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
Spider-Man Miles Morale: fun, breezy if slightly insubstantial jaunt, made me want more
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.
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
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