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September 2021 has swept over us, bringing with it autumnal chills, petrol forecourt closures, Labour Party crises and Arsenal football club finally remembering how to kick balls about properly. In the UK, at least. And in the world of games, the last few weeks have been outstanding. I cannot, in recent memory, recall a time when so many amazing new video games came out, over such a short period of time. So, I thought to myself: why not round them up?
On September 9 came The Artful Escape, the latest extravagant experience into indie gaming from publishers Annapurna Interactive and designed by a chap by the fantastic moniker of Johnny Galvatron. I was wowed by the game, awarding it 9/10 in my review - and I can still say that no other title of 2021 so far has made me smile quite so hard (I can still feel the creases in my cheeks). It's a musical platformer following the adventures through time and space of one Francis Vendetti, and features the kind of sparkling writing that wraps you up and makes you feel a part of its world, however outlandish the sights become. With Carl Weathers, Lena Headey and Jason Schwartzman amid the voice-acting cast, this is a singularly special, retinas-searing and eardrums-popping explosion of colour and sound and wild imagination - and it's on Game Pass right now, which is a heck of a bonus.
The very next day, we saw three amazing new games come out. Already, it's a struggle to keep up, huh. Life Is Strange: True Colors, the latest all-chapters-at-once entry in the celebrated narrative adventure series, received a 9/10 too, with our reviewer Imogen Mellor writing that it skillfully balances cheesiness with true sincerity, and a warm sense of humour with striking tenderness. I'm still playing through this one now, and am just starting to see what's so special about it. Released on the same day was Lost In Random, an EA-published adventure using deck-building mechanics to advance through a storybook world that could be taken straight from the screen of a Tim Burton animated movie. Our reviewer Imogen Donovan called it "challenging yet thought provoking", awarding it 8/10. One you really needn't gamble on, then, as its qualities are assured.
And sticking with September 10, we got a brand-new WarioWare game. I know, incredible right? And, it is! WarioWare: Get It Together! is, as our reviewer Ewan Moore puts it, "gloriously silly, consistently puerile, and heaps of fun" - and what more do you need from a game in this long-running series of blink-and-you'll-lose minigame collections? It's also a game that reveals its delights in a welcomely prompt manner, as Ewan adds: "Nintendo wisely opts to give you every toy in the box quickly so that you can get on with the business of chasing down high scores and playing through bonus content." If you're wanting to know more, you'll find his 9/10-scored review right here.
Most months, that'd be enough winners. Four fantastic games (and yeah, we covered Sonic Colors: Ultimate, too, but that one's not quite in the same league), phew, brilliant. Only, we're just getting started. Let's talk Deathloop. Bethesda's immaculately styled shooter swaggered into stores on September 14, and earned itself an 8/10 review on these here pages. The characters of Colt and Julianna have become immediate favourites, and developers Arkane have taken their Dishonored experience and filtered it into competitive sneak 'n' shoot 'n' explode-with-fireworks multiplayer hilarity. Never has a simple boot up the backside been quite so satisfying. Concludes our reviewer, Imogen D: "All of this feels fantastic, so hats off to Arkane for setting themselves and the players an exciting, rewarding, and ambitious challenge that they won't forget."
I suppose you're thinking, hey, those 9/10s must be all used up by now. Well, nope. No way. Nah. We've got more coming. Let's talk Eastward. An RPG in a stylistic vein comparable (but, naturally, hugely advanced from) the kind of fare you saw Square release for the Super Nintendo in the 1990s, this Chucklefish-published pixel-art masterpiece from first-timers Pixpil came out on September 16 and had Ewan Moore absolutely gushing its praises. "Unforgettable, achingly gorgeous, and utterly essential" was his headline atop his review words, which were closed by another 9/10 score. Let's enjoy some more of his words: "Eastward feels comfortably familiar and strikingly fresh all at once, remixing the best elements of classic RPGs to produce something bold, brilliant, and altogether new." Get it played, if that sounds appealing.
The very next day, another very, very high-scoring review on these pages. TOEM: A Photo Adventure is a monochromatic mini-epic where we travel from our small-town home to witness an astonishing natural phenomenon from the side of a blizzard-ravaged mountain peak. It is, kind of, photo mode: the game - albeit with some walking and talking thrown in, and a fantastic array of fun characters spread around its world to converse with and help. Rather like The Artful Escape, the writing in this one is so kind and warm, it's impossible not to rather fall in love with it - which is exactly what our reviewer James Daly did. In his 9/10-scored review, he wrote: "while [this is a] predominantly a happy-go-lucky experience, there are some poignant moments, and it's a game that could stay in your heart long after you beat it." NGL, it's still very much in mine.
Not everything this month has been as near-perfectly scored as the above - but while flawed, both Lake (released at the end of August, I'll allow it) and the impossibly beautiful Sable are special releases ever so slightly marred by performance issues. Do check in on them both when some patches have rolled out, as speaking personally, even with the hiccups they're both in my top 10 of 2021 so far. (Watch the Sable trailer above, backed by the music of Japanese Breakfast, and tell me you don't want some of that.) Remember that in our scoring, 7/10 - which both of those games received - means very good. These are very good games.
With a handful of Yakuza series fans on the GAMINGbible team, there was no way that Lost Judgment - the sequel to 2018's acclaimed Yakuza spin-off Judgment - was passing without some attention. But we got our code very late indeed - so our review, such as it is, is far from finished. The game came out on September 24, and a couple of us are still progressing through it. But in his 9/10-scored review-in-progress, James Daly wrote of the action-orientated, detective-leaning role-player: "It's already clear that Lost Judgment is a deserved nominee for Game of the Year. Its unbelievable visual quality, superb characters and daring subject matter all come together in one exquisite, moving, unique experience." Suppose I'd best crack on with it, then.
Somehow, that's brought us up to speed - literally (but yeah, not actually literally - as we end the month with Hot Wheels Unleashed. And yeah, I know what you're thinking... Hot Wheels? A brilliant Hot Wheels video game? For real? And yeah, really real: Hot Wheels Unleashed is very, very good. It's not the complete package yet, which is why our reviewer Phil Boon ultimately scored it a 7/10, but he sings its praises with his words: "It's the ultimate virtual Hot Wheels experience, whether you want to create your most fantastical Hot Wheels tracks, or just race long into the night playing split screen or multiplayer with a friend." I've not played it yet, but I'm looking forward to getting it onto my Switch.
And that's sort of that for an incredible month. You can find all of GAMINGbible's new reviews in our dedicated reviews section. Click that way now for words on Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania, In Sound Mind, No More Heroes 3, all of the above, and many more... Including the exceptional, meditative puzzler Bonfire Peaks, when I finally find the time to write about it. Happy playing!
Featured Image Credit: Square Enix, SEGA, Bethesda
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