This is an early extra entry into my BlackBlog posts because I did not originally list 999 as one of my backlog games but I have been meaning to play it ever since my friend played it 2 years ago and talked about how amazing it was.
I am happy to say that he was right, 999 is a wonderfully amazing game. There are only a handful of times when a game has gotten me to truly care about its characters, story, and fiction to the point where after the game is complete I just want there to be more. I wanted to see what happens to the characters after the game said The End, I wanted to know more about the world, I just wanted more of anything. 999 was like reading a great book. When I finished it I was completely amazed at how genius the plot was and how great all the characters were that I just wanted it to keep going. I wanted their to be more revelations, more puzzles, more conversations, and more fiction. Even though the game is played on a fairly small DS screen I was completely absorbed within the world of 999 like I was watching a movie. And while some of the puzzles weren't that clever and the way the game forces you to replay them is a bit annoying, the story is so good that it was totally worth it to me. I felt so compelled to see how everything was going to turn out that I didn't even really mind any of the game's faults.
And the game's faults are totally worth putting up with if you want to experience one of the most well written stories of all time (in my opinion). I love plot twists, especially the Assassin's Creed II ending, but Patrick has often made criticisms about it the twist not being "fair" because the game doesn't earn it's twist. There was no opportunity for the player to see the twist coming because it wasn't relevant to the game until it happened. Now I understand what Patrick was saying and I agree. 999 earns its plot twists. At the end of the game when everything is revealed there are multiple "holy shit!" moments because the twists were sitting right there the entire time and were so well written and so clever that even though some of them are right in front of you there is no way you could have guessed them. There were even twists within the twists and there is so much that happens that it is just overwhelming in the best possible way. After reading through the Q & A with the game's writer found here I could not believe how perfectly the plot fits together. All of the parts where I thought there were plot holes that didn't make sense make perfect sense. In such a complex story, that is truly the work of a genius. I want to just keep writing about it and describing how amazing each one of the plot twists and story connections were, but there is no way I would ever spoil anything about this game for anyone because it must be experienced! I can not say enough good things about this game. If you love great stories, characters, and plot twists then this game is a must play. Even if you don't like touch screens or adventure puzzles, it is still worth it. The experience of 999 is something that is truly a masterpiece and I am very excited to play VLR.
Side note: If you have played the game and are confused at all I highly recommend reading the Q & A I linked with the writer Kotaro Uchikoshi. He cleared up any confusion I had and also explained things that made me feel even more amazed by how well written the game is.
I finished the first game of my back log, Limbo. Here is my original post about challenging myself to finish my back logged games.
Limbo was an amazing game that turned into a disappointment. The game opens up with no text, no tutorial, no music, no voice acting and it continues this way through the entire game. The developers use good game design to allow you to figure out the puzzles on your own and how the game works so you don't have to take 15 minutes to be explained every single mechanic. The lack of voice acting or any text at all to explain the story was also done really well because I started piecing everything together myself from what was actually happening in the game. This all works perfectly in the opening of the game. You are alone in this quiet seemingly empty forest that is definitely not empty. Being afraid of spiders, this game may have had the creepiest spider I have ever seen in a game. Not to mention, the game is horrifyingly brutal. You are playing as a young boy and to see some of the stuff that happens to him when you die is shocking and also adds to the creepiness of the game. The environment and the puzzles work perfectly with what is happening around you and everything fits together so well I could not wait to see the conclusion to the game.
Then the second half of the game disappoints big time. The environment completely changes from a forest to a factory and all the brutal images and enemies of the forest go away and you are left with a puzzle game in a factory that is much less creepy. It felt like the game went from this really interesting, creepy story experience that had puzzles just to add to that experience, into a game where the puzzles were the only thing that mattered and the atmosphere and story were no longer important. The game did throw a lot of interesting mechanics together in a really good way and the puzzles do start to get difficult near the end but I was still left totally underwhelmed. The final puzzle isn't even some big special reveal or some puzzle that ties all the mechanics together, it just seems like it's another part of the game and then the game just ends. I was happy with the ending and the way I interpreted it from what I saw made sense to me, but I can't help but feel really disappointed by the second half of the game. The forest and what you encounter there was so perfect that I didn't understand why they felt the need to get rid of all those enemies and level design for something that was much less interesting. Overall though, I am happy I played it.
So now that 2012 is over and I have finished a lot of the games I wanted to for game of the year stuff, I now have the entire month of January with nothing but old games to play or finish. Also, with my money running short and since I will be finishing up my last semester of college, I don't think I will be able to buy any new releases like I have been for the past 2 years. So I figure I should start playing through all the games I never finished or have never even started. Some of the games will be really tough but I am going to try to beat all of them. I want to play all these games and at least make my purchases worth it, so I am going to try to defeat my backlog!
Here is the list of games, how much I have played them, and how difficult I think it will be to finish them.
-Alan Wake's American Nightmare: Never played it, Easy to finish. I really liked Alan Wake and this game is short
-Assassin's Creed III: about 75% done, easy to finish. I'm almost done so it won't take long
-Beyond Good and Evil: Played the first hour, hard to finish. I played the first hour and it seemed a bit boring, need to get farther I guess
-The Binding of Isaac: Never played it, very hard to finish. Not sure this one is actually beatable for me, but I want to spend some time playing it at least
-Cave Story: Never played it, hard to beat. I really don't know much about this game so I don't know what I'm getting into!
-Darksiders II: Over half way through, medium to beat. I enjoyed the game but was disappointed, the biggest hurdle will be to start playing it again
-Dark Souls: Have 3 bosses left (I think) hard to beat. I played this when it came out and then got into Arkham City and Skyrim and never finished, biggest regret
-The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: 100 hours played, medium to "beat". Basically I want to finish the main story, dawnguard, and the dark brotherhood.
