Another year, another year of games.
I'm getting this out somewhat later then I expected to but, better now then early December like some weird people like to do, games that release in December deserve to be noted too people, plus it gave me more time to really think about these games.
So on writing down all the games I played I realized I've played a lot more then I thought I had last year, many of which were Indies, in fact overall it was very much a year of Indies for me, with many ranking as some of my favorite games of the year.
I won't spend too long on some of these due to how many there are to go through and I should note I've not finished some of them yet though I've put considerable time into them, enough to form an opinion of what I like and dislike about each one.
So this is a game I already did a meaty separate blog post on, if you've read that then safe to say you know I came out of Eternal disappointed.
While still a great game in it's own right, it in many ways seems to have forgotten or overthought elements of 4 that really worked, the grimy atmosphere, the brutality and the removal of the show, don't tell nature of the storytelling are among the things I found lacking compared to Doom 4, it's a game that seems to know little of what it wants to be at times especially in it's plot which both demands your attention, seems proud of itself while also wanting you to hand wave nonsensical elements of it.
The combat has a number of improvements over 4 but it also removes a lot of the weight and punch from the combat and also includes a far worse chainsaw system and by far the weakest punch I've ever seen in a video game which is not something i ever expected to be saying of Doom of all franchises.
Animal Crossing New Horizons
So here's an interesting one, funny fact about ACNH, it was originally slated for 2019 but was delayed due to concerns of overworking their employees...and holy shit did that pay off in karmic fucking gold bars, ACNH just..defined 2020 gaming.
I see a lot of general GOTY awards going out for TLOU2 and I don't get why when this game did so much, no game was more culturally important or as successful (if anything people wanted a break from the grim dark of TLOU and it's like), it came out at exactly the right time to take advantage of the pandemic and it's effect on people at home, some people began even using it for meetings and all sorts not just to hang out, it's kinda insane what New Horizons did for people socially during the pandemic and still does even now.
Onto the game itself though I have a bit of a love it and hate it affair, I believe for many this is their first entry so they don't know(or maybe don't care) what was removed but ACNH, despite some amazing improvements to the formula it also holds itself back, many of it's new features such as the mystery islands are underwhelming veering on pointless, the game makes stupid decisions still in regards to some frustrating outdated controls and options (such as not allowing you to unequip inside).
Many features such as fishing are still bare bones affairs which could stand to be at-least a bit more intuitive and fun, they also removed A LOT of re-occurring characters and areas from the series, vets like Brewster and Resetti still have not appeared at all nor have the Gyroids, the process of managing villagers is also a ridiculous pain unless you have amiibo cards(hmm suspicious that ain't it?), and new ones appear so infrequently that even if you want a frequent change of villagers it can be slow.
Some genius also decided to remove the ordinance system, a system which allowed you to do 1 of 4 things, 1. keep your town automatically tidy, 2. have shops open and close later for those with night owl schedules 3. the opposite of 2. and 4......I can't remember what 4 did, probs wasn't important think it was money related? fuck it.
So lot of issues there, amplified for some by the sheer virtoil some threw at people who time travel because to hell with people wanna play the game their way or in line with their RL schedule am I rite?.
But moving onto positives!, the island creation tools are fun if not a bit tedious, there is a very great degree of control never seen before in an AC game over island building which has led to some truly amazing builds, though I never want to experiment much since you can't save states of your island, I don't want to risk screwing it up.
The new graphics make it one of the most gorgeous and atmospheric games I've played and there's a bit more of a goal for the first part of the game then in previous AC's.
I would like to have more interaction with the side cast who aren't villagers though, early in the game some of the nooks can be found wandering the town and I'd love that for Isabelle, Nook and more, the socialization aspect of AC with its npc's should be played up more I think, allow me to invite villagers to perform activities etc.
Overall it's lacking in areas I hope Nintendo gradually improves on, but I can't deny I put a lot of time into it and it's sheer impact makes it a game I think really was the most important game of 2020 even if not one of my personal fav's.
Superliminal was a surprise favorite of mine this year, a short and wonderful game focused around optical illusions and forced perspective, each chapter of the game is dedicated to a different idea from these concepts.
Optical, Cubes, Blackout, Clones, Dollhouse, Labyrinth, Whiteout and Retrospective. Due to the way the chapters are structured around these different ideas the game continues to feel fresh throughout it's entire run-time, never spending long enough on a concept for it to grow boring or predictable, Dollhouse for example has you sizing up miniature objects to walk inside of them and other bizarre ideas.
A chapter that really made it click how much I liked the game was Blackout which plays on our fear of the dark, of weird shapes and more, the chapter has you following a trail of red which of course reminds the player of blood, with very little in the way of tools, only relying on these three things the game creates a tense horror experience which legitimately puts to shame many horror games I've played showing how our imagination itself can create horror through fear of the unknown.
The games writing also deserves a mention, throughout the game(Which takes place in the protag's mind during a sleep experiment gone wrong), we are led via audio recordings from a man named Dr.Glen Pierce, the writing is funny and witty and does overall have interesting things to say about how our minds can be our worst enemies and more. The music is also super relaxing, dunno why the soundtrack isn't available to buy.
I mean...I suppose I should add this, it was A game.
Short and simple it's a suprisingly fun marketing stunt by everyone's favorite industry weirdo's Devolver Digital. Mixing trailers in with a set of challenges as you attempt to escape a game expo filled with robots, it's a fun little idea and one i'd like to see done again, nuff said.
