Putting together a list of the 100 best Playstation games of all time is no easy task but the crew here at Goomba Stomp have been working around the clock to get it done. We are almost at the finish line but before we reveal our number one pick, we still have 39 other entries to get through. Here is a list of our top 40 Playstation games released exclusively for a Sony console.
Top 40 Playstation Games of All Time
40 – Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner
Few mech games have matched the organic controls and the cinematically-calculated-yet-frenzied action of Konami’s Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner (first released for the PS2) – the third and final game in the short-lived but highly praised Zone of the Enders series – which spawned three games, an hour-long OVA and an anime series, all within the span of just three years.
As a result of being created, produced and overseen by Hideo Kojima, and featuring art direction by Metal Gear’s Yoji Shinkawa, the Zone of the Enders series is intrinsically tied to the Sons of Liberty-era of Metal Gear, and 2nd Runner probably exhibits that same spirit more than any other game in the entire series. The same kind of subversion of genre, of trying out ambitious gameplay ideas, pushing the limits of the PS2’s hardware, it’s all there. Zapping enemies, selecting multiple targets to blast them into oblivion, and close quarters hand-to-hand melee, it’s simply the best realization of how a mech out of an anime should feel to control.
The game’s heavy reliance on dialogue, and its ambition to act out as a cheesy anime is, however, a pain to get through. To put it frankly, the voice acting downright sucks, on a hilarious level. If you thought MGS2’s “We’ve managed to avoid drowning” was a doozy, then boy, are you in for a treat. It’s something that makes what should be an easily accessible experience, an intro to mecha even, a bit of an embarrassment. What’s crazier is that the game has received two remasters since its initial release, and both times, the option to switch to the less obnoxious Japanese voice acting is missing.
But, if you can through the cringe-inducing cutscenes, you’re in for one of the most fun gameplay experiences of your life. Not a bad trade-off, I’d say. (Maxwell N)
39 – Xenosaga Trilogy
The Xeno games of Tetsuya Takahashi and Soraya Saga have always been outliers in the world of RPGs, and the Xenosaga trilogy on PS2 is certainly no exception.
An insanely ambitious and incredibly dense trio of games, the Xenosaga team had the audacity to plan out a six-part magnum opus of time, space, religion, philosophy, and dreams before the first game was even released. Though they may have overshot a bit (only three of the games would see release) Xenosaga still stands as one of the most awe-inspiring, uncompromising visions in gaming history.
This is a game that has romantic tension between a scientist and the android who murdered her boyfriend. This is a game where a psychopathic sadist molests a little girl for information in a scene that couldn’t be released in North America without censorship. This is a game where a robot stood in for the crucified Christ in a multi-layered dream sequence. And all of that was just in the first game.
Xenosaga isn’t just a trilogy of games, it’s an honest to God experience. Diving into this world is a serious investment in a time when gamers have never been more back-logged, but there has never, ever been anything quite like this series in the history of gaming. The fact that the closest thing I can find to compare to the density of the mythology of these games would be either Mass Effect or Metal Gear Solid should tell you something about the company these games keep. (Mike Worby)
38 – Kingdom Hearts
Disney and Square’s whimsical, console-hopping, action-RPG series all began here. Mixing dozens of Disney movies, the Final Fantasy series, and a heap of Star Wars, just because, Kingdom Hearts introduces players to a universe of colorful characters, varied worlds and really hard bosses.
Kingdom Hearts marks the long-time Final Fantasy character designer Tetsuya Nomura’s first time as a director. The gameplay is solid, with plenty of customizable abilities and cool magic attacks, combined with the constant introduction of guest characters from the Disney worlds, who each have their own abilities. As its recent HD remaster proves, the game also has a great aesthetic that – while not cel-shaded like other cartoon-based games – holds up even if the other graphics technology doesn’t.
The core narrative of Sora leaving home to find his friends has never been as simply endearing as it was in this first installment before the series’ original characters started to outshine the Disney and Final Fantasy ones. It’s easy to forget that Maleficent, the deliciously terrifying villain from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, is the antagonist of much of this first game.
It may not have the flashy battles of the second game or the inevitably tragic events of Birth by Sleep, but the original Kingdom Hearts has positives all of its own. For one, it is the only game in the series with a plot that makes a lick of sense. (Mitchell Akhurst)
37 – Okami
Okami is a near masterpiece of video game design with stunning ink-and-watercolor visuals and a brisk story that saves its best twists for its final act. Set sometime in classical Japanese history, the game combines several Japanese myths, legends and folklore to tell the story of how the land was saved from darkness by the Shinto sun goddess, named Amaterasu. Okami’s greatest stroke of genius is Amaterasu herself, who takes the form of a white wolf, and its distinct cel-shaded visual style. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better-looking game for the PlayStation 2 coupled with an epic tale strung together by several awe-inspiring parables and colourful, characters who’ll linger in your memory long after you’ve completed your quest.
Okami takes its cues from the Legend of Zelda series in particular and achieves similarly outstanding results. This is a dazzling, enchanting, and gorgeously drawn fairy tale that will leave gamers a little more curious and fascinated by the world around them. Okami is an amazing work, filled with a visual intelligence that’s meticulously composed and obscenely clever – yet its breadth and heart give it an appeal that should touch gamers of all ages. (Ricky D)
36 – Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
Uncharted 3 is one of the best action adventure games of all time, but it had the rotten luck of following Uncharted 2 – the best action adventure game of all time in the minds of many. The theory around Naughty Dog HQ is that Uncharted 3 is the best game in the franchise (prior to the release of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End) and that if the game had swapped places with Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and released first, people would hold it in higher regard.
