It’s almost Christmas and with that comes the Christmas sales of Steam; where wallets cry out in pain as they are emptied for the sake of creating an ever-increasing backlog of games. As the sale is on, I have a few recommendations on what to buy based on what I’ve played in recent times that has rekindled a love for games that goes beyond the standard “I really enjoyed this game”. These are games that took me out of a rut where I was enjoying games but not loving them despite their faults.
Number One – Wolfenstein: The New Order
If blasting Nazis in the face doesn’t scream Christmas then I don’t want to partake in Christmas festivities any longer. Unlike the Great Escape (which is a Christmas film in the UK), this features Nazis, gore and otherworldly inventions; most of which lead to less Nazis and more gore. It’s a game that some might find to be disjointed with its strange back and forth between seriousness and humour but I love it oh so much.
It’s story heavy, which is unusual for a Wolfenstein game, but it excels in many ways with its combat; so all is forgiven. Stealth is mixed into combat in a way that’s satisfying but not super important. Most importantly though the guns feel great to shoot at Nazis and the stabby things you stab into Nazis feel just as good. If you can think of something more fun than shooting Nazis this Christmas, then you have as much taste as English food – NONE!
Number Two – Ori and the Blind Forest
Metroidvanias aren’t that hard to come by these days but this one oozes charm with its Disney-esque visuals and sounds. It is a hard game though – well, perhaps not super difficult, but it has a definite barrier to entry that relies on quick reactions and fine motor skills. It has some incredibly difficult bits in it which last longer than the time it takes you to get frustrated at them, which in its own way sums up Christmas to a T.
It may start a little slow for some but once you’re an hour or so in, you have enough abilities to get to lots of secrets and enjoy the platforming elements. It’s just a wonderful little game with very few sections that are truly Ori-ble.
Number Three – SquareCells
This game is perpetual bliss. It is a puzzle game much like Picross and by that virtue alone makes it the best game on this list – they may all have numbers but this is not a tiered list!
SquareCells has you deducing which square cells on a grid are to be filled in and which are to be removed. Alongside the almost haunting music, you’ll soon fall into a logic solving trance; only awakening when you’ve tried to take away a square that you really, REALLY shouldn’t have you bumbling OAF! Why didn’t you take the time to work it?! Now that you’ve made a mistake you can’t have that perfect three star score at the end! You fool!
It’s a really relaxing game; great for winding down after spending time with your families or loved ones. It’s also dirt cheap. 10/10.
Number Four – Batman Arkham Knight
Do you want to “Be the Bat?” Of course you do you silly thing. Batman Origins may be the one set around Christmas but it’s also the worst of the series, so play this one instead. It may be awful for some on PC but if you’re willing to take the risk, you may end up with a brilliant present or a big refund; just like Christmas!
Yes the Batmobile is a bit naff, but the swooping about is just divine. Gotham looks brilliant when you’re swooping about and I audibly gasped the first time I got out onto the rooftops; which probably proves that I’m quite easy to please. It has few problems outside of PC compatibility and it builds upon what Asylum and City laid out rather well unlike Origins, which didn’t really know what to do with itself.
It’s a risky one to get for Christmas but, if you liked them in the past, then you’ll likely have a Bat-blast with this one too.
Number Five – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
A white haired man with a beard slaying all day long – the most Christmassy thing of all time. Instead of gifts for the children, Geralt is a twist on the popular Santa mythology and instead presents monsters with a swift death. Not only that but he also rides a horse which is a like an all-terrain version of a reindeer.
Its focus on interesting tales everywhere you look can be a little overwhelming if you look at the map too frequently, but taking your time and just running from place to place taking in the truly breathtaking scenery is exceptionally enjoyable. Well some of it; marshes aren’t breathtaking in the same way as a sunset over the mountains after all.
Still, Geralt and Co bring some brilliant storytelling to the forefront of the game which surpasses the rather good combat for top reasons to play the game. And if nothing else, the Bloody Baron’s storyline will help to remind you that sharing Christmas with your family could always be worse.
It’d be silly not to do honourable mentions so: Steamworld Heist, Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns and Destiny: The Taken King Legendary Edition. What? You want explanations?
Steamworld Heist is like a 2D X-Com crossed with Worms and is brilliant in every regard; story, visuals, sound and gameplay are all top notch. Heart of Thorns offers more of the huge sprawling worlds from Guild Wars 2 in its continuation of the story and has a load of new features that makes me miss them when I can’t use them in older areas. Destiny – well I just really like a shooter that’s more or less an MMO; the story isn’t great but the shooting is really fun with its Halo-esque feel.
Barring those last few mentions they have all instilled me with unbridled joy at some point during my time with them, and I can only hope one or more might do the same with you dear reader. Merry Christmas and all that!