Besides Fortnite, here are some video games that have us hooked

Salvation for the seemingly irredeemable Kratos isn’t an easy task, nor is breathing fresh life into an action series that had begun to lose its lustre. God of War achieves both in sensational fashion. The furious combat and gorgeous exploration is the best it has ever been, opening up the land of Midgard for the biggest God of War yet. But in tandem with that is an effecting and deftly-told story, with the relationship between Kratos and Atreus forming its beating heart. Its greatest achievement is humanising Kratos without shying away from his violent past.

By Tom Hoggin
  • Published 15.08.18
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God of War

Platform: PS4 

Developer: Sony Santa Monica

What is it: Fatherly reinvention of gaming’s angriest man as Kratos moves to the Norse mountains in an attempt to escape his past and raise his young son, Atreus. Ends up smacking trolls with a bloody great axe, obviously.

Why we love it: Salvation for the seemingly irredeemable Kratos isn’t an easy task, nor is breathing fresh life into an action series that had begun to lose its lustre. God of War achieves both in sensational fashion. The furious combat and gorgeous exploration is the best it has ever been, opening up the land of Midgard for the biggest God of War yet. But in tandem with that is an effecting and deftly-told story, with the relationship between Kratos and Atreus forming its beating heart. Its greatest achievement is humanising Kratos without shying away from his violent past.

Frostpunk

Platform: PC 

Developer: 11 Bit Studios

What is it: Gritty survival sim (simulation video game) from the creators of This War of Mine in which you are in charge of building the last city of a frozen earth in an alternative 1886.

Why we love it: Frostpunk is a thrilling view of dystopia at the end of the world. You must construct your city around one of the few remaining generators, stoking it for warmth and gathering resources from the surrounding tundra. From there, your city must expand to survive and you find yourself making some harrowing decisions for your populace; putting them to work, passing oppressive laws. After all, what is the life of one overworked, underfed child when compared to the greater good?

Mario Tennis Aces

Platform: Nintendo Switch

Developer: Nintendo

What is it: The latest version of Nintendo’s bubbly tennis sim in which Mario and pals engage in an arcade-y approximation of everyone’s favourite summer sport.

Why we love it: Mario Tennis Aces uses the backbone of the sport to build a compelling, thrilling and tricks-y competitive game. It owes as much to fighters such as Nintendo’s own Super Smash Bros as it does to actual tennis, with devastating special shots, spectacular counters and to-and-fro tactics. Sport purists may want to look elsewhere, but with its decent story mode to teach you the ropes and a fiercely competitive online element, it is a smashing multiplayer fracas.

Wreckfest

Platform: PC 

Developer: Bugbear Entertainment

What is it: Spiritual successor to Destruction Derby from the developers of muscular racer Flatout.

Why we love it: Wreckfest is a game of simple pleasures. Throwing squat old bangers or hulking trucks around a track while smashing into your competitors rarely fails to be entertaining. But Bugbear executes it with real aplomb, with a delightful selection of cars to hurl around and a crunchy, convincing and endlessly satisfying damage model. 

Laser League

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC 

Developer: Roll7

What is it: Competitive Tron-esque multiplayer game which has teams battling out in an arena, casting spinning, coloured walls of light that down the opposition on touch.

Why we love it: Laser League’s arcade purity makes for a brilliantly simple game on the surface, but its many layers and tactics elevate it to a multiplayer classic. There’s nothing quite like threading yourself through the intricately patterned laser-fields to keep yourself in the game, or wiping an entire opposition team with the perfect chain of activated walls.

Forgotton Anne

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC 

Developer: Throughline Games

What is it: Gorgeous hand-drawn anime adventure taking place in the universe where all of the world’s lost possessions vanish to.

Why we love it: The aesthetic recalls Studio Ghibli films or, with its anthropomorphic household knick-knacks, something like Disney’s The Brave Little Toaster. But despite its striking exterior, there is something darker at work here. As the titular Anne, you play an Enforcer of the realm, able to banish ‘Forgotlings’ for good should they step out of line. Cue some tough choices as you make your way through this apparently unassuming 2D-platform puzzler, punctuated with smart narrative tricks and plenty of moral quandaries.

Yakuza 6: Song of Life

Platform: PS4 

Developer: Sega

What is it: The final chapter in the story of one of gaming’s finest characters, Kazuma Kiryu, as he returns to the Tokyo district of Kamurocho after three years in prison to search for his missing foster daughter.

Why we love it: Yakuza keeps up its strong tradition of crunchy brawling, barmy character and brilliant world-building. Few games mix the wacky and profound in quite the way Yakuza does, a series steeped in Japanese culture, and Yakuza 6 is as fine a send-off for the Dragon of Dojima as you could hope for.

Far Cry 5

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC 

Developer: Ubisoft

What is it: It’s chaos in America as you are flown into the war-torn Hope County to fight off the religious zealots that are terrorising the district.

Why we love it: While Far Cry 5 may fall short on its narrative potential, its set-up crackles with tension and violence. Hope is a glorious tinderbox, ready to flare into gunfire and chaos at any time. As is Far Cry’s calling card, it is a meaty shooter. It might not be the tightest action game out there, but few can match its explosive unpredictability.

Florence

Platform: iOS, Android 

Developer: Mountains

What is it: Wonderful interactive comic book about modern love from the creator of Monument Valley.

Why we love it: This sweet and fleeting tale of millennial life brilliantly tells of the thrill, exploration and sacrifice of a burgeoning relationship. While your interaction is relatively limited as its wordless yarn unfolds, your gentle swipes abstractly capture thoughts and feeling. It’s beautifully presented, smart and wonderfully uplifting without being saccharine.

Octopath Traveler

Platform: Nintendo Switch 

Developer: Square Enix/Acquire

What is it: Turn-based, pixel-art JRPG from the makers of the cult classic Bravely Default.

Why we love it: Octopath Traveler evokes a sense of nostalgia for games like Chrono Trigger and early Final Fantasy entries. However, the game has plenty of compelling and modern twists of its own. It has a fascinating art style, with those 2D sprites mixing with more photo-realistic environments, while its ragtag collection of eight uniquely skilled adventurers each has their own tale to tell. Its battle system is executed with flourish, too, offering tactical flexibility that stands up to the game’s lengthy running time.

The Daily Telegraph