Top 10 Games of the 2010s

Top 10 Games of the 2010s

 

Welcome, finally, to the top ten games of the 2010s. It has been a long decade with tons of beloved games making everlasting changes to our hearts, minds, and memories. Here are the ones that were found by our staff to be the best of the past ten years. Thanks to our Twitter followers for helping us to partially determine the ordering of these as well.

 

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Minecraft

 

10. Minecraft

 

“There hasn’t been anything in all my years of gaming that has made me feel quite like loading up Minecraft for the first time (back when we still played in-browser) and figuring out what to do, surviving my first night, digging a hole in my first cave, building my first house on a lakebed. I can’t possibly check how many hours I put into Minecraft, but I doubt any other game would compare. There are so, so many things to do in this game, and from sixth to tenth grade, I wanted to try them all.” – Max Broggi-Sumner

 

Minecraft’s greatest strength is its accessibility. It would be difficult to find someone who doesn’t have at least a little bit of experience with Notch’s brainchild, and it’s still going strong today. Memories are forged in this game, and for good reason. Its simplistic but instantly recognizable visual style and bottomless well of gameplay opportunities add up to make one of the most influential video games of all time.

“I’m not short on nostalgia for Minecraft either. The nights I stayed up until 6 am playing with my friend are uncountable. It’s not all about the nostalgia, though. Minecraft’s consistent free updates keep players invested and bring old fans back for more.” – Lewis Mackin

 

Undertale

 

9. Undertale

 

Undertale is one of those games that blows your mind when you play it. Normal rules don’t apply in Mt. Ebott, where exp doesn’t measure your strength but emotional callousness, and hugging your way out of fights is a valid strategy. Every single boss in Undertale feels fresh, stealing the show as they torment you through each region of the game before finally challenging you to brilliant fights and make sure to keep in touch with you after you best them. Each of the three major endings has its own incredible set pieces, between the neutral boss who breaks the game rules entirely, the genocide boss who knows killing you is pointless and tries to force you to give up instead, and the emotionally intense true pacifist boss who just can’t bring himself to destroy you. All of this is wrapped together with an absolutely beautiful soundtrack with expert use of leitmotifs, making Undertale a game where you don’t want to say your last goodbye. Here’s to a bright future with Deltarune.” – Max Broggi-Sumner

 

“Simply put, Undertale is one of my favorite video games. It’s quirky as hell, funny, and gives you a heavy dose of the feels. The multiple ways you can play through the game culminate in one of the most unique uses of the video game medium. Don’t dismiss the game due to the sloppy graphics; they actually add charm to the already oozing-of-charm adventure that Toby Fox and company have put together. It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced and has a killer soundtrack as an added bonus.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

Doom (2016) Gameplay

 

8. DOOM (2016)

 

“Rip and tear! The gory, goopy, and gratuitous violence of DOOM (2016) is just one of the reasons why people have loved this franchise for decades. For historical context, the DOOM franchise has never reached the glory days of the original PC games, and fans have lost trust in id Software in rekindling that one-of-a-kind flame. With 2016, id Software not only satiated the desire for an old-school FPS that doesn’t hold back, but it debatably exceeded the quality of the original 1993 classic. DOOM 2016 will be regarded as one of the best FPS games of the decade and rightfully so.” – Peter Finaldi

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DOOM’s 2016 installment was destined to fail by all accounts. The ridiculous periods of development hell, the shady denial of review copies, the fact that post-Skyrim Bethesda was behind it– It was a train wreck everyone had binoculars for, yet despite all of this negative reinforcement, id Software came out of the woodwork to prove everyone wrong.

“It’s not that DOOM reinvented the wheel or anything like that, it just put a new set of familiar tires on – tires that made Doomguy reach the human-defying speeds he was known for and gave unlimited inventory space for all types of fantastic weaponry, leading to gunfights excelling in verticality and pacing. Not only did it defy expectations, it defied what a First-Person Shooter should be.” – Sam Taylor

 

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Gameplay

 

7. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

 

“I’ve been playing Super Smash Bros. since the one for Nintendo 64, so you could say I’m a bit of a veteran. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate takes basically everything from previous entries and puts it all in one, complete package. There’s so much in this game I don’t even know what to do with it all. And it’s not just quantity, it’s quality. This is the best Smash game yet. They have freaking Banjo-Kazooie. Banjo-Kazooie. Let that sink in. I can’t wait to see them continue to update it and treat it with care.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

“‘Everyone is here’ for the Smash Bros game that fans have been dreaming about since the series’s inception. Truth be told, it’s a bit of a miracle that despite the dizzying roster of fighters, everyone feels unique and fun to play. It’s the only game you’ll see Solid Snake, Mario, Cloud, and Sonic duking it out in a fighting free-for-all, and that’s indicative of the game’s real power: Smash Ultimate has become bigger than itself. By drawing in so many characters, worlds, and music tracks from so many franchises, it’s no longer just a cutesy fighting game, it’s a wonderful museum and a bombastic celebration to honour our beloved hobby” – Theo Durrant

 

The Last of Us: Joel teaching Ellie to shoot

 

6. The Last of Us

 

“Naughty Dog’s foray into the post-apocalyptic brought us one of the greatest gaming experiences of all time. A compelling world met with an emphatically human story wrought players’ hearts from the outset, and with stirring performances from Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson, it’s easy to see why many fans are rabid with excitement for the series’ return next year.” – Donogh Moore

 

The Last of Us is one of the few games I make time to go back and replay every few months. It has stuck with me like few other experiences have; I can say that this game made me a better person. This isn’t a pleasant game by any means; it’s violent, depressing, and reflects the worst in humans. The Last of Us doesn’t revolutionize the third-person shooter genre but elevates what a video game can be. If I had to recommend one game, and one game only, it would be this one.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

“Naughty Dog has always been respected by both gaming fans and the industry, but The Last of Us elevated them to the top tier. Its masterful writing, emotional narrative, unforgettable characters, and thrilling gameplay make it one of the most well-made video games of the decade. It didn’t quite push the envelope in terms of gameplay structure, but the narrative exceeded what most non-gamers expected from a video game, and The Last of Us will forever be cherished for that achievement.” – Peter Finaldi

 

Super Mario Odyssey

 

5. Super Mario Odyssey

 

Super Mario Odyssey is my favorite Mario game. Period. It’s like a fresh breath of air on top of another fresher breath. Odyssey is platforming at peak performance with chunks of levels dedicated to Mario’s form changing. Like, honestly, who comes up with these ideas? They’re so bizarre but make so much sense. They just work. Odyssey elicits a similar feeling of freedom that Breath of the Wild does. You feel like you can do anything with no one to stop you.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

“3D Mario games built their success on a simple collect-a-thon premise compounded by unique qualities that only Mario can provide. 64 had you exploring all sorts of environments by jumping through paintings and had a number of power-ups you could unlock by exploring the castle, Sunshine gave you the FLUDD which unlocked all sorts of tricks, Galaxy brought all sorts of new power-ups and gravity puzzles, and Odyssey introduced Cappy. Cappy’s most well-known for allowing Mario to take control of enemies, allowing him brief control over new mechanics with which to traverse the world, but Cappy also gives Mario his most impressive platforming move set yet, giving him so many new moves players have used him to beat the game without incrementing the jump counter or walking. Throughout Odyssey, you’ll see multiple paths to the same objectives: a simple path anyone can take and more complex paths that require deeper experience with the mechanics. Combined with its collect-a-thon nature, even young players can beat the game, but veterans and completionists can still get a fantastic challenge.” – Max Broggi-Sumner

 

“Believe the hype; Mario Odyssey is every bit as good as it looks. Mario’s sense of mobility and control has never been sharper, and the freedom the game gives you in exploring its wondrous kingdoms is a real breath of fresh air. Its central capture mechanic is just inspired, making for some hugely entertaining and upbeat gameplay since everything from controlling a leaping frog to driving Mario on a motorbike is just pure joy. Its greatest success lies in its ability to respect what came before it and then building on it rather than simply cashing in on nostalgia. Mario Odyssey is a gorgeous, sprawling adventure that kept a smile on my face.” – Theo Durrant

 

Super Mario Odyssey revitalized the Mario franchise in the best way possible. Odyssey finally minimized linear level design in favor of a more open-ended structure akin to Super Mario Sunshine. Nintendo brought back their creative environmental designs, removing the stereotypical biome aesthetic the franchise has struggled to experiment with in the past few years. Mario’s maneuverability opens the potential for intuitive shortcuts the developers secretly implemented. Super Mario Odyssey is the most refined Mario game Nintendo has made, and I hope we get a sequel soon.” – Peter Finaldi

 

Super Mario Odyssey doesn’t do anything particularly bold with everyone’s favorite plumber, but you’ll have a hard time playing this one and not appreciating the refined platforming and fun possession mechanic.

“Each enemy you can take over with Cappy provides a fresh perspective on each stage, helping each world retain a sense of wonder and mystery. Every time I encountered a new bad guy, I was anxious to take control of them and see what they can do.” – Lewis Mackin

 

 

4. Portal 2

 

Portal 2 is one of my favorite games not just of 2011, but of all time. There are few games that have so successfully established themselves in the comedy genre, but it’s not just the narrative and punchlines that are expertly handled. The puzzles are a work of genius. Valve knew they had something special with the first game and took every aspect as far as it would go. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, they added a co-op mode that doubles the number of portals and somehow still shines.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

Portal 2 is puzzling at its finest. Lacking the typical combat and dramatic set pieces of typical first-person titles, the game manages to uphold the core values of its predecessor while improving upon it exponentially. The portal mechanic remains untouched and continues to challenge players in new ways with plenty of acid pits along the way.” – Lewis Mackin

 

“Stephan Merchant’s performance as Wheatly continues to be lauded, with all of it culminating in a finish that’s absurd but in line for the type of game Portal 2 aspired to be. Slap on some of the greatest co-op puzzle gameplay of all time, and you have a game that, while it isn’t at the same perfected height of its predecessor, manages to fit a perfect hole in its own rights.” – Sam Taylor

 

Breath of the Wild Wide Shot

 

3. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

 

“I’d been used to the 3D Zelda formula since the Ocarina of Time days. Every release, up until Skyward Sword, didn’t really try too many new things. Breath of the Wild is almost unrecognizable as a Zelda game but still manages to capture the same spirit of the franchise. You’re going to feel like you’re never going to run out of things to do in this game. Just look online and you’ll see players are still finding out new ways to experiment with Breath of the Wild. The combat is satisfying, the puzzles challenging, but the most significant feature is the actual freedom of choice you possess as a player.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

Breath of the Wild is what the past decades of the series were leading to. It samples everything: the puzzles of the early games, the relationship between Link and Zelda of Skyward Sword, the vast world of Wind Waker, the diverse landscape of Ocarina of Time. Even with that, Breath of the Wild still feels unique and special with the complete and total freedom given to the player. Throughout the hours-long game, the question “can I do that?” will cross your mind accompanied by all sorts of unlikely ideas, and the answer will almost always be yes, whether you’re planning an angle of attack on an enemy base, devising a new battle strategy, or trying to rush Ganon’s castle immediately after leaving the tutorial. Link has the tools to do anything, and the game has no plan to stop him. Add in a beautiful aesthetic and a criminally underrated soundtrack, and Breath of the Wild can keep you playing forever.” – Max Broggi-Sumner

 

Celeste

 

2. Celeste

 

“I don’t typically expect a good story in my platformers outside of my princess getting kidnapped. The story in Celeste helps make it one of my favorite platformers in years. This game seriously has it out for the player; damn is it difficult. Celeste keeps track of how many times you die, which will be plenty. Maybe it’s because it keeps track, but I don’t I’ve died this many times in any other game. But that just makes succeeding that much more satisfying. Did I mention the game is gorgeous? Because it is.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

God of War

 

1. God of War (2018)

 

God of War is the pinnacle of action games. It’s fun, brutal, and dynamic. What I didn’t expect was the meaningful story we got. God of War nails the dynamic between Kratos and his son, mirroring real-life, father-and-son relationships. It’s a believable relationship in an over-the-top, fantasy world. Previous God of War entries were superficial, violent romps. This game is a mature, vibrant trek. The reinvention of the franchise is the best thing ever to happen to Kratos. Masterpiece.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

“To just call God of War cinematic would undersell how essential its gameplay is to the narrative. The growth of Kratos and Atreus is felt through the player in a game that isn’t relentlessly an epic. God of War sets its stakes, gradually giving additional weight to monolithic boss battles by positioning a thoughtful character dynamic at center stage. It also helps that God of War boasts not only a rebooted aesthetic but vastly more nuanced combat. You work your way towards the blades of chaos only through patient strategy, an immediate contrast to earlier entries where the blades are inseparable from the character. The game functions as more of an Action-RPG in its scope than its predecessors that only saw fit to volley players from one set piece to the next. God of War bypasses indulging players with pandering power fantasy yet continues to compel on its own terms.” – Zach Kauz

 

 Honorable Mentions:

 

Control
Marvel’s Spider-Man
Mass Effect 2
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

 


Top 10 Games of 2019 – It Has a Little Something For Everyone

Top 10 Games of 2019 – It Has a Little Something For Everyone

 

This is a smörgåsbord if ever there was one. While it’s not the most impressive year of the decade, just about everybody got something out of 2019; even gamers from the ’90s were represented with two remakes from that era, Resident Evil 2 and The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. 2019 was truly the Golden Corral in gaming.

