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Everything posted by Hammerklavier

  1. Hey Reality vs Adventure, Thanks for the list and discussion! I'm very much looking forward to "Last of Us Part II" and "Layers of Fear." Your praise only makes me want to play them even more. Regarding the "Skyrim" weight limits, I hear you. I played it for the first time myself this year. I made it a bit easier on myself by increasing my light armor attributes and by learning what not to bother picking up. Eventually, I stopped bothering with shields as well (in favor of magic spells with the other hand), which cleared up inventory space.
  2. With 2021 now officially behind us, I figured I'd give this thread one last bump to see if anyone else wanted to chime in with discussion of the games they played for the first time this year. I could probably add "Super Mario Maker 2" to my list, having played that thoroughly over the past few weeks. Highly recommended for Super Mario nerds like me who have always dreamed up their own stages, but never had the means to create them before.
  3. Hey Kane, I'm surprised you found "Among Us" anxiety inducing, but didn't have any issue with "Fortnite," a pretty tense game itself as you find yourself one of the last survivors on the island. My fiancee also enjoyed "Unpacking," but was disappointed when she ended up finishing it in about a day.
  4. Hey Head_Hunter, thanks for the reply! Yep, that's 38 just this year, definitely unusually high for me. I'm curious to see your thoughts on the games you played, especially GTA 5 and RE Village, both of which are on my list to play for next year.
  5. As of this post, I've completed, for the first time, 38 different games this year. It's been a fantastic year for me from a video game standpoint. I found something to admire in almost all of these games, and my opinion on a few of them will probably grow as I spend more time with them in the coming years. I've increasingly made it a priority to track down most of the more highly regarded games of the 2010's decade, though you'll find a couple here that come from different decades. Rather than attempting to rank them (too difficult for me, especially with such a high number of games), I've placed them in tiers based on how highly I regarded them. --Games I Loved-- Outer Wilds (2019) In having the audacity to meditate on cosmic mysteries pertaining to life and our place in the universe, "Outer Wilds" reminds me of my favorite film, "2001: A Space Odyssey," and is perhaps its closest equivalent in the video game medium even if the former is more concerned with finding a sort of peace with our tiny role in the universe and our inability to control any of it. The mysteries at the heart of this refreshingly earnest and nonviolent adventure were genuinely intriguing. Alien: Isolation (2014) I'm rarely excited about movie-based games, but this one proves more than worthy of the original material. How refreshing that it took its cue from the original 1979 "Alien" rather than the more action-packed sequels! As one who typically lacks patience for slow, cautious stealth gameplay, I'm surprised at how much I enjoyed this. It's gameplay systems are masterfully designed, and the xenomorph is truly a marvel of video game A.I. as it responds to your every noise, picks up your scent and methodically searches rooms for you. Between the near-constant stalking by aliens, the human passengers that often shoot on sight, and the androids that are reprogrammed to attack, it left me feeling anxious, underpowered, and overwhelmed at all times. My fiancee and I made a point of turning out the lights and turning up the sound as we played, which definitely added to the experience. Our contrasting approaches (me being more aggressive and on-the-move, her being cautious and hiding a lot) both served us well at times, and not so well at others. The campaign is surprisingly lengthy, often padded with "find the keycard," "re-activate the power," and "turn on the generator" sorts of objectives. Overlong campaigns are a pet peeve of mine, but the monumental length actually worked for me, partly because the game kept finding new ways to vary the gameplay and amplify the tension. I couldn't get enough of the game's fantastic atmosphere and its meticulous recreation of the 1979 film's harrowing mood and style. Even the ending, which felt abrupt in the moment, grew on me the more I thought about it. What Remains of Edith Finch (2017) The narrative achieves a strange sort of magic, often by juxtaposing ostensibly contrary emotions in the same moment. Moments of tragic death are portrayed at times with an odd sense of whimsy or fanciful imagination which, rather than feeling like a cruel mockery of its character's fate, come across as a warmhearted acknowledgment of the character's qualities, as understood in the kind of pat stories we tell about people after death in an effort to put a bow on their complicated lives. The vignettes, showing us various members of the unfortunate Finch family in their final moments, are all vivid and haunting, and I'm pretty sure at least a few of them will remain in my memory for a long time. The Finch house is a perfect illustration of the sort of environmental storytelling that distinguishes video games from other creative mediums. Demons' Souls (2009) Instead of writing up something new, I'll just repost a list of some observations I'd left on GameFAQS earlier this year. https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com/boards/954345-demons-souls/79419472 Disco Elysium (2019) I'll admit, it took a while for "Disco Elysium" to win me over. Its dismal world of Revachol, painted in muted browns and grays, matching the generally bitter and defeated attitudes of its inhabitants, felt oppressive, as did the lethargic pacing and abundance of seemingly irrelevant text thrown at the player. At some point, as my pitiful amnesiac detective and his straight-laced sidekick began to find momentum toward solving the murder case at the heart of its storyline, I got hooked. I found myself warming to the game's unusual presentation as I came to better understand its innovative RPG systems, and I eagerly sought to guide the protagonist toward escaping his depression, redeeming himself professionally and having a second chance at life. Is it a story of overcoming depression or trauma? A dark comedy about a quirky, bumbling detective? A meditation on what it is to suffer humbling, spectacular failures, find oneself at rock-bottom, and finding the strength to claw one's way back up even as the individual failures continue to pile up? It might be all of these things, but in addition to being a hilarious buddy-cop story in which I relished the opportunity to make my protagonist respond in the quirkiest manner possible so I could laugh at the exchanges between he and his face-palming partner on the case, I saw it as a tale of failure, the degree to which it can haunt and overwhelm a community as well as an individual, and the strength and perspective needed to overcome it. The climax didn't disappoint. It perfectly encapsulated all of the grief, disillusionment, and carrying of the burden of a history of failure that permeates the world and its characters, while still finding a way to leave things on an optimistic note. --Games I Really Liked-- FTL: Faster Than Light (2012) / Into the Breach (2018) A pair of roguelike indies by developer Subset Games, I might as well pair them here together, as both are small-scale exercises in meticulously calibrated gameplay. "Into the Breach" is an eminently playable bit of turn-based military strategy, which I enjoyed, but I found myself even more smitten with "FTL." Maybe it had something to do with the celestial imagery and the memorable music. I'm terrible at it (likewise with "Into the Breach"), but managing an ever-expanding crew on an increasingly-upgraded spaceship against tall odds made for an addicting gameplay loop. Hitman 2 (2018) As much as I really dig its cool, cinematic vibe and the satisfaction of good planning and execution of the targets, my fondest memories of "Hitman 2" at this point are of the comedy that arose when, under my fiancee and I's often blundering control, our hitman's cover was blown. I loved the frantic attempts to beat people up and take their outfits, and how incompetent and easily confounded our pursuers could be as our hitman calmly walked away from the incapacited, stripped down body wearing different clothing. Clearly, the developers didn't shy away from the inherent humor in their premise, given some of the ridiculous costumes our hitman protagonist can attack people with, not to mention being able to use a fish as a melee weapon. I'm amazed at the details of verisimilitude in these wide-open sandbox stages, and the creativity the game encourages in order to achieve your objectives. I haven't played the other "Hitman" games yet, but they're certainly on my radar now. Red Dead Redemption (2010) I had already played the sequel (prequel?) "Red Dead Redemption 2" last year, so I had an idea of what to expect. Both games offer a surprising amount of depth behind their enjoyably punchy, Hollywood-ized old-west style. It's hard to pick a favorite between the two. The first game -- aside from the Mexico portion of the campaign being about 2-3 missions longer than I felt necessary -- is more crisp and compact. The second game, while a bit sluggish and bloated at times, covers a greater variety of themes and features a more conflicted and compelling protagonist in Arthur Morgan. I also enjoyed the "Undead" DLC from the first game, though rescuing towns from zombie attacks got a bit repetitive after a while. Gris (2018) Video games have come a long way in terms of finding their own means of poetic expression. "Gris" offers no words, nor does it offer any real threat the player must overcome. It relies only on movement, color and music to convey various stages of grief. The actual tragedy at the center of it remains elusive to the player, though a secret room supposedly provides somewhat of a pat answer. This strikes me as a bad decision. Why not preserve a sense of mystery? Given that most people won't find this room anyway, I guess it's easy enough to ignore it and trust in one's own interpretation. At any rate, a beautiful game. