52 Games a Year 2021 Edition/ Game Record 2021:
  • 16. I Saw Black Clouds [3]
    Look at me playing an interactive movie. In 2021. I expected the cheap production values, and didn't have an issue with that. And a few suspense/danger sequences use the format reasonably well, forcing you into quick decisions. But so much of the execution is off - pauses, skips, looping scenes - and some baffling plot decisions ruin it in the end. It turns out early decisions can take you into either of two entirely separate stories, yet they still share scenes and can even lead to the same ending. It's as daft as it sounds.
  • 42. Ghost of Tsushima - PS4 (12-15hrs)

    Aesthetically this absolutely screams late gen console exclusive, but in terms of the overall package there's a slight [2015's best open world game]: Remastered air to it that I can't put my finger on.  I expected (and wanted) a no nonsense samurai game, and tbh dismissed many of the complaints on here as something I might personally appreciate, so it came as bit of a surprise that the initial 'this kinda isn't all that really' feeling never really went away.  I was never fully invested in Jin's journey, which meant the non-interactive aspect fell short of expectations.  In fairness I expect playing The Last of Us 2 beforehand may have tarnished the cinematic segments/character exchanges in this, but they didn't strike me as a particularly noteworthy; much like in Horizon: Zero Dawn the talking heads were just occasional ad breaks to sit through rather than the nucleus of the experience.  TLOU2 may have spoilt me, but it it seems fairer to acknowledge the high bar than pretend it doesn't exist.  Yakuza Zero, Red Dead Redemption 2, God of War (PS4) and Mafia III are examples of 'open world' games that hold their own in the narrative segments, imo, so I'm not impossible to please.  This is a bit of a painting-by-numbers samurai tale of honour/dishonour and while it's fair to say I had no major problems with the story on the whole, it's also pretty shrug-worthy.  Budding samurai eschews honour and fights the Chicago way, much to the chagrin of hisfavouriteuncle is the gist.  I enjoyed the chalice-swigging Bigface Big Bad and quite liked Yuna's character, but everyone else was sort of there.  The last fight felt particularly ill-judged, and without meaning to ruin things there are parallels to the ending of TLOU2 in terms of don't make me do this, but the forced participation was a view-through-the-fingers win in ND's game and a bit unappetising here.  
    On to the good stuff, then.  The combat isn't far off excellent.  I'll quietly call it visceral and hope no-one rolls their internet owl eyes; it dances between brutal and measured superbly well.  It took me a while to warm to the rhythm but once I did it became the game's main draw.  The sensation of controlling an elite samurai in the heat of battle never got old, and it turns out the lack of lock-on was a shrewd decision in terms of mixing things up.  The standoffs were sublime and the boss battles - while not outstanding - were rewarding showdowns.  Positively delicious is the verdict on the swordplay; slipping an arrow in the nick of time and slicing the archer with a quick flurry always felt satisfying.

    Back to the bad bits!  Stealth is poorly handled.  I neither enjoyed it nor felt like its rules made much sense.  I'm usually all for suspension of disbelief in these things, but standing on a not-particularly-high clothesline in plain view - yet apparently invisible to ground level Mongols - isn't really 'ninja vanish!' territory.  When it tries to be Tenchu it fails, when it's Ninja Gaiden (2004) it succeeds.  

    Fast travel was appreciated, as were the swift loading and swish graphics.  It just never really felt like the open world was anything other than optional window dressing.  In Breath of the Wild I often found myself coaxed into gratifying exploration - even as a player who mostly shuns side missions - whereas in this I gave zero fucks about what might be over the next ridge or hill unless it helped me make a beeline for the next mission.  I guess clearing out the Mongol camps was fun, but not enough to tempt me to liberate more than three en route to the credits.  I tried to play this as if it were a Ryse type, and tbf it allowed me to do so once I had a few key perks unlocked, but despite the mostly glorious graphics the island felt a bit hollow to me.

    Not a bad game by any stretch of the imagination, but anyone telling you this is in the top tier of open world experiences gets a Jinny reckon from me. [7]

  • Enjoyed that review Moot.