 

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10. Katana Zero

 

“You’d be hard-pressed to find an individual component of Katana Zero that is totally unique, but it blends visceral swordplay and twitch platforming with a sort of anarchic spirit that defined the decade of indie game development. It makes the perfect bookend to the original Hotline Miami, a deliriously presented reflex tester with a pulsating soundtrack and provocative story to boot. It is subversive and no doubt skeptical of the moral escapism most video games provide but is above all else incredibly fun to play. Strategy must be quickly deployed but is integral to your success in the game, your character dying from one hit just like everybody else. It is perfectly equipped for speed runs and launches you back into its action so quickly that risky decision-making is encouraged. Katana Zero sustains its incredibly tight control system across a six-hour campaign packed with combat and platforming variety. The promise of a follow-up is much anticipated.” – Zack Kauz

 

Links Awakening Cover Art

 

9. The Legend Zelda: Link’s Awakening Remake

 

“A whimsical remake of the most understated Zelda game, Link’s Awakening is classic adventure fare with some real heart. Quirky characters and hauntingly good music breathe such life into Koholint Island, and the quietly melancholic story continues to resonate. The modern facelift and quality of life improvements only serve to improve upon the original while opening the doors to a whole new crop of players who’ll no-doubt fall just as hard in love with this game as I did 25 years ago.” – Theo Durrant

 
The Outer Worlds
 

8. The Outer Worlds

 

“It’s tough to count how many things The Outer Worlds does well. I think its biggest triumph is the density of the 30-hour experience. Compared to most modern open-world games, Obsidian put together a relatively short experience, but nearly every part of me had me invested. The combat is flashy but simple and straight-forward. In fact, this describes a lot of the game. Most games similar to The Outer Worlds do amazing work in some aspects and lack-luster work in others. However, Obsidian managed to take all of these aspects and do well with all of them. It’s one of few games I would consider truly complete.” – Brandon Pero

 

Promotional art for Super Mario Maker 2

 

7. Super Mario Maker 2

 

Super Mario Maker 2 is basically a huge content upgrade from the first game, but that’s okay. It’s exactly what the sequel needed to be, with better online functionality and more things to build with. The single-player mode is a nice distraction, but the real meat is reserved for those who want to design their own levels. There are still a bunch of joke levels online, but you’ll find some hidden gems that make wading through all the trash worth it.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Gameplay

 

6. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

 

“I have yet to finish my playthrough of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, mostly because I’ve died a lot more than twice. It’s mostly what you’d expect in a game made by FromSoftware, but I’ve found it to breathe new life into their games. The addition of the grapple rope leads to a more vertical approach in gameplay and an emphasis on platforming. Sekiro really shines through the use of the posture mechanic, where players try to stagger opponents to deal a death blow. It’s a dynamic game and one of the year’s best.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

Death Stranding Walking into the distance

 

5. Death Stranding

 

Death Stranding commits to a world where nothing would make sense if Hideo Kojima hadn’t been in charge. There are so many bizarre ideas in this game, but they just work. Sometimes the world is relaxing and playing is sort of therapeutic, while at other times it’s straight up a horror game. This has to be the best-looking open-world game I’ve played and one of the most interesting. This is a one-of-a-kind experience that doesn’t come around too often. But, it’s not for everyone.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

“Thinking back on Death Stranding is like recalling and trying to discern meaning from a distant dream. It just has some intangible quality that makes it easy to forgive some of its objectively bad aspects. I got lost in its world and zoned out during long cross-country hikes, entering an almighty calm. The solitude of my travels was punctuated by the remnants of other players. Using their bridges or collaborating with their building projects rekindled my faith in humanity. Even though the experience is bogged down by a flabby narrative and truly dreadful boss fights, I can’t get Death Stranding out of my mind.” – Theo Durrant

 

Resident Evil 2 Remake

 

4. Resident Evil 2 Remake

 

“As someone who hadn’t played the original Resident Evil 2, I thoroughly enjoyed the remake we got in 2019. The gameplay is what we’ve come to expect from the franchise but with a whole lot of polish. The gorgeous visuals help push the scares, of which there are many, and although the dialogue can be a bit quirky, it gets the job done. This is Resident Evil at its finest.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

“This revamped jaunt through the hallowed halls of the RPD is a pure gaming romp. Some genius bits of game design twist everything you thought you knew about classic Resident Evil games, and hats off to Capcom for at long last finding a happy middle ground between the franchise’s over-the-shoulder and tank-control gameplay styles. Most impressively, shuffling Romero Style zombies once again have the power to terrify with their ungodly sound design and undying presence. But it’s Mr X who made the strongest impression. Too many drinks were spilt, and screams were heard by roommates thanks to his unyielding pursuit as you try to move a bookcase. Bring on Resident Evil 3!” – Theo Durrant

 

Baba Is You

 

3. Baba Is You

 

Baba Is You takes the two-way interaction between player and environment (the rules that dictate gameplay) and places the boundaries in your hands. The only constraint in Baba Is You is a warped sense of logic that is made all the more complex by how directly players can rewrite it. The core of Baba Is You is a deceptively simple interface where the elements of a level’s design exist in malleable form, as if they are rudimentary code waiting to be edited. ‘Baba Is You’ forms the basis of your existence but in of itself can be undermined by physically pushing the ‘You’ out of the sentence. More fruitfully, stationary rocks positioned in your way can be made movable by stringing together the sentence “Rock is Push”. Destroying the sentence “Wall is Stop” frees you from its borders. Soon enough, the game’s logic gets measurably more complex forcing you to dishevel a level’s constructs from top to bottom in order to progress. But the player’s presence is innately felt making the “level progression by way of level editing” model intuitive through and through. Baba Is You is yet to be matched as the most innovative puzzle game in recent memory.” – Zach Kauz

 

“Puzzle games traditionally ask the player to solve a solution while abiding to the established rules of the game. Baba Is You flips that tradition on its head, because the goal of the game is to manipulate the rules to your own benefit. The consequence of that subversion creates one of the most ingenious games I have ever played. Baba Is You is one of the few games that demands the player to break it. Every time I figure out the problem to a difficult puzzle, I momentarily consider myself a genius. Even when I search up a walkthrough, I cannot help but say, ‘Oh, that’s brilliant!’ or ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’. Baba Is You constantly offers new concepts and introduces new ways to destroy the game. This game is the next Portal 2, and I implore all of our readers to play it.” – Peter Finaldi

 

Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order Promotional Art

 

2. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

 

“Someone at Respawn Entertainment woke up one day and had an idea. They visited Vince Zampella and said, ‘What would happen if we consolidated all good video game concepts into a big project?’. Zampella gleefully replied, ‘I’ll give you $80 million to get that shit done by 2019.’ That big project ended up being Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. It has the best parts of Uncharted, Dark Souls, Metroid Prime, Titanfall, and other great video games and mashes them into a beautiful little package. It might not be the most refined game in the world, but it is impossible not to love it. The train sequence alone brought me back to 6th grade when I first experienced the Uncharted 2 train chapters, and I loved every second of it. Say what you will about EA, at least they allowed Respawn to make this gem.” – Peter Finaldi

 

Control Jesse Faden

 

1. Control

 

“The existence of a game like Control in the current market (where the margin between AAA and indie is all too narrow) is as anomalous as the brutalist architecture the game is encased in. Control is the sort of casually idiosyncratic action title (of a piece with Second Sight and Psi-Ops to focus on mid-budget telekinetic predecessors) sorely missing from today’s climate. The environments are sleek and picturesque yet aim to disorient, absorbing influence from ‘weird fiction’ and translating the predominantly literary genre to a damn entertaining game. Gunplay is sturdy, piercing through your environment and given some high-concept punch by supernatural enhancements. But the extent of your powers far surpasses over-the-shoulder shooting. As your protagonist Jesse Faden further ingratiates herself with the ‘Oldest House’, the game adds telekinesis, levitation, mental control over enemies, and more, producing a sense of controlled chaos that is no less than addicting. With its eagerness to lean into new gameplay mechanics and surrealist environments on a dime, it recalls an unfiltered dreamscape where ideas materialize without confines.” – Zach Kauz

 

 Honorable Mentions:

 

Luigi’s Mansion 3
Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer Feat. The Legend of Zelda

 


Top 10 Games of 2018 – What’s the Story, Wishbone

Top 10 Games of 2018 – What’s the Story, Wishbone

 

There’s nothing I love more than a good story with compelling characters, and 2018 delivered on an unprecedented level. Almost every single entry on this list is worth a replay just for the narrative. I don’t want to know the time it took to develop stories as impressive as emotional as GRIS, complex as Red Dead Redemption 2, thrilling as Detroit: Become Human, and relatable as Life Is Strange 2. No matter the answer, I’m sure the writers were well underpaid for their brilliance. Individually, these are fantastic games; together, 2018 is an outstanding year.

 

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10. Life Is Strange 2

 

Life Is Strange 2 doesn’t really cross over with the original too much, but I think that’s what needed to happen. It needed to separate itself from the first game; Life Is Strange 2 successfully maintains its high-quality storytelling and stands on its own. There’s a really relevant, engaging story tackling subjects not many games are courageous enough to touch.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

“Dontnod is one of few studios that can successfully cover topics like race, religion, sex, sexuality, and politics in a way that is consistently wholesome, entertaining, tasteful, and impactful. Life Is Strange 2 is their most recent triumph in this regard. It takes tremendous talent to do this balancing act when writing, and what’s more amazing is their ability to still give every character the attention they deserve. Need more proof? How about this: have you ever noticed how the main character doesn’t have any special abilities? How does he work as a main character? It’s called character development. Maybe some of these other studios should try it sometime.” – Brandon Pero

 

Detroit: Become Human

 

9. Detroit: Become Human

 

Detroit: Become Human has some cheesy moments but overall is the best choice-driven game I’ve played. There are so many choices and outcomes for the story that you can’t possibly go through them all, not even after a few playthroughs. The story is another classic robots vs. humans, but it explores more meaningful subjects than I thought it would. There are some nuances that few other stories in this genre tackle. Not all characters are as complex as Connor, but they still do a good job at getting you invested.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

“The idea that machines could become as intelligent as humans first became a popular point of discussion during the 1940s and ‘50s thanks to Alan Turing, and ever since, storytellers have tried to imagine the emotional uprising of machines. Detroit: Become Human serves as the gaming industry’s definitive addition to these stories. Much like a brilliant ‘90s sitcom, Detroit tells three different tales of struggle, freedom, and emotional significance that all rally around one overarching story. This game’s true shining point, however, is found in the stakes of the game. Unlike too many story-based games before it, Detroit truly takes your decisions and method of playing and gives you a vast number of endings that all have equal weight. There’s no catch-all ending, and it makes your connection to the characters and plot stronger than those of most other games.” – Brandon Pero

 

Image taken from Return of the Obra Dinn developed by Lucas Pope. Depicts a monochromatic artstyle with a man being shot in the head

 

8. Return of the Obra Dinn

 

Return of the Obra Dinn is a triumph of stark aesthetics as well as mind-bending investigation puzzles. The task of piecing together the fates of sixty dead sailors is by equal turns horrifying and mentally stimulating. Reconstructed inference forms your progression through the game. Not every answer is concrete, forcing players to gamble with their decisions. There’s a constantly hanging sense of indecision reigning over players reflecting a conglomerate lost to history and a nervous historian furiously documenting it from a distance. Harrowing realizations are made tangible by the player making the game’s dour atmospherics infectious. The tandem visual aesthetic is dour, but eye-catching, greyscale stills that players alone move around as if they have found themselves a part of a sketchbook. The seas may be sorrowful, but Obra Dinn rewards you for taking the plunge with an experience that defies comparison.” – Zack Kauz

 

Monster Hunter: World

 

7. Monster Hunter: World

 

“It is testament enough to Monster Hunter: World‘s deceptive complexity that its titular premise sustains hundreds of hours of high investment. Few titles reward dedication to such a degree, given the extents that Monster Hunter: World‘s crafting, combat, and social systems enrapture the player. Monster Hunter: World is the sort of game that taps into a mechanic central to a small subset of games and perfects it to such a detailed degree that players will find their needs satisfied eternally. Its ability to entertain and challenge operates on a continuum offering new experiences for years of commitment. The depths of its weaponry and land to explore remains unparalleled. Monster Hunter: World treads dangerously close to becoming a lifestyle, as supported by continued expansions. It’s not too late to join the craze, but it’s nigh impossible to put down.” – Zach Kauz

 

GRIS screenshot

 

6. GRIS

 

“This game made me feel something in such a meaningful way. That’s not something I can say for more than half a dozen games. There are several games out there without any dialogue, but GRIS takes full advantage of its visual storytelling. The music and art bring the narrative together in an experience that I’ll never forget. I think any gamer (even non-gamer) needs to play this game. You can get through it in one sitting, but the impact will stay with you.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

Red Dead Redemption 2

 

5. Red Dead Redemption 2

 

Red Dead Redemption 2 is the sequel I felt would never arrive, ‘til it did. The original is one of my top games, so I had high expectations. Although I haven’t played through the whole game yet, it’s obvious it’s a passion project. There’s so much attention to detail in Red Dead 2. It’s sometimes too realistic for its own good, but so, so engrossing. It’s easy to get lost in the world and its characters. But I swear, if I crash into another boulder while riding my horse, I’m going to lose it.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

“Holy hell! There are two settings that get me every time: space (hence my love of the Mass Effect trilogy) and the old west. Red Dead Redemption 2 is a victory cry for the western genre… and the action-adventure genre… and the RPG, story-rich, open-world, and third-person-shooter genres. What doesn’t Red Dead 2 have? Furthermore, of what it does have, how much hasn’t been combed over seemingly a thousand times, each time introducing a new layer of polish? The PC release had its problems, and (as would be expected) the first couple weeks of console releases had a few bugs, but even on a bad day, this 0.001% is negligible.

“The world and the characters can range from calm and serene to bombastic and chaotic, but no state of either of these is misplaced. Unlike its predecessors, each character here leaves a lasting impression that makes you look in on yourself and wonder about your own self. Would I be able to be as courageous as Arthur Morgan? Can I be as selfish as Dutch van der Linde? Am I as two-faced as Micah Bell? How can I be as remorseful as John Marston? Each character represents a different part of us, and Red Dead 2 lets us evaluate these parts and determine what deserves to stay and what deserves to go.” – Brandon Pero

 

Celeste

 

4. Celeste

 

“I don’t typically expect a good story in my platformers outside of my princess getting kidnapped. The story in Celeste helps make it one of my favorite platformers in years. This game seriously has it out for the player; damn is it difficult. Celeste keeps track of how many times you die, which will be plenty. Maybe it’s because it keeps track, but I don’t I’ve died this many times in any other game. But that just makes succeeding that much more satisfying. Did I mention the game is gorgeous? Because it is.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

Marvel's Spider-Man Wide Shot

 

3. Marvel’s Spider-Man

 

“This is the first Spider-Man game that I really felt was worthy of the character. Marvel’s Spider-Man is everything I could have hoped for, except for a playable Aunt May, but that’s a conversation for another time. It’s the only game I’ve platinumed on PlayStation 4 up to this point, and I still haven’t got enough of it. Everything is just so intuitive and fun. The story blew me away too. Make sure you get the DLC as well, ‘cause there’s a great story to be told there as well. Must-play game for any superhero fan.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

“When I think of a game that is just plain fun, this one is the first to come to mind. Has anyone ever used the fast travel in Marvel’s Spider-Man? I know where my money’s at. Swinging through Manhattan has never felt more fluid, and no Spider-Man story in a video game has ever been this emotional. I could compare this experience to that of a see-saw, but this isn’t a traditional see-saw comparison. Rather than going from good to bad, Spider-Man rocks you between your brain and your heart; at any given moment, you’re methodically tearing into bad guys or clenching your chest as you watch the relationships between the characters evolve. I’m not one to play games all the way through multiple times, but this one earned it.” – Brandon Pero

 

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Review

 

2. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

 

“I’ve been playing Super Smash Bros. since the one for Nintendo 64, so you could say I’m a bit of a veteran. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate takes basically everything from previous entries and puts it all in one, complete package. There’s so much in this game I don’t even know what to do with it all. And it’s not just quantity, it’s quality. This is the best Smash game yet. They have freaking Banjo-Kazooie. Banjo-Kazooie. Let that sink in. I can’t wait to see them continue to update it and treat it with care.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

“‘Everyone is here’ for the Smash Bros game that fans have been dreaming about since the series’s inception. Truth be told, it’s a bit of a miracle that despite the dizzying roster of fighters, everyone feels unique and fun to play. It’s the only game you’ll see Solid Snake, Mario, Cloud and Sonic duking it out in a fighting free-for-all, and that’s indicative of the game’s real power: Smash Ultimate has become bigger than itself. By drawing in so many characters, worlds, and music tracks from so many franchises, it’s no longer just a cutesy fighting game, it’s a wonderful museum and a bombastic celebration to honour our beloved hobby” – Theo Durrant

 

God of War

 

1. God of War (2018)

 

God of War is the pinnacle of action games. It’s fun, brutal, and dynamic. What I didn’t expect was the meaningful story we got. God of War nails the dynamic between Kratos and his son, mirroring real-life, father-and-son relationships. It’s a believable relationship in an over-the-top, fantasy world. Previous God of War entries were superficial, violent romps. This game is a mature, vibrant trek. The reinvention of the franchise is the best thing ever to happen to Kratos. Masterpiece.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

“To just call God of War cinematic would undersell how essential its gameplay is to the narrative. The growth of Kratos and Atreus is felt through the player in a game that isn’t relentlessly an epic. God of War sets its stakes, gradually giving additional weight to monolithic boss battles by positioning a thoughtful character dynamic at center stage. It also helps that God of War boasts not only a rebooted aesthetic but vastly more nuanced combat. You work your way towards the blades of chaos only through patient strategy, an immediate contrast to earlier entries where the blades are inseparable from the character. The game functions as more of an Action-RPG in its scope than its predecessors that only saw fit to volley players from one set piece to the next. God of War bypasses indulging players with pandering power fantasy yet continues to compel on its own terms.” – Zach Kauz

 

 Honorable Mentions:

 

Overcooked 2
Tetris Effect

 


Top 10 Games of 2017 – The Indies Strike Back

Top 10 Games of 2017 – The Indies Strike Back

 

Independent games are to AAA games as cement is to a city. Cement is in our streets, our sidewalks, and our buildings. Everything from the greatest of cities to the smallest of towns likely uses cement in some capacity. It’s a fundamental building block of a city that is often looked over in every-day life. The only difference is that cement never won awards for how great it is.

