Charas-Project

Off-Topic => All of all! => Topic started by: Prpl_Mage on December 31, 2020, 05:54:06 PM

Title: The Games of 2020
Post by: Prpl_Mage on December 31, 2020, 05:54:06 PM
Okay guys, it's 2020, nothing has been as any of us expected and surely you have games you played and/or finished this year to share?
I ended up playing a lot of multiplayer games myself and investing more time into my ever growing Warhammer 40k addiction so didn't play a lot of new games.

But here we have them.


Marlow Briggs (and the mask of death)

I got this one during a steam sale some years back, was really into hack and slash games back then. And this is one of those. But it's very western and for some reason everything explodes all the time. You play as Marlow (Mr.Brrriggz according to the main villain) who is a firefighter visting his girlfriend who is working for some evil organization as an archeologist. Short story shorter, he dies and ends up ressurected by an ancient death mask who is now your fun flinging sidekick. The gameplay is really well executed you have 4 different weapons you unlock and some spells that uses a mana bar. Best part? Battle system works!(Although not as fancy as other titles released since) and the battles don't feel too repetitive, what the game needed though is more enemy types to force you to step up your game a bit and try different things. You get some tougher chaps towards the end but none that forces you to play very differently. It's a fairly short game and you will most likely die more often from jumping puzzles than the enemies but it's 5 so who cares?


Fairune 2

Fairune 2 is basically Fairune but much bigger. As in, a Zelda 1-ish clone with a simpler battle system where you go around an overworld to collect items that you need to use in the right places. You start out roughly the same, in an area mostly alike the previous one but this time with more tutorials to it to help you out. However, once you feel like you're one third done, the game introduces you to a new area! Amazing, more puzzles! Some of the items returns from the previous game such as the axe you can use to cut down some trees and gain logs. But also new items such as rings that gives a passive bonus of sorts to stop the environment from affecting you. The one thing I liked is that they added more areas. There are 4 main areas each with an underground, but what I'd like to see is more interaction between them. It's almost as if you are done with one area and move on to the next and therefore the puzzles feel more isolated. Whereas in Fairune 1 you kept going back and forth wondering where to go next. If you enjoyed the first game you will most likely also enjoy this one.


Crush your enemies:

A simple RTS game of sorts. The campaign is divided into 4 different parts and each part presents something new and flashy. Starting out you only have normal guys, as you progress you unlock warriors, archers and shieldguards. There are some different terrain features and buildings to capture such as the arrow shooting watchtower. Each stage is more problem solving than RTS however since there is no resource handling other that dudes that can multiply if you shove them into houses. The second campaign however introduces meat and wood as resources where you need wood to construct on construction tiles and meat to do the above mentioned multiply. It's a simple game, but with all the maps each with a different setup and condition it keeps you on your toes. And just as you master one part they add more elements to spice things up. Each stage also comes with 3 "challenges", basically objectives to complete which also gives you a reason to replay maps to earn that "perfect score".


Primordia

A point and click adventure that's an okay length. I spent about 6 hours on it and only had to look up a single puzzle. I kinda dig the style they went for here and I dig the professional voice actors they decided to use. The setting is some sort of post apocalyptic thing where you play a robot and start off in a wasteland. Love some of the dialogue and especially the last puzzle, but kinda wish there was some more content.

Borderlands 3

If you liked Borderlands (2009), Borderlands 2 (2012) or Borderlands the Presequel (2015) you are very likely to enjoy Borderlands 3 as well. There are 4 classes to choose from and some additional things you can do. The action skills are more varied compared to old games and the guns also offer some more surprises. Otherwise the game follows in a very similar style as the old ones, kill dudes for exp and loot, get quests and enjoy silly banter between NPCs. The thing I kinda miss however is expanding the universe - don't get me wrong this is the first time the player leaves Pandora for a different planet altogether(unless you count the moon) but the result of that ended up being some things becoming very shallow or brief. I'm not saying that it's bad or that other games did it better, I just kinda feel there was a lot of potential. Also like previous games there are DLC expansions with more story and some level cap increase.


Risk of Rain 2

Risk of Rain 1 was a 2d pixelated rougelike ish game where you enter a map and try to find and activate the teleporter to be transported to the next random map, collecting random treasures and upgrades along the way until you eventually die and unlock some new possible outcomes of random and characters.
Risk of Rain 2 is basically the same thing but in a 3rd person 3D world with neat models but unfancy textures. It's a bit harder to find the teleporter since your vision is limited compared to seeing an entire screen (until you notice the motes surrounding it) and some maps end up being very flat. But overall it's a great game to play with friends and lots of things to unlock. I'm not particularity good at either of the two games but nice when you just want something to play with friends a bit casually.


