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Treble

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  1. And now we arrive at the leave voters' choice - game of the year that wasn't from this year but was from last year or something! I'll be taking a break over the weekend (as this all takes up far more time than you'd imagine) but will come roaring back on Monday with the final two categories - worst and best Game of the Year Pre-2021 5. Super Mario 3D World Previous to this, a gem that was buried on the Wii U. Today, a beautiful Nintendo classic reaching the widest possible audience. Not before time, either, as SM3W is a fabulous Mario experience that is just as enticing a playground as Galaxy before it, but using all new and box fresh concepts in that way only Miyamoto’s lot can. The closest thing to a childlike squeal of joy distilled in video game form, possibly ever(?) @AlexM : I played SMW many times on the Wii U, great to have it again in portable mode. Bowser's Fury was a bonus I did not expect. @Jolly : Is this secretly the best Mario game? Its hard to imagine a series with less bullshit than Mario, but 3D World truly is Mario with every last vestige of bullshit stripped away. This is pure as fuck Mario, fresh from the source. The platforming is proper mint and never better expressed than in the total fucker of a level that is Champion’s Road. A course that it feels like you’ve spent your entire life training towards. Seriously, cue a montage of me playing Mario through the key stages of my life. It’s all come down to this. The thing is, Champions Road isn’t even the best level in the game. That pleasure goes to The Great Tower of Bowser. If you were compiling epic crescendos and you really wanted the list to build and finish with an epic crescendo, then stick the last few minutes of this bugger at number one. Seriously, it gives me goosebumps just thinking about it. So good. SO good. 4. Disco Elysium: The Final Cut My options for this were to get it cheap on PC then have to, ya know, sit at my PC to play it, or pay the steep, steep Switch Tax to get it in portable form. If only there were some other handheld option on the horizon that could give me the best of both worlds… My parsimony is always a barrier to experiencing the hotness, but lucky for me my ‘muk brethren got my back on this. Take it away, Swordguy: @Sabreman: Like, all-time great good. Even in other RPGs through the years where I've been hugely invested in the story and characters, I've never considered anything as well-written as this, or felt like I was actively shaping a character's personality. It's not an epic, world-saving quest, but the density of interactions and depth of ideas presented in this tiny chunk of a city outstrips pretty much anything I've ever played. I'd read a novelisation of this game. @Cyhwuhx: Disco Elysium bends the notion of an RPG almost to its breaking point. It constantly threatens combat, violence even. But it never wants to give in. Until it does and then it becomes one of the most gut-wrenching clicks on text I have ever made. Looking back on it, it's simply a lush, luxurious, and elaborately designed conversation tree, but it really doesn't matter once you are enjoying the sturdiness of its branches as they hold up an abundance of characters. And that's not even touching upon the game's setting and world building. Or the narration that makes Bastion look like amateur hour. Or the politics. Oh god, the politics. It's the RPG for RPG nerds, and it clings to your mind for way too long, in the way a good book would do. @imp: This is fully an apology vote since I didn’t play this the year of release. A truly magical experience. 3. Quake Remastered I was one of those who not only owned a Saturn, but also owned a 3D pad and thus was stunned and delighted when it not only got a port but said port had excellent lighting, and a Turok-style control system that Lobotomy software had included on recommendation by Dan Jevons. It was still pretty much a shadow of the PC version’s greatness, but was another in a long line of id Software’s demonstrations of superiority, hitting as many systems as possible, with thanks to Lobotomy on conversion duties. Fast forward several decades and this remaster is not just a reminder of that technical brilliance, it showcases what a good game is still hidden within the mouldy old bones. The mod community’s desire to see a version on just about everything led to a highly enjoyable version on Wii - utilising the motion controls - and all sorts of hacks, conversions, upgrades and fan-made levels being produced, but this release is a cut above even by the high standards of its fanbase. Featuring all the bells and, indeed, whistles you would expect of a classy remaster, QR brings the Old Gods screaming into the present. Oh, and to qualify for, win and immediately hand myself the Broken Record Award 2021, it’s also available on Game Pass. Because of course it is. @dreamylittledream : For a game that is now 25 years old, it's amazing what a little visual sparkle can do to remind us that some things never age. It's still bloody brilliant and now I can actually play it with a controller. @drkbfhmmr : I just want to state that after playing Quake again for the first time since, err, probably around 2000, I can conclude that it’s still one of the best first-person shooters on the market in 2021. Solid job on the remaster as well. 2. Hades The game that caused all the referendum controversy in the first place… lands in second place. It was incredibly close, though, with this and the number one pick scoring the same number of votes. Hades, however, landed one fewer first place vote, so here we are. There’s not much more that can be said about Zagreus’s adventure, but such a rich and arcade-like experience such as this deserves its seat at the table. Again @Sabreman : Yeah yeah. I started playing this last week. My main problem with Roguelites, as opposed to true Roguelikes, is the grind against successive gear/skill/stats checks. The genius of Hades is surrounding that with a hub world you kind of want to get bounced back to, and an intricate, naturally evolving story which makes it feel like you're always moving forward. @Boothjan: won't argue with the forum consensus on this being a 'B' category as I played this on the switch early in 2021 before going through it again on the Series X. It's a masterpiece. Would have been my overall GOTY if it was released in 2021. Probably sunk 200+ hours into this over 2 formats. 1. Microsoft Flight Simulator I visited my sister before Christmas, and as my nephew was babbling on about games in such a fervid manner, I was simultaneously embarrassed and impressed at this new member of our tribe (he’s ten). My family were interested in understanding how far games have progressed since the common cultural touchstones - Pac-Man, Sonic, Minecraft even - so to demonstrate what can be done today I put on a YouTube video of Microsoft Flight Simulator. The two distinct reactions were, “I can’t believe that isn’t real” (Mum; sister) and, “What can I play this on, and when can I buy it?” (sister’s partner). Who can blame them? Asobo studios have built something that I feel is a level of human achievement to rival many global successes of the last few years. Not only is it a jaw-dropping piece of software engineering, it is also informative and experiential. It’s demanding enough on our current hardware to have room to grow and shine even further on more advanced systems down the line (just wait until you can play it on full settings in VR…) and it can both resonate on an emotional level (“You can see my house from here!”) whilst providing you a real-life education in aeronautics, mechanics, physics, geography, weather systems and much more. Simply amazing. @pinholestar : This is my true number one but let's not go down that well-worn road... Is this even a game? No, not really, as many of the borderline psychotically defensive middle-aged hardcore 'simmers' on dedicated forums will very angrily and vocally tell you, but I played it on my Xbox Series X, it was included in my Game Pass sub, and there's no question whatsoever that it was by far the most extraordinary, enchanting and incredible experience that I had all year on any format. If you'd told me 6 months ago that I'd be able to look at this: ...and understand and interpret every single number, abbreviation and annotation I'd have thought you were mad and yet here we are. There’s literally years of ‘game’ to be had in learning the intricacies and subtleties of all the different planes and Flight Sim was responsible for teaching me the fundamentals of aviation concepts, nomenclature, procedures and practices, and all of a sudden I found this vast new landscape opened up before me in more ways than one. Most of all though, and where I find it hard to even begin to do justice to the experience it provided [...] and that's before you even get to having literally the entire world that you haven't yet seen to explore and discover. We're blessed to live on an extraordinarily diverse and beautiful planet and it's all there contained in a black plastic box of electronics being driven by some very clever AI trickery that is indistinguishable from magic to my eyes. Even after many hours of flight time I still find it a uniquely beguiling, enchanting and at times almost transcendentally moving and beautiful experience to play. It's one of the most extraordinary pieces of software ever created and to have squeezed that experience onto a mere games console is a thing of technical wonder. @Boozy The Clown : It's got the whole world in its hands. It's got the whole wide world..... Yes it's boring, yes it's not a game, but it's the most impressive piece of software possibly ever released. Everyone is mesmerised by flying over their house. then switches it off. However I discovered the real secret to MFS is to not look down but to go up. It's all about the clouds, the horizon, the weather, the sunrises, the sunsets, the lightning, the rain and the sheer spectacle of planet earth below you. Slap a relaxing soundtrack on, take a wee sightseeing plane up experience the ultimate chill out session of gaming I think you can have these days.
