Review | Diablo IV

The first time I heard the sound, I knew I was in trouble. You know it, that swishing sound in Diablo when you open a chest and the loot flies through the air. A sound full of possibilities, endless possibilities. What could i get next, how could I improve, how could I become better?

I hadn’t touched Diablo in a few years, but when I heard that sound in Diablo 4, I knew it: the game immediately got me all over again. Diablo can motivate you like no other to keep playing in order to assemble ever better equipment, unlock ever better skills and tackle and hopefully defeat increasingly difficult bosses. This fourth part further hones that into an irresistible gameplay loop.

It’s a delicious feast of an endless stream of enemies and interesting skills to unleash on them. Diablo may sometimes feel like mindless clicking, but especially on higher difficulties you really need tactics. Especially if you play with several people at the same time, you can conjure up the entire screen with whirlwinds, fireballs, skeletons or landslides.

You start your journey by choosing one of the five available classes. Whether you go for the Barbarian, Druid, Rogue, Necromancer or Sorcerer, the skill tree allows you to completely adapt your character to your own playing style. The choice between these skills is better than ever because it offers a lot of flexibility without giving you too much freedom.

I myself chose the Necromancer, which immediately appeals to me. With a simple click you conjure up an army of skeletons at your feet that do what you want, attack whoever you want. From a distance I hurl bonespikes at the enemy and let my undead hordes finish the job. At later levels you can summon even bigger undead creatures including a golem.

Casting through the hordes of monsters with my karate was an immense pleasure. What makes it even more fun is that for each of the above skills I also had three or four other choices. For example, maybe you don’t want hordes of undead minions around you, but rather solve it alone. Or maybe you prefer to work with blood magic, kill your enemies and heal yourself in one blow. Each class is very well put together in that way, with at least four or five workable builds to go for.

Each choice also feels much more important. In Diablo 3 you could switch skills at any time, but in part 4 that comes with a price tag. In the beginning you don’t have to pay that much gold to ‘respec’ a skill and make a different choice, but later on it will cost a considerable amount of money. So you don’t have to be afraid of a wrong choice during the first levels, but you do have to make a clear decision in the end.

That may seem restrictive compared to the previous part, but it makes you feel much more connected to your character and his or her skills. You can also no longer turn off all your AoE skills just before a final boss, so you really have to make a balanced build. It’s a perfect balance between the freedom to make a wrong choice and the coercive hand to come up with a good tactic yourself.

The large amount of loot has also been improved in a way that was not obvious. Diablo 3 was packed with sets of awesome weapons and armor that you could combine for extra power. This seemed really cool, but also had a major drawback: some sets were clearly the very best, so most players only wanted those sets. That doesn’t offer much flexibility.

Diablo 4 doesn’t choose to make equipment even cooler and stronger, but instead scales back and makes it more flexible. You can improve almost anything you find at a blacksmith shop, change the properties of each piece of equipment, or even turn rare items into legendary pieces of equipment with special abilities of your choice. So the choice is no longer just: is this new weapon better or worse than what I’m using now? But also: can I make this new weapon even better, so that it is still useful? Only at the higher difficulty levels do you now encounter unique objects that offer some extra power, and even those often have limitations, so that the ‘ultimate’ build cannot be simply sketched out.

A change that immediately catches the eye is the dark style of this latest part. Some fans were shocked by the colorful environments in Diablo 3, although I was not one of them. I was charmed by the style, something different from the always so dark worlds of Diablo.

The game is beautiful and the new style often comes into its own. Environments are full of details, which can often be broken. The lighting in particular comes into its own, with lanterns swaying in the wind and bathing the dark streets in a wavering light.

However, the gothic style covers the entire game with a heavy blanket of dullness, which also makes everything feel a bit the same. In any case, the environments are not very creative and it mainly seems to be a list of hangouts for goths: a dark lawn, dark cave, dark desert, dark snow field, a castle that is on fire, but is still dark. I was never stimulated by anything new. They are mainly places that we have also seen in previous Diablos.

The story isn’t very impressive either. A bunch of fools summon Lilith, the daughter of Mephisto, who has a sinister plan to become more powerful than ever. You mainly follow her for the rest of the game, so that you never really meet her and are always too late to intervene. You especially get into trouble with the aftermath of her plans and the monsters she has summoned.

Normally I’d say if you’re playing Diablo for the story, you’re doing it wrong. But part four puts extra emphasis on it, with many more cutscenes and dialogues. That’s quite nicely done, with some emotional moments, but the game’s engine can’t really handle it. The camera is made to hover over the action, not to zoom in on someone’s face.

As a result, some videos are quite ugly. In any case, they are in stark contrast to the game’s CGI intro, which is so beautiful that it could have been shown in the cinema. There are a lot of cutscenes that have clearly been given more attention, but in normal conversation characters are sometimes wooden and environments suddenly much uglier up close.

The other big change: Diablo 4 is an online game. That works out differently, and depends a bit on your gaming taste. In any case, we do not yet know how well the servers will hold up, but that will in any case be fine in the longer term. A bigger downside is that the game cannot be paused. That’s quite annoying if you’re just busy in a dungeon and the doorbell rings, or your cat pukes on the carpet. Since you can be attacked at any time, only in villages do you feel safe enough to go to the toilet.

On the positive side, the open world feels much more social as a result. Everywhere you see other players walking around in villages, or you meet them at one of the random events on the map. It feels good to go into battle together, overcome a tough challenge and then choose your own path again. Although of course you can always become friends or join each other’s clan.

Diablo 4 is already a pleasure on your own, but especially with multiple players in a group of up to four, the game really comes into its own. The interplay between the different classes and the effects of all those different skills racing across the screen: it’s a pleasure to watch and to control.

Diablo 4 is a gigantic game, with more elements than we can describe in one review. The best part is how the game seems to find a solution for all the little problems that could ruin your gaming experience.

In addition to the aforementioned smart things about loot and respecting builds, for example, it does its best to make the open world manageable. Everywhere you will find dungeons, side missions and cellars full of monsters, but of course you don’t have to go through everything. However, optional dungeons grant Legendary abilities that you can craft on your equipment. Fortunately, you can see on the map which skill you find in which dungeon, so that you don’t waste hours in dungeons only to get skills that you can’t use with your class.

At the same time, the game knows how to motivate you to spend more time in the open game world. Each area discovered, mission or dungeon completed fills a reward meter, unlocking crucial items for that region of the world map. Consider, for example, extra skill points or more XP, but also an extra health bottle that you always carry with you. This way you are constantly encouraged to stray from the path and visit the optional villages, characters and dungeons.

