197 Reviews liked by dyl

Drowning out the panicked screams of humanity with bass boosted Lonely Rolling Star as you roll them up to make a star your dad will fucking hate

Trying my best to keep my recency bias in check but I also can’t shake the feeling that this is one of the best experiences I’ve ever had with a video game. Everything about it clicked for me from its grander narrative ambitions to its ability to let you improvise and experiment with combat and exploration any way you see fit. In the 50 hours it took me to hit credits I never once felt burnt out or ready to move on to another game. Even now I feel a strong urge to go back and finish more side quests and live in this version of hyrule a bit longer.
I don’t have a lot to say at the moment. My thoughts are still fresh and I’m high off the fumes of an incredible final stretch of main quests, but I can see this game resting in my top ten favorite games of all time easily. It’s just so fucking good.
Also, as a side note: during the first two weeks of Totk’s release, I was in the greater Chicago area for classes relevant to my career field. I had a wonderful time and saw so many amazing things. I also had nights where I felt increasingly isolated and homesick. While this game didn’t rid me of those feelings, it certainly acted as a balm - something to invest in to make those lonely nights a little more bearable. And I’m really thankful for that.

How do you improve upon perfection? By upping the stakes, the character development, not worrying about catching lightning in a bottle again and allowing the story to flow and let Clementine grow and experience multiple beautiful facets of life not yet tainted by the apocalypse. The drama is unreal, with more twists and turns than ever before-- containing some of the best moments and arcs from any game period. You'll love these characters, you'll hate them, you'll cry your eyes out, and you'll never forget the goat Kenny.

“A man of many sides looking for his S.T.A.R. Persistent, fiery and always have a few surprises hidden away. Dates with me can be explosive, swipe right if you can handle the heat ;)” - Nemesis tinder bio

I definitely prefer Black Mesa over this game, but it's not by much. The gameplay and environments are less scary and more action-orientated, but the story and characters are better told and presented.
I think this is it for me with this franchise though - I'm just not sold on this being one of the best games ever made. And this is from someone who regularly goes back to older games that I missed out on.

Look, I’ll be frank (even though I am jarsh): I think this is one of the best games the NES has to offer. It’s a wildly experimental sequel that chose not to build on the fundamentals of the first game, but rather build an entirely separate house next door (although maybe they copied from the blueprints a little bit).
Of course, the hard left turn that this sequel takes is due to it being a reskin, but that’s become one of the most ubiquitous pieces of video game trivia ever so I won’t delve too much into it here. The history of Doki Doki Panic and how it eventually became SMB2 is worth looking up though, and the fact that a lot of common elements of future Mario games originated here (Shy Guys, Birdos, Bob-ombs, each playable character having unique skills) make it all the more fascinating.
In a lot of ways, I like SMB2 more than the first game. The presentation is more interesting and unique, and the levels have a bit more variety to them. Being able to choose between four different characters at the start of each stage adds to this variety as well because you can straight up break some levels depending on who you roll with. Peach’s glide can carry you across large gaps that can sometimes skip entire chunks of levels, and Luigi’s increased jump height can do similar sequence breaks. Warp pipes also make a return, though they’re more sparse and require a little more brain juice to find.
Though I gotta say, you’d be doing a disservice by skipping some of these levels, because a lot of them are genuinely great. I’ve always loved World 4 for its slippery ice physics and the final world taking you into the clouds. 5-1 is notorious because of its reliance on tricky platforming across moving logs (and fish) but it’s so satisfying when you pull it all off in one go. It never gets as esoteric as the Lost Levels, but you’ll sometimes find yourself searching for the right door or figuring out where to drop a magic potion so you can get a mushroom in the subspace. Did I mention this game is a little strange?
And like, it’s a good strange in my opinion. The whole game has a dreamlike quality to it, which makes sense given spoilers I guess lol it all takes place in Mario’s dream, but it’s so cool to see a sequel to a game as straightforward as Super Mario Bros get a little weird. It’s the Link’s Awakening of the Mario franchise. I’ll see myself out now.

Hundreds of thousands of early nineties boys across the whole country who would have before SMB2 shunned anything girly or sissylike had to change their hearts or die when they were confronted here with the fact that the only selectable female character is massively OP

By far one of the best, if not the best game i've ever played. It feels like almost every story beat does something new and interesting that no piece of media before or since has ever done for me. This game has a lot to say, and people take that as it being loose and disconnected.
Hotline Miami 2 is a VERY good commentary on a lot of things. Hyperpatriotism and white nationalism, fans of the original game, the military industrial complex, addiction, and capitalism are just a few of the topics this game tackles, and I think it does all of them excellently, even if it does sometimes struggle to connect these topics. Each individual story beat is so incredibly interesting to me, and they all combine up to create what I can only say is the most interesting and poignant story I have ever seen told in any game before. I got attached to every character emotionally in SOME significant way, a goal the game goes for and succeeds at wonderfully.
Beyond the absolutely brilliant story (which I have seen some lambaste before), I think this game also succeeds in every other aspect. The soundtrack for this game is just incredible. From the schizophrenic, nervous vibe of Run by iamthekidyouknowwhatimean, to the thrill and excitement of Roller Mobster by Carpenter Brut, to the sobering vibe of Untitled by The Green Kingdom, I can't think of a single bad song on here. Every composer for this game did absolutely brilliantly. It all builds up to the game's ending song, You Are the Blood by The Castanets. What a fitting song for such an ending. No spoilers.
The gameplay is seemingly very controversial within online spaces, with some thinking the gameplay is completely unfair and unfun, almost gameruiningly so in comparison to hotline miami 1's. I am not one of those people. Hotline Miami 2's gameplay is challenging, and thought-provoking, but clearing rooms feels absolutely incredible and exhilirating in a way I can't truly describe. This game makes you FEEL smart for solving each room. It's a perfect mix between tight execution and remembering what goon is where, and which has what. At the end of it all, you're left with a feeling of triumph. The controls feel much more precise and careful than those of Hotline Miami 1's, and the mask / character gimmicks are incredibly fun, ranging from controlling 2 characters at once with the twins, Alex and Ash, to playing as a pacifistic man who can render enemies unconcious and rack up combos by disassembling guns. Or, you can simply say fuck that and play the game normally by going into his rage mode. It is worth noting that this game IS absurdly difficult, but never to a point where it made me genuinely consider putting it down for good. It also uses this difficulty to deliver a message on multiple occassions.
I feel like hotline miami 2 use's its rather limited visual style to deliver a game that looks very good, with some of the set pieces and effects in this game looking genuinely incredible, and the character art seeming to have vastly improved from the weird, offputting character art of the first game.
In total, this game is absolutely incredible. I don't regret playing a second of it. It's a totally unforgettable experience that I don't really think will ever be matched.

Deceptively challenging when it wants to be, but always quite charming. I enjoyed my time with this game, which is probably the highest compliment I can give it.

(6-year-old's review, typed by her dad)
I met a goat guy 3 times. He had a long beard and I just felt weird.
[Dad's note: She had her tonsils out the same day TotK came out, so she was in a semi-delirious state when she insisted on reviewing the game. I was very impressed that she still managed to get through a couple shrines on her own!]