The shell and armor for the flagship monster in Monster Hunter Rise, Magnamalo, are inspired by traditional samurai armor.<br>Capcom

Monster Hunter Rise is the most ambitious Nintendo Switch game in a long time

Monster Hunter Rise is an original, made-for-Switch Capcom title that shatters expectations of what to expect. For all intents and purposes, it's an even bigger experience than Monster Hunter World on PC and other consoles. This is grand news for any hunters who joined the bandwagon with World, currently Capcom's best-selling title of all time, bigger than its Resident Evil or Street Fighter series.

Despite looks, Ghosts ’n Goblins Resurrection a fitting reboot to series

This isn’t Ghosts ‘n Goblins. My eyes reeled at what Capcom did for a modern reboot to the series. It cut out the sprites as expected but instead of replacing them with carefully crafted cel-shaded polygons, the developers opted for a paper-marionette style. The stylistic choices made the campaign feel like a storybook come to life.

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury hints at a new direction for franchise

The Wii U feels like the generation that time forgot. The console’s popularity wasn’t as explosive as its predecessor, and fans overlooked several great games that came and went. With the success of the Nintendo Switch, Nintendo has re-released Wii U titles on its current machine.

Now is the time to play Control: Ultimate Edition on PS5

Games that come with Xbox Live or PlayStation Plus can be hit or miss. The free offerings are often titles that players may already own or are projects that weren’t that great to begin with. Once in a while, the services’ offerings hit that sweet spot: A title comes along that has won acclaim and may have been missed.

Disjunction adds stealth to satisfying cyberpunk tale

The cyberpunk genre has been picking up steam lately. That’s partly due to the hype surrounding CD Projekt Red’s long-in-the-works and recently released Cyberpunk 2077. The buzz has nudged other developers to explore a category that’s marked by dark futures and high technology. One of those teams is Ape Tribe Games, which released its retro-style stealth genre title Disjunction. The project checks off all the cyberpunk bona fides. Powerful conglomerates? Bishop-Krauss is the defense contractor with all the robots and drones. Dystopian society? The U.S. went through an economic collapse, and a giant shanty town called Central City has risen in New York’s Central Park. Conspiracy? Central City leader Lamar Hubbard has been framed and is jailed by the police department.

Star Trek fans can now take the famed Kobayashi Maru test and win prizes

A lifetime subscription to CBS All-Access and limited-edition Star Trek collectibles are up for grabs. All players have to do is face a seemingly impossible task — overcome the famed Kobayashi Maru test.

League of Legends: Wild Rift headlines console-quality games coming to iPhone 12

Smartphones have quickly closed the gap between handheld devices and consoles. As Genshin Impact has shown, the gaming machine in your pocket can produce graphics that are equal to anything you’d see on the past generation of machines.

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  • Little Nightmares 2: Delicious dread in every moment

    The best horror games build a sense of dread and vulnerability, and this moment from Little Nightmares 2 captures those feelings perfectly, through unsettling sound design, Tim Burton-like art direction and a slow, gradual buildup to a scare. Even when you're safe, you don't feel safe. You fear not just what is in front of you, but what is yet to come, and that's what makes this harrowing experience so effective.

  • The Medium uses split-screen gameplay to tell a single-player story

    A cliche can supercharge a story if it opens the door for its own subversion. That was my thought when I finished The Medium, a game which begins with a woman uttering the portentous words, "It all starts with a dead girl," as she describes a recurring dream she has had since childhood.

  • Hitman 3 is the grandest stage for your own stories, even as it tries to end its own

    The Hitman series has always been best when it allows players to tell their own stories. Hitman games have been top of the industry when it comes to giving you all the tools of the most famous spy thriller stories. It's always been a James Bond thriller, mixed with the slick production of Christopher Nolan and the club beats and heat of Michael Mann films. But Hitman 3, which ends IO Interactive's most recent trilogy of the long-running franchise, sees Agent 47 in his most cinematic adventure yet.

  • In Japan, pandemic deals fatal blow to arcades

    Game arcades in Tokyo have been falling like dominoes amid the coronavirus pandemic, left no choice but to close after what for some have been decades in operation.

  • Call of the Sea: Strictly for hardcore puzzlers

    There is a moment late in Call of the Sea where Norah Everhart, the game's heroine, is walking through an otherworldly temple adorned with murals depicting ritual sacrifice. "This place is like a labyrinth," she says aloud, then, looking at one of the murals she gasps, "They were submerged in black ichor!" I giggled to myself when I heard those words because they seemed to perfectly sum up the pulpy tenor of this game which wears its affinity for H.P. Lovecraft and weird, early twentieth-century fiction like a flower on a lapel.

