i'm reading through that game informer list, so i'll just write a bit about things as i notice things i would have voted for.
i love the scale of this game. it's small but complex things happen. there are variables you can introduce, but it's possible to know all of them without your head exploding. the game consists of loops within loops. the outer loops are the familiar roguelike elements, the repeated deaths and attempts and missions and the gradual expanding of your repertoire of things you can do and your progress toward completion.
the inner loop is a literal loop, with a little RPG Hero walking around clockwise in a loop, in an overhead NES Dragon Warrior kind of style, and encountering things that you, as the DX (Dungeon Executive) place in their way. for example, you can plop down some zombies on the loop, and the Hero will have to fight those zombies every time they come around to that point on the loop thereafter. you can also place healing items, like villages that heal the Hero every time they cross it. at the same time, you're also placing environmental tiles around the loop - forest, sand, rock, etc - that have different effects on the Hero and the enemies. as you gradually fill in the area around the loop with tiles, the tiles interact with each other and the Hero and things start to go hay-wire. it's great. it's addicting, you'll call off work. for one day.
it's $15, often on sale for much less. in my memory, i played it for about 15-20 hours last year. according to Steam, i played it for 58 hours. it's very possible i left it on in the background for a night, but anyway, the fun/american dollar ratio is off the charts.
― Karl Malone, Tuesday, 25 January 2022 18:03 (one year ago) link
For the fifth year in a row, my favorite game of 2021 was Dark Souls 3 invasions.
― change display name (Jordan), Tuesday, 25 January 2022 18:53 (one year ago) link
**New games I played more than an hour of in 2021:**
Forza Horizon 4 and Forza Horizon 5: Playing 4 right before launch killed some of my enthusiasm for 5, as they are very similar games. Some of the best story scripting of any racing game. I don't like the fact that you can just drive straight through almost any object in the game world. British racers destroy Mexico in an endless fascist festival... extremely dystopian shit.Psychonauts 2: Very polished version of a PS2-style collect-athon platformer. The writing and level design are as good as you'd assume.Back 4 Blood and Outriders: These games are fun co-op shooters but each have huge negative aspects that make them hard to recommend. Very few things in games this year were as enjoyable as playing the Trickster class for the first time.Returnal: I played a bit of this and it fucking slaps despite being impossibly hard.The Ascent: I loved the look and feel of this co-op isometric twin-stick shooter. Too buggy at launch to keep playing and then other games came out, alas.Hitman 3: I only started playing this myself in 2022 but I'm digging it. Nominee for best game to watch on Twitch of 2021.Valheim: Early in quarantine, some old friends invited me to their Valheim server. It was fun to drop in when they weren't online and steal and their stuff. Haven't touched the big controversial update/expansion.Ratchet and Clank Rift Apart: I beat the first boss and bounced but it looks nice.Madden 2022: Madden died for this shit? Sad
**Older games I spent a lot of time with:**Rocket League: Like putting on an old jacket that fits perfectly.Marvel Puzzle Quest: Oops I played a lot of this again.Yakuza Like A Dragon: A complete delight that I look forward to dipping back into. The deepest I've gotten into a Yakuza game by far.Demon's Souls PS5: I played this on PS3 and back then I managed to get to the Tower Knight. This time I did not manage to get to the Tower Knight! I suck.Microsoft Flight Simulator: My 2020 GOTY was even better on consoles (because my PC is shit). The landing challenges are the most satisfying gameplay mode.
