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Console-Tation: Finding the Kiss Kiss Bang Bang of video games
Hello everyone, and welcome to Console-Tation, a new feature series on SYFY FANGRRLS where we help you find your next favorite video game — one you might not have heard of, but are going to love.
I'm your host, and SYFY FANGRRLS resident gaming expert, Laura Dale. I've worked as a full-time video game critic for the past five years, and it's my job to help readers like you discover that next game that's going to be exactly your jam.
Our recommendations are not just based on your taste in games. Tell us what movies you love, what book genres you're wild for, maybe even what music you like. Paint us a wide picture of your interests, and we will try and find a game tailor-made to your tastes.
So, without further ado, let's help our first FANGRRL.
Do you want help finding that next game that's perfect for you? Well, we have a form you can fill out here. If you're selected, you might get your next game recommendation courtesy of Console-Tation.
Our first email comes from SYFY FANGRRLS' own contributing editor and co-host of Strong Female Characters, Preeti Chhibber.
I am dying for a new game to play. Let's see, things I'm into: Favorite movies outside of some of the typical (Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings) are things like William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet or Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. I love a movie with an opulent, over-the-top style. I love happily-ever-afters and so a good romance novel is definitely a favorite (and fanfic of favorite franchises of course), I'm also a sucker for strong storytelling that isn't afraid to take risks, however, like Fleabag.
In terms of games, I hate hate hate phone games, they are not for me. I'm familiar with Nintendo and Playstation (though the PS4 is my first Playstation ever, so that's also been a learning curve). I grew up as a Zelda/Mario player, I tend to enjoy RPGs of that range — think less original Final Fantasy gameplay, moreso the remake version. One thing to note: Jumpscares are a dealbreaker. I am not a fan of horror. I also hate shooting guns and most long-range fighting options with small targets.
I really love the use of magic in games, whether it's by me as a player or as part of the story. So more on the fantasy than on the sci-fi side. I also want a good easy-mode, because I'm not super coordinated with my button pressing — for example, I have to look down to remember what buttons are what on the PS controller.
Basically, I want a fun game with a strong narrative component. What have you got for me?
Systems of choice: PS4 or Switch Lite.
Cost: Preferably on sale.
The key things that stood out to me were:
Magic fantasy worlds
Opulent, stylish movies
Third-person action adventures that are heavy on plot and have access to a good easy mode
I thought of three recommendations for Preeti.
Nier Automata (2017)
Nier Automata is more science fiction than magical fantasy, but it ticks the rest of the boxes. A stylish third-person action game, it’s heavy on plot and takes narrative risks. It also features a very comprehensive easy mode that should allow a player to avoid the parts of the game they may find more stressful than fun.
It focuses on the stories of a couple of androids, fighting a war on earth on behalf of a humanity that has long since fled to safety. The game features a really interesting cyclical narrative, with multiple endings and places where the story loops in interesting ways, and its action set pieces are big and flashy. While the game does contain shooting sections, as well as its sword-wielding melee combat, on easy mode players can automate certain parts of the game. For example, a player could set any shooting sections to aim automatically, allowing them to focus on hitting stuff with a big sword.
Nier Automata also came out several years ago and can be picked up second hand on PS4 for around $10.
Okami (re-released 2017)
Okami is a PlayStation 2 and Wii game that was re-released on the PS4 and Switch. Very much designed to play like a 3D Zelda game, Okami's story follows a goddess, who has taken on the form of a magical wolf in Japan, traveling across the land trying to seal away and defeat an ancient evil multi-headed dragon. The game features a gorgeous watercolor art style, and a unique mechanic where you draw icons with a paintbrush to alter the world, but at its core, it should be enjoyable to anyone who already likes 3D Zelda style action adventures.
Tales from the Borderlands (2014)
If you’re looking for a stylish, story-heavy action narrative, with a bit of comedy mixed in, some unreliable narration, a bit of magic, and not too much gameplay challenge, Tales From the Borderlands might be just what you’re looking for.
While most of the Borderlands games are first-person shooters, Tales from the Borderlands is essentially a choose your own adventure story. Any combat will be simplified, usually based on you pressing the buttons shown on screen to help ridiculous scenes play out, like a building-wide gunfight entirely made up of pretend weaponry and mouth based sound effects. You make choices, you alter the way things play out for characters, while experiencing some magic, some deception, some subterfuge, and some excessively stylish action comedy.