Well… PlayStation 4… Xbox One… what an incredible ride it’s been! We’ve had some highs, had some lows, but you’ve given me some amazing memories. I’ll never forget the times we had together. I hope you find your spot in the cupboard most comfortable. I’ll think about you (almost) every day!
Persona 5 – 2017
Perhaps it was just my timing from completing Persona 4: Golden the week of its release (it wasn’t), but my word, Persona 5 hit me like a speeding truck full of pop-art, curry, and smooth jazz. I’m no stranger to JRPGs, so jumping into the world of The Phantom Thieves was an easier feat than many’s experiences with the widely popular game, and it was, no doubt, one of the best experiences I’ve had.
The setting of a noir-style Tokyo is such a charming and almost cozy backdrop. I’ve never been to Japan, but I almost feel like I have now. Walking through the city from point A to B without any help from the map gave me an accomplished feeling, like finding your way back to your hotel in a foreign city after a long day. Opening up the new areas around the city as your progress the story is just as exciting every time you do it, as it opens new avenues for conversations or – the best mini-game – fishing!
The music is an incredible addition to the environment as well, with different weather sporting quieter tunes, and of course, battles with the most HYPED UP battle music I have ever experienced. Have you heard these songs?! Because you just have to hear them!
Story-wise, Persona games are known for how attached you get to your main crew of friends, and Persona 5 did not hold back. Its start is so incredibly strong that I almost restarted it immediately after the first dungeon because of how close to perfection it was with character introductions and motivations. The crew gained along the way will remain with me for a long, long time, and I’m VERY excited to hang out with my Tokyo friends again in Persona 5: Strikers.
Overall, the amount of personality that drips from Persona 5 leaves much of the past-generation in its wake. I’ve yet to have another title surpass the experience I had with my boy, Akira (Ren, Joker, whatever), and I think it’ll be a little while longer before I feel this way about a title again.
Firewatch – 2016
I’m a sucker for a good story that breaks my heart into teeny tiny pieces, and 2016 was a good year for the sads. Firewatch was a highly anticipated indie title with a strong focus on story, mystery, and sarcasm; all of which were delivered.
Set in the late 80s, Henry heads off to the remote Wyoming forests to become a firewatch… man after dealing with great family issues, all to be by himself with his thoughts. However, what comes from this is a friendship with the woman across the hills, a mystery involving missing campers, and a whole lot of feelings, all without seeing a single character’s face.
The charm and personality given solely through the voice acting in Firewatch is one of the best instances I have ever come across. It is so inherently fun, human, and heart breaking, and it was some of the best 6-or-so hours I have spent playing video games.
Red Dead Redemption 2 – 2018
When I first played Red Dead Redemption in 2013 (late bloomer), it was a lot of firsts for me. I won’t bore you with the details, but it quickly became one of my favourite games of all time. After playing as ex-outlaw, John Marston, all those years prior, and with no promise of seeing him in the prequel, I was very excited but mostly intrigued by how Rockstar were going to pull off this massively popular franchise for all the beloved fans.
Although I did find the world and the controls incredibly overwhelming at first, after a few focused hours within the world Red Dead Redemption 2, I found myself enamoured with the main character, Arthur Morgan, and the inclusion of a younger John Marston – piecing his past together through Arthur’s eyes – gave some eye-opening closure to his story.
Being a lover of open-world games as well, the huge, HUGE world was a pleasure to play through, with an overabundance of things to do (especially hunting, I LOVE me some hunting) to pass the time if you’re not up for the next mission or want to earn some money for a gear upgrade. Not to mention… the best horse physics in a game so far. And they better have been, you saw how much time they put into horse testicles.
Overwatch – 2016
Okay, now, I don’t play many online multiplayers, however, Overwatch HOOKED me. It hooked me very early on in its development, and I participated in one of the betas, finding my favourite characters to play and tactics to use. Obviously, it being a beta, these were all changed on release but, wow! I spent many an day, many an evening playing this damn game.
Being Blizzard, they know how to make a universe, and I loved every part of it. The first year or so of Overwatch was magical. Getting your hands on legendary skins, becoming involved in seasonal events, downloading many game-changing patches (good and bad), watching the character’s backstories through amazing animated shorts, watching the game evolve overall into a much more competitive scene; it was an absolute joy to be a part of it all. It was like being a part of an extremely dysfunctional, yet loving family.
And one of the best parts was, I wasn’t very good at it, so all the bitching and complaining about characters being overpowered or nerfed… didn’t make much of a difference to me!
Stardew Valley – 2016
Oh boy, Stardew Valley… Not since The Sims 2 have I ruined my life for a single game. By “ruined my life” I mean woken up, sat my ass in my computer chair, and played a game until I went to bed many hours later.
What started as a cute farming/life simulator kinda game very quickly evolved somewhat like individual therapy sessions. I had never felt so relaxed. That was until you got your first heart event with a character you’d started to become attached to; then it becomes some sort of dating simulator that never asked permission to enter your heart and lock itself in there.
Diving into the personal lives of the characters of Pelican Town was one of the most devastating things I have done to date. Never have a found so many broken people that I felt I needed to fix, and in the middle of all this, I HAVE PUMPKINS TO HARVEST.