-Fallout 3: played the first 6 hours about 3 times Very Hard to beat. I played the beginning of this game way to much, I don't think I will ever be able to finish it
-Fallout New Vegas: played the first 4 hours, Very Hard to beat. I would finish 3 before this and the chances of me beating both Fallout games? Slim
-Just Cause 2: Played the first 20 minutes, easy to beat. Once I get into this game I know I will love it
-Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning: 20 hours in, very hard to beat. I enjoyed this game but it came out too soon after Skyrim, and theres so many side quests
-Limbo: Never played it, easy to beat. I actually just finished it last night and it will be my first blog about this tomorrow
-Lone Survivor: Played the first 5 minutes, easy to beat. Sounds like a fun game I will get into
-Mark of the Ninja: 5 missions in, easy to beat. Good game I'm gonna take my time with
-Max Payne 2: played the first hour, medium to beat. I will have to be in the right mood to get through this one
-Metro 2033: played the first 30 minutes, easy to beat. I've been meaning to play this, and it's short
-RAGE: Played 4 hours, hard to beat. I'm not sure I can get back into it, too much vehicle driving but the shooting was great
-Sleeping Dogs: 6 hours in, easy to beat. Currently playing it and loving it, really fun game
-Stalker Call of Pripyat: never played, Very hard to beat. I never finished the first one either but this one is newer so I'll give this one a go, don't think I will beat it
-Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II The Sith Lords: played the first 2 hours, hard to beat. Kotor is my favorite single player game ever but I never got into 2
-Super Meat Boy: chapter 4, hard to beat. This game is getting pretty hard, I will keep trying
-Sword and Sorcery: 20 minutes, easy to beat. The soundtrack is amazing so this one should be fun
-Warhammer 40K Space Marine: first hour, easy to beat. I think it will be a fun mindless game whenever I choose to go through it
So that is the list. Every time I beat a game, I will blog my thoughts about it. I am going to try to make it through all these games and I think I have a good shot at beating most of them now that I am short on money and won't be distracted by new releases. I would appreciate any suggestions from you all about what games I should prioritize playing over others. I already beat Limbo so it will be my first post, and now I'm working through Sleeping Dogs and I'm thinking about Metro 2033 next. Any suggestions will be helpful though!
This was a very interesting year for games. Half of my list I never even expected to play, and a few games I thought I would love didn't make the cut. While I didn't enjoy everything as much as I did last year, it was still another great year for games.
10. Hotline Miami
Hotline Miami is just complete madness and that is what is so great about it. When you first start playing the game you feel like you want to handle it like a puzzle where you analyze each room and develop a whole strategy to figure out how to win. Then after dying a bunch of times anyway you finally say fuck it and go all out, running in between rooms like a mad man wildly swinging your weapon. The gameplay style is more like Supermeat Boy in that, rather than taking your time, you want to just go all out every time and try over and over until you succeed. Now I will definitely not go as far as to say the controls are as good as Supermeat Boy because they are not. The controller is terrible to use, and while the mouse and keyboard is fine, sometimes I feel like it doesn't handle as well as I would like.
But besides the controls Hotline Miami does everything else extraordinarily well. The movement speed is super fast and smooth, chaining combos is as satisfying as in any game and the music is amazing. Hotline Miami would still be a good game without its soundtrack, but the amazing music fits the vibe of the game so well I found myself even more addicted to retrying just so I could hear the songs repeat themselves over and over. Its so unfortunate that I keep randomly getting an error that makes the music stop working, because without the music, the game just isn't the same. Oh, and I love the 80's style Miami theme because it reminds me so much of GTA Vice City. Anyway, Hotline Miami is an addictive, challenging game with an amazing soundtrack that I will be returning to in 2013.
9. Assassin's Creed III
Assassin's Creed II is one of my favorite games of all time. I also loved Brotherhood and even AC 1. So when I saw the release date of Assassin's Creed III, with its American Revolution setting, new protagonist, and a potential amazing ending to the story arch I thought it was easily going to be my 2012 game of the year. Instead it is probably the game I am most disappointed in this year. I haven't finished the game yet (I have 2 sequences left I believe) but so far the story has been boring, which is a huge surprise for an AC game (and from what I've heard it only gets worse). But the biggest problem with the game is the main missions. Besides the Battle of Bunker Hill, all the missions have been poorly designed. No, I do not want to "listen in" on "secret" conversations that people are having in the middle of the street and no I do not want to have a stupid chase sequence. It all feels poorly put together, especially when they had such great historical moments to use for missions.
Thankfully, the core of what I think makes the Assassin's Creed games amazing is just as good as ever. The combat is as fluid and fun as it's ever been and although it is extremely ridiculous and easy, I can not help but love the animations they gave Connor. He has a different style with each weapon and every kill move is fun to watch. The climbing system is still the best there is and I loved running through the trees. The open world is still a ton of fun to explore, jumping out of trees to stab dudes in the throat is still awesome and I still got hooked on running around collecting everything. The peg leg missions reminded me of the Uncharted series (in a really good way) and the naval combat may be the best looking thing I've ever seen on a console. Also the naval missions are surprisingly tons of fun. It is really unfortunate that half of Assassin's Creed III is so poorly designed, because the other half of the game is so much fun. I wish Ubisoft would stop running this great series into the ground.
8. Torchlight 2
I think Torchlight 2 deserves way more attention than it's getting. The core gameplay is solid, the loot is varied and really fun to get, the dungeons are plentiful and fun, and the end game is smartly designed. I have played for roughly 40 hours and my character is only level 75 (cap is 100). The skill trees are great, there is offline play, a server browser, new game plus, I could go on and on. The best part is the game is only $20. With the amount of cotent and quality of this game it could easily be a $50 product but Runic stuck to their guns and made a fun game at an easily affordable price.
While the feel of the combat is not nearly as good as Diablo III, the end game is exactly what I wanted out of this type of game. Mapworks, where you buy randomly generated dungeons that have bonuses like 10% more magic find, or monsters do 25% more damage but you get 20% more gold, and you can infinitely do dungeon runs without having to see the same enemies and bosses in the same spots by continuously playing new game plus. Every dungeon has a random boss at the end that drops good loot, making every run exciting. My only regret with this game is that I didn't play it more, mostly because none of my friends bought it, so I feel like I haven't even experienced how fun it can actually be. Also, they still haven't added the mods to the Steam Work shop, and I wish you could respec your character. But, those are minor complaints about a really awesome game.
7. Spec Ops: The Line
The biggest and best surprise for me this year by far, Spec Ops: The Line is a great game. The story telling really surprised me multiple times, not only because of plot twists, but because of how brutal the game gets and how far it goes to show you the horrors of war. Even the loading screens taunt you. It is sort of cheesy, but I really think Yager deserves praise for taking it as far as they did. Not only that, but the game lets you make choices that are extremely difficult. Everything is a battle of morals and the game literally tries to get you to cross "the line" constantly. The ending is also filled with choices that actually have a dramatic difference on how the story plays out and all of them are really well done.
