Welcome to week six of the Boss Rush Bucket List! The writing staff at Boss Rush has curated a list of the top 50 games released since 2014 that are a must-play. Five games surrounding a genre or theme will be featured every Friday at 10a.m. until September 3rd. The fifth game of each article will count down the top ten, so stick with us to find out which title is our number one recommended game!
Action/adventure is back!
The Last of Us Part II
Developer: Naughty Dog. Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Release Date: 6/19/2020. Platform(s): PS4
The Last of Us Part II in three words: Ice Cold Revenge
The sequel to the post-apocalyptic survival The Last of Us continues the stories of Ellie, Joel, Tommy, and others roughly five years after the original. The gameplay and storytelling are enhanced to create tense battles and engaging cut-scenes in order to create gut-wrenching emotions and nerve racking events. Scarce materials, melee weapons, crafting, and environmental puzzles return as well to make you feel right at home in the main setting of the Seattle area.
Many lengths were made to keep the plot a secret before the release, so it would be a great disservice to share here. There were many controversies regarding choices of story-telling, intense violence, and sexuality. Whether you agree or not with the stories of the characters, you should not miss out on this brutal continuation of this dark world.
Snack Pairing: Beef jerky is the perfect snack to join you on this intense and emotional story. The protein packed salty treat will provide you with the sustenance and strength needed to endure the many hardships ahead.
Mega Man 11
Developer: Capcom. Publisher: Capcom
Release Date: 10/02/2018. Platform(s): Windows PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One
Mega Man 11 in three words: Side-scrolling goodness!
Everybody knows who Mega Man is. Every fan remembers their first Mega Man game. Mega Man returns to the scene in his first new sequel after 8 years, and he does it with true (and in very familiar) style. Unlike the previous titles, Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10, that were released in the throwback 8-bit gaming style, Mega Man 11 stepped into modern gaming with a HD, cel-shaded 2.5D graphic style while retaining the original formula that fans of the series have loved.
As per previous titles in the series, Mega Man will take on 8 robot masters one after the other, attaining their weapons and powers along the way and using them to take on the next challenge. After it’s all over, the Blue Bomber will then square off with the series’ main villain, Dr. Wily, and stop the menacing mad scientist from trying to take over the world. What’s new in Mega Man 11 is the inclusion of the “Double Gear” System, a mechanic that allows Mega Man access to the Speed Gear and Power Gear abilities. With Speed Gear, Mega Man can slow down time allowing the ability to dodge and outmaneuver attacks. The Power Gear ability increases the attack power of Mega Man’s weaponry and making his arsenal truly formidable. The Double Gear system has its limitations but once players master the new mechanic of the game, you’ll never look at the Mega Man series the same again!
Mega Man 11 received some of the most positive reviews newer entries in the series had gotten to date. At the moment, Mega Man 11 has gone on to sell more than 1.3 million copies worldwide and is one of the games cited with being responsible for Capcom’s current return to glory.
Developer: Extremely OK Games. Publisher: Extremely OK Games
Release Date: 01/25/18. Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PS4, XBox One, Steam, Mac, Linux
Celeste is widely known as one of the best indie titles to date. You take control of your protagonist Madeline, who has been fighting her inner demons, to climb Mt. Celeste in an attempt overcome her self-doubt and anxiety. Climbing the mountain is very much a central metaphor for a surprisingly deep story, but in trying to climb this mountain, Madeline’s insecurities manifest into an evil version of Madeline called “part of me”, or unofficially known as “Badeline”, who ends up being the antagonist for a good portion of the game. Madeline tries rejecting this side of her, but she cannot succeed in climbing the mountain until she accepts that this “part of me” is indeed a part of who she is.
Gameplay is unique and fun. You’ll take control of Madeline and traverse through 8 different chapters using different platforming mechanics often involving combinations of multiple jumps, dashes, wall jumps and other abilities. Each chapter will have different gimmicks that you’ll have to master to complete it. Celeste is a game that shines through its gameplay with its tight controls, amazing level design, and puzzles where you’ll need cat-like reflexes. Even though areas can be stressful, the game is very forgiving and approachable, and will allow you to begin the section again at a close point when failing an attempt.
This game makes our bucket list because unlike many video games I play where you must save the world from destruction or evil, the stakes in Celeste are low. Madeline could just walk away and not climb the mountain, the same as you just putting the game down and not finishing it, but the sheer determination of finding Madeline’s resolve forces you to press on, and in the end, it feels like you both made it together.
Snack Pairing: Hot Toddy. Make sure you’re warm, because the winds are fierce on this cold mountain!
Ori and The Blind Forest
By: The Madpharmacist
Developer: Moon Studios. Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Release Date: 03/11/2015. Platform(s): Windows PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One
Ori and the Blind Forest in three words: Save your home!
This 2D platforming-adventure game sets you on a journey as Ori, an orphaned guardian spirit, and Sein, the light and eyes of the Spirit Tree, who must save the forest of Nibel. The environment is visually stunning with its hand-painted artwork with beautiful music to boot.
Ori and The Blind Forest has the feel of a Metroidvania as players collect important items, upgrades, and gain new abilities. There is even an interesting save mechanic–Ori can create checkpoints via “soul links”; however, these supplies are limited. It is overall an enjoyable game that will draw gamers’ in with its heart-wrenching narrative about hope, love, and sacrifice.
Snack Pairing: Get that campfire going and roast some marshmallows. The warm squishy texture and sweetness will set the mood. Oh, toss in some hot chocolate if you’re playing during the fall/winter season.
Boss Rush Bucket List Top 10: #5 Hollow Knight
Developer: Team Cherry. Publisher: Team Cherry
Release Date: 02/27/2017. Platform(s): Windows PC, macOS, Linux, Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One
Hollow Knight in three words: Creepy, Crawly, Explorer
The “Metroidvania” genre of action-adventure games really exploded in popularity during the past decade, especially among indie developers, and few can compare to the excellence in execution as Hollow Knight. The game casts players as a lowly, nameless, insect knight that traverses the ruins of a plague-infested kingdom in the search for… something. The vague nature of the game’s plot is a large part of its appeal, as it’s ripe for fan interpretation. Don’t be fooled by the cute protagonist either, as the atmosphere is haunting, with moody hand drawn visuals and a chilling soundtrack by Christopher Larkin. Team Cherry’s debut game is also an intense challenge, borrowing from the “Soulsborne” games to force gamers to make hard decisions and take careful consideration when exploring and outfitting their hero.
Hollow Knight makes this list simply because it fits into so many categories as a “must play:” Want a great indie title? Go for Hollow Knight. Itching for a challenge? Look no further than Hollow Knight. In the mood for something that will send chills down your spine, something that will make you think, and/or something that rewards you for exploring every nook-and-cranny? Hollow Knight serves all those needs and more.
Snack Pairing: Hollow Knight’s “rancid eggs” don’t sound all that appealing to us humans, but pickled eggs may help give you the strength to overcome the game’s many challenging bosses. If that doesn’t interest you, might I suggest some chocolate covered grasshoppers?
This wraps up week six of the Boss Rush Bucket List!
Honorable Mentions: Luigi’s Mansion 3 (2019), Immortals Fenyx Rising (2020)
Next Friday (08/13), it’s time to up your A-game with killer sports/racing titles! We also have the entire Boss Rush Bucket list schedule here.
Remember, there are hundreds of amazing games that have been released since 2014, and this is just our personal, curated recommendations. If you see a game that is not listed, we would love to hear from you. Please share your thoughts on these nominated games on our friendly Discord channel!
This week’s contributors: Jack, Dan, The Mapharmacist, LeRon, Block