Minor issues aside, I loved my time with Weird West on PS5 so much so that I plan to double dip and play it again on Xbox since it’s on Game Pass when it releases. The story, characters and even the very world that Wolfeye Studios have created for their freshman outing is so very unique and dare I say ‘weird’ that you can’t help but become wrapped up in them. I haven’t enjoyed a mash up of supernatural and westerns since Darkwatch and if you played that game, you know that’s high praise.
I gotta say that Tentacular is vastly different from what I thought it was going to be based on the trailers I’d seen. And this is very much a wonderful thing, because like I said I’ve played lots of games focused on destruction; which I initially thought this was. But much to my delight and surprise, Tentacular turned out to be a wonderful, heartfelt game that touches on things like being adopted, and being different and how those differences can really be a boon to those around us. Developer Firepunchd Games did a wonderful job with creating Tentacular. I very much enjoyed the gameplay but most of all the story was so touching and the sense of discovery as you peel back the mystery of the kaiju’s origins is very well done. If you need a break from constant destruction, Tentacular might be the fresh sea breeze for you.
Monster Crown is a game that I would say try out if you’re into the old school Pokémon games. This is obviously a primitive game, but offers some new things to the monster catching genre. It’s most certainly not the best game or even the most flashy game out there, but as a Pokémon style game grounded in a more traditional turn-based RPG, it’s not a bad ride.
Like most RPG’s Jax will not save the world alone, Elex 2 does offer some companions to take along on the journey. Only one at a time can accompany the player but because the AI is so laughably bad in this game, they really only serve a purpose as a ‘meat shield’. Honestly, my companions were getting dropped more than they were hitting enemies in almost every instance. It was about this time that I really began to wonder what people were talking about when they praised the original game so much. Maybe it is that much better than this one, but Elex 2 is pretty bad. Worse than that I personally didn’t find it fun, no disrespect to those that love it. As I said at the outset, I don’t mind ‘janky’ games, but Elex 2 was just ‘bridge too far’ for me.
As a brand new IP, Ghostwire: Tokyo shows a lot of promise with its strong animation work, solid combat and interesting world design, but it falters along the path to the finish line with a story arc that feels rushed along with an excessive use of typical and tired open world game design tropes.
Most importantly I expected some big improvements, and while some of the items here definitely meet that qualification the game is still stuck in a rut with respect to AI and physics/clipping issues. There’s talk that WWE may look to partner with EA on future games, so this may be the last go around for the team at 2K, but if it’s not I hope that their focus for WWE 2k23 will be on fixing some of these issues so that the solid base they’ve built can actually live up to its potential. Hopefully I’m not revisiting that sentence again next year.
Shadow Warrior 3 for is just dumb fun. It doesn’t do anything to make you think that its going to be anything other than it is. Running around with a varied array of weapons AND a sword, killing monsters while dashing and swinging around is right up there with the fun to be had in Doom Eternal. But for me it’s the humor that sets Shadow Warrior 3 apart, while not for everyone those that find comfort and chuckles in ‘derp’ type comedy will have a ball playing with Wang.
Windjammers 2 is a really great game. There’s a nice community of players still going strong online and this game could be a great controller passing time for local play. Sure, the tutorial is a bit rough, but just playing and experimenting with the game allowed me to get better and have a fun time with it. Anyone who is into arcadey sports titles and to a lesser extent, fighting games should give this one a try.
Grid Legends is a great game that was simply released at the wrong time. PlayStation owners are more likely to jump on Gran Turismo 7, and Xbox owners are most likely still satisfied with Forza Horizon 5. It is hard to slide between these two franchises and achieve much success. Still there is a trial on EA Play so give it a shot. I had a great time with it, but quickly forgot about it after a week. I do wish the game felt more like a successor as opposed to an upgrade to Grid 2019.
Monster Rancher was a product of its time and it has aged better than some. For those wanting a Pokemon equivalent, this game is not for you. This is more aimed at hardcore simulation fans who carry a nostalgia from that era of gaming. It is cool to have these games available again, but without the CD functionality it feels like a hollow gesture. I wish we could have used QR codes or something to that effect, that is what made Monster Rancher unique, and now it is just a really deep simulation with a nostalgic wrapper.
Conan Chop Chop pleasantly surprised me, while I was drawn to it solely based on the Conan brand it really turned out to be a quite enjoyable, co-op romp through the lands of Hyboria. I mean for $20 this is a game that is complete, offers lots of replay ability and has tons of unlockables to chase by way of completing the collection of weapons, armor and runes. The family friendly approach is another great move in my opinion as it will surely help to attract a new audience, in fact after playing it my daughter has asked questions about Conan. I smiled at her and told her we can talk about when she’s older, but for now we can play some more Conan Chop Chop.
Infernax is a can’t-miss game. I had never heard of it, but as soon as I booted it up it immediately shot to the top of my favorite games of the year. Do not sleep on this title. There is so much to love and it even has a unique mode that unlocks when entering the Konami code. Yeah it leans way into nostalgia, but it does it right. This game looks and feels great and is easily one title that will set the bar going forward.
King of Fighters XV is a wonderful addition to the series. If you are like me and are hoping for an expansion of the single player modes though, you are going to be disappointed. Still the roster and game play are excellent and the online modes are robust. This is an outstanding entry to the series and I cannot wait for more characters to be added. Now if we could just get SNK to add in some proper single player modes I really feel like KoF could extend past its niche audience.
There’s plenty of little life improvements but to me, and I realize this is extremely biased, is where PokéMon peaked and to remake PokéMon Diamond and Pearl this well is quite something. I think it’s hard to find complaints with Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl outside of simply not liking the formula of PokéMon. There’s so much to discover and do that it comes very close to feeling like living in the world of PokéMon and I suppose that’s all I ever wanted. Let me compete with friends on whose PokéMon is the cutest, see who is the toughest, and then let us hang out in the dingy underground digging up fancy gems together. Maybe when we’re done I’ll save the world from some evil group and catch some legendary PokéMon too. It brings me back not just to my teens, but to the feeling I had when I borrowed my friend’s copy of PokéMon Red and for a game to continue this long and still hook me after all this time is more praise than I can necessarily articulate.