I figured since everyone is talking about what a great year this has been for games, I would talk about the games that I was most excited to try, and that seem to have really landed well for people, but that left me feeling like I was totally missing something, or maybe just broken inside.
Would love to hear if there are any games that everyone else has gone crazy for that leave you baffled. Also, if you want to tell my why I'm so very wrong about not liking any of these games, feel free!
Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice
Boring hidden object puzzles punctuated with sluggish character action combat all while having a chorus of voices telling me I'm going to die or whatever.
I really wish this game did it for me, as I find the concept interesting. Some of the walking through doorways to change the world stuff was cool. Finding exactly the right path to get past the fire before dying five feet in front of the objective was less so. Having to look up how to get past bugged sections definitely didn't improve the experience.
Legend of Zelda - Breath of the Wild
The opening of this game was a breath of fresh air (no pun intended, I swear), with so little of the handholding that has come to define recent entries in the series. A simple goal, a well defined set of tools to get it done, and you're off. The world is huge and open, there are shrines littering the countryside, and great beasts to find and conquer.
Where this fell apart for me though, was that each shrine felt cold and lifeless. They are literally tombs, and they feel that way. Each one plays out roughly the same way with the same sets of enemies and the same powers to be used since you only ever use the ones you get at the start.
The wide open world is filled with... koroks. Well, there's also, moblins against whom you can break all your good weapons and trade them for bad ones. Or giant stone monsters... against whom you can break all your good weapons and trade them for bad ones, or lionels, against whom (etc.). But the great beasts! Well, they are... kind of sad, empty temples, sterile like the shrines, with an incredibly limited array of enemies and bland puzzles, capped off by irritating/repetitive boss fights. And then it's just that, over and over again.
This game felt like playing through the ghost of a world. With the overworld providing no significant progression in anything, this also feels like the most dissonance between urgency of the main plotline vs meandering sightseeing that makes up the majority of the time spent in the game.
Also, there's a forced stealth section.
Well. I hope you like hearing the sounds Mario makes when he jumps. He is going to be making them a lot. (like, a *lot*. is it just me?)
All the bosses are kind of bland, except for that octopus boss who continuously runs away from you. That was memorable in how irritating it was. Also there's the Jaxi and speed flower stuff and that bounce race where the controls are awful.
It seems the real challenge of this game is: how do I make myself care about getting AALL THE MOONS!!!? Cause I don't. Can't play this one for more than 15 minutes at a time before I want to put it down and do something else.
Yeah! Love me some bleakness. So much good media these days seems to be tackling notions of nihilism and existential dread, and I am ALL ABOUT THAT. I had heard the Waypoint folks talk about most of the first playthrough of the game feeling like philosophy 101, so I was prepared for that. I kept waiting for anything that felt new or interesting from that perspective, and never found anything of substance. For me, Soma did a better job of exploring how a machine interprets the importance of life.
The combat reaaaally dragged on. The chip system seemed really clunky. The map is soooo bad (but they joke that I should get over it, so, lol?), the quests are all a bunch of long treks through the same drab environments over... and over.
Never even got the prompt that everyone talked about in ending E, but would have deleted everything anyway.
This started out strong with a really clever twist that makes you wonder how much mind bending and twisty stuff there's going to be (spoilers: almost none, except for the terrible ending).
The mimics are creepy, but oh man are they everywhere, and they are not very fun to fight, and rather than building tension as I've heard some folks say, I only felt irritation at having to swat these pests instead of doing exploration in peace. (you don't need to explain to me that this is intentional, I get that, I just don't like it)
The big guys are definitely bad news, and I had some fun figuring out how to fight them. Speccing into hacking turrets felt pretty cool at first, and since this game is all about "play it your way! TM" I'm thinking "I'm gonna be the gun nut engineer guy" but then it turns out that guns aren't viable against much of anything long term, and choosing any of the cool alien powers means turrets don't like you, and I started feeling very much like the game was punishing me for choosing the wrong way to play.
I pushed my way through to the end and found the last few hours a ton of being bombarded with flying asshole robots and running past corridors full of enemies who beckoned me to come and have a bad time and waste my resources. Then it finished with an ending whose badness was an equal and opposite counterpoint to its cool twist opening.
Resident Evil 7
The reason I turned this game off is the same reason I stopped playing Alien: Isolation. When the big scary bad guy is just all up on you non-stop, the situation stops feeling tense and scary, and goes to irritating and obnoxious.
The parts where you engage in combat felt sluggish and bad, and as with the ever-present big bad, goes from tension building to frustrating (ok, to be fair, the engine room strongly colored my feelings here. God that sucked)