As we launch ourselves into 2018 after what can be best described as a volatile and chaotic year, we consider the games in our wake. Truth be told, I believe we’ve gotten quite our share of games, both awe inspiringly great and shamefully awful. To reflect this, I did manage to get my personal summary of the year down-and-out-the-way-with in my The World of Riobux in 2017 article. Seriously, it was turbulent enough that using my life as an intro like prior years (which you can read here, here and here!) would have dominated what matters: The games.
So how does this work? Very much like last year. I talk about the 2017 games that woo’d me and then the ones that left me booing, all the way to a crowing top and a deplorable bottom. I also gush excitingly about a non-year specific game strutting onto the stage for their Riobux Lifetime Award, an aspect of the title symbolising what is wonderful about video games. We also delve into the Riobux Cautionary Tale Award, symbolising a colossal misstep worth analysing like the Chernobyl Disaster.
There is a twist, just a slight one. Last year I gave 5 games a top or a bottom, dabbling into a Special Mentions. However, 2017 was such an extraordinairy year for blunders and brilliance that keeping it at 5 each would lead to important tiles being left out in the cold. Today, we bring those games that are noteworthily brilliant and awful in. We will be counting to 10 instead of 5 for both top and bottom, but games given a 10 to 6 ranking wouldn’t be numbered and likely have less depth talking about them than 5 to 1 titles. Now, if you’re ready, let’s get into our...
Top Games of 2017 10 – 6
You can read my original review: here.
A lot of Danganronpa V3 is plagued by the typical problems with Danganronpa: Unsolvable (or too easy to solve) mysteries, characters who are a single note playing over and over and an ending that is flamboyantly bizarre seemingly for the sake of it. It also has clear problems compared to predecessors in the form of ultimate abilities that overlap with prior game’s ultimates, an ending that is particularly strange and over-the-top and the feeling that the writing had run its course long ago.
However, it still makes it within the top 10 (albeit the bottom half) due to a gutsy part of the ending. It is peculiar for me to see a developer admit they don’t want to make any more iterations to the series and confess they only make it to make ends meet. I’m grossly simplifying to hide what actually is said (especially as it is more subtle, but still rather on-the-nose as is the Danganronpa way), but as someone who really believes game series should be unafraid to end I found the balls of the writer impressive to look upon. However, some points are deducted for not taking at least a little responsibility for dragging the series out.
What a delicious puzzle Sexy Brutale has. On a long enough timeline the people in a house will die, but if you interrupt the chain of events that lead to their death then you can hopefully save them. It reminds me of Shadow of Memories, except not shit. The aesthetic is gorgeous as well, having a lovely colourful look. My only grumble is the writing, which throughout is somewhat bland and by the end is simply good, like a warm apple pie. I also take some issues with how easy the puzzles can be. That said, I still thoroughly enjoyed myself with the Sexy Brutale, particularly due to its unique nature.
You can read my original review: here.
Tokyo Dark captures that sensation that all too many forms of story telling attempt and fail at: The feeling of wanting to know the truth while knowing great peril is ahead. It is wonderfully bleak while carrying plenty of endings depending on the choices you make in your journey to find out why a dead girl just kidnapped your boyfriend. Sure it’s glitches are dreadful and unusually plentiful and it is true that sometimes characters feel jarringly light-hearted. That said, it scratched a dark fiction itch that few games in 2017 did as well as provide True Sadness and Otherside (which were my favourite video game songs of the year).
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
You can read my original review: here.
Usually when a game boasts mental illness in its plot, I scoff. Few games have managed to approach the topic seriously and simulate mental illness in an accurate way, fewer still tackle mental disorders that aren’t depression/anxiety. Yet Hellblade is built with schizophrenia in mind and, albeit as someone with rudimentary knowledge about schizophrenia, it feels like they manage to nail it mostly. The combat was also well done mostly, feeling sleek and sharp. Then there’s the narrative, as they talk about the Viking invasion of the UK, which is done excellent mostly.
