), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, PC
Rating: 8/10

What we said: F1 2022 is a fantastic racing game and the best Formula 1 game to date. There are some very nice improvements to the gameplay, a smattering of new tracks, and a realistic representation of the changes the sport has seen in the latest season. If you really want to get your hands on the new era of cars and feel how they drive, F1 2022 is a must-buy. Read the full review here

Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes

Image via Nintendo

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed)
Rating: 9/10

What we said: I secretly wanted a "golden route" scenario with Fire Emblem: Three Hopes, a resolution to Three Houses' dangling plot threads where maybe everyone could be happy at the end. What Three Hopes actually delivers is so much better; it's a finely crafted expansion that's fresh and familiar at the same time, all with smartly designed tactical combat that stays entertaining in spite of class similarity. Read the full review here

Ghostwire: Tokyo

Image via Bethesda

Publisher: Bethesda
Developer: Tango Gameworks
Platforms: PS5 (reviewed), PC
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Ghostwire Tokyo is essentially what I thought it would be, for better and for worse. It's charming but empty, ambitious but too formulaic, and it's got the most personality of any game I've played this year. I sincerely hope Tango has more Ghostwire in store, either as DLC or a sequel. Despite its issues, there's nothing else quite like it. Read the full review here

God of War: Ragnarok

Image via Sony

Publisher: Sony
Developer: Sony Santa Monica
Platforms: PS5 (reviewed), PS4
Rating: 8/10

What we said: God of War: Ragnarok is the very definition of a great game. Its scope is grand, with a polished presentation that looks and sounds spectacular. While the overarching plot is mediocre, the characters, anchored by some of the best acting performances of the generation, stand out for their depth, development, and empathy. The action is exquisite, further honing a winning combat formula while adding some refreshing variety. Read the full review here

Gotham Knights

Image via Warner Bros. 

Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: WB Games Montreal
Platforms: PS5 (reviewed), PC, Xbox Series X
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Gotham Knights is a surprising game. On the surface, it looks like a lesser knockoff of the Batman games that came before, but underneath that rough exterior is a well-crafted action RPG with outstanding co-op, engaging characters, and a story worth taking time to enjoy. Read the full review here

Gran Turismo 7

Image via Sony

Publisher: Sony
Developer: Polyphony Digital
Platforms: PS4 (reviewed), PS5
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Gran Turismo 7 strikes the perfect balance between accessibility and realism in a way that caters to casual players and veterans. It's a gorgeous racing game with a surprisingly addictive gameplay loop thanks to the new Café and Menu Books systems. While some modes are certainly not as strong as others, Gran Turismo 7 checks almost all the boxes of what a driving simulator should be. Read the full review here

Hardspace: Shipbreaker

Image via Focus Entertainment

Publisher: Focus Entertainment
Developer: Blackbird Interactive
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS5, Xbox Series X
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Hardspace: Shipbreaker is an enjoyable physics-based puzzle game with something for everyone. The surgical feel of dismantling ships, the lore, and the mix of beautiful graphics and folksy soundtrack lends itself to an enjoyable time. The campaign story is enjoyable and the cast of characters are relatable if a bit stereotypical. With its 1.0 launch, now is the perfect time to suit up. Read the full review here

Hard West 2

Image via Good Shepherd Entertainment

Publisher: Ice Code Games
Developer: Good Shepherd Entertainment
Platforms: PC (reviewed)
Rating: 8/10

What we said: 2022 is unexpectedly shaping up to be the year of the tactics game. Despite enjoying the preview, I didn't expect Hard West 2 to grab me quite as much as Triangle Strategy or the likes of Tactics Ogre, which is itself getting a remake later this year. However, if you're a fan of strategy at all, it absolutely deserves your attention. Read the full review here

Horizon Forbidden West

Image via Sony

Publisher: Sony
Developer: Guerilla Games
Platforms: PS5 (reviewed), PS4
Rating: 8/10

What we said: I hoped Horizon Forbidden West would shatter expectations and take the series to the boldest new heights. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the sequel, but it’s also impossible to ignore there’s so much material to warrant doing far more than just making prettier, bigger worlds with more breathtaking set pieces. Forbidden West is a very good game. It could just be even better. Read the full review here

Infernax

Image via The Arcade Crew

Publisher: The Arcade Crew
Developer: Berzerk Studio
Platforms: PS5 (reviewed), Xbox One, Series X, PC, PS4, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Infernax is largely exactly what you'd think at first glance. It's very retro and challenging with simplistic 8-bit graphics and gameplay. Where it excels is taking those old-school constraints and expanding on them to create a gory adventure that feels at once totally familiar but with enough depth to still be interesting and worthwhile all on its own. Read the full review here

Kaiju Wars

Image via Foolish Mortals

Publisher: Foolish Mortals
Developer: Foolish Mortals, Michael Long
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X
Rating: 8/10

What we said: While Kaiju Wars carries a feeling of familiarity, there’s enough here for it to stand apart from others in the genre. With good pacing, tactical play, and pop-culture moments, there’s plenty of fun to be had with the main campaign ... Add to that the near limitless amount of player-generated content, and Kaiju Wars is a game that emulates its namesake — it's something you can keep coming back to again and again. Read the full review here

Kirby and the Forgotten Land

Image via Nintendo

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: HAL Laboratory
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed)
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Overall, Kirby and the Forgotten Land is exactly the sequel we'd expect. Despite the move to 3D, the gameplay is instantly familiar. While nothing here is anything close to groundbreaking or even innovative, it is a comfortable, casual, all-ages adventure worth taking. Read the full review here

LEGO Bricktales

Image via Thunderful

Publisher: Thunderful
Developer: Clockstone Software
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: LEGO Bricktales is a delightful surprise, even with its fiddly controls. Pairing puzzles with LEGOs seems like such a natural thing to do; I'm surprised it took this long to see it happen. And I sincerely hope it's not the last such puzzle game from Thunderful. Read the full review here

Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope

Image via Ubisoft

Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed)
Rating: 8/10

What we said: This creative approach to the tactics genre finally gives the series an identity of its own. It won't be winning any awards for its writing, but Sparks of Hope still manages to be a blast at nearly every turn. Merging tactics, RPG elements, and platforming, the Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope is one of the best Mario spin-offs on the Switch. Read the full review here

Marvel's Midnight Suns

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Publisher: 2K
Developer: Firaxis
Platforms: PS5 (reviewed), PS4, Xbox One, Series X, PC, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: It's safe to say Marvel fans who are the slightest bit interested in Midnight Suns should check it out. The writing doesn't work for me more often than not, but if you're just looking to spend some time hanging out with Captain Marvel or Blade while you start a book club or go fishing, then you'll be delighted to find out just how much of that sort of thing is packed into the game. Read the full review here

Metal: Hellsinger

Image via Funcom

Publisher: Funcom
Developer: The Outsiders
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X
Rating: 9/10

What we said: All in all, Metal: Hellsinger is a short, sweet, and immensely enjoyable experience worth every second of your time. It more than earns its purchase price. I cannot wait to see what the team at The Outsiders makes next because if this outing is anything to go by, they have one Hell of a future ahead of them. Read the full review here

MLB The Show 22

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Publisher: Sony
Developer: Sony San Diego
Platforms: PS4 (reviewed), PS5, Xbox One, Series X
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Ultimately, MLB The Show 22 is a powerhouse like most entries in the series, but it falls victim to the sports-game pitfall of yearly editions: it just doesn't add enough new features. Most long-time fans may not mind that, though if you're looking for an upgrade, this is just another season, albeit a good one. Read the full review here

Nobody Saves the World

Image via Drinkbox Studios

Publisher: Drinkbox Studios
Developer: Drinkbox Studios
Platforms: Xbox Series X (reviewed), Xbox One, PC, PS4, PS5, Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Nobody Saves the World is an excellent action RPG with unique progression and class systems. If you come to RPGs for their gameplay rather than their characters or stories, you’re going to be well-served here. Read the full review here

Pokemon Legends Arceus

Image via Nintendo

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Gamefreak
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed)
Rating: 8/10

What we said: I might have wanted more from Pokemon Legends Arceus, and it definitely deserves more, but I’m so happy with what I got. At last, Game Freak took the imaginative, fascinating world it built all those years ago and decided to build on what makes it special — the sense of wonder and, more importantly, the Pokemon themselves. Read the full review here

Prodeus

Image via Humble Games

Publisher: Humble Games
Developer: Bounding Box Software
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X, Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: [Prodeus is] still one of the better action games I've played this year, and I can see myself loading it up again whenever I'm in the mood for some stylized ultraviolence. Whatever issues I have with Prodeus become as irrelevant as its storyline whenever I liberate a demon's entire upper half with one four-barreled shotgun blast. Read the full review here

Rogue Legacy 2

Image via Cellar Door Games

Publisher: Cellar Door Games
Developer: Cellar Door Games
Platforms: Xbox Series X (reviewed), Xbox One, PC, Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Ultimately, anyone who played and enjoyed the original Rogue Legacy is going to love this sequel just as much if not more. Everything that made the first game so great is here, though it is all bigger and better than ever before. With a host of new classes, traits, and abilities along with some welcome changes to gameplay mechanics, Rogue Legacy 2 is everything you'd want in a sequel and one of the best roguelikes available. Read the full review here

Salt and Sacrifice

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Publisher: Ska Studios
Developer: Ska Studios
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, PS5
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Salt and Sacrifice is a labor of love for its genre, one that will scratch any veteran’s itch for more mysterious worlds to explore. It never reaches the heights of the best Souls-likes but never sinks to the lows of those that attempt and fail to work within the framework. Read the full review here

Saturnalia

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Publisher: Santa Ragione
Developer: Santa Ragione
Platforms: Xbox Series X (reviewed), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, PC
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Saturnalia uses horror in smart ways to explore social topics – the town’s isolation, resistance to change and to outsiders, and the ugly social beliefs that those things inform. Those facets combine perfectly to make a game that isn’t just horrifying because of the monsters that stalk us in the night. It’s horrifying because of the monsters we make, too – and the things we’re capable of becoming. Read the full review here

Serious Sam Siberian Mayhem

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Publisher: Devolver Digital
Developer: Croteam
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS5, Xbox Series X
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Croteam has teamed up with truly passionate Serious Sam fans to make their vision for the game a reality, and it shows. Siberian Mayhem’s new weapons, enemies, and gameplay variations keep the experience fresh while sticking to the roots of what makes Serious Sam so great: ruthless alien-killing action with plenty of puns along the way. Read the full review here

Signalis

Image via Humble Games

Publisher: Humble Games
Developer: rose-engine
Platforms: Xbox Series X (reviewed), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, PC
Rating: 8/10

What we said: While it’d be remiss of me to discuss some of the specifics that truly elevate Signalis, particularly in terms of the story and its experimental delivery, you can believe that developers rose-engine have made good on their promise. They’ve delivered a top-tier game that marries cosmic horror with altogether more grounded points of conflict. Signalis is a vital experience for anyone who fondly remembers being terrified of vague pixel arrangements of early survival horror games. Read the full review here

Sonic Frontiers

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Publisher: SEGA
Developer: SEGA
Platforms: PS4 (reviewed), PS5, Xbox One, Series X, PC, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Always fast and sometimes furious, Sonic Frontiers gives me a sense of wonder I haven't had with the 3D portion of the franchise in a decade, and it does so with the sort of flair I want from Sonic Team. It's not perfect, but it is a huge spin dash in the right direction for the Blue Blur. The next game needs to build on what Sonic Team has put together here because this is a formula with long legs. Read the full review here

SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters' Clash

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Publisher: SNK
Developer: SNK
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed)
Rating: 9/10

What we said: SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters' Clash was a game I loved dearly at one time and have had a wonderful time coming back to in 2022. Fans of both SNK and Capcom can find plenty of enjoyment here, whether in the gameplay itself or just in the card art — just don't expect the bells and whistles one might expect from a modern CCG video game. Read the full review here

Splatoon 3

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Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed)
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Splatoon 3 is the most polished version of the concept yet. While it doesn't break any new ground, Splatoon 3 is still a unique joy within the shooter genre. There are the typical Nintendo design quirks built into the online experience, but they don't spoil the thrilling combat loop at the game's heart. More approachable than ever, Splatoon 3 is exhilarating family-friendly mayhem for competitive and co-op gamers alike. Read the full review here

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II

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Publisher: Aspyr
Developer: Aspyr
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed)
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II is still an amazing game and compelling sequel to one of the best love letters to the fandom. Pushing 20 years old, it is still a contender when it comes to story, mechanics, and audio, though the visuals are slightly dated. The Nintendo Switch port has some issues to be smoothed out yet, but they aren’t game-breaking and aren’t nearly as bad as some of the issues the original game shipped with. Read the full review here

Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin

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Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Team Ninja
Platforms: PS5 (reviewed), PS4, PC, Xbox One, Series X
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin is an endearing action RPG that takes careful steps with its reappropriation of traditional Final Fantasy systems. The translation to Team Ninja’s brand of fast-paced combat feels amazing when it’s firing on all cylinders. Unfortunately, it’s let down by technical issues and a loot system that actively pushes you away from messing around with its jobs in the way that it so desperately wants. Read the full review here

Stray

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Publisher: Annapurna Interactive
Developer: BlueTwelve Studio
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, PS5
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Stray takes about five to six hours to finish, but it makes use of that short run time to tell a touching story between a cat and a robot drone. Its controls feel great and impactful, whether you're jumping or running. There’s so much personality to the cat, too: being able to meow on command and do cat things like knocking over items and scratching on walls is a nice touch. Stray is a tightly focused journey that is worth experiencing at least once. Read the full review here

Tactics Ogre: Reborn

Image via Square Enix

Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Tactics Ogre: Reborn is a thoughtful re-release of a classic that adds meaningful changes to make the experience more approachable in relation to previous installments. Those changes, by and large, are a good thing, but the complexity of Tactics Ogre isn't lost in the process. Diehard fans will likely be happy to hear that, but it would have been nice to see Tactics Ogre: Reborn strive to be even more accessible for newcomers. Read the full review here

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge

Imgae via DotEmu

Publisher: DotEmu
Developer: Tribute Games
Platforms: PS5 (reviewed), PS4, PC, Xbox One, Series X, Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge works so perfectly because it’s clear the developers not only love the source material, but understand intrinsically how to recreate that beloved sense of nostalgia in a way that feels both authentic and evolved. This really does come across as a game that could have actually existed in a 1990-era arcade... If you have a soft spot for classic arcade brawlers of the 80s and 90s, Shredder’s Revenge is a damn near perfect homage and sequel to one of the best of the era. It doesn't get much better than this. Read the full review here

TemTem

Image via Humble Games

Publisher: Humble Games
Developer: Crema
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Temtem may play a lot like Pokemon on the surface, but a suite of tweaks to the battle system, exciting visual design, and heavy emphasis on PvP more than make up for the similarities with it and other monster catchers. While a deeper story would certainly be welcome, Temtem is a unique and rewarding experience for those with the patience to master its intricacies. Read the full review here

The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story

Image via Square Enix

Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, PS5, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: I feel like The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story may have been better paced as an actual movie than a game given that the interactive elements bogged down the experience a bit. Even so, everything else about the title shines. The century spanning story is exceptionally engaging and I found myself wanting to continue on to the next chapter to see what happened next. It also helps immensely that the actors bring stellar performances to each case. Read the full review here

The DioField Chronicle

Image via Square Enix

Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X
Rating: 8/10

What we said: The DioField Chronicle has some fantastic ideas, even if some of them feel a bit underbaked. This could be the foundation of something ambitious for Square Enix, and if another game could build upon the combat system and narrative style found here, it could really turn into something special ... The DioField Chronicle is easily one of the most unique games of the year and a breath of fresh air in the JRPG genre, even for its problems. Read the full review here

