Here is a game that I fell in love with instantly. It was brought to us by Level 5, the same studio that brought us Dark Cloud and it’s sequel, two of my favourite childhood games.
Ni No Kuni II takes part in a beautifully crafted world full of characters just as whimsical as the kingdoms that they are found in. The game follows the story of Prince Evan, as he travels across the world, meeting the denizens and the leaders of the world, and building a brand new kingdom after a coup forced him to relinquish his title and escape his lifelong home.
Another great aspect has to be the combat – I personally find it very satisfying, the connections between this and the combat systems of Level 5’s previous games seem quite clear to me. Each of the party members have their own weapons specialties, and they can use both melee and ranged weapons. For example, Evan uses swords and wands in combat. There are also different status effects that can be inflicted to party members and monsters, as well as elemental affinities which weapons can be imbued with to deal extra damage to monsters who are weak to particular elements. All combat is real-time, no turn-based moves – you will be running about the battlefield, blocking, dodging, and landing blows to take down your opponents.
One small downside to the combat (and this is actually the only thing I can think of to complain about) is the camera once you are locked on to an enemy. I guess you could say it’s not entirely intuitive, and you may still need to rely on your thumb to give you the best angle. My expectation would be for the camera to be better at keeping the enemy relatively centred on screen whilst locked on, but unfortunately it is still quite free, to the point where locking on sometimes feels somewhat pointless.
Another key element of the game is the kingdom building. Not too far into the game, Evan’s brand new kingdom is established, leaving you with a fledgling empire to run. Money will be accrued over time for you to spend on your kingdom, building and improving the various facilities, deciding who amongst your citizens should work where, and investing money into research which can be carried out at certain facilities, all of which have some measure of benefit to gameplay.
Of course, Evan wasn’t traveling across the world with all of these citizens just waiting for him to pick a nice spot for them to settle – once you have founded your kingdom, you will spend a lot of the game finding new people, accepting their side quests, and recruiting them so that you may benefit from their skills. There are so many different citizens to unlock, and the means to unlock them vary greatly.
I couldn’t possibly not mention the fact that there is a certain… sense of humour found throughout Ni No. And that sense of humour is … bad puns. I’m talking about the kind that you still can’t help but laugh at, even though they’re bad! This is usually seen in the names of the characters, most notably the Dogfolk who have an Asian twist to their culture. You will come across such characters as Hau Ling, Ya Pi, and even Bao Wao … as bad as they are, I still love them.
Areas to explore, a kingdom to build, citizens to recruit, side quests to complete, and tainted monsters to defeat. There’s simply no shortage of things for you to do in Ni No Kuni II. I always have such a good time playing, so I can definitely recommend you give it a try if you haven’t already.
Fallout 4 for me was the pinnacle of the Fallout franchise. Many would say that New Vegas is more deserving of this title – and I understand why! It is an excellent game, but my personal opinion is that Fallout 4 delivers what I want from the franchise in just about every area.
The game itself is so crisp and smooth in comparison to the previous entries to the series, and the world is much larger as well – I haven’t even explored all of it as of yet!
A huge world full of unique characters, desolate ruins, and environmental story-telling (a specialty of Bethesda), there is simply so much to see while you’re travelling the wasteland that is now The Commonwealth. I really enjoyed the story revolving around finding your missing son, who was kidnapped from their cryo-chamber! Watching the event from your own chamber as the a mysterious man murders your spouse, steals your infant child, and then taunts you inches away from your face through the glass … it is a very powerful introduction to this story-filled game.
There are a number of factions for you to meet and interact with, and it will be necessary to befriend them in order to complete your goal of finding your son – but you can’t befriend them all! The Commonwealth is a dangerous place, full of raiders, mutated monsters, and rumours of the mysterious Institute have everyone on edge.
One of the things I was most excited for was the Settlement mechanic! The junk that you pick up around the Fallout universe has been mostly useless up until now – you can break these items down at your settlement to get hold of resources, which you can then use to make all sorts of buildings, contraptions, and many other things. I have spent a lot of time building nice, well-defended settlements for the people of The Commonwealth to live out their days in peace and safety!
Of course another thing to comment on would be the companion characters that you come across – they are certainly an important part of the game, as I’m sure most people who play prefer to travel with one! They’re definitely unique characters amongst themselves, and I’m not just saying that because one of them is a dog!
You can really play this game however you see fit, with dialogue choices that help to form your personality, not to mention the story choices you make that will affect various people you meet. And with the many, many perks that you can adopt upon levelling up, you really can make any kind of character that you want to!