The game is full of these kinds of elements. Just when you get the feeling that the open world is getting very big and difficult to navigate, you get a horse at your disposal to race through it a bit faster. You can put a pin on your map and the fastest route to get there will automatically be shown on your minimap. Anyway, you can teleport to any village you’ve been to at any time, sell your inventory and then go back to where you left off. These are all elements that reduce the friction of this sometimes overwhelming game and make it endlessly playable.

Of course a game like Diablo 4 is difficult to review. I have now put in a decent amount of hours and have only just got a taste of the game, in which you always complete new dungeons and other challenges at higher levels of difficulty. I have seen a solid basis there to want to continue playing the game for dozens of hours, but my playing time is certainly too little to know whether this will remain fun and challenging for hundreds of hours, let alone whether all classes will reach level 100 in their ultimate form be well balanced. Also, the first season doesn’t start until July, so I can’t tell you if the upcoming Battle Pass with cosmetic items will ruin the gameplay.

What I do know is that Diablo 4 lays an unprecedentedly good foundation that fans can use again in the coming years. The game seems even better balanced, loot has been cleverly adjusted and your heroes and gear feel more personal as you have to think more about your build.



+ Weighty choices in character development
+ Open game world that rewards curiosity
+ Loot system feels well balanced

– Story and environments are a bit disappointing
– Game cannot be paused

Review | Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores

A good expansion usually consists of the best of the main game, with a small twist. The expansion to Horizon Forbidden West is also made according to that proven recipe. Built on the shoulders of a giant, but with new locations, missions, enemies and weapons, Burning Shores on paper has everything to keep you entertained for another ten hours.

Burning Shores takes place right after the end of Forbidden West. You must therefore also have completed the main story before you can start the expansion. Once you’re ready, you can expect a call from Sylens, one of the last roles of the recently deceased Lance Reddick. On his advice, Aloy travels to the “burning coast” of California.

The area around what is now called Los Angeles has been changed almost beyond recognition in the world of Horizon by centuries of landslides and volcanic activity. Amid ruins and lava flows, a new evil is brewing. It is of course again up to Aloy to eradicate that with root and branch.

Once there, however, something else is brewing. Aloy soon encounters Seyka, a stranded Quen. They have a common goal of finding Seyka’s missing tribesmen, but it doesn’t take long for more to come between the two. It’s nice to see another side of the so stoic, heroic Aloy, but the question is whether this expansion is the best place for that.

Aloy and Seyka need quite a bit of time to thaw out, but there isn’t that much time in this expansion. Almost all missions are therefore part of one continuous story to give the two ladies as much screen time as possible, but even then their story arc feels rushed. A specific visit to a derelict theme park also feels like a page straight out of The Last of Us: Part 2 script. But then with dialogues that are sometimes cut off or disrupted because Seyka accidentally stays behind somewhere.

Horizon is good at completely different things, such as fighting with gigantic robots. But that too is pushed to the background a bit in Burning Shores. There are hardly any new enemies and therefore hardly any challenging confrontations. It is as if the game saves its gunpowder for the final battle, which is so bombastic that at times you can only dodge and hope for a good outcome.

This last fight is also the only moment that somewhat explains why Burning Shores only appears on PlayStation 5, and not on PS4 like the main game. Anyone who expects a kind of next-gen Horizon due to that exclusivity will be disappointed.

Other activities can literally be counted on one hand. It is not a problem that the abundance of generic icons on the map has been cut. For example, we can miss Metal Flowers and Firegleam as a toothache. But nothing replaces it either. There is therefore almost no reason to explore the landscape.

In fact, self-exploration is actively countered by making certain regions inaccessible until you visit them for a story mission. Burning Shores has therefore become almost a linear adventure. It is a huge contrast to Forbidden West, where main and side missions were wonderfully balanced and you enjoyed a lot of freedom.

In this way you go through the available missions in a nutshell and after about twelve hours you have already scraped the bottom out of the can. Burning Shores isn’t bad, as it’s built on the rock solid foundation of Forbidden West, benefiting from a fluid combat system and eye-catching graphics, especially when a mountainside is ominously illuminated by a swirling lava flow. But where The Frozen Wilds was still a kind of pressure cooker version of Horizon Zero Dawn, with all ingredients in an extra high concentration, Burning Shores feels out of balance.

Both Aloy’s personal development and her discoveries are an important prelude to Horizon 3, and it is also nice to see Lance Reddick as Sylens one more time. For fans, that is reason enough to travel to the south. But with a setting as interesting as the volcanic ruins of Los Angeles, you’d expect some more proverbial landslides.

Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores is out now on PlayStation 5.



+ Spectacular final battle
+ We get to see another side of Aloy
+ Visually stunningly beautiful

– To few activities besides the main story
– Feels Rushed

Review | We Were Here Together

We Were Here Together is the third iteration of this puzzle game from the dutch studio Total Mayhem Games that puts you in a world filled with puzzles where you have to work together with a friend to solve said puzzles. The game is aimed for 2 person co-op so you will need a friend to play this game.

Visually this game is very pleasing to the eye and certainly a step up in quality from the previous 2 games in the series. I have yet to see anything that looked off or strange graphics wise while playing through the game although sometimes the glare of light reflecting off of a screw or other metalic object made me think that I found something interactable but it was just a set piece of the environment.

Gameplay wise this game is also quite a step up from the previous games. The first game took me and my friend 2.5 hours to 100%, the second game took us 4 hours and this one took us over 9 hours to 100% although we could have done this one faster but we got a bit stuck on one of the later puzzles. There are more puzzles, more intricate puzzles and some of them are also quite a step up in difficulty compared to the previous games. What I really like about this one compared to the other games in the series is the fact that you first start off puzzling together and it is only around halfway through the game where you get seperated and have to start using your walkie talkies or another voice chat program to get through the puzzles (we used Discord because sometimes the in-game voice chat would get stuck in broadcast mode and we could hear everything happening in eachothers background environment). Each of the 2 players have parts of the solution to the puzzles and have to relay information to eachother to solve the puzzles together. For example, one of the players has formula’s to a certain element you need to create in-game but the formula’s have abbreviations which the other player has so you have to help eachother and combine the information you have to finish the formula’s and create the item you need to finish the puzzle.

Although they have implemented more of a story to this game I have to admit that obviously it is better than the previous games but it is still quite lackluster. But I did enjoy the story soo far. They just could have done more with it in my opinion.

The audio is once again very good and I particularly enjoyed a scene where someone was playing on an organ in a church, very crisp audio apart from the small bug we had with the in-game voice chat but the quality of the audio was great.

Although the puzzles are a big step up both in duration as well as difficulty I do have to admit there were a few puzzles where it was quite unclear as to what we were supposed to do to progress. This is probably why you could probably finish this game faster than our 9 hours if you catch onto what you need to do faster than we did.