The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero

Image via NISA

Publisher: NISA
Developer: Nihon Falcom
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Trails from Zero might be missing a few features it could, and maybe even should, have had, but if you've never played it before, don't let that hold you back from giving it a try. This decade-old RPG lost none of its potency as time wore on and remains an essential experience. In short, Zero is a remarkable feat of RPG storytelling and worldbuilding; even 12 years after its original release, little else like it exists. Read the full review here

The Quarry

Image via 2K

Publisher: 2K
Developer: Supermassive Games
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X
Rating: 8/10

What we said: The Quarry isn't exactly the scariest game out there, but horror game aficionados will find plenty to enjoy here thanks to its high-stakes gameplay and fantastic performances from its all-star cast. If that doesn't sound like your type of game, it becomes difficult to justify paying full price for a 10-hour experience. The game certainly doesn't attempt to reinvent the wheel, but still manages to provide players with a unique and rich interactive experience on par with that of Until DawnRead the full review here

Thymesia

Image via Team17

Publisher: Team17
Developer: OverBorder Studio
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS5, Xbox Series X, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Thymesia is one of the best Souls-likes not to come from FromSoftware, full stop. It also stands firmly on its inspirations while finding its own character from within them. It's not perfect, with some of the most valuable aspects (story and level design) being some of its weakest points, but between its stellar boss battles and well-realized combat, there's a lot to love here. Read the full review here

Tiny Tina's Wonderlands

Image via 2K

Publisher: 2K
Developer: Gearbox
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X
Rating: 9/10

What we said: The game's similarities to Borderlands 3 make it an easy sell for longtime fans of the series who already know what to expect from these looter shooters. Still, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands puts its own D&D twist on things, which makes it a unique experience that can draw in new players thanks to its quirks and wacky gameplay. With an excellent loot system and stellar gunplay, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is easily one of the most addictive and satisfying FPS games in recent memory. Read the full review here

Triangle Strategy

Image via Square Enix

Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PC
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Triangle Strategy has in abundance the three things any tactics game needs to succeed: story, systems, and style. Whatever its shortcomings in character development and pacing in the first half, they're easy to overlook. This is easily one of the smartest and most interesting tactics games to release in years, and one I'll be playing for a long time to come. Read the full review here

Tunic

Image via Finji

Publisher: Finji
Developer: Tunic Team
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X, Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: TUNIC brings together a gorgeous art style, phenomenal gameplay, and old-school game design baked directly into the way you discover the world, delivering one of the most enjoyable games I’ve played in years. Read the full review here

Two Point Campus

Image via SEGA

Publisher: SEGA
Developer: Two Point Studios
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X, Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Somehow, Two Point Campus manages to find a great middle ground between easy-to-pick-up gameplay and deep management mechanics. There’s an undeniable, joyful glee in spending hours meticulously placing items, seeing it turn into a massive well-oiled university. As stressful as you might think it’d be to run a school, Two Point Campus is nothing but fun. Read the full review here

Vampire the Masquerade: Swansong

Image via Nacon

Publisher: Nacon
Developer: Big Bad Wolf
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: While Swansong shares one of Earthblood's big flaws — both games throw you straight into the deep end of an established and complex setting, which makes them thoroughly inaccessible to newcomers — it's a much more solid project. Its horror is subtle, its puzzles are mostly difficult but fair, and it's got a surprising amount of replayability. Read the full review here

Warhammer 40K: Darktide

Publisher: Fatshark
Developer: Fatshark
Platforms: PC (reviewed), Xbox Series X
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Darktide is a fantastic live service co-op FPS that is almost worth every penny. Almost. I love it to death, and it's ramping up to be one of my most played games of 2022, but it's not perfect. It will surely become one of the titans of the genre just like Vermintide and its sequel, but it's got a long way to go. Read the full review here

Xenoblade Chronicles 3

Image via Nintendo

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Monolith Soft
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed)
Rating: 8/10

What we said: A recommendation for Xenoblade Chronicles 3 comes pretty easily if you're a fan of previous Xenoblade games or just a fan of JRPGs in general. For others, it's tougher due to its complex mechanics and slow early pacing. Regardless, though there are rough edges, XC3 makes up for it thanks to areas of absolute brilliance, and it's a game well worth experiencing. Read the full review here

That's it for our list of the best, highest-scored games of 2022. What were your favorite games? Let us know in the comments below! 

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Neon White Slays Demons on PlayStation This December https://www.gameskinny.com/infsa/neon-white-slays-demons-on-playstation-this-december https://www.gameskinny.com/infsa/neon-white-slays-demons-on-playstation-this-december Thu, 01 Dec 2022 15:02:23 -0500 Jonathan Moore

Developer Annapurna Interactive announced that the acclaimed first-person shooter and speedrunning darling Neon White is making its way to PlayStation 4 and PS5 on December 13. The news was first shared on the PlayStation Blog, with Game Director Ben Esposito sharing more details about what fans can expect from the release. 

Originally released for PC and Nintendo Switch mid-way through 2022, Neon White looks to take full advantage of the PlayStation hardware, specifically the PS5's SSD and 120hz output capability. Esposito said the team knows that performance is essential for a frenetic game like Neon White.

Neon White is all about speed, so one of our highest priorities was performance. It was important to us that the PlayStation 5 version runs at 120hz across the board. When precision matters, the high framerate makes a difference.

We’ve also made the most of the system SSD to reduce load times significantly. It’s important that restarting levels is as quick and painless as possible. If you want to beat your friends’ leaderboard times, you’ll be restarting levels over and over again.

Neon White will also implement haptics on PS5 via the DualSense controller's adaptive triggers, tying the capabilities with the game's Soul Card and movement systems. 

Neon White also makes use of PS5’s adaptive triggers to make each Soul Card feel unique when you fire them as well as when you discard. Controller Haptics provide an extra level of feedback on top of that.

You’ll feel it when you’re moving faster on water, and you’ll get a subtle confirmation when you successfully snipe a distant demon. Our goal wasn’t just to make you feel cool, but for you to develop a sixth sense. 

You can wishlist Neon White over on the PlayStation Store. Stay tuned for more. 

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Sonic Frontiers Review — Fast as the Rest https://www.gameskinny.com/0xkem/sonic-frontiers-review-fast-as-the-rest https://www.gameskinny.com/0xkem/sonic-frontiers-review-fast-as-the-rest Fri, 18 Nov 2022 10:07:48 -0500 Ashley Shankle

Like most Sonic fans, I awaited Sonic Frontiers with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. The trailers for Sonic Team's latest didn't exactly get me hyped with their bland environments and seemingly moderate speed. You gotta go fast in a Sonic game, right? And where were the slick tunes?

Sonic Frontiers is an instance where you shouldn't judge a game by its trailer. It's not the sort of open-world Sonic title that fans have theorized about over the years, but it is a far more worthwhile game than it appears.

There is no such thing as a perfect 3D Sonic game — not now and probably not ever — but Frontiers does an amazing job of stirring the Pot of "What Ifs." What if it had more fantastical environments and a more lively open world? What if instead of seeking out Kocos for stat increases, you sought out Chaos or Chaos boosters? What if the enemies were brighter and more akin to the rest of the series?

The Pot of "What Ifs" is hard to stop stirring as you blaze through the obstacles and challenge stages found in Sonic Frontiers. Despite its considerable length compared to many games in the series, you'll find yourself at the end of what's been an amazing blue blur and simply crave more.

You're allowed to progress through the game's five islands at your own pace — that pace being fast, of course, but also open enough that you can speed around getting each collectible in an order with which you're comfortable. And it's very likely you'll find yourself exploring every nook and cranny to seek out additional Kocos or Red and Blue Seeds. It's hard to resist the temptation of rails and ring trails.

In a series rarity, Sonic is able to both increase his stats and learn new abilities to aid in exploration and combat. You'll increase them via collectibles, a system that ultimately provides a smooth sense of progression; you instinctively seek them out over the next obstacle.

That said, it did take some time to warm to the stat system, and the same can be said of the erratic placement of environmental obstacles. Neither seems to belong in concept, but they work wonderfully to make you feel more effective and powerful.

Speaking of power, Sonic Frontiers is the most combat-heavy mainline Sonic game. That does not mean the combat slows it down, though. It's as fast as the rest, just with more button-mashing. Phantom Rush and the other skills you learn along the way are fun, fast, easy to pull off, and don't detract from the overall speed of the game.

It also helps that bosses are intense and memorable, despite not being the most colorful bunch in the series. I'd say more, but I truly believe that the boss fights are something every Sonic fan should experience for themselves. You will not be disappointed.

The Cyber Space stages will be the most familiar territory for fans of the series, with many taking after fan-favorite locations in previous titles. Green Hill Zone, Radical Highway, Dragon Road, and many more make appearances, and each should tickle most fans and give some much-needed scenery changes from the islands.

My largest complaint is just how unremarkable the open world is at large. Though there are some portions that stand out, not even the day-night or weather cycles can make the islands feel more alive. They just don't feel right for the franchise, and neither do the pop-ins they bring with them.

If the open world at was more vibrant, Sonic Frontiers would be lauded as the second coming of the series more than it already is. To be very fair, it is the best game in the series since Sonic Generations very easily. Is it better than Generations? No. But it could be, and the next very well could be, too. There is far more to love about Sonic Frontiers than it initially lets on.

Sonic Frontiers Review — The Bottom Line

Pros

  • Fast enough once you upgrade Sonic.
  • Memorable boss battles.
  • Well-paced despite the open world, thanks to the slew of collectibles, stages, enemies, and obstacles.
  • Considerable length for a Sonic game (15~ hours).

Cons

  • The open world needs more pizzazz.
  • Obstacle pop-ins can be troublesome when you're boosting around.

I suppose I've been waiting for a Sonic game to usurp Generations for a long time. Though Sonic Adventure 2 is my personal favorite, Sonic Generations stands as my gold standard for the 3D portion of the series. Sonic Frontiers doesn't outdo Generations, but it doesn't have to. Sonic Team has tried something new with this entry to Sega's long-running series, and it's one heck of a ride.

Always fast and sometimes furious, Sonic Frontiers gives me a sense of wonder I haven't had with the 3D portion of the franchise in a decade, and it does so with the sort of flair I want from Sonic Team. It's not perfect, but it is a huge spin dash in the right direction for the Blue Blur. The next game needs to build on what Sonic Team has put together here because this is a formula with long legs.

[Note: Sega provided the copy of Sonic Frontiers used for this review.]

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Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope Review — Shine On https://www.gameskinny.com/l6vbi/mario-rabbids-sparks-of-hope-review-shine-on https://www.gameskinny.com/l6vbi/mario-rabbids-sparks-of-hope-review-shine-on Tue, 01 Nov 2022 13:28:49 -0400 Bryn Gelbart

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle was one of the first surprise Nintendo Switch hits back in 2017. The tactics RPG was a wonderfully wacky marriage between Rayman's Raving Rabbids and the Super Mario universe that was, on top of the already unbelievable mashup, a departure for a company as precious about their characters as Nintendo.

Was it weirder that Kingdom Battle gave Mario and all his friends guns or that the Rabbid counterparts were actually cosplaying the heroes from the Mushroom Kingdom? Both sound absurd on paper, but the weirdest part was that when it all came together, the game was what it set out to be. 

Five years later and Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope might be the strangest Mario spinoff yet. It is certainly the trickiest to understand at a glance. Like its predecessor, Sparks of Hope is primarily a tactics game with hints of platforming and environmental puzzles.

These supporting flavors are stronger than hints this time around and even the tactics portions have ditched the grid-based battle system of the first. In terms of both its genre and how it lets you play with its systems, the new Mario + Rabbids is inventive and playful, making it a bold step up from Ubisoft's first attempt. 

The original Mario + Rabbids was easily reducible to "Mario meets XCOM." Perhaps this was on oversimplification in the first place, but Sparks of Hope does work to dispel any reductive sentiment. The game is still a turn-based, cover-based shooter, but every element of the experience feels retooled for the better this time around. 

From the get-go, everything about Sparks of Hope feels looser. The tactical battles no longer operate on a grid system. Instead, characters are free to run around and interact with anything and anyone within their range of motion. This immediately adds a flexibility to every turn that the first game couldn't accomplish by aping the grid system so tried and true to the genre. 

The change pays off, especially as you level up and are allowed to do much more on a given turn. Eventually, Luigi and Mario can move from one side of a map to the other in just one turn using a conjunction of the non-combat abilities Sparks of Hope gives all characters. 

The overworlds, too, feel more like playgrounds now. Each is filled with side quests that consist of more battles, but a healthy dose of environmental puzzles and Coin challenges add variety to the mix. And, with some late game exceptions, these puzzly sequences manage to stick around just long enough, not overstaying their welcome.

As should be apparent by now, Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope isn't afraid to make big changes to the established Mario + Rabbids formula. After retiring for some R&R, Mario and the original game's cast of heroes (minus Yoshi) are sucked back into a galactic conflict against the evil Cursa, who is allowing Darkmess energy to destroy the universe. It's after getting this verbose excuse to galaxy hop that you are introduced to the biggest new addition and the game's namesake — the Sparks. 

A specific callback that connects Sparks of Hope to Super Mario Galaxy, the Sparks are fusions of the Lumas from the 2007 game and Rabbids. Each Spark has a unique passive and active ability. Many apply elemental effects to weapons and increase elemental resistances, but some let you buff your teammates, and eventually, you unlock Sparks that allow you to Summon allies.

Each of the nine heroes you eventually unlock has two Spark slots. Sparks level independently from the heroes and can be equipped and moved from character to character at any time — a lot like Materia, for you Final Fantasy VII fans. Star Bits, another connection to Mario Galaxy, are in used to level your Sparks. 

In short, the Spark system is a wonderful and much-needed addition that keeps the Mario + Rabbids sequel fresh for nearly its entire 30+ hour runtime. Each world you travel to has a bounty of side quests — this is a Ubisoft game, after all — that will earn you currency to spend on items that will quickly upgrade your Sparks. This loop repeats for each of the five overworlds you explore, and while the structure is formulaic, the gameplay only gets better as you only more abilities for your heroes. 

The first half of Sparks of Hope isn't without its issues. Difficulty levels seem to arbitrarily spike in a handful of the boss fights and other major encounters. This forces you to grind on the side content, which shouldn't be an issue for anyone already completing the most content they can. Just know you will have to engage with a good deal of side content to reach the recommended level cap by the time the final boss rolls around.

As you near the game's end, though, it can get easy to feel unstoppable in regular encounters, so the late-game challenges that do arise are welcome. 

Throughout the entirety of Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope, I found myself cycling between characters. For almost everyone I found a unique, versatile build. Mario can be a damage-dealing traversal machine, stomping on heads and dashing through Goombas left and right. New character Edge gets a dash that increases her range of movement on every successful hit.

Chaining these free movement damage bonuses together with each character's Sparks and Skills makes for increasingly dynamic and rewarding turns. In these moments, Sparks of Hope shines as an excellent genre-twisted mashup of platforming and strategy. 

The only place where Sparks of Hope fails to match the creativity of the first game is in its storytelling. Not that the writing in Kingdom Battle is especially memorable, but that game has moments of self-awareness that poke fun at the Mario franchise that feel absent in Sparks of Hope. The only fully-voiced characters are your robot companions, including the return of Beep-O, your robot guide who tended to get on my nerves whenever I wasn't skipping through the dialogue.

At best, the writing in Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope is inoffensive, but at its worst, the humor can be grating for adults. Which is a shame, considering how mature the rest of the decisions in the sequel feel. 

Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope Review — The Bottom Line

Pros

  • A refined mix of turn-based tactics and Mario-inspired platforming.
  • Sparks add a whole new layer of customization and player expressivity.
  • Heroes are balanced and each worth using and leveling.

Cons

  • Supporting characters are awfully annoying.
  • Random difficulty spikes can be frustrating.

Both a great entry point and a refreshing departure for fans of the genre, the sequel to Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle adds an approachable flexibility to the first game's formula. This creative approach to the tactics genre finally gives the series an identity of its own. It won't be winning any awards for its writing, but Sparks of Hope still manages to be a blast at nearly every turn.

