Tag Archives: Marvel’s Spider-Man

2023 Seems Cool So Far

While malformed and incomplete, 2023’s release schedule is already looking pretty impressive full. In the first few months alone we’re getting highly anticipated titles like Forspoken, the Dead Space remake, Atomic Heart, Octopath Traveler 2 and Destiny 2: Lightfall. While I don’t necessarily care about those games, other people seem pretty jazzed about it. But hey, let’s take a look at the announced titles that I actually am looking forward to thus far.

Hogwarts Legacy

I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of the Harry Potter films or books, but even I can appreciate the atmosphere of the source material enough to want to play a game set in that universe. Considering Hogwarts Legacy is set around 100 years before the events of the film, I feel like I can get away with playing this game and not feel like a sucker for not being a diehard fan.

Based on the trailers, Hogwarts Legacy is visually impressive and certainly nails the feeling of kicking it in that old, wizardly castle that we all know and love. It also looks like its got a speedy and mechanically satisfying combat system coupled with some cool in-world RPG trappings, mostly surrounding making and learning new wizardly abilities by taking their respective classes, which to clarify all sounds pretty rad to me.

Outside of a trailer or two, I haven’t really kept up with much of the marketing blitz or promotional materials which has allowed me to live in blissful ignorance about whether or not Hogwarts Legacy is actually going to be the game for me. The one thing that does worry me and give me pause about actually buying the game surrounds J.K. Rowling being a miserable transphobe who monetarily benefits from my purchase, along with the fact that the lead designer has a history of being a shithead. I’ll wait and see how this one reviews when it eventually launches on February 10th, 2023, but I don’t know if I can justify a purchase.

Wild Hearts

On paper I really like the main conceit of the Monster Hunter franchise, but in practice I’ve found them to be clunky and unsatisfying to play. I know that I’m in the minority with those complaints but they’ve always been obstacles that have kept me from enjoying this wildly popular franchise. I’m hoping that the upcoming Wild Hearts can scratch that long unattended monster-hunting itch for me with what looks like much faster and more action-oriented combat.

The idea of teaming up with friends and setting out to hunt down some monstrous prey is extremely tantalizing as is, but Wild Hearts looks to blend in some light tower defense elements into the mix which if done well, could be a real game changer. In my mind I’m imagining a game that isn’t just about tracking creatures down, but also setting up traps and acting on what you’ve learned about said creature to use its natural instincts against it. I assume that’s something that happens in Monster Hunter, but I’ve never played long enough to know for sure. I also am well aware that this being a game about hunting legendary beasts, there might be less natural instinct to work against and more ancient magic or whatever.

If the combat and the tower defense mechanics actually deliver on their promise however, Wild Hearts might be the first monster hunting game I end up enjoy playing. Lastly, and this is a minor quibble, but if the menus in this game could be more straightforward and less of an Eldritch mystery that requires a damn cypher to decode, that would be huge for me. Wild Hearts is slated to release on February 16th, 2023, potentially becoming the second video game I end up buying in a six day period.

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor

While not perfect, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order was one of the best pieces of Star Wars media I’ve consumed in the past few years and a fun game to boot. The characters were likeable, the gameplay was tough but satisfying, and the story, while underdeveloped, was still filled with interesting and surprising moments filled with nods to deeper Star Wars lore for the hardcore fans.

Hopefully Star Wars Jedi: Survivor will build upon its solid foundation, adding in more variety in both lightsaber and force power combat, the latter of which in my opinion should resemble the Stormtrooper flinging simulator that was Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. Judging by preorder bonuses, it also looks to address the pitiful lack of customization options of the previous entry by offering more character skins that aren’t just color swaps of the tunic you’re wearing.

My only real fear here is that Star Wars Jedi: Survivor leans too much into its ‘souls-like’ or ‘masocore’ inspirations, tweaking the difficulty curve to be more inline with other games in the genre. Hopefully with it being a licensed game of one of the most popular franchises ever, the game will boast a wide variety of accessibility and difficulty options that’ll let even a casual like myself enjoy it. Guess I’ll find out when it releases on March 17th of 2023.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

I feel like I really shouldn’t have to explain why I’m excited for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom considering its predecessor is probably one of the greatest games of all time, but I’ll give it the ol’ college try.

I’ve never been a big Zelda guy, but Breath of the Wild was such a phenomenal experience that dropped you into a painterly version of Hyrule with the simple goal of ‘stop Ganon.” You could always look toward the castle to see wisps of his menace swirling around and encompassing it just begging for you to come and square off against the horrors within. But before you’d even attempt to tackle that, you could see seven other interesting places to explore, all of which led to several more.

Breath of the Wild represents the pinnacle of motivating the player to explore their surroundings and all I can hope for from a sequel is more of that. More places to see with more tools at my disposal to explore them. I’d also super love to not have to worry about weapon degradation anymore. I know that’s a common complaint and hot debate topic amongst fans, but for once I’d like to see Nintendo give a shit about their players and offer some accessibility options, specifically one that lets me use the Master Sword as much as I want without having to go through hell to do it. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom allegedly comes out on May 12th of 2023, but I won’t hold my breath.

Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League

I’m not gonna sit here and pretend that I’m a big fan of the Suicide Squad or anything, but I’ve certainly been won over by what little I’ve seen Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. Granted, there hasn’t been a ton of gameplay or anything for me to reference, but I trust Rocksteady Studios’ ability to make compelling gameplay so much that I’d play a game solely about Calendar Man if they made it.

In Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, you play as one of 4 members of the Suicide Squad, Harley Quinn, Deadshot, King Shark, or Captain Boomerang, as you square off against a Brainiac controlled Justice League that’s doing some real nasty shit. I don’t know too much more about it other than it’s cooperative, but will fill in computer controlled allies where you need them which will come in handy when you can’t find anyone to play as Captain Boomerang, a character I know nothing about aside from his dumb name.

I’m excited to play this game because I’m a big fan of the Arkham games and trust that Rocksteady is going to make something that’s fun to play. As long as they don’t add some boring but mandatory Batmobile-tank battles to Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League like some other Batman games, I think it’ll be a great time. They say it’ll be out on May 26th of 2023, but I’ve been lied to before.

Baldur’s Gate 3

This one’s interesting because I’ve already played Baldur’s Gate 3 back when it released into early access approximately 14 years ago and liked it despite its rough, buggy busted-ness. I made the conscious decision to not play it until its full release because every major update brought with it a wipe of save files and I didn’t want to deal with that, so I just put it back on the digital shelf so it could marinate longer.

But now Baldur’s Gate 3 has a projected release window for August of 2023, and once it does I’m fully anticipating losing a lot of hours of my life to what might become the best Dungeons & Dragons video game of all time, depending on who you ask. I for one have high hopes for Baldur’s Gate 3 because it represents the first real turn-based RPG I’ve ever really enjoyed, which is a colossal feat in itself.

The biggest thing for me about Baldur’s Gate 3 is that it’s using the 5th Edition rules, and since I’m fairly well-versed in those I’ve had a much easier time playing this genre of game without essentially having to learn two games at once. I just want a good way to play D&D without having to be a DM or even finding a group, and Baldur’s Gate 3 seems like it’ll fill that void for me.

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2

I really enjoyed both Marvel’s Spider-Man and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, so being excited for their inevitable sequel doesn’t seem like that much of a stretch. Insomniac Games already proved that they know how to make a mechanically sound Spider-Man game that can also deliver a compelling narrative, and that’s kind of all I want out of a sequel.

A lot of folks are clamoring for some sort of cooperative play between Miles and Peter, which would be cool for sure, but isn’t something that I need from Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. All I want from the sequel is a little more variety, both in terms of main story missions and side quests. Sprinkle in some new abilities and costumes, and you’ve got yourself a solid follow up to one of my favorite games of 2018.

But therein lies the exciting part, cause I don’t know what Insomniac could do outside of the things I’ve already listed in order to top themselves. I’m sure they’ve got something wonderful cooked up for players, but I’d sound stupid even attempting to predict what that could be. Sure I could theorize payoffs for the last game’s cliffhangers, but I’m more excited about what mechanical changes are implemented. I suppose I’ll find out at some point in 2023.

Mina the Hollower

For those unaware, Mina the Hollower is the next title from Yacht Club Games, makers of the tremendous Shovel Knight series. If Shovel Knight was their Mega-Man, then Mina the Hollower looks to be their Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past, which an incredibly exciting concept to me.

Full transparency: I backed Mina the Hollower on Kickstarter because it not only looks dope as hell, but is being made by a studio I trust. What really sold me in its initial pitch was the core mechanic of digging through the earth as a quick means of transportation, hence the ‘Hollower.’ That coupled with the variety of weapons, enemies and zones in the world made it really easy to throw 20 or 30 dollars at this unfinished product.

As I’ve mentioned, I’m not really a Zelda guy, but as I’ve essentially screamed at the top of my lungs twice already, I think Yacht Club Games could be the ones to finally make that math work out for me. It doesn’t have a concrete release date just yet, but they’re aiming for 2023 at the moment, but something tells me that date wont stick.


Call it wishful thinking or misplaced optimism, but I really hope that Starfield is good. My feelings about Bethesda as a competent game maker aside, I would love for a good sci-fi RPG cause I haven’t had one of those since Mass Effect was set in the Milky Way. I guess The Outer Worlds was pretty good, but it didn’t really leave a lasting impression despite really enjoying it at the time.

What excites me about Starfield is the fact that it’s a fresh start in terms of lore. Despite enjoying some of the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, I could not tell you much of anything about that world because of how dense the lore was. I can’t say for certain, but it definitely felt like I was missing a lot of context for the universe by not following the series since its inception. Starfield represents a chance to get in on the ground floor and have Bethesda introduce not just myself, but everyone to this new setting.

Aside from lore, I just hope that Starfield isn’t as buggy and busted as some of its predecessors, a thing that most fans seem to find endearing for some reason. I also wouldn’t mind if the shooting was good. I get that it’s an RPG first, but there has never been anything less satisfying to me than shooting a character in the head being met with them just losing slightly more health. I mention this because as a sci-fi game, I would expect Starfield to rely more on gunplay than Fallout did, which I would hope would result in weightier combat, but what do I know? Those and other questions are bound to be answered when it releases sometime in 2023.