The logic is perfectly sound – Uncharted 3 does what Uncharted 2 does but generally bigger and better and with more explosions. Perhaps the game falters in the pacing department when compared to the second game, but in most other regards it’s a noticeable, if not massive, progression. But while the gargantuan leap in quality from the first game in the series to the second wasn’t repeated when moving on to the third, Drake’s Deception just being another great Uncharted game isn’t anything to worry about now, is it?
Drake’s Deception delves into Nathan’s past more than ever before for the series, and for the first time gives Uncharted a villain that has a little more to bring to the party than the stock baddies of the first two games. The globe-trotting adventure Drake once again finds himself offset by the return of fan-favorite characters and spectacular set-pieces before settling down for a third act showdown in the desert that frequently delights, once again proving that Naughty Dog are the masters of their craft. (John Cal McCormick)
35 – Silent Hill 3
Released in 2003, Silent Hill 3 built upon the mechanical improvements made in Silent Hill 2 and served as a direct narrative sequel to the events of the first game in the series. Following Heather Mason, the adopted daughter of the original protagonist Harry Mason, the game tells a more straightforward story of mystery and revenge. Although the basic plot can be understood without prior knowledge of the series, the nuance and depth of the story cannot truly be appreciated without the emotional investment that was built during the original Silent Hill.
Beginning with a dream sequence that promptly murders the player, the third game in the franchise showcases its rapidly sped up pace, introducing the nightmarish terrors, that took a decent chunk of time to reach in the preceding games, in a matter of minutes. However, the story doesn’t suffer from this, as it keeps the focus on a smaller, but equally memorable, selection of characters such as Claudia Wolf, the cult’s leader, and main antagonist, and the mysterious Detective Douglass Cartland.
Team Silent’s new game engine allows for smoother running and more detailed environments than ever before, featuring more responsive controls and dynamic lighting. Combat is increasingly difficult this time around, as enemies such as the Closer take many hits to kill and often gang up on the player, but to compensate for this, there is a much more diverse selection of weapons. Uzis, stun guns and knives are spread out somewhat more liberally than previous games, while more ridiculous items such as the Beam Saber and Heather Beam serve as bonus content once the game is finished normally.
To make up for having fewer endings, players are allowed to choose from multiple difficulties, which make combat and puzzles more challenging and unlock several different costumes for Heather. With stronger level design, a streamlined story and improved controls, Silent Hill 3 stands as a worthy sequel to a horror classic that offers its own unique perspective in the series. (Matt Bruzzano)
34 – Ratchet and Clank
In any previous generation, the teaming up of a furry, space cat hero and a diminutive robot would have meant a cutesy mascot platforming game. But by the time the PlayStation 2 had rolled around, the very idea of the mascot platformer was on the way out. Mario was still flying the flag for Nintendo, but Sonic was about to go multiplatform, Crash Bandicoot was struggling, and Microsoft had, erm, Blinx the Cat doing whatever he did. At first glance, Ratchet and Clank seemed poised to wind up next to Spyro the Dragon and Croc in the cute platformers vault, but getting your hands on a controller and sitting down to play the game proved that Insomniac had something a little more substantial up their sleeves than the cute aesthetic of the game implied.
While the gun play in Ratchet and Clank was a little rough around the edges in the first installment, and wouldn’t truly be refined until the third game in the series, the brilliance of the idea was evident right from the start. Take a couple of heroic cartoon characters, give them a planet-destroying megalomaniacal villain to go up against, and present them with an arsenal of ridiculous weaponry to do the job. By the time you were turning enemies into sheep with the Sheepinator, or sucking up enemies and using them as bullets to destroy bigger baddies with the Suck Cannon, it became obvious that Ratchet and Clank was a different breed of 3D platformer. (John Cal McCormick)
33 – Tekken 3
Although the third installment in the popular Tekken fighting game series was originally released in arcades in March 1997, it was the 1998 PlayStation port that really put it on the map. When the Tekken series debuted on Sony’s home console, it was hailed as one of the best fighting games alongside the Dreamcast version of Soul Calibur. Decades later, many gamers will still place Tekken 3 on such a list, and with good reason.
Not only does each character have over 100 unique moves and combos, but Tekken 3 broke new ground by placing a huge emphasis on the third axis, making sidestepping every bit as important as blocking in terms of defense. The tight mechanics and huge roster would have been worth the price tag alone, yet Namco added a full Final Fight-style campaign and a ton of bonus features to keep gamers busy. Tekken 3 is widely regarded as the best game in the franchise, and in my opinion, one of the ten best fighting games ever made. How could we not include it? (Ricky D)
32 – Final Fantasy VIII
First things first, let’s just get this out of the way: not everyone is crazy about Final Fantasy VIII. Among the usual complaints thrown at it are the fact that its battle and junction systems can be leveraged to the point of making the game a cakewalk, and that the switch to drawing magic and only holding a certain amount of spells, instead of the standard MP system, was a huge mistake.
There’s a case to be made for both points, but Final Fantasy VIII is still a fantastic game in spite of these perceived flaws. Featuring one of the tightest, best narratives in the series and a very likable sextuplet of main characters, Final Fantasy VIII gets you caught up in its story of sorcerers and time travel right from the opening moments of its stunning cinematic sword fight between rivals Squall and Seifer.
Boasting incredibly cinematic direction, an insane attention to detail and some of the coolest weapons and limit breaks the series has ever seen, there’s plenty to love about Final Fantasy VIII, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that it also has the most awesome and epic boss battle the series has ever seen during the jaw-dropping finale.