If you want to 100% this game and get all the achievements as we did on Steam then you have to play through the game at least twice. As I mentioned before you play the first handful of chapters together and you will both receive the same achievements but from the point on where you get seperated you will have to replay the game from the other player’s perspective and do the other parts of the puzzles. But fret not, there is a chapter checkpoint system where you can easily make a new game room and choose the chapter you wish to play and switch roles so you get the other part of the puzzles.

All in all a very visually and audibly pleasing game which is a lot of fun to play with a friend and also quite nice and satisfying to 100% for achievement purposes. The puzzles were great and very enjoyable and that AHA moment when you finally find out what it exactly is that you need to do is satisfying. Try and get the game during a sale because the 13 euro price tag is just slightly steep compared to the amount of game time you get out of it. I am very much looking forward to the fourth game in the series which is called We Were Here Forever. I will eventually be playing this one too and will certainly be writing a review for that game as well in the future.



+  Visually pleasing
+ More challenging puzzles
+ Great audio and music
+ Great Co-op game
+ Chapter saving system

– Slightly short and bland story
– Puzzles can be unclear at certain times

Review | Hogwarts Legacy

The developer of Hogwarts Legacy has kept us warm in recent years with extensive trailers about Hogwarts, tutorials for caring for mythical creatures and wintery atmosphere films with fireplaces. We therefore did not expect that the game would excel in its action-packed gameplay and adventurous plot full of riddles and mystery.

In the first half hour of Hogwarts Legacy, you’ll be attacked by a dragon, take a dizzying rollercoaster ride through the banks of Gringotts and find yourself in a haunted vault, where you’ll be unexpectedly attacked by living statues after solving a cryptic mirror puzzle. This fusion of exciting action with dark mystery immediately draws strong parallels with the Harry Potter films. A feeling that is further exaggerated when the prologue ends and the camera slowly zooms in on a stone Warner Bros logo, while familiar orchestral music rings in your ears.

Hogwarts Legacy is at its strongest when you let the story guide you and you get the feeling of playing the leading role in a magical fantasy story. But the game is much more than ‘just a story’. It is a large-scale wizarding simulation as well as an open world game. When you pull up floating platforms in underground dungeons with Accio spells, it even looks a bit like a platformer. Hogwarts Legacy is a game of many elements: from simulating a magical school life, to crushing a goblin rebellion with brute force, and from capturing and taming mythical beasts, to completing all kinds of side missions spread across a large world. With such a broad scope, Avalanche’s Wizarding World adventure has something for everyone, exactly what fans have been hoping for since its announcement.

Hogwarts Legacy revolves around you: a teenage witch or wizard who is invited by Professor Eleazar Fig to join the fifth year of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Soon, Fig discovers there’s much more to you than a quick flash of light or a simple hover spell. You can see traces of an ancient form of magic that hides other wizards from the naked eye. As a group of rebellious goblins led by the enemy Ranrok seek to obtain this magic to seize power in the Wizarding World, you unknowingly become a key pawn in a dangerous game. Reason enough for the Hogwarts professors to introduce you to a special trajectory, which will soon make you stand out just a bit more than your fellow students.

In addition to taking lessons at school, you venture outside the castle walls several times to trace traces of that ancient magic and find out what the goblins are up to with it. You often do this together with your mentor Fig, but as a stubborn teenager you also venture out into the wide world on your own several times. You regularly involve a fellow student, such as the stubborn Slytherin apprentice Sebastian, who is only too happy to teach you a dark spell or two.

Every so often you will come across an abandoned tower or castle that contains a trial; a kind of sorcerer’s test that teaches you more about the ancient form of magic. These underground trials are expressed in The Legend of Zelda-esque dungeons full of magical booby traps – such as bridges that suddenly start flapping like a carpet – and various types of puzzles that you as a skilled wizard must solve on your own.

The recurring dungeon crawling element is perhaps the most surprising aspect of Hogwarts Legacy gameplay. The puzzles and twists you encounter during the trials (but also often enough outside of them) may not be of the same level as that exemplary Nintendo franchise, but are nevertheless creative and often quite challenging. Instead of a bow and arrow or a bomb, you mainly use your wand here, which you have to use in the most imaginative ways. For example, you use a spell like Accio to lift yourself over an abyss on a plateau. People with a little knowledge of the spells in Harry Potter are guaranteed to have an edge with the puzzles.

The way you use spells in Hogwarts Legacy is actually a lot more interesting than we initially expected. This is also evident from the fights, which, in contrast to the books and films, are much rougher. This way you can use almost all the spells you have in your arsenal during battle. This often produces spectacular scenes and interesting combinations. Especially the dozens of combos you can make keep the combat system in Hogwarts Legacy constantly entertaining.

Fighting in Hogwarts Legacy is unprecedentedly brutal and to be honest it rubs a bit with the otherwise family-friendly Harry Potter series. Those who feel a bit at home in action games can at least indulge their lust. You can almost call Hogwarts Legacy a button masher; combat is chaotic at times, it’s all about reaction speed, and with a little training you can get really good at it.

Most spells are learned by taking classes at Hogwarts. The better you do at school, the more spells you unlock and the faster you develop yourself. At the same time, the school offers much more than just learning spells. For example, during a course like Herbology you come into contact with the wonderful world of magical herbs and grow carnivorous plants, and during Potions you make all kinds of magical concoctions. The Care of Magical Creatures course introduces you to magical creatures and teaches you how to approach them in the wild.

Besides witty cutscnees and some subtle minigames, these lessons are unfortunately not much more than that. You mainly unlock spells and learn, for example, which potions you can make to help you during your extracurricular activities. In the greenhouses of Hogwarts, you can use tips from Professor Garlick to grow monster plants such as the screaming Mandragoras, which you can then use as a kind of Pokémon during battles. So most of your time at Hogwarts is spent on homework rather than on the lessons themselves. And wandering around the castle of course!

Hogwarts is grandiose: you will certainly lose a few hours if you want to get to know the castle properly. That is not crazy; in the books the castle was already big, and this is the first time it has been realized in its entirety. For example, locations such as the History of Magic classroom and the teachers’ lounge have only existed on paper until now, but now they can be seen and experienced for the first time. Those who know the books a bit will notice that Avalanche Software has thoroughly studied the source material. The map of Hogwarts is accurate and there are all kinds of little details scattered in and around the castle that will make the biggest fans overjoyed.

Hogwarts is a visual spectacle; the same goes for the neighboring shopping village of Hogsmeade and the beautiful natural landscapes. It is a pity that all those wonderful details often take a while to come into view. Hogwarts Legacy is constantly plagued by loading textures, resulting in pop-ins. This is especially disturbing when you dash through the open world on a broomstick or Hippogriff, when trees suddenly get leaves or the facades of the castle suddenly change. But also during cutscenes, a lot happens in the background, which sometimes makes it seem as if the ground is shaking.