Much like construction workers with cement, developers of higher-end, AAA titles in the gaming industry infuse (whether consciously or unconsciously) indie games into their work. Some of the concepts in games that we consider the most integral and rudimentary these days largely came from smaller companies looking to break into development. AAAs have drawn from indies to the point that we can’t even recognize it anymore; it’s become a part of game development and culture.

2017 serves as a victory cry for independent games. In our voting for 2017, we put games like Cuphead, A Hat in Time, and What Remains of Edith Finch ahead of The Evil Within 2 and Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. This year saw a revitalization of independent games unlike any other year, and it did so off the heals of a competitive 2016 year. Through the last decade, this year stands out for small studios and developers; during the decade, no year prior nor following would be as impressive in its small titles.

 

Open All

 

Dead Cells

 

10. Dead Cells

 

Dead Cells is the most difficult game I’ve played. I haven’t mastered it quite yet, and I may not, but I still enjoy every new run. Sure, it’d be satisfying to finally win at the game, but the rewards and gameplay itself are enough to keep me playing the game. Dead Cells starts off cute but quickly evolves into a soul-crushing monster set on taking you out. But it’s so much fun.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

“Despite missing the massive surge in roguelike popularity created by titles like The Binding of Isaac, Dead Cells manages to be interesting enough to stand on its own two feet.

“This is because of its tactile combat, tough-to-deal-with enemies, and weapon variety. Every part of Dead Cells is air-tight, and each item you get can complement another perfectly. There’s a sense of progression too despite its increasingly challenging stages via permanent stat upgrades and item unlocks that stay with you across runs.” – Lewis Mackin

 

Hollow Knight Cover Art

 

9. Hollow Knight

 

“Hand-drawn video games come along every once in a while, and I always look forward to them. Hollow Knight is so much more than something pretty to gawk at, it’s a game at its core; this game wants you to pay attention and remember where you’ve been. Hollow Knight is all about how you traverse the menacing environment. Areas may look pretty, but they’re full of all sorts of barriers to get around. Just don’t forget where you’ve been and how to get there. Hollow Knight is super quirky, and although it may not help you get over your fear of spiders, it makes insects look so freakin’ cute.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

Hollow Knight contains pretty much everything I want in a game. The disquieting atmosphere of the abandoned kingdom you explore is composed excellently through a combination of morose-looking NPCs and the wonderfully placed sound design.

Hollow Knight relays a loneliness that makes you appreciate when you have the sound of rainfall for company. Each kill you execute is weighty and comes with a sense of sadness. The game doesn’t stop you so you can watch the characters talk at you for minutes on end either. The narrative exists within the beautifully drawn backgrounds and brutally punishing boss encounters.” – Lewis Mackin

 

Sonic Mania Cover Art

 

8. Sonic Mania

 

“I mostly stay away from Sonic games, if I’m going to be honest. I don’t think Sonic translates well into the 3D space, which is where most recent games go. Sonic Mania felt truer to what made the Sonic of the ‘90s work than the dozens of sad attempts we’d been getting. Even though some of the content is reused from the original Sega Genesis games, there’s new life breathed into them. This is the Sonic I remember, so make more of this, and I’ll play it happily.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

“Just like Hollow Knight and Cuphead, Sonic Mania is a game that just throws you in with no bullshit to interrupt its fast-paced gameplay. It’s not just the return to the classic 2D style that everyone was craving for either; Sonic Mania is superior to its predecessors in pretty much every way.

“The controls are tighter than ever before and each stage is sprawling with alternate paths and bouncy colors that pop out of the screen. The music is remixed to fit with the remixed stages, all of which improve upon their base designs tenfold. Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles all feel uniquely different to play as, having their own smaller areas to explore, which shoots Sonic Mania’s replay value through the roof. You don’t have to like older Sonic titles to love this game, you just have to like having fun.” – Lewis Mackin

 

Horizon Zero Dawn

 

7. Horizon Zero Dawn

 

“I remember when Horizon Zero Dawn was first announced; I was immediately sold on the concept. Who doesn’t want to hunt down robotic dinosaurs in an open-world game? And although the action is what originally sold me on the game, the narrative ended up being much more captivating than I had expected. I have some nit-picks about climbing and some wonky facial animations, but everything else immerses you like few other games do. There’s a fully realized world in Horizon, and I can’t wait to go back.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

Horizon Zero Dawn is a shining example of how Sony’s first-party studios are capable of leaving behind what they are good at and known for and going out on a limb to create one of the most iconic games of this past generation. Guerilla Games isn’t done with that series yet, and I’m excited to see what they bring with the anticipated sequel.” – David Fraley

 

What Remains of Edith Finch

 

6. What Remains of Edith Finch

 

What Remains of Edith Finch is one of my favorite experiences, even outside of gaming. It takes the best elements of what makes a mystery narrative succeed with the characters at the forefront. Don’t look at the game and dismiss it as a walking simulator, because it’s so much more than that. It’s a deep dive into our humanity and how life and death affect us. It’s one of those games I’d recommend to anyone, even non-gamers. This game made me grow as a person.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

Resident Evil 7 Biohazard

 

5. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

 

Resident Evil 7 was the fresh coat of paint that the survival horror series had needed for a while. The first-person perspective being a series first made fans skeptical, but a lot of people (including myself) aren’t afraid to include RE7 among some of their favorites in the series.

“This time around, the threat you face is that of the Baker family, each of who will hunt you individually in their respective portion of the game. Not being able to permanently kill the people hunting you adds to RE7’s tension, but more importantly, it forces you to play the game like no other in the series. Conserving ammo was always important, but now even if you do want to pump all of your bullets into one of the Bakers, all you’ll end up with is an empty inventory and a skull filled with an alarming amount of shovel.” – Lewis Mackin

 

Nier Automata

 

4. Nier: Automata

 

“It’s not every year you get to play through a vision so sprawling it has 26 endings. In this regard and many more, Nier: Automata outpaces the ambitions of even its precursor while improving gameplay tenfold. It remains contemplative in its narrative and blindingly vast in its world design but now boasts a combat system devised by Platinum Games to make the game as fulfilling to play as it is to ponder. Nier: Automata is such a singular vision that it threatens to become indulgent, but it is so generous in its gameplay variety and character nuances that its philosophizing is earned as well as stoked in the player. Nier: Automata in fact spins a story that can only be told by its medium, using mechanics as rudimentary as its checkpoints and save systems to affect the player’s larger interpretation of the story. No design choice in Nier: Automata is perfunctory, it all forms a greater whole that is top-to-bottom unparalleled.” – Zack Kauz

 

“The best thing about Nier: Automata is how much it takes advantage of games as a medium. This is done through its cleverly-told narrative which takes place over the course of multiple playthroughs and perspectives. Each side quest drip-feeds you information that’s important to the main narrative. The themes of humanity and existentialism are beautifully explored as you watch robots do things like fall in love and find religion.

Nier: Automata has to have one of the most moving soundtracks I’ve ever heard. The intoxicating purity of the vocals is a treat to the ears and ties together a variety of tracks that can come in the form of a fast-paced electronic boss theme or a slow melancholic piece intended to create atmosphere.” – Lewis Mackin

 

Cuphead Gameplay

 

3. Cuphead

 

Cuphead’s large appeal comes from its impossible-to-ignore visual style. Despite the American cartoons of the 1930s, Cuphead is based on being in black and white, the side-scrolling shooter has a vibrant color pallet. The fact that games very rarely take inspiration from this period of time played a large part in putting Cuphead on the map for even the more casual gamer.

“The no-nonsense, fast-paced boss fights that make up most of Cuphead’s levels are a joy to take part in, be it alone or with a co-op partner taking control of Mugman. Each battle challenges you to truly learn your opponent’s move set, with the game cleverly showing you how far you got through the encounter whenever you happen to bite the dust.” – Lewis Mackin

 

Super Mario Odyssey

 

2. Super Mario Odyssey

 

Super Mario Odyssey is my favorite Mario game. Period. It’s like a fresh breath of air on top of another fresher breath. Odyssey is platforming at peak performance with chunks of levels dedicated to Mario’s form changing. Like, honestly, who comes up with these ideas? They’re so bizarre but make so much sense. They just work. Odyssey elicits a similar feeling of freedom that Breath of the Wild does. You feel like you can do anything with no one to stop you.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

“3D Mario games built their success on a simple collect-a-thon premise compounded by unique qualities that only Mario can provide. 64 had you exploring all sorts of environments by jumping through paintings and had a number of power-ups you could unlock by exploring the castle, Sunshine gave you the FLUDD which unlocked all sorts of tricks, Galaxy brought all sorts of new power-ups and gravity puzzles, and Odyssey introduced Cappy. Cappy’s most well-known for allowing Mario to take control of enemies, allowing him brief control over new mechanics with which to traverse the world, but Cappy also gives Mario his most impressive platforming move set yet, giving him so many new moves players have used him to beat the game without incrementing the jump counter or walking. Throughout Odyssey, you’ll see multiple paths to the same objectives: a simple path anyone can take and more complex paths that require deeper experience with the mechanics. Combined with its collect-a-thon nature, even young players can beat the game, but veterans and completionists can still get a fantastic challenge.” – Max Broggi-Sumner

 

“Believe the hype; Mario Odyssey is every bit as good as it looks.
Mario’s sense of mobility and control has never been sharper, and the freedom the game gives you in exploring its wondrous kingdoms is a real breath of fresh air. Its central capture mechanic is just inspired, making for some hugely entertaining and upbeat gameplay since everything from controlling a leaping frog to driving Mario on a motorbike is just pure joy. Its greatest success lies in its ability to respect what came before it and then building on it rather than simply cashing in on nostalgia. Mario Odyssey is a gorgeous, sprawling adventure that kept a smile on my face.” – Theo Durrant

 

Super Mario Odyssey revitalized the Mario franchise in the best way possible. Odyssey finally minimized linear level design in favor of a more open-ended structure akin to Super Mario Sunshine. Nintendo brought back their creative environmental designs, removing the stereotypical biome aesthetic the franchise has struggled to experiment with in the past few years. Mario’s maneuverability opens the potential for intuitive shortcuts the developers secretly implemented. Super Mario Odyssey is the most refined Mario game Nintendo has made, and I hope we get a sequel soon.” – Peter Finaldi

 

Super Mario: Odyssey doesn’t do anything particularly bold with everyone’s favorite plumber, but you’ll have a hard time playing this one and not appreciating the refined platforming and fun possession mechanic.

“Each enemy you can take over with Cappy provides a fresh perspective on each stage, helping each world retain a sense of wonder and mystery. Every time I encountered a new bad guy, I was anxious to take control of them and see what they can do.” – Lewis Mackin

 

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

 

1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

 

“I’d been used to the 3D Zelda formula since the Ocarina of Time days. Every release, up until Skyward Sword, didn’t really try too many new things. Breath of the Wild is almost unrecognizable as a Zelda game but still manages to capture the same spirit of the franchise. You’re going to feel like you’re never going to run out of things to do in this game. Just look online and you’ll see players are still finding out new ways to experiment with Breath of the Wild. The combat is satisfying, the puzzles challenging, but the most significant feature is the actual freedom of choice you possess as a player.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

“Breath of the Wild is what the past decades of the series were leading to. It samples everything: the puzzles of the early games, the relationship between Link and Zelda of Skyward Sword, the vast world of Wind Waker, the diverse landscape of Ocarina of Time. Even with that, Breath of the Wild still feels unique and special with the complete and total freedom given to the player. Throughout the hours-long game, the question “can I do that?” will cross your mind accompanied by all sorts of unlikely ideas, and the answer will almost always be yes, whether you’re planning an angle of attack on an enemy base, devising a new battle strategy, or trying to rush Ganon’s castle immediately after leaving the tutorial. Link has the tools to do anything, and the game has no plan to stop him. Add in a beautiful aesthetic and a criminally underrated soundtrack, and Breath of the Wild can keep you playing forever.” – Max Broggi-Sumner

 

 Honorable Mentions:

 

A Hat in Time
Detention

 


PlayStation Year-In-Review 2019

PlayStation Year-In-Review 2019

2019 has been a very interesting year for PlayStation and not exactly in an exclusively positive way. It hasn’t been an awful year by any stretch of the imagination, but it certainly wasn’t like 2018. Was it a downgrade? In some respects, it was. In others, it has greatly improved and paints a wonderful future for the PlayStation brand. Haphazard corporate restructuring and drama sounds the alarm for some gamers and industry pundits. Smart business decisions and unique games overshadow that negativity with abundant optimism. However, with the looming shadow of the PS5 in the horizon, the ultimate question must be asked: is Sony ready for next-gen?

Like our last two articles of this kind, we break-down and analyze four aspects of what a console manufacturer or game publisher has achieved for the year. This time, I’ll do things a little differently. For first-party support, I will now focus on how the company marketed them as it applies to the same subject. As a result, Market Presence will be renamed to Business Decisions, wherein I talk about what the company did outside of game publishing and how that helped or harmed them. Consumer Relations will be renamed to Public Image, where I will discuss how gamers view the company and how it could improve. Finally, I discuss Future which is self-explanatory. Got all of that? Good! Let’s ride!

 

First-Party Support

 

Image result for days gone"

 

You can make the argument that 2019 pales in comparison to 2018, and you’d make a solid point. Sony’s premiere first-party exclusives are Days Gone, Dreams (early access), Concrete Genie, MLB The Show 19, MediEvil, Blood & Truth, and Death Stranding. Not as bombastic or hype-inducing as 2018 with the two juggernaut games (God of War and Spider-Man) overshadowing Days Gone and Death Stranding respectively. Death Stranding is not a game designed for the mainstream as either God of War or Spider-Man were. Both of those games broke records for PlayStation and 2019 isn’t really doing that. Sales, of course, are not indicative of quality. However, quality has also taken a drop from 2018.

