Games of 2020 – Intermission

Welcome to the article where I shove in my views on a bunch of games I haven’t covered yet. This is more of a talk where I get to ramble about a bunch of video games I’ve played that were released in 2020, and games I’ve either not included in the other categories, games I haven’t put much time into, or just stuff I’d like to discuss.

It’s a bit of a clusterfuck this time, so let’s kick things off right away. These won’t be as long as my previous reviews, more quick fire rounds. It would have been a much longer list than this, so I might keep others back for future articles in January. Let us see!

Gedonia

I wanted to talk about this indie gem sooner, but I only had so many places to put it. It isn’t a Top 10 game, and while it’s a pretty cool early access RPG, other games in that category just did a better job. Still, I wouldn’t sleep on Gedonia. It’s a fascinating little project made by a single developer. You guys are really putting out the good work!

My first thoughts of Gedonia were: so it’s like Zelda mixed with Skyrim? Well, it’s more like the former than the latter. It’s very rough, with a lot of weird bugs with content that needs plenty of work, but there’s easily enough promise here to get stuck into, and I wanted to talk about it at some point. For a very reasonable price tag of 10$, you get to play around in a quirky open world RPG that has a lot of promise, and I’ve seen worse from bigger studios. The music is quite pretty and relaxing, and while there’s very little voice acting, the dialogue is cute and keeps me entertained.

Even though the game is more like an early alpha, Gedonia comes with quite a lot of content. There are plenty of quests to carry out, and the world map is starting to include world events like goblin attacks, with quests that add to the gameplay. The combat, while very clunky and slow, does show promise, with a ton of different ways to kit out your rather goofy character. The character models need work, but there’s some kind of charm to playing something like this. You need sufficient stamina to carry out attacks, so I found I had to run about and dodge attacks while my stamina bar recovered sufficiently to keep combat going. It’s a little iffy, but it’s not quite as bad as ELEX, so it’s something I can tolerate.

Gedonia shows promise. However, it was just a bit too early in development to place it in any of my main lists. Still, if you have 10$ and want to support a solo indie developer, and would like to try out an interesting game, I can recommend Gedonia. I’m keeping a close eye on the game. It might be a bit soon if you want a true, complete and polished experience, but there’s enough to keep your intrigue if you, like me, enjoy trying out games in development.

Kingdoms Reborn

I wasn’t kidding when I said I’ve played a torrent of early access titles this year. I’ve had so much fun exploring passion projects, and Kingdoms Reborn is one such game. Launching in early November, its premise grabbed me right away. An open world-Banished style game, focused on trade and multiplayer? I like the sound of that.

It’s pretty darn cool. Sure, it’s in early development like most of these games are, and I’m intrigued to see how it goes on, but I’ve been liking it a lot. You pick your starting location in a rather pretty setting, find a place to begin your bustling city, and begin. You pick up buildings through a trading card system, and only through that system, though houses, farms and roads etc you can make from the start. Everything costs a certain resource, and your goal is to make it through each winter. That means food, and making sure your little guys don’t starve to death. Unfortunately for them, I’m somewhat known as a bit of a sadist when it comes to games, and imagine their shock when they realized I’m entertained when my villages suffer.

The gameplay loop so far is quite simple, and it’s at the beginning of a long development cycle, but it’s fun. It might be worth giving it a look, although it has a long way to go. I decided the game, while entertaining, was just too early to recommend in my Early Access showcase list, but let’s see how it develops in the coming months!

Satisfactory

Boy, this has had an interesting history, and I’m still not sure what to think on it. Back in 2019 during the height of the Epic Store controversy regarding exclusivity, Satisfactory was one of these: Epic exclusivity for one year, with a release to other platforms after the year is up. There have been hundreds, if not thousands of takes on this, and I’m not going to add too much to it. Personally, while I prefer open launches throughout, I don’t blame a smaller dev for taking these deals. That money can mean security, and in a time like this that’s important. At the same time, I appreciate and understand the frustration consumers get from not getting it on their preferred platform, especially when exclusivity wasn’t a major thing on the PC until the Epic Store came along, though separate launchers like EA’s Origin and Ubisoft’s Uplay are still a thing. Even so, I don’t mind waiting (shrugs). I have enough games to play, anyway.

So, Coffee Stain got a bit of flack for taking these exclusivity deals, and their response to it was fair, albeit teasing in a provoking way. A reasonable response, although I’m always fascinated how devs do PR sometimes, and it’s a murky quagmire. While it wasn’t quite as bad as other cases, it’s an easy way to rile up potential customers, who have a lot of emotion when dealing with the Epic Store. Even after the exclusivity period was over, they took their time releasing the game to Steam, again using their quirky means of communication to ‘tease’ a release date. But finally it did come out on 8th June, 2020, to critical acclaim. Hundreds of thousands of sales, and 96% overall positive reviews. Like the methods or not, it’s proof that this is a real success story. From my hands on experience with the game so far, it feels like it deserves the acclaim, though it’ll take a while before I have a concrete opinion on it.

