I bet you never saw this pick comin'. Persona 5 is such a treat of an RPG because it positively drips with style and is nothing short of pure eye candy. What really gives it such a true sense of identity, though, is the game's soundtrack. "Wake Up, Get Up, Get Out There" and "Life Will Change" are fantastic anthems that perfectly encompass the themes of teenage rebellion and being your true self in the face of oppressive societal expectations. However, it's these very themes that made the game's usage of homophobic stereotypes even more confusing — I'm supposed to be myself, but who I am is just a punchline that reinforces horrendous and inaccurate thoughts about both my identity and my community? C'mon, Atlus.
"We're all gonna die if we don't keep living." Night in the Woods is more of an interactive character drama than a game, and that's part of the reason why I loved it so much. It does an amazingly successful job at exploring young adulthood with painful realism and hilarious, authentic dialogue that captures my generation perfectly. I was able to find myself in each member of the core cast, but especially in Gregg, who's also a queer man with (at least heavily implied) bipolar disorder. Seeing myself — and people my age in general — represented so well was a refreshing experience. Things get a little weird once you get to the titular climax and I definitely have mixed feelings about whether or not the narrative pulled its twist off. Regardless, I'm nothing but impressed with Night in the Woods, and it's certainly a game that's cemented itself in my heart as being a special title that means a great deal to me. What are you waiting for? Go play it!
When I reviewed Horizon Zero Dawn, I said it was a "thoroughly enjoyable game that belongs in every PS4 owner's library," and I stand by this nine months later. Horizon offered an engaging narrative and combined it with fresh, fun gameplay to create a wonderfully unique action RPG. Aloy is a great protagonist, full of determination and a great moral compass. Part of what made Horizon so much fun was Aloy herself, and she's a worthy contender for the next Playstation mascot. Horizon wasn't without some questionable design choices, though (ranging from an awful fast travel mechanic to very
eyebrow-raising connotations re: Native American culture), and I hope these can be remedied if we get a sequel.
Final Fantasy XII was an already great game, but it was made even better with the enhancements brought to it by this remaster. I loved
the game's Gambit system, which saw you essentially programming moves in combat. You can automatically set a character to douse enemies weak to fire magic with oil, for example, and then set for another character to ignite oil-drenched enemies with fire, creating a deadly combination. This "if this, then that" method made for battles that feel strategic, and The Zodiac Age's new dual-job system made leveling up even more compelling. What really made the game so special, though, was the terrific cast, which I listed as my favorite in the entire RPG genre
. I doubt XII would be my favorite in the series if it weren't for the tweaks offered by The Zodiac Age.
Few titles have gripped me as tightly as Breath of the Wild. I invested over 70 hours into my Wii U copy when it launched, and I have about 20 hours of it logged on my Switch. In many ways, Breath of the Wild felt less like a game and more like an experience. I appreciate that everyone who plays it has their own stories to tell about their journey. I also love Breath of the Wild's physics engine, which has led to amazing video clips of both unusual puzzle solutions and hilarious ways to interact with the world. Just let me pet those pups, Nintendo!
At least three of the (roughly) seven hours I put into this game were spent giggling to myself. Night in the Woods is probably the funniest game I've played in quite a long time. Mae is a terrific protagonist who's chock-full of snark, and I loved hearing her interactions with people. There's nothing quite like having your main character tell someone she hates to go brain dead from choking on her entire ass. And while I loved Night in the Woods' sense of humor more than I can possibly express (it just really nails what cracks my generation up — existential dread and nihilistic rants), what really makes this script the best of the entire year is its heart. I connected with these characters on such
a deep level. Hearing them talk about the stress that comes with learning how to be an adult, the struggle to try to find meaning in life, and their feelings of worthlessness really hit close to home. The best part by far is its ending, which feels equally inspiring and poignant without coming across as cheesy and ham-fisted.