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Okay ready with the write-ups for the next batch including my second highest debut this year. Honestly weird that this is only just above halfway, there are too many good games.


Last Year


(Box) Art



Astral Chain

My favorite from PlatinumGames and that’s not really because it’s their most flawless game, as I do have several small complaints about it, however, they do end up feeling like nitpicking when the gameplay itself is quite simply some of the best of any game out there. Akira Howard might not be able to pull off as fancy moves as Bayonetta or Raiden by themselves, but that’s where your second controllable characters, the Legions, come in and add complexity and an incredibly rich moveset, resulting in some unique and exquisite combat. I also love that the game has more of a quest structure compared to most hack and slash games, with a bunch of side-quests for you to tackle along the way. A few of the mini-game ones can be frustrating for various reasons, but generally I think they add a lot to the experience. There’s not much more to say other than it’s an amazing title and I’m still hoping for a sequel someday.



The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

Probably the most straightforward 3D Zelda aside from Ocarina of Time (#34) and there’s nothing wrong with that. It doesn’t have you crossing the seas or flying through the skies, but instead offers a pretty familiar but expanded version of Hyrule with some of the best dungeons of the series along the way. The Hidden Skills you learn along the way are a very welcome addition and I really liked the new items such as the Spinner and Ball and Chain which are just plain fun to use. It’s probably also tied with Majora’s Mask for my favorite story of the series, so there’s certainly a lot to love. I think the biggest weakness of the game ironically is one of its main characteristics: Wolf Link. Your “moveset” as a wolf is just too limited for it to be super interesting or for them to do much with the wolf-only sections, which is a bit of a shame, but in pretty much every other way Twilight Princess is up there among the best game experiences I’ve had.



The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

As much as I love Ocarina of Time (#34), its sequel has always outshined it a bit in my eyes. First of all, I loved the masks and what they added to the gameplay particularly the Goron and Zora ones, then there’s the pretty in-depth side quests some with great stories of their own. The main story is also one of the best of the series in my opinion and Skull Kid might be the only one-time “villain” that I actually like as much as Ganon/Ganondorf. Whether it’s dream or reality it’s certainly one of my favorite journeys with Link.



Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors

999 was the beginning of the Zero Escape series and I think it’s one of relatively few cases where I consider the first game in a series the best. The combination of a complex and intriguing story told in visual novel format and several escape rooms full of unique puzzles definitely struck a chord with me from the get go. One of the really interesting things about the series, which is particularly prevalent in the first game, is how the puzzles and things you encounter in each escape room will often lead to interesting anecdotes from the other characters and how the puzzles themselves will often take root in real elements from various sciences. I don’t know if I can say a ton more about this game without getting into spoiler territory, but I will say that it has one particular twist that I consider one of the best in any game ever.




OMORI was not a game I had expected would find it’s way on to my list when I first booted it up, let alone this high, but this game is truly something special. You could call it the darker counterpart to Undertale (#27) and that game already gets pretty dark depending on the path you take. Despite the clearly Earthbound-inspired world being colorful, quirky and fun, it’s contrasted with an incredibly dark story and terrifying horror elements. Interestingly many of the scariest elements in the game are optional to engage with, which is incredibly powerful because on one hand you want to see them and on another you really, really don’t. And while it doesn’t stand quite as strong as the story the game also has a really unique combat system which turns emotions and teamwork into mechanics, which I definitely found more compelling than your average turn-based game.

I’ll be frank, OMORI is not a perfect game, the non-horror sections could be stronger and it has too much side-content for its own good, nor is it a game I’d recommend to most people because it’s legitimately heavy stuff, but there’s something about these games that hit you like a ton of bricks that sits incredibly strongly with me, just like another game higher on my list, even if disturbing, depressing games obviously don’t lend themselves as well to replays.

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2024 OpenCritic Prediction Leagues:

Nintendo | PlayStation | Multiplat