Days Gone, while not a horrible game by any stretch of the imagination, certainly shows signs of coming from a rusty development team. Sony Bend hasn’t produced a console game since 2007, nor have they ever made a game of this ambition. They also have not proven themselves to be in the same league as Santa Monica Studio or Naughty Dog, and Days Gone did not necessarily elevate Sony Bend to that level. That being said, having played 20 hours of the game myself, Days Gone is very much a solid B-tier game. The gameplay is reminiscent of Uncharted and the narrative when Iron Mike is introduced gets pretty compelling. It’s bloated, but a worthwhile game you should check out. 

 

Image result for days gone"

 

Unfortunately, the flaws in the game are abundantly clear. Glitches are easy to encounter, though mostly minute. The difficulty spikes are incoherent. I often get stuck in some missions because of poor balancing between the enemy designs. The controls are sluggish, sometimes to your own detriment. The UI is awkward. The missions are 40% filler content. The frame rate is playable, but inconsistent. I could go on, but you get the gist. Despite its flaws, I recommend giving it a try at a discount price. Once you get used to the controls and missions, you can find yourself enjoying the game considerably. It’s relatively impressive, too, given the fact Sony Bend never made a game of this size. It honestly makes sense that Bend bit off more than they could chew, but I can see them get better at their craft. 

Death Stranding isn’t without controversy. In fact, some critics sharply admonished the gameplay as it mostly revolves around traversing around the landscape and delivering packages. The first ten hours is considered the least interesting portion of a nearly 50 hour game, which can turn off many gamers. On the other hand, walking is surprisingly chock full of various systems to keep track off, such as balance, terrain environment, and your baby’s distress levels. Having played about 15 hours of the game, I find the game considerably addictive and rewarding to play. Receiving positive remarks from NPCs and likes from players brings a smile to my face in spite of the desolate world the game represents. I don’t recommend it, but if you want to try it out, I won’t stop you.

 

Image result for concrete genie"

 

As for the smaller games, Concrete Genie is a wonderfully nifty adventure game. It hasn’t made any sales news, but PixelOpus has yet to shut down. I enjoyed Concrete Genie quite a bit. MediEvil is a competent remake of an albeit antiquated 1998 game. This has sold considerably well in Europe, charting in the top 3 in the region at launch. It’s great to see a once dormant IP receive a successful launch. It paves the way for sequels in the future and I hope Sony capitalizes on it. PSVR has gotten a healthy amount of attention from Sony’s first-party support, with Blood and Truth being London Studio’s big title for the system.

It’s not a landmark year for Sony like 2018 which had two record-breaking games, but it’s far from a bad year. It’s a solid year, but it will be one people would overlook when reminiscing this generation. Death Stranding will certainly help, but Days Gone and the rest would be left on the wayside. This is one of the few years where other aspects of the business outshined Sony’s first-party output. Case in point, I’ll give first-party support a lower score compared to previous ones: a 6/10. It’s nothing that would damage the brand, but it wasn’t largely beneficial either. It was just…okay.

 

First-Party Support: 6/10

 

Business Decisions

 

Image result for jim ryan sony"

Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) President Jim Ryan

 

Now, this is a fun topic. Leadership departures, presentation and event cancellations, different strategies, and significant updates to services defines Sony’s business affairs. Shawn Layden? Gone. Jim Ryan? Head of Sony Interactive Entertainment, abruptly replacing John Kodera.  Basically, the entire corporate wing of PlayStation is completely different for 2020, a pivotal year for the company. I won’t get into the future yet, but it’s hard not to think about it. Well, Jim Ryan has lead the company all of 2019, so what happened under his tenure? A lot.

Cross-play has finally been taken care of after a hefty bout of criticism directed at Sony. Fortunately, both name changes and cross-play have been fully implemented to PSN, two highly requested features. While Sony exhibited reluctance to enact on those policies, PSN itself was ostensibly ill-equipped for such features and thus structural change was needed. Gamers can argue that PSN needs more work and Sony seems to agree as they teamed up with Microsoft to utilize their Azure platform. Azure is the same technology that Microsoft uses for Xbox Live, which is considered a superior platform. This is also beneficial to PlayStation Now, which heavily relies on the cloud to function.

 

Image result for sony microsoft partnership"

Sony Corporation CEO Kenichiro Yoshida shaking hands with Microsoft Corporation CEO Satya Nadella.

 

Speaking of PlayStation Now, Sony is finally being aggressive with it! Slicing the price in half, adding highly-valued titles on a monthly basis, and launching a rejuvenated marketing campaign. Jim Ryan basically pressed the reset button and hit the ground running and it’s exciting to see Sony become aware of the environment they’re in. With Project xCloud and Google Stadia making a ruckus, it makes sense to use their brand identity to effectively hook people into subscribing to their service. The best thing about this (for them, at least) is that it’s working! PlayStation Now subscribers surged 30%, surpassing 1 million paying subscribers just a month after this radical shift.

It’s not quite all sunshine and rainbows as PlayStation Vue is getting shuttered in January 2020. Though, you can’t really blame Sony as the video streaming market is historically hostile at the moment as the streaming wars are ramping up. Sudden leadership changes also evoke a layer of obscurity concerning the ins-and-outs of Sony Interactive Entertainment. Shawn Layden abruptly left his position as chairman of Worldwide Studios. Shuhei Yoshida also departed from his position as president of Worldwide Studios, with Hermen Hulst replacing Yoshida. At least Mark Cerny remains the lead system architect of the PS5, which I’ll discuss at greater length later.

 

Image result for hermen hulst"

SIE Worldwide Studios Head Hermen Hulst

 

Hermen Hulst being named Head of Worldwide Studios is great news for the outlook of Sony’s first-party studios and published releases. Hulst co-founded Guerrilla Games and was a leading factor, in addition to a talented team, in evolving the studio into one of SIE’s biggest developers. Hermen Hulst seems like a firm believer in single-player, which is all I, among millions of other gamers, can ask for. While Shawn Layden’s departure was unexpected, Hermen Hulst should be a more than adequate leader. Jim Ryan so far has shown effective leadership with most decisions under his tenure strengthening the company in the market and industry. The major acquisition of Insomniac Games and the aggressive expansion in the Asian regions provides ample evidence that Ryan wants PlayStation to prosper. 

Ultimately, I believe Sony is under competent leadership and they genuinely want PlayStation to prosper in its current state. They have a clear strategy in mind and that is to ensure that people don’t leave PlayStation. Ryan himself stated that he doesn’t want to grow complacent and rest on their laurels come next gen and I think that’s the best strategy they could subscribe to. Xbox wants everyone to play their games however they can with their “billion gamers” philosophy, whereas Sony wants to cater directly to the hardcore gamers, whoever they are. I suppose the “hardcore gamers” would be the 28-45 male demographic, as that would represent the slight majority of those who consider themselves gamers. However, I think Sony defines the hardcore demographic to be those who are most likely to invest in the latest triple-A games.

 

Image result for state of play"

 

2019 is unique for Sony as they opted out of E3 this year for the first time in the company’s history and instead produced Nintendo Direct-style videos called State of Play. Nintendo Directs far exceed Sony’s State of Plays in terms of energy and hype surrounding them. However, all of the episodes last less than half an hour and are painless. Sony avoided the flashy showcases this year and perhaps that was the right move. We know every upcoming exclusive for PlayStation 4, so there is no need for E3 or Gamescom. Sure, Predator: Hunting Grounds and Iron Man VR look fun, but they’re not comparable to The Last of Us or Ghost of Tsushima. Sony is locked and loaded for 2020, so they won’t waste time and money this year.

Sony’s relationship with third-party companies are good, but they’re perhaps too friendly with Activision. Sony and Activision have a generation-long corporate marriage that causes PS4 owners to get extra goodies. This year Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare had exclusive content for PS4. There’s an exclusive race track for Nitro Fueled and an exclusive game mode for Modern Warfare. Nobody really complains about Nitro Fueled as the track isn’t all that impressive. Although, people are up in arms over PlayStation 4 getting the only PvE mode in Modern Warfare for an entire year. That’s right, this exclusivity lasts for the average lifespan of a Call of Duty game, about a year before next-gen consoles hit store shelves.

 

Image result for call of duty modern warfare spec ops"

 

We don’t know who authorized this, whether it was Sony or Activision, but it doesn’t matter. This doesn’t help boost console sales. Bundles and marketing campaigns do. I suppose it sways undecided consumers in purchasing a PlayStation, but I doubt it’s a larger number than bundles and promotions. The weird thing about this is that Sony already promotes bundles and special marketing campaigns for Call of Duty and Crash Bandicoot, just like they do with games like FIFA or Monster Hunter: World. These exclusivity agreements do more harm than good for public image, but it perhaps plays a role in the overall brand strength. There’s a reason Sony keeps doing these sorts of schemes, but it’d be better if they ceased doing them altogether for the sake of fairness to the consumer.

Sony has made some really smart moves in terms of services like PlayStation Now and their recent changes in corporate management has resulted in a refreshed strategy. Their acquisition of Insomniac Games and cautious approach to making the right investments gives an air of intelligence from the leadership. Sony wants to be ready for next-gen and they’re making all the right calls. However, they have some faults, such as their predatory exclusivity deals with third-party games, unusual censorship policies, and lackluster refund policies on PlayStation Store. There’s room for growth, but it is a great sign that Sony’s management lacks any arrogance to cause another PS3 situation. With all of this in mind, I’m giving their Business Decisions an 8/10.

 

Business Decisions: 8/10

 

Public Image

 

Given Sony’s business decisions and strong marketing campaigns, PlayStation’s public image is pretty good! They haven’t had an amazing image due to the less impressive first-party output, but people are still talking about them and often in a positive light. Enthusiasts and casual followers of the gaming industry collectively agree that they want to see what Sony has in store for us at 2020. They haven’t had any extravagant press conferences, but gamers are still hyped to see what’s next. 

 

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PlayStation 5 early development kit render image created by LetsGoDigital. Disclaimer: This does not represent the final model for the console.

 

Sony randomly dropping PlayStation 5 news out of the blue multiple times gave the company a mysterious presence. PlayStation’s Twitter account casually dropped major news stories and sometimes it didn’t link a blogpost. Shawn Layden’s departure and the Insomniac acquisition had no blogpost despite the gaming community wanting more information. We still haven’t received an explanation why Shawn Layden left the company, but Hermen Hulst is a good choice for the position regardless. I suppose the lack of disclosure potentially damages Sony’s public image, but I have yet to see compelling evidence suggesting that. In lieu of Microsoft suddenly revealing their next-gen Xbox console, gamers now starve for the PlayStation 5 reveal and Sony’s radio silence exacerbates that hunger.

If Sony ceased in gatekeeping content for massive third-party games such as Call of Duty, then I would reward them a 10/10 this year. However, they would rather spend an exorbitant amount of money ensuring that their platform receives special treatment from the biggest players in the business. In an era of emerging nonpartisanship in the gaming industry, Sony (and, in some respects, Nintendo) cannot depart from the dated business practice of locking certain games or portions of third-party games. As long as Sony achieves stronger sales before the fiscal quarter ends, that’s all that matters to them. They care about the bottom line first and foremost just like every major corporation, so at some point that philosophy would undermine the interests of the consumer. 

 

Image result for playstation booth"

 

PlayStation’s public image has otherwise reached its apex and all Sony needs to do is deliver on that cultural following. To put it simply, people want more PlayStation goodness and most folks that saw Xbox Series X muse on what Sony’s upcoming machine will look like. The brand is in a very strong position right now regardless of what their competition does. As long as Sony continues to ride on the wave of respect and doesn’t pull a PS3 reveal, they should be fine. While their State of Play have not impressed and the lack of E3 kept the company in the shadows, the love for PlayStation remains stable and that speaks volumes of their public image. Public image is getting a 9/10. 

 

Public Image: 9/10

 

Future

 

*crackles knuckles, neck, and back* Let’s do this. To analyze and score Sony’s future, we have to review everything we know that is being released from the company in 2020 and what we think they will reveal to us in 2020. Considering the gaming industry is on Christmas vacation at the time we publish this article, it is safe to say Sony won’t bust out a major reveal before the beginning of 2020. The PS4’s final year looks quite appetizing and every single major exclusive that we know of has either been dated or has a projected time of release.

 

Image result for the last of us part 2"

 

Iron Man VR, Dreams, Nioh 2 (not a Sony published title but still PlayStation-exclusive), Predator: Hunting Grounds, The Last of Us Part II, and Ghost of Tsushima are all slated to release before the fall. The only undated exclusives are WiLD, Patapon 2 Remastered, and Naughty Dog’s standalone multiplayer-only game that was originally the multiplayer mode for The Last of Us Part II. Both The Last of Us Part II and Ghost of Tsushima are the largest, most ambitious projects their respective studios have ever made. Iron Man VR and Dreams both need a marketing campaign to push units (both for the games and VR systems), but Sony likes to promote their games a month prior to release. 

The Last of Us Part II will undoubtedly sell gangbusters and reception for Ghost of Tsushima is radiating, but the latter has not reached the same levels of excitement as the former. I believe both these titles will perform well and I anticipate both being Game of the Year contenders. I know The Last of Us Part II will likely be a masterpiece, but Ghost of Tsushima will probably surprise a lot of people. Ghost of Tsushima will easily be Sucker Punch’s best game, though the Infamous games will always hold a special place in my heart. Iron Man VR could be fun and Dreams is a brilliant game engine masquerading as a game. Dreams makes LittleBigPlanet look like Play-Doh. It’s easy to learn, but you must have a lot of patience to learn all of the tools and how they work. It’s quite literally a game development toolkit.

 

Image result for ghost of tsushima"

 

Apart from everything that we know, fall certainly looks mighty empty, doesn’t it? Sony has spring and summer conquered, but late 2020 has approximately zero Sony games slated to release as far as we know. I think Sony will hold an event opening the curtains to the PlayStation 5 before E3 2020, which they will also attend after their two-year hiatus from the stage. They recently revealed the logo for the system and reconfirmed everything they disclosed on the technical aspects of the console. Otherwise, the PlayStation 5 remains highly elusive and hypothesizing on what they will announce would veer this article too far from objectivity. That being said, Sony’s strategy in which they detail the PlayStation 5 shows how committed they are to their success. The PlayStation 4 remains an immensely lucrative platform and the PS5 will unquestionably dominate the conversation. 

Information on PlayStation 5 is limited, but what we know sounds like it will be one hell of a machine. A Sony-engineered solid state drive designed with speed in mind that could load expansive PlayStation 4 games in mere seconds. A controller that does away with the conventional rumble motor gamers have known for decades and replaces it with a sophisticated haptic feedback mechanism that accurately portrays the stimuli represented through the game. A special audio processor that leverages 3D Audio and, presumably, technologies such as Dolby Atmos. Sony confirmed that next-generation will be far more than a simple graphical evolution from antiquated 2013 hardware. Nearly every aspect of gaming will undergo a substantial improvement with the PlayStation 5.

 

Image result for mark cerny"

PlayStation 5’s Lead System Architect Mark Cerny

 

Timing is key and both Sony and Microsoft have nailed that characteristic when it comes to next-gen announcements. While Microsoft aggressively jumped ahead of Sony by revealing their own console first, Sony maintained control of the conversation despite having said the least. Sony’s CES conference gathered an immense amount of attention over the mere prospect of more PlayStation 5 information and all Sony shared was the logo, which possesses the same font as the PlayStation 4 logo. While the logo itself had nothing out of the ordinary, the Instagram post from Sony’s official account sharing it amassed over 5 million likes in a day. Microsoft’s post revealing the Xbox Series X console, on the other hand, did not exceed 1 million likes. Of course, this is not the most scientific method to ascertain the projected success for either platform, but it does indicate that a lot of people are extremely hungry for PlayStation 5.

