System Shock's 2023 remake felt like an insight into what people valued about the original, why it left a mark, and how far the imsim (immersive simulation) genre has come.
Citadel Station is big, bright, and labyrinthine. Seemingly every wall and ceiling covered in glowing screens and lights, making readability (what can I actually interact with? what am I supposed to do in this room?) hard to parse for the first several hours of play. The station's layout intensifies this sense of disorientation. Each floor of the space station is sizable and sprawling, with twisting, intersecting, and hidden rooms making navigation as much of a mental exercise as the game's basic "redirect the flow" puzzles. This sense of disorientation feels thematically apt, but it has costs: prodding at every surface and/or overlooking critical buttons & switches is frustrating, and the puzzling architecture eschews any sense of verisimilitude. (The game pokes fun at itself with a one-off audio log about how SHODAN intentionally designed the station to be maze-like, which, haw haw, but remains a barrier to immersion.)
The means of interacting with the environment are also generally primitive: run, jump, shoot, and press buttons. While the game does find some simple but effective ways to iterate on those, I couldn't help but think about the ways Arkane's imsims have pushed environmental interactions forward (Dishonored's blink & rat possession! Prey's foam crossbow & mimic matter! Metroid Prime's scan visor & morph ba- wait a second).
Narratively, the game feels a bit thin. After a tightly-paced opening, nearly all of the written content that follows is audio logs of the crew at various points of suffering and SHODAN's taunts. It still hits some good narrative beats, but anyone hoping for thoughtful insight into Shodan's motivations or, frankly, any well-developed cast members (arguably beyond Shodan) will be disappointed.
Speaking of Shodan - while her taunts and traps were fun, it felt a little flaccid due to the reanimation mechanic. (Basically, you can unlock fixed respawn points that will allow you to die & return without losing any items or progress otherwise.) When her most devious trap turns a game over into a slap on the wrist, it starts to feel like she's all bark and no bite. (Segments without these respawn points are a bit more engaging.) Were other consequences for taking the respawn - additional enemies encroaching into new places, traps set for your return - deciding between taking the respawn or reloading a save would be fun! But as it stands, it felt like an odd and underdeveloped choice. (There is a difficulty option that addresses this by putting a hard 10-hour cap on gameplay. It's an interesting option, but it seems ill-fit for a first playthrough - mine took me 18ish hours.)
Other bits are similarly impressive by 1994's standards but undercooked or unremarkable today. Combat is fine - some of the weapons are especially satisfying to use, but enemy AI is disappointingly limited. Cyberspace segments play like baby's first Descent & could be shortened or cut. The soundtrack is extremely functional cyberpunky techno that left little impression.
As a fan of imsims, I enjoyed the look into the genre's history through the murky lens of a faithful-seeming remaster. I wouldn't recommend it to those interested in trying out immersive sims - honestly, just play Prey (2016).

One of the most egregious examples I've seen of good ideas stretched out far beyond their viability. Fully completing this game takes about 10 hours (16+ if you're voice acting the game with friends), and its charm and intrigue fade far before you'll see any "true ending" that resolves overarching plotlines. This game needed drastic cuts - if it were a third of its length, it would have been a solid 7/10. But its problems extend beyond feeling like chewing on the same piece of gum for too long.
Its characters are a mix of one-note archetypes ("the snooty rich one," "the shy childhood friend") and One Joke ("the narcoleptic teacher," "the lolrandom one [athletic]," "the lolrandom one [anime]"). A few of them receive some development (contained either to their character-specific ending or the "true ending" arc) and most of which receive eleventh-hour Emotional Dramatic Twists™. It would be easier to gloss over the weak parts if they didn't stick around for so long, but many of them weren't stellar material to begin with. A couple character arcs manage to earn a drop of genuine pathos, but more try their hardest and come off as unearned and incongruous.
The central plot is similarly thin & disappointing. I had hoped that, after so much drudgery in completing all the other endings, it would redeem the game, or at least end on a strong note. Unfortunately, everything teased in bits & pieces is resolved in a final arc with a hodgepodge of revelations, ranging from "huh that's kind of interesting" to "that's it?"
There's little else to praise the game for. Aside from the fun human drawings of the cast, the art is almost entirely just stock art. Many dramatic moments fall flat because of a lack of visuals, and the prose does not step up to the plate to compensate. The soundtrack, similarly, is all free-to-use music that can't shake feeling cheap. Typos, issues loading saves, and a poorly-implemented text skip feature don't help either. Hatoful Boyfriend was ultimately a disappointment - not just because of what it did wrong, but because of how thoroughly its good ideas were mired in mediocrity.