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (2015) At times, given the game's enormous critical reputation, I felt like I was supposed to be enjoying myself more than I did. I found the combat generally solid, but unremarkable, even frustrating at times. I don't enjoy picking up plants and flowers, crafting, alchemy, and repairing my equipment, so much so that I set the game's difficulty on the easiest setting so that I could get away with mostly ignoring those gameplay mechanics. The "witcher sense" moments were too frequent for my liking. The main quest's sense of momentum was often missing in the first half of the game, particularly in the Novigrad section, as I found myself caught up in layer after layer of "find person C, who can help you find person B, who might have information on finding person A." Once I set aside the "greatest video game ever" hype and just approached it like any other open-world RPG, I came to appreciate its best qualities. The world is vast and lovingly fleshed out, full of natural beauty and towns that feel lived-in and believable. The dialogue is sharp and clever. Gerault is our protagonist whether we like it or not, but we do have creative control in shaping his words and actions to bring out the best or worst parts of himself, either of which can come across convincingly in the hands of the excellent writing team. Is it strange that I found the most haunting and memorable moment in the story to be the "bad ending" that I earned (for reasons that seem like BS to me, but given the strength of this ending, I'm not complaining)? I still feel like I've only scratched the surface of what the game has to offer, as I mostly stayed with the main quest. I'm looking forward to giving the DLC a look. I may even give Gwent an earnest try. Nier: Automata (2017) Even after spending enough time with it to reach Ending E, which requires completing three separate campaigns, I still have a tough time identifying my real feelings on this game. There is so much to admire here: its massive narrative ambitions, its willingness to pursue overtly philosophical subtext, the rightly applauded soundtrack, slick blending of several different gameplay genres that reinforce its meta-commentary on video game design, and the use of multiple, relatively succinct campaigns to offer different perspectives and provide revelations that turn our understanding of the narrative events upside down. This is a game that wants to reach out directly to the player and make them ponder the most basic existential questions, and help them ultimately look beyond the contents of the game and apply its lessons into the real world. It reaches for the stars and isn't afraid to look a bit foolish at times. Some of the story beats felt a bit forced or insipid to me, at least in the moment, and the many layers of grief dumped by this narrative eventually started to leave me emotionally numb, though it was fascinating to see just how far this game was willing to push the death and destruction. Overall, I find the story uneven at times and its thematic exploration somewhat gnarled and inchoate, but I'll take an ambitious, thought-provoking and beautiful, but flawed, masterpiece over a creatively stale and predictable bit of faultless craftsmanship most days. Hotline Miami (2012) 1980's Miami, neon lights, psychotic hallucinations, mass murder and old-school arcade-esque gameplay make for a strangely intoxicating brew. Doom (2016) When I found myself in the proper mood to handle its frenetic pace, it was delirious fun racing around slaughtering demons with the heart-pounding industrial rock pulsating in the background. It was a blast to see the iconic "Doom" enemies in their modern form, and while I'm not the world's biggest FPS fan, the mechanics of this game are as finely-tuned as any I've experienced in the genre. Life is Strange (2015) I was captivated across all five episodes, even as the timelines became increasingly unstable and confusing. The characters feel believable, the milieu is convincing, and there's a strong heart at the center of it. I see it not only as a tale of the preciousness of friendship and of appreciating the finer moments in life, knowing that fate may have something else in store for us soon enough, but also as a meditation on the pain of finding ourselves unable to help others or avert disasters, the grief and guilt we carry as a result, and the peace we must make with our limited control over such events. Trying to find bottles at the dump will, however, probably not be one of my fonder memories of the game. Control (2019) I loved the mind-bending premise, the mix of the fantastical and the mundane, and the intriguing and intricate supernatural logic that governs the federal government office that serves as the game's setting. The otherwise unremarkable third-person-shooter combat is greatly enhanced by the supernatural abilities you acquire as the story progresses. Being able to literally fly around the room while using telekenesis to hurl large objects at her enemies is quite the rush of power. The story often perplexed me, and it seems like the sort that might benefit from repeat playthroughs to put the pieces together. I found it difficult to connect with the protagonist, given she was always several steps ahead of me in understanding what was going on, and I felt like I still knew so little about her and her brother by the end of it. I definitely enjoyed the journey, but I'm not sure where any of it left me, or how much any of it will resonate going forward. Kentucky Route Zero (2013-2020) I think my expectations of what I was getting may have led to some confusion and perhaps even initial disappointment on my part, but I can still acknowledge the painterly images, the intriguing mix of the surreal and the mundane, and the storytelling mechanic of allowing the player to control both sides of the conversation to shape the characters' interaction to their liking. There is not much in the way of real "plot" or "drama," just a series of interludes and episodes, some more interesting than others. I began revisiting this later in the year and found I was better prepared to appreciate its idiosyncratic "magical realism" storytelling, its commentary on a struggling, tired and forgotten post-recession populace, and its dreamlike ambience. Ori and the Blind Forest (2015) To some degree, it almost feels like someone entered "Metroidvania," "Artsy," "Eastern Mythology," and "Family Friendly" into an A.I. video game generator and this game was the result. There's an abundance of beauty and polish, but not much in the way of idiosyncracy to allow this game to forge a unique identity of its own. Nevertheless, I had a lot of fun with it. I was definitely surprised at the sadistic level of difficulty in some of the platforming challenges, but the controls were fair, and I actually liked the much-criticized save mechanics. The Witness (2016) Lovingly crafted and breathtakingly intricate, filled with zen-like puzzles that involve the ostensibly simple task of connecting dots by drawing lines. But the rules for these puzzles are constantly changing, and the real puzzle is often in discovering those rules. My fiancee and I, playing through it together, both had moments where we felt like geniuses and others where we felt like idiots. It's hard to think of a game that blew me away so consistently with its cleverness, from the puzzles themselves to the elaborately designed island that serves as the game's setting. It's also difficult to think of a game that has demanded so much from me intellectually and provided me with so little in return, other than my own satisfaction and some very pretty scenery on the hauntingly quiet and secluded island. I found myself searching for some sort of heart or soul at the center of it all, but found it pretty much devoid of those things, being more preoccupied with celebrating our ingenuity and capacity for problem solving. It is as relentlessly dry as a modern video game experience can be. Still, "The Witness" impressed me as much as any game I played this year, and there is something truly special here. Dishonored (2012) I'm terrible at stealth, so I appreciated the freedom that "Dishonored" gave me to pursue a more aggressive and "chaotic" approach. I got the "bad" ending, but given my behavior throughout the game, it felt appropriate! I'm looking forward to playing "Dishonored 2" this upcoming year. Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime (2015) My fiancee and I had a blast working together to pilot a spaceship and blast away monsters. Overcoming some of the game's bosses definitely requires good communication. We enjoyed working out strategies, watching them fail, then gradually tweaking them and incrementally improving our execution until we did just well enough to find success. There is so much charm in the graphics, music, and upbeat mood. The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth (2014) Compulsively shocking and vulgar, gleefully infantile and nightmarish, the style and imagery of "The Binding of Isaac" is certainly unlike anything else I've ever played, though the actual gameplay is essentially a familiar roguelike mix of "The Legend of Zelda" dungeon-crawling and the bullet hell of "Smash TV". Even by roguelike standards, there seems to be a lot of luck involved with regard to which power ups are available. I reached the final boss on my second run due to acquiring some fantastic power ups, then needed another 30+ attempts to get another shot at it. Playing co-op with my fiancee was also a lot of fun; taking down the final boss together made for one of my fondest gaming memories of the year. Return of the Obra Dinn (2018) A very clever puzzle game that really challenged my logic and observational skills. I was drawn into its foreboding tale of a doomed voyage, and the "1-bit" visual style was a nice touch. I fully admit that I looked up the answers a few times, but given how difficult some of them were to find, I'm not sure I'm all that ashamed of it. Maybe once I've sufficiently forgotten enough of them, I'll give this game another try and see if I can do it legit. I loved the premise of this game. It makes me feel like there ought to be more games like this. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011) It offers the basic "power fantasy" fun of creating your own hero, venturing off into a troubled world that only your hero can save, and being as virtuous, evil or maniacal toward the denizens of its realm as you so choose. I completed the main quest and a handful of sidequests, so I only scratched the surface of the game's content. I'll fondly remember the rousing music, the excitement of battling the dragons, and the many options for how my character could fight, dress, or treat others. I'm not a hardcore open-world RPG fan, but I enjoyed my time in Skyrim and may choose to return to it again, perhaps seeking out some of the more highly regarded sidequests. Donut County (2018) Very modest in scope, but a pleasure from beginning to end. The sort of game well suited for when you're feeling exhausted from a long day, not in the mood to be challenged or frustrated by your game, and just looking for something breezy and simple, with a good number of laughs along the way. Papers, Please (2013) Undeniably effective in portraying the oppressive and dehumanizing machinations of an authoritarian regime, I found "Papers, Please" a haunting and impressive experience. The gameplay, in which one reads through immigration paperwork and searches for discrepancies, sounds a bit like work, and I can confirm that it often felt a bit like work to me as well. Worms W.M.D. (2016) My first foray into the "Worms" franchise. For a few weeks, this was the go-to co-op game for my fiancee and I. I had a lot of fun with it, though I found the controls a bit unintuitive at times and suffered many worm deaths when my projectiles would bounce off of seemingly invisible bits of terrain and come right back to my worm. The humor and charm is a big plus as well. Super Bomberman R (2017) It's crazy and addictive Bomberman fun, though I was a bit disappointed with a few of the restrictions. I was a bit disappointed with the A.I., which is too freakishly good on the higher difficulties. Even on the lower difficulties, it is mostly inhumanly good, but has the occasional lapse where it stands around and waits to get blown up. Not the most satisfying way to win a match. Why only four participants in a match? I fondly recall Saturn Bomberman allowing for up to eight. The story mode offered some solid gameplay challenge and boss fights. Among Us (2018) It probably has more in common with a board game than a video game, as there isn't much actual gameplay or content here. "Among Us" is about as fun as the people you play it with. In my experience, playing with strangers online is a waste of time. There is very little social deduction going on, and most of the people involved don't seem like they even want to be there. I did have a few games with family with a zoom call and cameras on that were generally more lively and fun, especially when people try to break down each other's poker faces. --Games I Admired-- Mass Effect 2 (2010) This being the only "Mass Effect" game I've played to this point, perhaps I won't be in the best position to evaluate its characters or story. I was impressed at its immersive world building and lore. I loved the premise of commanding my own spaceship, assembling a crew for a suicide mission, and seeing my decisions have real consequences in the last couple of missions. That said, I didn't find myself becoming particularly attached to any of these crew members, even after completing their loyalty missions, and the actual gunplay, while fine, never quite drew me in. Death Squared (2017) Solid co-op puzzle action with some funny writing and voice acting. Fairly short, but fun while it lasts. League of Legends (2009) For a couple of weeks, this was all I felt like playing. The gameplay loop is quite addicting. The learning curve to go from "awful" to "decent" seems pretty steep, and somewhere along the way, I decided I just wasn't committed enough to what this game had to offer to get serious about it. I'm a filthy casual, what can I say? Thumper (2016) When I saw images and read descriptions of this game, I knew I needed to play it. The nightmarish, otherworldly ambience and pulsating rhythms definitely give it a unique feel and make it worth playing. I couldn't help but feel like there was a real missed opportunity here. Though the game's length stretches on for a number of hours, you'll have the gist of it after the first hour. The mood and imagery could have started off more mild and became increasingly hellish as it proceeded, giving it somewhat of a sense of progression and adventure. Instead, the visuals and mood remain fairly static to the end. At least the gameplay adds a few new wrinkles and variations to keep things interesting. Bastion (2011) / Hades (2020) I admire both of these action-adventure indies from SuperGiant games, with their colorful environments, tight controls, great weapon variety and eclectic soundtracks. As much as I appreciated "Bastion"'s fresh visual style and unique narration, I never quite connected with it. I wanted to enjoy "Hades" more than I did, as it cleverly solves so many of the limitations of storytelling within the rogue-like genre as the player's repeat playthroughs operate harmoniously with the gradually evolving storyline, but I just never warmed up to the combat. Fighting, especially in rooms with several enemies, often seemed to devolve into a mob of flashing lights, and the relentless pace of the battles often wore on my old-man hands. My fiancee loved it, and I did enjoy watching her play through it and seeing the likeable cast of characters and their relationships develop over the course of it. --Games I Was Somewhat Disappointed With-- Borderlands 2 (2012) Unique and stylish graphics with slick gunplay and plenty of humor, but I got a bit burned out by the end of the main quest. My fiancee, who couldn't get enough of it, wanted to go full completionist, which we almost achieved before her attention turned to a different game. My enthusiasm for playing the game had dried up by that point, which may be affecting my overall judgment of it. Amnesia: The Dark Descent (2010) A milestone back in 2010, but I'll admit I didn't get much out of it. Perhaps I was waiting for a plot twist that never happened, and I should have appreciated the story for what it was rather than what it wasn't. The puzzles were solid enough, but the actual horror elements felt rather limited. There are so few varieties of enemy in this game, and the extremely generous checkpoints meant that there was minimal tension when they did get me in their clutches (could be there was another difficulty level that would have changed this, but I played this back in January, so I'm not remembering at the moment).