Another indie game for the list, I won't talk too indepth about Phasmaphobia since it's not even truly finished yet, but thus far I finds myself really loving it, if not a bit predictable once you know what you're doing.
A rare game to manage horror and multiplayer, Phasmaphobia has you either by yourself or with other players hunting ghosts, a fun mechanic of the game is the voice functionality which allows you to communicate with the ghost, when hiding how quiet you are actually counts, saying the ghost's name or even insulting it can piss it off(leading to many a fun game of just trying to get a reaction by screaming into the abyss with the vocabulary of an angry scotsman).
The main goal of the game is to use different items such as EMF readers, camera's and temperature sensors to identify what kind of ghost you are dealing with, a sanity meter gradually dropping depending on how often you are in the dark among other things such as if a ghost has targeted you and their type etc, when the lights start to flicker it's time to hide from it and stay silent until the hunt is over.
As an early access game it has a lot of potential but while fun with friends so far it is quite bare bones, there's basically nothing to do after you've died (in which case you become a ghost), and there's a specific pattern to finding a ghosts spawn that makes playthrough's very similar most of the time.
Early days though and i'm very excited to see where Phasmaphobia is gonna take itself.
Carrion is one of those games everyone seemed excited for but just kinda, slid under the radar when it finally released and to an extent I can see why, while I enjoyed my time with the game i'm not sure I see myself replaying it much anytime soon and this is due to the games major achilles heel, it's map system or rather a lack thereof.
I don't know how anyone can develop a metroidvania and forget(or worse) decide not to include a map system, this made 100% the already short game something I don't think i'll ever want to do since there's so little feedback on where you've been or what you've done not to mention a very similar set of areas that blend together.
Overall though the gameplay system is fun, playing as a weird Thing like monstrosity, eating and chucking people around is very fun, but it's defineitly not as enjoyable as I assumed it could be, maybe if it'd been a bigger game with a more connected indepth map and more upgrades like a traditional metroidvania i'd be more into it but as is it's a one and done deal.
Deadly Premonition 2
DP2 is one of those games where i'm still kinda processing that it exists, the follow up to it's cult classic original, it kinda just landed out of nowhere in a nintendo direct of all places, i'm still not sure on the specifics of why it is an exclusive, whether nintendo paid for the game to be made like Bayonetta2 or if they have temp exclusivity for some reason or maybe Swery just really likes the switch?.
Either way it's a pleasant suprise given my love of the OG and i'd say in some ways it surpasses it.
Starting off with the good, 2's plot is both a prequel and a sequel, with the sequel following a depressed and dying Zack Morgan relating the events of the prequel to two investigators, these segments are just plain depressing, DP1 already ended on a sour note for Zach and to see him reduced to such a depressed morbid state, having lacked the companionship of even his best friend and coping mechanism for over a decade is awful.
Getting to see more of Zach is interesting after his relatively minor role in the OG, and the difference between his more morbid sarcastic sense of humor and writing, and his York's upbeatness in the past helps to really differentiate the two sections of the game.
From a character perspective, I feel 2's writing might actually surpass the originals, the past segments involve York and his new assistant Patty, a rare child character who isn't just not annoying but is extremely endearing and watching their relationship grow is great, the other characters are great too such as the two new detectives one of which is played straight while the other is a weirdo obsessed with pizza, in-corperating all that great SWERY goodness.
The villains are on point as well, a lot of them being tragic, some controversy has been thrown at the character of Lena or professor R, which I won't go into here but I personally believe it to be unwarranted, she's not only one of the best villains the series has had but also one of the strongest written characters in general.
Without spoiling anything, I find the game to end on a note that leaves the series closed perfectly.
Maybe a further entry could happen but i'd rather it be stylistically similar with maybe a few references rather then a direct connection, as far as i'm concerned York/Zach's story comes to a close here fantastically.
Now for the bad stuff though, DP1 was in...development hell for a long time, I was willing to forgive it's game-play flaws but I just can't here, while I adore DP2's writing I would not wish it's game-play on my worst enemy, DP is an ambitious series, wanting to copy the life sim mechanic of say Shenmui but it has no goddamn idea how to do anything right or even basic.
This can range from the shiton of bugs the game has including annoyingly long loading screens, to side-quests that can span an entire week or more of in-game time which btw, goes on for goddamn forever, even something as simple as fixing the shower in game(the only way to make your character not smell and get a penalty) is a chore of waiting around, to make matters worse there is no side-quest or journal to mark the schedules of the town inhabitants or just basic quests, it's unforgivable, late in the game you have to partake in a mini-game which I believed was me unlocking it when in reality it was just before the end of the prequel section, the only other way to partake in this mini-game was to arrive at the area at a very specific time at specific days of the week with barely any mention of this in game.....
I feel like DP could learn a lot about it's life sim ideas from the Yakuza games which I also began playing last year(god bless 0), they cut away the bullshit and focus down on cool minigames and optional content, sidequests that are easy to keep track of and more, I know DP2 is lacking in budget, it can't do what Yakuza does but so much of how this game is designed is as obtusely and annoyingly as possible and it's a shame given it's gameplay ambitions seem quite high.
shooting has been improved but it's still pretty simple, bosses are very fun and unique though mind you.
Overall if you can deal with shit gameplay, it's a fantastic story and cast that wraps up the series nicely, just don't expect to get much more out of that and the usual great Swery weirdness.
