All of this -- the unique pieces that make up Night in the Woods -- goes back to why it's so damn hard to define the game. There isn't an adequate term for titles that blend clunky platforming with choose-you-own-adventure friendship simulators. Nor is there a word to describe games that feature knife-fighting minigames and Guitar Hero-inspired band practices. But, again, maybe that's a big part of Night in the Woods' appeal. It's a confident outsider, and one that takes pleasure is celebrating the weird ways that everything comes together in life.
While it might seem easy to write Super Rude Bear Resurrection off as a 2D platformer that solely wants to make players die a shitload of time, that's hardly fair. Instead, it's much better to look at it as a game that encourages creativity and persistence. There's always a way forward or a secret exit down a hidden path. All you have to do is take a deep breath, keep trying, and maybe die more times than you care to admit.
Yakuza 0, much like its predecessors, has style for miles. Unlike previous games, however, Yakuza 0 comes out of the gate swinging, offering a more nuanced story and a strong, cohesive commitment to certain thematic elements. To sweeten the deal, Kamurocho and Osaka -- the game's main explorable cities -- are absolutely packed with diversions, collectables, and encounters. Yakuza 0 is the kind of game that you can spend eighty-some hours in without realizing a minute has passed.
Despite its brisk pace and sparse storytelling, Small Radios Big Televisions manages to feel like a complete handcrafted package. The game shines when you're weaving between corridors and virtual worlds hunting for keys to a mystery among forgotten places and glitchy spaces. Like any great mixtape, Small Radios is packed with moments worth remembering, even if feels like it should be just one song longer.
By the time Death of the Outsider comes to a close, Billie's gone through the ringer. It's not the longest expansion out there, and it seems to miss a step or two in the main plot, but there's more than enough for anyone who appreciated the moment-to-moment formula of Dishonored 2. Billie Lurk never had it easy, but after her last job, it's finally time to rest. And that's more than a fitting farewell for one of the best video game franchises in recent memory.
Where the Water Tastes Like Wine is an excellent exploration of stories and the meanings we place upon them. It's a road trip game through the American landscape that's punctuated by astounding writing and entertaining encounters. There's nothing quite like it, and it's doubtful that there ever will be.
Donut County is as charming and funny as it is inventive and beautiful. It excels at what it sets out to do --there's never been a better hole simulator in video game history. But underneath its colorful scenery and intuitive gameplay is an experience that feels like its inches away from true greatness.