The main hobbling point is it is clear Ninja Theory focused more on the beginning and middle, and didn’t have time or resources to polish what is a heavily marred ending. Even I’m not sure what the hell the ending exactly was about, although the general impression I got was “wait, are you saying Senua cured her schizophrenia by fighting people?”. Also, leaving an important piece of contextualising information behind collecting every unlockable is cruel, as is just flat out lying to people about a vague “life system”. I still thoroughly enjoyed Hellblade and think it is an important game, but I don’t like liars and incoherent endings that may say something disgustingly wrong about schizophrenia.
Life is Strange: Before the Storm
Would you believe it if I said this got so close to the top 5. I mean, all games from 6 to 10 did, but this got SO close. In a slower year, this would have made it. Episodes 1 and 2 were great, revealing Chloe’s relationship with Rachael Amber before Life is Strange. Yet like Life is Strange, Before the Storm face-plants on the final episode. From a minor character randomly dominating a scene, to three endings that don’t really change much, Before the Storm Episode 3 feels trapped by knowing what becomes of Rachael Amber, focusing more on Rachael than Chloe and only having a 3rd episode rather than the standard “5 episode format” that is all too popular. So close, but alas, swing and a miss. Good try though and I still recommend it to Life is Strange fans!
With our 10th-6th top 10 entries dealt with, let’s leap on to the top 5.
5th Best Game of the Year
Zero Escape: The Nonary Games
Like cycling home from work in the crisp cool morning.
You can read my original review: here.
Oh boy. If this was the first release of 999 and Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward, this would be an easy winner of Game of the Year. Basically imagine 45 hours worth of visual novel mixed with puzzles, yet the writing is fantastic. This is especially regarding to Virtue’s Last Reward who managed to have countless twists and yet each one is able to be guessed before it happens, none of this left-field shit, and yet are sneaky enough that it’ll creep up if you’re not paying attention.
Virtue’s Last Reward also came with a handy flow chart for you to zip between, so you can back track to a prior choice without losing anything. This is something you’ll have to do as you’ll be carrying information from one timeline to another to unlock more of the plot and...Oh dear, I better not spoil more.
Yet this isn’t just a straight port job. They added a flowchart system to 999, which avoids my biggest pet peeve of the game: Having to restart the game over and over to get particular endings. This is despite it creating… Awkward plot holes. They also redid the art of 999 and… Well… I actually prefer the pixel art of the original. This is especially as, now redrawn, some poses by some characters look flat out strange.
This is the only game I’ve ever given a 10 out of 10 for when reviewing. My main reluctance of crowning it game of the year comes from how it is a port job, which means it isn’t anything new. Still, I highly recommend anyone with a narrative interest picking it up. This is especially as 999 is inaccessible outside of buying a DS cartridge.
4th Best Game of the Year
Resident Evil 7
Like killing the entire enemy team by yourself in a 5 v 5 match.
Oh boy did I get ready to find it unplayable. Oh no, I don’t mean to say I thought it’d be shit, the press was positive enough that I was convinced it had cured cancer. I mean the demo scared me to the point where I couldn’t play it. Yet something about Resident Evil 7’s full game felt tense without feeling rife with jump-scares and foreboding atmosphere. In fact, it had a good amount of combat, and yet constantly would discourage you firing any bullets lest you run out.
It is also as absurd as the classic Resident Evil 2, and yet its bold attempt at straight-faced narrative paid off as I felt hooked. I also adored how small things really were, that you were just a small part of a major event, as the story felt more intimate. You weren’t just blasting away zombies by the hundreds, you were ducking and weaving between actual people infected. These were people who had their mind enough to resemble human, but with boundless cruelty. Sure they turned into bizarre creatures and the reason for their infection was ludicrous, but the straight-face build up made the moments of flamboyant display palatable.
Then there’s the DLC. Sure a good deal was just crap. Yet, I had a lot of love for Nightmare as it tapped into how much I adore last-stand modes. In addition is the recent episodes End of Zoe and Not a Hero, both absolutely absurd in every way and definitely pushed the boundaries of straight-faced acceptance. Yet, it was fun and unusual. It isn’t every day you play a game where your main weapon against abominations is your fists. Not a Hero felt like Resident Evil 6 oddly, yet with a radically different directorial style that made it enjoyable. Resident Evil 7 is definitely a close contender for my favourite Resident Evil game, next to 2, and an easy title to recommend.
