2017 has quickly become a huge year for games. Ever since March it’s been release after release of top titles. Now as much as I’d like to cover a lot of what has come out so far, it’s just been a constant stream of games. Unfortunately it’s difficult to find the time to play every release, let alone cover it all.
That’s where this segment comes in. The ANYKEY Catchup will be a (hopefully irregular) segment on the site designed for these hectic periods, allowing me to compress a handful of opinions into one article. This also allows me to go back, and discuss the media that was worth a few words, but maybe not quite worth a full fledged piece. So without further ado, here’s the ANYKEY catchup.
KONG: SKULL ISLAND
Starting off with the films I’ve seen recently, Kong: Skull Island felt like an oddball experiment. Like the pitch to Legendary was “What if we dug up an old B movie script, and just gave it a massive budget?”. I don’t know how this film got approved, but god damn did I like the result. It almost feels like a reverse version of the Gareth Edwards Godzilla film, with all the monkey action thrown right in the start, paving the way for the rest of the film to have more intimate setpieces in the middle before ramping things back up in the third act.
I say intimate, as if a giant spider stabbing a bunch of ex-vietnam military with its legs should be described as “intimate”. But I digress, grab a beer, a few friends, and have a laugh along to this one.
I don’t really have much to say about this film that hasn’t already been said. Not perfect, but definitely better than the other 2 Wolverine films. Probably the best cape movie I’ve seen in a while too, with Marvel Studios recent efforts not really gelling with me as much as they used to.
However it did get me thinking about how much the audience you view a movie with can affect the film itself. See, I saw Logan twice, the first being only about a couple days after the other. During the first screening, the audience laughed along to just about every joke the movie threw in. And honestly, if that first screening was my only experience with the film I’d have called the film a bit campy at points and kind of inconsistent in tone. During the second screening though, the audience acted differently. Some of the jokes still brought a tinge of laughter, but for the most part the audience was silent.
What this resulted in was a lot of the movie’s lighter elements no longer being distracting from the tone of the film. This in turn resulted in the emotional high points of the film actually hitting harder the second time around. So I guess Logan is a film I’d recommend watching somewhere quiet, at home or at an odd hours screening without a lot of people around.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2
As I mentioned while discussing Logan I really haven’t felt as if I’ve gotten much out of the more recent Marvel Studios films. Doctor Strange in particular felt especially bland, with a whole lot of CGI spectacle and… basically nothing else. But I loved the first GotG, and as a big James Gunn fan I was looking forward to this one. If anyone could pull off a double hit of top tier Marvel it’d be him. And did he pull it off?
I’m in two minds about the film. One one hand it did make me laugh, almost as much as the first one. Unlike Doctor Strange, which felt like humour was forced in to tick a box, this genuinely felt like a fittingly hilarious film. It also did have some great character moments, with Starlord’s parentage handled really nicely.
But I just couldn’t shake the feeling that the movie was really directionless. That quite a few fairly long scenes could’ve been cut out without anything but runtime taken from the film. And if I’m being quite honest, while I felt Ego was a really good character, they could’ve gotten away with making him a subplot in a bigger story. As-is the whole main plot-line felt so small the movie came off more like a TV episode than a feature film.
This is one I’ll honestly be watching again before I make a proper judgement on it. I don’t think I need to hand out a recommendation though, considering most of you will have already decided whether or not you’re gonna see it.
THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: BREATH OF THE WILD
All I really want to say about this is that I don’t want my thinkpiece from last month to give off the wrong idea. I know it focussed on a negative aspect of the game, but overall I absolutely loved the thing. Never in my long time playing these open world games have I found a reward loop so purely intoxicating. Add on top of that how much of the nature based mechanics of the game distinctly reminded me of of Metal Gear Solid 3, and I was hooked. I wouldn’t recommend ever buying a console for one game, but a Switch for Breath of the Wild is certainly the closest I’ve come to changing my tune on that.
THE SEXY BRUTALE
This game really should be right up my alley. Time travel stories are my jam, and the kind of environmental puzzles it tries to pull off I find super satisfying. Unfortunately the game falls under one big sin that makes the rest of its potentially good elements fall apart:
It’s just too damn easy.
I don’t mind puzzles not being too hard, but The Sexy Brutale’s “puzzles” are so utterly brainless it’s only a slight step away from just following a marker from point A to point B. It’s all the busywork of inputting the answer to a puzzle with none of the thought process of work it out. Above this, if I want to listen to important dialogue, and watch the character’s deaths play out, I have to purposefully go out of my way to not touch anything. Reason being if I do just fiddle around and see what’s in each room there’s a good chance I’ll solve the bloody puzzle by accident and miss a chunk of the plot.
When I have to actually try in order to not instantly win, your puzzle game is doing something wrong.
I was considering doing a piece explaining what the Yakuza series is, and why 0 is so great. However the reason I skipped it back in January is mainly because I swear just about every site thought the same thing as me. If you don’t know anything about the Yakuza series, go check out HyperBitHero’s excellent “Your Next Favourite” video, or any of the many other articles and reviews that came out around Yakuza 0’s launch.
Regardless though, the game is great. The 80s Japan setting is unique and downright fascinating. Combat is incredibly crunchy, with the 3 fighting style system adding a heap of variety into the mix. Sega seem to have finally found their footing with multi-character stories too, with 0 having a much better flow to its plot than the sometimes disjointed 4 and 5. It’s also a fantastic prequel, providing a lot of neat context for long time fans, while not requiring the older games to play. Fantastic if you’re a fan, and a newcomer to the series, Yakuza 0 deserves to be in your must-play list for 2017.
Tune in next week for Part 2, where I cover Get Out, Nier Automata and more!