I’d wager that Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales will be remembered as the year’s most ingratiating family-friendly video game. It is a feel-good, unabashed spectacle that controls well, looks great and has a hyper-efficient story line that never tries to overdeliver.
By cleverly leaning on the conventions of YA fiction — supernatural elements, family conflicts and the like — the studio has hit emotional peaks rarely, if ever, seen before in gaming (both the first and the second Life is Strange games left me misty-eyed).
“Half-Life’s” ties to survival-horror shine in “Alyx.” One enemy that most who have played “Half-Life” will remember are the Barnacles — monstrosities that attach themselves to the ceiling and dangle their long, thin, dark tongues close to the ground. VR makes their presence more unnerving. A random moment I loved happened when I pulled an object toward me that a Barnacle caught then with its tongue and devoured. I moved into place underneath it while carefully avoiding its grotesque appendage and fired a few shots, killing it and causing it to spit up my item. In that moment, and several others, I felt noticeably transported to one of the most vivid science fiction worlds I’ve experienced.
After three games starring the cute, black-eyed burlap doll Sackboy and a mammoth 11 million user-created levels, Media Molecule, the developer behind LittleBigPlanet, yearned to take community-based game making to the next level. It took seven long years, but Dreams is a far more visually wondrous example of the “play, create, share” mantra from the U.K.-based, Sony-owned studio.
Over the length of this very long game you’ll travel back and forth across the streets of Revachol, repeatedly interviewing and following up with people. If you’re not averse to reading loads of text that is often funny and given to riffing on different ideologies, it can be an easy rhythm to get into. Don’t dawdle. Go ahead, run toward the wild side.
It’s vexing that a game that requires such skill on the part of players has technical issues. As with FromSoftware’s other games, you don’t have to look hard to spot enemies whose attacks pierce through walls, or notice fluctuations in framerate. To be sure, neither of these issues have sharply dampened my appreciation for “Sekiro,” but I very much hope that a patch will be released to improve the waffling framerate on consoles.