**New games I played less than an hour of (thank u gamepass):**The Artful Escape: Visually creative but also sort of corny. Barely a game but an interesting experience nonetheless.The Matrix Awakens: A glorified tech demo but maybe the best graphics of the year.KID A MNESIA EXHIBITION: Best video game museum exhibit since Bubsy 3D: Bubsy Visits the James Turrell Retrospective.The Forgotten City: Fuck if I'm going to walk around this Skyrim mod Inscryption: Nominee for best game to watch on Twitch. I think I'll wait for this to come to consoles before I try to play it myself but it's very neat.Unpacking: It's cool how much environmental storytelling is achieved in this simple game for dorks with OCD.Bowser's Fury: I had big plans to buy a Switch Pro this year, which didn't happen. I did enjoy what I played of this though.Death's Door: Just started this but I'm not sold on it.Halo Infinite: I played about an hour of the campaign and bounced. Maybe the most I've ever played of a Halo game. Definitely not the first game to have a grapple hook in it.Balan Wonderworld: The most entertaining "so-bad-it's-good" game since Deadly Premonition.Art of Rally: Beautiful tilt-shifty racing game but the racing itself didn't grab me.Sable: Probably a much cooler game if you don't already know Moebius's work. Didn't run well at launch so I bounced.Unsighted: Better grapple hook than Halo Infinite.Rider's Republic: I will buy this when it is cheaper but the demo rocked. I was willing to overlook the putrid writing but ymmv.
**Streamed viewings only:**Deathloop: Very neat idea but I didn't have PS5 when it came out, and it sounds like the multiplayer is kind of dead now.Chicory: A Colorful Tale: This looks cuetToem: Best "Pokemon Snap" of 2021.Guilty Gear Strive: Maybe the best animations of any fighting game I've seen.Chivalry 2: As hilarious as ever.Mundaun: The most unique visual style of any game of the year.Dorfromantik: Best Dorf game since Dorf on Golf.
― reggae mike love (polyphonic), Tuesday, 25 January 2022 19:31 (one year ago) link
Ahhh I've completely lost track of the years, really thought Yakuza Like a Dragon was 2021, but just checked and can see I had it on my ballot in 2020. Liked it but didn't finish it bc got stuck on a difficult boss fight without an easy way of backing out to grind/level up.
I played Yakuza Lost Judgment in 2021, though. I had a lot of fun with the previous game, Judgment, so went into this one with high hopes... aaaand, well, I didn't hate it, but it definitely didn't live up to expectation. It had fewer side missions/cases than Judgment and they didn't all have the charm or screwball humour you'd expect from a Yakuza game. The main story is farfetched and too nonsensical (even by Yakuza standards). Yagami's Mary Sue-ness is more grating than it is funny. The setting of Ijincho doesn't feel as compelling or lived-in as Kamurocho. And I just can't get along with the fighting/control system - there are too many specials/combos/moves to remember and I'm not coordinated enough for them anyway. We finished the game but towards the end for me it was more out of a sense of duty/completion than enjoyment. Soooo on the whole Yakuza Lost Judgment ends up being my disappointment of 2021 :(
― salsa shark, Tuesday, 25 January 2022 20:00 (one year ago) link
liked:unsighted - hyper light drifter with zelda dungeons & metroidvania-esque exploration. end result is a masterpiece, everything in this game is fantastic. also has a time mechanic that's nowhere near as intimidating as it seems and you can just turn it off if it bothers you. death's door - basically just a 2D zelda game except actually good, excellent all-aroundaxiom verge 2 - some of the best exploration in any metroidvania i've ever played, excellent use of a two-worlds mechanicinscryption - suffers a little because the initial section is the most compelling gameplay-wise, so all the twists & turns. looking forward to the update that's in the works focused on that first sectionastalon tears of the earth - very solid metroidvaniasuper mario 3d world & bowser's fury - adding online + slightly speeding up the already-best mario game made it even better, bowser's fury was a fun bonusmetroid dread - finally they made a 2D metroid feel decent to control, generally solid loop hero - this was entertaining for a while even if it's a little shallow & very easy to completely break before too long
didn't like:chicory - a lot of the puzzles in this game revolve around 3D platforming & manipulating the positions and heights of platforms in 3D, but it's from a very flat 2D perspective without even the usual sort of shadows and colours that would help you to understand the perspective in 2D (because of the colouring-in gimmick) so the perspective was often very difficult to follow. those two aspects just did not fit together at all.ender lilies - this got a ton of positive attention so i was shocked at how terrible it was to actually play. extremely tedious combat that completely fumbled its attempt at '2D dark souls'. levels were not fun or interesting to explore.death's gambit: afterlife - solid dark souls-ripping metroidvania for a while but eventually resorts to bad gimmick levels where i got sick of it.the good life - lacks the same charm as deadly premonition and leans so hard into its terrible tedious fetch quests. backed this on kickstarter or whatever ages ago and mildly regret it
― ufo, Wednesday, 26 January 2022 02:36 (one year ago) link
oh also didn't like:nier replicant - i was not expecting this to be anywhere as good as automata but people still talk up the character writing in this game as being incredible and it's just... ok? gameplay is dreadfully uninteresting and repetitive, made worse by the 'play the second half of the game three times to get the true ending' structure which does not do anything anywhere near interesting enough to justify itself, it's just tedious padding.