The game only got better with each installment of DLC that was released – particularly Far Harbour, Nuka-World, and Automatron. All three provided extra story, and lots of fun for me. Automatron allowed you to build your own robots which could then be your companions, and Far Harbour and Nuka-World both gave us entirely new areas to discover and explore, with new enemies and factions to kill/befriend!
I don’t really think you can go wrong with this game, it definitely gets my recommendation! (It certainly helps that it’s very cheap to buy these days!)
Chaos. Madness. Absurdity. Expect all of this and more if you decide to play Screencheat. This is one of my favourite games to play with friends in local multiplayer, it is quite simply … ridiculous.
What is it? Exactly what it says on the tin. There are a number of different game modes, the kind that you would expect from a first person shooter such as Team Deathmatch, and Capture The Flag (although named differently within the game).
So what sets this apart from any other first person shooter you could play with your friends? Well … everyone is invisible! So how do you play? You Screencheat! You must watch the other player’s screens to figure out where they are, but you have to hurry, before they figure out where you are!
The stages themselves are bright, vivid, and segmented by colour – this is the main way to determine where your opponents are, by looking at what colour is on their screen. But there’s plenty of ways to zip around the various stages by jumping through vents and being blasted through the air by fans!
Another thing I should mention – don’t expect to be using weapons that you would expect to see in other first person shooters! The weapons are arguably more unique than the concept of the game itself. There are a number of gun type weapons, but it’s much more fun in my opinion to use the zanier options such as the Hobby Horse (charge!), Bear Bomb (no further explanation needed), Sorgean (lots of potential for mishaps here), and the Chefolet (particularly dangerous, with ricocheting energy balls!).
Next thing to mention is the mutators. As you level up, you will unlock new mutators to use in your games, which spice up the matches somewhat. Some of them will affect the actual gameplay such Flappy Jump which allows you to perform a large number of midair jumps, Hyper Mode which makes everything fast, and Martyrdom which will make you drop bombs upon dying. Then there are the mutators which are just for fun. A couple of examples are The Haunting which will cause the ragdolls left behind on death to fly around the room, and Wilhelm which causes the infamous Wilhelm scream to play upon the death of a player.
The last thing I want to mention is the commentator. He is as equally absurd as the rest of the game, and he’s always ready to point out your deaths, and your silly mistakes! “Butter fingers!”
This game can also be played online, but it’s my personal opinion that this is a game that is best played with your friends via local multiplayer.
I have spent hours and hours and hours on this game. So simple, yet so much depth!
Right from the off you are given a rather heartbreaking scene, where your grandfather is on his death bed and gives you an envelope with instructions to open it only once modern society has pushed you to your limits… after another brief scene showing the joys of corporate life, you open the envelope and learn about Stardew Valley.
You will pick up how to play bit by bit as various NPCs tell you more, and quests offer you some small guidance in how to proceed. You will learn how to tend the land, make a profit, expand your farm, and you will also meet lots of interesting people who inhabit the valley, donate interesting items to the library, delve into the mines, enjoy the quiet pastime of fishing, take part in lots of community activities, bonding with everyone as you do, strengthening your relationships as the years go by, and eventually you will choose one of the lucky bachelor/bachelorettes to be your spouse!
So, do you think there’s enough in this game to keep you busy?
With so many different and unique characters to bond with and choose as your spouse, this adds a lot of replay value, for the sake of seeing what life is like with each one. As well as this, there are a number of different farm styles you can choose at the beginning of the game, so this will help to shake things up a bit between playthroughs.
I have had no trouble maintaining a number of different characters, and have yet to get bored. The one thing I haven’t tried is the multiplayer, as none of my friends play this particular title on the same platform as me, which is a shame because I quite like the idea of it – particularly as they have added the option to reduce profit margins for the farm, as a sort of “difficulty setting”.
This has almost instantly become one of my favourite games, for so many reasons! The Outer Worlds is brought to us by Obsidian Entertainment and the more I play, the more I am reminded of two of my favourite series – Fallout and Mass Effect.
The Sci-Fi space setting, party system, and space voyaging all bring to mind the excellent gameplay of Mass Effect. But the levelling up, bold characters, and the quirky sense of humour behind the writing all point to Fallout, in particular New Vegas which we also have Obsidian to thank for.
But of course, it isn’t all recycled ideas – there is no doubting that The Outer Worlds has plenty of its own unique personality! From the moment I started to create my character creator, and I saw the vast choice of hair colours that I had to choose from … don’t expect to have much choice in the way of “normal” hair colours – they’re vibrant, bold, and occasionally two-tone!