Hogwarts Legacy is a beautiful game, but sometimes leaves something to be desired on a technical level. We were spared really annoying glitches, except for a sheep that suddenly came waddling through a door. It is mainly technical imperfections that you cannot hide from the eye, as well as the NPCs that, in contrast to the beautiful backgrounds, look very rickety.

Fortunately, these imperfections do not ruin the gigantic experience of Hogwarts Legacy for many players. Avalanche Software has created as faithful a Wizarding World experience as possible through its design, world building, and careful study of Rowling’s source material. Hogwarts Legacy is sure to put a big smile on the face of Harry Potter fans.

Hogwarts Legacy releases this Friday on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and S, and PC. The game is coming to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on April 4 and to Nintendo Switch on July 25. For this review, the PlayStation 5 version was played.



+ Beautiful open World
+ Combat System
+ Dungeon Gameplay
+ Story
+ Breathtaking and detailed Hogwarts Castle

– Classes are nothing exciting
– Some puzzles/caves a bit repetitive

Review | God of War Ragnarök

“Why did you want to do this mission with me, father?” Atreus asks after one of the many optional tasks. Kratos growls a bit, but doesn't dare to show the back of his tongue. It's Mimir, the severed head full of funny stories, who finally breaks the silence: "He just wants to spend some more time with you." It is also a perfect metaphor for God of War Ragnarök.

Because yes, the successor to the 2018 reboot essentially feels like more of the same. But that God of War was so good that spending more time in this world is absolutely no punishment. If you really don’t want to know anything about the game, read this one sentence before closing this page: anyone who enjoyed the previous game will be completely satisfied with Ragnarök.

But Mimir’s quote also applies in another way, namely because of the emotional underlay. Ragnarök focuses almost all his arrows on the story and the development of the relationships between characters. Scenes seem to have been written on purpose to make you cry, and dammit, they work damn well too.

God of War Ragnarök starts in the same place as the first part, namely at home. Kratos and Atreus have been hiding for a few years because everyone is out to get them. Freya is angry that they killed her son Baldur, Thor is angry that his sons did not survive and supreme god Odin is angry because… well, because Ragnarök is coming, the prophesied end of the world.

Atreus is tired of waiting and eager to discover who he is and what part he plays in all the prophecies. Shouldn’t he be saving the world, or at least helping with something? What follows is an immersive adventure in which everyone learns something about themselves. Can you break free from prophecies and expectations to become who you want to be? Are you in charge of your own destiny?

In this grand pantheon of quarrels between gods, everything feels very personal. Kratos is no longer as he used to be on a murderous crusade to kill all the gods, but is willing to talk things through and avoid violence, if this keeps his son safe. The growth that Kratos is experiencing as a human being is enormous, sometimes even unbelievably large. Not that he is now whining endless monologues, but the Kratos who only wants to drink blood is definitely a thing of the past.

The focus is on personal interests and motivations, which impressively seeps through even in the side missions. The game again has a number of open hub worlds, in which you can explore somewhat freely. Ragnarök isn’t an open world game all of a sudden, but just like in 2018’s God of War, there are optional areas where you can find additional content if you feel like it.

You’ll be triggered more than ever to sink your teeth into it, as you’ll be rewarded with bits of story and emotional moments surrounding the main characters. For example, in the dwarf kingdom of Svartalfheim, Mimir asks you to dismantle construction sites, because in the past he helped Odin turn the dwarfs into slaves of sorts. He wants to correct his mistakes from the past, which adds an extra layer to this fairly simple job.

In any case, the many characters are the biggest plus of the game. Returning favorites such as Mimir and the dwarfs Brok and Sindri, as well as new friends from the gods realm impress. The acting is top notch, with Danielle Bisutti as the highlight. Her broken Freya swings between limitless anger and heartbreaking grief, and is a joy to watch.

In addition, the portrayal of Odin is a bold choice that turns out fantastic. Between large and taciturn muscle masses like Kratos and Thor, Richard Schiff plays the supreme god as some sort of mob boss who relies more on his brain than on sheer strength. It makes him an endlessly intriguing antagonist who is always two steps ahead of you.

This story is again brilliantly portrayed by fabulous camera work, where no cuts are ever made in scenes. Everything is one take, which makes the adventures of Kratos and Atreus even more personal. You really feel like you are staying by their side and going out together. It also provides the necessary calmness, because the camera rests on faces for a long time. When there is an Important Conversation, you get all the nuances on the faces of the actors.

This time, the camera gets a little more space to capture other storylines as well. Ragnarök has a lot of creative tricks in store to portray the whole in a surprising way and to let everything melt together perfectly. Director Eric Williams deserves a big compliment for his sometimes daring, but certainly successful choices in the script.

You might notice that this action-adventure review isn’t about action for 12 paragraphs. This game relies so much on the story that the developers themselves sometimes almost forget that there is still a fight to be made. Quick, throw another group of meaningless enemies at the player! You are regularly confronted with small fights, just because the previous fight was so long ago.

That sometimes breaks the pace of the game, especially if it starts to feel like a must. Some battles and environments are even exactly the same as in the previous game. “Hey, remember this great enemy? Well, there it is again!” Fortunately, the total amount of different enemies has increased, making the game more varied in the end.

It shouldn’t spoil the fun too much, especially because the combat is so very good and tight. Little has actually changed since the previous game, but that’s not a bad thing at all in this case. The ax and double chain swords feel great as ever. You have total control over Kratos and all his moves, the controls never get in your way and the combos flow effortlessly from your fingertips.

New additions to your arsenal are welcome, but not a major revolution. For example, you can now charge your weapon before starting a combo for an extra dose of ice or fire. Later in the game you can choose to focus more on long-range combat, but hey, who wants that when you’ve got your hands on those iconic melee weapons?

You also have little time to get bored of the combat, because the game contains more epic moments and battles than before. Although Ragnarök, like his predecessor, has a slow start, the journey is more than ever filled with memorable confrontations.

Despite the above criticisms, God of War Ragnarök is a beautiful game that feels epic and grand in everything. The game is finished to perfection, all animations and details are correct and bugs are hardly or not present at all. The worlds are breathtaking at times, full of small details that bring the game all the way to life. We might have liked to see a bit more of some environments, because not all areas can be explored at your leisure.

But you really can’t complain about a lack of content here. The story rages across your screen in about twenty hours, but if you also want to explore all optional missions, you will certainly lose twice that, and maybe even more.

According to the developers, this God of War series will not be a trilogy and Ragnarök is the closing of this story. Strangely enough, it does feel like a trilogy. The game is so packed with surprising story moments that it feels like you’ve played two entire games in one. As if the studio had planned the story of a trilogy, but crammed the last two parts into one fantastic package.

