Full of joy and laziness
Originally published January 11, 2019 at Doublejump.co
My Game of the Year: PlayStation VR & Astro Bot: Rescue Mission
After years of just reading about it, I finally entered virtual reality in 2018. With the PSVR, I finally learned just how groundbreaking it is.
I’m sure there are many reasons why, but for gaming at least, virtual reality is a chance to be awed again. Watching my little sister laugh and scream as she threw burgers at zombie customers in Dead Hungry, or my Mum using an actual game controller for over an hour on Astro Bot: Rescue Mission – something I haven’t seen since I was six – showed me that virtual reality isn’t just the next platform for gaming innovation but a chance to revitalize the joy and wonder of gaming in the mainstream.
2018’s Astro Bot: Rescue Mission (which I reviewed earlier in the year) exemplified all of this in one phenomenally cute package and gave us a chance to show those on the outside how and why this medium is so special. Threading virtual reality through the DNA of a straightforward 3D platformer, Astro Bot manages to connect with players in a way few games can without a heavy dose of rose-tinted nostalgia. Just the act of moving your head forward to peek around a corner, watching your little robot waddle ahead to safety, is almost unreal to witness after years of ‘flat’ gaming.
Astro Bot: Rescue Mission was an unforgettable experience that reminded me of just how incredible gaming can still be.
Honourable mention: Into the Breach
A late entry (I started playing in December) but Into the Breach is exactly what I want out of Tactical RPG’s in every way. The mecha help with that (as they do absolutely anything) but the chess-like foreshadowing, looping the player in on almost every consequence of theirs and the enemy’s actions, turns the combat into puzzles instead of an exercise in herding chaos. As a result, Into the Breach is one of the most genuinely rewarding games I’ve played in a while.
Honourable mention: Prey (2017)
One of the older games I bought and actually ended up playing in 2018, Prey (2017) is shockingly good to receive such a muted response (no doubt in part to Bethesda’s review policy). A sleek and silver concoction of Looking Glass Studios’ DNA, System Shock and Bioshock, Prey will likely be one of the few genuine immersive sims we see this generation — we definitely didn’t see any in 2018.
At least Prey will see some love in 2019 with its VR multiplayer mode and support for the roguelike expansion Mooncrash. God knows it deserves it.