This list could have been a dozen or so more entries long, but these are kind of the big ones that I could think of from where I’m at in 2022. I’m sure a bevy of things will be announced and released as the year progresses that I’ll be equally excited for. There’s also the possibility that something on this list will slip into 2024 which would be insane considering most of these games already have been delayed. But hey, I’m sure we’ll talk about that stuff as it comes up during the year.

Review: Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales

Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales is a game that not only builds on the incredible foundation that was Marvel’s Spider-Man with a new protagonist and mechanics, but cuts out a lot of the bloat that plagued its predecessor. The refinements overall result in a tremendously well-paced experience that every Spider-Man fan should check out as long as they aren’t using a launch PlayStation 4.

In Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, you play as the titular Miles Morales who has been tag-teaming New York City alongside his mentor and OG Spider-Man, Peter Parker. The main conceit of the story is that Peter and Mary Jane have gone on something of a working vacation in Europe, leaving Miles to be the sole protector of New York City for the next three weeks. Peter, having never been able to take a break from protecting the city gets a much needed respite from it, while Miles finally has his chance to prove that he’s just as legitimate a Spider-Man as Peter is.

That chance comes when Miles uncovers a new gang that’s risen from the ashes of the defeated criminal enterprises from 2018’s Marvel’s Spider-Man, along with a corporation doing unsurprisingly unscrupulous things. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales doesn’t waste much time before thrusting you into the heart of this ~10 hour experience, keeping the story and the intrigue moving at an enjoyable brisk pace. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales also cuts out all of those dreadful stealth missions where you played as “not-Spider-Man,” which is an overwhelmingly good decision.

What I love about Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales is that not only in its storytelling does it respect your time, but the missions and side activities have been tuned in such a way to keep things fresh and engaging without bogging you down with an enormous activities checklist. To be clear, the game does have mildly repetitive challenges and side activities within it, but their volume has been greatly reduced. While random crimes are still recycled ad-nauseam, the bigger side missions are all unique in their structure. It’s one of the few times I’ve been able to look at a follow-up to a game and see a developer actually respond to the criticisms they’ve received.

When you start Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, you’re already way more capable than Peter Parker was in Marvel’s Spider-Man. Allowing you to have access to advanced swinging mechanics and combat abilities right from the jump makes the game much less of a grind, while also making narrative sense as well considering there would be no reason for Peter not to teach Miles all he’s learned in the course of his adventure.

From top to bottom, I had an excellent time with Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales both from a narrative standpoint and its new gameplay mechanics. Miles has access to electrically powered attacks, dubbed “venom strikes,” as well as an inherent cloaking ability that I probably didn’t use as much as I should have. Miles doesn’t have the same amount of gadgetry and tech that Peter had in his game, but these abilities more than make up for it. Besides, there was only like one or two suit modifications and gadgets worth using in Marvel’s Spider-Man.

My only real issue with Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales comes with its technical performance. Being that this is a cross-generation game appearing on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5, the game felt half-baked on my launch PS4 in a way that Marvel’s Spider-Man did not. At the beginning of the game it both ran well and looked incredible, but as time went on, the cracks started to show. My running theory is that as time progresses in the game, the time of day and weather also change with it. When nightfall would hit or snow would fall, the game would run heinously in a way that I imagine newer hardware could handle with ease.

I experienced a ton of frame rate hitches and even had the game just lock up in certain places for a few seconds, but to its credit the game never crashed or made me lose progress. But it really made the best part about these games, which is to say the swinging around, feel like a chore. Having to battle the frame rate every time I dared to take to the skies truly detracted from an otherwise outstanding game. Even aside from that though, the version I played was plagued with other technical errors like dialogue just not playing in cut-scenes, cut-scenes just freezing completely, and my least favorite of all, the game playing two music tracks on top of each other. That last one was something that literally ended up giving me a headache until I rebooted both the game and console.

It’s a shame that the technical quality of Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales wasn’t up to snuff, because the rest of the game was so good that it made me power through these issues just to see the end. Hell, I still want to hop back in and sweep up all the stuff I missed, but I’ll have to wait until I can get my hands on a PS5 before I attempt it. If you’ve got a system capable of running it properly as well as a love for Spider-Man as a concept, I cannot recommend Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales enough.

My Favorite 15 Games of the Decade

Alright, it seems like everyone is doing one of these lists right now, so why shouldn’t I do the same?  As we round the corner and leave this decade in the dust, I’d like to take a look back at just a handful of my favorite games from the past 10 years.  These are in release order, and don’t indicate how much I enjoyed one over the other.  Also, I didn’t want to write this article forever, so I limited it to 15.  Don’t worry, I liked other games too, but these ones jumped out at me immediately when crafting this list.


MASS EFFECT 2 – (January 26, 2010)

When Mass Effect 2 arrived at the beginning of the decade, I was instantly taken with it.  Having never really enjoyed the first one, thanks to its cumbersome mechanics, Mass Effect 2 provided a more streamlined an accessible approach to the action-RPG.  With its tight combat and extremely well crafted story and world, there was very little to take umbrage with upon its release.  It had its fair share of missteps to be fair, but those complaints drifted into the background pretty quickly.  Mass Effect 2 is still a colossal experience to this day, and it also had some phenomenal pieces of downloadable content to provide new and interesting stories in this world I came to love so much.


