Tag Archive: video games


As the new generation of consoles continues to try to gain its footing since last year’s launch, and delays plagued the year almost as much as 2020, some surprising titles emerged to contend for game of the year in 2021. While I felt there were fewer amazing titles this year overall, a handful were still able to claw, ride, or fly their way to the top of my list with ease as I felt they were clearly head and shoulders above the pack. Here are my top five games of 2021.

05Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy

I feel like Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy personified its main characters in a lot of ways. A bit of an underdog when it was first announced, it arrived on the scene with a “kick as much ass as possible and look fantastic while doing it” attitude that defined this game to its very core. The story took a little inspiration from the films and mixed in a lot of deep cuts from the actual comics to deliver one of the most heartfelt tales of the year, resulting in an experience that stands up as one of the stronger Marvel video games. The combat system that has you play as Star-Lord and command the other four Guardians took a little while to get used to, but once you do it only further accentuated this perfect vehicle for Marvel’s most imperfect heroes.

04Tales of Arise

I am very particular when it comes to JRPGs, but the Tales series has always resonated with me. Never before, though, had one compelled me to 100-percent finish it. Tales of Arise found a perfect balance that the series sometimes struggles with between engaging combat and compelling characters. Here, the total package comes together in a world that I always had difficulty leaving at the end of the day, with characters I always enjoyed hearing banter, and special combo moves in combat that kept every encounter with a new monster or one of the colorful main villains exciting. And with a plethora of sidequests, including some that pay direct homage to games of the past and that only unlock after the main story is finished, Tales of Arise has plenty to offer newcomers and series veterans alike.

03Forza Horizon 5

Towards the end of the year we had just started to see what new-gen consoles could really do, and one of the prime examples of this was Forza Horizon 5. Not only does it maintain the franchise’s high quality of gameplay in terms of driving the best cars in the world, and continue to dominate an entire genre with its blend of arcade and simulation racing options, but this year’s entry—set in a love-letter version of Mexico—is the most beautiful game yet in a series of ever-gorgeous games. Its shifting weather patterns across four diverse seasons (each lasting a real-life week) constantly offer something new in the series’ most diverse map yet, and will leave gamers speechless as they handle hairpin turns along sandy beaches and jump off ramps carved out of Aztec temples. There is no better racing series than Forza at this point, and there’s no better game in that series than Forza Horizon 5.

02Resident Evil Village

Resident Evil 7 was my 2017 game of the year, and after I first played Resident Evil Village, I thought the franchise might’ve gotten my GOTY with back-to-back new entries (the remakes don’t count!). Although it just missed the top spot, Village continued the reluctant hero’s story with RE7 protagonist Ethan Winters, and his forced compliance in order to save his daughter leads us down a celebration of the series and horror in general. Vampires, werewolves, creatures in lagoons, and possessed dolls all served as different motifs throughout and kept the gameplay fresh and fun with ever-evolving challenges. Meanwhile, after dominating the Internet, Lady Dimitrescu harkened back to Nemesis and Tyrant, while flooded ruins spoke to B.O.W.-filled sewers from once upon a time. And finally, Ethan’s eventual uncovering of the truth shined a new light on series lore that made Village feel as monumental as its predecessor.

01Psychonauts 2

I almost feel bad picking this as my game of the year. I know dozens of fellow gamers who had been pining for a sequel to 2005’s Psychonauts for 16 long years.

I had to wait four months.

I missed the original release and never visited the cult classic over the years. And then it hit Game Pass and I decided to rectify that. While I don’t think you need to have played the first game to enjoy Psychonauts 2, going into it with the crazy cast of characters fresh in my mind did enhance the experience. Every major character has an endearing flaw that makes them relatable, whether you’re meeting them for the first time or finally reuniting with them after a decade and a half. Throw in some spectacular platforming, massive and colorful mental worlds to explore, and some of the best writing of the year, and this was a can’t miss experience—no matter how long you had to wait

SPThe “The Colors, Duke! The Colors!” Award presented by Popsicle (not really)
The Artful Escape

While not much in terms of gameplay, The Artful Escape uses a kaleidoscope of bombastic colors and sound to tell a heartwarming coming of age tale that spans the cosmos. Its visually arresting style pulls you in as much as its never-ending guitar riffs as you galavant across unknown galaxies with a motley crew and rock out with aliens. By the end, as your eyeballs have been melted by psychedelic rainbows, you’ll also appreciate the story of a kid trying to overcome the weight of expectations and family legacy through the power of rock ‘n’ roll.

