Andy Manson’s Choices
Some may consider this a cheat choice, but this is the first opportunity that many – myself included – will have had to play the franchise in full, including all the DLC. There still aren’t many better realised universes in games than that of the Mass Effect franchise, and it was an absolute joy to be able to revisit it again – now in a fancy new wrapper. The story is still brilliant, the combat is better than it got credit for, and even the Mako is tolerable now.
Is it a game? Is it an interactive wallpaper? I don’t really care. With a stunning visual style, an intriguing coming-of-age story and a stellar voice cast, The Artful Escape’s minimal gameplay is merely a vehicle for driving forward a kaleidoscopic adventure of intergalactic proportions which feels like a prog rock album cover come to life. If I could forget its existence to experience it from scratch once again, I would.
It’s been eight years since I’ve included a FIFA title on any Game of the Year list, which might say as much about the quality of the games in-between or my mental state in a pandemic world, but it doesn’t change the fact that I’ve spent more time with this year’s instalment than any other game in 2021. The live nature of it means that some of the gameplay tweaks have irritated more than enthralled, but it’s the best it has played in quite some time.
This short interactive experience certainly isn’t the first game to tackle the issue of degenerative mental health issues, but it might just be the first to tackle it with this level of deftness and sympathy. Before I Forget is a taut, sometimes terrifying, always heart-breaking experience that I was glad was just an hour long, as I may have struggled to finish it otherwise. As it is, it’s a fairly essential experience, and a new highmark for this type of title.
Well, wasn’t this a surprise? A game that stretches the word “pastiche” to its very breaking point, this love letter to the original Metal Gear blends modern gameplay mechanics with old school level design and Blood Dragon-esque humour to unbelievably good effect. With a choose your own adventure style narrative that utilises that humour to great effect, there’s even an element of replayability to it all. UnMetal is really, really good.