A true classic in every sense of the word, Final Fantasy VIII succeeds in a lot of ways because it’s so different, and its these differences that still make it stand out in the series even 17 years after its original release. (Mike Worby)
31 – Grand Theft Auto III
Is there a purer motive than revenge? Grand Theft Auto III kicks off with the protagonist named Claude and his girlfriend Catalina in the middle of a bank heist. All is going well until Catalina decides to put a bullet in her companion and leaves him for dead. Unfortunately for her, Claude not only survives but also manages to escape police custody, allowing him to embark on his quest for vengeance. Left with few options and even fewer allies, Claude finds himself working as a thug for the Mafia.
From there, the player interacts with other major criminal organizations, including the Yakuza and Columbian Cartel; using them, betraying them, and eventually eliminating them, all along the path to ultimately finding his ex, and putting her eight feet under. GTA III may not have the robust plot and more complex characters featured in later games in the series, but the simplicity and satisfaction of Claude’s story are still as enjoyable now in 2016 as it was back in 2001.
While GTA III’s narrative can be described as simple, the game’s design is anything but. From its mission structure to its open world and how the player interacts with their environment, Grand Theft Auto III changed the way games were played. DMA Design (now known as Rockstar North) did not pioneer the concept of open world design, nor are they credited with creating the first sandbox-style experience with a living and breathing world to explore. GTA III was able to take these elements and combine them with such nuance and scale that it single-handedly ushered in the age of the 3D open-world sandbox game.
By giving the player a massive open world to explore at their leisure, allowing the player to interact and traverse the landscape via multiple modes of transport, and offering a huge amount of story-based missions, GTA III changed the way developers would look at game design moving forward. Seen as a monumental achievement, Grand Theft Auto III is considered to be one of the most influential video games ever created, right up there with the likes of Doom and Super Mario Bros. (Matt De Azevedo)
30 – Marvel’s Spider-Man
Nearly five years after the release of the PlayStation 4, Sony doesn’t seem to be slowing down one bit in giving gamers worldwide reason after reason to buy this generation’s best-selling console. If not for God of War and Monster Hunter World, the PS4 is once again a must-have system for anyone wanting to play Sony’s exclusive titles thanks to the amazing job Insomniac Games did on Marvel’s Spider-Man. It may not be groundbreaking like God of War but, at its best, Spider-Man might just be the finest superhero video game ever made, and one of the most enjoyable games I played this year.
Swinging about the richly detailed open-world recreation of Manhattan is an absolute blast and it helps that the game does such a great job at maintaining an urgent tone, since there’s never a moment that doesn’t go by in which you don’t have something important to do. If Spidey’s cell phone isn’t ringing, there’s always something to keep your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man busy. As you progress, you’ll unlock new abilities and new power suits that not only open up the game more but help keep everything fresh and exciting.
Seriously, the traversal system in Spider-Man is a joy and it gets better the further you progress in the story. Furthermore, Spider-Man is also one of the best looking games of 2018. From the day and night cycle to the photo mode to the gorgeous cutscenes, there’s always a reason to stop and snap a screenshot. Everything from the city design, various costumes, cinematography, and CG effects is top-notch – not to mention, John Paesano’s music is absolutely fantastic as well.
Where the game shines most is its story. Boasting six entertaining villains, a deep emotional focus and a finale that may leave some players in tears, Spider-Man is hands down the best Spider-Man story (outside the comics) since Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2. Last, but not least, the epic boss battles in Spider-Man rival most action scenes in Marvel movies and the added little touches such as Spidey’s Twitter feed, various side quests, and multiple Easter Eggs keep players coming back for more and more. There’s a reason why Spider-Man’s platinum completion rate is insane. The game is hard to put down and begs players to explore every nook and cranny. All in all, this game is a blockbuster with both a heart and a brain. (Ricky D)
29 – Horizon Zero Dawn
Before Horizon Zero Dawn was revealed at Sony’s best-of-all-time 2015 E3 presser, it’s hard to imagine many people being too excited at the prospect of an open world game from the studio that had done little but create Killzone titles for various PlayStation consoles since 2004. You’d think the reveal of a Final Fantasy VII remake, Shenmue III, and the news that The Last Guardian was actually a real game that might be released one day would overshadow anything else that happened during Sony’s blockbuster conference, but Horizon Zero Dawn looked so impressive in its debut showing that people couldn’t stop talking about it.
And it’s easy to see why. Talk about elevator pitches. How’s this? A woman who appears to live in the stone age but also in the future has to fight robot dinosaurs using a hi-tech bow and arrow. You had me at robot dinosaurs.
Horizon Zero Dawn tells a wonderful sci-fi yarn in a world full of interesting characters, but it’s the combat that truly steals the show. Heroine Aloy must defeat dangerous, robotic dinosaurs using an array of arrows, bombs, and traps, and the thrill of taking down an enormous, hulking, metallic beast never gets old. Each creature approaches combat in a different way, and so the strategy you’ll need differs, from using trip wires to fell a herd so you can easily pick off the stragglers, to dislodging a rocket launcher off the back of behemoth to use against it in battle.
Horizon only really stumbles in the human-on-human combat, which feels a little like an afterthought and never comes close to the thrill of battling the robototic creatures that roam the world. Horizon Zero Dawn is an exhilarating first entry into what will undoubtedly, in time, become one of PlayStation’s stalwart franchises for the PS5 and perhaps beyond. (John Cal McCormick)
28 – Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater came out of nowhere to revolutionize gaming in 1999. It set a pretty high standard for the genre, and sports games in general. It made Tony Hawk a household name and set in stone a franchise that would last longer than it should have – and while Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater hasn’t aged particularly well, it’s still the second best in the series, surpassed only by the third entry.