  • Are you a Phasmophobia pro? Here are some alternate rules to keep the scares fresh

    Phasmophobia, an indie game that casts players as ghost hunters, became an instant sensation shortly after its early access launch last September. Months later, it still draws 20,000 concurrent players daily.

  • The most anticipated games of 2021

    For its many miseries, 2020 delivered some extremely memorable video games. And now, with the arrival of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, there's more reason than usual to get excited for the offerings of the year ahead. Here are the titles we're most eagerly anticipating:

  • Great escapes: Favorite games of 2020

    The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic placed a brighter-than-usual spotlight on gaming in 2020, with an isolated population looking for entertainment they could enjoy from the safety of home. So it worked out well that alongside the year's many maladies, 2020 also delivered some of the most memorable games in recent years.

  • Call of Duty's merged world has everything a player could want, except logic.

    Call of Duty's new merged world, in which the annual installments of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War have been integrated with the live service battle royale game "Warzone," has a ton to offer. Three stand-alone games working as one! Battlepass and XP progression across all titles! Cross-platform, cross-generational play! Use weapons from either game in Warzone! It's great ... in theory. But it is also lacking an essential ingredient that threatens to undermine Activision's ambitions: Logic.

  • Cyberpunk 2077: An ugly thrill ride

    Cyberpunk 2077 is an impressive realization of a futuristic world, but it comes at a great cost. An exciting story and detailed world are overshadowed by an abundance of bugs, misogynistic writing and all-too-familiar game mechanics. Some of these problems run deep and are too difficult to ignore, despite the engaging crime-drama thrill ride on the surface.

  • Sony pulls Cyberpunk 2077 from PlayStation store after public outcry

    Sony has removed CD Projekt SA's Cyberpunk 2077 from its PlayStation Store and is offering full refunds, taking unusual steps to appease customers furious about bugs plaguing one of the year's most highly anticipated gaming blockbusters.

  • Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity a somewhat satisfying hack-and-slash romp

    The new Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is more than a hack-and-slash romp set within the varied fantasy lands that comprise the Legend of Zelda universe. If you don't go in with the mind-set that it's the next magical, puzzle-filled Zelda open world game, you'll find a satisfying entry in the annals of game brilliance first created by Shigeru Miyamoto more than three decades ago.

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War plays fine, and it’s the new one. That’s enough.

    Is there anyone reading this trying to make an informed purchasing decision about the Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War? It’s Call of Duty. What feature, or lack thereof, would compel a Call of Duty fan to buy or skip a new entry at this point? It plays fine, and it’s the most recent one. That’s usually enough.

  • Sackboy: A Big Adventure is delightful, but it's missing something

    Sackboy: A Big Adventure is a lustrous romp of carnival fantasy, but it feels like they left something out. The new Sackboy has no game creation mode for fans, it is not a new version of LittleBigPlanet, which is disappointing because this is such a touted, anticipated PlayStation 5 launch title.

  • The PlayStation 5 is a sensory game-changer

    As Sony and Microsoft unveiled their next-generation consoles to the world, the two mega-publishers raced in different directions. Microsoft boasted that the Xbox Series X would be the “most powerful” Xbox ever made. Sony, on the other hand, focused on exclusive titles, but more importantly, immersion. It’s a concept games have flirted with through their entire existence, but the PlayStation 5 pushes the envelope.

  • Pikmin 3 Deluxe loses some of its original charm

    Pikmin 3 Deluxe opens on a note of exhaustion. The inhabitants of a planet named Koppai have almost run out of food, the opening monologue tells us, due to “a booming population, a booming appetite and a basic lack of planning.”

  • COVID-19 video games show how pandemic affects people differently

    Surrounded, concerned and frustrated by our current pandemic, I certainly didn’t want COVID-19 to enter my game-playing time. The virus and its effects had consumed enough of my life. Confession: I was wrong.

  • Crash Bandicoot sequel sticks to its polished but flawed platforming

    When it comes to video game mascots, Mario will always be king while Sonic runs a close second. Master Chief is part of that constellation and, somewhere down the line, fans end up with Crash Bandicoot. The one-time face of PlayStation has never reached that rarefied mascot strata, but his résumé is surprisingly expansive.

  • Fantasy puzzler Creaks explores the world behind your bedroom walls

    There is a world behind your bedroom walls waiting to be discovered — a place of strange sights and dangers. That’s the premise of Creaks, a lusciously animated game that takes one of the great primordial fears of childhood and runs with it.

