Mid-Year Gaming Review: Top Video Game Triumphs of 2024

  • 07-07-2024 |
  • Harper Lee
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As we wave goodbye to the initial six months of 2024, it's time to reflect on the video games that have left the most lasting impressions...

Animal Well

The brainchild of indie creator Billy Basso, Animal Well, is the fruit of an approximate seven-year labor of love, with a significant chunk of that time dedicated to crafting his own gaming engine to achieve the envisioned aesthetic. Once we finally clasped hands on Animal Well, we found ourselves enveloped by its ambiance, charmed by its smart design, and embraced by its cozy and intricate retro vibes.

Manor Lords

Anyone with aspirations of erecting a medieval hamlet should find Manor Lords captivating. This title immerses players in the art of evolving a small village into a sprawling metropolis fortified with castles, churches, and dwellings, coupled with commanding troops in war scenarios reminiscent of those in Total War. Strategic planning is crucial for when and how you engage in conflict. Notably, your food cultivators double as your combatants.

Stunning visuals, intricate gameplay, and an engrossing setup make it a stellar strategy offering despite being an early-access work-in-progress. Awaiting its evolution to a full release, deficiencies include a limited array of maps, structures, and warrior types, alongside the balancing act the developers are diligently refining. Nevertheless, it glimmers with the hallmark of indie passion, claiming spot number nine on our compilation.

Stellar Blade

Tight, focused, and bursting with energy, Stellar Blade delivers on the high-octane action-adventure genre. Protagonist Eve's journey across diverse terrains strikes a chord, blending an array of inspirations into an ingeniously harmonious gameplay experience. The game shines especially in moments battling formidable adversaries, providing an adventure laced with the comfortingly familiar and the delightfully unexpected. Combined with an enchanting soundtrack, Stellar Blade sets aside superficial concerns with a deep and engaging combat system, cementing its place among the year's top titles.

V Rising

At times, a game unexpectedly emerges, taking the spotlight as an editorial gem. V Rising fits this bill perfectly, presenting a meticulously crafted and audacious adventure that challenges the player. Far from a mere imitation of familiar formulas, it invites players to delve deep into managing and constructing a personal castle. For fans yearning for gameplay in the vein of Diablo yet desiring a touch of uniqueness, V Rising beckons with the chance to ascend as a formidable nocturnal ruler and establish a kingdom.

Homeworld 3

A certain member of our editorial crew was particularly eager to dive back into the lauded Homeworld strategy franchise. Its trademark feature is the freedom of three-dimensional movement that remains unparalleled in the strategy sphere. Blackbird Interactive, having demonstrated its comprehension of the franchise with Deserts of Kharak, has crafted Homeworld 3 with finesse. With a compelling narrative, entrancing music, and refined gameplay, the title casts its spell anew. Its magic, much like its forebears, is predominantly woven through its single-player campaign, where strategic use of the environment for cover and pathways enriches the experience. Emerging as a standout for its unique offerings despite a dearth of multiplayer content, Homeworld 3 secures the number six position on our list.

Balatro

Had one prognosticated a few years ago that a card-based roguelike drawing from a classical French-English deck would be among 2024's biggest hits, skepticism would likely ensue. Yet Balatro exists and has captured our editorial hearts, seducing us with its innovative fusion of card collection and strategy, redefining poker, and refreshing the game's traditional rules while preserving its essence. By now, we're hard-pressed to pinpoint a game that outshines the clever, card-centric charm of LocalThunk's creation, propelling Balatro to a merited fifth place on our mid-year best-of chart.

Lorelei and the Laser Eyes: A Swedish Interactive Odyssey

With its roots in Sweden, Lorelei and the Laser Eyes is a gaming odyssey that seamlessly blends narrative and interaction, challenging players with enigmatic puzzles like never before. The game's conundrums are as cryptic as they are clever, providing a continuous wave of satisfaction upon their unraveling. For those who relish in deciphering complex texts, interpreting numeric and symbolic mysteries, and admiring the creative prowess of cinematic masters such as Hitchcock and Lynch, diving into Hotel Letztes Jahr is an experience not to be missed. Venture into the world of Lorelei and the Laser Eyes for an exceptional gaming journey that pushes the boundaries of interactive entertainment.

Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes – A Journey through Memory and Modernity

Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes shines as a standout title of 2024, marrying the charm of yesteryear with cutting-edge ingenuity. Forged by the creative minds that brought us the Suikoden series, this epic saga captivates with a rich, elaborate narrative and boasts a roster of over one hundred distinct heroes to enlist. Each hero, with unique abilities and tales, adds layers of depth and charisma. The visuals are a breathtaking synergy of classic 2D sprites staged within vibrant 3D landscapes, creating a spectacle reminiscent of vintage aesthetics. Complemented by the stirring compositions of Motoi Sakuraba, Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes salutes the venerable Japanese RPG genre, ensuring it's an essential gem for any gaming aficionado's library.

Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth – A Fresh Epic Unfolds

As the inaugural chapter branded Like a Dragon, Infinite Wealth was destined to carve a novel path within its illustrious lineage. Revolutionizing the series by charting territories beyond Japan and crafted in part without its original visionary, this chapter presents a sprawling, eloquent narrative melding new horizons with familiar faces. The intertwined fates of protagonists past and present herald a thrilling new era that stands as the finest installment yet. For enthusiasts of Japanese RPGs, Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth represents an indispensable treasure within the genre.

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth – An Epoch of Enchantment Renewed

The initial installment in the remake trilogy was extraordinary, garnering top accolades from the start. Yet for its successor to capture that same acclaim, it required something more robust, a testament to the new gaming console generation and the evolved open world echoing the original. When Final Fantasy VII Rebirth was unleashed, it was evident that the enhancements we anticipated had come to fruition.

This second chapter is replete with enthralling diversions, including a captivating card game that we hope will continue to flourish in time. Rebirth introduces a vast world teeming with secrets and unforeseen marvels that transform each interaction into a novel escapade. The narrative ensnares our interest from beginning to end, weaving a tapestry of mystery, transformation, and character evolution. In delivering our verdict on the game, we were unanimous in conferring the utmost praise upon it. Anticipation now mounts for the trilogy's conclusion, where we keenly await an experience that transcends our soaring expectations.

 

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