SUPERHOT broke me. It tried to break its way into my mind, but instead, it just broke it. Let me explain.
In case you don’t know, Superhot is a first person shooter. Anyone that knows me will be thinking ‘Noob? Playing a first person shooter? Wut?’. As it turns out, there is a little more to it than that. In this game, time only moves as you move. As a consequence, every move you make has to be deliberate and precise. Stay still and watch bullets moving towards you at a snails pace. Panic though and it’s game over as they speed up and hit you before you can blink. This unique mechanic allows the game to present as a corporeal puzzle game as much as it is as a shooter, which is ironic considering the incorporeal theming involved.
This is a game concept that makes so much sense. Even if you have never thought about it in your life, you hear the explanation of what this game is and think “wow, of course, how come I didn’t think of that?”. And it works! There isn’t another game like it, at least gameplay wise. It is one of those titles that creates something completely new and showcases it to its full potential.
What can be seen as a simple aesthetic actually serves to be a great asset in the gameplay itself. There are three colours. White, red and black. Red = enemies. Black = objects. White = anything else. This completely eliminates any visual clutter aiding even further in the idea that the gameplay IS the game. It is distinctive, it is thematically appropriate and it is everything that it needs to be.
The hitboxes weren’t quite as precise as I would have liked considering this can be a game about millimetres. It could be technical limitations, it could be a choice to be discourage using cover, but bullets being stopped in the air by an invisible corner is frustrating when you feel you have otherwise made a good play.
+ Fast Pace
Levels vary in length but they rarely outstay their welcome. The short bursts that the game gives you allows for going ‘all in’ – getting creative without fear as dying will only set you back a couple of minutes. This can go two ways. On one hand, you can bash your head against the level until you nail it. It isn’t a problem because once you have died you are already back in the game trying again before you even have time to finish any outbursts it may have brought on. As soon as you complete it you forget the struggle, feeling like the baddest ass in all the land. Or alternatively, you nail it first time and truly are the baddest ass in all the land.
– Difficulty Curve
This is where my troubles began. I would say the difficulty throughout the game is sprinkled. Naturally, it starts off simple, but there were some early levels that tripped me up in the same way as some later levels, while there were some later levels I did easily in one try. For some, this will provide an interesting pace. For others, it may be a little more frustrating as it can be difficult to tell if you are improving at the game.
The final level, however, is something else. It is long. Mercifully, it is checkpointed, but that didn’t save me. The previous levels contained more strategically placed enemies, highlighting the puzzle element that I mentioned earlier. This level though is – for lack of a better phrase – on another level. Personally for me, it felt different from all the rest of the game. Yes, it felt climactic, but also it lost a lot of what I enjoyed about the previous sections. I don’t want to say specifically why as that is spoiler territory, but my strategies weren’t working and I couldn’t find a set answer to get through it. This, sadly, marked the end of my Superhot experience. The frustration outweighed the potential pleasure of succeeding and I had my first ever on stream rage quit. As it turns out, I had been probably around 15 seconds from completing the game, but unfortunately I have no desire to return.
I like the story this game is telling and more so the way it tells it. It is brief, it is memorable and it uses the medium well. As you progress an unsettled feeling creeps in and the further you go, the more it grows. It plays with ideas of control and reality, and it was always welcome to check back in at the pc every few levels.
Upon putting it down, I vowed never to go back to this game. As much of a shame that it is that it ended this way, I still had fun in the lead up. The short snappy levels were great fun and when something works out well, it truly feels superhuman. Punching an enemy in the face and catching their gun to then shoot them in the face isn’t something that you get to do very often and while it may be a novelty, it doesn’t lose its appeal for the duration of the game.
SUPERHOT wanted me to complete the game, so in a way, technically, the fact that I quit actually means that means I won. So with that in mind, to conclude.. SUCK IT SUPERHOT. I BEAT YOU.
2022 has been a phenomenal year for games. I personally rarely play games as they release, which means I am going to be feasting for years to come. Since my 2022 games post was a celebration of games both past and present, I also wanted to make a post specifically about games that released this year. For every game I play another 10 release that I want to try. This makes it hard to keep up, so I thought I would pick out 10 that have piqued the peak of my interest.
For reference, I have played 6 games that released this year (not including during 12 Days of Game Pass)
The Past Within
This of course leave many games untouched. As always, picking only 10 was extremely difficult. But here are the games I am most hyped to try from this year, in release order!
19th May – Eternal threads – Cosmonaut Studios
This is an indie game that is set in the north of England. As a northerner myself, that would be enough to get my interest but I also played the demo. I had a fun time with it. I love when games let you explore something that has already happened (Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture being another example) so I am so very down to pick this one up and piece it all together.
24th June – AI: THE SOMNIUM FILES – nirvanA Initiative – Spike Chunsoft., Ltd.
I only played AI: The Somnium Files for the first time this year which is great timing for me, having the sequel readily available. I haven’t heard much about this one as I have purposefully avoided anything about it, but even the screenshots on Steam leave so many questions. I’m going to need some answers.
