Despite a few minor issues and annoyances I had with the controls, Ancestors Legacy is one of the best RTS games I’ve played on any console with its interesting narratives, satisfying combat and accessible nature. Working your way through all eight campaigns should take you at least fifty hours if you play on the correct difficulty for your skill level; with the skirmish and multiplayer boosting your playtime even more, should you wish to play solo or with friends. Although some aspects of the game may not be historically accurate, the developers have done a great job at transporting you to the various time periods with visually stunning locations.
Solo: Islands of the Heart stands out as one of the only games I can think of which alters it’s narrative towards your own personal experiences. As such, it was really interesting to play through and receive a personalised story at the end which was built around my past situations and feelings towards an old relationship. If this was it, I would be happy with it, but it’s not – there’s also a lot of clever puzzles which require you to think and perform a lot of trial and error in order to solve. I love how each puzzle can be resolved in a number of ways, just like how our feelings aren’t always black and white as well, things can be moved about and adapted in various ways in order to proceed both in the game and in life. This really is a delightful title which everyone should play.
FIA European Truck Racing Championship is a rather unique and time-consuming racing game. With the settings all set to default, a single race weekend will take you approximately three hours to complete, three hours of driving around the same racetrack in hopes of catching up to the parallel-running CPU who hardly ever slow down to give you an advantage. Not to mention the large number of penalties you can incur by breaking the official rules, thus further increasing your time and making restarting the race your only chance of success. However, despite the brutal nature, the unforgiving punishments, the long-winded racing (which I turned down) and the credit system not currently working, I quickly became addicted to this game and couldn’t stop playing.
Automachef is the gaming equivalent of Marmite, you’ll either love it or hate it. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys micromanaging all the various aspects of your creation in order to get the most out of it (such as Theme Park, Railway Empire, Tropico, etc), then you’ll most likely appreciate the depth and complexity of this rather simple-looking resource management game. However, if you’re not a fan of games which require a lot of planning with many trial and error attempts, you probably won’t get the level of satisfaction I got. There’s a whole host of machines and recipes to work with, as well as the endless Contract mode and Mods/Custom Scenarios (if you’re on PC), so you’ll never get bored or run out of things to do within this game.
Despite changing a number of mechanics and aspects of the game, I thoroughly enjoyed playing Wolfenstein: Youngblood. If you’ve got a friend to play with, or don’t mind jumping in with a stranger, then the enjoyment you’ll get out of the title will be a lot more than playing solo, not because it’s bad if you play on your own, it’s just a bit harder as your AI companion can be a bit unpredictable. There are tonnes of side missions, collectables and secrets to uncover, but the game does begin to get a little repetitive and annoying with the respawning enemies and level-based bullet sponges. However, I don’t mind monotony and repetitive games as it means I can play them without being 100% focused all the time, so I personally found the experience enjoyable and entertaining, especially the narrative later on into the game.
Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot was a fun experience despite its short length and questionable controls. I've always enjoyed burning Nazis, I can't think of anything better to do on a hot Summer's day, so being able to do it in virtual reality just further enhanced my enjoyment which I had within this mini-Wolfenstein title. I had a few issues with the controls, in terms of the available space required, but it never really impacted my overall experience as I simply readjusted myself IRL. Personally, this should have been an added companion to Wolfenstein: Youngblood but that doesn't make it a bad game, it just didn't feel as involved or content-rich as I'd expected when I first heard about it.
If you’re looking for something different and enjoy platforming, puzzles and rhythm games, SongBird Symphony is for you! Each new area and species of bird you meet has its own soundtrack as well as fun and entertaining song-battle for you to take part within. I couldn’t help myself from singing along, cheering for our small protagonist’s achievements, becoming heartbroken when bad things happen, and cheering him on when all hope was lost. I’ve not been this emotionally attached to a video game for a while, I wanted to step into the game and give Birb a massive hug and never let go. I did find some of the song battles a bit overwhelming and borderline unfair, but it didn’t stop progression and there’s no requirement to achieve an S-rank on them for trophies or the in-game narrative.
Personally, I believe Cytus Alpha is the best rhythm-based game out on the Nintendo Switch, despite its little-known soundtrack. With over 200 songs to unlock, an intriguing story to uncover, and an online leaderboard to climb, there are literally hours upon hours worth of content awaiting your twitchy fingers! Launching with support for both touch and Joycon gameplay, the developers learnt from their previous release (VOEZ) and made the game accessible to all from the get-go (even though I strongly urge everyone to play with touch and not the Joycons if possible). The artwork is glorious, the music is amazing, and the gameplay is as smooth as you can get – I’m really struggling to find anything negative about this incredible game.
Despite not having any interest in cars whatsoever, Car Mechanic Simulator blew me away with its realism and fun factor. Sure, some people may see this game as a boring, mundane job-like experience where all you do is repair cars for the various clients who contact your shop, but others will find relaxation, satisfaction, and interesting educational aspects to the same concept. As someone who loves to take things apart to find the fault in them, then put them back together and witness the once-dead device come to life, this game was perfect for me. Progression is, unfortunately, a long and tedious journey which will take you many hours until you begin to unlock the more advanced tools and abilities which makes the game much more entertaining and enjoyable. My advice – stick with it as it’s worth it.
Sea of Solitude is an emotional journey in which we help giant creatures come to terms with their issues and resolve them. Whereas the game feels like it’s taken great inspiration from silent indie titles, such as RiME, this game provides spoken narrative in order to tell its story, a story which a lot of us can relate to. For a game encased within symbolism, metaphors, hidden meanings, and the personification of emotions, the whole aesthetic and art style of the game are beyond stunning – thanks to the simplist nature of the visuals combined with the complexity of the design. Taking around four to five hours to complete, even longer if you wish to find all of the collectables, I feel this is the perfect length as it tells its story with great pacing.