Under Sony’s new leadership, we can expect the company to subscribe to a different strategy altogether. With Hermen Hulst at the helm of Worldwide Studios, he could propel ambitious ideas to fruition and ensure that all of the developers prosper as a result of their ambitions. Hulst has first-hand experience in launching a new, original IP that took six years to make that elevated Guerrilla Games to a level of success they have never seen prior. Sony’s current lineup of games often represent the most critical projects these development studios have ever made and Hulst understands that risk. I believe he is the right man for the job, especially at a time when a new console is on the horizon.

 

Image result for ghost of tsushima"

 

It comes as no surprise to see countless numbers of people exuberantly muse on the future of PlayStation. Hype is an expected emotional investment for next-generation consoles, but it seems that the enthusiasm over PlayStation 5 is historically high. I would not be surprised if Sony’s fifth home console breaks launch records. People want the next PlayStation and they want it badly. Sony knows they can’t disappoint, they need to break out swinging for the fences. This will be a historic year for PlayStation and for Sony as a whole. With excellent games in the horizon, a compelling console, and intelligent leadership, I have no choice but to give Sony’s future a strong 10/10. There’s really nothing that looks objectively bad for them, so they just need to deliver on their promises.

 

Future: 10/10

 

Average Score: 8.25/10

 

This has been a good year for Sony, but it’s by no means an exceptional one. However, this year represents an appetizer course before the next entree in 2020 and the appetizers themselves are quite tasty. To many, Sony’s first-party games didn’t impress whatsoever, but to others they produced some surprising titles. Sony’s business decisions have resolved their lingering issues such as cross-play and PSN name changes. Additionally, Sony’s lack of flashy event presentations is a testament to their brand stability as people are more engaged in the company than ever. Of course, Sony is not infallible with their anti-consumer gatekeeping practices for select games and nearly nonexistent refund policy. Outside of their 2019 shortcomings, Sony’s 2020 cannot look any better and we’re all waiting for greatness.

What do you think of Sony’s 2019? Do you agree with my grades or do you think I was too harsh? Are you excited to see what the PlayStation 5 has in store at launch? Let’s talk about it in the comments below and stay tuned for more features from Sick Critic!

 

Top 10 Games of 2016 – The Year of Going On an Adventure, Charlie!

Top 10 Games of 2016 – The Year of Going On an Adventure, Charlie!

 

2016, compared to the years from the 2010s that preceded it, set a new bar for how densely you can pack a year with adventure. This year specializes in creating bloodshot eyes, cramping thumbs, hyperactive computer fans, and five hours of sleep every night. Developers took the years leading up to 2016 to create some of the most time-consuming, detailed, beautiful, vast adventures that had ever been created. While there was plenty of action and even a stellar multiplayer experience to come out of this year, 2016 will forever be remembered for the journeys it took gamers on and the memorable characters that accompanied them.

In making this list, everyone here at Sick Critic had to somehow vote between emotional experiences like That Dragon, Cancer, new approaches to platforming like Unraveled and Owlboy, thrilling adventures like those of Uncharted 4, and spine-snappingly-paced action of DOOM and Enter the Gungeon. Only so many games could make the top ten, though, and here they are:

 

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Dark Souls 3

 

10. Dark Souls III

 

“Going from the OG Dark Souls to Dark Souls III feels like a revelation. FromSoftware has implemented several gameplay tweaks from Bloodborne, and the end result is a much more fluid Dark Souls experience. Plenty of smart changes, like beefing up the amount of I-frames in your dodge roll which keeps you in the fight and rewards risky play, give the gameplay more of a Platinum Games feel at times – but is that really a bad thing? It’s more action-oriented for sure, but the game is still distinctly Dark Souls with compelling world design and ferocious monsters to defeat. III also boasts some of the best boss fights across the entire Souls series with the DLC boss fights serving as delectable highlights. It’ll never dethrone the original, but Dark Souls III is worth the time it takes to master.” – Theo Durrant

 

Enter the Gungeon

 

9. Enter the Gungeon

 

“I’m gonna spit straight facts for a second here: Enter The Gungeon is easily one of the tightest roguelikes ever made. There are enough pop culture references within its weaponry to overfill and shame the average SeltzerBerg movies of yesteryear, and there’s a perfectly paced bullet hell within it all. Secrets and mechanics are placed brilliantly so that they’re never an oversight or something you shouldn’t use.

“Even after some rather boisterous expansions and content updates, Gungeon still retains its expert craftmanship throughout, mostly thanks to the content being stuff the player uses. New bosses were only ever added if they were truly necessary or unique, new weapons were only added if they actually disrupted the flows of enemy gameplay, so on and so forth. It’s this respect towards the players that grants Gungeon its title of The Greatest Roguelike Ever Made.” – Sam Taylor

 

“If I had to pick a game that consistently bested me, it would be Enter the Gungeon. I’ve never completed a full run of the game, but I still keep trying. It’s my favorite roguelike out there, even with many entering the fray since then. The insane amount of items you can unlock is already overwhelming, but add on synergies and abilities and you quickly find you’re never going to master this game. Enter the Gungeon is unendingly satisfying to play, even as you beat yourself up for losing to that one random bullet you should have seen coming.” Nathanael Hueso

 

Overwatch

 

8. Overwatch

 

“I’d never really been an online-game type of guy. I enjoyed my single-player adventures and the occasional Super Smash Bros. party night. I tried a few online games here and there, but Overwatch got me playing nearly every day. The bright cast of playable characters and Team Fortress 2-inspired gameplay and modes got me hooked. Overwatch started a love affair that never really calmed down. I don’t know whether to thank the development team or send them hate mail. Whatever the case, I’ll be logging in tonight to get in a few quick matches.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

stardew valley

 

7. Stardew Valley

 

“Some games are tests of skill, challenging you to see how far you can get before inevitable defeat. Some games tell a beautiful story, bringing you to a whole other world. Then, every once in a while, comes a game like Stardew Valley, a game that’s not here to test your skill or sit you down and tell you a story but to give you somewhere warm and comfortable to let rest after a long day out in the real world. The relaxing gameplay loop surrounded by wonderful music and wrapped in lovely season-changing colors makes the perfect environment to stay in for twenty minutes or a day, and the one-man dev team’s constant updates make the game perpetually wonderful.” – Max Broggi-Sumner

 

Uncharted 4 Cover Art

 

6. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

 

“When playing an Uncharted game, we expect well-written characters, jaw-dropping graphics, and death-defying set pieces, and not only did Naughty Dog blow our expectations out of the water with Uncharted 4, they made it look easy. Nathan Drake’s latest globe-trotting adventure may be his finest ever with each level providing an unrelenting amount of thrills. ‘Hidden in Plain Sight’ in particular stands proud as one of the best chapters in the Uncharted franchise with its vertigo-inducing clock tower climb and a motorbike chase sequence you won’t soon forget. This isn’t just Nathan Drake’s story, it’s Naughty Dog’s too. Uncharted 4 is the culmination of everything the studio has learned from Crash Bandicoot up to now; it’s a celebration of their heritage and a classy farewell to one of gaming’s most cherished characters.” – Theo Durrant

 

“Nathan Drake’s last adventure is the most honest, raw look into the characters of Uncharted. The one-line quips and jaw-dropping set pieces are still there, but Uncharted 4 is much more than what the previous entries attempted. Although it still has that goofy charm, the stakes are higher, and characters find themselves struggling with their fiercest demons. There are some new gameplay features, and the graphics have never been better, but what makes this game and the franchise as a whole succeed are the characters.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

Uncharted is such a special franchise to me, and Nathan Drake’s final adventure isn’t the strongest note in the saga. The first 4 chapters are mostly needless filler, and there’re excessive cutscenes that just aren’t that entertaining. Sam is a pointless character, and the twist didn’t do him any favors. The villains were average. The multiplayer is just okay. This game is a masterpiece. Warts and all, Uncharted 4 is a beautiful game in every aspect. The renewed stealth system, while basic, works harmoniously with the Indiana Jones-combat. The set pieces are still incredible. The final few chapters have some brilliant level design. I can deal with the few hours of filler, but afterward, Uncharted 4 is head-to-toe awesome and a worthy addition to the series despite its flaws.” – Peter Finaldi

 

Firewatch

 

5. Firewatch

 

Firewatch was spawned from the minds at Campo Santo and sees you take up post as a forest ranger in search of wildfires in late ’80s Wyoming. While it may appear to be another walking simulator, its gorgeous visuals and desperately human story will enthrall anyone who picks up a controller. One of the best indie games in recent years, which makes the news that Campo Santo’s newest title, In the Valley of Gods, has been shelved for the time being even sadder.” – Donogh Moore

 

“Not everyone adores Firewatch primarily due to its ending, and while I won’t spoil it, I can definitely see why the disappointment exists. Strangely enough, the disappointment in Firewatch bolsters the strongest parts of the game. Firewatch portrays isolation and intimacy in such an impactful way that players just want to hear more of Delilah’s voice. The gorgeous landscapes, peaceful atmosphere, and solemn narrative make Firewatch an extremely powerful ‘walking simulator’. It’s not a game you’d jump right back into, but it remains one of the memorable games I’ve ever played. Pick this game up whether it’s on sale or not, and grab some tissues.” – Peter Finaldi

 

“Lots of the other games on this list let you control the world, or at least make a difference in it. Walking simulator Firewatch does not. Your choices matter on a small scale, changing later dialogue or teaching you more about the characters, but the ending cannot be avoided. This is a good thing. Hidden behind the gorgeous scenery of Firewatch and the seemingly idyllic landscape is a story of mental health, paranoia, isolation, and guilt. Firewatch is a river designed to pull you to its ending. Let it take you.” – Maxwell Broggi-Sumner

 

Titanfall 2

 

4. Titanfall 2

 

“Hidden within EA’s counterintuitive release cycle (unleashing Titanfall 2 a mere week after the flagging Battlefield 1 which nonetheless took the oxygen from the room) and increased apathy towards single-player experiences is the fact that Titanfall 2 offers their best FPS campaign this decade. Underneath an interchangeable military shooter aesthetic with sci-fi leanings, Respawn Entertainment applies rock-solid shooting and surprisingly acrobatic movement to a relentlessly inventive string of set pieces. Your Titan BT-7274 mech is an endearing character and integral tool alike, giving a rote narrative premise distinct charm and the gameplay a constant capacity for change. Unlike the compromised Battlefield campaigns of recent years, Titanfall 2 abides by the kinetic flair of its multiplayer. You are constantly on the move in Titanfall 2, wall-running through shifting factories, suppressing mechs mid-flight, and leaping through the fastest-paced first-person puzzle one could experience. It operates with more ambition and less pretense than any of its peers, clever and entertaining in equal measures. Think of it as the hedonist’s Half Life 2, and prepare for liftoff.” – Zack Kauz

 

Inside Gameplay

 

3. Inside

 

“I wasn’t a big fan of Limbo; it was kinda generic to me, and I lost interest by the end of the game. I actually stayed away from Inside for a while because it was made by the same dev team. When I finally caved and got the game, I played the whole thing in one sitting. It started off feeling similar to Limbo but quickly set itself apart in the best way. Inside is horrifying, engaging, and oddly philosophical. Even without a trace of dialogue, it is able to say much more than other games with thousands of lines of dialogue. I think this game is a must-play experience for every gamer. It’s only, like, three hours long, so you don’t really have an excuse not to play it.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

Doom (2016) Gameplay

 

2. DOOM (2016)

 

“Rip and tear! The gory, goopy, and gratuitous violence of DOOM (2016) is just one of the reasons why people have loved this franchise for decades. For historical context, the DOOM franchise has never reached the glory days of the original PC games, and fans have lost trust in id Software in rekindling that one-of-a-kind flame. With 2016, id Software not only satiated the desire for an old-school FPS that doesn’t hold back, but it debatably exceeded the quality of the original 1993 classic. DOOM 2016 will be regarded as one of the best FPS games of the decade and rightfully so.” – Peter Finaldi

 

DOOM‘s 2016 installment was destined to fail by all accounts. The ridiculous periods of development hell, the shady denial of review copies, the fact that post-Skyrim Bethesda was behind it– It was a train wreck everyone had binoculars for, yet despite all of this negative reinforcement, id Software came out of the woodwork to prove everyone wrong.

“It’s not that DOOM reinvented the wheel or anything like that, it just put a new set of familiar tires on – tires that made Doomguy reach the human-defying speeds he was known for and gave unlimited inventory space for all types of fantastic weaponry, leading to gunfights excelling in verticality and pacing. Not only did it defy expectations, it defied what a First-Person Shooter should be.” – Sam Taylor

 

Persona 5

 

1. Persona 5

 

Persona 5 is easily one of the greatest games of all-time, let alone JRPGs. It’s stylish to a tee – even its loading screens hold more creativity than I could ever hope to muster. It retains the classic Persona gameplay that fans know and love: one part social simulator, where you must improve friendships or refine your own personality, and one part action-fuelled JRPG, where every aforementioned stat improves your skills battling demons. The soundtrack is a massive favourite, and its 100-hour story about refining society will grip you from start to finish. Another must-own for the PS4.” – Donogh Moore

 

“It’s rare to find any game over 40 hours long that is consistently high quality. Persona 5 is around 100 hours long (give or take) and manages to keep your interest the whole time while maintaining both substance and style. I’ve never played a game this unabashedly sure of itself. There’s so much to do in the game that you kind of have to put everything else aside and take a deep dive, and when it’s over, you’re not going to want to come up for air. Persona 5 is the pinnacle of the JRPG genre; it’s a game like no other.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

“I’m not an RPG fan. Something about getting stuck in one place for no inexplicable reason and constantly grinding and changing your strategy is too exhausting for me. Persona 5 shares those traits that I deem unappetizing for me as a gamer, but I found myself playing it for hours on end. For a nearly 100-hour game (I myself having played about 15-20 hours of it), the structural hindrances never bothered me, and I honestly found them reasonable and logical. Grinding isn’t a chore, it’s fun. I want to grind. I want to improve my statistics and get the rewards. Atlus seemed to psychologically bait the player into spending more time with Persona 5, and it works flawlessly!” – Peter Finaldi

 

 Honorable Mentions:

 


Top 10 Games of 2015 – The Year of Fantasy

Top 10 Games of 2015 – The Year of Fantasy

 

Film has The Lord of the Rings, television has Game of Thrones, tabletop has Dungeons and Dragons, and the gaming industry has games like Dark Souls and Dragon Age. However, even these universally praised and beloved titles are given a run for their money by a couple of the games coming out of 2015. Now, while I speak of the fantasy genre when referencing the previous titles, fantasy is more than dragons, wizards, knights, elves, orcs, ogres, etc. Fantasy truly comes from the idea of infinite possibilities. How far can certain concepts be stretched? How elaborately can we create new worlds? What types of adventurers can we think up? Where will they go? Who will they encounter? What trials will they face? This all stems from the fantastical thinking that we all are capable of.

