And here I rank the games I played in the first quarter of 2021

10. Bioshock Infinite (PS4, via PS Now)

Elizabeth is very expressive.

An extremely violent Disney Princess game. You play as Booker, sent to rescue Elizabeth from her tower and “free” her. The gameplay is more action focused than other BioShock games, and very fast paced, with the downside of only being able to hold two guns at once. Unlike most escort quests, Elizabeth will look after herself and will aid you immensely by throwing you items and giving further assistance later in the game.

The music in Bioshock Infinite is also wonderful, due to time shenanigans, the people of Columbia – a floating city in the sky in the 1910s – have heard some more modern music and have created their own renditions, including “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” and “Tainted Love”.

9. The Secret of Monkey Island (PS4, via PS Now)

The effect of Stan’s jacket is great.

While the controls are nowhere near as well implemented as Monkey Island 2, The Secret of Monkey Island is still a complete classic, and remains one of the finest examples of a point and click adventure game. 

Fun puzzles, wonderful characters, great humour and a lovely setting makes Monkey Island a game that will always be remembered. The special edition enhances this with lovely artwork and great voice acting – however you can always swap back to the original with a touch of a button if you prefer playing it in the original way, and it’s quite cool going back and forth to see the changes.

8. Little Nightmares (PS4, via PS Now)

Dark and creepy, but extremely atmospheric.

An extremely atmospheric game. Very little is explained, but you can piece together what is happening throughout. The strange angles caused by the tilted camera add to the unease, but also has the side effect that some platforms are needlessly difficult to navigate. That’s the only real negative to the game, though. 

Little Nightmares is really good at horror, with a mixture of platforming, puzzles and action throughout. The style is incredible and all of the creature designs are extremely well made and memorable. This is a wonderful little game.

7. Bioshock 2 Remastered (PS4, via PS Now)

The drill is very messy in all the right ways.

Upon reflection, I ended up enjoying replaying BioShock 2 more than the original. I like the more “personal” story in this one, and the additional details behind Rapture are always a bonus. In BioShock 2, you play as a prototype Big Daddy, one that is capable of using plasmids, including some new ones like hypnotise.

While BioShock 2 initially feels linear, when you replay them it becomes apparent that it’s no less linear than the first game (you can go back in the first, but there’s no reason to). The levels in BioShock 2 feel a lot more varied and it felt I was doing different things in each one. 

6. Concrete Genie (PS4, via PS Plus)

This is an Art Attack

A very charming game that’s difficult to describe.You play as a young artist who hangs around an abandoned town that he used to live in, a group of bullies beats him up, rips his drawings and forces him towards a creepy lighthouse. There he discovers that one of his creations – Luna – has come to life. Luna leads him to a magic paintbrush. 

Using this paintbrush, you can create creatures on walls and paint designs using templates (that you need to find from your scattered pages). The aim of the game is to brighten up the town and get rid of a mysterious dark substance that is growing. The creatures you create all like you to paint certain things, and in some locations will request a few different drawings to be placed,and you’ll get a very cute animated scene playing out on the wall when you do so. 

The creatures can interact with the environment, so a lot of the puzzles involve getting these creatures to move around the walls to the sport they need to be. It’s a game that will put a smile on your face.

5. Jackbox Party Pack 7 (PC, via Steam)

Just the main menu as screenshots contain names and other stuff.

A very solid selection of games.

Quiplash 3 – The first two were fun, this is just as good. This has newer prompts (and also a handy button to disable some of the very US-centric ones). The new end prompt I think is better than previous games as it’s a three part one (three different answers, or an answer consisting of three parts). 

The Devils and the Details – A co-op game where you all play as a family of devils. You pick and choose which tasks to complete. Some can be completed on your own, while others are group tasks. For these, you’ll have to give instructions (to make food, one person will get a list of ingredients, other players have to select the ingredients). Not the easiest to do over zoom, but still good fun. I imagine it would be even better in person.

Champ’d Up – A drawing game, might be my favourite Jackbox drawing game. People will be given a subject (Champion of dorks, champion of cute, champion of flair, champion of realising they were beautiful all along) and have to draw a champion based on that, along with giving them a name. These drawings then get sent to other players, who have to design an “underdog” challenger without knowing the category they are competing for.

In the second round, the same thing happens, but after each match there’s a second “surprise” round with a different category. Players can keep the same challenger or swap out with one of their own to try and win. Drawing ability isn’t that important, it’s all about the idea behind the drawing.

Talking Points – A “public speaking” game. I was initially against the idea of this game as it didn’t sound particularly interesting at all. Surprisingly, I ended up really enjoying it. It starts off with filling in blanks for prompts for subjects of a presentation, these are sent to other players. You get to pick between three of these for what your subject is based on. 

To “help” you with your presentation is an assistant. These will select slides for you, picking from a few options of text followed by a picture (three of each in total). The presenter can talk at their own pace (within a comfortable time limit) and tries to fit in the images/text to their presentation. They can emphasise parts of the images by adding text or drawings to them. The scoring is kind of irrelevant for this one (people tap up/down arrows throughout), but it’s still enjoyable.

