I was a little skeptical about the idea of randomly bringing God of War to a Norse setting, especially while keeping Kratos as the main character, but the plot of the game is surprisingly good—much better than the action focused prequels—delivering one hell of a redemption story, and the game-play—though completely revamped—kicks ass as well.
Beautiful visuals, both from technical and artistic standpoint
Fascinating setting based on Norse mythology
Uninspired side-quests slow down the pacing even more
Interesting, likable characters
Incomplete (probably the first game in a trilogy)
Interesting, fairly engrossing plot
The combat can be a bit overwhelming until you get used to it
Going After Cacciatio is an unusual magical realism novel set in Vietnam war, where a bunch of soldiers chase a deserter… all the way to Paris, while experiencing a whole bunch of different cultures and discussing the spiritually hollow nature of modern conflicts.
Game of Thrones was one show that I actually wasn’t worried about deviating from the original material because I figured that to achieve the heights it did, everyone involved must have known what they were doing as it wasn’t like George R. R. Martin was writing every scene, but… It appears I couldn’t have been more wrong–the way they dropped the ball with the final season is legendary.
The tense atmosphere is gone, everyone has plot armor, the characters are making dumb decisions that feel nothing like them, the battle strategy is abysmal and all battles are won through magic, and most of the events feel rushed and not set up properly. It simply doesn’t feel like Game of Thrones anymore. It’s still better than what you normally see on TV, but this is Game of Thrones we’re talking about, not goddamn Hercules: The Legendary Journey.
While I thought I didn’t need to pick up the books while I was around season four, I started having doubts through season five and six, until I finally realized I simply had to read them to get a proper conclusion to the story around season seven. At this point, I really can’t help but treat the last two seasons as fan fiction that I give no more credit than alternative fan endings on youtube, which also happen to be infinitely better.
The underwhelming last season doesn’t change all the amazing things that came prior to it, and the first four seasons of Game of Thrones (and arguably five and six too) still remain my favorite TV series. I’ll be looking forward to see how the story actually concludes if George R. R. Martin finishes the damn books.
Seasons based on books:
Action scenes use too many jumpcuts in the earlier seasons
Fascinating, gritty medieval fantasy setting
The integrity of the plot falls apart in the original seasons
Immersing, dark atmosphere
Characters act out of character and are dumbed down in the later seasons
Interesting, likable, profound characters
Abysmal battle tactics in the final season
Enthralling plot full of surprising twists
Poorly written ending
Fantastic pacing with something interesting happening every minute
Solid, well thought-out story fueled by medieval politics
Octopath Traveler started strong with eight relatively interesting characters beginning their adventures, which I thought would intertwine and mold into one epic story like a fantasy novel, but they somehow never do. The characters go through their individual quests (that don’t even acknowledge the presence of other party members and grow more and more formulaic by every chapter) and that’s it—they only somewhat come together with the secret final boss and even there, just barely.
I feel like the fantastic localization was kind of wasted on such a weak story, but then I might’ve dropped it, or at least skipped the text, if it wasn’t so beautifully written (or if I played it in Japanese which, as I could tell from the voices, was just as generic as the plot), so I guess it wasn’t completely for nothing.
That said, with its flexibility at party building, and always keeping you on edge with all sorts of nonstandard tricks, I really enjoyed the game-play, especially the secret final boss—it reminded me why I like turn-based games.
Relatively interesting, likable characters
Dull, formulaic plot
Satisfying, well-balanced turn-based game-play
Weak story that barely connects the eight adventures
Satisfying secret final boss that pushes you to the limit
Character overworld abilities just needlessly convolute town interactions
The Moonstone is an interesting work in that it’s both a Victorian and a mystery novel, and pretty much offers the best sides of both worlds with Jane Austin like drama and Agatha Christie like mystery.
The second season of Telltales Sam & Max follows a similar formula to the first, but the episodes are a little bit better defined and the plot is actually more coherent and interesting this time around.
