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Returnal is a really strange beast. It’s a game from a studio that have very clearly been given the funding to make a big budget version of the type of game they want to, and it really shows. There’s a very thin line between accepting that you made a mistake and ranting that the game screwed you over, and Housemarque have got it right with their mechanics. If you die, you learn from it and go again. Thankfully, the PS5 makes this incredibly quick, and it’ll have its hooks in you for “just one more run”. If I had to pick holes in it, I just wish there were a little bit more permanence to some of the upgrades you pick up, but I know this will diminish some of the ‘purity’ of the game. While I know some of this will be met with derision at openly admitting to not quite finishing it, I can only hope that the impressions I’ve had of Returnal give you an idea of what to expect if you pick up this absolute gem of a title. Now, Housemarque, here’s the Yellow Pages. Make a game based on that.
Little Nightmares II has far surpassed the original, and it holds true that this series remains one of the most terrifying and emotionally provocative experiences you will ever face! Once again Tarsier Studios have enthralled me, gripping me for a solid 9 hours straight playthrough that I just could not step away from. I have experienced loneliness, companionship, hope, joy, despair, terror and betrayal. Overall, I feel like my heart has been ripped out, but I would willingly go through it all again. If I had to find fault with anything, the controls can be a little cumbersome and may take some getting used to, and at times my jumps did not quite land the way I wanted. I only encountered one bug where a hatch would not open by a checkpoint, but this was easily resolved by restarting from that point. Will I be revisiting? Yes, it appears I truly am a masochist, but there are collectible, wearable hats and sorrowful glitches I must go back for. I am sure this is not the last we will see of Six and Mono’s story, and I am genuinely excited to see what comes next!
A game full of meaningful moments, of quiet contemplation and brutal, savage combat. A game about family, tradition, honour and change that comes at a significant point of change in Sony’s videogame strategy. A more hopeful and less alienating experience than The Last of Us Part II and a step back to a more gentle and inviting form of open world adventure, Ghost of Tsushima is both a celebration of the past and a look towards the future, and is a fitting first party swansong for the PS4.
The Last of Us Part 2 makes some bold moves. Whether it’s from a story perspective or a gameplay one, Naughty Dog haven’t been afraid to make some big leaps with this game. Fortunately, it’s almost all for the better, and the result is a game that is as diverse as it is challenging, with visuals that I can’t see being beaten until the new consoles hit, and a story that will raise some eyebrows but ultimately sticks the landing, in spite of how dark it can get. A magnificent example of what is capable in the medium of video games. We absolutely needed this sequel.
Death Stranding is a weird game. It won’t be for everyone, but if you can find something to like in the relatively slow start, you’ll love it by the end. Typically Kojima for better and for worse, it’s a story about reconnecting people through the eyes of a bystander that becomes much more than that. Technically and visually outstanding, it’s going to be up there on my Game of the Year list for sure. A weird, but wonderful game.
Control has some very clear threads going back to Quantum Break, but it’s a game that far surpasses Remedy’s predecessor in many ways. A weird, creepy and wonderful exploration of an environment that has been meticulously crafted, it’s a must-play. Plenty of collectibles and side missions should keep you hooked for long after the final credits roll, and I really hope that this brings Remedy the commercial success that it so obviously deserves.
If you tore chunks out of Dying Light, Far Cry, The Last of Us, Sons of Anarchy and a bunch of other open-world titles then threw them all into a blender, you’d probably end up with something akin to Days Gone. It’s a game with lots to enjoy, a ton of world to explore and some sensational visuals to take in. As seemingly generic as much of it is on first glance, Days Gone opens up to prove that it’s capable of punching its weight in a crowded area of the gaming landscape. A slow start to the story might put some off, and there are still a few technical issues that raise their head on the odd occasion, but there is plenty in here that gives you cause to overlook them. Farewell, Oregon, I had a great time clearing you out of Freaks.
Overall, Spider-Man is the game that a lot of people hoped it would be. An incredible traversal system that will have ironically been protoyped on a competitor’s exclusive title, a franchise with instant mainstream appeal and a story that, without giving anything away, sets things up nicely for a sequel without feeling lacking, all combine to make Spider-Man a must-play for 2018.
A game that will have you swearing at your grandma, and threatening violence upon your closest friends after half an hour, Overcooked 2 is one of the best party games that you can get your hands on, and it's easily the most fun I've had with a multiplayer game in years. The single player can sometimes get a bit overwhelming (please don't play this if you have anxiety!) but with 4 people playing side by side or, for the first time, over the internet, it's an excellent title that will have you in stitches of laughter while cursing your head off. A worthy purchase, even if you've played the original to death.
As an unashamed fan of Quantic Dream's previous output, Detroit: Become Human is a mixed bag. On one hand, there is a continuation of the work that they've done with the previous titles, and they have crafted a wonderfully bleak world with Detroit. While it doesn't quite push the boundaries as much as Heavy Rain, there are some interesting ideas planted in the early stages of the story that never blossom fully, but still gives a somewhat satisfying conclusion, regardless of how you decide to play. On the other hand, the occasionally frustrating control issues and borderline laughable moments in the script made me shake my head on more than one occasion. It's a real shame, because there is an absolutely brilliant game tucked away somewhere in here. As it stands, it's only going to be great if you're willing to look past the obvious inherent flaws.