Games of the week
Yoshi's Crafted World
Be charmed by a perfectly crafted adventure
Charmingly familiar gameplay and a fresh, novelty aesthetic make Yoshi's Crafted World a real treasure. The wonders of Yoshi's Island are always welcome, but this new outing is a more dynamic experience than 2015's Yoshi's Woolly World, and makes the most of its handcrafted papercut style, in a blend of 2D platforming and interactive 3D environment. To return the island's Sundream Stone gems, scattered after a tussle with Baby Bowser, you'll scour every level for collectibles hidden in the background, held by enemies or revealed by triggering contraption-like puzzles. Yoshi's Crafted World has an atmosphere of calm, idle wandering and a texture and life that springs out at you, while its imaginative level design is only occasionally less than magic.
Skip to the end: Triumphant return for the easy going but lively platformer.
Assassin's Creed III Remastered
Platform: PC, Xbox One, PS4
The new old world
Assassin's Creed III Remastered is a prime example of the dangers of remasters. On the one hand, it's refreshing to revisit an established and clear-cut episode in the global conflict between Templars and Assassins, back before the more recent Odyssey and Origins adventures pursued new directions. The hardscrabble world of Colonial America is a fertile setting (though the clumsy storytelling is frequently crudely pieced together), even without the grandeur that defines the series. But upscaled and revamped visuals can't counteract the absence of modern gameplay refinements that cut home, from the sluggish parkour or lack of fluidity in combat, to the wooden and distracting animation.
Skip to the end: Even fond memories can't outweigh the dated gameplay.
Seikiro: Shadows Die Twice
Platform: PC, Xbox One, PS4
Good posture matters
In Dark Souls tradition, Seiko: Shadows Die Twice is a gruelling hack'n'slasher that inflicts harsh but fair punishment for error. As the shinobi, Seiko, you seek to rescue his kidnapped master from an enemy kingdom, employing swordplay that appears simple, with a single attack plus dodge and block buttons, built on a posture system. Repeated blocking fills the posture bar – when it tops out enemies become vulnerable to a deathblow, or a wounding attack against boss characters. Of course, you also suffer loss of posture, encouraging aggressive, daring combat. This heightened drama is everywhere, from intimidatingly huge opponents to atmospheric mountain environments, not to mention Seiko's brilliantly versatile prosthetic arm or the sudden fantastical surprises, forging a challenge of thrilling intensity.
Skip to the end: Devilishly difficult but deeply satisfying combat classic.
Hands on strategy
The turn-based kingdom building and real-time battles of Skyworld are appealingly tactile in VR. Levels are circular tabletops that can be gripped and spun, while troops are held as sets of cards in one hand and picked and placed with the other – move controllers are essential. Finally, spells such as fireballs are cast directly with your hands onto the battlefield. It's engaging stuff, yet Skyworld's drawbacks are obvious. In battle mode, units move automatically toward the enemy base, replacing any real tactics with more of a rudimentary deployment race, and in kingdom view there's too much emphasis on the unexciting burdens of tax levels and worker numbers. PSVR is perfect for strategy, but Skyworld doesn't make the most of it.
Skip to the end: The touchable feel is great but depth is sorely lacking.