Neversoft hit the ball out of the park with the very first game and packaged it with a killer soundtrack and an all-star roster to boot. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was the reason why my friends and I all purchased a PlayStation that year. It made gaming “cool” and there was no other game I sunk more hours into on my PS1. (Ricky D)
27 – Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
After the massive cliffhanger ending of Sons of Liberty, Hideo Kojima had a lot of options when deciding where the Metal Gear series would go next. After the Raiden fiasco, fans were expecting some sort of trolling from Kojima, and something was clearly amiss when Snake Eater was eventually shown at E3 2003. The playable character went by the name ‘Snake’, and he certainly looked and sounded like the iconic hero, but signs pointed to the game taking place in the 1960s.
Some fans theorized that the footage shown in the trailer was simply Solid Snake doing a VR Mission set in the past, but others put two and two together and realized MGS3‘s Snake was a different character altogether. Taking the series back to its roots, in MGS3 players would take up the role of Naked Snake, the man who would eventually become known as ‘Big Boss’, with the events of the game not only pre-dating the two previous Metal Gear Solid titles but also taking place chronologically before the original Metal Gear games.
Originally planned as a PlayStation 3 game, Kojima had lofty expectations. He wasn’t sure if the hardware available at the time would be able to handle the lush jungle setting he’d imagined for the game, but with the PS3 still years off, he took the gamble and went for it on the PS2, and it paid off in spades. Previous titles had Snake limited to indoor environments and tight corridors, but Snake Eater opened up a whole new can of worms. The game’s excellent and more open level design – in combination with new additions such as interchangeable camouflage and the requirement to hunt for food – took the series to all new heights.
Keeping up with tradition, Kojima would eventually release an enhanced edition of the game, known as Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence. This version came with some additional content, but unlike the enhanced editions of previous titles, Subsistence also changed the base game dramatically by dropping the fixed camera angles and incorporating a fully 3D user-controlled camera. The new camera setup allowed for unparalleled control, and in combination with the already solid gameplay mechanics, MGS3 is seen by many as the high point in stealth game design.
From the unforgettable boss fight with The End to the tragic story of The Boss and everything in-between, Metal Gear Solid 3 is not only a mechanical masterpiece but also a landmark when it comes to video game narrative and character development. (Matt De Azevedo)
26 – Persona 3
Persona 3 features one of the most startlingly effective images in the history of gaming. In order to release the heroic avatars that reside within them, the protagonists of Persona 3 must shoot themselves in the head with a special gun named an Evoker. While these guns shoot magical bullets and don’t pose any risk of splattering the walls with teenage grey matter, the visual is shocking and evocative regardless.
But the game isn’t just shock value alone. Persona 3 is a robust JRPG that is one part dungeon crawler, and one part dating sim. By day, you go to school, socialize and build up a network of friends and associates. By night, you hunt magical creatures known as shadows in an otherworldly tower block. Reaching milestones in your friendships and bettering your abilities in school directly influences your ability in battle, and so the two seemingly disparate gameplay elements end up working together in tandem in a system that is both familiar and fresh. (John Cal McCormick)
25 – Valkyria Chronicles
A neutral land caught between two warring factions, the nation of Gallia finds itself being invaded by the Imperial Alliance as they attempt to seize the Gallian’s cache of valuable ore. Inhabitants of the border city of Bruhl are forced to take up arms in order to defend their land. Outnumbered and outmatched, the town watch’s captain, Alicia Melchiott, and Welkin Gunther, the son of a legendary soldier, are forced to retreat to the Gallian capital where they join the militia and embark on a quest to defend their home.
Valkyria Chronicles is set in a fictional continent called Europa and tells a story which is clearly inspired by the real-life events of World War II. An absolutely beautiful game to behold, Valkyria Chronicles uses an art style which makes the game seem like a watercolor painting come to life, but the beauty of the visuals is starkly contrasted by heavy plot elements. The game isn’t afraid to touch upon very real issues, such as racism and the far-reaching effects war has on both those directly involved and those unfortunate enough to be caught up in its wave of destruction. Valkyria Chronicles is far from a historical reenactment, however, as the game has a heavy dose of supernatural powers and outlandish characters. Valkyria Chronicles does a fantastic job of meshing real-world issues with crazy anime tropes and succeeds in creating a grounded yet over-the-top adventure that will have players feeling the entire gamut of emotions.
Mechanically speaking, Valkyria Chronicles is a joy to experience. It’s predominantly a Tactical-RPG, akin to XCOM and Fire Emblem, but Sega opted to ditch the classic isometric view and grid-based combat typically associated with the sub-genre, and instead went with a surprisingly well done 3rd person shooter perspective. Characters are free to move anywhere in the 3D space, only limited by their movement meter. The game features different classes which all have different weapon types, and each individual character has their own personality traits and attributes. As with other Tactical-RPGs, positioning and spatial awareness is key to overcoming your foes. Valkyria Chronicles truly shines when it comes to its mission structure and level design, as the game constantly provides interesting objectives and challenging scenarios.
