NHL 20 balances out the fun with the competitive better than any previous entry. It has some excellent modes in Ones and Threes, a staggering amount of content, and a solid set of mechanics. It does feel like multiplayer has received the lion's share of the attention, but there's still something enjoyable for all sorts of hockey fans.
Knights and Bikes captures the heart of childhood imagination. It's a largely carefree experience with limited mechanical substance, but that's part of the reason it works. It's a great family-friendly co-op game and balances its silly sense of humour and childlike joy with some of the melancholic reality of growing up.
Sure, Man of Medan has a few rough edges, but it’s a confident first step in a new series of games. It keeps the core of what made people love Until Dawn and breathes fresh life into it by adding more depth to the branching narrative system, and including an excellent multiplayer side. A little more polish and a bit more bite to the game’s finale would be nice, but this is still a hugely entertaining slice of interactive horror that brings the thrilling uncertainty of other people’s decisions to the murder party.
Even with the restrictions Illfonic has had to endure regarding the license, it has still made great use of it. The core game may be a tad clunky at times, and not much of a looker, but the love for Friday the 13th can be felt from the title screen onwards.
A heavily uneven story, with generally fine performances, and a perfectly serviceable set of mechanics to go with some pretty damn fine visuals. Beyond is often meandering and lunk-headed, but it has moments of magic that make it an enjoyable enough way to spend a few hours if you can persevere through its failings.
Quantic Dream has delivered its most consistently focused game to date with Detroit Become Human. It does suffer for some ham-fisted allegory and a couple of instances of appallingly mawkish dialogue, but that never overwhelms the overall enjoyment you get from its entertaining branching narrative. The story is not the most subtle, nor nuanced, take on discrimination, slavery, and machine self-awareness you'll find, but it is often surprisingly poignant and touching when Cage and his team nail the blend of video game and cinematic experience.
Frogwares has created an interesting and absorbing world of horror, and it’s deliciously rich in story and world-building. The sanity system works well, throwing some horrific visions at you, and capturing a feeling of nightmarish helplessness. Yes, it comes with some signature flaws too, but The Sinking City is a fine horror game and an engrossing detective RPG.
Chaosbane does, however, just about work well enough. If you’re looking for something to plow through with a friend or two, then it’s perfectly serviceable. It just doesn’t have that hook to keep you coming back beyond the endgame. That could change of course with updates, but in the here and now, it’s a dry, if enjoyable, imitation of a superior title.
Even with countless VR horror games coming before it and effectively siphoning the effective scare juice the series created, Five Nights at Freddy’s VR maintains the series’ identity and utilizes the headset to great effect. Any further attempt at delving into the virtual reality space should try to push new boundaries, but as an opening gambit? It’s an interesting and unsettling success with a few rough edges.
It shouldn't be surprising that Everybody's Golf is a good fit for PSVR, but the manner in which Clap Hanz has interpreted its accessible take on the sport into the realms of virtual reality is indeed surprising. Though it may be relatively limited, it has essentially kept the spirit of Everybody's Golf intact whilst changing the very way it's played, and done so by stripping back the fluff and keeping things relatively simple. That's very much the Everybody's Golf way.
For all Rage 2‘s shortcomings, it’s worth stating again that whenever you find enemies, you find some of the best combat encounters in any modern shooter. It’s so good it makes the duller parts close to irrelevant. Would Rage 2 have been better off as a more linear shooter? Maybe, but I’d rather have seen a bit more refinement and polish to the open-world, and its driving, because by trying to be a bit of everything and not creating each aspect equally, Avalanche and Id has diluted a hi-octane shooter’s venomous sting with a beige paste of open-world busywork.
Days Gone doesn't rip up the rulebook for open world games, brings very little new to the tired zombie genre, and while its story is enjoyable, it's far from compelling. Yet that doesn't mean you won't have a good time with it. While the riding and horde dynamics elevate the dependable, yet humdrum, nature of the rest of the game, just remember that patience is definitely required for the stretches of repetition between the more interesting parts.
Mortal Kombat 11 is a great fighter, perhaps the best the series has been to date. It’s a visual spectacle filled with lots of ways to play for players of all skill levels, and features the most enjoyable fighting game story I’ve ever gone through. It also has some boring new characters, crippled further by the extensive customization suite, and a growing disconnect between the regular fighting and the fatalities. Small issues, but issues all the same. Still, you’ll probably be having too much fun to care.
What World War Z does well is provide straightforward co-op action that entertains and enthralls, even if it is just in the short term. It has plenty of rough edges, but developer Saber Interactive has been fairly clever about where it has allowed those edges to be. Being a zombie shooter in 2019 is probably the stalest kind of game to be, but World War Z proves that staleness needn’t matter if you ensure enjoyment is high on your list of priorities.
The Padre means well, trying to offer players the kind of Survival Horror experience that has been missing (for good reason in a lot of ways) for some time. It does sometimes capture the spirit of that well, but misses what made the games that it was inspired by into such beloved favorites. Whenever you’re dragged away from puzzling and exploring the mansion, things take a turn for the worse, with tedium and annoyance robbing the game of its atmosphere. The effort is appreciated, it just needs refining.
Learning to manage the game's many systems is the biggest potential stumbling block players will face. If you're the sort to revel in micromanagement and extreme challenge and enjoy the thrill of actually exploring and living in a place rather than wandering from objective to objective, then Outward could be something special for you from the get-go. It's a hard sell otherwise, with such overwhelming depth, occasionally misfiring combat, and rather grimy visuals. Then again, perhaps that might be the best way to deliver the purest form of Outward, a flawed, aggressive beast that requires time and patience. It would possibly lose something in being too refined. It makes adventuring into something different and intriguing, after all.