Scythe digital

Scythe is one of those rather complicated but easy enough - games that ends up being a lot of fun while still having depth. The digital version doesn't have all the expansions but being a digital game it takes care of a lot of things that become a bit tedious in the physical version.
The one thing I keep getting wrong in the digital version however is when to complete the secret missions (which is in a menu) so I tend to fail those.


Carcassone digital

Digital version of a classic game, you draw tiles, you place tiles and score according to where you place your meeples. It's a straight forward game that works well as digital.
The game highlights possible locations for your tiles and colors fields and such according to which player currently has the most dudes there. You can even set indivudual clocks to make sure the game goes fast or not.


Tabletop sim: Tiny Epic Kingdom

Bought 2 official DLCs for Tabletop Simulator on Steam, one was Blood Rage which I haven't tried yet but heard great things about. The other was this, Tiny Epic Kingdoms with expansion. I tried to find a physical version of the game before but got nothing. Have played Tiny Epic Galaxy before which involved dice so was interested to see how this one worked.
All in all, like most tabletop sim games, it's not scripted but the quality of the components was good. Could've been more guidelines in the game itself but enjoyed it.


Celeste

Archem suggested this some 15000 times and I caved in, having enjoyed Towerfall before made by the same team. The game has a cool style and a lovely soundtrack and the controls are great. I decided to play on my PS4 controller and it works well, I can't really blame my deaths on the game, they're all me.
The game is divided into stages that slowly present new objects and their interactions as well as challenges. I like these challenges since a lot of the rooms have a Strawberry, and strawberries are optional, you get some score from them but other than that they don't seem to matter at all. And yet there they are - either hidden from sight or placed in a way that you need to use your brain to figure out and plan how to reach it - and make it back for it to be collected. Unlike Mario, it's not enough to just grab it, you also need to make it back onto solid ground which adds another interesting mechanic to take into concideration. As of writing this I'm playing the 4th stage and the aim is to complete the game tonight, but we'll see. These ruins have got me stuck already and I might get stuck once more.


Little Big Planet 3

It's kinda like the other two games but more tools in game. One of the cooler features is the "customization maps" where you place different kind of bits to create something functioning, like a car for a race (which is the first one). More of the same kind of fun as the previous 2 games with platform elements, lots of collectables and special rewards if you manage to find everything and clear the stage without dying. But like other games, there are some rewards locked behind multiplayer puzzles. And I'm a much more lonely person these days and the kid isn't old enough to be of help. Still fun though! Casual platformer with some gimmicks and secrets, what more do you need?
But last gripe, who thought it was a good idea to use yellow text on a white background for the tooltips?

Other things
Heroes of Might and Magic V: Tribes of the east - perfect for playing with some friends while doing other things on the side, such as painting miniatures. Turn based and all.

Diablo 3 - I finally decided that this will be my last season I play. Without other friends to hop on in and make the experience more than a grind I just can't justify playing another season for a new portrait and a pet.

Terraria - 1.4 update which changed a couple of things but didn't add much in way of progress. Still played it with some friends and enjoyed a reason to get them together again.

Worms WMD - I bite my thumb at the latest Worms Rumble which just looks like a stupid Liero and have played this when there are many dudes online to play, casual, fun and in general quick matches. The crazyness of the crafting system also adds to the casual aspects since you never know what people will pull off.

Tabletop simulator - have done me wonders with everyone being isolated. Also started working on a game of my own, or rather taking it up again since 2016.

D&D 5e - finally got a group of 6 together to play in February, I'm no GM but enjoying the game immensely, also started watching Critical Role as everything went on lockdown and one in the group has leukemia. We got together for some more sessions during summer but then once autumn came around we had to put it on hold again. Doing the Lost Mine of Phandelvir(?) to learn the game before we try anything more crazy.

Gloomhaven - Has a group that meets regularly to play and it's nice, an evening each week, so about one scenario a week. Hopefully we'll finish before Frosthaven is done.

WH40k - Not a good year for a miniature game where a game usually takes 4 hours of playing. I have in general played with 2 people and only 1 game since 9th edition became a thing. So instead I've gotten(bought) more miniatures to assemble, kitbash and paint to fill the void in my chest. Such as my new Necron army...