SPThe “Best Game with a Disastrous Launch” Award
Outriders

People Can Fly delivers the action every time they develop something, and Outriders was no different. Eventually.

Playing with friends was an absolute blast, as you could create a three-person powerhouse team with a cross-section of abilities that allowed you to mutilate your enemies in fantastic ways, and would have you cheering well into the night. If you could connect to the servers, or if your gear didn’t mysteriously disappear when you got disconnected.

It took weeks before Outriders ironed out most of its issues, but by then the damage had been done. And while it did in the end deliver a compelling story in a fascinating world, not many stuck around to see it through because of the well-documented disaster that was those first few weeks.

SPThe “What’s Old is New Again” Award
ActRaiser: Renaissance

When the original ActRaiser released over 30 years ago, the idea of “god games” were still incredibly new and had not been done on consoles before. By combining that style of game with action-platforming sections straight out of the arcade, however, ActRaiserdelivered one of the most ambitious blendings of genres seen at the time, and the experiment worked in spades, as it still holds a special place in the hearts of many. And that’s why ActRaiser: Renaissance is so special. It’s not just a massive graphical and auditory overhaul for a modern era, but it looked at what made the original great and streamlined systems, fleshed out storylines, and enhanced the “god game” and tower-defense aspects that made the original such a mind-blowing classic to begin with. 

The shoe was on the other foot here as I sat down and was interviewed by Twitch streamer/YouTuber SenseiSolo on the current state and future of Cobra Kai: Card Fighter, a mobile game based off the show Cobra Kai, in my role at the time of brand, marketing, and community manager of BossTeam Games!

I know it’s passé to say this, but 2020 will be a year none of us will soon forget. I don’t need to explain why, but on the gaming front it saw countless remakes and remasters, triple-A delays, and the last generation of consoles sort of limp across the finish line before welcoming in the new—which had really no major exclusive titles at launch. It was a changing of the guard with little to no fanfare on that front, but through it all a handful of games rose to the top. Here are my top five games for an unforgettable year outside of gaming.

#5Paper Mario: The Origami King
Publisher: Nintendo ▪︎ Developer: Intelligent Systems ▪︎ Platforms: Switch

Simply put, The Origami King is the best Paper Mario game since Thousand Year Door. Although not a true RPG like those early games, it makes up for this by providing one of the most intriguing battle systems we’ve seen to date. Transitioning to a ring-based arena to battle, and moving your enemies around to line up attacks based on Mario’s iconic hammer swings and jumps, harks back to grid-based action-RPG hybrids like Mega Man Battle Network. Throw in origami-based powers that you acquire as you progress, and few battles ever play out the same. And I can’t forget it features the best and most humorous writing yet in a Paper Mario game. The Origami King was one of the more refreshing titles I played this year.

#4Watch Dogs: Legion
Publisher: Ubisoft ▪︎ Developer: Ubisoft Toronto ▪︎ Platforms: PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Xbox One, PC

Watch Dogs: Legion rolled the dice in a fascinating way: having an open-world game without a true central protagonist. And Ubisoft pulled it off. Able to recruit a roster of up to 45 NPCs from the thousands that populate Ubisoft’s digital London, I collected them like Pokémon, playing different ones in different scenarios to get the job done. Sure, favorites would arise, but being able to switch to a doctor to sneak into a hospital or a cop for a police station, and then a getaway driver to escape the scene in style, made for fun and inventive ways to tackle each scenario and objective. Plus, flying across London on the construction worker’s drone is the only way to travel in the future.

#3Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Publisher: Xbox Game Studios ▪︎ Developer: Moon Studios ▪︎ Platforms: Xbox One, Switch, PC

This was one of my most anticipated titles for 2020, and it delivered in spades. After Ori and the Blind Forest took home my personal 2015 Game of the Year, I was ready to explore and bring life back to a world plagued by decay and corruption as our favorite guardian spirit. Will of the Wisps again delivers tight platforming in a sprawling map that will have you exploring for hours. Streamlined systems like an autosave and easier upgrading keeps the pace fast, and new enemies and massive bosses keep the action frantic. And the art, music, and story all come together with these other elements to make a top-notch sequel.