older stuff i liked:star wars jedi fallen order - fun action-adventure drawing on dark souls/sekiro-esque combat (though nowhere as punishing) & some zelda-ish puzzlesai: the somnium files - maybe the best uchikoshi vn actually, better than any of the zero escapes.
― ufo, Wednesday, 26 January 2022 02:43 (one year ago) link
In 2021 I liked:Demon's Souls remake - looks and performs beautifully, interesting to excavate a souls game where the levels are brutal, checkpoint-free slogs but the bosses are mostly cannon fodder to the average grizzled souls veteran. Guess I gotta psych myself up to get through the 4-4 bastard grim reapers and invisible assassins cave before Elden Ring drops
Crusader Kings 3: a bunch of my daughter's husbands kept tragically dying and it belatedly turned out she was murdering them for a laugh and doing loads of witchcraft type shit on the side. I made her become a nun and she seemed really grateful and positive about it, fingers crossed
Spider-Man Miles Morale: fun, breezy if slightly insubstantial jaunt, made me want more
Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous - enjoyed Kingmaker, this seemed like a scaled up version with satisfying, smooth implementation of the TTRPG system,yet to go back after an enforced break from playing it because of a kitten who eats wires and tapdances on keyboards, through no fault of the game really. My guy rides a horse everywhere, even into areas where that would be ridiculously impractical or extremely rude
Assassin's Creed Valhalla: looks beautiful, for people from the Midlands it's hilarious having people be giving it large like I AM THE TRUE KING OF TAMWORTH or whatever, "this game is made by a team of diverse backgrounds and beliefs...uh excuse me Eivor did NOT kill civilians while he was burning and desecrating the pathetic degenerate churches of the English", surely the core gameplay loop won't become dismally repetitive after five more hours
Guardians of the Galaxy: looks pretty, story stays engaging, fairly likable/organic depiction of constant banter between vaguely annoying people, a hard tightrope to walk
Lost Judgment - too grim and incoherent for me, finally sick of the janky combat system but I also don't really like the rote Like a Dragon JRPG combat so what now :/
Maybe just give me a breezy Sugiura-kun spinoff where he confounds a succession of burly assailants with free-flowing parkour and a cheeky smile
Also played a fair bit of Age of Sigmar on Tabletop Simulator over the summer, but then they said some outrageously offensive shit about trans ppl so fuck them, I'll paint real high elves
Valheim: 10 hours during a week off in Feb. Lovely but had to get the fuck out of dodge before it fully took hold and ruined my life
NPC of the year: Hitman 3 Berghain barman trying to blow the whistle on unsafe working conditions but too eckied to speak a coherent sentence
― hiroyoshi tins in (Sgt. Biscuits), Wednesday, 26 January 2022 10:44 (one year ago) link
Oh I also played Cyberpunk for like five hours but barely remember anything about it. Deathloop is also sitting unplayed on my steam account, I guess my brain just knows first person games are shit and refused to be fooled now?
― hiroyoshi tins in (Sgt. Biscuits), Wednesday, 26 January 2022 10:47 (one year ago) link
top of my head maybe Persona 5 Strikers is the only 2021 game i've had a go at, and i don't like it cos it's not really Persona, but on the other hand i'll end up persevering because at least it's a little bit Persona
― Buchiko and The Man (Noodle Vague), Wednesday, 26 January 2022 11:23 (one year ago) link
according to my spreadsheet I only played 3 games from 2021 --
Down in Bermuda: Hidden Folks meets beginner-level escape room puzzles. Short. I liked it.
