Ultimately, though, The Forgotten City is one of those games that will inspire other games for years to come. It’s absurd to think it was mostly developed by a three-person team, and yet the clear, unanimous focus a team this small permits is evident throughout the entire game. It is clever not just in terms of its story or themes, but in how it packages and delivers those themes through one of the most inspired and tight gameplay loops I’ve seen in a long time.
Pokemon Unite is weird. It both feels everything and nothing like Pokemon and nothing and everything like a MOBA. It’s not necessarily a balanced meeting point between these two ostensibly incomparable concepts - instead, it’s its own thing entirely. And, for the most part, this new, strange, messy hybrid works. Its misunderstanding of what makes it special in the first place is an unignorable aspect of an otherwise remarkable effort, and there will be people out there who are turned off by the overbearing presence of microtransactions, even if they don’t technically make the game pay-to-win.
New Pokemon Snap has issues when it comes to tedium between courses, arbitrary solutions, and boring, barely functional extra mechanics, but the courses and Pokemon are legitimately incredible. The Photodex is a marvel, multiplayer creates healthy competition for replayability , and just being able to inhabit Lental is a spectacle in and of itself. I’m not sure I’d recommend it to someone who can’t tell Bagon from Beldum, but if you’re a born and bred Pokemon fan, New Pokemon Snap could be your sleeper hit of the year.
If Persona 5 was about forming bonds with new people and recruiting them for a common cause, Persona 5 Strikers is about taking the Phantom Thieves and proving that the friendship they share is lasting, that it can and will endure any hardship. I think, right now, that message is immeasurably important, and hits harder than a bullet formed from the Seven Deadly Sins.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla was a risk. Not really because it took Vikings as its subject matter — people love Vikings, to the extent that loads of folks are a bit sick of Norse stuff at this point. It was a risk because it compounded the ideals of Assassin’s Creed’s origins and Assassin’s Creed Origins. Fortunately, it turns out that the best game in this series is the one that’s drawn from pretty much everything that came before it, in order to carve out its own unique identity based on the absolute best bits of its many, many predecessors.
Hades is, to put it plainly, a masterpiece. It has a refreshingly unique trajectory, tells a compelling story with an alluring cast, and has such a good handle on moment-to-moment play that it is never anything less than genuinely excellent. It’s a game that grows the more you play it, as opposed to being something that suffers from a slow descent into tedium. And for that reason, it is a genuine forever game.
Presuming these techy mishaps are rectified, Ori And The Will Of The Wisps is one of the most charming, engaging, visually striking and emotionally touching games I’ve played in a long time. It’s difficult but fair, complex but intuitive, and gruelling but conquerable.