2024 has already been a stellar year in gaming. And thankfully, we’re only halfway through!

Below are some of the best games released during the last six months, highlighting the huge diversity and calibre of adventures you can only find in a video game.

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Final Fantasy VII Rebirth (PlayStation 5)

As one of this year’s most anticipated games, Final Fantasy VII Rebirth was under enormous pressure to deliver. In the end, it exceeded all expectations and has become the front-runner for the coveted Game of the Year award.

As the second instalment in a trilogy retelling of the 1997 cult classic FF7 game, Rebirth takes place during the juiciest part of the adventure. The world is in peril. A war between nations seems imminent. And the evil Shinra Corporation continues to reap the planet of its dwindling life force.

‘Rebirth is fantasy at its best’.

But all these problems pale in comparison to the return of Sephiroth, one of the gaming industry’s most iconic villains. His promise to destroy the planet is the driving force behind a story that can bounce from zany and whimsical to utterly gut-wrenching in an instant.

With spell-binding graphics, an iconic cast of playable characters, and an ethereal soundtrack, Rebirth is fantasy at its best. It has all the magic and charm of the original but with an unmistakable modern flare. It bravely twists key plot points of the original, keeping die-hard fans guessing what the eventual outcome will be for a story we’ve all grown up inspired by.

Read our full review of Final Fantasy VII Rebirth here

Tekken 8 (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PC)

With nearly a decade passing since its last entry, fighting fans were in their element earlier this year when Tekken 8 finally re-entered the ring. The result? A truly knockout experience.

This game looks, feels and plays like something modern but eerily nostalgic. An extensive roster of all your favourite fighters from past King of Iron Fist tournaments returns, invoking muscle memory you thought was long forgotten.

Innovative, accessible controls let players of any skill level enter combos, so you can still enjoy becoming a champion regardless of your reflexes. New features, like the Heat State, reward proactive fighters and help keep the rhythm of fights at an all-time high.

With its signature zany storyline, fun battle modes and competitive online scene, Tekken 8 provides the perfect entry point for anyone to jump back into the virtual ring.

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Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown (PlayStation 4/5, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC)

The Lost Crown is a game that has reignited a long-lost love for a 30-year-old franchise. You play as Sargon, a legendary warrior tasked with exploring the cursed city of Mount Oaf and rescuing a kidnapped prince. But like anything in life, it’s not always that simple.

As a 2D side-scroller, the game bursts with animation and charm. Combat is lightning-fast and gripping, demanding your full attention and curiosity. You’ll always be looking for what combos you should enter when the best time to dodge an enemy’s attack is or strategizing what abilities you need to use to solve puzzles.

With just the flick of a button, Sargon can dart across the map or chain combos with ease. And with Metroidvania elements, you’ll enjoy exploring the labyrinth that is Mount Oaf and rediscovering all of its many secrets.

Read our full review of Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown here

Stellar Blade (PlayStation 5)

Stellar Blade is easily one of 2024’s biggest surprises. It’s a game that blends beauty with horror, hack-and-slash action with puzzles, while putting a nice twist on the familiar post-apocalyptic story.

You play as Eve, a member of the 7th Airborne Squad and owner of the world’s longest ponytail. Her unconventional looks aside, Eve is a highly capable warrior capable of ending anything in her way. Her mission sees her travel from an off-world Colony to help reclaim Earth from a race of monsters known as the Naytibas.

To survive, players will have to hone their reflexes to dodge, hack and slash and ultimately know when to run away. With unmatched athleticism, a trusted drone sidekick, and an unbreakable sword, Eve is more than a match for the dangers this game threatens. But no training or equipment can prepare Eve for the truth – about what really left Earth in its sorry state.

Read our full review of Stellar Blade here

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Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door (Switch)

As spin-offs go, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is a hidden gem. Released twenty years ago on the Gamecube, the unique art and gameplay of this storybook adventure were sadly out of reach for many modern gamers – until now.

