It is the last day of the year and I have decided to sit down and look back on the past twelve months of whatchaa.com. As you would, right?
First, though, I wish to thank all of you who have stopped by over the past months, for reviews as well as playthroughs, tips and hints and even the occasional rant. Without you, I would not have been able to reach and even surpass my goals for this blog this year! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I will do my very best to keep the content coming and am already looking forward to all the games and topics that will cross my path in 2019.
The year in numbers
Having enjoyed a quiet week, sleeping too much, eating a lot and looking forward to celebrating tonight with my friends (and eat even more), this is the first time I really get to think about what happened in 2018, in terms of games played and goals achieved for pushing my blog.
So, here are some numbers to give you an idea of how whatchaa.com has been developing:
- Games played (regardless of whether or not I finished them): 14
- Visitors: 28,663
- Views: 41,762
- Most-viewed content: HITMAN: Patient Zero Campaign, Mission 1, The Source with 12,915 views
This may not seem much at first glance, but, compared to last year, it is pretty amazing. The reason: back in October 2017 I optimized the blog and saw the views and number of visitors boom practically over night.
So, in 2018, the number of views is seven times higher than that of the past year (5,433 views). Also, the number of visitors has skyrocketed. There were 3.460 visitors last year, this year, well, a couple more…
So, I am pretty proud of that achievement and hope that by the end of next year the views will have reached 100.000 and the number of visitors 50.000.
To reach that goal, I know I will have to work harder on providing content. Alas, there has been a change in my life this year that prevents me from playing as much as I did in previous years.
Since April of 2018 I am the proud owner/caretaker of three pet rats. As these pets require regular exercise and playtime so they don’t get bored (and in one case that results in bullying the weakest of the three) I spend most evenings with them and that leaves me with maybe an hour and a half to play. There’s more time for games on weekends, sure, but I also want to see my friends and family, go on trips and what not.
So, you see, that goal will be a little harder to reach.
Nevertheless, here’s another number for you: I have finally published my 100th blog post! Maybe I’ll manage 50 more next year? Ambitious, but, we shall see.
The games of 2018
As in most years, there were a couple of games that I started playing and gave up on, for various reasons. Others, I loved to pieces and played for months on end. Here’s a quick review of all the games I played in 2018 (to some extent, at least), in chronological order, starting with the first.
Life is Strange
Life is Strange was recommended to me by various fellow gamers I play SNIPER ELITE with. It is an episodic adventure that mixes a coming of age-story with a murder mystery and the supernatural. While it took my a while to warm to it, by th end of the game I had fallen thoroughly in love. You can find my detailed review here.
Shadow of the Beast
Wanting to play as the bad guy for a change, I found this platformer. As monstrous hero Arborn you have to battle and on occasion puzzle your way across various, beautiful side-scrolling maps and face off against a variety of enemies. It is insanely competitive and well done, I think, though not one of the genres I usually play. Here is my review.
This game had caught my eye back when it was first published, but I was not completely convinced I’d like it back then. This year I got it on sale and was pretty excited about playing, but gave up shortly after. The battles were epic, sure, but I am so used to auto-save that I was reset twice, not realising that I really had to go and save manually in order to not have to start at the very beginning again and again. Annoyed, I gave up. So, no review.
I tried my hand at Dark Souls II once, but did not even manage the first boss fight. Still, I found the prospect of wielding a sword – and not as Geralt of Rivia, Ezio Auditore, Senua or Talion this time – pretty appealing. I stuck with the game for quite a bit, really getting into the whole improving your stats thing that has you weighing for or against certain armor, acquiring specific traits and so forth. I liked the world, the challenges, the need for adapting to the specific situations, enemies and bosses. But the third boss – apparently one of the hardest of the game – finally broke my resolve. Therefore, no review for this game either.
Middle-earth: Shadow of War Blade of Galadriel
I am a huge fan of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and Middle-earth: Shadow of War. The first story-DLC for the latter, then, follows the elven Nazgul-hunter Eltariel on her own adventure alongside Talion and it really did deliver. So, here is the detailed review, beware of spoilers, though.
Last year, I finally bought the PSVR-bundle and found I really enjoyed VR, except for that accursed motion sickness. While Theseus is an intriguing game with some pretty visuals, the motion sickness was so bad that I gave up on it. I still reviewed it, but there won’t be actual spoilers.
