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Arvi “Hempuli” Teikari’s new 2D puzzler follows four simple rules: Baba Is You, Flag Is Win, Wall Is Stop, and Rock Is Push. As the baba — an adorable bunny-like creature — the objective is to push aside rocks and touch the flag to complete a level. That is, until you realize every word on the screen is a movable tile and you can modify each of the cardinal rules to complete a puzzle in an entirely different way. It’s a mechanic that can become brutally difficult in mere seconds, but the ability to modify and remix larger X and Y statements is what makes Baba Is You an addictive timesink. It’s a puzzle game within a puzzle game and one that will gut-check your preconceptions about the genre.
Metro Exodus is the best entry in the criminally underrated Metro series. It’s far more open-ended than the first two games, but it’s also more focused than sprawling sandbox games like Fallout 4 and Far Cry New Dawn. It gives you just enough freedom and space that you can discover things on your own and chart a personal course, but it’s not so massive that you ever lose track of what you’re doing. Missions and areas get more linear as you progress, and it quickly becomes clear that nothing was sacrificed in exchange for the game’s openness. It’s amazing how well the structured missions hold up, considering how much work must’ve went into the open worlds. The final area is especially brilliant, not only for how it brings the game back to the series’ tunnel-crawling roots, but also how it caps off Exodus’ powerfully human story, which still occupies my thoughts weeks later. Read extra details at DawnofGames.com Gaming Blog.
“On paper, Dead Cells is an amalgamation of familiar ideas, some of which have been recycled to the point of overexposure; the exploration, discovery, and gradual empowerment of Castlevania and Metroid, the trial-and-error runs of Spelunky, and the oblique world of Dark Souls. But what truly distinguishes Dead Cells is the harmony it achieves between these individual elements. Developer Motion Twin successfully captures the essence of each of the games it is inspired by and uses them to give life to an experience that is refined and refreshing.”
Subset Games has gone two-for-two on can’t-miss indie games: after crafting the wildly addictive (but brutally tough) FTL: Faster Than Light, they’ve returned with Into the Breach, another game that’s very difficult to put down. Into the Breach is a turn-based tactical game with some twists: each match takes place on an 8×8 grid, last five turns, and shows you the moves of your alien enemies. As a squadron of powerful mechs, your task is to protect the nearby buildings, mitigate damage, and pulverise the invaders. Behind the slick old-school pixel look is a seriously brainy strategy game that’ll both ream you and ultimately feel pretty rewarding in the process. See extra info on https://thedawnofgames.com/.