Chosen by: William Kirk
Developer: FromSoftware
Platforms: PS4
Release Date: March 24, 2015

Since founding GameCloud, I have personally reviewed more than 100 games and edited and published 500 others. It’s an almost incomprehensible number now I stop to think about it, and yet there is still one game which stands above them all. One game which defines my time with GameCloud: Bloodborne.

Reviewed in an era where we used to score games, Bloodborne is the only 10/10 I’ve ever awarded, and I am so grateful to have had that opportunity. As a fan of the series since the early days of Demon’s Souls, it was an absolute thrill to review a brand new IP from famed director Hidetaka Miyazaki, and prior to release. However, it wasn’t actually the act of playing this amazing game before other people that was so exciting, but because all its secrets were still completely unknown. There were no guides, no online forums, and with the looming pressure to finish the game and produce a review, I knew I had no choice but to “Git Gud.”

At the time, FromSoftware games were still widely regarded as “not for everyone,” which arguably hasn’t changed despite the series booming popularity, but that was something most reviewers felt the need to preface their praise with. I can’t remember where I first heard it, but around the time I was playing Bloodborne, I heard someone say the following: “For two people to see the exact same thing, and for one to love it, and the other to hate it, that is the true definition of art.” I couldn’t sum up Souls games more accurately. While it’s easy to look at visually appealing games as art or those with a compelling narrative, these are benchmarks other mediums can also achieve. No, I think the real art of video games is how they’re played, and there are few that deliver what FromSoftware’s games do.

I’m not going to waste my final words trying to convince you why Bloodborne is incredible. You just need to play for yourself and be willing to persist. Funnily enough, building GameCloud was much like my time with Bloodborne. I started with nothing, I wasn’t particularly good in the beginning, but over time I persisted and eventually worked it out. Deciding it’s time to move on has one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I am so proud of everything we’ve achieved, and I’ll take this opportunity to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your support over the years. I’ll also be greedy and give a shout out to The Witcher 3, The Talos Principle, NieR: Automata, Resident Evil 7 (VR) and Persona 5, just to name a few of the many other outstanding games I’ve reviewed in my time at GameCloud.
 


 

Chosen by: Patrick Waring
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios, Black Isle Studios
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360
Release Date: September 30, 1997 – Current

I love Fallout, and if you’ve been a regular reader, then that’s about as surprising as Bethesda’s plot twists. There’s even a saying among our team of writers here: “Don’t touch Fallout, or that Paddy, heheh, he’ll find you.” And indeed, no one did touch it for fear that it wasn’t a joke. While New Vegas is undoubtedly the best Fallout game without question (don’t @ me), this entry isn’t about a particular game in the series. 500ish words wouldn’t be enough for Obsidian’s masterpiece. No, this is more about the series in general and how my view of it, and the series itself, has changed over the years.

My introduction to the series was back in ’08 with Fallout 3, a flawed but great title that I still enjoy even now, and I smashed that hour count on my old 360 until the thing red ringed on me. I’d do the same again with New Vegas, my true love, and go on to play the crap out of both again on PC. When I eventually got bored, I went back to the roots of the series and discovered a passion for tactical turn-based RPGs, and for post-apocalyptic fiction in general. You have to understand, my experiences with these games and this series have actually had an impact on the sort of person I am, and the interests that I formed from playing these games. It is a series I cherished very much, even its stupider entries in both “Brotherhood of Steel” games.

Then Fallout 4 rolled around, and I think I speak for many people when I say that despite it’s “success,” as a Fallout game, it was pretty crap. It had, and has, so many problems not just on a technical level, but on a design level, the glaring kind that suggests Bethesda didn’t know what they were meant to be creating. I hated that game so much that it put me off the series entirely for a while, and it took me playing Fallout 76 to realise that Bethesda actually doesn’t understand their own IP. 76’s core design, indeed its very existence proves that the series is currently in the hands of a studio that just wants to make “the next biggest thing, probably map size, dunno – maybe it’s in space, whooooooowwoooowoow!”

The problem isn’t Fallout, it’s Bethesda. I still love the Fallout series very much, I just don’t love it unconditionally as I once did, and most of that journey happened here on this site. It happened in hateful, angry, bitter rants, but also in loving satire and gushing reviews. Mostly those first ones, though. So angry. But hey, Obsidian’s back with Outer Worlds this year, an FPS RPG just like Fallout. Even though the setting is different Obsidian were the ones that did Fallout best, so who knows – maybe Bethesda will take notes.

