The A.V. Club's Scores

For 880 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 47% higher than the average critic
  • 3% same as the average critic
  • 50% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 2.9 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Game review score: 71
Highest review score: 100 BioShock
Lowest review score: 0 Torino 2006 - The Official Video Game of the XX Olympic Winter Games
Score distribution:
1093 game reviews
    • 83 Metascore
    • Critic Score
    Your interest in Stray is going to come down to two factors, one very prosaic, and one pretty abstract. First: Do you currently have PlayStation Plus Premium? This is, after all, the first game since Sony revamped its subscription Plus program to attempt to do a Microsoft Game Pass-style “available at launch” thing, and at “no extra dollars,” it’s interesting enough, and brief enough, to be a more-or-less an instant recommendation. Second: Do you love cats? Love watching them move, jump, swat things off shelves, make a mess, be weird little guys, etc.? Because Stray is the best job anyone’s ever done at capturing those pleasures in video game form.
    • 83 Metascore
    • Critic Score
    There is a good mystery story at the core here, even if its complications aren’t quite as compelling as those of the first game’s. (And if you have a taste for the meta, Uchikoshi has you covered, as always.) And those Somnium sequences really are a major step up from the original. But if Uchikoshi’s work has always involved digging through the less savory or interesting elements to get to the treasure buried underneath, then Nirvana Initiative may be the biggest such pile of his career.
    • 85 Metascore
    • Critic Score
    As we said up top, there is a good mystery story at the core here, even if its complications aren’t quite as compelling as those of the first game’s. (And if you have a taste for the meta, Uchikoshi has you covered, as always.) And those Somnium sequences really are a major step up from the original. But if Uchikoshi’s work has always involved digging through the less savory or interesting elements to get to the treasure buried underneath, then Nirvana Initiative may be the biggest such pile of his career.
    • 80 Metascore
    • Critic Score
    Nobody does it better—and even Supermassive has sometimes done it worse. The Quarry is a welcome return to form, then, for the studio that created one of the most interesting and entertaining horror games of all time.
    • 72 Metascore
    • Critic Score
    Will I be playing it two weeks from now? Hard to say. There’s only a handful of (big) maps, and there may, in fact, be a limit to how many times I can chuckle evilly as an enemy team falls into fear and despair. (God or Evil God or whoever save us from a solved multiplayer meta.) But I’m having a damn groovy time with it right now.
    • 88 Metascore
    • Critic Score
    At its core, Horizon Forbidden West is a game about saving the world—both in the sense of preservation, and in the doomsday-averting action that involves shooting supervillains with pointy sticks. It’s about asking ourselves what we’re willing to pay, and lose, to ensure some part of our legacy persists. And it’s about what you can do in a world where the rich and powerful have murdered your future, while greedily ensuring their own lives on. It’s not a masterpiece—masterpieces rarely come this big. But it’s a world worth keeping, nevertheless.
    • 81 Metascore
    • Critic Score
    Is it worth the effort? Like we said: The highs here are very high, the sense of potential mastery potent. (Game looks great, too, with a fluid, slightly cartoonish style.) But progress will take a certain bloody-minded persistence—and a willingness to overlook the game’s various crimes against authenticity. (To be clear: This is a team of French developers making a video game about what they think an Asian martial arts movie looks like; it’s so divorced from anything resembling a story about real people or cultures as to land somewhere at the intersection of stereotype and cliché.) With those caveats in mind, though, Sifu remains the kind of game it’s hard to stay away from for very long—for no other reason than a desire to take vengeance on it for what it did to you the last time you played.
    • 87 Metascore
    • Critic Score
    It’s a very modern interpretation of what Halo can be, pulling from the kinds of games that are as big today as Halo was when it first launched. Rather that feeling like a Greatest Hits of modern video gaming, though, it still feels distinctly like Halo. Meanwhile, its potential to grow and change seems like it will have a much more lasting impact than any amount of bopping aliens in the head. Maybe “combat evolved” just means something new now.
    • 84 Metascore
    • Critic Score
    Guardians Of The Galaxy is just like the ragtag space heroes it revolves around. It has a lot of messy bits that overcomplicate things, it lets interpersonal conflicts get in the way of its action and its story, and you may get a good laugh from its characters one second and then wish they would leave you alone the next. But, again, like the Guardians, it works because of those messy bits, not despite them.
    • 85 Metascore
    • Critic Score
    As a love letter to card games, it’s cunningly crafted, and full of fascinating twists. As a pool of secrets, it’s deep enough to drown in. As a hybrid of the two, it’s one of the best games of 2021.