ROCK BAND 3 – (October 26, 2010)

Rock Band 3 was the pinnacle of the plastic instrument craze that dominated the mid and late 2000’s, providing not only an amazing and diverse set list, but offering people the chance to live out their most rockin’ piano fantasies in the form of a plastic key-tar.  It isn’t hard to see why the franchise and its competitors were so popular, but the Rock Band franchise is especially dear to me because without those games, I would’ve have never started playing the actual drums.  While plastic guitars don’t really translate to real world musical talent, the fake drums actually taught me a lot about timing and limb independence.  That and it had both At The Drive In and Metric on the base set list.


THE WALKING DEAD SEASON 1 – (October 31, 2010)

When the first season of Telltale’s The Walking Dead concluded, I was devastated.  Through its highs and lows, it managed to tell a beautifully morose story that left me teary eyed.  It also reinvigorated and reinvented the stagnate adventure game, making it not only a viable genre again, but proving that these kinds of games could tell amazing stories while not requiring you to solve obscure puzzles which had been a staple for so long.


PORTAL 2 – (April 18, 2011)

Do I really need to explain why Portal 2 is on this list?  It’s one of the best puzzle games out there to this day, providing an excellent learning curve, intriguing story, and for being genuinely hilarious.  For years people have been clamoring for Half-Life 3 and Left 4 Dead 3, but the correct answer is making Portal 3.  I can safely say that I haven’t enjoyed a puzzle game as thoroughly as Portal 2 since its release.


JOURNEY – (March 13, 2012)

The way Journey handled not only its story and world, but its multiplayer component, was a revelation to me at the time.  There was this constant feeling of isolation that would encompass everything around you, until a mysterious figure would show up in the distance, beckoning you to come over.  They had no name, they couldn’t speak, but they were another player, and they were waiting for me.  And it was an incredible feeling to know that while we once thought we were both alone, we were both wrong.  Without saying a word, you and your buddy would trek through the entire game together where Journey would finally reveal the name of the player or players that you spent a few hours with.  Journey was a beautiful game on all fronts, and everyone should play it.


SLEEPING DOGS – (August 14, 2012)

It’s a shame that Sleeping Dogs never saw a sequel, because it’s a fantastic game.  It’s like if Grand Theft Auto had a better story and didn’t rely on shooting everything in sight to progress.  It combined all of the fun aspects of GTA, the open world, the vehicles, and the side activities, and paired them with a really good hand to hand combat system in the vein of Batman Arkham Asylum.  It was a joy to play, with the least interesting parts of it ironically being the bits where you had to shoot things.  Also, Emma Stone was in it and I don’t understand why.


MARK OF THE NINJA – (September 7, 2012)

Okay, so here’s a reference that maybe like 7 people will get, but does anyone remember those old Splinter Cell games that they put out on flip phones like the Motorolla RAZR?  They were these 2D stealth games that were way better than they had any right to be.  Why did I bring that up?  Because Mark of the Ninja scratched that itch for me in the best way possible.  It was this 2D stealth action game where you were unsurprisingly, a ninja, who would sneak around and slice fools up.  Not only did it play great, but it looked phenomenal.  I wholeheartedly recommend Mark of the Ninja to anyone that wants to play a stealth game that isn’t overly complex.


THE LAST OF US – (June 14, 2013)

There’s like 5 or six moments in The Last of Us that still stick with me to this day, and I’m willing to bet anyone who’s played the game can guess what they are.  From a gut-wrenching story to tense combat and stealth situations, The Last of Us was a triumph of a game.  Ironically enough, my least favorite part about it were the zombies, but I still really loved this game despite their presence.  Also, The Last of Us had a really amazing multiplayer aspect to it that I feel was under appreciated.


SUPER MARIO MAKER – (September 10, 2015)

I’ve never been a huge fan of level building games or modes, but Super Mario Maker was so brilliant in its design, using the language of Mario games that I understood so well to empower me to stretch my level building muscles.  It was so cleverly designed in a way that made logical sense through the lens of Mario games.  If I wanted a large goomba, I’d feed him a mushroom.  Want a flying Bowser?  Slap some wings on that fool.  It took the pieces of Mario we all understand, and made them work in the context of a level editor.


FIREWATCH – (February 9, 2016)

There aren’t too many games that I could say “made me feel things,” but Firewatch was definitely one of them.  From the jump you’re thrown into a tragic situation that’s the impotence for the rest of the game.  It’s this constant, nagging feeling in the back of your head that reminds you that you shouldn’t be here.  “Here” of course being in the middle of the woods working as a forest ranger in a fire watch station.  You spend all of your time exploring the wilderness and talking to the voice of another fire watcher who is guiding and directing you while asking you increasingly more personal questions.  You’re not only learning about each other, but you’re learning about a mystery lurking in the very woods you’re wandering through.  It’s amazing and I can’t say enough good things about it.  Play Firewatch.