    Not sure I'll ever play it (the stealth bits + mediocre open world are a bit off putting.  I'd mostly be in it for the graphics) but the sword fighting sounds fun.  Also didn't realise it's fairly brief for this kind of thing; assumed it would be 30+ hours for whatever reason.
    When you got movies like Tom Cruise in them, you can't lose
  • The stealth is okay when it invites the player to sneak but I hated every section where it was enforced, particularly the ones with a prescribed route. It's worth pointing out that I dislike these sections when they crop up in almost every 3D game ever though, from Ocarina of Time to Red Dead 2. Tedious.
  • Yeah, in the same boat there - I'll be glad to never sneak past searchlight into another military outpost again.

    Don't mind it TLOU2 style, IE you pick off a couple of enemies, but when the shit hits the fan you can still have a gritty improvised fight with whatever weapons you have ammo for.
    When you got movies like Tom Cruise in them, you can't lose
  • FML I just lost my Monkey Barrels review I was typing in here.  Is there any way to get text back after accidentally navigating away from a page in Chrome?  I did have it copied but lost it to paste the gif in ffs
  • acemuzzy
    Show networks
    Acemuzzy (aka murray200)
    3DS - 4613-7291-1486

    Send message
    It's often there if you go Back. But otherwise you may be doomed. I think.
  • 43. Monkey Barrels - Switch (4hrs)

    One barrel rather than both, be thankful I lost my windy OG review.

    Internet suggested (criminally!) underrated hidden gem that steadfastly refused to enter any sale ever and sat on my watchlist for aeons.  It was finally slashed by 40% this month, an offer which ends *checks* today.  The devs have pedigree, having made Kirby's Epic Yawn and Yoshi's Woolly Platforming, so I guess it's slightly higher profile than most of the games on my EShop wishlist.

    I championed this in at least two threads on here early on, but it loses its way a little in the back half.  It starts well, with the lesser-spotted top down 32-bit aesthetic being a huge chef's kiss for me - the visuals really are a treat.  Gunplay and movement is fun, most enemy types are decent, it's (just about) worth playing around with the weapons from the shop, the music is neat and the vehicle sections are great, but it all starts to unravel slightly once you reach the halfway point.  If I had to pinpoint what it does wrong the main complaint would be that it doesn't scale its difficulty very well at all.  It's far too easy for the most part, which the devs seem to realise too late and try to slam the stable door by leaning into the slightly fudged bullet hell lite aspect.  It's fine to have a kaleidoscopic hail of bullets raining down on the player in something like Nex Machina or Furi as the controls are built to take the strain, but here they don't always seem capable of keeping up with what the late game encounters ask you to do.  It felt like the five hit health bar was necessary for success as I'd invariably get tagged by something, even on repeat runs; git gud isn't always practical advice for imperfect games.  Standard stage bosses were weak as 'get close and spam' often felt irresistible, but some of the proper guardians were good.

    I enjoyed my time with this on the whole but in light of so many great twin stick alternatives on any given platform it's only a [6].  Buy if you fancy playing what feels like it could be an import only Saturn game from 1998, avoid if you haven't played superior under the radar games like Ruiner, Assault Android Cactus or Thoth.  

  • Don't mind it TLOU2 style, IE you pick off a couple of enemies, but when the shit hits the fan you can still have a gritty improvised fight with whatever weapons you have ammo for.

    Same, but I played on easy as I found all the sneaking a bit much in the first.  So I got to play TLOU2 as a ridiculously cinematic pew pew shooter with occasional hide and seek sessions, which was perfect for me.
  • Has anybody ever enjoyed an insta-fail stealth section? You'd think there must have been one good one at some point in the distant past, because otherwise why the fuck do people keep making them?

    Following a target without being spotted is similarly tedious. Tsushima has a couple of those too.
  • Yeah the two I'm thinking of were weak. Holding a pad to play grandma's footsteps isn't my idea of fun in 2021.
  • 44. I Hate Running Backwards - Switch (90mins)

    Devolver published flipped vertical shmup that feels a lot older than an indie title from mid 2018 - it's got strong 'should've cost 800 MS points' vibes.  It's a roguelike though, of course, with procedurally generated stages, various perks, permanent weapon upgrades and whatnot, but it's hardly a finesse shot shooter.  Once you've defeated a boss you can jump to the next stage on subsequent runs via portals, so it's an emphasis-on-lite roguelite.  You have two weapons, a sub weapon and a spin attack that can deflect certain projectiles.  It's all very simplistic but that didn't stop it being a fun diversion for the hour and a half I spent with it, especially considering the £2.24 I spent on it.  

