To follow on from last week where I talked about some of the best bits in bad games, this week I’m going to list the best features in some of the best games. Similarly to the article I wrote at the start of the year for the most satisfying moments in games this time I will outline which features helped make these games the amazing experiences they were instead of focussing on one moment from them. No prizes for guessing which game is first up for me to heap praise on for the hundredth time.
Spartan Kick – Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
Yes I am talking about Odyssey again, and it won’t be the last time either! Like all the games featured on this list it wasn’t easy to nail down just one mechanic to talk about, but having just re-watched all of the game trailers for Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, Spartan Kick has to come out of this as the clear winner. The absolute joy to know that during any fight taking place near the edge of a precipice, you can unceremoniously boot your opponent into the abyss and watch them fall to their death on the rocks or tide below.
You don’t even need to be high up to get good use out of this attack, as if you are overwhelmed by a group of enemies, or just feel like humiliating someone, you can Spartan Kick them away in an instant and watch them spin helplessly into the bushes and attempt to compose themselves to rejoin the fight afterwards. As someone who takes a sadistic delight in toying with rivals in video games this checks all the right boxes for me, which is probably why I’ve managed to get over 250 hours out of Odyssey so far (across two saves) and I’m still keen to get back to it for more!
Rewind Time – Forza Motorsport / Horizon series
I have always enjoyed racing games but for years I couldn’t bring myself to play them. The simple explanation for this is that I could be quite happily coasting to victory in first place for 90% of the race, but the fact I could misjudge a corner or be overtaken by someone I hadn’t noticed gaining on me, and lose a race that had been going on for a while put me off them. I do get very invested in games and my love of winning is matched only by my fury at having a win taken away from me. As a result of losing a couple of races for the above mentioned reasons across different Need for Speed games, eventually I sold all my racing games and decided not to bother with the genre ever again.
That was until I purchased an Xbox 360 that came bundled with Forza Motorsport 4, and upon trying it just to see what it was like I was absolutely delighted to discover you could rewind time at the press of a button if you made a mistake or wanted to quickly re-attempt the section of race you had just completed. Across four Motorsport and four Horizon games to this day I can count my losses on one hand, purely because any time I was a little overzealous in a drift or took a risk that didn’t pay off, I could immediately take back my mistake and try again as many times as I wanted until I achieved the desired result.
Thank you for this mechanic Forza, you saved my love of racing games, and my blood pressure.
The Gore – DOOM (2016)
As hot streams of blood jets passed the camera for the twelfth time that minute, I am reminded of how lucky we are as a species that DOOM exists. Bad day at work? Things not going your way? Desperate to blow off some steam? DOOM 2016 has you covered!
Every death, decapitation and demon tearing act of violence is so moreish that no sooner have you finished playing this game you throw yourself right back into the madness and get back to killing. A healthy selection of weapons coupled with DOOMguy’s fists and trusty chainsaw, there is something for everyone in this phenomenally bloody title that brings you back time and time again for a breakneck journey through Hell that you will never forget.
The same could technically be said of its sequel, Doom Eternal, but I don’t count that as it’s too platforming heavy, and nothing makes a bad mood worse than boring repetition and a developer who squanders their potential.
Dragon Shouts – The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Without a shadow of doubt, Skyrim is one of the best RPG’s in history. Early game combat is rewarding, easy to learn and fun to experiment with, but the game ramps its fun up to eleven with the introduction of the Dragon Shouts. The now famous ‘Fus-Ro-Dah’ for Unrelenting Force allowing you to send anyone in front of you flying backwards, sometimes off a ledge to their death like the Spartan Kick above, is one of the most endlessly funny things from a video game.
An assortment of twenty different Dragon Shouts, powers that only you as the protagonist can use, give you the edge in almost all encounters in Skyrim, and there’s no better retort to a rude NPC than either breathing fire on them or shouting at them with such force you send them flying.
As hostile as it made characters in the game towards you, my favourite Shout was always ‘Storm Call’. The ability to turn the tide of a battle by summoning a vicious lightning storm is one of my most satisfying memories from Playstation 3 era gaming, and Dragon Shouts are just one of dozens of reasons why Skyrim will forever be a timeless masterpiece with boundless replayability.
Blink – Dishonored
Dishonored has so much going for it that I had a massive variety of options to choose from before ultimately settling on Blink (short distance teleportation to those who are unaware). Having recently completed my ‘no powers’ run of Dishonored it was refreshing to know I could use the base level of Blink and still unlock the trophy. Playing Dishonored as essentially a first person shooter always takes me out of my comfort zone somewhat as normally I like to hide in the shadows and summon swarms of rats to devour all enemies in my vicinity. When confronted with the reality I would have to either stealth past guards (which I never did) or attack them head on in plain sight, it brought a new style of fun to the game that I wouldn’t usually see.
The fact I could still Blink to confuse and confound guards to gain an advantage never stopped being funny for me. This was made even sweeter as I hadn’t needed to spend any money on Runes in the game to upgrade powers, instead sinking all my money into crossbow and pistol upgrades, which made me a force to be reckoned with even despite the lack of ability to stop time at will.
On the occasions I am asked to recommend a game to anyone who isn’t a child my first suggestion is always Dishonored, and if anyone is still allowing this eight year old game to pass them by you are only depriving yourself of one of the greatest experiences from the current and previous generation of consoles.
Thank you for reading about the best features in some of my favourite games. Make sure you let me know in the comments and on Twitter @MaliceVER what you would have included on this list and I’ll be back to speak to you again very soon.