Now, if you think I’ve just taken this as a chance to get some last kicks in on Bethesda before the site is done then you’re absolutely right. There’s no denying that I am the resident curmudgeon, wearing my old man pants in just about every review. I often delighted in picking up games I had a hunch would be terrible because they’re weirdly more fun to write about than games I actually enjoyed playing. Making jokes is what I’ve always done here on the site, and there’s no better way to end it than writing about the joke that Fallout has become.
 


 

Chosen by: Nick Ballantyne
Developer: Infinity Ward
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Release Date: Novemeber 4, 2016

My time at GameCloud has been driven by one pervasive ethic: Never take anything too seriously. The second you allow solemnity to become more than a joke, you’ll find yourself in an uninspired suit and tie working for Conoco Phillips like a chump. There’s always time for a cheeky Bible Black reference, always room for a subtle jab at the ineptitude of your past self, and let’s not forget to bash EA one more time. This astonishingly effective mentality has driven much of my writing, but one piece of craftsmanship stands out above all else. It was a work so bold that Activision almost blacklisted us, a review so luminescent that it could blind God and steal his canteen money. I am, of course, talking about my timeless review of Infinite Warfare.

The game was nothing special. You ran around, shot some stuff and flew a plane here and there, but the good stuff never found its way into the multiplayer. It was, for all intents and purpose, a Call of Duty game. I didn’t want to write a review that stated the obvious, though, because I’m incapable of doing what I’m told and dared to dream bigger. I wanted to challenge myself to create something that I could look back on and call a bigger achievement than finishing my maths degree. To this day, seeing the review go live is my single proudest moment in writing for the site, and I don’t think I could have gotten away with such tomfoolery anywhere else.

To say GameCloud gave me some serious leeway would be like saying that Tim Tams are rather delightful. Upon seeing my caps-lock fuelled magnum opus, Will – Editor-in-Chief and master of all things rad – didn’t ask me to go back and rewrite it, he just chucked a warning at the top. Activision didn’t like the joke very much, so we made sure I didn’t review any more CoD games… But so what? I’d pulled off a writing challenge so stupid that I felt smarter than Eddie Woo, and it was released to the public on a platform I’m infinitely grateful to have been a part of.

It’s moments like these that remind me why I loved writing for this site so much. We’ve always sported something of a punk mentality here at GC, writing what we wanted in a form we saw fit. I’ve been given the opportunity to share my views on games, overthink topics through my WWWTF series and even pass on things I didn’t like the look of without repercussion. If this was GameSpot or Polygon, none of us would have had half the opportunities present here, and to think it all started in Perth!

Writing for GameCloud has been one of the best experiences of my life, and I truly hope my writing has entertained at least a few people over the years. It’s sad to see the site end, but hey, the upside of not taking things too seriously is that you can always shrug off the tears with a smile. Oh, and frak EA. For real.
 


 

Chosen by: Lliam Ahearn
Developer: Nintendo EPD
Platforms: Switch
Release Date: October 27, 2017

I’ve reviewed some pretty incredible games during my time writing for GameCloud. God of War is, in my mind, the great game of the generation. Ratchet & Clank on PS4 was my most anticipated release of anything ever. I’ve reviewed some real stinkers I was hoping to be surprised by, see: every anime game. But there are some games that I wouldn’t even put my hand up for. Whether they were a huge endeavour I want to savour every second of, a sequel I wanted to catch up to before I jump in, or just something I wanted to play on my own terms, these are the special cases that I’m certain I’ll love, but I don’t have to dive into and scour every inch of. These are the games I have a peaceful, relaxing soak in. No game was a more rejuvenating soak than Super Mario Odyssey.

Odyssey is a 3D platformer that focusses on and heavily rewards exploration. There is nothing I desire more than such a thing. Each of Odyssey’s sizable Kingdoms is so densely packed with things to play around with, and the game rewards just that. Every time I thought “Hey, I wonder if I can get onto that thing” I was rewarded with some invisible coins. Not once did I throw Cappy onto something experimentally to no response. Experimentation is rewarded consistently in Odyssey, and that’s what makes it such an incredible game. Anything you think might be fun to do is the right thing to do, and the game makes sure you feel that from start to end.