Oh also it's soundtrack is fucking baller.
Ok so fair warning about the two next games, I have not technically "played" them, due to the virus I wasn't able to visit a friend of mine for Halloween as is tradition, instead we decided to stream the two games we had planned to play Amnesia Rebirth and Remothered: Broken Porcelain.
That being said I was there for the entire play-through and having played previous games in the series I think I can make some judgement calls on how they play and I can defineitly talk about the story of each at-least.
So my opinion of this series and it's relatively similar cousin Soma hasn't been the greatest, while I enjoy the games narratively and legitimately enjoyed the gameplay of The Dark Descent, I hold a grudge against the series for popularizing the simple run and hide game-play so many horror games rely on, not to say such a system can't work when backed with other forms of game-play such as puzzles but most tend not to, this sadly happened to the series and Soma as the gameplay in each has degraded over time to the point Soma is literally better as a walking sim with no monsters.
What's more the games all fit an almost copy and paste mold of gameplay making it feel like the Telltale Games of horror, copy and paste but with a different narrative, and to be fair those narratives do tend to be entertaining, I really adore all the concepts Soma comes up with and story, but it doesn't make much for a second playthrough or leave much of an impact on me as a game.
The same can certainly be said of Rebirth, a game which while it features more game-play then Soma, still comes off as more simple then The Dark Descent, it has some beautiful locations to be sure but the game itself..to be quite frank I almost forgot to put it on this list, neither it's story nor game-play had much of an impact on me, I suppose you could say the latter is due to me not playing it but my friend had almost forgotten the game too.
The story though is quite good for what it is, a little surreal lovecraftian adventure of a woman trying to find her baby with some neat ties to the original, leading to all sorts of weird messed up imagery, it's good for a playthrough but..i'm not gonna play it or watch it again.
Remothered: Broken Porcelain
Ok so this one's gonna be me gushing quite a lot but I adore Remothered as a series, Tormented fathers it's predecessor was a fantastic surpise, a short but sweet horror game that took inspiration from the likes of Haunting Ground and Clocktower, it's soundtrack, lighting and claustrophobia felt great, it's characters and the lore it built up likewise, it took me back to the old PS2 horror games but it didn't feel like it'd inherited the clunkyness of them, like a look into a world were the industry still made these kind of games regularly.
I feel sad that the series has been relatively slept on by the horror fanbase, I firmly believe it deserves the eye of any horror fan.
So how does the sequel hold up? well firstly I want to address the launch bugs(funny for a game so predominantly fixated with moths), so while I didn't play it in this state, opting to wait for Halloween, i'm baffled they released it in the state many players were finding it in, what's odder is the game was delayed to October and then pushed forward a week presumably to not fight with Amnesia Rebirth's launch, why they didn't delay it an extra two weeks to Halloween is beyond me because it soured many's opinions on the game.
When I played it they had been making a lot of effort to quickly fix things and I can happily say neither me nor my friend noticed a problem in it.
Starting off with story, the game is both a prequel and sequel to the original game like DP2, and just like DP2 I think it ends the series perfectly, maybe more can happen somehow? but the story of our two protags Rosemary and Jennifer is imo fine to leave as is and the game seems to agree with that.
Something I appreciated about the original is how we didn't have really any villains, just victims of a horrible event out of their control lashing out at eachother and while we do get more solid villains here, the focus is still very much on this aspect of the characters.
Something I was not expecting was the absolutely adorable relationship between Jennifer and Lindsay, they pulled off one of the best romantic relationships i've seen in a game for a while and it's uncommon to see something like this in a horror game I think.
Gameplay wise it takes what the original had and expands on it, the Ashmann inn is a far bigger location then the previous game and involves more Stalkers too, it introduces new game-play mechanics, new traps and an interesting ability Jen has controlling moths.
If I had one criticism the games story can veer a bit too close to the supernatural at times considering it's sci fi origins but I think it pulls it off, hey, if RE can blame everything on viruses so can Remothered haha.
Also want to note the game's amazing soundtrack, both games have incredible sound-work and some great motifs to them, I highly recommend the song "Top of the World
" as an example, not just a great song but one that actually factors into the games plot well.
Mad Rat Dead
I'm not a fan of rhythm games generally but between Mad Rat Dead and Cadence of Hyrule, that might be changing.
Mad Rat Dead has an amazing premise, A recently deceased lab rat is given another chance to relive his last day on earth by a rat god, instead of opting to play outside or eat a ton of cheese he instead decides, nah fuck all that i'm gonna kill the pos human who murdered me!. Mad Rat himself is a very fun character backed up with deateragonist his living heart and a voice of reason and kindness, compared to the insane anger of Mad Rat this makes for a great dynamic as does the very fun rat god herself.
The game-play is a lot more complicated then I imagined it to be on first viewing, while you click to the beat to move, what you press is important, involving a lot of jumping and crouching and overall a lot of careful inputs in the more hectic parts of the game, there is a counter constantly counting down to your death so keeping the beat is important to get to the end goal fast, if you get hit you can rewind time up to 30 beats, if there's one issue I've found it's the game is a bit too forgiving as it's easy to get A ranks a lot of the time, nor is there a reward for replaying to a higher score, that being said it's still great fun and has a rocking soundtrack, the story while simple also has a few twists and turns and I overall really enjoyed it for what it is.