  6. I'd like to see what games everybody played for the first time this year. Most importantly, rather than simply listing them, I'd like to see your thoughts on those games! I'll follow up with my own list shortly.
  7. I did finish the story to Witcher 3, but my impression was that it could have been trimmed in half and still felt appropriately epic. There were so many points at which it seemed to drag and lose momentum, so many nested quests along the lines of "find character A, but first you must find character B because they might have intel on where A is, but character B is missing and requires you to find character C". Almost as though the developers were determined to pad their main story as much as possible. For some players, I'm sure the length felt absolutely fine, but I do tend to be somewhat more on the impatient side when it comes to the pacing of video games. Overly lengthy main campaigns is one of my personal pet peeves that causes me to abandon a lot of highly acclaimed games before finishing them (both Half-Life games, System Shock 2 and Alien Isolation being a few examples). Sometimes less is more, and a shorter campaign can prevent the gameplay from becoming stale and repetitive.
  8. That would be much appreciated. I'm finding that I can edit my responses to my thread, but not the actual parent post itself.
  9. Apologies for not including the game in the thread title. I'd edit the name, but I'm not seeing an option for it.
  10. I recently completed the PS3 version of "Demon's Souls" for the first time. Everyone always seems to say that the first From Software game you play is the hardest, and that each new one you play is easier than the last. I don't find this to be true at all. Granted, I'm pretty sure I am a well-below-average caliber Soulsborne player, but I've completed Dark Souls 1-3 and Bloodborne, exploring every area and defeating every boss (DLC included), as well as almost everything from "Sekiro" (Sword Saint and Demon of Hatred drove me to rage quit that game), but I still had a very difficult time with "Demons Souls," despite its reputation as being easier than later From Software titles. Some random thoughts and observations: 1) Having experienced every other Soulsborne game prior to playing "Demons Souls," I'm struck by how much of the ideas and content of those games were first introduced here, and already with such polish and refinement. 2) I love how each of the five levels has its own look, feel and atmosphere. 3) 3-1 has a truly unnerving atmosphere, sort of like a mix of the Upper Cathedral Ward from Bloodborne and the Duke's Archive from Dark Souls. During that level, "Demons Souls" feels every bit like as much a horror game as anything from "Bloodborne." 4) As much as Valley of Defilement is a repulsive and often annoying area to explore, I think it's my favorite of the "swampy, poisonous craphole" stages so often featured in From Software titles, edging out the likes of Blighttown, The Gutter and Farron Keep in its ability to produce a sense of being trapped and lost within a dark, grimy hellish chasm of despair. 5) The bosses I was able to beat on my first try include Phalanx, Tower Knight, Penetrator, Armor Spider, Flamelurker, Old Monk, Storm King, Leechmonger, Dirty Colossus, and King Allant. Some of these were more intense than others. 6) The bosses I died to the most include Dragon God (took me a while to figure out how to avoid getting scorched towards the end), Maneater (ugh), Adjudicator and Maiden Astraea (who I learned to cheese with the bow and arrow from a high ledge. I feel a bit bad about deploying this cheesy tactic.) 7) Level 4-2 was a harrowing experience. None of my attacks seemed to do much against the respawning ghosts or the reapers, but the reaper's magic could often obliterate me in one or two shots. I ended up having to slowly and methodically battle my way past the five skeletons on the narrow cliffside more times than I can remember. And no shortcuts that I could find. This level can burn in a raging inferno. 😎 The other areas that gave me the most problems (not including the bosses) were 4-1, 5-2 and 3-1. 9) Old King Allant's ability to chip away at my hard-earned soul levels feels like a cruel mechanic even for a From Software game, but I can't say it didn't make the battle even more intense. 10) The world tendency mechanic seems promising in theory, but I didn't care for the implementation. After getting stuck in darker world tendencies at the beginning and dealing with the obnoxious phantom skeletons from 4-1 repeatedly, I basically was incentivized to fight through the rest of the game in soul form. Every time I defeated a boss and regained my humanity, I scaled the stairs of the Nexus and rolled off the edge so that I could lose my humanity in the Nexus rather than having to suffer through a darker world tendency in one of the main five levels. 11) As a magic user, the Man Eaters were far and away the boss that tormented me the most. None of my spells or attacks seemed to inflict much damage on them. I did come very close to defeating them legit as I killed the first and got the second down to 1/3 of its health, only to see my full HP bar get completely decimated when the remaining maneater's magic projectile made contact with me. After that, I ended up exploiting the "arrows through the fog door" glitch to take down the first Man Eater. I don't even feel bad about it. 12) The order in which I completed the levels went something like this: 1-1 1-2 2-1 3-1 2-2 2-3 1-3 5-1 4-1 3-2 3-3 5-2 5-3 4-2 4-3 1-4 Overall, some frustrations notwithstanding, I greatly enjoyed the game. I'm not normally one who binges on gaming, but "Demons Souls" had me playing for hours at a time and completing it over about two weeks, pretty quick work for me. I plan to play through it again at some point with a melee build. Maybe the Maneaters will be easier for me, but I'm anticipating that several other areas and bosses will end up being much more difficult. Moderator Edit: Thread title changed at OP's request.
