Operencia: The Stolen Sun is a dungeon crawler that looks modern, but acts like a classic. Zen Studios does something new for the studio, emulating games like Legend of Grimlock or Wizardry before it, but have given it a fresh spin using Central European folktales as the backdrop for its story. Operencia: The Stolen Sun is hampered only by design decisions that don’t give you the freedom of choice that you’re inclined to believe. It is however, a fantastic adventure start to finish with excellent gameplay to back it up.
A director’s job is never done. In the first expansion DLC: The Foundation, it aims to explore the depths of The Oldest House with the Bureau’s newest Director, Jesse Faden. CONTROL blew me away last year, and became my Game of the Year for 2019; which set high expectations for the expansions to follow, and The Foundation does not disappoint. Remedy’s weird, occult narrative-driven shooter is still very much present and accounted for here. It falls short in a few areas, but continues investing in and inventing bizarre problems for Jesse to solve. CONTROL – The Foundation in a lot of ways feels like the second season of a television show: some of the mystery is gone, but you know the characters, and now there’s a rhythm to it that keeps you interested.
HyperParasite is a twin-stick rogue-lite adventure. This might be all you need to know to cement your purchase. It has an 80s esthetic that’s full of pixels, neon, and catchphrases that are totally radical. It has a really unique hook that separates itself from the other roguelikes out there, and requires a lot more skill from you as well. As quickly as you’ll die, you’ll just as quickly want to get back into the action.
“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” – Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace.
Iron Danger from Action Squad Studios and Daedalic Entertainment embraces time with a idiosyncratic gameplay mechanic that makes it unlike anything else out there. Though the patience to get through some encounters has been sometimes draining. Iron Danger offers a ton of possibilities under the banner of tactical combat where you can erase failure and write success at-will to great triumph. While I think there’s something special to be found here, this is a game undercut by an overall lack of polish.
You’ve Entered the Gungeon, now it’s time to Exit the Gungeon. Exit the Gungeon is admittedly a bite-sized game in size and scope, and this self-proclaimed ‘dungeon climber’ has finally left the exclusivity on Apple Arcade for PC and Switch. The shift from an overhead to a side perspective has its ups and downs, mostly ups. Exit the Gungeon is a tightly packed adventure that’s better enjoyed in short bursts, and captures what worked well in Enter the Gungeon, but on a smaller scale.
You know those special experiences in life that change you? Those trips to new and exciting places, or small discoveries in your own back yard that completely alter your perspective? The one-of-a-kind memories you cling to and spend hours marinating in, longing to relive, hoping one day for a chance to recreate that magic. In many ways, that was Ori and the Blind Forest for me. It wasn’t a perfect game, but it was damn close to it, and the world created in that game was unlike anything else I had seen in a video game before, and I have longed to go back and see more of it ever since completing that game.
Nearly ten years ago we were introduced to War, youngest of the Four Horsemen of the apocalypse, in the first release of the Darksiders franchise. Now in it’s fourth installment, Darksiders: Genesis, War returns alongside Strife for another mutation of the Darksiders formula, this time blending its light character action combat and exploration mechanics with aspects of ARPGs to create something that feels both familiar and fresh. It’s a clever approach to fleshing out more of the Darksiders back story, and continuing to experiment with the series’ format and mechanics, without necessarily having to go all-in on a full-fledged AAA release.
There are plenty of games out there about making friends, exploring islands, and having adventures. There are games that explore themes of childhood, themes of tragedy and loss, and coming of age stories. There are even games that prominently feature geese. And then, there is Knights and Bikes, a game which combines all of these elements, but in a way that is unique, special, and meaningful. It encourages you to connect with the characters and the story, and it uses elements of imaginary play, fantasy, and a little bit of magical realism to bridge the gap and draw you in. For a game that looks like a cutesy romp on its surface, Knights and Bikes delivers a solid story and memorable characters that will stick with you well after you set down your controller.
THE BROTHERHOOD, a development team of two brothers who brought us the horror adventures of STASIS and CAYNE are back, in a big way. BEAUTIFUL DESOLATION is an extremely apt name. This is a game that delivers a post-apocalypse experience like no other. This is an isometric adventure game where you’ll explore, engage in conversation, and solve puzzles. How it comes together is just masterfully executed, making BEAUTIFUL DESOLATION the best game I’ve played so far this year.
Table Manners ups the dating game, allowing you to get hands-on in your relationships with every date. You’d expect controlling a disembodied hand to be a VR title, but this purely a non-VR game with a focus on simulation. Once you get a handle on the controls, you will have a good time. Until then, there’s a bit of frustration fighting the physics as you are trying to impress your dates. What’s love got to do with it?
Dead Cells: The Bad Seed from Motion Twin and Evil Empire provides several new areas to Dead Cells meant to shake things up. They modify the game in a way that makes it feel exciting and new, that if you’ve been playing for any length of time, has either become incredibly predictable or overstayed its welcome. The DLC is well worth the asking price, and the locations and associated enemies are to die for. The Bad Seed never felt so good.
TurtleBlaze and The Arcade Crew have something special in KUNAI. It’s what they call a “techroidvania” which, you know what means, and you know what kind of game this is. KUNAI is full of style and self-aware humor that blends so well. KUNAI has zippy traversal, swift combat, and satisfying progression that makes it an early must-play for the year.
I reviewed Gear.Club Unlimited 2 over a year ago for the Switch, and it was not a great game. Navigating menus is a drag with most of your time spent waiting. Plus, cars drive like they have a pole stabbed through the middle, one of the greatest sins in a racing game. But there were some bright spots where you could see potential improvement. All that’s to say that the Porsche Edition doesn’t change any of that.
Milestone has the dirt bike racing market cornered. With the MXGP series all about motocross, a discipline with longer, wider courses during the summer months. And the Monster Energy Supercross series encompasses supercross, a discipline with shorter, narrower courses over the spring months. With Monster Energy Supercross – The Official Videogame 3, Milestone demonstrates that they continue to expand and improve the core experience in meaningful ways, making it the best entry to date.