by griffin brammer, staff writer
Video game sequels have notoriously been hit-or-miss. Some sequels are regarded as better than the originals (such as Final Fantasy 7 and Resident Evil 4), while others have faded into obscurity or have been tossed into the dumpster (like pretty much any 3D Sonic game). Perhaps you would also agree that, only two months in, 2021 has also been pretty hit-or-miss.
No matter what March has yet to bring, let it be known that at the very least, this year will live on as the best year for video game sequels. From delightfully horrifying puzzlers to globe-trotting espionage and assassination, the few sequels that have been released thus far have been (no pun intended) game-changing.
Whether you were devoted fans of the originals, or looking to pick up a new series entirely, here are two recent sequels that might just pique your interest.
Little Nightmares 2
The 2017 indie horror-platformer Little Nightmares, from Swedish development team Tarsier Studios, gained an almost instantaneous cult following upon its release. Fans were eager for a sequel as soon as the credits rolled, and as of early February, they got their wish.
Little Nightmares 2 follows a young boy by the name of Mono, as he traverses a distorted city with his companion, a girl named Six (the protagonist of the original game).
The game is full of charm, and the warped visuals and moody art styles of the setting lend themselves to that of a Brothers Grimm fairy tale. And although this may all sound pleasant, the game is nothing but disturbing.
Tarsier Studios uses the game’s unique style beautifully to exemplify and symbolize just how young and small these characters are and how the world around them is surrounded with danger.
They also use these themes to twist and distort common childhood fears of mean school teachers and trips to the doctor, creating some truly horrifying monsters that will gladly catch and kill your main character.
However, at times the game suffers from its presentation.
The storybook style means that every level and setting is presented to us in a 2.5-D perspective. This makes the game incredibly frustrating at times, as puzzles and chase scenes are heavily reliant on platforming. It’s almost impossible to line up your jumps from an incredibly-restricted perspective.
That, mixed with a new and clunky combat system required at several moments in the game sometimes make Little Nightmares 2 a little too nightmare-ish.
The Hitman series has existed since 2000, but Danish developers IO Interactive decided that the long-running series, following legendary bar-coded assassin Agent 47, needed a revamp for the new generation. And so, Hitman (2016) was released to critical acclaim, as was its first sequel, Hitman 2, in 2018.
However, with two major developers leaving IO Interactive almost mid-development, the company lost major money, and the future of Hitman 3 was on shaky ground. But I am happy to say that as of late January, Hitman 3 is finally here, and it’s amazing.
What I love about the game is that it is so much more than a murder simulator. First and foremost, it’s a puzzle. For those who couldn’t guess from the title, you are an assassin tasked with going to different locations around the globe, and eliminating some of the world’s most powerful people. It’s a constant game of ‘how do I get from here to my target without getting spotted?’
With dozens of different routes and passageways and a dozen more disguises and opportunities for unique kills, it feels genuinely satisfying to solve that puzzle; it encourages you to play again and find a new unique solution over and over. Want to throw someone off the tallest building in the world? Done. Bury someone alive in their own grave? Sure. Maybe you want to crush someone with an industrial-grade grape press. Hey man, the world’s your oyster.
The six new locations are as beautiful as they are deadly. IO Interactive, as dedicated as they are, have made every previous mission from the last two games available in this one.
This means you have 21 unique and beautiful destinations to use as your personal playground, all the while playing through the intricate James Bond-level story of espionage that has been building up over the course of half a decade.
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