You wouldn't know this but I am actually starting on this way earlier than usual, last year I was actually moving parts of the draft from machines at work to my pc at home.
2017 i had your likes, 2018 I went all in and nobody showed up and 2019 I was just too tired to pay attention. Lets see how this one goes. The world is going through a pandemic, countries are restructuring and businesses or just folks are going broke but I feel the need to tell you what I think about stuff I played this year.
I did not know back then but the year would soon descend into a unity FPS fever dream. Dusk is a good one to start with, would have done that sooner. As far as indies go it took some time to become cheap enough for me. They follow the FPS template of the story not really being that important but there are hints of it sprinkled throughout the episodes.
Like how Doom becomes more hellish from one episode to the next, Dusk gets deeper into the weird as things progress, cryptic messages and supernatural enemies.
The only real issue I had with dusk was how long it took for a price drop. The weapons, enemies and levels are well implemented and later encounters are intense enough.
Opinion: I usually find the whole rural aesthetic to be unappealing but they make it work here.
Doom: Eternal - PS4 version
Given the momentum from Doom 2016 and the ending of the game, people expected more and they got more. Just not necessarily in a way some expected.
Resource management has been prioritized to a higher degree this time around, I fall into the camp of people that are not too fond of this design decision.
It just feels like your stuck in a loop of dodging and refilling ammo, rather than the demon murder bonanza that was Doom 2016.
Multiplayer wise I played Doom 2016s regular MP and then the updated one when they had made the season pass content free for everyone. I did not bother with the MP of Doom: Eternal.
Eternal is an installment I want to like and I want to hate at the same time, it is really odd having this much story in a Doom game but that is not what I dislike. I am not too keen how the new systems just feel like they are putting you at a disadvantage.
Some extra information on this is that I played the game on a different screen than the one I have now and maybe due to some screen lag things were harder, I did play and finish the game on nightmare but I Had to use the praetorian armor on the Khan maker and Icon of sin.
The current focus on single player content is fine by me, I just wish it were less of a chore to get into the momentum of the dance of death that the new installments are known for.
Opinion: Good and fair.
Resident Evil 3 (PC Version)
Another anticipated release, the resident evil 2 remake was done so well it is considered the GOTY for some. Even before the RE3 was released it was clear that they had less time to develop it.
Then once the game was released, you get a nemesis AI that is less advanced and cut content.
I would still suggest a playthrough purely for the reason that the game is fun on some level but with a discount. Other odd things like 90s foul mouthed Jill and big man Carlos, just stuff to make you go “I don’t remember it that way”.
Resident evil and PVP multiplayer have not quite clicked in most cases and the resistance multiplayer is no exception.
For a while that part of the game would not even start for me, following a patch it actually loaded up. The issue is that it's not very fun to play.
4 players vs 1 mastermind controlling enemies is a neat concept, but why is it that the mastermind also gets control of ultimate BOWs and control of gun sentries. Like goddamn.
Opinion: Not the version of the 90s that you wanted.
Wolfenstien: Youngblood (PS4 Version)
This franchise has went through its ups and downs, god knows it has been around long enough. Youngblood is one of the downs and it is a shame since you could have a short campaign to be playable in solo or coop.
Instead you have this thing that is structured to reuse existing content in order to justify some sort of dumb RPG system and bolster enemy health via some unwanted enemy tier system.
Rather than go from level to level in a linear fashion, you go back and forth between these hub areas to finish different missions. It eventually divulges into an utter slog if you are only here to just play the story.
Opinion: This is not what folks want to tie up the current Blazkowicz ark.
Daymare 1998 (PC version)
It is clear that the developers have a lot of love for the kind of game they were trying to make. That kind of game being survival/ horror. From combining items and managing inventory to aiming for the head.
Also very detailed note files that will likely tire your eye from reading fine print.
The main issue here is that the thing is on the janky side, crashing and weird bugs are an issue. The voice acting is not all that great either. All that said the strongest draw here is the story which is told from multiple perspectives , personally I like that sort of storytelling.
Opinion: Get it cheap but don't expect an alternative to the Resident Evil 2 remake.
You ever bought a game based mostly on reload animations, along with a good discount I guess. Red Alliance is basically a budget Half life 2 made using Unity.
It has an actually quite well put together stealth section and a functional vehicle level. The shooting is alright but ammo can be too limited , you combine that with enemy spam and you have a problem.
Opinion: The main bad guy in this actually announces he is a Kanye West fan.
Last of us Part 2
One of the most appropriate games of the year , since it is about people hating each other during a time of disease. If you have been following this one , no doubt you will have some disappointment of the Joel-related kind. I think if their idea was to spark a discussion of right versus wrong or what is justifiable, they definitely accomplished that.
The main draw here for me is some very satisfying stealth/combat. My issues with the game are mostly to do with unnerving violence and some drawn cutscenes or setpieces.
Opinion: Several shades of murderous flannel.