  • Genshin Impact, a loot box-style free mobile RPG, is a surprisingly high-quality experience

    For years, free-to-play mobile games have had a reputation of ill repute, and for good reason. They’re usually cheaply made titles with famous licensed characters with little gameplay value. And they’ll charge you for what’s practically a digital raffle drawing to see if you can pull your favorite character.

  • Action-adventure game Raji highlights ancient India and the culture it birthed

    I played an hour of Raji: An Ancient Epic before I stopped and restarted. While it’s not uncommon for players to reboot a game after learning its basic controls, that wasn’t what made me want to begin again. Raji: An Ancient Epic reminded me of a sensation I hadn’t thought about much during the pandemic: the feeling of exploring and discovering a new place.

  • Flame-throwing, air-bending battle royale arrives with Spellbreak

    Don’t look now, but we’re surrounded by battles royale. The last-man-standing formula has been regurgitated over and over again in countless attempts to create the next Fortnite, the next worldwide phenomenon, the next holy grail in online gaming.

  • Take or leave the fringe features, but the core of Madden 21 still feels great

    Lining up under center and taking a snap in Madden 21 for the first time in a long time in the long-running NFL sim series is an eye-opening experience, particularly for those of us who grew up with this video game franchise over many years (and many consoles) of our youth.

  • Analysis

    Reagan’s role in Black Ops: Cold War primed to stir up controversy amid election season

    It’s an election year, and once again we’re hearing a lot about Ronald Reagan these days. Here he is, introduced in the Call of Duty: Black Ops series with the same grandeur and aplomb as actor Giancarlo Esposito’s reveal in Far Cry 5.

  • Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is a delightful take on battle royale

    I don’t normally laugh when I die in a video game. Usually, my untimely demise is met with frustration. But in Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, I’m left in stitches whenever my poor jelly bean-shaped character is bonked by an aggressively circling hammer, or trampled by a stampede of players. With each failure, I can’t help but appreciate the ridiculous situation and the wholesome experience. I quickly queue up another match to join the turbulent fun once more.

  • With Origami King, Paper Mario series leaves RPG fans behind

    Let’s get this out of the way first. The latest Paper Mario isn’t a role-playing game. It’s a puzzle adventure game. It’s not a game where you gain experience points and gather loot for new gear. It doesn’t resemble Final Fantasy. It’s a Toad joke book.

  • Rich characters, stunning visuals propel Ghost of Tsushima

    Though Ghost of Tsushima’s charismatic characters and intricate combat are a significant draw, what first kindled my admiration for the new open-world RPG set in 13th century Japan is its respect for poetry.

  • More to explore: Isle of Armor expansion outshines base game

    The Isle of Armor expansion is the first piece of downloadable content (DLC) to drop for the Switch era of Pokemon. It features the titular isle and a new legendary monster, Kubfu, as well as more than 100 other creatures, including several returning favorites. Most impressively, the new content is all Wild Area, and it feels more cohesive and true to the world than the Wild Areas in the base game. For one, the desert isn’t just a patch of sand in the middle of a valley. The erratic weather system is also gone, replaced with distinct named areas with their own weather patterns, such as the Forest of Focus and Challenge Beach.

  • Little Orpheus: A cheeky homage to the golden age of science fiction

    Little Orpheus is quite a departure for the small British development team The Chinese Room. Rather than tackling weighty themes like remorse and death, the game channels the spirit of mid-20th century sci-fi and matinee adventures to spin an outlandish tale, full of vim, about a cosmonaut who travels to the center of the Earth. Divided into eight episodes, roughly a half-hour each, Little Orpheus is suited for gaming on the go.

  • Medieval mayhem ensues as Ancestors Legacy marks return of strategy games to consoles

    When considering where to start with Ancestors Legacy, I thought about the results of my DNA test. If I wanted to dive into my ancestors’ legacy, I figured I should start with the Anglo-Saxons. After all, they provided 48% of my genes.

  • Clubhouse Games for the Nintendo Switch has something for everyone

    Leveraging the versatility of the Joy-Con and the system’s touch screen, the developers at Agenda have programmed 51 fine-tuned games plus a rudimentary piano for players. The roster is a mix of card games, board games, toy-based curiosities and other pastimes.

  • Shark RPG’s clumsy controls diminish Maneater hype of being the apex predator

    In this open-world shaRkPG — that’s publisher Tripwire Interactive’s reference, not mine — players take on the role of a female bull shark.

  • The 3D remake of Trials of Mana helps novices get acquainted with RPG basics

    Role-playing games can be intimidating. They involve all this math, stats and different mechanics to memorize and track. Enemies might explode into a treasure trove of new items with benefits harder to read than your insurance policy.

