I haven't had to bury anyone in 2016. No family members. No friends or loved ones. But, sometimes I catch myself in the throngs of despair and regret reminiscent of the mourning period. Despair for the fact that despite our world being closer than it has ever been, the selfish nature of human beings is steady focussing on building walls to separate us from a natural and necessary progression.
I catch myself in the throngs of regret, because I feel as if there's nothing I can do to rally against the pain, angst, anger and outright disgust that 2016 has offered in droves. This year has been an absolute shambles for a multitude of reasons.
Being a liberal Englishman, Brexit shocked me to my very core. That and how fear-mongering and the peddling of lies trumps rational thought every time. And being Black, the growing dissension the #BlackLivesMatter movement faces for discussing and fighting the lack of accountability when police kill innocent African-American men, women and children breaks my heart, every single day.
2016 took from us notable luminaries Muhammad Ali, David Bowie, Prince and Alan Rickman, amongst others. And on a more first-world problem note, it took from us our USB ports and 3.5mm headphone jacks on smartphones, and it's been a poor year for the cinematic blockbuster. And now America riots due to Donald Trump, a serial liar, sexual deviant, misogynist and racist, being elected into the highest position in the free world.
It's been a fairly shocking year, one whose ripples will be felt throughout the planet for many more to come. But in lieu of these monumental scars, it's been an interesting year for the video game industry. We've sat through the deafening failure of #NoMansSky, watched #CallofDuty hurtle back to earth, experienced the "meh" that is #GearsofWar4, and seen consoles unnecessarily break their lifespan in order to keep up with PC gaming.
December Will Be Better
But despite those divisive occurrences, we've seen some amazing gaming experiences come to life. #Overwatch has delighted the world around, CD Projekt Red has redefined DLC with #TheWitcher3's 'Blood & Wine', #Battlefield1 finally brought great single-player campaigns back to first-person shooters, EA Sports' #FIFA franchise will have to up its game now that #ProEvolutionSoccer has scored a long overdue equalizer, #DOOM was hilarious, #TheWitness made us all feel small and #XCOM2 was simply #XCOM2.
Though these games won't in anyway ease the pain of the sheer loss of life in Syria, the re-emergence of aggressive nationalism on the streets or the apathy of your peers, there are three titles shortly releasing that will allow us all the space to escape, hibernate, meditate, cogitate, whatever it is you do to relax, at the climax of a resoundingly stressful 12 months.
The Last Guardian
Back in 2007, when the iPhone was first announced and Nintendo Wii was dominating console sales, Fumito Ueda's #TheLastGuardian, the follow up to the stunning #Ico and #ShadowoftheColossus, was announced to a chorus of joy. Then noise grew quiet, and the silence was indeed rather loud.
Almost 10 years later the title is set for release on December 6, and it couldn't come sooner enough, for me at least. The sense of adventure, scale and mystery are but a few things that put me in a state of awe when playing Ueda-san's seminal video games. And The Last Guardian will be no different.
We need a story to get lost in. A tale of hardship, of escape within a dream-like, fantasy world and aiding the tattooed boy and the feathered Trico to safety, through a puzzled-filled castle will bring joyous respite to eyes and minds weary of the outdoors, and the crush of the internet.
If there's ever been a moment for simply wanting to stand still and take a moment to reflect, the end of this year will demand it. Where better to perch than on top of the world, taking in the spectacle that is the violent nature of our planet. #Steep is going to take us and our friends on journeys up and swiftly back down the peaks of some of the most thrilling mountains in the world.
Snowboard, skis, wingsuit, however you choose to glide away from the billowing smoke of Dumpster Fire 2016, you can. I cannot wait to throw on my headphones and hear the crisp, chilly mountain breeze meet the crunch of my avatar's boots on snow. The freedom of hurtling down a piste, and concentrating fully on not killing said avatar will bring a well earned break whatever else 2016 has in store for our hearts. No, souls.
And if you're lucky enough to own an Oculus Rift, why not take to the wind on the wings of an eagle, and soar above a Paris recaptured by luscious nature. No people, no hate, no tears, just feathers and freedom. Yes the game may be constrained by being simply a game (it's human nature to take up arms, so of course the game has a dogfighting mechanic), but with each sway of your head the on-screen eagle will swim through the sky majestically. In the wonderfully hypnotic motion only a bird can conjure.
I think The Beatles put it rather eloquently in the wonderful 'Free as a Bird':
Whatever happened to the life that we once knew
Can we really live without each other?
Where did we lose the touch
That seemed to mean so much
You must, you must take the time to reflect. Have a look at yourself and where you stand in the scheme of things, and whether you're comfortable with your lot. But as soon as that period is over, we have to come together. Because whether or not your heart swells or breaks over the events the past year has brought, we're all we have in the darkness of space.
Yes—the establishment has failed us all, but it's time to learn from their heady misdemeanours and figure out how to coexist with one another in a way all people feel vindicated. Cause, Lord knows, I don't think I'll be able to take the dumpster fire's fumes in a fresh New Year.
So go play games and relax, and come back ready to start again anew in order to make 2017 a nicer time to exist. Oh and buy a Nintendo #Switch. 2017's first revolution, and possibly not last.