By some weird accident within the space-time continuum, we stepped out of 2022 and back into the early aughts. Everyone is taking part in Metroid Prime. The internet is in love with Leon S. Kennedy. Even Isaac Clarke is again, absolutely voiced and able to express the thoughts he’s been preserving to himself since 2008.
These remakes from Retro Studios, Capcom, and Motive Studio serve as a reminder that everything — even in video games — is cyclical. Old ideas, which can have been forward of the technical capabilities of their time, can reemerge with extra pixels, better hardware, and more experienced developers to flesh them out. Action-oriented survival horror plays like a dream in 2023, and the Switch has proven to be a greater than suitable residence for Samus Aran’s exploration-based journey.
Even Octopath Traveler 2, Company of Heroes 3, and Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty show simply how nicely a group of designers can improve upon their previous ideas. We’re solely three months into the yr, however we’ve already seen remakes and sequels that show a deep understanding of their supply material and prequels, and a willingness to question what got here before in service of making the subsequent nice sport.
It’s simple to point to remakes, sequels, and religious successors as proof that we’re in a stagnant period — but thus far, three months into 2023, the game release schedule has been anything however. Patch Quest, Phantom Brigade, and Season: A Letter to the Future, among others, have emerged from “under the radar” to make a name for themselves in their very own right. It’s already been an thrilling 12 months for video games (which yr in latest reminiscence hasn’t been, by this point?) for authentic titles, daring sequels, and daring remakes. Here are the most effective thus far. —Mike Mahardy
Resident Evil 4 Remake
It seems, Capcom is nice at remaking video games.
The authentic Resident Evil remake all however set the bar for the format in 2002, with sleeker controls, extra nuanced graphical particulars, and whole new areas to explore in the iconic Spencer Mansion. The Resident Evil 2 remake changed the entire perspective of its source material with out sacrificing the focus on horror and survival. Resident Evil 3’s remake, as forgettable because it was, nonetheless introduced the design conceits of the unique sport, warts and all, to a modern viewers. And now we’ve Resident Evil 4 — and what a remake it is.
In this reimagined version of the 2005 action-survival-horror game, Capcom has managed to erase most of the blemishes on one of the beloved games in the sequence, if not all time. The remake is stuffed with new flourishes and extra particulars in every of its three sprawling areas, making it less of a remake and extra of a dramatic reinterpretation. It has additionally managed to add even more survival components to the original’s action-centric fight, with out sacrificing the camp and cheese that have made it such a permanent presence all through the years. A lesser sport would have shrunk within the face of such intimidating source materials, however the Resident Evil 4 remake achieved the balancing act in spades. —Mike Mahardy
Resident Evil 4 will be available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, and Xbox Series X on March 24.
Image: Awaceb/Kepler Interactive
Tchia, from developer Awaceb, is an open-world adventure game set in a fictional version of island nation New Caledonia — impressed by Awaceb’s co-founder’s childhood within the nation.
Everything is filtered by way of the titular primary character Tchia’s eyes, eyes with a special power that enables her to remodel into any animals or objects in her setting. Birds, dolphins, a digicam, or rocks… It’s all an possibility for Tchia.
The game, whereas clearly impressed by The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, ends up standing by itself because of the revolutionary shapeshifting mechanics. Tchia isn’t as technically polished as a Nintendo title with hundreds of builders; Awaceb has a team of roughly a dozen. Still, it’s hard to innovate in such a ubiquitous style, yet Awaceb has managed to just do that with Tchia, making it probably the greatest video games up to now this yr. —Nicole Carpenter
Tchia is available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Windows PC.
Image: Lychee Game Labs/Curve Games via Polygon
Lions and tigers and… hat-wearing armadillos? Oh my.
Patch Quest initially roped me in with its endearing creatures, however I stuck around for its professional mix of disparate genres. It borrows components from Pokémon, Castlevania, The Binding of Isaac, and Enter the Gungeon to create a unique monster-taming roguelike in which you and your animal companions stitch the world back together one piece at a time. Tame deceptively cute monsters, discover the winding labyrinth of Patchlantis, and exterminate anyone who stands in your method with a fruit-ammo smoothie. Developer Lychee Game Labs (a one-person group, no less) stitched several pieces of fabric together to make Patch Quest, and the resulting quilt is a mesmerizing experience. —Johnny Yu
Patch Quest is obtainable on Windows PC.
Paranormasight: The Seven Mysteries of Honjo
Image: Square Enix
Square Enix has loads of mega-franchises to fill its time (and its coffers). This year, we have new entries for Octopath Traveler and Final Fantasy, together with new Dragon Quest and Kingdom Hearts games in the not-so-distant future. Dayenu!