Bonfire Peaks: Block-pushing puzzle game with PS1-era graphics and something like Resident Evil tank controls. Looks good but I haven't gotten far.
Metroid Dread: Not the most original Metroid game (that's Super Metroid) but maybe the best? MercurySteam listened to criticisms of their past games and they leveled up. Samus Returns had a counter system that was too powerful. This one makes the counter powerful at the beginning but then gives you better weapons that largely replace it. Samus Returns didn't have many quiet or creepy sections. This one has a ton of them.
Great mix of exploration and light horror. I played Super Metroid for a bit at the same time and I was shocked at how quickly that game progresses. You get like 10 suit upgrades in the first hour.
selected older games --La-Mulana Remake and La-Mulana 2: i love how indie developers can make crazy games like these. my favorite discovery of last year.
A Short Hike: ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ one that I will definitely replay.
Kyrandia trilogy: interesting how requiring the player to make their own map is a fun exercise that's included in many low-difficulty games, but harder games assume the player has done that already and bypasses it. Games 1 has too many trial and error puzzles to recommend. Game 2 is a classic point and click. Game 3 does some interesting things with non-linearity, having you stuck on an island and giving you around 5 different ways to leave it, which you have to do twice. But #3 is also butt ugly and returns to the trial and error headaches.
Octodad and Overcooked: great couch coop games that anybody can play.
― adam t. (abanana), Wednesday, 26 January 2022 14:04 (one year ago) link
I think 2021 was pretty strong for me, with three titles that I felt were all worth evangelizing for (and which was why I was keen on doing C+P this year). All three are indies, which may be an inflection point for me -- perhaps I'm finally coming around to the idea that AAA offerings are variations on the same theme (i.e. ergo kinda boring), and that I can't really use critical consensus as a guide to finding games I might like? (I dunno, there've been plenty of indie critical hits that didn't connect with me to the same, breathless degree as other people.)
1. Chicory: A Colorful TaleWins for its adorable aesthetics (it's super-twee but I guess I was extremely receptive to its wholesomeness last year) and its forgiving puzzling. The cherry on top is its story about self-care, though the endgame dives into the psychology of burnout in a way that actually felt exhausting to endure. (Maybe TLOU2 drained my stores of empathy?)
TLDR: Game made of hugs
2. WildermythTactical strategy married with generative storytelling -- which is a very engrossing combo. The combat might actually be a little too easy on the default difficulty (though one of the group I play with is REALLY into tactical strategy games and loves Wildermyth for its combat), but it definitely scratches that strategy itch, and some of the story lines have some real heft to them -- though only within a specific event. Its generative storytelling is IMO very limited, because long through-lines over the course of a whole campaign aren't really handled with much (if any) complexity. Still, combining these two things is really intoxicating in a novel way: having your decisions influence character as they grow in both storyline and stats.
TLDR: Spreadsheet: The Story
3. Death's DoorI think similar to Chicory, this game won me over with its bright art style, since I've become allergic to the grim grittiness of From games -- but apparently not necessarily because of the challenge! Because Death's Door is hard, and it knows it is, so the developers added pretty good QOL touches to let you immediately dive back into a difficult section/boss fight.
TLDR: Dark Crows
Also played a bit of Into the Breach which is HARD but addicting.
― Gowron Hubbard (Leee), Wednesday, 26 January 2022 20:16 (one year ago) link
by conventional coint & plick rules, only 2 eligible games this year.other than those, the only standout was 13 Sentinels which would easily have been my 2020 goty: it's a hybrid visual novel / tower defense rts, the gimmick being an intentionally convoluted plot intended to keep the player guessing at all times. there are multiple interlocking characters/storylines to pick from, with some gating to prevent spoiling the whole thing by maxing out a single story. the 2d art in the VN parts is gorgeous
actual 2021 games:
Virtua Fighter eSports: a barebones PS4 port of VF5FS with identical gameplay and a graphical overhaul (for the worse imo) but it's VF. being free on PS+ meant that for a few weeks finding a steady stream of online matches was trivial. the random (?) match replay playback in the main menu is godlike, easily the best new feature from this version. would easily have been my goty except...
