Katana ZERO is really fantastic at providing mind-bending, reality altering sequences both in gameplay and story. While I never felt like I knew where things were going, it ultimately falls short of greatness by the end. With nothing more than a tease and a wink, the game ends, feeling unfinished with too much of a setup to continue via DLC or a sequel. That said, Katana ZERO is absolutely a worthwhile slashction platformer that does unexpected things with its story to make this a must play.
At five dollars, ISLANDERS is a steal. What it lacks in permanence, it more than makes up for in replayability thanks to its point system for score chasers and procedurally generated landscapes. I only wish I could zoom in to get a better look at what I’ve made, but that’s a quibble against something really fantastic and cool. Beyond that, this is a game I keep coming back to for how laid back it is, for it relaxes me between games I’m playing. ISLANDERS is simply wonderful, a micro game for macro enjoyment.
Dangerous Driving is somewhat basic for a racer, but this offering goes at incredible speeds and has unexpected depth and nostalgia for a series that’s found new life. On PC, you’ll have to forego some modern features and connectivity over its console brethren. The amount of hours you’ll spend in Dangerous Driving feels really good, and something you’ll keep coming back to. Dangerous Driving has its flaws, but it’s a magnificent return to form from a small team that knows how to make a Burnout game all but in name.
Limbic Entertainment has breathed new life into Tropico that seemingly had offered all it could with the last entry. Tropico 6 eschews the things that didn't work, keeps the things that did, and introduces tons of great new features. I enjoy how the way the new systems play off of one another, that landmasses change how traffic is shaped, the genius levels of pirating world wonders from their original locations, all adds up to a streamlined offering that lets the personality shine through. Tropico 6 doesn't miss a beat with its latest entry, even with a new developer behind the series – in fact, it is the best of the series because of it.
Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 is absolutely packed with content and things to do, and those things to do never, ever get boring. There’s so much to talk about still, but this is such a wonderfully crafted game. With such a focus on longevity and setting the bar so high for quality of activities, it gives me the confidence in this game, and its future updates. I’ve never before seen such care taken into account for all players at every turn of a game. This is the most improved sequel ever made. Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 is simply astounding.
Xenon Racer looks and feels just like a game you’d find in the arcade. It’s such an easy game to pick-up and play for any amount of time. It’s a fun game that suffers from just being generic, and lacking any kind of personality. It’s missing something I can’t quite put my finger on, but I think for the right price this is a good get. Xenon Racer doesn’t try to be anything more than it is, so with that, you’ll find a solid futuristic racer to play.
Hypnospace Outlaw uses its own originality to spark nostalgia for the weirdest time on the internet: the late 90s. It takes a while for it to “click”, but when it does, it’s an absolute treat as you work through your cases. With a solid 10-12 hours for the story to reach its conclusion, this is a fantastic experience I want more of. With there being more discovery and fascination ahead, you’ll only want to spend more time on this faux internet. While I wasn’t fond of the times I had to retread territory I had already cleansed, Hypnospace Outlaw is the most fun I’ve had playing a game this year so far.
After Trials Fusion, it was unclear where the series would be going from there. Trials Rising feels refreshing and more down to Earth this time around. It never fails to impress, make you laugh, or affirm you’re in complete control. This is a game that’s always fun to pick up and play, even if the things like gear crates and load times on the periphery aren’t. It’s clear RedLynx haven’t run out of tricks yet, and Trials Rising cements that – this is the best Trials has felt yet.
Far Cry New Dawn is all over the place, as crafting and resource gathering slow the game down. The RPG elements are unnecessary and not at all fitting for Far Cry. The story moves at a feverish pace, and ultimately stumbles across the finish line with underdeveloped characters, grinding materials for upgrades, and a lackluster finale. With all of that said, the shooting, stealth, and open-world are still an absolute joy. And Far Cry New Dawn finally ties up some loose ends that were dangling in Far Cry 5. Far Cry New Dawn makes the apocalypse overwhelmingly colorful, fun, and an exciting twist on the environment of Hope County.
