This week in Zero Punctuation, Yahtzee does a review roundup of all the games from 2019 that weren’t worth reviewing any sooner than this moment.
The process of choosing games to review here at Zero Punctuation involves several factors - the existing profile of the game, whether or not I got through it before the edibles kicked in, etc. - but there are many games that fail to meet the cut just because I didn't have much to say. Well, since we're coming up on the end of the year, I thought gathering a whole bunch of such games from 2019 into one video and swearing at them en masse would be both efficient and fun! Cunningly, this means they will all magically become eligible for the year-end Best, Worst and Blandest awards, not that this year's Blandest Games list needed much fucking padding!
The Surge 2
(game titles are spoken by a female computer voice)
Deck13's "sci-fi Dark Souls with industrial lifting equipment" returns with better parrying mechanics and not so much cripple torture porn, finally raising the series to the dizzy heights of "basically okay". I think I'm already seeing the inherent issue with this video's premise: most games that I didn't feel like reviewing when they came out were just "fine". It's hard to get your bile churning about something that's "fine", but I'll give it a go: "Urgh, The Surge 2! Your level design is so fucking mildly confusing, it makes me want to vomit diarrhea out of my nose, and OH GOD, if I have to fight another fucking generic dude with misplaced IKEA parts glued to their armpits, I'm going to, erm, shit earwax out of my piss-hole."
Jedi: Fallen Order being a Souls-like probably indicates that Souls-likes are officially overdone; I mean, that's like when your dad starts getting into your new favorite band. Code Vein is another Souls-like with combat that's generally "fine" and boring level design, but it has one thing that makes it notable: it's the most anime game I've ever played. This is a game where the character customizer has 90 billion hairdos and two noses; a game where one of the facilities in your home base is a hot spring, and if you get in it, female characters will show up in skimpy towels. This is a thing that happens! It built a fanservice hot springs episode into its fucking mechanics! And after the second main boss in a row was a giant demonic stripper with their juicy jugs flapping about, I made the decision to stop playing before my Amazon recommendations became too embarrassing.
Yeah, let's get all the fucking Souls-likes out of the way first! Blasphemous is another attempt at 2D Souls-liking with a striking theme: the premise is that all of the Catholic guilt in medieval Europe has somehow manifested physically, and the result is about what you'd expect. Blimey, if you thought Dark Souls was grim, this is Dark Souls getting dragged off by the Cenobites to listen to Norwegian black metal for eternity. But then the platforming feels like something from a 16-bit game about a furry animal with a cool attitude, complete with collapsing and returning ledges and pipes that regularly drip snot, and the whole thing starts to feel a bit silly.
Untitled Goose Game
Oh, we love our fucking memes, don't we? Can't just enjoy a charming little game about a rascally goose getting up to Beano comics-level mischief; no, we haven't enjoyed it properly until we put it next to a picture of an angry cat and confused our grandparents with it on social media. It remains impossible to predict what does and does not have meme appeal; it's an amusing-enough little game, but I have now established to my satisfaction what it looks like when the old man falls on his bum, and frankly, I see no need to revisit it - not exactly a cultural touchstone. Not yet, anyway; maybe one more Photoshop of a goose standing next to Hitler will make all the difference.
Another game made awkward to talk about by its resounding "fine"-ness, and it's a shame, because I sought it out really thinking it would suck. I mean, come on: a licensed Terminator game by a sub-mid-range developer previously best known for games like Florist Shop for the Nintendo DS and 101 Pony Pets 3D?! That's not a recipe for disaster; that's the fucking Anarchist's Cookbook! But no, it's a generic grey apocalyptic shooter with RPG elements, and it just about manages. I heard some people say it was surprisingly good, and I suppose it is a bit surprising that pressing "Shoot" makes your gun shoot rather than widdle on your shoes. Final score: "fine" out of 10.
Moons of Madness
From the opposite end of the scale, something that I thought would be good, but was actually just "fine": a sci-fi Lovecraftian survival-horror adventure about a dude going insane on Mars. I mean, going insane in, say, Sacramento takes some doing, but Mars? Isolated, mysterious, alien; should have been a slam dunk. But while it's nicely paced at the start, it loses its way by the end with too many weird, tangential flashbacks and conspiracies. Also, it feels oddly small-scale for a Lovecraft-y game set on another planet. I think there are times when it makes sense to be less coy with your giant monsters and this was one of them; the other is gonzo porn.
Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts
After Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 was an embarrassing dribble in the great pissing contest of life, the solution for fixing it was apparently to nick some ideas from the Hitman series, including a lot of the visual design and one of the subtitles. So the foot is off the story pedal, and now it's just "here's an enclosed map, here's the person whose face needs a new nostril, away you go". And it is an improvement, but lacking quick-saves, it suffers all the more from Hitman's problem with Cock-up Cascade. I lost interest in this one 'cos after I spent 20 minutes sniping my way though a field of baddies, I stepped out thinking it was finally safe, and the game went, "Look out! Enemy sniper!" Where?! "Behind that pixel!" Which pixel?! "Too late, you're dead, start again."
John Wick Hex
Being designed by Mike Bithell, he of your Thomas Was Alone, gave this one enough pedigree to rise out of the movie tie-in plague pit. And while it is quite innovative, with its vaguely SUPERHOT-esque "pause between each action, turn-based except not really" gunfights, the stiff hexadecimal movement means when you watch the recap at the end of each level, it looks less like an exciting action movie gunfight than the movements of a confused Roomba with a highly interpretive idea of waste management. Oh. Hexadecimal. Hex. I just got that.
The funny thing about Outer Wilds is that, in theory, I really like it; it's a free-form narrative about a space explorer in a Groundhog Day time loop who must roam the star system trying to figure out why the universe keeps exploding after 20 minutes, full of discovery and neat concepts, but every time I try to play through it, I get bored! It very deliberately gives you no direction on where to go, and that's a double-ended dildo: it's nice when you're roaming the skies with a song in your heart; it's less nice when you're lost in an underground labyrinth trying to find that fucking outpost you found two loops ago, but couldn't finish exploring 'cos you misfired your jetpack, fell, broke both your legs, and then the sun exploded! It's a game that can be simultaneously very chilled-out and very demoralizing, like going bankrupt 'cos you blew all your money on BBC nature documentaries.
...Oh yeah, I've got tons of things to say about Borderlands 3! Wait there, and I'll go get them.
(Yahtzee walks off-screen)
(car door slams, drives off)
- One hornswoggling cowpoke yee haw: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
- If there are any other games from this year you'd like me to cover then rest assured I definitely played it and completely agree with your opinion on it
- No need to get wound up for a round up