Here’s why pre-order culture is dumb
Every now and then, I'll come across a thread on gaming sites ranting about pre-order…
Better late than never. 2017 was a bit of a mixed bag for video games, but when it delivered, oh boy did it deliver. Here’s the very best of the best.
Bronze medal goes to…
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (Ninja Theory)
Hellblade is a deep psychological thriller unlike anything we’ve seen before in video games. You play as Senua, a broken Celtic warrior who has chosen to delve deep into the Norse underworld to free the soul of her dead lover.
On the surface, it seems like just another Devil May Cry clone, which makes sense, since developer Ninja Theory worked on the series. Yet that’s just scratching the surface. The tale Hellblade weaves is a woman’s descent into madness and psychosis. The development team worked closely with neuroscientists to capture the terrifying realities of someone’s mind reaching its breaking point. These are related to the player through the visual and audio hallucinations Senua experiences as she battles her way into the Helheim.
In the process, Ninja Theory proved that you don’t need loot boxes or seasons passes to make one of the deepest and visually advanced titles we’ve ever seen. It’s not a game for everyone, but if you’re looking for a unique experience, it’s well worth the $30.
Silver medal goes to…
Sonic Mania (PagodaWest/Headcannon/Sega)
Sonic Mania is the best Sonic game in 23 years. I can say that with complete confidence. This is Sonic’s return to form after a long, long hiatus.
Taxman and Stealth managed to accomplish something that has eluded Sonic Team themselves for two decades. They understood, on a fundamental level, what made the Genesis classics great. Sonic Mania has masterfully recreated the experience in a whole new adventure. Everything from the level design to the physics is spot on, and the whole package just oozes with nostalgia. Even for newbies to the series, the gameplay is still just as accessible as it was way back in 1991. Plus Tee Lopes’ soundtrack is just a pure sonic eargasm.
Our only gripe is the amount of remixed levels. We’d love to see PagodaWest and Headcannon let loose with some more original themes. Though with rumours swirling about a big Sonic announcement at SXSW 2018, with some of the Mania team slated to take part in the panel, we doubt this is the last we’ll hear from them.
And the winner of the MMNTech GOTY Awards best game of 2017 goes to…
Super Mario: Odyssey (Nintendo)
Mario Odyssey feels like standard Mario fare at first. The princess has been kidnapped by Bowser, you’ve got to save her, yada yada yada. Then in the tutorial level I saw this life size T-Rex and thought “I wonder what would happen if I threw my hat at that…” From then on I fell in love with this game.
If Sonic Mania is a return to the series’ roots, Mario Odyssey brings the stout plumber back into the modern era. This is the first truly 3D Mario game since Galaxy 2 launched way back in 2010. It’s something that fans have been wanting for a long, long time, and boy did it deliver.
It goes back to the open worlds of Sunshine, yet retains the charm and refined mechanics of Galaxy and 64. There’s huge areas to explore rather than the small, self contained levels we’ve seen in recent outings. The big change though is the power ups. There’s no Tenookie suits or fire flowers. Instead, you use your ghost hat Cappy to
possess capture enemies and animals you come across, and steal their powers.
I played through it for three days straight trying to collect every moon and using Cappy to try and capture every creature, just to see what would happen. This is coming from a former Sega fanboy who never really liked the Mario series. Yes, Odyssey is that good. In fact I’d dare say it’s the best in the series and quite possibly one of the best games Nintendo has ever made. Easily up there with classics like Ocarina of Time. It’s an old school collectathon that takes the best from every other game in the series and compresses it down into highly refined charm. Odyssey easily grabs our number one spot, and it’s the must have title for the Switch.