  2. Pardon? Sorry, can you speak up...? Oh, SOUND design you say! Yes indeed, let's do this. Best Sound Design 3. Halo Infinite With more ‘Worts’ than you can reasonably shake a stick at, the Marmitey latest in Microsoft’s flagship series does, indeed, sound flippin’ great. There’s a solid base of FX and tunes giving it a helping hand out of the gate, sure, but there are enough cone-rattling epics and tribal drum beats here to satiate the most ardent fan of the Bungie era. And hey, that shield recharge effect never gets old, does it? @pinholestar: Pretty much solely for the weapons which sound fucking phenomenal and whose instantly recognisable refrains play a huge part in the pretty much perfect readability and situational awareness of the multiplayer [...] Although musically it probably leans a little too hard on past glories, 343i's sound team did a fantastic job overall. The wealth of new Grunt voice lines (especially the hilarious propaganda towers) were the funniest they've ever been. @Boothjan : wonderful crunching guns, grenades, melee attacks etc. Perfect. 2. Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy I get the distinct impression that needle drops and pop culture-baiting choonage is the order of the day here, just like in the MCU films. A well-placed burst of jukebox juice - creating a surge of acknowledgement and joy - is tougher to accomplish than you’d think, so plaudits to Eidos for getting it right. And for getting Squeenix to stump up the cash for the song rights too, I guess! @womblingfree : Giving a successful pep-talk to your gang and then going nuts as some classic rock-anthem kicks in is hard to beat. @BabelRich : Wonderful soundtrack mixed perfectly with set pieces. The best acting since Witcher 3. Some wonderful atmospherics. @Mortis: some of the best voice work in a video game and that soundtrack. Being Rick Rolled while shooting aliens never gets old. 1. Returnal Youtube informs me that the composer of the Returnal soundtrack, Bobby Krlic, also composed the soundtrack to Misommer. That’s no surprise, listening through: it has that same unsettling vibe evoking the alien (both the concept and the xenomorph) whilst counterbalancing that with delicate, hauntingly lovely sections. I can’t speak to the FX, but thankfully these guys did: @Sarlaccfood: I’ve never played a game with sound so good I don’t need to move the camera round to know something is coming my way and I need to dodge. The way you can use what you’re hearing around you to plan what to do next is essential to progress in the game. Amazing. @Jamie John: The ambient, droning music. The chilling, alien noises the enemies make. The delicious THUD THUD THUD THUD THUD of the assault rifle (as well as all the other guns). Wonderfully horrible. @Vemsie : This isn't even close. From Bobby Krlic's unnerving score to the incredible sound effects and best implementation of 3D audio yet and an incredibly creative use of a certain licensed song, this is one of the best sounding games ever made.
  3. And Jennifer Beals is 58 as well! Favreau and Rodriguez single-handedly raising the average age of working actresses in Hollywood over 45.
  4. Yeah, I nearly commented on this myself. One to split out next year maybe? Personally, I'd say just eliminate the Publisher side of the vote. Booooorrrriiing.
  5. Now for the award you've all been waiting for... best Capitalist Enterprise! Publisher/Developer of the Year Award 3. Nintendo The year of our (Star)lord 2021 was a comparatively fallow period for Nintendo, which is a kind way of saying they didn’t appear to be particularly arsed. So yeah, we got the Skyward Sword remaster, a mediocre new Mario Golf and some Monster Hunter franchise chum but - other than the obvious breakout that was Metroid Dread* - it was a fairly dull time to be a Switch owner. * Plus an obligatory mention of Shin Megami Tensei V, to mollify @Wiper The fact only five of you voted for them as your faves (7% of the overall vote) and only one person going into any detail (and then damning with faint praise) - says all you need to know. We’ve steered away from sniping in this year’s awards but, fair do’s, the Kyoto Kyngs have earned their wrist-slap this time around. @LaveDisco : So it's got to be Nintendo again. They release finished games. That's rare enough for a GOTY award these days 2. Microsoft & Xbox Game Studios Breadth, variety and razzle-dazzle: Microsoft has it all, really. The volume of published titles alone speaks to the Richmond company’s investment in pleasing gamers/monopolising the industry as an unstoppable behemoth (delete as appropriate). No matter how you feel about their megalithic market mastication, there’s no denying the value proposition of a Game Pass sub. Even if you had to pay on a per-title basis though, there’s something for everyone and a lot of it really stretching the silicon. With the casuals covered, committing to a large slate of backwards compatible titles has earned a lot of love from the older, more fanatical end of the gaming spectrum, too (ED: hang on, I resemble that remark). Right now, MS can seemingly do no wrong… @pinholestar : [MS Game Studios] Flight Sim, Halo Infinite, Forza Horizon 5 and Psychonauts 2 collectively make up my top 4 games of the year and they all came from the same publisher and were day one on Game Pass. An easy choice. @BabelRich : Psychonauts, MSFS, Forza, Halo. Not all perfect but no other publisher has given us this much goodness this year. @Unofficial Who: From Forza 5 and Halo Infinite to the work they’ve done with GamePass and backwards compatibility Microsoft has become not only one of the most important first party publishers but also important in game preservation and in highlighting indie gems. An amazing turnaround. Also, they funded Psychonauts 2 which alone would place them here for me. 1. Housemarque Waxing lyrical about Microsoft’s all-encompassing range is all well and good, but not many of their titles inspire passion the way releases from risk-takers can and do. For many of you a single title of magical quality was enough to defeat a broad range of ‘very good’ releases from Microsoft. Alternatively, you could argue that Returnal’s probable 1:1 attach rate with PS5s on this forum polarised owners of the unicorn that is Sony's machine, to justify their purchase. But who here would be that cynical?! I’m kidding, I promise. By all accounts, Returnal is a remarkable game, and the phoenix-like rise of Housemarque from the ashes of their former selves is an invigorating and salutary lesson to us all. @Thor : Yeah, no-one says that about Housemarque anymore, they're now a household name after Returnal. @CrichStand : Resogun is still one of my all time favs. However, Returnal is a genuine all time classic. They’ve gone from struggling to get their games noticed to making a masterpiece and being rightly snapped up by Sony (who’ve had an excellent year).......and they’ve done it without compromising. They’ve proved so many people wrong, who were clueless or had written them off So yeah, congratulations to Housemarque and Sony for proving people wrong. Can’t wait to see what they have up their sleeves next! @Cyhwuhx : "There. Now never forget implementing save-states again!"