TITANFALL 2 – (October 28, 2016)

It’s such a shame that when Titanfall 2 was released, it was wedged between a Call of Duty and a Battlefield game, essentially killing any moment it could gather before it had a chance.  Like I said, it’s a real shame considering that Titanfall 2 is one of the best first person shooters of the last decade.  From toe to tip, everything in Titanfall 2 is crafted with care and attention to detail.  The campaign, while not the most interesting story, is incredible from a design standpoint, with each level boasting a new mechanic or idea that dramatically changed how you played.  The multiplayer was no slouch either, building upon the chaotic fun that the original Titanfall introduced back in 2014.  Titanfall 2 is still worth your time even if you don’t plan on engaging with the multiplayer aspect of it.  In fact, I might even recommend just getting it for the campaign at this point.


NIGHT IN THE WOODS – (January 10, 2017)

Night in the Woods is hands down my favorite game of the decade.  I wrote a review that goes into my feelings on it in detail, but I’ll quickly summarize what I can here.

Night in the Woods struck a real chord with me and even managed to make me genuinely reconsider things in my own life.  I know it sounds ridiculous, but the themes, the interactions, the setting, everything about it just rang so true and hit me hard.  It’s a hard game to recommend because when I start out by saying, “you play as an anthropomorphic cat,” people tend to tune out immediately afterwards.  But for such a visually adorable game, it gets really dark and intense.  Adventure games aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I really can’t say enough good things about Night in the Woods.



I’ve never been the biggest fan of The Legend of Zelda series, enjoying some of them but never really feeling any affinity or passion for the series, but holy hell did Breath of the Wild change all of that.  You’re plopped onto this massive and sprawling land mass, given all the abilities you’d need to conquer any and all obstacles along the way.  Breath of the Wild isn’t a game about getting stronger, it’s a game about getting smarter by using your skills and the tools you find along the way.  By incorporating a system that rewards exploration and puzzle solving in order to maximize your HP or stamina, you were always encouraged to explore the world as opposed to just charging towards the finish line.  The only thing that I absolutely hated about Breath of the Wild was its system of weapon degradation.  I felt like it didn’t add anything to the game itself, and made me hoard more things that I normally would in games.  But that’s barely an issue when stacked up to every other triumph in Breath of the Wild.


MARVEL’S SPIDER-MAN – (September 7, 2018)

Let’s get this out of the way, Marvel’s Spider-Man is repetitive in spots and doesn’t offer a tremendous amount of variety in what you actually do in it.  That being said, I’ve never had more fun with a superhero game than this one, and coincidentally it stars my favorite one.  Marvel’s Spider-Man, by my own admission, is just a good game.  It isn’t great and probably doesn’t stack up to several other games on this list, but it was easily one of my favorite and most memorable experiences with a game in recent memory.  It’s one of the only games I’ve felt the need to 100%, despite the repetitive chores I had to complete to accomplish that.  Marvel’s Spider-Man just feels good to play, providing a satisfying swinging mechanic mixed with some great (yet repetitive) combat.  It’s rough around the edges in spots, but I still love it so dearly.


RED DEAD REDEMPTION 2 – (October 26, 2018)

I’m willing to bet that a good percentage of the posts on this site are about Red Dead Redemption 2 in some way.  That’s with good reason though.  You can read my review, but Red Dead Redemption 2 is such a triumph of a game in terms of story, atmosphere and world building, that I can’t even fathom a game that’s done it better.

Every piece of Red Dead Redemption 2 is crafted in a way to reinforce the Wild West setting, while still providing interesting and engaging story beats.  Like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, it does a great job at encouraging exploration.  Almost every cottage, structure or cave you stumble upon has something there for you experience or find.  The amount of random events in the world that crop up do a great job of breaking up what would be the tedium of riding your horse from mission to mission, while also being pretty interesting for the most part.

I could go on forever about how much I like Red Dead Redemption 2, but I have a review to do that for me.  And if you haven’t played it yet, my one bit of advice is that the game is slow.  You have to be okay with going at its pace or else you’ll have a miserable time.


The 2010’s have been really great for video games as a product.  Less so for the business end of things… more specifically the “being an employee at a game company” part of it.  I know we’re going to get some great games in the coming decade, but we need to see real change in the way game companies are run.  Here’s hoping for some progress in 2020.

Blog: A Mild Year – 10/23/19

Since starting The Bonus World, I’ve always tried to get some sort of end of the year wrap up article together for game of the year season.  Usually by this time in the year I can start constructing some loose amalgamation of a top ten list.  2019 happens to be the first year in a while where I’m having a tough time building that list.

That isn’t to say that the games I’ve played in 2019 have been disappointing or bad, I just found that a lot of what came out this year didn’t really resonate with me.  Things like Kingdom Hearts III and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice were received positively, but once again, not my kind of games.  Then we also had some real clunkers like Crackdown 3 and Anthem release early in the year and fade away into obscurity.

I think a lot of it has to do with developers gearing up for the next round of consoles along with the fact that early next year we’re going to be blitzed with some big titles like Doom Eternal, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Dying Light 2 and Cyberpunk 2077 to name a few.  2019 just feels like the gap year between the bombastic 2018 we had with Marvel’s Spider-Man and Red Dead Redemption II to cherry pick some of my favorites, and the swan-song, end of the generation year of 2020.

Like I said, I don’t think it was a bad year for video games, but when compared to last year and what’s coming up next year, it’s definitely lacking something.  But hey, the year isn’t over yet, so I could eat my words on this.  We’ve got The Outer Worlds and Call of Duty Modern Warfare dropping this Friday (10/26), and games like Luigi’s Mansion 3, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, Pokemon, Death Stranding and of course, Shenmue III in the very near future, and any of those games could be great.