Moss, the enchanting adventure of adorable mousy hero Quill is easily the best game I played in 2018. As I wrote in my review, this is what VR was made for. The way the player is integrated into the story is beautifully done and the level of immersion simply amazing. If you own PSVR, play this game. Seriously. You’ll love it.
A Way Out
A Way Out is an insanely intense, emotional action adventure exclusively played in co-op. Either with an online buddy or with your best friend on the couch next to you, you will experience the rollercoaster ride of two very different characters, Vincent and Leo, as they make their escape from prison to seek revenge (or maybe something else entirely) on the one man who destroyed both their lives. Among the games I played in 2018, this is the second-best and easily one of the best I have ever played. Suffice to say, I played it more than once. My review is, alas, not spoiler-free, so read at your own risk.
This episodic, choice-based adventure offers a lot of puzzles, a lot of paths to achieving your goal, intriguing characters and a stunning setting. Unfortunately, it suffers from lazy writing and an incredibly infuriating number of loading screens.
Overall, it is an enjoyable game, at times riveting, even. The first and last episode, I think, are the strongest, and that, I believe, is not a good thing. If you like choice-based adventures, this might still be for you, in this case, though, don’t read my reviews.
Detroit: Become Human
Detroit: Become Human is another choice-based adventure that has the player steer three very different characters – androids, in this case – through a crisis destined to change human society forever. As they are awakening to the world around them, will they choose to remain obedient machines or will they rise up and demand to be treated as living souls? It is a riveting adventure, highly emotional, with choices that truly matter (most of the time). It is also the third game that I rank among the best I played this year and I have played it many, many times. Read my review and judge for yourself, if this might be a game for you.
Ah, Vampyr, I had such high hopes for you and your intriguing protagonist, Dr. Jonathan Reid. Set in London during the last leg of WWI, this dark tale follows the good doctor as he seeks to find a remedy to the deadly disease ravaging the poor districts of the city, turning its pelople into horrible, vampiric creatures. The fact that he himself is a vampire does help the investigations, but also brings a moral dilemma: to feed, he has to kill. But, who is he willing to sacrifice?
The choice-based approach works really well. At one point, I had practically painted myself into a corner. I had already become a monster and the only chance for surviving the last boss fight was going all in and killing pretty much everyone in sight to accumulate enough power. I really want to replay that game and choose a more pacifistic, cautious approach this time. Read my review at you own risk, there are a lot of major spoilers.
Indie stealth-game Aragami dropped its expansion this year and I, already a great fan of the main game, could not wait to lay hands on it. Stealth again is paramount and the only road to success. Which is why I love this game. Play it alone or in co-op, marvel at the beautiful settings and the haunting music, but be sure to finish the main game beforehand. The expansion’s story hinges heavily on that, since this is a prequel. Therefore, my review is rife with major spoilers.
Middle-earth: Shadow of War, Desolation of Mordor
The second story-DLC of Middle-earth: Shadow of War is a solid expansion. You get all that you’d expect, but not much more. Compared to the first DLC, this one is not quite as ambitious, but I still thought it fun to play as the – for a change – not supernaturally inclined Gondorian warrior Baranor. Here is my review, almost spoiler-free.
The Quiet Man
When the trailer for The Quiet Man first appeared on my Twitter-feed I was immediately intrigued. This game, mixing live-action and animation, follows the exceptionally attractive deaf and mute protagonist as he attempts to solve a murder mystery. The catch: the player is subjected to the same limitations as the protagonist. That means you are unable to hear what your counterpart says, all you do hear is a melodical murmur. Also, no music. The concept is novel indeed, but in part poorly executed. Which I thought really annoying. Also annoying: the gameplay. At times it feels as if someone had adapted a mobile game for PS4. And that does not really work well. In short: I gave up on this game pretty quickly. Yet it got me thinking about audio design in games in general, which is a topic I would like to explore in a separate post.
Now, 2019 is beckoning and with it HITMAN 2, which I had pre-ordered and downloaded the day it dropped, which was unfortunately just a couple of days before I moved house back in November. Which is the reason why I haven’t started playing yet. I loved the reboot, even the episodic approach. This time I will have the opportunity to play the entire game without having to wait, which is nice, actually. Also, I wanted to play Life is Strange 2 this year, but did not find the time. So that is also on my list. Also, whenever Last of Us Part Two finally is released, I’ll be there. Finally, there are three more games on my list, though I am not sure when they will be released: The Sinking City, Greedfall and Ghost of Tsushima.
Until then, I wish you all a very happy new year. Keep on playing!