Comparable to legends of the genre such as Final Fantasy Tactics and Tactics Ogre, Valkyria Chronicles is simply a must-play for any and all fans of tactics-based role-playing games. (Matt De Azevedo)
24 – Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Looking back, it’s hard to decide what the best Grand Theft Auto game is. Grand Theft Auto V has sold over 100 million copies, is one of the most financially successful entertainment products of all time (with over $6 billion in worldwide revenue) and has given gamers new content every year since its release. Grand Theft Auto 3 is considered one of the most influential games of all time, showing what an open-world game could offer, while Grant Theft Auto Vice is fondly remembered for its setting, story, soundtrack and cinematic influences such as Miami Vice and Scarface.
Meanwhile, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas improved on the formula of its predecessor by featuring a fully-realized character to play with along with an enormous cast of talented celebrity voice actors to help bring the story to life. It features a massive world with an endless list of things to do, and at the time of its release featured the deepest, most detailed environment of any game in the series by expanding the map from a city to an entire state.
While the majority of our staff have fond memories of playing the previous two titles as kids, that amount of nostalgia can’t overshadow just how superior Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was at the time and regardless if you think San Andreas is the best in the franchise or not, there is no denying that it is a spectacular feat and set a benchmark against which all other open world games would be judged moving forward. (Ricky D)
23 – Katamari Damacy
If there’s one edge that Sony has over Microsoft and Nintendo, the variety of games available for their consoles is probably it. Whether it’s throwing money at games like The Last Guardian for years without just canceling it, or allowing something as ridiculous as Vib Ribbon to get made, Sony consoles have never been short of a crazy idea or two. Few games, however, can hope to be much crazier than Katamari Damacy.
You play a character known as the prince who must rebuild the stars in the sky after the king accidentally wipes them all out. How do you do that? Why, by rolling a sticky ball around and picking up bits and pieces off the floor until your ball is big enough to constitute a star, of course.
Once you’ve come to grips with the controls, the game becomes a riot, as you roll over everything from pens, to dogs, to old grandmothers and eventually cars and buildings. It’s a thrill to take a tiny ball and grow it into something that can roll over cows or buses, and the anarchic sense of humor prevalent in the game is contagious. Grab a couple of beers and invite a few friends over and a good time will be had by all. (John Cal McCormick)
22 – Resident Evil
Resident Evil is credited with bringing the survival horror genre to the masses and ushering in a golden age of truly terrifying video games. Originally conceived as a remake of Capcom’s earlier horror-themed game Sweet Home, Shinji Mikami, took gameplay design cues from Alone in the Dark and established a formula that has proven a success time and time again.
The first game in the series may seem dated, but the simple premise and duplicitous puzzle box mansion hold up incredibly well twenty years later. For those who love the series’ puzzle elements, the original is unparalleled. The opening sequence sets up a campy tone with unintentionally hilarious voice acting, but once you’re knee deep in the mansion, things become unbearably tense. Resident Evil requires patience, and what makes the game so good is the slow burn. It’s punishing at times, so proceed with caution. (Ricky da Conceicao)
21 – Chrono Cross
A lot of people aren’t necessarily crazy about Chrono Cross, and in a lot of ways, their feelings are totally understandable. More of a spiritual successor than an actual sequel, Chrono Cross is only tangentially connected to its beloved forebear, Chrono Trigger, and for folks who thought they’d be time-hopping again with Crono and co, Chrono Cross‘ more low-key take of moving back and forth between alternate dimensions would certainly have been jarring.
That said, though, Cross came packed to the brim with plenty of charm all its own. Its story, which centered around the repercussions of the events from Trigger, followed a cast of dozens as they unraveled the mysteries of the alternate timeline, and in particular, why your main character happens to be dead in that world. Of course, the small scope of the adventure spins wildly out of control (as these things are wont to do) and soon you’re passing the frozen void of life and death, and even meeting up with fate itself.
It’s a thorough, involving and fantastic adventure and one that deserves to be played by more people to this day. Chrono Cross may not have the enduring legacy of some of Square’s other PSX RPGs but it’s a wonderfully designed game and well worth your time if you’re a Chrono Trigger fan, plus it has easily one of the best soundtracks of all time. Give it a go, you won’t be disappointed. (Mike Worby)
XO19: Top 10 Best Announcements of the Show
Xbox just had their best XO presentation ever, and it wasn’t even close. Here’s a rundown of the best announcements from XO19.
Microsoft had a lot to prove going into its fifth annual XO showcase. Console launches are on the horizon, cloud competitor Google Stadia is about to ship to early adopters, and Game Pass subscribers are as hungry as ever for new additions to the lineup. Then there’s the fact that XO has always been looked down upon by the gaming community in general as a lackluster, padded presentation.
All of that changed with XO19. This was, by far, the best XO in the event’s history. In fact, it featured more shocking reveals and genuinely impressive announcements than a good deal of Microsoft’s recent E3 press conferences. From new IP reveals, to first-time looks at gameplay, to a couple “I never would’ve believed you a week ago” shockers, it’s clear that Xbox stepped up its game from years past. Here’s our list of the best announcements of the show.
10. Everwild Reveal
It’s not too often that we get to experience a new IP from Rare. Their last attempt, Sea of Thieves, was a fully multiplayer, always-online affair that gradually garnered a cult following thanks to some of the best community engagement and most consistent content updates in the industry.
We don’t know what type of game Everwild is yet, but it’s certainly oozing that same colorful, ambient charm that made players fall in love with Sea of Thieves all those years ago. Seeing as how we only got a cinematic teaser, though, it might be quite some time before we’re running around these gorgeous environments.
9. ID@Xbox Lineup
The ID@Xbox team has pulled it off again. Despite being stuck with an almost insultingly poor time slot in the presentation, several of the indies shown off in this short montage rivaled some of the show’s AAA spotlights. It had everything from high-profile indies like Streets of Rage 4, Touhou Luna Nights, and the Yacht Club Games-published Cyber Shadow, to more modest beauties like SkateBIRD, Haven, Cris Tales, and she dreams elsewhere.