3rd Best Game of the Year
Like stumbling on a memory card with tens of thousands of pounds worth of Bitcoins on it.
Usually point and click adventures do little for me, and usually developers who attempt humour often come across as painfully smug. Yet Paradigm is a peculiar beast. You play as a mutant who must find out why a sentient sloth is trying to kill him, meeting the type of absurd characters you’d be expected to meet in what feels like a colourful Eastern European radioactive wasteland. Paradigm combines genuinely amusing dialogue with oddly-realistic uncanny valley aesthetics to lure you into its ludicrous world. It definitely is a personal favourite with regards to point and click adventure titles (as I turn my nose up to Lucas Art games) and I recommend it to anyone who watches the trailer and thoroughly enjoys the nutty nature of it.
2nd Best Game of the Year
Like accidentally stumbling on a way to invent eternal youth...
You can read my original review: here.
I adored Persona 4: Golden back in the day for its gameplay and narrative, being the first JRPG I could muster the patience to finish. So naturally I felt allured to pre-order and play Persona 5, which the first seal of approval is I actually finished the 100 hour play time. The second one is Persona 5 is stylistically gorgeous. Everything has a slight cartoonish punkish style that makes even menu navigation a pleasure to stroll through.
Then there’s the gameplay. Oh lord! They added ranged weapon mechanics which can be a weakness or just sprayed to deal with a problem. The dungeons feel 3d rather than just narrow corridors to run down, as you leap over the architecture like the Phantom Thief you are. That is putting aside that the dungeons are each unique and fantastic to look upon.
...But the narrative is good. That feels weird to say, but I did expect a narrative more deeper and analytical for a game whose predecessors gave us Persona 4’s shadows (i.e. personal demons). Instead a bastard is a bastard due to a deep rooted part of their psyche and upon being removed they confess their crimes. There’s not much room for sympathy. The only sympathy mustered is, oddly, in the one place Persona 4 was weaker for: It’s antagonist. Rather than telling the traitor to just get a grip, you sympathise, you reach out and want to help them through the anguish that caused them to be who they are. It’s an excellent scene and boss fight, one I’m surprised I scraped through after being ambushed with little health. Just that is one of the few huge highlights.
And we arrive at our Game of the Year. You know how some people made their lists early December? Games like this is why it’s unwise as I personally only heard of it in December. It snuck out the door with little attention and I literally only knew of it via word-of-mouth. So, after my teasing, let’s get into our Game of the Year 2017.
1st Best Game of the Year
Doki Doki Literature Club
...And finding a way to stop time perception speeding up so eternal youth isn't a road to dementia.
This is the part where I unveil with a creeping grin of the brilliance of our Game of the Year, but I wouldn’t. Seriously, just play it. It’s free and it is my Game of the Year.
We then find ourselves at my lifetime award. As I said before, this goes out to a game whose excellence we can learn from, either a momentary moment of brilliance or a constant stream of golden love. We’ve had Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward, Mount & Blade: Warband and The Witcher 3. Today we’re going to step off the beaten path and unravel what is likely one of the most ambitious and unique games out there.
The 4th Riobux Lifetime Award goes to…
...The Black Watchmen
Alternative Reality Games are a peculiar beast and one I’ve watched from a distance. Usually they’re too much for me in difficulty, my main test being when I tried NotPron and failed abysmally. Yet, I turned my back on The Black Watchmen for another reason which I’ll reveal later.
In The Black Watchmen you play as agents who must investigate conspiracies in a world constantly moments away from The Illuminati being name dropped. This is done by presenting you a puzzle to solve. What kind of puzzle varies wildly. Sometimes you’ll need to scour photos (genuine photos), other times pick a correct option (e.g. what surveillance camera to bug) or maybe you’ll need to rife through a fake-website of a company for information.