  11. Hey Kane, Sorry for "necroposting," but this seems like a good topic and I'm surprised it didn't get any responses. I've played Dark Souls 1-3 and Bloodborne in their entirety (including all of the DLC), and love all four of them. Demon's Souls (the original on PS3) is actually the only one I sort of gave up on (at least for now), only defeating a handful of bosses. So my opinion on that game is incomplete, but I played enough to have a few impressions at least. Interestingly, I feel like these games, along with Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, seem to show a clear progression in terms of where the difficulty and primary gameplay is focused. Demon's Souls seems to have the longest and most grueling areas to clear, while the bosses seem fairly manageable providing you still have enough health and resources remaining once you finally reach them. By the time we reach Sekiro, the areas are short and can often simply be sprinted through, but the bosses are merciless. If you'd rather take your chances with marathon areas, then the earlier games will probably be your bag. If you live for tense boss battles, then the later games (Dark Souls III and Sekiro) won't disappoint. Taking all things into account, here's how I would rank the games I've completed: 1) Bloodborne - My first exposure to From Software's modern action RPGs, and still my favorite. I love the gothic, nightmarish setting and its unique blend of werewolf mythology and Lovecraftian eldritch horrors. The characters and lore are fascinating, and so many of the boss battles are absolutely epic in terms of visuals, music and narrative implications. It seems to strike a good balance between tough areas and tough bosses without going overboard on either. Probably one of my top 10 favorite games of all time. Biggest knocks are the long loading times on PS4 and the more restrictive character building and fighting styles compared to the Souls games. 2) Dark Souls - The combat feels a bit stiff, and later areas of the game, such as the Demon Ruins and Lost Izalith, have a somewhat rushed and incomplete look about them, but the world is intricately constructed and carefully interconnected in such a clever way that you'll enjoy backtracking and finding new shortcuts. Probably my favorite lore and story of the Souls series, though the final area feels a bit brief and anticlimactic. 3) Dark Souls III - The combat and graphics are as good as it gets for the Souls series, as are the highly formidable boss battles. The Ringed City DLC is a pretty great finish to the series as a whole. My biggest beef is that the world design feels a bit linear, and few of the game's environments feel fresh or surprising, mostly recycling what we've already seen in the previous games. The lore, while fine, doesn't necessarily do much to establish itself from the original game. 4) Dark Souls II - Still a great game despite the "black sheep" label. Suffers a bit from a "quantity over quality" approach when it comes to areas and bosses, but you can't say the development team didn't try their darndest to give this game its own lore and identity while offering lots of unique-looking areas. Some of the area designs are nonsensical and bizarre.
  12. I agree with those who have suggested the current era. Based on nostalgia, I'd go back to the SNES days (I love me some Super Mario World, Terranigma, Final Fantasy IV and VI, Super Metroid, Chrono Trigger, Earthbound, A Link to the Past, Illusion of Gaia, Actraiser, Simcity, Super Punch Out, Seiken Densetsu 3, etc...), but I can't deny that there are more good, worthwhile video games being released each year now than ever before. Superior technology means more possibilities, and the creative ideas and quality-of-life improvements just keep building on the previous generations.
  13. I wholeheartedly agree with you, Stacey. I have no idea why that should be an unpopular opinion, but in some circles, it is. As you mentioned, "video game" simply describes the creative medium, much like "book" or "music." It implies nothing about the content, quality or ambitions of that creative work. If I tell you that I read a book, it means nothing. It could be a work of great artistry. Or a "nonfiction" work full of misinformation. Or a dry, witty satire, a collection of crossword puzzles, a trashy romance, a silly irreverent comedy, an academic text, etc... Video games are no different, especially nowadays. In their present form of maturation, they've proven a legitimate art form capable of producing art as great as the finest paintings, operas, novels, etc...
  14. Hey m76, thanks for the list! I haven't actually played any of those as of yet, but Last of Us II and Control are a couple in my collection that I'm planning on playing soon. Given how much praise Control has received, I'm actually a bit surprised at your lukewarm review. Hopefully I like it more than that. Also interesting to see your praise of Cyberpunk 2077. Did you play it on PC or on a console? It sounds like the most damning criticisms come down to how badly it plays on previous generation consoles. "Deus Ex" is another one I plan to try for real one of these days. The folks like you who nominate it for greatest game ever make me very curious about it. I've turned it on a couple times in the past and played around a bit with the first stage, but it wasn't grabbing me. Maybe time for me to try again this year.
  15. During the couple months when I was playing Red Dead 2, I would sometimes do my best Arthur Morgan impersonations around the house, addressing her as "Ms. Grimshaw" and the like. Pretty sure I was driving her nuts. 🙂
  16. Agreed on all accounts. Despite being a gang of outlaws, they are clearly Arthur's surrogate family and Arthur clearly feels an emotional attachment and a vested interest in most members of the gang. It seems as though Micah was drawn up as the archetypal psychopath; other people are merely tools for him to manipulate and coldly dispose of on his way toward power. I enjoyed seeing each gang member's true character reveal itself as adversity grew.
