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2021 had been slightly better for gaming than 2020 (and, thankfully, 2022 is looking more jam-packed), but there was still plenty of time to fill between big releases like Ratchet and Clank, the Pokémon Diamond/Pearl remakes and Halo Infinite. I’d already made a small dent in my gaming pile of shame and today I’m continuing to scurry through the pile before another wave of big game releases hits us.
Deliver Us The Moon
PC, PS4, Xbox One
I’d completely misjudged this game before playing it. It seemed like Deliver Us The Moon would be one of those quickly made Kickstarter games that has a weird name, one good idea and slow gameplay. What I found instead was a deeply exciting and emotional story with an amazing setting and surprisingly diverse gameplay. The segment where you’re flying through open space avoiding debris to reach the safety of the space station was far more thrilling than I was expecting from this game. The use of holograms to deliver the backstory was similar to Tacoma, but with a stronger narrative and mystery. I’m really hoping this game gets a sequel, because its story certainly goes further into the stars.
Gears Of War 4
The last time I delved into this franchise was with Gears of War 3 a whole decade ago, and yet, Gears 4 was instantly familiar to me. A little too familiar. It’s clear that the new developers, The Coalition, were playing it safe and showing that the franchise was in capable hands. But even with new characters and a ‘new’ enemy faction, Gears 4 didn’t bring the series forward.
The plot of the campaign is entirely based around two things: finding Kait’s mother and investigating the Swarm. We find Kait’s mum, and we kind of find out the Swarm are related to the Locust (which is obvious from the start) — then the story suddenly ends. There are some decent moments to the campaign, and it’s decent for my first Gears in 10 years, but it overall felt quite flat and more of a set-up for the next game.
PC, Xbox One
Thankfully, the next game is a masterpiece. Gears 5’s campaign is easily the best exclusive of the Xbox One’s lifespan (not that it had much competition), and playing it on the Xbox Series X amplified that experience. The campaign’s environments are gorgeous and diverse, going from tropical island to a massive rocket facility in the middle of an arid desert. The open world locations that link missions within the segments of the campaign are great to explore, and the missions themselves are full of heart pounding moments.
I was disappointed that the game leans heavily back into the Locust and what feels like a budget version of the Locust Queen (Queen Mera from the original trilogy is among my favourite villains of all time). But the reliance on the Locust is worth the Berserker boss fight in this game. It perfectly exemplifies how the Coalition have built upon the original games, becoming both familiar and surprising. Gears 5 makes Gears 4 worth playing in hindsight, but if you’re short on time, maybe play Gears 4 on Casual (or watch someone else play it) and jump into Gears 5 ASAP.
Katamari Damacy Reroll
PC, Switch, PS4, Xbox One
I may have only ever played Beautiful Katamari, but that cemented the franchise as one of my all time favourites. You roll around a ball that makes objects stick to it until it’s big enough to collect everything in the world. What’s not to love?
Reroll is a remake of the original PS2 game, with updated (though still somewhat janky) controls, HD visuals and… that’s about it. It’s still the classic story of helping the Kind of All Cosmos put the stars back in the sky after he destroyed them while dancing through it. But we’ve all done that at some point; no judgement.
The music is as incredible as it was before, the game is gloriously ridiculous, and it was a joy to revisit this classic and insanely wild series.
PC, Switch, PS4, Xbox One, Mobile
Donut County has been on my must-play list because you play as a hole in the ground that gets bigger as it swallows more things. It’s basically a new version of the aforementioned Katamari Damacy, except not quite as ridiculous (but the end has you go up against a city of raccoons that want to stop you, so it’s still a little ridiculous).
The fact that a game about sink holes also has fun and challenging boss fights is mind-blowing, and it’s worth it to sink-a-hole lot of your time into it. Editor’s Note: Veeeery punny, James.
PC, Switch, PS4, Xbox One
It’s incredibly hard to describe the gameplay in Superliminal. It’s a perspective-based puzzle game set in a dreamworld where objects can be small or large depending on how close they are to the player-camera and more. Perhaps it’s better to just say it’s an ingeniously unique experience. It’s challenging enough, but the mechanics are so much fun to experiment with that I was always engaged and never frustrated. There’s somewhat of a story that doesn’t really go anywhere but give a good excuse to delve into the deeper and crazier dream-realms. Plus, the narrator provides a comforting and enjoyable vibe, similar to The Stanley Parable.
Fallout 4: Far Harbor
PC, PS4, Xbox One
The Far Harbor expansion is significantly better than the main game and one of the few times I’ve felt like doing the side quests in a game added to story, rather than just expanding on it. It doesn’t create a twist ending, but it actually felt like I had an impact on the characters and influenced their perspective in the end.
The narrative itself was also surprisingly nuanced, with the conflict between the people of Far Harbor and the free synths of Arcadia. Spoiler alert: there’s no real villain (except the cannibals that roam the island) — everyone’s just trying to make their way in the world and the conflicts arise from the differences between the groups. Even the Children of Atom, the cult that worships radiation, have added depth, as you talk to the members and understand why they’re a part of the cult (or want to leave). And sure, if you favour one faction, you can help them destroy the others. Or you can just help them and try to create an imperfect peace. Just make sure you bring Nick Valentine with you if you want to get the full story behind Arcadia.
So that’s another round from my shame pile; and I’ve already got more to come! What have you been catching up on? And what games are you hoping to finally get around to playing? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter!