Other than the Myst games, I can’t think of any obvious points of comparison to help you decide whether or not to give Return of the Obra Dinn a chance. The lack of guidance and completely open nature of the puzzles separate it from the likes of The Vanishing of Ethan Carter which had you solving smaller puzzles one at a time. This originality is the exact reason you should try it for yourself. I can’t guarantee you’ll love it as much as I did, but I’m certain it will keep nagging away at you in the back of your mind, encouraging you to boot it up one more time to see what else you can discover.
Cuphead is one of the most visually interesting games I’ve ever played. Its gameplay is a throwback to old-school bullet hell shooters and tough boss fights, without the need to worry about running out of lives. I wish I could tell you to ignore the discussion around difficulty and just buy the game, but that’s not fair. Cuphead is a challenging game that requires a lot of practice and patience. You may not enjoy it and that’s fine. However, if you’re at all interested in what Cuphead has to offer then you should take the risk. Dive in and see what happens. I played Cuphead for 15 hours and most of them were a hell of a lot of fun. Not all of them, but most.
Horizon Zero Dawn hits the trifecta. Incredible combat, story, and characters. It’s also polished and doesn’t outstay it’s welcome. I can’t imagine I’ll play it again anytime soon, but the fifty hours I spent with Horizon were some of the best I’ve ever had.
The combination of strict linearity with varied snippets of gameplay might just be the ideal combination for these type of narrative experiences. What Remains of Edith Finch leaps right into my top three games in this genre alongside Gone Home and The Stanley Parable. In fact, I think it’s leapt right to the top.
The lack of challenge is a touch disappointing but doesn't detract from the sheer joy I got from bouncing along to the music, or the sadness of watching a man try to save his friend from inevitable death. When the main problem with a game is that you just want more, that's usually a good sign. The Sexy Brutale is absolutely worth your time. If I had Boone's powers, I'd rewind time and play it all over again.
Now that I have finally played and enjoyed Shadow of the Colossus, it would be easy to say I regret not playing it all those years ago. I'm not sure that's true. This remaster is sublime and—as I can attest—no nostalgia is required to appreciate it. This is almost certainly the definitive version of the game and I’m thankful I finally got to play it. I highly recommend you do the same.
I’m not sure I’ll ever truly finish Celeste. I still have a couple of B-Sides to complete and the C-Sides are likely beyond my skill level. Assist mode is there if I need it, but I’m not ready to admit defeat yet. Neither am I ready for Celeste to be over. I’ll be dipping back into this masterpiece for many months to come.
Dead Cells might not be the Metroidvania it half-heartedly professes to be, but it is a phenomenal rogue-lite and probably the best game I’ve played this year. The constant feeling of progression should be enough to tempt even those who don’t usually enjoy the genre while still being intense enough for those who lap this stuff up.
Guacamelee 2 is a game I didn’t know I wanted until a year ago when I saw the reveal trailer and it’s a game I didn’t know I needed until I played it. Guacamelee 2 doubles down on everything that made the first game great and improves on a few of the weaker areas as well. I don’t know where Drinkbox Studios can go with a potential Guacamelee 3 but I thought much the same thing after the first game and here we are five years later with a sequel that is a huge leap forward for the excellent original. There’s a lot of competition in the 2D platformer space this year, but you absolutely must find the time for Guacamelee 2.