#2Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment ▪︎ Developer: Insomniac Games ▪︎ Platforms: PS5, PS4

I’m a sucker for a good superhero game, and Insomniac’s Spider-Man on PS4 was one of the best. So, being able to take on even a brief adventure back in that world this holiday season was a welcome way to warm up my PS5. Yes, the world is the same with just a winter wonderland skin, but Miles Morales brings a whole new set of abilities and villains to the story, and a special flair all his own,  while Peter Parker is galavanting around Europe. Sometimes you just want more of a good thing, and that’s exactly what Spider-Man: Miles Morales is—making everyone who played it feel like we made Santa’s nice list this year.

#1Ghost of Tsushima
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment ▪︎ Developer: Sucker Punch Productions ▪︎ Platforms: PS4

As I danced around the field, avoiding my opponent’s sword, and chrysanthemum petals twirled around us, I knew this was my game of the year. This, and other duels on sandy inlets as water splashed the shore, or as fog enveloped us near a monument to fallen warriors, left an unforgettable impression on me like no other game in 2020. Ghost of Tsushima is a Kurosawa film come to life in the best ways possible, and a terrific story all its own. Jin’s struggle as he willingly casts himself out from the only family he knows in order to stop an outside invader was amazingly told, and made you feel the weight of every decision. There was no world I loved exploring, and no adventure I enjoyed more, than Ghost of Tsushima. It strikes a perfect blend of gameplay, graphics, sound, and story, like a samurai delivering the final blow to a rival.

The “Best Replacement for Real Sports in a Pandemic” Award
MLB The Show 20

While most gamers got through the early days of the pandemic with Animal Crossing: New Horizons, I dove deep into another game released around the same time: MLB The Show 20. I always loved the series, but hadn’t picked up an entry in the franchise in a couple years, and there was no better time as it served the dual purpose of being entertaining and the only sports I really had for four months. It prompted me to start my own Twitch channel and dust off my play-by-play skills, and it was easily my saving grace during a tough time for everyone.

The “Best Wind Through My Hair Simulation” Award
Iron Man VR

I look back at where VR was even just two or three years ago to where we are now, and its growth is promising. One of the better games to come out this year showing that growth is Iron Man VR. The PSVR really made it feel like I was playing as ol’ Shellhead when I put the headset on. Being able to use my two gauntlets independently of each other to fire rockets, repulsors, or control my flight, gave a sense of control I’ve felt in few other VR games. And it only got better when I turned my living room A/C towards me so it really felt like I was flying through the skies while fighting great reimaginings of supervillains Ghost and Living Laser.

The “What’s Old is New Again” Award
Resident Evil 3

I gave this award last year to Resident Evil 2, but in a year defined by remakes and remasters more than anything else (Tony Hawk Pro SkaterCrysisMafiaDemon’s SoulsFFVIIDestroy All Humans, etc.)it felt fitting to bring it back and give it to my favorite of the bunch. Resident Evil 3 takes a lot from the original, but the redesign of Nemesis and how he stalks you, some new sections that play terrifically, and a graphical and control overhaul made me thrilled to revisit Raccoon City once again. And, if you splurged for the $60 version, Resident Evil: Resistance was a fun multiplayer add-on, too.

As we near the end of this console generation, it’s understandable that we’re starting to see, in my opinion, more very good games and less great games. Publishers are saving their best games to help launch new boxes, and developers are focusing on the new toys they have to make the best games possible with their dev kits for this new hardware. Developers are also extremely proficient at this generation of hardware now, creating a more level playing field overall. But, even so, there remain a few titles that will always rise to the top of any given year, and I feel these five deserve to be played more than any others from 2019. 

#5Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
Publisher: EA ▪︎ Developer: Respawn Entertainment ▪︎ Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC

I admit that part of why I may be ranking this on my list is the fact it has been so long since we’ve had a good Star Wars game. But Fallen Order is a good game even if it didn’t have the Star Wars brand, and that deserves recognition. It gives us a more in-depth look at how Order 66 decimated the Jedi, especially those not around the central action of the films. It introduces us to new worlds and lets us explore them in fun and inventive ways. And its combat is satisfying in how you balance your saber techniques along with your force powers. Combine this with great performances from everyone involved and you have an extremely solid adventure that shows story-driven Star Wars content can still be done and done well.

