Andy, one of our Games Design & Production consultants, isn’t only talented at matchmaking candidates with roles, in his spare time he’s a dab hand at blog writing too! So, we agreed that the best way to celebrate his wonderful games blogs is to publish them here on our website...
Last time we looked at Andy’s blog 6 Ways Mythology is Used in Video Games and this time around Andy talks us through his top games that you just can’t put down, and repeatedly find yourself saying “just one more” before you log off. Be sure to join the conversation on social media and let us know the game(s) that you simply cannot put down!
If you're hungry for more games content, check out all of Andy’s games reviews, past and present at Andy’s Cabin Games
Some of the best games are the ones that you just can’t pull yourself away from. It can start as “I’ll just sit down and play for a bit” and next it’s 3am in the morning and you have to be up early for work.
Mihály Csíkszentmihályi describes flow as a state of complete immersion in an activity. I think this sums up nicely what the best gaming experiences are: complete immersion where time doesn’t matter. Looking at some recent games I’ve played (and enjoyed), I narrowed down the real reasons why I’m kidding myself when I say “just one more…”.
Just one more…
…Night run (Dying Light 2)
Dying Light 2 is the sequel to 2016’s original game that introduced us to the winning combination of parkour and zombies. Similar to the first entry, there’s a day/night cycle and going out after dark means stronger and more enemies to contend with. But in return, double XP, more loot, and a guaranteed rush of adrenaline.
It’s an intense experience; the docile daytime zombies are replaced by stronger and faster enemies including the infamous volatiles who’ll be coming at you from all sides (even the gutters this time around). Your only refuge is at a safe house – easily noticeable by the glow of the UV blue light – where you can safely wait until dawn. But watch out – one mistake and you’ll fall victim to the zombie mob and lose all your experience points, Dark Souls style.
Can you make it to dawn alive? Can you even make it to bed? Good night, and good luck.
What a coincidence, dawn is here both in the game and reality (Image credit: Techland)
…Location to explore (Elden Ring)
Open-world games are all the rage with their sprawling maps and endless quests to sink your teeth into. My favourites are the ones that encourage you to explore based on in-game visual cues rather than relying on a map and waypoints.
The seminal Breath of the Wild was released in 2017 and set a high standard for the genre. While taking elements from open-world games before it – Ubisoft’s towers as points of interest, Bethesda’s side quests, and a mixture of survival mechanics – BotW also removes restrictions often found in the genre. You are free to go straight to the final boss if you wish, and unlocking towers doesn’t populate the map with markers, just the terrain layout. This leaves the thrill of discovering new locations to you: the player.
Elden Ring follows in BotW’s huge footsteps and adds in the signature trying combat and subtle storytelling found in From Software games. Although a map has been introduced (a first for the souls series), there’s no quest log and the HUD is generally icon-free. How you tackle each region is up to you and not knowing what’s around the corner or over that ridge will keep you up way past your bedtime.
All points of interest in this image can be reached in one way or another: the castle, the broken bridge, the mini tree on the right, etc. (Image credit: From Software)
…Escape attempt (Hades)
Hades is one of many quality rogue-likes that have come out in recent years, joining the likes of Spelunky 2, Dead Cells, Slay the Spire, and the BAFTA-winning Returnal. In this Greek-myth-inspired game, you play as Zagreus (the son of Hades) as you attempt to escape the underworld and the trappings of your controlling father.
Staying true to the roguelike genre, the game’s maps, enemies, and bonuses (called boons) are randomised on each playthrough while one thing never changes: when you die, you lose it all and have to start again.
Not knowing what enemies you’re going to face, where you’re going, and what boons you’ll get to choose from is thrilling! There are 6 unique starter weapons and your character build will almost certainly be different on every run. You’d think making it all the way through the underworld just to get dispatched by one of Hades’ minions or a sneaky trap would be enough to throw your controller down. Actually, it made me want to start again, experiment with another character build, and go on “one more run”.