Shin Megami Tensei V: ...this finally came out, music and sound in general is excellent, i was dreading of the open world design but it was actually enjoyable for the most part (it's thankfully not that open and not that big a world), and has several quality of life improvements over nocturne as has been the trend with recent megaten games.it's too early for me to tell if i prefer it to nocturne overall but it more than lived up to expectations, goty 2021
― chihuahuau, Wednesday, 26 January 2022 20:38 (one year ago) link
I forgot, other games which I played the hell out of:
- Wordle (probably needs no explanation)- New York Times Spelling Bee (see Tomtit in the tilth -- the NY TIMES SPELLING BEE thread)
― Gowron Hubbard (Leee), Thursday, 27 January 2022 01:08 (one year ago) link
Just wanna throw my rec in for The Forgotten City, unfairly dissed by polyphonic upthread. Calling it "a Skyrim mod" obscures the fact that the game was built from the ground up in Unreal with different assets/setting/characters/story from the original mod, which is more like a proof-of-concept now. The game is really fucking good and the only complaints I have with it it are the goofy facial animations and the not-great combat segments, and both of these are minor. This game is seriously worth your time if you're interested in narrative-focused games with a strong sense of place.
― feed me with your chips (zchyrs), Thursday, 27 January 2022 15:34 (one year ago) link
just looked that up and i'm v interested
― Buchiko and The Man (Noodle Vague), Thursday, 27 January 2022 16:27 (one year ago) link
disco elysium was the only big newish game i played last year. i think it's a 2020 game technically but new on switch and some other platforms in 2021. i loved it.
i also want to shout-out tux and fanny, which i mentioned on one thread but don't remember which one. not very long but lots of weird fun with kind of a frog fractions vibe
i played a lot of dragon quest xi until i got stuck in the gold dungeon
― na (NA), Thursday, 27 January 2022 16:42 (one year ago) link
zchyrs, does Forgotten City have an option to go into 3rd person POV?
― Gowron Hubbard (Leee), Thursday, 27 January 2022 17:34 (one year ago) link
No, it's strictly 1st person. The movement speed is also pretty quick. Might not be great if you're prone to motion sickness.
― feed me with your chips (zchyrs), Thursday, 27 January 2022 17:48 (one year ago) link
Just wanna throw my rec in for The Forgotten City, unfairly dissed by polyphonic upthread.
haha it does seem cool I just do not enjoy that kind of game. The acting in the early game was solid.
― reggae mike love (polyphonic), Thursday, 27 January 2022 18:20 (one year ago) link
I was interested in this, but first person is a dealbreaker bc yeah motion sickness sets in within 20-30 min. Same with Sea of Thieves, which I tried but just couldn't physically play. Which is weird bc I def didn't have this problem when I was younger
Maybe not such a bad thing if it helps whittle down game choices though
― salsa shark, Thursday, 27 January 2022 20:14 (one year ago) link
love the title of this thread
― Karl Malone, Thursday, 27 January 2022 20:16 (one year ago) link
My Playstation Wrapup finally compiled and my most played games of 2021 were:
Subnautica, 87 hoursVery engrossing survival crafting game, also pants-wettingly scary at times. I sort of stumbled into 100%ing this.
Disco Elysium, 40I ended up liking it eventually, but I'm kind of done with the game for a good long while.
Civ 6, 31I think I only played this for couple weeks before I realized I had a problem.
Frostpunk, 17Resource management x survival, strangely more forgiving than Civ.