As far as gameplay goes it's mostly your standard cover based shooter. Nothing really new or fancy, although I liked using sand to kill enemies. I don't think they utilized that mechanic enough or the sandstorm mechanic. But, because I never really play military shooters, I found the gameplay to be quite fun. The graphics and lighting were really gorgeous and they added in plenty of variety to the indoor environments to make the level design constantly feel varied. I wish they could have made the game a bit longer and that they could have found a way to make the gameplay standout more, but in the end I came away from the game really happy with what the game accomplishes is. I certainly wasn't expecting it to be this good.
6. Diablo III
Diablo III feels great to play. The core combat is awesome, the monsters are fun to fight, and I love the art design. My first playthrough of the game was one the most fun gaming experiences I had this year. The I got to Inferno where the difficulty was ridiculous, which is fine, except in 30 hours of grinding I never got a single piece of loot my character could use. I had to grind gold and buy thing off the auction house to move on through the game which felt stupid and took away all the fun. I think the real money auction house is a terrible thing as well and I am still completely shocked that people have bought item on there for hundreds of dollars. It really upset me when Inferno was as bad as it was. Also, the fact that PvP is STILL not patche dinto the game is completely inexcusable and totally ridiculous. Blizzard really fucked this game up a number of ways.
But all my whining aside, Diablo III is still a great game to have fun with your friends. It was the one game this year that all my friends bought and we all played together all the time. So insteaf of being miserable in inferno by myself I was at least dying with my friends and we could complain together. In all seriousness, I really love the co-op and now that they have patched the game I want to play again. Monster power is a cool idea they should have had in the first place. I also think it's great Blizzard tried to get away from skill trees and design a new skill selection system. It is a really cool idea, that could have been better if the game's balance had made all the skills viable (like Blizzard said they would be). Although I have bitched and complained about the game plenty of times, it is still one of the best co-op experiences of the year and the game I spent the most time playing this year. Add that to the fact that I still think about playing it, then I think it deserves more credit than I have been willing to give it.
I love Dishonored. Yes, like a bunch of games this year it totally disappoints in more ways than one, but I still love it. Sure, Hitman lets you change disguises and have cool accident kills and Mark of the Ninja is mechanically far superior, but I love the freedom Dishonored offers. The giant open level design was so much fun to explore and it really allowed me to truly handle situations in any way I wanted to. The first 6 missions of the game were well designed and I love how there is constantly so many options for the player to complete the task at hand. Also, I think blink is one of the most fun powers in any game ever because it allows any part of a level in Dishonored to be used for hiding, exploration, or assassination spots. Sure, you are pretty overpowered, but the powers really allow you to be creative and the options are endless.
I also really appreciated Dishonored placed its upgrades within the environment rather than handing out experience for completing objectives or killing guys. It gave me more reasons to explore and let me find things I otherwise wouldn't have went looking for. I also love the art design, the look of Dunwall is amazing and I really like how there are notes scattered about that give you insight into the world if you want to learn more. Everything about the gameplay is so well put together, that it is truly a shame that the story is pretty lame. Also, The Outsider was probably the most annoying character this year. My only other complaint is that the final three missions were too small. I wished they made them larger or had added more missions to the game. I'm excited for the next DLC because I want to see what other crazy assassinations I can do. If this game didn't fall off in the end, it would have been even higher on my list.
4. The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead is a brutal game, and I loved it. Tell Tale really showed no mercy through each episode, letting the must heart-breaking and at times disturbing things happen to characters I had grown to like. Out of everything though, the relationship between Lee and Clementine was one of the most real relationships I've ever seen in a game. All of the characters fit together really well and even when some of them upset me, I understood why they did what they did. The game does an amazing job of putting the pressure on you doing the intense arguments. The voice acting was so spot on and well rounded, and the character design was also top notch.
It's really unfortunate that the gameplay was so boring. It was good at pacing the game, but never have a I wanted to rush through a game to see what was going to happen next more than in The Walking Dead. Also, I got the save file bug, which, luckily I found a fix for, but I think it is pretty bad that Tell Tale never put out a patch for it. Overall, though I applaud Tell Tale for ignorning the happy "you win" generic formula of most games. Just like with Spec Ops: The Line, The Walking Dead really drives home the point that players shouldn't always be able to win just by playing as "the good guy" or picking the correct color choice. Life is much more gray than that, and sometimes no matter what you do things still turn out badly. The Walking Dead shows this perfectly and I can't wait for Season 2.
3. Far Cry 3
I'm going to get this out of the way first and say the story is bad. It has great potential, tons of moments to save itself, and it just gets worse. Vaas is the most underused character of all time and it is a shame he didn't have a larger role in the game. Now, with that done I can say far Cry 3 is awesome. It's a mash of Assassin's Creed and Red Dead Redemption and it works great. Climbing towers to unlock the map, hunting lions and sharks, taking over outposts, jumping off cliffs and flying with a wing suit are all just so much fun. The shooting is solid and the way you can handle every situation, sniping, grenade launchers, lighting building son fire, or complete stealth, is totally up to you and each way is fun.
Even more importantly is the amazing open world madness that occurs within the game. Lions chasing a pack of humans, isalnders crashing their vehicle sinto each other, and best of all, a man standing by the river only to get eaten by a crocodile. Not to mention, the game looks amazing on PC, and it runs so well. The design of the island is also great, as they made searching for relics more fun than it should have been because of good exploration design. I also have this fear of water in games, and swimming to the bottom of the ocean to collect chests and relics in shark infested waters was this really fun/scary thrill ride. The game just has so much to do and when you get tired of it, you can just go around and make your own fun. It's a shame the game's story is so bad, because the rest of the game is phenomenal.
Journey is a beautiful game. There is nothing more memorable in a game for me than sliding down the sand dunes. The art was amazing, and somehow the world felt like a place filled with adventure and stories, even though you only spend a few short hours there. And to be totally honest, I do not care that Journey isn't a "game" because floating through the air and sliding around is just so much fun. Some of the moments actually made me smile while I was playing and the game had a ton of really good surprises. And even though there isn't a single word said throughout the entire game, I felt like I was telling my own story of my Journey through the world.
Also, the co-op is brilliant I have never been more concerned about someone else in a game with me, especially someone I didn't know. Losing track of my partner was heart breaking and the playthrough where I made it all the way with one person made me so happy. There has never been a feeling in a game quite like when I thought I lost the person who was with me, only to hear a chirping noise in the distance and then see them sliding down a hill toward me. There is just something special about the experience of Journey that made me want to play it three times and makes me still want to play it even more. Everything from the look, to the controls, to the soundtrack fit together so perfectly. If you haven't played Journey yet I highly recommend it. It really is something to experience.