Lesser gods would collapse under their own weight in such a case, but with Ragnarök that is absolutely not the case. The game is overcrowded, in the most positive way. It brilliantly weaves together all of its storylines and grandiose action, never having you huffing and puffing at the clock. After thirty hours of playing, we just want to spend more time in this world. Fortunately, there is still plenty to do.

God of War Ragnarök is available for PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4. For this review, the game was tested on a PlayStation 5.



+ Combat remains excellent.
+ Beautifully beautiful and compelling.
+ Phenomenal and emotional acting.
+ Great story, creatively portrayed

– Puzzles slow things down.
– A bit too linear at times.

Review | Gotham Knights

If you've been in someone else's shadow for years, it can be quite difficult when the spotlight is suddenly on you. At Gotham Knights, it's not just the four new Guardians of Gotham struggling with their new status.

It’s almost impossible not to compare Gotham Knights to the Arkham games. While the Arkham trilogy was primarily developed by sister studio Rocksteady Studios, WB Games Montréal developed the prequel Arkham Origins. This studio is also inextricably linked to these legendary superhero games. However, Gotham Knights is not a continuation of the ‘Arkhamverse’, but offers its own, unique story. Without Batman.

At least: the Caped Crusader does of course play a role in Gotham Knights. At the beginning of the game, Bats is killed and now it is up to his four protégés to continue his work. Nightwing, Batgirl, Robin and Red Hood team up on a case involving the world’s greatest detective at the time. They set up headquarters in the Belfry, an old clock tower, and fight crime in Gotham from here every night. They track down the Court of Owls, a secret society that has been pulling the strings behind the scenes of Gotham for centuries.

That sounds like the breeding ground for an interesting plot with some other enemies than the standard Joker or Two-Face, but Gotham Knights never really knows how to surprise. The game obediently follows the standard pattern of a superhero story, so that despite a handful of memorable moments you see the most important revelations coming from afar. That in itself is not a disaster, because the story mainly offers a reason to hit a lot of enemies on the nose.

After all, that’s what you do most: smash enemies into each other. The combat system in Gotham Knights is very simple and has no block or counter mechanisms. It’s all about attacking and dodging and that feels a bit rudimentary. The much-discussed frame rate of 30 fps is not the reason for this; after all, the Arkham games played as smooth as an eel in a bucket of WD-40 even on the PlayStation 3. Without counters, everything just flows a little less smoothly.

As a result, a certain grind quickly creeps into the fights. Many enemies look alike and you can defeat them with the same tactics. For variety, you can select a different superhero for each mission, but don’t expect to suddenly play a completely different game after changing the night watch. The different fighting styles are mainly cosmetic; in the end they all have about the same attacks. For example, where Red Hood shoots with his (non-lethal) pistols, Batgirl throws a Batarang.

The biggest challenge is created by the level system. Enemies later in the game still look exactly the same, but because of their higher level, it simply takes longer before they go down.

It’s especially frustrating that the level system puts so much pressure on the game’s progress. Certain side missions play out nicely in their own story arc with their own villain, but you have to play them in an almost completely fixed order in between. Otherwise, you’ll either be too weak for the main story or way too strong for the side mission if you pick it up later.

Along with this level system hangs an  loot and craft system. You unlock new packs and weapons all the time, and the level system practically forces you to blindly choose your strongest gear. You can craft  something yourself with the countless raw materials you collect.

Fortunately, your four heroes level at the same time, so you don’t have to train them one by one. The main and side missions together also give you enough XP to continue, so you don’t have to grind in the city.

Crimes take place in various places in the city, such as robberies, hostage-taking, or organ trafficking. The four vigilantes can solve those crimes by taking out everyone. Every now and then you can also chase the bat moped through the streets of Gotham.

The city is very atmospheric, especially if you take the time to take it in. When the clouds break open and the silver moonlight in the wet streets merges with the red and purple neon of nightclubs and billboards, ray tracing, volumetric lighting and the 4K resolution come together in harmony.

Even when the game comes out positively, there always seems to be a poorly thought-out development choice. In a number of missions, the game surprises by tailoring dialogues or even pieces of gameplay to the hero (in) you control at that moment. Then you want to be able to replay such a mission as a different hero, but that is not an option. The game encourages you to switch, but then gives each hero his or her own story.

Gotham Knights certainly also has highlights, but much more often plays it safe and unfortunately monotonous. The co-op mode cannot change that either. There are no special attacks for two players; it remains the same monotonous fighting game, but with two superheroes on screen.

Gotham Knights is nu verkrijgbaar voor PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X en S, en pc. For this review the game has been played on a PlayStation 5.



+ Beautiful and atmospheric  city.
+ Satisfying combat system.
+ ,

– Level system is way too decisive

Review | A Plague Tale: Requiem

After the excellent A Plague Tale: Innocence and Microsoft Flight Simulator, Asobo Studio has proven that this still relatively unknown studio is not only extremely versatile, but also terribly talented. With A Plague Tale: Requiem, the French developer once again exceeds expectations and demonstrates that it has much more to offer.

Six months after the events of A Plague Tale: Innocence, Amicia and Hugo are still looking for a way to get the Macula curse out of Hugo. Their journey takes them to Mediterranean Provence, an area at the southeastern tip of France. Everything seems like a piece of cake, until sister and brother once again have to flee from the rats that seem to follow them everywhere.

The focus in Requiem is more on older sister Amicia. She has since embraced her role as Hugo’s protector and made peace with the fact that their world and lives will never be the same again. Amicia is ready to fight. Against the world, against fate and also against herself.

That fighting spirit is not only expressed in her emotions, but also in her behavior and thus the gameplay. Where A Plague Tale: Innocence mainly revolved around sneaking around and avoiding confrontations, Amicia hits back hard this time. The young lady strangles unsuspecting soldiers with her slingshot, throws them off her with a knife stab and, as icing on the cake, this time she is equipped with a crossbow with which she effortlessly pierces enemies.

That doesn’t mean that A Plague Tale: Requiem has suddenly become an action game. Knives are disposable, but can also be used to break open chests with upgrade materials, so you have to consider how you want to use them. While your crossbow is very useful in a tight situation, arrows are scarce and reloading is slow. And no matter how fierce you play, a single blow from the enemy can be fatal. So you still need to be on your guard.

Still, the game encourages diverse playstyles by giving Amicia new abilities depending on how she handles stressful situations. If you use an aggressive playing style, Amicia will also become more combative. If you are mainly a prowler, her footsteps become more silent. The effective use of alchemy to eliminate enemies is also a path that Amicia can take.

The game offers enough freedom to try out those different play styles. While you still have to get from A to B, there’s plenty of ground to explore in between and there are multiple ways to get to your destination. Being spotted is no longer a guaranteed game over, not only because Amicia bites off her easier, but also because you have a lot more space at your disposal to get away and try a different approach.