  6. Onto the next one... Best Visuals 2021 3. Ratchet And Clank: A Rift Apart If Astro’s Playroom was the intro to PS5’s playful haptics, Ratchet was assuredly a demonstration of its ray tracing grunt, and its streaming capabilities from DAT NVMe. However you feel about the gameplay, or the US-inflected style of the cartoon visuals, it's a marvel on a technical level - an important calling card and statement of intent from Sony. @Vemsie: Who am I to argue with Digital Foundry? While I think the game itself is good but not great, it is definitely a feast for the eyes with the best implementation of ray-tracing on consoles, superb animation, a ton of effects, jaw-dropping setpieces, a ton of colour and beautiful cinematics. @Thor: Anyone not voting for this in this category simply can't have played it. It's stunning! And nothing else this year has come close to the visuals on show in this game. A genuine case of a pixar movie come to life and at your fingertips. @Jamie John: Say what you like about the gameplay (I liked it enough to get the Platinum), the technical wizardry on show here is undeniably impressive. Graphics good enough to make you keep playing, just so you can see how the next area or enemy encounter looks. How well it runs is perhaps even more impressive, however: the sheer amount of stuff the game is able to handle on screen at once, while maintaining a solid 60FPS, is genuinely astonishing. There were moments (especially towards the end of the game, when things really started kicking off) where I would go into photo mode and zoom out as far as I could, not to take a picture, but just to marvel at the number of enemies, effects, bullets, explosions and moving parts that were in view at once. There have only been a couple of times since picking up both a PS5 and XSX where I've thought to myself that I was experiencing something genuinely 'next gen', something that wouldn't have been possible on PS4 or XB1, but this game is full of them. 2. Forza Horizon 5 There aren’t a lot of gifs around for this game, and I’m going to take an intuitive leap here (bear with me): that’s because, for most people wanting to see the game in action, they can just play it. Why settle for a taste when you can get the whole meal? The ubiquity of Game Pass is something that’ll be one of the hot topics™ of 2022 but, casting that aside for now, Forza Horizon 5 lands in this list not by default (if that were the case, Halo Infinite would have hit top 3) but purely on merit. There are a handful of racing titles that come close in terms of fidelity, but FH5 steams past them due to its stylised touches, nods to classic arcade racers and a commitment - on an aesthetic level - to variety and pure pleasure, sunrise to sunset. @Unofficial Who: I still can’t believe how good it looks and that’s before I consider the weather systems in game. Every time I play it's jaw dropping. @Thor: Wintry Scotland in FH4 was fucking drab as fuck, and the overall visuals were decent but not "holy fuck look at this!" levels. FH5 changes that. Sunny (and stormy!) Mexico is a visual feast, almost photo-real at times. It's let down a little by some of the night lighting which, especially in the towns, looks flat and decidedly last-gen even on my beefy PC. However, the fact I can run it at 4k60 without my PC fans going mental is a real achievement in visual technical wizardry. @Skull Commander: Stunning landscapes and plenty of visual flair. 1. Returnal ::gestures:: Just look at the bastard! Not much more to be said than that, but I’ll give it a go. Returnal seems to take cues from the excess of the Devil May Cry series, stitches them together with Dark Souls’s perma-gloom broodiness, then stuffs-in a shedload of particle effects and calls it good. And who are we to argue? This thing is a visual sledgehammer, managing to sling around outrageous effects whilst acknowledging its arcade roots: it borrows gameplay elements from Robotron’s lineage, much as Housemarque's own Nex Machina did before it. So it manages to be unique to look at but with a readable design language, yet genre-centric enough to appeal, whilst pushing the barriers back at the same time. Kudos, Housemarque. Kudos. @Alan Stock: Welcome to next gen. @Cyhwuhx : Shockingly cohesive even though it has to put up with Unreal Engine's tantrums at times. @SuperCapes: Phenomenal use of art to lead the player
  7. Two categories today! Starting with: Best Writing Award 2021 Mrs. Treb always calls BBC Sports Personality of the Year, "Sports Oxymoron of the Year", for obvious reasons, and a similar logic can and often is applied to writing in games. Unfair? These days, yeah.... well, a bit, anyway. Climbing slowly out of the mire, over the decades we've moved from 'turd all round' through 'OK for the genre' to where we are today: with subtlety and (some) maturity creeping-in to select releases. The good scripts, rare as they still are, are worth celebrating so here are your twop twips for good writing in games. Kicking off with a game with no dialogue... You lot do understand the concept of writing, yeah...? 3. Unpacking Barbed witticisms aside, the irony of a writing award handed out to a game with no spoken or written dialogue was not lost on you folks. Unpacking succeeds at something games are not often accused of: being cautious, mature and reflective. Taking its time, allowing its mood to settle and appreciating its audience, developer Witch Beam crafts something in the style of an animated short film, to leave a proud footprint on 2021. A credit to Game Pass, this is another game hitting a much wider audience thanks to Microsoft's embarrassment of riches. @Sarlaccfood: Says so much without using a word. @Jamie John: It might seem a bit arch to include a game in the Writing category that doesn’t have any dialogue, but I thought Unpacking told a simple yet affecting story in a very clever way. A masterclass in show, don’t tell. 2. Returnal Insert gif of Travolta in Pulp Fiction when it comes to finding a PS5 but, even as a non-owner, this is a great release for Sony's new baby Not really a game whose plot or story you can get a sense of without engaging with it, Returnal nevertheless has a Dark Souls vibe in videos, suggesting that dank pits, shadowy discoveries, Lovecraftian monsters and constant peril reveal their own dark narrative of fear and survival. A very 2020s approach to modern myth creation. @CrichStand: A masterclass in drip feeding info and leaving the story open to interpretation. Definite David Lynch vibes going on. That is a very good thing! The way it’s structured.......it’s a work of art! @Vemsie: It's incredibly ambiguous, but I like that. It's the only game that I'm still thinking about, months after completing. It works both as Greek myth infused examination of Selene's psyche and a haunting cosmic horror story, dripping with existential dread. Do you see the White Shadow? 1. Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Hands up who had high hopes for this one...? ... ...thought not. Still, 'pleasantly surprised' doesn't cover it for most of you as this ROCKETed (hah!) to the top despite being a late 2021 release and hauling the baggage that was Marvel's Avengers's reputation around like a stinking garbage can. Skepticism unfounded! A fairly linear third person actioner it may be, but one that's very witty. Cosmic sized in scope and scale, with a story kept grounded in classic GotG style through bants, bickering and barter, and featuring dialogue trees that add variety (and also dictate play to some degree) MGotG succeeds in balancing humour and pathos without becoming bathetic. Not an easy task. Quick sidebar: Prize douche Peter Quill looks like a completely goonish dudebro in this; one with with some sort of brain injury. Aaaand now you’re gonna tell me his avatar is based on a real person, aren’t you? Sorry, C-list actor! Also, he -| kinda |- looks like a mate of mine, so double guilt coupons today. Ok, as you were.