2009
http://www.charas-project.net/forum/index.php?topic=26386.0

2010
http://www.charas-project.net/forum/index.php?topic=27305.0

2011
http://www.charas-project.net/forum/index.php?topic=28056.0

2012
http://www.charas-project.net/forum/index.php?topic=28583.0

2013
http://www.charas-project.net/forum/index.php?topic=28914.0

2014
http://www.charas-project.net/forum/index.php?topic=29125.0

2015:
http://www.charas-project.net/forum/index.php?topic=29379.0

2016:
http://www.charas-project.net/forum/index.php?topic=29455.0

2017:
http://www.charas-project.net/forum/index.php?topic=29507.0

2018:
http://www.charas-project.net/forum/index.php?topic=29549.0

2019:
http://www.charas-project.net/forum/index.php?topic=29579.0
Title: Re: The Games of 2020
Post by: Archem on January 01, 2021, 12:18:41 AM
Oh boy, it's that time of year again. Let's spend the next couple of hours typing up my mini-reviews of everything I completed this year.

January

Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon (3DS) is a charming, fun, but somewhat simplified follow-up to the fantastic Luigi's Mansion. It has the same basic concept of exploring a mansion in a Resident Evil-ish fashion, but instead of one massive mansion, you get a more level-based approach across several mansions. When I say level-based, I mean it; you have several missions to play through for each mansion, and each mission changes the layout slightly, what ghosts appear, and determines if certain collectables are present. It works well for the platform it's on, but it definitely feels like a miniaturized Luigi's Mansion. The ghost variety is lessened, and the unique boss ghosts are completely gone. I also miss the classic ghosts design, but the ghostly antics are improved, so it kind of balances out. The controls are way better here, featuring some motion controls that offer comfort and accuracy that the classic's controls just couldn't nail. Really liked it. The game does feature some bosses, but they're pretty basic and forgettable. Overall, while the game looks and plays better than its predecessor, it's just not as interesting of a game. Still worth playing, but if only they could combine the best of both worlds...

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (PC, PS4, Xbox One, Stadia) is basically a Star Wars-themed Dark Souls, and given my rocky history with both franchises, I wasn't sure how I'd feel about this game. I think it's a good thing I came in with an open mind, though, because I ended up absolutely loving it. The pacing feels much better than Dark Souls, letting me breathe a lot more often and giving new abilities in a Metroidvania-fashion that help me play in a way that suits my play style. It does a good job of making it feel like you're a growing Jedi learning all the cool tricks of the Force and making it feel like even with all your flashy tricks and space-wizard powers, you still have to execute your plan or fail. It definitely goes back to the original trilogy's feeling that the Jedi were still just people will well-practiced combat prowess, not super-heroes who could fight literal armies single-handedly. I really appreciate that. The story is also some good Star Wars stuff, and it definitely feels like a strong entry into the canon. I loved the game's way of handling things like platforming and dungeon exploration. It feels so good to swing from a vine onto a slide and deflect blaster shots on your way down, only to impale a guy as you jump off the slide and dash off into a side area. It's like Uncharted in how it mixes the elements so well, but it definitely feels almost like Metroid Prime in how its worlds are built. If Dark Souls never existed, I would just call this Uncharted meets Metroid Prime, and that feels like a very apt description. It's pretty buggy, though. I definitely fell through a few floors and had some weirdness happen, but I forgive it. This game rules.

February

Psychonauts in The Rhombus of Ruin (PC, PS4) is a VR spin-off/sequel to the classic platformer. It picks up shortly after the conclusion to the first game, with the whole gang onboard a jet that crashes into the titular Rhombus of Ruin (thin Bermuda Triangle). The game is then about Raz astral projecting around and solving puzzles to rescue his team and escape with their lives. It's not particularly long, and most of the puzzles aren't too tough, but it definitely has the same charm of the original, so fans will absolutely love it. I sure did. Not all that much else to say about the game. It's just a good VR puzzle game.

Luigi's Mansion 3 (Switch)
Quote
...If only they could combine the best of both worlds...
Well that was a quick callback. Luigi's Mansion 3 is the best of both worlds as far as the series goes. Luigi and friends get invited to an all-expenses-paid vacation at a glamorous mega-hotel and have a great time! I mean, it only lasts for a few minutes before the ghosts spring their trap and capture everyone except Luigi, but it was fun while it lasted. E. Gadd shows up and sets up a mobile-operations center in the parking garage and helps Luigi get on his feet. The controls this time are slightly less good than Dark Moon's (in my opinion), but they are very good nonetheless, and there were no times where I was fighting with the controls to do what I wanted. The game feels a bit faster and more action-y, so it doesn't drag on like the first two games could, but the spookiness is also at its lowest point in the series, often going for goofy ghosts instead of intimidating ones. The hotel is huge, though, and features very few interruptions compared to the first two titles. If you get a call from E. Gadd, he usually keeps it brief and doesn't force you to go back to the lab (usually!), and if you want to just drop in and check your collection or make some upgrades, there's a quick-shop option to save time! Great for keeping you in the moment and not making you retread old ground too much. The game is absolutely stuffed with puzzles and explorable places, and it's always a good time. There's a part where you get a circular saw and just go Texas Chainsaw Massacre on the environment, which is pretty cool. I can't neglect to talk about the graphics. This game looks so good. Not even "good for a Switch game", but actually good. Nintendo has some sort of dark knowledge of how to make their games look like graphical miracles while the competition struggles to make their games look even passable on the same hardware. I still don't get it. Anyway, excellent game, really masters the Luigi's Mansion formula, I still wish they'd bring back the classic ghost designs.