This remake brings the magic and wonder of that iconic storybook adventure to a new audience on the Switch. Playing as a 2D Mario, you set about helping Princess Peach on an epic treasure hunt, all the while uncovering the secrets behind a mysterious, magical door.

While the original story is preserved, everything you know and love about the game has been elevated. From colourful visuals and slick animations, a reimagined soundtrack, to quality-of-life controls and gameplay features, the game hits the right balance of nostalgia, charm, and modernization to appease purists and newcomers alike.

Read our full review of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door here

Animal Well (PlayStation 5, Switch, PC)

Animal Well is proof of the power an indie game can have. Set in an otherworldly, neon-pixelated world, it has novel gameplay, an eerie atmosphere, and an unlimited supply of secrets you must uncover.

You play as a blob-like creature who starts their life with a limited set of abilities. Your mission? Who knows. That’s up to you. But as you explore and investigate, you learn new ways of traversing the endless well around you. And so your adventure of self-discovery begins.

With plenty of upgrades and creative mechanics, Animal Well is a puzzler’s delight. You’ll meet a constant supply of otherworldly characters, enjoy haunting music, and slink deeper and deeper into the bottomless well with insatiable curiosity.

Read our full review of Animal Well here

Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II (Xbox Series X/S, PC)

Hellblade II plays like an interactive blockbuster, blurring the lines between gaming and reality. Though short in length, it puts the brutality and cruelty of Viking life to the forefront in a way only a video game can. All your senses will be engaged.

You play as Senua, whose journey across Viking Iceland is an epic quest of survival and violence. Intent on saving the fallen victims of tyranny, she will overcome horrifying battles against everything from Viking slavers to mythological beasts to the most formidable of all – her inner demons.

Throughout this photorealistic game, you’ll battle through Senua’s psychosis, never really knowing what is real or not. If you’re looking for atmosphere, drama and unapologetic gore, you’ll feel right at home with Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II.

Helldivers 2 (PlayStation 5, PC)

Helldivers 2 is everything you want in a great multiplayer game. Amazing graphics, addictive gameplay, and all the opportunity you and your friends need to cause absolute mayhem.

Set in a world known as ‘Super Earth’, you play as an elite soldier who visits distant worlds to exterminate life as you know it – all in the name of democracy. Whether you’re the good guy or not is still debatable.

Missions throw you into unfamiliar levels, where you’ll try to work with comrades to splatter everything that moves. In true diplomatic fashion, it’s best to shoot first and ask questions later. But with friendly fire permanently on, expect to die at the hands of your mates – and enjoy every minute of it.

Read our full review of Helldivers 2 here

Balatro (PlayStation 4 & 5, Xbox Series X/S, Switch, PC).

Balatro is a roguelike card game that reinvents traditional poker in a totally revolutionary way. It adds unpredictable strategy, experimentation, and delight in every hand played. While the game may seem like your traditional card game from the start, everything changes between rounds as you’re given the chance to upgrade your deck.

From simple bonuses like multiplying your score to adding more cards to your hand, the game feels almost like cheating. Balatro is a game that is as fun to beat as it is to fail at, where trying to win the round’s score in as few turns as possible becomes addictive, competitive, and oftentimes impossible.

Read our full review of Balatro here

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree (PlayStation 4 & 5, Xbox Series X/S, Switch, PC)

Can a DLC qualify for Game of the Year? Who knows. But promising more gameplay, more lore, and more gut-wrenching challenges than most of its competition, Shadow of the Erdtree is a worthy contender.

Building upon the critically acclaimed Elden Ring from 2 years ago, Shadow expands on all the fun and frustration of the base game. Taking place in the new Realm of Shadows, players are given total freedom in how and where the journey takes them.

With a slew of new weapons, spells, and horrifying monsters to overcome, this expansion poses one of the biggest challenges of 2024. While you do need to own the base game and have reached a certain point in the initial story to unlock the content, this hardly seems like a bad thing, given the critical acclaim and influence Elden Ring has earned.

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