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Here are all the video game releases rated E-T by the ESRB that are releasing between September 20th and September 26th.

Tuesday, September 22

  • 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim- PS4
  • Tennis World Tour- PS4, Xbox One

Wednesday, September 23

  • CastleStorm II- Xbox One, Switch
  • Orbt XL- Switch
  • Twin Breaker: A Sacred Symbols Adventure- Xbox One, Switch
  • Unrailed!- PS4, Xbox One, Switch

Thursday, September 24

  • Alluris- Switch
  • Big Bobby-Car: The Big Race- Switch
  • Breakpoint-Switch
  • Going Under- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Gothic Murder: Adventure That Changes Destiny- Switch
  • Little Big Workshop- Xbox One
  • Lost Ember- Switch
  • Micro Pico Racers- Switch
  • Rivals of Aether: Definitive Edition- Switch
  • Roller Coaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition- Switch
  • Wartile- Switch

Friday, September 25

  • Port Royale 4- PS4, Xbox One
  • Trollhunters: Defenders of Arcadia- PS4, Xbox One, Switch

Jeff’s Pick of the Week

Guillermo Del Toro is best known for his not-so-family-friendly movies. He is the film maker of Pan’s Labyrinth and Pacific Rim. In 2016 it was a huge surprise when he announced that he was going to be making a children’s animated series. Thus, Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia became a smash hit. It has gone on to have 3 seasons, and 2 spinoff series. Now, in 2020 you can play as Jim Lake Jr. and save the troll universe!

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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The traditional WWE 2K series may be taking a break this year, but all is not lost in video game land for wrestling fans. WWE 2K Battlegrounds by Saber interactive is an arcade-style party fighting game. In short, its more Super Smash Bros. than Street Fighter V.

It will be released on September 18th for PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. Pre-orders are available right now (and include Edge).

2K was gracious enough to give team EFG a chance to play an early build of the game so we could have a turn with the insane multiplayer action.

The Family That Brawls Together…

Anyone looking for a complex, technical fighting experience should probably look elsewhere. Battlegrounds is designed from the top down to simplify the fighting experience as much as possible. All of your attacks, throws, and special moves can be completed with a handful of button presses. This is perfect considering the game’s casual focus.

We had four players in our demo of varying skill levels and all of us felt competitive in the matches we played. It took almost no time to pick up the controls and rain down havoc on each other. It was glorious.

Let’s Get Bananas

I’ve played a lot of wrestling games in my time, and all of my favorites have been the games that lean into the absurdity of WWE programming. I knew that this was going to be a good fit as soon as my sun button-mashed and inadvertently tossed me into an alligator’s snapping jaws.

Every match we played included at least one improbably insane moment. My wife played as the Rock (because OF COURSE she did) and threw me under a car that had been lifted, only to knock it down on my Xavier Woods. I was also reminded that Stephanie McMahon uses the Pedigree as her finisher when she caught me on fire while using it.

The final version of the game will include both more crazy levels and more superstars so I’m certain that the madness doesn’t stop here (and we can’t wait).

Game Modes

The full game will be loaded with different game modes, but our preview included two of them. We got a chance to play the Fatal Four Way and the 2v2 Cage Match.

Our favorite between the two of them was the Fatal Four Way. It was partially because of the wild shenanigans that we could all pull while fighting three different players.

The cage match was a bit of a different story. In “real” WWE a cage match awards the victory to whoever climbs out of the cage first. That wouldn’t make sense in a non-scripted competition. Saber Interactive makes up for that by having you try to fill up a “money” meter to earn your way out of the ring. We struggled because of the need to escape. It disincentivizes fighting. and forces us to try and escape combat whenever possible (which is complicated in a game without a ton of movement options inside the cage).

Our Not-So-Final Final Conclusions

We haven’t played anywhere near enough of the game to review it. But, we have played enough that we think there is something here. WWE fans that love to laugh while they throw their friends around a digital ring will definitely want to keep an eye on this one.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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Here are all the video game releases rated E-T by the ESRB that are releasing between August 23rd and August 29th.

