Gorgeous, gripping, and well-paced, Oxenfree cuts a new path for adventure games, and is an excellent debut from Night School Studio. Do yourself a favor: Skip movie night and play this one alongside a friend.
By the end of What Remains of Edith Finch, I felt close to the Finch family. I felt close in a way that only games could articulate with their unique interactive language. I was a kid on a swing, trying to get as high as he can. I was a baby in a bathtub. I was a curious, hungry kid. What Remains of Edith Finch doesn't just tell you about the tragic history of the Finch family, it allows you to embody it.
It's easy to fall in love with The Witness, and even easier to have your heart broken by the callous indifference of Jonathan Blow's beautiful island. A healthy challenge is good for any game, but the puzzles on display here offer few inroads to understanding for those who can't think exactly like their creator.
Rocket League is simple in concept - it's basically soccer with cars - yet it works brilliantly as a multiplayer game. It's incredibly easy to pick up as a beginner, but learning the intricacies of its controls takes many, many hours. And doing so is a thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding experience.
Combine a highly compelling visual narrative with superb puzzles and brilliant platforming, and you have Inside, one of the most intriguing, addictive, and beautiful-looking games of this generation. Its only downside is that it's quite short, but while it lasts, it's absolutely glorious.
Gone Home's non-violent, narrative-heavy experience won't be to everyone's taste, but engage with it -- preferably in a single sitting -- and you'll find yourself drawn deeply into an incredibly immersive experience.
You may think it's impossible to feel empathetic over an inanimate blanket, and yet, in Forgotton Anne it feels like second nature. And not just for blankets—for all long forgotten things brought to life in the magical Forgotten Lands. While the platforming is often frustrating, the game's captivating world, art direction, and meaningful choices more than make up for it.
Firewatch doesn't provide the same emotional heights or satisfying conclusion you'd expect from such a story-heavy game, but Campo Santo definitely shows promise with their debut project. Even if it won't have you reaching for the tissues by the end, this woodland walking simulator still provides a pretty great way to burn through an otherwise unoccupied afternoon.
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.
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.