Merging tactics, RPG elements, and platforming, the Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope is one of the best Mario spin-offs on the Switch. 

[Note: Ubisoft provided the copy of Mario+Rabbids: Sparks of Hope used for this review.]

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Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider Preview – If Contra and Shinobi Had a Love Child https://www.gameskinny.com/dg747/vengeful-guardian-moonrider-preview-if-contra-and-shinobi-had-a-love-child https://www.gameskinny.com/dg747/vengeful-guardian-moonrider-preview-if-contra-and-shinobi-had-a-love-child Thu, 29 Sep 2022 15:03:16 -0400 Jason D'Aprile

Our look at JoyMasher’s latest, Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider, was brief: two levels from the upcoming retro-styled platformer from the same folks who made Blazing Chrome, another excellent run n’ gunner in the classic style.

JoyMasher is obsessed with 16-bit fidelity and that certainly shines through here.

Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider is the sort of game that would look just at home if it were a cartridge slotted into a Genesis or SNES. The look, feel, and overall design all induce waves of nostalgia for the early 90s. The gameplay is more run n’ slash, as if a ninja were thrown into a slightly different game (say, if a sword-bound Shinobi got stuck in Contra), but it seems to work in our short time with. 

In other words, it’s also taking a hefty influence from Capcom’s classic, Strider.

As a cybernetic ninja woken from a stasis rather violently, you're thrust into a pixelated 2D landscape of endlessly respawning soldiers, bots, cannons, and other bad things. Armed only with otherworldly agility and a badass sword, your vengeful guardian can slice and dice through anything and even reflect enemy weapon fire back. 

The two example levels were enough for me to get a strong idea of what the final gameplay should represent: this will be something 90s kids are going to really enjoy.

The first level is an enemy-filled tech corridor with plenty of pinpoint jumps, crossing chasms hand over hand, and fits of daring involving Moonrider’s metal-cracking aerial attack kick. It ends with a room-sized boss fight between the ninja and a hulking ghoulish mech with laser hands and a nasty mouth.

The second level is an aerial chase where Moonrider must run and jump across floating airships, avoiding devastating energy attacks from a giant ship looming over the level, while fighting off more basic villains as well. It has the unforgiving classic feel of early platformers, where one false step or missed jump means death. 

All this mayhem is brought to life with hefty usage of Mode-7 like pseudo-3D effects and detailed, if still definitely 16-bit-styled, pixel art. The chiptune soundtrack follows suit, creating a near-perfect replica of the bygone era of the game’s influences.

The actual controls are kept simple for the otherwise challenging gameplay. There’s the sword attack, a special attack that uses energy and can be switched up as the game progresses, jump, and run.

We didn’t get much of a sense of what the special attacks would be beyond a powerful energy punch (no others were available), but Moonrider can wall jump, use his speed for enhanced attack power, cling to walls, and perform other familiar ninja things. 

So far, Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider is shaping up to be another retro winner, but the full game releases later this fall, so you'll have to wait a little bit longer. It will be available on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X|S, and Amazon Luna. Stay tuned for our full review. 

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Stray Review: Being a Cat is as Smooth as Ever https://www.gameskinny.com/tvgxp/stray-review-being-a-cat-is-as-smooth-as-ever https://www.gameskinny.com/tvgxp/stray-review-being-a-cat-is-as-smooth-as-ever Mon, 18 Jul 2022 12:01:21 -0400 George Yang

I wasn’t sure what to expect going into Stray from Blue Twelve Studio and Annapurna Interactive. I figured it would at least be a walking simulator where you control a cat. However, Stray is much more than that. It has a touching narrative about hope, wrapped in themes of capitalistic greed.

Stray follows a cat who literally falls its into a city filled with robots. As the cat tries to find its way home, it learns about the robots’ desires to go to the Outside, a mysterious area past the domed city that has been closed off for tens, if not hundreds, of years. Along the way, the cat meets a drone named B12 that helps it translate the robots' language and defend it against enemies. 

Stray Review: Being a Cat is as Smooth as Ever

Throughout the game, they’ll learn more about themselves and the previous civilization that inhabited the city. Stray’s narrative is incredibly heartfelt and through the trials and tribulations they both face, they grow closer as a pair.

The enemies in Stray are called Zurks, and they’ve evolved to eat metal but will still devour the cat if they manage to get a hold. The way Stray implements combat encounters is impressive, as well. While the cat can’t fight, B12 can protect it by shining a purple light that eviscerates the Zurks. Not only is this mechanic creative, but it also shows the bond between B12 and the cat that adds another layer of depth to their companionship.

Stray also feels very smooth to play. The platforming sections and controls for the cat are precise and impactful. Every time the cat jumps, you feel the proper weight of the jump and subsequent landing. Whenever the cat runs, you feel the rush, whether it’s to escape enemies pursuing you or to just casually stroll through the city.

The puzzles in Stray are intuitive and fun to solve; they're not particularly challenging but not insultingly easy either. The game does a great job of teaching you how to use different objects in the environment. For example, whenever you see an empty horizontal barrel, that’s usually a cue that you need to roll it somewhere, get on top, and reach higher ground. 

Many locations in Stray are filled with life, despite having no humans around. The different robots have developed anthropomorphic qualities as they try to imitate the previous civilization by learning through the items left behind. The graphics look great as well, and the art direction is colorful.

What’s also appreciated is that the game uses custom typography and language instead of generic Asian letters and symbols for the neon signs scattered throughout the cities. By doing so, Stray manages to nail the cyberpunk aesthetic while also avoiding orientalism and racial stereotypes.

I played Stray on both a laptop and Steam Deck. It runs great on Steam Deck  -- most of the time. However, the framerate occasionally chugs and comes to a crawl for seemingly no reason. Stray drains the Steam Deck’s battery pretty quickly, too.

Stray only features an autosave function (no manual saves here), and there were instances where I'd have to start over from the most recent checkpoint after stepping away from the game. It was annoying to lose about 5 minutes of game time when a manual save option could have been implemented to avoid such situations.

Stray Review — The Bottom Line

Pros

  • Touching story between the cat and B12.
  • Controls feel great.
  • Beautiful to look at.

Cons

  • Performance issues on Steam Deck.
  • No manual save option.

Stray takes about five to six hours to finish, but it makes use of that short run time to tell a touching story between a cat and a robot drone. Its controls feel great and impactful, whether you're jumping or running. There’s so much personality to the cat, too: being able to meow on command and do cat things like knocking over items and scratching on walls is a nice touch.

Stray is a tightly focused journey that is worth experiencing at least once.

[Note: Annapurna Interactive provided the copy of Stray used for this review.]

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Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium Review: Pixel Memories https://www.gameskinny.com/2fkhg/capcom-arcade-2nd-stadium-review-pixel-memories https://www.gameskinny.com/2fkhg/capcom-arcade-2nd-stadium-review-pixel-memories Fri, 15 Jul 2022 09:35:16 -0400 Jason D'Aprile

With their third pack of arcade classics, Capcom has potentially reached peak nostalgia. Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium adds 32 more games to their run of classic collections, across a whole field of genres. For those that really love this kind of thing (like, say, me), it’s a brilliant pile of old-school goodness.

Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium Review: Pixel Memories

Hot on the heels of their recent Capcom Fighting Collection2nd Stadium adds a slew of favorites. Side-scroller hack n’ bashers include Magic Sword, the King of Dragons, Knights of the Round, Black Tiger, and Tiger Road. Scrolling shooters include classics like 1943 Kai, Last Duel, ECO Fighters, Hyper Dyne Side Arms, Gan Sumoku, and Savage Bees, along with Gunsmoke and Hissatsu Buraiken. There are a few puzzlers, racers and sports games, like the Speed Rumbler, Rally 2011 LED Storm, Block Block, Pnickies, Capcom Sports Club, and Saturday Night Slam Masters, as well. 

Finally, 2nd Stadium includes a surprising number of fighters given Capcom just dropped that collection separately. More obscure releases like Megaman: The Power Battle and Megaman 2: The Power Fighters, alongside the original Street Fighter and all three Street Fighter Alpha games, are welcome, but there are some redundancies for those who bought the Fighting Collection.

2nd Stadium also includes several of the titles already in the Fighting Collection itself. Darkstalkers, Nightwarriors, Vampire Saviors, Super Gem Fighter Mini Mix, Hyper Street Fighter II Anniversary Edition are all superfluous inclusions if you own both collections. And, of course, you could buy the games in 2nd Stadium separately; the initial download for 2nd Stadium is free and comes with Sonson, a goofy side-scroller. 
 

Much like the original Capcom Arcade Stadium, there is a host of features that greatly increases the enjoyment of playing arcade games at home. The 3D-rendered arcade machine cabinet interface remains as well, though you can customize the visuals in key ways to suit your tastes, such as adjusting the visuals with retro filters. There is also a variety of screen border options, online leaderboards, and difficulty and speed settings. Best of all, the rewind button returns, which helps make up for all those reflexes some of us have lost in the intervening decades. Finally, most of the games include both the English and Japanese version of the ROMs. 

The appeal of a collection like this is admittedly dependent on your need for retro nostalgia. Game design has come a long way since the days when coin-op was king. The primary design focus for most of the games in this collection was to make players feed quarters into a machine. Some games are just long and hard enough to be brutal, but not necessarily rage-inducingly frustrating. 

So, the general tone is on short, frantic experiences, usually with multiple players. To that end, local (though not online) play is supported, so gems like Knights of the Round and King of Dragons can be the three-player brawling adventures that made them classics to begin with. 

Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium Review — The Bottom Line

Pros

  • Impressive array of classic Capcom arcade games covering a wide range of genres.
  • Excellent presentation and customizing options.
  • Rewind button is my new best friend.
  • Lots of great action for both single-player and local multiplayer sessions.

Cons

  • No online multiplayer.
  • Includes several games from the Fighting Collection.

Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium continues in the fine tradition of the original Stadium with a great collection of classic coin-op games. While these retro compilations are largely for the overly nostalgic older gamer, there’s a lot of great action to be had here, especially with friends playing in the same room. 

[Note: Capcom provided the copy of Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium used for this review.]

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Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series Review: Lighthearted Platforming Abounds https://www.gameskinny.com/2bu44/klonoa-phantasy-reverie-series-review-lighthearted-platforming-abounds https://www.gameskinny.com/2bu44/klonoa-phantasy-reverie-series-review-lighthearted-platforming-abounds Mon, 11 Jul 2022 10:53:37 -0400 David Restrepo

Bandai Namco has reintroduced Klonoa for the first time in 14 years with Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series. This remastered compilation of the first two mainline installments features largely overhauled assets and reworked music with the core gameplay untouched.

Despite some potentially controversial artistic changes to Klonoa 2, Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series is an impressive remastered collection. As self-contained 2.5D platformers, they’re decent leisurely romps with an undeniable charm.

Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series Review: Lighthearted Platforming Abounds

Klonoa has made its name on the mileage of its simplistic premise. Unlike many other platformers, there isn’t a traditional attack or even a stomp. Don’t dare to jump on top of enemies’ heads unless you want to take damage. Klonoa doesn’t even have access to a double jump under normal circumstances.

The moveset is dictated by the special ring Klonoa holds. Inhabited by a spirit, the ring can be used to grab enemies, and with a foe in your possession, you can either throw them at another or use them to initiate a double jump by stepping on them in mid-air.

These simple actions are often used in various combinations throughout the collection to complete light logic puzzles or test your platforming skills. One example is reaching an especially high platform with three hovering enemies at different levels of elevation. You need the dexterity to double jump using the previous foe while making sure you nab the next one to continue the chain without falling to the ground. Another example might include leaving a timebomb enemy near a switch, placing yourself in the proper position before the switch is activated.

Klonoa is the kind of game you want to play after an especially rough day. You’ll mostly breeze through the majority of the first installment – that is until the final world and last two major bosses, which feature drastic difficulty spikes. The lack of a consistent difficulty curve is its biggest failing, immediately transforming from an accessible platformer to a frustrating war of attrition.

Klonoa 2 is a direct extension of its predecessor, featuring the same gameplay systems with only minor additions. The sequel introduces a new creature type that changes color every time it absorbs a new enemy. These are used to shatter progress-gating crystals associated with a specific color. In some instances, their inclusion adds a light layer of puzzle-solving to otherwise straightforward scenarios. A few of these sections legitimately made me step back to analyze the situation in a way the first game never does.

Despite running with a refined version of a solid formula, Klonoa 2’s weak points prevent it from becoming a definitively superior game. Its narrative emphasis drags its pacing considerably. You’ll load from cutscene to cutscene only to walk back to a tile on the world map that initiates another cutscene with no playable sections in between. Its original developers placed too much stock in an unremarkable story that loses sight of its predecessor’s minimalism.  

Klonoa 2 also suffers from unexpected repetition. Throughout, you’ll end up revisiting four previously completed levels. Enemy composition and goals differ, but the level design itself remains untouched. These also happen to be some of Klonoa 2’s longest levels, excursions that act as padding to bloat the runtime of a five-hour game.

Even with these caveats, Klonoa 2 gets bonus points for experimenting with its structure. Dreams are no longer confined to two levels, with a new dream essentially acting as a new world. It’s not afraid to throw you into one level in one biome before tossing you somewhere else. Klonoa 2 also features far more involved level design, with more inventive use of its environments. The circus levels and on-rails snowboarding sections stand out.

Reintroducing Classics to a New Audience

Klonoa: Door to Phantomile is a more successful visual translation than Klonoa 2. The original PS1 version utilizes a mix of 2D sprites, with 3D models making up the environment. Translating those 2D sprites into 3D models while remaining faithful is a herculean task, one which the 2008 Wii remake already proved to mixed results. In comparison to the Wii iteration, the conversion in Phantasy Reverie Series is a resounding success.

Character models are much more cartoony, eschewing the stylized realism of the 2008 remake. Textures resolve much more clearly, because of the higher native rendering resolution. More importantly, Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series’ vibrancy aligns more closely with the PS1 look than the Wii’s more muted color palette and lighting effects. This version even drops the Wii’s criticized voiced acting in favor of the original Japanese-based gibberish-like language.

Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil, however, is bound to upset some. From a purely technical standpoint, it is a categorical improvement over the PS2 entry in every respect. Character models, draw distances, geometric complexity, and texture quality are such a dramatic step up that this can be considered a remake.

However, it also adopts the same vibrant color scheme and lighting as Klonoa: Door to Phantomile, creating a disconnect. Klonoa 2 is a narratively darker game, with a more muted look to follow suit. Certain stages, such as Volk City, lack the dinginess of the PS2 original. If the occasional change like this doesn’t bother you, it is the definitive way to play Klonoa 2, doubly so for next-gen console owners. The new assets look great on modern displays running at native 4K at a locked 60 frames per second.

Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series Review  The Bottom Line

Pros
  • Dramatically enhanced visuals.
  • Creative use of a simple concept.
  • Charming music and character designs.
Cons
  • Too much story and repetition in Klonoa 2.
  • Random difficulty spike in Klonoa.

Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series is a great choice for gamers that are especially attuned to 2D platformers. Minor controversies aside, the collection looks and feels great on modern platforms, with the Nintendo Switch’s inconsistent performance profile being the sole outlier.

The only thing holding the collection back is the quality of the games themselves. While cult hits in their own right, Klonoa games don’t exactly compete with the juggernauts of the platforming genre. However, that doesn’t mean this collection isn't worth your time.

[Note: A copy of Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series was purchased for this review.]

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Hollow Knight: Silksong Gets New Gameplay Trailer https://www.gameskinny.com/zlm8r/hollow-knight-silksong-gets-new-gameplay-trailer https://www.gameskinny.com/zlm8r/hollow-knight-silksong-gets-new-gameplay-trailer Sun, 12 Jun 2022 15:29:52 -0400 Jonathan Moore

Fans of the original Hollow Knight have waited a long time to learn anything new about Team Cherry's follow-up, Hollow Knight: Silksong. But the wait for more info on the DLC-turned-sequel is coming to a close with the release of a gameplay trailer at the Xbox and Bethesda Showcase as part of Summer Games Fest 2022.

