OPINION – The games industry was perfectly positioned to thrive during the COVID-19 pandemic. With each new variant of the crown virus, many of us were trapped inside, often alone. Why not use this time to explore other worlds?
Whether you’re driving a supercar through Mexico or messing around with serious and funny sci-fi superheroes in exciting and exciting worlds, the year has offered plenty of gaming experiences. We’ve picked out this year’s best titles.
Here are theGeek’s favourite games from the year.
10. It Takes Two
Perhaps the first video game ever made that doubles as couples therapy; It Takes Two centres on a couple on the brink of divorce who suddenly find themselves trapped in the bodies of their daughters’ toys. They must work together to cross their home and return to their bodies. The game is played cooperatively: The other must catch the nails if one player gets the hammer. Within the Mario-like adventure game, there are dozens of different games. And while the metaphors about repairing a marriage may be a bit ham-fisted in the creators’ Pixar-level attempts at wit, there’s always something new and exciting challenging around the corner that sneaks back into the game.
At the heart of this stylish and bloody game is Colt Vann, an assassin tasked with taking out eight targets on an island. As the name suggests, every time Colt fails his mission. He’s back to square one. Return to different parts of the island at other times of the day, and a previously closed window may open. You may hear gossip relevant to your mission in the afternoon that you didn’t hear in the morning. Deathloop is a game that rewards careful exploration and observation – the final chapter of the story is pretty slim if you haven’t searched the island for logs and audio recordings to complete the story. But the impressive and stylish art direction makes up for any minor shortcomings in the plot direction.
Master Chief is back. Halo Infinite adds a new chapter to the iconic character’s story and places him in a new ringworld in this sci-fi shooter. The stakes, higher than ever before, now take place in an open-world environment where you can run, drive, fly or swing through enemy lines and help your fellow Marines turn the tide of war. With new picks to choose from and a wealth of weapons, every encounter with the enemy offers a different, new and exciting feeling. And that’s just the campaign mode, with the story. The return of Halo’s near-perfect multiplayer mode puts it in the same league as live-action games like Fortnite and Apex Legends. By purchasing an optional Season Pass, you can get visual additions like new character colours and patterns, as well as interchangeable armour pieces, alongside cool visual effects if you commit to getting all the Season Pass items.
Monster Hunter: Rise
Face the challenge and join the hunt! The action-RPG series returns to Nintendo Switch! Set in the ninja-inspired land of Kamura Village, explore lush ecosystems and battle fearsome monsters…
A new arcade-style version of Capcom’s long-running series, you’ll take to the world with a giant sword, spear or crossbow and track mythical creatures. This time, as the monsters converge in a chaotic rampage, you’ll feel more like prey than hunter. A little lighter on the player than big brother Monster Hunter World, it’s a little more playful and as amusingly over-the-top as ever.
Absurd, theatrical, silly and fun, it’s a delightfully funny reimagining of a well-established and powerfully engaging monster hunter action action action RPG.
When most people think of Nintendo, kid-friendly characters like Mario and Pikachu come to mind. However, Samus Aran, the badass intergalactic bounty hunter from Metroid, has long since earned his place on the Mount Rushmore of the company’s characters. And after more than a decade without a proper Metroid game, Samus is back in a big way with this year’s Metroid: a 2D side-scrolling game for Nintendo Switch called Dread, in which artificially intelligent killer robots chase our hero on the mysterious planet ZDR. Cooked up and released by longtime Metroid producer Yoshio Sakamoto nearly two decades ago, Dread is often legitimately scary – though not entirely on the same level as, say, an Alien: Isolation – and is an enjoyable return to form for a classic and beloved franchise.
Forza Horizon 5
The open-world racing games in the Forza Horizon series have been slowing down and refining the genre for years, and with Forza Horizon 5, they may have finally succeeded. Forza Horizon 5 is set in Mexico and puts you in the driver’s seat at the Horizon Festival, which spans the entirety of the game’s expansive open world. Capcom swaps traditional zombies for a whole range of classic Victorian evils – vampires and werewolves abound – while rediscovering that the majesty of gameplay can be found on a much smaller scale. Ethan Winters has limited ammunition, limited healing abilities and limited brain cells as he tours a haunted Eastern European mausoleum. Screw the unbridled undead raids of World War Z or The Walking Dead; there’s nothing more genuinely terrifying than being trapped in a castle with a six-foot woman who wants to eat you alive.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy
“Star-Lord (Peter Quill), Gamora, Rocket Raccoon, Groot and Drax; the Guardians of the Galaxy return – but this time in the action-adventure form. The films set the bar high, but Square Enix’s previous Marvel’s Avengers was received with a lukewarm reception, so we were curious to see if this interactive adventure of cool and funny space heroes with a different look from the film would live up to the standards we’ve come to expect from this franchise.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is a delightful action/adventure game that never strays from the beaten path. You won’t find any great experiments or innovations here, but you will experience a great adaptation of the beloved dysfunctional team of galactic superheroes. The story and character development are both professional, the combat is fun (though perhaps a little too light), and the sound and music are excellent.” (BadSector)
Resident Evil Village
Capcom is back at the drawing board with 2017’s Resident Evil VII. After a series that was becoming more and more like a standard shooter with a bit of jump scare, the studio has once again become a master of shocks. Like the previous instalment, Resident Evil Village is a survival horror game to the core. Capcom swaps traditional zombies for a whole range of classic Victorian evils – vampires and werewolves abound – while rediscovering that the majesty of gameplay can be found on a much smaller scale. Ethan Winters has limited ammunition, limited healing abilities and limited brain cells as he tours a haunted Eastern European mausoleum. Screw the unbridled undead raids of World War Z or The Walking Dead; there’s nothing more genuinely terrifying than being trapped in a castle with a six-foot woman who wants to eat you alive.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
This fantastic game about a lonely space soldier, his robot pal and their cross-dimensional twin brothers is making its PlayStation 5 debut. There’s beauty and stunning detail everywhere you look, from Ratchet’s fur coat to the background animations and cute little aliens doing their thing. It’s fun and family-friendly, like a family Star Wars, and the script is both amusing and full of bizarre, cartoonish weapons and battles with strange creatures.
It’s hard to gauge just how technically impressive Rift Apart is and how much that contributed to the joy I felt with the game. This family-friendly action game may not bring anything revolutionary to the table with its structure or storytelling, but it takes the visuals and entertainment to a new dimension.
It’s been 16 years since we’ve seen Raz and the Psychonauts, and this is one of those times when nothing has changed – but this time in a good way. Psychonauts 2 is just as crazy and heartbreaking as the first instalment, and of course, while the graphics are sharper and the gameplay smoother, it just proves how timeless this crazy world was from the start. It’s one of those games I thought we’d never see, and I’m so glad I was wrong.