Happy 2018, everybody!
In preparation for this blog, I decided to go back and read how my 2016 year in review went. As it turns out, I decided to get straight to the point! Good decision, if I do say so myself, but this time I’d like to briefly recall where I was in my life at this time last year (please do skip through to the games, if you’re in no mood to read about this; although I’d appreciate it if you do choose to!)
In 2016, I really invested a lot in my professional career, but didn’t have many returns. I felt a bit lost, to be honest, but that also gave me an opportunity to try a lot of different things. I wrote 13 blogs here on Destructoid, and some more on my personal blog, which, in hindsight, is a nice number, I feel. Then, near the end of the year I began working with a game localization company and, not long after, a subtitling company. This meant a somewhat stable income, as little money as that turned out to be, but it felt like an important step.
When 2017 began, those first initial months I still had a bunch of free time, which I used to get through most of the games I missed from the previous year. After that, come March and April, I started having a ridiculous amount of work (in a good sense), little to no free time, which gave a considerable boost to my skills. After that, and until the end of the year, I only took a couple of weeks off in total, as I only didn’t work when I didn’t have work, basically. Which reflected in the 5 blogs I wrote for Destructoid (one of which resulted in my first FP!) All in all, 2017 was really good to me, professionally, which also really helped my personal feelings of self-worth and such.
On the gaming side of things, due to all of that, I finished 2017 believing I had played less games than in 2016 (I had 58 written down). Funnily enough, last year, I played about 74 games, not counting replayed games. Not bad. And this is a good time as any to mention some glaring omissions from what you’re about to read of my year in gaming: no Nintendo Switch single player games. My brother did invest on a Switch, so there’ll be multiplayer games mentioned below, but that’s that. Other shameful omissions are Yakuza 0 and Yakuza Kiwami. No excuse for that.
With all that said, let’s get to giving recognitions to some games from 2016 I only got to last year!
Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse - I believe I have already shared here how much I enjoy walking around the world of SMTIV and its UI, among other things. It has various shortcomings, which I honestly don’t mind, but they do become even more apparent with the improvements SMTIV: Apocalypse makes; especially in terms of navigation, quests and the partner mechanic. Speaking of partners, while they create a very different dynamic from what one would expect in a mainline Shin Megami Tensei game, resulting in an ending more akin to a Persona game, as a one-off I enjoyed it immensely. Sure, the last two dungeons seem a bit rushed and bland, and I don’t necessarily want this kind of narrative and character dynamic to be the mainstay of the series going forward, but I had a blast with it.
DOOM - It feels incredibly good to move, to shoot, to play and deserves all the praise it can get.
Valkyrie Drive: Bhikunni - This game gets a lot of shit, not all of it unmerited, but I’d like to use this space to praise some of its more positive aspects. Like the 3DS Senran Kagura games, the combat doesn’t feel good, at first. I mean, at all. But, with a bit of commitment, it does become very fun and engaging. Also, not unlike the 3DS SK games, in terms of narrative and characters, this game shows some honest effort. Some characters and developments may be too simple, basic even, but there are some where they put that to good use and simply create a character that feels believable. Case in point, Mana goes from generic diligent girl to unbearable bitch, but the process that leads her there and where she goes from that point onward felt very organic.
Pony Island - One of my favorite things in games is when the creators show they are aware of the player that is playing the game and the medium through which they are experiencing it. (Not to be mistaken with simple 4th wall breaks, like: “Don’t you know this is just a game, dude!”, which is just insufferable) Pony Island makes good use of all that to create an intriguing experience that I enjoyed a lot.
Yomawari Night Alone - This game reminds me of Silent Hill, in the best way that can be interpreted, with an extremely appealing art style, at least to me. I just wish it wasn’t as scary, so that I could walk around more freely and really immerse myself in the lore and cultural influences.
Because I feel it’s also important to reflect upon and learn from the less positive moments of our lives, I’m dedicating this category to what most disappointed me this year in terms of gaming. And that was myself, for not finishing Persona 2: Eternal Punishment.