Kingdom Hearts Remind
So I actually forgot this came out this year and...tbh I feel i've got less to say then I did with Devolver land...that's embarassing.
Remind was imo a ripoff and i'm glad it wasn't me who paid for it(I feel sympathy for my friend here though), the majority of remind is a simple repeat of the already bloated to heck ending of KH3 with an extra boss battle or two and a small new area which amounts to very little, the majority of the time you are literally just replaying the content from 3 again, a segment which was already an exhaustingly long(yet hilarious) boss rush and enough cut-scene time to make The Godfathers runtime blush.
There is the new set of X13 bosses at the end of the game, however I didn't get to play this content due to being underlevveled for it nor the final boss that came with it, this being said I still feel upon fighting these bosses it would'nt be worth the price of admission, much of the dlc felt more like a patch of stuff that should've been in originally including essentially a cameo of the FF cast the series seems desperate to forget, still...KH3 is one of the best comedies of our time and it did add an amazing scene of Mickey Mouse essentially recreating the microwave scene from MSG4 so that's hilarious.
Overall can't say I didn't have fun, the new content is at-least good but much of the fun is laughing at the games expense,
Both Devil May Cry Special Editions
Wasn't sure if to add these to this list but eh it was technically new content so why not!.
So DMC3 special edition, in a nutshell it's DMC3 so I adore it but the addition of the style switcher is a game changer, a bit clunky to use at times but given the sheer amount of options on each style in 3 I have to wonder if it's got a higher skill ceiling then 4 now.
I will say the lack of true campaign coop(it's BP only) and a lack of a training area which greatly benefited 5 is a missed opportunity though, but I can't complain about the extra stuff we did get, after 1 lazy overpriced port of 1 and another of Capcom literally selling us their 17 year old feces which only sold previously due to being sandwiched between two great games, it's nice to see a switch port which was worth doubling down on.
Now for 5's SE... I can't speak much about this, because Capcom in all their wisdom cutout most of the new content for PC, hooray!, no new lighting system(though tbh it hasn't done the game's cutscenes favors but that's a seperate discussion), no Legendary dark Knight or turbo mode, just...Vergil.
All of the new content is available including a better LDK via mods so that's atleast nice, but Capcoms gall to pretend this new content wasn't being gated and was instead due to "not being optimized" for PC will always piss me off, 5's been a rocky ride of bad business practices like that sadly*COUGH* MTX *COUGH* Denuvo *HACK*.
So speaking on Vergil soley, he's extremely fun, though I would've liked the inclusion of his more traditional devil trigger too but the new stuff such as dopple-ganger makes up for it, Dante is also now a boss you can fight which is awesome but they cheaped out by simply having two Dante fights with no Nero fight, something the series has not done at all yet.
Also I know this is an unpopular opinion but I do not think bury the light makes for a good battle theme, a good song? absolutely but it's so..goddamn slow for battle, every-time you start it's the same slow start and lyrics over and over and over again, not something that motivates me to fight, in comparison the Vergil battle 1 theme from 3 has so much energy to it that I changed it out to that, I have a similar beef with many of 5's battle themes though, having modded out the slow subhuman for Armaggeddon by Blue Stahli and simply using DMC1 tracks for V.
The little V edits of the songs imo are far better including a lot more of a better tempo to battle then these songs do but hey i'm clearly in the minority on that opinon haha.
I would still call the dlc lazy though even if we were to include all the lost content from the PS5 version, 4 gave us 3 new characters and a turbo mode and LDK mode(which ironically started as a PC mod), there's also the glaring omission of the very cool just style mode from the reboot, where enemies only take damage at S rank or higher, part of my frustration comes from the fact I feel DMC5 could do a lot more with it's dlc content, the weapon select screen opens up the possibblity for dlc weapons, maybe returning fav's, they could add in classic bosses and more arcadey modes to play through, maybe it's just me but I feel it'd far improve the life of the game.
Finally a true sequel to Paper Mario, ok snark aside, Bug Fables is one of the highlights for me this year, not content on merely copying Paper Mario it elaborates on the system with a great party system of 3 allowing you to borrow turns from each-other at the expense of damage, a great challenging hard mode which actually rewards you greatly for playing it while allowing it to be turned off with a simple toggle and more.
Each character has a different focus, magic, strength and range and some enemies can only be beaten with certain moves from each though there's enough variety in the moves you can use to not make combat tedious, the games badge system is also far more important then in the og Paper Mario's allowing you to essentially create different builds for the characters, wanna turn Lief into a debuff/buff character? you can do that, want Vi to have a ridiculous amount of attacks per turn, damn right you can, there's a helluva lot of of experimentation to the combat system that I really appreciate.
The cast is just wonderful, Vi, Kabbu and Lief play off eachother really well, Lief especially had alot of work put into his character, I can't spoil it but his backstory side-quest is fascinating,
The game also has a great lore backed up by collectible books around the kingdom(which also in kind reward you for collecting them), it has a far more substantially made quest system then the tacked on one TTYD had with some very charming writing, some of these quests go on for a while.
I do take issue with the fact that some at-least seem to be startable before you can even do them with your progress in the main plot, this sometimes led to me wondering if I can do a side-quest and have just missed something or if I really can't even approach it yet though such instances were rare.
I also had issues with the platforming at times, mostly in regards to the segments with Vi's boomerang, the aiming of which can be a hassle, it's not a deal-breaker, platforming is still fun but it can be a bit tedious at times.