  17. Hey Patrik and Blackangel, You included rankings, but what did you actually think of these games?
  18. Thank goodness the year 2020 is almost behind us. This year sucked for many reasons, but at least we still had our video games. Because I'm a dork, I tend to keep track of the video games I play. Because I'm an even bigger dork, I sometimes like to review these titles later on and rank them to remind myself which games I liked and didn't like, and for what reasons. What follows is a ranked list of the video games that I "completed" for the first time in the year 2020. My definition of "complete" means that I played enough of the game, and experienced enough of its content, to be able to offer a reasonably informed perspective on the game. There are actually several other games I played at some point in 2020, but didn't finish for one reason or another. Some, like "Dragon Quest XI," are 95% done, but remain incomplete as of now. Others, like "Cities: Skylines" and "Thumper" are only partially explored, but I still plan to finish them later. Others, like "Alien Isolation" and "Half Life 2" I made a little progress with, but am probably giving up on. A few notes about my 2020 video game playing year: * I played more games than usual, probably partly because of the coronavirus and subsequent quarantine, and also due to some of the games being smaller in scope or length. * I may have played more difficult games this year than any other I can think of and tangled with some of the most difficult bosses I've ever encountered. I'm not one to seek out extreme difficulty in video games, so not sure why this happened. * My fiancee games with me, so there are an abundance of co-op games, but even several of the one-player games typically have us passing the controller back and forth. 1. Rocket League I'm not much for soccer or demolition derbys, so I had no business enjoying this game as much as I did. All I know is, the first time I made an "epic save," turbo dribbled the ball down the arena and bashed the ball into the goal with a flashy sideways flip of the car, I was hooked. The matchmaking seems to do a decent job of finding reasonable competition, whether I was playing 2v2 with my fiancee or 1v1 duels on my own. I'm a long ways away from being "good" at the game, but it's definitely been the most thrilling and addictive game I played this year. 2. Undertale As a 37-year-old who likes to tinker around with developing video games, but has no real achievement to his name yet, it depresses me a bit that this gem was developed in Game Maker almost entirely by some kid in his early 20's, but the joy of experiencing this minimalist indie masterpiece is worth the hit to my self-esteem. You play as a little girl who has found her way into an underground world of exiled monsters. Comparisons to "Earthbound" are apt, both in terms of the eccentric sense of humor on display as well as its tendency to unexpectedly warm your heart or unsettle the hell out of you. As monsters engage you in turn-based battles, you can choose whether to attack them the traditional way, or try to resolve the issue peacefully. Ultimately, you can play the game three different ways: (1) pacifistically, where you spare every monster along the way, (2) genocidally, where you slaughter every last monster, and (3) somewhere between these two extremes, a sort of default path that is how most people first experience the game. I beat the game three times, pursuing a different path with each run, and it's remarkable how the game's mood shifts dramatically based on which path you commit to. The game's simple presentation belies a multilayered mechanical and thematic complexity that kept me coming back for repeated playthroughs. One of my favorite innovations comes when an enemy attacks. In most turn-based RPGs, your character simply loses HP, but "Undertale" turns into a "bullet hell" game, allowing you some control over how much damage you take. I've never had so much fun being attacked by the enemy. The eclectic and memorable soundtrack deserves special praise as well. 3. Cuphead Since I first saw footage of this game, I knew I would have to play it. Even it's harshest critics will readily admit that the game's aesthetics are amazing; it really does look like the sort of game that Fleisher Studios would have designed had video games been a thing back in the 1930's. Some will argue that the game's strong presentation masks mediocre gameplay, but that was not my experience. My fiancee and I found the mechanics intuitive and easy to learn, the controls crisp and responsive, and the difficulty finely-tuned and ultimately fair to the player. I generally don't have the patience to throw myself at the same punishing boss thirty times in a row, but "Cuphead" induces a very strong "just one more try" impulse, probably in part because the boss fights are compressed into such a short span of time. Overall, "Cuphead" provides pure, delirious run-and-gun fun wrapped up in a stylistic package unlike anything I've ever seen in a video game. 4. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Having loved the "Dark Souls" trilogy as well as "Bloodborne," I had some idea of what to expect here, but "Sekiro" ended up being the first of From Software's modern action RPGs to leave me with the feeling that the rewards weren't always worth overcoming the punishing difficulty. Unlike the "Soulsborne" games, "Sekiro" won't allow you to "farm" your way toward improving a particular stat you've neglected or purchasing a weapon that might offer an advantage against that boss you've been struggling with. If you're going to overcome a "Sekiro" boss, you'll play within the game's relatively restrictive progression route just like every other player. As of yet, I haven't actually succeeded in finishing the game. I made it as far as the "Sword Saint" final boss (as well as the optional "Demon of Hatred" boss), but I've grown exasperated with the feeling that I'm spending most of my time staring at loading screens and sprinting to the boss location only to die in a matter of seconds (minutes if I'm lucky). Unlike with "Soulsborne" -- where I often avoided cheesy strategies against bosses because I didn't want to cheat myself out of the satisfaction of beating them "legit" -- with "Sekiro," I quickly found myself embracing every cheap advantage I could find. I never came to feel much of a comfort level with the game's unusual (but admittedly clever) posture-heavy battle mechanics, but my main gripe with the boss battles is how little room for error you're left with. Many bosses can crush you in a few swift blows, which is all the more infuriating after you've been methodically dodging and carefully striking over the past several minutes just to see those heart-pounding efforts end so abruptly. All my complaints aside, many of the rich risk/reward systems, expansive lore, absorbing moods and thoughtful area designs I've come to expect from these games are here in full force, and overcoming such fierce opponents as Genichiro Ashina, Guardian Ape, Headless Ape, and the two duels with Owl were among the most exciting, fulfilling and memorable experiences I had with any game in 2020. While I didn't enjoy it as much as the "Soulsborne" games and sort of gave up on finishing the final boss, I must still award it a fairly high place in my ranking. 5. Red Dead Redemption 2 As the type of gamer that tends to grow restless playing the same game for too long, I'm not the one best positioned to fully appreciate the massive depth of this game's world and its many settlements, quests and colorful side characters, but I did find myself drawn into the main campaign due to the fantastic writing and voice acting. Controlling the outlaw Arthur Morgan for most of the quest as he finds himself caught between loyalty to his "family" of sorts, the Van der Linde gang, and his increasing reservations about the immoral behavior he's engaging in, I enjoyed leading Arthur on his path toward redemption. I also took great interest in how the other members of his gang evolved as the Pinkertons gradually closed in and desperation began to spread and create rifts and power struggles within the group. The epilogue with John Marston attempting life as a normal working man in order to win his woman back was a great addition. Oddly, I found the gunfighting scenes somewhat of a chore, and I had no use for grooming horses, buying weapons and items, etc. I actually found the game at its most enjoyable when it served more like a "walking simulator" (or a "horse riding simulator" in this case), marching from quest to quest, choosing dialogue options, and watching cut scenes so I could immerse myself in its brilliant cinematic storytelling. 