Many of the games on this list fit this definition of fantasy. 2015 traverses the “what if…” questions that cultivate a new life outside of the one we live in. What if a roguelike had a beat to it? What if I tried to slide down the sand dunes in a cardboard box? What if cars played sports? What if there was a world where horses were on crack all the time and never knew where to go? Every one of these questions receives a booming answer in the form of some of the most well-respected games of the console generation:

 

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Until Dawn
 

10. Until Dawn

 

Until Dawn is the cheesy-as-hell, horror game experience I didn’t even know I wanted. Although your decisions are mostly unimportant in deciding the main plot, the fact that the main cast’s lives depend on them kept me involved. Yeah, some of the characters are super annoying, but the plot and presentation keep you guessing. Did I mention this game is actually scary? Until Dawn serves as a meal made up of almost every horror trope, one I keep coming back to.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

“At first glance, Until Dawn seemed like it might be a carbon copy of David Cage titles like Heavy Rain and Beyond Two Souls. Luckily, it didn’t turn out that way. While Until Dawn clearly borrows the QTE-centric gameplay of those titles, it manages to have its own identity, and player choice seems even more important. Every choice you make can result in the death of one of the many playable characters, and there’s a classic horror movie mystery to uncover along the way.Until Dawn captures both the classic, horror-film atmosphere of the late 20th Century, as well as a chilling tale of human fragility. The dialogue-heavy storyline makes it the perfect game to play with friends, too, as you argue over whether you should run, hide or fight back.” – Lewis Mackin

 

Crypt of the Necrodancer
 

9. Crypt of the Necrodancer

 

Crypt of the Necrodancer’s soundtrack is pure bliss. Even the track names put a smile on my face whenever I’m shuffling through my Spotify. Danny Baranowsky’s composition manages to keep every track uniquely recognisable but still perfectly suitable to a rhythm game.

“This isn’t just any rhythm game. Crypt of the Necrodancer adapts all the best staples of roguelike titles and adds its own amazing spin on it. It’s easy to learn and hard to master. You’ll have to carefully consider what items to take along, how to move around each zone, and keep tapping to the beat the whole time you do.” – Lewis Mackin

 

Batman Arkham Knight
 

8. Batman: Arkham Knight

 

“The Arkham series was for a long time the king of superhero games and still is in some people’s eyes. Arkham Knight gets some flak for its excessive gimmicks, but contrary to dominant opinion, I really enjoyed those gimmicks. It was fun as hell manning the Batmobile tank, destroying the opposing tank with my ludicrously overpowered Batgear. While the gameplay is tons of fun, the narrative has gotten some criticism for embracing the Joker for the third (or fourth) time. I understand the dissenting opinions to the Joker’s dominating presence in this game. However, I thought the game handled the Joker (and all of the other villains) exceptionally well. How the villains attacked Batman psychologically more than anything else created a very compelling and complex narrative. Maybe Batman isn’t as impervious as we thought? The rhetorical questions the game proposes and the consistently exhilarating action makes me greatly respect Arkham Knight.” – Peter Finaldi

 

Super Mario Maker
 

7. Super Mario Maker

 

“Since the dawn of the NES, the red plumber has been synonymous with platforming, starring in some of the most iconic games of the genre. This year, though, Nintendo upped the ante by giving players an infinite gauntlet of levels in the styles of Super Mario Bros, Mario 3, Super Mario World, and New Super Mario Bros. The sheer amount of variety in blocks, mechanics, and enemy behaviors allows players to create anything they can dream up, from automatic levels synced to music to incredibly challenging speedruns to complex puzzles. There’s so much content in the game that players were discovering new techniques right up until the release of the sequel. It’s hard to imagine another game based on User-Generated Content allowing for this much to make.” – Max Broggi-Sumner

 

Metal Gear Solid V The Phantom Pain
 

6. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

 

Metal Gear Solid V got a lot of things right. It’s hard not to appreciate its open approach to stealth encounters. Giving the player even weirder and wackier options to take on enemies feels like a natural progression for the series gameplay-wise. The game also brings back a great feature from Metal Gear Solid: Peacewalker in the Mother Base management system. Now there are even more details to consider when you recruit a soldier…” – Lewis Mackin

 

Rocket League
 

5. Rocket League

 

“I’m not a huge online gamer. I also hate the notion of paying for ‘swag’ items in games. Rocket League is the exception to both of those golden rules of mine. It’s just one type of game. Put the ball in the goal while trying to master the physics. There’re some variations, but people just play the extremely-bouncy-soccer game mode. I loved getting goals and having teammates compliment on me. I loved getting special skins after every match. Nothing will be more satisfying than getting the MVP badge and subsequently receiving a loot crate. I’d spend cold hard cash for that digital box and watch the RNG do its thing. It was probably not worth the extra investment, but I really wanted that swag so I could show it off to players who often had way cooler skins than me. Now they’ve changed up the reward system, and it’s been a while since I’ve played, but when I jump in, rustier than ever, I’ll undoubtedly fall back in love.” – Peter Finaldi

 

Life Is Strange
 

4. Life Is Strange

 

“Telltale Games kind of had a monopoly on story-driven, choice-based games that have more cutscenes than game. Dontnod brought Life Is Strange into the same space, creating what is arguably the best in the genre. Real, sympathetic characters alongside an interesting story full of twists won me over. It’s a game I think about often.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

Bloodborne
 

3. Bloodborne

 

“It was tough to fathom FromSoftware raising the bar again after the initial Dark Souls, but Bloodborne stands tall over not just its predecessors but the Soulslike genre as a whole. The patience and nuance asked of you in the game’s opening as you try to punch out a wounded Scourge Beast (and fail) is a microcosm of Bloodborne’s unforgiving but rule-bound world. Understand Bloodborne on its own terms, and you’ll find one of the most rewarding swordplay systems in Action RPG history (faster than Dark Souls without sacrificing strategic heft). You’ll also find an enthralling atmosphere that threatens to actively chip away at your psyche while you explore. Bloodborne routes horror and challenge through the player experience in ways few games have fulfilled. And on top of all that, the lore somehow adds to the terror!” – Zack Kauz

 

Bloodborne was the first From Software game that I actually enjoyed and continued to come back to (sorry, Dark Souls). The gameplay was smoother and faster, and the world and monsters were captivating. One of my favorite elements in the game is the two versions that every weapon has, giving you more options and spicing things up during combat. There’s so much to do in this game, and it’s well worth your time.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

“I think the best thing about Bloodborne is that it knows exactly what it wants to be. Every aspect of FromSoftware’s lovecraftian horror is meticulously thought out. As time goes on, it’s even easier to appreciate Bloodborne, and I can even see it becoming more highly regarded than a certain other FromSoftware release.“My love for Bloodborne is eclipsed only by my love for that certain other action RPG, but even I recognize that it improved on its proverbial Dad in so many ways. The world is influenced by more niche works, creating a wonderfully unique atmosphere. The combat is fast-paced and highly rewarding. If you haven’t played this game yet, then… you’re doing it wrong.” – Lewis Mackin

 

Bloodborne is a beautiful amalgamation of the punishing gameplay that FromSoftware is known for, and enemies are pulled straight out of the cosmic horror genre. Bloodborne sheds Dark Souls‘s defensive combat in favor of a more fluid and active combat system that sees the player relying on parrying and evasion rather than defense. It’s a must-own for any PS4 owner.” – Donogh Moore

 

The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt
 

2. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

 

The Witcher 3 is the fantasy video game you need to play if you’re looking for the best in the genre. It’s raw, violent, and mature in the best way. While some games do really well in gameplay or story and decently in the other, The Witcher 3 excels at both. You can almost argue that there’s too much content, but it’s of such high quality that it’s a good thing (if you have the time). The Witcher’s world is exactly the type of place that you can fully immerse yourself into and lose track of the real world, even long after you’ve finished the main story.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

“It speaks volumes about the quality of a game when every single sidequest in an 80+ hour adventure is emotionally satisfying to complete. Frankly, that’s a miraculous feat, and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt proves again and again that it’s a game that never finds comfort in complacency. CDPR always finds a way to go one step further in everything they do by packing Geralt’s quest with distinct characters and engaging storylines. Not to mention it features the greatest minigame in all of gaming: Gwent. The release of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was a watershed moment in gaming, in truth, it’s so good, it kinda spoiled us a bit.” – Theo Durrant

 

The Witcher 3 embodies everything I love about dark fantasy: storylines about all aspects of the human condition, plenty of lore surrounding every monster and town, and a badass main character with his own personality.

“I love Geralt of Rivia. His philosophical apathy is a little toned down in the games, making him a bit less of a sad boi. Still, he has some pretty compelling conversations between chopping up monsters with his silver sword. I’ve played this game for hundreds of hours, and I still want to go back for more. I’ve reviewed The Witcher 1 and 2 on here, and I fully intend to review this one in the future. 10/10, will romance Yennefer again.” – Lewis Mackin

 

Undertale
 

1. Undertale

 

Undertale is one of those games that blows your mind when you play it. Normal rules don’t apply in Mt. Ebott, where exp doesn’t measure your strength but emotional callousness, and hugging your way out of fights is a valid strategy. Every single boss in Undertale feels fresh, stealing the show as they torment you through each region of the game before finally challenging you to brilliant fights and make sure to keep in touch with you after you best them. Each of the three major endings has its own incredible set pieces, between the neutral boss who breaks the game rules entirely, the genocide boss who knows killing you is pointless and tries to force you to give up instead, and the emotionally intense true pacifist boss who just can’t bring himself to destroy you. All of this is wrapped together with an absolutely beautiful soundtrack with expert use of leitmotifs, making Undertale a game where you don’t want to say your last goodbye. Here’s to a bright future with Deltarune.” – Max Broggi-Sumner

 

“Simply put, Undertale is one of my favorite video games. It’s quirky as hell, funny, and gives you a heavy dose of the feels. The multiple ways you can play through the game culminate in one of the most unique uses of the video game medium. Don’t dismiss the game due to the sloppy graphics; they actually add charm to the already oozing-of-charm adventure that Toby Fox and company have put together. It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced and has a killer soundtrack as an added bonus.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

 Honorable Mentions:

 

Dying Light
Ori and the Blind Forest
Splatoon

 


The Game Awards 2019 Predictions

The Game Awards 2019 Predictions

As the years have passed, Geoff Keighley has built The Game Awards into something tremendously meaningful in the gaming industry. With his leadership, it has become the most important awards show for developers, publishers, and gamings of all walks of life. While it’s easy to call it the Oscars of gaming, the Oscars is an award ceremony for marketing teams, not for films. The Game Awards isn’t flawless, but it is easily the best look at the past year of gaming out there.

This is an extremely competitive year with a ton of great games. Every category has at least one nominee that had a great impact on gamers and the industry this year. Now, while this is not a comprehensive list of and prediction for each category, these are some of the main categories that we had things to talk about:

 

Best Game Direction

  • Control
  • Death Stranding
  • Resident Evil 2
  • Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
  • Outer Wilds

 

Brandon’s Prediction: Death Stranding

Solid directing efforts impacted all of the nominated games, but Hideo Kojima is an anomaly. Every game with his name on it receives special Kojima treatment. He infuses his games with his DNA in monstrous ways, and he does so publicly and unapologetically. Death Stranding is far from an exception. He took good care to ensure that his first game as the head of an independent studio sent the right message in the right way. While I personally believe he neglected some of the artistic aspects of the game in order to focus attention on the mechanics and story, I defy anyone to give evidence that Kojima is not in every step, package, hardship, and harsh lesson of Sam Porter Bridges’s journey.

 

Best Narrative

  • A Plague Tale: Innocence
  • Control
  • Death Stranding
  • Disco Elysium
  • The Outer Worlds

 

Brandon’s Prediction: Control

Of course, it’s easy to give the win to Death Stranding in a lot of categories, but Control flew under a lot of gamers’ radars this year in terms of its quality. Kojima and Death Stranding do well in PR and marketing, but responses for its narrative have been somewhat mixed. Opinions range from incoherent dribble to brilliant, thematic masterpiece. However, Control has received favorable reviews for its twists and turns, captivating premise, intriguing characters, and dark lore almost across the board. The world and its events are probably more enticing than any game released this year, and the same critics that will be the judges for The Game Awards this year have said so time and time again.

 

Best Art Direction

  • Control
  • Death Stranding
  • GRIS
  • Sayonara Wild Hearts
  • Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
  • The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

 

Nathanael’s Prediction: GRIS

I fell in love with GRIS the moment I first laid eyes on the reveal trailer. Once in awhile, we’ll see an artsy game that tries to stir up emotions in players. The nominees all boast remarkable art direction, but it’s perhaps GRIS’ most memorable asset. Everything is animated by hand; and yeah, that’s great and all, but what makes it different is the stylistic way in which it presents its world. It’s so dynamic and gorgeous that I don’t think the judges will be able to pass up on this game for Best Art Direction. 

 

Best Score/Music

  • Cadence of Hyrule
  • Death Stranding
  • Devil May Cry 5
  • Kingdom Hearts 3
  • Sayonara Wild Hearts

 

Nathanael’s Prediction: Sayonara Wild Hearts

If we’re talking about which game has the best soundtrack, I’d vote for Kingdom Hearts III. It’s the score I’m going to end up listening to the most in my free time. In terms of which game has the best implementation of music, I would have to say that Saynora Wild Hearts has the best chance of taking home the prize. The difference between Wild Hearts and the other nominees is how the game goes about using music. Every level’s structure and flow is dictated by music. If the tempo picks up, the level’s speed increases. When music increases in loudness or more instruments come in, chances are you’re in a boss fight. I think Sayonara Wild Hearts deserves to win in this category and I have full confidence it will win. 

 

Best Performance

  • Ashly Burch as Parvati Holcomb (The Outer Worlds)
  • Courtney Hope as Jesse Faden (Control)
  • Laura Bailey as Kait Diaz (Gears 5)
  • Mads Mikkelsen as Cliff (Death Stranding)
  • Matthew Porretta as Dr. Casper Darling (Control)
  • Norman Reedus as Sam Porter Bridges (Death Stranding)

 

Brandon’s Prediction: Laura Bailey as Kait Diaz (Gears 5)

Truthfully, I love Ashly Burch in just about every video game she has been in, including The Outer Worlds, but Bailey brings ice and flames, shadow and light, and hills and valleys to her performance as Kait Diaz. Scenes feel alive with emotion whenever she’s in them in Gears 5. This award could so easily go to Mads Mikkelsen or Norman Reedus, but their talents are underutilized in Death Stranding due to shaky dialogue writing. A similar issue is present in Control. Simply put, Burch and Bailey draw out emotions as their respective characters unlike any of the other nominees, and Bailey does it a little bit better.

 

Games for Impact

  • Concrete Genie
  • GRIS
  • Kind Words
  • Life is Strange 2
  • Sea of Solitude

 

Nathanael’s Predictions: Life Is Strange 2

I don’t think there’s really much competition in this category when you boil it all down. Life Is Strange 2 deals with a plethora of social issues: racism, politics, family bonds, and much more. The game handles everyday issues with a level of maturity that few other games can handle. Life Is Strange 2 normalizes the issues without blowing them out of proportion or relying on stereotypes. I think this category is a surefire victory for the choice-based game. 