March

Ion Fury (PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch) is the real Duke Nukem Forever. Made on a modified version of the Build engine (I think it's EDuke) this game looks and feels like Duke Nukem 3D, but shot full of steroids. It had a bit of controversy due to its original name, "Ion Maiden", being too close to "Iron Maiden" for the legendary metal band's legal team's liking, so they had to change that. They also had a couple of distasteful bits that were viewed as homophobic that got them into some hot water before they removed that, too. All in all, it certainly sounds like a 90s 3DRealms game to me. The levels are massive and absolutely bloated with secrets. If the games that inspired this would have between 4 and 10 secrets per level, this tends to sit closer to 30. It's nuts. And some of them are hidden in absolutely insane ways that I don't know how anyone is supposed to figure them out. I, for one, think that's awesome. The guns are cool, none of them feel useless, and the enemy designs are great as well. I do think the game is a bit stingy about ammo for automatic weapons, but it doesn't matter with how great the shotgun and revolver are. The levels are some of the coolest, most detailed maps I've ever seen, and they're just a joy to get lost in. The only bad things I have to say are that one area broke and I had to do a full loop through it again because a trigger somewhere reset all my progress to zero. Also, the final boss is absolute bullshit, and I had to loop up a way to cheese him. The rest of the game was fine, but they really goofed on that guy. Too bad that it ended like that, because the game would have been just about perfect otherwise. And maybe those lunging guys could be nerfed, I dunno.

Ori and the Blind Forest (PC, Xbox One, Switch) is just about the most beautiful game I've ever seen. It does some sort of trickery to make it look like the game is hand-painted for every frame, and it never ceases to be amazing. The music is absolutely stunning as well, and the story is excellent. The game is a metroidvania, an a damn good one at that. I highly recommend this game. It does have a few pacing issues, and some sections are just meat grinders where you'll die a dozen times before you trial and error your way through, but it's a blast the rest of the time.

Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Android, Stadia) is the followup to the excellent Hotline Miami, a brutally violent top-down action title. I don't know if it's because I played the first game so much, but this one felt easier overall. The story is pretty tense, and while it's not bad at all, it doesn't feel as good as the first game. The gameplay is pretty similar, but some of the characters have some cool special traits that make them fun to use. I don't know if I'd say it's better or worse than the original; it's kind of on the same level. Some bits are letter, some are worse, but never by a significant amount. Overall, if you want more Hotline Miami, this is that. Shoutout to the incredible soundtrack. They didn't slouch on that.

Ultimate Doom (Everything) is just Doom with a fourth episode, Thy Flesh Consumed. I have a confession to make: I have never finished Doom. Well, before now I mean. I would alway play up to about the start of the third episode, but then I would just stop. Don't know why. So this time, I went in and played through everything on Ultra-Violence, played through all the secret levels, and finished the fourth episode. I have to say, Thy Flesh Consumed wasn't that much fun. It definitely felt like a challenge episode made to be soul-crushingly hard for the Doom pros out there. I didn't think it was too bad after you got a few weapons, but it didn't really feel as fun because of all the death traps. Too much tip-toeing through the halls of Hell to avoid cliffs and traps, not enough running and gunning through waves of demons. It's fine, but I definitely think the base game is the best part of the package, even if it is a little easy. Still, it's Doom, and it's hard not to have fun while playing Doom.