Sunday, August 23

  • Parking Madness- Switch

Tuesday, August 25

  • Descenders- PS4
  • Gear.Club Unlimited 2: Track Edition- Switch
  • Giraffe and Annika- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Kandagawa Jet Girls- PS4
  • Madden NFL 21- PS4, Xbox One
  • No Straight Roads- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Over the Alps- Switch
  • Project Cars 3- PS4, Xbox One
  • Street Power Soccer- PS4, Xbox One, Switch

Wednesday, August 26

  • Jenny Leclue: Detectivu- Switch
  • Jets ‘n’ Guns 2- Switch

Thursday, August 27

  • Alphaset by POWGI- Switch
  • Best Friend Forever- Switch
  • Deadly Days- Switch
  • Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles Remastered- PS4, Switch
  • Hypnospace Outlaw- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Moon- Switch
  • Newton’s Cradle Puzzle Game- Switch
  • Struggling- Switch
  • Ultimate Fishing Simulator- Switch

Friday, August 28

  • #NoLimitFantasy, Super Puzzles Dream- Switch
  • Captain Tsubasa: Rise of the New Champions- PS4, Switch
  • Color Jumper- Switch
  • Death’s Hangover- Switch
  • Grim Legends: The Forsaken Bride- Switch
  • Hexagroove: Tactical DJ- Xbox One
  • Jump Force: Deluxe Edition- Switch
  • Liege Dragon- Xbox One
  • Mighty Gunvolt Burst- PS4
  • Nexomon: Extinction- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Road to Guangdong- Xbox One, Switch
  • Serious Scramblers- Switch
  • Solitaire Klondike Minimal- Switch
  • Windbound- PS4, Xbox One, Switch

Saturday, August 29

  • Collapsed- Switch

For the Grown-Ups

  • Tell Me Why: Chapter 1- Xbox One (Thursday, August 27th)
  • Wasteland 3- PS4, Xbox One (Friday, August 28th)

Jeff’s Pick of the Week

My pick of the week has to go to the remaster of the Gamecube classic, Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles. I am excited to get this game and play with my friends online. Usually, not having a couch co-op option would annoy me, but in the age of social distancing, there wasn’t a chance that I would be able to get someone to come and play this game live in person. When the original came out, you needed a Gamecube, 3 Game Boy Advances, and 3 link cables in order to play with 4 people. Now, all you need is the power of the internet!

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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Here are all the video game releases rated E-T by the ESRB that are releasing between July 26th and August 1st.

Tuesday, July 28th

  • Ageless- Switch
  • Cubers: Arena- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Destroy All Humans!- PS4, Xbox One
  • Escape Game: Fort Boyard- PS4, Switch
  • Grounded- Xbox One
  • Megadimension Neptunia VII- Switch
  • Rugby Challenge 4- Switch
  • Samurai Shodown NeoGeo Collection- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Skater XL- PS4, Xbox One
  • The Sims 4: Nifty Knitting DLC- PS4, Xbox One

Wednesday, July 29th

  • Lost Wing- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Nowhere Prophet- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • They Breathe- Switch

Thursday, July 30th

  • Buried Stars- PS4, Switch
  • Hellpoint- Xbox One
  • Kingdom Rush- Xbox One
  • Locomotion- Switch
  • Merchant of the Skies- Xbox One, Switch
  • Sentinels of Freedom- Switch
  • Spiral Memoria: The Summer I Meet Myself- Switch
  • The Touryst- Xbox One

Friday, July 31st

  • Castlestorm II- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Cat Quest + Cat Quest II: Pawsome Pack- PS4, Switch
  • Dodo Peak- Switch
  • Fairy Tail- PS4, Switch
  • FootGoal! Tiki Taka- Switch
  • Hamster Bob- Switch
  • Heroes of Hammerwatch: Ultimate Edition- Xbox One, Switch
  • Naught- Switch
  • Nicole- Switch
  • Paint Your Pet- Switch
  • Swim Out- Xbox One
  • Tiny Racer- Switch

Jeff’s Pick of the Week

As a fan of Honey I Shrunk the Kids, the 1989 comedy where Rick Moranis accidentally shrinks his children down to a minuscule size, I was very excited when this game was announced. Grounded is a first-person survival adventure game where your character has been shrunk down like the movie referenced earlier. You and your friends must defend against the creatures that live in the backyard, such as spiders, ants, and other bugs.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

The EFG Essentials

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This week Stephen and Amanda are here to talk about video games!