 

Best Ongoing Game

  • Apex Legends
  • Destiny 2
  • Final Fantasy XIV
  • Fortnite
  • Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege

 

Nathanael’s Prediction: Final Fantasy XIV

I can’t say too much for this category except what I’ve heard from people and read online. I’ll keep it brief and say I think Final Fantasy XIV has the best chance of winning. The level of support the developer has provided for the playerbase is unrivaled. Every expansion the game receives seems to top the previous one. Final Fantasy XIV has become an undeniable juggernaut in not only its genre but in the online space in general. 

 

Best Audio Design

  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
  • Control
  • Death Stranding
  • Gears 5
  • Resident Evil 2
  • Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

 

Brandon’s Prediction: Control

Oddly enough, I can’t wait to see how this category shakes out. Every contender here does something special with audio. Gears 5 and Modern Warfare both go above and beyond with their meticulous use of weapon sounds, explosions, etc. However, something they can often lack that the other nominees do quite well is establish mood and atmosphere. With that being said, Control does this the best of anybody. Audio is used perfectly to draw emotion out of you. During my playthrough, I often stopped and realized how emotionally charged I had unconsciously become. There are few other gaming experiences quite like it, and the audio is responsible for quite a large part of this.

 

Best Community Support

  • Apex Legends
  • Destiny 2
  • Final Fantasy XIV
  • Fortnite
  • Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege

 

Brandon’s Prediction: Fortnite

Apex Legends had a good run on Twitch and YouTube, but a run was all it was. In the end, Fortnite still rules these platforms, and that is typically the best window into the community of a game. The support for Epic Games and their gaming phenomenon is unwavering and brilliantly upkept. The addition of “Chapter 2” definitely clinches the win here.

 

Best Mobile Game

  • Call of Duty Mobile
  • Grindstone
  • Sayonara Wild Hearts
  • Sky: Children of Light
  • What the Golf?

 

Nathanael’s Prediction: Sayonara Wild Hearts

Mobile games haven’t yet reached the point where there are consistent, high-quality releases every year. I’m not saying there aren’t several hidden gems. This year, Sayonara Wild Hearts was one of those gems. Although it’s available on consoles, Wild Hearts just works on mobile. It’s the best rhythm game I’ve played over the years and I think it’ll take home Best Mobile Game at The Game Awards. 

 

Best Action/Adventure Game

  • Borderlands 3
  • Control
  • Death Stranding
  • Resident Evil 2
  • The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
  • Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

 

Brandon’s Prediction: Control

In the context of action/adventure, a game’s true quality shines through the lense of balance. Games like Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and Resident Evil 2 lean a little to far towards action, overshadowing the adventure. Death Stranding suffers from the opposite problem, as the game can often fall short on the action side of things. Borderlands 3, Control, and Link’s Awakening have all been developed with this balance in mind, and they very much deserve to be nominated for this category. However, the many bugs and subpar narrative of Borderlands 3 make it difficult to enjoy the action and adventure, respectively, at times. Control is bug-free and manages the genre perfectly. It does exactly what an action/adventure game should: blend the two together by using the adventure to give context to the action. Everything you do feels like it matters and helps you progress through deep narrative that leads to more action, and so on.

 

Best RPG

  • Disco Elysium
  • Final Fantasy XIV
  • Kingdom Hearts 3
  • Monster Hunter World: Iceborne
  • The Outer Worlds

 

Brandon’s Prediction: The Outer Worlds

Being compared to Fallout: New Vegas and Fallout 3 in just about every review is more than just high praise. The Outer Worlds did a lot right, and most of it comes on the RPG levels of the game. The NPC interactions, choices in the narrative, character creation, and overall freedom serve as the backbone of the game, a strong one at that. Across all versions of the game on Metacritic, it received several perfect scores and a lowest score of only 60. Now, there are some really cynical people on the internet, especially in the world of game journalism, so when your scores have a minimum of 60, you’re doing something right, and for The Outer Worlds, this shows through most of the game’s aspects.

 

Best Fighting Game

  • Dead or Alive 6
  • Jump Force
  • Mortal Kombat 11
  • Samurai Showdown
  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

 

Nathanael’s Prediction: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is going to win this category if it doesn’t take home Game of the Year. The other nominees just don’t stand a chance, no matter how you look at it. Sure, you might like other nominees more than Ultimate, but the level of polish, quality, and amount of content that Smash presents is unbeatable. 

 

Best Family Game

  • Luigi’s Mansion 3
  • Ring Fit Adventure
  • Super Mario Maker 2
  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
  • Yoshi’s Crafted World

 

Brandon’s Prediction: Luigi’s Mansion 3

This category has been a problem in the past and is again this year. True family games haven’t had the same presence in recent years as they did when the Wii had a hold on living rooms and Xbox tried to get Kinect to take off. I personally wouldn’t play any of these games with my family except for Ring Fit Adventure. However, Luigi’s Mansion 3 offers a co-op experience filled with wacky gameplay and family-friendly action that have a fun experience waiting for people of just about any age. Meanwhile, Yoshi’s Crafted World may not appeal as well to an older audience, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate may be a little too technical for busy parents to pick up. Luigi’s Mansion is a happy middle that can connect to all parts of the spectrum.

 

Game of the Year

  • Control
  • Death Stranding
  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
  • Resident Evil 2
  • Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
  • The Outer Worlds

 

Nathanael’s Prediction: Death Stranding

Personally, I would love to see Super Smash Bros. Ultimate come on top at The Game Awards this year. It’s everything I wanted and didn’t know I wanted in a continually evolving package. But if I’m honest with myself, I think Death Stranding is going to take home the top prize. It’s undeniable that every nominee is worthy in their own right, but Death Stranding is something new and fresh. I don’t think it’ll have anything to do with the fact that The Game Awards and Hideo Kojima are inextricably linked; critics just love new ideas and high production values. Death Stranding does all that with a flair and confidence that we don’t often see in the industry. The game fully believes in itself and ultimately, I think we could see the game take home Game of the Year. 

 

Brandon’s Prediction: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Ultimate on this list of nominees caught me by surprise at first, because I had forgotten that it didn’t win last year. This game has officially been out for over a year, and it’s just as relevant now as ever. Ultimate has managed to be the forefront of the gaming industry since it was teased in March of 2018. The game appeals to a larger audience of gamers than any other game I’ve seen before, except maybe Wii Sports. The lifeblood of my gaming habits is a combination of story, characters, plot, and theme, and even I couldn’t help but buy Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. It’s the fastest-selling Nintendo game of all time, and if you ask me, it’s only a matter of time until the game ends up on the list of the top 50 best-selling games of all time, a list already dominated by Nintendo, but I digress. Ultimate is mechanically inviting, artistically impressive, technically sound, and gamingly great. While it technically came out in 2018, that’s not stopping it from taking home gold in 2019.

 

Top 10 Games of 2014 – The Year of Nintendo

Top 10 Games of 2014 – The Year of Nintendo

 

2014 marked the first full year of the current console generation, but somehow, Nintendo found a way to overshadow that and put out hit after hit on the WiiU and 3DS. Including honorable mentions, Nintendo has a hand in six of the games on this list.

Overall, this year lacked flashy game titles like those associated with Naughty Dog, Rockstar, or even Nintendo. A lot of these games fly under the radar in retrospect, but there are some real gems here, especially from Indie developers. The lineup packs a punch and delivers on some of the most important aspects of gaming: story, replayability, and exciting gameplay. These games amount to hundreds of hours of fun, whether it be with friends or solo.
 

Open All

 
Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire
 

10. Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire

 
“While the remakes don’t stack up to the GBA classics, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire bring the old favorites to a new generation, along with all the polish of generation 6. Catching them all is easier than ever with the dexnav, super training makes EV training easily accessible to newcomers to the competitive scene, and all your old favorite team members look better than ever. All the little tweaks make this return to Hoenn refreshing and the remastered soundtrack is the perfect cherry on top.” – Max Broggi-SumnerPokémon Ruby and Sapphire have a special place in my heart. It was the first time I had owned both versions of a Pokémon game. I replayed those games at least a dozen times. Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire brought back some of my favorite games in vastly superior versions. The soundtrack was revamped, graphics overhauled, and new Pokémon and online features had been added. It makes going back to the original that much more difficult.” – Nathanael Hueso

 
Bravely Default
 

9. Bravely Default

 “Bravely Default is a perfect mixture of new and old JRPG traditions that appeal to players from all eras of gaming. The cutesy art style, epic story of heroes and villains, and job system are bound to draw in fans of the older Final Fantasy games. As to not just copy older traditions and hope to churn nostalgia, Bravely Default also has plenty of newer features that really make it worth playing.“The battle system stands out most here: players can store up their turns using a points system and use them all in one go. Some more powerful moves require you to have saved up a certain amount. Say you want to really lay down the hurt on a boss, you’ll probably want to save up points for your main attacker while maintaining the party’s HP with your White Mage. There are tons of challenging optional bosses too, most of which give you a new job class as a reward for beating them. This means you have to learn the ins and outs of each job before you can even use it.” – Lewis Mackin

 
Alien Isolation
 

8. Alien: Isolation

 “For a first-person, horror title, Alien: Isolation is pretty damn long. What it manages to do, unlike many other scary games, is maintain the player’s sense of helplessness. The Xenomorph is constantly chasing you around the ship as you navigate the narrow vents, trying to avoid creepy androids called ‘Worker Joes’ and violent humans.You manage to attain plenty of tools and weapons to fight against smaller threats, but it’s usually better to just run and hide. The Xenomorph remains indestructible throughout the chilling experience, and no matter what you do, fighting it head-on is never an option. It can ambush you at any time, and you’ll frequently hear it moving through the vents ready to strike. Best of all, Alien: Isolation captures the magic of the first Alien film like no other piece of media has done since.” – Lewis Mackin

 
Divinity Original Sin
 

7. Divinity: Original Sin

 “Divinity: Original Sin brings the magic of tabletop gaming to the screen like no other. Of course, there are plenty of other RPGs that manage to borrow systems and lore from games like Dungeons and Dragons and Pathfinder, but Divinity gives the player a different freedom. This really encourages player creativity and gives you liberty that’s very hard to come by in modern titles.“Divinity: Original Sin isn’t afraid to let you make mistakes, and you’ll be making plenty of them. Accused the wrong person of murder because you didn’t investigate thoroughly enough? Looks like you’ll have to live with the consequences. The game’s chock-full of lore to back the intricately woven questions up. Ancient spectral kings who thirst for blood, talking heads who need you to help find their body, you won’t find yourself wanting for variety when navigating Divinity‘s complex world.” – Lewis Mackin

 
Tales from the Borderlands
 

6. Tales from the Borderlands

 “Tales from the Borderlands was a hidden gem that nobody expected when Telltale’s writers got their hands on the Borderlands franchise. Discarding the series’ usual, high-octane action for a quieter, more placid experience akin to Telltale’s other titles, Tales from the Borderlands doesn’t skimp on humor and heart, and it proves itself a shifting example of how to write humor in video games.” – Donogh Moore

 
The Binding of Isaac Rebirth 

5. The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth

 “When you think about The Binding of Isaac, you’re probably thinking about The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, and there’s a good reason for that.“Rebirth is one of the rare titles I’ve sunk hundreds of hours into, via quick, 20-minute runs before I leave the house and 10-hour play sessions where the time just drifted on by. The number of items and playstyles means that no run is the same. Whether you just want to pass the time or want a challenge where the slightest mistake in item synergizing means you’ve lost a 40-minute run, The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is still the perfect place to go.” – Lewis Mackin

 
Mario Kart 8 

4. Mario Kart 8

 “Mario Kart 8 is the culmination of a plethora of great features from previous titles. It’s often touted as the best in the series, and I can’t help but agree.“As well as the wide appeal of couch co-op, Mario Kart 8 offers up plenty of single-player content. Karts you unlock all feel different, and there’s a real knack to learning which parts to use for which course. Just like the Karts, each course has a unique feel with plenty of fan favorites returning from previous games in the series. Knowing where to drift, jump, and use your items in each circuit almost turns playing Mario Kart 8 into an art form with plenty of great music tracks and colorful environments to back it up.” – Lewis Mackin 

Mario Kart 8 was the pinnacle of the series, perfecting the best of what pervious entries had established. Gone were any gimmicks like a focus on motion controls or dual-racers. Instead, Nintendo had put a focus on the core mechanics of driving, drifting, and getting hit by freaking blue shells. You still had the randomness of items, but that’s part of what gives Mario Kart its charm. Although I placed in 12th for weeks after the game launched (I was that bad), I still had a lot of fun with friends and online.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

Mario Kart‘s foray onto the WiiU brought with it fantastic new courses (and older ones fans were happy to see return), a better kart customization system than its predecessors, and a great new mechanic in the anti-gravity sections. Just like always, Mario Kart 8 is fantastic to play with friends and family who aren’t into games, and its charming characters, easy-to-pick-up nature, and short time commitment make it perfect for a casual experience. At the same time, each track allows for constant improvement and new tricks, so the competitive races are great for players looking for something a bit harder. It’s inviting for everyone, just like Mario should be.” – Max Broggi-Sumner

 
Super Smash Bros for Nintendo 3DS and WiiU 

3. Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and WiiU

 “Smash Bros. 4 roughed up my 3DS pretty bad. It was so cool to finally play Smash Bros. on the go, but it was the WiiU launch that brought it home for me. The insane amount of characters the series is known for is an obvious hook, but with the floatiness that Brawl had brought to the series, WiiU started to bring back some of the speediness of Melee. It was a great balance between the two, and you could now play with eight people at once, something we had wanted for years. Turns out, putting eight Ganondorfs in a match was a huge mess, but it still turned out to be really fun. Online still didn’t quite live up to what it should have, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a better local multiplayer game out there.” – Nathanael Hueso

 
Shovel Knight 

2. Shovel Knight

 

Shovel Knight was an instant classic as soon it came to shelves. The wackiness of the main character’s weapon, the way in which you use it by bouncing off of objects and enemies, as well as the excellent soundtrack – Shovel Knight is an extremely memorable title.

“It’s a really well-made game too. The shovel mechanics are thoughtful, and as levels get more complex over time, so do the abilities available to you. Unlockable items let you navigate the 2D stages in fun ways and armor attributes allow for a degree of customization that gives the relatively short title more replay value.” – Lewis Mackin

 

“Starting from the humblest of KickStarters, Shovel Knight has since become the poster child for indie games. Charged with nostalgia and determination, Shovel Knight’s quest is full of demanding platforming and perilous boss fights. Despite being 8-bit, Shovel Knight himself has a lot of depth. His hopes and fears are very human which make it easy to empathize with his character and push on in the face of adversity. Though the game came out five years ago, the developers are still making good on their KickStarter promises. The time between DLC campaigns has been lengthy, but they’ve always been worth the wait, providing not only new ways to conquer old stages but also emotionally resolute storylines. Shovel Knight wears its heart on its sleeve while paying homage to many classic titles from the NES era, but for every concept it borrows, it gives back in spades.” – Theo Durrant

 

Shovel Knight manages to trick you into believing you’re playing a game that came out 30 years ago. The difficulty isn’t as crushing as games of the past, but everything else is retro as hell. This is one of the best old-school mimicking games made in the past few years and incredibly fun to play. You can pretty much get this game on any platform now; you should get this game! You don’t have any excuses if you own any recent console or a PC.” – Nathanael Hueso

 
Bayonetta 2 

1. Bayonetta 2

 “For some people, Bayonetta 2 was THE reason to buy a WiiU. When it came out, it didn’t disappoint with its bigger boss fights, a more intricate combo system, and a larger variety of environments to explore. The sequel strays a little further from its Devil-May-Cry-inspired roots by focusing even more on the action and just having an overall different atmosphere to Bayonetta.“The game also has great replay value, especially considering the pretty enjoyable multiplayer mode. The mode lets you play as a few different characters from the game, which helps to differentiate it from the single-player. It worked pretty well considering the WiiU’s bare-bones online functionality, and I still wouldn’t mind grabbing my best mate and hopping back on it at some point.” – Lewis Mackin

 

Honorable Mentions:

 Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

 


The Ultimate 2019 Holiday Game Compilation

The Ultimate 2019 Holiday Game Compilation

Black Friday is right around the corner and with it comes an exorbitant amount of new games to buy for the holiday season. Wallets around the world tremble at the mere thought of how many games people seek to purchase. Which games should you get? That’s entirely up to you, but this article hopes to comprehensively detail every major game release from September to December of this year. So sit back, relax, and grab some snacks as this is going be a long ride! 

