Twas a quieter year than other ones, this year. Still, it happens-next year appears to be overstuffed to bursting during the spring season so things may change but this year was a relatively quiet one for me gameswise, least as far as some of the bigger games are concerned.
Of course, lifewise it wasn’t-this is the year I finally decided to pursue my Masters degree in microbiology and quit a job I rather liked to move back in with my parents. So far I don’t regret it-I miss making money and being more independent but my parents have been tolerating me alright, I get to have a dog again, and my parents are willing to help me out while I get my degree. It’s been exciting to do science in the lab and begin trying to climb up into a career in research. Been a goal of mine for a long time, and I even get to work with my favorite bacterium Myxococcus xanthus in the lab! Overall it's been good and I’m hopeful that the future is bright on this front.
Anywho, lets get into the games and whatnot. Presented in no particular order...
Best game from a past year-Yakuza 0
Goddamn. I'm entirely new to this franchise-before this year I hadn't played them and didn't have much awareness of the series. But thanks to a generous gift I got it and started digging into it a few months after december. And good lord is it fun. The game is just a great time, the music is fantastic, the voice acting is great, the writing is good and the story was just an enjoyable ride from start to finish, even with a massive detour in the middle of playing to get obsessed with the Cabaret club and Real Estate minigames. Theres so much passion, energy, and talent thats obvious in this game and I adore it. Glad I got it, looking forward to digging into the other ones at some point. Also Majima is the best, don't @ me.
Best Early Access-Risk of Rain 2
I love Risk of Rain. And that's a bit odd to me, because I don’t tend to get on with roguelikes. It's not that I think the genre is bad in its myriad incarnations but for some reason it...just doesn’t click with me most of the time. I’ve tried several and almost none of them have stuck for me. Risk of Rain though ...I adore that game. Even now I love it, and it's just such a good time to pop in and try to make it to the end.
Risk of Rain 2 ...was a game I was concerned about. The initial reveal showed off the fact that the game was making the transition to a 3D space. I didn’t know how to feel at the time-part of what I love about RoR was the flow of gameplay, the sidescrolling nature and the lovely pixel art. The fact that gearbox was publishing it was also a bit unappealing if ultimately irrelevant near as I can tell. But when the game came out rather quickly in early access me and Amna split it during its early buy 2 get a lower cost for both dealie. And yeah I can safely say that this is a Metroid Prime situation-the game may be in 3D but it plays basically exactly the same as RoR in terms of gameplay flow and feel. It's a pretty fun game right now and as they add more and more new stuff, I’m looking forward to digging into it more and more to toy around with the new and old characters.
Best remake-REmake 2
I like this game a fair bit. Graphically its gorgeous-the detail on the zombies really hammers home how terrifying it is to fight them as their skin hangs off in flaps and exposes raw gums, after several bullets. The pacing of the game and the doling out of items is pretty well done and there's some really good and fun moments. The gameplay is imprecise enough to make combat encounters, especially up close, a lot more tense and unnerving and some of the areas and monsters are legitimately unsettling.
Still this game also has some issues I hope get sorted in future remakes and etc. For one the writing and the acting is...not as good as RE7. Additionally I think the splitting of characters doesn’t do much for the game-there are some different bits but aside from mixing up stuff everything is basically the same. I would have liked a bigger police station, with more of a split in the sights between Claire and Leon-maybe create a new space and expand on the orphanage instead of it being just a small area as is. Still despite these issues, it's still a pretty fantastic game and I definitely think it captures that atmosphere that the best RE games channel. Fingers crossed that 3 manages to do a good job of things as well.
Best Castlevania game-Bloodstained
Man it's been a while eh? I kickstarted this game years ago, and it was the last KS game that I still hadn’t gotten by now, aside from Wasteland 3 but that's a Fig joint. Curse of the Moon, the spin-off game, was a fun and well made experience that got me primed for this one. And despite some issues, it's a damn good game. I got it on switch and after vacillating on waiting for a patch-a patch which only came out a month or two ago so I’m glad I didn’t wait-I decided to jump in.
And while it may be the weakest of all the versions in a lot of ways, I still find it eminently playable. And that's good because it's just a great game. The music is enjoyable, the aesthetics look pretty great and it's just nice to have a good solid metroidvania game come out this year. I’d totally say it was worth the wait despite the hiccups, and I’m really looking forward to whatever comes next.
Best digital version of crack cocaine-Dragon Quest Builders 2
The original DQB was a pretty darn good game in my estimation. It was a good showcase of what Minecraft but with structure and a story can look like, and the sequel keeps that going in spades. I prefer the story in the first, but building stuff is more enjoyable here and there's a lot of good QoL additions that really make building a riot. I spent hours building up my own island and trying to get the challenges checked off, as well as making them aesthetically pleasing. It just taps into that love of building up and repairing stuff that I always find in various games that allow me to do so, and I’d say this one's worth a go if you liked the first.
Biggest meh-Dragon: Marked for Death
I got this game to play with a few other peoples, primarily Zombie as he and I were the ones who played it together the most. And….I ultimately feel let down. The combat could use some tightening up but for the most part its fine and it's fun to navigate the world. Graphically it's pretty appealing and the music and sound effects are appealing. But the story is incredibly thin, the asset reuse is far too high and ultimately the game starts to feel more and more like a slog as you go through it.
This is definitely a game that feels like it needed more time in the oven-it just feels kind of unfinished and lacking in polish...which is surprising considering it was in development for eight years. Its getting heavily patched and updated but at this point I’ve just deleted it-I don’t plan on going back to it, and considering the best ending is locked behind paying for all the characters (since the games split into two cheaper character packs) and beating it with them apparently, I just see little reason to keep going especially when Dragons Crown is still lying around. I was really looking forward to this one but it just didn’t work out for me.
I could have marked this one as crack cocaine as well, but I figure best F2P is still a fine title. I love this game-I put far too much time into it, and I’ve willingly thrown a reasonable amount of money at it over the years because I feel that its respected my time and me as a player and deserves that. As the industry is overtaken with more and more drek that charges for everything and still charges full price, I can always point to warframe as a game that I feel is actually worth money-despite being free to get into. It's not perfect of course, and it has its own irritations but tis still a damn fun game to play with me buds and I don’t really see myself stopping anytime soon. DE makes mistakes but they keep adding new lore, story and content and I’m pretty excited to see where they go from here. Heck just recently they introduced space combat and rival enemies which is a hell of a time. The ambition is obvious, and I'm excited to see whats next.
Best Metroid game
Super Metroid. Its funny, given my love of the franchise you'd think that I would have played this one. And given that I owned an SNES me missing this one is even more confusing in retrospect. But I came into the metroid franchise via fusion-I loved that there GBA and it swiftly became a game I loved to play over and over. Anywho, up until this year I had never played the game so I decided to rectify it thanks to Nintendos SNES online thing. I have some thoughts about that whole matter but I've been having a blast. This game really holds up well aside from the sound quality and its cool to see what came before Fusion. I have yet to beat it but honestly I feel confident about tossing this on the list somewhere. Lovely game, and I think I'll give Fusion and Zero mission another run in due course.
Giga Mermaid. Perfection. The best waifu of all before and after her conception for eternity.
And those were some thoughts on games what came out this year. Feel free to share some thoughts of your own if you’re so inclined, hope the new years a good one for everybody.