I've been going between 3.5 and 4 stars for this. PMD: EoS is an interesting game that struggles with pacing. Its narrative can feel sluggish, as its attempts to explain itself to a (very) young target audience can make dialogue repetitive, especially with its reliance on flashbacks to very recent events. At the same time, many of its most interesting & effective emotional beats (mainly its eleventh-hour dramatic reveal it) feel like they would have benefited from being introduced earlier and given more time to stew & develop.
Its pacing issues also extend to its mechanics, with filler missions padding out playtime (and almost entirely constituting the postgame). Again, some of its interesting mechanics are held back later than seem necessary, such as the SOS Mail (a fantastic concept that allows players to "rescue" each other from wiping in some dungeons) and evolution, which is incomprehensibly withheld entirely until the post-game and only fully usable on the main two characters after the postgame.
That being said, there's a lot to appreciate with EoS. It leans into its randomness effectively, with mechanics adapted from the mainline Pokemon series that can effectively create surprising emergent scenarios. (Those surprises range from humorous to infuriating, but the main game is broadly gentle enough to make the worst "That's bullshit!" moments fleeting.) There's a lot of care & charm in rare little things a player may never see. The plot, while often simple, has a lot of effective characterization & charm to it, and it delivers a surprisingly strong emotional blow at its end. The spritework is fantastic, and the music is as energetic and fun as the game's visuals.
At its best, it's very hard to put down, mixing a nearly-Firaxis level of "one more turn" syndrome with delightful charm and a spark of wonder. At its worst, it's shallow in ways that hurt because of how much potential it displays. Ultimately, it's a game that I expect will feel cozy & nostalgic for fans of Pokemon & kid lit, and may be middling for those who don't care about either.

Vomitorium doesn't have a lot of inventive ideas to bring to either the metroidvania or FPS genre, but the (seemingly Giger-inspired) horror aesthetics and clippy pace (takes roughly 3 hours to 100%) make it go down easy.
Could definitely use a content warning for sexual violence (nothing visual).

Silent Hill is iconic lofi horror for a reason. Incredibly atmospheric, creepy without cheap jump-scares, and occasionally charming thanks to its B-movie cheese.
I strongly recommend people go in with this spoiler-free guide as to how to get a good end: I actually played this twice back-to-back, with my first run surprising me with the bad end ("This game has multiple endings?!"), which felt like a slap in the face. Replaying it took less than half the time and gave me an even greater appreciation for the game.
Overall, a real delight of a game that leaves me wanting to explore more games that can capture the genuine retro horror feel.

everybody shut the fuck up i am experiencing childlike wonder

feel like shit just want her back x

The transition to 3D was rocky and didn't allow for much depth, though exploration was fun. (Rope physics were also a bit more... adventurous? Which was neat - there were times where you had to wrap rope around something.) Then, boss fight! Wow, it's actually good, too! And... the game abruptly ends. Like, I cannot overstate how abruptly this game ends. If you've got 3 friends who happen to already own it, it's not a bad way to spend an afternoon, but I can't quite recommend spending money on it.