This podcast is sponsored by:

The Virtual Economy Podcast

EFG is proud to announce the newest podcast in its growing podcast network: EFG LFG PST! It’s a podcast all about World of Warcraft!

Around the Horn

Amanda

Ooblets

Among Trees

Stephen

CrossCode

Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2

Topics

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands

Hyperscape

Next Price Gen Price Hike

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

Check out the EFG Essentials!

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Crosscode is a twin-stick shooter RPG that is currently available on PC (Steam), Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox One. You play as Lea in the VRMMO Crosscode. Your goal is to follow the path of the ancients, which is the format the in-game VRmmo uses for progression.  It has a skill tree based leveling system that goes very in-depth. Crosscode also has Zelda-like dungeons and complex puzzles. The story is also amazing and easy to follow. 

This is an amazing game with a couple of elements that make it frustrating at times. First, the combat system is fleshed out, with many ways of tackling every fight. You can use your melee weapon, your ranged weapon using a  twin-stick shooter style of aiming and moving, or you can be defensive with your shield. One challenge with the combat is the menu for communicating with your teammates to determine who to attack. There are three choices: attack my enemy, attack other enemies, or attack random enemies. If you have other enemies selected but there is only one enemy left, they don’t fight, at all. 

The second challenging component is the puzzles. Most puzzles use the Twin-stick ranged weapon. The challenge is that the puzzles are very precise, they have no margin for error. For example, with one challenging puzzle I had to shoot ice into a furnace to send steam down a path. The issue was I was one level higher than the ice and had to use a weird aiming system to hit it. Unfortunately, if I hit it slightly off, I had to reset the puzzle. Many times the solutions of the puzzles are not obvious. Once you figure the solution out, it still will take many tries. 

Can a kid play this game?

Yes and no, it greatly depends on the age and skill level of the player. The puzzles are hard without a guide and can get frustrating. The combat is also challenging at times. Luckily, Crosscode a  large number of assist features. You have three main options for the assists.

  • Puzzle speed: which changes how long things stay. For example: how long the platforms that are timing-based stay up, or how long until bombs explode
  • Damage taken: how much damage you take.
  • Enemy attack frequency: which changes how often enemies attack

You can change all of these on a percentage slider. I for one played with everything at 80% and still had trouble, though if you set everything to 20% it gets considerably easier.

Should a kid play this game?

Crosscode is rated T by the ESRB.

The rating summary is as follows:

This is an action role-playing game in which players assume the role of a fighter playing an MMORPG as she tries to regain her memory. From a ¾-overhead perspective, players traverse platforms, solve puzzles, and battle various enemies (e.g., rival players, robots, creatures). Characters use blaster-like weapons and melee attacks to defeat enemies; one-on-one fights and boss battles can be frenetic, with explosions and over-the-top special attacks. The word “sh*t” appears in the dialogue.

ESRB

Conclusion

All said and done Crosscode is a great game that thought is challenging makes for a fun time. The mechanics are fun to use. The puzzles are hard but fair. The game is very immersive and keeps you engaged the entire time. This is a great purchase if you like 2d Zelda games.


What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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Here are all the video game releases rated E-T by the ESRB that are releasing between July 19th and July 25th.

Tuesday, July 21st

  • Liquid Sunshine- Xbox One
  • Panzer Paladin- Switch
  • Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break- PS4, Xbox One, Switch

Wednesday, July 22nd

  • Aircraft Evolution- Xbox One
  • Creaks- Xbox One, Switch

Thursday, July 23rd

  • Super Toy Cars 2- PS4

Friday, July 24th

  • Mittelborg: City of Mages- Switch

Saturday, July 25th

  • Cubicity- Switch

Jeff’s Pick of the Week

Panzer Paladin looks just like an old NES action game. Jump in your mech and look for melee weapons to take down your enemy! If you do not have a Nintendo Switch, you can also play on Steam. Bash through 17 levels on your way to save the world!


What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

Check out the EFG Essentials!

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The Engaged Family Gaming team has the mission to provide information and support families who want to play video games with their kids (and board games too). We work hard to provide parents with the tools they need to make informed decisions about their children’s gaming. To facilitate this, we help parents who might not be “gamers” themselves learn to understand the games their children are playing and help them find great video games for their kids.