I have pretty much cleared through the first area that acts as the tutorial area before letting you loose to explore other celestial bodies in the solar system. This has been enough to show me that the combat is enjoyable, and challenging at times. I have already found a good variety of weaponry and have started to lean towards certain preferences. I am definitely enjoying the setting, and the characters and factions that are being introduced to me – I have already had to make a moral choice in the form of diverting power to one of two areas … (Sound familiar to the New Vegas fans out there?).
From what I have seen of the game world so far, it really is quite breathtaking and imaginative. I’ve yet to grow tired of traversing across the alien landscape from point A to point B. There is a fast travel option available between certain key areas if you are the kind of gamer who doesn’t enjoy going back and forth across areas you have already seen.
For those of you who really love a good difficulty challenge, much like in New Vegas, The Outer Worlds offers you a somewhat more realistic RPG experience with the Supernova difficulty. In this mode your fast travel will be limited, you will need to eat, drink, and sleep regularly in order to survive, and certain injuries will require bed rest for you to recover. This is of course on top of all the other challenges you would expect to face with the highest difficulty setting, such as enemies having more health and dealing more damage, and even having limitations on your manual and auto saves!
I can’t wait to get further into this game and see what choices and challenges will face me, and what absurd and zany characters I will bump in to. This is definitely going to be a game that has me exploring every nook and cranny to find all the hidden little gems the world designers have hidden away.
These two games are the latest in the Hitman series, and they are actually the first Hitman games I have ever played. I fell in love with them after watching my favourite Youtubers (Outside Xbox) get up to all sorts of mischief with super-tough-guy, Agent 47.
The premise of the game is that you are Agent 47, a hitman (in case you couldn’t guess), and it is your job to eliminate the target. The areas that you will travel to are all quite large, with many different people, as well as different opportunities to take advantage of. This means that there will be many, many different ways for you to eliminate your target.
The game offers you many different challenges which encourage you to explore, experiment, and generally just see what kind of chaos you can cause! There are plenty of fun and helpful unlockables for you to work towards (everyone can find a use for an explosive rubber duck, right?).
The game most certainly has a sense of humour, if Agent 47’s undercover persona, Mr. Rieper, is anything to go by. On top of this, 47 opts for some interesting dialogue options when he is trying to pass himself off as whatever he has disguised himself as. My favourite of such situations would have to be when he dresses as an estate agent (realtor) and gives his target a tour of a charming suburban home, and with each room he gives a speech which in some way insinuates murder …
This is a great game for puzzle-solvers, as there are various challenges and options which will make the game harder, meaning you will have to think and act that much more carefully. The professional difficulty level makes the NPCs much more wise to 47’s antics, but also there are escalation missions, which are multi-stage missions which seem simple enough at first, but with each stage comes either new targets or new limitations!
Hitman has excellent replay value, simply through the main missions having so many different approaches, but also through the previously mentioned escalation missions. And did I mention that you can even create your own contracts, which you can then share with others – and so of course you can also play other player’s created contracts. There’s no denying that this game is fun and gives you plenty of value for your money.
Platform: Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC
Hitman Release Date: 11/03/2016-31/10/2016 (Various Episodes), 31/01/2017 (Complete First Season)
One of the key aspects of story-based games is of course the antagonists! They can take many forms, whether they’re just annoying people who turn up occasionally to get in your way, or an evil overlord who wants nothing short of world domination.
Here are my 10 favourite antagonists, the ones who you just love to hate!
10. Micah Bell
Red Dead Redemption 2 was my first foray in the Rockstar’s classic cowboy franchise, which means that I did not have any insight of events that existing fans of the series had already. For me, the gang’s downfall was a gradual observation, rather than an inevitable conclusion.
As the game progressed I became more and more suspicious of Micah, disliking him more every time he opened his mouth. He seemed to be too much of a loose cannon, and it felt as though his presence would end up being detrimental to the gang’s well-being.
Micah also appears to have a huge chip on his shoulder when it comes to Arthur – as Arthur’s health gets worse, Micah frequently refers to him as “Black Lung” – but even more baffling is how no other gang members ever challenge him on his disrespect towards one of the key members of the gang.
There are few games that force you to spend so much time with the main antagonist – the usual format being occasional meetings and battles. It is always refreshing to see a game that challenges the usual formats.