ACE COMBAT 7: SKIES UNKNOWN has some really solid missions that deal with political and military intrigue, a fantastic weather system, and constant chatter that wouldn't normally be tolerated by any military force. It's a bizarre and endearing title that's an absolute a joy to play. ACE COMBAT has been sorely missed for the past twelve years (we don't talk about 2012's Assault Horizon). ACE COMBAT 7: SKIES UNKNOWN is a triumph, and return to form.
ASTRONEER is as long or as short as you want it to be. It’s the kind of game that de-stresses you at the end of the day, and something you can play with friends for zero friction. You’re always making progress, and the game saves often, in addition to entering vehicles and bases to save as well. System Era Softworks have made an incredible crafting and exploration game in ASTRONEER. In learning the systems means you become more proficient at trying out the new planets and the challenges they offer. As such, you’re never marooned in one place too long, and you never want to be – there’s so much to see and do.
The Hong Kong Massacre is just short of something great here. But many things that works against it, and things that it lacks. And VRESKI clearly have some work to do to get the game in better shape. When it works, the game really starts to flow like a stream of blood carrying spent shell casings. This feels especially good when you finally clear a level you’ve been stuck on, as it feels truly sublime, like you’re unstoppable. And that’s when The Hong Kong Massacre is at its, and your best.
FutureGrind is incredibly well thought out and designed. It understands what it is, and what it asks of you. The instant restarts are a feature it couldn’t live without, and it’s story mode is more than enough to carry you through. The game is wide open for DLC and expansions to do more of what it does so well. What this all amounts to, is that FutureGrind quickly becomes technically demanding for you to do mental and physical gymnastics with the controls. It never is anything insurmountable, but rather constantly forcing you to reteach your brain what bike you’re using, and what modifiers are on the track. This kind of thinking is necessary to reach the end, and work towards those diamonds. FutureGrind feels familiar and fresh all in the same breath, but it is certainly a standout title from Milkbag Games that’s the first must play of 2019.
Elastic Games gets it right with Last Year: The Nightmare as it easily gets its hooks in you from the start. With a free content road-map outlined for 2019, the future looks bright going forward. It has a few bugs that keep it from greatness, but nothing to keep anyone from playing it right now. As you get paired up with random people and are forced to work together, this is the kind of game you make friends from. If you want to see what the definition of a successful Kickstarter is, look no further than Last Year. Upcoming platforms are in for a treat, as Last Year: The Nightmare is a killer game.
Developer New World Interactive have plans for post-launch support, and possibly a campaign in the future. There’s a limited number of maps and modes here, but there’s a lot of game all the same. Insurgency: Sandstorm is heart-pounding in every match and mode, and there’s little room for error. New World Interactive’s vision is unmatched, though notably niche. You’ll not find another first-person shooter in a hardcore setting than what Insurgency: Sandstorm provides.
Hitman 2 brings in more of what I loved about the first game and then some. The tight gameplay, the serious but comical undertone, and the plethora of challenging bits to accomplish make Hitman 2 an amazing package. It’s unfortunate that IO forces you to connect to a server to actually access the challenge information, let alone be able to save your progression of them. It leaves a nasty stain on such a pristine, near perfect white suit.
DUSK looks, feels, and acts like a classic first-person shooter from the 90s, but doesn't rely on anything but itself to impress you. From the first moment when the ominous voice saying "KILL THE INTRUDER", DUSK sets a tone that it delivers every step of the way. The DUSKWORLD multiplayer is mildly disappointing, but doesn't take away from what an amazing offering the campaign is. DUSK revives the first-person genre with a customizable retro aesthetic, a head-banging soundtrack, and levels that rival modern first-person shooters; DUSK is the FPS dreams are made of.
Just Cause 4‘s villains never have enough screen-time to warrant their position of power or revenge, but this game is the equivalent of a popcorn flick for video games. It’s as ridiculous as the series gets, where the bad guys are trying to control the weather (the weather!), and Rico is the perfect person to remove them from power. Just Cause 4 is at its best when it isn’t too serious, and focuses on the fun and silly – which this game has in spades. Just Cause 4 is a great ride from start to finish.