  • Players flock to download Minecraft’s Education Edition, offered for free since March

    With schools closed and many a parent thrust into the difficult role of managing a job, a household and a child’s education, here’s one unexpected bit of positive news to emerge from the coronavirus outbreak: Video games are good for your brain. Well, some games, at least.

  • Move through a wild simulated ecosystem by solving puzzles in dreamlike Paper Beast

    Perhaps it was when I unspooled tape from an old reel-to-reel player and created a beast out of its ribbons, or maybe it was when I saw a tree sprout hot air balloons. It also could have been when I watched an elephant lead a menagerie in an underwater procession. Each is among the possibilities for the moment I decided that Paper Beast should be counted among the handful of truly great games available on PlayStation VR.

  • Five indie games for Nintendo Switch to play while you’re stuck at home

    In this period of social distancing, many of us have found more time to play video games. Maybe you recently purchased a Nintendo Switch for just this reason, or maybe you’ve already had your console for years. Regardless, there’s more to the Switch than just Mario or Animal Crossing’s anthropomorphic tanuki. There are countless games on the Nintendo Store created as passion projects by independent developers — indies for short.

  • Game review

    Wastelanders propels Fallout 76 with addition of NPCs, more activities

    With the advent of COVID-19, the postapocalyptic world of Fallout 76 seems much less alien. As I don a hazmat suit to wander the depopulated landscape of West Virginia to search for essential supplies and deal with unexpected creatures, I get a feeling of deja vu. Only a day before, I was wearing a face mask while scouring the depopulated shopping centers of Northern Virginia for toilet paper and removing a snake from our front steps. The only differences: Fallout features more gunplay — and more available toilet paper.

  • Game review: Resident Evil 3 has superb graphics, good level design, but it’s still the zombie apocalypse

    I’m typically numb to the cultural fixation with zombies. One can see only so many instances of brain munching and exposed entrails before the power to shock begins to dim. That said, when the Resident Evil series is at its best I can ignore how cliche the whole zombie-killing enterprise is.

  • Doom Eternal staves off another demonic attack with more content, crushingly hard difficulty level

    Most of the time when playing Doom Eternal, I hover between life and death. During those moments, I am both predator and prey. The lurid demands of the game have provided some measure of escape for me over the past few days.

  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons has the resources to please even hard-core gamers

    If Animal Crossing: New Horizons is one of the hottest games around, Nintendo can probably thank COVID-19. The game was released just as restrictions were starting in my area. When I went to pick up a copy, all that was left was downloadable code — not my preference for a game on Nintendo’s Switch, since the console has relatively little memory for game storage. I soon discovered that Switches were even more difficult to find than physical copies of Animal Crossing.

  • Hand-drawn visuals, dream-like puzzles define point-and-click game Luna

    Developed by a small team of four people, Luna The Shadow Dust is an enchanting point-and click adventure that reminded me of the old “let me just get to the next screen” impulse. From the start, its beautiful hand-drawn visuals, dreamlike puzzles and mysterious storyline — which unfolds without a word of dialogue — drew me in and held my interest until the credits. Perhaps not since “Forgotton Anne” has a game so skillfully adopted the texture of animated films in its moment-to-moment gameplay.

  • '7th Sector': An inspired sci-fi game from the point of view of a spark

    Although it has its stealth and action moments, at its heart "7th Sector" is a challenging puzzle game that will occasionally tap into your math or logic skills, or, if you’re like me, send you scurrying to the internet for answers.

  • Did Patrick Mahomes end the 'Madden Curse'? The journalist who coined the term says no

    The Madden Curse didn’t bear that name when it claimed its first victim. Shortly after gracing the European cover of Madden NFL 99, Garrison Hearst broke his ankle. In the years to come, Hearst would be followed by a slew of football players facing injuries and disappointing performances the season after appearing on the game franchise’s cover.

  • Kind Words is a bright spot in a dark world

    For many, video games are an escape or respite from day-to-day problems, a way to absorb yourself in a virtual world. Kind Words, a game about sending positive messages to strangers, isn’t just a safe haven for players, but also an escape for its creators.

  • 5 titles you can feel good about buying for children

    I love my child more than anything in the world, but her taste in video games leaves a lot of room for improvement. Of course, that’s partly the old man in me that considers the things I liked growing up to be better than the things kids enjoy today. Even with that understanding of my bias, I still look at the games my kid plays and cringe.

  • Nintendo Tokyo is a paradise for gamers and anime fans

    Fans of anime and video games — especially franchises that fall under the Nintendo umbrella — are making pilgrimages to the sixth floor of the newly opened Shibuya Parco building, site of Nintendo Tokyo.