Every moon from the first to the 999th was an absolute pleasure. Every Kingdom, from the refreshing sparkling waters of Bubblaine to the pink chunks of Mount Volbono, has such strong identity and distinct bits to fiddle with. The references and connections to Mario’s history are so exciting and cute, and somehow, I even love those realistically proportioned New Donkers I was so afraid of the first time we saw them. “Me, go into the city? Fuggedaboutit!”. All the different jolly costumes, the strings of moves you can do to get like six jumps in the air, throwing Cappy to a dog, I could describe the wonderful, immaculate pieces that come together to create Super Mario Odyssey forever. There is no game that has given me such a high level of joy for such a long period of time as Odyssey did, and I’ve had no greater soak than that of its waters.
 


 

Chosen by: Shane Smith
Developer: Insomniac Game
Platforms: Xbox One, PC
Release Date: October 28, 2014

I have many fond memories of Sunset Overdrive for a variety of reasons. For one, it’s a fantastic sandbox shooter that I’d been hanging out to play since I first saw the announcement at E3 2013. Secondly, receiving a review copy weeks before release felt like Christmas had come early. But lastly, I felt like I truly made it as a video game writer and relished in discussing how fantastic this game really is.

I love Sunset Overdrive like no other game, and it’s always a welcoming world to revisit with its punk rock ecstatics and lightning fast gameplay. Performing ridiculous jumps and shoe grinding through the neon coloured Sunset City, all the while shooting up grotesque mutants, is an absolute blast! It’s easily one of my favourite games of all time, and you can see easily how it laid the foundation for last year’s critically acclaimed Marvel’s Spider-Man.

The game perfectly fuses games like Dead Rising, GTA, Tony Hawk Pro Skater and Mirror’s Edge, making it a wickedly exciting package. Sunset Overdrive caters to nearly everyone with its over-the-top carnage, inventive weaponry, excellent punk-inspired soundtrack, and one of the best character customisation systems in any game. The sharp but colourful cartoon-styled visuals (which look very similar to Fortnite nowadays) makes the insane and chaotic violence look like a fun light-hearted Pixar film.

After a few years since release and only recently being available to PC just last year, Sunset Overdrive still stands on its own for its originality and replayability. There’s so much content and action to enjoy that it’s a hard game to fault. It’s still exhilarating to zip across the vibrant landscapes of Sunset City and to encounter challenging enemies in a wonderous colour explosion open world setting. In my review, I mentioned if I could sum up Sunset Overdrive in just one word, it would be “fun.” But fun is also the best word that personifies my experience with GameCloud and our incredibly talented and kind-hearted team. Not only did being a part of GameCloud achieve my dream of working in games media, but it also gave me the platform to be at my most creative and more importantly meet some amazing friends. Thank you GameCloud, and of course, the dedicated readers. Jusrt like Sunset Overdrive, it was a fantastic ride.
 


 

Chosen by: Bernadette Russell
Developer: Moon Studios
Platforms: Xbox One, PC
Release Date: March 11, 2015

Having the opportunity to sing the praises again for one of my all-time favourite games is a double-edged sword; I get a chance to gush over a game I rated more highly than any other in my reviewing career, but it’s only as a way to farewell GameCloud. I’ll do my best to compartmentalise the melancholy while I try to get through the last 300 words I will ever submit to GC.

Remembering Ori and the Blind Forest is a perfect way to wrap up this chapter. It was from an unknown studio at the time that sent us this game, and I thought I’d drawn the short straw. I felt a triple-a title was more deserving of my time, but I’d never been so wrong in my life. I played, fell in love with, and finished Ori in one massive playthrough. I then sent a frenzied message to my editor about how amazing it was, took a power nap and started it again.

Ori took my breath away, fought hard against me, rewarded me for being a nerd, crushed my heart to pieces and then held me tight again. I wrote the review and gave it one of only three perfect scores in our whole time writing for GameCloud. I then sent a fangirl email to the team behind Ori, before taking a step back from all the biggest titles. This one review Captain Kirk dropped in my lap became a doorway to my ongoing obsession and reverence for indie games made with heart.

GameCloud has given me a rare opportunity to express my passion, weirdness and gratitude for the gaming industry, without ever telling me to be less “me.” And for that, this site and the Captain behind it are just as deserving of a perfect score as Ori, my most favourite game ever.
 


