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Video Game of the Month March 2022

Video Game of the Month March 2022 Feature
Can you believe we are already this far into the year? It seems like just a few days ago I was writing an intro about putting Christmas decorations on the shelf at work. Now there are easter eggs in that space! Absolute madness. However, if I wait another year, Easter will fall on my birthday again. I have been patiently looking forward to this day since it happened when I was but a wee lad. Chocolate and presents on the same day. What 31-year-old kid wouldn’t look forward to that? Oh my god, am I old?!
Enough about my life though. Let's be honest, you probably don’t even read this part, do you? You just brush past it in the search for the games we have been dedicating our time to over the last month. Pringles? Overrated. Milk is a lie. There is a hole in the ocean. My belly button is neither an innie nor an outie. Let’s see how many people that triggers to see if anyone reads this.
Let’s also get into some games! What has our team been playing over March? You know, the actual reason I am here too…

Ratchet And Clank: Rift ApartSophie Jones

Now you may be wondering, why are you playing Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart when that hype train left the station some time ago. Well, I’ve never got round to purchasing a PS5, and am currently without one. In fact, the only reason I wanted a PS5 was to play this exclusive. Luckily, my best friend caved and bought the new system.

Thus, I’ve been spending March visiting said friend's house to play this beauty! I’m not very far through the campaign but I’m already blown away by it. The visuals are incredible, and at times I forget I’m playing a game as the scripted scenes look like a CGI movie. The textures are phenomenal, and the dimensions unique.

Looks aside, the gameplay is bursting with fun as you shoot up opponents, ride around on whizzy snails, and jump through the space continuum. The mechanic of travelling through rifts is expertly done and I love how quick it is. Initially, I worried it would trigger my motion sickness, but, so far, it's not bothered me.

The new protagonist, Rivet, is interesting to play, and Clank's puzzle sections provide relief from the carnage. Searching for the many collectibles is a satisfying task, especially when you find outfit pieces through rift portals. The story is sublime and has had me giggling. Overall, it’s a balanced experience. Waiting for Ratchet and Clank: A Rift Apart has been tough, but I wasn’t disappointed when I finally booted it up. I’m enjoying this addition to the series, and I cannot wait to play more and finish it. Has Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart swayed me into buying a PS5? The game is gorgeous and loading times are insanely quick... yet for now, my PS4 is still doing a dandy job. Time to take a walk to my friend's house so I can get another gaming session in...

I will start with the fact that Elden Ring is fantastic. It's rewarding, beautiful, and so dripping with content and exploration that it fries my brain. I have just earned the platinum trophy in this amazing game and I needed to write something about it.

As with all the FromSoftware games, the narrative mostly goes over my head. I know it's deep with lore but it's all very loose and it isn't explained thoroughly. What shines in these games though is the freedom, the rewarding combat system, and the sheer amount of joy you get from beating a boss that has been wiping the floor with you for the last hour or so.

Elden Ring, for all intents and purposes, is an open-world Dark Souls game. I was dubious to start with, but it worked out amazingly. Narrow, linear paths become open-world areas, and there is far more wiggle room for exploration. Bosses are everywhere. Items are strewn through castles and cabins, and around every corner is another thing waiting to murder you horribly.

I love how my character meandered and morphed through different stages as I dragged myself through different builds using different weapons. I adored how every boss was a new challenge and I learned so much playing the game. Horizon was fantastic but, overall, it was just another open-world game that taught me nothing. In Elden Ring I had to learn, I had to discover and I, as a player, evolved into the mechanics of the game. And it was glorious. Elden Ring will probably not only be my game of the year but it has shot up to being one of my favourite games ever. It may not, for me, hit the heights of Sekiro or Bloodborne - but they are all-timers. Elden Ring is superb, has brought in so many new players to the genre, and was a joy from start to finish. I miss it dearly and eagerly await from FromSoftware do next. Praise the Elden lord!

