Tuesday, May 31, 2022

2022 Games of the Year: Cyberpunk 2077

Cyberpunk 2077 finally released the current gen version of the game this year alongside patches that fixed a lot of the bugs and major complaints from early reviews.  I had been waiting for it to hit that point so I grabbed it on sale and ended up liking it enough to play through the whole game.

That being said, this game is mostly... fine.  It's a fine game.  It's not amazing but not horrible either.

The fidelity of the world they've created is a huge achievement.  Night City feels well realized.  I was impressed by the overall look and feel of the game.

But the gameplay wasn't great.  It felt like so many first person western RPGs that I've played before.  If you've ever played an Elder Scrolls or Fallout game, this is very similar.  The combat is serviceable but not actually very fun moment to moment.  There's a lot of side content but ultimately not much reason to engage with it.  The main story is what kept me interested enough to finish the game but I didn't get a huge feeling of satisfaction for finishing that either.

Cyberpunk 2077 falls firmly into the middle of the pack for me compared to other games I've played this year.  The production values and the world building are what puts it above a handful of others on my list.  Here's where it lands in my ongoing Game of the Year rankings:

  1. Elden Ring
  2. FFXIV Endwalker
  3. Citizen Sleeper
  4. The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe
  5. Horizon Forbidden West
  6. Pokémon Legends: Arceus
  7. Chrono Cross: Radical Dreamers Edition
  8. Halo Infinite
  9. Vampire Survivors
  10. Cyberpunk 2077
  11. Triangle Strategy
  12. LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
  13. Nobody Saves the World
  14. Unpacking
  15. Total War: Warhammer 3
  16. Tunic

I feel like there's lots of potential for this one to get pushed further down the list as the year goes on.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Games of the Year 2022: Citizen Sleeper

Citizen Sleeper may be my favorite cyberpunk story ever.  I loved this game.

Citizen Sleeper is an interactive storytelling game.  It has some visual novel elements, but it also has dice rolling, and also some resource management.  I've never been able to click with actual visual novels because there's not enough interaction for me.  This game hits the sweet spot of having some gameplay mechanics to grapple with to get you to the next story beat while still being primarily about the story.

And the story is truly what makes Citizen Sleeper land for me.  I don't have the space here to talk through everything that happens... and I wouldn't want to spoil it anyway.  But, I will say that Citizen Sleeper deals with deep thoughts about what makes a person a person.  It delves into whether you are you mind or your body while also tackling themes of chronic conditions through the cyberpunk lens.

I hope this one turns into an indie darling in game of the year discussions at the major gaming outlets.  I would love to hear Citizen Sleeper getting debated in GOTY talks.

This one is ranking really high for me.  I need some more time for it to fully sink in, but it's in the running for my favorite cyberpunk story of all time.  That's why Citizen Sleeper is coming in hot at number three:

  1. Elden Ring
  2. FFXIV Endwalker
  3. Citizen Sleeper
  4. The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe
  5. Horizon Forbidden West
  6. Pokémon Legends: Arceus
  7. Chrono Cross: Radical Dreamers Edition
  8. Halo Infinite
  9. Vampire Survivors
  10. Triangle Strategy
  11. LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
  12. Nobody Saves the World
  13. Unpacking
  14. Total War: Warhammer 3
  15. Tunic
I'm always so happy when an indie comes out of nowhere and grabs me like this one did.  And, as an extra bonus, it's on Xbox Game Pass so there's not much barrier to entry to check it out.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

2022 Games of the Year: The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe


The Stanley Parable is a game I missed out on when it originally came out.  I played something like 10 minutes of it, didn't get what it was trying to do, and set it down.

Last week, a newly updated "Ultra Deluxe" version of the game came out on basically all the consoles.  People were finally talking about it more openly instead of being cagey around the core premise and I quickly realized the game is very meta and very much about exploring different choices over and over again in the same game.  I decided to give it another shot and am glad I did.

I kind of love this game.  I also now see why it was so hard for people to talk about.  To give any concrete examples from the game is inherently to spoil some of the core fun.

But, I can talk a little bit about what this game is.  At it's core, it could be reduced to a "walking simulator" but that doesn't do it justice.  It's also a choose your own adventure... and an examination of what makes a game a game.  On top of that, it's a re-examination of itself over time.

But maybe the best way to give a feel for it is to talk about the first real choice (of many, many choices).  You come into a room with two doors and the narrator says that Stanley goes into the left door.  But... you don't have to.  You can go against what the narrator says.  And that, in itself, is core to what the game is about.

I was incredibly surprised by how much I liked The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe.  It's landing fairly high on my list, currently coming in at number 3:

  1. Elden Ring
  2. FFXIV Endwalker
  3. The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe
  4. Horizon Forbidden West
  5. Pokémon Legends: Arceus
  6. Chrono Cross: Radical Dreamers Edition
  7. Halo Infinite
  8. Vampire Survivors
  9. Triangle Strategy
  10. LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
  11. Nobody Saves the World
  12. Unpacking
  13. Total War: Warhammer 3
  14. Tunic

We'll see how it holds up over time but I suspect this is a game I'll be thinking about for a long time.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

2022 Games of the Year: Chrono Cross the Radical Dreamers Edition


Chrono Cross The Radical Dreamers Edition is a remaster of the original PS1 game that just released a few weeks ago.  I played the original Chrono Cross when it first came out so I wanted to dip back into it to see if it held up to my memories.

I'm honestly kind of surprised that I stuck with it, finished the whole game, and generally enjoyed the experience.  There's some roughness around the edges and there are a lot of things that wouldn't fly in modern games from a quality of life features perspective, but all of that is because it was a PS1 game and this is just a remaster.

They did end up adding a few things that help if you feel like enabling them.  There's a battle boost, a no encounter mode, an autobattle mode, and (my favorite) the speed up mode.  Speed up mode in particular went a long way towards making this game more acceptable through a modern gaming lens.  I basically had the speed up enabled in every battle and every time I was exploring the overworld.  It helped keep the pace of the game snappy instead of dragging.

For the game itself, it's still Chrono Cross.  I remember liking it when it first came out but most of the details had blurred in my memory with time.  I'm glad I got a chance to revisit it and re-experience all the things I had forgotten.

This is actually ranking fairly high for me and cracked the top five in my running rankings since it resonated in a nostalgic way.  Here's where it landed:

  1. Elden Ring
  2. FFXIV Endwalker
  3. Horizon Forbidden West
  4. Pokémon Legends: Arceus
  5. Chrono Cross: Radical Dreamers Edition
  6. Halo Infinite
  7. Vampire Survivors
  8. Triangle Strategy
  9. LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
  10. Nobody Saves the World
  11. Unpacking
  12. Total War: Warhammer 3
  13. Tunic

I wouldn't recommend this one to anyone who hasn't already played the original, but can easily recommend it if you have good memories of the original and want to walk down memory lane.

As an added bonus, I listened to the Minnmax deepest dive on the game as I played through and having that feeling of others to play alongside was great!