Will you like Shenmue III? I can't say. This is likely the last new game I'll play before the year ends, and it's a sure win for my Game of the Year. Shenmue III spoke to me on a level few games have. I thought about giving it a 10/10, even began gearing myself up to argue that with my editor. But Shenmue isn't perfect. It defies real perfection, because life is imperfect. Shenmue III is knobby and requires tremendous, repetitive effort before it gives up the special, unique warmth.
But how do you review the experience of a city? I still don't think I know. Perhaps, as Judgment understands, our experiences are too precious, too deeply personal to do more than hint at suggestions of experience. To anecdote and extrapolate. To let slip the micro moments of intimate connection to a person or space, to leave others with only the wordless emotion of a snapshot.
Pathologic 2 is a deeply weird game, with a Mayakovskian cast of characters, plopped into an apocalyptic Bertolt Brecht play set deep in the Russian Steppe. And while the actual gameplay maybe disappointing or frustrating to some (it was to me), I can't help but be compelled by a game so enthusiastically bizarre.
The unwinnable-for-plot-reasons boss fights aside, Devil May Cry 5 never wants the player to feel any less than like they’re the coolest person on earth. While the game isn’t overly easy, health and upgrades are plentiful, every character has multiple options to handle any situation thrown at them, and the checkpointing system is gracious.
Sea of Solitude gives us a boat. And a light. And it accepts that we must sometimes think of ourselves as a contradiction of insignificance and grotesquery, as we wind our way through the path of recovery. That, monstrous though we may feel, we can still affect change in our lives, and the lives of others. Healing is possible, if complicated, non-linear, and often contradictory. Sea of Solitude wants us to see ourselves better than we do, but won't abandon us when we can't.
I do wish there were more to Luigi's Mansion 3, that the controls were tighter and more precise, but I also find myself wanting to play it more despite these problems. I don't know that I'll pick it back up when my partner and I finally collect every last gem, and suck out every last coin from every possible hiding place. But the liveliness and charm of its world, the bizarre questions it doesn't ask but gestures to, and the happiness I've had playing it with my partner on the couch will likely stick with me for quite some time.