#4Indivisible
Publisher: 505 Games ▪︎ Developer: Lab Zero Games ▪︎ Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

Indivisible’s story about bucking destiny and finding redemption is one of the more original, and enjoyable, tales you’re likely to encounter this year. It has an absolutely massive roster for a modern RPG, and each character has a story to tell and their own unique advantages in combat, affording each player the chance to build a roster that best suits their playstyle.The timing element for attacks adds a unique challenge to your traditional turn-based RPG combat, and when you combine all this with a gorgeous hand-drawn art style, it’s hard not to see why Indivisible is a must-play indie darling.

#3Mortal Kombat 11
Publisher: Warner Bros. ▪︎ Developer: NetherRealm Studios ▪︎ Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

So often fighting games don’t get as much love as they deserve on these lists, but Mortal Kombat 11 is the genre’s best game in years. An expansive Krypt, engaging story mode, and a roster of all your favorite fighters from the series all culminates in a pinnacle for the iconic fighting franchise. It’s expertly balanced, the tower system provides endless replayability, and the new fighters added to the roster this go around perfectly complement the return of many long-time favorites. So whether you like to zone, get up close and personal, or just spam those damn sweep kicks, Mortal Kombat 11 is a fighting game that should not be soon forgotten.

#2Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Publisher: Nintendo ▪︎ Developer: Intelligent Systems, Koei Tecmo ▪︎ Platforms: Switch

I’ve been a Fire Emblem fan for decades now, and it’s a series known for its hard decisions and brutal tactical gameplay. No other entry, though, requires you to make so many hard choices as frequently as this one does. From the near-impossible decision of what house you’ll become a teacher in, to what allies will join you on your crusade to save the world, Three Houses tests your mettle (and how well you keep track of your save files before branching paths) like no other game in the series before it. For fans of strategy games, none greater were released this year.

#1Control
Publisher: 505 Games ▪︎ Developer: Remedy Entertainment ▪︎ Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC

For a game that came onto my radar so late (literally just a couple weeks before its release), I was blown away by what it was able to do.I’ve always been a fan of Remedy (yes, even Quantum Break), but this is easily its best effort yet. It’s all the studio’s strengths cranked up to maximum. It’s just the right amount of weird, with good gunplay, wacky characters, amazing performances, and some cool superpowers that make Jesse the most badass new game heroine we’ve seen in a long time. And when the Alan Wake Expansion drops next year I’ll be first up to return to the Federal Bureau of Control.

The “Not All Russians Are Terrible” Award
Metro Exodus

For a long time this year Metro Exodus was in my top five, so I figured it deserved at least some recognition as the best entry yet in a trilogy that made leaps and bounds between chapters. The struggle of Artyom and his comrades sucks me in each time I start a new Metro game. The scope of this one is unmatched, culminating in one of the most satisfying endings you could expect from a series centered on the nuclear apocalypse. It still gives players the welcome option of being able to stealth through dynamic environments, or go in guns blazing if you think your ammo will hold out. It’s a shooter-survival game not for the faint of heart—and an adventure that will stick with me for a long while.

The “Best Metroidvania” Award
Blasphemous

If you’re making an indie game nowadays, there’s a good chance you’re making a Metroidvania. Heck, even the original creator of Castlevania threw his hat back into the ring with Bloodstained. As good as that game was, though, I found one even better in Blasphemous. Steeped in ancient Christian ideology, the sprawling world you play through is a twisted nightmare of holy relics and torture. For example, you slaughter cherubs for collectibles, and get health increase bonuses from a woman impaled on six swords (each time you find her, she gives you a sword and thus more health). It’s gruesome, gory, and the most glorious Metroidvania of the year. If you love the genre, go serve your penance and play this game.

The “What’s Old Is New Again” Award
Resident Evil 2

Normally I remove remakes from being eligible in my game of the year awards, but Resident Evil 2 being rebuilt from the ground-up in the way that it was means I’d be remiss to at least not shine a light on it. And yes, it’s not just a remake, it’s really a reimagining. Sure, there are weird puzzles still being solved in a police station of all places as Leon and Claire uncover what Umbrella was really up to in Raccoon City, but it’s never looked so good or been so fun. Between this and the launch of Resident Evil VII a couple years ago (my personal 2017 GOTY), it really feels like Capcom knows what to do with its landmark survival horror series after years of floundering. And it’s only made me all the more excited for next year’s Resident Evil 3 remake.

Gen 5 Pokemon have just started rolling out in Pokemon GO and already three of the new Pokemon have shiny versions ready for players to catch.