And yet, the publisher can’t help itself from bombarding us with stunning, fascinating, typically nice, often good-enough experiments. In 2022, we got an English-language remake of misplaced gem Live A Live, the surprisingly pleasant tactical RPG DioField Chronicle, a bonkers Final Fantasy spinoff featuring the musical stylings of Limp Bizkit, and a pair of oddball card video games lathered in lore from gaming’s greatest weirdo. This yr, we’ve the Avengers of rhythm video games, Theatrhythm Final Bar Line, and Paranormasight: The Seven Mysteries of Honjo, an excellent riff on the visual novel penned by a beloved storyteller — whose finest series has by no means appeared in the U.S.
What ought to you know about Paranormasight earlier than you play? Well, ideally nothing. Why else would I be consuming up my phrase count?
But when you insist: It’s a mystery — and a horror mystery at that. You journey to 1980s Japan, specifically the Tokyo neighborhood of Honjo, situated not so removed from the trendy Tokyo Skytree. It’s exhausting to think about that trendy landmark ever towering alongside these streets, that are filled with shadows and deadly curses.
If you have even a passing interest in urban legends, spooky folklore, cults, and deadly rituals, or you’ve loved sequence like Zero Escape and Danganronpa, Paranormasight is a simple recommendation. And should you just get pleasure from a good yarn and have access to principally any screen and $15, then you’re a perfect mark too. It runs as well on console and PC as it does on iOS and Android, so don’t fret about the place you play, just achieve this and soon! Before Square Enix stops investing in all these oddities. —Chris Plante
Paranormasight: The Seven Mysteries of Honjo is out there on Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PC.
Image: Brace Yourself Games
Phantom Brigade’s unique “turn-based real-time” battles feel like a revelation within the mecha style. The most apt comparability is a video editor’s timeline, only as an alternative of scrolling by way of a film you’ve already made, you can effortlessly turn the tide of battle with a couple of good strikes. Once you’ve set up your 5 frenetic seconds of action, you get to sit again and watch all of it play out in wonderful slo-mo.
For mecha followers, it’ll be rapidly obvious how deeply the developers revere big robots. Your mecha can be intricately personalized, proper right down to their generator, which immediately impacts things like how regularly they will fire their armaments. Speaking of, the game’s arsenal is both lovely and brutal: frightfully devastating shotguns, sleek power swords, and missile barrages that fireplace in a perfect Itano circus. Even although the game is played from a bird’s-eye view, your mechs really feel massive and weighty, stomping via the sport world as they knock down buildings and shove tanks apart like toys. Even peering 5 seconds into the future to see your enemies’ movements looks like a reference to the ESP frequent in mecha anime.
This is to not point out the minimalist but evocative narratives you’ll get to enjoy on your campaign. While generally drawn with broad strokes, these tales are an necessary reminder that nonetheless cool your mechs could additionally be, it’s the pilots inside who actually matter. —Clayton Ashley
Phantom Brigade is available on Windows PC.
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty
Image: Team Ninja/Koei Tecmo via Polygon
Of all of the developers borrowing heavily from the games of FromSoftware, perhaps none achieve this more cunningly than Team Ninja. If Nioh and Nioh 2 were Dark Souls as seen by way of the lens of Japanese fantasy, then Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (and a little bit of Bloodborne) set in Three Kingdoms-era China. And it guidelines.
Not only does Wo Long deftly maneuver between awe-inspiring boss fights, spell-slinging brawls, and a litany of intricate areas throughout rural China — it additionally encourages exploration in a way that even some FromSoftware games haven’t. Wo Long’s morale system (which rewards you for build up your character’s confidence, so to speak, towards hordes of lesser enemies before tackling a boss) ensures that no challenge is insurmountable. It’s the rare recreation that can each brutalize you and root for you each step of the way. Wo Long is one such sport. —Mike Mahardy
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.
Company of Heroes 3
Image: Relic Entertainment/Sega
In 2006, Company of Heroes kicked down the door and strode into the real-time strategy scene with swagger and bravado. Its focus on squad-based tactics, as opposed to the actions of hordes of individual soldiers, set it cleanly apart from Starcraft, Warcraft, and Command & Conquer, and the ensuing spectacle was greater than somewhat paying homage to the choreographed World War II battles of Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers.
