Limbo, when I reviewed it all those years ago, was one of the few games that compelled me to reward it a perfect score. Inside isn’t just a marked improvement on Playdead’s formula, it smashes through the benchmark Limbo set tenfold, leaving me to ponder how a team so small can produce an experience so damn grand.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is a triumph in world-building, character craft and downright skulduggery. Being bad has never felt so good as Rockstar toe the realism line while still keeping their sharp, trademark tongue in cheek. It's the keen attention to detail where Rockstar succeeds and this outlaw prequel comfortably outperforms their best works and in time, I believe, will be regarded as a once in a generation game.
It's hard to fault Marvel's Spider-Man as Insomniac has taken their game to the next level. As a developer, they have gone from strength to strength and Spider-Man is a culmination of their past hits. There's a stunning verticality that compliments the game's watertight mechanics and, despite the literal boundaries, still makes the city seem boundless. If you're a Marvel die-hard, there's enough fanfare here to sink a ship as Spider-Man emerges as the new gold standard. Spider-Man is, without question, the best superhero game ever.
I'd declare Half-Life: Alyx the new age of the first-person shooter, if the uptake of virtual reality had been a little more promising so far. It is a cut above everything I've ever played within a headset and it's a brave, risky step for a long-dormant series to take. It takes a special team to withhold for thirteen years and deliver on an impossible hype and yet Half-Life: Alyx was worth every one of those 4,548 days.
In another triumph for the humble indie game, Hyper Light Drifter delivers the year’s best action-adventure hybrid so far. It’s best in class on all fronts that count, offering up razor sharp gameplay, an ultra-stylish coat of paint that, when served with a smashing synth, drips an unforgettable atmosphere.
It's a bit unfair to compare Cuphead to almost any other of the brutally tough platformers I've grown to love recently, as it lacks the filler. It gets straight to the good stuff and gives us an almost 'greatest hits' of boss fights. And if they don't get better and more rewarding as they go, I'll go eat. So while you've still got to be a masochist at heart to get through the 'true' Cuphead, people of all ages and backgrounds would be able to sit in front of the television and appreciate Cuphead for its sense of style and its ability to evoke that childlike wonder that was, until now, dormant in most of us.
I fell out of love with Assassin's Creed a long time ago, but Origins has recaptured the magic that made the series a powerhouse all those years ago. With its humble protagonist, whose outlook on life is clouded by relateable and crushing heartbreak, and a world so detail-rich, it's hard not to be floored by everything Origins manages to be. Assassin's Creed Origins is the definitive action-adventure game of the year. It's a wild power fantasy that satisfies not only a curious thirst for knowledge but both bloodlust and wanderlust to such lengths it's almost gluttonous.
Just like Rocksteady did for Batman, Arc System Works has carried Dragon Ball to the upper echelon, crafting a tag-fighting game that captures not only the series' distinctive style but its spirit. FighterZ stands alongside other versatile, yet accessible, games like Marvel vs. Capcom with ease in what is the best fighting game in recent memory. It's a shame the servers hamstring the experience so badly, rendering the game's online a bit of a mess.
Celeste not only joins a long list of phenomenal platforming royalty, but it stands as a mighty pillar among the very best of them. Its message is clear albeit clumsy, though that doesn't detract from its very real and relatable cast of flawed characters. It's challenging in ways many games aren't while managing to maintain an endless supply of magic.