This month, I’ve decided to highlight games and anime that show technical prowess in very specific, almost measurable ways. These might not be the best titles, but they show an impressive level of excellence in one or two specific ways that are worthy of note even if the entire package has flaws.
Shadow of Mordor
I really enjoyed Shadow of Mordor… while its flaws were notable, it had some of the most technically adept third person action gameplay I’ve seen in my life. The controls worked well, the side mechanics tied in nicely, and the game offered both ranged and melee combat with incredible accuracy and responsiveness, with only one minor targeting issue that will probably get you killed a few times.
The game also featured some of the most innovative mechanics of the past few years, with the excellently implemented Nemesis system and the ability to build your own army of your former enemies. These two combined to give you a dynamic set of challenges and objectives that really make the game unique, if a bit out of character for a game set in Middle Earth.
Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend
Changing pace a bit, we have Saekano. Saekano’s writing is brilliant. No two ways about it, Saekano is a masterpiece of well written scenes and characters and informative conversations. It makes good use of literary tools not often seen in anime and has characters that really make good use of tropes to explore the medium. It’s a very clever satire, and it’s a great show in its own right even otherwise.
Don’t worry. Yes it’s a harem show, but this is the good type of harem show. Intelligent writing and good characters can surpass the flaws of the genre, I promise you.
In the second week of this month’s Technical Excellence theme, we’re moving into scarier territory… this week we’re showing off two titles that have distinct similarities in how they display their excellence.
Another is probably the best horror show, in any medium, I’ve ever watched. This 1 season series is great in most ways, but it did a few things almost inexplicably well. The first is something that’s easy to miss, but oh so important… Another used silence better than anything I’ve ever seen. Silence builds tension when used appropriately, and when combined with a plot that makes amazing use of foreshadowing to help build a plot with a logical solution but also enough dead ends and red herrings to create a suspenseful storyline.
The Last of Us
The Last of Us, like Another, makes a fantastic use of silence… but what I wanted to highlight here is how well this game maintains the atmosphere. In a long game, it can be very easy to have scenes that break the mood, or even overstrain it to make it hard to remain engaged. The Last of Us maintains the mood to such extent that the brief moment near the end where you get a bit of peace, it is such a stark contrast that it is really hard to leave.
It’s time for our third week’s recommendations… this week we’re focusing on visuals.
Final Fantasy XIV
Final Fantasy XIV is easily the prettiest MMORPG I’ve ever played, and arguably one of the prettiest games I’ve ever played. The vistas are gorgeous, the character models exquisite, the armor is an amazing rendition of classic Final Fantasy looks… but probably the most crazy part are the weather effects. I could sit all day and just watch it storm in Upper La Noscea… or watch the night sky over Gridania on a peaceful night. It’s so good that they’ve added a bonus for sightseeing… and that says a lot.
Irregular at Magic High School
I liked a lot of things about Irregular… but two things stand out for me. The show had really intricate visual character and an amazing magic design. The characters are all unique, well drawn, and have some of the best character dress in any anime I’ve ever seen. The outfits are gorgeous, intricate, but still somewhat practical for their position. And the magic is both visually appealing and really cool conceptually.
Our final week’s recommendations for this month have arrived. And for our final set of recommendations, I’d like to highlight two games.
I almost forgot to include Resogun here, but more than any almost other game it deserves it. You see, the game is a masterpiece of technical vision. The graphics are amazing in a simple yet almost overwhelming way, the sound design is stellar, the gameplay is refined to perfection, and the game even features a rather impressive set of customization tools. But what makes Resogun so special is that it also asks such excellence of you if you wish to beat its harder difficulties.
Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea
The Atelier series deserves to make this list for its absolutely stellar crafting. This is a system that has been so intricately designed that you can literally spend dozens of hours crafting and have barely scratched the surface of the amazing combos that are possible within its depths. It is the quintessential example of working towards perfection, as they have been slowly refining this system over the course of many games, iterating on it gradually until it has hit the amazing state it has reached with this most recent title.
Hope you’ve enjoyed these last two recommendations for this month!