I wasn’t expecting to like this as much as I did. Doom is a very fast past first person shooter, blasting through demons to an awesome soundtrack.
With a very simple plot (Humans harvesting energy form hell, demons escape, kill all demons – although there are additional audro logs and documents to find), the focus on Doom is entirely on the gameplay. It feels extremely modern and very retro both at the same time.
For the retro vibe, the game has a non-recharging health system, with pickup and powerups floating on the battlefield. Along with this, levels are an A-to-B affair, but with secret areas to find along the way. To make it feel modern, you can upgrade Doom Slayer and his weapons, but the brilliance is in just how fluid the movement is. Strafing and circling enemies while double jumping and keeping your targets in sight feels easy to do with the controls, which means when you die, you only have yourself to blame.
19: Until Dawn
A choose your own adventure horror game with a wide cast of characters, including Brett Dalton from Agents of SHIELD (grr!).
A bunch of 19 year olds (although as the characters faces are based on older actors, they don’t look like teenagers…then again, that usually is the case in horror films) have a gathering at a lodge in the middle of the woods, one where one of them lost his two sisters the previous year. Tensions are high as people aren’t as friendly with each other a year earlier.
Naturally, people start going missing. Throughout the game you swap between the different characters, making conversations options and making choices. The results of some won’t be apparent until much later in the game – for example, a choice to shoot a bird has a disastrous outcome a few hours later. At the end of each chapter, you can see why things happened, so it doesn’t seem random.
While difficult, it’s possible for everyone to live (although for one person, living is sort of the bad outcome for them). It’s also possible for absolutely everyone to die – although you sort of have to be trying to make that happen.
18: Days Gone
I ignored this initially when it came out, thought I’d try it due to PS Now and I was very surprised by how good Days Gone is.
Days Gone is an open world zombie game set a few years after a zombie apocalypse and is set in Oregon. You play as a biker who is planning on heading north to try and find a better life when circumstances causes him to stay put. The story starts off slow, but gets really interesting at the end – with one of the hidden endings making me very curious about a possible sequel.
You can encounter massive hordes of zombies here. Literally hundreds at once – I think the biggest I encountered was somewhere between 400 and 500, although there are also a lot of smaller groups around. You’ll also be fighting other survivors and a few wild animals (and some zombie versions of wild animals). Thankfully, these will fight each other and there’s something very satisfying about clearing an area of enemies by luring zombies over to do your job for you.
The weather in this game is also amazing. The first time it snowed, I didn’t actually notice the ground becoming snow straight away because it just felt extremely natural. The rain looks amazing, too, with the ground getting wet and muddy areas turning into mud. It’s the most realistic weather I’ve seen in a game and it looks amazing due to how it makes the actual ground around you look so different.
17: Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
An Uncharted game on a smaller scale, but that doesn’t mean smaller sights or reduced gameplay. This is the most refined combat in Uncharted so far.
Instead of playing as Nathan Drake, you take the role of Chloe Frazer as she looks to find an ancient relic (and possibly stop a warlord) in India. It starts off as you would expect, with some fun linear segments, but then you get to the main chunk of the game, which takes place in a massive beautiful landscape where you can choose the order that you complete the missions in.
This more open structure fits the uncharted style very well, and includes a large optional side mission to find some extra treasure. At the same time, this doesn’t fall into the repetitive nature of some open worlds as it’s only a portion of the game – with more traditional Uncharted sections both before and after. The mixture of styles works really well and makes Lost Legacy feel more like a full Uncharted experience than the “budget” title it was sold as.
16: Tell Me Why
Some video game stories are about grand adventures, saving the world and all sorts of epic, massive things. Tell Me Why is about a brother and a sister looking into their past in their small Alaskan town.
The siblings, Ronan and Alyson prepare their old house for sale – a house where Ronan had killed their mother at, thinking that she was about to murder him due to hating that her “daughter” identified as a boy. He ended up in a special prison, and had only just been released. As they search through their house, they discover things that imply that their memories of the incident may not have been what it seems.
Throughout three chapters, you progress through their investigation, learn more about the people in town and go through a very personal story – something that seems quite rare in video games. The mystery is compelling and has a good pay-off at the end.