As with many other titles announced during the showcase, Silksong will be available on Game Pass at launch. Though no firm release date was provided, Microsoft confirmed in both presentation and on Twitter that everything shown would be available over the next 12 months, putting Silksong's release no later than June 2023. 

The trailer shows Hornet taking on a variety of foes in a number of different environments. Team Cherry has said that there will be "mossy grottos, coral forests, and shining citadels ..." to explore. Things look just as frantic and deadly as ever before. You can see the game in action above. 

Silksong was announced in 2019 and began life as DLC for Hollow Knight before becoming a larger project that ultimately turned into a full-fledged sequel.

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Ms. Chalice Takes on Mortimer Freeze in New Cuphead — The Delicious Last Course Trailer https://www.gameskinny.com/6gr7k/ms-chalice-takes-on-mortimer-freeze-in-new-cuphead-the-delicious-last-course-trailer https://www.gameskinny.com/6gr7k/ms-chalice-takes-on-mortimer-freeze-in-new-cuphead-the-delicious-last-course-trailer Fri, 10 Jun 2022 16:11:13 -0400 Jonathan Moore

Years after it was first announced, Cuphead — The Delicious Last Course is just around the corner. Launching on June 30, 2022, for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch, the upcoming DLC received a new gameplay trailer as part of 2022's Summer Games Fest. And it's exactly what fans of the base game would expect.

The trailer shows a boss fight between new playable character Ms. Chalice and Mortimer Freeze, who can turn into a refrigerator spewing ice cubes and a snowflake using its eye as a ranged weapon. It's classic Cuphead action and design, with plenty of projectiles flying around the screen at any given moment. 

The Delicious Last Course will take Cuphead and Mugman to Inkwell Isle, where they'll meet Ms. Chalice, find new weapons, take on new challenges, and battle new bosses. It's not clear how many  It's all in an effort to help Chef Saltbaker on a secret quest. The DLC will retail for $7.99 on all platforms. 

Cuphead is a bullet-hell platformer known for its 1930s-inspired art style and sometimes-punishing difficulty that launched for Xbox One and PC in 2017. The Delicious Last Course was first announced in 2018 before being delayed several times. 

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Rogue Legacy 2: The Same But Better https://www.gameskinny.com/t802d/rogue-legacy-2-the-same-but-better https://www.gameskinny.com/t802d/rogue-legacy-2-the-same-but-better Thu, 12 May 2022 15:50:34 -0400 Nathan P. Gibson

Rogue Legacy quickly became one of the biggest indie hits of the decade when it was released in 2013. Cellar Door Games' roguelike paved the way for other games like The Binding of Isaac. So when a sequel was announced, it was much anticipated by many. Rogue Legacy 2 launched in Early Access in 2020 and has now seen a full release for PC and Xbox platforms. 

The first game sees you play a character with random traits and abilities, traversing a dungeon that shifts with every run. Every time you die, you can choose between three new heirs to carry on the journey, although these undoubtedly have different skills or disadvantages. It makes every attempt at beating the game a very different experience and keeps the gameplay feeling fresh. 

Rogue Legacy 2 is a continuation of this basic concept rather than a revolutionary step in a completely new direction. That’s great news for those who love its predecessor, but Rogue Legacy 2 has to prove that half-step is worthwhile. Fortunately, it manages to do so (for the most part) and does more than enough to justify itself in a crowded roguelike market.

Rogue Legacy Review: The Same But Better

The most basic gameplay in Rogue Legacy 2 will be familiar to anyone who played the original release. You again assume control of a hero who battles through a procedurally generated dungeon full of enemies. You collect treasure and explore the different areas along the way.

The goal is largely the same as well: defeat a series of bosses to unlock a door that leads to the final boss. You can again use gold accumulated during each run to unlock permanent upgrades, slowly improving heirs for subsequent runs.

You should expect to fail  fail a lot. Rogue Legacy 2 is not designed for you to quickly blast through the entire dungeon and reach the final boss as quickly as possible. Everything is out to kill you, whether it’s the horde of enemies, the pitfalls, or the traps that lie around every corner. Progress can be painfully slow at times, with dying just a few rooms into the first area being common. 

Yet there’s always a sense of progress when playing. Rogue Legacy 2 has the uncanny knack of never causing any frustration. Sure, you might die quickly, but you can spend gold to improve your stats every time you get back to the hub. There’s no huge leap in terms of abilities, but the little improvements quickly add up and give you more and more confidence to tackle more formidable enemies and new locations.

The number of upgrades available might seem overwhelming at first, though they add some interesting new ways to improve and are pretty easy to understand. 

Rogue Legacy 2 also gives its heroes both positive and negative traits like the first game. Gigantism makes you a much bigger target and can make it challenging to navigate tighter spaces, while vampirism provides some healing with every attack. This time around, there are lots of new traits, and all of them either give some advantage or drawback, although even the negative traits come with a gold boost to make them worthwhile.

So while Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, for example, might make fighting much harder because of the cooldown for attacks, it might be a good trade if you want to get a quick source of cash.

Similarly, there’s a greater range of classes to choose from. The sequel has 15 different types of heroes to unlock, and some of the new ones that have been added to the fray really mix things up. There’s now a ranger that can shoot arrows, a chef that can brew meals to heal themselves (and has a frying pan to deflect projectiles), a samurai-like ronin class, and a boxer. The variety of classes is one of the best features of Rogue Legacy 2, and the game rewards you for experimenting and trying out classes you might have reservations about at first.

Perhaps the most significant change in Rogue Legacy 2 is the inclusion of a spin kick. Platforming has been given a greater role in the sequel, and the spin kick is essential. It allows you to bounce off enemies and obstacles without taking damage, opening up new ways to move around. Mastering the spin kick is important to avoid damage and reach areas that would otherwise be inaccessible.

Feeding into this are the hidden heirlooms scattered in each of the seven areas. These provide you with new special abilities that are permanently unlocked. One of the first is the ability to dash while in the air; others let you double jump or use the spin kick on incorporeal items. Unlocking them often involves taking part in a difficult platforming challenge, putting everything you have learned to the test, adding yet another dimension to the game. 

One of the best additions is a new host of options known as House Rules. These allow you to shake up some of the mechanics. They can involve relatively simple things like reducing enemy attacks or increasing strength to more complex changes that can turn off contact damage when you run into monsters and make platforming easier through a flight toggle.

While experienced players will likely not touch House Rules that much, it's a great accessibility tool for those who are not as confident or familiar with roguelikes, ensuring people of all skill levels can find some enjoyment from Rogue Legacy 2

Rogue Legacy 2 is a vast improvement in presentation over its predecessor. While it has a similar style, the pixelated graphics of the original are thrown aside for a more pleasing hand-drawn look. This has given the developer more scope for exploring traits such as Synesthesia, which shoots vibrant colors onto the screen. It also allows the more varied locations to shine and be more distinctive; each area has its own atmosphere. The new art style is certainly a big improvement in that respect. 

Rogue Legacy 2 Review — The Bottom Line

Pros
  • The same great gameplay with lots of improvements and additions.
  • Great art style that ditches the pixelated visuals.
  • Bigger variations in classes, traits, and abilities.
  • House rules and new game mechanics are welcome inclusions.
Cons
  • No way to look back at what each hero achieved.
  • Some things are not explained perfectly.

Ultimately, anyone who played and enjoyed the original Rogue Legacy is going to love this sequel just as much if not more. Everything that made the first game so great is here, though it is all bigger and better than ever before.

With a host of new classes, traits, and abilities along with some welcome changes to gameplay mechanics, Rogue Legacy 2 is everything you'd want in a sequel and one of the best roguelikes available. 

[Note: Cellar Door Games provided the copy of Rogue Legacy 2 used for this review.]

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Kirby and the Forgotten Land Review: Nintendo's Most Endearing Vore is Back for More https://www.gameskinny.com/g3sir/kirby-and-the-forgotten-land-review-nintendos-most-endearing-vore-is-back-for-more https://www.gameskinny.com/g3sir/kirby-and-the-forgotten-land-review-nintendos-most-endearing-vore-is-back-for-more Mon, 04 Apr 2022 13:03:48 -0400 Jason D'Aprile

Kirby has been eating all the things in his way for a while. Like a floofy Pac-Man with more agency, the pink cloud's voracious appetite has remained remarkably consistent since his debut on the Game Boy in 1992. Kirby devours stuff, then either spits it out at high velocity or swallows it to absorb its essence.

Being Kirby's 30th anniversary and all, it's no surprise Nintendo whipped up a new adventure on the Switch. Kirby and the Forgotten Land ventures into a full-on 3D landscape and, in the process, ends up being the most classically Nintendo-style 3D platformer in years. Gameplay-wise, this is a mostly back-to-basics adventure; Kirby finds himself trapped in a mysterious new world with new friends to rescue and plenty of bad guys in need of consumption.

Kirby and the Forgotten Land Review: Nintendo's Most Endearing Vore is Back for More

This is the first time Kirby has gone full-on 3D (not counting the odd spin-off), and HAL Laboratory certainly played it safe. Forgotten Land looks, plays, and feels like a quintessential Nintendo 3D platformer, arguably more than any of their other Switch games so far. Individual map zones are divided into multiple levels on the world map, and each tries to have a different feel than the last.

None of the levels are huge, but they have a list of secrets to uncover to rescue all the trapped Waddle Dees. Collect enough Waddle Dees, and side levels open with special challenges to earn ability upgrade gems. Some of the levels are pure run and jump, but most are spiced up with vehicle segments, chase bits, and mini-boss fights. There are puzzle rooms to find, plenty of gold coins to collect, and health-giving food to inhale.

A big part of why this Kirby adventure feels so classic is the camera, which is almost entirely locked. It shows you exactly the view it wants, with only minor panning allowed. This leads to secrets being "hidden" simply because you can't move the camera to see them. The locked camera really does change the pace and gameplay experience, making it feel a bit more simplistic and accessible.

There are seven worlds in Forgotten Land, although the last is really just a boss fight. The other worlds contain four or five main levels, a boss fight, and multiple Treasure Road trial side-levels. Past the opening sequence, two players can take on the adventure as well (one as Kirby, the second as a special Waddle Dee), making it a much more appealing coop game than Mario Odyssey, where player two could just be a hat.

Kirby has always been a more accessible sort, with fun and charming adventures relatively easy for all ages. Forgotten Land celebrates this history by offering an easier mode and a "Wild" mode. Honestly, the Wild mode (the default difficulty) doesn't feel too wild outside of certain bits like timed sequences and a couple of boss fights might prove a problem for some youngsters. Suffice to say, Kirby remains accessible. 

This easier pace is actually rather refreshing. Forgotten Land is a fun place in which to bump around and explore, and the variety of abilities Kirby can suck up adds to the enjoyment. Some levels and sequences require a certain ability type, but largely, Kirby can come in with a chosen suit and swap around at will (or not).

There are new forms like the Ranger and drill, and both strange and familiar ones like fire, ice, whirlwinds, spikes, hammer-bashers, and plenty more. What's more, upgrade blueprints for each are hidden in levels. These can be used in the central Waddle Dee town to level up each individual form.

Newly added is the hilariously weird "mouthful" mode. Here Kirby can suck up specific objects that are definitely not doctor approved. From a racing car and glider to a traffic cone, moving stairway, and even a wall of lockers, these are vital for getting through certain sections and finding secrets.

Kirby and the Forgotten Land Review — The Bottom Line 

Pros

  • Excellent array of different forms to swallow and upgrade.
  • Plenty of fun and diverse levels and landscapes.
  • Adorably cute and accessible, with lots of secrets and clever bits.

Cons

  • For those in search of the hardcore, Kirby is not the game.
  • Some glitches and nearly non-existent camera controls.
  • Visual presentation is ok, but certainly not cutting edge.

Kirby and the Forgotten Land looks largely like all of Nintendo's first-party Switch games. There are some picturesque sights and everything is adorably cute, but the visuals and overall graphic style and fidelity are starting to look a bit stagnant. Some odd frame-rate hiccups were especially noticeable when playing in docked mode.

The soundtrack is suitably boppy and smooth, with some surprisingly good scoring and fun sound effects. Character design is a mix of old and new, with a lot of enemies highly reminiscent of those from previous games if not outright copies. There's even the old standby angry giant tree and maniacal penguin to fight.

Overall, Kirby and the Forgotten Land is exactly the sequel we'd expect. Despite the move to 3D, the gameplay is instantly familiar. While nothing here is anything close to groundbreaking or even innovative, it is a comfortable, casual, all-ages adventure worth taking.

[Note: Nintendo provided the copy of Kirby and the Forgotten Land used for this review.]

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Shadow Warrior 3 Review: Big Trouble in Demon Infested Japan https://www.gameskinny.com/llurg/shadow-warrior-3-review-big-trouble-in-demon-infested-japan https://www.gameskinny.com/llurg/shadow-warrior-3-review-big-trouble-in-demon-infested-japan Mon, 28 Feb 2022 13:15:34 -0500 Justin Koreis

There was a time when video games were almost exclusively linear experiences. This was before "open-world" and "Games as a Service" titles tried to hook you for months or years on end. You would rent or buy the latest release, pop it into your platform of choice, and spend days working your way from start to finish before moving on to the next game.

Shadow Warrior 3, the first-person sword-slashing shooter from Flying Wild Hog and Devolver Digital is a throwback to this era. It’s a solid action-adventure comedy, the gaming equivalent of a B Movie, and it embraces this to good effect. While the Assassin's Creed's of the world push more and more into the open world, Shadow Warrior 3 eschews that to embrace a memorable, linear experience. There are some rough edges, but there is a fun time to be had here regardless.

Shadow Warrior 3 Review: Big Trouble in Demon Infested Japan

Fast and violent are the best words to describe the combat in Shadow Warrior 3. Protagonist Wang fights with reckless abandon against scores of ghosts, demons, and all sorts of bizarre otherworldly adversaries. Battles mix swordplay and gunplay. Repeating the Doom-inspired mechanics of the first two Shadow Warriors entries, your health is limited but replenished quickly when you slay enemies.  

There is a natural push-pull between melee and ranged combat. Your sword hits fast and hard, and it generates ammo for your guns, but you tend to rapidly take damage. Ranged attacks, using a mix of pistols, shotguns, grenade launchers, and other arms, refill your health, but ammo is scarce. Fighting effectively means mixing your attacks, and making good decisions about what attacks to use on which enemies and when. For all the bombastic action here, it’s a thinking players game, and the way these intersect is one of Shadow Warrior 3’s greatest strengths.  

The aiming and shooting is incredibly generous; you only need to point roughly at your target for a forgiving auto-aim to home in on your adversaries. This is important, as the speed of combat, with all the dashing and weapon switching, lets you make sense of the chaotic battlefields, rather than lining up a pixel-perfect reticle. As you proceed further in your adventure and the challenge ramps up, this freedom to move and still shoot is critical to keeping things enjoyable, rather than becoming a tiring slog.  

Time between action pieces is spent in cutscenes and performing first-person parkour across levels. The story itself is largely nonsense, and not in a bad way. Wang is cool but endearingly goofy. The humor is ever-present, and largely works using referential and sophomoric humor that would be right at home in a Deadpool movie.

See (and Shoot) the World

The levels in Shadow Warrior 3 are fairly linear. In general, you follow travel from one fighting arena to another, with cutscenes and platforming sections acting as palette cleansers. One early mission has you fighting atop a rampaging dragon.  

Your goal of saving the world largely just sets up more bizarre adventures across the varied landscapes with a cast of fun and absurd characters. In later levels, you are fighting two halves of a chicken monster or racing to keep pace with a raft careening down a river. The strange locals do a great job keeping the experience fresh. 

The first-person free-running is smooth and fast. You use a combination of leaps, swings, wall runs, and slides to get from one point to the next. Occasionally, you will shoot obstacles out of your path while running or string doubles jumps and dashes to reach hidden upgrades. It’s not nearly as deep as the movement in something like Dying Light 2, but the pace is exciting nonetheless.

