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"Imagine the classic Micro Machines but in platforming form, and you're on the right track. Four players rush around a loop, leaping and bounding over and under obstacles, and using special abilities to knock each other off course. It's so simple, yet just so right, to the point where you can play the very same level over and over again for three hours straight, and never get bored. It's the best game of 2013 that you didn't play." -- Mike Rose
"If I had to choose just one game to play for the rest of my life, I’d choose the Vita version of Spelunky. Derek Yu’s brainchild has made regular appearances in critics’ year-end roundups since its release in 2008, with good reason -- Spelunky’s devilishly challenging levels demand tenacious and skillful play, and their semi-randomized design ensures that no two lives are identical." -- Alex Wawro
"You're actually having a conversation with the narrator, but you reply to and engage the narrator with your actions (i.e., choices), not with words. The Stanley Parable invites players to find their own unique answers, to follow along with or disobey the narrator and come to their own conclusions. It critiques the way games are designed, and the way players play them." -- Kris Graft
"From its general premise, to its pitch-perfect narration, to all of the little ways you can attempt to break the game, only to find that every intricate input and outcome has been considered, there's so much to adore about this sprawling, first-person brain-bender." -- Mike Rose
"Image & Form, with its mobile background, knows that times have changed, and that there are ways to make games more accessible and engaging without dumbing them down, and that is a fantastic insight expertly applied. A blend of old and new: SteamWorld Dig is a triumph of carefully implementing the right designs at the right times in the right ways. It is totally engrossing." -- Christian Nutt
"It's the flow of the game that really sets it apart. You dig deep, you find gems, you bring them back to the surface, you repeat. But the path that you create through this randomly-generated world remains in place, meaning that backtracking is regularly entertaining. As you begin to pick up special abilities (this is where the Metroid bit comes into play), you'll be able to dig deeper and reach further. It's pretty remarkable how fantastic the level design is, given that 90 percent of the experience takes place amidst randomly-generated squares." -- Mike Rose
"It's a complete survey of the entire franchise's history, taking in all of its gameplay ideas and aesthetic flourishes and, despite the difficulty, blending them into a seamless whole. 28 years of game design ideas, yet everything fits -- including the new stuff. The game is long, polished, playful, and beautiful. You'd think Mario would be out of ways to surprise someone like me, who's played every game in the franchise, but 3D World still managed to." -- Christian Nutt
"Typing of the Dead: Overkill is no one's bold new vision. What it is, is an assignment done well, carried out by a team going above and beyond its professional obligations not out of some studio's emotional manipulation about crunch or passion, but out of a belief in the work."
"Ultra Business Tycoon III is fundamentally a game about video games and what they mean to us, from a variety of angles. Twine creators are often brought up in conversations about 'outsider art' ("why not just call it 'art,'" Michael Brough recently said on the subject while we were at an event), but UBTIII, in its way, unfurls an intimate story: how the compelling textures, half-understood rulesets and blunt-edged landscapes of our childhood games were the safest places for many of us to be." -- Leigh Alexander
"I love that the Ostrich Banditos managed to craft a compelling, free-ranging murder mystery with a remarkably circumscribed set of player verbs -- move, aim, shoot, reload. Making anything other than a first- or third-person shooter is a seemingly Herculean task when you’re shackled to those options, but inWesterado you use your trusty six-shooter to accomplish everything from opening gates to comforting the wounded or ferreting out information." -- Alex Wawro