  • PlayStation VR roundup: Stardust Odyssey, Audica highlight holiday offerings

    PlayStation VR is still going strong going in its fourth year. The peripheral has seen a fair amount of great games since then developers get a grasp of the maturing medium and create higher-quality experiences.

  • Jedi: Fallen Order’s rich, immersive story marred by technical issues

    As a Star Wars fan, I always wondered why it was so easy for the Empire to simultaneously wipe out nearly the entire Jedi order. After all, these Force users are superpowered beings, capable of moving objects with their will or mind-controlling the average stormtrooper. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order has helped clear up that mystery. Not every Jedi is Yoda. Some Jedi just suck. I am one of them.

  • Death Stranding is the postapocalyptic Oregon Trail of today’s gaming

    Look up the word “enigma” in the dictionary and you’ll find a picture of Death Stranding. Since it was revealed in 2016, the game raised more questions than answers. The project seemed like an amalgamation of random images with gameplay that was equally as mysterious.

  • ‘Ring Fit Adventure’ is Nintendo’s bid to slay the fitness dragon

    Early in Ring Fit Adventure, a talking, virtual Pilates-like ring tells you that your “glistening sweat” is beautiful. Your opinion of such a phrase — sorta cute, kinda funny or infuriating — might reflect how you will feel about Nintendo’s latest bid to enter the fitness and tech market.

  • Luigi’s Mansion 3 scares up fall fun

    Mario may be the most recognizable mascot in gaming but I’ve long been partial to his brother Luigi, probably because he seems like the more conflicted of the two. Whereas Mario is short, round and confident, Luigi is lanky and bumbling — qualities dear to my heart. Yet, despite my affinity for the younger brother, I haven’t settled my thumbs around a Luigi’s Mansion game until recently.

  • Call of Duty Modern Warfare’s terrorism scenes detract from great online package

    Call of Duty Modern Warfare has returned with a vengeance. It’s been eight years since the release of Modern Warfare 3. Since then, a new console generation has boosted gameplay and graphics capabilities. And the real-world war against terrorism has morphed into something even more sinister. That allows developers at Infinity Ward to deliver a game that’s bold, beautiful and very brutal.

  • Code Vein borrows from Dark Souls and tweaks some less-forgiving aspects of the classic game

    Difficulty has always been a barrier for Dark Souls. The franchise’s intimidating reputation is a turn-off for gamers who don’t see the joy in “getting good.” That’s a shame, really, because the series shines once players shatter those challenging roadblocks.

  • Despite being marred by numerous mechanical glitches, Ghost Recon Breakpoint offers fun cooperative gameplay

    When the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 ruled the gaming world, Ubisoft’s Ghost Recon franchise delivered exceptional tactical shooters built around ingenious gadgets, stealthy combat and enthralling cooperative play. Missions were intense and every action had significance. A console generation later, the franchise is a ghost of its former self.

  • Faithful rebuild of Link’s Awakening will please fans and newcomers alike

    In recent years, the Zelda franchise has seen a number of remakes. Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, Wind Waker and Twilight Princess have all been recast to take advantage of more versatile hardware. Advances in technology have allowed the masterful game design of these titles to shine even brighter. Arguably, no game in the series has benefited as much from a visual overhaul as the The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, which was originally released in 1993 on the Game Boy.

  • Astral Chain is complicated, but ultimately enjoyable

    At the end of each of Astral Chain’s missions, a menu pops up on screen asking if you’d like to advance to the next “file” with the same “play style” or difficulty level. I can’t think of another game that so frequently reminds its audience of such options, and I wondered why the developers of this flamboyant new action game might do this.

  • Switch Lite is Nintendo's second consecutive hardware home run

    To see the Lite is to touch it. It hits you immediately when you first pick it up. The matte finish feels just crispy enough under your fingertips. Your index fingers nestle into a slightly deeper scoop on the trigger buttons. Like resting your hands in slime, it’s tactile bliss, ASMR for the grabbers. Both airy and sturdy, the discounted ($199), handheld-only “Lite” model of Nintendo’s hit console Switch is the most comfortable mobile gaming device ever made.

  • Gears 5: The definition of a great action game

    It’s there in the title: Gears 5, not Gears of War 5. Just “Gears,” the de facto name that fans have been using for more than a decade. The clipped title agrees with the game’s sense of focus which seems intent on reminding players why the series remains an exemplar of AAA game development.

  • Control is a space-warping science-fiction game with much to like, but not a lot to love

    In New York City, a woman walks into a federal building that goes unnoticed by most passersby on account of its “paranatural” qualities, which make it there and not there. An extraterrestrial voice in her head tells her where to go. She passes through the empty lobby of the Federal Bureau of Control and meets a janitor with a Finnish accent thick enough to make subtitles an appealing option.