Final Fantasy XVPat Buckler

I bought Final Fantasy XV five years ago, and initially only played it in small chunks here and there. Every time I came back I’d forget what I was doing and have to relearn the various gameplay systems. But this month it’s the only game I’ve been playing, so I’ve finally been able to immerse myself and make progress.

You play as Prince Noctis, accompanied by three friends on a quest to save the world or whatever. No spoilers here. Together you form a typical RPG party, combining swords, guns, and magic to dish out royal justice to bad people and scary monsters.

I’m enjoying the coming-of-age/road trip movie vibe. One of the opening scenes involves you pushing your broken-down car while a Florence + the Machine cover of Stand By Me plays (absolute banger). Despite the high stakes, your boys seem to be having a pretty good time. There’s lots of charming chatter between the lads as you run, drive, and Chocobo from place to place.

At night you can set up camp, where Ignis will cook delicious-looking CGI meals. Prompto will take photos of your adventures, which you can review each day. It really captures the appeal of video games to me. You can still have fun while the world’s on fire.

The story’s starting to get interesting, but I’m mostly doing side quests to level up. They have a handy system where it tells you the recommended level for each quest. This means I can save myself driving halfway across the continent to fetch an onion and focus on more rewarding tasks, like slaying giant crabs. I’m having a great time so I doubt this will be the final Final Fantasy that I play.

A guilty pleasure of mine is playing through a Call of Duty campaign. It’s like a summer blockbuster movie - big, brash, explosive, and it lets me switch off for a few hours and just enjoy the ride. That said, Cold War is a surprisingly different beast. It still has a few explosive set pieces. But the story and characters are at the forefront of the campaign. You’ll even spend a fair amount of time not shooting weapons, which is interesting for a first-person shooter, and surprising for a Call of Duty title.

Set in the early 1980s, you play as an operative working with the CIA to track down an agent known as Perseus, who has got his sticky fingers on a nuke. It’s not a deep or original plot, but the people at Treyarch have really crafted a game that stands out from the other annual releases in the franchise. There are well-executed stealth sections, collectibles that, when back at your base, you can study for clues. And, if you solved them correctly, unlock a couple of optional side missions.

The members of your team are well fleshed-out and you actually get to know them and will care for them... well, most of them. The banging soundtrack also puts you right in the time period. At its heart, it’s a Call of Duty game. But it’s crafted with such attention to detail that I couldn’t help but become completely invested. It even throws in a couple of moral choices that will leave you wondering if you made the right ones.

Dying Light 2Dan Hilton

For me, it has been hard to pry myself away from my precious time with Elden Ring. That disc is just a part of my PS5 now. It will not leave my console until that shiny platinum trophy is mine. But, thankfully, I have games downloaded too. One of which is Dying Light 2, which I think is a really fun game to play.

Whilst I had some issues with it when I was first playing, the support for the game since release has held fast. And the gaming experience has only grown with each update. While the story is one that fell prey to stereotypical conventions, the gameplay itself is solid. There is something to be said for the satisfaction of surviving a chase around the city at night by blood starved monstrosities. Or simply standing your ground in some of the challenging loot cache areas, taking on formidable opponents.

Being able to tailor your playstyle by crafting equipment is a joy. Things like turning human enemies in the midst of a compound with an infection arrow, and seeing them cause absolute chaos, is a glorious sight. Dying Light 2 is a game that I don’t take seriously. It is a great game to throw on at the end of a tough day, and just roam around bashing some zombie heads in. Stress relief comes in many forms, after all. One of my favourite things to do is explore the world. You can find intricately designed graffiti. The game has some interesting ways to slip some beautiful art into it!

It is definitely worth your time. As much as I experienced issues at the start, patches and updates have done the game a great service since then.

Credit Roll

There we go, another batch of video games’ finest! I was really happy with the selection of games this month. It's a nice balance of newer and older titles. If I was a betting man, (or 31-year-old kid) I would have put money on Elden Ring making another appearance this month. It brings me a lot of joy to see so many people loving what will likely go on to be a defining game of this generation!

Whatever game you decide is worthy of your time, I hope you are enjoying all it has to offer. Happy gaming!