Gears 5 (Xbox One version)
It is nice to once again see the new trio of JD, Kait and Del in action. But it feels like they focus more on Kait and Del here. This is understandable since they barely got any time in gears of war 4. The controls have changed and they take some getting used to , the added skif and bot abilities really change stuff up.
I did not totally agree with all of the design decisions here but combat is just as good as it was before and new additions keep things fresh.
For the disc version with no patching you will only be able to play the campaign, that is the only thing I finished so I cannot really add anything on the other modes.
Opinion: While the additions of new enemy behavior or weather setpieces may not be for everyone, it’s nice that the franchise got a breath of fresh air.
Hong Kong massacre (PC version)
Imagine hotline Miami but better looking and combined with a 90s John woo film look. The story is told through some text and some dramatically drawn out cutscenes (no dialogue). This is one of those games where the gameplay is the main deal.
On that front Hong Kong massacre gets you into a certain flow where you mix shooting,dodging and room clearing.
Slow motion is meant to be used sparingly here rather than something you activate and clear a large section of the level.The weapons have good feedback and the music is alright but a few more weapons and tracks would have gone a long way.
Opinion: Get used to the red game over screen.
Control (PS4 Version)
Personally, I would have preferred a sequel to quantum break. But Control still checks the boxes in terms of what I like about games made by Remedy. The influence from the X-files or the SCP universe is clear here, Sam Lake has a lot of room to explore the weird.
Combat is alright but personally I would have liked normal looking guns as opposed to a morphoning weapon, the issue with combat is that it becomes repetitive once you have seen the weapon variants , upgraded your stats and seen the enemy types.
The real character here is the building or location in which the events of the game take place. I would say the lore is interesting enough that you are encouraged to keep exploring to learn more.
Opinion: I see no reason why you should not try this if you enjoyed Remedy's other work.
This is one of those games that you end up buying based purely on a good trailer. What you will find is a very colorful fps roguelike that feels like it was made for people with ADD.
Like other roguelikes the game eventually becomes about trying and dying, that is
until you figure out the best perk/weapon combination that will carry you to success. That and a bit of luck.
Opinion: Epilepsy: The game
Night in Berlin
Not my usual cup of tea here. Free unity game which is essentially a 3D hotline miami with an 80s-90s aesthetic. You get a gun only guy, a hand to hand combat guy and a dude who is a bit of both. The gun only guy has the toughest levels because you have to make every bullet count and in some cases line up shots to kill multiple targets.
Opinion: A short, nihilistic and punishing game although the developers have patched in easy and story modes recently.
Another Unity powered shooter. The deal here is bite sized levels and an emphasis on score. There is a very simple story in the background but the focus is kicking in doors and shooting goons. Best way to describe it is short but sweet , it helps that it is suitably priced.
Opinion: Physics related humor.
Blair witch ( played via Xbox game pass)
I think it was just last year when I finished 2 Blair witch games from the 2000 trilogy. The old games followed a more classic survival horror format , this new title has a more psychological focus.
The 90s aesthetic here really goes a long way since you can play snake on your brick phone in the middle of the woods. The puzzles and dog interaction are alright but most of your time will be spent walking and looking at possible spooky stuff.
Opinion: The scariest thing about this game is what they expect you to do to get the "good" ending.
Yet another Unity based shooter. Following post void I had a taste for roguelike shooters and gave killing room a try. I found an experience I can only describe as soul consuming. The deal here is that you are playing as a game show contestant , part of that means you have to win over the audience. Based on your popularity you will get good,neutral or bad items at the end of a floor.
Low popularity early on can basically ruin the full run, weapons are mostly crappy until the later tougher floors and you can have real life people vote on certain items. With all that factored in, a run can become an absolute headache but such is way of roguelikes.
Opinion: A trashy janky shooter that had me rigging the view voting to give myself an advantage. I don't know why I was so addicted but I was.
BPM: Bullets per minute
It is hard to say if rhythm based FPS games are a thing yet but that is what BPM is, along with being a roguelike. Shooting, reloading, abilities and dodging are done to a beat. Your score multiplier will keep going as long as you can keep with the beat.
With the game being a roguelike it means you are at the mercy of RNG, you could either get a broken weapon from the start and blast your way to the end or absolutely struggle with the first boss.
While the songs will change depending on the area you reach, the beat pattern is pretty much the same. This could be a disappointment for those who want more of a test of skill.
The only other issue I can think of and possibly the most serious is an aggressive graphical
filter, lengthy play can really be an eye strain. There is enough good to outweigh the bad so you end up with a charming experience.
Opinion: The chimes synched with the final kill shots in a boss fight are the purest satisfaction.
When you mention unity horror games most are likely to think back to slender, there are always more. A unity horror game where you walk around some creepy looking locale waiting for your inevitable jump scare/ demise.
It steals is kind of like having 5 in 1:-
All modes involve orb collecting and all get more intense the further you get.
Considering the game costs under 5 dollars, you do get some variety but don’t expect it to last. The real scares come from when the game decides to mess with you.
Opinion: The deliberate shoddy graphics and some good sound design make for an unsettling experience.
