Whatever you think of port-begging, it's justified with Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore. Not only does #FE Encore give us a chance to play a great game that was overlooked on the Wii U, but it also adds a new dungeon, new songs, and content that was previously DLC. A lot of new Persona fans have been minted since #FE's initial release in 2015, and this is one song they should all enjoy.
Some significant technical issues manage to do little to hold back the charm and wit of Wattam. It's a game that's great fun for both kids and adults, with slapstick humor and a sweet message of understanding people, despite your differences, at its center. It's made with today's toxic climate in mind, boiling the world's issues into something that doesn't feel cloying, but instead feels positive and welcoming. That, to me, is an achievement.
Shovel Knight Showdown takes the popular indie platformer series and turns it into a four-player arena battler, with great results. With a large amount of unlockable content, in-game challenges, and solo modes, it's a deceptively robust package that has the potential to be a long-term party staple. Shovel Knight Showdown is great even if you've never played the original games.
Shovel Knight: King of Cards revisits the formula one last time with new maps and bosses, as well as a brand new card game. It's ambitious, but it's also the least essential of the major Shovel Knight episodes. If you own Treasure Trove, play Shovel of Hope and Specter of Torment first, then circle back to King of Cards if you still want more.
Life Is Strange 2 has a better core relationship at the heart of its game, but it fails them with the episodic adventure's at times boring, formulaic episode structure; something its predecessor did not suffer from. Some of the story beats are preachy and unearned. Where Life Is Strange 2 hits its stride is more a technical feat: in how its core relationship between brothers Sean and Daniel becomes a game mechanic in itself, and how all the choices you make shape Daniel as he grows up.
Phoenix Point fits firmly on the foundation of modern XCOM, but rethinks combat with an action point system and the ability to free aim. While the latter seems like a gimmick, it's actually a wonderful tactical option that pushes the strategy forward. It's a shame then that a reliance on procedural generation leads to a lack of variety, weapon balance isn't great, and the technical execution is rough. Phoenix Point is a great starting point for something amazing, but it's not quite there yet.
Shenmue 3 suffers from hamfisted exposition, tedious repetition, monotonous grinding, and a heap of other fundamental flaws that are inexcusable in 2019. However, its environments are so confident in their sense of place that exploration is a capable redeemer, and the game is at times, on that ground alone, worth playing.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order comes painfully close to being the best action game of the year, but it ultimately falls short due to pacing problems and a host of technical issues. Still, this is the first step into a larger world for a franchise that has persistently struggled since its acquisition by EA.
Need for Speed Heat is a conglomeration Need for Speeds past. A little Payback, a little Rivals, a little Hot Pursuit, a little Underground. The result is a good foundation to build upon, but weird AI issues, a lack of variety in events, and some poor tuning in cop chases mean it's not great. Maybe next gen will see Ghost Games bringing a little more real heat.