Quitting games and being OK with it is something I’ve been gradually coming more to terms with. After all, with the ever-increasing numbers of things to play and to do – and the ever-decreasing time to do them – I don’t want to force myself through a game I’m not enjoying just ‘cuz.
Even so, it really pains me that I wasn’t enjoying P2:EP. It’s literally the only Persona game I had left to play, and I went to the trouble of creating a US PSN account and buying an American PSN card for it. I did play about 10 hours of it, but, as intriguing and interesting as the story and characters are, everything besides that just felt like a chore and I simply couldn’t get into it. So, I decided to leave it, because I don’t want my experience with it to be defined by frustration. Maybe – hopefully - one day I’ll get back to it.
Dishonorable Mention: Syberia 3
Now, for an actual game that was a huge disappointment. I discovered the first and second Syberia in 2016, and was left in awe of that world and, especially, of the character of Kate Walker. The narrative and character development are so solid and so organic, and the places Kate visits so interesting and so rich that it really became an all-time favorite of mine.
Obviously, I was ecstatic to find out that there would be a new one so soon! Except, the performance was a nightmare - why does it take 30 GB of my PS4 space and is still full of bugs and crashes? – some really dumb characters and plot points (the less said about Olga and imitating her non-existent accent, the better), and a ridiculous cliffhanger ending. If that wasn’t enough, I bought the collector’s edition and got a broken statuette. I’ll give it this, though – most of the environments felt like what I’ve come to expect from the series, Kate Walker is still herself, which is always a plus, and I love the cover art.
From crushed expectations, let’s get back up with some positivity and a game that came completely out of left field and hooked me for quite some time.
The Legend of the Dark Witch is a series of 3 side-scrolling games which I have found about not long ago and have been enjoying, with its charming art style and some very competent Megaman-like gameplay. The one that made me invest more time, though, was one of its spin-offs called Brave Dungeon - a basic dungeon crawler with turn-based combat. While it’s not a genre of games I usually play due to the insane amount of depth some go to, the fact that this one is so simple and straightforward made it instantly more appealing to me, turning out to be a lot of fun!
Honorable Mention: ARMS
When I first saw this game, I honestly wasn’t expecting much. Spring Man’s design looked annoying (still does) and I wasn’t really sold on the gimmick. But then, I tried it. The first match I had trouble figuring the controls. From the second onward, it felt so easy and so fun that I need to give it props for that. The hype may have died down considerably, but there’s definitely potential to be tapped.
[I’ll Probably be Playing This Forever]
I really dig rhythm games, and I still remember the time I tried the demo for the first Hatsune Miku Project DIVA F and my brother saying he’d buy me the game if I got a perfect score on World’s End Dance Hall. I never did, so I ended up buying that game and really digging many of its songs. Project Diva Future Tone has basically all the great songs from the first and then some absurd number of songs from the other ones and a bunch that are new, totaling over 200! I’ll probably never finish this game, and I’m actually OK with that. Urbandonment waits.
[Gems of the Past]
Unlike last year’s, I don’t believe these ones are “hidden gems” (at least, not anymore), but they’re still gems, and I want to give them all the credit they deserve.
NieR - First of all, thank you NieR: Automata for motivating me to finally take the plunge. So, this game was sold to me as basically unplayable, but with an incredible story. Hyperbole, much? Unpolished? Yes. Unplayable? Come on. The incredible story part, though? Right on point. There’s a lot to be said about this game’s narrative and themes, but since my space here is (arbitrarily) limited, I’ll simply focus on Papa Nier. I absolutely love how he represents the best and worst of humanity. At the same time, he can be kind, dedicated and tolerant for who/what he‘s able to understand, but also an absolute murdering, hard-headed asshole for anything to those he has more trouble understanding. And it all manages to make sense, because our own world isn’t that different, sometimes.
