Dead Space

It’s been a minute since players got to step into the stomping shoes of Isaac Clarke, but Motive Studio’s Dead Space remake is hopefully a sign that the series will be coming back in a meaningful way. While much of the game is faithful to the 2008 original, there’s some significant changes made to the story’s structure to make decent use of the once-silent and unseenIsaac’s voice and face, as well as alterations to mechanics like zero gravity movement to be more in line with the sequels, and a top-to-bottom visual overhaul to really make the most of its claustrophobic derelict-spaceship setting. While the future of the series is unclear at the moment, the Dead Space remake is a sign that there’s still life in the franchise long after original developer Visceral Games’ closure.

Playable On: PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S

Rough Average Playtime: 12 hours

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3 / 10

A Space for the Unbound

A Space for the Unbound

PlayStation

Knowing A Space for the Unbound was developed under some tenuous circumstances at the hands of former publisher PQube makes the fact that the game is as good as it is all the more bittersweet, as the publisher’s alleged withholding of funds put the game in limbo for five months. Mojiken Studio’s adventure game follows teenagers Atma and Raya, the latter of whom can manipulate reality at the expense of her health. The supernatural is juxtaposed with the game’s decidedly small town vibe, which carries touchstones of the studio’s Indonesian culture throughout its runtime. It’s cozy, unapologetic in its depiction of Indonesian culture, and unravels a supernatural mystery grounded in human connection.

Playable On: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S

Rough Average Playtime: 11 hours

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4 / 10

Fire Emblem Engage

Fire Emblem Engage

Nintendo of America

The latest entry in the Fire Emblem series has been a little divisive compared to other entries in Nintendo’s tactical RPG franchise. Though Fire Emblem Engage is a solid game of anime chess, the writing and character design don’t hit quite as hard as they did in 2019’s landmark entry Three Houses. It’s a litmus test for what you want most out of the series in a post-Three Houses world. If you want the series’ tactical combat at its most streamlined and efficient, Engage is here for you. But if you’re looking for a story with the same meaningful intricacies and character development as Three Houses, it’s just not here. All that being said, it’s still one of the better games we’ve gotten in these first few weeks of 2023, but we’ll see how people feel about it ten months from now when the GOTY ballots are rolling out.

Playable On: Switch

Rough Average Playtime: 40 hours

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5 / 10

Hi-Fi Rush

Hi-Fi Rush

Bethesda Softworks

Tango Gameworks surprised everyone by breaking away from its horror roots and releasing Hi-Fi Rush, a rhythm-based action game that combines the vibes of Scott Pilgrim and the structure of Devil May Cry. Hi-Fi Rush is a stellar example of how you should never put a developer in a box, because I can’t think of something more diametrically opposed to The Evil Within than a bopping, tongue-in-cheek hack n’ slash with a banger soundtrack and some genuinely lovable characters. It’s joy distilled into your Game Pass subscription.

Playable On: PC, Xbox Series X/S

Rough Average Playtime: 11 hours

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6 / 10

Season: A Letter to the Future

Season: A Letter to the Future

PlayStation

Scavengers Studio’s take on the apocalypse is a little different from other games, as it’s less about the survival of people than it is about survival of culture. Season: A Letter to the Future follows a young woman named Estelle as she leaves her village to document people’s lived experiences before a cataclysmic event comes to wipe it all away. Its depiction of memories of what came before as both a blessing and a burden is introspective and earnest. Though it doesn’t resonate with everyone, you may find yourself among those who love this gorgeous and distinctive narrative adventure game.

Playable On: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5

Rough Average Playtime: 5 hours

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7 / 10

Metroid Prime Remastered

Metroid Prime Remastered

Metroid Prime Remastered - Launch Trailer - Nintendo Switch

Fans are still enduring the painful wait for Metroid Prime 4, but Nintendo and Retro did provide a small morsel to tide them over in the form of a remaster of the original GameCube game on Switch. While the updated port includes some notable quality-of-life changes like alternate control schemes and accessibility options, the remaster ultimately proves just how timeless the original game was when it launched over 20 years ago. Hopefully this means remasters of Metroid Prime 2: Echoes and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption are in the works, too, because it would be great to see Samus’ first-person adventure subseries make its way to a modern platform.

Playable On: Switch

Rough Average Playtime: 13 hours

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8 / 10

Persona 3 Portable/Persona 4 Golden

Persona 3 Portable/Persona 4 Golden

Nintendo of America

Speaking of old classics making their way to modern video game hardware, Persona 3 Portable and Persona 4 Golden are on pretty much everything now, having launched on Switch, PS4, PC, and Xbox in January. While Persona 5 has blown up in a big way, Persona 3 and 4 are the framework for the series’ shift into dungeon crawling and social links. Persona 3 Portable and Persona 4 Golden are the definitive (or, the closest thing to one, in Persona 3’s case) versions of the RPGs that helped elevate Persona to a household name. If you’ve only played Persona 5, it may take some adjustments to go back, but these are still two really captivating RPGs and social sims, with incredible soundtracks, complex but approachable battle systems, and two of the best JRPG casts of the time. Just know there’s some extremely clumsy and dated writing surrounding some social issues that the series is still struggling with to this day.

Playable On: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S

Rough Average Playtime: 65 hours / 68 hours

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9 / 10

Lone Ruin

Lone Ruin

Lone Ruin ?? Coming to Switch + PC on Jan 12th! ??♀?

Lone Ruin is a great encapsulation of “short, sweet, and to the point.” The roguelike takes clear inspiration from games like Hades, and delivers an action-packed isometric experience drenched in a gorgeous neon blue and pink color palette. The tight, refined action is just as much a joy to watch as it is to play, and the game doesn’t overstay its welcome. However, given the immense replayability of the genre, Lone Ruin inherently gives you plenty to do, and its pitch-perfect execution of its fast-paced action gives you plenty of reason to come back again and again.

Playable On: PC, Switch

Rough Average Playtime: 2 hours

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