    TLDR: I don't love I Hate Running Backwards but I don't hate it either.  It's probably one of the best bang average games I've played - the core shooting is quite satisfying - it's just a bit too basic, even for me. A stingy [5] then, probably higher in co-op (which is the only chance of me ever booting it up again really).   

  • 45. Panzer Paladin - Switch (5hrs)

    Modern 8-bit style platformer, nothing new there praise be, but this one's got more game than most.  None of the reviews seem to mention Rastan Saga II as a reference point, but this is just as much a spiritual successor to that as it is Zelda II or the other titles that get namedropped (I haven't seen Blaster Master mentioned, and this pinches the eject mech function from that to good effect).  So if you're considering playing this you'd have to ask yourself if you fancy a methodical hack & slash with a slightly lumbering main character that isn't always nimble enough not to fall down holes. If the answer is yes there's a chance we might see eye to eye on the score at the bottom.  

    Q.  Does this game do anything new?  

    A. Yes - the weapons system is an intriguing stab at trying something different with a well trodden formula.  The problem is, it's a bit shit.  The idea of weapon categories and specific spells and degrading items all sounds interesting enough, but the execution is almost completely bodged as you can carry so many back-up weapons it renders item management practically redundant.

    Do not play this game if you want something new, because everything it's good at is hugely derivative.  Initially you'll have multiple stages to choose from, which surely prompted the Megaman comparisons from reviews, but they're all roughly the same difficulty and none of the weapons bosses drop make other bosses any easier, so it's simply a no consequence/pick one deal.  After that it's a linear stretch of stages with a slight difficulty bump.  There were occasions where I ran out of lives and had to lose my progress in the stage (as of course using a continue wipes the checkpoint), but that's par for the course with this sort of game and I'd definitely describe this as fairly easy overall.  After an okay start I actually started to love this once it got going.  It has the simplicity of an 8-bit game but without the brutality of either a genuine 8-bit game or most examples of modern inspired by 8-bit games.  The upwards slice for double jump works well, the downward plunge is satisfying.  Instadeath holes are annoying by design, but there aren't really any Flying Bat knockbacks to speak of, so cautious play should see most players through.  The backwards dodge is probably a little OP as it provides instant invulnerability, but even that suited the slightly breezy vibe.  I'm not sure why every single stage had the same miniboss - which became quite amusing after a while, especially as his appearance is marked by a regal ditty each time - but I assume an assortment of mid-bosses landed on the cutting room floor at some point during development.  No biggie.  Music is good, not quite Cyber Shadow levels but decent, and the visuals are chunky with some neat background touches and very good use of parallax scrolling.

    In summary if Volgarr is ultimate form Rastan this is more of a weird Cyber Rastan spin-off that has no business being as good as it is.  Thoroughly enjoyed. [8]

  • 11: Yakuza: Like a Dragon (PS5) 9/10

    This is the first game in the series to swap out the brawling for JPRG battles and it's a natural fit.  It really didn't feel unusual.  While I don't think the battles are perfect (some of the fights drag on a touch too long.  The battle area often feels a tad large.  Late game random battles are still more of a nuisance than fun or beneficial) I did enjoy them better than the old school fighting which I am a bit sick of.

    Aside from that it's just a normal Yakuza game which is all good.  You've got a new bloke to play as who looks goofy but has a heart of gold.  The story has all the fun twists and turns like you would expect (lots of switcheroos, double crosses and amazing coincidences etc) with comedy gold side quests.  A stupid amount of activities that you can do.  Really generous stuff but you're not forced into doing the stuff you might not care about (funny to think how having Virtua Fighter 5 and the old arcade games are just an expected mini game). You get to run your own business too which is addictive fun.  You can employ a literal chimpanzee who is a real champion.  She doesn't take any shit at the shareholder meetings and shuts down the agitators quick smart.