God Hand - This game is hilarious, and a real product of its time (due to the lack of subtitles that Capcom was known for, if nothing else). My only major complaint about it is the lack of a New Game + to give me an opportunity to be more experimental with all the silly-ass moves. Gorillas and Midgets and not-Alexander – oh my! God Power does keep my pimp hand strong.
Solatorobo: Red the Hunter - I’ve been flirting with this game since I saw it at a Toys“R”Us many years ago, but only invested in it last year. And it is so good! It’s visually impressive and ambitious, and the combat, which I had a lot of trouble understanding before picking it up, clicked right away when I did. The way it is presented and structured also makes me feel like it’s two games in one, even if I know it’s actually just one with two parts, and takes me back to the time Tales of Symphonia absolutely astonished me when I got to Tethe'alla. I liked it so much, I even went to the trouble of buying the Japanese Collector’s Edition.
Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments - The best Sherlock Holmes game I’ve ever played. Period. The Devil’s Daughter felt really rushed, and a sort of step back, so I hope they get back to something more akin to this one.
Why the hell does this game look this incredibly good and why aren’t these guys doing more of this? It may be some of the best 2D art I’ve ever seen in motion, and I’ve seen my fair share of it. It’s a very fun game to play, the immediate retro style option is a nice feature and the soundtrack is outstanding. But that visual style, man... More, please!
Honorable Mention: Rime
This is one of those games that caught my eye the moment the trailer first hit, but, due to the troubled development, I didn’t think we’d ever get it. We did get it, and I’m so very glad. I do think it’s a good game overall, but, personally, I’d rather if it was just that initial part and about exploring the island. The moment you hit the shore and wander around for a bit made me feel that kind of melancholy solitude, similar to what I felt with The Talos Principle.
[Too Many Feels]
This was initially in the previous category, but I believe The Last Day of June and the honorable mention below deserve their own spotlight.
Full disclosure: I tend to cry a lot during games and movies. I don’t mean I cry for many of them, but when they strike at my heart, I feel it very strongly. That said, this year I did cry for many games and this may have been the one for which I did so the hardest. The game itself is very simple, yet powerful, and it’s about facing the inevitability of death. An easy and popular way to explain it is: “The first 5 minutes of Up, but more.” A good starting point, yes, but be assured it’s way more than that.
Honorable mention: Finding Paradise
So, To the Moon is exceedingly beautiful and I’ve become more enamored with doctors Rosalene and Watts with each episode and minisode I’ve played, which have all been leading to this second “proper” episode (and certainly more in the future). With that in mind, while it didn’t hit me as hard as the first one, it still tackles very pertinent questions about regret, the nature of memories and how they define who we are.
Yeah, I couldn’t decide which one would be receiving an honorable mention, so they both get a… full-on mention (?). Like I said in the intro, I’ve basically only played the Switch for these multiplayer moments with my group of friends, but those moments are always so fun and some of my fondest memories. And these were the prime contributors to those experiences during the past year.
While Puyo-Puyo Tetris gets praised a lot (and I’m so sure I’ll love the single-player when I get to it), most of the feedback I hear for Super Bomberman R is pretty negative. Sure, that price point is not the easiest thing to sell someone on, but if you have a bunch of friends with which to play it with, I honestly think you can make a case for it. And never cared much for Bomberman in the first place; but all that mayhem, especially with 8 players, is too much fun to pass on. And great DLC as well, very uncommon for what we’ve been taught to expect from Konami.
[One to Keep an Eye On]
This game’s art style and interface immediately captured me, and, a quick google search later, I decided to buy The Coma Recut. This is a 2D side scrolling survival horror game set in a Korean school, where you try to discover why your hot English teacher became a monster and is trying to kill you (and also what the hell is happening besides that, but let’s get these priorities straight). I really like how the lore of the school is literally plastered throughout the place, and that’s basically how you come to understand the relationships between teachers, students and a third party at play. The whole thing gave me some Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters vibes and the ending is a strong indication that of some kind of continuation in the works. Get to it, please.