But let’s be real here, I’m probably just gonna play Red Dead Redemption II on the PC obsessively and let the other games just slide into the background.

Game of the Year [2018]

I don’t know how 2018 managed to do it, but it simultaneously felt like the longest and shortest year of my life.  It was tumultuous to say the least, but we made it through and there’s no way things could get any worse, right?  But throughout it all we were graced with some pretty phenomenal games to play.  Here are what I consider to be the best of the year.

#10 – House Flipper


This is a weird one to kick off the list with, but hell, I played so much of this damn game that I’d be lying if I didn’t put it somewhere on this list.  I wrote about the function of games like House Flipper in my life earlier this year, and this was the one that spurred it on.  Oddly enough, the reason why I enjoyed House Flipper so much was because of my ability to disengage with it and just play it in the background.  Despite it being janky, and a little crashy at times, I really enjoyed the loop of restoring, decorating and selling homes.

There’s something oddly therapeutic about House Flipper and games of its ilk, and that’s mostly why it now is immortalized in my list.

#9 – God of War


So look, I really enjoyed God of War this year, but definitely not as much as a lot of people out there did.  Don’t get me wrong, it was a joy to play given the rewarding combat and engaging story, but that was about it for me.  I didn’t get hooked by any of the side missions or additional challenges, and I felt a little underwhelmed by some of the enemy encounters.  I really got sick of fighting that ogre with the rock, over and over again.  But still, God of War is a tremendous game that I enjoyed from start to finish, even if I did just power through the story to get to the very satisfying ending.

#8 – Celeste


For the first few levels of Celeste, I was pretty lukewarm on it.  I didn’t hate it or anything, it was just fine.  But a few levels in and Celeste started to show a little more of its hand, and hint at what the game was really about.  Celeste isn’t just a game about climbing a mountain, it’s about coping and acceptance.  The game, very literally, reveals that it is about the main character accepting herself for who she is and utilizing every aspect of herself to continue pushing forward.

That’s when I was on the hook and and really started to feel compelled to press on.  Celeste is one of those games that’s so good that any quibbles you might have with it are overshadowed.

#7 – Hitman 2


Hitman 2 is more Hitman 2016 and there isn’t a damn thing wrong with that.  I love the new Hitman games and everything they’re bringing to the table.  Blending into crowds and bushes are welcome additions to the formula, but overall this is just more of a good thing.  I can’t say for certain, but in terms of objectives, map design and just what options are available to you, it feels like the developers are leaning into Hitman being less of a serious game, and more of a comedy sandbox.  For that, I’m eternally grateful.

#6 – The Messenger

Holy moly The Messenger caught me off guard this year.  When I heard people raving and ranting about this game, I was fully expecting it to be mostly hyperbole.  It looked like a pretty neat homage to Ninja Gaiden and the like, but the more I played of it, the more The Messenger made it clear that first impressions are deceiving and that there was something truly special here.  The Messenger was a blast to play and honestly, it’s really well written too.  There’s also a pretty insane twist in the middle of the game that fundamentally changes everything, and while the change itself isn’t groundbreaking, it was definitely surprising.

In a year of phenomenal platformers and action games, The Messenger is definitely one of the best.

#5 – Dead Cells

Speaking of killer platformer and action games, how about we talk about Dead Cells?  Boy howdy is Dead Cells a good game.  If there was an award for “Best Feeling Game to Play,” Dead Cells would win it.  It’s one of those games that whenever things go bad for you, you’re immediate thought isn’t to blame the game, but rather yourself.  Dead Cells will punish you and try to break your spirit, but will leave you feeling so accomplished when you clear a level or beat a boss.  Aside from that it’s also got a real good look to it that I appreciate.

My only real gripe is that I’m not a big fan of rogue-like games, and Dead Cells is most certainly one of those.  While it wasn’t ever difficult to make it through the first few stages, I did start to feel burnt out on them and just wished for some sort of level skip feature or something.  Despite that though, I love the hell out of Dead Cells.

#4 – Yoku’s Island Express

I’ve had a passing interest in pinball at best throughout most of my life, so the concept of a pinball based platformer wasn’t something that I had pictured I’d enjoy as much as I did.  But here we are, talking about a game that in addition to having a really unique take on the Metroidvania style of game, is also immensely charming.  Within moments of booting up Yoku’s Island Express it managed to win me over.

It’s also an immensely chill game to play.  There aren’t really any enemies or fail states, and there never is any real pressure put on you.  But what I really appreciated was that the game is tight experience that didn’t take more than a few hours to complete.  It never overstayed its welcome, and left me satisfied at the end.

#3 – Dragon Ball Fighter Z

I did not expect to enjoy a fighting game as much as I did, let alone a Dragon Ball Z themed one, but here we are.  Dragon Ball Fighter Z was a constant for me throughout the year, being one of my go-to games whenever I was looking to pass some time.  I think what I really appreciate is how accessible the game is, and how whether it’s through some visual cue or mechanical one, it always makes you feel as if you’re playing well.  The auto combo system is generous and allows new players to feel competitive early on, while also rewarding players for learning actual combinations and moves.