(I played with Primehack because the Wiimote controls made my wrist sore; an extra half-⭐ if you're using that, bumping it up to "may be worth playing if you're a big Metroid fan." The carpal tunnel isn't worth it otherwise.)
Man, this feels like Halo 2 dropped and made Retro quake in their boots. We've got more characters! Cutscenes! Military! Setpieces! A guy saying "damn!" As the Wii's flagship shooter, it's got to stand up to the competition, right?
...Alright, that's probably uncharitable - but this game really feels like it's straining against the series it comes from. Metroid games, in my mind, are defined by three things: exploration, atmosphere, and recontextualization. Corruption's atmosphere is fine - the art direction is as good as ever, and there's clearly been a lot of thought into how to construct the various worlds to give them independent identities. (Stumbling across the Xenoresearch Labs was a real highlight!) However, the other the other two areas are really weak.
IIRC, the first eight-ish hours are spent keeping you on a leash, chugging ahead without any interesting decision-making on where or how to proceed. When it finally lets you figure out your own way forward, it's a breath of fresh air, but it never goes especially far with it. Out of the trilogy, this game inspires the least curiosity and wonder. It spends so much time shuttling you from place to place, ensuring you don't get too distracted or lost, that so little room is left for asking "I wonder how you get there?" or "I wonder what that's there for?"
And the recontextualization - the Metroid series, at its best, does a great job making you look at an old location in a new way thanks to the items & knowledge you've gained. This very rarely happens in this game. Most of the things worth backtracking to are simply different-colored doors; something that, at this point in the trilogy, should not inspire any surprise. When it does happen, it rarely goes anywhere significant. It's just disappointing, frankly.
There are good additions. This game's equivalent of a Chozo Artifact/Sky Temple Key hunt is easy to start early, and it doesn't require collecting all of them to progress. (I enjoy 100%ing Metroid games, so you know I did anyway, but point being that this helps ease the lategame slog that Prime games can slip into.) Its fast travel system is also the best in the trilogy, making the endgame cleanup even faster. And many of the new items are genuinely cool - the grapple upgrades are a clever way to improve a previously underutilized item.
However, I do not think this game works well as an ending to the trilogy. The ending is so focused on tying the narrative up in a neat bow that it devolves into abrupt hand-waving, hoping to dazzle you with a flashy (but unfortunately uninteresting) final boss so that you won't think about how nonsensical its attempt at closure is. It smacks of tight deadlines and cut content, and I'm disappointed it had to end this way.

I won't pretend this game doesn't have flaws, namely in the back half's pacing. But two elements deserve exceptional respect: the sense of place, and the happy accidents.
The sense of place is hard to miss while playing, but it rewards intentional attention. The details are just stunning, especially considering this was before throwing complex geometry & high-res textures on things was "free" (insofar as performance is concerned). Whether it's the atmospheric soundtrack, the bite-sized sprinklings of worldbuilding the Scan Visor offers, or the way each interstitial hallway has varying depth and implied purpose, it's a lot to baste in. As a child, I would treat some game worlds more like sandboxes to play in rather than linear experiences, and Metroid Prime offered a lot to enjoy with that kind of in-the-moment play.
And the happy accidents. Whoo, boy. Being a Metroidvania, this is a game about acquiring things that change your relationship to your environment, recontextualize places you have been, and open up ways to progress. By design, it does this with items. By accident, it does this with knowledge. Yes, I'm going to discuss the glitches in this game - if talking about things that were neither intended by developers nor affect the average player's playthrough doesn't interest you, fine. I think art is worth evaluating for how it arrives, separate from intent - and the wealth of knowledge there is to plumb from this game is vast, deep, and rewarding. I've been learning this game's dark arts for about two years now (in conjunction with the excellent randomizer mod), and I'm still learning more every run.
I don't expect the average player to try any of that out, though. I expect most will play through it once, have a ball in the first half and gradually tire in the second. But with time and study, this game appreciates in value. If you've already played it, check out a commentated speedrun. Watch them fling themselves at incredible speeds, hop around obscure geometry, and maybe even turn into a math-breaking ball of light, and you'll have a glimpse of the strange beauty of this game's accidental depths.

A triumph of presentation & doing the most with the least.

a nostalgia-fueled skinner box. most of the unique things it brings to the table range from "eh" to "bad," but... there's always gonna be a part of my brain that really wants to buy into Adventures with Fun Creatures, regardless of how (in)substantive it ends up being.

Absolutely flawed, but incredibly charming. Legendary co-op was the perfect challenge level for me. A+ jank.

does this meaningfully help your brain? probably not - at least, not any more than most simple puzzles. however, I am a competitive gremlin and being told "good job" after banging out The Maths at good speed is nice. (also, my brain-straining faces are good entertainment value for friends)

Played through it 4-player co-op the whole way through. Much of the game's fun comes from the emergent gameplay, which the co-op does wonders to facilitate. The campaign's writing is unfortunately all over the place, mostly forgettable and occasionally Definitely Not Good. There are a lot of problematic elements for people smarter & more motivated than me to pick apart, but I can at least safely say that a race war did not enhance the game's narrative.