On my way, Father (Image credit: Supergiant)
…Boss fight (all souls games)
For me, the chief culprit for not being able to put down a game is boss fights. Countless times I’ve stayed up determined to defeat a boss only to find that my skills are getting worse. Then the next day I’d wake up (calm and refreshed) and defeat the same boss on the first attempt!
From Software games are known for their insanely difficult bosses, and there’s even some debate around bringing in an easy mode. The beauty of these games is that you learn something from every death – enemy weaknesses, telegraphed attacks, and what weapons & items work best. Slowly things will click into place and knowing exactly what you need to do to win is satisfying in itself – now you just need to be awake enough to have the reflexes and concentration to pull it off.
The Lothric/Lorian boss fight in DS3 was so hard I thought it was the end of the game – turns out it was not (Image credit: From Software)
…Room to loot (Resident Evil)
The survival horror genre does a good job of taking away control from the player by making weapons weak and ammo scarce. Add in a horror setting and some well-timed jump scares and you’re in for a fun ride.
Looting becomes a necessity, and the redesigned map in the recent Resident Evil games fixes a common question for completionists – did I miss some loot?! Now the map will change from red to blue once a room is picked clean. This leaves me struggling to move onto the next level/zone without having a red-free map. Add to this the rarity of key items and ammo, and you’ll find I’ve ignored the zombies completely in search of my next herb (it’s just a health item in the game, I swear!).
Guess what my favourite colour is? (Image credit: Capcom)
…Horde to clear (Days Gone)
Days Gone lets you live out the fantasy of living in post-apocalyptic Oregon while also fighting zombies and riding around on your Sons of Anarchy motorcycle.
The unique Horde mechanic takes the idea of being overwhelmed by enemies and makes you choose between fight-or-flight (mainly flight at the start). Hordes are made up of 50 – 500 freakers (zombies basically), and there are over 40 hordes living in the game world (they sleep during the day and come out at night looking for food and drink). As you unlock abilities, figure out strategies, and get stronger weapons, you’re naturally encouraged to fight rather than flee on your bike. You can approach a horde in any way you want – go in guns blazing, or lay a bunch of explosive traps and lead the horde to their doom. It’s by far the most difficult part of the game but also the most rewarding and fun!
The Old Sawmill Horde is the biggest in the game with a total of 500 freakers – yeesh! (Image credit: Sony)
…Attempt to save the world (Into the Breach)
Into the Breach is a turn-based strategy game where you control mechs fighting to protect the earth against an alien invasion. All enemy attacks are shown before your turn, so your job is to plan a response with limited moves and action points.
In his candid post-mortem of the game, co-founder and designer Matthew Davis explains that the aim was to shift the focus from saving mechs and pilots to the population (represented by buildings). Sacrificing your pilots for the greater good can be the difference between winning or losing, and there are plenty of “for Frodo” moments.
The draw for me – just like Hades – was as soon as I saved the world (or lost enough civilian lives to end the game), I wanted to jump straight back in and do it all over again.
I was very proud of this move, although it didn’t stop me from losing the bottom left buildings (Image credit: Subset Games)
For interested players and veterans of Into the Breach, the game will come exclusively to mobile for all Netflix subscribers on July 19th. There’s also a free update for all platforms with loads of additional content.
Joyrides in GTA – for a twist on this, try competing with your friends for the best helicopter death
Turns in Rome: Total War – Rome wasn’t built in a day and this game puts that into perspective
Side quests in Fallout: New Vegas & The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – when the side quests are this good, you won’t mind missing the main story (although that’s pretty good too)
Team Deathmatch in Call of Duty – there was a time when my K/D ratio meant way too much to me
If Andy has missed out your fave game that you simply can't put down, let us know and join the conversation on LinkedIn! Or get in touch with Andy directly and he’d be delighted to chat about it with you
Keep an eye out on our news page as well as our LinkedIn and Twitter to catch more of Andy’s blog content coming soon!
Also, be sure to check out all of Andy’s blogs on his website: Andy’s Cabin Games
Finally, if you’re looking for a job in Games Design or Production, Andy is your guy! Check out all of his live roles here, or get in touch with him on firstname.lastname@example.org