Side cast as well is also extremely enjoyable, I also found the cooking system of the game to be very fun just like in the classic Paper Mario's though it gives you an easy to access recipe list when you've discovered something which is nice, for hard mode the higher tier items are essential.
The enviorment's are also very diverse with a lot to explore and find including a bunch of hidden bosses, it also gives you an easy fast travel system later on something they did far better then paper mario did(which has always turned me off a lot of the side content in those games).
Overall if you like the original 1-3 Paper Mario's or are just looking for a charming RPG to play I can't recommend it enough, I beat it 100% and probably would do so again.
Xcom Chimera Squad
Ok so I've played a bit of xcom in the past, pretty much just Enemy Unknown and I enjoyed it, not the best game but I had a lot of fun with it's mechanics, I enjoy chimera squad far more, the character dynamics bring a real flair to the game not present in EU, I can't name a single character I didn't enjoy and each have unique play-styles to take advantage of, I will say the story is lacking though, in fact it basically ends on a whimper with nothing really happening, it's a shame that a game that put so much effort into it's cast couldn't create a better overall story or set of villains but I suppose it is what it is.
I really enjoy the breach mechanic of combat which allows you to enter the maps in specific ways depending on your load-out, if you play your cards right and get lucky you can sometimes even wipe out a room or almost wipe them out within seconds just from breaching.
I don't have an intimate knowledge of xcom's mechanics so i'm not sure what's new here but the management portion is also very fun.
I'd like to see the series continue on this path at-least for a side story I think, ways to improve it would be to flesh out the cast even more maybe with a relationship system similar to FE and side-quests and stories for each of the cast, CS had a relatively small cast of playable chars overall so I believe such a thing would be doable without stretching the characters thin....Jesus fuck I wanna plow those snake tiddi-..
Resident Evil 3 remake
So I should start by saying OG 3 is one of my favorite resident evil games, second only to REmake1 so safe to say my expectations for this game were high and holy fuck did it not reach them.
As it's own thing 3make is fun, it's definitely a solid game, albeit it's ridiculously short even for a resident evil game which are made for speed-running, there are moments of brilliance here such as the nemesis boss fights and the hospital.
But it's so goddamn scripted, I feel like we were lied to with that demo, Nemesis does not stalk you relentlessly like the OG appearing at random making you never feel safe, no, he's now stuck to a few segments of the game many of which are completely scripted, you can't hide from him he just knows where you are, they also remove a bunch of areas from the OG such as the clocktower and criminally retcon Brad's amazing death to that of a simple zombie bite.
The scriptedness can even be a hindrance on normal game-play sometimes, when Jill is attacked by the (thankfully rare), infinitely spawning bug enemies, she'll kneel over and vomit...without being invincible allowing you to get hit again, terrible design for a survival horror game.
It also does away with ink ribbons and it's "hardcore" mode is essentially just a harder game-mode rather then something unique.
So what did I like, well while I have issues with Jill's more generic clothing design compared to her iconic 3 look(an issue of design I extend to the new nemesis as well), I found her character to be at it's best here, she's far more emotive then in any of the other games and they did a good job of fleshing her out without it redefining who she was in 3, Carlos has had a complete redesign, in part I did like the generic soldier look from the original since it made it far more surprising that he had such a big part of the game but I won't lie, this Carlos is better.
The boss battles are also suprisingly some of the best in the series imo, a bold claim but some of the nemesis boss fights were super fun if not a bit scripted as i'm sure you've noticed is a common issue with the game.
Overall I had a lot of fun but 3make could've been so much more, the series has still yet to take full advantage of it's stalker mechanic(Mr X's section can be avoided almost entirely for one), a roaming Nemesis would've been perfect for that, I wanted to see Raccoon city brought to life..or unlife like we hadn't seen before, classic locations re-imagined...but we didn't, because Capcom had to rush it out to get a yearly RE game out.
This method is truly beginning to harm the franchise, even if they can keep a consistent quality, fatigue will set in and already is beginning to as we've seen from the response to a 4 remake, this on top of a bunch of shoddy spin-off multiplayer games which try to copy gaming trends(and they still won't remake Outbreak *Grumbles*).
It's reminding me of the Dark Souls series, which also put out very fine games but was nearing the edge of fatigue, edges which could be seen despite quality and which clearly were not given time to learn from the successes and mistakes of their past games.
I might replay 3 sometime but what could've been will always frustrate me, welp here's to the RE-RE3make in 10-20 years time...or sooner if Capcom runs out of yearly releases beforehand.
Monster Hunter Iceborne
I've yet to finish Iceborne yet but, I'm really enjoying it, new area is very fun with some unique monsters, my favorite of which is the cute as heck Banbaro(I wish to pet it) and the awesome Brachydios, the clawshot also makes for a very fun new mechanic.
ONE BIG COMPLAINT however, the game removes the annoying handler character for a short while, replacing IT with a far more like-able character...and then snatches her back away after a few short fleeting missions, i'm sorry my wife, i'm stuck with this annoying shit-heel who almost gets people killed on multiple occasions, constantly takes credit for my actions and only cares about the size of her dinner plate *Sigh*.... partner indeed...
Xenoblade Chronicles:Definite Edition
Here's another game I've yet to fully finish because boi is it massive.
So I should say I've never played XC1 OG , I did however play XC2 which despite some flaws I was blown away by enough to name it one of my fav games(in no short part due to this adorable gremlin -).
