CreativeForge’s Phantom Doctrine is one of the most refreshing tactics games I’ve played in years. It combines 80s espionage and XCOM style tactics amidst the Cold War during the Reagan administration. You’re given you the choice of playing either a member of the KGB or the CIA. It’s the closest to playing an episode of “The Americans” as it gets. Though, Phantom Doctrine is more than the television series it reminds me of, and very much its own thing that’s done well. Phantom Doctrine is incredibly complex, deep, and satisfying that gets its hooks in you immediately.
Overcooked 2 is like that trusty little hole in the wall restaurant you always go to. You know the one, that special spot where they always serve great meals in a great atmosphere. The one you tell all your friends about and try to take them to. When they do come, you quickly get frustrated with each other because they decided washing a dish was more important than chopping some much-needed steak while your other friend is off in a corner throwing onions all over the place. You know, just another day at your local eatery.
Dead Cells is a first of its kind roguevania, and while the idea of mashing up these genres seems a bit strange, it works incredibly well. If you didn’t know, this has been on Steam Early Access for the past year and change. When I previewed this last year, I knew it was something special. Now with the “1.0” build, I’m confident in saying that it’s still special, a prime example of Early Access done right, and one of the finest games of the year.
Pool Panic is the most bizarre and wildly fascinating games I’ve played in a while. This should come as no surprise when you see the publisher is Adult Swim Games. But what’s really interesting is, is the sheer amount of things to do. Like Golf Story, it’s not really about pool, but does use elements of it as its basis for gameplay. While it doesn’t have the emotional depth of that game, it does have the gameplay depth of it. You play as a cue ball himself, and send yourself to different areas and knock balls into holes. While that’s the basics, the complex nature of each level’s own twists and turns is like a puzzle to be solved. ♫ He’s got the pool world, in his hands. He’s got the pool wide world, in his hands… ♫
Train Sim World has simultaneously released onto PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Train Sim World is about accessibility, not only for all different kinds of players, but platforms as well. This is the kind of game that depicts the dream kids have of being a train conductor, and this is a first-person view of that life. Train Sim World is very much what you see is what you get. And what you get is a fantastic simulation with gorgeous graphics that covers all types of trains that will please casual and hardcore fans alike.
Enlightenment takes roguelike elements we’ve come to know over the past few years, and presents them in a familiar light. It wouldn’t be strange to say that this is like a top-down Bloodborne with a focus on guns like a an action RPG. LizardKing’s first game as a development studio impresses as it delivers a game where every step could be your last, as death is a constant. Enlightenment is a fresh of breath air as far as roguelikes go, but encroaches too much on familiarity of other games you know and love that suffocates itself by trying to be too much like the others.
Sonic Mania captured the nostalgia of playing a SEGA Genesis-esque Sonic game while modernizing it for today’s audience. It clever mixed classic levels with remixed levels of the developers own tweaking to be new while feeling familiar. Now with Sonic Mania Plus, there is even more Sonic Mania to be had, making it incredibly satisfying and the ultimate version of the game to play and own for people of all ages.
Mugsters comes from one-person development studio, Reinkout Games. Touted as a combination of “GTA 2 + Blast Corps“, I can see that with the open-ended design and environmental destruction that can occur. It doesn’t quite deliver on that promise, but what it does is provide is puzzles that can be completed in any order and in any way to provide freedom of choice in single-player or in coop. Mugsters is a unique title that won’t leave a lasting impression, but it will entertain for hours.
MOTHERGUNSHIP is one of my favorite things to say as of late, it sounds like a curse word, but isn’t actually anything vulgar. It is a very apt description, and is a game that has elements of roguelike mixed with being a bullet-hell first-person shooter. The developer’s prior game, Tower of Guns was a game you liked or didn’t, but is the evolution and improvement of that game in so many ways. MOTHERGUNSHIP has a crafting system to build your own guns, and alongside procedural generation make this a wholly unique shooter.
What’s in front of us is Danger Zone 2, a game that succeeds and one-upping itself. Gone is the old testing, hologram, confined spaces of the first game. Danger Zone 2 takes place entirely outside, on roads, and it’s about causing the most mayhem, and maximizing damage for the highest score in the form of cash. A change of setting isn’t all, Danger Zone 2 feels the closest to a Burnout game yet, and with another title coming this year, should be the culmination of what Three Fields Entertainment envisioned when they formed.