5. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo, Wii U/Switch)
4. River City Ransom Underground (Conatus Creative, PC)
As a huge fan of the NES and beat-em-ups as a genre, I am of course also a huge fan of River City Ransom and was very excited for the fan-created reboot on PC. Then I actually played it. While the game makes a strong first impression with its smooth animation, detailed backgrounds and solid music, the same unfortunately cannot be said for the overall design. The game is extremely slow-paced and grindy, requiring dozens of enemies to be defeated to purchase a single upgrade and numerous backtracking to reach objectives. Assuming the game doesn't bug out and point you to a quest marker that doesn't trigger, requiring you to reboot, of course. Oh, and the "bosses" in the game aren't even fought half the time, isntead making way for tedious chase segments where you have to traverse an enemy-laden obstacle course and land a hit on the boss. And if you make one mistake and lose them, you get to return to the starting point, clear out the enemies and try it all again! In the immortal words of the classic RCR... "Barf!".
3 Horizon: Zero Dawn (Guerrilla Games, Playstation 4)
This one drew me in based the concept alone: a tribe of people battling gigantic robot animals with bows, arrows and crude traps. That's a concept that should provide for some campy fun a la Earth Defense Force. Then you play the game... and find that they choose to play it completely straight? Weird choice, but surely the gameplay can lend itself to some interesting moments, right? Sadly, not really. It quickly devolves into dull, tedious stealth missions in the vein of Assassin's Creed, and all the dialog is handled through a lazy Mass Effect styled dialog wheel, complete with all the non-consequential choices, drab characters and flat acting that concept invokes memories of. Outwitting robot creatures is fun for a bit, but the overall slow, repetitive nature of the game, thoroughly uninteresting/unlikable cast of characters and the waste of an interesting premise quickly took me out of the experience.
2. Gravity Rush 2 (SIE Japan Studio/Project Siren, Playstation 4)
1. Persona 5 (Atlus, Playstation 3/Playstation 4)
forcing one's beliefs on others is just and righteous because anyone who doesn't match your worldview exactly is unquestionably immoral and evil and it is your holy mission to destroy their lives). Beyond that, though, the storyline is badly paced and full of contrivances, the main characters are bland and rarely ascend beyond their basic archetypes in any form, and the overall gameplay has the Ocarina of Time problem in that it feels very drab and padded out, with any "puzzles" the player encounters being explained out in such detail that they provide no problem-solving element at all. Boss fights center on uninspired gimmicks and almost never prove to be any real challenge, the sub-quests feel like empty retreads of what came before in earlier Personas, Morgana's character goes from mildly charming to quickly making you wish for his slow, painful demise as he constantly dictates where you should go and how you should feel about literally everything that happens... in short, everything about Persona 5, save its visuals and music, feels very utilitarian and by-the-numbers, like they were just pushing out a "good enough" sequel to cash in on the name. And given that Sega is calling the shots for Atlus now, well, it's probably true. It really pains me to say so, but Shin Megami Tensei's best days are seemingly behind it.