    Good wholesome fun.  Recommended.
    When you got movies like Tom Cruise in them, you can't lose
  • I expect I'll give it a bash at some point but I can never tell from reading about (or watching videos of) turn based battles whether they'll do the job for me.  They can't be worse than the fighting in Yak6 anyway.
  • They're pretty standard JPRG fights really.  Not sure they do anything new at all.

    I'm sure it'll be cheap soon enough; the old games are always going for a song on PSN, might be worth a look then
    When you got movies like Tom Cruise in them, you can't lose
  • 46. Little Nightmares II - Xbox One (4.5hrs)

    This might be one of the trickiest games to give an opinion on in the last few years.  On the one hand the way it plays is rarely much to write home about - and veers over the line into genuinely poor territory in numerous places - but conversely the mood and world design is absolutely spot on.  Even the horror tropes that should be old hat hit their mark.  It's a remarkable achievement really, and the visual delicatessen is just as disgustingly appetising as the original; as sequels/nightmares go this is as unsettling as a replaceable head watching one of the Wheelers giving Dorothy electro-shock therapy on TikTok.  The house of cards is absolutely stunning, but it's always wobbling about due to its wonky foundations.  Even a checkpoint as simplistic as jumping across suspended beds can be problematic enough to have you reaching for the nearest paper bag to scream into, with only the slightly canted camera angles and treacle-ish controls to blame.  How do you review something like that, given that you know it's fundamentally A Bad Game and every single player death is like nails on a blackboard, yet it succeeds in being a genuinely incredible experience in spite of its shortcomings?  Beats me, but I'd play another sequel for sure.  [7]    

  • acemuzzy
    Show networks
    Acemuzzy (aka murray200)
    3DS - 4613-7291-1486

    Send message
    it's fundamentally A Bad Game ... [7]

    Never go full moot, people...
  • 47. Flinthook - Switch (20+hrs)

    Superb wave based platform shooter hobbled by some irrefutably facepalm design choices.  If you can overlook its flaws - or at least try not to focus on them - for my money it's one of the best 2D games released in the past five years.  It has quite a lot in common with ScourgeBringer, which still remains my favourite roguelike, but the shooting is less kinetic and rewards patient play rather than a perpetual front foot approach.  It's an absolute slog to finish fully, as you can see by the total time I spent with it above, but if I'd known at the start of the first mission what I know now I'd still play it, which hopefully serves as a testament to its charms.  I'm not someone who enjoys 'wasting time' on games, whatever that may mean exactly, but the drawn out pleasure/pain of beating this one was worthwhile.  When the last boss fell the 300 tonne air punch would've KO'd a giant crab terrorising a cruise ship.

    I could spend hours complaining about what I see as its faults, but as most people haven't played it and hardly anyone else is likely to play it I'll summarise them as briefly as I can: It's too hard, the perk system is a mess, the grappling hook has a mind of its own and the XP grind - which I certainly needed to take the edge off the insane difficulty - takes a lifetime.   Sub-headings under 'it's too hard' would be the over-use of seemingly unnecessary traps, the tricky to see nature of spikes, the galling difficulty swing between layouts, the fact that rooms often greet you with a lethal spot to land on and the ridiculous precision required to negotiate certain obstacle courses unscathed.  That little lot takes two whole points of shine off this game, which is maddening as without them it'd be pretty close to being absolutely incredible.  It's one good patch away from near perfection as these grievances could be tidied up in a month or three without anyone needing to pull an all-nighter (disclaimer: I could be talking out my hat).  The aftercare package has been done and dusted for years though, so what you see is what you get.  As an additional kick in the teeth it also crashes a lot.  I'd say I've had eight software error boot-outs during my time with the game, two of which came deep into a Gwarlock run, which in laymans terms means CUUUUUNT.  Unacceptable; if there's one thing a roguelike shouldn't do, according to the abridged gospel of me, it's crash regularly.

