Like XCOM with lower stakes and axes instead of guns, Battle Brothers is pure fun. Manage a band of mercenaries, earn money to expand your operation and reach more distant contracts on the wide-open map, and fret over decisions in turn-based battles. “I kept humming with the victory and despair I usually reserve for XCOM campaigns,” wrote Ian in our review. “The archer who makes a wondrous 19% headshot; the swordsman who blocks and dodges his way out of certain death; the veteran soldier suddenly gutted, lost forever behind the veil of permadeath.” (It’s also surprisingly gory given its cute little big-headed character sprites.)
Verdict: “Don’t let some clunky inventories scare you off from this excellent strategy RPG.”
A throwback to ’90s adventure games, but not a nostalgia-driven rehash—Thimbleweed Park builds on the genre and is great on its own merits. It’s funny, and full of smart puzzles that “rarely require the absurd leaps of logic that would have you dialling the LucasArts hint line in the ’90s,” as Andy put it in his review.
Verdict: “A quality adventure game with challenging puzzles, oddball characters, and an intriguing, mystery-laden plot.”
An office favorite, Nier: Automata is bizarre open-world RPG with PlatinumGames’ signature speed-comboing combat—but that can seamlessly transition into twin-stick shooting whenever it wants. The combination works, as does the mournful, weird story and all its quirks. “Automata is a remarkable game with an incredible amount of style, personality, and flair,” said Andy in his review.
Verdict: “A beautiful, melancholy action RPG that’s effortlessly stylish and utterly unpredictable.”
Night in the Woods
Light platforming and incongruous Guitar Hero-style bass playing complement a funny, sad story about a young cat—well, a person who looks like a cat—returning home to her family and friends after dropping out of college. “Night in the Woods is a pretty special game,” wrote Andy. “It’s a celebration of why life is awesome, but never shrinks away from the fact that it can also be really shitty as well. And it wrestles with difficult issues in a way that made me think about my own life and relationships.”
Verdict: “A beautiful, heartfelt coming of age story that says something about life, and cracks a few jokes in the process.”
Resident Evil 7
A reset for the Resident Evil series, RE7 moves away from the action movie stylings of the last few games for a creepier, first-person horror adventure. ” It takes an industrial pressure washer to the series, blasting off years of accumulated filth and grime,” wrote Andy. “And you’re left with a lean, polished survival horror that borrows from its legacy, but isn’t afraid to look to modern horror games for inspiration too.”
Verdict: “Not the dramatic reinvention I expected, but this is tense and refined survival horror with a brilliantly bleak, grimy atmosphere.”