But Streets of Rage, as a series, is a time capsule from a different, simpler era. While it's blunt and repetitive, it also manifests a relaxing social space with ease. Call it video games as loitering. The music is as good as it's ever been in the series. The stages and characters are beautiful, reimagining the original trilogy's '90s locales and punk-inspired band of baddies in a way that stands up to those games without scarring modern eyes. The action itself is so simple that you can get lost in a conversation about, well, anything as you play.
The game has over 200 puzzles, and I’m roughly 50 deep. I plan to make my way to the finish line, not just because it’s a great game — and it is! — but because its obsession with rules has me rethinking the rules in every other game I love. It’s selfless in a way, a game that lets you bend its rules to appreciate the rules in everything else.
After Red Dead Redemption 2's story concludes, a huge epilogue begins, and the game's already gargantuan map grows even larger. I'm eager to dig into this postgame, where it seems I'll be free to focus on taking in the beautiful, meticulously simulated world, rather than hurling myself into the middle of it.