― Gowron Hubbard (Leee), Friday, 28 January 2022 01:12 (one year ago) link
Oops, I forgot we played this. Definitely enjoyed it. Thought it was interesting that there are next to no boss fights throughout, but didn't really find myself missing them. Super minor thing, but I liked how Miles' bedroom becomes a bit more personalised as the game goes on, just as he gains more confidence and recognition as his own Spider-Man through the story, a nice little touch. Generally felt Miles' personal life/day-to-day existence was a lot more filled out than Peter Parker's in the first game.
Pretty much this. Drax's lines do most of the the heavy lifting on the banter/humour; I'm actually surprised that his literal interpretations of everything have stayed amusing throughout the game. I really appreciate that the game doesn't divert with side quests and unnecessary item collection. Voice acting is pretty good on the whole, Mantis stands out in particular here. Big arena-type fights can drag on for too long, but the team coordination aspect seems to work okay.
I've also been playing Death's Door, which I really like - love the music, monster variation, level design, Zelda callbacks/ripoffs, the Spirited Away-ness of the urn witch, and just whole overall vibe - but I'm anticipating a point where it becomes too difficult for me (probably sooner rather than later). I've made it through the bosses/minibosses after 3-5 tries in most cases but it doesn't seem like level-ups will be offered at a fast enough rate to make up for my lack of skills/patience and propensity to panic when facing bucketloads of monsters at once
― salsa shark, Sunday, 30 January 2022 20:31 (one year ago) link
Some more things that start with G:
Ghost of Tsushima Iki Island DLC: okay C&P purists might balk at putting DLC on the list but this is half-assed/casual C&P so idc, and also this DLC is substantial. The new island is fairly large with some really incredible landscapes/vistas. Was a bit disappointed that it doesn't have the same level of bond-building with allies as the original/full game, but the dynamics/tensions between Jin and the new characters are compelling enough.
Genesis Noir: a couple weeks ago I wrote this:
The graphics are unlike anything I've seen in a game, really stunning imo. Gameplay is I guess what is called 'gentle', but mixed with a lot of disorienting or trippy dream-like movement: camera zooms in or out, things get bigger or smaller, scenes or objects morph from one thing to another. I don't know if the story will amount to much but it's so nice to look at that I can give it a pass on that, probably.
The 'story' is basically tracing the big bang through to the end of the universe, sort of, I guess? It kind of works up until the last 'level', which is too disjointed from the rest of the game's style and story and drags on way too long. Enjoyed it on the whole though, and still recommend it (or at least watching a couple video walkthroughs) purely for the style/art direction
― salsa shark, Sunday, 30 January 2022 20:53 (one year ago) link
every time C+P comes around i wish ILG would do rolling (year) threads for new releases instead of sequestering all new game talk to the whatchu thread or the console threads.. idk if people would use that but. it would be cool imo
― ✖, Monday, 31 January 2022 00:49 (one year ago) link
yeah i considered making one in '18/'19 when i was keeping up with new releases but now i'm back to being 2 years behind again. i could post about stuff that looks cool but i haven't played yet..
― ciderpress, Monday, 31 January 2022 00:59 (one year ago) link
everyone likes all yr posts cider, you should just do it!
― Karl Malone, Monday, 31 January 2022 03:35 (one year ago) link
Having a baby left me a lot of time to play games. Have a toddler has left me... probably more time to read ILG than to actually play games.
My fave new(ish) game this year was A Short Hike, which seems to the only game learned from BOTW and done **something different** with it. It's lovely. I want to recognise how wonderful the tone is, too, and how difficult it is achieve to the "right tone": it's cute but never twee, funny but never arch, elegant without being pretentious, and there's a clear story, but it never gets in the way of the gameplay. It's an impressive balancing act.
My main gaming realisation this year was: I will never enjoy games with too much dialogue, even if the inbetween-dialogue bits are good. (Thimbleweed Park might be a recent exception.)
My main disappointment was: still no Wind Waker on the Switch. But I wouldn't have had time to play it anyway!
― Chuck_Tatum, Monday, 31 January 2022 10:47 (one year ago) link
The endgame does get frustrating at times but generally is doable. Note: I haven't reached the true endgame yet.
― Gowron Hubbard (Leee), Monday, 31 January 2022 20:27 (one year ago) link