  • Eliza explores the perils of technology and our desire to automate intimacy

    Please, pleads a character we meet in Eliza, just let him talk to a real human. The interactive game unfolds as a not-too-distant nightmare, one in which technology has enabled us to talk to everyone and connect with no one. It also taps our fears over healthcare access and how our always-connected life affects our mental health. It’s a timely work of digital anxiety that captures a generational desire to use apps and technology to solve problems rather than seek to fully understand them.

  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses explores romance in a sword-and-sorcery setting

    The drama comes quickly in Fire Emblem: Three Houses, the latest in Nintendo’s wonderfully weird, soap opera-worthy sword-and-sorcery fairy tale franchise. A teacher introduces her medical practice by also noting that she’s single and ready to mingle. A student lays the groundwork for doubting that you’re truly your father’s daughter. An academic administrator says, “We try to avoid discrimination based on social status,” but, well, you know how the upper class can be, so get used to it.

  • Team up with a friend or play solo in 1st modern co-op Wolfenstein adventure

    Picking up 20 years after the events of the last game, Wolfenstein: Youngblood stars the twin daughters of the series hero, B.J. Blazkowicz, who take the fight against the Nazis to the streets of Paris. A few cutscenes notwithstanding, Youngblood doesn’t have the number of arresting narratives as The New Colossus. But, in a series first, its campaign is organized around co-op gameplay.

  • Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night shows how much fun the Metroidvania genre offers

    It’s been more than two decades since I first played Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, and my love for it has only grown through the years. In fact, I consider it to be my favorite game of all time, and I replay it regularly. Naturally, I was thrilled to hear that Koji Igarashi, the creative mind behind Symphony of the Night, was working on a spiritual successor titled Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night.

  • The Sinking City an ambitious detective game that fails to reach its full potential

    The Sinking City is quick to set a mood, but struggles to deepen it. Its supernatural elements aren’t unnerving, its noirish elements rest on characters who are simply shady as opposed to morally complex, and its technical shortcomings don’t do it any favors.

  • Sea of Solitude explores the terrors of loneliness, what it means to be human

    We’re accustomed to games, even the most nuanced, beginning with a clear problem: an outlaw on the run, a world in peril, a loved one kidnapped and held hostage by a gorilla. Sea of Solitude, however, starts with an overwhelmed plea, a phrase spoken with equal amounts of desperation and hopelessness: “Change me.”

  • My Friend Pedro a bizarre ballet of bullets and brazen bananas

    Close your eyes and picture this, if you will. You’ve just woken up in a butcher’s freezer with no recollection of who you are or how you got there. You’re terrified, angry and alone — except for some banana. But it’s not a regular banana — no, not at all. This banana has a name. It’s Pedro. And he’s your ticket out of this nightmare. The only way out is with guns and a whole lot of crazy. Good thing, because you’ve got it in droves. Welcome to My Friend Pedro, a game all about pistol-whipping enemies, slowing down time and listening to your psychotic, fruity friend. Strap in, because it’s going to be one hell of a ride.

  • Uber satisfying: Upcoming Neo Cab examines the gamification of life

    Games, multiple companies at this year’s Electronic EntertainmentNeo Cab was the most perfect demo I played at E3 this year, a game designed not just with the sort of clean and simple choice-based interface that could be grasped by many, but also calling attention to the mini emotional mind games that occupy — and wreak havoc on — our day.

  • Draugen a scenic game about delusional thinking

    Draugen is a pleasant vacation from the world of mainstream gaming. Its protagonist is not a hero, but a man traumatized by his past. Its pacing is leisurely rather than hurried. Its mysteries court the mundane more than the spectacular. Billed as a “fjord noir,” this short, narrative-driven game is set in 1923, in a small Norwegian village bordered by sparkling water. The area’s rustic charm is undercut by an atmosphere of tragedy that’s captured by a sign that hangs over a hastily boarded up church which, when translated from the Norwegian, reads: “God is not here.”

  • Interesting concept behind Heaven’s Vault takes a while to grab you, but stick with it

    Learning a language can lead to a profound transformation of how one interacts with the world. But the struggle to acquire a basic proficiency is enough to deter most of us from stretching our linguistic abilities. Heaven’s Vault is a visual novel that dramatizes the grind and reward that comes from studying a foreign language, where progressing through the game’s worlds of robots and spaceships is dependent upon adding to its heroine Aliya Elasra’s vocabulary.

