Sephonie is a game about pieces that don't seem like they fit naturally forming a harmonious whole because, as Lex Luthor in Grant Morrison's eternal classic All-Star Superman realized too late, "we're all we've got."
Sephonie's gameplay gives you a relaxing break from its precision 3D puzzle platforming with a relaxing turn-based tile puzzle minigame. Sephonie's story intersperses grounded reminiscences of extremely personal human melancholy with cute and genuinely funny jokes about how crabs and squids might see the world.
Sephonie is very very special to me, and those 9ish hours are going to stick with me for the rest of my life. What a treasure.
PS4 Spidered Man (PC Port)
As a Known MCU Hater, it was strange to be reminded by videogame cutscenes that oh, yeah, when I was younger I was a huge Spider-Man fan. This game brought that back to the surface for the first time in decades.
Don't get me wrong, I loved Into the Spiderverse, but it felt very much like a fluke. Spiderverse felt like a miraculous accident, where the Marvel Content Factory's billowing smokestacks got clogged up for a moment and while everyone was distracted, some artists managed to make something good while no one was supervising them.
Big-budget videogames aren't the way they are by mistake. It was cool to see the actual main plot writers of a huge financial expenditure be allowed to tell the sort of story that makes me care about superheroes. It wasn't perfect, and the DLC story sucked the foulest ass imaginable, but Spider-Man PS4 is probably my favorite Peter Parker story I've yet experienced.
Also good: The thoughtful iterations on the web-swinging traversal that Treyarch invented on the PS2, and the clever integration of the traversal and the combat. Most open world games are two games stapled together; Driving and combat. You hit a button to switch which of the two games you're playing at the moment. PS4 Spider-Man does something very cool and clever by having no seam. The controls you use to cross the city are still there in combat and have their own combat-specific uses. One single set of controls to internalize, and it felt very intuitive and natural once I got the hang.
Deep Rock Galactic
I had a lovely time with Left 4 Dead and played it on and off with various friends for several years. Left 4 Dead 2 was still decent but all of the new guns and throwables were just kinda worse, and in general it was a step down from the first game to me.
For years I waited for the next great cooperative FPS. It definitely wasn't any of the other zombie bullshit shooters that tried to ride Left 4 Dead's coattails! It turned out to be this, a strangely flavored game about being a fantasy-style dwarf doing sci-fi space mining.
Deep Rock Galactic is just an incredibly good and thoughtful execution of various gameplay elements that have existed for a decade plus. You and up to three friends traverse some caves and shoot some huge alien bugs on your way to one of various objectives. There's no unique aspect that I could describe and you'd go "oh, yeah, I understand why this is your favorite co-op game of all time." The closest thing to that is the procedurally generated maps, but many games have something like that. I'd also have to explain that after over a hundred hours of play the map generation keeps throwing unique-feeling layouts that never glitch into being uncompletable. As with every other aspect of the game, it sounds relatively common/normal, and I have to qualify it with "it's exceptionally well-executed though and integrates well with all the other mechanics."
If you like first person shooting with your friends, there is no game on Earth I would recommend to you before Deep Rock Galactic. I could tell you specific stories and describe specific elements, but the reason DRG is so great isn't any of those things individually, it's the sum of all of them. The whole is just the best cooperative FPS yet made. Stop reading this and friend me on Steam and come point at a huge gem with a laser pointer with me and click the mouse repeatedly so our space dwarves ritualistically say "WE'RE RICH" at each other over and over until a huge bug interrupts us by barfing acid and we have to kill it.
As in, the "City That Never Sleeps" expansion for the main game. I haven't gotten a chance to try Miles Morales yet. ↩︎