Given the startling resemblance that 2020 bore to a burning wreck, I have resolved not to limp into this year with much resolve at all. Instead, I will review the list of resolutions that I made, in a hopeful haze, last January, with the benefit—or at least the dramatic irony—of hindsight. So, how did I do? Well, fortunately, I had the good sense to avoid getting my leg clasped in the rusty cliches of “Start jogging again,” or “Cut back on booze”; it’s as if part of me sensed the numbing inertia of the months ahead. To my surprise, I haven’t done all that badly. Let’s jump in.
1. Use the (gargantuan stretches of) time spent waiting for games and patches to download to do something constructive, like read, rather than eating in frustration.
Failed. I am currently chewing a McDonalds Chicken Select, vouchsafed to me, with the screech of a scooter, by those brave heroes at Uber Eats.
2. Finally stop bouncing off of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and force myself to stick with it.
Failed. Tradition dictates that just as Geralt sniffs his way out of White Orchard—hooked on the fragrant scent of his ex, Yennefer—my attention strays. During the early days of last year, I made it much further before my flagging, but the potent decoction of those early hours still dwindled before the end. This year, I’m pinning my hopes on the PlayStation 5 version—its loading times lopped and its spell enriched with ray-tracing—to lure me in for the long haul.
3. Git Gud.
Failed. I played Mortal Shell. I played Demon’s Souls, imbued as it was with wrist-rattling new powers. I started to replay Bloodborne, before Christmas, felling Father Gascoigne in a single attempt. However, to declare oneself Gud is, in itself, a failure. One is never Gud. Gudness is attained through continual failure. It is a state of spirit. The journey is the destination. The Gitting is what is gud.
4. Try not to replay Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater again, despite having it on the 3DS now.
Failed. I continued playing on the 3DS, albeit briefly, early, and, only this week, have downloaded it on the Vita.
5. Be excited for the new generation of consoles, instead of quietly and angrily reiterating how little I am excited by better graphics.
Succeeded. First, the PS5 controller, crammed with tingling haptics and disobedient triggers, is the one next-gen feature that truly feels next. Meanwhile, and maybe even more unlikely, is that the Xbox Series X actually did get me excited about better graphics—via the unorthodox strategy of smearing them, like an anti-ageing cream, over old games.
6. Stop saying “Xbox Games Pass,” rather than Xbox Game Pass, which is what it is.
Succeeded. All one has to remember is that, while Microsoft’s monthly subscription service entails the playing of many games, its name is forged not of nouns but verbs, as in, “With this pass, you may game.”
7. Accept the fact that a shortage of hours in the day means that I really shouldn’t have Xbox Game Pass, PlayStation Now, and Apple Arcade subscriptions.
Succeeded. See next entry.
8. Remember—and also summon the willpower—to cancel Xbox Game Pass, PlayStation Now, and Apple Arcade subscriptions before I get charged for another month.
Succeeded, in a way. I didn’t cancel PlayStation Now; I simply started using it, and it’s excellent. I still have another year of Xbox Games Pass, but that was part of some ludicrous one-year-for-a-pound deal I got. I did cancel Apple Arcade.
9. Learn what min-maxing means.
Failed, but really Succeeded. I could have Googled this before writing, but I haven’t. And the fact that I haven’t shows that, while, no, I still don’t know what min-maxing means, I have also divested myself of the mental burden of wanting to know. It’s not who I am, and I believe that personal truth is worth pursuing at the expense of all other traits.
10. Buy the Playdate console and somehow feel young again.
Failed. This one isn’t my fault: the delightful portable console, with its shell of sugary yellow and its crank-operated dreams, was not available last year. Fingers crossed for 2021.
11. Stop taking out a massive metaphorical red board marker and drawing a big dismissive line through any upcoming game when I see that it’s focussed around multiplayer.
Succeeded. Late in the year, word came through that Back 4 Blood, a successor—not so much spiritual as gastrointestinal—to Left 4 Dead, is really quite good. Colour me cooperatively intrigued.
12. Play Final Fantasy VII Remake and really have a go at getting into the series (again).
Succeeded! In fact, emboldened by my surprise enjoyment of Square’s gargantuan remake (which was really more of an ode to the first act of the original, like slicing off the Book of Genesis and blowing it up to blockbuster length) I then began Final Fantasy X, on the Vita. It didn’t last long, and my abiding memory of the game the image of a city being sucked into a tsunami by an irritable jellyfish.
13. Remember to turn off the obnoxious, cutscene-ruining, mood-destroying noise that occurs when I unlock the rare achievements on the Xbox One.
Failed. Although, the Xbox Series X doesn’t appear to suffer the same noisome pop-ups as the Xbox One did. This is perhaps down to me not playing much—or not playing much well.
14. Stop pretending that I know what bilinear filtering is.
Succeeded. Publishing a piece with that as a resolution is, in itself, an act of casting aside and owning up to the pretense.
15. Play a BioWare RPG that isn’t Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood.
Failed. However, I did arrive at the realisation that Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is, in fact a BioWare RPG, and I played it years ago. So, in a way, I succeeded.
16. Be able to write that Twin Mirror is developer Dontnod’s finest work to date.
Failed. To my great shame, and in the game-ridden rush of November, I didn’t get round to Twin Mirror. I will set aside some time—and some space in my mind palace, in order to process the game’s narrative—soon.
17. Stop laughing at, and dismissing, games that use colons and hyphens in their title.
Failed: how can I take a game seriously, if its title is, in fact, three titles sewn together—foolishness.
18. Play a newly released Ape Escape game.
Failed. Much like the cheeky, Uzi-toting chimplets that patrol the surreal realms of Japan Studio’s classic, this one is out of my hands.
19. Play James Bond 007: Blood Stone.
Failed. The wonks at MI6, while perfectly capable of crafting a wristwatch that fires a beam of white-hot laser, have yet to make James Bond 007: Blood Stone backwards compatible for the Xbox Series X. However, I have a 360 lurking under the coffee table, and am currently perusing Amazon for a pre-owned copy; this could be the year.
20. Relive the thrills of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater in 3D, with the 3DS.
Succeeded. I continued playing on the 3DS—albeit briefly—early on, and, only this week, have downloaded it on the Vita.