6. Nier: Automata A game intended to be played through multiple times for the story to fully reveal itself, my fiancee and I only actually completed the game once, so my view of the game feels a bit incomplete (we do intend to play through it again, hopefully fairly soon). In our one playthrough, I did find much to admire with the gameplay, setting, story and music. The final boss of the initial campaign felt like a bit of a disappointment, almost more a parody of anime villains then an actual character, but like a lot of great robot-based science fiction, "Nier: Automata" manages to raise compelling questions about what it means to be alive. I suspect there is more thematic subtext waiting to be discovered on subsequent playthroughs. 7. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening Being a fan of "Link to the Past," I've always meant to play through "Link's Awakening," but despite starting the Game Boy version a few times, I never quite stuck with it long enough. The new Switch remake presented a nice opportunity to revisit the game, and this time, I got all the way through it. It is indeed very similar to "Link to the Past," including pretty much all of the same weapons and accessories used to solve puzzles, but in many respects, "Link's Awakening" does forge an identity of its own, especially with regard to unusual tropical island setting and enigmatic plot, which reveals an intriguing twist some 2/3 of the way into the game. While there were a fair share of "where do I go now" moments, "Link's Awakening" generally provides better direction than earlier "Zelda" entries. I greatly enjoyed the colorful, if rather cutesy, graphics as well as the modern, orchestrated renditions of the original 8-bit tunes. 8. P.T. Not the actual game, but a fan-made recreation that is said to be exacting enough that Konami contacted the developer and offered him a job. As such, the game lives up to the hype in creating a truly nightmarish ambience and constant sense of dread, even if I found myself wishing that there was more to interact with. Once I realized there didn't seem to be a way for me to "lose" or "die," the anticipation of any sort of threat dissipated. The abrupt ending served as a reminder that this was less of a fully-formed game and more of an experimental concept, but the idea of walking through the same house repeatedly in a loop and seeing unnerving changes with each new repetition was brilliantly conceived and executed, making me wish the "Silent Hills" game that "P.T." was designed to promote had seen the light of day, or that "P.T." itself would have been expanded upon into a more complete and ambitious product. 9. Inside Having played and admired Playdead's previous effort, "Limbo", as a unique and artfully designed indie classic, I was initially a bit disappointed at how very similar "Inside" looked and felt. Once again, I was leading a small boy through a harsh world of muted colors and minimalist sound design. Both games remind me quite a bit of the 1990's cult classic "Out of this World / Another World" with the meticulous environmental puzzles, general lack of music, and the constant threat of instant-death lurking around every corner. While the game's climax is memorably strange and helps "Inside" to forge an identity of its own separate from "Limbo", the final moment left me feeling a bit empty and as confused as ever regarding the game's setting and narrative, which the developers gleefully left opaque and elusive. I think I found myself more drawn into the world of "Limbo", but "Inside" probably featured the more eclectic and consistently engaging collection of puzzles. 10. Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures 1 & 2 I imagine any fan of "The Nerd" will recognize and appreciate the game's many references to the long running web series. Others who come to it will probably be very confused. Either way, the gameplay is pure fun, paying homage not only to the AVGN gaming review web series and to old school platformers so often highlighted on that series, but surprisingly taking its cue from newer platformers like "Super Meat Boy" and "Celeste" with its brutal difficulty combined with extremely generous checkpoints. The platforming is constantly inventive, the synth music is catchy as hell, and the controls are crisp and reliable. It won't attract nearly as much attention as other recent retro-style platformers like "Shovel Knight" and "Axiom Verge," but I don't think its too far off in terms of moment-to-moment platforming fun. The two games, as well as the "Terrible Tower" add-on that comes with the "Deluxe" version, are all pretty consistent in quality, so I don't see any use in separating them on my list. 11. Flower/Journey Two very beautiful "walking simulators" made by the same developer, so I'll lump them together here. In "Flower" you control the wind, guiding flowers along through gray, lifeless environments to restore vibrant color and vegetation. In "Journey," you control a caped figure who traverses deserts and caves on the way to a mountain summit, leading to a transcendent denouement that at least partially explains what the whole wordless quest was really about. The music in both games is a definite strength, and there's something refreshing in how abstract and dreamlike both adventures were. 12. Fortnite: Battle Royale Man, did my fiancee and I play a lot of this during the first half of 2020. She was way more hooked than I was, but I can't say we didn't create some great memories and experience some exhilarating #1 finishes. Over time, I became increasingly frustrated by the game's lack of transparency in matchmaking, as well as which competitors were bots and which ones were actual humans. If I get a bunch of kills in a match, I'd like to know how many of them were controlled by a sentient being, especially given how hopeless the bots are. I also found over time that the gap between the best players and more casual players like me is quite massive, with the biggest reason being that the top players master the keyboard and mouse controls and the ability to create elaborate forts rapidly through hotkeys. I simply can't and won't ever reach that level. I'm useless trying to play an FPS with a keyboard and mouse, and I'm not prepared to put in the time needed to become great at building giant forts at a moments notice regardless of control scheme. After hitting that wall (no pun intended), I sort of grew tired of the game. This is one case where I actually wish Epic would allow the option for players to only play with others using a controller versus those using keyboard and mouse; the latter seems like such an insurmountable advantage for those who are proficient at it that it tends to ruin the experience. I'd prefer that my opponents are operating under similar circumstances/limitations as I am. (Whiny rant over.) 13. Resident Evil 2 (remake) I never did play the original, so I have nothing to compare this remake to, but it stands as a solid old-school survival horror game. I'm absolutely awful at navigating 3D video game environments, and I get turned around easily, so much of my experience of playing when I had the controller was being told where to go constantly by my fiancee. I guess that beats opening up the map every other room. I didn't find the game especially "scary," but the short window of time where "Mr. X" appears in the police station and begins stalking you from room to room did make for a nice spike in intensity ("Alien Isolation" seems to be built entirely around this concept). We ended up beating the game twice, once for each of the protagonists, enjoying the resulting forks in the campaign route and story along the way. 14. The Outer Worlds Basically an intergalactic take on "Fallout" replete with the same sort of premise involving a resilient survivor leading various factions in an effort against the powers-that-be to bring civilization back from the brink of collapse. As one who tends to get overwhelmed with massive open-world RPGs, I appreciated how relatively compact "The Outer Worlds" was; there was little in the way of padding or filler, and rarely did the main quests feel like a waste of my time. I enjoyed visiting the different planets and seeing their divergent look and feel, as well as recruiting new members to my spaceship and developing their individual story archs through sidequesting. As with most open-world RPGs, I find myself bogged down by the inventory management and the sheer amount of collectables, the overwhelming majority of which I never really put to use. The gunplay seemed adequate, if unremarkable, but take that with a grain of salt, as I'm not a big FPS guy either. 