The TWRM GOTY 2018 Collab has begun! This special event consists of multiple writers making their best cases for their picks for GOTY 2018. Check out each article posted daily from the 1st through the 15th and listen to their points, then on January 16th you will have the opportunity to vote on which game you think should be crowned TWRM GOTY of 2018!
Developer: Insomniac Games
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Release Date: September 7th 2018
Platform/ Console: PlayStation 4
Genre: Superhero action-adventure
“The following is a contributor post by the Sometimes Vaguely Philosophical Mage.”
As I’ve grown and my life’s changed and done all those things that lives tend to do as part of the inevitable passage of time, I’ve come to love games for different reasons. There are a bunch of reasons I’d play a game, and have played games throughout my life: a great story, engaging characters, fun or challenging gameplay, all sorts of things, but now that I’m a grown-up cohabiting in a house with another grown-up who’s for some reason chosen to spend her life with me, I really treasure being able to play games with her. Sharing that thing that I love just makes me really happy, but not every game’s a good play-with-partner experience.
I think my other half (or Hannah, as I’ll refer to her for simplicity) would agree that while she likes playing games, she isn’t a gamer. It’s not something she can do for extended periods of time, and she’s not one to analyse games; she loved a bunch of the PS1 classics but finds a lot of modern games too lacking in colour and personality, too difficult to get to grips with. She understands, of course, that there are a lot of games that I love that she just doesn’t get, and that’s fine. If anything, I quite like that we’re comfortably able to acknowledge that there are some things we just have completely different perspectives on.
That said, there are some modern games that she really loves. The recent Crash Bandicoot and Spyro remakes, for example, have been big hits for us to play together, as have the Tomb Raider reboot entries. I wasn’t necessarily expecting that Spider-Man would be something that would fit on that exclusive list – we got it mostly thinking that I would play it and enjoy it and she’d maybe have a go, but to my utter joy it’s rapidly become one of her favourite games of the modern era.
We’ve now done almost everything there is to do, I think, just playing and swapping the controller every now and again. She loves the combat, so she’ll always do the ‘base-full-of-baddies’ bits with style and skill, then rapidly swing off – faster than I can manage, usually! I don’t mean to make it sound as if she’s usually a terrible gamer – by no means is that the case, and in fact she’s significantly better than me at several elements of gaming (anything platforming is my downfall and her bread and butter) – but I thought that Spider-Man would just have to be slightly too complicated to get the hang of for her tastes, given all the things the web-swinger’s capable of pulling off.
I’m not sure I’ve ever come across a game that allows the player to do so much, to feel so interlinked with the hero and so strongly as if they are the one doing these amazing things, while remaining so accessible in terms of ease to learn and control. So many details are so terrifically spot-on in ways that are actually difficult to notice unless you’re keeping an eye out, but which would be sorely missed: the work the camera does in making movement feel smooth and emphatic; the lessons each frame of animated motion has learned from old-school, classic animation techniques; the gentle redirection the game will sometimes do to ensure that Spidey continues on his web-slinging way rather than smack into the ground. In a word, it’s smooth. It’s so unbelievably smooth, and so incredibly satisfying.
The game’s story is fun, too, whether you’re a fan of the comics or only familiar with the silver-screen iterations of the characters. (It helps that there are plenty of nods to Marvel’s Netflix shows, which Hannah and I are big fans of.) It’s not groundbreaking, but I don’t think it needs to be; it’s got interesting spins on familiar characters, and the primary antagonist gets some legitimately great development, meaning it’s really easy to feel sympathetic to their cause.
The performances are all great and keep you immersed in the game’s world – sure, the occasional forced non-powered stealth section undoes that work somewhat, but you get through those and you’re back to sweet, smooth, satisfying freedom. The world’s well-realised and filled with things to do, and while I can see how all the optional bits of content could feel repetitive, they just didn’t to me. It stayed fun and satisfying throughout, giving what must by now have been upwards of 30 hours of solidly enjoyable play that still isn’t stale in my book.
Ultimately, I don’t think it’s that helpful here to go too in-depth on the flaws that the game has (because, yes, it does have flaws, don’t get me wrong) – they just don’t matter to me all that much. Spider-Man is my Game of the Year because it’s allowed me and the person I love to share an amazing gaming experience, which is the thing I put the most importance on these days. My case for its deservedness isn’t exactly universal, then, because it’s my own personal experience that has made me love this game and not its ‘objective’ strengths, but I would argue that something that’s simply so well put-together that both I (as a renowned Thinker-Too-Hard-About-Games…-Person) and my partner (as a Person-Who-Sometimes-Likes-To-Play-Games) have found easy to dive into, engage with, feel invested in, and ultimately just have weeks of evenings of fun with… well, that’s worth celebrating.
+ Incredibly smooth, satisfying gameplay
+ Looks great
+ Tons to explore, tons to do
+ Excellent voice performances along with a soundtrack that’s not intrusive but enhances the game (and you may find yourself humming some of the themes)
– Not exactly a groundbreaking work of art
– Limited variation on the tons of things that there are to do
– I’ve heard some say it’s quite short; it didn’t feel that way for me, since I was doing optional stuff between main missions, but I did notice that there are relatively few unique story beats and only a few boss fights despite big hype for the villains
Though he’s been known by many names across the vast and peculiar landscape of the Internet, every iteration of the Sometimes Vaguely Philosophical Mage has shared an urge to look far too closely at tiny details and extrapolate huge, important-seeming conclusions. These days, in addition to Mage duties, he can be found discussing gaming and other pop culture (and occasionally sharing some of his own musical and fictional creations) at the Overthinker Y blog and on Twitter.
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