I am aware that in the intro to last month’s Video Game of the Month feature, I made jokes about how quick the time seemed to have passed since the feature before it. But dear lord how the time seems to disappear quicker than you can blink these days. I am pretty sure my birthday in April was only a few weeks ago, and currently, I am merchandising Halloween costumes and Christmas confectionary displays in my day job. Madness!
If time flies when you are having fun, then I must have overindulged in gaming this year, and I do not regret it for a single second. Time is precious and whatnot, but if you are not spending your time enjoying what makes you smile, then time is simply wasted!
So, with that in mind, here is a handful of games that our team here at Zatu have been using their time on over the last month.
What can I say about Hades that has not been said a hundred times already? This hell-based roguelike dungeon crawler has been given multiple game of the year awards and has had so many other accolades heaped upon it. So why now? Why am I talking about this title after it has been out so long?
Hades has just had its PlayStation 5 release and I am not only playing it for a second time but in a first for me, reviewing it for an online website for the second time. What I have found the second time around and what has stood out is how much content there is, how many stories there are to complete and how much left I had to do from my first outing in hell.
When I initially reviewed it on the Nintendo Switch, I escaped hell a few times and moved on to other things but due to the PlayStation version having trophies, I have found other avenues to explore and other goals to search out while battling the hordes of the underworld. I know trophies have their lovers and haters but for me they do add extra things to do and especially with Hades, I am discovering previously unknown parts of the game while trying to complete these virtual trophy-based baubles.
For anyone who does not know what Hades is, firstly, where have you been? Secondly, Hades is one of the best roguelikes in recent memory. Not only does it have the tried and tested SuperGiant art and sound work that I love but it injects a constantly evolving and intricate story not usually found in games of this ilk. It's all-encompassing, beautiful, and very addictive. Not only is this my video game of the month, it is most people's video game of the year!
For roguelike fans this game is a must, for people a bit curious, I can wholeheartedly recommend it. Hades is great at introducing new concepts and game systems slowly, it has a God Mode to help new players and is very welcoming for newbies in the genre. I have heard from a lot of people who don’t even like roguelikes who love Hades and there is a reason for that. It is something different, it is something special and I love it to pieces. Right, I am off to once again battle my way out of hell and see something new. Did I say I love Hades? I do love Hades.
Back in 1998 I had just finished school and was getting ready to start college. But more importantly, I had a lovely six-week break in between. This gave me ample time to throw into Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines. You could argue that I should have spent the time preparing for college or going out, meeting new people and seeing new things. But no, I opted for gaming and shooting Nazi’s and I don’t regret it one bit. Commandos was a rare stealth strategy game that saw you carrying out lengthy missions with a select team of six specialist Commandos on the frontlines of World War II. Its unique brand of slow-burn, real-time stealth strategy and punishing difficulty is rarely seen these days.
That is until Desperados III came along. A prequel that has been 14 years in the making. Luckily being a prequel, you don’t need any prior knowledge of the story… which I didn’t. Instead of World War II you’re in the Wild West. And instead of Nazi’s, you’ll be shooting cowboys. But most importantly the gameplay of Commando’s is here in all of its insanely difficult glory. You’ll take control of a colourful gang of outlaws, each with a skill set that compliments the team wonderfully. You and your posse will embark on a 30-hour campaign across an isometric frontier
Granted, this game isn’t for everyone. You’ll spend a lot of time hiding your team and watching enemy patrol patterns for minutes on end. Waiting for the perfect time for a coordinated attack. Getting it wrong can send you instantly back to your last checkpoint. But getting it right is oh-so-satisfying, watching your band of outlaws simultaneously take down a rival posse in a heady mix of gunfire, distraction and explosions are glorious.
Looking for an unforgiving challenge that requires patience, experimentation, and meticulous planning? Look no further Desperados III is the one for you.
Apex has been my video game of the month pretty much every month since the lockdown. I missed it at launch – while I really loved Titanfall 2, the fact that Apex was a Battle Royale game initially put me off. Then one Sunday I read a review in the gaming section of the papers that were so complementary. I felt that I had to give it a whirl. And since then…. hooked!