15: Dragon Age: Inquisition
Dragon Age Inquisition’s biggest flaw is an odd one: there’s just too much stuff. Too many areas (that are too large), too many quests and stuff like that. So the major step to enjoy the game is to get used to not completing every little thing.
Get past this and you’re left with a great game which (in true BioWare fashion) is helped immensely by very likeable companions. The main quest and bigger side quests are engaging, and the main quest for each area is usually also enjoyable. Sticking to the quests you find more interesting will also give you more than enough experience to go through the main story.
The combat in Inquisition is closer to that of an action game, with a more tactical “pause” system being available (admittedly I didn’t touch this as I’m not a huge fan of that style of combat). I found it engaging, even if most of my enjoyment was due to the story. Having a lot of choice in the character creator (after only being human in Dragon Age 2) was also pretty awesome.
14: Assassin’s Creed: Origins
After missing a few Assassin’s Creed titles after Black Flag, I decided to give the franchise another go when Origins looked like it was going to try a different approach to things.
Origins is much more like an RPG game, with a wide variety of side quests, levelling up, upgrades and a lot more gear and loot. It covers a vast amount of Egypt yet the map never feels overwhelming – the large fairly empty areas actually help the structure of the game quite a lot, allowing focus to be on cities and towns.
Combat was a lot of fun, and lets you focus on how you like to fight. While some people may like to charge in and smash stuff, I liked using a bow from the shadows to take out as many people as I could quietly.
13: Batman: Arkham Knight
Following on from the amazing Arkham Asylum was a tough act to follow. City missed the mark, but Knight managed to be a wonderful game – even if it is very different to Asylum.
Arkham Knight takes place over one (extremely busy) night, with a plot involving Scarecrow and a mysterious “Arkham Knight”. Add in a brilliant personal plot for Batman, and Arkham Knight has a great story. One neat thing is that the support cast will say that something may take time – giving a good excuse to focus on side missions (you’re not forced to, it’s just nice to have a reason put into the story).
Moving around Arkham city feels great, using the grappling hook and gliding with the cape. One you level up some stuff, some journeys are faster than using the Batmobile (or BatTank). Combat feels extremely solid, and the sections of the game where you control both Batman and one of the support characters and swap between them are amazingly good fun.
I also enjoyed the tank combat, although the tank was best when used in conjunction with puzzles. Other than a couple of disappointing bosses, I didn’t feel like the tank was overused, either – a good balance of both gameplay types.
12: Rise of the Tomb Raider
While the first “new” Tomb Raider game introduced us to a new version of Lara, Rise of the Tomb Raider solidified the combat and gameplay.
Rise of the Tomb Raider has a bigger focus on the “Metroidvania” style of gameplay – where you gain new equipment/powers throughout the game which enable you to discover new paths (and collectables) in areas you’ve previously visited. Rise of the Tomb Raider does a good job of balancing this with more scripted sections.
The bow is an absolute joy to use – to the point where I rarely touch other weapons in these games. It makes for very exciting combat and is easy to use both in stealth and when you have lots of enemies shooting at you. Puzzles in Rise of the Tomb Raider are also much improved from the first game, with them feeling more interactive and the side areas having much more of a personality to them.
11: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
A spectacular blockbuster in video game form. Uncharted 4 is the most refined of Nathan Drake’s adventures, while also looking and playing spectacularly.
While other games have had extravagant plots with supernatural elements, secret societies and end of world scenarios, Uncharted 4 takes a step back and keeps it simple: pirate treasure. A myth about the world’s greatest pirates forming a colony and their combined worth, and people racing to find it first (your main opponent hiring a mercenary company to help him). I find this works great for two reasons.
First is that it means more focus can be on the characters, the relationship between Nate and his long lost brother, Nate’s marriage with Elaine and the struggles of settling down with a mundane job after a life of adventure. This feels like the most personal Uncharted story. Another benefit also means that there is more information on the myth itself, the people behind the myth and what happened to them.
Gameplay is very solid, with the grappling hook adding some fast paced movement. There are some more open levels which are still a set path, you can kind of go to the sides a bit more. However, both these and the more traditional “linear” sections are extremely well made, and never feel like you’re following a specific determined path- the way forwards feels natural enough that it feels like you’re doing the exploration.