We’re confident in saying this week is the busiest we’ve seen so far this year, surpassing even that infamous week back in February in which Far Cry New Dawn, Crackdown 3, Jump Force, and Metro Exodus arrived just days apart.
The battle for the UK chart top spot will likely be between Remedy’s very well received Control and Platinum Games’ exceptional Switch hack ‘n slasher Astral Chain, with THQ Nordic’s Wreckfest making a dent elsewhere in the top ten. We’ve rounded up scores for all three below.
Multiplayer horror adventure The Dark Pictures – Man of Medan may chart highly too. We’re still waiting on reviews for that one, incidentally. It isn’t often Supermassive Games puts a foot wrong, and the early footage is certainly intriguing.
Another horror adventure launches this week – Bloober’s Blair Witch, which debuts on Xbox One and PC this Friday for £24.99. Again, reviews are yet to surface. Just like Man of Medan though, the developer is well versed with the horror genre (best known for the Layers of Fear series, in this case) so we’re confident in saying it’ll be worth a look. Game Pass subscribers can grab it for gratis.
As for smaller releases, there’s Double Fine’s whimsical co-op adventure Knights and Bikes – which sounds ideal for parents with younger gamer – narrative-driven action RPG Crystar, arcade brawler remake The Ninja Saviors: Return Of The Warriors, the multi-format Zelda-esque role-player Decay of Logos, the long-awaited The Bard’s Tale IV: Director’s Cut, Wales Interactive’s FMV/Adventure hybrid Headspun, and the annual racer update MXGP 2019. Phew!
The Xbox One also sees two unexpected Switch conversions, both of which are arriving at a low entry point of £3.59. SubaraCity is a puzzle game with city-building elements, while KAMIKO is a top-down arcade action affair centred around Japanese demons. It was one of the first ‘must have’ Switch indie games, in fact.
New release showcase
5/5 – EGM: Control is Remedy at the height of its abilities. Finally, the studio’s expert handling of tone and story is met with gameplay that’s just as engaging and refined. As an experiment in nonlinear world design, Control doesn’t just stick with tried-and-true waypoints and forests. Its Oldest House is a brutalist masterpiece, and the characters inhabiting it are just as unforgettable. All told, it’s going to be one of the most memorable games of the year.
9/10 – TheSixthAxis: Control is one of the best story-focused single player games in years. Its unique mix of surrealism, sci-fi and mystery draws you in, but doesn’t give everything away, and the combat is fantastically varied and provides just enough challenge. A culmination of everything that went before, Control is Remedy’s magnum opus.
9/10 – Destructoid: Control is a weird, enigmatic, perplexing masterpiece. It’s also Remedy’s most well-rounded work yet. Like Jesse levitating far off the ground, Control signifies Remedy is capable of ascending to great new heights.
4.5/5 – The Xbox Hub: When you take into account the standout moments and combine them with brilliant visuals, some audio that is out of this world, a smattering of puzzles, a top drawer narrative and super intense gameplay, and yet again we find that Remedy have delivered the goods with their latest adventure. Granted everything they put their hand to are all pretty unique experiences, but in actual fact, Control really does take control, topping even their previous storytelling exploits.
8.8 – IGN: Control creates a captivating, oddball world that never loses the thread of its supernatural tale.
8.75: GameInformer: Despite a few drawn-out battles near the end, Control is a complete rush. With the power at Jesse’s fingertips, I walked into every room ready for an amazing fight. When I walked out, it often looked like a tornado had torn through the building. The Federal Bureau of Control is a fascinating place to explore, and I loved every bizarre encounter inside its creaking hallways.
8/10 – The Metro: The flawed storytelling squanders its full potential but even with a few missteps this is still one of the most enjoyable action games of the year.