The “EFG Essentials” is a core collection of games we frequently recommend across different genres. The purpose of these essentials is to provide a starting point for families to engage with high-quality games. Below are our EFG Essential games for kids on the PS4.

Minecraft

  • ESRB rating: E 10+
  • Survival
  • Also Available On: PS4, Xbox One, and Everything that has an electronic signal

 Minecraft is one of the best selling games of all time, and one of EFG’s family games of the last decade. It is so well known that I questioned whether or not to include it here. But, it is too important of a game to leave off. 

Minecraft holds a special place in a lot of kid’s hearts because it is so flexible. It can be so many different games for so many different people. It can be a survival game, a creative outlet, a multiplayer battle game, and more. It even ends up being the equivalent of a popular TV show considering how many hours of the game are consumed globally each month (Hint: It’s a lot.)

Marvel’s Spider-Man

  • ESRB Rating: T
  • Action-adventure
  • Exclusive

Spider-Man was our game of the year in 2018, and would easily hold its own against other games of the year that we’ve announced in the past. Insomniac Games was the perfect developer to bring the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man to life. They were able to capture the true essence of what makes Spider-Man a fun hero to watch and to play: the traversal.

Swinging around New York City looking for backpacks, finding crimes to fight, and battling with super villains was a blast from the very first second until its emotional end.

Madden 2020

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Sports Game
  • PC, Xbox One

Madden 2020 is the singular NFL title for all your gaming needs. If you are looking for a high quality football simulation with all the applicable NFL licenses this is going to be your go to.

MLB The Show 20

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Sports Game
  • Exclusive

The exclusive Major League Baseball property across all platforms, MLB The Show 20 is an exceptional baseball simulation.  For the first time in the fifteen game series, the game includes all the actual Minor League Baseball teams and actual player names.

NBA 2K20

  • ESRB Rating E
  • Sports Game
  • Also Available On: PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Android, iOS, Google Stadia

The NBA 2K games are far and away the most consistent and best performing NBA property on the market today.  This is truly a basketball simulation that allows you to play as any of the current NBA teams, customize your own, or even play as some of the iconic teams of the past.  One final note on the 2020 version is that it allows you to play as any of the twelve teams in the WNBA.

WWE 2K19

  • ESRB Rating: T
  • Sports Game
  • Also Available On: PC, Xbox One

In WWE 2K19, you can take your dream of becoming a WWE superstar and make it a reality. With over 200 superstars from throughout WWE’s history to choose from, you and your family will enjoy laying the Smackdown on each other in a family friendly way. You can choose from legends such as Dusty Rhodes and Brutus “the Barber” Beefcake to current superstars like Bray Wyatt and Seth Rollins. In WWE 2k19, you get the opportunity to play through the career of Daniel Bryan or start up your own company in the WWE Universe mode. WWE 2k19 is the pinnacle in sports entertainment video games and is a great addition to any gaming library of wrestling fans.

Rocket League

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Sports Game
  • Also Available On: PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, macOS, Classic Mac OS, Linux

Rocket League is, quite literally, soccer as played by rocket-powered vehicles. It launched in in 2015 to great fanfare and has only grown as they added more game-modes like “hockey” and “basketball”

This is a great game to play (and watch) because of how wild the matches can be. There is just something exciting about watching race cars flying around a trach crashing into a massive steel ball and trying to score a goal.

The Messenger

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Platform Game
  • Also Available On: PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Simply put… The Messenger is a modern response to the Ninja Gaiden series from the NES era. Sabotage Studio is a team full of people who love that game and have gone out of their way to show their reverence in game form.

It isn’t an easy game, but the experience is well worth the effort. The soundtrack alone is worth spending time with the game. But, exploring the different levels AND playing with time travel mechanics are rewarding.

This is definitely a game that needs to be on your radar.

Steamworld Dig 2

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Platform Game/Metroidvania
  • Also Available On: PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, macOS, Classic Mac OS, Linux, Playstation Vita, Nintendo 3DS, Stadia

Image and Form games is a small game development studio from Sweden. They have made several games in various genres that feature steam-powered robots as the characters. Steamworld Dig 2 is all about … digging. You are constantly digging deeper into a planet in search of resources and secrets. This is a wonderful exploration game that everyone should try! (The rest fo the Steamworld games are worth a look too!)