Honorable Mention: Tokyo Dark
This game’s concept and main character appealed so much to me that I backed its Kickstarter campaign pretty early on. Fortunately, it ended being very straightforward: they smashed their initial goal, put out regular updates, and the game was released two years later. Bass’ review echoes many of my sentiments toward Tokyo Dark, and I’m looking forward to what Cherrymochi does in the future.
[Music to my Soul]
This year we got such outstanding soundtracks that I couldn’t decide on which was my favorite. That’s why I chose just a song! No other piece of music this year impacted as much as Rivers in the Desert, from Persona 5. This song gets me in such an “ass is about to be royally kicked” mood like no other, especially when I’m already pumped by Life Will Change.
With that said, I’ll quickly give kudos to these other incredible soundtracks: Hatsune Miku Project Diva Future Tone, NieR: Automata, Sonic Mania, WonderBoy:The Dragon’s Trap, and Windjammers.
The quality of Sonic games over the years has been such a rollercoaster, that having such a pure, baseline approach to the whole thing over 25 years since it started is still baffling (in a good way). And while many things have already been said about Sonic Mania’s quality, the aspect of this game I most appreciate is how they show appreciation for their audience. From the beautifully animated opening movie, to the inspired level design and imaginative boss fights, to the silly – but much-appreciated – bonus features. There must be a very special kind of love to make something like Knuckles & Knuckles, let me tell you.
Honorable Mention: Senran Kagura Peach Beach Splash
[MY FAVORITE GAMES OF THE YEAR]
Like last year, these next 6 games won’t be ranked by quality or enjoyment, but simply listed in alphabetical order. Unlike last year, however, there is a clear top game that I’m leaving for last. And while I prefer to avoid spoilers as much as I can, that won’t be the case for these ones. You’ve been warned. Now then…
Before V3, I guess I never really took the time to understand my feeling towards the Danganronpa franchise. Maybe because I probably never thought about them in the same way this game asked me to. On one hand, I’m a really big fan of the style, of the self-awareness, of the class trials dynamic, of many of the characters. On the other hand, it has a particular penchant for convolution, especially during the ending sections, it suffers from the Ace Attorney syndrome of “I already know something that could prove/disprove something, but my character has to figure it out as well and it’s taking them too long”, and the way it ends up treating hope and despair like quantifiable concepts (“My hope is stronger than your despair!”) is a bit off-putting, personally. Oh, and Danganronpa 3, the anime, sucks balls. The more I think about it, the less I can stand it.
I’d have a hard time separating the three main games in terms of quality, as all of them are very similar and very good, although the first one is probably my favorite. However, there are many things in V3 that I liked a lot. First off, while the hope/despair dichotomy is still obviously present and important, I was much more interested in the truth/lies debate and where they went with that. One thing about me is that I’d rather have the knowledge and feeling bad than be ignorant and feeling happy, because I believe that with that knowledge I can still grow and reach an even more fulfilling happiness, down the line. In games, as well, my M.O. tends to be searching for “the truth” and for further knowledge, the outcome of which usually leads to even more sadness; much like what this game intends to demonstrate (damn you, 4th trial!)
Then, what it tries to tell us about how our memories define who we are (which was a pretty common element in many of the games I played this year). Whoever the main characters may or may not have been before the game started, by the end, everything they experienced, both the good and the bad, made them who they are now. And, finally, how important fiction can be and how it effects our lives. If not, I doubt I’d be writing a 6000-word blog focused on my love for videogames.
Even so, despite the curveballs it throws at you right from the get-go and all the madness that’s synonymous with the series, what an ending, uh? I applaud Team Danganronpa for creating something capable of such causing such a wide range of emotions, in all kinds of people. Admiration, Love, Hatred, Disappointment, and everything in between. During that (rather long) ending stretch, I may have felt all those things, but after everything was said and done, the creator’s message about the future of the franchise and what it means to continuing to work on it just due to some kind of obligation rang loud and clear. Over the last decade, I’ve become much more adept of developers trying different things, instead of churning out unnecessary sequels and expanding something that could very well be left alone. If they decide to end it with this entry, I absolutely support their decision, as good as these games are.