Dragon Ball Fighter Z can be a little hectic though.  Sometimes I’ll lose myself in the action and lose track of what’s happening or where I’ve gone, but I think that’s just me admitting that I’m getting old.

#2 – Marvel’s Spider-Man

Marvel's Spider-Man_20180910221911

I really loved Marvel’s Spider-Man this year.  Sure it had some problems, like bad stealth sections and bland side activities, but it was still overwhelmingly fun to play.  Like a lot of people out there, it was one of the only games in a while I achieved 100% completion in.  Normally I don’t try to achievement hunt in games, but I was looking for any reason to play more of the game that I could find.

I fear I’ll sound like a cliche here, but it felt so damn good to swing around as Spider-Man and just make my way through the city.  What helped even more was the music that would swell every time you’d pick up momentum.  Even the combat, despite being repetitive, felt so good.  Something about just launching dudes off buildings and watching their bodies automatically web to the nearest surface was just so satisfying.

Marvel’s Spider-Man is not a perfect game, but I had a hell of a lot of fun with playing it.  Also, turning J. Jonah Jameson into an Alex Jones-esque podcast host may have been the best decision ever.

#1 – Red Dead Redemption 2


Red Dead Redemption 2 is easily my favorite game of the year.  It’s also ironic that the parts I least enjoyed about it were the parts where you actually played it.  It felt like the game had an identity crisis at some point, wavering between being a survival game and an action game, but ultimately being extremely mediocre at both.

But it was everything around the periphery of the core mechanics that really won me over.  Aside from a very enjoyable story with some really gut-wrenching moments, the random encounters and side missions were such a pleasure to track down and complete that it was worth fumbling around with the muddy controls to get to.

It’s one of the few game worlds that I enjoy taking my time in and exploring.  It’s one of the few games that I just like to boot up and waste time in.  Rockstar did something more impressive than make a good game, they made a world worth visiting.  A place that is so rich and diverse, that rewards me whenever I decide to spend time in it.

Red Dead Redemption II isn’t a perfect game, in fact, I’d hazard a guess that it’s actually an incredibly polarizing game.  But for me, coming into Red Dead Redemption II expecting a rewarding action game isn’t going to get you very far.  I found that it was better experienced as a sort of cowboy themed life simulator, where you can just experience life in old west as an incredibly deadly man who also likes to pet dogs and get into bar fights.


The Gardens Between


The Garden’s Between is a short puzzle game about two children reliving their memories one last time before one of them moves away.  The hook is that you control time, and not the children.  You’ll solve puzzles by manipulating the flow of time in ways like changing the order in which they punch in numbers on a giant calculator, or rewinding debris that’s floating in a river to provide a bridge for both of the children who are walking at different paces.

It’s all extremely stylized and has a soothing ambient soundtrack which I was very much a fan of.


What I liked about Florence the most was how it reveled in the mundanities of daily life, in and out of a relationship.  You play as Florence, a girl who is increasingly dissatisfied with her life.  She meets a nice young gentlemen and eventually falls in love with him.  Through this, you explore their relationship by doing things such as moving some of your stuff off of the shelves to make room for his things.  It’s simple yet effective in the message it sends and how it sends it.

The story went some places, and maybe I got a little choked up, but there’s no way of knowing for sure.  Regardless, Florence is a delightful little experience that you can play on your phone and finish in about 20 to 30 minutes.

Review: Marvel’s Spider-Man

It’s been a while since I’ve played a game that’s compelled me to devour it the way Marvel’s Spider-Man has.  I frequently found myself racing from mission, to collectible, to crime scene and back again for hours on end, with the “just one more” mentality propelling me forward.  But it wasn’t because these objectives were particularly interesting or exciting, rather it was because just being Spider-Man was fun, and I was willing to use any excuse to continue playing as him.

Marvel’s Spider-Man is kind of like a really good pizza with pineapple on it.  You had this amazingly well-crafted pizza, but you went ahead and sprinkled some bullshit on top of it that made me enjoy it less.  It wasn’t bad, but the toppings could have definitely been better.  In this case, the presentation, mobility, combat and even the story are the pizza, and most of the side stuff is mediocre at best; just like pineapple on a pizza.

Marvel's Spider-Man_20180910204558

the stealth is simple, but satisfying

The mobility itself is phenomenal, striking a good balance between physics-based momentum, and fluid animations that blend together incredibly well.  There are certain upgrades that allow you to add additional layers of complexity to your web-swinging that may seem superfluous at first glance, but the expanded move-set allows you to traverse New York City faster, and more stylishly than ever before in a Spider-Man game.

While the swinging mechanics are phenomenal, the combat in Marvel’s Spider-Man is just as well done.  Combat is almost identical to that of the Rocksteady Batman games, even down to the button prompts for melee finishers.  This isn’t a bad thing though, considering the Arkham games have fantastic combat that translates incredibly well to Spider-Man.  The big differentiator here is the focus on airborne combat.  Swinging kicks, launching uppercuts, ground-pounds, air-juggles and more, are all vital moves when facing Spider-Man’s foes.  By the end of the game, I was chaining together massive combos that would rarely ever see me touch the ground, and it was easily one of the most satisfying aspects of my time with it.