Doom II + No Rest for the Living (Everything) is the much lauded sequel to Doom. It ramps up the difficulty, adds a lot of extra monsters, and includes a few of the less fun demons (Pain Elementals, Arch-Viles), and has what are simultaneously some of the most complex and boring levels I've seen in a shooter. Doom II has a subtitle, sort of: Hell On Earth. As you can guess, there are levels that are meant to take place on Earth. They suck. The cities are just big squares made of bricks that are scattered around an open map, and you have to just hunt keys and teleporters. It's awful. I hate Doom II's Earth levels. I mean, look at this shit (https://static.wikia.nocookie.net/doom/images/7/7c/MAP13_map.png), there's a giant arrow on the ground of this stage telling you where to go! If you need a massive arrow just to let players know where they're supposed to go, you've got a bad map design on your hands! Thankfully, the Hell maps are really fun. The game overall is a pretty good follow-up to Doom, even if some of the levels are terrible and the final boss isn't fun to fight. But wait, I almost forgot to talk about the bonus episode "No Rest for the Living"! The story behind this one is that, back in 2010, the game was ported to the Xbox 360 by Nerve Software, and they made a brand new, 9-stage episode for that version of the game. And it rules. It is easily the best episode from any of the classic Doom releases. It's just a shame that it's a little weird to play. See, the episode was only released for the Xbox 360 version at first, and was eventually included on the Doom 3: BFG Edition version of Doom II. It isn't available officially through any other means, so that really is unfortunate. However, the WAD file included in the Doom 3: BFG Edition files is compatible with all other PC versions, so you can be like me and just run it through ZDoom. And you should, because this is peak Doom right here.

Doom Eternal (PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Stadia) Did you know I was leading up to the new Doom game when you saw me playing through the classic games? Well I was. Doom Eternal is the highly-anticipated sequel to what I called my game of the year* in 2016: Doom. Doom Eternal is faster, more violent, full of more demons, bigger guns, platforming, new abilities, bigger levels, and even more of Mick Gordon's music. It is, on paper, the perfect follow-up. So why didn't I really feel satisfied with it? I think a few things played a part. I didn't really like the setting as much, but that's personal taste. The story was good, but the game had a lot more silly moments that felt weird to me. Not a lot, but just enough to draw me out. Again, I might be in the minority on that. Here's the divisive part: I don't like how they handled resource management. The first game gave you lots of ammo for your weapons so that you always had what you needed to do the task. This game basically found a creative way to put a reload button into a game where the weapons don't have to reload. You have extremely limited ammo pools for everything, and upgrades feel pointless when you can only hold two more shots per upgrade. You are expected instead to constantly use your chainsaw on smaller enemies to refill your ammo, but I hate how this breaks the flow of combat. The chainsaw no longer feels like your get-out-of-jail-free card, but they added the Crucible, so now it just feels like you have a chainsaw surrogate and a chainsaw that doesn't have a purpose in keeping multiple charges anymore. It just really doesn't feel as satisfying to me.

The other big divisive element is the Marauder. Everyone knows this guy by now. He's fast, he hits hard, he has an impenetrable shield, and he punishes you for playing the game the same way you've been playing the whole time. He doesn't fit into the Doom combat loop, and often gets dropped in by himself, as though the developers know he doesn't work with the rest of the game's combat. He's frustratingly hard the first time you fight him, and he's a massive speed bump even afterwards. There are videos dissecting how to kill him quickly, but I think the fact that these kinds of things even need to exist in the first place are huge indicators that something is wrong with his design. Once again, I hate this implementation not because it's too hard, but because of how much it breaks the flow of what Doom is.

Lastly are the abilities. They're fun, and they do a lot to give you options during combat. The flame belch sets enemies on fire and gives you ammo. The Blood punch instantly splatters small foes and gives you health, and breaks the armor of tougher enemies. The frag grenade blows up and hurts things. The ice grenade freezes everything it hits for a few seconds. The dashes let you move quickly to avoid attacks and stagger smaller enemies. The chainsaw is your reload button. The grapple hook lets you drag yourself to enemies. The problem is that this is all too much. The beautiful simplicity of Doom's gameplay is what makes it timeless, and while the 2016 Doom does add some things, it doesn't overdo it. This game does. There's so much to keep track of that it makes the game mentally exhausting to play. It's one last point making up why Doom Eternal just doesn't satisfy me like the games before it did. I don't want to make it sound like I don't think Doom Eternal is a good game. It's an excellent game, and I definitely recommend it to fans of shooters. I just think it tries to shove ten pounds of shit into a five pound bag.

Half-Life: Alyx (PC) is a big deal. Valve made a game for the first time in years, and it's a Half-Life title. It's not Half-Life 3, sure, but it exists, it's a main-line title, and despite being in VR, it is in no way a watered-down experience. This game is the game VR needed; a true demonstration of a AAA major game release on the hardware that shows what it can do. It's basically more Half-Life when you break it down, but by making it VR, it couldn't possibly be a more fresh experience. The characters are fun and likeable, the gunplay feels great, the story is  surprisingly crazy for a prequel with events that we thought we knew everything about, and it sets up yet another cliffhanger and a re-made promise that Half-Life 3 is coming. At first, I thought "Hey, as long as it's a spin-off game, I don't mind a Half-Life game that's VR". Now, I think I might be a little disappointed if Half-Life 3 doesn't feature any VR options.