The best part? All of these are launching on Game Pass day and date. The worst part? No actual dates were announced for anything shown. Regardless, it’s encouraging that so many high quality indies are continuing to come to Xbox (and that relationships with Devolver Digital and Yacht Club are rock-solid).
8. West of Dead Reveal/Open Beta
Raw Fury has one of the better eyes in the indie publishing scene. Gems like GoNNER, Dandara, and Bad North have all released under their watch, and West of Dead might be their best acquisition yet. It’s a heavily-stylized twin stick shooter that switches things up by making tactical cover a core part of the experience.
The trailer hinted at roguelike elements being present, and the ever-popular procedurally generated levels should significantly up replayability. How it plays, however, remains to be seen…unless you have an Xbox, in which case you can play the exclusive open beta now before the full game comes to all platforms next year.
7. Halo Reach Release Date
The Master Chief Collection has long been the one golden goose that endlessly eludes those outside of the Xbox ecosystem. Earlier this year, though, Microsoft made waves when it announced that it was bringing the entire collection over to PC. Reach is the first step in that process, and it’s finally making its way to both PC and Xbox One as part of the MCC on December 3rd.
It’s just a date, but the fact that so many new players get to experience one of Halo‘s most beloved outings at last easily made it one of the highlights of the night.
6. Grounded Reveal
Who woulda thought? Fresh off releasing one of the best RPGs in years with The Outer Worlds, Obsidian decided to show off a passion project from one of its smaller teams: Grounded. The premise? Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: Survival Edition.
Players take control of kids the size of ants as they fight off actual bugs, cook, craft armor and weapon upgrades, and build shelter to survive in the wilderness of someone’s backyard. As silly as it sounds and looks, and as unexpected a project it is for Obsidian to undertake, it genuinely looks rather promising. The cheerful color palette is a welcome contrast to the dark, brooding aesthetic so many other survival games have adopted. There are plenty of details left to be uncovered, but if early impressions are anything to go by, this is one to keep on your radar early next year.
5. Age of Empires IV Gameplay Reveal
Age of Empires is one of the most esteemed strategy franchises in history. Despite having this beloved IP in their back pocket, however, Microsoft hasn’t published a new mainline game in the series since 2005. Age of Empires IV was originally announced over two years ago, and after buttering everyone up with the release of Age of Empires II Definitive Edition that afternoon, the first glimpse of gameplay was finally shown at XO19.
Simply put, the game looks gorgeous. Every building is full of detail and the countryside looks surprisingly lush and picturesque. Witnessing hundreds of units charging down the valley towards the stronghold in the trailer was mind-blowing as an old-school fan. They didn’t show off any innovations or moment-to-moment gameplay, but it’s looking more and more like the future of the franchise is safe in Relic’s hands.
4. Final Fantasy Blowout
Xbox’s success in Japanese markets has become something of a running joke over the years. Though inroads were clearly made with Bandai Namco, many more Japanese publishers won’t go within a mile of the platform. Possibly through working with Square Enix’s western division to put the latest Tomb Raider and Just Cause entries on board, it looks like the main branch has finally decided to give Xbox players a chance.
Starting this holiday, Game Pass subscribers will gradually get every single-player Final Fantasy game since Final Fantasy VII. More shocking still, The Verge reported that the Xbox team is working to get the massively popular MMO Final Fantasy XIV over as well. The sheer value of having every post-Super Nintendo Final Fantasy game included in Game Pass (even XV) is ridiculous. It remains to be seen what the rollout cadence of these ten titles will look like, but considering how long each of these are, one per month wouldn’t shock or disappoint.
3. The Reign of Project xCloud
With Stadia launching just next week, Microsoft had been surprisingly quiet on their cloud gaming front up to this point. The service had gone into preview for those lucky enough to get in and, by most accounts, it had been fairly well-received. The real question came down to what Xbox was going to do to make itself stand out from its competition.
The bombs dropped here felt like the equivalent to the thrashing Sony gave to Microsoft back at E3 2013. Microsoft shadow dropped 40+ new games into Preview for players to test (for free) including Devil May Cry 5, Tekken 7, Bloodstained, and Ace Combat 7. Even better, xCloud will support third-party controllers including the DUALSHOCK 4 and will finally show up on Windows 10 PCs in 2020.
Perhaps the most damning announcement, however, is that xCloud will be integrated with Game Pass starting next year. Only having to pay for a Game Pass subscription to access 100+ games and play them in the cloud (including Halo, Forza, The Outer Worlds, and all those Final Fantasy titles) makes xCloud a far better value than Stadia right out of the gate. If this didn’t force Google to adjust its strategy, we might be looking at a very short cloud gaming war.
2. Square Sharing the Kingdom Hearts Love
Kingdom Hearts 3 releasing on Xbox One was somewhat bittersweet. On the one hand, players who had left the PlayStation ecosystem after playing the first games had a chance to see the arc’s conclusion. On the other hand, new players had no options for going back and experiencing the series’ roots.
Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5+2.5 Remix and Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue finally coming to Xbox next year is a godsend for younger players and new players alike. More important, however, is the tearing down of those over 15+ years old exclusivity walls. Just like with many of the Final Fantasys, the main Kingdom Hearts games had been married to PlayStation systems for years. This shift at Square is an exciting one, and it bodes particularly well for the next generation of Xbox hardware.