  • Confidently bland: Good gunplay gives small boost to Rage 2’s overly familiar story

    The one time I got mad about Rage 2, it was my fault. My first night with the post-apocalyptic shooter, I spent at least 30 minutes fuming over the game’s “insane balancing issues” after I tried to flush out a bandit enclave and kept getting plucked off with explosives. “Why,” I fumed to myself, “do the enemies have so many grenades this early in the game?!”

  • Mortal Kombat 11 lives up to its reputation: Brash, fun and ridiculously violent

    “Can you believe that we’re playing a Mortal Kombat game?” my friend Milton asked as we dove into the new “Mortal Kombat 11.” It has been 20 years since he and I went to college together. Back then we played a serious amount of Mortal Kombat 3 and Mortal Kombat 4 on the Super Nintendo and the N64, respectively. Though I got into fighting games via Street Fighter 2, my fighting game skills plateaued with those two MK games. My friends and I used to play them with a guidebook on our laps which we used to memorize long combo-strings and fatalities. At the height of our mania, MK became for us an almost-purely cerebral experience where we’d try to guess each other other’s strategy, then switch up the tempo of a game on the fly. It was our chess.

  • Tired of the zombie apocalypse? Sure — but Days Gone can still provide hours of entertainment

    As someone who long ago stopped watching “The Walking Dead,” and generally has little interest in zombie-related fare (excepting The Last of Us), I wasn’t keyed up to play Days Gone. I never expected it to wring any fresh ideas from one of the most strip-mined veins of contemporary pop culture. The few dozen hours I’ve spent with it haven’t given me a reason to amend that assessment, but I’ve been surprised at how easy the game has been to fall into.

  • Far Cry New Dawn an entertaining return to Hope County

    Nuclear Armageddon might not have improved things in Hope County, but it certainly didn’t make them much worse. A slightly irradiated Hope County, Mont., is the setting of Ubisoft’s Far Cry New Dawn, a sequel to last spring’s Far Cry 5. The first-person shooter is set about 17 years after the previous game’s hero battled the Eden’s Gate cult, which was terrorizing the rural county. During those years, nuclear war — a looming menace in Far Cry 5 — has come and gone, and survivors have crawled out of their shelters to establish new settlements.

  • ‘Devil May Cry 5’ steps out of shadow of original by breaking from past

    With “Devil May Cry 5,” director Hideaki Itsuno fulfills the promise of his predecessor. But players have to delve through a complicated story line. Told through three perspectives, it follows Dante, the long-standing protagonist; V, a mysterious newcomer and Nero. The three have teamed up to take down a demon called Urizen, which has planted a giant tree called the Qliphoth that is sucking blood out of humans and unleashing monsters on Red Grave City.

  • Plenty to shoot, plenty to love in 'Division 2'

    Rarely has a video game been more about hope. “Tom Clancy’s The Division 2” is about bringing hope to a plague-stricken metropolis beset by warring gangs and paramilitary forces. It’s also about bringing hope to gamers who have experienced some recent disappointments with cooperative shooters. “Anthem” is a rocket-powered sci-fi adventure that’s going down in flames, and “Fallout 76” turned into a postapocalyptic disaster.

  • District of destruction: ‘Division’ developers bring Washington to life, then bring it to its knees

    When Stripes moved to its new offices a few months ago, I didn’t realize my desk was a great sniper position that could provide overwatch for teammates operating in the dark zone north of Capitol Hill. Or at least it could in the post-apocalyptic world of Ubisoft’s “The Division 2,” which releases March 15.

  • New game-a-day platform Meditations proves there can be joy in text-free play

    Over the past several weeks, new video games have tackled unexpected subjects in unpredictable ways. One release was designed to capture the sensation of seeing a newborn smile for the first time. Another sought to illustrate how an entire family could drift apart after the death of a beloved grandfather.

  • 'Metro Exodus' a post-apocalyptic train ride to adventure

    I love a good post-apocalyptic romp among vicious mutants and cutthroat brigands. I like it even more when my actions have consequences beyond the body count. Games of the “Metro” franchise have delivered that quite nicely, and the latest entry is no exception.

  • 'Kingdom Hearts 3' has a baffling backstory but is a treat for fans of Disney and Pixar

    Whenever a popular, story-infused video game is released and has a few numbers in its title, the question, “Do you need to play the previous ones in the series?” usually pops up. The vast majority of the time I say “no.” No, you don’t need to play the earlier Elder Scrolls, Red Dead Redemption, Assassin’s Creed, The Witcher or Persona games to forge a deep connection with the latest incarnation. But if you ask me this question about “Kingdom Hearts 3,” well ...