More than three-dozen Pokemon originally seen in the Unova region of the game were just added to Pokemon GO if one counts evolutionary chains. If one counts the evolutions for these new shinies, then a total of eight new shiny Pokemon have also been added.

The first of Pokemon GO‘s new shinies is Patrat, a Normal-type Pokemon that evolves into Watchog with 50 candies. Shiny Patrat’s have different color eyes than their normal counterparts and can be found in eggs, commonly in the wild, or in raids.

Next up is Lillipup, another Normal-type, that evolves into Herdier with 25 candy, and then Stoutland with another 100 candy. Shiny Lillipups have slightly different fur coloring than normal, and, like Patrat, can be found in eggs, commonly in the wild, or in raids.

Finally, there is Klink, a Steel-type Pokemon, that evolves into Klang with 25 candy, and Klinklang with 100 more candy. Typically, Klink is silver in color, but the shiny variety has a more golden sheen to it. Klink is also the hardest of the three to find, as it is available in Pokemon GO raids only.

Pokemon GO remains one of the most popular mobile and free-to-play games in the world, and the addition of Generation 5 will only keep players around for even longer. After all, gotta catch ‘em all.

The addition of all these new Pokemon to the game has also added other features, including new moves for battles and raids. Although the three Pokemon mentioned above only require candy to evolve, there are seven Pokemon released with this generation who require the brand new Unova Stone evolutionary item.

The Unova Stone is only available via Research Breakthroughs, which at maximum can only be earned once per week. So trainers out there will need to keep completing tasks as well while hunting for all the new Pokemon out there.

Pokemon GO is available now for mobile devices.

A new trailer for NHL 20 has released, and it dissects one of the game’s cornerstone game modes: Franchise Mode.

The NHL 20 team has been touting a bevy of revamped features, including a new presentation package and another round of new game modes such as Squad Battles in Hockey Ultimate Team. This is the first real look at the changes coming to one of the series’ most popular modes, though.

Hosted by Producer Gurn Sumal, the trailer breaks down five distinct changes coming to Franchise Mode in this year’s game, and walks players through how each could impact every game played. These five major changes include a coaching system overhaul, line management improvements, a better trade finder, new scouting reports system, and better “depth and breadth” when it comes to controlling one’s personal hockey franchise.

All these changes seem to come from the idea of giving players the option to truly micromanage their NHL franchise if they so choose. Gamers can hire and fire coaches now based on the schemes they run, get bonuses based on the chemistry between coaches and management, and get player bonuses based on line chemistry. One can’t just acquire a bunch of 90-plus rating players anymore and expect them to play to their full potential if they don’t gel with their linemates. And one more fun aspect is that when a player retires in the game now, they are added to the coaching pool.

The new trading system is also something this series has needed for a long time. The trailer promises players will get faster­–and fairer­–responses from the CPU when upgrading their trading blocks. This looks to give that kind of instant gratification that was long absent from the trading aspects of Franchise Mode. Player values also increase and decrease during the season based on their performances, making trading a more dynamic, season-long process. Like if Mitch Marner were to approach another 100-point season, his value would go through the roof.

If one is into the metagame that Franchise Mode offers, these changes should be a welcome sight. Team building adds an entirely new layer to playing the game and becomes almost as important as how well a player dekes or shoots the puck. It appears NHL 20 has gotten the NHL series closer to representing real-life hockey than it has been in a while.

NHL 20 drops on September 13th, 2019, for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

A new 4K trailer for the upcoming Blair Witch game gives potential players a brief, but haunting tour of the woods the game is set in.

Blair Witch was one of the big surprises shown off at Microsoft’s E3 press conference this year. It is a first-person psychological horror game that will play on the “found-footage” aspects the movie made famous.

Set in the same universe as the films, Blair Witch takes place two years after the first movie, in 1996. The game follows a police officer named Ellis as he searches for a missing person in the Black Hills Forest. The trailer shows developer Bloober Team has expertly recreated those woods in 4K, perfect for Xbox One X players. Ellis will carry with him a torch, and an era-accurate camcorder, similar to the three protagonists from the film.

The camcorder will likely play a significant role in the game, as it did in the original film. The Blair Witch Project is famous for starting the “found-footage” genre of movies, in this case following three film students as they looked to make a documentary on what they believed to be a local urban legend. Things did not end well for them. How much the game refers back to the movie, besides the titular witch, is yet to be seen.