 

Chosen by: Tim Sezer
Developer: Tripwire Interactive
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Release Date: November 18, 2016

I vividly remember that morning of April 2015 when the early access version of Killing Floor 2 went live. I could hardly sleep, and I got up while it was still dark, fired up my PC and purchased my Early Access copy. I hadn’t been this excited about a game in a long time, and sure enough, I was not disappointed. Killing Floor 2 delivered everything I had hoped for and more. Tripwire had refined the somewhat clumsy and unbalanced levelling system of the original and re-worked the weapons rosters for each perk (now starting with a perk-specific weapon instead of a common weapon). Much to my delight, Killing Floor 2 delivered a fast, fluid, furious and downright relentless experience, complete with a driving heavy metal soundtrack from various artists as you scrambled from the Zed horde trying to stay alive while cutting down successive waves of increasingly tough monsters.

Tripwire also exercised some truly ingenious design choices; perhaps the most remarkable the way Killing Floor 2 passively coerces teammates to stay close by – any player who strays from their team will quickly find themselves torn to shreds by the Zed horde – some may attempt it, and while a few may survive, none will thrive. Players soon realise that it’s far better to stick together where you can combine your firepower to mash Zeds together; this becomes staggeringly apparent when players quickly realise that as player numbers increase, so too does the Zed count per wave.

For some time, new official content was scarce (as KF2 launched with a handful of maps, perks and only one boss monster), but the KF2 community were quick to come to the rescue. Within mere days of launching, servers were already hosting custom, community-built maps, and as with all community content, these maps were of various levels of quality; sometimes dubiously assembled but always great fun to play. This was hardly surprising, as Tripwire had said in the lead-up to launch that they had planned to support the community development efforts and make a variety of tools available for anyone wanting to produce content.

Now, we’re a good four years into the release of Killing Floor 2, and how does it stack up in today’s gaming climate? Surprisingly well, it seems. After seeing an official launch in November 2016 (which saw retail releases on PlayStation 4 and PC shipping with a slew of new content including new classes, maps, weapons and a new boss monster – The Patriarch, returning from Killing Floor 1). Since then, Killing Floor 2 has enjoyed ongoing support from both Tripwire and the community, receiving regular (free) content packs, including new weapons, monsters, maps and two new bosses (bringing the total boss count to four at the time of writing). Sure, it looks a little dated (as does anything built on the Unreal 3 engine at this stage), but it’s still just as much wild, undiluted, fast-paced sci-fi gunslinging fun as it was back in 2015, and I don’t see myself getting tired of it any time soo. How can you when there are so many perks to level, so many skills to master, and so many people to play with? If you haven’t already played it, grab yourself this action-packed heavy metal sci-fi blast-o-rama today.
 


 

Chosen by: Blade Shaw
Developer: Respawn Entertainment
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Release Date: October 28, 2016

During my time at GameCloud, I always made it a point of pride to put my hand up for any assignment that wasn’t necessarily in my wheelhouse of usual game genres. Not only did I want to expand my horizons, but I also wanted to show our readers that I was capable of challenging myself and surprising them with what I delivered. While this is technically the “Greatest of GameCloud” article, I decided to slightly deviate from the game plan and talk about the game that SURPRISED me the most, Titanfall 2.

Despite releasing to decent critical acclaim, Titanfall 2 was largely lost in the shuffle due to releasing in the same calendar period as both Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and Battlefield One. With the power of hindsight, I would staunchly argue that Titanfall 2 is the best game of those three by far and provided the biggest impact to its respective series.

Firstly, Titanfall 2 brought a surprisingly engaging narrative to a game series which previously had only been multiplayer. This was mainly highlighted by the relationship between Jack Cooper and BT-7274, which felt both organic and emotionally impactful despite the genre’s general lack of substance pertaining to narrative depth.

Secondly, the financial woes of the series would give way to the overnight success of Apex Legends. Using the shooter elements of Titanfall 2, Apex Legends took off like a rocket and also managed to provide a second wind to Titanfall 2 which was largely in everyone’s rear view mirror. Rumoured to have been a yard stick for the future of the series, I can only hope the success of Apex Legends will encourage EA to reconsider the future of Titanfall and where they can go with it.

I’ve had the honour and privilege of getting to review so many different games, and Titanfall 2 sits amoung the very best of them over the 3+ year period I’ve written for GameCloud. Even though my musings will cease to exist in this particular form, I will always remain excited about what the future of video games holds in store for us as fans. It has been my pleasure to pursue the elevation of the art form through my writing, and I can leave GameCloud proud in the knowledge that if my work made someone think or feel even for a second, it was all worth it.
 