By the end of 2017, I’d only gotten ending A and a couple of joke endings. So, I could either write this list without it (even if I, for some inane reason, tried to ponder my enjoyment of it based only on that playthrough, it wouldn’t make this list) or wait until I properly and thoroughly gave it a go, which is the reason why I’m only writing and publishing this now, after doing every sidequest, playing through the DLC and sacrificing myself for some unknown person.
For all the impact that trying to find the truth has in Danganronpa V3, NieR and Automata’s gradual endings are a perfect encapsulation of blissful ignorance vs. depressing knowledge. Ending A feels the most basic, as it should, with everything (seemingly) happily resolved at the end, with the future open for 2B and 9S, but there are too many unanswered questions that I simply couldn’t leave alone. So, I ventured forth to Route B. Because of Papa Nier’s adventures, I was already expecting to feel even worse for destroying thousands upon thousands of machines, but Mr. Yoko Taro just had to put that small scene at the beginning of this route and he *just had to* let me trip with the bucket over my head. I felt so bad for the little guy. Continuing onwards to Route C, I lost 2B, 9S became (understandably) unbearable and, worst of all, Pascal *just had to* have the worst fate of all (true story, the moment I saw the Machine Village, my favorite everything of this game, I immediately thought to myself: “Fuck.”) Well, I did get to play with A2, which may have been my favorite Android. Oh, wait, now she’s gone.
But, after all that, I got to Ending E and experienced what may have been the most wonderful ending credits of any game (I’m feeling teary-eyed just thinking about it), where I fought against the notion that all of this could have been meaningless, with the game itself trying to make me think it was and while hearing a song about meaninglessness. What better way to give it meaning? It meant even more to me because I felt I was being helped by people whose bodies I met during the game through one my favorite mechanics: the praying. Speaking of favorite things that are not Pascal and every single song related to the Machines, the game features my favorite kind of environments – man-made constructions overrun by nature – and there’s also the fact that the menus and HUD have an in-game reason for existing.
To be honest, I may have enjoyed the story of the first NieR more, but this felt like the game Yoko Taro wanted to make all along, with the different playstyles and narrative elements coming together beautifully. And yes, “being alive is pretty much a constant stream of embarrassment”. Couldn’t have put it better myself.
RESIDENT EVIL VII: BIOHAZARD
My history with the Resident Evil Franchise is pretty simple: the first one I played was Resident Evil 4, I played RE5 in co-op with my brother, didn’t even bother with the sixth one, played Revelations 1 and 2, and know basically all the important things that happened in the first three games despite not having played them. Truth is, my desire to play this one emerged from our awesome group sessions playing PT and The Beginning Hour demo. Which is why I also played Resident Evil 7 with a group of people, beginning Friday night and until Saturday night, with a morning and afternoon break, and an ever-dwindling number of players until we were only three.
It’s curious how, like RE4, it can basically be considered a side-game in terms of the overall canon, making it much easier to get into even if you don’t particularly care for the other games. Once again, a rather small cast of intriguing characters and contained setting in the Baker family residence made it feel more personal. I also love how the game can be both scary, serious, and hilarious, without feeling like a tangled mess that lacks direction. I mean, Jack Baker drifting in the garage, smashing through walls and fighting you with a chainsaw? Glorious.
And while all of that was already enough for the game to be one of my favorite of the year, then Joe Baker punched his way into my life. The End of Zoe DLC is the perfect definition of short and sweet - too sweet – and how one can be experimental without losing vision. All in all, punching stuff as Joe just feels *good*. “Not now, ‘gator;” yeah, I’ll fuck you up later.
