“Variations on a theme” is a phrase I’ve employed to describe the games of Hidetaka Miyazaki, but it’s all a bit more complicated with Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. It shares ample DNA with the games that made Miyazaki famous—Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls, and Bloodborne—but it’s also much more distinct. Any particular SoulsBorne game is unique, but looks and plays basically like the others. Sekiro doesn’t. The result is a game that revels in its surprises while nonetheless feeling familiar as an old shoe, or a loyal dog that bites. Hard.
I could’ve predicted to you two months ago that this thing was going to be a sensation.
I could’ve and should’ve. I had the headline at least written, but then I got lazy and then I didn’t write anything. Then I played the game.
Devil May Cry 5.
2018 will place, respectably, just after 2017, but definitely before 2016, 2015 and 2014 as the second best year of the PS4/Xbox One/Nintendo Switch generation (2019 TBD). Behold!
While everyone out there was getting psyched about the Resident Evil 2 Remake, and Kingdom Hearts 3 finally on the horizon, I was still lingering over one bit of sad news happening in gaming this week. On January 30, 2019, the Wii Shop Channel will close down… Forever.
Full Title: Games I Liked in 2018 and also in 2017 because I didn’t do a list last year but it’s okay; time is an illusion and it’s not like you can’t also still buy 2017 games in 2018
This is a big list of games that I played that had an impact on me. Most aren’t really listed in terms of objective quality. Consider this a list of my top two Games of the Year in indies, followed by a lot of other stuff I felt like talking about as a sort of two-years-in-review. Doing this exercise, I realize what a full year it’s been, but I only notice this now upon taking time to reflect. I also make a lot of comments about other game writing in this article. Even though I don’t get around to writing so much myself these days, I see a lot of what other people are saying about games and I have feelings about the things they say.
Lots of games and some snark below the jump.
I default to assuming the worst about Rockstar Games. That is a reasonable position because Rockstar is the worst. My years in the industry have shown me little to contradict the impression that Sam and Dan Houser are egomaniacal assholes who treat their employees like garbage and perpetuate a studio culture fueled with fear, run by a leadership that never hesitates to lie on record.
The Housers insist they’re making some of the best games in the world, conflating “best” with “most successful.” I appreciate Rockstar’s consistently excellent stories, writing, and cinematics, but I’ve never truly warmed to any of their work. Imagine my surprise, then, when I fired up Red Dead Redemption 2, a game that’s breathtaking in experience, masterful in design, and almost incomprehensible in scope.
Tap announcement time!
This weekend myself and friends are rocking PAX Unplugged in Philadelphia, home of tabletop and board games.
Tomorrow, starting around 2 PM EST (but keep your eyes open) you’ll be able to watch the finale of our current Dungeons & Dragons adventure live from the show! Please tune in to Twitch.TV/Elliface which is our home channel for Dungeons & Dragons & Chicken – our ongoing campaign.
And if you’re at the show, then see you there!
It’s been a busy and stressful week so I’m a bit late with this episode of Side by Side. If only I could have got another version of myself to post this on Wednesday!
Well that’s sort of the idea behind Chronobot, a free 1v1 competitive local multiplayer game where each player co-operates (hah!) with previous timelines of themselves to jockey with the other for different objectives. Joel Goodwin of Electron Dance and I were pleasantly surprised, and confused, by this one.
There’s been a lot of balls this season. First, the not-so regular Regular Human Basketball, followed a little later by the zany Anyball, and now we’re on to our third (but not final): Waynetron’s Birdsketball, which is undoubtedly the most straight forward of the lot. Joel Goodwin of Electron Dance and I adored this which translated to one of our favourite episodes of the season.
Last night I attended a special screening of Transformers: The Movie, which was held around the country. It was crowded and energetic, full of old fans like myself and with parents who wanted to show the movie to their young kids. It’s not what you could call a good film, objectively speaking, but it’s a film I love. I remarked aloud, leaving the movie, that it’s essentially the same movie as Infinity War. “Just skipping around incoherently from set-piece to set-piece, brutally killing off beloved childhood characters.” I paused and added, “I guess at least in Transformers, the soundtrack is better.” The guy next to me remarked: “And the acting.”
And it’s almost true. The big heavy of the film is Orson Welles, in his last role. He is phoning in a performance voicing what is effectively the robot devil. The audio is distorted to high heck because of his failing health at the time. It’s not a complex character role to play. But in spite of all that, the work is at least evocative.
As I mentioned in my previous review, I just got back from PAX West 2018. Here’s a by no means complete list of games I played there and thought were interesting!
I’m not going to talk here about upcoming AAA releases like Kingdom Hearts 3 and Devil May Cry 5. (Though if you didn’t know that both of those games are coming out, they are!) Instead I’m just going to talk about small/indie games that caught my interest. Not only do I love indie games, but the lines to play them are a lot shorter, so you get more game in your day. Win/win!
Remember when I used to write words about video games? Man, good times.
On this the week after PAX West (which, was basically the last time I seriously wrote about video games one year ago, as the mood struck me), I decided to jump in on the release of Ben Esposito’s Donut County. I attended Ben’s GDC talk about the development of the game a few years ago, and I wanted to see how the final product ended up.