Call of duty: Black ops - Cold war (Xbox one edition)
For those of you that have been with this franchise since at least the original modern warfare (2007) , it has been 13 years worth of COD games.
The franchise has evolved in ways like how you move in the game and what sort of content you can expect to unlock as you level up in multiplayer. The COVID-19 pandemic clearly affected the development here. Even the reveal/ announcement was considerably delayed.
When they finally did reveal what it would be, it was a pleasant surprise to see Mason and Woods back. The thing is they are not really back per say, the main focus is more on a player-vessel type character in the game referred to as Bell and a new guy called Adler.
The campaign is short enough that you could probably finish it twice in the time that it would take you to finish one of the previous COD campaigns. A replay is encouraged since there are choices which affect which ending you will get. The issue is that it still feels cut down considering the gore from the older campaigns is mostly gone, weapon variety is not really there and the choices you will make are not as important as you are led to believe.
Multiplayer has its share of issues in the form of less content and balancing issues. That said three lane maps were brought back making MP considerably more playable for me since I just gave up on modern warfare (2019) MP. With multiplayer whichever teams they got working on this atleast have more time to tweak and add more content, I really do intend to level up more once I have more time. I did not play the zombies mode yet but I will get to dead ops arcade 3.
Opinion: This COD was developed with teams working remotely, I have no idea how split up they were but it has obviously had an impact on quality and content. While I have a soft spot for long time characters and the 80s aesthetic, I would suggest waiting until the game has more content or polish whether you are playing out of interest or for the sake of tradition.
Serious Sam 4
2020 had a notable amount of FPS games that were made to play as if they were made in the 90s. Alot of indie games but Serious Sam is ofcourse one of the bigger names. Croteam got busy with the talos principle and VR so SS4 got delayed a bunch but my anticipation remained. Now that I have played through the game I can tell you I definitely enjoyed it but it still needs work.
The graphics jank out whether it is pop in or in one case for me all I could see in a cutscene was like meshes so it was orange blobs having a conversation about the holy grail. The graphics will likely make up for most of the complaints because I mean that is the first thing most will notice.
Other issues include crashing and some questionable level design that has layouts that are not too well suited for SS style combat. With that said, the game is still fun since weapon handling and feedback are satisfying and a configurable character spec tree means you can prepare better for certain encounters.
Opinion: If you liked Serious Sam 3, I think you will be fine with this but some work still needs to be done.
Call of duty: WWII (PC version)
I actually skipped this COD in 2017 so the first time I actually played the full game is 2020. Also I did not buy it, the key was given to me by StarWars. Thank you StarWars.
I cannot provide my thoughts on the multiplayer because it is apparently broken for some regions after a certain patch on PC. I could not find any match, the suggested fixes I have seen are either use a VPN or join the party of someone that lives in a region where matches can be found.
I did join a zombie round but I was just checking if it worked, I did not really enjoy it.
So that leaves the campaign. Well, they removed regenerating health and instead have you rely on health packs. I knew this was the case beforehand but I had no idea how difficult the game could actually get. It is a definite throwback since more recent COD games don’t keep you in cover as much or have more frequent checkpoints so reckless gameplay is not as punished.
COD WWII has some spaced out checkpoints and some brutal hit scan AI, in other words pain. Managing ammo and health is actually important and you do feel some form of attachment to the AI squad with you because you will need their abilities to get through some sections.
There is variety here too with a tank section, plane section, stealth section and the shooty bits experiment with tactics or cover.
Opinion: A surprisingly impressive campaign in a rather forgettable package.
There were several god of war clones back in the day of varying quality. After the 2018 god of war reboot, I did not see many games trying to copy it (unless you consider the GOW reboot to be a souls clone in some way).
Devil’s hunt looked to be like a clone of GOW 2018 based on videos but it is only similar in the walking bits, the actual combat is more of a suggestion since you are encouraged to just spam certain attacks rather than build up combos. There is not really a proper combo system, if you happen to be playing on hard the earlier combat can get tough with multiple enemies. Once fully upgraded you will have abilities that actively break combat thus making it less of the chore that it is. The only reason I really played through was to see how the story wraps up.
There are better beat em ups or hack & slash games out there. There is a cutscene that would always crash the game for me unless I skipped it.
Opinion: The game does have glamour Gabriel and hipster Lucifer.
2020 is the year when the world got suplexed by COVID-19. Lives were lost, jobs were lost and games were under developed. For AAA games that rely on big teams for development, the workflow was surely compromised , indie games on the other hand are usually developed by smaller teams anyway so I don’t think they were as affected.
While you can look at some bad handling of the situation or lack of preparation, you can also see how the world felt like a smaller place with folks stuck indoors. I leave 2020 with a lot of gratitude towards the health and delivery workers that kept things going.
It is kind of difficult to pick a GOTY but I'm thinking post void, it brought me some geniune fun.
I will do what I can so that my plans for 2021 work out but for now wear the mask, sanitize your hands, wait for the vaccine and thanks for your time.