    The thing is though, it's still a wonderfully playable game.  Much like other would-be greats of the gen - Trackmania Turbo, Trials Rising, Everybody's Golf - it's hamstrung by poor deign choices that contrive to prevent the glorious core from really singing.  I paid just under £7 for it and I've played it for almost an entire day.  The shooting is spot on, pretty much every enemy type is high quality (there's very little of the 'not this guy again' feeling these games can suffer from) and the bosses are strong.  Visually it's stunning, which isn't something I realised before playing - it really is a beauty.  Tunes are toe-tappy, controls are tight for the most part (aforementioned grappling hook annoyances aside, which occasionally refuses to attach to bubbles surrounding enemies in favour of latching onto hooks) and the just-one-more-go factor is huuuge. I know it doesn't quite deserve it, but this is one of the my big grin games of the past few years.  I've even taken to reading people share favoured load outs on Reddit, and mimicking combinations I like the sound of.  In a possibly nonsensical analogy I'll compare it to Anderson Luís de Abreu Oliveira, the Brazilian ex Man Utd midfielder.  For all the promise and occasionally top drawer performances he knew his way around being a wee bit crap from time to time, but that didn't stop him from being my favourite player since Solskjaer.  [7]


  • Forgot to mention the team that made this also made Panzer Paladin (and Ninja Senki DX, @acemuzzy), which makes them devs to watch for me. Thankfully they've landed the upcoming Ninja Turtles scrolling beat 'em up, so I'm extra hype for that now.
  • 13. Mega Man 2 (NES) - 2hrs 52mins

    Only the fourth Mega Man game I've completed so far. This one tends to top a lot of best of lists, and I'm glad to say it lives up to the hype.

    The graphics are pretty much as good as they get for the NES, and it has some of the best 8-Bit chip tunes. A lot of people say SMB3 and Kirbys Adventure are the best lookers on the system, but I always thought Capcom games looked the best. Thankfully the gameplay us just as good as it looks and sounds, very responsive and a joy to play.

    It's definitely easier than the first game, which is agood thing, and the inclusion of a password system is very welcome. Thats not to say its easy though, far from it. Once you defeat the eight robot masters you have to complete Dr. Wily's fortress which consists of an additional six levels that have to be completed in one sitting, no passwords are given after that point.

    I think this is a bit harsh as they're by far the hardest levels in the game. Ninja Garden on the NES is often criticised for doing this and it's the main criticism I have here. I used save states between each of the six and without them I think this would have easily taken a couple more hours.

    Top 8-Bit gaming, onto Mega Man Legends.


    My list
    オレノナハ エラー ダ
  • 48. Freedom Planet - Switch (4-5hrs)

    Another heavy handed homage game, this one sets its sights firmly on the original Sonic series, which is an acquired taste as it is.  Take an assortment of cutesy characters that wouldn't look out of place in a bumper jotter full of off-cuts from a Chaotix brainstorming session, put them through their paces in a series of rubber stamp but reasonably well designed Sanic stages, take away the sublime tunes (replacing them with [Partridge shrug] tunes), add some surprisingly strong pattern based bosses and put extra emphasis on enemies/combat.  Voila! Freedom Planet in a medium sized nutshell.   It's the definition of 'fine if you like that sort of thing' tbh.  As a fan of the titles this pilfers inspiration from it mostly hit the spot for me, but even die-hard Sonic fans should ask themselves if they're really up for a copycat game that's worse than Sonic Mania, Sonic 3 & Knuckles and Sonic 2.  It's on par with (and probably shares the most in common with) the better Advance entries I'd say, and if that appeals there aren't many games like it.

    You can play as different characters with varying abilities, but it's clearly been designed with Lilac (The Dragon) in mind - who's nippy and equipped with a handy air evade move - which meant the slower paced Carol (The Wildcat) I selected struggled to avoid certain boss attacks, so after a decent start I was furiously SMDH at some of the late game bosses.  Difficulty is a mess, frankly, given that it's an absolute breeze until you hit a boss, then often becomes genuinely tricky.  I used a fair chunk of the infinite continues getting through it, which (rather unusually) place you back at the the current checkpoint rather than forcing you to replay whole stages.  It's an odd/pointless set up but some of the bosses are rather good.

    Unlike most other games I've played on this page this one's easy to add a score to: it's a nailed on [6].  I can't decide if it looks horrible or quite nice though.  One for @Evil Red Eye, or a young Livdiv maybe.

  • Thought I was already in this thread but it seems not. Anyway, I’ll use this post. Gonna try and finish games this year - or rather, see as much as I want of them until I’m done. 