 

Chosen by: Alex Chalmers
Developer: Ninja Theory
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Switch
Release Date: August 8, 2017

The world outside, if you ask your average person with a mild internet addiction, is a bit mad these days. Around the time of Hellblade’s release two years ago, it had started to really seem that way for me. After all, a Cheeto dusted shit-gibbon had just become the leader of the free world, the Cold War got a lot weirder, and Nazis were starting public demonstrations and running people over. It was the perfect time to play a game about an unhinged Scotswoman venturing into the depths of the Teutonic underworld.

Having most of my ancestors hailing from the land of Wode and the world’s most dangerous baggage handlers, I felt drawn to the premise of Hellblade from the moment it was announced. I say this, because outside of my anterior relationship to the subject matter, and my feelings at the time of review, Hellblade is not a great game. Much of its appeal at the time rested on its slow and inviting pace, as well as the novelty of its presentation and narrative. The audio driven puzzles and the binaural voice recordings are genius, but not enough to make for a timelessly engaging game. A really good walking simulator, maybe. But not a truly great game.

The acting, especially from the lead Melina Juergens, is a bit rubbish. The slow pace quickly becomes a drag on the gameplay, and the relative lack of combat in Hellblade feels less like a statement of intent in design than a limp rebellion at the burnout Ninja Theory received from the hectic Devil May Cry reboot. Worst of all, it kind of all reeks of the sort of ruthless prestige baiting one sees just before Oscar season begins. At the time, I clearly bought into it more often than I should have. But none of that really matters. Why?

At the end of my review, I stated that I thought I needed to see a shrink. That wasn’t true enough for me to actually go out and do that. Yet for a long time, I’ve wondered why I felt like Hellblade was such a valuable game. After veering away from the deranged views of professional pundits, the proletariat of Steam reviews the answer abundantly clear. Representation. Seeing parts of oneself less explored in media is more important than it ever has been, whether it has to be through rubbish acting or pretentious disaffection with an audience’s thirst for destructive antics. More so when its an immensely popular but fledgling medium like gaming. There are a lot of people suffering from diagnosed mental health problems. Probably plenty more who have yet to see a counsellor. All of them need for their problems to be reflected in both low and high arts.

I’m one of those gits who’s probably should see someone for an assessment, but is a combination of being too lazy, stubborn, and frightened to do so. If I do, I can’t say it was because of Hellblade. For other people, though, I can see this affecting them in a positive way.
 


 

Chosen by: Kit Fox
Developer: Guerrilla Games
Platforms: PS4
Release Date: February 28, 2017

Well, here we are, at the end of all things. When the call went out to reflect on our favourite game from the history of GameCloud, I had a hard time trying to work out which one stuck with me the most from the last six years. Seeing as this article will become a sort of memorial to this great website, I suppose then that it’s fitting I chose a game that is about moving forward in a different world full of remnants of the past.

Horizon Zero Dawn (reviewed by Lliam) and it’s expansion, The Frozen Wilds (reviewed by Paddy) had both been out for a while before I found the time to give them a go, and oh my, what a wonderful surprise they were. I knew before I started that there would be big machines, dynamic combat, a vast open world, crafting, gorgeous graphics and many of the other eager buzz words these games regularly receive. What I didn’t expect was an engaging, mysterious, profoundly moving story, amazingly realised characters and a world just overflowing with detail and personality. At the head of it all was the absolutely fascinating Aloy, an outcast of the Nora tribe who must discover the secrets of her past and the world and how together they will change the future.

While Horizon Zero Dawn regularly subverted my expectations, it had me hooked from the beginning. Unlike a lot of other games of the time, which were all about handing over the reins and offering branching player choices, Horizon Zero Dawn kept control of its complex and carefully paced story the whole way through. While you can detour off the path any time you want, Aloys journey is infinitely more interesting than the aimless wandering a lot of other open-world games go for. I found this commitment to storytelling even more impressive when I realised a good chunk of the audio logs and journals that you can collect on your wanderings, ones that could potentially reveal the story early, do not appear until a second playthrough, one I was glad to go through to learn more about this world. I’ve completed many more playthroughs since then, and I expect to complete a few more before a sequel arrives, hopefully!