If you do get caught, you will automatically restart with the most recently created autosave. There’s no shortage of checkpoints, but it’s frustrating that you can’t save yourself. A poorly timed checkpoint sometimes meant we had to listen to the same dialogues over and over, or craft ammo every time we rebooted. It not only ruins the enjoyable pace of the game, but also the fun. Fortunately, these moments are rare.

Your companions, such as Hugo and the young alchemist Lucas, are also an important part of Requiem. Each ally has its own specialty that matches one of three playing styles, allowing you to explore all possibilities naturally. Hugo is no longer the helpless babysitter, but makes himself useful by sending the rats directly at his enemies. In addition, the new additions to the cast are interesting, outspoken characters with enough depth. They contribute not only during confrontations, but also as the much-needed emotional support for Amicia and Hugo.

Like its predecessor, A Plague Tale: Requiem is a two-faced game. There are peaceful moments, such as when you pet a goat with Hugo for the first time, play fairground games or simply admire the sunny Provençal countryside. These hopeful moments are full of wonder, but are always temporary. As long as the Macula is still running through Hugo’s blood, it’s only a matter of time before the rats spit through the paving stones and devour all the life around them. Then A Plague Tale shows its other, repulsive side.

Whether it’s a bustling market or the pulsating heart of a rat’s nest, the sublime graphics and ditto soundtrack always come together to create an atmospheric whole. The even light of A Plague Tale: Innocence gives way to more dramatic lighting, while Unreal Engine 5 does a great job of realistic rock formations and dense forests. Olivier Derivière completes the overall picture with a chilling soundtrack full of atmospheric violin playing that is sometimes so intense that you feel the strings into your bones.

Once they show up, the rats are another not to be underestimated hurricane of pitch-black violence that spreads death and destruction everywhere it goes. Thanks to the power of the current generation of consoles, they are even more impressive, appearing in the tens of thousands at the same time. Like a deadly tsunami, they engulf settlements, leaving behind only bones, rubble and gnawed bodies. They pose the most serious threat in the game, as every touch has a deadly effect. You are only safe in the light, where the rodents cannot reach.

Confrontations with soldiers are therefore interspersed with more puzzle-like pieces in which you have to fight your way between swarms of rats without being eaten. Sometimes you have to take both into account at the same time. It’s not a bad idea then to use the rats to your advantage, although the moaning of soldiers being eaten alive doesn’t quickly leave your memory, or Amicia’s. Needless killing often also results in disapproving comments from your companions. Amicia’s innocence, however, is long lost.

A Plague Tale: Requiem is not a pleasant game in its darkest moments. Asobo does not shy away from presenting you the most sinister scenes. Each time, Amicia and Hugo’s hopes for a peaceful life are painfully taken away. Amicia’s anger at the world is infectious, her despair understandable. You want to hurt the world again and at the same time a question of conscience is gnawing at your head. Is saving Hugo’s life worth the death of thousands of innocents? Morality is an important theme to explore, but the game eventually struggles to find a satisfying answer. Still, we can appreciate the bold choices that have been made and we are very curious what the future of A Plague Tale looks like next. If Asobo Studio keeps up with this level, things can be nothing but rosy.

A Plague Tale: Requiem will be available October 18 for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and S, PC, and Nintendo Switch (Cloud version). For this review, the game was played on PlayStation 5.



+ Beautiful soundtrack
+ Strong story and characters
+ More choice
+ Stunning graphics and environments

– Unreliable checkpoint system

Review | Ghostwire: Tokyo

With Ghostwire: Tokyo, developer Tango Gameworks takes a completely different approach. With The Evil Within, the studio remained faithful to the previous work of founder Shinji Mikami, who earned his spurs with survival horror games such as Resident Evil. Ghostwire: Tokyo still has the necessary horror influences, but is much more action-oriented and also trades the stereotypical abandoned mansions for the beating heart of Tokyo: Shibuya. That works out well.

At the beginning of the game we see how a mysterious fog suddenly makes everyone in the famous district disappear. The normally insanely busy intersection in front of the train station in Shibuya in the blink of an eye changes into a ghostly scene, where only a few piles of clothing left behind are silent witnesses of the disaster that just happened.

There is still screaming music from the shops and all the billboards are still brightly lit, but there is no longer any shoppers to lure in. Yet the district turns out to be anything but deserted when not much later all kinds of ghosts and demons parade through the streets. Slenderman-esque businessmen, headless schoolchildren, those The Ring-esque girls; the entire nightmare cast is present.

The only survivor is you: Akito. He is fortunate that just before the fog rolled in, he was possessed by the ghost of KK, a deceased ghost hunter. Not only does this help Akito survive the fog, it also gives him supernatural powers. With a swift movement of the hand, he fires gusts of wind as if they were bullets. Armed with their combined forces and knowledge, Akito and KK set out to find out exactly what happened.

Shibuya definitely plays a starring role in this. The city looks really beautiful, partly due to the high-quality ray tracing. The game has several graphics options, including multiple options with ray tracing. I chose to play the game for the most part in Quality Mode, in which the game runs at ‘only’ 30 fps, but makes up for it with the high resolution and beautiful ray tracing. Those who prefer to play at 60 fps can exchange ray tracing for a stable 60 fps. There is also an intermediate option that allows ray tracing with a higher, but slightly more unstable frame rate and slightly lower resolution. In short: there is something for everyone.

Despite its original angles, Ghostwire still falls for a well-known pitfall: after a while the stretch is a bit out. The narrative passages, which usually take place in closed environments, are considerably stronger towards the end than the open world. After all, in the closed environments there are boss fights and a lot of paranormal activities are played that completely turn the environments upside down.

In the open world, which at first is so beautiful to explore, the endless confrontations with ghosts at some point become a routine job. You pop some fireworks from your fingers, pull the core out of your enemies in a spectacular way, and can continue again. Three blocks away, the same scenario awaits you.

It also doesn’t help that you unlocked all your powers quite early in the game. New skills can still be unlocked via a standard skill tree, but they mainly make your existing powers slightly stronger. Visually nothing changes and you don’t have to press any other buttons.

It’s a shame that Ghostwire already loses its powder in the first half of the game, because the game really has tons of originality to offer. For example, it was nice that you hear KK’s voice not only through all your speakers, but also through your controller. Normally I’m not a fan of audio through the controller, but in this case it makes KK’s voice completely ‘surround’ you, as if it were really a voice in your head. The controller’s speaker is also used to pick up some sort of noise when ghosts are around, which gives a pretty eerie feeling every time.
In any case, the audio is of a high level. Attacks from enemies, for example, really fly right past your head, but also while exploring Shibuya you can place a dog’s barking or a cat’s meowing quite well in space. Why is that important? Well, Shibuya’s animals can help you in many ways. Plus, you can pet and feed them! That alone is reason enough to go after animal sounds.