    Games “Completed”: 

    1. Destiny 2: Beyond Light 
    2. Detroit: Become Human 
    3. Control 
    4. Rise of the Tomb Raider 
    5. Bugsnax 
    6. Danganronpa 
    7. Danganronpa 2 
    8. The Last Campfire 
    9. Oxenfree 
    10. Donut County 
    11. Slay the Spire
    12. Danganronpa V3
    13. Monster Hunter: Rise
    14. Returnal 

    Updated to include Monster Hunter and Returnal. Gonna try and knock out some indies on my backlog next, so should hopefully be able to keep up with THE CHALLENGE!
  • 2. Astro’s Playroom (PS5) - 7/5 - 5hrs
    Wow. First completed game in 3 months! And what a joyous and charming little platformer this is, showcasing what the PS5 controller can do. Brought many a smile to my face with its celeberation of the Playstation brand and series. If only there was more of it!
    I am a FREE. I am not MAN. A NUMBER.
  • 17. Outriders - 15 Hours - 7/10 - Xbox Series X

    Though it took days for me to even boot the game, this turned into a riot. 3rd Person cover shooter that does nothing new, nothing out of the ordinary, doesn’t do anything incredible or spectacular, in fact, the cover system is a little worse for having it over 2 inputs instead of one. But...it’s ace. Crisp shooting, some really fun weaponry and armour, and some really intense firefights that required a lot of movement and thinking instead of just hiding behind one bit of scenery and waiting for enemies to pop up. Story was enjoyable, Avatar on steroids really, and the characters were fun if uninspired. All in all a good little shooter that I had a lot of fun with.
  • 17. Returnal [9]
    Does everything just right really. The movement, the shooting, the weapons, of course. The environment design and lore and not Roguelike meets Metroid structure. The surround sound effects and music and all the colourful orbs and the tentacles. And the protagonist and her story and the emotional journey you share with her. It's rare to see a game of this production level deliver something so pure and focused. It's only a few little things away from a 10.

    18. R-Type Final 2 [6]
    It's got some of the characteristic R-Type level design, the tricky, slow, slightly strategic approach to shooting things from the side on. It's got a ton of ships to unlock and take out for a spin, and branching routes towards the end. But it's always a little too ugly for its own good, plasticky monsters and purple lights. And the early levels wear thin too soon.

    19. Resident Evil: Village [8]
    It's not very scary and it mucks up an early nod to Resident Evil 4's opening village section. But if you're in for RE at its daftest and least predictable, it turns out rather well in the end. It gets away with a few weaker sections by constantly changing the pace and the environment. A keys and puzzles section goes into a creepy bit then a big dumb boss fight. In between the village itself opens up to reveal more secrets. And the cast of pantomime villains all perform well.
  • Liking the sound of RE8 - 7 was too scary for me so glad this one's gone a bit silly.  Will check it out on sale/gamepass.
    When you got movies like Tom Cruise in them, you can't lose
  • 49. RYGAR - Master System (45mins)

    A straightforward port of the arcade game, rather than the Metroided NES effort.  What do you call Metroidvanias that predate the 'vania Metroids anyway?  Shrug.  It's very 1986, which can make a modern first time play pretty hard to judge, even for the likes of us.  I can say with certainty that I would've enjoyed it to an extent, but I reckon I would have been disappointed if I'd (been) bought it in 1990 (when I got my MS).  It was only released in Japan, so that's a moot point anyway, but it's got Ghost House levels of 'borrow me' written all over it.  It's a platformer with a short range attack - the sort where you edge from left to right while dealing with enemies approaching from either side.  You can jump on baddies to kill them, which makes it a much better game but also feels like an afterthought in terms of design, almost as if the game was nearly finished before someone decided it needed an extra attack.  It's surprisingly handy once you get used to it though, and I expect some dedicated crazies have managed to speedrun this pretty efficiently.   There are plenty of worse games from the era, and tbf there probably aren't a vast number of better ones.  See?  It's hard to judge for some reason, as I'm not convinced it's fair to call it average.  Music is awful but the graphics aren't bad considering its age.  Reads like less than a [6], so we'll go with an at-the-time 74%.

    Edit: Wiki etc is saying 1988 for the MS port, but I'm pretty sure the title screen said 1986.  It's a Mark III game anyway.

  • Massive spoiler for the end there, smh

Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!