This Week In Video Games is 100 episodes old now, which seems quite incredible when I say that out loud. I remember listening to video game podcasts a lot, and wanting to start something of my own, and I’m really pleased with the progress we’ve made together. Over time I’ve got better as a podcaster, plus I’ve had some great interactions with the community on youtube and Twitter. To mark the 100 episode milestone I thought I’d have a look back at some of the best games from the 100 episodes. This Week In Video Games started in February 2019, so let’s run down the top ten games from then until now.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 (2019)
Luigi takes centre stage in the third game in the series and it’s fun from start to finish. The worlds within the hotel expand and the puzzles are just about challenging enough to keep you hooked. The graphics and audio are lovely and compliment the game well. I’d not played a Luigi’s Mansion game before and I’ll be queuing up for the next one. This is probably one of the most underrated games on Nintendo Switch and doesn’t get talked about much these days, but it’s a cracker.
The Outer Wilds (2019)
What an incredible game this is. You wake up, put on your space suit and explore space and then approximately 22 mins in the sun explodes. It’s your job to figure out why in this beautiful adventure and exploration game. This was a surprise, came out of nowhere for me and had touching moments albeit some awkward flying.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps (2020)
Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a beautiful game full of fluid movement, big set pieces, furious action and heartfelt quiet moments that will amaze and delight you. This is the follow up to Ori and the Blind Forest from Moon Studios and with big boots to fill after their superb first game, the boots have definitely been filled.
The colours and world of Ori and the Will of the Wisps are vibrant and pop out on the screen regularly throughout the game. This game levels up from the first in almost every way related to gameplay, combat, puzzles and the vibrant world you inhabit. There are times throughout the game when your jaw will drop at what you’re seeing in this game. The world around you is alive through the leaves on the trees, the animals you interact with and the dangerous environment that’s out to get you.
Inscryption is full of surprises, and things keep getting weirder as you play. At the heart of the game is a card game with animals on them, each animal has points, defence, and other attributes and it’s your job to inflict enough damage on your opponent before they do the same to you. Lose more than twice, and you’ll get strangled.
The card game itself is fairly simple, but also very tactical. You have a couple of cards in your hand when you start, and you have to place them down at a cost of blood or bones. To place down better cards you will likely have to sacrifice weaker cards, but this cost brings greater attacking benefits, and ultimately you want to inflict enough damage on your opponent. For each attack damage point, a small weight will be placed on the scales, and it’s your job to tip the scales entirely in your favor and take down your opponent. Inscryption is a surprising game, with twists and turns not only in the plot but also in the gameplay and mechanics.
Hades is a rogue-lite brawler pitting you literally against runs through hell. As you make your way through the series of levels, you’ll earn powerups that aid your run each time. Ancient Gods will pop up out of the blue, all seem to admire you and sympathise you having to spend your time down there in Hades, while they are living it up above. The objective of the game is to get through a run in one piece, but you’re going to have to have your wits and skill about you because this isn’t easy. One false move and you’re toast.
Roguelikes are often about mastery. As you make your way through runs, you’ll get better with practice and repetition. The game reminds me a lot of Dead cells, not in the way the game looks as if that’s a 2D platformer, but in the way the game feels. It just feels so good to hit, smash and dodge in this game. It makes you want to go again, just do one more run… even if it’s 11.45 pm. Supergiant has honed and crafted a game that just feels good to play and layered on narrative elements that keep me coming back time and time again.
There’s a decent mix of genres in Returnal. One minute you are exploring and platforming, the next minute you’re in a bullet-hell style battle with an enemy with tentacles thrashing about threatening instant death. Returnal is an endurance test of a video game. In the early hours, you are in discovery mode, learning about the planet, the monsters, the attack patterns, and staring in wonder at most things in the game. As time goes on the game becomes more and more punishing and it’ll take a particular type of player to want to jump back in time and time again.
If you like this style of game, or if any of the above sounds like it’s for you then I would fully recommend Returnal. It’s truly a next-generation game and shows off the wide array that the PS5 can do. I like that Sony is investing in this type of game – it’s tough, it’s different and it’ll make you laugh with delight and cry with loss. I don’t know if I am that type of player to want to jump back in time and time again, but I’m impressed with what Housemarque has produced and if you have access to a PlayStation 5 then I’d recommend checking it out.
