Computer gaming has come a long way from space invaders and shoot ‘em ups. Here are seven of the best.
Virtual reality (VR) is “the most exciting frontier there is” in gaming, says Brittany Vincent in Popular Mechanics. The medium is still in its infancy, but is already “teeming with some of the coolest experiences you’ll ever have” in gaming.
One of the best VR games is Arizona Sunshine (pictured above), says Adrian Willings on pocket-lint.com. It is set in post-apocalyptic America and your task is to find a safe haven while fighting off the undead. The game is well crafted, there’s plenty of freedom to move around and explore, and you’ll find yourself fully immersed in the virtual world. If you can, get a friend to join you in multiplayer mode – “because killing zombies with friends in virtual reality is twice the fun”.
From £29.99 for the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift
God of War is about what it means to be a god, but also what it means to be a man, says Keza MacDonald in The Guardian. As the average age of video-game developers and players has crept up, so too has what we expect from the characters.
The vengeful god Kratos, who has appeared in earlier versions of the game with the sole character trait of anger, shows up in this outing with “backstory and motivation”. Kratos is now father to a son who knows nothing of his god-slaying past, and the father-and-son journey makes for “one of the best games of recent years”. It is “a deft intertwining of relatable familial drama and awe-inspiring mythological epic” and sets a new standard for video games, “both technologically and narratively”.
£49.99, all consoles
Outer Wilds is one of the best games of 2019 so far, says Esteban Cuevas on CBR.com. The player must explore the world and learn as much as they can before the sun goes supernova and destroys everything in 22 minutes.
The game then starts over, but with the knowledge you learned from before. You learn more and more with every play until you figure out how to prevent solar disaster. It is “a unique game for those looking for something off the beaten path”. When the world is not blowing up, it’s a “nice place to potter about in” too, says Phil Savage in PC Gamer. Its “charming and inventive worlds” hide a “cleverly unfolding mystery” that is a “delight” to untangle.
£19.99, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Macintosh operating systems, Linux
Japan’s FromSoftware has a reputation for making challenging games with “deliberately obtuse storytelling”, says Sam Kieldsen in Stuff. Its new offering is arguably harder to master than any previous game from the firm and is likely to be “the most demanding mainstream game that’ll be released this year”. It is set in medieval Japan and you play as Wolf, a ninja in the service of a young lord who is kidnapped by a samurai. Your task is to rescue your charge, restore the honour of the lord and take revenge. The game will be a “major test of your reactions, skill and patience”, but you’ll have a lot of fun on the way.
£50, all consoles
Cultist Simulator is a “morbid and deeply engrossing” single-player narrative card game where the goal is to establish a “Lovecraftian cult”, says Christopher Livingston for PC Gamer. “You’ll collect and study unspeakable grimoires, carry out unthinkable rituals, attract a devoted cadre of followers and find a way to finance your obsessions – all while trying not to lose your mind along the way.” It’s a “brilliantly written” game that keeps you enthralled with little more than a virtual tabletop covered with cards and slowly expiring timers. Impressive.
£14.99, Microsoft Windows, Linux, Android, Macintosh operating systems, iOS
Playing video games can be a great way to bring the family together, as long as the game is multiplayer, child-friendly and not boring, says Cameron LeBlanc on fatherly.com. One that fits the bill is No Man’s Sky, a “beautiful and intriguing game” that is “perfect for families to explore together”. You’re an intergalactic traveller who sets out to explore one of millions of planets that could be “brimming with alien wildlife or toxic natural hazards”, says Jade King on Trusted Reviews.
The dangers are juxtaposed with beauty and the algorithm responsible for creating the game’s “living, breathing worlds” has come on leaps and bounds from earlier versions. This is “one of the greatest space-exploration experiences available”.
£39.95, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, Xbox One
This slowly paced game looks “glorious” and “boasts some of the best voice acting ever committed to the medium”, says Adam Cook in Stuff. You play as a member of the Van der Linde gang, “a posse full of people out of time in a world that’s moving towards civilisation”.
A bank job has gone wrong and you’re on the run from the law in the American Wild West. The wilderness looks “beautiful” – the only sounds around you are those of nature, “aside from the echo of gunshots and the random shouting of strangers stood in dankly lit shacks offering you sanctuary”. But can you trust them? The world created is “absolutely magical” and there’s never a dull moment – this is “simply one of the most incredible game worlds ever created”.
£50, all consoles