The first 2020 games of 2020

So far, this year has been really slow on releases I care about and have been using that time to catch up on older games I haven’t gotten around to playing yet. But some games have released recently that I did play and wanted to offer some of my thoughts on them.

First, the Bleeding Edge beta; Bleeding Edge is the next game from Ninja Theory and it’s an online, multiplayer, team-based hero game with an emphasis on melee combat – exactly the sort of game I have no interest in. But, since this is Ninja Theory, and Apex Legends was a pleasant surprise from a developer that I love in a genre I despise, I thought that I might as well jump in the beta for Bleeding Edge and see whether this game will be the one to capture my attention and introduce me to this genre that I have been mostly ignoring in the past few years. While I don’t see me spending hundreds of hours and obsessing over getting better at certain characters, I was rather surprised by how much fun I had with the short time I spent with it; it’s impressively easy to just start a match with a random character and figure out what the role of that character is and where your team is lacking in, and come up with a strategy to deal with that deficiency. The characters are distinct from each other and offer different playstyles and the gameplay feel of the game is weighty and fluid, which makes the combat feel satisfying and fun; their visual style is a bit hit and miss for me, but I didn’t really pay much attention to that. The modes and maps on offer were a bit underwhelming as I rarely felt like doing anything else besides locating the opposition and getting into scrambles with them, but overall I think that with a bit more variety in map design and layout, as well as some more ‘demanding’ modes, the basis for a good competitive game is there. My main criticism of what I’ve played so far is that the healer is too important for the squad, which results in some battles feeling like impossible to beat, because the healer is not good enough or the team is not protective enough of the healer or the opposition finding easy ways to defeat the healer and destroy the rest of the team. When both teams have similar levels of skills and characters, but one has a good healer then the other team is screwed, which is not a bad thing necessarily, but I’ve had some matches where things were not going our way and people started leaving the match or people attempting to play as the healer and then switching in the middle and the other team takes a significant lead because of that, which results in a match where the opposition will leave or out of the competition. I think that providing more ways to heal on your own (like the health spots already available) with their own risks, like the possibility of getting cut off from your team, would help in this department, but mostly I would like to see more healing characters just so that people can have a healer that works for them and make it more likely that the healer in each team is a good one. On a side note, I really like the mods system for this game, because it means that players can personally adjust every character in a way that makes sense for them and could lead to some very interesting and different builds for each character. I’ll definitely check back when the full game releases and I’m more interested in it now, than when it was announced, but whether I will stick with it we’ll just have to wait and see.

Lastly, I played and completed The Pedestrian, a puzzle game from Skookum Arts; it’s a 2.5D side-scrolling game that has the player connecting and re-arranging public signs, alongside some classic platforming to gather components and proceed through the levels. Besides the unique style and beautiful looks, The Pedestrian is exactly what you’d expect; a lot of smartly designed puzzles that are paced right and demand enough from you so that solving them makes you feel like a genius without really stopping you in your tracks to make you feel dumb. Most of the mechanics introduced are straight-forward and easy to comprehend, but the way they are explored brings forth new challenges and puzzles to solve, which is appropriate for the genre. I really enjoyed this game and haven’t had a good puzzle game to sink my teeth in for quite a while, so I whole-heartedly recommend The Pedestrian to anyone who likes puzzle games. My only real concern was that the last mechanic introduced was one I never quite got to grips with and ended up brute-forcing my way through those puzzles (either by luck or walkthroughs). Beyond that I spent 5 hours with the game and there are a few secrets that make a second playthrough worthwhile, so overall, you’re looking at a 7-hour game, which given the level of polish and work that obviously went into this game, is certainly enough to justify the price of admission.

 March is going to be a lot more hectic with releases, as DOOM Eternal and Animal Crossing are two of my most anticipated games of 2020 and they are realizing on the same day, so I’ll enjoy some more of these old video games before I dive back in to the new experiences!

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