My giving up point was, bizarrely, the game got too real. I was expected to e-mail a given e-mail address using my actual e-mail account pretending to be someone. I felt anxious of what if it went wrong. If I sent it to the wrong account, what would happen if I solved it wrong and more. So I stopped, although that isn’t to say I don’t find The Black Watchmen intriguing as hell.
It is incredible how meta The Black Watchmen gets. They use video footage with actual actors, they ask players to record themselves saying what is pretty much a garbled message and even ask players to physically go to places as a form of special ops in the field. If there is a game currently about that blends reality and fiction, it’s The Black Watchmen, and for that reason it gets my 4th Lifetime Award.
Yet with the good times must be the bad. To appreciate how wonderful 2017 is, you have to sift through the drivel that seeped into the public like The Blob. We have the same rules with the top 10: The bottom 10 to 6 will be unranked and shamed, while the bottom 5 will be ranked and mocked. Let’s get this done and out the way with.
Bottom Games of 2017 10-6
Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus
Wolfenstein: The New Order was more noteworthy for me than I think it had to be. While the gameplay was solid, the story silly and yet dramatically gripping and the graphics glib-tastic, it wasn’t what grabbed me. What make me pay attention was just how weary BJ Blazkowicz was. Sure he hated Nazis, the trail behind him assured us that, but he also begun to wonder of the futility of it. That the world was conquered, and he was one guy with a load of guns. That maybe after he dies, the world will go on apathetically. It wasn’t a heavy component, just put here-and-there in dialogues to himself, but a significant one.
When Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus cranked EVERYTHING up, they seemed to have cranked up BJ’s personal tragedy. They dragged his disruptive family life into the mix, ruining subtlety and ignoring the burning question the prior game wrestled with: If the world is mad, what use is fighting it?
Yet by cranking everything up, they stayed in the same place. There is a Mars Base instead of a Moon Base, your gang is still loud and boisterous, now to an obnoxious degree (Grace being a constant grinding point), and the finale involves killing the big bad general. It feels unnecessary and I wish they hadn’t bothered.
Cook Serve Delicious 2
I loved the original. The sequel doesn’t work due to a large array of graphical glitches making it unplayable. Similar to Wolfenstein 2, it also feels stuck in who it was, running over the same old grounds and yet somehow worse. Not much else to say.
I still have a lot of love for Verdun, a realistic WW1 shooter whose attention to detail mocks the multi-million dollar affair that is Battlefield 1. Yet Tannenberg feels dead on arrival, as servers are packed with AI to compensate for a low player count. This abundance of AI in a PvP title is a real killer. Also, no last-stand mode like Verdun, which means I can’t just throw it on as a stress reliever. I hope it improves, but I am not holding my breath.
Dawn of War 3
You can read my original review: here.
After the success of Dawn of War’s base-building and Dawn of War 2’s squad-heavy tactical hero based RTS, where do you go? Apparently you mash them together, along with some MOBA elements in for good measure. Unsurprisingly it loses the tactical element of 2 and the base-building focus of 1. It swaggers around drunk not sure what it is doing before puking on your nice shoes. It isn’t anger inducing, otherwise it’d be hitting the top 5 for angering me while soiling what was an excellent brand, but rather patience-testing every step of the way.
This might be a controversial pick as it isn’t exactly bad precisely. The gameplay is enjoyable, allowing you to fight against players fluidity while customising your fighter with moves and equipment. Sure the combo building system and the fighting style system is needlessly complicated, but there is still an enjoyable game there.
The problem, bizarrely, lies in just how small it is. You can complete the campaign in about 5 to 6 hours, one dominated by playing hide-and-seek with mini-bosses in areas around the open world. You then beat the final boss, who is more a push over than expected, and told to sod off until more story content is unlocked. Then it says if I want to fight the bosses again, I need to level up in PvP mode. Which considering PvP is dominated by people with a lot better gear and moves than you, is a huge problem. It really makes that £25 price mark really hard to swallow.
And now, onwards to ranking the worst of the year.