9. Scott Shelby
Heavy Rain featured three playable characters that the game would switch up from time to time, so players get to know all three at roughly the same pace. Scott Shelby is a Private Investigator who appears to be looking into the deaths caused by the Origami Killer.
Early on Scott meets Lauren Winter, the mother of one of the killer’s victims, and she accompanies him on his investigations. The pair develop a very close relationship as the game progresses. But then a major plot twist reveals that Scott Shelby is in fact the Origami Killer! For first time players (or at least, for me) it was a huge shock to find out that you had in fact been controlling the killer all along.
This impressive twist is what makes Scott one of the most memorable antagonists for me.
8. Seifer Almasy
The rivalry between Final fantasy VIII’s Squall Leonhart and Seifer Almasy is one that I have always loved. They both grew up in Balamb Garden, and have frequently come to blows.
Seifer is eventually recuited by Sorceress Edea to be her knight, taking a completely different path to Squall who is given the mission to assassinate Edea. Seifer appears a number of times throughout the game to hinder the party’s progress .
My favourite battle with him triggers the appearance of Odin, a powerful GF (assuming you have recruited him). Odin has a small chance at the beginning of every battle to use his powerful Zantetsuken skill, which will cut all enemies in half, instantly winning the battle. But when Odin goes up against Seifer, the skilled swordsman in fact manages to strike the GF down, putting him out of commission for good!
Seifer as an antagonist isn’t inherently bad, but rather he is a skilled and ambitious young adult who doesn’t quite fit in thanks to his rash and rebellious nature, until he was manipulated by the Sorceress.
Another entry from the Final Fantasy franchise – Sin of Final Fantasy X.
Sin is a gigantic monster who is best described as a calamitous force in the world of Spira. When the settlements of the world get too large, or start to rely too heavily on Machina, Sin will appear and destroy whatever it can find.
Final Fantasy X has a huge religious theme, and as you might have guessed, Sin is portrayed as the “divine punishment” to the people, and the reason why they must try so hard to atone. Each encounter with Sin is full of tension and intense pressure, as the possibility of destruction is so real once it turns up.
For those unfamiliar with the story, summoners will travel to temples across Spira to complete a pilgrimage, and at the end of this pilgrimage the summoner will call the Final Aeon, which will fight Sin. The hope is that it defeats Sin for good, but that will never happen as there is much more to be told about the origin of Sin.
Sin also has a very bizarre design – one which you don’t get to fully appreciate until much later in the game, as in the early stages of the story it appears in the water most of the time. And as for the actual creation of Sin, there is a very elaborate backstory behind how it came to be, and how it keeps coming back after being defeated.
I think Sin makes for an incredible antagonist. As you travel through Spira, you will see a lot of destruction caused by Sin, and you will meet people who have been affected by it, and the journey to destroy Sin feels like a truly epic tale – one that won’t be forgotten by me any time soon.
6. Zachary Hale Comstock
You’ve all played Bioshock Infinite right? You all know what the deal is with Comstock right? If this information has some how passed you by and you want to play Bioshock Infinite to discover what happens for yourself, MOVE ON.
So, we’ve had the guy who was in our gang, who we spent time with, who then turned on us.
We’ve had the guy who we played as who then turns out to be the killer.
And what do we have now? The guy, who is you but from a different universe!
I don’t think my mind has ever been blown as much as it was when I played this game, and the penny dropped the Comstock was in fact Booker Dewitt, and that Elizabeth was in fact Booker’s daughter, Anna Dewitt.
Again, this is an antagonist with religious overtones, but instead of divine punishment, we have a prophet – you will hear a lot of his prophecies and beliefs as you play the game. The story-crafting here really is phenomenal, with countless tiny details all adding up to make an elaborate backstory.
The uniqueness of Comstock’s backstory and identity truly make him one of the most unforgettable antagonists out there.
5. Skull Kid
This is in fact two separate characters; Skull Kid and the spirit of Majora.
Skull Kid, much like Seifer, is a troubled character, who is corrupted and manipulated by a powerful force. He steals Majora’s Mask from the Happy Mask Salesman, but the spirit sealed within starts to control Skull Kid, causing him to wreak havoc across Termina, the world that Majora’s Mask is set in. This ranges from poisoning the swamp, freezing the home of the Goron’s, blocking paths with boulders, to forcing the moon to fall from the sky.