TALES OF BERSERIA
I’m a huge fan of the Tales of series. I’ve played basically every single one that was localized, and, with its ups and downs, I wouldn’t say any of them were bad games because Dawn of the New World doesn’t count. Sure, I don’t disagree that, more often than not, its narrative and mechanics tend more toward the “comfortable” than “challenging”. But, I also believe that many people already go into many of the games with some set pre-conceived notions and end up formulating their opinions on them based solely on these three things: 1 – the story is clichéd, 2 – the characters are cardboard cut-outs, and 3 – the combat is usually good. While I believe that may be unfair to a number of games in the franchise, Tales of Berseria is one that doesn’t deserve that at all.
From what I gather, I enjoyed Tales of Zestiria more than most, and I feel that having played it also made me enjoy Berseria even more. Because they’re set in the same world – and especially because they’re thousands of years apart – ToB answers many questions raised in ToZ, and we get to meet and know some characters both mentioned in passing and major players in the latter. Zestiria’s confusing and unnecessarily complicated weapon/equipment upgrade system being thankfully simplified in Tales of Berseria helps a lot.
Out of all the Tales of games, I feel this may have one of the strongest main casts. In my younger days, the more members my JRPG party had, the better. But, as I grow older, I’ve begun to appreciate that, with a smaller cast (like Berseria’s six), there are greater opportunities for more meaningful and interesting interactions between them. And speaking of the main cast, I do believe every single one of them pulls their weight and contributes to the narrative. Even Laphicet, that could easily be just an annoying little kid, not only develops and grows in a very compelling manner, but his naiveté also works wonderfully as a foil for the rest of this crew of assholes of dubious intentions.
The thing I probably enjoy the most about the game is its message of acceptance of our flaws. Velvet’s journey from small-town girl to murderous fiend hell-bent on revenge to world-savior feels gradual and organic because, by the end, all those awful things that happened to Velvet and all the things that she had done didn’t “disappear” – she accepted all of that, all of the rage, all of the sorrow, all of the happiness and friends she had made, in order to give new purpose to her life, as part of her own story. But what’s great is that it’s true for everyone else. By the end of the game, with every one of them accepting what they were and had done in life, and looking toward what the future may hold, it all felt fantastically appropriate. Even if Tales of Symphonia may still be the game in the series that holds a more special place in my heart, Tales of Berseria should be satisfied with being one of, if not the best of them.
WHAT REMAINS OF EDITH FINCH
A storytelling mechanism I’ve found myself appreciating more and more is second-hand characterization. Like Hans Voralberg in Syberia, for example, who you get acquainted with via what other people tell you and his impact on the places he travelled through. What this game does is basically that, but for an entire family. It’s also centered around that family’s house, which also ticks that restricted environment element I’m so fond of.
Over the course of the game, you get to know each of these people through the other members’ eyes, with a different gameplay mechanic and style each. During the whole time, you’re confronted with both hints of hope and of inevitability. It’s a situation that could very easily be considered a sort of “curse” that has afflicted this family, but it does such a great job in making you invest in the characters that you desperately desire that at least some of them have better futures. Once again, not only our memories but those of our family and friends help defining who we are.
I really urge you to try this for yourselves.
Like I said in the multiplayer category, gathering my friends and enjoying games together is one of my favorite things in life. It really is. But, as luck would have it, most of the time we, as a group, don’t fervently adhere to more competitive games, like fighters and the such. We may play them here and there, but it’s more about the party aspect of the whole thing. Which is why I was so pleasantly surprised when everyone got so much into Windjammers! I even amazed myself for how much like this disk-throwing competition that came out of nowhere.
I tend to not take multiplayer games that much into account for these kinds of things, but, unlike Edge magazine’s claim that “there’s nothing particularly outstanding about it”, it’s outstanding enough to be one of my favorites of the year.
My life did change. Some of my favorite games stay with me to this day, in a way that just thinking about playing them makes me feel happy and fuzzy inside. It’s been about 8 months or so since I beat Persona 5 and it still hasn’t left my mind how much I want to get back to it. I’ve been wanting to replay it so much that, for those first few months, it actively impacted my enjoyment of other games, because it almost made me wish I didn’t want to play anything else, so that I could play it non-stop. I’ve been listening to the soundtrack for almost every day since I finished a 100-hour game where those songs where constant. I’m absolutely in love with Persona 5.
