The Backlog. It’s something most of us have to deal with and it never seems to get smaller. Being an adult means I just don’t have enough time in my day to play everything I want. Not only that, many games have moved to continuous updates or battle pass style content, which means I also feel obligated to continue playing over time to unlock new stuff.
If you managed to check out my annual Gamer Crash Awards (catch up with this handy link if you missed anything: HERE), it’s more than likely that you found yourself saying something along the lines of “but wait, why isn’t game x on this list?!” As unfortunate as that is, ‘Game X’ wasn’t left off by mistake. I pride myself on only including games that I’ve played during the year because frankly, how can I judge something if I haven’t played it? It wouldn’t make sense and frankly, I don’t want to betray your trust in me.
Outside of the incredible Super Smash Bros Ultimate, December was, thankfully, pretty light in terms of new games. So with that extra time, I was actually able to check out some new stuff over the holiday break, or at least, catch up on some of the games I missed in 2018.
Naturally, discovering how great some of these games are, I would have absolutely added them to the various categories from the 2018 Gamer Crash Awards. While I don’t have a time machine, I still wanted to recognize them below by discussing the game and what category I would have nominated it to.
So without further adieu, here are my award amendments:
I’ve been waiting for this game for a very long time and even though it’s only been out for a short amount of time, I’ve been hooked.
The game itself gives you a top-down video of a tiny warrior exploring a mysterious island. As a rogue-like, you can certainly expect permadeath, but the name of the game is all about exploring and working your way down as far as you can. You also kind of learn as you go because Below isn’t very chatty and doesn’t reveal much of anything to you. I’ve discovered certain crafting recipes on my own as a result which makes you feel good, but I’m sure there’s still a ton I don’t know. As an added layer of stress, your character does get hungry, thirsty, and need warmth indicated by small meters near the health bar.
I can’t say enough about the soundtrack either. Arranged and performed by Jim Guthrie, a constant for Capybara games, the music goes hand in hand with the gameplay in elevating that dark and dangerous feel. It’s very atmospheric, and what’s better is that the music can even stand on its own.
Award Nominations: Best Soundtrack, Best Downloadable Game
This one surprised me. I had heard good things but wasn’t keen on giving it a chance considering that Hitman: Absolution left me jaded and really let me down. Thanks to the good press around Hitman 2 (and, to a lesser extent, its predecessor), I felt compelled to check it out.
I’m really glad I did because Hitman 2 completely erases the problems of Absolution. The freedom of choice and the way you unlock new ways to take out the target are a breath of fresh air. Yes, you typically have a person you need to take out, but how you do it is really up to you. Natural discovery in these big worlds opens up new ways to get the job done and invites replayability by unlocking new challenges.
At the end of the day, Hitman 2 makes it fun to discover, overcome challenges by thinking outside the box and replaying missions to find crazier ways to get the job done. The game supports you and your choices rather than scolding you for not doing it the way it thinks you should.
Award Nominations: Biggest Surprise
Forza Horizon 4
I’ve always had a soft spot for the Horizon variant of the Forza franchise. I’m really not interested in simulation racers like the mainly Forza Motorsports series, but Horizon has managed to keep me coming back for more thanks to its more fantasy style elements (like racing trains), open world racing, and just being able to mess around.
Forza Horizon 4 is an absolute stunner of a game. I’m running a basic Xbox One S without HDR support and it’s still crystal clear how unbelievable this game looks. I can only imagine what the Xbox One X, HDR, 4K gamers are seeing.
Outside of visuals though, Horizon 4 continues to be an incredible racing experience. Taking place in the UK, one of the defining features this year is the changing of the seasons and how that also changes the terrain/landscape you’re racing on. In winter, maybe a lake is frozen over, or the rainy season of spring makes those dirt tracks a bit muddier than you’d like. There’s so much stuff to explore or take part in and this year, there seems to be an added focus on your character outside of the Horizon Festival. Taking part in stunt man style events and even being able to purchase houses dotted around the world. Whether you enjoy racing or just messing around in a massive open world, there’s a little something for everyone in Forza Horizon 4.
Award Nominations: Game of the Year
Yeah, so I wasn’t able to get to everything unfortunately. Still on my list: Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Tetris Effect, Hades, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, SoulCalibur VI
Were you able to play any games over the holiday break? Any that surprised or delighted you? Let me know in the comments.