While last year marked our first venture into the video games domain and our coverage solely sufficed to generalities and no specific game reviews — which were put on hold due to us finding the said journalistic notion as essentially flawed — this is hardly the first time we’ve wholesomely carved into a game-year’s notable offerings, and so, here you are and a list of titles we believe to be either most startling in terms of concept, aesthetics, and game-design, or most compelling; realization of an already-nurtured virtuality. There exist three miscellaneous sections after the main list, which focus on games that fall into ‘the almost-there,’ latecomers, and in-progress projects. Needless to mention, the said lists, same as any other found on the zine, are arranged at random and the entries are not in any order whatsoever, due to the differing nature of each.
A. Main List
Neocore’s crowning achievement to date plays out as an unhallowed sandbox/semi-strategy with complete disregard for the limitations of the two set-designs it attempts to blend, which are respectively isometric ARPG and tower-defense. Put on top of that the eponymous mechanism of deathtraps, and you have at your hands real-time combat with full control of the character combined with pre-set planning and role playing hierarchies. An absolute delight to look at and engage lengthy gameplays in.
Hylics could be interpreted as a video game but it may not be a video game per se. And it is intriguing to know in getting there, Hylics is neither in need of metafiction nor drastic anti-game causation. As a matter of fact, when interpreted as a video game, Hylics is quintessential. That is to say it aims to escape the medium through the medium itself, and not by delving into the pseudo-postmodern.
“Crookz: The Big Heist”
You don’t need to be a hardcore Sidney Lumet fan to know heists are all about schemes and not action, which contradictionally enough happens to be what most recent heist games have been about. Action in heist is analogous to orgasm in sex: the end, the climactic, but barely a proper synecdoche for the entirety of the act. That said, the team behind Crookz must have fathomed one or two truths when they decided to do a strategy game centered around heists, in addition to calling it Crookz and not Mafia.
Protocyber RPG, check. Tactical open-world — I’m looking at you, Ghost Recon: Wildlands — check. GOG release, check. Bleedin’ christ, what else do you need to get into the list? I mean, even G-spot hated it.
I remember playing Condemned (Criminal Origins) and during the mannequin sequence being overly paranoid about it. I was proved wrong at that time, but a decade on, the positivism based on previous experience drew lighter and lighter first as I found out about Statues, and then when I played it for myself. Red light, green light gone rouge, so to speak.
If the Dirt series were to be taken as a scale and that scale were to indicate the level of balance between simulation and arcade racing criteria, the series would be seen as progressing toward the arcade apex, and this year’s title as regressing, finding its place behind the debut title, and eventually finding itself closest to the hypothetical sim end. Still and all, Dirt: Rally finds equilibrium between the two and while making the error of not including the couch co-op, it is cogent enough to be part of our selection, and the fact that it’s been built from the get-go on and for the PC alone is a winning signal.
The slick, crypto-espionage FPS Suda51 never made.
In Voxel Blast there are no implications of space being the site and setting, and as far as the spaceship goes, it’s only a spaceship because the game defines it as such. A space shooter, in nothing but name. Exterminator, void, in all but name.
Should have been called Tabletop Manipulator, instead. What a fucking gem.
Aesthetically brain-dead and conceptually over-the-top, Rake is the ultimate redefinition of the sandbox genre.
I despise Warner Bros; I despise zombies, I despise Far Cry and its clones; and I despise Techland for having tied up all those abominations into the spellbinding experience of roaming the desolate, somber game-world that is Dying Light.
“Nightmare On Azathoth”
As an alleged reader of Lovecraft I’ve been sick and tired of media’s sentimental generalizations in regard to the already empty journalistic nonsense term, Lovecraftian — which is proving to be even worst than Kafkaesque — but hear this: if Bloodborne is Lovecraftian, then Nightmare On Azathoth is Lovecraft himself manifested as a video game. The true freeform terror experience. RIYL: Naissancee, Betrayer, Sir, You Are Being Hunted, A Mother’s Inferno, Cryostasis: Sleep Of Reason.
“A Fistful Of Gun”
Shooting variation on choreography.
The Beginner’s Guide? Haven’t heard of it.
An unholy wedlock of procedural horror and permadeath, Monstrum is secretly a minimalist adventure game that does a great job of taking out the irrelevant substructures of the genres that lay ground for it.
B. The Almost-There
The title says it all; these are games that could have been on the main list, but one way or another didn’t make it. PS. Pseudo-justifications are not necessary when lists propose a not-so-perfect merit, so, no commentary from this section on for individual entries.
“Hand Of Fate”
“Nancy Drew: Sea Of Darkness”
“Mortal Kombat X”
“Dungeon Nightmares II: The Memory”
“12 Is Better Than 6”
“Viscera Cleanup Detail”
“Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain”
“Warhammer 40,000: Regicide”
“One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3”
Latecomers — especially of the port kind — are more or less a thing nowadays with nothing than profit in mind of the publishers, and while I generally tend to ignore them, there have been instances that called for slight reconsideration. One instance to be precise. The other is anything but a port.
“Way Of The Samurai 4” “The Troma Project”
Z. The Yet-To-Be
And finally, the finest of incomplete releases, including both early-access and alpha titles:
“Sunken” “Zone 22” “Vector 36” “Hitman (Closed Alpha)” “Universe Sandbox ²” “Phantasmal: City Of Darkness” “Slybots: Frantic Zone” “Concealed Intent” “StarCrawlers” “Layers Of Fear” “MadOut Open City” “Revolution: Virtual Playspace” “Eon Altar”