But issues have changed. 4X, grand strategy, and turn-based tactics have nudged RTS games out of their prime spot within the strategy space. Despite its explosive authentic outing in 2006, and its glorious sequel in 2013, Relic Entertainment needed to adapt.
And adapt it did. Company of Heroes 3 makes real-time technique more approachable than ever, with a “tactical pause” possibility that allows you to cease time and problem orders to your troops in hectic moments. It also introduces a Total War-esque turn-based overworld map, allowing you to maneuver armies, capture key installations, and supply a bevy of assist bonuses to the real-time battles, away from the firm steerage of the team’s (still excellent) linear marketing campaign writers. —Mike Mahardy
Company of Heroes 3 is obtainable on Windows PC.
Octopath Traveler 2
Image: Acquire, Square Enix/Square Enix via Polygon
The first Octopath Traveler was a sort of video games that was as pleasant to play as it was painful: enjoyable as a outcome of so much of it kicked ass, however painful as a outcome of so much of it dragged the optimistic elements down. In different phrases, it stood on the precipice of excellence, but couldn’t quite cross the road.
Octopath Traveler 2 leaps throughout that boundary. In place of the original game’s repetitive stage design, monotonous narrative construction, and generally awkward characterization, the sequel demonstrates an skilled ability to challenge your expectations at each turn. Yes, your common goal continues to be to recruit eight playable characters (hence the name) and comply with each of their separate plot threads to their respective conclusions, collaborating in turn-based battles and side quests alongside the finest way. But stated plots differ significantly from character to character, and should you so choose, you’ll be able to see a handful of characters via several major plot factors before recruiting the entire gang. Octopath Traveler 2 finely toes the line between that comfort food-esque repetition of the best JRPGs, and the subversive nature of great genre storytelling. —Mike Mahardy
Octopath Traveler 2 is out there on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Windows PC.
Metroid Prime Remastered
Few games from 2002 maintain up in addition to Metroid Prime, and the remastered model of the sport — which was surprise-dropped throughout February’s Nintendo Direct — proves that Samus Aran’s first-person journey remains to be worth experiencing, whether or not it’s for the primary time or (in my case) the fourth.
Retro Studios’ tackle certainly one of sci-fi’s most famous intergalactic bounty hunters controversially took her out of the 2D puzzle-platformer realm that made her well-known (although Metroid Fusion also got here out in 2002 — a present for the 2D Metroid purists — which may even be why Fusion joined Nintendo Switch Online’s catalog shortly after Prime Remastered was released). By placing the participant inside Samus’ helmet, Metroid Prime recontextualized the bounty hunter’s relationship with the hostile planets round her.
As we donned Samus’ suit and explored unusual planets, aggressive alien lifeforms may now get right in our faces, forcing us to dodge, strafe, and roll (in morph ball kind, naturally) using all three dimensions. No longer would we sit again and watch as Samus dipped her toe right into a pool of lava; in first-person, as molten fireplace spread over our visor, we’d actually really feel the stress to find that Varia Suit improve. And maybe most importantly, from behind Samus’ visor, we gained the flexibility to scan our enemies and environment, accumulating and translating logs from the long-dead Chozo aliens who as quickly as inhabited these now-hostile places.
The world of Prime is harsh and unrelenting. (Save factors will, at instances, be fairly removed from each other.) But it’s price buckling down and pushing via the pain points to find this world’s secrets and techniques. —Maddy Myers
Metroid Prime Remastered is available on Nintendo Switch.
Image: Motive Studio/Electronic Arts
With The Last of Us on HBO and Resident Evil 4 back in the dialog, it’s already a banner year for survival horror. Motive Studio’s Dead Space remake is not any exception. Following in the footsteps of Capcom’s aforementioned title, the unique Dead Space brought the third-person-action focus of Resident Evil 4’s formula to a deteriorating ship in outer house. In the vein of Event Horizon, Sunshine, and Alien, Dead Space was a paragon for sci-fi horror in a confined and claustrophobic setting. Its remake has introduced that very same vision to attractive new life, bringing quality-of-life adjustments and underappreciated updates (it has made several beforehand ineffective weapons into viable tools in protagonist Isaac Clarke’s arsenal), making it hard to think about ever going back to Visceral Games’ phenomenal original. —Mike Mahardy
Dead Space is available on PlayStation 5, Windows PC, and Xbox Series X.
Season: A Letter to the Future
Image: Scavengers Studio by way of Polygon
Everyone you meet in Season is already dead. The story opens in the far-distant way forward for a world that resembles our personal. A historical past researcher reads a journey diary belonging to a young girl who documented the top of her period.
