- Nights into Dreams...
- Mega Man 3
- Dark Souls
Fatum Betula finds virtue in the 32-bit generation. It is impossible to return to the ethos that powered games from a quarter century ago, but Fatum Betula captures their spirit and respects their integrity. The wild sense of experimentation, the natural invitation to curiosity, and the harsh beauty imposed by technical limitations shine through every austere texture and restrained polygon.
Genesis Noir is genre fiction that slow burns from a hard-boiled detective mystery to a cosmic exploration of potential and possibility. It showcases a form of storytelling exclusive to an interactive medium, not only immersing the player in rhapsodic visual landscapes, but expecting them to find tactile interpretations from its collection of curiosities. Genesis Noir doesn't position chaos as a subject for control, only an objective to be experienced and appreciated.
Haven presents a lush alien world, one rife with resource gathering and loaded with turn-based combat, as a suitable venue for its forbidden love story. Such an unorthodox collection of disparate elements may have had trouble connecting if not held together by widely relatable and sharply written interpersonal dialogue. It's an assembly that allows its pair protagonists to thrive inside moments of tedium, suggesting a story worth telling takes precedent over action not always worth doing.
Foregone is a whirring pastiche of ideas that came to define the last decade of side-scrolling action games. There remains an artful satisfaction to cutting through hordes of exquisitely fashioned monsters across splendid vistas but, without a thought to call its own, Foregone's performance will be consigned to oblivion the moment its player puts down their controller. It's a beautiful, sterile wasteland.
Moon's commentary on the nature of its hero, expressed not only through its narrative but also its entire suite of mechanics, is its toolbox for deconstructing the template of the JRPG. Learning it's a long-lost game from 1997, operating with the inescapable sentimentality and eccentricity of the modern indie scene, underscores how long it took the rest of the world to reach places Moon had already been. Even with its anachronisms, Moon is a surprising novelty.
Post Void is a barrage of garish visual information parading through the interface of a first-person shooter. As either an act of mercy or a concession to humanity, modest roguelite trappings force all of Post Void's noise and fury into manageable dosages. This leaves Post Void as a wonderful party drug, provided you can sustain the party and handle the drugs.
Lithium City's neon violence is a fountain of ideas that expands until it explodes. Its objective may be to clear tricky bad guys out of hostile rooms, but its justification is to force creative and spontaneous solutions out of an evolving set of kinetic problems. What's left on Lithium City's table is a full meal served in a medley of exquisite morsels.
Strikers captures the affable singularity of Persona 5 while shifting its perspective from a turn-based slow burn to an action-focused escapade. At the same time, Strikers' devotion to its source material succeeds in keeping the player active and invested amid the turbulence of its strained support structure. It's a summer vacation masquerading as a sequel, and that seems to suit the Phantom Thieves just fine.
Umurangi Generation's vibrant ambience validates the rebellion of its doomed youth culture. It also renders the player a transient witness to a surging tragedy. Umurangi Generation's key is its camera, as it allows its protagonist and its player the agency to access and capture a world beyond their control. It creates a vantage point untended since Jet Set Radio, and Umurangi Generation didn't even need skates or spray paint to get there.
Umurangi Generation's camera granted players the agency to capture a despairing world and reframe it however they pleased. Macro expands this objective across four profoundly photogenic locales and tosses in a giddying pair of roller skates. Vicious social commentary, newly material to 2020's unique ills, serves as a compliment to Umurangi Generation's existential dread and completes one of the most powerful and relevant games assigned to this cursed year.