I have always loved online FPS games and particularly the Battlefield games. While it’s 2–3-man squads in Apex, teamwork is one of the elements I really like about this. Needless to say, the quality of the team is variable when you queue in public games, but even then, there is a good chance of getting people who will play with you rather than in spite of you. The nature of the game and the in-game comms ‘pings’ really do facilitate and reward tight team play.
And the fact that this is a battle royale game with a difference – one where revives and respawns are possible – is a game-changer for me. All the rush of 3 of you vs 57 of them. All with the possibility of recovering from disaster and snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. Not only that but the recent Arenas mode gives an alternative and complementary play experience which provides welcome variety.
But what clinches it for me is the gameplay itself and particularly the movement. It’s fast-paced, smooth, slick, and elegant, worthy of video game of the month. Movement is king in this game and it rewards practice, creativity, and tactical thought. Sure, accuracy is important, but even a dinosaur like me can bring home some wins and the feeling of being the last squad standing is a real rush. Apex Legends is king and it’s going to take a lot to topple it.
So, I have been on a somewhat ‘simple’ game binge lately. Due to the moths in my wallet and a decent chunk of time going on board games. I have been playing through Asura’s Wrath again with Liam O’Brien’s dreamy voice taking main stage. I've even smashed the X button 10,000 times in My Name is Mayo 2 for a shiny, shameless platinum trophy.
So I decided, if I had no new games to line my hard drive with, then it is time to finish some of the many (many, many) games that I have started over the months and subsequently abandoned. I am a sucker for the new and shiny, what can I say. So, I booted up Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time.
Pushing past my initial disappointment of realising that my original save file had been lost to the ether (along with all my PS4 game saves); I soon re-re-rediscovered my love for the little fuzzy orange fellow from my childhood. This game really is the sequel that we should have got all those years ago. Before all the weird Crash games. You know, the ones with the titan riding and stuff. What the actual hell was that all about anyways? The team did a smashing job at taking the original games, breaking them down to the core, and evolved the DNA into something to truly be proud of.
Toys for Bob nailed everything when it came to this game. From the writing of the characters to the level design to the tone and atmosphere of the game, to the modern graphics and to incorporating new mechanics into a beloved gaming formula. At first, I was putting off trying this game for the longest of times. I feared that if I played yet another failure of a Crash game, then my heart would have broken. I am in love with this continuation, however. It feels as though all my waiting and patience has finally paid off. If you are a fan of the originals then do yourself a service, check this out!
Now where the hell is my Crash Bash remake/sequel!? That would definitely secure the title of video game of the month!
Continuing my ‘easy to play’ games month, I have also been delving into an old faithful video game of the month. The age-old classic. The pillar of the simulation genre. This is of course, none other than *drumroll please* … oh you know what it is, you have read the subheading!
After conveniently losing my game saves from my PS4 era of gaming, a fresh character has been created and I am enjoying the ebb and flow of the game again. Playing the game how you want to is definitely where the fun lies here. The game definitely feels like it was created specifically for the six thousand expansions to be plugged in to make a fortune for EA though. On the flip side, at least each of the expansions adds something specific to the game and injects some much-needed diversity into a game that is by its very design, quite repetitive.
My original character was seduced into a life of long shifts and fatherhood by an evocative red-headed neighbour when all he wanted to do was game and rummage through trash. Not the kind of endeavour that I was aiming for, nor the kind of life my sim wanted to live. So, this new character (Klept o’ Maniac as I called him) is enjoying a life of minimal social obligations and stealing his neighbours’ lamps. Not the most engaging of lifestyles, but it is certainly making me giggle telling all the neighbours to go away when they kind-heartedly visit me. I can’t have them seeing their lamps in my house after all.
I have had quite a busy month. Stepping down at work, getting ready to start university, and a slew of mundane adult-life stuff to sift through. During these hectic times in our life, games such as The Sims 4 is the perfect kind of game to throw on at the end of a long day, to let your body drown into your couch, and to let the world around you dissolve. Undoubtedly my video of the month.
And there we are, another selection of delectably delicious video game of the month morsels to feed your time devouring gaming addiction.
I really love putting this feature together so that we can collectively shine a light on games both older and newer. It is a little celebration of video gaming as a whole. I hope you look forward to the choices for next month as much as I do!