Overwatch

  • ESRB Rating: T
  • First-person Shooter
  • Also Available On: PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Overwatch is a great alternative for parents looking to let their kids play a multiplayer shooter. It features cartoonish graphics, a diverse cast of characters, and a number of game modes that keep things interesting. One of the things we love about Overwatch is that the cartoonish aesthetic helped keep the ESRB rating down, and makes this more of an Avengers-like experience than a Saving Private Ryan one.

Ratchet and Clank

  • ESRB Rating:E 10+
  • Platform Game
  • Exclusive

Playing as anthropomorphic feline carrying robot pal as a backpack whilst laying waste to your enemies with a Sheepinator, never gets old.  The latest installment released in 2016 remains a high-quality installment to the family-friendly platforming game genre, even 4 years after the fact. 

Kingdom Hearts All-in-One

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Action Role-playing
  • Also Available On: Xbox One

The Kingdom Hearts All-In-One package includes 10 different Kingdom Hearts experiences dating back to the PlayStation 2. This is an amazing value for Disney fans who are looking for an Action RPG series to sink their teeth into. Once you finish this amazing collection you can pick up Kingdom Hearts 3. 

Stardew Valley

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Simulation
  • Also Available On: PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android, Playstation Vita

Stardew Valley is a remarkable game. It is a farming and life simulator where you play as a younger person who inherits relatives run-down farm. You need to build it up, explore the surrounding wilderness, meet people, get married, etc. It is a wildly engaging game that has been a sensation since it’s release. This is a great game to relax with. 

Final Fantasy XV

  • ESRB Rating: T
  • Action Role-playing
  • Also Available On: PC, Xbox One, Stadia

The Final Fantasy Series is a benchmark in which all role playing games are weighted against. Final Fantasy 15 is one the best stand alone role playing games of the PS4/Xbox One era.  The Final fantasy series incorporates fantasy and futuristic elements into a compelling story.  

Final Fantasy 15 is coming of age story, as the young prince Noctis grows from a brash teen to an adult and wielder of magic powers. His journey is assisted by three friends that are as much mentors as they are friends, each with stories in their own right. 

With a steady, fast pace in mind, Final Fantasy 15 handles action in the third person view. It has simple commands mapped to the controller ahead of time. Combat happens in real time, players can choose to pause the action for an opportunity to plan and strategize that is an anchor point of the RPG experience. 

The Final Fantasy Series represents a collection of stories through gaming history. All of the games are great in their own right, and everyone has a favorite that can be endlessly argued

FIFA 2020

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Sports Game
  • Also Available On: PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Stadia

Soccer (Football for our international readers) is the most popular sport on Earth. It stands to reason then that the digital version would be wildly successful as well. If your kids play soccer, then they likely have this game on their wish lists every year. I can’t say that I blame them. FIFA does amazing work each year in crafting as authentic and fun of an experience that they can. This year’s biggest addition is the Volta football mode which celebrates street soccer. It’s wild, and exciting… everything a true fan would want to see

Tetris Effect

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Puzzle
  • Also Available On: PC, Oculus Quest

Just like the original Tetris, Tetris Effect requires you to place tiles in order to clear lines.  This update though adds themes and music through different levels based on the beat of music.  It also adds a mechanic that allows you to place several blocks at once and a VR compatibility which varies greatly from your standard Tetris game.  This is a high quality addition to one of the most popular gaming titles ever.

Horizon: Zero Dawn

  • ESRB Rating: T
  • Action Role-playing
  • Also Available On: PC

Horizon: Zero Dawn is an open world action and adventure title that takes place in land so far removed from a global catastrophe that civilization has reset again in the ruins of ancient cities. The game encompasses a rich story, beautiful landscapes, and solid voice acting.  In addition there is the thrill of hunting giant robot dinosaurs.

The Story of Horizon: Zero Dawn centers around Aloy, a young woman raised as an outcast, and her struggles to navigate and explore the lands beyond her home. She discovers a small piece of technology, advanced to the point of magic for her. What comes of this technology is a sprawling narrative that links her world to a distant past, which is better described as our distant future. 