Sketchy Presentation

While the gameplay in Shadow Warrior 3 is solid, the technical merits leave something to be desired. It’s not a bad-looking game per se, but it won’t wow anyone with visual fidelity, even on the high-powered PC used for this review.

Textures are simple, and the unimpressive lighting visual effects demonstrate the clear difference between it and a game with the budget of Doom, or other, more recent first-person games.  

Bugs also rear their ugly head. Footholds not registering sent Wang to a few early graves in our playthrough. Worse was having to restart a level completely after a checkpoint was created while clipping into the terrain. The linear nature of Shadow Warrior 3 means repeating sections is tedious and uninteresting. 

Shadow Warrior 3 Review — The Bottom Line

Pros
  • Fun, bombastic action.
  • Well executed sophomoric humor.
  • Impressive and impressively bizarre set pieces.
Cons
  • Not much joy in replaying levels.
  • Underwhelming on a technical level.

Shadow Warrior 3 is a game that knows exactly what it’s doing. It’s not the best-looking game, nor the most polished. The ambitions are limited, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. This is the action movie you watch on a weekend afternoon, not Citizen Kane.

That confidence results in a game that is extremely enjoyable with a great mix of action and absurdism, but also something that will be easy to forget. The linear design works for a single playthrough, which is more than enough to get what Shadow Warrior 3 has to offer.

[Note: Flying Wild Hog provided the copy of Shadow Warrior 3 used for this review.]

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Infernax Review: Gory Nostalgia https://www.gameskinny.com/y0cif/infernax-review-gory-nostalgia https://www.gameskinny.com/y0cif/infernax-review-gory-nostalgia Fri, 11 Feb 2022 09:24:46 -0500 Jason D'Aprile

Infernax keeps its unabashedly obsessive 8-bit retro design front and center its entire length, which is probably enough for many gamers to know if it will appeal to them. Infernax is for people who love the idea of a brand-new hack n' slash platformer that could have, at least spiritually, been right at home on the original NES.

Whether it actually could've run on the old hardware is up to speculation, but developer Berzerk Studio has managed a nearly perfect illusion of nostalgia.

Infernax Review: Gory Nostalgia

Things begin when our hero, Alcedor (who can be renamed at the start) returns home from a distant war to find his land overrun with grotesque demonic forces. Infernax immediately throws you into a familiar-looking pixelated world with a variety of mechanical elements to elevate it beyond the simple build plate of Ghosts n's Goblins and other early arcade-style adventures.

Infernax owes heavily to the Metroidvania camp. It offers a large(ish) open world to explore with definitive gates between areas that can only be overcome with the acquisition of new spells and abilities. There's a strong focus on side quests and character stat building as well, both of which lend it distinction.

Monsters respawn in each "room" or area, which can get tiresome except you need a constant stream of things to kill to get more gold and experience points. This leads to a lot of back and forth across the ever-growing map.

There are towns, keeps, secluded wizard and witch huts, dungeons, churches, and demon-infested castles to explore. Towns have various types of shopkeepers — blacksmiths, potion sellers, wizards with spells and trinkets, an inn. Each town only offers a very limited set of purchase options, so to get better gear, you'll need to visit and purchase the wares from every new shopkeeper you find.

Defeating the boss at the end of each of the six or so castles and other side dungeons leads to new spells and abilities. Alcedor's only weapon is a mace though, which can be upgraded to a few better models (along with his armor). While he'll eventually get a fireball-like spell, most of the game's combat is entirely close-range, which can make tricky platforming areas even more difficult. We certainly wouldn't have hated seeing the guy get at least a crossbow during his trek.

Spells include a magical shield to reduce damage, an avian companion who can both attack enemies and trigger switches, healing, teleportation, and even the ability to change the time from day to night and back again. Experience points are used to upgrade the knight's health and mana bars, the latter of which is necessary to cast spells.

He'll also gain some agility attacks that are vital for reaching new areas, one of which makes him shoot upwards, and another a high-speed horizontal attack dash. Both enable Alcedor to reach otherwise inaccessible parts of the map.

While his move set increases a bit over the course of Infernax, Alcedor's combat overall is very basic. He mostly just jumps around and repeatedly hits things with his mace. Aside from the previously mentioned dash moves, there's not much subtlety or variety to the combat system beyond hitting things while standing up or ducking.

Boss fights therefore all have to stay within that range of abilities. Just the same, there's some interesting variety in the head demons. One is an auto-scrolling sequence where you have to avoid attack and instant-death falls until the creature presents its weak spot, then bash it. Others involve single-room matches where you'll have to use platforms and dodges to get close to an enemy's weak spot before it unleashes devastating and usually explosive attacks. Some bosses flood you with low-level baddies to keep you at bay.

These boss battles are fun and intense overall, and there's a humorous bent on making each more grotesque than the last. For those into the whole "Hell on earth" scenario, Infernax keeps things lively with zombies, tentacles, bloody pustules, even craven blood-thirsty babies. It's still not as overall bleak as Blasphemous, but there are plenty of dark bits in this world.

That horror theme is especially prevalent in the occasional moral choices Infernax throws at players. At the beginning, you encounter a clearly agonized man begging to be killed, for instance, and you can opt to try to help him or just outright kill him. Choosing to help ends in him turning into a larger monstrosity that you'll have to kill anyway, while killing him immediately is far easier. Except that easier choice has a distinct penalty later on.

There are sequences where you can opt to help people who are clearly not on the side of good, causing catastrophic harm to the poor denizens of the world. Different choices open different paths and ultimately lead to different endings. Part of the fun of Infernax is playing with these choices, which makes multiple playthroughs a more appealing prospect.

Infernax opens with a very stern warning about how bleak and bloody it is, but the overall presentation is still 8-bit pixels so the impact of all that gore, blood, and flying intestines is simply a bit limited. The retro visuals are highly complimented by the retro audio work as well, complete with a solid very-NES-era score, sound effects, and slideshow-like cut scenes.

Infernax Review — The Bottom Line

Pros

  • A near-perfect recreation of NES-era nostalgia but with more meat on its old-school bones.
  • Multiple paths and endings thanks to some amusing dark decision-making.
  • Makes the constant grinding feel more entertaining thanks to several pronounced RPG elements, including side quests.

Cons

  • Basic combat is very simple.
  • That dogged old-school game design means things can get incredibly unforgiving, especially the platforming.
  • There's still a ton of grinding.

Infernax is largely exactly what you'd think at first glance. It's very retro and challenging with simplistic 8-bit graphics and gameplay. Where it excels is taking those old-school constraints and expanding on them to create a gory adventure that feels at once totally familiar but with enough depth to still be interesting and worthwhile all on its own.

[Note: Berzerk Studio provided the copy of Infernax used for this review.]

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Dying Light 2 Review: Brilliant But Flawed https://www.gameskinny.com/gqcd0/dying-light-2-review-brilliant-but-flawed https://www.gameskinny.com/gqcd0/dying-light-2-review-brilliant-but-flawed Wed, 02 Feb 2022 10:00:19 -0500 Justin Koreis

Dying Light 2 is a difficult game to review. The design is brilliant. It’s a model for the right way to create an open-world game. The synergy between setting, storytelling, and gameplay places it firmly in the company of the most engrossing and immersive worlds in modern video games. It absolutely nails the most challenging and oft-botched aspects of the genre.

Yet for as much as it does right, it stumbles on stability and lacks essential polish. The result is an outstanding, borderline transcendent, game reduced to something just “good”. 

Dying Light 2 Review: Brilliant But Flawed

Dying Light 2 largely takes place in the fictional city of Villedor, Ground Zero of the Zombie Apocalypse. You are Aiden, and you are searching for your sister, from whom you were forcibly separated as a child. It’s a fairly simple premise that turns into a quality storyline, adequately motivating your progress. 

At its best, Dying Light 2 is The Witcher 3 or Read Dead Redemption 2. Every side quest has the potential to become a memorable story. In every direction are interesting locales, emergent stories, and potential adventures. 

One early, purely optional mission has you gather parts to make an electric fence for a goat pen. It's short, to the point, and has a hilariously unfortunate ending that gives you a new weapon blueprint, all wrapped in tight world building, 

Another random side quest starts as a simple proposal for a side job. Before long, you're left juggling multiple conflicting interests, backstabs, and tough choices. One second, you're being betrayed, lead into a trap to be murdered and robbed, and the next, you're doing everything you can to save the betrayer and stop him from casting himself off of a roof. Life comes at you fast in the post-apocalypse.  

The main story thrusts you between groups whose tensions have the potential to cause an all-out war. But you must take a side to have a chance at achieving your ultimate goal of finding your sister. All factions have reasonable arguments for and against supporting them. There is no “Right” answer, but you will have to choose nonetheless. 

Dying Light 2 understands great zombie fiction. Like The Walking Dead or 28 Days Later, the story isn’t about the Infected. They are simply another characteristic of the environment, like the climate or geography. They are a simple fact of the world. People are trying to live their lives with the same mix of hope, generosity, greed, and darkness that has always defined mankind.

This is conveyed in every conversation and through level design. One early encounter takes places at an abandoned house in the hills. It's easy to simply pass through, but if you take your time, you can piece together a bittersweet story of people exiting the broken world on their own terms. This kind of environmental storytelling is a contestant throughout Dying Light 2.

The Heart of Darkness

Traversing through the streets hammers home the idea that you are one person living in the new Infected Dark Age. You can move freely about the city as you like but are constantly kept aware of the time. The Infected are like the ocean’s tides; they rise and fall from night to day. When the sun is out, most crawl into dark, abandoned buildings to sleep. At night, they flood the streets.   

The dark can be terrifying in Dying Light 2. The Infected are numerous, aggressive, and dangerous in the dark. Your visibility is limited, with just a simple flashlight to illuminate your path. Special Infected have the ability to sound the alarm, resulting in a death-defying chase as you flee the monsters you know are on your heels but can’t see.  

The darkness also poses a direct risk to your health. Aiden, like everyone in Villedor, is Infected. UV Light is the only thing that keeps the zombie virus in check. Anytime you are away from the sun or UV lamps a countdown timer ticks down. If it reaches zero, you turn, and it's game over. There are consumables to add time, and the duration is long enough that you shouldn’t hit zero, but the impending dread is constant, oppressive, and extremely effective.  

It’s tempting to avoid the night altogether, but there are incentives to take the risks. Any action taken at night earns you bonus XP potentially. These points accumulate on their own, but to keep them, you must survive the night. There are special boss-level Infected called GRE Anomalies, too. Defeating these can earn you permanent stat boosts in the form of collectible Inhibitors, which can raise your max health and stamina.

Additionally, building interiors, Dark Hollows, and other special nighttime areas, often great sources for materials to craft items and weapon mods, are largely emptied when the Infected take to the streets, giving you room to sneak in and steal these supplies. 

This constant timer watching, risk vs reward gameplay, is exactly the kind of tense, immersive decision-making Dying Light 2 thrives on. I found myself frequently stopping and mapping out imaginary parkour routes in my head. Will I make it? Do I need to wait this out? Is it worth the risk? The anxiety around the dark is brilliantly translated, engaging you in the thought process of any other post-apocalypse survivor.

Fight and Flight

The parkour-based movement in Dying Light 2 is brilliantly executed. You are frequently leaping from rooftop to rooftop. There’s enough freedom and control that skillful free-running skills make a significant difference, but with just enough magnetism that you rarely miss targeted platforms.  

Even the best movement skill can become stale, given the distances you cover in Dying Light 2. Techland artfully keeps ahead of this with a constant drip of environment changes and traversal tools. Just as you perfect your skills in the lower one- to five-story buildings in one region, you unlock a sprawling downtown commercial zone with towering skyscrapers, and a hang glider that completely changes the speed, distance, and verticality of what's come before.

Combat is a frequent occurrence in this post-apocalypse. Fights in Dying Light 2 start off clumsy, with wild swinging attacks from crude melee weapons. Simple blocks and dodges are your only forms of defense, but through progression, you gain an increasing arsenal of maneuvers. Fights transform into an elaborate dance of devastating attacks mixed with parkour, throws, and dropkicks. You feel powerful, and gaining levels is rewarding as things transform into a zombie-slaying power fantasy. 

Dying Light 2 is crammed full of content, too. There are multiple, divergent story paths. You can unlock fast travel zones through Metros and resource centers to allocate to different factions. There is crafting, weapon modification, and parkour challenges. That’s just scratching the surface. 

That can seem overwhelming, especially given the 500 total play hours Techland is claiming it would take to see and do everything. But most of it is completely optional. You don’t have to unlock Windmills, clear Bandit Bases, or engage in most side content. You can progress just fine without modifying weapons or min-maxing the stats on the clothing pieces that drop.

But if you do engage with these, you are rewarded for your time. Experience points to level up are awarded liberally. New ziplines from one faction can appear to help you move quickly, traps for the Infected from another can save you in a pinch.

There is a lot to love in Dying Light 2. The soundtrack is shockingly good, in particular the string accompaniment that fades in on long uninterrupted parkour sequences. The sound design is outstanding, and the voice acting is stellar. The views and vistas offer legitimately breathtaking landscapes. The entire presentation looks and sounds great, which adds to the experience in meaningful ways.

The Downside of the End of the World

Dying Light 2 is dazzling when it works. That caveat, unfortunately, hands over the entire experience. The ideas and design of Dying Light 2 are top-shelf, but there is a significant amount of optimization and polish missing right now that rears its ugly head too often.  

Parkour feels great, but too often a leap towards a climbable handle results in clipping into geometry. The visuals are very good, but multiple times I had to relaunch the game because broken textures cast bizarre shapes around characters or into the sky. 

Quest dialogue is occasionally out of sync or missing entirely. On one occasion, a character who starts a mission was stuck in an animation loop, preventing me from beginning that particular adventure. I completed missions only to have them show up again on the map as unfinished.  

It’s a shame. Dying Light 2 frequently feels like an astonishing game, from an elite team at the peak of its abilities. But bugs and rough edges result in a game that seems rushed, published a year too early.

Dying Light 2 Review — The Bottom Line

Pros

  • Every mission and locale feels handcrafted, on par with the most acclaimed open-world games
  • Parkour is fast, addictive, and rewards skillful play
  • An immersive doomed world
  • Strong audio and video presentation

Cons

  • Bugs, ranging from annoying to potentially game-breaking
  • A lack of refinement hurts the otherwise strong presentation
  • Enemy encounters can become repetitive 

Dying Light 2 does so much so well. You never know what you are going to get when you venture out into Villedor. Every handcrafted quest and environment tells a story, something that many other games aspire to, but few achieve. The movement is thrilling, the musical score is tremendous, and there is a bounty of good, but optional content.  

It just isn’t finished yet. There are too many graphics errors. Audio bugs are too common. Issues with geometry and clipping are too frequent. Dying Light 2 is close to delivering a transcendent experience but just misses at a critical juncture. The result is a great but flawed game; one that is oh, so close to being something astonishing.  

[Note: Techland provided the copy of Dying Light 2 used for this review.]

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GameSkinny's Best Games of 2021 https://www.gameskinny.com/8rju7/gameskinnys-best-games-of-2021 https://www.gameskinny.com/8rju7/gameskinnys-best-games-of-2021 Thu, 30 Dec 2021 12:42:04 -0500 Jonathan Moore

Another year passed means another great list of video games worth playing on PC, PlayStation, Xbox, Switch, Stadia, and more. To look back on the year that was in video games, we've collected our highest-reviewed games of 2021 into a "best of" list. 

Since we're a small staff at GameSkinny, going the traditional "staff voting route" doesn't really make a whole lot of sense. Though it means there are more games here than on other lists, the best way we've found to highlight the best games of the year in 2021 is to include any game with a score of "8" or higher. So that's what we've done here. 

A few games on this list didn't technically release in 2021 or perhaps have other editions that released in years prior, but we reviewed certain versions and ports that released in 2021, so we've decided to also include them here. 