I can still fill paragraphs with fantastic details from Ghostwire: Tokyo, or anecdotal side missions that you find in the city, but I especially recommend that you discover all of that yourself. Tango Gameworks shows with verve that they can not only make gore horror, but can also pick your brain with paranormal horror. They can also create a beautiful game world. Making that game world fascinating to the end is only an improvement for their next game.

Ghostwire: Tokyo is bursting with originality and also looks great. Still, that can’t prevent that typical open-world game routine creeps in towards the end of the game.

Ghostwire: Tokyo will be available on March 25 for PlayStation 5 and PC. For this review, the game was played on the PS5.



+ Very intriguing and unique setting
+ Top notch audio
+ Shibuya is beautifully crafted
+ Original combat system

– Very repetitive towards the end of the game.

Review | Horizon Forbidden West

Even in places in the game world where hardly anyone goes, Aloy is recognized in Horizon Forbidden West. The first thing she hears? “If it isn't the Savior of Meridian!” Well, Aloy saved the world in Horizon Zero Dawn and the world has not gone unnoticed. Yet it is almost as if everyone has collectively forgotten that the world's greatest hero is simply called Aloy.

In any case, the Amsterdam Guerrilla Games is not. The studio celebrates its best character in Forbidden West as sequels rarely do. Aloy is the heart and soul of this game. It’s heartwarming to meet her old friends, remember adventures from the first part, and see how everyone in the world has heard about Aloy’s exploits. No one doubts her ability.

Aloy herself thinks otherwise. Uncomfortably and hesitantly, she waves the compliments away in Forbidden West. Savior of Meridian? “Just call me Aloy.” She says it over and over. That aversion has little to do with a latent impostor syndrome. Aloy doesn’t feel like a heroine because she knows what’s to come. In Zero Dawn she learned who she really is and what her role is in the game world. The real work has yet to begin.

The beginning of Forbidden West elaborates on the events of the previous part. After that, the game starts to juggle more and more jargon. That’s one of Horizon’s strengths – the world derives its depth from it. At the same time, that makes the story inaccessible. If you’ve never played Zero Dawn or have forgotten much of the story, I recommend checking out this refresher on YouTube.

Zero Dawn’s story was good, but it only really spurred on after a big reveal halfway through the game. Forbidden West goes wild earlier, but still takes a hefty run-up. The game starts in a defined area, similar to Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla. The first few hours are a bit of a pull, but once in the West, the game gets going right away.

A certain tribe then throws the bat in the henhouse and it is probably up to Aloy to knit everything to a good end. Unsurprisingly, Forbidden West is about much more than clans and their plotlines, which are once again bursting with political twists and animosity. Still, I did not expect that there was still so much to tell about this game world.

Guerrilla Games has been far from open-handed in Horizon Zero Dawn. Forbidden West has plenty of surprises in store.

Partly because of all those twists, this game has a wonderful flow. You really fly through the story. The loaded main missions continue to deepen the world in new ways, while stories within side missions are often worthwhile too. Some side missions even pick up on the overarching storyline and introduce characters who will play a role later on.

The motion capturing of those characters is also sublime. People gesture happily and have recognizable manners. The facial animations are also very well done. The contrast with some plastic left off Zero Dawn is truly colossal. Certain characters have gotten a little more attention than the minor roles, but overall the animation and voice work is top notch.

The actors have had enough source material, because Forbidden West is bursting with dialogue. Sometimes you are listening for minutes. Despite the aforementioned excess of jargon, the writing is sharp and at times even surprisingly funny. You will not be laughing in your living room, but the humor is well dosed and different ‘types’ within the cast are used well.

The story deserves all the praise and, together with the game world, is continuously intriguing. Playing a hunter-gatherer in a post-post-apocalyptic world makes the Horizon series completely unique. That is also ironic in a way, because the open world activities themselves are slightly less unique. Forbidden West is sort of a compilation album of everything you know from open world games.

You have the towers from Assassin’s Creed, the outposts from Far Cry, the question marks from The Witcher, the glider from Zelda: you know it by now. The structure of the game world is the same as in Zero Dawn. It’s not like Forbidden West is suddenly mimicking the freedom of Breath of the Wild. No, you are still going through question marks on the map or scrolling through missions in a menu. “You know” is not an overstatement in that sense.

That is by no means a criticism, let that be clear. While Zero Dawn could have been a linear game according to some critics, Forbidden West benefits a lot from the variety of an open world. That’s because there are more diverse activities that are actually fun to do. The side missions in particular have improved enormously. They introduce entertaining scenarios and some unique environments.

For example, mild platform puzzles regularly play a role during side missions. Aloy can now climb mountain walls, a bit like Breath of the Wild, but only in the case of certain rocks. Sequences like this are really, really fun. The Cauldron Caves are certainly platform highlights. Those almost Ratchet & Clank-esque levels are bursting with spectacular running and flying action.

A little less impressive about the platforming is the erratic controls. Aloy sometimes forgets to extend a reaching hand prior to a jump. Several times I swore back to the beginning of a platform section. It turns out that you have to wait until Aloy extends that hand. That takes some getting used to.

Speaking of which: I also had to get used to the mounts in this game. On the one hand they go fast and that is great, but too often you are braked because you get stuck behind a rock or a protruding branch. In addition, it is difficult to estimate which rivers you can or cannot cross, depending on how deep they are.

This is inconvenient, but also manageable over time. You get used to it. You have to, because the game world is so vast that sometimes you can’t do without your mount, especially if you can’t fasttravel for a while. The Forbidden West is huge. You travel a lot of lonely miles to get everywhere.

This game world is bursting with different types of environments and one by one they are indescribably beautiful. The distant vistas and exposure form a sort of scenic tandem. I fell silent for a moment as the morning sun rose over the mountains for the first time to paint the landscape red.

What steals the show in particular is the art design. In the environment where the game starts, that’s not too bad, because everything takes place in a small canyon. But gosh, once you get to the West, the sequel unfolds in ways I can barely explain. How this game blends old (modern technology) and new (a world full of indigenous tribes) is spectacular from start to finish.

One minute you’ll be amazed at the tribes and their authentic cities; fifteen minutes later, you’re gazing at a half-collapsed space center, fighter jets overgrown by moss and colossal carcasses of machines that blend into the mountain landscape. So consistent, so unique, so much detail: this is an absolute masterclass in art design, also underwater.

The pop-in is minimal and the frame rate constant, at least on the PlayStation 5. It is recommended to play the game at the highest frame rate (60). The resolution is then lower, but you don’t notice that much, probably partly due to post-processing. Of course you can play the game with all the bells and whistles at the highest resolution, but then you have to take into account a frame rate that does not exceed 30.