1. XCOM: Enemy Unknown
I love strategy games. They always suck me in and get me addicted, whether it be Civilization, Disgaea, or Starcraft, and XCOM's turn based strategy combined with its base building meta game is some of the best I have played. Firaxis was able to create a game with solid turn based mechanics, good strategy, and still include that addicting "one more turn" civilization style. I literally could not sit down to play XCOM unless I knew I had at least 5 hours free. The game just constantly kept me entertained and focused.
I got so into my campaign that I even named all my soldiers which made it so each one of them created their own personal stories. Avenging my fallen soldiers was always fun, and I often check the memorial wall to go back and remember all the ones that died (there were a lot). When you add in all the different abilities, levels, and upgrades you can equip your soldiers with, everything felt like a huge investment. There is tons of risk reward and every decision you make in XCOM is a difficult one. When your decisions pay off you feel like a genius and when they don't you have to face the consequences. Every mission is stressful because a soldier can die at any moment, and every victory screen is more satisfying than the last.
To top it off, I experienced no bugs during my playthrough which was pretty awesome considering the stories I have heard. The game was just tons of fun and really really well made strategy. I'm already getting prepared to start an Ironman Classic playthrough just to see how long I can survive. I hope they release some huge DLC for the game as well because I need any excuse to continue playing this game. Even if you aren't a fan of turn based strategy you should give XCOM a try because there is nothing out there like it today. It was the best game I played this year.
Here are the winners of my 2012 Game of the Year Awards
"The Moosey Retro" Award for best Non-2012 Game
Winner: To The Moon
I am a sucker for really heartfelt, emotional story lines and To The Moon fits that perfectly. Although it isn't an actual game, the writing and characters of To The Moon make it well worth experiencing. The plot isn't even that original but I felt so invested in what was happening that even when I saw some of the twists coming, I couldn't help but feel shocked and most of the time, totally heart broken. A lot of games are really poor at talking about love, or making love have real meaning, but To The Moon really gives you, in my opinion, one of the best love stories you can find. It is the only game that has ever made tears come out of my eyes and I am not embarrassed to admit it. To top it off, the game's soundtrack is beautiful, and the comedic moments fit in perfectly with my childhood (animorphs and power rangers references). To The Moon is another example of how good video game stories can be and how I hope for a future where stories like To The Moon can be combined with some great gameplay. If I had played this game last year it definitely would have made my top 10 of 2011.
Runner Up: Amnesia: The Dark Descent
"Time Should Freeze While Gaming" Award for Game I Didn't Get To Play in 2012
Winner: FTL: Faster Than Light
After watching a few videos of FTL it is really hard to understand why everyone loves it so much, but since so many people, including the GB crew, have talked about how great it is, I can't help but want to play it. The more I looked into the game the more excited I became about it and it definitely sounds like it will be a gaming experience I have not had before. I just recently purchased it for $5 during the Steam sale, so I will begin playing it very soon.
Runner Up: Dust: An Elysian Tale
"Parents Think It's Real" Award for Best Looking Game
While other games this year were better technically, Journey was by far the best game to look at. The side view sliding part was probably the best looking thing I have ever seen in a game. The game also has a good change in environments and each time it adds something new and breathtaking to look at. In all honesty, half my love of this game comes from just how amazing it looks so much so that I kept replaying parts just to SEE it again. You may not enjoy playing Journey, but I don't think there is any argument that it isn't an amazing looking game.
Runner Up: Far Cry 3
"Details, Details!" Award for Best Art Design
There is something about the way the city of Dunwall , its characters, and the weapons are designed that just makes me think the world is really unique and interesting. The steampunk-ish vibe works really well and I love how they fit together this kind of crazy new technology within an 1800's style world. Of all the games this year, Dishonored's art really gave the most life to its world and made the city of a place I want to revisit in the future.
Runner Up: Journey
"Prime Real Estate" Award for Best Setting
Winner: American Revolution (Assassin's Creed III)
I have always loved the historical settings of the Assassin's Creed series and the American Revolution is quite awesome. They didn't use it as well as they did with in Assassin's Creed 2, but the frontier was a beautiful place to explore, while the cities of and are both represented fairly well. After spending so much time learning about this period of history in school, it was fun to see a virtual re-creation of it. They did a good job of reminding me of the old museums around where I live which gave me fond memories of my childhood. Lots of games have used sci-fi universes and tropical islands, so the American revolution really stands out.
Runner Up: Rook Island (Far Cry 3)
"Actual Acting" Award for Best Voice Acting Performance
Winner: Michael Mando as Vaas
Michael Mando's performance as Vaas was truly one of the most memorable moments in games this year. A lot of video game characters have generic, flat personalities, and their actors often give a generic performance. Michael mando sounds like he is putting his heart and soul into acting like Vaas every time Vaas speaks in the game and it really brings the character to life. He jumps around from calm quiet talking, to loud yelling and spastic behavior. I believed that he was insane not because the codex in the game said he was or because he was the bad guy, but because Michael Mando made me believe it with an amazing performance.
Runner Up: Nolan North as Captain Martin Walker
"Take A Bow" Award for Best Overall Voice Acting
Winner: The Walking Dead
Of all the games this year, The Walking Dead had by far the most diverse and well acted cast. Every character sounded believable and no one gave a boring performance. While the moment to moment conversations were solid, it was the amazing acting during the moments of intense arguments that really shows the great voice work in The Walking Dead. The acting really brought out the stress, anger, and desperation in the characters and made it even harder for me to make split second decisions. From what I've seen of the TV show, the acting in the game is much better because it is less dramatic and more real.
Runner Up: Mass Effect 3
"The Theme" Award for Best Song
Winner: Nascence (Journey)
Every time I listen to this song it just brings back all my wonderful memories of playing Journey. Although it's a short song it captures the spirit of the entire game and gives you the feeling of a very emotional adventure. In a lot of ways it reminds me of Lord of the Rings music, which I love, but I mostly chose this song because it fits perfectly with the amazing game of Journey (and it's really relaxing to listen to). Here is the song
Runner Up: Hydrogen (Hotline Miami)
"It's Gonna Be Epic!" Award for Best Soundtrack
Winner: Hotline Miami
The music of Hotline Miami fits the game perfectly, fast, crazy, and out of control. I'm not a big fan of electronica-type music (not exactly sure how to classify it) but every track in Hotline Miami practically gets me moving in my chair as I run around bashing fools head's in with a steel pipe. Unfortunately I keep getting the Error where the music in the game will not play and playing Hotline Miami without the music is just wrong. Believe me, I tried it. I just can't be as crazy and reckless without Hydrogen blaring. Here is the entire soundtrack as well
Runner Up: Journey
"Uh Uh Uh Uh" Award for Best Melee Combat
Winner: Sleeping Dogs
Sleeping Dogs is the best Arkham Asylum impersonation so far and although it isn't as fluid or fast as it is in the Arkham games, Sleeping dogs found a way to take that basic formula and make it it's own. The game reacts well to your button presses, it has good timings, and the animations are brutal in the best way possible. The counters look like real martial arts moves, and they are some of the most fun counters in any melee game ever. The real stand out however, is the use of the environment. Nothing is more fun than throwing a guy in a dumpster, or tossing him over a railing, or smashing his face into a fan...