The trailer doesn’t offer up any new gameplay, but instead focuses on the location the game will take place. So much of psychological horror deals in atmosphere, and the trailer subtly promises that it will deliver on this. It shows the scenic woods of Maryland both in the day and at night, with a sinister difference becoming evident as the sun goes down, and iconography that will be familiar to fans of the films begins to appear where it wasn’t before.

For fans of psychological horror, Blair Witch was a pleasant surprise at E3, and nothing we’ve seen thus far should discourage fans of the genre or the film franchise from giving this game a shot. And considering the game is being both published and developed by Bloober Team­–the team behind Layers of Fear and Observer­–the game couldn’t be in better hands.

Blair Witch is set to release on PC and Xbox One on August 30th, 2019, just after the original film’s 20th anniversary.

Mega Man X was one of my favorite games growing up, and because of the SNES Classic, I was able to revisit this all-time classic for the first time in 11 years. I try to get through the game as quickly as possible, and despite a couple of hiccups, do so in a relatively fast manner.

I had a chance recently to finally play some Cuphead for the first time in quite a while. In this video, I take on the second boss, a giant slime named Goopy Le Grande. I also show off the tutorial and a little bit of the character upgrades.

As an Indie developer, it’s hard sometimes to advance through the stages of game development, especially when compared to the pace of the AAA and AA powerhouses on the gaming scene. So, even though the alpha version of Outer Wilds was able to take home the 2015 Seumas McNally Grand Prize at the Independent Games Festival at GDC 2015, it’s not really surprising that its developers decided to go quiet for a while in order to focus on building towards an inevitable release. Well, just about three years after that landmark win for Team Outer Wilds—now a part of developer Mobius Digital—and on the heels of a publishing deal with another relatively fresh face on the scene in Annapurna Interactive (What Remains of Edith Finch, Gorogoa), Outer Wilds was ready to be shown off again. Thus, I happily headed down to Mobius Digital’s LA-based studio to go hands-on with Outer Wilds and see first hand just how far it had come.

Outer Wilds is a stellar space mystery with a Majora’s Mask time-repetition mechanic that will have you racing against the clock as you try to piece together various conundrums around your solar system before the day resets. You start off as a humanoid creature on your home planet, the latest brave astronaut in the early days of your species’ space program. Everything has a fitting cobbled together feel—like a cross between the Wright Brothers and NASA—but it’s more than enough to get your little one-man ship hopping around the solar system in pursuits of knowledge. As you visit each new planet, you’ll uncover relics from a lost civilization, as well as converse with the handful of other astronauts in your program as you try to better understand your little slice of the universe and what caused the extinction of those that came before you.

All this happens while also trying to figure out what triggered a time loop that only you and a couple other astronauts are remotely even aware of. Fortunately, because of this, every clue you find is recorded on your ship’s computer, and you can begin connecting the dots in the galaxy’s biggest mysteries in hopes of finding a way out of this Groundhog Day in space.

Although it sounds simple enough on the surface, Outer Wilds has so many moving pieces that it might be hard to wrap your head around where to start at first. Abandoned space stations and moons orbit around the system’s several planets, which themselves are explorable right from the get go and filled full of secrets to uncover. They’re also extremely diverse, ranging from your Earth-like home to sandy desert worlds, barren rocky landscapes, and even a gas giant with a liquid core that you can splash around in. (Oh, and pro-tip: be sure not to forget your spacesuit before you try any of those moonwalks—atmosphere is important, kids.) Playing the role of part-astronaut, part-detective allows you to approach everything with a patient methodology as you take on each new challenge, testing your analytical skills as you uncover more clues and begin to realize how small you really are even in this fictitious slice of cosmos.

Though I only got to play through a couple of “days” in Outer Wilds, it already started to suck me in. After fiddling with the controls and getting a grasp for how my one-man ship maneuvered in space, each new discovery filled me with a childlike wonderment I haven’t felt in puzzle games since maybe the original Myst way back when. Adding in the ticking clock before the galaxy reset also instituted a sense of urgency at first, but I learned quickly how to use it to my advantage (along with how not to panic). After all, everything would end up just where I originally found it—and the knowledge I had accrued would stay with me.

My brief time with Outer Wilds only reaffirmed why this game was an award winner back in its alpha phase. If you love mysteries, exploration, and have an affinity for time loops, this is looking like it might be a game for you. I can’t wait to hop back in my spaceship again when Outer Wilds finally launches onto our PCs sometime later this year.