I felt Horizon: Zero Dawn to be the best game last year. The robot fighting is probably one of most intense experiences I had during the year. I enjoyed how difficult each encounter could be...even against robots you have fought 15 times already. And seeing bits of metal fly off is just extremely satisfying. Such a great game.
But I think what made the game for me was how well the story was immersed into the world. Seeing these huge machines in the distance, rusted out tanks and the city ruins was fantastic. I was really invested into story and how this world came to be but was surprised they didn't squander the opportunity like so many other games.
Yeah, the atmosphere of the world is very coherent and consistent. Despite the premise seeming pretty fantastical, they do a good job of really committing and as such it becomes believable.
And 100% agree about the combat. That's again, something I didn't really appreciate the first time I played it because I was rushing through it, so I just put the difficulty on easy and ran through without really using most weapons. But on normal difficulty the game does a great job of pushing you to plan your attack, and both having that planning usually work and feel rewarding while also having shit go completely off the rails shortly after as you struggle for survival as a bunch of unexpected combat scenarios occur. I can't count the number of times I've gone in and set a bunch of traps and tripwires prepping for a fight with one big opponent, only to have that opponent fall for the trap, then a bunch of glinthawks come or some other enemies run over and complicate matters.
It's also one of the few games where I bothered to complete all the collectibles. They were pretty fun to get in this game as they required a bit of effort and light environmental puzzles.
Only real complaint is that fighting humans isn't nearly as fun as fighting the robots.
Also played What Remains of Edith Finch last night. Really enjoyed it. Very haunting and beautiful story.
From videos, it seems to fall into the standard trap: The first few areas look AWESOME.
As you progress, they start looking more mundane.
Hard to criticise what happens in most games. That's what made Half Life 2 so special: It actually kept pushing the envelope for the entire game. (To a lesser extent, so did Enslaved. From a lush enviro, to Wookie like tree cities, to a giant mech.)
And they do a good job create varied terrain. Not all areas are ruins and tundra. Some are deserts, swamps, woodlands and new civilization (not sure how to call the areas that are built by the survivors).
The biggest thing is how different a lot of the robots are. For that many (15-20ish), they are generally unique and terrifying in different ways.
I just finished playing Hellblase: Sanua's Sacrifice.
Really good stuff. The use of sound was extremely impressive and they did an amazing job of putting you in the shoes of someone with extreme mental illness. Some of the puzzles were blah and the combat isn't great, but man the atmosphere and feel of the whole game is really on another level.
Gonna start AC Origins soon. Also want to catch up with a lot of the Telltale games I've missed. Gonna do Walking Dead season 3, Tales of Borderlands and the first season of Batman.
There's never been another game for me that made me want to read, watch or play more about the historical events. The whole horde breaking through on the various fronts was portrayed brilliantly through the playbacks you find with the focus but definitely made me want more on it.