When it comes to gaming, this is by far the most welcome surprise I’ve had all year. Practically every issue I had with the first Evil Within is addressed here in some shape or form. The horror is ramped up, the storyline intriguing, the leads interesting and the gameplay fantastic. The Evil Within 2 takes the premise of a ‘single player, linear, story-driven game’ and proves that it can be done without placing too much emphasis on the ‘linear’ part of the equation. What Tango Gameworks has accomplished here is nothing short of fantastic. Well done!
I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Middle-earth: Shadow of War. I'm a huge fan of the lore and world here, so that should come as no surprise. What ultimately clinches the deal however, is just how much fun this is to play. I'm utterly addicted to the Nemesis system and everything it churns out, not to mention taking part in epic sieges and open warfare. Yes, the soundtrack is honestly a letdown. On top of that, I'm wary of the very idea of lootboxes touching a singleplayer game, even one as content-packed as this. Not to mention, if you aren't enjoying everything the game has to offer, it might feel like a bit of a grind towards the end. Ultimately however, that doesn't take away too much from what Monolith Productions has accomplished here: An epic conclusion to the story that was started in Shadow of Mordor, a legitimately living world that reacts to player decisions or indecision, and a game set in Middle Earth that feels awesome to play.
Ark: Survival Evolved is very interesting case study of a game, with fascinating history due to its prolonged time in Early Access / Game Preview. At the same time, it's undeniably one of the biggest success stories for Early Access as a whole, a program flooded with survival titles. No, there really isn't much of a story, which is a shame given the few cryptic hints of lore that are present. Yes, there are still glitches, bugs and server issues that need to be addressed. All of that in mind, if you are fan of survival games, this is undeniably THE definitive survival game to play. Taming dinosaurs and exploring an island that defies time is wondrous, doubly so if you have friends to play it with. At a full retail price of $60, if you are both a fan of survival games and are intent on forming a tribe with people you play games with, it's definitely worth a go.
Ultimately, I feel that Deck13 Interactive has established themselves, showing a willingness to adapt and experiment with the gameplay and genre present in Lords of the Fallen. However, it isn't just a shift of setting but rather an expansion of the gameplay mechanics that help to set The Surge apart. It's a decently realized world that feels legitimately fun to play. With that in mind, it's also clear that certain aspects are still being held back, especially in regards to the pacing, story and soundtrack. It's a shame really, as it's a combination that keeps The Surge back from being a special game, into merely a good one.
When you take all these different elements into account, it becomes clear that Prey is greater than the sum of its parts. The intriguing story that adapts to your decisions, the emphasis on player creativity and thinking your way out of problems, the beautiful art design, it all works together well. Yes, the loading screens might get annoying. Yes, hearing the exact same tones when you die is groan worthy. Yet those don’t take away from the countless other things Prey gets right. Frankly, deducting points for those two incredibly minor things, especially given how they might not even annoy other players depending on how they play, feels utterly vindictive. There are so many other things done right here that this amazing experience is not held back in any way. Obviously there’s no such thing as a truly perfect game. However, I must say that Prey comes incredibly close.
Taking everything into perspective, I found Rain World to be an absolute gem. There's not much of an explicit story, yet the world is spelled out all around you with your experiences in this ecosystem personalizing each encounter. The difficulty can be a nice throwback however, the fact that your progress can be so easily lost is going to be a 'make or break' point for most gamers. If that's something you can't deal with, I strongly emphasize my caution to you to stay away. For those who do choose to press on, you're in for an incredible journey through a world that's truly unique every time through.
Ultimately, Styx: Shards of Darkness is a great game however, it is a STEALTH game, with no misconceptions of anything else thrown in, that must be understood. Sure, the satirical nature of the world might not get fleshed out quite as much as I'd have liked but the refreshing tone is more than enough as-is. The gameplay is fun and the options provide great replayability to each level. Not to mention, of course, Styx himself, who provides comedy and wit galore. If you're looking for a stealth title that will have you creeping cautiously through vast levels while trying not to laugh your head off, then Styx: Shards of Darkness is definitely the game for you
Trulon: The Shadow Engine has decent card-based combat and a fantastic world. However, a myriad of issues such as stuttering and crashing plague the game, while the story never really develops in a meaningful way. It's still decently fun to play, however at I can't really recommend it at $20. If it looks like something you'd want to try, wait for a sale.