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Jay Tholen and Mike Lasch’s Hypnospace Outlaw is a wonderfully weird simulation of late ’90s internet culture that’s more addictive than Shark Bites fruit snacks. In it, players are tasked with moderating an online hub called Hypnospace in hopes of using investigative tactics to take out hackers, scam artists, copyright infringers, and corrupt GeoCities trolls. There’s a lot at play as the narrative uses a point-and-click puzzler to skewer politics, corruption, and social structures, and it’s all encased in a customizable desktop and an online fallout of teen spaces, punk bands, virtual pets, New Age spiritualists, and pre-MySpace creatives. Hypnospace is a memeable head trip about digital villainy and how far we’ve come since the time of Winamp skins and Limp Bizkit covers.

My Time At Portia is one of those games that makes grueling manual labor – woodcutting, mining, carpentry, farming – feel like a vacation from all your IRL responsibilities. You inherit a home and workshop and start from scratch, building a business as you make things for your neighbors and improve your little homestead. There’s a whole bunch of lore about religion versus technology and an inexplicable number of cutesy monsters, but the real satisfaction comes from putting together increasingly elaborate inventions, raising livestock, and winning over the people of the town. If you reached your Stardew Valley peak and need some new challenges, this is the perfect way to kill time without resorting to buying your own tool bench and pet llama. See extra info on Gaming Blog.

“Marvel’s Spider-Man is special, if for no other reason than that it’s the closest a video game has come to capturing what it feels like to be everyone’s favorite friendly neighborhood wall-crawler. It’s exhilarating to step off a skyscraper and hear the orchestral score begin to swell, only to crescendo and level out as you start swinging towards your next objective; there’s never a moment in the game’s 20-hour run-time where you don’t want to be flying through the air. You’re constantly unlocking or discovering tricks that Spidey is known for pulling off in the comics–like firing out a web from both shooters to slingshot yourself through a hanging pipe–that make traveling from point A to point B the most thrilling part of the game.”

We wouldn’t toss a port or simple remaster on a list like this, but Shadow of the Colossus is different. Yes, it works from the same base code as the PS2 original, but this absolute stunner sports an entirely new graphics engine that’s sure to drop your jaw more than a few times. As ever, this minimalist masterpiece finds you exploring across the vast and barren land to track down and destroy 16 enormous monsters. Some of the old flaws still rear their head in this edition, but thankfully Shadow of the Colossus still packs enough of an emotional punch to overcome any such issues. Read extra info on