Release dates are subject to change, so this article may represent inaccurate information after publishing. Ports and remasters will not be included in this list.

 

September

Monster Hunter World: Iceborne

Release Date: September 6th, 2019

Platform(s): PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Developer/Publisher: Capcom

Image result for mh world iceborne

An ambitious expansion to the critically acclaimed Monster Hunter: World heralded in the fall 2019 gaming season. While not necessarily a holiday release Capcom will heavily promote during Black Friday, it will undoubtedly serve fans with delightful gameplay and a beautiful world to explore. The expansion acts as a standalone game and was treated as a full release by Capcom, despite costing less than the base game. Keep an eye out for some price drops during Black Friday weekend! Note: you will need to own Monster Hunter World to play Iceborne.

 

Gears 5

Release Date: September 10th, 2019

Platform(s): Xbox One, PC

Developer/Publisher: The Coalition/Xbox Game Studios

Image result for gears 5 cover art

The newest installment to Microsoft’s Gears of War franchise arrived shortly after Capcom’s offerings. Gears 5 is available on multiple Microsoft platforms instead of a single console. You can get this juggernaut on Xbox Game Pass, Microsoft Windows, or Xbox One. Many consider this to be the best Gears of War game to date, so if you’re interested in the franchise, this could be a solid starting point. Given it is on Xbox Game Pass, we recommend nabbing that $1 promotion so you can play the game for practically free.

 

Greedfall

Release Date: September 10th, 2019

Platform(s): PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Developer/Publisher: Spiders/Focus Home Interactive

Image result for greedfall cover

This game will likely earn the title of hidden gem consider it’s sandwiched between two giant releases (Gears 5 and Borderlands 3). However, don’t let this one slip through your radar, if you’re into this type of game. It’s an open-world RPG similar to old-school Bioware games with a touch of The Witcher. Considering it’s already overlooked, this has the potential of being a nice bargain pick-up in Target or Walmart during or after Black Friday weekend.

 

Borderlands 3

Release Date: September 13th, 2019

Platform(s): PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Developer/Publisher: Gearbox Software/2K Games

Image result for borderlands 3 cover

Everyone likes Borderlands, except for those who hate it. In a climate in which every major publisher is jumping into the “looter shooter” genre, gamers are hungering for the franchise that nailed it: Borderlands. With this latest entry, folks can expect a myriad of weapons, characters, locales, missions, and a bunch of other wacky activities to engage in. Critics applauded its exhilarating gameplay and Gearbox is supplying Borderlands 3 with a plethora of post-launch content that will keep you playing for hours on end. This won’t drop in the 20 dollar range during Black Friday, but it’s brimming with content so a ~40 dollar price isn’t a terrible deal.

 

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

Release Date: September 20th, 2019

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch

Developer/Publisher: Grezzo/Nintendo

Image result for link's awakening cover art

The Legend of Zelda is an iconic franchise in gaming, so even a cutesy remake of an old Game Boy game has people in love. Critics praised Link’s Awakening for its refined gameplay and gorgeous graphics. As it is a Nintendo game, don’t expect the price to drop much at the height of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deal. However, if you’re getting a friend or family member a Switch or Lite, this is one of the best exclusives you could bundle it with.

 

The Surge 2

Release Date: September 24th, 2019

Platform(s): PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Developer/Publisher: Deck13 Interactive/Focus Home Interactive

Image result for the surge 2 cover art

Focus Home Interactive has been doling out hidden gems lately, and The Surge 2 is no exception. While the original didn’t quite steal the hearts of millions, there is a decent following for The Surge. With the over-the-shoulder hack-and-slash gameplay, gamers have likened it to the original to Dark Souls having a kid with Horizon Zero Dawn. The review scores are marginally better than the original, so there’s no harm in buying this if you wish to support double-A game developers.

 

Code Vein

Release Date: September 27th, 2019

Platform(s): PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Developer/Publisher: Bandai Namco Studios/Bandai Namco Entertainment

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Speaking of Souls-likes, Code Vein is an anime Dark Souls-style game that has been revealed years ago. After long delays, Bandai Namco finally released the game and it received pretty positive reviews. Fans of niche Japanese games should find Code Vein being sold at a reasonable price during holiday shopping.

 

October

Destiny 2: Shadowkeep

Release Date: October 1st, 2019

Platform(s): PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Google Stadia

Developer/Publisher: Bungie

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Another Destiny 2 expansion? When will Activision learn–wait a minute, there is no Activision! Yes, for the first time in Destiny history, Bungie has taken the franchise from the grasp of Activision and has full creative freedom and autonomy over the series and future endeavors. This expansion aspires to prove to the gaming community that Bungie still has talent. Additionally, Destiny 2 and all of its previous expansions went free-to-play to garner greater player interest in Shadowkeep. Reception has been relatively positive, but not glowing. However, for casual Destiny players looking to jump back in the universe, now seems to be the perfect time!

 

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint

Release Date: October 4th, 2019

Platform(s): PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Developer/Publisher: Ubisoft Paris/Ubisoft

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Ubisoft loves Tom Clancy games, and gamers feel likewise. Ghost Recon Wildlands hasn’t been the best Tom Clancy game in recent years, but it successfully generated a dedicated community like the rest of the franchise. Breakpoint wasn’t the critical or commercial hit Ubisoft was hoping for. Fans have also felt disappointed in this entry of the series, but if you’re somewhat curious to see why it’s been given such lukewarm reception, you could wait until it goes on steeper sales or gets a meaty expansion.

 

Concrete Genie

Release Date: October 8th, 2019

Platform(s): PlayStation 4

Developer/Publisher: PixelOpus/Sony Interactive Entertainment

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To platforming fans, Sony isn’t considered the best. Many of their platformers often don’t get the marketing push they deserve, and Concrete Genie is no exception. Concrete Genie is the second project from PixelOpus, an open-world platformer following a boy named Ash and his magical paintbrush. Ash uses his artistic talents to create friends in a place where bullies hunt him down. Despite the rather depressing premise, Concrete Genie is a pleasant adventure that will put a smile on your face. It’s short and not difficult, so this is a more relaxing and meditative game in a field of intense action and violence.

 

Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince

Release Date: October 8th, 2019

Platform(s): PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC

Developer/Publisher: Frozenbyte/Nobilis

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Trine is a relatively successful action puzzle-platformer game, which explains why it’s getting a fourth entry this year. The franchise has been consistent in quality and has certainly done well enough to be available on practically every platform. Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince is no different and returns the franchise to its roots. It received very positive reviews, so fans of the franchise can definitely have a good time with this gem!

 

Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair

Release Date: October 8th, 2019

Platform(s): PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC

Developer/Publisher: Playtonic Games/Team17 Digital Limited

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Yooka-Laylee isn’t necessarily the most beloved game, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be a franchise. Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair pays tribute to the Donkey Kong Country days of Rare and people love it! The level design, music, graphics, and gameplay have all been lauded for their quality. Seriously, give the soundtrack a listen. Thank me later. The Impossible Lair is commonly compared to the likes of Retro Studios’ Donkey Kong Country games, so don’t forget about this when you’re shopping on Amazon.

 

Grid

Release Date: October 11th, 2019

Platform(s): PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Stadia, PC

Developer/Publisher: Codemasters

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Codemasters have proven themselves to be the masters of racing games. Grid is technically the tenth game in the TOCA franchise, though it behaves as a reboot of the Grid IP. What makes this racing simulator stand out from the rest is the introduction of a nemesis system, taking a page from Shadow of Mordor. Players can expect the same solid foundation that encouraged them to stick with the franchise for the past several years. Grid 2019 should be no stranger to recurring fans, without causing fatigue within the franchise. Also, if you bought Google Stadia (I’m sorry), you can play 40-player races online, which is unheard of in the genre.

 

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

Release Date: October 25th, 2019

Platform(s): PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Developer/Publisher: Infinity Ward/Activision

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With Infinity Ward at the helm, Modern Warfare hoped to recover the lost trust from longtime fans of the Call of Duty franchise. Have they succeeded? Well, it broke sales records and is the biggest Activision launch in the generation, so I’d say so!

 

MediEvil

Release Date: October 25th, 2019

Platform(s): PlayStation 4

Developer/Publisher: Other Ocean Emeryville/Sony Interactive Entertainment

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From the biggest name to a lesser-known one, MediEvil stands next to the goliath known as Modern Warfare. However, its size should not adjudicate its quality, as MediEvil looks to be an awesome blast-to-the-past for longtime PlayStation fans. Using gameplay mechanics now popularized by the likes of Dark Souls, MediEvil delivers a classic Tim Burton-style Halloween aesthetic in addition to a deliciously entertaining story to engage in. Retro PlayStation fans should enjoy this faithful remake whether it’s on sale or not.

 

The Outer Worlds

Release Date: October 25th, 2019

Platform(s): PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Developer/Publisher: Obsidian Entertainment/Private Division

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Fallout: New Vegas is a beloved game and gamers have been clamoring for another game in that universe from overlooked studio Obsidian Entertainment. We didn’t get that. We got something better. The Outer Worlds is a Game of the Year nominee and has perhaps stolen the title for best Fallout game of the generation. It’s already dropping in price in a lot of holiday catalogs, so jump on this if you’re itching for a Western RPG.

 

Luigi’s Mansion 3

Release Date: October 31st, 2019

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch

Developer/Publisher: Next Level Games/Nintendo

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Luigi’s Mansion has never quite met its potential. The original 2001 game was a great starting point, whereas Dark Moon on the 3DS felt like an intrinsically inferior product. Fortunately, Nintendo and Next Level Games appeared to have figured out what makes this franchise so well-liked among many. Now with a massive ghostly hotel to explore with a myriad of weapons at Luigi’s arsenal, this is an easy prediction for us to make. Critics lauded Luigi’s Mansion 3 as a major step forward in the series, some marking it the best Luigi’s Mansion game to date. Again, since it’s a Nintendo product, the price will be stagnant come Black Friday, but given the high marks this game has seen, why not pay the 60 bucks?

 

November-A Month That Keeps On Giving

Death Stranding

Release Date: November 8th, 2019

Platform(s): PlayStation 4

Developer/Publisher: Kojima Productions/Sony Interactive Entertainment

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Kojima is back, everybody! Rejoice! Death Stranding is perhaps his strangest project yet and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment. We noted the publisher just to showcase how truly hands-off they are when it comes to Hideo Kojima.The game follows the events in which apocalyptic cataclysm devastated the Earth, and Sam Porter Bridges (played by Norman Reedus) searches for the meaning of the Death Stranding. Most critics love this game, but others had harsh things to say about it. Personally, I’m having a blast with it right now. I keep unknowingly playing the game for hours on end because the gameplay loop is so refreshing. However, your mileage may vary with this. There’s a lot of walking and tedium, so it’s recommended you actually play a little bit of it first at a friend’s house before breaking out the wallet.

 

Need for Speed Heat

Release Date: November 8th, 2019

Platform(s): PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Developer/Publisher: Ghost Games/Electronic Arts

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Could this Need for Speed game revive what made the series so special in the PS2 days? It’s not Underground good, but it’s by far the best NFS game EA published in a long time. There’s no gacha schemes, the racing is satisfying, and the game is jump plain old fun. This is one of the great games EA has released this month, so why not support quality to send EA the right message? It’s already plummeting in price, so cost should be of little concern.

 

Pokemon Sword and Shield

Release Date: November 15th, 2019

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch

Developer/Publisher: Game Freak/Nintendo

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Sword and Shield are in a tough spot right now. The lack of a National Dex, unappealing graphical assets, recycled animations, and overall weak attempts at innovation has many diehard fans revolting this game. Casual players such as myself honestly don’t mind the omissions as Sword and Shield is going to be a massive endeavor during Thanksgiving break. Sword and Shield went on to break sales records with ease, so congratulations to the massive corporation that released this game! God bless The Pokemon Company! Weird corporate adoration on social media aside, Sword and Shield is a perfectly fine addition to the franchise and should satisfy anyone who plays it.

 

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

Release Date: November 15th, 2019

Platform(s): PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Developer/Publisher: Respawn Entertainment/Electronic Arts

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This is another high-profile triple-A game that had skepticism surrounding prior to launch. Fortunately, Respawn proved the dissenters wrong by making one of the best Star Wars games ever made. With the excellent gameplay and intuitive level design, Jedi: Fallen Order is an exhilarating time that provides a compelling narrative that easily overshadows Disney’s latest films in the franchise. It is the perfect time to pick up Jedi Fallen Order, especially if you haven’t gotten an Xbox One yet as there is a bundle that has both the console and the game for just $200. Like Need For Speed: Heat, buying this sends EA the message that quality makes a profit.

 

December

 

Life is Strange 2: Episode 5

Release Date: December 3rd, 2019

Platform(s): PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Developer/Publisher: Dontnod Entertainment/Square Enix

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The finale for the emotionally distressing Life is Strange 2 will come weeks before Christmas break kicks in. Fans will get their tissues ready, have their romantic partner aside them or at least imagine one, and press the start button hoping for the worst. Dontnod isn’t afraid to enter truly disturbing territory when it comes to the Life is Strange franchise. Critics may complain about the dark material, but applaud the game for telling a provocative story. The game will have appealing sales for both Square Enix and Dontnod.

 

Phoenix Point

Release Date: December 3rd, 2019

Platform(s): Xbox One, PC 

Developer/Publisher: Snapshot Games

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This is also a game releasing on December 3rd. This is an Epic exclusive, but that shouldn’t bother PC gamers too much, right? To pique your interest further, this is a spiritual successor to the XCOM series and aspires to be a worthy alternative to the notoriously difficult strategy game. Hopefully it’s good and is beloved by fans of the genre!

 

MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries

Release Date: December 10th, 2019

Platform(s): PC

Developer/Publisher: Piranha Games

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Mechwarrior is a game series PC gamers may be somewhat familiar with. We have little to comment on it other than the fact that it populates the month of December. We sincerely apologize for disrespecting the MechWarrior franchise.

 

That’s every announced 2019 game releasing from September to December. December may look a little barren at the moment, but things can certainly change. In the meantime, our backlogs will undoubtedly bloat with the influx of titles from September alone. Let’s hope we have enough money to survive the holiday season! Which game are you most looking forward to? Please let us know in the comments below and stay tuned for more news and updates right here on Sick Critic!