You can’t finish every game, unless you’re a true MLG gamer who has videogames as a career. That’s part of the fallacy of the gaming market, because they’re all like PLAY THESE GAMES AND NONE OTHER, but then every time something popular comes out it only lasts about a week because—oops, almost went on a tangent. Anyway, as a non-gamer, I only own maybe seventy-five games (I traded a lot of my Gamecube and Wii games from back in the day because I didn’t have the foresight to know they’d become antiques), possibly less, and I don’t even think I’ve finished half of them. A lot of the time, I just don’t think they’re worth my precious time, but sometimes there really is no reason. My mind just says “No, you’re not playing it.” Here’s a top seven list of those games.
I’d preface this by saying how popular Blacktail was… but I honestly don’t know that information. It was supposedly trending on Steam at some point at launch, but like I said before, there are so many games and the market changes faster than humans can possibly follow yet they expect you to—ANYWAY, this is a title I looked forward to for some time.
It looked beautiful and unique, drawing inspiration from Slavic mythology. From what I played, it has really good first-person combat with some open world survival elements. The dash is responsive and versatile, and has a morality system. I normally don’t like games like this, because that freedom of choice comes in quotation marks, for there is almost always a True Ending locked behind the devs’ pre-conceived vision. I ended up looking this up and I learned that Blacktail apparently has only one ending regardless of what you do, which a lot of Steam users were mad at. It’s presumably an allegory to how good and evil doesn’t exist and such acts are only defined as such by humans. Anyway, it is great and all, but it is a bit in the edgy Grimm-style gothic fairy tale category, and I generally don’t like that in my games. I prefer even a little humor. Also, I have it on PC, and it is one of the most demanding ones I have at that. My paranoia with my computer’s GPU definitely has an influence here.
I feel really bad with this one… barring the fishing content update, I am basically in position to finish Sable at any time. It’s not even difficult; it’s one of those “wholesome” games. With a unique aesthetic and transportive atmosphere, Sable was definitely one of the best open world indie games of 2021. It takes the barren and empty biome that is the desert and fills it with variety and interesting landmarks. I just… I dunno, man. I just haven’t been in the mood. There is also the fact that I essentially played an altogether better clone of it in SEASON: a letter to the future, which also has non-violent exploration with a vehicle companion, but additionally has a way stronger narrative that just feels more compelling. Sable is excellent in and of itself, though.
5) Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope
I bought this and its DLC at launch, so I clearly was excited. As only one of two strategy RPGs I’ve played, it’s definitely a new experience. Mechanically, the game has a wide variety of strategies with numerous characters that have unique playstyles. There’s plenty to do in each world, and the incorporation of dashing and jumping from Super Mario rewards good reflexes to execute optimal strategies. The cutscenes are some of the best for Mario and Co., with tons of personality.
However, it does have some iffy bits. There isn’t really any freedom in building your units, other than equipping up to two titular Sparks. Some enemy Units (such as those lightning tiger men introduced in that one world) are just tedious to fight. Also, you are locked to three characters (except in certain missions), but it’s more like two since Rabbid Peach is the only one with a dedicated healing move. It also has a lackluster soundtrack, which is a Super Mario sin. I might come back to it now that the DLC is rolling out—which will eventually include the return of Rayman to his own series—but for now, I haven’t been in the mood.
4) Nobody Saves the World
From the devs of Guacamelee, Nobody Saves the World is a whacky beat ‘em up/dungeon crawler where you transform into various things—from a mouse, to an archer, to a horse, to an egg—and fight legions of monsters with them. Mechanically, it’s really good. It scratches the beat ‘em up itch, and most importantly, you can assign skills to other forms to create—say—a horse that fires missiles. It’s really good, but… I dunno, again, I just haven’t been in the mood. Most likely, it’s the caveat with beat ‘em ups in that they are substantially more fun in multiplayer, which Nobody Saves the World incidentally has.
3) Both Yakuza 0 and Yakuza: Like a Dragon
I seem to be cursed to where all the games for weebs are not in my wheelhouse. I gave the famously absurd Yakuza franchise a chance, though, with two of its most highly acclaimed titles, but ultimately have not been in the mood to finish either of them.
Let’s start with what—from what I could tell—makes Yakuza by far SEGA’s most polished and perfected I.P. Even as someone who doesn’t care for story, these two games have engaging cutscenes that are more like live action dramas, but don’t feel as pretentious as Western ones. Yakuza: Like a Dragon (which is technically the name of the series twice, since Yakuza is the Western localization of Ryu ga Gotoku, which translates to “like a dragon”) has a particularly good narrative. The combat of both is excellent. Yakuza 0, as with most of the franchise, plays like a classic beat ‘em up in the vein of Shenmue, with intricate combos, and over-the-top special moves, as well as specific actions that involve the environment. Yakuza: Like a Dragon plays like a turn-based RPG, which is more accessible but is still ridiculous in its own way.
