Top 5 Games Reviewed on Guardian Acorn in its First Year

Holy shit folks. I was too busy wallowing in guilt and depression that I didn’t notice that this dumb blog of mine has been going for over a year now. I have been thinking about how I would commemorate this and considered focusing on my favorite articles posted here… but that would be mostly political pieces and I want to have fun here. So I decided I will instead focus on the best & worst games reviewed on this site this year.

I’ve been a game reviewer longer than a political commentator anyway. I’ve been reviewing since early 2013 but it only occurred to me this year that I could actually make a name for myself with my writing talents… okay maybe not but I’ll have a better chance of doing so and not needing a real job if I just create my own blog. As a note though, I’m only counting games I reviewed between the start of 2017 and May 6th of 2018 so that I can count my Brash Games reviews. So this means no reviews that were written prior but re-edited and posted here, as I’d like to talk about stuff I actually played recently.

So, out of the 30 + titles reviewed in this time period, which ones did I enjoy the most? Read on to find out. Links to where the titles can be purchases are embedded in the parenthesis over their respective consoles.

#5: Splatterhouse (Xbox 360/PS3, 2010)

With how many people there are that say games were so much better in the old days, I was kinda surprised that the oldest game on this list was from 2010. Splatterhouse 2010 deserved a lot better than what it got. You have a game that was a faithful homage to the original trilogy that preceded it while keeping largely the same tone and appeal. It was admittedly tough to choose between the original arcade game and the reboot, I have to go with the reboot simply because it offers so much more content.

I could very well be easily impressed by combat in 3D games given I have never touched a God of War, Devil May Cry, or Dynasty Warriors title and this don’t know much about the genre in question, but I also played Castlevania: Lords of Shadow a while back and it was a a mediocre unfaithful reboot with a poorly paced and pretentious plot and a tutorial that lasts half the game. This game was also released in 2010 but this was praised by critics probably because they were being paid in Mountain Dew and Doritos, or they just have shit taste, which is another word for any opinion that is not in agreement with my own.

Splatterhouse did have some glaring issues such as a few bugs and framerate issues, those fucking platforming segments, transphobia, and that weak ass final boss and ending. However, I found Splatterhouse to be a strongly fulfilling experience that put in much more effort that a video game equivalent to an exploitation flick typically warents. The story is hardly Oscar worthy but it does have some unique themes brought up that are often missing in these types of games. This is all in addition to the sound track of a metal head’s wet dream, the inclusion of the original Splatterhouse trilogy as bonus games, and best of all… nude photos of Jennifer as collectables that I totally like for the character building and not because they are sexy AF.

#4: Yooka-Laylee (Switch/PS4/XONE/PC, 2017)

Yooka Laylee is one of two games on this list to actually be released last year. It also seems to be one of the more underrated games of that year due to being overshadowed by both Super Mario Odyssey and A Hat in Time in the collectathon genre. Oh and because Jim Sterling is a jackass and some people hate fun but I’m willing to bet that Playtonic just didn’t feel comfortable using Kickstarter dollars to bribe reviewers.

Yeah, I went as full on contrarian as I ever have been in a game review here and I still stand by it. I LOVED every minute of this game! I enjoy it more than Super Mario Odyssey and A Hat in Time in fact, although I have yet to finish those games. A lot of the key flaws in Yooka-Laylee have been patched out thus far, but I still loved this game as much as I did despite having played it pre patch. The only things I didn’t like were that shitty boss fight in world 4, those golf minigames, the lag, and the unskippable cutscenes before the final boss. But I’ve dealt with far worse examples of each in games that I still enjoyed.

What is so great about Yooka-Laylee is just how fun to play it is and how immersive it feels. Every area feels whole and not just like a bunch of random levels cobbled together and every item you collect feels super satisfying. There is just the right level of challenge, the art direction is beautiful, the music is varied and catchy, and the dialogue is hilarious. If you are a fan of Nintendo 64 era platformers and have enjoyed Rare’s previous work then there is no excuse to not check this one out.

#3: Kindred Spirits on the Roof (PC, 2016)

Kindred Spirits on the Roof
is the gold standard of Yuri visual novels. Many yuri eroge are content with simply fetishizing lesbianism as a sort of “forbidden love” that plays off of cuteness and sexiness as opposed to focusing on a strong story or characters. Granted I am certainly not opposed to those types of games but it still shows just how adept this game is in its craft. it takes a lot of talent to have a game made up of 16 characters and not have a single one of them come across as unlikable or underdeveloped (although it would have been nicer to see Ako get more screen time).

There are so many unique and relatable characters in this game and it all just feels so real. Each romance arc is highly suspenseful and makes you want to see them overcome their conflicts and all of them feel highly personal and real. None of them feel like they existed only as a love interest and I still continue to see more and more of myself in these characters. While homophobia does play a role in the story, all of these characters are treated like real people as opposed to token fanservice girls.
Even without the LGBT factor this game is so emotionally touching that It should be played by ANYONE who enjoys romance based media regardless of the gender or orientation of their subjects.

