Shacknews is back, refreshed, and ready for another year of good gaming coverage. It was a good break we had to cap off 2020 and flush it down the drain, and many games were played. With that in mind, it seems only natural to kick off our 2021 Shack Chats with a discussion of what we played over the holidays. Check out what games the Shack Staff were digging into during the holidays!
Question: What did you play over holiday break?
Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales - Ozzie Mejia, Senior Editor of the Year
I've mentioned that Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales doesn't waste a lot of time in establishing its title character as someone very different from his predecessor. It truly sinks in the game's final hours as I became more intimately familiar with Miles' support group and also the people he fights for. This isn't just a story about Miles. It's a story about a neighborhood of marginalized people, a populace bearing witness to a hero who is one of them. "Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man" isn't just a nickname, it's very real to the minority population of Harlem and watching Miles come into his own just in time to save them all is amazing to witness. By the end, my biggest complaint is that the game really is too short and I could have done with an even greater Miles Morales story, but that's hopefully something for Insomniac to address in the future.
Stardew Valley - Donovan Erskine, Contributing Editor
ConcernedApe’s Stardew Valley is simply one of my favorite games of all time. I’ve got fond memories of sinking well over a hundred hours into the farming sim/RPG in my dorm room during college. The 1.5 update recently arrived on PC, adding a large batch of new content to the game. With more items, fish, characters, and locations, this was the perfect excuse to jump back into one of my all-time favorites for a relaxing good time. Of course, there’s a bunch of huge releases from the past couple of years that I probably should’ve caught up on, but where’s the fun in that?
Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales - Blake Morse, Marvel Fan-Boy
I honestly made an effort to try and disconnect over the break as much as I could, but Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales was the perfect amount of game for me during that time. I 100%-ed the SOB and I had a ton of fun doing it. And man-oh-man, did I love that Daft Punk-inspired Miles Morales 2099 outfit! I also wasn’t ready for the emotional impact the ending would have on me. A truly fantastic game with that Goldilocks “just right” amount of content to keep me captivated but not get tedious. Other than that I mostly just slept and did my best to avoid society.
Call of Duty: Warzone - Chris Jarrard, King of Sweat
I’m not proud of it, but it happened. The less said, the better. I did get a few wins though.
Red Dead Redemption 2 - Bill Lavoy, Agent 48
I had grand plans of knocking several titles off my backlog over the break, but didn’t do any of that. After playing numerous games for our GoTY voting, playing things I should play felt too much like work. Instead, I spent a little time gaming with friends in Destiny 2 and more time playing NHL 21, but the bulk of my time was dedicated to Red Dead Redemption 2.
Few games bring a calmness that can be found in Red Dead Redemption 2. I’m not talking about the story, but just the exploration, hunting, and fishing. I spent a lot of time with early-game Arthur Morgan, often walking alongside my horse as I investigated even the smallest details of RDR2’s open world. As with every playthrough, I found things I’ve never seen before, and comfort in the things I had experienced before but knew I would enjoy again. It was a nice companion to the restful pace I tried to keep throughout the holiday break.
Dead by Daylight - TJ Denzer, sacrificed 2020 to The Entity
I have long watched Dead by Daylight from the sideline, admiring the cool content Behaviour Interactive has been putting together for it for years. My heart was broken after the legal issues started plaguing Friday the 13th: The Game, and other similar games I played since have just disappointed me, so I worried Dead by Daylight would do the same. The tipping point was the Silent Hill content this year and the time over the holiday break to finally dig in.
Boy howdy, that game is good. The sense of tension in every skill check, the difference in gameplay between the various survivors, and the sheer alarm of being found by the killer are just an parade of heart palpitations that would make a graph go haywire (all in a good way). Even outside of Cheryl Mason and Pyramid Head, I found I really enjoy everything that Dead by Daylight has to offer. It will probably be my go-to time waster for the foreseeable future as I try to level survivors and killers up.
Finding an old friend, Cuphead - Steve Tyminski, Contributing Editor
It was a nice holiday break that I spent with the ol’ family, watching some college football bowl games and baking some cookies. It was also a time to get back into the gaming swing of things. I continued to play games that I was playing prior to the holiday break like Pokémon and Super Mario 35. That being said, I did grab my brother a game for his Switch that he was really keen on playing: Cuphead. That game was and still is one of the tougher games I’ve ever played and now my brother agrees. I can thank my brother for getting me back into Cuphead, trying for hours to get that perfect run and bang my head against the wall when it didn’t go right. I also played more Pokémon Sword and tried to collect shiny Pokémon as well as go into the Crown Tundra for Dynamax Adventures. It should be fun to see what the New Year brings to gaming and I wish all the Shackers a happy and healthy new year!
Discovering new old games via MiSTer FPGA - Bryan Lefler, Contributing Editor
This holiday season was a little more merry for me because of the Shacknews Stimulus Games. Since they’ve helped me more than the US Government has throughout the pandemic, I thought I would help myself to a new kit I’ve been hearing about more and more often: the MiSTer FPGA. Using the same type of technology employed by companies like Analogue Inc. for their highly anticipated console clones, these devices recreate home consoles and computers at a much more accurate level than traditional emulation.
While waiting to piece together the entire kit over the break, I used the basic setup to discover and enjoy a wealth of games I had never experienced growing up. The TurboGrafx-16 in particular has really caught my interest. In the past, classics like the Bonk and Bomberman franchises had mostly passed by my peripheral vision, without much thought. But shooters like Deep Blue and Download have shown me what this system is really all about. The first is a gorgeous undersea adventure in the style of classic French cinema. It’s very “Jules Verne: The video game” and I like its style. But I don’t think you can compare it with the style of Download. Set in the Cyberpunk future of 2099, this game is 22 years more advanced than the modern crack at the genre. You play as part of the Kabukicho Police riding futuristic customizable and weaponized motorbikes. Just take a look at its game over screen, they don’t make ‘em like this anymore.
That’s our holiday break games, but what about you, Shackers? What did you play over the holidays? Let us know in the Shacknews Chatty comment section below!