This game also features puzzling environments to climb and explore, and colossal robot beasts to hunt, all while using weapons and tools primitive in construction featuring futuristic materials.

Rocket League

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Sports Game
  • Also Available On: PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, macOS, Linux

Rocket League is, quite literally, soccer as played by rocket powered vehicles. It launched in in 2015 to great fanfare and has only grown as they added more game-modes like “hockey” and “basketball”

This is a great game to play (and watch) because of how wild the matches can be. There is just something exciting about watching race cars flying around a trach crashing into a massive steel ball and trying to score a goal. 

Hollow Knight

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Platform Game/Metroidvania
  • Also Available On: PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, macOS, Linux

Hollow Knight is an independently developed action game that blends the best of Castlevania and Dark Souls into a beautiful and family friend title. You take on the role of a wanderer who is brought to the entrance of The Hollowness from unknown circumstances. 

The Hollowness is an interconnected dungeon with multiple entrances and exits to each beautifully crafted zone. Every part of the Hollowness is built to be both journey and destination, with levers and gates revealing back tracking paths to the surface, and many difficult challenges focusing on platform based movement and fair, but brutal combat. 

Hollow Knight is built to unfold by itself in a very organic path. Exploration and curiosity open up alternate paths and entire sections of the world. Your skills and the story are shown rather than told and are left for you to discover through environment and inference rather than straight and simple exposition.

LEGO Games

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Action Adventure
  • Also Available On: PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, macOS

From Harry Potter and Star Wars to Marvel and DC, LEGO has consistently captured the imagination of kids 0-99.  That they have somehow managed to consistently do this with their video games titles is somewhat remarkable.  Most of their games follow the same basic format of providing you familiar characters to interact with your environment while collecting blocks either by battling enemies or destroying objects in the world around you.  This has proved a winning formula time and time again and has provided tens of thousands of hours of entertainment to its fans.

Plants vs Zombies: Neighborville

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Tower Defense
  • Also Available On: PC, Xbox One

Parents regularly approach the EFG team looking for alternatives to more violent M rated shooters on the market. We regularly suggest the Plants Vs Zombies Garden Warfare series. This is the latest entry to the series, but any of them are worthy additions to your collection. 

Everything about this game is all bright colors and goofy characters.  There is even a Disco Zombie character! 

Everybody’s Golf

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Sports Game
  • Exclusive

The latest installment in the series “formerly know as Hot Shots Golf” published specifically for Sony platforms.  Everybody’s Golf is a cartoony arcade style golf game that allows for single player or online multiplayer game play.  The gameplay is refreshing and simple allowing for easier accessibility to players of all ages. In keeping with the theme Sony has also decided that if you need a break you can feel free to drive your golf cart anywhere you like.  This is typically frowned up by the “establishment” for those that would like to know and infinitely entertaining.  Go out, play golf with everybody, and have a great time.

Journey

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Adventure Art Game
  • Also Available On: Playstation 3, PC, iOS
Journey Video Game Review - Video Game Review of Journey on ...
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Journey is one of the best games to come out in the last decade. It is a relatively short experience where you guide a cloaked wanderer through a desert, but the way that this game handles multiplayer will take your breath away. 

No Man’s Sky: Beyond

  • ESRB Rating: T
  • Survival
  • Also Available On: PC, Xbox One

No Man’s Sky released in 2016 and wasn’t very well received. However, Hello Games has been releasing regular, free updates since launch. It is almost unrecognizable from its original form now. It still have the exploration mode, but it has base building, a creative mode, multiplayer, and more!

Dragon Quest 11: Echoes of an Elusive Age

  • ESRB Rating: T
  • Role-playing
  • Also Available On: PC, Nintendo Switch, Nintendo 3DS

Dragon Quest XI is the most recent edition to an ongoing series of role playing games by Square Enix. The series is known for the art style of Akira Toriyama, the creator of Dragon Ball. 

Dragon Quest is a series that consistently comes out with a reliable turn-based combat system that has seen nothing but simple improvements. 

