Do you remember a simpler time when videogames were our only form of escapism? It’s the first thing in my memory where choice became a big deal. I understand TV is escapism, and so playing with your imagination, but these usually had outside influences that I had no control over. My life as a baby and then as a curious toddler was built on decisions with no input of my own. Then, something magical happened. Somebody placed me in front of an Amiga with a box full of floppy disks with unlimited potential. I could move Guybrush Threepwood where ever i wanted to! Sometimes, I was even able to solve a puzzle! I was in control of my life, finally. I still however was afraid of the monitor after I turned it off. I would speed out of the room like a little scared kitten. Where do the videogames go after the screen turns off. Do they come to life?
Today, I am only ever slightly afraid of my television. Years of therapy and many upgrades in game console have led me to the stage where I no longer freak out when it turns off. But that is a rare occurrence, as most of my time is spent playing through a library of great videogames. Here are the best of the best we played last year. This is still relevant, as the only new game we played this year is Breath of the Wild, (which is a very good title and has become so close to my heart)
5. Final Fantasy XV
After 10 years of waiting, was it finally worth it? I suppose yes, yes it was. It was certainly different from what I expected, with little prompt from the game to dig deeper into the story and instead letting you roam free with your handsome buddies. The fight system is a little clunky, but fun and the changes in gameplay from Episode Duscae were welcome. The behemoth mission in Duscae is such a pain in the ass, whereas i really enjoyed it in XV. The game is still surprising me with all it’s little secrets and side missions, which don’t really seem to get boring. There’s also a new game plus, a ton of dlc coming which should bring me back after a vacation away from Noct and his pals. Perhaps because of the addition of a Japanese language option, (thank god they had this) I also started to like Prompto, which every news publication actively told me not to. I like him a lot. You were all too cynical about this prettyboy character.
4. Dark Souls III
I am a big Dark Souls fan. The first game changed my perspective of gaming forever, encouraging me to seek challenge and despair wherever I can find it when playing games. Since then, it’s been a yearly tradition to pick up the next installment of whatever FROM SOFTWARE have been working on. Dark Souls III seems to be a hybrid of what worked in Bloodborne, and what people missed in DSII, a good thing for those who felt the second game in the series was a tad dissapointing. It became again the most cherished game on the console for a while, where a half hour play session would turn into 8 or more, invading and betraying my way through the world. The best part about the game is that you always feel that you could be better, could get stronger if you really wanted to. Cameos from previous games made this one feel all the more like a love letter to fans. Still, it doesn’t match the original’s same sense of wonder, the first time you exit the Undead asylum and enter Lordran. I hope whatever FROM have got planned next is going to blow us away even more.
3. Dragon Quest Builders
I always wanted to get into Minecraft, but I couldn’t ever get into it. All I would do was dig down to the centre of the earth and then the sad sweet music would play and I would feel like some little spec of dust in a hole where nobody could find me. I never played a Dragon Quest game before, and this action rpg-block crafter hybrid seemed to be the best place to start. It’s got great music, surprisingly fun gameplay and crafting elements, the fight system is simple but effective, building stuff is fun, exploring is a treat. It has had me hooked since release.
2. Enter the Gungeon
This game was purchased on a whim, but it’s easily the one i’ve spent the most time playing. Enter the Gungeon combines roguelike elements with a Bullet Hell shooter, something I never knew I wanted. The intensity of Bullet Hell schmups is hard not to admire, but stupidly hard to master. I never could really get the hang of them. Could I get the hang of Gungeon? Yes and No. I haven’t beaten it, although I have sunk probably 150 hours into the game. Everytime you play, it’s the first time, with small unlocks here and there. The first boss took so long to beat, I got that feeling of doubt like the first time I played Dark Souls. “Maybe this game is too hard for me.” But no, you have to push on further! If Dark Souls taught me anything, it’s that you never let a game beat you prematurely. Then you start getting through the first, second, third stages, with no problems! The same sense of accomplishment fills you when you start to craft mastery of a game after so much torment. However, I still haven’t beaten it, nor am I close. I did get up to a penultimate boss on the weekend with a friend (who has beaten it) in co-op, but we died. They just released a new (free!) update with new bosses and guns etc, so there is absolutely no reason for me to stop playing this one. I love this game.
1. Darkest Dungeon
Darkest Dungeon looked too weird at first glance, I’ve never been into tabletop D’n’D sessions or old school numbers games. I got it on sale because of it’s gleaming reviews and was still a little skeptical. But this one works so well, it’s the first time where statistics and random elements become actively thrilling. There’s such a great, punishing combat system where slight errors in judgement can lead to the wiping out of your adventuring party, and there it comes, permadeath of some of your favorite adventures. But shit happens, and you got to send in more weary travelers the next day, who may be successful or might share the same fate. So many people, freak out under the pressure and become erratic, leading to your doom. But occasionally something magically happens, and the pressure brings out a heroic quality in an adventurer, sparking a torch of hope in your dread filled heart. The aesthetics, music and voice acting make this game all the more addictive. Like with Dark Souls, the bleak narrative of the game starts to speak to you like a drug. You start to feel the darkness, and you enjoy it. A special shoutout to Wayne June, the lead voice actor of the game, whose amazing gravely voice has helped create a truly intense experience.