Runner Up: Assassin's Creed III
"Pew Pew Pew Pew" Award for Best Shooting
Winner: Far Cry 3
Far Cry 3 has some of the most diverse shooting in any game I have ever played. From snipers, flamethrowers, grenade launchers, flare guns, to a bow, you can carry around an assortment of weapons that are not often grouped together in games like Far Cry 3. It's really not about the types of weapons themselves though, but more about how you are able to use them. Do you want to put a silencer on your sniper and kill from a distance, get in close with the bow, take down hordes of enemies with a machine gun, or light an entire camp on fire and watch the madness unfold? Far Cry 3 lets the player be creative with their guns which is what made the game so damn fun.
Runner Up: Spec Ops: The Line
"It's 2012 You Can't Join My Game!?" Award for Best Co-op Multiplayer
Journey's multiplayer was incredible because it allowed me to interact with people on the internet in a overwhelmingly positive way. By taking away mics and regular gameplay actions, Journey encouraged players to help each other find secrets, use each other to survive harsh conditions, and even wait for each other, hoping that their partner was not lost. During my first playthrough I lost the person I was playing with and my heart was completely broken. I sat at the end of the game and waited for what must have been ten minutes before finally giving up and sadly finishing the game alone. There was nothing this year quite like the chirping sound of another in game player to let you know "Hey don't worry friend, I'm over here!" It really is something special.
Runner Up: Diablo III
"Going Pro" Award for Best Competitive Multiplayer
Winner: Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
I didn't even buy Global Offensive yet because I got so obsessed with it during the Beta I played for way longer than I should have and burnt myself out. I didn't play too much new competitive games this year and from what I have played, CS:GO continues to prove to be the hardest and most competitive shooter out there. Getting a 15 kill streak in Call of Duty is great, but nothing feels better than hitting just one perfect head shot in CS. CS:Go maintains the greatness of CS while giving it a nice and much needed update. If I can ever learn to control my "just one more round" syndrome I will be back to playing this again and loving it.
Runner Up: Natural Selection 2
"Creativity" Award for Most Creative
Winner: Dear Esther
Dear Esther was a really interesting experience because it felt more like a visual novel than any other game I have played before. It's so creative though because the developers did a wonderful job of combining the writing and visuals and in most cases, relying on the visuals (which were stunning) to move the player forward. Also, the story and the writing of Dear Esther is totally unlike anything I have experienced in a game before. It's thoughtful, dense, and is the farthest thing from straight forward that you can get. But the fact that it got me to enjoy such an open ended and mysterious experience without any gameplay mechanics besides "walking" really says something about what video games can do in the future and thaat there is more to games than violence.
Runner Up: Journey
"They Wrote on the Walls in Blood!" Award for Best Use of Gore
Winner: The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead has some of the most shocking "gore" moments in any game I have ever played. When it requires the player to partake, or even be the cause of some of these moments, it really stunned me in a lot of ways. The game becomes extremely brutal a lot of the time, which just added to the tension. Jump scares have their place in movies and games, but The Walking Dead excels at scaring you with the horrible things you have to see happen because they are out of your control. Even when you are in control, you are hardly ever going to get a nice outcome, and with crazy humans and hordes of zombies around, you know plenty of blood will be shed.
Runner Up: Spec Ops The Line
"Vents Are Your Best Friend" Award for Best Stealth
Although Mark of the Ninja is far superior mechanically, it's the total freedom of the player that makes me love stealthing around in Dishonored. Blink is one of the most fun abilities I have ever used in a game and it solves so many problems I had with stealthing in game like Hitman and Deus Ex. Sure, the first-person view is not the best to see your environment, but Dishonored gives you plenty of tools to sneak around and be an expert assassin. I really enjoyed the ability to instantly teleport into windows or on roof tops to avoid guards. The game allows you to go almost anywhere you can see and how you choose to stealth around is totally up to you.
Runner Up: Mark of the Ninja
"Broken Controller" Award for Hardest Game
Winner: XCOM: Enemy Unknown
XCOM is hard because soldiers can die in one shot, you can miss shots that have high percentages, totally ruining your whole plan of attack, or you can be careless for one turn and get caught in the fire of a sectopod. But what really makes XCOM difficult and fun is the tough choices you constantly have to make. Should I overwatch or should I go for the run and gun? Should I buy more air jets or buy new rifles? Do I want to save Nigeria or Japan? Should I test my best soldier for psi powers and lose them for ten days? The game is constantly filled with ridiculously hard choices and even when it seems like the game is being unfair, its probably your own fault because of some poor choice you made before.
Runner Up: Hotline Miami
"Purposely Blind Yourself" Award for Best Sunlight
The sunlight in Journey is the best I have seen in any game before. Although it isn't present throughout the entire game, the moments it is there are absolutely stunning. Seriously, this game is worth playing just to experience the picture on the left.
Runner Up: Far Cry 3
"Cryo Sleep Does Not Work on Robots (Uhehehehehe)" Award for Funniest Game
Winner: Hitman Absolution
I didn't actually play any real comedic games this year, but Hitman Absolution got me to laugh more than once. Some of the costumes you can wear in certain scenarios are really entertaining, but where the game really got me to laugh was when listening to some of the npc conversations. The "bro" talk in the game, whether intentional or not (I hope it's intentional) was down right hilarious and Hitman does one of the best jobs of any game of throwing in well timed comedic relief.
Runner Up: Gotham City Imposters
"Cool Guys Don't Look At Explosions" Award for Best Action
Winner: Far Cry 3
One minute you are shooting a bear with a shotgun, then you are overtaking an outpost by shooting a tiger out of its cage so it starts to maul everyone while you shoot explosive barrels, then you are lighting the jungle on fire with a flame thrower, escaping the flames by jumping off the mountain and flying away with a wing suit, grabbing a jet ski and jumping off a water fall, tossing C4 and blowing up a shark, and then sniping guys in the head from a mile away. And none of this is necessary to beating the game, you do it because it's fun.