To be completely honest, Persona 4 may be more special to me and I do prefer the setting of a small rural town, but, as a game, this is basically better in every way. I didn’t mind the repetitiveness of the dungeons in P4, but every Palace in P5 feels different, and the time limit/limited availability of each Palace ensures that they don’t get stale; that’s Mementos’ job. Which I appreciate, because sometimes I just want to grind, obtain new Personas and fuse them. It also has the best Social Links/Confidant system iteration yet, where every person you meet and relate to helps you in your journey by teaching you new skills or having their own abilities at your service, giving you an extra incentive to interact with different people.
Speaking of the Confidants and, by extension, the time management mechanic that has been a mainstay since Persona 3, while I absolutely don’t mind Persona 4’s slow start, this time it was a bit more grueling – mainly because I had already played those two games and I wanted to do everything, and max out my skills, and meet everyone, and fuse all the Personas, and make all the coffees! But that’s the point of a first playthrough: you can’t do that, nor should you be able to. My expectations hampered my own initial enjoyment of it, but I quickly got back into gear to just focus on the things that mattered most to me, at that time. Like increasing my charm so Makoto would look my way. Anne made a very compelling case for herself, but man, Makoto’s awakening scene sealed the deal. After that, no one would even come close. I’d consider Yusuke, but he doesn’t have a romance option, unfortunately.
Much like Persona 4’s investigation team, I really fell in love with the Phantom Thieves and their stories. Ryuji is the perfect example of how you really need to get to know him through his Confidant route, or else he’ll just feel like an obnoxious child. Anne shows how perceptive she can be, when she becomes able to separate a person’s personality from their qualities and learn from them. Yusuke may seem aloof all the time, but he has very relatable worries about what it means to be an artist and the need for subsistence. Makoto’s diligence towards growing as a person and openness to new experiences are what I most admire in a person. Futaba’s honest effort to face her traumatic past and the world itself is truly commendable. Haru’s resolution to pursue what she really loves and her discernment in handling the responsibility she inherits, to me, is deserving of much more credit than she usually gets. Even Akechi, despite coming off as arrogant and stand-offish at times, I really tried to treat him well and get to know him, because those moments he came around to LeBlanc to have a cup of coffee really felt earnest. And I’d probably be much more positive about Morgana if he didn’t tell me to GO TO SLEEP SO DAMN MUCH, but I still like you, buddy. And I can’t forget brewing coffee with Sojiro, which endeared me to him almost as much as anything else.
Comparatively speaking, the narrative itself may be what I enjoyed the least, more specifically the storytelling, since the first 60% of the game is told through flashbacks, basically. I’m not saying it can’t or didn’t work; I simply prefer when it’s more straightforward in cases like this. Cutting back and forth between the prison cell and the game proper when establishing new Social Links is great, though. (Speaking of which, is it just me, or do you technically max out Sae’s Confidant route in under two hours?) Even so, note I said: “comparatively speaking”, because I still enjoyed the hell out of it – in particular, after you get back to real time. The Igor twist is marvelous, and the end boss being a God whose objective is to make everyone complacent and annihilate critical thinking? Yes, sir, I will shoot that fucker in the face, thank you very much!
Finally, for a game where you spend so much of the time navigating through menus, Atlus managed to make the whole experience immensely kinetic and dynamic. Everything you do, every button you press, every screen and UI element you see feels so slick, so stylish, without disregarding the substance. Mix a killer soundtrack, with the slickest of visuals, engaging mechanics, endearing characters and interesting plot, and you get my favorite game of 2017!
Now then, my only resolution for 2018 would be to finally get a Switch, seeing as I’ve more than enough reasons to buy it popping up in the near future.
The exit to Paradise is still out there, after all.
Thank you for reading and keep being great!