It has been an entire year since I started this series of blogs. During this series, I have seen a whole plethora of games that our bloggers have been wading knee-deep in from month to month. However, to celebrate an entire year of these blogs, I wanted to do something a little different. So, in that stead, I asked my fellow bloggers to write about their favourite games of recent years.
There has been a whole slew of games released in recent years so I was eager to see what games the team would choose to write about. If you are a follower of my blogs and reviews then my own entry will come as no surprise to you. But let’s dive into everyone else’s choices first!
It wasn’t easy picking a favourite game of the current generation. Elden Ring has completely blown my mind. Mass Effect Legendary Edition put an entire iconic trilogy in one neat package. And the Resident Evil 2 Remake was everything any Resi fan has ever wanted. But when it comes down to it, my first gaming love was Final Fantasy VII, which I still play every year. So, with my nostalgia glasses firmly on I’ve got to give it to the fantastic Final Fantasy VII Remake.
Granted it’s not a straightforward remaster but with Tetsuya Nomura - who also directed Kingdom Hearts - directing, it was never going to be. What we have instead is a gorgeous looking RPG that simultaneously respects the original story while also carving its own path.
Cloud and the gang have never looked better. Midgar is even more imposing than it was back in the PSOne days and the story is just as amazing as ever. The battle system has built upon and perfected Final Fantasy XV’s. And there is even an option for the old-school turn-based system for the purists. Sephiroth is even more menacing and comes, as always, with a banging theme tune. And to top it all off, the game looks even more sumptuous on PS5 and includes everyone’s favourite ninja thief - Yuffie!
I don’t video game as often as I used to, but when I do I go hard. Full completion, as many trophies as I can snag, Easter eggs galore – the works. And, for me, the game of this current generation that sticks in my mind at all times as my favourite is Resident Evil Village. I’m a sucker for survival horror, and Village delivers this in spades. From old school clue hunting and puzzle-solving, then shooting your way out of an ever-mounting monster mash, to the true helplessness of horror. There wasn’t a moment I wasn’t fully engaged in Village, and every playthrough still gives me chills.
I won’t go to town on the details to avoid spoilers (this is a game that is best experienced unknown) but I’ll cover some of my favourite elements of the game. The outline of the story is that Ethan Winters (you) is trying to track down and find his daughter. Ex-hero Chris Redfield has stolen and taken her to some unknown area of Eastern Europe. From there you venture through the Village. Discover untold secrets, hidden horrors, and mysteries best left untouched. You could break the game into several chapters identifying the paths of Ethan’s journey to find his daughter's whereabouts… but I’ll leave that mystery for you to discover.
This rollercoaster of a game takes you on a wild ride! It’s played wholly in first person and the odds are truly stacked against you. Ammo can be scarce and weapons even more so. Any time you do manage to claim an inch of power against these ever-mounting challenges, the game throws a twist and a turn your way to put you back in your place. You’re at the bottom of the food chain. It’s never impossible, but it ensures your journey is caked in challenges and obstacles to keep you on your toes. Nowhere is safe.
Village takes full advantage of a wide range of play styles and in-game mechanics to drill your situation into you. Couple that in with its gorgeous gothic architecture and detailed graphics, thick atmosphere, ominous soundtrack, and the certain doom tone threaded beautifully throughout. It's a game you’ll remember for a long time to come. A certified winner amongst the current generation of games.
The Last of Us has to be one of my favourite games of the PS3 generation. So of course, I was thrilled when the sequel came out. I even bought the special edition PS4 console for the occasion! Yet on release, The Last of Us: Part 2 sparked controversy. The gameplay was its usual tense and crafty self but the story, well...
The Last of Us: Part 2 took storytelling to the next level. It turned characters you loved into characters you wanted to slap across the face. It disgruntled fans across the globe with its shocking opening but still managed to keep players engaged until the end. The game was a thrilling but terrifying roller-coaster you couldn’t get off.
Ultimately, the developers set out to tell a story and boy did they do it. This game was harrowing, heart-warming and wholeheartedly devastating. Its tender moments shone against the backdrop of death and decay. Telling its narrative in two parts was a bold choice and the developers tested players in doing so. But it was this choice that made the game shine brighter than its predecessor.
Don’t get me wrong, the game wasn’t perfect. But what it was, was unforgettable. The story illustrated the cycle of violence and challenged players’ morals to the max. It was more than a game where you shoot dudes with a bow and arrow. It was a game that had players discussing it after it was over. The mere mention of Abby was enough to trigger heated debates. For me, The Last of Us: Part 2 wasn’t the most enjoyable game to play, due to its content, but it was one of my favourite games. Simply for the fact that it tested me and told a story it wasn’t afraid to tell.
And no surprise to anyone, my choice of feature is of course Elden Ring. I rated the game a 98 in my review, and I have only grown to love the game even more since. Since the review, I have pumped possibly an extra 60 or so hours into the game. I have completed it with one ending and I am in the process of completing the game another 2 times, following different NPC questlines in order to trigger 2 more endings. That shiny platinum trophy will be mine! Honestly though, I was very concerned about Elden Ring. I worried that the hype train was barrelling the game off the tracks and taking all the fans with it. Until I played it. Within the first few minutes of the game, I found myself enthralled. Elden Ring is the best game from the incredible mind of Hidetaka Miyazaki, and the best product FromSoftware has ever offered. I can also say for certain that it is the best experience available on modern consoles. It combines everything we love from open-world exploration games and an evolved version of the crunchy, endearing combat style we love from Soulsborne titles. More important than the things the game does have, however, are the things that the game doesn’t have. There is no cluttering UI, the map is not bombarded with quest icons, and points of interest are simply shown in map detail instead of icons. All of these little omissions are things that make the game so much more immersive and interesting to spend time in.
The game doesn’t just capture my attention from a gameplay point of view though. Everything from the NPC design, the enemy design, the boss designs, the level designs - all aspects of the game just look stunning. Or terrifying. Or awe-inspiring. There is so much attention to detail smattered across the game that you will be hard pushed to find someone who doesn’t like Elden Ring in some form or other. The game has received nothing but complete commercial success and high reviews. All of this is completely justified and well deserved. If you have not yet had the chance to check out this absolute masterpiece then I implore - no, beg - you to give it a try.
So, there you go. A small handful of games released in recent years that we think stand tall amongst the rest. Video games as a whole have much to celebrate. They allow us to slip away into mystical lands and dive into glorious adventures. This series of blogs is just a small torchlight on some games that deserve to have their day in a heavy spotlight. I hope this article goes a small way in helping if you are looking for a new game to dive into. As always I am looking forward to seeing what our bloggers choose to write about next month. Happy gaming!