Runner Up: Spec Ops: The Line
"The Final Stage" Award for Best Boss Fights
Winner: Asura's Wrath
By far the best part of the game, the boss fights in Asura's Wrath even got me to love it's insanity. I will never forget rapidly smashing buttons while Asura, as the size of a man, punches a finger of a God that is bigger than the entire planet, preventing it from crushing him. It is completely stupid, fun, ridiculous, and awesome all at the same time.
Runner Up: Torchlight 2
"Hit 'M' Once Every 30 Seconds" Award for Best Open World
Winner: Far Cry 3
Rook Island is a blast to explore. There are tons of cool places to see, the environment is beautiful to look at, and you never know what kind of craziness you are going to witness during your explorations. Like two island inhabitants crashing into each other at full speed and blowing their cars up, or a leopard chasing a pig and a human, or a man standing next to an open grave with shovels and blood all around, crying. It's a great sandbox world, and I really appreciate its size. It wasn't so big that the game took 100 hours to complete and felt overwhelming and it wasn't too small that I had seen everything too soon. And there's sharks.
Runner Up: Assassin's Creed III
"The Addiction" Award for Best Gameplay
Winner: XCOM: Enemy Unknown
I love strategy games and XCOM is some of the most strategic turn based play I have ever played. The games constant demand of the player to make tough choices, while managing a base, research, your soldiers and praying to god that your sniper one shots that damn muton before it throws a grenade is so much fun. The hilarious nicknames and the memorial of your fallen soldiers are just little touches to the game that make the core mechanics so great. Like when "Snake Eyes" blasts a Sectopod with a head shot crit and then what's that? Double tap? Another critical shot? Hell yeah "Snake Eyes"! Nothing was more satisfying than blasting aliens in the face.
Runner Up: Dishonored
"Steal the Spotlight" Award for Best Supporting Character
I don't care if some people see her just as a plot device to keep the players morals in check, Clementine is probably one of the best kid characters in video games ever. She is not annoying, and I never felt like getting rid of her. I wanted to protect her and make sure she was safe. The horrors this girl has to go through by the time episode 5 was complete I could not believe. She is a really likable character, who has some great lines that made me laugh, and some other great lines that made me sad. She was one of the main reasons why I found The Walking Dead to be such a good game.
Runner Up: Yasha
"Heroes of Our Time" Award for Best Main Character
Lee is a great character because even though the player is in control of most of his actions he still keeps his own personality. He is also a character who is able to do the hard thing when he has to, and is willing to help others instead of hiding. His relationship with Clementine is one of the best in any video game I've seen. You never get the feeling that Lee is a bad guy, just a man forced into bad situations. And just like Clementine I never had any reason to be annoyed by him. Even though I was controlling Lee, I felt like I was making the decisions to help Lee rather than to help myself as the player. The fact that his personality stood out more than my own goals within the game shows what a great character he is.
Runner Up: Captain Martin Walker
"The Power of the Dark Side" Award for Best Villain
Easily the most underused character of all time (in my opinion). Vaas facial expressions, his actions, his lines, the acting of Michael Mando, are all so amazing it is a terrible shame that he appears only in roughly 5-6 scenes in the whole game. I would be totally fine if they announced Far Cry 4 starring Vaas, because I loved his character. As a villain hes pretty damn ruthless and his insanity is believable.
Runner Up: Haytham Kenway
"Bring Your Whole Crew" Award for Best Cast of Characters
Winner: The Walking Dead
With so many new, original, and well developed characters The Walking Dead was an easy choice. The attachment you get to each character is something special and it is amazing how Tell Tale was able to take a 12 hour game and flesh out so many characters. Each one of them brought something new to the story and it was always exciting to meet a new character and see how they would fit in with everyone else.
Runner Up: Asura's Wrath
"It's 2012 WTF!" Award for Biggest Disappointment/Annoyance
Winner: Inferno (Diablo III)
Of all the disappointments this year (there were some big ones) Inferno in Diablo III was the biggest let down for me. I loved my first playthrough of Diablo III. The game feels good to play and the loot was exciting and fun. Then I got to infenro and was ready to grind and have a blast, but then got stuck on Act 2's insane difficulty. And after playing in Infenro for roughly 30 hours I hadn't even got one piece of loot I used on my character, I had to buy everything on the auction house. Then the real money auction house went live and the drop rates stayed terrible. My friends quit playing and sadly I did too. I have played a bit since they fixed it and I think the changes they have made are really good, but damn did they fuck this game up when it came out.
Runner Up: Mass Effect 3's Lack of Meaningful Choices
"The People's Champ" Award for Best Developer
Winner: Runic games
Torhclight II has as much content as Diablo III (and a better end game) and less bugs than most of the big budget releases this year, and yet Runic kept it at a $20 price. That is pretty awesome in my opinion. Torchlight II is a great game with solid design, tons of replay value, offline play, server browsers, no micro transactions, no real money auction house, no crazy save file losses, and is at such an amazingly low price. Props to Runic for sticking to their core and being loyal to their fan base, and for making a really fun game in Torchlight II.
Runner Up: thatgamecompany
"Tears of Joy" Award for Best Story
Winner: Spec Ops: The Line
While the Walking Dead has the best characters and character interaction, the actual plot of Spec Ops: The Line was the most surprising and entertaining for me this year. Nothing that I thought was going to happen, happened and the choices you can make during the ending actual are meaningful and have dramatic changes. At times it did seem like the developers were trying to be a bit too "dark" but everything caught me off guard and I liked the idea that sometimes the player can't always be the hero and make everything come out like a perfect action movie. War is a serious thing, and while Spec Ops is not even close to the best representation of it, I was happy to see it take the horrors of war more seriously.
Runner Up: The Walking Dead
"Standing Ovation" Award for Best Ending
Winner: The Walking Dead
Although I saw the ending coming from a mile away, never did I think it would be as horribly brutal as it was. Tell Tale really deserves serious respect for avoiding the generic happy perfect ending formula. The relationship between Clementine and Lee made for great story telling and the ending summed up everything that was great about the game.