And that’s inconvenient, because the recognizable and satisfying action can certainly be very hectic against big opponents. In addition, Aloy’s knee slide deserves an honorable mention. Aloy can slide on her knees on the ground for many meters – even longer when going downhill. While she is sliding, you can adjust her very accurately, for example around corners. It’s a small mechanic, but oh my gosh, it feels good.

Horizon Forbidden West introduces more such adjustments that feel good right away, but don’t seem significant in themselves. Take the fine checkpoints, more extensive skill trees, nicer upgrades for your weapons or the smooth fasttravel. The critic will then say: With such adjustments, Forbidden West does not change the rules of the open world genre.

Correct. In fact, Forbidden West doesn’t do that anyway, not even compared to other Sony games.

Ghost of Tsushima includes more subtle tricks to guide you through the game world, such as the wind showing the way and animals showing you where to go. Forbidden West is a more traditional open world game, one that relies on quest markers and menus with commands like its predecessor. You are not guided through the world ‘automatically’. Exploring mainly means going into question marks on the map.

It doesn’t matter at all. It’s obvious that Guerrilla Games wants to bet with Forbidden West on everything that makes Horizon Zero Dawn fun and unique. The result is a very trimmed sequel where you rarely do anything you don’t feel like doing. Forbidden West is captivating to follow, fun to play and beautiful to watch across the board. And to think that this gaming year has practically yet to begin.

Horizon Forbidden West is available on February 18 on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5. We played the game on a PlayStation 5.

Conclusion:  Better, smoother, better written, phenomenal art design, a consistent story, more surprises and better main and side missions: Horizon Forbidden West is better than its already sublime predecessor Horizon Zero Dawn on almost every front. Big kudos to Guerilla games, homegrown pride!



+ Beautiful game world with sublime art design
+ Entertaining and varied missions
+ Story full of revelations and surprises

– Minor cosmetic flaws
– Platforms don’t always run smoothly.

Review | Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition

The cultural significance of Grand Theft Auto 3, Vice City and San Andreas needs no explanation. Few game series ever managed to leave their mark on a genre like GTA at the time of the PlayStation 2. A reissue to make these classics easily playable on modern hardware is not a bad idea at all - if only with a view to the preserving cultural heritage. Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition, however, has nothing to do with preserving cultural heritage.

We can be brief about the games themselves. In all honesty, in 2021 there is little fun to be had in GTA 3. The city looks bare, the missions mean nothing and cars don’t drive as smooth as we’re used to in GTA V. Yet the first part in the trilogy is still intriguing. Especially in combination with Vice City and San Andreas.

After all, those two games have withstood the test of time much better. When you play the games in succession, you increasingly see the contours of a modern open world game. The missions become more extensive, the characters start to talk more and more, and especially the game worlds are undergoing an enormous evolution. The streets of Liberty City are still empty and gray, but Los Santos has a unique vibe. A vibe that changes when you swap the city for the countryside, or later chug past the casinos of Las Venturas.

But it really doesn’t matter how good or fun the games themselves are. Anyone who has actively experienced the games knows exactly what to expect. The potential for nostalgia is great, especially when iconic music by Nena, Toto, Dr. Dre of Guns N’ Roses reverberates from the speakers. Those unfamiliar with the games might want to play GTA: The Trilogy out of curiosity to see why these museum pieces made such a splash two decades ago. In either case, it’s more important to look at how Rockstar has handled the source material. And that’s not too good.

For the re-release, the classic games have been rebuilt in a new engine. The original code has been partly reused, to give the games the original look and feel. Improved lighting and numerous small quality-of-life adjustments also reduce the culture shock. For example, your minimap automatically shows how to drive and it is easier to switch weapons or radios, thanks to selection wheels that we know from GTA 5 and Red Dead Redemption 2, among others. The controls have also been modernized, including a freely moving camera. No idea if that was the deciding factor, but even infamous missions like Demolition Man (Vice City) and Wrong Side of the Tracks (San Andreas) weren’t nearly as frustrating as in our collective memories.

Many fans feared the iconic music in this reissue. There are indeed a few songs missing. In fact, it’s missing some pretty iconic songs, including Billie Jean and Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ by Michael Jackson in GTA Vice City), as well as 2Pac’s I Don’t Give a F*ck and Hellraiser by Ozzy Osbourne in San Andreas. That is of course a shame if you just like those few songs, but with so many songs and radio stations there is enough left to create nice 80s and 90s atmospheres. Moreover, the endless chatter of the disc jockeys and the countless commercials and jingles have been preserved. So much for some good news.

The GTA Trilogy technically rattles on all sides. That starts with the fact that you have to choose between a Fidelity and Performance mode. We’re not dealing here with cutting-edge games that squeeze the most out of your hardware; these are three games that were already playable on twenty-year-old hardware. The fact that the three games are still plagued by frame drops and pop-in even on an Xbox Series X is therefore in no way justified.

But the trouble doesn’t stop there. Many graphics models have been artificially ‘enhanced’ to still look somewhat acceptable in a modern resolution. Some objects have clearly been given attention; you can see a surprising amount of detail in Tommy Vercetti’s colorful Hawaii blouse. But the way arm hair has subsequently been applied to his plastic-looking forearms is unintentionally comical.

Worst of all is the ‘renewed’ rain. A terrible effect has been applied, causing rain to distort the entire image as a kind of bright noise. Strangely enough, the rain stops spontaneously when you enter a tunnel, even outside the tunnel. To make matters worse, this effect is not applied ‘over’ water. If you see a lake or the sea in the distance, there is a ‘hole’ in the rain. It’s impossible that the developers missed all this, because the entire opening scene of GTA 3 is not to be seen because of this disfigured effect.

These once iconic games are now graphic monsters of Frankenstein, where old animations, jacked up resolutions, new lighting and completely failed effects come together unsightly. Even if the technique doesn’t falter, a lot of magic is lost. If you look out from Mount Chiliad, the highest point in San Andreas, you will see the complete map. Technically clever, but so sterile and without atmosphere. Hazy effects or air vibrations are not only there to mask imperfections, they are also there to add atmosphere. That was forgotten for a while with this Trilogy.

Sometimes it all works. The Strip in Las Venturas, for example, looks brilliant under the right conditions. The contrast between the dark starry sky and the bright neon lights bouncing off your car is something we could only dream of in 2004. An optimistic dreamer can squeeze a bit of nostalgia out of this Trilogy now and then, but nothing more than that. If this is how we should definitely remember the GTA Trilogy, the reputation of three legendary games has been tarnished for good.

Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition is available now for PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One, Series X and S, PC and Nintendo Switch. For this review, the games were played on PlayStation 5.



+ Plenty of quality-of-life improvements
+ iI you squint and drift off to the music you can feel a touch of nostalgia
+ Improved controls and camera, ,


– Loses a lot of atmosphere due to ‘clean’ look
– A lot of Frame drops
– Have to choose between Fidelity and Performance modes
– Disfigured rain effects