HELLO! HI! ALOHA! Welcome back, friends and chimps that have learned how to use the Internet. It’s time for another Weekend Whammy where I ramble on about what I’ve been playing and what I plan on playing, plus I’ll also be covering some Star Wars and Indiana Jones […]
There are a lot of games on the market and it’s impossible to play all of them. But that can also be a good thing, because later on you can stumble upon an older game and play it free of all the initial hype and excitement. That’s exactly my experience with Death Stranding, the latest rollercoaster ride of madness from Kojima. When it first launched in 2019 I wasn’t at all interested in reviewing or playing it. I think at the time I wasn’t in the right mindset for it, and I was busy with so many other games that I let it fly past. But when Death Stranding made its PC debut earlier this year my mindset was a little different and I checked it out. I’m glad I did.
2020 saw quite a few series being resurrected, their decaying corpses being dug up, dusted off, jammed into some new clothes and shoved out of the door. Crash Bandicoot came back to a great reception and Desperados emerged after years and years of hibernation, just two prime examples. But for me the best comeback after a lengthy absence in 2020 was Streets of Rage 4, the first game in the series since Streets of Rage 3 way, way back in 1994.
What other game than Cyberpunk 2077 could possibly have won this illustrous award that hundreds of developers clamor over to claim? Well, truthfully, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla almost took the crown due to being a buggy mess and the fact that I still can’t actually finish the game to this day. But then Cyberpunk 2077 stomped in, struck a T-pose, gliding across the floor and stole the crown right out from under Eivor’s hooded gaze.
Launched back in March, Ori & the Will of the Wisps received a lot of glowing reviews but was damaged by performance issues. But since I only got around to finally playing it last week those issues have been resolved and new, shiny Xbox Series X and Series enhancements came out. In other words, I played Ori & the Will of the Wisps in its best form, blissfully unaware of any launch woes it might have suffered from. And I’m so glad I stumbled upon it this way, because it’s a glorious, playful, vibrant, wonderful game and feels like it has been vastly overlooked and underappreciated, despite it being on Games Pass.
Spider-Man: Miles Morales was a strong contender for the best Playstation game of 2020, delivering another slice of outstanding web-slinging combined with a fun story. But Miles Morales was a known quantity – after the success of Marvel’s Spider-Man in 2018, it seemed a safe bet that a follow-up would be terrific. But Ghost of Tsushima was an unknown element. Yes, Sucker Punch have a rich and successful history, but Ghost of Tsushima was a brand-new IP that didn’t actually have much hype and marketing prior to hitting store shelves, and wound up launching right next to the biggest Playstation title of the year, The Last of Us Part 2. That’s a daunting thought for any developer. And yet Sucker Punch didn’t need to be worried because of Ghost of Tsushima ended up being the perfect antidote to The Last of Us 2’s relentless assault of dark themes and violence. The Last of Us Part 2 is beautiful from a technical perspective, but Ghost of Tsushima is beautiful in the truest sense. I constantly abused the photo-mode, taking dozens and dozens of pictures of Tsushima’s awe-inspiring landscapes.
Dying in a videogame has never felt as good as it does in Hades, the latest game from Supergiant. Falling foul of one of the many minions or bosses that inhabit Hades is a chance to visit with friends, hand out gifts of Ambrosia, maybe buy some stuff to spruce the place up and decide which weapon to take for a spin next. Sure, death and failure are staples of rogue-likes, but few of them manage to weave dying so completely into the experience that it feels seamless.
So, we’ve managed to officially make it past the half-way points of this utterly crazy year. Putting aside all the madness, that means we’re half-way to the traditional Game of the Year lists where we can gush about the games we love, argue about what we didn’t and remind ourselves why our hobby is awesome. That’s another 6-months away though, and I’m impatient, so just like last year I’m going to do the best games of the year, so far.
First, a very happy New Year to everyone out there! And if you don’t celebrate New Year, then I hope you have a very happy whatever day this is. It’s honestly boggling my mind that we’re moving into a whole new decade. Hell, I still think 2000 was like ten years ago. It’s an exciting, crazy time. I’ve been reflecting a little on what the last decade has brought in gaming, from the good to the bad. We’ve seen the rise of loot boxes, season passes and various other forms of monetization, the domination of games like Fortnite and wonderful pieces of art like God of War, The Last of Us and The Witcher 3. And of course in 2020 we’re going see the new generation of consoles hitting the market.