If you're a fan of Dragon Quest VIII, you'll find a lot to love about Dragon Quest XI. Its character-driven plot and skill system recall the series' breakout PlayStation 2 installment, though Dragon Quest XI's lively world and expressive monsters lend it a unique feeling and flavor. Some fans might feel let-down about Dragon Quest XI's lack of job system or other options that let you fine-tune every aspect of your party (what I wouldn't give to see Dragon Quest V's monster-friending system make a return), but if you're in the market for a turn-based RPG that feels nostalgic but doesn't force you to deal with old genre mechanics, you won't find a better quest.
Building upon the foundation established in Assassin's Creed Origins, Odyssey brings together that title's RPG adventure with the ship-bound exploration of Black Flag. Choice and consequence feature heavily in Odyssey, with the player guiding Alexios or Kassandra through a massive journey to reunite their family and kill a lot of people. Not every feature is perfect, with things like recruitment and Conquest Battles needing a bit of work, but overall Odyssey is a grand next step for the journey Origins started.
Beenox latest Spider-Man game is a swing and a miss. The developer has improved the web-swinging mechanic and getting around Spider-Man's Manhattan has never been better. Unfortunately, the rest of the game drags it down. A schizophrenic story, a lifeless New York, and boring villains are what you can expect for the price of entry. The game's Hero/Menace system even takes all the fun out of just randomly swinging around the city. Beenox can do better, so I'm hoping the developer's next outing results in something truly 'Amazing'.
Sometimes Tetris Effect dances into the profound: wherein the music, the visuals, and the act of playing Tetris can make you—dare I say it—emotional. Then there's the other side of Tetris Effect, the tedium with instant-fast speeds and hard-to-discern tetrominos in more than just a few levels. Tetris Effect is at its best when it's just normal Tetris, with no strange shapes for blocks; with just the music and visuals to help you drift away as you fall into a flow. In PlayStation VR, that effect is only leveraged, making it a must-own game for the virtual reality platform.
The field of indie roguelike Metroidvanias is littered with competition, but Dead Cells stands out by focusing on movement and combat. None of its peers feel as good in their moment-to-moment play. The controls are tight, the movement is fluid, and the combat has a real weight to it. Once you get into it, Dead Cells is about this unique state of combat flow, where you're moving, dodging, and killing your way to the end at high-speed. The progression system causes the game to stumble a little, since it's less than satisfying to upgrade a chance at better items dropping. But Dead Cells is a winner overall, especially if you're a player who's all about technique and execution.
Hitman 2 may just be more Hitman, but it's somehow even better than before. The levels are all fantastic, the assassinations possible are all clever (and silly), the satirical writing is at its best. The assassination sandbox has never been more satisfying, and its slight technical hiccups and lackluster multiplayer do little to hold back the baldest assassin of them all. Even in your sixth or so time prancing through a map, you're bound to discover a new opportunity, or a new potentially-weaponized surprise, around the corner.
Monster Hunter has been in need of a big change for years, and this reboot-of-sorts could have easily gone wrong. Instead, Capcom took a careful look at Monster Hunter's design and cut all the fat while leaving the series trademark dense gameplay completely intact. All the changes, from the broad, sweeping ones to the granular alterations, only serve to improve an already winning formula. The next generation of Monster Hunter has finally begun, and, with Monster Hunter: World, it's off to an incredibly good start.
This is how you do a reboot. After Kratos lost his way, Sony Santa Monica has set the God of War on a new path. A more measured, nuanced character, a great supporting cast, an excellent combat system, and some of the best graphics in a PlayStation 4 game to-date, add up to a winner.
Platformers, especially those with a retro flair, come along often. But so rarely do they work as well as Celeste does. Celeste is an exercise of excellence in the well-trodden platforming genre. Whether it's the score that kicks up just as busily just as heroine Madeleine does, the mechanics that build and build with each new room you uncover, or its lushly pixelated landscapes: there's a lot to love in Celeste. It's the sort of game that makes you feel strong while playing it; if you can dash-jump through impossible holes between narrow icy spikes to climb that goddamn mountain, you can probably do anything.
Eight years after the masterpiece that was Red Dead Redemption, Rockstar Games is taking a second shot. New protagonist Arthur Morgan gets a better supporting cast, an absolutely beautiful open world with more visual variety, and a ton of things to kill or collect. There's some occasional tedium in travel, and a few bugs and annoyances, but nothing that prevents Red Dead Redemption 2 from being an excellent game.