Doom 64 (N64, PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Stadia) came free with my pre-order for Doom Eternal, and is a historically misunderstood and underrated Doom game. With a name like "Doom 64", a lot of people (myself included) thought this was just Doom ported to the N64. Well, no, not at all! It's a completely original title that is a follow-up to Doom II that some fans consider to be the "real" Doom 3 (which itself is a sort of retelling of the first Doom). It's dark, the music is tense and atmospheric, the enemies are largely just modified versions of classic foes from the first two games, and the weapons are also mostly just classic guns, but the levels are wild. The use of room-over-room is very cool, and a lot closer to full 3D than the originals ever got. This port was done by Nightdive Studios, who already have a great track record of restoring classic games for modern hardware. Even better, the people who worked on this version include  fans who had been making the best-quality PC ports already, so it's just the perfect team of pros and fans getting all the little details right to make a hyper-faithful port of this overlooked classic. These levels are pretty rad, too. Definitely some of the more creative secrets in classic Doom for sure. It's $5 if you don't have it already, so I do recommend it. For me, it was a nice palette cleanser after Doom Eternal.

Yoku's Island Express (PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch) is a charming game that does what I wish Metroid Prime Pinball had done: Make a metroidvania title with pinball mechanics at its core. You play a little beetle rolling around a ball that you're tied to and delivering mail. The story gets a little deeper than that, with some save the world type of thing, but it's a light-hearted game that's just charming and fun to play, with no real death penalties for failure. It's very casual, and after the intense month of Doom and Half-Life and more Doom, I needed a game like this to soothe my nerves.

May

South Park: The Stick of Truth (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Switch) is an RPG with some Paper Mario-styled combat. I had been meaning to play this for quite some time, but it never really happened until recently. It's definitely South Park, alright. The humor is as crass as ever, and I'm actually kind of shocked at what they were able to get away with here. The game is plenty fun, and the story is about as South Park as it gets, but it does feel a tad clunky at times. Still, great game overall, glad I got around to it.

Samorost 2
(PC) is a point-and-click adventure title. I love it! It's made by the same people who made Machinarium, which I played last year and thoroughly enjoyed. It has that same charm, but with a more abstract story this time that involves just going home to your little asteroid with your dog. The puzzles are a bit harder to figure out, mostly because the environments are pretty alien and hard to understand, but it's very satisfying when you get it. The music is bizarre and atmospheric, and I dig it. I was in the middle of typing a sentence right now about playing through the first game on their website, but I suddenly remembered that Flash is dead, so that wonderful little game is now gone. What a shame.

New Super Mario Bros. 2 (3DS) is exactly what you think it is: More 2D Mario. I don't have much to share about this, it's just more Mario. It's fun, though.

Amid Evil (PC, Switch) is a retro-styled shooter influenced heavily by games like Heretic and Hexen. A good way to imagine it if you're not as familiar with those games is "Quake, but with medieval fantasy weapons". I think a number of the enemies are a pain, but the levels get downright whacky the further in you play. It has a hubworld design so that you can play the worlds in whichever order you prefer (though some are blocked off at first), and each world has its own unique enemies. It can get pretty hard, but your weapons are also pretty OP, so it balances out. I like this game quite a bit, but it can be hard to figure out the best uses for some of the weapons. I think the mace was my favorite in general, and the trident was good for distance foes, but except for the planet launcher (rocket launcher), the rest just felt like fallback weapons for when you ran out of ammo. They aren't bad, but my bread-and-butter weapons always worked so well that I didn't really use the rest. Oh, and the black hole gun. It is what it says it is.

Chex Quest HD (PC) is a remake of sorts of the cult classic Doom-based marketing game. It's fun for nostalgic purposes, but it's built on a new engine and feels pretty wonky and weird. The AI isn't good, the levels are kind of bland, and the guns are inconsistent, but it's free and made by a team of fans with basically no budget, so I'll give it a pass. Pretty decent, pretty short, it's ok.

June

SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech (PC, Switch, Stadia) is another entry in the genre-hopping but always satisfying SteamWorld series. This game has a fantasy twist and is a turn-based RPG with deck-building mechanics that I thought I'd hate but ended up enjoying. It has the same kind of charming characters and writing with a surprisingly serious story that the series is known for, and I couldn't put it down. If you enjoy the series, I definitely recommend.