So what do I so far think of it's first entry?, I'm really enjoying it albeit with some caveats, I'm just not as big of a fan of this combat system compared to 2's elemental one, chain attacks feel far less useful and juggling 8 ability slots like an mmo just isn't for me I think, I do have more fun with some characters then others though the standout being Dunban.
I also feel the quest system is far more overwhelming then 2's more thought out ones, some of which were cutscene driven stories in their own right which isn't the case in 1, when i'm into it i'm really into it, but it does overwhelm you at times with busywork for the sake of it.
The main plot is something i'm also really enjoying, all the characters play off each-other nicely and the stakes are raised very high from early on too giving the cast a great motivation for starting out, it's hard for me to judge much without finishing it yet but so far I love it.
Also my god those environment's, Monolith is not the most graphically minded developer, but they know environments, they know how to make fascinating worlds you could only dream of, two giant robot's dead in the middle of combat with an entire world living and growing on their dead backs, it's awesome stuff and takes me back to the fascinating worlds seen in earlier rpg's such as FF9 and it's creative cities. I feel many modern RPG's simply aren't willing to go that crazy with their creatures and worlds, you can pack as many pixels into a world as you want FF but nothing is gonna impress me more then the sheer imagination on display in Xenoblade.
Seven Sirens is imo both a step forward and somewhat a step back for the series, HGH was my first entry into the series and while I love it, I have soured a bit on it after playing Pirates Curse, the game had far more dynamics to it's abilities, more exploration and a far better plot which HGH almost feels to retcon(why this game is not set before PC is anyone's guess, would fix all story issues).
Seven Sirens manages to find a good middle ground between HGH's transformations and the fluid abilities of PC, though it could do more, dance transformations are small cut-scene abilities which affect the world somehow, while other transforms are performed by actions similar to PC's, with Shantae temporarily transforming, it's a good middle-ground but one that I also think could do with the more longer transforms of HGH also mixed in for specific uses, some are also a bit too circumstantial. While more fluid then HGH's, PC's abilities still come out on top to this day.
Writing is witty and fun, it's Shantae of course it's super fun!, the plot is sadly as simple and bare-bones as HGH's though it doesn't annoy me by ret-conning aspects of Shantae and Risky's growth like HGH did, look I don't expect shakespeare from Shantae but PC set a good standard of plot I think the series should try to top, there's more they could do on this front.
I think some might also dislike Sky's brattyness which is on full display here and i'm also disappointed in the lack of personalities from the bosses despite their great designs, a bit of pre fight banter would've gone a long way, the bosses themselves are super fun though, far better then HGH's and the final boss is a massive improvement over the awful boss from HGH(though once again..no one has beaten the pirate king).
Like it's previous game too, SS also is way too easy, food is plentiful if you ever get close to death, magic tears apart anything and everything etc, I think from now on i'll do 3 heart runs because it's just too damn easy otherwise, some bosses can be killed in seconds, it's a joke.
Exploration is very fun, more prominent then in past games, this one went full metroidvania, I do wish more work went into some area's design but I overall liked it, I get the feeling some aspects of the game might've been a tad bit rushed though.
I also found the art direction a mix of the HGH and PC styles to be great, HGH's was too simple and not emotive enough imo, but once again and I hate to say it...Pirates Curse did it better.. kinda feel bad at this point i'm just bullying the later games despite how much I enjoy them haha.
Overall its more Shantae, if you enjoy the previous ones, I can't see you not liking this one.
Ori Will of the Wisp
God these games are gorgeous, I was blown away by the original Ori game's visual and the sequel is no different, what's more it also improves upon the original in many ways with sidequest's, very fun moves and not as many obnoxiously long escape segments(or maybe i just got used to them), the relationship between Ori and the owl is also very sweet, I did at times get lost on where to go next or how to traverse but, this is a metroidvania, you're damn right i'm gonna get lost.
Overall a gorgeous game with a sweet story, great bosses and gameplay, i'd reccommend it but i'm fairly sure most metroidvania fans already have at-least considered playing it.
Those bastards finally got me, a gacha game finally sunk it's teeth into me, all it had to do was have some cool combat, cute characters and an gorgeous world to explore.
I don't like monetized gacha nor the unfairness and stingy-ness of it's system, though I will say if you balance your time and be patient you can get a lot out of Genshin's content, I only spent £10(the combined amount for two months of daily login bonus tier essentially) and I got a large amount of the cast and two 5 stars including a lot of repeats out of it(repeats essentially leveling up your characters abilities), that was more then enough for me to have a size-able set of characters to play with and I vouch purely for enjoyment to money ratio..I got a heck of a lot out of this game so far, I've put in atleast 100 hours or more and only spent £10 on it, that's..not bad by any means, and I'd recommend anyone who enjoys it to solely pay for that £5 monthly login bonus(though you do need to login each day scumily enough) and nothing else since the direct gems etc are horrifically overpriced.
That being said scummyness is scummyness, the game would be far better if you could just, buy characters outright, you can buy them with built up points from repeats however..it's two random chars from the store per month, which for me is a problem since the one character I want could take ages to get on there, Genshin's cast is at-least 60 chars high now so it'd be well over a year at this rate before we see some characters back in store if this continues.