  8. Little from column A, little from column B, plus Game Pass is no doubt eating some of Nintendo's indie darling lunch. Switch shows up in several other categories, for good or ill. Stay tuned to find out which...
  9. Format of the Year 2021 We’re a long way from playground arguments about which format is best (well, hopefully…) but this remains a pretty interesting category. Not so much as a tool to gauge your platform of choice against others in a vain attempt at validation (hey, look, we’ve all been there at some point…right?) but to understand what each of us likes, whether there’s a front runner or not, and what this means for the future of our shared hobby. And the results are pretty fascinating, divided - as many may have predicted - between the platform of spiky, risk-taking exclusives and that of a broader, less showy but higher value proposition. 3. PlayStation 5 Rare as rocking horse shit, big as a house and twice as ugly [Ed: come on, now!] the PS5 has, in its short life to date, managed to do some pretty impressive stuff. The new car aroma still hasn’t evaporated yet, with covid- and semiconductor shortage-enforced scarcity keeping it a tantalising, but distant, proposition for most people. For the fortunate few owners - disproportionately high on a gaming forum, naturally - there was a pretty strong correlation between ownership of one particular game and a vote for the PS5 as platform of the year. Fair enough, and it’s good to see some sparkling titles illuminating year one, and booting old games with laggy frame rates up the arse with 60fps enhancements.. @Minion: by a whisker as nothing else has Returnal or anything comparable in quality. @CrichStand: So far in front of the competition it’s now ridiculous. Straight out of the gates with Miles Morales, Demon’s Souls, Astrobot, Returnal, Ratchet and Clank, Kena etc. Backwards compatibility is game changing. Free PS5 upgrades for tons of games. A huge quality back catalogue in the PS4 means I still have a shitload of games still to work through.....PLUS Uncharted, GT, Horizon all in the next couple of months, Sony are investing in brand new IP, some big announcements are just around the corner and PSVR2 is ready to roll. @SuperCapes: Game Pass this isn't, however the first party titles, PS4 and 5 are leagues above. Replaying God of War, Final Fantasy VII on top of new releases like Returnal cement the systems game library as being small, but brilliant. 2. PC It’s always hard to discount the PC as a platform. Once you get past the high cost of entry for a gaming setup, the prices of individual titles start cheap and plummet darn fast, the games themselves are often tweakable, the graphics and hardware the most expandable, and the back catalogue vast and - most importantly - accessible. What pushed the (still niche) platform above the line this year, though, was Game Pass. With an offering that’s just as interesting and varied as the console offering, but with some tweaks to include games specifically suited to the PC experience, it’s an important pillar of Microsoft’s gaming platform…and getting more important, year on year. @Siri: The PC format houses my Game of the Year, most of my experiences on Game Pass, and playing switch games via Yuzu at a much higher fidelity than original hardware. And with the Steam Deck, I'm really looking forward to taking my whole library on the go next year. @chris on the moon: 4/5 of my top 5 are xbox Game Pass for PC games. Way to go Microsoft 1. Xbox So: the Xbox platform won the vote by a pretty huge margin - almost double the votes for PS5 - but if you class ‘Game Pass’ as a platform and combine the PC and Xbox votes, it’s triple. Now again, the scarcity of PS5 plays a huge role in this, but the popularity and impact of Game Pass just can’t be denied. Right now you can play a mix of curated indies, major releases and everything in between for a comparatively low monthly fee (and for a steal if you fart about with the offer). It’s the reason people love Unpacking; it’s the reason why everyone and their pet rabbit has an opinion on Halo Infinite; it’s the reason why MS could afford to buy Bethesda and - breaking as I write this - the behemoth that is Activision Blizzard. At the risk of sounding like ad copy, MS are seemingly committed to getting everybody playing their games. They don't give a tin shit if that’s on your Series console, on your ‘Bone (fun fact: I played Halo Infinite through on my old One X as it runs better than the PC version), on a crappy laptop streaming in 4K, or even on your knockabout old mobile. Right now (and believe me, it’ll never be as good in the future as it is during this halcyon era) Game Pass is the best deal in gaming. And getting better by the day. @BabelRich: Game Pass continues to be worth more than its weight in gold. @mikeyl: PS5 had Returnal but Xbox had a near constant stream of Game Pass 7/10s to keep going all year @Skull Commander: Gamepass continues to win the day for the format and it's an embarrassment of riches. @KRP: Game Pass has truly warped my perception of value.
  10. Game Pass is absolutely revolutionary for this kind of genre exploration. We've really, REALLY got to hope that Sony tries to match it with their service, otherwise GP's juggernaut titanhood will mean they'll hit saturation so fast that the mealy-mouthed, penny-pinching twunts who appease the shareholders will inevitably be like, "But what if we scaled it down to 10 new indies a year and just one AAA exclusive...?" Competition is needed to keep MS honest in this, and bloody quick.
