30: Sonic Mania
Going all the way back to Sonic 3 & Knuckles and creating a new sequel to that, Sonic Mania is a love letter to the original Mega Drive Sonic games, with the thought of “what if Sega had just continued on this style of game on the Saturn”.
This means that Sonic Mania doesn’t constrain itself to what the Mega Drive could do, but also avoids the problem of looking to different to the originals. The style chosen works wonders, and the gameplay itself feels like an improvement over the original three and a half Sonic games.
The game consists of alternate versions of some classic levels (which, while great, we have seen plenty of times before), but also some brand new levels, all of which have great style and music. I really hope a sequel sticks to all new stuff. I love Green Hill Zone, but it needs a bit of a rest.
29: Mario Kart 8
Most likely the best Mario Kart game so far, Mario Kart 8 has incredibly solid gameplay, with an amazing visual style and a wonderful jazzy soundtrack. The big addition to this game is “anti gravity”, which makes for some amazing looking levels that twist and turn all over the place.
The racing feels extremely well thought out. Physics change slightly when in “anti-grav” mode, where hitting other players will provide a short speed boost, yet moving between the two – along with underwater and glider modes – is incredibly fluid and you don’t really have to think about changing, it all comes natural.
The weapons are a good set, and this Mario Kart makes a great change to the items: if you hold an item behind you, it still counts as having an item. This means that you now have to think carefully if you want to drop an item before picking up an item box, as you may end up with something you can’t defend yourself with, which adds to the strategy of the game.
A game about expanding your empire across the stars. Pick (or make) and alien race, start off on one planet with just a few basic ships and start from there. Explore your galaxy, colonise planets and encounter other aliens.
You can focus on taking things by force, or try playing nice – or switching between the two depending on what civilisations you encounter. Sometimes war may be the only option – especially if you encounter an aggressive people and something about your species greatly offends them, so they won’t rest until you are purged from the galaxy.
There is a lot in the game that you can manage, but Stellaris manages to not feel overwhelming either. The mod support for the game is great, too – there’s a Star Trek mod that is brilliant, and adds in missions and small events that can happen, turning it into an amazing Star Trek game.
27: A Hat in Time
A very charming mission-based platformer. A Hat in Time is comprised of multiple chapters. The missions in these either take place on a section of a larger world (that you can choose to explore, but the missions point you in a certain direction) or singular more individual levels.
The more unique levels are the highlight of A Hat in Time. The second chapter is a highlight of a game, with lots of different missions, from one that’s a murder mystery to a mad dash across a collapsing train.
The platforming feels very precise, with a simple but effective control system that reminds me of Super Mario 64
26: The Jackbox Party Pack 3
The Jackbox are amusing party games where they answer prompts/questions (or sometimes draw) on their phones in conjunction with what the screen tells them too (it’s aimed at playing locally, but you can stream and have others join in remotely. Three great game are in this pack:
Trivia Murder Party is basic trivia questions, but set in a hotel owned by a serial killer. The questions themselves aren’t “spooky”, but after each question, the people who got it wrong take part in deadly mini games. Die and you become a ghost, but you can still answer questions and potentially win if you do well in the final round.
Quiplash is just a really simple game of making your friends laugh. People are given prompts (each prompt is given to two people) and people have to come up with a funny answer. These are then compared and everyone picks their favourite. In jokes between friends are great for this.
Fakin It is my personal favorite. Each round there are three prompts that requires people to put up their hand (to say yes), hold up a number of fingers or point at another player in response to a prompt (such as “Have you ever had a speeding ticket?”, “Who most looks like Tom Cruise?”). One player doesn’t get this prompt and has to fake their answer and possibly justify it. People then vote on who the spy is – if they can’t figure it out after three questions, the spy wins.
25 :Watch Dogs 2
The second Watch Dogs features a new main character and city, the wonderful San Francisco. It has a friendlier cast of characters, the city is much brighter and the game itself has more humour and just feels like a much happier game.
The on-foot gameplay is much improved, too. There are more non-lethal options and you have an RC car and drone to help you do your bidding, both of which are extremely satisfying to use. You can also use hacks to make people targets for police or gangs, so you can cause huge fights as a distraction, or just target people who annoy you (if anyone dies, it’s not though my hands).
There are a lot of fun side quests as well, including one where you have to hack into Ubisoft and leak a game trailer to the public (this was supposed to be an actual trailer, but the game was later cancelled).
24: Stardew Valley
A farming game that looks simple on the surface, but has a lot to it. You start the game having inherited an old farm. It’s a bit of a mess, so you’ll have to clear land and start planting your first crops.
Each day, you’ll need to check on your farm and make sure everything is watered (unless it’s raining). As you progress you’ll unlock tools to make expanding easier – such as sprinklers that will water plants for you. Once you’ve done what you want to on the farm, there’s a village to explore.
Here you’ll meet a range of colourful characters, you can chat with them and some will have questlines to go though – some of them could even lead to marriage! There’s a larger questline involving a wizard and magic, a mystery regarding a chain shop, fishing and more.
If that’s not enough, there’s a massive cave system to explore, filled with monsters and treasure. Don’t forget to take a sword with you. The game is also still getting updates, with a local multiplayer option being added soon – this game could be a great game for couples.
23: Shadow of the Tomb Raider
The third in the new series of Tomb Raider games. You start off raiding a tomb, with loads of the usual warning. Except that these warnings were true, and Lara sets off an apocalypse into motion.
There is a way to stop it, deep within Peru, in the lost city of Paititi. Most of the game revolves around this beautiful ancient village, helping out the inhabitants while also trying to stop the world from ending.
The combat in the newer Tomb Raider games are great, and the bow is still immensely satisfying to use along side a half-stealth approach.
22: Luigi’s Mansion 3
There’s something about the style of Luigi’s Mansion 3 that just makes it look wonderful. The animation is very….animated and the clean style makes it seems like a Pixar animated film more than a video game. Luigi’s mumbles, screams and occasional words (occasional if you don’t press the “Mario?” button) all add to the lovely feel of the game.
You play as Luigi as you explore a haunted hotel trying to save Peach, Mario and some Toads. Using your trusty Vaccuum cleaner and its various settings to catch ghosts and save puzzles.
At first the controls were very fiddly, but once you realise you can use the shoulder buttons instead of the face buttons, you’ll be able to move, aim and use one of the poltergust’s features at the same time. The difficulty of the game is also very fair, there’s a bit of challenge in just completing the main story, but there’s a lot more challenge if you want to find everything.
21: Detroit: Become Human
The idea of androids/robots gaining sentience, wanting freedom and rebelling isn’t exactly a new one, so the interesting stuff is in how it’s handled. In Detroit: Become Human, you play as three characters, who each have their own part to play in the recolution.
Connor is an android detective. His job is to investigate android with signs of being “deviant” – those that express emotions, self awareness or that disobey orders. He’s partnered with a detective that hate androids, although depending on your actions, you could end up as buddies.
Kara was bought to be a housekeeper. Upon discovering the father beating his daughter, she breaks programming to stop it and decides to flee with the girl, and tries to escape to Canada, encountering some friends and enemies along the way.
Markus is living a fancy life, essentially being treated as a son by a rich artist. During a burglary at the house, someone gets hurt and Markus is blamed, waking up in a junkyard of android. He finds his was to a safe haven and starts the revolution fully.
All three stories are extremely interesting, with lots of emotional moments. although Connor’s detective parts are definitely the best due to having more moments where you have to think and solve issues.