Despite its short length, Draugen is a narrative adventure which you shouldn’t miss out on. Visually the game is absolutely stunning, from it’s highly detailed and realistic characters to the picturesque environments within this Norwegian setting, it’s easy to get lost in the moment as you wander around and admire its beauty. Thanks to the mysterious and harrowing nature of the narrative, the story brings up questions which will stick with you long after you’ve seen the final credits roll – some of which may be answered in the prequel comic book which is due for release later this year as (possibly free) DLC.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II is the perfect way to deliver a sequel to an amazing game, it takes what was great about the first title and expands various aspects whilst adding in new mechanics in order to further enhance your experience. It has an extensive explanation on what happened in the first game but I’d highly recommend you play that first and then this one in order to get the full story and live the journey for yourself. From the addition of new attacks, giant mech battles within Valimar, a map-based exploration system, and evolved skills, everything is what you’d expect from a Nihon Falcom JRPG – it’s an amazing game and stands up today despite the fact it originated as a last-gen title.
The Sinking City is basically Sherlock Holmes off his tits on Opium after reading the works of H.P. Lovecraft. It combines all of the great deduction and investigation mechanics we’ve seen in Frogwares‘ Sherlock games with adequate combat mechanics and an emphasis on plotting out your own map based on the clues you uncover. Whereas I wasn’t a massive fan of the combat in place, it helped mix things up a little so that you’re swapping between investigating and killing things. Neither version I played (PC and PS4) felt perfect, in terms of its performance, but it wasn’t enough to put me off playing the game as the gripping story and horrific aesthetics had me hooked.
Despite being a weaker console than it’s bigger brothers, the Switch version of Red Faction Guerrilla: ReMARStered is a feature-perfect port. Sure, the resolution takes a big hit and the performance seems like it may be targeting a lower framerate than the other systems, but the core gameplay and excitement is all there and it feels great to play this game anywhere you want.
Judgment is basically Yakuza crossed with Ace Attorney, the perfect combination of Power, Corruption, Crime and Mystery. Expanding upon everything we’ve seen the developer do previously, what we have here is a game which is so familiar yet different at the same time – familiar surroundings and places combined with new games, events and people to interact with. Although the game is heavy on the tried and tested mechanics of the Yakuza series, Judgment brings a lot of its own unique gameplay elements such as investigative segments as you stalk your prey, searching for evidence, and even dressing up in various disguises. Judgment has a deep and intriguing story encased within a multitude of separate narratives, not many games can pull that off yet Judgment did it flawlessly. I honestly can’t recommend this game enough to both Yakuza fans and people new to this style of game.
For a simple remaster, The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel looks and plays great. I say ‘simple’ because there’s not been that many enhancements outside of the visuals. Sure, we get a perfect 60fps, a crystal clear 4k, and the heavenly ‘turbo mode’ which makes traversing the world so much more satisfying, but there’s no extra content, no new chapters, no enhanced backstory, or platform-specific dungeons/areas to visit. However, a game isn’t as good as it looks, it’s as good as it plays; The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel is a bloody brilliant JRPG game which I’m quite ashamed I’ve never actually played before grabbing it on the PS4. The story is very interesting, with lots of separate stories and events going on which all combinate into an intriguing and exciting narrative, combined with very satisfying and strategic combat. The combat itself may look generic and simple from the outside, but once you’ve cranked up the difficulty to eleven, it’s time to turn on your little grey cells as you swap your students on the fly and link them together in order to maximise their efficiency.
Trover Saves the Universe is the funniest game I’ve played all year, both in and out of VR. I think it’s the first time in a while where I’ve laughed so hard I almost cried whilst wearing my headset. The narrative is brilliant, with its simple plot that has been twisted into something so much more thanks to the comedic genius, Justin Roiland. Although you can play the entire game in both VR and Flat-mode, VR adds a whole new level onto the immersion as you take the place of the silent ‘Chairtagonist’ in your quest to save the world with your purple slave. This is a ‘must buy’ for everyone who owns a PS4 or PC.
Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs is a short game, yet one of the best physics-based VR puzzle games I’ve played. It captures the thrill and enjoyment of the original Angry Birds game and perfectly replicates the concept within a Virtual Reality space for you to play with. Every single character, be it friend or foe, has it’s own personality and charm – it’s a shame that hardly anyone is left alive by the time you reach the end credits! Created as a simple game for everyone to enjoy, Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs can be played by people of all ages, both Left and Right handed people, people of any skill level, and those new to VR thanks to the static nature which causes no nausea at all. If you like the Angry Birds franchise, or even if you just love physics-based puzzles, then check this game out today!
Kotodama: The 7 Mysteries of Fujisawa was both a fun and intriguing Visual Novel which had me hooked right until the end. The spin on the ‘Match-three’ formula worked really well and delivered an ‘interesting’ method of breaking down the characters lies and unveiling the truth hidden underneath (as well as their naked bodies). The way the game links the various mysterious events together was really well done, prompting you to relive the same week in order to use your prior knowledge to progress in a different direction. How to unlock the True Ending was a little confusing, but with a little nudge, I was able to achieve it with no issues.
Despite the repetitive and monotonous nature of American Fugitive, I really enjoyed the story and the unique gameplay aspects. Rather than a simple twin-stick shooter or GTA classic clone, the developers introduced realistic mechanics such as breaking and entering and having to avoid being seen whilst carrying out criminal actions. There’s a lot of game to play through, although you’ll instantly feel the strain of the limited amount of gameplay mechanics on offer after a few hours. As such, I’d say this game is perfect for playing in small bursts as the missions aren’t too long, doing that will eliminate any monotonous and déjà vu gameplay.