Now that March has come to a close and video game outlets have had a chance to review all of the notable releases, it’s time to take stock and see just how good the month’s games were. To do so, let’s take a look at the Metacritic numbers to get an idea of the average critical opinion.
It turns out that March was a surprisingly strong month, no matter what platform you own or which genre you prefer. Chances are, one of these games will be right up your alley.
10. Game of Thrones: Episode Three – The Sword in the Darkness
- Metacritic score: 82
Much like Telltale’s other recent groundbreaking titles (The Walking Dead, Wolf Among Us, Tales from the Borderlands), the Game of Thrones episodic adventure game has been churning out compelling story lines from the jump. These games are driven by the same thing that drives the best movies and television: interesting characters, propulsive plots, and top-notch acting.
This game in particular brings players into the brutal world of HBO’s take on Game of Thrones. You’ll encounter many faces and voices you know from the show, series favorites like Tyrion Lannister and Margaery Tyrell, but the game focuses on the Foresters, a house that finds itself in the unfortunate position of being loyal to the Starks of Winterfell.
With the third episode the story is only halfway over, and reviewers agree that it’s really kicking into gear.
Telltale games are all about choices and putting you in situations where you feel like you can’t win. But they are also about making those decisions ripple through the rest of your experience. For many people, that means the game will be really different because you chose one path and not the other — but I don’t really care about that. I just want to remember these major moments, and I want them to come back and haunt me no matter what.
In Episode Three, my former choices won’t leave me in peace.
9. Borderlands: The Handsome Collection
- Metacritic score: 83
The Borderlands games are some of the best shooters of the past console generation because they offer fantastic gunplay, twisted humor, and droves of sweet, sweet loot. This collection for the newest consoles includes Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, plus all of the DLC for both games. Better yet, you can bring your old saves to the new versions of the games, as long as you’re still within the same console family.
Not only do they function wonderfully as shooters, but their gear and skill progression are still some of the best you can find amongst action RPGs, with zany skill trees that still make starting a new character fun even after a few hundred hours. The Pre-Sequel is particularly strong here, with every character having at least one skill tree that requires you to commit to strange playstyles in exchange for big-time power, like constantly reloading to become a whirling dervish of explosive destruction.
8. Axiom Verge
- Metacritic score: 85
Nintendo has ignored the Metroid series for several years now, so Tom Happ, the maker of Axiom Verge, has stepped up to deliver what fans want. You play as a scientist who wakes up in a strange world full of sprawling environments, strange enemies, and useful items scattered around. And yes, Happ is the sole creator of this game. He did the art, programming, and music all by himself, which is quite an accomplishment.
I’m not sure that I’ll actually go back and collect 100% of the items and seek out alternate endings, but that first playthrough is absolutely killer. I found myself scouring edges of the map in search of secrets and really had a fantastic time doing it. It looks great, controls really well, and has a level of difficulty that makes things challenging without making them overtly frustrating. If you’ve ever been into this sort of action-adventure game, Axiom Verge is positively terrific.
7. Elliot Quest
- Metacritic score: 85
Nintendo has finally opened up to independent developers in a big way, making room for niche titles like Elliot Quest. This game takes the retro charm of NES games like Zelda II and spins up a brand new experience that’s dripping with old-school nostalgia. If you grew up with a Nintendo controller in your hand, you might want to check this one out on Wii U.
From Nintendo Life:
It’s easy to get lost in Elliot Quest. The top-down overworld (much like Zelda II) has several caves, mountains, forests and beaches to explore, and there’s no indication as to where to go next. There are five dungeons to conquer, each packed with puzzles similar to the ones found in Zelda games, as well bosses at the end. Following each boss battle, Elliot gets a new magic item to equip, such as the ability to turn into a small tornado or shoot fireballs. All of these are useful in combat, which is a good thing as battles can be very challenging.
6. Cities: Skyline
- Metacritic score: 85
Lately Electronic Arts hasn’t been delivering the kinds of SimCity games longtime fans of the series want, so developer Colossal Order saw an opening and took it. This PC game has you build the city of your dreams from the ground up, with no server problems or online requirements like you might find in SimCity 4.