Suffice to say, this game has sunk its teeth into me, and while it might not get the absolute top spot in my favourite games of all time, it’s definitely in the top five. I have so much love for the fantastic world of Horizon Zero Dawn that I even threw heaps of money at a Kickstarter for a tabletop version of the game that comes complete with highly detailed models of the machines from the game, from the lowly Watcher up to the mindblowing Thunderjaw.

Well, not much left to say, I guess. Whether you’re reading this in 2019 or like Aloy, a thousand years from now, I’d like to thank you for reading the stories we left behind. It’s been a pleasure!
 


 

Chosen by: Connor Weightman
Developer: Prideful Sloth
Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch
Release Date: July 18, 2017

Game reviewing can sure have its perks. Sometimes it’s getting your hands on something big weeks ahead of the release date. Sometimes it’s just the sheer fact of playing the day’s hot ticket and getting to have your opinion about it plonked and stylised on the internet. But thinking back on the games I’ve played for GameCloud over the past couple of years, it’s the moments of surprise and defied expectations that really stand out to me, even amongst games I loved through and through.

Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles provided one such topsy-turvy experience, and in my mind, it’s become totemic. A pacifist crafting and trading adventure from a tiny and new studio based in Brisbane, I’m doubtful it would have been on my radar had it not fallen my way from the review pool, and two years later I’m still not sure I’d have noticed it. There’s the problem of the title, for a start, that lengthy, coloned, cumbersome thing, behind which I’d incorrectly imagined sat a seventy-hour JRPG grind. But even if, somehow, the stars had aligned, and I’d ended up performing the rare treble of a) buying it, b) installing it and c) actually playing it, there’s almost no way I would have stuck with it beyond the slow and painful first couple of hours, when all of the game’s limitations are on show, but the point of it has yet to emerge, had I not also then been expected to write a review for it.

And that would have been a real shame because I would have missed what happened next. I would have missed finding the rare sense of discovery and peace that Yonder, of all games, captured so subtly. I would have missed out on walking lost through the snow and stumbling upon an improbable village of fluorescent bulbs carved in a glacier. I would have missed the moment that something in my brain clicked and the item quests went from annoying to addictive. I would have missed the soft rain, the flashing sky at night, all those serene dawns and dusks. I would have missed staring out over a sleeping world from its highest peak, jumping off and floating down like a feather, umbrella unfurled, computer exploding with twee. I would have missed the part where I realised the pieces had fallen into place, and I’d have missed finding out that this game, this game with an unfortunate title, this game that I’d spent two hours immensely regretting having agreed to review, would go on to hold within it some of my favourite memories with any game for quite some time.

Which is why I’ve picked it for this final list. There have been plenty of games I’ve reviewed for GameCloud and loved. Yonder was an unexpected experience I certainly never would have had without it.
 


 

Chosen by: Daniel Kilzana
Developer: Firaxis Games
Platforms: PC, Switch
Release Date: October 21, 2016

“It is the nature of humankind to push itself toward the horizon.” Sean Bean’s recitation of the introductory mantra is both stirring and reassuring, at once a battle cry and a grandfatherly pat on the head, setting the tone of every gameplay session in Civilization VI as one of exploration, determination and wonder.

Bean’s stellar narration follows you on your journey, remarking the social, scientific and spiritual advancements of your people as they grow from a fledgling tribe into a global superpower. He’ll marvel at every step forward; the development of pottery, of irrigation, animal husbandry and celestial navigation. The discovery of iron, steel and uranium, and the axes, swords and missiles that soon follow. The stink of livestock and clinking of coins at market becoming, after a million ships worth of trade, a sweating, screaming stock exchange. The proclamation of new faiths, the weeding out of old ones, and the first violent crash of one pious tide against another. The fiery eruption of a volcano that melts cities, and the swelling flood waters that claim thousands of lives, only to fertilise and rejuvenate the soil for generations to come. The banding together of once fierce enemies to combat the distant but mutual threat of climate change, and to sanction those without the same foresight. The stone walls erected to keep foreign threats at bay, the soldiers who guard them, and the great artists, writers and musicians that may one day disarm and unite them through the universal languages of human expression.

Civ VI approaches the story of human history with such reverence and wonderment that it’s easy to become overwhelmed by your own sense of awe for the grand tale. Consider that you’re actually part of what is playing out on your screen. It’s taken us thousands of years (depending on who you ask), but we did all these things, good, bad or ugly. Isn’t that remarkable? Call me a dreamer, but Civ VI has always managed to pull me out of my solitary headspace and force some consideration of the greater picture that I’m a part of. Not that I was there for Feudalism or aqueducts, but I’m claiming involvement, all the same.