The Best Games of 2021

12 Minutes

Publisher: Annapurna Interactive
Developer: Luis Antonio (Nomada Studio)
Platforms: Xbox Series X (reviewed), Xbox One, PC, PS4, PS5, Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: 12 Minutes is a game about escaping a time loop, which is ironic given that it's so good that I wish I could see it all again for the first time myself.

Read our full 12 Minutes review.

Aerial_Knight's Never Yield

Publisher: Headup Games
Developer: Aerial_Knight
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X|S, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Aeiral_Knight's Never Yield is a short, yet stylish endless runner with one of the year's best soundtracks.

Read our full Aerial_Knight's Never Yield review.

Alan Wake Remastered

Publisher: Epic Games Publishing
Developer: Remedy Entertainment
Platforms: Xbox Series X (reviewed), Xbox One, PC, PS4, PS5
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Alan Wake still shines in a modern landscape thanks to its unique story and intoxicating atmosphere, and the remastered visuals modernize it just in time for Remedy's inevitable sequel.

Read our full Alan Wake Remastered review.

Alba: A Wildlife Adventure

Publisher: Plug In Digital
Developer: UsTwo Games
Platforms: Xbox Series X (reviewed), Xbox One, PC, PS4, PS5, Switch 
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Alba: A Wildlife Adventure wonderfully recontextualizes the video game sandbox as a wholesome call to action.

Read our full Alba: A Wildlife Adventure review.

Ashwalkers

Publisher: Dear Villagers
Developer: Nameless XIII
Platforms: PC (reviewed), Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Ashwalkers tells an open-ended story the right way, mixing equal parts agency and powerlessness, hope and despair.

Read our full Ashwalkers review.

Atelier Lydie & Suelle DX

Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Developer: Gust Co. Ltd
Platforms: Switch (reviewed), PC, PS4, Vita
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Atelier Lydie & Suelle DX is a hard sell if you've already played it, but remains a stand-out Atelier game with strong heroines, excellent crafting, and good combat.

Read our full Atelier Lydie & Suelle DX review.

Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy

Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Developer: Gust Co. Ltd
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, PS5, Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Atelier Ryza 2 improves on the original in almost every way and, despite a few stumbling points, proves Gust is still one of the best at making something magical out of ordinary things.

Read our full Atelier Ryza 2 review.

Axiom Verge 2

Publisher: Thomas Happ Games LLC
Developer: Thomas Happ Games LLC
Platforms: Switch (reviewed), PC, PS4, PS5
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Axiom Verge 2 marks a fine return to form for the indie darling, providing fans with a compelling adventure worthy of its Metroid-influences roots.

Read our full Axiom Verge 2 review.

Base One

Publisher: Blowfish Studios
Developer: PixFroze
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X|S, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Overall, Base One is an enjoyable experience that you can play casually for a few in-game cycles or a few IRL hours. It doesn’t really bring anything new or innovative to the table but executes well the familiar game mechanics that make up its loop. 

Read our full Base One review.

Before I Forget

Publisher: 3-Fold Games
Developer: 3-Fold Games
Platforms: Xbox Series X (reviewed), Xbox One, PC, Switch
Rating: 10/10

What we said: Before I Forget is a highly emotive tale about one woman’s struggle with dementia, and a story that everyone should experience.

Read our full Before I Forget review.

Before Your Eyes

Publisher: Skybound Games
Developer: GoobyeWorld Games
Platforms: PC (reviewed)
Rating: 10/10

What we said: Telling a gut-punch of a story with novel gameplay mechanics is no small feat, and Before Your Eyes marvelously delivers on both fronts.

Read our full Before Your Eyes review.

Black Book

Publisher: HypeTrain Digital
Developer: Morteshka
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Black Book is an RPG/CCG/detective simulator/visual novel where you're either the villain or weakly trying not to be.

Read our full Black Book review.

Blue Reflection: Second Light

Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Developer: Gust Co. Ltd
Platforms: PS4 (reviewed), PC
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Blue Reflection: Second Light is an improvement upon the first game, following a group of schoolgirls looking for a way back home while fighting evil monsters.

Read our full Blue Reflection: Second Light review.

Bravely Default 2

Publisher: Nintendo/Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Platforms: Switch (reviewed), PC
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Bravely Default 2 is the best JRPG that never came out of 1998 Japan. It has a deep combat system, a sunny disposition, and a weirdly positive outlook.

Read our full Bravely Default 2 review.

Breathedge

Publisher: HypeTrain Digital
Developer: RedRuins Softworks
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, Xbox One, Series X|S, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Breathedge isn't a perfect space survival game and is sometimes aggravating, but there's plenty to enjoy, and few recent games can be so relaxing.

Read our full Breathedge review.

Capcom Arcade Stadium

Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Platforms: Switch (reviewed), PC, PS4, Xbox One, Series X|S 
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Capcom Arcade Stadium isn’t flawless. It could definitely be more complete, but the 32 games on display here still offer a pretty great slice of gaming history. As examples of their genres, it’s amazing how well most of these games still hold up while serving to vividly illustrate just how much gaming has changed since.

Read our full Capcom Arcade Stadium review.

Castlevania: Advance Collection

Publisher: Konami
Developer: Konami
Platforms: Switch (reviewed), PC, PS4, Xbox One
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Collecting three superb Castlevania entries from the Game Boy Advance era and one more obscure SNES offering, this is a must-have for any fan of the genre that Castlevania carved out.

Read our full Castlevania: Advance Collection review.

Chivalry 2

Publisher: Tripwire Interactive
Developer: Torn Banner Studios
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X|S
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Chivalry 2's ability to convert chaos into exuberance gifts players with an experience that brilliantly hones in on one of the greatest aspects of gaming: fun.

Read our full Chivalry 2 review.

Chorus

Publisher: Deep Silver
Developer: Fishlabs
Platforms: Xbox Series X (reviewed), Xbox One, PC, PS4, PS5, Stadia, Amazon Luna
Rating: 8/10

What we said: With a solid gameplay loop, a variety of side missions, and an engaging, original story that doesn't overstay its welcome, Chorus delivers one of the best sci-fi experiences of the year.

Read our full Chorus review.

Control: Ultimate Edition

Publisher: 505 Games
Developer: Remedy Entertainment
Platforms: Xbox Series X (reviewed), Xbox One, Series S, PC, PS4, PS5, Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Control was one of 2019's best games, with the only pervasive issue being that consoles couldn't always run the ambitious game so well. That's all changed.

Read our full Control: Ultimate Edition review.

Cozy Grove

Publisher: Spry Fox
Developer: Spry Fox
Platforms: Switch (reviewed), PC, PS4, Xbox One
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Cozy Grove presents island life sans crass Capitalistic Raccoon Overlords, and it is a lovely experience through and through.

Read our full Cozy Grove review.

Curse of the Dead Gods

Publisher: Focus Entertainment
Developer: Passtech Games
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, Xbox One, Switch 
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Curse of the Dead Gods is an action-roguelike with slick combat and a risk-reward loop that will keep you coming back.

Read our full Curse of the Dead Gods review.

Cyber Shadow

Publisher: Yacht Club Games
Developer: Mechanical Head Studios (Aarne "MekaSkull" Hunziker)
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X|S, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Cyber Shadow is a beautiful, lovingly-crafted gut-punch of an experience. Get ready to throw some controllers.

Read our full Cyber Shadow review.

Days Gone (PC)

Publisher: PlayStation PC LLC
Developer: Bend Studio
Platforms: PC (reviewed)
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Days Gone received a lukewarm reception when it released for PS4, but the brilliant PC port will give new life to a game about a dying world.

Read our full Days Gone PC review.

Death's Door

Publisher: Devolver Digital
Developer: Acid Nerve
Platforms: Xbox Series X (reviewed), Xbox One, PC, PS4, PS5, Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Taking somewhere around 8-10 hours to finish, Death’s Door is a macabre journey well worth taking. The combat is generally simple but excellent, the world is fascinating, and the characters are memorable. 

Read our full Death's Door review.

Deathloop

Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: Arkane Studios
Platforms: PS5 (reviewed), PC
Rating: 10/10

What we said: Deathloop takes elements from games like Bioshock and Dishonored, combining them with a Groundhogs Day like timeloop to create the coolest, most stylish, and best game of the year.

Read our full Deathloop review.

Disco Elysium: The Final Cut

Publisher: ZA/UM
Developer: ZA/UM
Platforms: PS5 (reviewed), PS4, PC, Xbox One, Series X|S, Switch, Stadia
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Disco Elysium’s expanded edition successfully builds upon an already excellent RPG, making it just as relevant today as it was in 2019.

Read our full Disco Elysium: The Final Cut review.

Disgaea 6

Publisher: Nippon Ichi Software
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Platforms: Switch (reviewed), PS4
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Disgaea 6 isn't a massive change for the long-running series, but the substantial improvements it brings means it doesn't have to be either.

Read our full Disgaea 6 review.

Dying Light

Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Techland
Platforms: Switch (reviewed), PC, PS4, Xbox One
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Dying Light on Switch is the same old Dying Light, which means it's one of the best survival horror games — just portable.

Read our full Dying Light Switch review.

Eldest Souls

Publisher: United Label
Developer: Fallen Flag Studio
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X|S, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: A demanding pixel art Souls-like beautifully rendered and artfully crafted, Eldest Souls is not without issues, but it's worth your time for its bosses, art, and world.

Read our full Eldest Souls review.

Farming Simulator 22

Publisher: GIANTS Software
Developer: GIANTS Software
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X|S, Stadia
Rating: 9/10

What we said: With its many improvements and some important additions, Farming Simulator 22 is the best in the franchise thus far.

Read our full Farming Simulator 22 review.

Fatal Frame: Maiden of Blackwater

Publisher: Koei Tecmo/Nintendo
Developer: Koei Tecmo
Platforms: PS5 (reviewed), PS4, PC, Xbox One, Series X|S, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: This port of the clever and under-appreciated Wii U J-Horror game might feel a little old but is a terrific example of a familiar genre given a unique spin.

Read our full Fatal Frame: Maiden of Blackwater review.

Foregone

Publisher: Big Blue Bubble
Developer: Big Blue Bubble
Platforms: Xbox One (reviewed), PC, PS4, Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: An open platformer heavy on combat, upgrading, and exploration, Foregone is an involving and entertaining adventure well worth downloading ... This gorgeous retro platform adventure deftly mixes traditional linear and roguelike elements into one entertaining package.

Read our full Foregone review.

Forza Horizon 5

Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
Developer: Playground Games
Platforms: Xbox Series X (reviewed), Xbox One, PC
Rating: 10/10

What we said: Forza Horizon 5 is ultimately more of the same, but that's hardly a bad thing when it does the same thing so darn well.

Read our full Forza Horizon 5 review.

Green Hell (Console)

Publisher: Creepy Jar
Developer: Creepy Jar
Platforms: PS4 (reviewed), PC, Xbox One, Series X|S, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Green Hell is the latest PC survival sim to arrive on consoles, and it brings a solid and challenging survival experience that requires whits and perseverance.

Read our full Green Hell console review.

GRIME

Publisher: Akupara Games
Developer: Clover Bite
Platforms: PC (reviewed), Stadia
Rating: 9/10

What we said: GRIME takes influence from more genres than most games and succeeds at combining them into a cohesive whole. It's well worth your time.

Read our full GRIME review.

Gnosia

Publisher: Playism
Developer: Petit Depotto
Platforms: Switch (reviewed), PC
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Gnosia draws similarities to games like Among Us and Zero Escape, but ultimately crafts a unique story with a crew of memorable characters.

Read our full Gnosia review.

Guilty Gear Strive

Publisher: Arc System Works
Developer: Arc System Works
Platforms: PS5 (reviewed), PS4, PC
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Guilty Gear Strive continues the long-running series’ love of amazingly bizarre character designs, fantastic fighting action, and gorgeous visuals with superb results.

Read our full Guilty Gear Strive review.

Habroxia 2

Publisher: Lillymo Games
Developer: Lillymo Games
Platforms: PS4 (reviewed), PC, Xbox One, Series X|S, Switch, Vita
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Lillymo Games have made a great attempt with Habroxia 2. Capturing the spirit of old-school SHMUPS, it isn’t especially long, but these kinds of shooters rarely are. Focusing more on replayability with branching mission paths, a customizable ship, and New Game+, it fills a niche sorely missing on modern platforms.

Read our full Habroxia 2 review.

Halo Infinite

Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
Developer: 343 Industries
Platforms: Xbox Series X (reviewed), PC
Rating: 9/10

What we said: While there are some improvements that can be made, Halo: Infinite is a return to form for the storied FPS franchise.

Read our full Halo: Infinite review.

Hitman 3

Publisher: IO Interactive
Developer: IO Interactive
Platforms: Xbox Series X (reviewed), Series S, PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Stadia
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Hitman 3 brings to a close one of gaming's great trilogies with one last display of immaculate level design and intoxicating mood from IO Interactive.

Read our full Hitman 3 review.

Humankind

Publisher: SEGA
Developer: Amplitude Studios
Platforms: PC (reviewed), Stadia
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Move over Civilization, there's a new strategy sheriff in town, and it's called Humankind. Amplitude Studios knocked this out of the park.

Read our full Humankind review.

It Takes Two

Publisher: EA
Developer: Hazelight Studios
Platforms: Xbox Series X (reviewed), Series S, PC, PS4, PS5
Rating: 8/10

What we said: It Takes Two is the culmination of a decade of novel co op gaming ideas, and that makes it one of 2021's best games no matter what else comes out.

Read our full It Takes Two review.

Judgment Remastered

Publisher: SEGA
Developer: Ryo Ga Gotoku Studio
Platforms: PS5 (reviewed), Xbox Series X|S, Stadia
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Judgment remastered is a fine return for 2019’s Yakuza spin-off. Though all of its changes are purely technical, it's the best version of this detective thriller.

Read our full Judgment Remastered review.

Jurassic World Evolution 2

Publisher: Frontier Developments
Developer: Frontier Developments
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, PS4, Xbox One, Series X|S
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Jurassic World Evolution 2 builds on the foundation of its predecessor to create a memorable and addictive park management sim.

Read our full Jurassic World Evolution 2 review.

Kena: Bridge of Spirits

Publisher: Ember Lab
Developer: Ember Lab
Platforms: PS5 (reviewed), PS4, PC
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Kena Bridge of Spirits is a charming adventure that packs a ton of heart, as well as a wealth of engaging systems.

Read our full Kena: Bridge of Spirits review.

King of Fighters 14: Ultimate Edition

Publisher: SEGA
Developer: SNK
Platforms: PS4 (reviewed)
Rating: 8/10

What we said: King of Fighters 14 Ultimate Edition really is just the original game with all the DLC automatically added. There’s no other change to the base game. If you missed it the first time around, this is still a fine way to get into the series.

Read our full King of Fighters 14: Ultimate Edition review.

Last Stop

Publisher: Annapurna Interactive
Developer: Variable State
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X|S, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Variable State rejects one-hit-wonder status with its long-awaited follow-up, Last Stop, a game that feels equal parts arthouse and blockbuster.

Read our full Last Stop review.

Little Nightmares 2

Publisher: Bandai Namco
Developer: Tarsier Studios
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X|S, Switch, Stadia
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Little Nightmares 2 is bigger and better than the original, offering up a larger world to explore and all new enemies waiting to devour you.

Read our full Little Nightmares 2 review.

Littlewood

Publisher: SmashGames
Developer: Sean Young
Platforms: Switch (reviewed), PC
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Littlewood's warm setting, deep customization, and endearing characters make it one of the better farm-sims on Nintendo Switch.

Read our full Littlewood review.

Loop Hero

Publisher: Devolver Digital
Developer: Four Quarters
Platforms: PC (reviewed), Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Loop Hero blends a number of influences and ideas for a time-bending adventure that's familiar but refreshing.

Read our full Loop Hero review.

