SWERY is a game director best known for his work on games like Deadly Premonition, D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die, and 2018's The Missing: J.J. MacField and the Island of Memories. He's @Swery65 on Twitter.
*Warning* This article was written between November 17-19 2018.
The time has come once again for me to choose 10 games. I always try to play 100 games a year precisely because of this. Unfortunately this year I was extremely busy and could only play 31 games, some of which I could only play for about an hour.
With that in mind, I can't help but feel it's extremely arrogant of me to only pick 10 games. Still, I decided to make this list nonetheless in the hope that some of you will enjoy it. That said, this year's list isn't going to be a typical top 10 list. It's just going to be a list of 10 games that left a deep impression on me. Please check it out.
The "Ooh, they got me!" Game: Florence
Two years ago I became friends with game designer Ken Wong. His games always have minimalistic dialogue, and gain empathy from players through sense alone. When I first played Florence, I felt it was conceptually similar to what I once tried to do with D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die. But he did it in a more stylish, more low-calorie, and more accessible way. Playing Florence, I was most impressed by Ken's talent, and felt like I needed to work harder.
The Game I Played for the Longest Time with My Friends: Fortnite
The battle royale game you all know about. The game that ends in five minutes if you die. But if you work hard, even someone who's bad at games like me can survive for about 30 minutes (until there's about four people at the end). Numerous times, I started playing only to notice that the day had ended. It felt just like I was a kid again, running around in a park with my friends. I couldn't shake the feeling that, "This is a waste of time! I need to stop!" Yet, despite what I felt, I was never able to completely quit...
The Game I Felt Could Have Been Done Better: Detroit: Become Human
The first time I saw the trailer for this game, I was overwhelmed by the beautiful graphics. 10 seconds after I started it up and the screen began overflowing with all the refined sense that embodied the game, I felt frustrated. Like...I could never make a game like this. But as I played Detroit, I noticed a very uncomfortable gap between the cutting-edge graphics and the old-fashioned game design. It started to feel like I was playing an annoying CG animation game that controls itself. With animation, it's possible to create an experience where everyone can have fun and feel satisfied. But this game uses a classical system where the scenario splits, so they had to create a bunch of unnecessary, un-fun splits in the story.
The Game I Had the Most Fun Playing with My Friends: Monster Hunter: World
Playing this game made me remember something. When Monster Hunter first came out on the PS2, I was a huge fan. But I stopped playing when they switched over to the PSP. I was surprised by how much fun I had playing this one. There are multiple reasons why it worked for me--improved controls, accelerated action speed, and so on--but I think the fact that it was a fully online console game is a huge part of it. The monsters' movements were so detailed and elaborate, it felt like they were really alive. What an evolution.
I also have to highlight that this game sold the more than any other Capcom game in history. Capcom has used IPs they created a long time ago to create hits before, but it's the current generation of Capcom developers that used that old IP to surpass those records. And I think that's extremely awesome.
The Game I Got the Most Addicted To: ARK: Survival Evolved
I haven't really talked about this on social media, but this was the game I got the most addicted to this year. One morning on one of my days off, I started playing this game. The next thing I knew, it was the middle of the night. All I did that day was build a straight bridge across the ocean. That's all I did for the entire day--build a bridge. It really surprised me. This game is amazing.
Also, playing it alone or with friends on our own private server is the perfect difficulty for me.
The Game I Most Want to Spread the Word About: My Child Lebensborn
I first encountered this game in April last year when I was at Reboot Develop in Dubrovnik, Croatia. There are a lot of games out there based on historical facts, especially wars. Lots of shooters are based on those. This game is also centered around war, but the player doesn't shoot people with guns or destroy towns with tanks. Your job is to raise a child who was born and then orphaned during the war. This year it was translated into Japanese and was also present at TGS. This game is special, and I really hope everyone can play it.
The Game I Didn't Really Understand (but Still Liked): Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy
A man whose lower half is stuck in a jar uses an axe to climb higher and higher.
Nothing else need be said.
The Game I Waited too Long For: Red Dead Redemption 2
I really waited a long time. Over two years since it was first announced... Immediately after it went on sale, it received numerous game award nominations. It felt... weird... like people were just assuming it was going to be a masterpiece without even playing it. About three hours after I started playing it, I was gradually drawn into the world. Story aside, I was really moved by how detailed and "lived-in" the world feels. There's a lot I want to write about it, but for now, I'm just going to keep this short and sweet and celebrate that the game finally came out.
The Game that Bored Me the Most: Marvel's Spider-Man
Just so that there are no misunderstandings here, let me say this: I'm a huge Spider-Man fan. I don't just have a bunch of action figures. I own the DVDs, the Blu-rays, and also Ikegami Ryoichi's manga version. I also felt that it was my duty as a fan to just about every Spider-Man game since around the PS2 era. Okay, so, all of that said, what do I have to say about this one? The graphics and technology are outstanding. The bosses were also fun. The camera controls were an interesting idea. I really think they all did a good job. But overall, I think this game is a "boring" one.
The story is dull. And I'm not talking about the overall structure. I'm talking about the details in each cutscene. All of the dialogue is too long, the camera-blocking for each scene did nothing for me, and the CG characters' animations just felt awkward to me. I also didn't find any normal battles or mini-games that stood out in any way. Of course, I think this game is above average when compared among other Spider-Man games. But personally, I can't say that it surpassed the perfected mechanics that I found in Spider-Man 2.
GOTY 2018: God of War
Do you think it's odd that I'd pick a huge game like this for my game of the year? Well, I don't think so. I enjoyed this game not as a creator, but simply as a fan. It let me constantly feel the same sort of passion I felt when I played games as a child. It also succeeded in reviving God of War, an IP that people thought had already gone past its peak.
What really caught my eye was how they did storytelling without camera-blocked scenes, and how seamlessly the gameplay and cutscenes were blended. The dramatic boss battles were amazing. In the earlier games, boss battles were simply difficulty spikes. "How badly can the player die here?" That sort of thing. But this time around, the boss battles pull the player into the drama and successfully provide both a sense of danger and a sense of accomplishment. "You head to the top of a mountain with your son to spread your wife's ashes." What a cool theme for an amazing story. It really made me feel like we've entered a new era for games.
Mimir ended up as one of my favorite characters. I want to create a side character who has that much charm someday.
That concludes my list. With The Good Life's Kickstarter and releasing The Missing: J.J. MacField and the Island of Memories, I really got too busy this year. But this is my personal list. It's extremely biased and may upset some people, but try not to think too deeply about it. Just think of it as the thoughts of one drunk middle-aged man. I'm gonna play a lot of games next year too!! I Love You All!!!