    • 73 Metascore
    • Critic Score
    Even within the meandering and aimless boundaries of the open world big-budget shooter genre—games designed to lovingly transform vast hours of human existence into points map percentage completion, without involving the brain in all but the most cursory of ways—Far Cry 6 stands as a disappointment. As a political statement, it’s cruel, bleak, and simplistic. As a game, it’s rote, repetitive, and only surface-level innovative. As a hybrid of the two, it’s an outright disaster.
    • 88 Metascore
    • Critic Score
    Given the sheer amount of self-plagiarism on display here, it’s impossible not to wonder how a more traditional, Dishonored-style level structure could have benefited this world and power-set, allowing these characters, and that intoxicatingly addictive multiplayer, to get more of the focus. And that’s the core paradox of Deathloop, the worst game in recent memory from a studio so good at what it does that it’ll still inevitably land on our Game Of The Year list when December rolls around. It’s a great game in spite of itself, and its titular selling point; the loop might be broken, but Arkane’s grasp of its core mechanics remains solid as ever.
    • 88 Metascore
    • Critic Score
    Despite its ostensibly far-flung setting, Ratchet And Clank: Rift Apart is going to feel very familiar to anyone who’s spent much time with this franchise over the last two decades of its existence. That’s a bit of a bummer, in so far as there are a lot of Ratchet And Clank games out there that you can draw parallels to here, and very little that’s going to feel genuinely fresh or new. But that familiarity also extends to being familiar with the core, unshakeable competence of these solid platforming adventures that are designed for pretty much anyone to have a good time with. As a dimension-hopping adventure, Rift Apart might leave something to be desired. But as a reunion with one of gaming’s most energetically silly franchises, after so many years away, there are worse things you could wish for than the same old Ratchet And Clank.
    • 81 Metascore
    • Critic Score
    Still, for all it owes to Leon Kennedy’s misadventures through parasite-plagued Spain, Village is its own game with its own offbeat personality. If it can be believed, it may well be the kookiest Resident Evil yet.
    • 86 Metascore
    • Critic Score
    Returnal is not a system seller. (Damn thing’s $500, so what could live up to that?) But it is bold, cool, and fearless, full of shocking moments and highly addictive systems. (I haven’t even dipped into the game’s obsessive focus on risk and reward, constantly daring you to take a debilitating weakness in exchange for a much-needed dose of power.) If you already own one of Sony’s big white bookends, though, I’ll be blunt: You probably owe it to yourself to check out the first really great PlayStation 5 game.
    • 76 Metascore
    • Critic Score
    Like all of the 99/35 games, Pac-Man 99 is undeniably neat. The confusion on the screen is visually stimulating, and the base maze running remains fun. (There’s also a whole strategy element we’re still trying to wrap our heads around, re: the game’s four distinct power-up modes.) But by cutting out a core element of the Pac-Man formula—the accrual of points, whether in service of extra lives, or just as an end unto themselves—99 loses touch with what has made that little yellow puck such an enduring icon for the last 41 years. After all, not everything needs to be a matter of life and death.
    • 88 Metascore
    • Critic Score
    Currently exclusive to the Nintendo Switch, Rise suffers, looks-wise, when compared to the PS4/Xbox One-ready World. Where it soars, though, is in how much living-in its various jungles and swamps allow for. Harking back to earlier games in the franchise with an emphasis on pets and other bits of fiddly, adorable minutiae, Rise nevertheless holds on to World’s most important innovation: Open-world maps that, as the game’s name implies, put a heavy emphasis on gaining a little height on your titanic opponents.
    • 82 Metascore
    • Critic Score
    It’s all enjoyably compulsive in a way that makes me genuinely wonder why the game’s not getting a big mobile push, too.
    • 92 Metascore
    • Critic Score
    They’ve preserved the warts with the same loving care that they’ve lavished on the core gameplay, which remains solidly satisfying even as it’s used in service of frequent gotchas or nasty tricks. Yes, the levels are too long. Yes, the game’s consumable healing items lack the elegance of Dark Souls’ self-replenishing estus. Yes, the trick with the boss that just keeps respawning until you go kill the innocuous zombie standing on her balcony a billion miles away is unimaginable horseshit. But also, yes: That sense of running through the labyrinths of a demented, cackling dungeon master, daring you to stay alive ahead of rolling boulders and tricksy ambushes—while unseen friends leave you messages warning you away from the worst of the deathtraps—is still alive and well.
