40 Games / 40 Nights: The Finale

November 19, 2020
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With the release of the PlayStation 5 on the horizon, I got to thinking about my enormous backlog of games on the current generation. Therefore, I thought I’d set myself a challenge. 40 games in 40 nights. Can I do it? I’m not sure. I’ll have fun trying though!

Today’s the day! It’s officially the last day of 40 Games / 40 Nights here at Jump Dash Roll. Oh, and it’s also PlayStation 5 launch day here in the UK too. So, I know what you’re thinking — did I manage it? The answer, my friends, is yes.

Who would have thought that playing 40 Games over 40 nights would be a problem, let alone this hard? Not me. However, in hindsight, my difficulties should have been obvious. Videogames are, for the most part, not quickly consumable. Rarely do we have a game that can be beaten in an hour or two — although a few may have made their way into this list late on — and so I naturally wanted to play more of a lot of these games than I could within my allotted time.

So whilst this experiment was good to get into new games and play games that in some cases had been dormant on my PS4’s hard drive since 2014, it’s also created a whole list of games that I now need to get back to. Sort of defeats the purpose, right? Anyway, we’ll get back to this later. Here’s the final list of games I covered for this insane venture. 


Oxenfree

Oxenfree is a paranormal adventure game set on a small island. With its classic horror movie set up of teens stranded on an abandoned island and wonderfully written dialogue, it had me smiling from minute one.

You play as Alex, who has headed to the island alongside her friend Ren, her new stepbrother Jonas and their acquaintances Nona and Clarissa. The walk and talk, puzzle-solving gameplay and wonderfully put together 2.5D aesthetic might not do it for everyone but it had me hooked instantly. 

I’m not usually a horror fan, but seeing as the core of the game revolves around the characters and their interactions it doesn’t really matter. Plus all of the classic movie tropes, the great storytelling and the genuinely engaging characters were good enough to supersede my reservations towards the rest of its genre-heavy narrative.


Never Alone

A sweet and educational puzzle platformer, I unfortunately didn’t get as much time with Never Alone as I would have liked. However, my girlfriend and I have vowed to go back to it very soon. 

Playing as a young Iñupiaq girl named Nuna and an arctic fox companion, at first glance the game is a simple side-scroller. However, its unique setting and the addition of collectable ‘cultural insights’ turn this into something very special. Initially released in 2014, it still looks good and plays really well. I’m excited to discover more about Iñupiaq culture and see this story unfold in full.

Dear Esther: Landmark Edition

Continuing on the narrative-heavy kick, we have Dear Esther. Widely regarded as the first ‘walking simulator’ — a reductive term that I really don’t like — the game tells the interwoven stories of several characters.

Set in the desolate Scottish Hebrides, the game captures the feeling of loneliness incredibly well. A solitary male voice reads excerpts of letters to his deceased wife which sees the story unfold as the player explores four different areas of the island. As you progress, our narrator becomes more manic and the stories begin to blend into one another in a way that is simultaneously intriguing and hard to follow.

Gameplay wise, it’s an incredibly minimalist experience. However, that’s no bad thing and fits with the overall tone of the game. However, whilst the tone of the game has withstood the test of time, other things have not.

First released in 2012 and updated to the Landmark Edition in 2014, Dear Esther is certainly showing its age. The flat textures especially take away from the otherwise beautifully lonely setting and I often found myself wondering how this would look had The Chinese Room remade it today. I had further problems with the game’s controls, which were clunky at best and frustrating at worst. Having to nanny the camera for large periods was incredibly frustrating to say the last. 

The lack of a conclusive ending was also a touch disappointing. However, with just over an hour to play from start to finish I don’t regret the experience one bit.


Tetris Effect

Tetris Effect was one of my favourite experiences of this entire feature. Picking the game up not long after release, something about this new take on the classic game just didn’t click with me. Why that is, I have no idea. This game is phenomenal.

A transcendent experience in many ways, playing Tetris Effect in VR was wonderful. Having the visuals wash over you as you clear lines, changing theme, musical style and environment with each completed level, is just lovely. Calming and challenging in equal measure, I could have played this for hours — and likely will in the weeks and months to come. 

I'm not even good at Tetris.


Gravity Rush: Remastered

A remaster of the cult PS Vita hit, Gravity Rush is the kind of exclusive that PS3-era PlayStation used to make. A super weird concept with gameplay revolving around bending gravity, I was fascinated by its uniqueness. 

However, upon actually playing the game, it just hasn’t held up well. The port from Vita to PS4 will have a lot to do with that, as cutscenes play out in static comic strips or merely text on screen. Similarly, the floaty nature of the gameplay never clicked with me and in my short time playing I could never quite get to a place where movement felt natural.