Blather ‘Round – Sadly this only goes up to six players. You get to choose from a couple of prompts (objects, TV shows, characters, stuff like that). You are then given sentences with a couple of blanks for you to fill…but only using a small selection of pre-selected words. Sometimes it will take lots of sentences to describe something, but sometimes it can be done with just the first one (My fiancée started one with the sentence “it’s about a series of metamorphosis mechanisms”, which I got straight away). It’s really good fun.

Overall, a great pack and the first one without a dud.

4. Moving Out (PC, via Game Pass)

You can play as a toaster that pings out toast!

A simple concept: move furniture from a house to a moving van. It’s designed for co-op and is physics based, working against a timer. How you move things doesn’t matter, as damage is not important in the slightest. Often the quickest way to get something out of the house is by throwing it through the window.

When playing with two or more people, there are items that can be picked up easily, one that can be dragged by one person and items like sofas and beds that require two or more people to move them, so planning which order you collect objects is important. You also have to keep in mind getting them all piled up in the van, as poor organisation in the van will cause objects to topple over and fall out.

You also have to take care of fragile objects – if these smash they’ll respawn in their original palace so you’ll have to collect them again. The levels start off with a few houses, then some businesses, before getting a bit crazy. When you’ve completed a level you will also get the opportunity to unlock extra medals by fulfilling certain conditions (what’s nice is that the game will mark these as completed if you fulfill the conditions the first time). These can be things like not smashing windows, breaking more stuff or collecting extra objects.

This game has similarities to Overcooked, but I personally prefer Moving Out.

3. Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order (PS4, Physical Copy)

Exploring a crashed Venator. Photo mode is awesome.

I was quite surprised as to how much this felt like Metroid Prime – this is definitely a 3D Metroidvania, and an awesome one at that. You play as Cal, a Jedi padawan who survived Order 66. Hiding out on a planet that salvages parts from scrapped Star Destroyers (I love that they use lots of cool designs from the prequels), he eventually gets noticed and goes on the run, before being saved by others and thrust on an adventure to find a holocron. 

You will explore multiple planets, each with lots of hidden secrets (documents and parts that let you customise your lightsaber and poncho), and will encounter a charming little droid called BD-1, and you’ll unlock upgrades for him throughout the game. This, along with new force powers, will enable you to find more secrets and discover some hidden areas. 

Combat is extremely good fun, with lots of different ways to tackle enemies, and a focus on dodging or blocking at the right time. 

2. Puppeteer (PS4, via PS Now)

Riding a completely real elephant. This is not a prop.

I randomly picked this because it was a stream-only PS Now game to play for a bit while another game downloaded overnight. I was massively impressed with it. It’s a very solid 2D platformer (one of the better ones I’ve played) which introduces it’s simple but effective mechanics throughout the game. The graphics are very charming in a way similar to Yoshi’s Woolly World.

It’s set in a Japanese puppet theatre, but it also styled a lot like a British pantomime. Lots of fun humour, and actors breaking the fourth wall, sometimes complaining about the story or other “actors”. It feels like an unprofessional production, but is handled in a great way. 

Health is done in the form of “heads”, as the main character, Kutaro, lost theirs at the beginning of the story and has to use other puppet heads. You can hold three at a time. They all have cute animations and can be used to unlock a secret somewhere or a bonus area, and some help out with bosses. When you get hit, the current head falls off – but you still have time to chase it to get it back. 

Levels feel very varied, with some different styles. The game focuses on each new ability as you get them before mixing them with previous ones. I quite like the “spiral” stages where you work upwards throughout the tower, with the stage “turning” as you progress (because it’s a backdrop, the camera itself doesn’t actually move, just the stage – there’s lots of lovely transitions).

Overall, this is a massively overlooked platformer that ended up being released a couple of months before the PS4. It’s a shame that a PS3 or PS Now are the only ways to play it, it really should have been re-released on PS4 at some point.

1. It Takes Two (PS4, Physical Copy)

Mix some colours and paint a picture. One of the just for fun sections.

The ultimate two player co-op game. It Takes Two is a fantastic platformer that can only be played by two players. If you don’t have someone to play with locally, it can be played online (the second player can download a free version to join in, too). The game will always be in split screen, so you can see what the other player is doing. 

Cody and May are getting a divorce, their daughter wishes to a magic book to help make them become friends again – causing Cody and May to become trapped into a doll and clay figure their daughter made. Their main focus is on getting back to normal, but they have to work together to do so.

Each section of the game introduces new elements. One part of the game gives one character a goo gun and a second player a matchstick gun (which causes the goo to explode), while a later part gives the duo gravity boots and a size-changing belt. Each section is long enough for the tools to be utilised in multiple ways, making them very satisfying to use. Each player’s roles are also different enough to warrant a second playthrough as each character.

Throughout the adventure you’ll find “play” areas, where you can find some versus minigames or just stuff to mess around with. There are no hidden collectibles, just hidden toys that are simply fun to find and use. In one section there was an Etch-a-sketch, you could use it (one person using each dial) and it was only there just for enjoyment.

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