5th Worst Game of the Year
This is the Police
Like finding out you got two 14 1/2 hour shifts in a row.
Padding is a problem and a perfect juxtaposition with Absolver above. Sometimes a game just needs to trim it’s content quantity a bit to avoid dragging everything out. Yet this is the problem with This is the Police. It is a solid game with solid mechanics, and yet most the game will be spent throwing cops at problems over and over and over again. It is a 20 hour game hiding what is actually a 10 hour game inside it. What should be punchy mechanics is actually anaesthetising, playing more because you can’t be bothered to stop. For such a bland porridge-esque experience, the 5th slot goes to you.
4th Worst Game of the Year
Solstice Chronicles: MIA
Like catching a heavy flu from your partner who negates to tell you they have it prior to a pretty heavy night.
You can read my original review: here.
Long long ago I was asked to review The Red Solstice by a website that has since closed. I had generally a good time as I ran from place to place with companions, trying to keep the creatures of Mars from liquefying my guts while inside my skin. However, Solstice Chronicles: MIA decided that survival co-op isn’t the way to go, and instead made a single-player campaign along a linear path.
However, there is an idea within horror circles where you don’t explain why the horror monsters want to crack your astronaut helmet against the rocks, as the mystery allows players to project their own fears into the space. Maybe domination? Maybe to feast? Maybe to even inject it’s young into your skin, using you as a living incubator until pop goes the innards? Solstice Chronicles: MIA explained it’s mystery away as an infection, crushing tension permanently.
Then again, the characterisation isn’t much better, with Grim Brooding the Marine and his trusty side-kick: Claptrap. There’s something horribly smug about every line the robot companion vomits out gutturally.
Only the gunplay remains a small diamond, but this diamond is too rough and small on the backdrop of hideous environments, atrocious writing and naff mission design.
3rd Worst Game of the Year
Shadow of War
Like finding out you missed out on Christmas Sales by 2 weeks before buying a new expensive tower unit.
Okay, let’s get the obvious criticism out the way: The lootboxes are terrible and only serve a pay-to-win formula in the PvP setting.
However, if it was exploitative lootboxes, it wouldn’t hit the bottom 5 list. I doubt it’d even hit the bottom 10. However the game is just boring. It’s weird to say it, but there’s just too much content. That sounds bizarre, like complaining about a title being too good, but when Shadow of War devolves into shuffling from one collectable to the next is when it’s at its worst.
I also have to give a particular tutter to enemies learning and adapting to your combat style. Normally I’d be applauding a game for making me plan carefully, but too many times I’d be left with no way to hurt an enemy. They’d only be weak to ranged attacks, counter any attack you make and be immune to everything else, only to suddenly be immune to ranged attacks.
Difficulty that challenges is something that I applaud, difficulty that locks the player out from fighting is another matter. I ended up giving up on Shadow of War on an enemy this scenario happened with, as unless I killed them quick then I’d be killed by them as they learned to defend against the few arrows I could scavenge. What a mess.
2nd Worst Game of the Year
Like getting dumped by your boyfriend on New Year's Eve...
You can read my original review: here.
Similar to Doki Doki Literature Club, this was a game that was released in December. That said, most people don’t shame the games that shat the bed. I know Spellforce 3 has had a hell of a history, the series falling out of the original developer’s hands when they were bought out by EA and so Nordic Games tried to keep the dream alive.
Yet, everything about a “RTS/RPG” blend stinks of a 12 year old inventing their dream game. RTS titles involve building many troops wide, while RPGs focus on building few troops tall (via levelling). To blend the two is to remove the focus that makes RTSs/RPGs work. Which oh boy did Spellforce 3 not work.
Putting aside the gameplay (which, as above may hint, feels dull), everything else simply does not work. The writing is generic and is filled with the odd hiccup (didya forget if you were to be hung or stabbed with a pike, oh buddy?), but this is layered on glitches that seem ashamed to show you the writing. At once point the conversation ended mid-word as the next map was loaded, losing valuable lore. Even the aesthetic, as beautiful as it is, often more serves to block your vision as contextual transparency is a myth around these parts.