The sequel to this game has been on my wishlist forever too and I was genuinely excited to play both games — they’re one of the few blind spots when it comes to PlayStation exclusives. Can anyone tell me if and how the sequel improves upon the original?


Lara Croft GO

Whilst this is undoubtedly an unnecessary port of a mobile or portable game, Lara Croft GO is a brilliant puzzle game. I featured Hitman GO earlier in the series, and whilst this follows a similar formula, the board game aesthetic has been scrapped in favour of a more straightforward, puzzle-based, tomb raiding experience.

Much like Hitman GO, Lara can only move to different tiles in this departure from her usual adventures. However, the game as a whole feels much more dynamic and feels much more like a traditional puzzle platformer. Gameplay itself is minimal, but there’s plenty of interaction with the environment and when you solve a puzzle it’s super satisfying.

Playing through this in a single evening was a blast, helped hugely by the overly helpful hint system (it literally gives you a path to solve every puzzle with zero penalty). Each environment is gorgeous, the few enemies there are well designed, Lara herself is incredibly well animated and the whole experience was incredibly smooth. This take on Lara won’t be for everyone, but those who like a brain teaser could do worse than to play this.


Yakuza 0

I first played the Yakuza series when it debuted on PS2. Over the years I’ve kept a watchful eye on the franchise, but hadn’t returned to it until now. The allure of 1980s Japan was just too much. 

Within half an hour, I remembered just why I love this series so much. It’s ridiculous both in its melodramatic take on Japanese crime drama and its boundless absurdity. In what other game can you beat up street thugs, then play a karaoke rhythm game, then sit through a cutscene that feels every bit like a Japanese soap opera with a cast of scary men in cool suits? 

The game is huge too so I hadn’t a hope in hell of finishing it, but even this brief taste has me wanting more. Perhaps you’ll see more Yakuza games in the Brutal Backlog section very soon?


Moss

Moss is an absolute gem of a game. A platformer with a wonderful fantasy woodland aesthetic and a really unique narrative structure that pits the player (playing in VR) as a ‘reader’ of a story book, the quality of its simple puzzle-platforming gameplay is only matched by how charming it is.

Much like Astro Bot: Rescue Mission, the use of PSVR in Moss is great. Towering above our little mouse hero Quill and guiding her through each environment feels great. The addition of VR only enhancing what is already a solid — and great looking — game.

For a game that is set inside a storybook, Moss definitely has some fairytale magic about it that is likely to enchant anyone who plays it. 

                                                                                                            ***

So that’s that then. 40 nights done, 40 different games played. Was it a good idea? To write about, I think it was. As a way to play more videogames, absolutely not. Not being able to give one game your full attention for more than an evening or even a few hours is super frustrating. No matter how big your backlog is, I do not recommend this.

However, I do recommend playing whatever you want to play when you want to play it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a proponent of largely playing one game at a time and moving on when it’s done. However, if 40 Games / 40 Nights has taught me anything, it’s not to force yourself through playing something if you aren’t feeling it. Again, that’s not the way to play video games.

Thank you for joining me on this journey. I hope to never do something like this again. For now, I’m off to boot up my shiny new PlayStation 5...

                                                                                                            ***

If you’re interested, here’s the full list of all 40 Games played for this series in the order I played them:

  • Far Cry 5
  • Fractured Minds
  • One Night Stand
  • Life Is Strange
  • Hitman GO
  • The Flame in the Flood
  • Super Time Force Ultra
  • Superhot
  • Valiant Hearts: The Great War
  • Fall Guys
  • LEGO Marvel Superheroes
  • Inside
  • Injustice 2
  • Hitman
  • Rayman Legends
  • Assassin’s Creed: Origins
  • Deadpool
  • Horizon: Zero Dawn — Frozen Wilds DLC
  • Defunct
  • Thomas Was Alone
  • Shadow Complex Remastered
  • Volume
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series
  • Tower of Guns
  • Astro Bot: Rescue Mission
  • Goat Simulator
  • Saturday Morning RPG
  • Tales from the Borderlands
  • Sayonara Wildhearts
  • Virginia
  • Adam’s Venture: Origins
  • Trine: Enchanted Edition
  • Oxenfree
  • Never Alone
  • Dear Esther
  • Tetris Effect
  • Gravity Rush Remastered
  • Lara Croft GO
  • Yakuza 0
  • Moss

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Ant Barlow

Started with the PlayStation, now I'm here... with a PlayStation. Once skipped school to play the Metal Gear Solid demo repeatedly. I love stories big and small. Trophy hunter. Recent VR convert. Probably a hipster.