Which brings me to the Razor situation, so I had an OG account on this, it was either hacked, lost or I forgot the password I don't know, but I've spent a long time on my new one since trying to re-roll my adorable wolf boi who I just want to head pat again. The Genshin Impact support service took until literally two days ago to respond to me....I sent the report mid September... so fair warning to be very careful with this game.
So scummy monotization and bad service aside...what is it I actually LIKE about Genshin Impact, well there's a lot actually.
Comparisons have been made to BOTW and while some are warranted I'd argue the games excel in different area's, Genshin lacks the physics system of BOTW but it's combat system has an amazing set of elemental reactions which are very fun to chain together, the wide variety of characters all play differently and can be augmented for different builds with artifacts.
Exploration is no slouch either, there's a ton to do and explore and unlike BOTW much of it is not one note, a good variety of puzzles and secrets hidden around it's vast world, the game has a wide variety of side-quests many of them with fully voiced cut-scenes, stuff BOTW2 really should take note of.
An awe inspiring part is it's towns though which are just so gorgeously rendered, Liyue Harbor for example is is a beautiful area and it's nice to see such a well crafted area based on Chinese lore, due to the current...errr..nature of China, I feel we usually don't get much in the way of representation of it in media, at-least not from games direct from it's culture, so seeing such a rich fantasy area based on it is great, Mondstadt and it's brutal cold mountain side area are also beautifully made, despite taking a lot from the classic medieval fantasy look they also include a great windmill aesthetic.
Genshin Impact also has a ton of lore books and backstory which are very nice to sift through too, a lot of work clearly went into this world and it's characters and there's so much of it I've barely scratched the surface.
I defineitly don't disagree against anyone to not play it on principle of what it is, while ftp, gacha is gacha and there are more ethical ways they could've still made bank off Genshin then this, but if you like what you see of the game then I recommend getting into and only putting down for the £5 monthly login rewards if you're enjoying it and to above all just be patient, chip away a bit at it daily for the most part, any other monotization is simply not worth paying for.
Oh and one other thing, if you want to play this with friends, MAKE SURE YOU'RE ON THE RIGHT SERVER, Genshin in all it's bloody wisdom region locked the game's multiplayer aspects, which turned my friends list for playing it down from like 10- to one person...
Ok so let me preface by saying, I don't care for roguelikes, nor games with this sorta isometric viewpoint for games, I feel it flattens things and i've been turned off my many games for it, I also tend to like a goal in my games which means roguelikes just...aren't my thing, games like the Binding of Isaac are fun but lose my interest very quickly, I also didn't get on with Bastion(Though I now plan to give it another shot) the last Supergiant game I played...so with all that against it why the heck do I like Hades so much?.
Well firstly I knew jack shit about this game before the awards, while Geoff Knighly was off giving TLOU2 the awards for best esports team, everyone was talking about Hades, about how it deserved GOTY about it's lack of crunch compared to certain other games*ahem*etc, and after reading about them decided to give it a go, worst case scenario I gave money to a good company that aren't shit-bags to their employees, not to mention the aspects of it's roguelike interested me here, one consistent story over each session.
And by god it's good, the writing is so fucking good, Zagreus reminds me very much of Alucard from Castlevania Netflix, politely spoken yet brutally sarcastic, Dusa is just HNNNG best girl, all of the characters are so enjoyable(Also Artemis second best girl), my only issue there is that not all of them can form social links with Zagreus such as the chill as fuck Minotaur, which is shame since it seems DLC is currently off the table.
Each play-through tends to get a bit easier as Zagreus chips away at hell's layers, the game slowly unlocking more for you to take advantage of to survive and upgrade points(darkness) from repeated runs means you are better equipped the next time, without spoiling stuff there is also far more to do after your first escape.
Despite my dislike of the genre, I also found combat to be very satisfying though some weapons can be a tad bit clunky, it's a small issue though.
I've yet to truly finish all the content here so i'm sure there's more i'm missing but what i've played is enough to say goddamn I love this game and am very happy it's been such a success for the company.
The only true failing of Hades is not allowing you to marry Dusa, yes she is just a floating head, no that doesn't bother me, patch it in cowards.
So I've yet to truly sink my teeth into this yet though i'm decently in so far.
A lot of people worried about AoC due to it's lack of character count compared to HW to me, this wasn't really an issue, HW was a bombastic celebration of Zelda history while AoC is a more straight prequel to BOTW though with...some changes, I won't get into nor do I fully understand myself yet.
It makes up for this though by having each character have an extremely unique moveset and also adding a lot more depth to the combat, this really shines on hard and very hard mode where you have to play at your absolute best.
It takes elements from BOTW but applies to to a warriors concept, use fire rods on grass? your enemies weak point gauges will fall apart in seconds, use cryonis on water? freeze em, a great trick i've found is using stasis on an enemy with it's weak point gauge out, drastically increases the time you can chip away at it, very important on timed missions on hard.
It also includes parrying and last second dodging which both give you a chance at the weak-point gauges, if you can get in the air you can also hit them straight in the head downing some enemies while stunning or hitting the WP gauges of others, parrying is..at-least on hard too high risk with no reward, which was an issue in BOTW too outside of guardians, why risk parrying when dodging at the last second has the exact same effect on WP gauges?..
As said before every character has unique abilities, Revali has an entirely different move-set in the air, Mipha can spawn water pillars and then teleport to them, Daruk creates lava pillars with regular attacks with his special detonating them, it's all great fun.