Runner Up: Spec Ops: The Line
"It Came Outta Nowhere" Award for Best Surprise
Winner: Spec Ops: The Line
I never ever expected to play this game or expected it to be any good. Then I started hearing what Jeff was saying about the story and that other people on the internet were really liking it. I saw an Amazon summer sale drop the price to $25 and I am glad I bought it. The story was great, and since I am someone who doesn't ever play military shooters besides an occasional Call of Duty campaign, I thought the gameplay was pretty good. It moved fast and I liked the sandstorm ideas they had. Overall, truly the biggest surprise of the year for me.
Runner Up: The Walking Dead
That's all the awards, thanks for reading! I'll (hopefully) post my top 10 tomorrow.
When deciding to purchase a game, I often find myself thinking about the length of the game and the actual "play time" and if it meets the price of the game. Is a 6 hour campaign worth $60? Is a 2 hour game worth $15? How much of my time will be spent playing compared to watching cut scenes? Sometimes I really feel like I over think all these things when instead I should just be focusing on whether I will enjoy the entire experience of the game itself. Lately I have been playing a lot of games where the gameplay itself is lacking or close to none existent, but the characters, atmosphere, and story are all amazing. I know a lot of people can be opposed to games such as Journey because "its not really a game so its not worth $15" but I have been finding myself having some of my best gaming experiences in recent memory with games that have the gameplay take a backseat. Rather than being games they are more like interactive stories.
First is Alan Wake, a game filled with great characters, writing, and atmosphere. Walking through the environments and seeing the attention to detail really gives you a good feeling of the world of Bright Falls and the characters that inhabit it. The times walking through the trails or visiting areas of the town was extremely enjoyable. Piecing together the story of Alan through his own manuscript was a very engaging and memorable experience. Finding Night Springs TV show episodes throughout the various areas was entertaining but also added to the thrill of the game and this idea of alternate realities where evil happens. The story, though at times confusing, was creative and written in such a way that I at times felt like this game would have made for an excellent novel. The gameplay of Alan Wake was just a way to break up the parts of exploration, and were really just secondary to the rest of the game. I actually wished there was less shooting in Alan Wake and more exploration.
To The Moon I believe is the finest example of recent "interactive storytelling" in games (and is what inspired me to write this blog post). There really isn't any gameplay in To The Moon and I still loved every second of it. The story was written so well, the dialogue brought you from laughter to sadness withing minutes and the old time RPG look and feel surprisingly allowed the game to tell its story in a very unique way. While the plot could be seen as cheesy (and maybe not that original) it was so much fun to sit down and just have an emotional story where I could just interact with the environment and not have to worry about dying, solving really hard puzzles, or beating high scores. While I may have had more fun playing other games, most of them are pretty forgettable compared to To The Moon.
Other games I have recently played where the story trumps the gameplay are Spec Ops: The Line and Journey. I already ranted about how amazing Journey is here and although Spec Ops: The Line isn't really in an "interactive story" category I personally felt like that games characters, dialogue, environments all were what made that game a great experience for me, so much so that I didn't even mind the generic shooter formula. Other games in the past such as Indigo prophecy and Hevay Rain also fit the "less gameplay more story" format. All of these games I thoroughly enjoyed and they each stand out in my mind.
My question is, does anyone think that in the future we will see even more games like Journey and To The Moon, or games Like Alan Wake and Spec Ops where the core of the experience isn't in the actual "game" part? Would it be cool to have an "interactive story" genre for games in the future, where you spend most of the game just walking around, talking to characters or just interacting with the world?
Also, I'm looking for more games like this to play. I have Limbo and Lone Survivor and I should definitely play Dear Esther as well. Any other recommendations?
With the new patch now being out for a few days I feel like I really need to address my issues with what Blizzard has done with Diablo III. I still will always love my first play through of the game and I feel like the combat is very fun and satisfying, but overall I think Diablo III has been my biggest gaming disappointment in a very long time.
Forget all the issues with the launch and the server problems, I understand launching a game of this size is very difficult and things never go as planned. My problem with the game is that Blizzard seems to have lost sight of what making a game like Diablo is all about and instead has been focused on creating a game that revolves around the buying and selling of items. Yes, Diablo is all about trading gold and items to get the best weapons and armor you can get for your character, but Blizzard seems to be pushing it so that is the ONLY way to get those items.
Drop rates for items are extremely low and the difficulty of the game is still pretty high. Now that they have increased the gold repair to a ridiculously high amount, it feels even scarier to try and progress in inferno because dying means a huge chunk of gold lost which eventually leads to you only grinding gold on lower level characters just to meet your repair costs. Since the likelihood of you actually getting a drop that is something your character needs and is actually quite good, the risk reward of dying while fighting elites for the drops is always risky and barely ever rewarding. Blizzards solution to all these problems is for you to go to the auction house and use real money to buy items and/or gold to progress. This seems extremely unfair, particularly because this game is first and foremost a single player game. I feel like in a single player game, a player should be able to progress by themselves without such extreme difficulties and then have the solution of "hey you are having trouble?" toss down $50 and you can have some awesome gear right away without any work!" being the answer to it. It makes it feel like I am playing a "pay-to-win" or free-to-play business model game that I also paid $60 for already.
Now maybe a lot of people will read this and think I'm just whining and want the game to be easy, which is not true. I enjoy a good challenge, but I also want to do other things in my life as well as play other games while still being able to enjoy Diablo. I do not find it fun that all Diablo is is a grind for gold, on top of running into highly difficult elite mobs where the only way to win is by kiting them around for 10 minutes, or resetting your game because the elites ability combination is too difficult. Everything about this game just makes me feel like Blizzard is trying to get their 15% for every item sold, and they want to make the game as difficult and grindy as possible to force people like me who don't have all the time in the world to farm to buy items.
Another problem I have is with all the "nerfing" of the stats, abilities and gear. Yes, it is important to make sure everything works properly and nothing is game breaking, but this game is not an esports game. The pvp isn't even out yet. Why can't some stats be a bit overpowered? The game is just about having fun and evaporating hordes of monsters, I'm not competing for some MLG Diablo best player tournament or something. Just let the game be the game, once again, its a single player game! This also leads me to question why it took them 5 (4?) weeks to patch in a buff icon for magic weapon. That should be a standard thing in the game when it launched!
Personally I would love it if the difficulty was lowered even more and I could beat inferno as long as I have reasonably good gear. To me this would make the game more fun because all the abilities and different combinations would actually be viable (which is what Blizzard promised) and I would get to go around beating the shit out of everything and have fun watching my gear and gold pile up, while swapping in all my abilities for fun. This would actually make me play the game more, but maybe (probably) I am the minority in that view point. I was just expecting more to this game than there is, and after playing Torchlight again, I realize nearly all the concepts and game mechanics in Diablo III are very unoriginal in the first place. Now instead of spending my summer having a blast with Diablo, I just find myself waiting for Torchlight II to come out. It will be nice to be able to play offline, have mod support, and not have a real money auction house dictating the "balance" of the entire game.
