It's heartbreaking that Avicii isn't around to experience a project that he had so much passion for come to fruition, but he'd be proud of what's been accomplished here. It harkens back to rhythm gaming greats while scorching ahead on a path of its own, and for a good cause to boot.
Pokemon Sword and Shield is an excellent entry in Game Freak's iconic franchise, pushing the series forward in some exciting ways while never forgetting the roots that made it so loved in the first place. While it underwhelms in its visuals and under-baked use of new ideas, the act of exploring Galar and catching creatures remains as delightfully compelling as it's ever been – and that's what really matters in the end.
Death Stranding is unlike anything else out there right now. It's huge, innovative and utterly unashamed in what it wants to be. Kojima Productions is heavy-handed in its implementation of modern political themes, but they tie into the narrative and involve the player in ways that feel compelling.
Infinity Ward's reboot of the iconic classic doesn't surpass the original, but does a fantastic job of translating its formula into the modern era. A thrilling solo campaign alongside a robust selection of multiplayer options ensure this package is well worth a visit, even if the long-awaited return of Special Ops just about misses the mark.
A mixture of lovely characters and a world brimming with imaginative ideas is complemented by a rock-solid combat system and experimental platforming that blend together strangely, but just works. If you're after a smaller adventure in-between the coming month's biggest releases, not much will shine brighter than this gem.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is an excellent remake of an already enamoured classic, translating its unorthodox approach to a traditional Zelda outing into the modern day with absolute ease. Even after two decades and change, it still plays like a dream and looks even better thanks to its adorable diorama visuals.
AI: The Somnium Files is yet another winner from Kotaro Uchikoshi, expanding upon Spike Chunsoft's renown formula and pushing it in bold new directions. It can fumble in its visuals and mechanics, but look beyond a few of its weaker elements and there's a truly original adventure brimming with excellent ideas.
River City Girls is so much fun and one of the most enjoyable brawlers I've played in a long time. Developers Arc System Works and Wayforward have made the genre feel surprisingly modern with its anime aesthetic and sharp, tongue-in-cheek approach to dialogue and world design. It's self-aware enough that every joke lands, every location feels distinct and every musical track is an experimental banger. If you're after a charming beat 'em up – grab a friend and help Kyoko and Misako track down their boyfriends. You won't regret it.
Gears 5 is the series' most ambitious entry to date, bringing with it an endless wave of revolutionary ideas that the franchise has been in desperate need of for years. The Coalition's mark has finally been made, and it's one that focuses on narrative importance alongside bright, energetic mechanics that show that Gears 5 can happily stand alongside this generation's other blockbusters without fear.
Astral Chain is one of PlatinumGames' finest acts this generation, cementing itself as yet another stellar exclusive for Nintendo Switch. It doesn't reach the heights of excellence achieved by Yoko Taro's NieR: Automata, but can more than hold its own thanks to an excellent setting, experimental combat and so, so much style it hurts.