  11. When you stare into the void of pandemic-riddled 2021, the Covid virus stares back at you. Or something. Celebrating anti-escapism becoming a genre in- and of itself, welcome to the stage @Wiper... The Hipster-Nietzsche Award 2021 A Whole Lot of Nothing There is a person I know — let’s call her Jo, as that’s her name — who I love dearly. She is smart, and kind, and fun, and generally A Good Time. She also has a passionate hatred for a specific example of narrative media: the ‘nothing happens’ genre. Coming of age classic The Breakfast Club? Nothing happens, a waste of time. Studio Ghibli magnum opus Only Yesterday? Nothing happens, awful. If your story doesn’t Go Places, Jo has no interest in your work. By Jo’s metric, 2021 has been a terrible year for games. Fortunate for me, then, that I love a bit of nothingness! Let’s celebrate in no particular order the five most delightful games in which nothing happens that came out last year: Unpacking needs no introduction. Its minimalist storytelling, off-beat high concept, incredible foley work have all drawn praise across the gaming spectrum. If Tetris turned arranging items into a tense puzzle, Unpacking converts the activity into a tactile act of meditation and method of storytelling. And best of all, you can get an achievement in the game within two minutes of starting it and then immediately write it off as worthless; ideal! Seriously though, it’s good. A slice of life story set over the course of years, told in the tiniest of snippets, it's a delightfully off-beat approach to environmental storytelling that more than achieves its aims. PS: if you don’t know what a thing is, it’s probably a vegetable peeler. Also in the slice of life genre, though rather more in need of introduction, is No Longer Home. No Longer Home applies magical realism and branching dialogue to the ever-enjoyable genre of 'People Graduate And It’s Kind Of Sad, Man'. Effectively a visual novel with an interesting camera angle, No Longer Home touched a nerve in me in a way few games have. And not just because I too Graduated Once* and it was Kind Of Sad! The game is chock-full of interactions and discussions that rang unusually true: the overly-earnest interactions between friends; the social awkwardness of larger groups and less-known acquaintances; the deep dives into feelings of worthlessness and isolation; and the fun of unpicking one’s own experience and understanding of gender and sexuality. Over the course of the game, nothing happens, and everything happens. Truly, the graduate experience. It's a coming of age story based on that later coming of age; not the rather oversaturated high-school setting beloved of comics and video games, but that awkward adult-to-more-adult period. I loved it. *not-so-humblebrag: twice, actually You know what a lot of people who are in the process of coming of age like to do? DJ and work retail, obviously. And lo, Life is Strange: True Colors — Wavelengths makes its appearance. And yes, I specifically mean Wavelengths; the somewhat-maligned DLC to True Colors, not True Colors itself. Not that I don’t like True Colors (I do, a lot), but while it is a lot of things, a game in which nothing happens it is not. It even has deaths! Imagine that. Wavelengths, by contrast, features no deaths. Except possibly that of sense, when your player character, having grumbled about the awful, out of date music selection their ‘Modern Rock Music’ radio station has been offering, immediately replaces it with the ultra-modern music of, um, Sigur Rós's Sæglopur. Hmm. Chrono-blindness aside, Wavelengths is a delightful study of a solitary character, in a solitary location, over the course of a year. Absolutely. Nothing. Happens. I loved it. I loved playing as this dorky, broken character whose personality is utterly alien to me. I had a great time being The Worst DJ and The Worst Dating App User and an Actually Somewhat Competent Record Store Clerk. I played through the two-three hour experience in one sitting, and found the whole thing warm and affirming. The whole thing felt like an exercise in indulgence; the kind of small-scale, monofocussed storytelling usually restricted to tiny indie games with no budget; so to get to experience it with such niceties as Voice Acting and Licensed Music was quite the pleasure. More of this, please. Okay, that’s quite enough games from ‘publishers’ with ‘money’; let’s go to a game too small too fail: Adios. If anything, this is a game in which A Lot happens, as you enjoy spending a (last) day in the life of a pig farmer who doesn’t want to be a Convenient Body Disposal Service for the mob any more. Talk to your friend! Shovel manure! Phone your son! Milk a goat! Play horseshoes! Feed a horse! Make curry! Literally die! Gosh. Adios proves you can make a slice of life story filled entirely with little ‘nothing’ tasks, and yet have the thing be filled with drama and meaning, it’s the best, most interesting gangster-adjacent story video games have yet managed. It also achieved the impossible and made me appreciate a narrative centred around a deadbeat dad, without making me at any point think “oh for fuck’s sake, not another fucking deadbeat dad sympathy-a-thon, can’t we just accept that most deadbeat dads are actually arseholes and we don’t need more stories trying to make us feel sorry for them”. So, you know, good job there. I guess I should also mention that Adios has great voice acting, entirely disproving my earlier comment about zero-budget games lacking such things. So sue me. In fact, sue me twice over, because here comes a sumptuous indie game elevated by its licensed soundtrack! I am, of course, talking about Sable. “But Wiper!”, I hear you cry. “Sable can’t be a nothing game! It’s sci-fi! It has hoverbikes!”. Ah, you sweet summer child. You buffoon. Do you know what Jo said after watching the superlative Moon? Here’s a hint: it wasn’t “wow, that was a film in which so many things occurred!”. Similarly, she would be singularly unimpressed by the level of activity in Sable. Sable, you see, aside from being the most flagrant lift of Jean Giraud’s world building and art style that one could imagine, is the ultimate Nothing game. It truly learned the lesson that Shadow of the Colossus taught; the same one that Breath of the Wild almost grasped: that barren spaces are a) hella evocative, and b) actually the best part of open world games. Your game could be filled with Exciting Action Encounters, like [insert Rockstar open world game here]. It could ensure that no space is left unfilled like [insert Ubisoft open world game here]. Or, as it happens, it could not. It could, in fact, allow you to delight in exploring a strange space. It could have the dominant experience of your exploration be that of (gorgeous) nothingness; a world as empty as it is mysterious. Have each moment of actual discovery — a rare puzzle here, an even rarer bit of exposition there — be a rare pleasure, a rush of endorphins after the laborious struggle of traversing the world. It could, that is to say, be Sable. Sable is a game without threat, without urgency, and is all the more powerful for it. Exploring its dunes as the wind roars, only to give way as you begin to approach one of the rare hospitable spaces and Japanese Breakfast’s soundtrack rises to envelope you, is a feeling unmatched in any other game. This is a game which understands the drama of a sunrise, and it wants you to understand it too. Also, I gave my hoverbike insect legs and an engine that sounds like one of those cards you’d stick on your bicycle spokes as a kid. What more could you want?