The decision to have everything on one map sidequests and all is somewhat clunky to view to some i've talked too, but it doesn't bother me yet in fact I appreciate it, rather then adventure mode being a seperate thing now every challenge or collection mission has some lore description for why you're doing it and why you get the rewards you do, revali goes off to train, comes back with two extra hearts beating in his chest, see,normal Zelda fare.
Jokes aside it really does a lot to expand the world and make you feel like these characters are truly training for war.
BOTW came under fire for it's storytelling habits, while I enjoy the idea it had myself of the story having happened and BOTW itself almost being an epilogue to a long forgotten tragedy, it did fail in many area's Link being an amnesiac and no one but the zora's remembering him due to their long lives(though you'd think gorons would too?...) means any personal connection is non existant outside of that quest.
Age of Calamity brings it all down to that personal level though, to the relationships between the cast and what happened 100 years prior(more or less?...)and it works so well, the writing here is really good so far and it's truly shown what a Zelda with voice acting can be when done right.
Another GOTY contender for me, I adored Bloodstained Curse of the Moon and it's sequel, even moreso. I actually enjoy these more then the main series Ritual of the Night.
I only got into Castlevania relatively recently, i'd had fun on C4 in the past but never beaten it and it was more a passing interest...and then I played 3 in preparation for the anime series, and you know what i'm not usually a fan of NES games too dated for me but C3 just clicked, barring 1 or 2 levels it felt mostly fair, the music was jamming, death was frequent but it was almost always easy and quick to return to my previous location while still having given me a punishment(which I also feel is a good time to cool off and learn from mistakes).
I played through it with a friend and we were hooked the whole way, it put the series far more on the map for me then previously and hey look at that, it's spiritual successor was coming out soon.
So what is it I love so much about CotM specifically, well for starters this game is constantly throwing new content at you, it has many branching routes throughout the levels some of which can only be done with specific characters of which there is a lot of them, there are several different modes tied to an overarching simple yet fun plot(And one which redeems the horribly ruined character of Dominique from RotN), each play-through bringing something new, whether it be new characters or bosses and even now after a good 30-40 hours there is still new challenges to conquer such as specific routes tailored to each character solo.
One complaint I have on these multiple routes though, there is an unlockable sword in game which can be unlocked as early as the second playthrough and technically leads to the "good" ending, DO NOT take this sword, getting the bad end of that campaign unlocks a separate one with the sword anyway where you go and aquirre the good ending anyway and to make it worse, the sword is completely inferior to your previous swords, your og or second sword(I forget which) has combos, cool stuff like that but the unlockable one, the true "powerful" sword apparently, just makes Zangetsu completely weak, I felt conned given how much effort goes into getting the bloody thing and immediatly reloaded a save to do that play-through without it.
Anyway back to praising it, the soundtrack is fantastic, boss battles are great and despite it's short runtime per play-through it's extremely re-playable due to the sheer variety of characters and modes, if you're a classic Castlevania fan...well you already played it i'm guessing.
Also the coop is super fun, highly recommended.
So that's the end of games that came out last year that I played but I did want to add two others I played for the first time but are somewhat older.
Now look...I tried to get into this game I really have and there's a lot I enjoy, some characters are quite enjoyable such as the flamboyant Olivier, the combat is super fun and I really like the music and art direction...but my god this game cannot, shut, up.
I know its a JRPG and that might be a weird complaint for such a story driven genre, but it's not an issue I've had with other ones such as FF9.
TiTS(hehe,hehe), plot just has not appealed to me at all, there's no sense of tension to what's going on, character writing is very often dry and every time i'm getting into the gameplay it's interrupted by yet more excessive cutscenes, was an entire section of the game dedicated to Estelle and Joshua fitting in at a college really necessary?, imagine if FF9 had an entire segment of it's plot dedicated to the team learning baking....okay with Quina involved that sounds fun, bad example but even so.
Perhaps I will return to it someday but I put a good number of hours into it and while at times I truly was enjoying the experience, other times I almost wanted to skip the dialogue, there was just so much of it and it was so excessive, it's some ways more visual novel then game but I believe it just feels that way due to my disinterest in the plot thus far.
I've heard it's a slow burner but there's slow burning and then there's rubbing two twigs together in the rain expecting fire.
What can I say about this game, ok what CAN'T I say about this game.
You ever find a long running series, long into it's time and are immediatly blown away realizing you now have sooo many more games to play, like an entire universe just opened up to you? I had that experience with MGS4 and it was the same here, I was not expecting to love Yakuza this much.
Best described as a Scorsese gangster movie interrupted by a Simpsons gag every 5 minutes, Yakuza is both insane and down to earth at the same time, something I appreciate highly about Japanese storytelling is how unabashed they can be about making a ridiculous over the top game but bringing it down so sincerely to a serious level when needed and Yakuza does that constantly, one minute i'm glued to the screen at the drama unfolding between Majima and his cute waifu, the next Kiryu is beating down zombies to protect Micheal Jackson as Steven Spielberg films along(yes, this is an actual quest).
The combat system is a tad complicated but I like the learning curve a lot, there's such a ridiculous variety to the kill- i'm sorry knockout moves in game, and some of the fights feel truly spectacular, there's no greater feeling then dominating combat as enemies struggle to get one hit on you.
the game can also sometimes overwhelm the player with side-quest mechanics such as the weapon store which i'm still trying to learn but I can safely say I've grown addicted to the investing in Yakuza's retail system, god help me.