Norco is notable for a number of reasons: it’s a beautiful and honest depiction of southern Louisiana, as well as an inventive, dystopian sci-fi story and a scathing critique of the blight of the oil industry. Norco is a rendition of Norco, Louisiana, a real town whose name stands for the New Orleans Refining Company, home to Shell’s manufacturing complex. It was created by Geography of Robots. Norco unfolds slowly as the main character, Kay, returns to her childhood home after her mother’s death in a point-and-click adventure. It’s a story of magical realism with elements of mystery, but it’s also grounded in reality, which is a difficult genre mix to balance. Simple environmental writing and puzzles, combined with a unique mind map mechanic that serves as a character list and mental notebook, contribute to a fast-paced story with plenty of opportunities to pause and reflect on the weirdness poignant.
Some games thrive on deliberate obscurity. One of them is a tunic. Developer Andrew Shouldice’s action-adventure game echoes Myst, The Witness, and the original Legend of Zelda. It has also been compared to 2012’s Fez, a game that used its own unique written language to puzzle, entice, and ultimately lead players to the game’s large-scale secrets. Its combat can get tedious, especially during later boss fights. , and the design of the levels does not always allow you to go back quietly. However, it is a masterful adventure in itself because it trusts the intelligence, the patience and, above all, the thirst for discovery of the player.
RING OF ELDEN
Several games have attempted to replicate the exploratory marvel of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but Elden Ring is the first to truly succeed. It’s quite the weird, opaque, and ultimately rewarding game we’ve come to expect from creator From Software, with terrain that will take years to fully grasp. The game’s open-world elements, on the other hand, reframe much of the savagery of previous games, without detracting from obstacles, but rather encouraging gradual progression over sheer force. It’s pretty rare to be lost for a dozen hours in a remote part of the world, just to return to an earlier task as an entirely different character, with greater abilities and new insight. This game is amazing.
DESTINY 2: THE WITCH QUEEN is a sequel to DESTINY.
Destiny has faced several challenges since its debut in 2014, including shaky launch days, a global pandemic, and a sale to PlayStation, to mention a few. So it’s practically a miracle that Destiny 2: The Witch Queen is still the finest thing to happen to the franchise after eight years. It’s more Destiny, to be sure, with a new campaign, a new setting, new weapons, and new abilities. But it’s also Destiny without the caveats, or the longing dialogues like, “Imagine how fantastic this would be if Bungie implemented X, Y, or Z?” Bungie has spent the last several years honing the potential of their gigantic experiment, and it’s now paying off with The Witch Queen.
THE LOST ARK
The achievement of Raiders of the Lost Ark is remarkable. Its superb class design and fantastic ARPG gameplay would be enough to set it apart from many other games this year, but it’s also a content gold mine. The MMO, which debuted in Korea in 2019 before being converted for distribution in Europe and North America this year, started off strong with amazing endgame content (a rarity for the genre). While Lost Ark is already a fantastic game in and of itself, developer Smilegate RPG has promised more endgame content and new classes in the near future. It appears like there is still a thrilling journey ahead of us.
HORTICULTURE THAT IS OUT OF THE BOX
You sell plants in Strange Horticulture. The plants appear to be commonplace, however they are anything but: Plants may inspire individuals to be bold, or they might entice them to their deaths. Some are designed to sharpen your attention or poison your foes. It’s a straightforward game with meticulous attention to detail. Through client talk and plants acquired through an in-game map, a bizarre, spooky narrative emerges as you operate this plant shop. Strange Horticulture is a short game that took me just over five hours to complete, but it was one of the most memorable I’ve played this year.
WARHAMMER 3: TOTAL WAR
There are games that are ambitious, and then there are games that are ambitious. The latter is Total War: Warhammer 3. Its map is larger than the combined maps of its predecessors, and it debuted with eight fantastical factions.