How do members of the ROG team kick back and relax in their off hours? With their favorite games, of course. We're back for another look at the titles that have grabbed our attention recently. Keep checking back in every month as we discuss our favorites, new and old alike.
Eric Born - Content Team
One of my first encounters with a horror video game was the first Silent Hill. Every night, I’d stay up late, crouched in front of my brother’s PlayStation 2 and transfixed by the mounting dread that game produced.
More than anything I’ve played in recent years, The Medium brings me back to that frame of mind. The third-person perspective and fixed, external camera angles reproduce that cinematic, claustrophobic feel of Silent Hill, as do the labyrinthine corridors of a run-down and decaying resort called Niwa.
The main character is Marianne, a clairvoyant young woman lured to Niwa with the promise that she can there learn the origin of her unusual abilities. Once inside, she finds that unspeakable atrocities happened at this resort, and that she will have to uncover the dark secrets of the hotel’s past in order to learn about herself. The game plays like a detective thriller as Marianne finds letters and other clues, and uses her insight ability to hear echoes from the past as she examines discarded objects. She has a dry sense of humor that adds some unexpected but welcome levity as she slowly uncovers the mystery.
Marianne doesn’t just hear the spirit world. She can actually walk inside it. In this hellish mirror of the real world, she can access areas unreachable in the physical realm. Sometimes, Marianne inhabits one world or the other, but in others she travels the physical and spiritual realms simultaneously. In these moments, the screen splits like I’m playing a local co-op game by myself.
The act of controlling each reality simultaneously is both hair-raising and breathtakingly realized on the screen. The physical world is lavishly detailed, full of decaying signs, ruined walls, and the detritus of the resort. The spiritual world is filled with barriers of stretched skin, structures of bone, and unhealthy tendrils that make a mockery of organic life. The Medium is driven more by story than by puzzle-solving, so I never find myself stuck for long on any particular obstacle, but it is always rewarding to use Marianne’s reality-shifting powers to open new pathways and uncover new clues.
The game complements the innovative gameplay and atmospheric setting with an unforgettable villain. I’ll spoil all the details of this supernatural entity, but know that Niwa is haunted by a twisted creature called The Maw. The crazed mumbles and chaotic roars of this twisted creature will haunt your dreams. In the spirit realm, he’s an unstoppable force from which Marianne can only run away. In the physical realm, he’s a deadly but blind creature that Marianne can avoid—if she can stay quiet.
The Medium successfully combines classic horror gaming conventions with a unique split-screen gameplay system, a riveting story, and fascinating characters. On top of all that, it's a visual feast that makes great use of ray tracing and other cutting-edge graphics tech. If its pairing of old-school video game horror with modern graphics sounds compelling to you, don’t miss out on everything The Medium has to offer.
Kelvin Jeon - Brand Marketing Team
Single player games have their moments, but there’s nothing more satisfying than PVP. I love getting a W due to quick decision making and carefully planned strategy. I’ve played many fighting games over the last ten years as I scratched my itch for competitive play, but Granblue Fantasy: Versus has taken over my gaming time in the last year, and I really can’t get enough of it.
Versus is a 2.5D fighting game set in the larger Granblue Fantasy universe. Even though a friend recommended it to me, I was reluctant to try it at first, as I only knew of the franchise from its first game and didn't really have any interest in its gacha mechanics. When I wanted a new fighting game to play in early 2020 to keep things fresh and interesting during the pandemic, though, I finally gave Versus a try. I’ve been hooked ever since.
It didn’t take long for Versus to draw me in. It checks all my boxes for a fighting game. The graphics look great, and the character design is top-notch. The game is constantly updated with new content. The controls feel tight and intuitive, and the music and voice acting are some of the best I’ve ever heard in games of this genre. I’ve even started to get fascinated by the complex lore behind the characters.
Of course, it’s the combat system that makes or breaks a fighting game. Versus pulls off the difficult feat of being accessible to newcomers and satisfying for veterans. Some titles make me memorize complicated inputs for execution, but Versus makes it easy to deliver each character’s signature attacks. I can either pull off special moves with circling motions with the arcade stick, or I can input a certain direction along with the special button. These moves each have a cooldown, and the directionally executed special moves take up even more cooldown time, so I have to understand when and where to leverage each ability.
Even the process of finding an online match is fine-tuned and immersive. The developers created a virtual arcade lobby where I get to challenge other players and interact with them in real time. With all offline events cancelled due to the pandemic, this was a great way to interact with others virtually, and I made so many new friends through this game. Once the offline events are back, I can’t wait to meet all of them and play this game in person.
For me, fighting games are not only about competing against other players, but also about constantly battling with myself for improvement. When I’m able to strategically plan two to three steps ahead of my opponent and execute the right decisions in the moment, I get a sense of confidence and empowerment that goes beyond the game. Those feelings made a big difference for me in the last year, and I can’t recommend Granblue Fantasy: Versus enough to fighting game fans with the drive to compete and succeed.
Jake Kulinski - Live Video Producer
It’s an exciting time to be a survival game fan. With the recent launch of Valheim, I’ve been pulled back into the familiar rhythm of explore, loot, build, and survive. Several hundred hours into Valheim, I'm still hungry for more of this type of content. Conveniently, early access game Subnautica: Below Zero was there and waiting for me.
If you haven’t played the original Subnautica, it’s a survival game that takes place almost entirely underwater. As you harvest minerals, craft equipment, expand your base, and survive attacks from relentless leviathans, the game slowly reveals a fascinating story about the alien civilization that once populated this strange world.
With Subnautica: Below Zero, Unknown Worlds Entertainment takes us to the arctic region of the ocean planet players explored in the original game. The big difference with this sequel is a cold mechanic. I have to manage my temperature as much as my health, food, and hydration. There is also much more land in this game, allowing for more variety in exploration. However, the frequent blizzards that ravage the surface make it seem even more dangerous than the water.
In Subnautica, I never truly feel safe. The ambient noise of creatures in the distance keeps me looking in all directions to make sure I’m not being stalked by a predator. Even as I get better equipment, the game continues to throw bigger and creepier creatures my way while offering rewards for exploring deeper, darker, and more dangerous places.
The game doesn’t officially launch for another couple weeks, but the polish is already there. It really feels like the developers took the concept from the first Subnautica game and mastered it with Subnautica: Below Zero. I can’t wait to see what mysteries this game holds.