Usually my honourable mentions consist of games that surprised me but unfortuately this year it is comprised mostly of those who squandered an excellent opportunity.
In some ways it is hard to believe that Doom Eternal is a sequel to 2016's Doom. At their cores they both have the frenetic combat that made Doom 2016 a sleeper hit. But it is almost as if the games were developed simultaneously and where Doom 2016 took that in-your-face combat style and just doubled down on killing demons as quickly as possible, Doom Eternal decided it should be more "cerebral" and made the combat all about enemy weak points and a rock paper scissors weapon system.
In Doom 2016 you were this unstoppable Space Marine who somehow carried boatloads of ammunition, and all you focused on was how to unload that ammo into demons as quickly as possible until you could rip them apart. The combat in the first hour was almost identical to the combat in the tenth hour and it never stopped being fun.
In Doom Eternal your primary focus is on manging three different resources (health, armor, ammo) and your only concern is to determine which weapon you need to attack the weak point of an enemy to get the resource you need the most. Are you low on armor? OK well then you only have a few weapons and a few enemies that when killed in a certain way will drop armor. You're no longer playing a run-and-gun FPS. Instead you're playing this weird puzzling solving hybrid with guns where you need to find the enemies that are weak to the limited amount of ammunition you have. In Doom 2016 you'd unlock upgrades for your weapons that enabled more powerful attacks but mostly supplemented your combat, not fundamentally change it. In Doom Eternal you have to unlock specific upgrades to be able to attack the weak points of some demons. Otherwise when you come across them they are going to kick your ass. I don't know why juggling eight different weapons each with two types of upgrades became a requirement of Doom Eternal.
The focus on limited ammunition, enemy weak points, and telegraphed attacks makes it feel like the people at id Software wished they were making a Dark Souls game rather than a Doom game. The focus on "git gud" gameplay makes absolutely no sense to me.
What disappoints me most about Doom Eternal is that it almost has a Metacritic score of 90 which means that any sequel is probably going to continue this style of game. Perhaps the Doom franchise, similar to The Legend of Zelda franchise, is growing into something that just isn't for me anymore.
It would be impossible for me to list all of the failings of Cyberpunk 2077 in this article. If you really wanna delve into the shortcomings of this game I highly recommend the r/cyberpunkgame subreddit which actually has lots of great posts like this one. Sure most of that subreddit is low quality memes but there are a surprising number of text posts that break down how CD Projekt Red's marketing does not match up with the expectations so many people had for the game.
If you're looking for something in video format I highly recommend Dunkey's look at Cyberpunk 2077:
For me the biggest disappointment is that netrunning is nearly pointless. I had been under the impression that I was going to be able to go through the entire game as a hacker. I wouldn't need to wield a shotgun or turn my arms into fucking swords because by replacing my brain with a computer, I would be able to traverse Night City from a different angle. That could not have been farther from the truth. Cyberpunk 2077 is a futuristic Skyrim at best. Everything about this game screams like it was designed a decade ago. The solution to everything is murder. I was expecting Night City to be the most realistic simulation we had ever seen in a video game and it is actually worse than some games that were released over a decade ago.
That being said I completely understand how some people are getting a kick out of this game. It is a futuristic Skyrim and that was a really fucking great game. I played over 90 hours of it. That is why I don't think that Cyberpunk 2077 is going to have some No Man's Sky level of rebirth. The core of the game would need to change in order to come close to fulfilling all the promises that CDPR made. The sandbox world they created would need to be rebuilt from the ground up and I just cannot imagine the finance people are going to OK spending that much money. CDPR is going to spend the next year fixing bugs, optimizing performance and then we'll probably get some $20 story DLC. After that they'll announce their version of Cyberpunk Online and try to push the game in the direction of GTA Online so they can start printing money as well. Meanwhile all of us who were hoping for a vibrant Night City are going to pushed to the wayside by those who just want to blow shit up.
Carrion is an excellent puzzle game where you play a horrific monster trying to escape from some sort of science facility where you were being experimented on. Throughout the 4-5 hours of gameplay you brutally murder every human you come across as you make your way to the surface. It is on my honourable mentions list because some of the puzzles were on the frustrating or annoying side. I resorted to looking at a guide several times because the game simply was not providing me enough info for what to do next.
I played it for free on Xbox Game Pass and to me this is the perfect example of what that service is good for. I probably could not have been convinced to pay $15 for this game but when the barrier of entry is simply tapping an install button I am much more likely to give random indie games like this a shot.
Roundguard is basically Peggle crossed with a roguelike. You pick one of three classes and then fight your way through as many stages and bosses as you can before you die. It's on the honourable mentions list because after three hours the gameplay plateaued and got stale but seeing as it was on Apple Arcade I am completely happy with the time I spent with it.#GamesOfTheYear