40 Reviews liked by ber
Wario Land 4
An amazing platformer, every level feels unique and contains its own interesting gameplay gimmicks. The 'Hurry Up' segments can be pretty tense and anxiety-inducing but the feeling of relief after
successfully completing the level makes the game satisfying to play.
Super Mario Galaxy
Mario games are weird and fascinating and incredible for many different reasons, and each one of them is particularly brilliant in one creative field or another. For example: the recent Super Mario Odyssey is a perfect exploration of all the things Mario can be and all the ways he can move. Through this frame of reference, one can say — and in fact, I am saying it — that Super Mario Galaxy is the absolute best Mario game at exploring all the places Mario can navigate.
From short and linear two-dimensional stages to free-flowing flying courses, from chill flat gardens to cylindrical puzzle boxes, from an interconnected semi-realistic architectural space to an ethereal cube with some coins in it, from water that behaves normally from water that just floats in the middle of somewhere, everything is fair game in Super Mario Galaxy. Everything. You want to put lava in direct contact with ice? Sure. You want to invert gravity for absolutely no particular reason in just this specific spot? Just do it.
Mario Galaxy is Nintendo at the absolute top of its level design game. Because not only are these sets and settings inventive, but they all work in favor of bringing about great gameplay. In Mario Odyssey, Nintendo made a ton of great moves for Mario and then made a few stages in which he could do its thing; in Galaxy, Nintendo gave Mario a fairly basic set of moves but made a million of completely different and absolutely incredible spaces in which he could shine.
And, level design being one of my favorite disciplines in game design, of course I'm all over this. It's my favorite Mario ever.
Super Mario 64
An absolutely revolutionary 3D game that is still more than playable in 2020, although its age shows in its horrible camera and less than precise controls (seriously sometimes I just wanted to turn around from a standstill and Mario decided to best way to do that was to do run half a circle to face the other way, which can be really annoying on the many tight platforms).
So much about the game is just iconic, like the catchy music or colourful and varied levels. Even the hub world is famous in video gaming. It truly feels like care was put into it.
Its got insane replayability thanks to its pick up and play nature.
There's lots of secrets to find, both in the castle and in the levels.
Outside of the controls and camera, my main complaint comes from how often missions are repeated. The haunted house level 3 missions where you fight Big Boo. That's half the damn missions for that level. That's probably the biggest example in the game, but some levels definitely feel like they pad out the content like that.
The fact that extra lives reset upon closing the game is also a weird thing. It's not the biggest deal since game over only puts you back to the start of the castle, I just don't get why it happens.
It's a 10/10 game for its time that still holds up today, but can be a bit frustrating at times thanks to its aged technical aspects. Of course without any nostalgia it's hard to say how much I would have put up with.
Towards the end of the PS4's life I finally got around to playing what was considering the first "must play" exclusive. I wasn't massively impressed to be playing one of the best games ever, let alone on the PS4, honestly. It felt like a very average-good game.
This was also my first ever soulsborne game, so a steep learning curve was needed. It is pretty rewarding to see your own improvements. At the start I pretty much got walled by every single boss after the first 2, and needed co-op help, but by the end I was taking most bosses down in a few tries by myself.
However even once I "got good" the game felt like it was just hard for the wrong reasons many times. Having enemies that can kill you in 2 hits, even normal enemies that come in massive mobs, and can attack you far faster than you can attack, and have ranges far longer than you have, doesn't feel fair. With a few exceptions I never felt like I was doing any kind of strategy to beat anything, it was just a case of being overly defensive while trying to get a hit in every now and then with an extremely high consequence for any single error.
Speaking of being defensive, the amount of options is shockingly low. You have your dodge/side step of course which is what you'll use most of the time. Then there's the parry system which is pretty neat, but doesn't even work against 90% of bosses. And personally, although this is probably my own fault, I found it to be wildly inconsistent even on bosses it does work on. Sometimes they'll just ignore it and attack through the shot, sometimes my locked-on gun will just miss the target 1 foot in front of it completely. There's no blocking or anything like that.
Unfortunately the bad parry system also meant the gun felt useless 99% of the time too, since it's not really used as a ranged weapon but just as a parry button.
There are other annoying features that made it a drag to play. The whole losing souls system upon dying twice just felt frustrating and did little more than to waste the players time and efforts. Having consumables not be replenished after dying to a boss isn't "hard", all it means is the player wastes more time grinding for each try. Having the closest checkpoint to a boss be a 5 minute trek isn't hard, it's just a waste of time. Losing to a boss 10 times before finally figuring out how to beat it can be satisfying. Having to grind for potions and walk back to it every time only serves to be anti-fun, which is the worst thing a game can be.
The co-op system kinda sucks. It didn't work a lot of the time I tried to use it, or it took about 10 minutes to actually find a password-set partner standing in the exact same spot as me. And then you and your partner can only explore the single area you summoned them in, and if either of you die it doesn't auto-join back, and beating a boss will cause your partner to leave. So you have to constantly re-apply a summon if you want to play through with a friend.
Plus for some reason the game has some enemies that ring a bell, which will allow other plays to come into your own game and grief you. That happened to me twice while I was just minding my own business and I can't think of a worse system in a game that let's other plays actually just barge into you while you're trying to have fun and just ruin it for you. I could turn the game to offline mode, but then I'd lose all the player-written notes or the ability to see other players ghosts playing at the same time as me, and I liked those.
The game often felt like it struggled, having a few frame rate drops or weird pop-ins. And NPCs mouths that don't even move when they talk, making the animation in the game feel like ps1-era cheapness.