15. Octodad: Dadliest Catch Designed around purposefully awkward controls that leave your protagonist flopping around comically like an idiot while trying to perform mundane everyday tasks like loading a dishwasher, eat food with a fork, or even just walk from room to room, "Octodad" is one of the few games I've played in which the real joy comes from watching someone else struggle through it than to try and traverse it yourself. The game's absurdist humor shines not only in those moments where you're accidentally slamming objects around and causing a ruckus, but also in the hilarious cut scenes and environmental dialogue. My fiancee and I initially tried playing co-op, in which each player controls a different side of the titular character's body; it was every bit as clumsy, amusing and frustrating as it sounds. We came to prefer just trading the controller back and forth and chuckling at the other's attempts to make Octodad behave as inconspicuously as possible. 16. Fall Guys Cutesy bean creatures compete in elimination-based "Wipeout" style events. I actually got Playstation Plus for the first time just to be able to try this game with my fiancee. I should have done my research first; we're not able to join the same game with me on PC and her on the PS4, but I'm not sure it would have mattered much since there doesn't seem to be a team element to most of these events. "Fall Guys" is enjoyable, colorful, challenging fun, if a bit shallow and intermittently frustrating. With so many competitors running around, you'll have to get used to getting frequently bumped into and knocked off of platforms by other players. I haven't been much good at the game so far (I haven't even qualified for the final crown game yet, though my fiancee has made it a few times), but it is an amusing, frivolous diversion that projects happy vibes. 17. Spelunky & Spelunky 2 For some reason, I played an awful lot of reputedly tough games this year, but the "Spelunky" games may have been the most infuriatingly difficult. My fiancee and I managed to reach the final boss in both games, but couldn't quite defeat them. We tried numerous times to make a "hell run" in the first Spelunky and came up laughably short. It often feels like the game's mechanics are designed to work against you at every opportunity. There were so many deaths that involved a seemingly unlikely set of circumstances, or just terrible luck, that made it feel as though the game were taunting the player. Though my fiancee couldn't get enough of these games, I found that I could only enjoy them in very small doses before frustration set in. I do admire the meticulousness of its risk/reward systems and procedurally-generated stage designs, but it's a good thing our copies of these games are virtual or I'd be tempted to toss them across the room. (Okay, not really, I haven't done anything like that since I was a kid). 18. Trine 2 A pleasant blend of platforming action and puzzles, but mostly the latter, as you guide a knight, a thief and a wizard on their quest to rescue the wizard's wife. There's some good co-op fun to be had here. My fiancee favored using the thief, who excels at long-range attacks and swinging around. I mostly used the wizard and had a blast using psychokinenis magic to lift enemies up, slam them into walls, and drop them into spikes and pits of lava. The knight is most useful for melee attacking, a role either of us could pivot to when needed. The puzzles generally seem like they're intended to be solved a certain way, but with creativity and the wizard's ability to manipulate objects, you often have multiple solutions for each problem (pretty sure many of the solutions we used were not the "proper" ones). The game's setting, storyline, characters and music are about as bland and generically medieval fantasy as can be, but some cheerfully innocuous charm and humor shines through. 19. Divinity: Original Sin 2 There's a lot to appreciate here. The world and story -- which is surprisingly dark and full of torture and suffering -- is rich with detail and memorable moments. The couch co-op functionality is mostly a positive, and there's considerable options when it comes to customizing your characters. The music is lovely. But I do have my complaints. The game as a whole is very slow, from the loading screens, to the length of battles (some of our battles took over an hour, which is all the worse if you lose and have to repeat it again), to the constant need to stop and purchase the newest gear and analyze the data to determine the most optimal weaponry and equipment for each hero. While the co-op works nicely in battle, one major point of frustration outside of battle is that one player could be buying and selling goods at the merchant (sometimes a lengthy process given how much inventory there is to manage) while the other player goes exploring and accidentally triggers a battle. At this point, winning the battle becomes absolutely crucial, lest your failure leads in having to re-do all of the transactions with the merchant. Our rule quickly became that whoever wasn't talking to the merchant needed to just put down the controller. One final complaint is that the battles were too often bogged down by status inflictions. Often before our party has had a chance to do anything, our heroes are inflicted with some combination of bleeding, burning, charmed, chilled, crippled, cursed, diseased, decaying, etc. And why does it feel as though the most obnoxious and debilitating statuses are among the most common? A competitive battle can swing sharply and frivolously against you based on an enemy using a wildly overpowered attack. For all of its many shortcomings, I don't regret having played "Divinity 2," as my fiancee and I made some fine memories out of it and it was a change of pace from our usual fare. But I won't be looking for anything similar anytime soon. 20. Tools Up A slick co-op game that seems to be closely aping the style and gameplay of the "Overcooked" franchise. It is fun to coordinate with your partner in completing various house projects, like knocking down and constructing walls, replacing carpets, installing tiled floors, and other such tasks that tend to be a lot less pleasurable in the real world. "Tools Up" does seem to be missing a bit of the extra polish that "Overcooked" has; for instance, the game's ending feels extremely abrupt and unexpected. Sure, that was the last stage according to the map, but no final challenge, no final cut scene, just skipping straight to the credit scroll and then back to the title screen? The difficulty curve is a bit wonky as well, with the most difficult stage coming about 2/3 of the way in and some fairly easy stages towards the end. I can recommend it if you're looking for some teamwork and quick coordination in your video games, but don't be surprised if you forget all about this game in a few months. 21. Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4 I'm just not a big fan of the Lego video games. The cut scenes can be amusing, but the basic gameplay, which prioritizes running around bashing everything in sight to procure lego blocks while solving rudimentary puzzles, just doesn't sustain my interest for very long. I've played a few Lego games with my fiancee over the past few years, and I don't find this particular entry much better or worse than the others, but she had a lot of fun with it for what it's worth. 22. Luigi's Mansion 3 Most people rave about this game, so we'll just call it one of my blind spots. Going around vaccuming objects in each room quickly grows tiresome and starts to feel like actual work. I find the camera frustrating, especially when I'm trying to fight ghosts. Something about the family-friendly "spooky" atmosphere and especially the utterly harmless "horror" music sort of drives me nuts (to be fair, this sort of music almost always annoys me, so it seems to be my own issue). The game seems unwilling to try and deliver even a modest scare. I realize small children make up part of the game's target audience, but even small children often like being a little bit frightened once in a while. On the bright side, my fiancee loved it and couldn't get enough of it, so it ended up being a good Christmas present for her. Phew. Now it's your turn. How would you rank the games you completed during the 2020 year?
  19. Definitely depends on the size of the game. Something like "Bloodborne" or "Ocarina of Time" might get replayed every few years or so. "Wonder Boy in Monster Land" (a tiny game that I've loved since my preschool days) I've probably completed over 100 times in my life.
  20. My fiancee has a tendency to get about 95% of the way through the main campaign and then simply abandon the game because she gets bogged down by all of the sidequests she insists on finishing. For this reason, I still haven't seen the ending of "Dragon Quest XI," "Horizon Zero Dawn" and "Fallout 4". I, on the other hand, am usually plenty satisfied by completing the main quest and moving on. I like the idea of leaving sidequests uncompleted and secrets undiscovered so that there's still something new for me to see if I decide to replay the game at a later date.
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