8.0 – God is a Geek: Despite some iffy performance issues and some very frustrating narrative choices, Control’s compelling gameplay, excellent combat and dedication to the bizarre make it an easy game to recommend
8/10 – VideoGamer: Control is Remedy at its best: pulpy, weird, and immensely satisfying to play. Its setting is a potent concoction of ’60s brutalist style and wacky sci-fi. Performance issues hamper the shootouts, and the characters are a little cold, but it’s the setting and atmosphere that win the day.
8/10 – GameSpot: It’s not often that a game invades my thoughts the way Control has. I’m at the point where I want to consume every last thing it has to offer. And if I’m honest, it also makes me want to go back and replay Remedy’s past games, too
7/10 – PSU: Remedy’s Control might eventually be one of the coolest games on the market, but upon release framerate, balance, and popup issues are so rampant that players are forced to change their style of play to work around the bugs. While Control’s world-building, performances, and writing are all superb, the difficulties in actually playing through the game to see all that cool stuff leads to a deep sense of frustration.
7/10 – Push Square: There’s no doubting that Control is a good experience, but it’s not one that’ll go down in the history books. Its explorative and combat-focused gameplay is a major highlight thanks to abilities that give you the chance to get creative, but the unreliable framerate that goes with it puts a stop to the enjoyment far too frequently. This is most definitely worth playing, but that’s about as far as any substantial praise can go.
10/10 – Nintendo Insider: Astral Chain is yet another addition to the Nintendo Switch library that will be fondly remembered for decades to come. Its yin-yang of chaos and carnage, fused with the calmer subtleties of investigation and exploration makes returning back to the action that little bit more special every time.
9.5 – Nintendo Enthusiast: Astral Chain packs the punch you would expect from Platinum Games while simultaneously going above and beyond in all other areas. It’s great to see Platinum stepping even further out of its shell with expertly crafted titles like NieR: Automataand now Astral Chain. This marks another game in the studio’s catalog that is nothing short of amazing.
9.0 – IGN: Astral Chain is every bit as awesome as it looks in motion, which is to say it’s downright incredible.
9.0 – GameInformer: I had a blast playing Astral Chain and didn’t want it to end. Platinum has created a wonderful new universe for players to dive into that I could see extending into anime, movies, and hopefully sequels. The dual-character gameplay is also brilliantly devised, and although not as difficult as PlatinumGames’ other titles, creates a duet that makes you feel like a powerful, unstoppable force.
9/10 – Nintendo Life: With its amazing visuals, fantastic presentation, varied gameplay and deep, rewarding combat, Astral Chain could well be PlatinumGames’ most accomplished game yet. It mixes detective work with exhilarating battle sequences that are inventive, challenging and – perhaps most importantly – breathtakingly cool.
9.0 – God is a Geek: A brilliant game that’s deep and offers accessibility for people who struggle as well as people who want to master every inch of the combat. In a crowded marketplace, Astral Chain stands out as a unique, interesting game that you’d be foolish to pass up on.
9/10 – The Metro: Another classic action game from Platinum that’s so full of ideas it seems fit to burst and yet everything not only works perfectly but is filled with an infectious sense of goofy fun.
9/10 – Destructoid: Whatever criticism you can throw at Astral Chain, you can’t say it isn’t unique. In the first few hours, I was all over the place when it came to an assessment, as it can take some time to really turn it up. But when it does it just clicks, and I don’t want to stop playing it.
8/10 – GameSpot: Astral Chain’s shortcomings don’t overshadow what it does best. It’s an incredible execution of a fresh take on Platinum Games’ foundation, standing among the stylish-action greats. And its own anime-inspired swagger makes fights all the more exhilarating.
8/10 – PSU: Turn off your mind, relax and ram someone off the road. A definitive festival of wrecking which nails the damage modelling and weighty feel of the cars perfectly, Wreckfest is a must for anyone with even the smallest fondest for racing and wrecking.
9.0 – IGN: Wreckfest is the long-overdue return of serious, high-quality destruction racing. Fierce, frantic fun.