I’m also proud to have been involved with GameCloud. Will and his team were the first to give me a platform to share my writing, as well as the advice and encouragement that I needed to validate this part of myself as real and worthwhile. I’m immensely grateful for the opportunities this site has given me, and I’ll miss contributing to it. Thank You to my friends and colleagues at GC. Onward, now, to new adventures!
 


 

Chosen by: Harry Kalogirou
Developer: SIE Santa Monica Studio
Platforms: PS4
Release Date: April 20, 2018

In the gaming industry, it seems that every few years there’s a title that flips the medium on its head in unprecedented and unparalleled ways. Games like The Last of Us, Breath of the Wild, Bloodborne, and most recently; 2018’s God of War. Growing up with an Xbox 360, it’s not a franchise that I’m intimately familiar with, and before the soft reboot came out all I’d played was God of War 3, which I enjoyed, but never loved. In the lead up to God of War’s release, I was eating up every bit of press and footage I could get my hands on because of how promising it looked, and needless to say it lived up to my expectations.

After one continuous 20-hour sitting upon launch, I was left with one of the most impacting and cohesive experiences that I’ve ever had with a game. It’s a seamlessly flowing blend of narrative and gameplay, jumping from set-piece to set-piece with enough quiet moments sprinkled throughout to allow reflection on the events that Kratos and Artreus partake in. A refreshingly deep and varied combat system keeps the action from getting stale, and there’s plenty of interesting side-content to keep you busy well after the credits roll.

A mesmerizing level of visual fidelity and polish that would leave the likes of Nintendo jealous. God of War stands proudly among the behemoths of this console generation and will continue to do so for some time to come. It’s a game that does so much good with so many of its parts, it’s hard not to be excited for whatever Sony Santa Monica Studio has planned next for the series. They’ve taken Kratos in an interesting yet logical direction, and the evolution of his character has been unexpected, and I’m sure will continue to be across these next few entries.

God of War is a prime example of subverting expectations. A game that’s so fundamentally different from the titles that came before it but still manages to succeed on all the some fronts, if not more. It might fall short in some areas, particularly when it comes to replaying it, but that shouldn’t hold you back from experiencing one of the best games that the PS4 has to offer. I’ve played many a game during my time at GameCloud, but few have stuck with me as much as God of War has.
 


 

Chosen by: Kenneth Lee
Developer: Nintendo EPD
Platforms: Switch
Release Date: March 3, 2017

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is one of my favourite video games of all time. And this isn’t because of the freedom, story or polish – it’s because it created a world which I lived in, as opposed to merely existing in.

One of the first titles for the Switch, Breath of the Wild had a lot to live up to. Can you blame the players? A new Nintendo system launching with a new Zelda game was always going to be a monumental event. It eventually launched to critical acclaim, and while I enjoyed the game initially, it’s the games that have launched since then which have made me appreciate this masterpiece even more.

Breath of the Wild created a world, not a large open stage. The interplay and serendipitous interactions between the different systems in the game filled me with a sense of wonder and joy not felt since Grand Theft Auto III’s release in 2001. I’ll admit that some of my amazement may have stemmed from watching YouTube videos of the little secrets of the game – but honestly, I am still returning to the game two years after its initial release and discovering little hidden gems. It keeps on giving, and I’m glad to see that Nintendo is still releasing pleasant little surprises (i.e. Labo VR support for the game).

Many games today create large open stages, not worlds. Take Insomniac’s Spider-Man for example – while I loved playing that game, you can argue that you’re merely traversing (albeit in a fun way) an open stage. In Breath of the Wild, you have absolute freedom to scale any surface. The weather affects your choice of weapons. Weapons have physical properties which react to said weather. I could go on. The only game that matched (and some may argue, surpassed) this level of interactivity is none other than Red Dead Redemption 2. While Rockstar is arguably the king of open world games, I’d argue that they took some inspiration from Breath of the Wild (which in turn would have taken some from the GTA series).

It’s this beautiful watch and learn attitude between developers which makes these last few years such exciting times for gamers. God of War would not be what it is without the Dark Souls franchise. The Division 2 would not be what it is without Destiny. Read Dead Redemption 2 would not be what it is without Breath of the Wild. Open world games are only going to get more and more complex, and we will have Breath of the Wild (among others) to thank for it.