Mario Golf: Super Rush

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Camelot Software Planning
Platforms: Switch (reviewed)
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Between all of the positives on offer in Mario Golf: Super Rush, it's hard to find a complaint for anyone looking to play this in a way that you'd expect from other titles in Nintendo's Switch catalog. Even if things could be a little deeper or more difficult, this game is just too much good, old-fashioned fun to let those things get in the way. 

Read our full Mario Golf: Super Rush review.

Mario Party Superstars

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: NDcube
Platforms: Switch (reviewed)
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Mario Party Superstars is the best of classic Mario Party in one package, and it's just as glorious as it's ever been.

Read our full Mario Party Superstars review.

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy

Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Eidos Montreal
Platforms: PS5 (reviewed), PS4, PC, Xbox One, Series X|S, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy is a surprisingly compelling single-player adventure that packs in some real emotion, despite a few shortcomings.

Read our full Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy review.

Mass Effect Legendary Edition

Publisher: EA
Developer: Bioware
Platforms: Xbox One (reviewed), PC, PS4
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Though it shows its age in spots, Mass Effect is still as mesmerizing today as it ever was. The Legendary Edition is a fully-featured revival of one of gaming's greatest stories.

Read our full Mass Effect Legendary Edition review.

Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition

Publisher: Deep Silver
Developer: 4A Games
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS5, Xbox Series X|S
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Metro Exodus is back in a high-octane enhanced edition to push your new gaming hardware to the limit. For newcomers eager to put their new hardware through its paces, this is both a visual wonder and a generally great game.

Read our full Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition review.

Metroid Dread

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Mercury Steam
Platforms: Switch (reviewed)
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Metroid finally returns with a new sequel, and it’s exactly what we expect from the series. It’s a fine return to form for Samus with a huge world to explore but definitely doesn’t reinvent the wheel.

Read our full Metroid Dread review.

MLB The Show 21

Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment 
Developer: Sony San Diego Studio
Platforms: PS5 (reviewed), PS4, Xbox One, Series X|S
Rating: 8/10

What we said: MLB The Show 21 isn't as flashy as its cover star. Lacking many overhauls to its modes, this year's game focuses on a decent laissez-faire story mode, a cool new Stadium Creator, and more of the superb baseball sim gameplay that has earned the series its reputation as one of the best Sony exclusives. 

Read our full MLB The Show 21 review.

Monster Hunter Rise

Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Platforms: Switch (reviewed)
Rating: 10/10

What we said: Monster Hunter Rise as it stands might be one of the easiest games in the series, but it's also one of the most flexible and ultimately satisfying in each and every regard, and for that, it deserves full marks.

Read our full Monster Hunter Rise review.

My Friend Peppa Pig

Publisher: Outright Games
Developer: Petoons Studio
Platforms: Xbox One (reviewed), PC, PS4, Switch, Stadia
Rating: 8/10

What we said: My Friend Peppa has the unenviable task of convincing parents their young kids deserve video games. For the families that don't shy from the medium, this is a delightful new way to play together.

Read our full My Friend Peppa Pig review.

NieR Replicant Ver. 1.22474487139 ... 

Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Platforms: PS4 (reviewed), PC, Xbox One
Rating: 8/10

What we said: NieR Replicant Ver. 1.22474487139 is an upgraded version of the original NieR, and it improves on almost all aspects to offer something for both newcomers and veterans alike.

Read our full NieR Replicant review.

Nightslink

Publisher: Noiseminded
Developer: Noiseminded
Platforms: PC (reviewed)
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Sometimes we wake from a dream and wish we could recall its details. Sometimes we're trapped in a nightmare and wish we could wake at all. Nightslink feels like a bit of both.

Read our full Nightslink review.

New Pokemon Snap

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Bandai Namco
Platforms: Switch (reviewed)
Rating: 8/10

What we said: New Pokemon Snap delights at every turn, offsetting a grindy mid-game with a parade of charming Pokemon in this cozy on-rails photo adventure.

Read our full New Pokemon Snap review.

NEO: The World Ends With You

Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Platforms: Switch (reviewed), PC, PS4
Rating: 10/10

What we said: NEO: The World Ends with You is everything a fan of the series could ever ask for in a sequel. This isn’t just only the best JRPG released in 2021 so far, but perhaps one of the best games this year, period. It’s simply incredible.

Read our full NEO: The World Ends With You review.

Nioh Collection

Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Team Ninja
Platforms: PS5 (reviewed), PS4
Rating: 8/10

What we said: The Nioh Collection brings two of the most satisfying last-gen games to next-gen, offering improvements both new and returning players are sure to love.

Read our full Nioh Collection review.

Pac-Man 99

Publisher: Bandai Namco
Developer: Arika
Platforms: Switch (reviewed)
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Pac-Man 99 follows deftly in the footsteps of Nintendo’s Tetris 99 to provide a near-perfect multiplayer Pac experience.

Read our Pac-Man 99 review.

Persona 5 Strikers

Publisher: SEGA
Developer: Atlus
Platforms: PS4 (reviewed), PC, Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Persona 5 Strikers is a fantastic sequel to the original game. It's fun, stylish, and sleek, a road trip to remember.

Read our full Persona 5 Strikers review.

Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: ILCA
Platforms: Switch (reviewed)
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Despite some rough edges, Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are the best of modern and classic Pokemon.

Read our full review of Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl.

Psychonauts 2

Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
Developer: Double Fine
Platforms: Xbox Series X (reviewed), Xbox One, PC, PS4
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Psychonauts 2 is a brilliant, thoughtful sequel and one of the most creative experiences of the last generation.

Read our full Psychonauts 2 review.

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Insomniac Games
Platforms: PS5 (reviewed)
Rating: 10/10

What we said: Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is an exemplary PS5 game, showing full well what the system is capable of — all while masterfully reviving a beloved series for the new generation.

Read our full Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart review.

Resident Evil Village

Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X|S, Stadia
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Resident Evil Village has some of the biggest scares in the series to date, but it also has a peculiar feel to it, like a lot of story and gameplay was chopped out before launch.

Read our full Resident Evil Village review.

Resident Evil 4 VR

Publisher: Oculus Studios
Developer: Armature Studio
Platforms: Oculus Quest (reviewed)
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Resident Evil 4 VR is a brilliant port of an already fantastic game and the ideal way to experience Capcom's classic.

Read our full Resident Evil 4 VR review.

Returnal

Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Housemarque
Platforms: PS5 (reviewed)
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Returnal is a tightly designed roguelike with some of the best gameplay the genre can provide, and it's the first game since Demon's Souls to provide a reason to own a PS5.

Read our full Returnal review.

Riders Republic

Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft
Platforms: Xbox Series X (reviewed), Xbox One, PC, PS4, PS5, Stadia, Amazon Luna
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Riders Republic boasts an open world full of exciting challenges, scenic views, and the freedom to tackle anything as you wish, making it a surprise hit for 2021.

Read our full Riders Republic review.

SaGa Frontier Remastered

Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Platforms: Switch (reviewed), PC, PS4
Rating: 8/10

What we said: You'll be hard-pressed to find many RPGs that are so enthralling from a combat and mechanical perspective, that suck you in with a myriad of questions about more than just story and ultimately compel you to do it again and again. 

Read our full SaGa Frontier Remastered review.

Scarlet Nexus

Publisher: Bandai Namco
Developer: Bandai Namco
Platforms: PS5 (reviewed), PS4, PC, Xbox One, Series X|S
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Scarlet Nexus is slick, stylish, smartly executed, and just all-around cool.

Read our full Scarlet Nexus review.

Scourgebringer

Publisher: Dear Villagers
Developer: Flying Oak Games
Platforms: PS Vita (reviewed), PC, Xbox One, Switch
Rating: 10/10

What we said: Like so many indies before it, roguelike Scourgebringer has found its true home on the PlayStation Vita. 

Read our full Scourgebringer review.

Shin Megami Tensei 3: Nocturne Remastered

Publisher: SEGA
Developer: Atlus
Platforms: Switch (reviewed), PC, PS4
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Shin Megami Tensei 3 remastered might show its age in some places, but its narrative excellence remains unaltered.

Read our full Shin Megami 3: Nocturne Remastered review.

Shin Megami Tensei V

Publisher: SEGA
Developer: Atlus
Platforms: Switch (reviewed)
Rating: 10/10

What we said: Shin Megami Tensei V is a triumph, boasting a stellar narrative and combat system with unique style all its own.

Read our full Shin Megami Tensei V review.

Shovel Knight Pocket Dungeon

Publisher: Yacht Club Games
Developer: Vine
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Shovel Knight Pocket Dungeon brings one of the best puzzle games of the year while staying true to its roots.

Read our full Shovel Knight Pocket Dungeon review.

Skul: The Hero Slayer

Publisher: Neowiz Games
Developer: SouthPAW Games
Platforms: PC (reviewed), Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: As endearing as it is challenging, Skul: The Hero Slayer takes the rogue-lite mechanics you know and adds some flair of its own and a unique take on the fantasy narrative.

Read our full Skul: The Hero Slayer review.

Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2

Publisher: CI Games
Developer: CI Games
Platforms: Xbox Series X (reviewed), Xbox One, PC, PS4, PS5
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 delivers one of the best shooters of the year, with intense sniping, skillfully crafted progression, and engaging levels.

Read our full Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 review.

Solar Ash

Publisher: Annapurna Interactive
Developer: Heart Machine
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, PS5
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Solar Ash is a complete package, with stellar gameplay, a well-told story, and a realized world ripe for exploring.

Read our full Solar Ash review.

Song of Horror (Console Edition)

Publisher: Raiser Games
Developer: Protocol Games
Platforms: Xbox One (reviewed), PS4
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Whereas so many modern indie horror games can feel like on-rails haunted hayrides, Song of Horror keeps players on their toes.

Read our full Song of Horror review.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

Publisher: Aspyr
Developer: Aspyr
Platforms: Switch (reviewed)
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Overall, KOTOR on Nintendo Switch is well worth picking up. Not only is it relatively cheap at $15, it's still one of the very best RPGs you can play. And it's high on the list of the best Star Wars games available. There's a reason people want more KOTOR.

Read our full KOTOR Switch review.

Subnautica: Below Zero

Publisher: Unknown Worlds Entertainment
Developer: Unknown Worlds Entertainment
Platforms: Xbox Series X (reviewed), Xbox One, PC, PS4, PS5
Rating: 8/10

What we said: The follow-up to Subnautica offers more of the same intriguing mix of gorgeous underwater exploration, survival and crafting, and fascinating alien intrigue. 

Read our full Subnautica: Below Zero review.

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Platforms: Switch (reviewed)
Rating: 10/10

What we said: With some of the cleverest level designs and a boundless sense of joy, Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury is essential playing for any Mario fan.

Read our full Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury review.

Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania

Publisher: SEGA
Developer: Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio
Platforms: Switch (reviewed), PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X|S
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania is the best of classic Monkey Ball with some fantastic new touches to keep things interesting, though accessibility takes a back seat in these remakes.

Read our full Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania review.

Tails of Iron

Publisher: United Label
Developer: Odd Bug Studio
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X|S, Switch
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Out of humble materials, Odd Bug Studios have created a rich, beautiful, and thrilling fantasy world in Tails of Iron.

Read our full Tails of Iron review.

Tales of Arise

Publisher: Bandai Namco
Developer: Bandai Namco
Platforms: PS5 (reviewed), PS4, PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Tales of Arise heralds a brilliant new dawn for the series and is one of the best RPGs of the last generation.

Read our full Tales of Arise review.

The Artful Escape

Publisher: Annapurna Interactive
Developer: Beethoven & Dinosaur
Platforms: Xbox Series X (reviewed), Xbox One, PC
Rating: 8/10

What we said: The Artful Escape is a kaleidoscopic coming-of-age story that is a joy to move through, even if the actual gameplay is sometimes hardly there.

Read our full review for The Artful Escape.

The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles

Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Platforms: Switch (reviewed), PC, PS4
Rating: 10/10

What we said: Despite a few pacing issues, The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles takes the series to new heights with its splendid characters, storytelling, and setting.

Read our full Great Ace Attorney Chronicles review.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Tantalus Media
Platforms: Switch (reviewed)
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Skyward Sword HD on Switch still suffers from backtracking and gimmicks, but its clever dungeons and engaging narrative make it one of the best games in the series.

Read our full Skyward Sword HD review.

UnderMine

Publisher: Thorium
Developer: Thorium
Platforms: Switch (reviewed), PC, PS4, Xbox One
Rating: 8/10

What we said: UnderMine on Switch is a strong, quirky roguelike full of personality that strikes a healthy balance between challenge and accessibility.

Read our full UnderMine review.

Unpacking

Publisher: Humble Bundle
Developer: Witch Beam
Platforms: PC (reviewed), Xbox One, Series X|S, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Unpacking is simple in concept but complex, interesting, and ultimately meditative in execution. Simply put, it's delightful.

Read our full Unpacking review.

Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars

Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Platforms: PS4 (reviewed), PC, Switch
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars is a quaint game that doesn't bring anything exceptionally new to the genre, but it is undeniably charming.

Read our full Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars review.

WarioWare: Get It Together

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

What we said: WarioWare: Get It Together is probably one of the best and most frantic multiplayer games on the Nintendo Switch.

Read our full WarioWare: Get It Together review.

Werewolf: The Apocalypse — Heart of the Forest

Publisher: Walkabout
Developer: Different Tales
Platforms: Switch (reviewed), PC, PS4, Xbox One
Rating: 8/10

What we said: A well-done and intelligent choose your own text adventure set in the venerable World of Darkness Werewolf RPG universe makes for a satisfying bit of interactive fiction.

Read our full Heart of the Forest review

Wraith: The Oblivion — Afterlife

Publisher: Fast Travel Games
Developer: Fast Travel Games
Platforms: Oculus Quest (reviewed), PC, PS4
Rating: 9/10

What we said: Wraith: The Oblivion — Afterlife is a thrilling VR horror game that engrosses on a level not seen since last year's Half-Life: Alyx Jeff sequence.

Read our full Wraith: The Oblivion — Afterlife review.

Wreckfest

Publisher: THQ Nordic
Developer: Bugbear Entertainment
Platforms: PS5 (reviewed), PS4, PC, Xbox One, Series X|S, Switch, Stadia
Rating: 8/10

What we said: Wreckfest is back with a fine next-gen port, going that extra mile with some wonderfully chaotic gameplay.

Read our full Wreckfest review.

Ys IX: Monstrum Nox

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

What we said: Ys IX: Monstrum Nox is an outstanding RPG and a big step forward for Ys, with superb story, combat, and characters — plus one of the best settings in the series.

Read our full Ys IX: Monstrum Nox review.

That's it for our list of the best, highest-scored games of 2021. What were your favorite games? Let us know in the comments below! 

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Solar Ash Review: Skating Across the Stars https://www.gameskinny.com/1ihj2/solar-ash-review-skating-across-the-stars https://www.gameskinny.com/1ihj2/solar-ash-review-skating-across-the-stars Wed, 01 Dec 2021 12:00:02 -0500 John Schutt

Solar Ash offers something few games dare to provide: gameplay focused on a simple set of tools that never expands, where progression isn't about gear or skills or levels beyond a slight increase in health. In this latest from Heart Machine, the studio behind Hyper Light Drifter, there are only a few core mechanics: skating, climbing, jumping, grappling, and a basic, three-hit-combo attack.

Solar Ash plays like some of the greatest games of the past decade, namely Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey. Rather than ever giving you the ability to alter or improve those core systems, Solar Ash instead asks you to use them in new and evolving ways. Each new area forces you to rethink how you play without adding anything to the core suite of abilities.

The combat follows a similar pattern, with bosses and enemies requiring more precision, new strategies, or additional mobility techniques to properly conquer. Taking out bosses is also the primary means of progressing the story, which won't win any awards but does have some fun twists and turns. Side content adds additional flavor, bringing a more personal narrative to a tale with otherwise galactic repercussions.

In short, Solar Ash is a complete package, with stellar gameplay, a well-told story, and a realized world ripe for exploring. Its flaws are few, far overshadowed by the enjoyment out of everything else.