Honestly, I am just ranting because I am disappointed in what Diablo III is. The real money auction house is hurting the game in my opinion because it is basically adapting a free-to-play game model onto a $60 game. After my love of World of Warcraft and Starcraft 2, maybe I just let my expectations of what this game was going to be get too high.
So I finished Mass Effect 3 two days ago and while I was hoping I would be one of the few who would like the ending, sadly I hated it and sat staring at my screen for 5 minutes after the game was over just baffled at how many holes there are in the plot. Overall I still enjoyed the game and the series, but this was not Bioware's crowning achievement by any means ( ME 2 and kotor are much better games). Besides the ending, the side missions just felt rushed and poorly done. N7 missions are literally single player multiplayer missions (the same maps bioware really!?) and the "Citadel missions" are just stupid in my opinion and seem to only to be there to add to the games "there is this many hours of content" stat. The writing also seemed really corny and poorly executed in some spots, unlike in ME 2. Overall, this game just felt like it was rushed out the door 6 months before it was ready. After finishing it I just get the feeling that Bioware didn't have enough time to make this game as good as it could have been.
This got me to thinking of 2 other games I have been playing this year, The Old Republic, and Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. While playing both of these games I got the same feeling as when I played Mass Effect 3. All I could think was "this is pretty good, but it could have been waaaay better". Reckoning has a ton of awesome ideas, cool art design, and a really neat world to explore. Unfortunately it gets hurt by the overload of mmo side quests that, similarly to Mass Effect 3's citadel missions, only seem to serve as a this game is THIS long stat. The graphics are pretty poor as well, which is a shame because I do enjoy the world and the art design a lot. The worst thing of all though is the combat which is really fun and has a lot of cool ideas, but it seems to fall short of its potential. I feel like this game could have added a much deeper combo system, but for whatever reason the developer stopped at an easy set of commands that usually result in parrying and button smashing. I feel if they had taken more time to work on the game the combat could be vastly improved and they could have added more meaningful side quests.
The Old Republic is also a very solid game with a lot of good ideas such as the story, voice acting, and crafting. But it falls short in a lot of areas, resulting in it becoming just another lesser WoW. The game is way to easy, all end game consists of is sitting on the main fleet, the raids take no skill, and the pvp is pretty bad. Also, the fact that they didn't launch with the legacy system was a mistake in my opinion, seeing as so many players reached max level in about 1-2 weeks.
All three of these games had such amazing potential, but they all feel like they were rushed out before they could become amazing games, resulting in a lot of poorly made content that seems tacked on. I can't help but get the feeling that this is really all EA's doing. They really seem to be getting even worse than before with pushing games out before they may be completely finished and it is making potentialy amazing games fall short. It really is a shame that the industry is becoming such a develop cycle based rushed. Thats way I appreciate Valve and Blizzard more than ever now. They don't put a game out unless they are confident that it is the best that it can be. I wish EA would loosen up a bit and let the developers have more time to create a more solid experience. Its a shame playing a game and knowing that it will never be as good as it could have been.
So last night I played Journey from start to finish. It is probably the first game I have ever played from beginning to end in one sitting, and yes the game is only 2 hours long, but being able to sit down and have one short, well thought out and beautiful experience with a game is something I have never done before. And I loved every second of it. Journey really felt like, well, a journey, which is something I was skeptical about prior to playing the game. How can such a short game consist of something you would call a Journey? The game pulls it off and does it perfectly. There is so much more to this game then just "beating it" and I think that's what makes it stand out to me the most. Sliding down sand dunes through ancient ruins while the sun glows brightly, causing reflections and shadows to cover the landscape is an experience worth buying this game alone. But, not only does the game look amazing, it is able to tell a story without a single word and somehow (I just can't quite figure it out) gave me such a plethora of emotions throughout my adventure. The feeling of staying close to your nameless companion, helping each other find secrets and explore, all without any real form of communication was so indescribably satisfying. It was also so heartbreaking when I got to the very end, only to lose my companion in the wondrous and overwhelming environment. The final moments of the game filled me with such awe and joy, but it was also saddening to not be able to share it with someone who I had traveled and explored the world with. There are so many other little moments in this game that just made me smile as I was playing it, such as freeing the cloth creatures, and climbing a sand hill. Even things such as the controls felt wonderful, even though you are doing very little 'gameplay' throughout your adventure. The weight of your character moving through the sand, the feeling of gliding through the air and gracefully falling to the surface was just so immensely satisfying.
The emotional feelings this game got out of me, along with its beauty made me feel like I got a better experience from this small 2 hour adventure then I get from most 60 hour games. It was so nice to sit down and enjoy a straight forward experience where the objective wasn't to win or lose or to score the most points, but to just experience it. This got me thinking about the state of indie games and smaller download only titles. With games such as Bastion (I still need to play Limbo) I am feeling like smaller developers are able to craft a more original, thought provoking, and memorable experience than many big budget games. A lot of these 60 plus hour adventure are amazing as well, but I get the feeling when I play a game such as Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning that everything is disjointed, and a lot of the content is generic and overused. Even with Mass Effect 3 I feel like a lot of the side missions just take away from the true experience and just allow the developers to say 'this game is THIS long and has X amount of content." Don't get me wrong, I'm not hating on these games, I actually like them both very much. Its just that after playing Journey I feel like a more straight forward, focused experience is so refreshing in the world of video games today. I also really appreciate games such as Bastion and Journey's ability to tell a story in unconventional ways. Having someone narrate your adventure, or having the story being the experience itself offers such a new and emotionally rewarding experience that you can not find anywhere else. Its so nice to be able to play something and love it without having to shoot waves of enemies.
I really think everyone should give Journey a try. It's actually disappointing that this game is PS3 only, because I feel everyone should get the chance to at least see this game for themselves, whether they enjoy it or not. The adventure it offers is like nothing else I have ever played in a game and I hope we continue to see these types of games come out of the downloadable only portion of the game industry. Maybe one day we will even see what a game like Journey could be like if it were an 8 hour adventure instead. No matter what, I think everyone should give Journey a chance. Even if you don't like it, I think you can at least appreciate its creativeness and its amazing visuals.