Maybe once upon a time Spellforce could blend the genres together wonderfully, perhaps the original devs knew how to balance the two competing sides. Yet, Grimlore Games couldn’t, and along with the glitches has made a game that shames itself.
And then we arrive at the diabolical pile that is the worst game of 2017. I would like to say it was close, but not by a long shot. While Spellforce 3 tests your patience with boredom created by design decisions, our worst game makes you fight for every second of patience due to overall poor decisions across the board. So, without further ado, our “winner” is...
1st Worst Game of the Year
RAID: World War 2
...In the form of a doctor's note asking you to get checked for HIV.
I knew this game would already be competing on a broken knee when they declared they were using the same engine as Payday 2. While the engine was fresh and...Functional (okay, there were netcode issues, ssshhh) on release, four years on it was clearly looking haggard. That is putting aside that this was a fresh new developer using an engine they didn’t create.
Yet oddly, the game looks somehow worse than Payday 2 did on release. It is an ugly game who once heard of bright colours once in an art class and just slept through it. “But Rio, you can decapitate people!”. Right you are! Now, do you remember Postal 2 and how those heads popped off cleanly with a tiny bit of blood? So no, I’m not awarding points from building upon a 2012 engine by making the graphics worse and replacing it with decapitation effects from 2003.
The gameplay is very reminiscent of Payday 2. You are four bastards who decide to gun down Germans, do top-secret missions and, coincidentally, maybe get some money in the process. Each mission is a selection of being dragged by the collar from mission objective to mission objective, either finding a goody or putting goody in hole, or maybe even waiting so long until a mission finishes.
You do this by gunning down HOARDS of enemies. Seriously, I trip over the bastards, which makes fully automatic weapons your best buddy in the world. Sometimes you’ll have to take out a special, but again this is another area where RAID looked upon a 4 player co-op game done reasonably well and flipped the table. Sniper, a guy who throws signal flares and officers who call in reinforcements being your main lot. Considering everyone wears greys, greens and browns in the German military, good luck spotting officers and signal flare chuckers.
“But what about the flame thrower guy?!”. This is the only real challenging special, best for those with high damage weapons, but you’re so prepared for the hoard you’ll all be carrying the light full-auto ammo. There’s also a tank, but it’s a set-piece.
Then again we could talk about how each class is specifically defined to each character appearance and character slot, so if you’re in the mood to swap classes then good luck accessing those sweet guns you unlocked on your main. We could talk about how during gunfights you have to manually press a button to pick up ammo rather than run over it, which is always interesting when you’re always hounded. We could talk about a skill tree you have to pay in-game currency to reset, in case as a new player you were daft enough to pick the wrong skills. It’s just an onslaught of poor decision after poor decision.
The only part of RAID I think is interesting is if you use a gun enough it evolves with better stats. Sure it means newer players are even weaker than those who have been around the block, and that it can force you to use weapons you prefer not to in case you need to get your secondary out. However I guess it appeals to the Skinner Box pigeon in me who coo’d with every number ding.
So sit on your throne of failure, dwell on how a month after release I got you for 50% off and consider how your player numbers always rest below the 100 mark. It’s no wonder because you’re the worst game I played this year.
And then we arrive at the 4th Riobux Cautionary Tale. We have had Clive Barker’s Jericho’s characterisation, Vampire Rain’s combat/stealth mechanics and Actual Sunlight’s harmful attempt at helping people with depression. Usually the game this is given to is unquestionably bad with one particular sore point. This year it is time to do something a tiny bit different. The game I wish to present the Cautionary Tale Award has a 89% positive score rating on Steam reviews (out of 1,257 reviews), and is one I found merely okay. Yet there is a particular lesson that can be learned from…
This year’s Cautionary Tale Award goes to…
Evoland 2 is a sometimes-top-down, sometimes-side-view, sometimes other angles title built around paying homage to titles of the past via making games of the past intrinsic to the plot and by mimicking their gameplay styles. To get the positives out the way, as it isn’t a bad game: It’s aesthetic is usually colourful, which is a big deal in a sea of drab browns and greys. It also offers homage to a wide variety of media by letting you play within the same style (including aesthetics like greens and greys for the Game Boy).