Its place as an EFG essentials is based on its ease of entry in an ongoing, fantasy story. The fantasy elements that many other games work off of got their start here with a chosen warrior of light and a band of friends and heroes rally to fight the darkness. 

Dragon Quest has had a consistent following in Japan since its first incarnation on the NES in the 1980’s. That following was earned by creating a game as much storybook as turn/quest based game.

Addendum: Fortnite

At this point almost every kid on Earth has played Fortnite. But, we wanted to include it here for the sake of completion. It is a worthy recommendation though. Fortnite is huge. It is a great alternative for more mature shooters since it there is no blood and most of the action is over the top and silly as opposed to violent.


The EFG Essential Guide Collections

Check out our other Essentials Guides for great collections of games!

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Batterystaple Games, the developers behind the Mega Man X inspired 20XX, have a new game on the horizon. 30XX is poised to take the series to new heights on PC and consoles in 2021. It will make its first appears at PAX East 2020.

30XX builds on the foundation laid by 20XX with new features that include a new art style, new game mechanics, and new combat options for both Nina and Ace.

The “hi-bit” art style is from Glauber Kotaki who was responsible for the gorgeous art in Rogue Legacy and Chasm. These are games that evoke the look and feel of 16-bit era without the limitations on color and detail.

30XX will also include new gameplay mechanics to help keep things interesting. “Memoria” is an in game currency that you collect during your runs. You can spend it on skill boosts, to get a glimpse at the challenges coming later in the stage, or to alter the stage itself! This sounds like a great way to reward players for making multiple runs and could help players recover from a bad start to keep a run going longer.

Nina and Ace are back for more adventure, but this time they will have separate move sets to make the experience of playing as each character distinct. Nina also has a new “power fusion” system that lets her combine the different powers she gets from beating level guardians. Ace will, instead, have a set of “techniques” that he can use to build interesting combos that will help him deal more damage and explore the different stages.

2021 is pretty far away, but I think it will be worth the wait!

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Written by Mike Melkonian of CardboardConsole.com

Concrete Genie is currently available for PlayStation 4 and is playable on PSVR.

In a gaming landscape filled with epic AAA blockbusters, it’s refreshing to see a smaller, experimental game come out of Sony’s Worldwide Studios. Players take on the role of Ash, a young artist living in the now deserted town of Denska, and must use the power of his imagination, as well as a magic paint brush, to restore his hometown to its former glory.

Developed by the small team at PixelOpus, Concrete Genie follows in the tradition of games like Flower and Journey to create a unique and artistic experience that, while not challenging in the way a satisfying game typically should be, provides the player with a solid six hours of eye candy, therapeutic play, and deeply thematic moments of self reflection.

Gameplay

Concrete Genie combines elements from various genres to create a one of a kind single player campaign, but is at its core an environmental puzzle game. Players must paint “genies” (which can be customized to the players liking) on the walls of Denska, and use their unique properties to progress past various obstacles (for example, fire genies can burn down wooden crates blocking Ash’s way, electric genies can power generators needed to operate machines, etc).

There is also quite a bit of platforming in the game, and the animations of Ash scaling the various walls and environments of Denska look strikingly similar to Nathan Drake’s animations in the Uncharted series, to the point where I think PixelOpus is intentionally trolling their fellow Sony studio, Naughty Dog. The game also provides quite the scavenger hunt for all of the missing pages in Ash’s sketch book, and this collectathon will keep players engaged long after the main story is over.

Critiques

Even though this is a game aimed a younger audience, the developers could have provided a *little* more challenge. Players who have ANY experience with games will find Concrete Genie a breeze to get through, and while I understand this may have been an intentional choice, some more difficult side/optional content would have been appreciated.

Is it okay for kids? Absolutely! I think anyone between the ages of 6 and 12 will likely enjoy this game, and I strongly suggest that people play Concrete Genie as a family activity. There are so many themes for a kid to relate to, including some relatively heavy subject matters such as divorce and parental fighting, that it may be helpful for parents to play along and explain the meaning of certain interactions to their kids when it’s needed.

Conclusion

While the simplistic gameplay holds it back a bit, there is no denying the sheer amount of heart that went into crafting this product. It is a truly beautiful game, and at an affordable price, I would say Concrete Genie is a must buy for any PS4 owners with kids, and even those without.



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