    • 85 Metascore
    • Critic Score
    Judged on its own merits, there’s nothing automatically wrong with more of the same. But its status as a flagship part of the launch of the PS5 confers extra power on this unassuming little title—power it doesn’t always wield with the great responsibility such a prominent position demands.
    • 71 Metascore
    • Critic Score
    I, too, have to confess that the general shittiness of the writing and jankiness of the gameplay didn’t negate my enjoyment at all. If anything, the bad dialogue can be a real boon to online co-op play, because the sound of your regular laughter through my headphones was infectious, as our shared scorn for the one-dimensional nature of these odious characters lent the proceedings a festive vibe.
    • 75 Metascore
    • Critic Score
    So while the scares are ample, the gameplay rich and imaginative (a few frustrating needle-in-haystack searches aside), and the world a detailed and involving one (Frictional estimates roughly 9 hours for the average game; the playthrough time for this review was about double that), Amnesia: Rebirth has set itself an oddly contradictory task: Get people involved in a profound and complicated narrative mythology, while embodying a character who has no desire to be associated with any of it. Even with some late-in-the-game reveals of painful memories and Tasi’s mind-wiped history with this mine, the damage has been done. Reasonable people, Rebirth argues, should set aside foolish attractions to things bigger than themselves and those they care about. Focus on what matters. Everything else is just the jump scares of life, things to be surmounted en route to a safe place for family. I don’t know what Frictional calls that, but anyone who invests even minimally in their character’s arc will want it to be a win.
    • 93 Metascore
    • Critic Score
    The irony of all this advancement-by-dying is that Supergiant has created a game about fighting one’s way out of the depths of inertia and despair that never feels anything less than joyful, even when it’s cheerfully kicking in your teeth.
    • 67 Metascore
    • Critic Score
    Which brings us to the biggest shit-matryoshka layer of them all: Avengers’ completely unnecessary, unnatural status as a multiplayer, MMO-lite Destiny wannabe, complete with a Fortnite-lifted “battle pass” concept for unlocking character cosmetics.
    • 83 Metascore
    • Critic Score
    And if that all sounds very, possibly terribly, familiar, well: Yes. The truth is that there is very little new in Ghost Of Tsushima, except in an aesthetic sense. The plot is an American rehashing of 50-year-old tropes of Japanese cinema; the game design has been solidly in place in the titles it’s copying for more than a decade. But the craft on display is undeniable: This is a big, beautiful world to explore, absolutely filled with things to do and see. In a time when our own personal worlds have only gotten smaller, that’s probably more than enough for most players. It’s a game of consistent, small pleasures—at least, until you round a corner, and see something so beautiful you’re forced to just put down the controller and stare for a minute at the rippling effect of wind on grass. There’s a reason we build theme parks, after all.
    • 93 Metascore
    • Critic Score
    This sequel has more false stops than Return Of The King, and by its operatic and downright biblical finale, it begins to flirt heavily with pure bombast, with a self-seriousness as overgrown as any Bloater. But it’s usually smart to bet on Naughty Dog sticking the landing, and Part II invests so heavily in these characters—new but especially old—that by the time the actual ending finally arrives, it’s gutting in a wholly different way than the original’s.
    • 87 Metascore
    • Critic Score
    The Final Fantasy VII Remake’s storytelling blows the original away.
    • 79 Metascore
    • Critic Score
    Truthfully, there aren’t a lot of surprises of any kind in Resident Evil 3. It’s like an especially polished DLC campaign—think Resident Evil 2.5. Again, though, that’s mostly true too of the fan-favorite sequel it’s spit-shining. Back in ’99, Nemesis didn’t just mark the moment that this series started to tweak its infamously (if fruitfully) punishing tank controls, giving gamers the option to fight instead of flee and tilting the ratio of horror to action in the latter’s favor. It was also the first time a Resident Evil game looked a little formulaic, offering variations on stock elements.
    • 81 Metascore
    • Critic Score
    The bugs are ugly and the slides are a nightmare, but they don’t hold Fallen Order back as much they could have. Lightsaber combat is rarely as fun or interesting as it is in this game, and the plot hits some tragic notes that the bigger Star Wars stories tend to skip over.
    • 82 Metascore
    • Critic Score
    Death Stranding is a game that demands to be argued over and analyzed for years. It starts rough, and then gets better and better as it goes along, culminating in an ending that is both hugely important to its universe, and also very small and personal to Sam. It has big ideas for things it wants to say, and then it layers them in with heavy-handed messages about togetherness and bonding with your fellow man.

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