Onto the game itself, Satisfactory is similar to Factorio on first person mode. With impressive visuals that remind me a lot like Subnauctica (another incredible success story from an indie dev in early access), Satisfactory punches above its weight from the get go. My jaw dropped a bit when I booted the game up for the first time. I was expecting muddier graphics, and it looks really nice. The optimization could be improved, but overall it runs very well and shouldn’t be an issue for decent systems. Just like Factorio, you build factories…a lot of them. While Satisfactory has quite the steep learning curve, I’m quite impressed with how much it eases you into it. There’s four major biome worlds to explore and get lost in, with one that functions very much like a tutorial. The voice acting of the AI helper bot is well done, the UI is quite intuitive without being too complex, and you’ve got a bit of breathing room. The open world is vast with a great emphasis on vertically. While the open world is big, there isn’t as much room to expand as you might think, at least if you’re thinking horizontal. There’s a lot to build in this game, and some areas are massive, so you might want to build up, rather than along.

It really helps that resources are infinite, because trying to micromanage resources can be a problem in other games. Constantly running out of materials to craft and having to run about the map like a headless chicken can be frustrating, but there’s few issues like that in Satisfactory. There’s quite a lot of enjoyment to be had in exploring, as these worlds aren’t procedural, like many similar games, but hand crafted, and it’s a very pretty world to boot. I have memories of Ark: Survival Evolved when exploring, without all the problems that plague Ark.

Having a dedicated tutorial island is essential, because without it I would have been lost. A lot of similar games expect you to blindly run around like a chicken, or give you a smack on the bum, say “good luck” and walk away cackling like a supervillain. With its nice UI and helpful hints, you shouldn’t be too overwhelmed when playing this game, especially at the beginning. I’ve only done the tutorial and just about to start in the more gritty aspects of the game, but I’ve been pleasantly challenged so far and I’m looking forward to playing more.

Like all awesome sandbox games, this game also has mod support, and quite a lot of it as well. While the mod support is unofficial and not officially supported, it feels robust. I’ve only tried a few mods so far, but there’s a ton to choose from. I’d like to see official support down the line with Steam Workshop integration, but it just adds even more game time to what is already becoming an addictive game. Apparently, it is coming, so watch this space!

As for flaws, I can’t really find many. There’s some glitches here and there, and I’d like to see less pop-in with far distance objects. There’s also quite a lot of bugs with multiplayer. While playable, it is the weakest part of the game so far. Provided these get fixed in later updates, with the typical content patches to advance the game-state, I find myself being quite happy with Satisfactory. It’s available for $30 on the Epic Store and Steam, which is quite a reasonable price tag for the sheer amount of hours you can get in the game, comparable with stuff like Rimworld, Factorio and Kenshi. I can’t say it’s perfect, but its a dependable game with a lot to offer.

Immortals Fenyx Rising

A decent Ubisoft game? Wonders will never cease.

This game has taken me by surprise. After a torrid year for Ubisoft with inward turmoils, harassment and two broken launches in Watchdogs: Legion and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla (though let’s face it, hardly any of their games release in good shape), Immortals was a breath of fresh air for me. With a weird mix of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and a little bit of the new Genshin Impact inside, I’ve grown to rather enjoy this game so far. I’ve only a few hours in, so this won’t be much of a review. That review is promised to another blog, Sassygamers, so it’s them I need to thank to hooking me up with a copy of the game.

The story doesn’t feel anything special: Prometheus and Zeus narrating over your gormless hero Fenyx in an over the top, humor-laden dialogue as you try and deal with the big bad threat. It’s corny, and at times tries too hard to be funny, but I’ve found it enjoyable nonetheless, with a few laugh out loud lines that really cheered me up. In a year like this, perhaps an amusing piece like Immortals is the way forward. Not everything has to be serious, all of the time.

What really matters is the gameplay, and I’ve been rather enjoying it. The combat doesn’t do anything particularly well, but it’s solid and fun, and the puzzles at least in the opening slice of the game feel varied. It’s enough to make you think, but not too difficult. It’s a cheese board experience: enjoyable, makes you feel warm and pudgy, and so far? I’ve been pleasantly surprised how nice Fenyx feels. There will be a review in the future, but I wanted to share some brief thoughts on it while I still (hopefully) have folks attention. It’s cute, amusing, doesn’t take itself seriously and comes with some pretty nice gameplay to boot. Might be one of Ubisoft’s best releases in a while.

Persona 4: Golden

IT FINALLY FUCKING RELEASED ON PC! WOOOOOOOOO!

Ahem… I should lay off the coffee. Honestly, I was tempted to just say ‘fuck it’ to my no ports rule and include this in my Top 10, because let’s face it, the PS Vita is one of those oddball handhelds that got screwed over by Sony’s terrible decisions regarding it (rip). Persona 4 Golden never saw the light of day until Summer 2020, when Atlus finally decided to get off its ass and include one of the Persona franchise on Steam, and boy did it deliver.

I love this game so much. I might even like it a bit more than Persona 5, even if the latter is a better game overall. I just feel drawn more to the characters of Persona 4.

I…I know this should be more of a review, but I’m just so happy to see it finally come out on PC. It’s dirt cheap, runs well and is one of the best games ever made. I won’t spoil anything further. Buy it and try it out, even if you’ve never played Persona games before. The soundtracks kick ass, the gameplay is pretty good and there’s a lot of great worldbuilding. You might need some snacks for the lengthier story sequences, though. Enjoy!

Next time is the grand finale: my Top 5 games of 2020! Hope to see you there.

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