Firewatch (PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch) is a narrative game (walking simulator) where you play as a guy who volunteers as a national park fire watch ranger to get away from his life back home. The game is all about you having radio conversations with your boss over walkie talkies and keeping the park safe from people who aren't following proper fire safety guidelines... Until some strange occurrences start to lead to paranoia and fears that you're being stalked by someone. The game does an amazing job of making it feel like the story is being affected by your actions, and it never lets you know if your fears and suspicions are justified until the very end. Excellent narrative, I loved this one so much. Give it a go.

July

Cave Story (PC, PSP, Wii, DSi, 3DS, Switch, Other**) is a classic indie title that somehow keeps getting new versions and ports. It's a metroidvania (played a lot of these this year), and it's known for its stellar music, serious story, cute characters, and dedication to replayability that can affect the story by performing certain, sometimes esoteric tasks. It's another game that I've played countless times but never finished. This time around, I not only beat it, but I replayed it and got all the different endings, and I even bought the Cave Story 3D version to check out the differences and new additions there. I kind of became a Cave Story nut for a while there. Cool game.

Batman: Arkham VR (PC, PS4) is another entry in the Batman: Arkham series of games, and is a sort of prequel to Batman: Arkham Knight. It has you play as Batman and solve puzzles and riddles to solve a murder case. It's short, but has replayability in the form of Riddler puzzles that you can't access until after you beat the game the first time. It's fun, but I would wait for a sale to buy it.

September

Star Wars Episode I Racer (PC, N64, Dreamcast, PS4, Xbox One, Switch) is the classic racing game based on the most important part of Star Wars lore, Pod Racing. There's not much to say here, it's a fast-paced racing game set in the Star Wars universe. It's not that hard of a game, and the multiplayer is a good time, but it's largely unchanged from the original. Don't expect online features or any fancy bonuses here. It's great for racing fans who want something to scratch that F Zero itch.

October

Panzer Paladin (PC, Switch) is a retro-themed platformer that looks and plays like an NES classic. Similar to Shovel Knight, it expands on the ideas of games that it draws influence from, and it ends up being a wonderful Mega Man-like platformer that mixes primarily melee combat with tricky platforming. It's tons of fun, but the difficulty has weird spikes that make it feel a little too NEW-authentic, if you catch my drift. The music is great, the art is lovely, they have a CRT filter that actually looks good, and you can make your own weapons that the mid-bosses can drop in game! Pretty cool.

Shrine (PC) is a free Doom-engine game that has a focus on a more eldritch horror theme with weird foes and weapons (though mostly reskins of things you already know from Doom) and a large collection of smaller stages. I really liked this game! I think that having small, focused levels feels great. You don't have to worry about key hunting or getting lost, you can play a couple of maps as a break from something, and the stages can focus on a single gimmick instead of being sprawling, elaborate death mazes. It's basically just a mod, but I'm counting it here because of how much fun it was.

Super Mario 64 (N64, DS, Wii, Wii U, Switch) is the classic 3D platformer that set the standard for what a 3D platformer should be. I never had the game growing up, so I never had the chance to really sink my teeth into it. With the Switch Mario collection, I finally had my chance to do everything the game had to offer. Now, I know the game is revered and seen as a perfect example of the genre, but it doesn't hold up very well. Mario's movements feel awkward, his jumps oddly specific-yet-inconsistent, the camera is a perfect example of why early 3D cameras were awful, and the objectives were sometimes just frustration factories. It's nice that you didn't need to do everything to see the end, but some of them didn't need to be as bad as they were. Still though, the game is well made and good for its time. It certainly still shows itself to be a good game, but I grew up with Banjo-Kazooie, and this is no BK.

November

Ori and the Will of the Wisps (PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Switch) is the follow-up to Ori and the Blind Forest, and it improves on just about everything. The story is still rich, the characters are still lovable, the music is top-notch, the art is stunning, the gameplay feels great, and just everything about it is amazing. Some of the bosses are a bit tougher than they need to be, but I loved this game from beginning to end and you will too.

December

Micetopia (PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch) is a short metroidvania (one more before the year ends), and it's probably my least favorite game on this list. It's fine, but it certainly shows itself to be a low-budget indie title. There are only two real areas (caves and forest), a small town, and only about three enemies per area with a couple of "boss" monsters in certain areas. The game feels like it's randomly generated in that the rooms are all very similar in appearance with no really interesting room layouts or obvious flow, and some rooms have really awkward designs and enemy placements. The combat is very simple, even with the unlock abilities You can jump and slash, and can unlock a double-jump, a dodge roll, and a bow and arrow. It's possible to buy upgrades to things like health and (I think) damage in town, but I might have accidentally saved townsfolk in the wrong order, because some of them would only tell me I needed to do things that I'd already done before they can help me. It's all very repetitive, and it felt like it was several hours longer than it actually was. The ending is kind of abrupt, too, and seems to leave off on an almost cliffhanger ("There's more evil out there, are you ready to fight the evil?" "Yeah, totally!"and then roll credits). It's not awful, but I wouldn't waste my money on this.