I first played Majora’s Mask when it was released in 2000, when I was 7 years old … at such an age, this game felt a lot scarier than it actually is. The themes throughout the game are much darker than what is usually expected of a Zelda game, and Skull Kid felt particularly menacing. I wasn’t actually able to complete the game as a child because there were some parts of the game that I just found too frightening to tackle! (Of course, now I can breeze through with ease)
As you get closer to the end of the game, you learn that Skull Kid is just a kid who misses his friends, and that he isn’t actually an evil character. By the time I reached the end of the game, I actually found him to be quite endearing.
The spirit within Majora’s Mask eventually abandons Skull Kid, leading to a very surreal final boss battle.
Skull Kid will always be memorable to me, partly for how disturbing and creepy he was when I was younger, and partly because of how I feel about his character now that I have seen his story.
Demise is the final boss of The Legend Of Zelda: Skyward Sword, and what a boss he is.
You will not see Demise’s true form until the very end of the game, as the main antagonist that you face throughout the game is in fact Ghirahim, but he only acts as a servant to Demise.
I really like Demise’s design, he truly emanates an aura of pure evil and malice. The final battle with him is quite simply … epic. Phenomenal battle music, a breathtaking battlefield, and a genuinely tricky but enjoyable battle against him.
But most importantly, Demise gives us answers.
The main villain of the Legend Of Zelda series is Ganon, and it was never incredibly clear to fans of the series why Ganon keeps appearing across the various titles … until Demise is defeated in Skyward Sword! It is at this point where Demise leaves his curse behind, claiming that his hatred will be reborn over and over to haunt Link and Zelda’s descendants in a never ending cycle – and this is the explanation for Ganon.
As a long time Zelda fan, I will always remember experiencing that battle for the first time, to then have that bomb-shell dropped.
3. Frau Engel
Wolfenstein’s Frau Engel is simply put … evil. She is a devoted Nazi, so devoted in fact that she states the Nazi agenda is more important to her than her own daughter.
You will bear witness to her evil personality a number of times throughout Wolfenstein: The New Order and Wolfenstein: The New Colossus.
The New Order features a disturbing cutscene where Engel’s face has been horribly disfigured, and she gets right into Blazcowicz’s face to taunt him, before being flung aside by B.J.’s companion controlling a robot mech.
In The New Colossus, she relentlessly hunts down the protagonist B.J. Blazcowicz, even going so far as to get his father to lure him into a trap, where she then captures him and beheads him on national TV.
There are probably few characters who you will find yourself hating more than this Nazi (which really is a testament to the character’s design), and so I would say that Frau Engel is one of the greatest video game antagonists out there.
Now, if you haven’t played Portal, chances are you’ve at least heard of Portal.
GLaDOS is the main antagonist of the game, and wow, is she a good one. She hates you. She really hates you. She does not have a problem showing you how much she hates you. Never has there been a more sadistic, sarcastic, sassy character. She is always ready and prepared to chastise you for whatever action you’re about to make.
But everything she does is in the name of science, and if you cooperate you get cake. Right?
One more thing – Still Alive. Once you complete Portal and the credits roll, GLaDOS starts to sing. And as it turns out, GLaDOS can sing!
Ganondorf of The Legend Of Zelda series, the third Zelda entry on this list … I wonder if that might be one of my favourite franchises?
Ganondorf is just one half of the character though, as he can transform into Ganon, which is his beast form. He appears across a number of Zelda games, and in each instance there is a powerfully unique design.
My first encounter with Ganondorf was in Ocarina Of Time, and I was instantly taken by him as an antagonist! He has such an obvious air of evil and power, which is fitting for the bearer of the Triforce of Power.Ganondorf feels like a truly epic force to overcome in this game, especially by the time you reach the second part of the game – seven years after he steals the Triforce and reshapes Hyrule as he sees fit.
In Wind Waker he is actually referred to as Ganon, even though he is still in his Gerudo form. His appearance in Wind Waker is a stark contrast to the bright, bubbly setting that is the Great Sea. Such a strong design, and an excellent final boss battle to boot – he absolutely left his mark on this game.
Twilight Princess didn’t reveal Ganondorf until later in the game, with the main antagonist appearing to be Zant – but Zant was in fact acting in service of Ganondorf, who he reveres as a God. Once again Ganondorf has an excellent design, but what truly stands out for me is the spectacular multi-stage final boss battle. First he possesses Zelda’s body and attacks through her, and then transforms into his massive beast form … the next stage is a heart-pounding horseback battle on a huge open field, until finally Link and Ganondorf face off in a one-on-one sword fight.
Ganondorf makes more appearances across the series, but for me these are the stand-out appearances that make him my all time favourite antagonist of all gaming franchises.