  12. Next up, our very own @Stopharage talks whoring for G, and how he found enlightenment. Just one more fix, maaaan.... The Anti-Achievement Achievement Award 2021 Game Pass “In every real man a child is hidden that wants to play.” Friedrich Nietzsche Let’s start with a game then. For lovers of ‘fiendishly difficult’ BBC2 quiz Only Connect, what links these 4 seemingly random clues? Prince Caspian Jumper Saw Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Burning Earth If you said they’re all poor to middling Xbox games, you’d be spot on. That’s not quite the answer I was looking for though. At some point in my illustrious gaming life - in the days when chasing achievements was a worthwhile use of my finite time on Plagueworld - I decided to best these iconic games to boost my gamerscore. Your life choices may forever be tainted by turning down that job offer, holding off buying one more Bitcoin or wearing white jeans. Mine largely revolve around tragic gaming choices which were guided by the ease of their achievements. For over 5 years, I’d been clean of my achievement addiction. No longer did I feel compelled to hoist a gnome around a zombie-laden world, to retrieve a turd from a toilet then throw it, or to conduct sexual misconduct in public. Partly, this was due to embracing Sony last generation and starting off with a PS5 this generation. In addition, it was also due to taking my parental responsibilities seriously. Primarily though, it was due to reflecting on that time I genuinely considered getting the Hannah Montana game from Lovefilm for an easy 1000G. Yes, you can laugh. But some of you did the same. As with any Kim Kardashian instagram post though, there’s a big but(t) coming. At the start of the year, a tax rebate saw me wisely invest in a Series X and 3 years of Game Pass. My wife was expecting I’d buy a new steam cleaner. A choice between clean floors or backward compatible Morrowind is no choice. The sheer range of games on offer within Game Pass makes this the best value console gaming offer around. That isn’t particularly insightful, I know. However, the insidious drip-feed of additions to the roster is having an impact on my gaming purchases. I’ve not quite reached the abject surrender of ‘won’t buy that, it will be on Game Pass soon’, but it is starting to eat away at my id. The concerns of a global economic meltdown, the cost of parenthood and potentially having negative equity were never worrying enough to curb my gaming spending. Game Pass has. I do still purchase games made by smaller studios and titles I’m really excited by but the late night trawl of the PSN or Xbox store is much reduced. Game expenditure reduced considerably, the range of gaming experiences has not. Game Pass has lead to a truly diverse gaming year. The enjoyment of Unpacking had me contemplating moving house, but ultimately ended with cleaning out the loft. I flew over my house in Flight Simulator on my way to crashing my plane into a neighbour’s house in a fit of pique brought on by their planning permission approval. Last Stop had me missing London more than any lockdown ever did. Boyfriend Dungeon had me making out with human and feline lovers who were subsequently wielded as swords. Lake had me delivering post in 1986 in sleepy Providence Oak whilst Artful Escape had me jamming with spectral beings across the universe. The Gunk made me feel like a Ghostbuster, The Forgotten City like Dr Who and Back For Blood made me feel like some dreadful character in a shoddy SYFY channel zombie film. And whilst I was left underwhelmed by The Ascent, The Medium and 12 Minutes, I was overwhelmed by the diverse and leftfield gaming experiences that The Procession to Calvary, Psychonauts 2, Omno and Carrion delivered. And then there was Hades. For over 5 years, I’d largely ignored achievements. I’d largely ignored roguelikes too. I largely ignored Hades after a few goes through too. Until someone on here started blabbering on about it (yet) again. As it’s vitally important to prove people wrong on the internet, I played it again just to reiterate it wasn’t all that, got through Tartarus and the game went and got its claws into me. ‘One more run’ became as familiar to a Hades gaming session as it is alien to an England cricket innings. A burning desire to complete the game with each weapon compelled me to plow more time into it. Then I just had to complete it at various heat levels. And then that need to get all of the achievements returned from whatever crevice of my brain I’d buried it in. Thankfully the achievement addiction isn’t what it was. Game Pass has awakened another vice now though. Despite always being wholly unconvinced by Microsoft Rewards and aware of what an utter waste of time completing tasks is, I have now fallen for that too. Largely as it keeps my Game Pass sub topped up to 3 years. Rewards seemingly exist to help feed my Game Pass addiction. Microsoft have suckered me in and now I’m almost considering playing Halo 5. If, as rumoured, Sony begin to offer their own version of Game Pass, then us console owners are going to be spoiled for choice. Microsoft have forced Sony to act and whilst their response is reactive rather than proactive, it is very much welcomed. I do have concerns that whilst we’re in the midst of the good times, Game Pass could move consumers away from the mindset of purchasing games to fragmented subscriptions in gaming. This is a celebration of what Game Pass has been this year though and concerns of a raft of gaming subs (akin to the TV market) are for another time and place. We began with a game though, so let’s end with a game. In true ‘capturing the zeitgeist’ style, here’s my effort at today’s Wordle challenge. Didn’t solve it but, let's face it, enjoyment is more important than achievements. Wordle 211 X/6
  13. For me it's always changing but, today, it's this Mega Drive 2 I got yesterday: Got it cheap off ebay (the case is practically mint!) as it was listed as having inconsistent power. I knew that'd just be a dry joint and the solder cracking from plug insertion and yep, twas that. Two minute fix, and I widened the cart slot and added a 60hz switch whilst I was there. Cost me £9 plus postage! There's tons of stuff I have a big attachment to, now, but I always like stuff that is A) unusual to find, even if not at all rare and B) super cute/cool. This SFC storage box fits both categories nicely:
  14. Our tabletop focused pals are very much going to want to tune in for this, as the estimable @Bennytakes a look at the unifying power of digitised cardboard... The Board of Games Award Gloomhaven I already wrote a review of Gloomhaven, which you can find far back in the mists of time of… ah yes, New Year’s Hangover Day: https://www.rllmukforum.com/index.php?/topic/325072-the-rllmuk-game-of-the-year-awards-2021-voting-thread/&do=findComment&comment=13432324 But let’s back up for a moment, and discuss the joy of cardboard. Since I was old enough to consider the revolutionary idea of chewing solid food, games of all kinds have fascinated me. Whether it was learning about the weird way the horsies move in Chess, experiencing the absolute pant wetting terror of the giant bird getting loose in Chuckie Egg, or just making up my own Monopoly rules (that ensured I, as the naturally most trustworthy banker, always got a cut for services rendered). Everything with abstract systems was there to be figured out, deconstructed, and learned. It seems natural though for anyone interested in computers to eventually gravitate away from the limits of physical board games. When you can explore literal near photorealistic worlds inside your TV screen or even VR headset, the idea of sitting down and playing Hero Quest with your friends like you did in the 90s, when you could all be hanging around Goldshire begging for 1g, could seem fairly quaint. But does it? In recent years board gaming as a hobby has literally exploded in popularity. And with this newfound audience, the possibilities for design in the physical gaming realm have also undergone a major resurgence. Like video games from the 80s and beyond, more people becoming interested in them as a hobby meant more people creating, more ideas, more refinement in mechanics, more wild and fanciful creations. But it’s a process of evolution that had already been going on in board gaming for many years: while us cool kids slaved away to afford a PC because we’d all played Doom at our friend’s house and we couldn’t eat, sleep or think about anything else, Catan was being released. And it would go on to become so popular, that it would pave the way for Wesley from Star Trek to be making YouTube videos where friends sit around a table playing board games. And they love it. Modern board gaming is quite a special thing. Ruinously expensive, but with boxes that drip with highly professional art and evocative models, there is something out there for everyone, and most towns these days will have a dedicated board gaming group that meets, drinks, and laments being unable to find copies of certain games due to the sheer number of scalpers. Something that would never happen with videogames of course, ho ho ho. There was one small problem with being a born again board gamer in the last few years though: getting friends and enemies around a table was not only risky to your health, but for a lot of the time actually illegal. Where videogames for many of us were often a joyful way to weather the pandemic storm through escapism and engagement outside of the very horrifying real world problems, board gaming was simply… On hold. Like everything else. Simple boardgaming joys of picking just the right card and placing it on the table to see your friends’ reactions, and other feelings like it, were denied, and remembering the activity itself could become tinged with sadness. So digital recreations had to fill the void - in many cases though they were unable to really evoke that special feeling that hangs in the air around a table of like minded players. Board games live by their “feel”. The clink of the tokens, the weights of the pieces, the gloss of the cards. They are as tangible as their players, and when those players were separated, board games suffered too. The essence was diminished. But Gloomhaven tells me one very important thing: if the game is designed well, and it’s adapted tastefully, there’s nothing to say digital versions of board games can’t be just as wildly addictive, sociable and as tactile as their physical counterparts. Video games with board gaming inspired mechanics are also starting to litter game of the year lists, with the incredible Slay the Spire, the inventive Inscryption, and many many others. Would these games have been half as popular if it wasn’t for this crossover of design ideas and willingness to explore them off the table? Who knows, but they’re the perfect antidote to the triple A gaming excesses of late. So, let’s raise a glass to board games: where would videogames have been without you? And long live their glorious return.
  15. Ah, I didn't know that. I should have realised when I had to buy it from the Oculus store (which I basically never do as I don't want Commander Data receiving my money).
  16. And now a word from our sponsor... me! Shining a light on one of the darker, more neglected areas of modern gaming. Yes sir, I'm referring to the reality that is virtual. Hit it! The Thoughtfullest (VR) Game of 2022 feat. 2021 VR digest When it comes to PCVR, by which I mean ‘headsets that cost a bomb and have to be manually tethered to a computer that cost at least a grand itself FFS’ there are a bunch of interesting - sometimes even thrilling - releases, mods and hacks that may have flown under the radar in 2021. Let’s start with some of the mods: we have Risk of Rain 2 which is a comparatively well-known indie wave shooter that has been fully converted to work in VR. By which I mean it has user-selectable comfort options so you’re not hurking-up in rainbow-bright profusion due to motion sickness. It’s really enjoyable, addictive and flipping gorgeous. The biggest news in PCVR modding, though, was that the Flatscreen to VR Project community has made the REngine fully VR-able. In language people can actually understand, that means you can play the Resi remakes (2&3), 7 and Village, and even Devil May Cry 5 in VR with only a simple mod. I’ve toyed around with Resi 3 so far, and it’s an absolute blast. Good job I know the jump scares backwards by now, or i’d be off to A&E Of the mainstream releases I played (and some of these can even be played natively on Quest) ARK-ADE was a cracking blaster; basically Tron with guns: I also mucked-about with V-Racer Hoverbike, which has a tricky (but clever) way of using the motion controllers as handlebars. Worth a look if the idea of floaty bikes floats your…um…boat. The best game(s) I played in VR this year were, absolutely and positively, Lone Echo and its sequel: It’s a sci-fi series by Ready at Dawn (they of The Order: 1886 fame), who have really upped their, well, game to produce a unique space-based adventure with full anti-grav movement and tons of environmental challenges, puzzles and obstacles. What makes them truly great is the intriguing plot, and the humanitarian focus that resolutely argues for the importance of individual lives, and the need to protect and nurture sentience in Ai constructs. The actual science part takes a back seat to the very physical interactions with the tech and tools that keep a spaceship from falling to bits. Especially after [redacted] happens and the [redacted] hits the fan. All this, and it’s full of drama, tension and humour too. Along with Half Life: Alyx and Boneworks, this series has to be one of the front runners for a PSVR2 port shortly down the line. As for stuff on the horizon, there is a project in the works to get Horizon Zero Dawn working as a full VR experience. After the Fall - a co-op shooter in the mould of Left 4 Dead - recently emerged and looks like awesome fun, and the Quest-only Resident Evil 4 VR got released to rapturous applause just a few weeks back. With VR often sidelined due to the cost, and the semiconductor shortage sending graphics card costs past the stratosphere and somewhere in orbit around Thanos’s retirement planet, I feel VR has fallen away from people’s thoughts. Hopefully PSVR2 sees a resurgence for the format but, in the meantime, I hope these dispatches from the VR front line were a useful glimpse into the rather secretive world of what kids these days are calling, ‘That Lawnmower Man device’.