This game was also highly personal to me as well. The way how Yuna started out as rather contemptuous to the idea of these types of relationships (or romance in general in fact) and the way that she was torn up over the confession of an important character late in the game helped me gain a much greater understanding of what was going on with my own father. He struggled to come to terms with me coming out as trans early on and I have resented him for the longest time but he really has came through since then, and it did help me realize that it was because he was a product of the culture that raised him. The fact that he overcame that in the end to support his daughter makes me much more fond of him. You know a game is good when it teaches you things that legitimately improve your life.

#2: NieR Automata (PS4/PC, 2017)

It was a difficult choice between this and my number 1 entry considering how deeply connected I felt to both of them. While my number 1 won out in the end, that is not to disservice NieR Automata by any stretch. NieR Automata is an absolute masterpiece of the caliber that I thought was not allowed to exist in AAA titles anymore. This game, along with Persona 5 and Final Fantasy XV, have convinced the gaming public that JRPGs are finally returning to the level of quality they held in the 90s, but that’s hardly the case. There were plenty of JRPGs on the level of the classics in the past few years, but with the exception of Earthbound, NieR Automata is better than ANY game released during that time period.. or at least I can’t imagine any of them being better (but I would love it if I was proven wrong).

NieR Automata is the 2nd best RPG I have ever played placing only behind Earthbound and slightly beating out Undertale. The story is intense, compelling, and leaves a strong emotional impact that will stick with you from years to come. There is a use of very strong and ambitious narrative themes that most media find to be too risky to use. NieR Automata seeks to commentate on the very nature of humanity and its existence. Memes have emerged about how Yoko Taro is so much more deep and philosophical than the wannabe film directors that infest AAA game development.

Despite this, the game still has a lot of silly moments.  There are 5 main endings each labeled with letters A-E respectively, and the rest of the alphabet has joke endings depending on whether the player does certain dumb actions like remove their core processor unit. Hell there is even a recurring character named Jackass! This is on top of the beautiful graphics and music and the fast paced and fluid combat. The original NieR was a touching and harrowing experience, but compared to Automata it’s painfully average. But what could have effected me stronger than it?

#1: Euphoria (PC, 2016)

If you are new to this blog and do not know about my opinions on Euphoria by now, this game is proof that you should never judge a visual novel by its cover. Euphoria has broken barriers of story telling and depth that I never thought were possible. It not only has the best written story I’ve ever seen in a game, it has the best story I have seen, period. I’m pretty open minded when it comes to games, but even I never thought a hentai game, let alone a sadist guro scat hentai game at that, could have possibly been as good as this.

When I reviewed Euphoria, I said that it was the only artistic work I’ve ever experience to break the barrier between fiction and reality in a way that you can’t tell where the line is. Some of the individual pieces are flawed but even those that are do so in a way that resembles our own reality more than any fictional world. Yes there are some grotesque, disturbing, and stomach churning scenes, but they still feel as though they are reflecting genuine human characteristics. The ultimate goal of any story is to get the viewer to connect with what is going on, and all the horrifying shit in Euphoria is horrifying because it feels so real. The game opens with you seeing a young high school girl get electrocuted in such a horrific display that I felt like I just got off a roller coaster afterwards. And after that, the game proceeded to make me feel a genuine connection to someone who is sexually aroused by violently hurting and assaulting others.

Even now I struggle to put into words how moving my experience with this game was. I have some hesitance giving a blanket recommendation because of how disturbing and horrifying its content is, but if you can handle it then this visual novel is a must read. NieR Automata may have held insightful commentary on our very existence but Euphoria does something even more impressive; it captures the very nature of life itself. The story is already a thrilling roller coaster ride with content and subject matter so dark it makes NieR Automata look like Kirby’s Adventure and characters with abstract backstories and personalities that are both fucked up yet feel so genuine and real that you will grow to care about all of them by the end. Not to mention the atmosphere AND the fact that the disturbing content can almost be kind of cathartic to witness. Euphoria has combined elements from all four of the previous games on this list and I consider it to objectively be the best game I’ve ever played. It isn’t my personal favorite but it’s up there.

If you are interested in Euphoria then I advise that you proceed with serious caution, but it is something that needs to be seen to believed. The more I think about this game, the more about its genius I continue to uncover. This game is a potentially life changing experience, and while there is a chance that said changes could be for the worse, I advise you to just think for a second about how strong of an impact this game had on me that I can STILL recommend it even with that risk. Talking about this game makes me feel like I’ve gone absolute mad. How does a fucking hentai game end up this good? The developers had to have known the game would never get the recognition it truly deserved by a mainstream audience, yet they still choose to go through with making this anyway. That’s true dedication to one’s art, and If I ever find anything this good again, even if it’s by the same developers, I’ll be one damn lucky woman.

Well there you have it folks, the best games I reviewed this year. Now all that’s left is for me to look at the other side of the coin; the bottom five.

Honorable Mentions:

Splatterhouse (Arcade/TG16/PC/Ios, 1989)
Doki Doki Literature Club! (PC, 2017
#8 Sweet Home  (NES, 1989)
#9 Splatterhouse 2  (Genesis, 1992)
#10 Negligee  (PC, 2016)
The Tenth Line
  (PC/PS4, 2017)
#12 Rosenkreustilette (PC, 2017)
Meltys Quest  (PC, 2017)
Nekopara Vol. 3  (PC, 2017)
Silenced: The House  (PC, 2018)

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