1. Yakuza Finally Goes Multi-Console
It seems like Phil Spencer’s trips to Japan finally paid off. In what was arguably the most shocking announcement of XO19 (right next to Kingdom Hearts), it was revealed that SEGA is taking the Yakuza series multi-console at last. Not only are Yakuza 0 and Kiwami 1+2 coming to Xbox, but all three are going to Game Pass next year as well.
Does this mean support from Japanese studios will increase across the board? Of course not. But getting big names like Bandai Namco, Square Enix, and SEGA on board is nothing if not encouraging. Xbox is clearly pulling out all the stops to ensure a diverse suite of third-party support come Scarlett’s launch next year, and it’s the healthiest the platform has looked in a very long time.
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‘Garden Story’ First Impressions: The Coziest of Adventures
Long-awaited Twitter darling Garden Story just released its first demo. Here’s what we learned after playing through it twice.
Following the unfortunate (but understandable) delay of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, there’s been a distinct lack of chill, aesthetic games to fill the void. Garden Story’s charming environmental art and animation have earned it a dedicated social media following, but it wasn’t until Picogram released a demo just a couple days ago that anyone with a Steam account could actually experience the game for themselves. So, just how fun is this wholesome little RPG?
Setting the Scene
Garden Story’s demo centers around the newly-appointed village guardian Concord (a grape) and their first steps in rebuilding Autumn Town, a community ravaged by a sinister force known as “the Rot.” Chatting with villagers reveals a bit of insight into the situation at hand; it’s soon clear just how much the other townsfolk need the player’s support.
There are several clear parallels to old-school Legend of Zelda titles here, but Garden Story manages to set itself apart rather quickly. For one, this isn’t a solo adventure; the player sets out with Rana (a frog) and Fuji (a tomato) on a friendly quest to be as helpful to the surrounding community as possible. Seeing friends around and watching cute scripted cutscenes between the crew does a great job of instilling a sense of camaraderie and friendship.
In another pleasant twist, everything here is themed around building rather than destroying. Instead of traditional swords and bows, Concord repurposes his dowsing rod and scavenging pick into makeshift weapons. The combat itself calls to mind Stardew Valley; simple, minimal, and clearly not the main focus. There’s a pesky stamina bar that restricts the number of times Concord can attack and how far they can run, frequently forcing players to pause between barrages. In this way, encounters often come off as more of a necessary evil in Concord’s town rehabilitation journey than a main attraction.
Rebuilding a Community
So, how does one go about aiding the town? The method highlighted in the demo was by attending to a quest board with three different types of requests: Threat (combat), Repair (exploration), and Want (gathering). Each is accompanied by a task that plays an integral part in keeping Autumn Town safe and in good working order (e.g. clearing out Rot, finding sewer access so new resources can flow into town, and so on).
Aside from fulfilling requests, there are a few interesting hooks to incentivize hitting every shiny thing you come across regardless. The more different types of items are scavenged, and the more catalogues are filled by being updated with new materials, the more literature becomes available to give little bits of insight into Garden Story’s world and history. Then, in another parallel to Stardew Valley, any leftover resources can be sold in the pursuit of buying tool upgrades.
While the full game will feature four locations to explore and tend to, there was still plenty to do in Autumn Town itself by the end of the demo. Rana mentioned that villagers will post new requests daily, and the demo even featured a mini side quest (called “favors”) that led me to obtain a brand-new tool. Between daily requests, favor fulfillment, and dungeons spread across four different regions, it’s looking like there will be a good bit of content here for those who really want to hang around Garden Story’s world for as long as possible.
Though it remains to be seen just how enticing its complete gameplay loop and accompanying systems are, Picogram’s latest is already delivering on its core appeal: being a cozy, relaxing experience. The color palette is soft, the lighting is moody, and the soundtrack is right up there with the Animal Crossing series as having some of the most mellow, loopable tunes around.
In fact, it’s the sound design in particular that gives Garden Story such an intimate feel. From the sound of a page turning when entering and exiting buildings to the gentle gurgles of a bubbling brook in the forest, it’s clear that composer Grahm Nesbitt poured a ton of love into making this one feel just right. Here’s hoping the full game more than delivers on all the potential shown here.
Garden Story is slated to release in Spring of 2020 and is available to wishlist on Steam.
How Asynchronous Online in ‘Death Stranding’ Brings Players Together
Hideo Kojima’s latest game creates a sense of community by aiding other players on the same perilous journey.
Video games have always been fascinated with the idea of player interactivity as a means of crafting a power fantasy. The player typically goes on a hero’s journey, eventually culminating in them being the one and only savior of the world inside the game. Typically associated with single-player games, MMOs also crafted that same narrative but with the conceit that everyone is going on this journey. Often the acknowledgments of other players are in multiplayer-specific features such as PvP and Raids. Destiny is a great example of a series that takes players on the same journey and makes no promise that the story is different between players by even allowing them to engage in playing story missions together. It all feeds into the larger narrative of Guardians fighting together to save the Light. A game that handles this very similar and perhaps more successfully is Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding.
While lacking any direct player-to-player interaction, Kojima’s latest game is drenched in the conceit that community is crucial to triumph over adversity. You can read many articles about the game’s ideas of community from fellow writers on the site. What hasn’t quite gotten the attention it deserves is how revolutionary Death Stranding feels in terms of utilizing asynchronous online to greatly affect the game itself. Games like Dark Souls and other FromSoftware titles have included the ability to leave notes (which Death Stranding also offers) that help (or trick) players as they venture throughout the world on their own. How those notes’ effects are manifested are often on a much smaller scale – helpful at times but often to warn players of an impending way they might die. They don’t have a large impact on the player, only a temporary means of cheating death.
