The Medium itself never hits a flat note. I beat the game in two long sittings, and there was never a point during either that I felt like the game dragged, or could’ve used a little more polish, or left too many loose ends hanging. It’s a lean, compelling experience that says what it has to say, then leaves you to grapple with the specifics afterwards. There are images, lines, and ideas from The Medium that I’ll likely take to my grave thanks to this approach, as it puts the onus on the player to piece everything together. You have to wrap your brain around the spirit world’s twisted logic so much that it becomes a part of you, as you live through Marianne’s pain with her and help to navigate her trauma.
I don't hate The Falconeer. I don't even think it's a particularly terrible game. There are great ideas here, and in the aesthetic department, it's a resounding success. However, it just needs more. It needs more polish, more reason to keep playing, and more reliable controls to navigate its interesting setting in. I would love to revisit this world at some point, and I hope that the dev can find a way to keep me more engaged next time.
Because, ultimately, what makes a great JRPG isn't a fantastical journey, an epic tale of gods and monsters, or a slow fight against an ambiguous evil. To me, a truly great JRPG is a series of deliberate and intentional systems that inform each other in every conceivable way. Every stat has a place, and that stat's place informs the place of another stat, and so on and so forth. Each upgrade feels tangible, each new attack feels purposeful, and each "role" has an important part to "play". The story's place, then, isn't to pad out time or paint a vivid picture of a massive world, but to give players an impetus to engage with those systems - a compelling raison d'etre for making those numbers go up. Like A Dragon does this, and does it with great aplomb.
Ultimately, Tell Me Why taught me how to not be defined by my past, and gave me the tools to thrive in the future. In a time where I needed hope perhaps more than ever, Dontnod delivered it. For that, their masterpiece has firmly cemented itself as my absolute favorite video game I've had the pleasure of playing.
As I've always been an advocate for imagination over mechanical perfection, Destroy All Humans! is something that works for me. Perhaps it isn't the most polished or modern game of 2020, but it's definitely one that I'll keep coming back to, and it's absolutely the best remake to come out of THQ Nordic yet.