Lost Ark (2022)
Lost Ark was released in the West this past February after a successful closed beta back in 2021, after a few successful years in Korea, Russia, and Japan. This is a massively multiplayer online action RPG. From a gameplay perspective, the action takes place from an isometric view and you could draw comparisons to Diablo and Path of Exile in terms of what the game looks like. There are loads of classes, subclasses, NPCs to talk to, combat skills to learn and upgrade, plus trade skills to learn and resources to gather. The sheer depth of Lost Ark is staggering, it’s huge, and it’s bound to keep you busy for months.
In terms of the story, environment and classes it’s very fantasy-heavy, so we have Warriors with Swords, Assassins with huge knives, and Dark Powers, plus sorcerers you can cast spells and use magic to their benefit. I haven’t finished the campaign yet, I’m currently working my way through the ’30s in terms of leveling up my main character. However, the story is focused on the classic battle between the Light and the Dark, there are demons, humans, and plenty of other races too. The environments are varied including the classic forests, deserts, and mountains.
I’ve still got so much more to discover playing Lost Ark, and I’ve only recently got to the endgame. However, with Chaos Dungeons, Guardian Raids, Abyssal Dungeons and plenty more… I think this one is going to keep me busy for months to come.
Metroid Dread (2021)
This is the direct sequel to Metroid Fusion and the 5th Metroid games as part of the 2D series. This is Nintendo at their very best, adding the AAA gloss onto a tried and tested Metroidvania formula, which all adds up to a very enjoyable game. It’s a 2D game, but there are 3D cutscenes and Samus just looks and acts so damn cool in the game, it’s hard not to be impressed at every turn. The detail of the environments, Samus’ animations, the movement speed and variety of weapons, abilities, and enemies to battle, plus the hard-as-nails boss battles (which feels very un-Nintendo at times).
Overall, Metroid Dread has delivered on the promise of what a 2D Metroid could be. This is by far the best outing for Samus in 20 years, and in my book comes close to what Nintendo has achieved with Super Metroid. I thoroughly enjoyed my playthrough, but for it to be an all-time classic requires another couple of times through the game. For now, though this is a hugely satisfying gaming experience, with Nintendo taking inspiration from the Metroidvania market, then going above beyond. My expectations have been met and then exceeded, and if you have a Nintendo Switch, you should be playing this game.
Elden Ring (2022)
Elden Ring has to be in this list. This feels like a once in a generation kind of game, and a game that manages to build on what Breath of the Wild did, rather than copy it. In Elden Ring, you start out in the Lands Between in a cave, you pick your class, ranging from a Vagabond, Warrior, Mage, Samurai, and many more, run through a short tutorial, and then step out into the beautiful, yet dangerous vast open world. This is a world full of discovery. Unlike other open-world games, you aren’t explicitly directed anywhere, the Lands Between are yours to discover yourself.
The scale of the scope of this game amazes me every time I open up the game for a session. Given the lack of direction you are given, it’s up to you to make your own quest log and define your own experience. For some players, this has meant keeping notes in a pad, or you can keep digital notes, which I would recommend given you can search for keywords, plus the naming convention in Elden Ring means a few similar-sounding names. There’s a good chance you’ll speak to one character, then forget about them as you move to your next location, and there’s no in-game quest log to keep track of all these things. From a discovery point of view, this can be a blessing and a curse. On one hand, it makes the discovery in the game thrilling, as there are surprises around every corner. While on the other hand if you are someone who gets overwhelmed by choice, this system may well not gel with you.
Destiny 2: Witch Queen (2022)
Destiny 2 is my number one game from the first 100 episodes of This Week In Video Games. Since I started the podcast back in February 2019, we’ve had three major expansions through Shadowkeep, Beyond Light, and most recently Witch Queen. The game has evolved in a massive way, splitting fromm Activision, going free-to-play, introducing the seasonal model, becoming experts at delivering live service narrative experiences, with huge highs on this front in 2021. PVP has taken somewhat of a backseat more recently, and gambit is just simply broken. I think the PVE version of the game with Raids, Grandmaster Nightfalls, Legend Lost Sectors and all the loot, plus subclass reworks with Stasis and Void 3.0 currently in the game, soon to be followed by Solar ans Arc. The game is in a great place, and we’re set up for a great future with Lightfall the next major expansion coming in 2023.