Where Death Stranding becomes something greater in scale is in what it lets other players do to other peoples’ single-player experiences. In the game, you play as Sam Porter Bridges who is tasked with reconnecting America from coast-to-coast. At first, the game thrusts Sam into its narrative, taking the reluctant, isolated character and forcing him to eventually realize the importance of hope and connections in dire times. As Sam starts bringing more and more people onto the Chiral network (which allows instantaneous communication and the transferring of 3D-printable goods), so too does the game open up and reveal its ultimate goal: to bring players together.
This doesn’t mean players will ever talk to other players, and the game very much avoids any real negative actions that can be performed on players. In fact, someone could play the game without ever actively engaging with online features. Instead, the game will passively hand out “likes” to other players whose ladders are used or roads are driven. If one wanted to fight the game’s narrative and instead keep Sam isolated and away from the community that the Chiral network provides, they could definitely do that – no matter how antithetical it would be to do so. Death Stranding even offers an offline mode that would nullify all of that and keep the experience solely on the player’s impact on the world and no one else’s.
Yet there’s a reason the online mode is the default mode. It was near the end of Episode 3 (which also happens to be when the game unloads almost all of its mechanics onto the player) when I finally realized the impact I was having on other people’s games. I had spent an entire day playing the game, but focusing largely on delivering premium deliveries – these are optional challenges that essentially boil down to carrying more cargo, damaging cargo less, or getting to your destination in a set amount of time. Death Stranding doesn’t ever tell you the best way to get somewhere. Instead, it places a wide array of tools in front of you and assuming the Chiral network is set up in an area, it can provide a rough guide on places to avoid or infrastructure already built. However, one of the key pieces of infrastructure missing for my playthrough was roads. My efforts immediately became focused on building a network of roads that made their way all throughout one of the larger areas in the game.
The game doesn’t ever make you build roads. It tells you the option is there but it doesn’t force your hand. Often tools will be introduced, like zip lines and floating carriers, but the game never demands that they’re used. Of course, engaging with those tools will make your life easier. There are easy ways to start building infrastructure in Death Stranding: ropes and ladders can help to scale mountains or plummet depths. Those will remain in the world for other players to use and will even appear on their maps as they hook up areas to the Chiral network. So, someone who plays the game earlier than someone else could lay down ropes and ladders, and depending on when the other person starts playing, they will find those once they have progressed to a point where they are traversing that area. Where the game becomes even grander in its sense of community is the realization that the more players commit to building roads or setting up zip lines, the more other players benefit.
The reality is that ladders and ropes are temporary – they cannot be rebuilt, they can only be replaced. The game’s Timefall – a weather phenomenon that acts as rain but ages anything it comes into contact with – can reset an entire map after a while if there is nothing more substantial placed on the map. So in my game, I decided that whenever I could build a road, I committed to doing so. This could mean going to multiple waystations and collecting materials that have amassed over time from deliveries, or going out in the world and finding these materials like Chiral crystals. At a certain point, I would load up a truck with multiple deliveries that were on or near the roads I had built, as well as with as many metal and ceramic materials I could load into the truck before it reached capacity. As I delivered packages, I’d replace them with more deliveries and more materials from each waystation. Eventually, I’d find myself at a point where a road was not built yet and would then build that road.
Community stands as the strongest component of Death Stranding .
In contrast to a game like Dark Souls, actions in the world such as providing notes on the ground or helping another player with a boss battle is helping them cheat death. The community that is being built is not one that has any lasting effect on the world in the game. No Man’s Sky may let players interact with each other and further their knowledge of the universe within the game, but often that help is relegated to an isolated planet. It’s a more contained impact. Hideo Kojima created a game where players don’t just build infrastructures for themselves, they can intentionally or inadvertently assist other players throughout their games. This leads to players like myself creating strand contracts with other players who have built things I liked in the game. A strand contract is a powerful feature because it means more of that players’ roads or other items built for the world will show up more frequently in my game.
Every Action in Death Stranding Creates Hope
One of the perks of building so many roads is you also get a lot of likes, whether passively given because someone used the road or actively provided by a player because they not only used the road but were appreciative that someone built it. It’s hard not to feel important in someone else’s life when you’ve made their experience less cumbersome because they no longer have to drive over rocky terrain or through enemy territory but instead can take a highway to their destination. What’s better is that more substantial developments like bridges and roads can be repaired by other players and even upgraded. So while I laid the initial roads down, I actually haven’t spent any materials repairing them. Instead, notifications come in and tell me players have repaired roads I’ve built. There’s no real reason to do that unless the infrastructure built was necessary to their journey through the game – making it easier but also providing the same feeling of helping out a larger community.
Community stands as the strongest component of Death Stranding – a game that doesn’t even try to be subtle in its intentions. Traversing Kojima’s version of post-apocalyptic America is harrowing on your own. With just your two feet and a package to deliver when the entire world itself is trying to stop you from doing so, America isn’t just divided – it’s hostile. Where Death Stranding shines brightest is when it offers a helping hand. Players aid one another to achieve the same unified goal: save the country. All of this is under the assumption that the country can be saved, but there is no denying that seeing someone else’s rope hanging off a steep cliff, or a Timefall shelter where it rains Timefall on a constant basis, is one of the most satisfying feelings. In Death Stranding, it isn’t enough to know that you’re making progress, but that everyone is willing to assist others to reach the same end goal. It’s a game where every action creates hope and is built upon the idea that we are at our best when we work together.
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