Solar Ash Review: Skating Across the Stars

Solar Ash takes place inside of a supermassive black hole called the Ultravoid. You play as Rei, a Voidwalker who uses the power of God and anime magical space technology to skate into the gravity well, where the fragments of other consumed planets exist as ruins. Her job is to activate a large obelisk called the Starseed that will stabilize the Ultravoid and render it incapable of consuming her home planet.

To enable the Starseed to do the impossible, Rei needs to remove six anomalous energy signatures called Remnants so the device can calibrate properly. Along the way, Rei will discover the fate of the other Voidwalkers, learn the truth about her mission, and have a chance to provide assistance to the few other beings remaining in the Ultravoid.

Gameplay is straightforward. Rei can skate across most surfaces (though not up buildings), grind on railings, climb on weird-looking ooze, and use energy blades to attack her enemies. Traversal is smooth and seamless, with a single button press sending you floating across the world.

You can boost every few seconds for an extra bit of momentum, extending your jumps or safely getting you past a hazard. You can also briefly slow down time to extend your grappling distance or gauge the success of a jump.

These mechanics allow for plenty of gameplay variation like you see in Shrines or Moon Challenges in Breath of the Wild or Mario Odyssey, respectively. She only "advances" by adding single points to her health pool or by equipping different Voidrunner suits, which grant passive bonuses.

Progression is, therefore, almost solely yours. Early areas are straightforward, lacking the gravity and perspective-warping that's rampant in the later levels. This is true of the bosses as well. The late-game bosses have you going up, down, diagonal, and back again. The first boss is a straight line.

New zones introduce new mechanics, then ask you to make different choices with your movements. The new systems aren't unique to their zone of introduction, either. You'll be using them again and again as you make your way deeper into the Ultravoid.

In most cases, the added complexity enhances the gameplay, giving designers more ways to challenge your understanding and skill. It almost always works, and worlds become twisting, three-dimensional mazes, straining your spatial awareness to its limits. New enemy types demand new approach strategies, and the bosses and platforming challenges require ever-higher mastery of the controls and mechanics.

The problems arise not from the level or system design. It's the camera that gets in the way. As a third-person platformer at its core, Solar Ash's camera does its best to stay behind Rei when not being actively moved. Combine her fast movement speed and the constantly shifting terrain and actually moving through the world can become a chore. You'll execute a sequence of jumps flawlessly, only for a piece of geometry to fill half your screen, sending you back to a checkpoint.

Camera failings aren't the only weak spot in Solar Ash. The story won't wow anyone familiar with science fiction tropes. You're likely to predict most of the twists, and even the ones that got me were more a "Hey, that's neat" than "Holy shit, that was amazing!" It can also be somewhat precious from time to time, leaning heavily on ideas like "lost hope" and camaraderie. Thankfully, these moments are relatively few and far between, and are essentially absent from the side content, where the best writing is.

Solar Ash also has some of the best worldbuilding I've seen in a long time. Its mildly cliched themes aside, understanding the Ultravoid, and the cultures within it, is a fascinating ride. Discovering the world's secrets reminds me of Dark Souls and the best Souls-likes, where every corner could hide some new clue about the story.

The few characters you meet are also quite well realized. Their struggles deal with the same themes present throughout the game — hope, death, loss — but have real human qualities. They don't need to be human to want purpose, know their loved ones are safe, or hope their actions are not in vain. Sometimes these side stories are silly, other times they're incredibly sad, but all of them are worth seeking.

If I could ask for anything more of Solar Ash, it would be more gameplay-story integration. We're only given a little bit about how Voidrunner boots allow for skating across cosmic structures, and Rei's various abilities are never given much explanation either. Indeed, the fact we're essentially rollerskating to save an entire planet is never touched on, coming down to "because video games." This disparity is by no means a dealbreaker, but given the polish of much of the rest of the game, that extra step would have taken Solar Ash to another level.

Solar Ash Review — The Bottom Line

Pros
  • Excellent mechanics
  • Well-realized world and characters
  • Chill but appropriate music
  • Buttery-smooth performance
Cons
  • Story is cliche at times
  • The camera can hinder more than help

Solar Ash is a triumph, especially given the size of the team at Heart Machine. There aren't many games like it, and its inspirations are among the greatest in the medium. It is much easier to fail at learning from the best, and Solar Ash almost never fails.

Its issues plague even the most beloved titles, and the more I thought about Solar Ash, the more I realized how much I enjoyed every second. I hope you do too.

[Note: Annapurna Interactive provided the copy of Solar Ash used for this review.]

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Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl Review: Great Fundamentals https://www.gameskinny.com/ids69/nickelodeon-all-star-brawl-review-great-fundamentals https://www.gameskinny.com/ids69/nickelodeon-all-star-brawl-review-great-fundamentals Wed, 13 Oct 2021 13:53:36 -0400 Kenneth Seward Jr.

Platform fighters will always face unfair comparisons and be labeled as clones. It's an entire subgenre perpetually held to the standard of Nintendo’s monster IP, Super Smash Bros. Thankfully, this notion hasn’t stifled development.

On the contrary, it’s actually helped inspire games like Ludosity and Fair Play Labs’ Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl. The desire to make All-Star Brawl into something that could potentially rival Smash in terms of quality is evident within the first match or two. The fighting is solid.

There are a few issues, however, that keep All-Star Brawl from shining as brightly as it could.

Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl Review: Great Fundamentals

As a platform fighter, Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl’s foundation is comprised of all the usual elements. Bouts take place in 2D arenas with floating platforms, a moving camera, and the occasional environmental hazard. Life bars are absent, replaced by percentages that count up as players take damage.

A high percentage doesn’t necessarily equate to instant death but rather the distance a character will fly when hit; the accumulation of damage makes players more prone to being knocked off a given stage.

The goal here is to send rivals flying in a manner that makes it impossible for them to return to the arena. This can be done with well-placed attacks in mid-air that prevent opponents from grabbing onto a ledge or a powerful strike that sends them to the corner of the screen, resulting in an instant KO.

The amount of damage needed for these maneuvers to work varies. Because of this, players will want to keep their percentages low while increasing the percentages of their opponents.

All-Star Brawl also offers a familiar control scheme: a jump, grab, block, special, and a few attack buttons. Quick light attacks are great for chipping away at freshly spawned foes. The slower strong attacks are better used after building up a bit of damage, as they’ll send enemies careening.

Both sets of attacks are directional-based; holding up and pressing the strong attack button hits airborne players, launching them upwards, for instance. The same goes for the special button. Pressing it while neutral can send out a projectile while holding up, and hitting it offers a lifesaving third jump.

Again, these are the things we’d expect from a platform fighter. There are some interesting bits that flavor All-Star Brawl’s combat, though.

Take the block button. Usually, players can only block every so often before becoming vulnerable; constant hits weaken their defense. In All-Star Brawl, it’s possible to block somewhat indefinitely, with the mechanic balanced by a player’s proximity to a ledge.

When blocking attacks, players are constantly pushed backward. If pushed while close to the edge of a platform, they start to teeter over, becoming vulnerable and unable to attack for a few seconds. It's a wrinkle that allows the aggressor to attack or grab them freely.

Speaking of grabbing, All-Star Brawl lets every character grab a rival’s projectile and throw it back at them. It’s also possible to hit projectiles back and forth using basic attacks, with each hit increasing a projectile’s speed and power. Of course, this doesn’t work for AoE moves, though. It isn’t possible to knock back Reptar’s ground-based fire breath, for instance. But overall, these mechanics allow for some interesting moments that are often tied to specific characters in other games.

Another unique feature here is the ability to strafe. By holding down L/L1/LB or the right Ctrl button, it’s possible to move a character in one direction while facing another. This can be used to evade enemies while throwing projectiles their way or as a strategy to fool them by suddenly changing directions mid jump, causing them to walk into an attack.

These types of maneuverers are amplified by wave-dashing and an intriguing rock-paper-scissors attack system. Pressing block while jumping causes players to airdash. Press both buttons while on the ground, and they’ll wave-dash, speeding up their movements to avoid attacks and/or close the distance between them and opponents.

The rock-paper-scissors system is centered on clashing strong attacks – where two players simultaneously land hits during a fight – giving one player an advantage over the other. For instance, a neutral (or Mid) strong attack will beat out an Up attack, forcing the other player to face the opposite direction.

On the other hand, an Up attack beats Down, making the downward attacking opponent spin about, effectively stunning them. A similar thing happens when a Down attack beats a Mid.

All-Star Brawl has the fundamentals needed to make it a compelling fighter. And for the most part, it succeeds. Trading blows is always entertaining. There aren’t any contestable items like in Smash or Brawlhalla. Still, bouts are often chaotic, with players sending each other flying to and fro.

The roster of characters is generational in scope, welcoming to fans who grew up on shows like Ren & Stimpy, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, The Loud House, and SpongeBob SquarePants. Most of the maps are well designed, the best of which are those that really utilize a given Nickelodeon IP. Essentially, on a basic level, Ludosity and Fair Play Labs did a solid job in this department.

Nostalgia Abridged

While All-Star Brawl is mostly a good time waiting to happen, it is a little rough around the edges. For one, there isn't any voice work or much in the way of a classic soundtrack. The original music is nice, and some of it pulls from certain shows (the Aaahh!! Real Monsters’ scream is used to great effect), but many classics are missing. It seems odd; if Nick allowed these characters in a fighter, wouldn’t it allow their music to be used as well?

The game’s finer details make up for most of this. Seeing Ren & Stimpy do the Happy Happy Joy Joy dance when they win a match or noticing Grandpa sleep on a bench in the Rugrats-playground-themed map never gets old. There is a lot to like here. Unfortunately, All-Star Brawl can be a pain to play sometimes.

All-Star Brawl’s rollback netcode – a connection framework that helps prevent latency by correcting/rolling back data – usually works well. However, there are times when the game desyncs during a fight. Players can completely disconnect from one another, continuing the match separately until it crashes them back to the lobby. You can tell it’s happening because your opponent will either stand in one place or constantly run in one direction.  

This desync issue occurs often enough to frustrate. This is especially true in larger lobbies. Having four players battle while a few spectate is asking for trouble. The problems don’t stop there, though. There are times when players in a lobby can’t join a match, and framerate dips can make the game unplayable for 10-15 seconds, resulting in a missed attack or death via a poor jump.

These types of problems negate your desire to keep playing. Local play is fine, sure. But most will want to play online, given the world’s current state. There aren’t many options beyond the game’s bare-bones Arcade mode. Meaning that when the online issues show up, it’s easy to forgo playing All-Star Brawl for something else.   

The good news is that the developers are keeping an eye on things. Sporting a fan-led vibe – supported by comments from Fair Play Labs’ Markus Villalobos about how they’ll properly listen to/incorporate feedback – the game was designed to grow into a competitively complete product eventually. Hopefully, All-Star Brawl's online play will improve with time.

Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl Review – The Bottom Line

Pros

  • Solid platform fighter mechanics
  • Unique gameplay elements that shake things up
  • Good cast of characters
  • Potentially fun nostalgia trip

Cons

  • Online issues
  • No voice overs/classic music
  • Lacks compelling solo modes

Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl is an entertaining platform fighter. It bleeds nostalgia, has a good roster of characters, and plays uniquely enough to stand on its own for casual and competitive players alike.

The online portions are great when things are working. There isn’t much to do when they aren't, beyond playing local matches and the lackluster Arcade mode. Thankfully, All-Star Brawl was made with updates in mind.

[Note: GameMill Entertainment provided the copy of Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl used for this review.]

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Metroid Dread Review: Don’t Dread the Return of Samus https://www.gameskinny.com/qz15a/metroid-dread-review-dont-dread-the-return-of-samus https://www.gameskinny.com/qz15a/metroid-dread-review-dont-dread-the-return-of-samus Tue, 12 Oct 2021 13:57:08 -0400 Jason D'Aprile

It’s been an absurdly long time since we got a new Metroid game. 2017’s Metroid Samus Returns was a 3DS-exclusive remake of the original Game Boy hit Metroid 2. It was superb but still not a great push forward for the series. Releasing right at the transition point between Nintendo’s two systems meant Switch owners never got the chance to play it. 

Metroid Dread is a full-on Switch sequel and definitely a reason to be excited. Dread adds an array of interesting new elements and abilities to Samus’ usual side-scrolling adventures but certainly doesn’t stray from the expected path of the previous games.

Metroid Dread Review: Don’t Dread the Return of Samus

This is absolutely a Metroid game in the purest, classic sense of the word. Anyone who’s ever played a game in the franchise will instantly know what to do here. On the same token, if for some reason you haven’t liked the series, Dread is unlikely to change your mind.

This time, Samus is sent to a planet ZDR after the Galactic Federation receives an anonymous video showing a deadly X parasite alive on the surface. As Samus is the only one in the galaxy vaccinated against X, only she can face down whatever threats lay in wait.

Dread’s major new edition to Metroid’s gameplay is a stealth and chase mechanic revolving around the Extraplanetary Multiform Mobile Identifier (E.M.M.I.) robots. These nigh-indestructible research bots were sent to ZDR initially to investigate the situation but then disappeared.

As it turns out, they’re still there doing rounds through certain parts of each map just waiting… for Samus, apparently.

To make matters worse, Samus still hasn’t installed any kind of backup or anti-tampering safeguards in her suit, so she promptly loses all her upgrades at the start of the game. A mysterious attacker overwhelms her and, as is the way of Metroid, forces Samus to start in her base suit.

Granted, the whole thing in Metroid is finding new abilities that, in turn, open new pathways, so this isn’t a surprising plot development.

As the game progresses, Samus earns a variety of both familiar and new upgrades. Better blasters, the morph ball and bomb, charge lasers, grapples, wall climbing, etc. We all know the drill. It’s the new additions that tie into the E.M.M.I. stealth and chase sequences that add distinction over past games.

For one thing, Samus gets invisibility, enabling her to hide from the robots (and pass through certain types of security doors). This sucks up energy and, if that’s depleted, her own health. The E.M.M.I. sections in each map are tense, full of blocked paths, multiple floors and doors, and can’t be avoided, so invisibility is helpful. Eventually, Samus reaches strange brain creatures who, upon death, bestow her with Omega energy.

The Omega cannon is the only weapon that can destroy an E.M.M.I. and lasts only as long as it takes to get rid of the pesky bot for that map section. These mini-boss battles against the bots are especially exciting since they force Samus to run from the bots, finding strategic spots to get shots off and charge up the gun for a well-aimed killing blow before the robot kills her. 

Another major new element is the parry. Samus now has a melee attack based on timing that can deflect some enemy attacks (especially physical attacks).

Successful parries result in a stunned enemy left wide open for a quick cannon shot. During boss battles, which are impressively cinematic, there are parry-related sequences that allow for massive damage. You can even parry the one-hit-kill attack of the E.M.M.I. bots, but the timing for this is maddeningly hard to nail down. 

Metroid Dread also looks superb. While the gameplay is entirely 2D, the game has a much more cinematic feel than earlier Metroids, and the environment looks and feels very three-dimensional. The multi-stage boss fights in particular use cinematic sequences as both transitions between stages and even some minor quick-time event-style bits to make things more epic. 

The soundtrack is perfect as well, with all the familiar notes and effects that immediately identify the game as Metroid. On the downside, load times (especially when transitioning between areas) are noticeably slow. Also, this being Metroid, it can be infuriatingly easy to get lost in the labyrinthian maps.

Metroid Dread Review — The Bottom Line

Pros

  • Looks superb and the atmosphere feels perfectly Metroid
  • Huge maps with plenty of power-ups and secrets to discover
  • Intense shooting, great exploration, and some stressful boss fights
  • New elements add to the core gameplay

Cons

  • Slow load times
  • Getting lost can be maddeningly easy

Metroid Dread is a fine return to form for the long-running series and welcome addition to the Switch library. While the game as a whole feels absolutely familiar, the new elements are interesting enough to give the sequel a distinct feel.

Dread is one of Nintendo’s best Switch exclusives.

[Note: The copy of Metroid Dread used for this review was purchased by the writer.]

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