All said, I put about 85 hours into Cities: Skylines in ten days I had it. It’s a fun, fun game and even the little complaints I have about it did nothing to stop my enjoyment of the game. The learning curve is a tiny bit steep at first, but my partner who has zero experience with a city builder was able to make a passable city of nearly 70,000 in ten hours of play without encountering that many stumbling points. The mechanics are easily understood, the goals elegant and open ended in implementation, and the gameplay smooth. Did I mention it’s not a full price game? That it’s only $30?
5. OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood
- Metacritic score: 86
This skateboarding game offers more of what fans loved about the original OlliOlli: tough side-scrolling levels in which precision and style are key factors. Your job is to reach the end of each level while stringing together wicked tricks into high-scoring combos. It’s all about quick thinking and fast fingers. OlliOlli 2 will test your reflexes.
Roll7 has easily outdone itself with this one. OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood is a massive step up from the original game. It’s a gorgeous, worthy successor that’s even more absorbing and difficult to put down. Get ready for your next gaming obsession.
4. DmC: Devil May Cry Definitive Edition
- Metacritic score: 87
The Devil May Cry series is known for its over-the-top action and stylish, super-fast combat. This game, which originally came out in 2013, was a history-clearing reboot, so it makes a fine entry point for newcomers to the series. This “definitive edition” comes with all of the DLC from the original game, plus 1080p resolution and 60 frames per second for the smoothest ultra-violence you’re likely to find this side of … well, anywhere.
What a difference a frame rate makes. Say what you will about just how much people actually notice frame rate and resolution, but for games that value split-second timing, those extra 30 frames are essential. It’s partly why I spent more time with the hack ‘n’ slash classic DmC: Devil May Cry on PC than with its slower console counterparts, the sharper visuals and general feeling of superiority being a nice added bonus. So here we are, two years on, and console owners can finally get a taste of that sweet 60fps action, courtesy of the Definitive Edition — and it’s a fantastic thing. DmC is fiercely creative, and with its new features in tow, so much better than before.
3. Ori and the Blind Forest
- Metacritic score: 89
This side-scrolling adventure stars a forest spirit on a coming-of-age journey. Developer Moon studios has been working on this title for four years, trying to give it a similar feel to Nintendo classics like The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Super Metroid. That’s a high bar to clear, but they actually did it.
Ori and the Blind Forest will tax the dexterity of just about anyone who doesn’t eat games like Super Meat Boy or I Wanna Be the Guy for breakfast. If that disclaimer doesn’t give you pause, know that this is a game that made me want to hug the developers.
2. Pillars of Eternity
- Metacritic score: 90
Fans of classic computer role-playing games (cRPGs) like Baldur’s Gate and Planescape: Torment definitely will want to check out Pillars of Eternity. It’s from Obsidian Entertainment, the makers of excellent recent titles like South Park: The Stick of Truth and Fallout: New Vegas, as well as classics cRPGs like Neverwinter Nights 2. Apparently lots of people long for those bygone days of dungeon crawling, because the developers raised more than $4 million through crowdfunding to make it. Judging by the almost universally positive reviews, it looks like it was worth every penny.
Obsidian’s crowd-funded return to the RPGs of yesteryear is a triumph; its rich cast of characters, myriad upgrade options, and story-filled quests are the equal of any modern genre entry, and a suitable successor to the games that engendered it.
- Metacritic score: 93
Whether you should play Bloodborne depends on how much pain you’re willing to press through to earn a sense of accomplishment. This game of precision combat is fast, terrifying, and punishingly difficult. That said, if you’re dedicated to the task and willing to keep throwing yourself against the seemingly impossible odds, the game can become a fantastically rewarding experience. It’s not for everyone, but for people who drink the Kool-Aid, it can be almost transcendent.
Refreshingly, Bloodborne knows what it is, and doesn’t stray too far from the Souls formula — but its few alterations make for a fresh experience that will challenge even the most hardened Souls veterans. If you’re looking to justify the purchase of a PS4, I can’t think of a better reason.