From this list, my pick for Game of the Year would probably go to Half-Life: Alyx. Not only was it an incredible game, but it was an incredible experience and a massive advertisement for what VR can really do. I know that VR is expensive and requires some space to use, and that not everybody feels comfortable while using it, but if you have the ability to play this game, I absolutely cannot recommend it enough.

Because of this unusual circumstance that would impede some people from playing, I've also got a backup pick in the form of Ori and the Will of the Wisps. It's such an enchanting title, and as much as I may enjoy playing some of these other games, none of them lights that spark in my head quite like this title. Seriously, check this one out. You may want to play the first one ahead of this, though. The stories are pretty self-contained, but there are some characters you may not want to be unfamiliar with in Will of the Wisps.

* Tied with Ratchet and Clank (2016)
** Includes unofficial ports to the Xbox, Dreamcast, Genesis, Amiga, GP2X (Wiz), TI graphing calculators, and more
Title: Re: The Games of 2020
Post by: Fisherson on January 02, 2021, 10:40:20 PM
Finally got to play Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order.

I was shocked really. EA actually made a great game! It's story is similar to The Force Unleashed with a central protagonist and NPCs who stand around unless it's a cut scene, with the exception of your shoulder/back riding little buddy BB1 who is part tool part companion, exactly as a droid should be. Though Cal Kestis is ...not as powerful and intimidating. Cal sort of has this PTSD thing going on from seeinng his Master die right in front of him and having to live on a imperial scrapyard knowing one day he'll get caught so he's instantly sympathetic but even by the end of the game you don't feel like he's "rip a starship out of the sky" levels of over powered. Not gonna spoil it but even if you have that delusion the final boss fight is uh pretty good at making you remember Cal is just an action survivior.

Speaking of action survival the game sometimes plays more like a action platformer than RPG. You have wall runs, vines to call to your hand with the force and swing over seemingly bottomless pits of doom, seriously how did I not know the Star Wars Galaxy was full of high up places of death like this? But the real part where it shines is lightsaber combat. It feels and looks so smooth and flowing. You don't get as many styles as you do in SWOR or Force Unleashed but it does surprise you how they can make a dual bladed lightsaber feel reinvented even this many years aftet eh phantom menace.

The force powers are a basic roster but what you can do with them is pretty creative and adds another level to the combat and puzzle mechanics. I particually loved to try and force push a Stormtrooper over an edge, dodge laser bolts in real time only to get under somebody's guard and cut him down. I should also mention I played on the 'lowest' dificulty and the AI was actually smart enough to stay out of my range and snipe me, lob electrical explosives at my feet before moving in himself and the lightsaber boss battles are STELLAR. Intense, knuckle gripping and very satisfying. Though I played the game on a laptop I really cannot stress the importance on at least a X-Box controller to plug in because this ain't unmodded Skyrim or even Wildcat with how your combat flow works and all maps require some parkour to get around. Seriously even the 'safe' maps.

All in all I was very happy with the game and fully recomend it if you liked the lore of KOTOR being combined with the Force Unleashed more action based gaming and you can get it pretty cheap if you get to the winter sale I think still.
Title: Re: The Games of 2020
Post by: bigham on February 08, 2021, 11:35:31 AM
I was looking to play Path of Exile for a long time already and finally, in the past couple of months, I had a chance to try it. I was trying to stay away from all kinds of online MMORPG because they all are making me very addicted and I can't think anything but playing the game. Luckily, today there is a big global pandemic and I don't feel guilty for playing games all day at my mother's property in Spain (https://tranio.com/spain/) and being lazy...

My favorite thing about the game so far is the atmosphere. I don't remember playing such an MMORPG with so many gore elements. This dystopic, pessimistic atmosphere and the music is very impressive. As for the gameplay, I'm a big Diablo fan so Path of Exile gripped me from the very start. So in short, I can say that it's been the best game of 2020 for me, and 2021 so far...
Title: Re: The Games of 2020
Post by: BlinderTu16 on February 27, 2021, 06:13:20 PM
I've been using an old computer for a while, so, 2020 was the year during which I discovered Ace Combat 7, and not 2019, which didn't prevent me from playing it through and through.
But that's nothing compared to my discovery of Touhou games, which are, for most of them, "a bit" older; Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, for example, dates back to 2002.