The sport has you writing that travel diary, documenting the tip of a tradition and its individuals with the assistance of a motorcycle and a few S-tier scrapbooking expertise.
What sounds unhappy is type of enlivening. The world isn’t drab or apocalyptic. In fact, you wouldn’t know change waits on the door of this epoch if not for the prologue. The sky and oceans are lush complementary blues. Animals go about their days and not using a care, grazing on wheat and twittering in the trees. The few individuals you encounter react to the mysterious prophesied sea change the way in which most folk method moving from one condo to a different.
Season is fiction for a era that believes the tip of society as we understand it is inevitable. Maybe in our lifetime, maybe a century from now. Waters will rise, governments will fail, or firms will mine each final resource from the planet. But also, alongside that terror, there’s additionally a peace to be present in visualizing a life past.
Dark! But what else would you anticipate from a recreation about being the documentarian for a world you, the participant, already know has run its course?
That there’s so much magnificence on the earth of Season makes the burden of historical curation all of the more difficult. You can take footage, record sounds, and select sketches and bits of textual content to include in your diary. Though area is restricted. You won’t fit in most of your photos and notes, let alone the entire expertise of this world. Should people sooner or later know concerning the small, private dramas of this era? Should you pass alongside lessons from other eras previous, like a baton to be carried from one era to the next? Or should you leave the guide largely empty, affording this tradition some sort of cosmic privacy? —Chris Plante
Season: A Letter to the Future is obtainable on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Windows PC.
Fire Emblem Engage
Image: Intelligent Systems/Nintendo
Fire Emblem Engage was designed for a very specific kind of sicko: one not notably involved within the origin stories of a horde of teenagers, or the politics of a bourgeoise academy, or what type of tea a instructor prefers, but instead one obsessed with the endless trivialities of combat stats, weapon loadouts, and team composition. I know this as a outcome of I am one such sicko.
If you’ve learn any of my reviews or essays on Polygon, then you know I choose technique video games that may get out of their own method. More precisely, I love when strategy builders can put their pens down, throw their hands up, and admit that the tales unfolding within the player’s head will virtually at all times be more highly effective than anything they might write. Fire Emblem Engage is amongst the foremost proponents of this concept. It hurls an excess of characters, weapons, battle scenarios, and stat-boosting abilities at you, leaving the door open so that you just can observe character interactions on the battlefield and create the resulting fanfiction in your head. Its precise script is a quagmire of nonsensical JRPG tropes, and each cutscene is extra skippable than the following. But if you’re in search of a superb turn-based tactics game that gets out of the player’s method, you are able to do a whole lot worse than Fire Emblem Engage. —Mike Mahardy
Fire Emblem Engage is available on Nintendo Switch.
Marvel’s Midnight Suns
Image: Firaxis Games/2K
[Ed. notice: Marvel’s Midnight Suns was released in 2022, but it simply barely missed the cutoff for our greatest video games of 2022 list, so it’s eligible for our 2023 awards.]
I know what you’re pondering: Another licensed Marvel game? Come on, right? But hear me out. I performed Marvel’s Avengers, too, and this isn’t that. It might look like it’s going to be at first, as a result of Midnight Suns makes the grave error of introducing Iron Man and Doctor Strange as its tutorial characters, and these two may just be essentially the most irritating characters in the whole video game. (I have overwhelmed the sport, so I am allowed to make this call.) You must press on and provides Midnight Suns time to win you over. Because it has so, so much more to offer than it might seem in its first few hours.
Picture the romance and humor of Fire Emblem: Three Houses, mixed with the high-stakes tactical battles of XCOM 2 — that’s what Midnight Suns becomes in its mid-game and endgame. It’s a card-based technique game, and each hero has their own customizable deck. I started off favoring Captain Marvel, Magik, and Blade, simply because their moves and hilarious dialogue stored me entertained, but I soon realized that each single character has one thing thrilling or sudden to deliver to the battlefront. Over 100 hours later, I’ve leveled up every single character and played all the main story missions and an unknowable variety of optional missions, and I’m nonetheless not sick of this combat… or the kooky cast of characters that grows on an everyday basis (shoutout to the Deadpool DLC).
No matter how sick of Marvel you may be, give Midnight Suns the chance to win you over with its intelligent combat. And as soon as you’ve gotten hooked, you may end up sticking around to chuckle at Wolverine attending Blade’s e-book club (yes, that’s a storyline in this game). It’s worth your time, and you can take that from me, an individual who — again — spent over 100 hours on it. —Maddy Myers
Marvel’s Midnight Suns is available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.