1- God of War
Publisher: SIEE/Santa Monica Studios
God of War is as near as possible to a perfect triple A game. The story manages to feel like an epic adventure despite being ostensibly mundane. Kratos has come a long way since the original God of War trilogy and their portable spinoffs and prequels. Despite this we see he still has a lot more to learn about connecting with people and get to experience his character developing along with his abilities and the Player’s skill due to the phenomenal pacing of the action and story setpieces. The dynamic of Kratos with his son Atreus adds a new dimension to gameplay with Atreus’ bow offering ranged attacks that were once limited to Kratos’ magic in the previous games.
Here’s hoping that Santa Monica have plans for sequels in the near future because fans everywhere took God of War 2018 as an excuse to get closer and more invested in the story of the ghost of sparta and are itching to play more and see a satisfying conclusion to this arc which began back in 2005.
2- Return of the Obra Dinn
Genre: Indie Mystery.
The Return of the Obra Dinn is an independant masterpiece. Even though it only features around three hours of gameplay depending on your ability to solve its puzzles, it is clear as day that developer Lucas Pope’s passion for games as an artform is unmatched. No effort is spared in the gorgeous yet simplistic aesthetic of black and white cell shading and the intricacy of the mystery is something that’s best left discovered while being played. This game truly is worth every penny that goes to support it’s marvelous developer; just make sure you sit down with pen and some paper to make your own notes when you’re playing or you’ll get hopelessly lost.
3- Red Dead Redemption 2
Publisher: Rockstar Games.
Genre: Open World Action-Adventure
Red Dead Redemption 2 is a prequel to 2010s Red Dead Redemption and follows a previously unknown member of the gang which you targeted in the previous game. Take to the slightly older west with some of the most gorgeous aesthetics and realistic western gameplay that’s ever graced our screens.
While it can take realism a bit too far sometimes, getting off a horse to engage in a firefight only for said horse to run away with all of the good weapons in its saddlebag is a repeated frustration as is being flung off the horse buckaroo style whenever someone sneezes in its vicinity. However, despite these minor complaints Rockstar has managed to genuinely bring the world of the declining west to life once again and you can spend literal hours exploring or following closely the exploits of Arthur Morgan in one of Rockstar’s typically brilliant stories. This game takes advantage of all of its potential and excels at offering both fun and realism in the same package. It’s a testament to the talent of Rockstar Games.
Publisher: Unknown Worlds Entertainment
Subnautica is quite possibly the best game that can come out of the “Survive and thrive” genre of video games. Triple A franchises can produce beautiful games because of the huge resources they have at their disposal. This is not the case with Subnautica, but I would argue that they have pulled off the impossible. Thrown onto an ocean planet after your ship malfunctions, you emerge in a planet full of aquatic life and features that are too this day awe inspiring to me. Massive chasms lead to dangerous monsters in the deepest depths below. It is a constant thrill to explore these places with limited food, drink and oxygen as you venture to the unknown parts of the map. Survival at its finest.
What’s more is that not only is it a genuinely fun place to spend an afternoon, Subnautica tries and succeeds in providing the most compelling story campaign of any survival game to date. If you didn’t need selling anymore, I have to say that you can construct your own gigantic submarine, its color and name glistening on the ocean waves. If this wasn't a turn-on before, as you enter it, you will be greeted with the submarine stating that the captain was on board. It is really the little touches that truly make this game one of the greats.
5- Spider-man £4
Publisher: SIEE/Insomniac Games
Spider-Man £4 is a unique Spiderman story and for once in the character’s life it doesn’t follow the same, stale, origin story for Peter Parker’s Spiderman. Instead we dive right in with a Spidey that’s an adult and has been active since he was a teenager. That said, the game manages to keep the story fresh and engaging with both comic references and excellent world building, the audience does not feel as though it’s missed out on any of Spidey’s exploits and it truly feels like we’re getting to see his most important moments. The inclusion of some comic favourite characters who get to make an appearance and establish themselves for hopeful sequels in the future adds nothing but flavour to the simple but entertaining story without detracting from important story moments.
The gameplay is some of the most fluid combat and travelling mechanics ever featured in a game and might even rival the web swinging of the 2004 game Spiderman 2 which is quite the achievement as 14 years worth of other spiderman games could not claim to have even come close to the fluidity and sheer enjoyment of a game made in 2004. If you are invested in Spiderman’s mythos and universe this game will satisfy your needs for a good Spiderman story in a game and for casual gamers there is no greater joy than jumping off a tall building and swinging at the last second to save the day. A truly solid experience through and through with an honorable mention going to Insomniac for having unlockable alternate costumes instead of having to buy them with microtransactions.