The entire aesthetic of the game is boring. Only like 2 locations actually standout while everywhere else looks exactly the same as everywhere else. However a lot of locations can be memorable through the experiences you have there, which in many ways is more impressive than simply remembering an area because it stands out.
The actual monster designs on the other hand look incredible.
The map itself is pretty great. It's highly explorable, and rewards you by giving you shortcuts back to safe spots, meaning each time you explore a new area you give yourself a way to traverse through parts you've explored faster.
There's quite a few great little details, hidden things, choices you can make etc. I had a friend who was walking me through the game so I found a lot of them on my first playthrough, but it's a system that massively rewards replays.
it really sucks to not like a game that everyone else seems to think is perfect, but I just don't get it. It's a game that at its best can be pretty fun with a lot of details to uncover, while at its worst it's dull to look at, is full of frustrating features and time wasting mechanics, and generally feels unpolished.
Ghost of Tsushima
This is a truly epic game. Its got to be one of the best open world games ive played. Its contending with the world of skyrim as the best in my opinion. For one the art direction is absolutely stunning, the lighting, foliage, use of colour and weather effects make it visually one of my favourite games. The actual exploration is what makes it tho, visual cues like smokestacks, animals trying to get your attention, random citizens letting you in on a rumour and the wind lead you to mystical shrines or hidden grottoes holding secret stories or items. There is no mini map in the corner of the screen telling you where to go and there is no level gating which is a huge win. Side quests for the most part are also very well done. Some lead to encounters and circumstances that are completely unique to those side quests. A simple rescue mission became a whole lot more interesting when you got to sail out onto a mongolian ship for the first time. Each side quest is unique and hold their own intriguing side stories. There arent 10+ rescue missions or 20+ fetch quests. The game also houses side stories to characters from the main quest which are all very engaging and often as cinematic as the main quest, they also let you in on their characters a little more, the best form of side quests though in my opinion are the Mythic tales which have you tracking down Ancient samurai techniques and tools, theres nothing cooler than hearing a poet at an inn telling the story of a Legendary Samurai’s flaming sword at the top of a mountain peek and then climbing this huge mountain in a perilous blizzard to discover the truth of this old tale. Now onto the main quest, this is where we start to get into a-few complaints, the plot is pretty basic, stop the mongol invasion, which is ok because it means that we could focus on the characters alot more, this is where the game falters, the characters are relatively generic and a little dull at times. The main character Jin has good character development and a good arc but he doesn’t really have much of a personality compared to someone like Geralt from the witcher. The story still has some great moments though, there are twists, betrayals, huge battles, the villian is very serviceable and the ending is really good. Now that we have gotten past the worst thing, lets talk about the combat. The combat in this game is kind of god tier? The moment to moment samurai sword combat never got old, its full of depth, variety and “badassery“ and the game does get challenging at points but not by just making enemies spongier or “higher level” but by actually making the enemies harder to fight to test and increase the skill of the player. Im going to cut this review short because i could talk about this game for a long time but know that i could have talked about, how the soundtrack is my favourite from this year, the terrific audio design, awesome boss battles, the armour and weapon customisation or even the decisions you can make to alter the story. This is an amazing game and a great final addition to the terrific library of the ps4. What a game, what a console.
Outer Wilds is the only game I can think of where within its first moments, I knew I was in for something very, very special without really understanding why. The title screen is already so inviting, with its gentle acoustic glow fading in over a collage of shimmering stars. The game opens, I wake up on my back, looking up into the sky to see something explode in the distant orbit of a giant, green planet deep in space, and my imagination is immediately captured. I feel an intangible warmth as I speak to my fellow Hearthians and wander our village, a sense of wonder and anticipation as I walk through our peoples' museum, learning about things that I realize I will inevitably have to face or utilize in the adventures ahead. All this before even seeing my ship, let alone blasting off with it into the far reaches of space.
The expectations and tone of Outer Wilds are set up pitch perfectly in this opening. On the whole, the game captures the innate desire we all have to learn more, to reach out for what's next, even if we have no idea what it is we are searching for or why we seek it. It's the only thing Outer Wilds relies on to lead players forward. There are no objectives or goals, no waypoints to show you where to go next; there only those which you create for yourself. What drives us forward is the need to understand the world(s) around us, or at least attempt to understand. Is there a more human desire than that?
Outer Wilds is a masterpiece for its many balances: of warmth and intimacy with the melancholic loneliness of space; a constant sense of wonder with an equally constant fear of the unknown; its charming, colorful art style with its hard, scientific approach; its reverence for the teachings of both classical and quantum physics; its personal, micro-level character stories set against the fate of the universe. The list goes on. And that's without even mentioning the game's emotional linchpin: Andrew Prahlow's incredible score, a healthy mix of folk, ambient and post-rock that is a delicate tight-wire act in and of itself, managing to capture both the vastness of space and the intimate glow of a campfire without compromise.
Whatever feelings Outer Wilds brought out of me in its opening moments were only further heightened and more deeply understood as I began unraveling the mysteries of its clockwork solar system, spiraling faster and faster towards an ending that left me in awe of everything that came before it and soon yearning for other experiences that could fill the black hole that the game's sudden absence left in place of my heart. Outer Wilds is not only a perfect game, but also one of the medium's purest expressions of its most inspiring possibilities. If only I could breathe out a sigh of relief and wake up on Timber Hearth for the first time again.
inFAMOUS: Second Son
0 Lists liked by ber