The opportunity to play Brothers A Tale of Two Sons in local co-op is not a bad idea in itself, but the experience is less relevant since it was designed as a solo game at first, with a single player able to control two characters at the same time.
Put in a blender Matrix, Max Payne, kung fu movies, Shoot'em up, rag doll animations... and a lot of bananas. Then, freeze in a run & gun stencil. Serve chilled. It's not the perfect mix, but it tastes so good.
Because the core of My Friend Pedro is its aestheticized, cartoony action, complemented by amazingly well integrated into the game design puzzles and a wonderfully trashy story - and thus the banana ballet hits me completely on the bullseye.
Katana Zero is built from almost nothing but influences from other mediums, and each of those influences is something I’ve seen used in games before. It doesn’t matter. For all its hurried stabbing and spilled blood, Katana Zero is a beautiful game, from the juicy text boxes onwards. [RPS Bestest Bests]
VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action is a unique experience that’s literally a book in game form. Mixing drinks and changing lives proves to be a blast as you interact with many interesting characters. There’s loads of reading to do here but as long as you’re ready to read a novel while you play, this is one book, er, game that you won’t want to put down.
Slay the Spire feels like a breath of fresh air that joins elements from card-based and roguelike games, which in principle may not sound like a winning formula but Slay the Spire gets it all right thanks to its combat system, lifespan and unpredictability of each experience. The result is an addictive experience that players of all tastes should enjoy.
Layers of Fear 2 excels in many aspects of psychological horror, but it also undermines itself. While it creates many layers of fear, there’s little connective tissue between them to make the narrative coherent enough to engage with. Overly video-gamey segments reveal the mechanics underneath, removing the tension in favor of fail states and cheap game over screens. However, its binaural audio and moments of reality-warping terror do wonders to instill a sense of unease in the player. It’s worth peeling back the layers in Layers of Fear 2 for all of the moments that don’t rely on the old horror tropes, but this journey into madness falls just short of being a pleasure cruise.
Trover Saves the universe is a basic platformer/action game, served by Justin Roiland's inimitable style and acting. Therefore, if you want to really enjoy the absurd and surrealist adventure of Trover through the entire space, you'd better really like the guy's tone, otherwise you will find a jolly VR game, not nothing unforgettable.
Warhammer Chaosbane is a rather pretty, but ultimately shallow Diablo wannabe. By adhering too closely to its inspiration is fails to bring anything new to the table, and end up looking like a poor imitation in somewhat shinier armour and fails to deliver anything with any impact. More whiffle bat than Warhammer.
The long awaited Symphony of the Night revival has fast, tight combat, great environments and some interesting RPG mechanics, but is unnecessarily padded with a convoluted and cliched story. Some trimming and more emphasis on core mechanics would have this game a lot of good.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is not the perfect Iga-vania, but it is a worthy entry in the genre. It's clearly Castlevania in all but name and long term fans will find much to enjoy here, but it's lacking in polish and refinement with a few niggles with the controls and too many unwelcome bugs at launch. With a few more patches, Bloodstained should be the game all us fans wanted it to be.
The pacing is weird, you can spend a lot of time wandering around, your move set is limited, and we’ve seen all this before. The Metroidvania genre has made leaps and bounds since its creation with Symphony of the Night. On the other hand, this game feels so damn good! Every strike and every skill is pure, like a fine decanted wine. The level grinding, the power acquisition, the wild monsters, and that sparkling aesthetic all put a real humming in my blood. The thought of thirteen DLC releases on the way makes my heart race. While the score below is technically accurate, know that in my heart, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night gets an easy nine out of ten. I’ll be exploring this weird world for quite a while yet, and I suspect that many of you will be doing the same.
The bugs are the worst of what you’ll find here, and fail to get in the way of one of the finest metroidvanias currently available for purchase. Longtime fans have decades of games to compare this to, but they’ll probably still be bowled over by the myriad of secrets, set pieces, and combat approaches available to them in Bloodstained, a metroidvania that feels eminently modern but also notably graceful and considerate to its history. This is a must-play game that — with a few more bug-fixes and substantive DLC — will likely end up on most best-of lists by the end of 2019.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night has been a long time coming, but now that it's here, fans of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night have everything to gain. Playing through Bloodstained feels great if you're already a fan of Koji Igarashi's work—and if you're a fan of action-adventure games in general. There are some unfortunate bugs, hitches, and glitches, but once you download the 1.02 patch, you should be through the worst of them.