In Hit or Miss, we take a look at the games featured in the current month's "Biggest Games of" feature and see whether they succeeded in earning the praise of critics or received scorn instead.
March provided titles like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, NieR: Automata (Malaysia got the Japanese version in February however), Ghost Recon Wildlands and Mass Effect: Andromeda, and here we'll look back to the recent past to see how those anticipated games fared critically.
The respective review round-ups will be linked at the end of the article.
Release date: March 3
Platform: Nintendo Switch, Wii U
What is it: The lastest installment in The Legend of Zelda franchise, Breath of the Wild features an open world with fields, forests and climbable mountains to explore and traverse as you uncover what has become of the ruined kingdom of Hyrule. Gameplay includes beast hunting and ingredient gathering, along with plenty of puzzles to solve with the game's 100-plus shrines.
How is it: While not everyone thinks it's incredible, a lot of people do. The open world setting was well-liked, with Game Informer calling Breath of the Wild "an achievement in the design of a living world" while Ars Technica went so far as saying that "it's hard to return to the more formulaic entries of the franchise's past".
It's bit hard to pick out the specific aspects of the game that excel, but it's easy to see how highly the whole package is thought of. "The new Zelda is an outstanding achievement in video game design, even by the standards of the franchise," said Metro, while Giant Bomb found it very strong in "Zelda magic". IGN considered it to be "a masterclass in open-world design and a watershed game that reinvents a 30-year-old franchise", which are strong words indeed.
Metacritic score: 97
Hit or Miss: Hit
Release date: March 7 (PS4), March 17 (PC), April (PC, for most Asian countries)
Platform: PS4, PC
What is it: An open world action RPG by Platinum Games, with side-scrolling, top down, twin-stick shooter and bullet hell sections mixed in with the main third-person hack and slash gameplay. The story focuses on android 2B and her partner 9S as they battle machines that forced mankind to flee to the Moon. Customization is done via chips that you implant in 2B, and there's over 20 endings to discover, although there're only a few main ones.
How is it: Now that the PC version of NieR: Automata is out (in some countries, anyway...), it should be mentioned that the general consensus is that the PC port isn't exactly great. That term suits the game itself, however, based on the majority of reviews.
For IGN, the combat, visuals and soundtrack are the standout features; for RPG Site, the thematic strength and "existential philosophies" are the things that will be remembered after completing the game. Meanwhile, Metro called likened it to "a co-production between Michael Bay and Terrence Malick", which certainly sounds weird but "works almost to perfection as a video game".
Some criticism came from Game Informer, which found the combat to be lacking in engagement and the depth and premise to be flawed. Despite that, the site still appreciated the "sad and unique story" of the game enough to consider the trade-offs worthwhile.
Metacritic score: 89 (PS4), 82 (PC)
Hit or Miss: Hit
Release date: March 7
Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC
What is it: An open world third person shooter set in Bolivia. As a member of the elite Ghosts, your goal is to take down the Santa Blanca cartel and get seduced by countless side missions and collectibles scattered across the map. Missions can be approached as you like, and the other three members of your squad can be controlled by human players in co-op.
How is it: Although the Metacritic scores for the game are only decent across all platforms, the game is still one that's fairly recommended by many critics, though some feel that the single-player experience isn't very fulfilling. "Wildlands makes specific, clever design decisions that make for a better multiplayer experience—albeit to the detriment of solo players," said PC Gamer, while Wired UK called the multiplayer "its greatest strength" but felt that "its single-player feels like a frivolous distraction". Twinfinite however felt that "the poor friendly A.I." didn't manage to spoil the solo experience.
The tactical aspect of it is also debatable. ".. a must-have for anyone who loves the tactical shooting genre," Game Revolution called it, while Metro found it to be "a shallow, generic game at heart". A bit of a mixed bag, this one, but not a terrible mess.
Metacritic score: 72 (PS4), 76 (Xbox One), 70 (PC)
Hit or Miss: Hit, but not a great one
Release date: March 14
Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC
What is it: A stealth sequel that sees the return of the goblin Styx, who comes across as Goblin Deadpool in one of the game's trailers. The game promised "multi-layered sandbox environments" and features two-player campaign co-op, in addition to a plot involving a diplomatic summit, Dark Elves and a powerful sceptre.
How is it: Going by the Metacritic scores, Styx: Shards of Darkness is an improvement over its predecessor, but only slightly, and even then it seems average. Many of the reviews we rounded up had pleasant enough things to say about it though. Destructoid's words are probably the kindest: "Once you get past the slightly budget look of the UI and occasional control jank, there is a solid core of a pretty damn good stealth game here." From PC Gamer: "... a generous game... augmented with an admirably flexible skill system that encourages and rewards creative thinking."
On the other hand, Rock, Paper, Shotgun felt so turned off by the main character that they gave the game "Styx out of ten". For GameSpot, the familiar stealth thrills were great, but some of the negative points made the game feel dated.
Metacritic: 75 (PS4), 74 (Xbox One), 71 (PC)
Hit or Miss: A decent hit
Release date: March 21
Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC
What is it: The latest Mass Effect game, which begins a new story separate from the original trilogy and takes place in the distant Andromeda galaxy. You play as the child of a Pathfinder who becomes the Pathfinder after the previous Pathfinder dies, and have to lead"military-trained explorers" to find a new home for humanity. You also discover that you're the hope of humanity at some point, which isn't that surprising.
How is it: While far from being panned by critics, Andromeda certainly comes across as a disappointment following the reception to the original games. "... as a follow-up to the previous trilogy, it’s a timid and tepid tale to what came before," said Rock, Paper, Shotgun who proceeded to call it "too unambitious for what could have been".
GameSpot noted that the sci-fi RPG has "a few stars shining in the darkness" but can't escape its shortcomings, while IGN found it expansive and atmospheric with "energetic combat" and some moments as great as the previous games' high points, but the numerous shortcomings still "take their toll".
Game Informer provided a more positive verdict and felt that the game was "worth playing" despite feeling a bit disappointed at the same time, and US Gamer called it a "competently executed open-world action RPG with an interesting world and tons of quests to complete." For Polygon, feelings on the game were conflicted, but ultimately "Andromeda succeeds, even if it stumbled getting there".
Metacritic scores: 74 (PS4), 76 (Xbox One), 76 (PC)
Hit or Miss: Despite the decent Metacritic scores, Mass Effect: Andromeda sounds more like a Miss. A slight Miss, then.