The 5 Best Video Games Of The Past Month

The top thumb-bruisers from April

The weather's warming up, and that can only mean one thing: the season of glorious post-work pubbery is just on the horizon.

Which means less time to play videogames. But until the light nights become too tempting, settle down with these stand-outs from the month gone...

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

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(Nintendo Switch)

Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U was as close to perfection as a multiplayer game could possibly get, and a zenith for a series that has blown away all challengers and copycats since 1992. It just seemed un-improvable, so we were pretty skeptical about Nintendo's ability to deliver on the 'Deluxe' aspect of its Switch re-release.

But they've gone and bloody managed it, haven't they? With a selection of new characters, items, and a brand new multiplayer mode that'll transport you back to the balloon-popping days of N64 yore.

Two tiny qualms: Nintendo have included a 'smart steering' mode to help newcomers to the series, a cowardly option for weak men that we simple can't countenance. There also seems to be an increased frequency of blue shells this time around, which is doing a number on our blood pressure. Apart from that, 10/10 stuff.

Little Nightmares

(PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC)

Ever played LittleBigPlanet? It's good fun, but a grown man can't leave the cutesy-wootsy experience with any sort of dignity intact.

Luckily, Swedish developers Tarsier Studios have gone much darker with their new puzzle-stealth-platformer, Little Nightmares. You play Six, a raincoated kid trapped in The Maw – a surreal, nightmarish resort from which you must escape by solving loads of brain-scratching obstacles.

As you've probably noticed, it's aesthetically and thematically similar to the groundbreaking Limbo, but it features richer level design and a stronger emphasis on story. Creepy music, too.

Starblood Arena

(PlayStation VR)

EVE: Valkyrie was the stand-out game from PlayStation's VR launch catalogue - but considering the space shooter was available on the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive too, it didn't provide Sony with the exclusive they needed to set their hardware apart.

So when Starblood Arena was announced, it was easy to spot the glaring similarities between the titles. But while EVE provided a relatively calm and dazzling fight'n'flight experience, Starblood ramps up the action and shrinks the maps to provide a very different game.

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Sat in zipping space-ships, Starblood engages you in high-octane, gravity-defying grudge matches. It's not a game of great depth, but it doesn't need to be – in terms of pure fun, it's up there with Rocket League.

Yooka-Laylee

(Wii U, PlayStation 4, Xbox One)

Scottish developers Rare produced a number of era-defining titles for the N64 back in the nineties – including GoldenEye, Perfect Dark and Conker's Bad Fur Day – before being brought out by Microsoft in 2002.

What followed was a sharp decline in quality, and several key members of the team left Rare to form their own companies - one of which being Polytonic Games, who released their first title, Yooka-Laylee, earlier this month thanks to a crowd funding campaign.

Seen as the spiritual successor to Rare's Banjo-Kazooie series, you play a ukulele-strumming chameleon named Yooka and a female bat named Laylee as they get up to the kind of stupid nonsense you'd expect of zany anthropomorphic musicians. Jumping. Collecting. A puzzle here and there. All that good shit.

Yooka-Laylee stands as a simple, nostalgia-tinged tribute to platformers past – and that includes the dodgy camera work.

Outlast 2

(PlayStation 4, Xbox One)

You play Blake Langermann, an investigative journalist searching for his wife after a crash-landing in the Supai region of North Arizona.

As you explore your surroundings, you come to find that - uh-oh, classic you - you're knee deep in death cult county, with no way out and a target on your head. You can't swing a cat for ritual sacrifices in this joint. It's really, really not very nice.

What follows is an ever-moving, panic-stricken search for safety as all manner of evildoers set their terrifying sights on you. One of the scariest horror games you'll ever play - and a big improvement on the original.

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BEST OF MARCH

Horizon: Zero Dawn

PlayStation 4 (Out Now)Not just beautiful, but single-solitary-tear-rolling-down-your-cheek, phone-mum-and-tell-her-you've-found-the-one, yes-actually-mum-it's-perfectly-normal-to-fancy-a-videogame-loads-of-my-friends-do-too, well-yes-mum-they-are-all-from-Reddit-but-I-don't-see-what-difference-that-makes-ingly beautiful.In development since 2011 by the same team behind the glorious Kill Zone series, Horizon: Zero Dawn is set in a post-apocalyptic future in which the world has been overrun by killer robots after an unknown calamity left the human race ruing their technological ambition. You play Alloy, a young orphan who is shunned by the tribe, who must prove her worth by demonstrating her abilities in the violent wild.It's one of the most immersive RPGs you'll ever play, and feels like a creative and technical zenith for the PS4.

Kona

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Linux, Windows, Mac (Out 17 March)A psychological indie first-person thriller set in the blizzard-stricken Canadian village of Atamipek in the winter of 1970, in which you play a private eye hired by a wealthy copper magnate to investigate a mysterious vandalising of his property. Needless to say, it all gets unexpectedly messy.Sounds right up your street, that, doesn't it? Bit Twin Peaks-y. Full of puzzles, plot-twists and all that good stuff. What's more, this is just the first episode of four that are planned for release.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

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Nintendo Switch (Out 3 March)It's Zelda, but not quite as you know it.Yeah, fine, you still play as the same flaxen-haired sword-waver "hurrghhya"-ing his way through the rambling plains of Hyrule, and you'll experience almost all of the familiar Zelda tropes you know and crave along the way.But for once, the goliath boss battles aren't the most intimidating part of the game. This time around, it's the sheer freedom that you're offered to explore the game's world, and non-linear story, in any way you see fit. The expansive nature of the game is reminiscent of the first time we played GTA III - it's immediately awe-inspiring. You're even aided with the majority of your integral weapons within the first half an hour of the game. It's being lorded as a genre-defining masterpiece and a perfect start for Nintendo's new console, but we'd be lying if we said we're even half-way through the game. It'll take you absolute ages, and that's no bad thing at all. It feels like the realisation of vision that the creators of Zelda had from the very start.

Lego Worlds

PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch (Out 10 March)On the back of Minecraft's unfathomable success, Lego have released the world-building sandbox game they were always destined to. There's not much to it. You have thousands of Lego bricks available to you, and the freedom to craft whatever you want and show it off to the internet. That's it. No story. No action. Just bricks. And it's everything we could have hoped for.

Dead Rising 4

STEAM (Out 14 March)It's 2022, and you play a former photojournalist who's has somehow been wrangled into investigating a military compound which acted as the source of a zombie outbreak that ravaged the city a year prior. You discover that the compound is being used by nefarious authorities to stage secret zombie research, and the government labels you a fugitive in order to keep the info on the down-low hush-hush.But the story isn't that important, really. What is important, is that you get to kill zombies with any number of random and ridiculous weapons and then take smug selfies with their rotting corpses to rub it in.

It's still funny as ever, and long-term players of the series will be glad to hear that the game is set in Colorado, the exact same location as in the first installment of the game. Other than that, it's the same old agenda: run around smashing as many zombies' faces in as you can. It's already reached consoles, but you can grab it on STEAM this month.