7/10 – Push Square: If you’re looking to bring destruction and pandemonium to motorsports, Wreckfest will suit your needs to a tee. The experience is let down by technical grievances far too often, but what’s left after the fact is more than worth your time.
6.5 – PlayStation Lifestyle: I routinely sat through minute-long loads as I waited for a race to start. And, on a handful of occasions, these load screens went from long to infinite, forcing me to close the game and start it up again. Between the driving and the loads, playing Wreckfest feels substantially more sluggish than a racing game should.
5/5 – Digitally Downloaded: I’m always drawn to melancholia as a theme and aesthetic. I always have been, whether it’s the writings on T.S. Eliot and Poe, films from The Cabinet of Dr Caligari through to Blade Runner, the music of Nick Cave, or games like I Am Setsuna and, now, Crystar. That Crystar manages to be so layered and nuanced with that theme makes it all the more impressive. FuRyu continues to be the publisher to watch for anyone who likes their games with a bit of genuine artistic credibility.
9.0 – Gaming Trend: Crystar is a great action-RPG with some fascinating twists. Crying is not only a key aspect to boosting your strength in battle, but it enables you to create more powerful gear. Be prepared for mentions of tragic and depressing topics, but remember that they work to enforce the ideas of “showing your emotions as a strength” and the sometimes overlooked issues that others face each day.
8.0 – PlayStation Lifestyle: CRYSTAR is a game that feels like it came out of nowhere. Double-A-ish Japanese action games have been kind of a dime a dozen since the PlayStation 3, yet this one’s narrative ambition and strength blew me away.
7.0 – Dual Shockers: Crystar is a competent Action RPG with a compelling narrative but suffers due to mostly everything else it has to offer.
Knights and Bikes
8/10 – Push Square: While a touch more challenge – especially in the combat – would have been welcome, the breezy pace of the story will help captivate your attention, not only with its themes of friendship and self-discovery, but more importantly through its correct instruction in how to apply jam and cream to a scone.
7.5 – Dual Shockers: All you need to enjoy Knights and Bikes is a sense of adventure and a willing friend. If like me, you’re constantly looking for something to play with a loved one who only has a passing interest in video games, this game is definitely one I’d recommend.
7.0 – PlayStation Lifestyle: If you’re looking for a solid co-op adventure, this can easily fill the void. Even solo it’s still fun enough to be worth a look. Just be ready for a few awkward moments, and a seriously terrible UI.
The Dark Pictures – Man of Medan
Decay of Logos
The Ninja Saviors: Return Of The Warriors
New digital multi-format releases
- Decay of Logos
- Knights and Bikes
- MXGP 2019
- The Bard’s Tale IV: Director’s Cut
- Strength of the Sword ULTIMATE
- Agent A: A Puzzle In Disguise
- Vambrace: Cold Soul
- The Lord of the Rings: Adventure Card Game
- The Dark Pictures – Man of Medan
- Newt One
New on PSN
- The Ninja Saviors: Return Of The Warriors
- Whipseey and the Lost Atlas
- Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX
- Human Anatomy VR
- Invisigun Reloaded
- Legend of the Skyfish
- Pantsu Hunter: Back to the 90s
- Waltz of the Wizard: Extended Edition
New on Xbox One store
- Blair Witch
- Pirates of First Star
New Nintendo retail releases
- Astral Chain
- The Ninja Saviors: Return Of The Warriors
- Root Letter: Last Answer
- Collection of Mana
Next week: FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered, Gears 5 Ultimate Edition Pre-Order, NBA 2K20 Pre-Order, Restless Hero, Creature in the Well, Phoenix Point, River City Girls, Children of Morta, Torchlight II, Batman Arkham Collection, Monster Hunter World Iceborne Master Edition, Gun Gun Pixies, Spyro Trilogy Reignited (Switch), Catherine: Full Body, Blindfold, and WRC 8 Deluxe Edition FIA World Rally Championship Pre-order.