I wrote down all the games I played in my diary this year, so this is a complete list of everything.
I’m sure this is very few games in the grand scheme of things, but it is a lot for me. I completed 8 games, and played quite a few hours of multiplayer games. This year I re-discovered that I’m much happier digging into things in depth rather than playing as many games as possible - I cancelled all of my gaming podcast subscriptions and just got on with playing what I wanted. The Nintendo Switch has been a huge enabler for me - playing on my commute has been a delight.
One glaring omission is Death Stranding, which I believe might well be very much my kind of game. I’m hoping to play it when it comes out on PC.
I started the year very excited about Artifact. It definitely needed some work but it was really interesting and intense. Sadly, the community didn’t think as much of it, Valve didn’t communicate much, and the whole thing just faded away. It’s a shame, because the core gameplay was great and while it has some issues, I think that a few expansions and patches could have made it really special.
Zelda: Breath of the Wild
I wrote more about Breath of the Wild in a full post so you can read that if you like. It’s a big game, I loved being able to play this kind of game on my commute, but ultimately I didn’t quite love this particular game and I’m wondering if Zelda games are just not my kind of thing.
I played through the Diablo 3 story again on Switch. I love this game and it plays so well as a console game: the UI modifications they’ve made are fantastic and make the whole thing work very well with a controller.
I only played a tiny bit of this, mainly to see if my daughter would enjoy it. She loved watching the bike crash.
Last year I said “Oh wow I’m still playing this game”. I repeat this sentiment. I keep on playing it. My entire playtime this year (which isn’t much, all told) has been working towards one achievement, which I have not yet achieved.
Ah, I really want to love this. If I had people to play with, I’d be all over it. I love the game, the setting, the map, the style, the guns - I just don’t like playing with strangers in a 3 person team. It feels too personal.
Amnesia: Dark Descent
I started amnesia for Halloween 2018 and finished it in 2019. It is scary. My favourite aspect of it is how much is analogue - you have to manually close the doors on cupboards to hide from the monster, and that becomes remarkably hard when you’re afraid.
I still haven’t actually finished a game of Stellaris. I think I only played one game of it this year, and I didn’t get close to the end.
I didn’t get to play as much of this as I’d like. I like it, but I really don’t think it deserves as much love as it gets: it is an OK rhythm game, but I don’t think it feels anywhere near as good as most I’ve played. I actually think the rather forgotten Audioshield feels much better. Still, it’s pretty good, and I’d love to get back to it.
You can read my full post about Sekiro here. It’s a hell of a game, I absolutely loved it. It contains some of the best From Software bosses to date. It’s also super hard.
Oh, wow, I did not expect one of my favourite stories of the year to come from a platformer! Celeste is one of the best games I’ve ever played - story and gameplay tie together beautifully, the mechanics are extremely tight and fun to muck around with, and the difficulty can be fine tuned to suit you. The game just keeps giving, too - there are so many levels and challenges to unlock beyond the basic game, and they never become boring.
Super Mario Maker 2
What an absolute treat Mario Maker 2 is. While the first suffered from being on the Wii U with a limited audience, the second is not just on a popular console, it’s also on a handheld. If this game doesn’t last forever it’ll be a total crime.
At its best, this is an infinite Mario generator that just feeds you amazing level after amazing level. I will say, though, that at my skill bracket, it can be a bit hit and miss. Some levels I absolutely love, but there isn’t really a way that I can press a button and be guaranteed to play something brilliant - it’s a roll of the dice every time.
But hey, there’s also a fantastic single player set of levels there that are worth it on their own!
I’ve got a rocky relationship with Magic The Gathering. I’ve been playing it for something close to 25 years, on and off, and I’m never quite sure if I like it. I definitely don’t like having to buy cards all the time, and this version of the game completely solves that problem for casual players. First up, it’s free, and you get a bunch of decks just for showing up. Second, you get packs of cards just for playing games, and you get them reasonably often. Third, any duplicates you get that you can’t use become wildcards, and fourth, cards are cheaper than their real life counterparts. On top of all that, it’s actually a decent implementation of MTG that is fun to play and works pretty well.
A few years ago a game called Her Story caused quite a stir. In it, you search through a database full of short video clips and pick apart a story bit by bit. It takes about 1-2 hours to finish, and it is incredible - you absolutely must play it.
Telling Lies is the follow up. It has the same basic mechanics as Her Story but stretches out the story across 4 main characters.
I absolutely loved this game. I was totally lost in the story and I loved the whole aesthetic - the ambient sound is just incredible. I have 2 reservations that stop me recommending it to absolutely everyone, though: first, it is 7ish hours of game, which is a long time to be scrubbing around in videos, and second, the videos show only one side of a two sided conversation at a time which leads to long silent sections, and I think that will instantly turn some people away.
So, absolutely play Her Story - everyone should. If you loved Her Story and want a 7 hour version, try this.
I did not expect a Tetris clone to be one of my best gaming experiences of the year. I did not expect Tetris to be the game that would make me most emotional.
I played through Tetris Effect in VR, and it’s the best VR experience I’ve had so far. The way the music ties in with your actions and the visual effects make this whole thing incredible to behold - I think I even smelt smoke during the fireworks section. Completely immersive and unforgettable.
Untitled Goose Game
I’m really sad to say that I didn’t really get Untitled Goose Game. When presented with a todo list, I am the kind of person who gets on and does it, and that’s not what this game is really about. I focused mainly on figuring out the mechanics instead of actually having fun. That’s on me, not the game, but yeah, it wasn’t really my thing. I loved the ending.
Oooh hello. I’d avoided Destiny for years just because I haven’t got on with MMOs in general outside WoW, but when it went free to play i had to finally try it. It is completely overwhelming, having so many years of history, but the core gameplay is excellent. It never occurred to me that it would feel just like Halo, and Halo was a big deal for me in university, so it feels very familiar.
Quite why they decided to hide the original opening campaign away on an obscure vendor and replace it with a boring shopping list I’ll never know, but at least it still exists.
I once talked about how WoW is the game for all situations - you can play it for minutes or hours, seriously or casually, multiplayer or single player - Destiny does all that just as well. I love the PvP mode, I love the story. I love just wandering around grinding, if I’m in the mood.
When I played Half Life, Steam had not been released. When I played Half Life 2, Steam didn’t track the time you spent in a game. It’s a dumb thing to care about, but sometimes it bothers me that I have zero hours played in these games.
With the announcement of Half Life: Alyx, I decided to revisit the series and, in the process, add some hours to those poor forgotten games. I don’t know how far through the series I will get, but it’s been nice to go back to Half Life.
Replaying Half Life is fascinating. It’s amazing how many things were seen for the first time in this game, and it’s amazing how far we’ve come since. So much I took for granted in modern games, like enemies flinching when they are hit by bullets, is missing here.
I started this again for Christmas. Let’s see if I get through it this time!