  • ‘Resident Evil’ remake modernizes a survival classic

    Capcom never lets a good idea go to waste, and if it’s popular enough, the company isn’t afraid to use it twice. The company has released reworked editions of “Street Fighter II” and gathered the “Mega Man” games and sold them in collections. With the “Resident Evil” series, the publisher has opted to revamp the titles from the ground up. Beginning with the excellent original, the company has updated the visuals and design for several chapters.

  • 'Katamari Damacy Reroll' will charm its players with strangeness

    Ever since the study of consumer culture began, attention has been paid to the anxiety people feel toward their possessions. The downside to living in a society that values accumulation is that many of us feel uneasy about the amount of stuff that surrounds us. (Clutter, some psychologists tell us, can create a stressful environment.) Of the innumerable artistic responses to this phenomenon, Keita Takahashi’s classic game “Katamari Damacy’ is one of the more sanguine.

  • Upcoming video game forces commanders to earn the trust of their troops or face defeat

    In many combat-themed games, soldiers are simply a collection of polygons that do what a player commands — but the upcoming World War II battlefield simulator “Burden of Command” shows players the complexity of leading people into battle.

  • 'Desert Child': race, ramen, repeat

    Sometimes we want a video game to relax with; something that doesn’t ask to be taken seriously because it doesn’t really take itself seriously. Sometimes making a game with simple mechanics allows the overall experience to shine, giving gamers the chance to enjoy what they see instead of focusing on what comes next. It’s not an approach seen often, and yet it’s exactly the sort of approach Oscar Brittain seems to have taken with his retro-throwback racer “Desert Child.”

  • Video game review

    ‘Vermintide 2’ a cut above

    In ages past, four heroes banded together to ward off the minions of destruction. They wielded their weapons with precision and maneuvered with skill or they fell before the oncoming hordes. Their deeds brought cheers from the masses. But enough of “Left 4 Dead.” A new franchise has risen to claim the mantel of the king of co-op fun: “Vermintide 2,” from the Swedish developer Fatshark.

  • 'Magic: The Gathering'

    Trading card game comes to PC with intuitive online system for casual and seasoned players

    “Magic: The Gathering” is the legendary trading card game by which most other new games are measured. Ever since it debuted in 1993, it’s been “the” go-to game when it comes to collecting, trading and decimating our opponents. Having grown up with “Magic” myself (Mercadian Masques, represent), I’ve played it at nearly every stage in my life, though I spent most of my childhood swapping between that and the “Pokemon Trading Card Game.”

  • Puzzle game is even more addictive in ‘Tetris Effect’

    I’ve never considered myself a fan of “Tetris.” Sure, I played it occasionally as a kid whenever a friend briefly relinquished their Game Boy, but I don’t have warm memories of lining up falling blocks into neat rows to make them disappear. Of course, Alexey Pajitnov’s game must be counted as one of the most accessible and broadly recognized video games in history. I just never figured that one of its iterations would prevent me from sleeping. That’s why, slowly, over recent weeks, I’ve tried to make peace with the possibility that “Tetris Effect” is a game I love too much.

  • 'Portsmouth Aeroshipbuilding' alternate universe is a big hit with Facebook users

    Tony Snipes is the “public information officer” at The Portsmouth Aeroshipbuilding Co., an alternate universe that resembles the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. But at this Portsmouth yard, ships are built to fly.

  • Avalanche is taking action series ‘Just Cause’ to another level in 4th installment

    Avalanche Studios has consistently upped the ante with each entry of “Just Cause” and the latest shift is, essentially, tossing all of the previous upgrades into a weather-powered blender. “Just Cause 4” is using the new Apex engine and the developers are using the engine’s power and flexibility to add four extreme weather conditions to the series’ high-speed and malleable action.

  • 'Battlefield V' struggles to make sense of history

    The “Battlefield” series has never gone in order, or even really added up. “Battlefield V” is technically the 15th game in the series (depending on how you count), not the fifth. It’s the direct sequel to “Battlefield 1,” which was the 14th game, not the first. The first was 2002’s “Battlefied: 1942.” 2005’s “Battlefield 2” was actually the third in the series, and there were seven games released between it and “Battlefield 3.” Though the title of each always seems straightforward, when you look back across the series it seems to have lost track of itself. These are games built around moments that blend together without ever really connecting.

  • 'Fallout 76': Little life in the post-apocalyptic landscape

    Waking up in Vault 76 is a lonely experience. You start Bethesda Softworks’ “Fallout 76” by stepping out of an underground vault 20 years after a nuclear war. The vault was packed with the best and the brightest among Vault Tec’s employees — a crew intended to be the first to step onto the blasted landscape and start rebuilding civilization.

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