However, both games seem to have their own trappings. One of the most egregious issues is that they are immensely grindy for a number of reasons, such as the gacha-based item-finding mechanic in 0, where you need more and more money to get better loot and to decrease the time it takes to bring the loot in, or the obscene amount of yen you need to upgrade weapons and the crafting shop in Like a Dragon. This is from someone who completed every Rare Blade skill tree in Xenoblade Chronicles 2, so that means it’s REALLY bad. 0 seems to have a mechanic where you generate money automatically over time (that goes to show you how little I’ve done in that game), but man, you need that money all the same. Yakuza 0 is also very difficult at times, and Like a Dragon has some seriously spongey bosses—even when overleveled by a wide margin.
The biggest turn-off for me, however, is that there are a lot of sidequests locked behind minigames. The sidequests are some of the best parts of Yakuza, and I can’t experience them all. Seriously, I played shogi on the easiest difficulty for over two hours and couldn’t win ONCE. It also doesn’t help that a lot of sidequests have right/wrong answers and can be annoying. Maybe Yakuza is just not for me. Womp womp.
This is probably one of the best games of 2021. You can tell it was made with blood, sweat, and manly crocodile tears. It has gorgeous and unique pixel art, as well as Eastward wearing its Earthbound influence on its sleeve. The dialogue isn’t just well-written; the story is extremely well-told.
However, it has some caveats that take getting used to. Despite the gameplay borrowing from 2D Zelda, it really isn’t a Zelda-like game at all. Exploration is limited, almost every collectable is missable, and to rub salt in the wound, there is almost no warning for when you pass one of those cutoff points; just casually going over to someone’s house to deliver lunch can trigger a sudden change in the story dynamic. Eastward is more like Final Fantasy X than Zelda, and this MUST be kept in mind. Unfortunately, I didn’t expect this, and have felt turned off from it for a while. It doesn’t help that the puzzles—from what I’ve played—are mind-numbingly simple, failing to execute upon the wide variety of gameplay mechanics you are given.
While the story is really good, I don’t know if it can carry average gameplay. I do come to miss this game at times, but I still haven’t played it again in about two years now. Like the Magic Conch says: “maybe someday.”
1) Satisfactory maybe?
I’m not sure this one counts, because I by all means LOVE this game to death but I haven’t been in the mood to play it lately. I have almost a hundred hours in it, and have played a bit of Update Seven. Satisfactory is an exceptionally good crafting/open world/sandbox/base building/automation/logistics game with excellent UI, virtually no limit on how to build a factory, and a—no pun intended—satisfying progression system. It is a game where you feel like you are a god. Also, unlike some other automation games, resource deposits are infinite.
However, these kinds of games are full of caveats, but it actually takes a long time to feel the pinch. Learning how mechanics work is intuitive enough, but—similar to many other crafting games and their ilk—Satisfactory feels more balanced around multiplayer. There are numerous times in the campaign where I feel like I’ve pulled my teeth out to make a mind-bogglingly complex resource, and the best setup I have is about a mile long track of machines, and it takes them about twenty minutes to make one… just for that resource to be an ingredient in even more mind-bogglingly complex resource. In addition to that, you have to build machines that specialize in generating power for your factory, and since Satisfactory is super Capitalist in terms of theming, there is no taking advantage of low-maintenance sources such as solar or wind; EVERYTHING needs to burn at least one resource (also, why does the nuclear plant need water?). Also, Oil is an annoying resource, because it always needs to be refined into other things, and that refinement speed—even with maximum overclock settings—is slower than what a lot of those resulting resources are used for, such as burning fuel in Fuel Generators. The mechanics of the game will actively work against you as it becomes more of a struggle to increase and maintain power.
It feels like there’s almost too much to do, as if it was intended to split up a team of players to do stuff like keeping up with maintenance in the base, while others expand and build the maze of devices needed to make those insane resources, or explore the vast overworld for loot. I like a lot to do in a game, but even in its current Early Access state, it can take at least two hundred hours to get through all available Tiers. That doesn’t include the hundreds of thousands of resources you need to convert into tickets to redeem various trophies in-game, which I presume will be tied to Achievements once those are added. I also have felt crushing loneliness playing Satisfactory solo, which is similar to a lot of other open world survival games I’ve played. Even if they are really good gameplay-wise, a lot of the fun comes from bringing at least one extra player. I’ve played many open world survival games and felt similar burnout every single time.
On the flipside, Satisfactory’s immensity makes it so that you really don’t need any other game of this kind. It really is one of the best, but I dunno… it might just be TOO good. Also, again, it’s a resource intensive PC game, and even with its internal fans and an external cooling device, my computer feels like an oven when running it. I’ve only had it for a year and it was a top-of-the-line computer too… What kind of beasts are Twitch streamers running by comparison?!
As someone who loves videogames, I often tell myself that I hate videogames. Boy, there are sure a lot of these fellas out there, right? Well, the real purpose of this post was to introduce you, the reader, to some games that I might never get to publish a proper review for. Hope you enjoyed this mess of a post, and maybe, you’ll have a better game clearing rate than me.
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