Loses some of its charm by shifting to 3D
Genuinely funny humor
The episodic nature makes the game feel a bit repetitive, though less so in this season
Lacks the sense of genuine adventure the Hit the Road had
Relatively interesting, if a bit over the place, plot
I haven’t heard much about Needful Things compared to other Stephen King’s books, but it might have actually turned out to be my favorite of his as the main boogeyman here only plays people and their already prevalent frustrations against each other to create a grand spectacle of horror.
It feels a lot more grounded in reality and plausibility than his other books.
Though it’s fascinating to play a full game in VR, and Serious Sam is actually very well calibrated for it, you can’t help but see how outdated the game is–both in visuals and game design. It doesn’t take long for the game-play to become painfully repetitive, and there’s little else the game offers.
Ridiculous, but uplifting humor
Lots of monsters to kill with a whole variety of weaponry
The Old Hunters adds even more lore to an already fantastic narrative, but taking place in a dream it allows for a bit nonsensical level design, and also doesn’t feel as significant story-wise as the original game.
That said, as usual with From Software, it’s more of an expansion pack than a mere DLC, and is easily a must-play for any Souls series fan.
Fantastic visuals both technically and artistically
The story is very hard to follow without looking things up
Immersing, dark atmosphere
A lot of easily missable important NPCs
Cool orchestral music during boss fights
Apart from looks armor sets have very little variation game-play wise
Amazing setting inspired by Victorian horror stories
The fact DLC takes place in a dream allows for a bit nonsensical level design
Fascinating, surreal story
Doesn’t really blow your mind like the original as you already know what to expect
This has been one of the weakest years for visual novels, so much so, that I actually struggled to collect twenty titles and had to include games that otherwise wouldn’t have met the vote quota (which is part the reason why I delayed this video for so long) and were installments of ongoing episodic series. For comparison, only about ten titles in this list would have made it to top 20 of any other year I did.
However, as ironic as that is, this year has also seen the release of the currently top rated game on egs, and with median of 99 I don’t see anything topping it ever. I’m, of course, talking about Rance 10, and I imagine it needs no introductions.
The other noteworthy releases this year include Key’s newest visual novel Summer Pockets, that from what I heard offers a similar experience to their other works, Nukitashi that has an incredibly unusual premise and has gained somewhat of a meme status in social media, and finally Amazing Grace which is an interesting mystery that’s surprisingly educating on classical and to an extent modern art. I’ll be publishing a review for this one soon.
Apart from that, I Walk Among Zombies has been finished, which is one of the episodic visual novels I’ve been very interested in. I might wait a bit and pick it up in English to see how the translation came along though.
This year also saw the release of the second installment of 9-nine- series which has gotten a far better reception than the first (that didn’t even make it to the list last year). It’s hard to tell if the rating is artificially exaggerated because whoever didn’t like the first simply didn’t read and rate the second one, or if it’s actually improved. I might check this series too, especially since it’s receiving an English localization too.
But that’s about it. Erewhon seems somewhat interesting if you’re into Clockup’s mix of nukige and story. And Butterfly Seeker sounds promising since it’s written by the guy responsible for Apeiria (my favorite last year), but looking at the ratings it would’ve barely made it to top 20 at any other year, so I dunno.
Anyway, it was a pretty bleak year, and I hope the following one is going to be better. At least it looks like it’s shaping up to be.
A somewhat bizarre puzzle platformer that’s a bit dull to play once the initial novelty of dismembering yourself wears off, but then it also offers a heartfelt and thought-provoking story rife with all sorts of horrific symbolism.
Full of cool horrific and surreal imagery
The puzzles are kind of dull
A relatively cool soundtrack
The game-play starts feeling like a chore real quick
For all its pretty visuals, Violet Evergarden barely does anything with them, telling a dull story in a dull world with little to nothing of interest happening.
There are a few highlights in its episodic story, my favorite being how she ends up guiding a playwright to make up with his past, but it never really achieves this cerebral high of the episodic greats like Kino no Tabi or Mushishi. Most of the time it’s just boring.