Now we got the good out the way, let’s dive into the lesson of nostalgia.
“Riobux you filthy peasant representing everything wrong with the caked dogshit that is game journalism, nostalgia is the point!”. You’re right my dark passenger. So to demonstrate how Evoland 2 messes up we’re going to side-by-side with the first Evoland which did it correctly.
For a start is focus. While Evoland 1 dabbled in various games the genres were rather consistent. Zelda makes a noticeable appearance, so does Final Fantasy as well as Diablo. In comparison, Evoland 2 goes the full range. There’s top-down shooters, platformers, endless runners, fighters and more. This sounds not like much but when you’re an indie company every resource spent on yet another genre is less spent per genre.
There are also the references used. Evoland’s references are all built in the past from many an eon ago. It creates a wonderful consistency as you play through the game, knowing that if you have nostalgia for the 80s to late 90s then you’ll find a home. On the other hand is Evoland 2 whose reference dance all over the place, including making a Bioshock Infinite reference. For a game built upon as a museum for the old, sneaking references of modern games feels out of nowhere and jarring.
Finally is the pacing, the biggest problem with Evoland 2’s attempt at nostalgia. Evoland unveils each advancement gently, making you collect things that give you new gameplay mechanics or aesthetics. It paces itself from the ancient 2d to the late 90s 3d characters, making you delve through the genres which were popular in each era. Evoland 2 is bordering on random with its graphical and gameplay references, one minute showing a Galactix’s top down space shooter and next throwing out a Street Fighter 4 style fighter, before maybe jumping back to a platformer or Zelda mimic of old.
While Evoland utilises its nostalgia, creating a gradual museum that fades from one era to the next like gamers from the 80s grew into games of the 90s, Evoland 2 represents everything frustrating about nostalgia. It is referential almost for the sake of it and offers poor mimicries of games you can either download or were only released a few years ago. While not a bad game, I believe it deserves the Riobux Cautionary Award for it’s poor use of nostalgia.
And thus we arrive at the end of the 4th edition of Riobux’s gigantic Yearly Awards. As 2018 looms over us, I hope we are not afraid. The world, now more than ever, has the appearance of being an unkind, unsafe and unsympathetic force. I’m not even sure if we’ve been this divided since Gamergate emerged and slunk back into the shadows.
Well, not as divided since the time I told people I thought The Last of Us's ending was misanthropic and made Joel unsympathisable.
However, I sincerely hope we can find unity in the hobbies we adore. Sure our demographic will always bleed into our video game tastes, including political persuasion, but I believe we should celebrate and not frown upon this diversity.
Too many times we feel shaming people’s opinions will make them go away, and every time we’ve been wrong. The moral panic in the 60s was one of the reasons why the biker/mod culture emerged. As you verbally beat a group of people into the floor due to a view you find distasteful, unity emerges from this. They embrace the expectations as a form of self-fulfilling prophecy, using these expectations as a code of behaviour of the group. Howard Becker wrote about this as Labelling Theory.
What we can do is accept our variation, embrace it. Sure you can be left just tolerating it, and there isn’t anything wrong with just leaving the room as you disagree, but we keep walking over these same mistakes of the 60s as a perfect rotation. There is nothing wrong with diversity, including of views, and it can grant you a perspective you had not considered.
Video games are so special due to the sheer diversity of it, the variation of gameplay and all the wonderful stories it has to tell. Why should we limit ourselves by using factors outside of our hobby (which aren’t illegal of course!) to judge a character? As video games granted me the ability to speak and share myself with others, my mental health difficulty making sociability incredibly difficult growing up, I want others to use video games as a medium too. This is especially as our medium can explore ideas that in a raw form would leave audiences disgusted, annoyed or confused.
So let’s welcome 2018 in, as I remain excited for Mount & Blade 2: Butterlord’s release.