Marvel's Spider-Man_20180910221911

“Spider-Man throws up gang signs.” – J. Jonah Jameson

All of these elements are crammed into a beautifully rendered, yet a little lifeless version of New York City.  The story does a decent enough job to justify why gangs are having gunfights in the middle of Times Square, but it’s still a pretty big stretch to justify those actions.  The story itself is a nice re-imagining of Spider-Man and his villains, remixing events and timelines to form something unique and interesting while also telling a fairly intimate story about Peter Parker and the people closest to him.

However, one of the biggest issues with Marvel’s Spider-Man stems directly from some of its missteps in translating the storytelling into compelling gameplay.  In this version of the Spider-Man universe, Peter Parker and Mary Jane are no longer in a relationship, but are working together as colleagues to try and uncover the bigger mysteries in the game.  What this results in is some very underwhelming stealth sequences as Mary Jane, where not only are you severely limited in your abilities, but you’re only course of action is to stay hidden.  These sequences are incredibly promising concepts that rarely feel fleshed out and ultimately end up being some of the worst parts of the entire experience.

Marvel's Spider-Man_20180910203143


But it isn’t just the stealth sequences that are less than stellar, a lot of the side activities you’ll do as Spider-Man aren’t exactly what I would call exciting either.  Things like photographing landmarks, collecting old backpacks with Easter-eggs in them and research stations that make you traverse the environment differently, were fun to seek out and complete.  But once you finish them, you’re left with drone hunts and bad “complete the circuit” mini-games which get really tedious, really quickly.  If it wasn’t for the fact that completing these side activities provided you with specific tokens that unlock certain upgrades, they wouldn’t be worth doing at all.

It was the sheer act of just moving around as Spider-Man that was enough to keep me playing through the endless repeating side missions and incredibly dull stealth sections.  That in itself is a testament to how well Insomniac Games nailed the feeling of being Spider-Man and combining that with a story that feels fresh, yet honors the legacy of the character.  Despite its shortcomings, Marvel’s Spider-Man is still a tremendously fun game that no Spider-Man fan should miss out on.

Blog: The Big Hitters – 09/05/18

September is finally here, and with it comes the annual dump of video games that we all know and love.  This isn’t a comprehensive list of releases by any means, rather it’s a list of the bigger games that I’m personally keeping an eye on.


Marvel’s Spider-Man [09/07/18]

Like a lot of people, my memory of Spider-Man games gets real blurry right after the 2004 release of Spider-Man 2 for the PS2 and Xbox.  There are a lot of reasons people consider that one to be the most memorable, but all I really remember is that the web-swinging felt really good.  All I know is that there’s a new Spider-Man game that looks like it’s combining the feeling of moving around as Spider-Man with Arkham Asylum-style combat, which seems like a match made in heaven for me.


Shadow of the Tomb Raider [09/14/18]

I’ve been really impressed with the rebooted Tomb Raider games we’ve gotten thus far, and Shadow of the Tomb Raider seems to be building upon the already solid foundation its predecessors have laid down.  I may not know anything about what’s actually going on in the story of Lara Croft over the course of these games, but playing them has been an absolute blast, and I look forward to eventually getting to shoot arrows at dudes who wander too far into the woods.


Life is Strange 2 [09/28/18]

Set in the same universe as the first Life is Strange, the upcoming sequel is also angling to pinpoint my heart and viciously attack it until I feel like an angsty and confused teen once again.  I haven’t been looking at any pre-release materials because I’d just like to experience it at my own pace, but from what I gather it revolves around two brothers and a murder.  But even without knowing anything about the plot, I was so taken with the first game that I’m onboard for whatever they would do with a sequel.


Red Dead Redemption 2 [10/26/18]

Do I really need to write anything about why I’m excited for Red Dead Redemption 2?  At the bare minimum I’ll say that I really enjoyed the tone of the original Red Dead Redemption and think the overall game was a triumph in game design.  It’s refreshing to see Rockstar make a game that isn’t all about being satirical and lampooning some aspect of our society.  Red Dead Redemption 2 looks like an incredibly ambitious game and I can’t wait to get to spend time with it.


Hitman 2 [11/13/18]

It seems surreal that a sequel to Hitman 2016 is right around the corner.  That game was so damn good and I really don’t know how you’d make that experience better, but the  folks over at IO apparently have found a way.  My only reservation with Hitman 2 is the fact that they’re ditching the episodic model in favor of a traditional release.  That’s totally valid, but I feel like some of the appeal to the 2016 release was the fact that because there were limited levels, you’d replay them over and over and try to exhaust every option available to you.  But hey, I’ll take Hitman 2 any way it’s offered to me.


Fallout 76 [11/14/18]

I don’t like Bethesda RPGs, and I strongly doubt this game is going to convert me, but boy howdy am I curious to see what the reception to Fallout 76 is.  From everything I’ve heard about the way it works, it seems iffy, but I’d love to be proven wrong on this.


Super Smash Bros. Ultimate [12/07/18]

I mean, I really don’t care about Ultimate, but I’m a really big fan of how Nintendo went ahead and got every character from past entries as well as added some heavily requested ones, while making sure not to let Waluigi be a full character.  Waluigi sucks.