  17. For our next trick, we have master prestidigitater @Qazimod. Nothing up this sleeve; nothing up that sleeve... now watch this supposed console disappear... The Imaginary Console Award Nintendo Switch Pro At the end of May 2021, an Rllmuk thread was posted that would eventually be the home of all information relating to the Nintendo Switch OLED model. That comes later, though. The start of the thread begins with "rumours" from "sources" claiming that “Nintendo will reveal an enhanced Switch model later in the year.” Aside from this being the kind of inconsequential reporting that makes unboxing videos look riveting, it quickly descended into fanciful dreaming from people with over-active imaginations. Apparently Nintendo Switch owners were so satisfied with their original consoles that they only expected modest improvements such as (checks notes) 4K, DLSS, better joycons and a "TV-only" model. And it was definitely, certainly going to be unveiled in the next Nintendo Direct, or perhaps the one after that, or maybe during E3. Although I'm being a bit facetious, I had an eye on the rumours as well – I'm familiar with how bad the first version of any Nintendo handheld can be, and so I was curious about any potential revision. And I wouldn't have to wait long, because it was going to be available to pre-order on June 8th…but it was also going to be called the New Nintendo Switch. And even though it missed E3, journalists definitely knew the reasons why it had been "held back". This all lasted until July 6th, when Nintendo proudly unveiled the Nintendo Switch Pro on their official YouTube channel. Except they didn't. Let's not forget that Nintendo hadn't publicly said a word about any kind of hardware revision from the beginning of these rumours up until their own reveal of their next hardware revision. Nintendo hadn't lied to anyone, and nobody was being forced to digest unsubstantiated info. I like a tasty rumour as much as the next gamer, but four years of following fake Persona 5 details have already shown me how easily the hype train can go on a one-way journey to insanity. More often than not, the official claims are the only thing that matters, and the official claim on July 6th was that Nintendo's new Switch model… would have an OLED screen, a slightly different stand and an Ethernet port in the dock. That was it. It wasn't a TV only model, the OLED screen wasn't capable of 4K, and the announcement trailer didn't draw attention to the joycons. It would have been one of the best troll moves of the year if not for the fact that Nintendo hadn't done any of the trolling. Everything missing from the trailer – all of the absent features that the fans were expecting – had been dreamed up by more of those fans, not to mention the websites capitalising on the hype in a bid for traffic. Nintendo's own very-real OLED model doesn't win the Imaginary Console award, but the award can be claimed by the Pro that never was. I know that the rumours about the hardware upgrade probably go back earlier than 2021, but I don't remember those rumours gaining as much momentum – both from the press and from communities such as this forum – as they did last year. As I write this, the results for the Format of the Year nomination aren't known to me, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Nintendo Switch performed well again. And so maybe you never really needed to be shown a Nintendo Switch Pro this year if you were happy enough with the models that already exist.
  18. All credit goes to the marvellous @Jollyfor the words (and Gnosia plug) If he ain't a writer by trade, he bloody well should be!
  19. It's a cracker, excellent words Jolly. If anyone would like to have a think-piece published, now's your chance - just PM me and we can sort it out
  20. All done in here! Please follow on in the results thread, cheers
  21. Well, it's been fun. Or, you know, that other word that resolutely doesn't mean fun. BUT! frig all that now, as the results are in - let the cavalcade of celebration commence! We'll begin in grand fashion with a previous vote-wrangling alum in the form of @Jolly. here's one of his takes on the marvel that was '21... Zeitiest-Geist Award 2021 Timeloops I main Tracer in Overwatch, mostly because she's obviously the best but partly because her cor' blimey 'alf an' apenny a'thrupanny gov'ner schtick reminds me of my eldest sister. I have a lot of sisters - basically a whole Tribbiani - but the eldest is like someone trying to impersonate every barmaid from Eastenders all at once. The 'Ever get that feeling of deja vu?' line in particular sounds *exactly* like the kind of thing she'd say as she was having a good ol' fashioned knees up out of a Victorian era chimney. And that feeling of deja vu has been particularly prevalent in 2021. Not least because we've all been stuck in the same shapeless expanse of time fluctuating endlessly between 'you must go out' and 'you must stay in' more frequently than a leg in a particularly ferocious verse of The Hokey-Cokey. But because videogames appear to be weirdly obsessed with timeloops. The rise of roguelikes and roguelites has seen the need for a narrative crutch to hang the baked-in repetition upon. The mediums most lovable rogue' Hades just bites the bullet and sticks you in hell; less a timeloop and more a single infinite eternity. A bit like what watching The Game Awards feels like. Hades also gets bonus points for bleeding its themes into the real world. 'Didn't we vote for this in GotY last year?'. Who even knows anymore. What is time. 12 Minutes is a bit more straight-up loopy-loo. I haven't played it of course, given the reception was poorer than that at Rose and Fred West's wedding. Brilliantly, I've just looked the game up on Wikipedia and discovered that the game asks 'the player to repeatedly play through events of a 10-minute cycle'. Presumably the other two minutes are there for you to uninstall the game. One of my leftfield favourites of the year, Gnosia, was a visual novel about playing a game of deception through parallel timelines. This being a Japanese narrative based game with static artwork there was obviously a ton of underboob, a handful of needless shower scenes, dashings of '.......' text boxes and a dolphin in a space helmet, but I actually think it was the smartest use of the trope. To say too much more would be to give the plot away, but I thoroughly recommend it. Can't wait for someone to pick it up based on this so I can feel that weird sense of guilt like I actually made the thing myself. One of the biggest and best examples was obviously Returnal. You can tell it's the biggest and best because it was £70. Genuinely one of my favourite things about the game was that there no fucking about when it looped. Die, screeching car, burning spaceship, rattling dashboard, deep-gasping-breath-and-sit-up like they do after a bad dream in the films and that, and you're off. Housemarque were famously so confident in the appeal of their non-stop torment that they literally didn't allow you to stop it; forgetting to put a save system in like it's fucking 2001 and you've moved to uni and left your memory card at your Mum's. Lastly, we have Deathloop. Notable in being this years game that everywhere loves except rllmuk. I can only imagine that it doesn't appeal to this place because of nostalgia and 40 year olds and nostalgia and 30 somethings and nostalgia or being old. Probably nostalgia. Weird nobody is talking about this. Guess you're all forty. Nostalgia. So that's timeloops then, and what an awful lot of them there are at the moment. I guess really, it's a concept that just fits the way that videogames work. And although the sheer number of around suggests that it's likely that genre will soon die, I daresay it will return sometime later improved with the knowledge it gained first time round.
  22. I mean... I can barely keep up with the irony of all this. Under the first set of rules, Hades would have just been in normal GOTY contention, but a bunch of vocal people forced my hand to change it to another system that I declared I would abide by even if I disagreed. I said there would be no more changes and that the 'popular' decision was final. I also said that there should be NO more arguments about the rules in here. And yet, here we are. Put yourself in my shoes for a minute, eh? You've been through this process before. Continuous arguments are pointless; and criticism that contains phrases beginning 'I think...' and the word 'arbitrary' are a slippery slope into a pit of negativity that I worked really, really hard to avoid. Three facts on this: 1) No doubt the rules will change next year, so this: ...is probably moot. 2) Also, every early access game released in 2021 that people voted has representation in category B and is not being ignored 3) Additionally, you can write-in a special mention for any game you like and I will publish it. So if you are, in fact, the single solitary voter for a game in B, or even A, you can get a full post dedicated to your candidate if you want! If we're doing displaced CAPS to emphasise the ludicrous of the situation, then I'll add: ThiS iS wHaT tHE pUbLiC vOTeD fOR!!!
  23. Lol, no. As someone who played the Halo Infinite online beta, I can assure you it wasn't a stealth release of a 90% complete campaign. Online beta tests are to demonstrate technical stability. An early access game is usually the entire game (or at least the majority of it) with bugs present.
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