30th August – Immortality – Sam Barlow/Half Mermaid
I love FMV. I love mysteries. Why havent I played this yet you may ask? I DONT KNOW, I NEED TO OK! I was already interested in what the game may have to offer, but multiple 10/10 ratings and awards/nominations mean I need to get to this one STAT.
Check it out here or it is currently on Game Pass.
22nd September – Beacon Pines – Hiding Spot
I played the demo for Beacon Pines a while ago and really enjoyed it. It has been long enough that I have forgotten a lot of the specifics but I do remember the lovely art, the cool story book narrative puzzle structure and an almost ‘Night in the Woods’ vibe. It is currently on Game Pass so I must jump on that opportunity to play it.
You can get it on Steam here or it is also currently on Game Pass.
28th September – The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow – Cloak and Dagger Games
This is another game that I played the demo of and wanted more. The atmosphere and art were great, and thankfully that is as much as I remember. Once I play a demo, I tend to internalise the want to play but forget a lot of the rest which means that I can enjoy the discovery again when I finally play the full game.
13th October – The Case of the Golden Idol – Color Gray Games
I played the demo for The Case of the Golden Idol relatively recently, much more so than the previous two games but much to the same effect. I immediatly knew I needed to play the rest of the game and locked it away until I get the chance for the full story. I do remember exploring wacky scenareos and collecting key words in order to piece together exactly what went down. It was great fun and I absolutely want more.
9th November – God of War: Ragnarok – Santa Monica Studio
It is probably very obvious that I want to play Ragnarok. I played God of War for the first time in 2022 and while it isn’t in my favourite games of all time, it was extremely enjoyable. I have actively avoided as much as I can from the sequel and everything that I did see was another thing too much. It looks outstanding.
15th November – Pentiment – Obsidian Entertainment
I have heard that I will enjoy this one and I 100% believe it. Narrative based, mysteries, detective work, choices, historical setting, murder. Just put it in my veins please.
Pentiment is on Game Pass or you can get it on Steam here.
18th November – The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil in Me – Supermassive Games
I love playing The Dark Pictures Anthology games and was very hyped for this one as it is my favourite premise of the series so far. The reviews are dissapointing, but I am only keeping them in the back of my mind because I am one of the few that thinks Man of Medan is much better people give it credit for. As always, I will go into this one with an open mind and enjoy the inevitably bloody ride!
This game has been in Early Access for a long time and I have had it on my Wishlist forever. It recently released in full and I must play it. I have a huge soft spot for cosy games but I am equally hit and miss with them. I love experiencing different applications of them and analysing what made one more successful to me over another, and this one looks like its own unique take worth some time.
If you would like to see a more extensive list, I’ve got you. Click here for a list of (at the time of writing) 51 games that have my attention. I will be keeping this up to date so if some of them have vanished I do apologise. That does however mean that I am making my way through the backlog so that is a win. Thanks to Game Pass I am able to dive into some of these right away, what an exciting time!
Last month I sat down to start my first Let’s Play since Exit/Corners. I was so excited to get back to recording. Just me, the game, the freedom of recording whenever felt good, and the flexibility of being able to take a moment and edit it out. What I didn’t anticipate was the colossal struggle of deciding what I wanted to play. Often, it is not until you begin a game that you know whether you should have recorded or streamed it, which resulted in me staring at my screen in complete decision paralysis.
Then, all of a sudden – there was a lightbulb. Christmas was coming and there were still a few weeks to prepare if I wanted to do a special series. I was too late for an advent calender scenario (in hindsight after 21 hours of recording, thank goodness), but the 12 Days of Christmas doesn’t start till Christmas day. Score!
I immediatly knew that this would be a perfect opportunity for me to finally try out some different games that I have had my eye on. I decided on Game Pass because games can leave at any time and I rarely have a subscription, so if I wanted to get through some of my ‘Play Later’ list I would need to hustle. I painstakingly managed to whittle the list of 70+ games down to 12, and looking at the result – I was extremely excited about it.
Day 1 – Valheim (Early Access 2021)
Back when this game released – when everyone’s life temporarily became consumed with exploring the mysterious lands, building the fanciest buildings and voyages to collect lost equiptment – I didn’t have access to join in myself. This is probably for the better because I can be known to lose myself to games from time to time. While I think that I barely scratched the surface in my look at the game, I was very pleased to finally have the opportunity to do so.
I definitely wanted to play more when I was done, but I have found that the more games that I have played since then, the less tempted I was to go back. At this point, I have played the beginning of many survival games. Sadly though, it is very rare that I get hooked and while I still could go back to it, it has moved down the priority list far enough that I could be ok leaving it there.
Ranking – Continue playing offline/That’s enough for me.
Day 2 – Undertale (2015)
Undertale was one of those legendary games for me where I feel like I have heard whispers here and there, but in reality knew virtually nothing about it. As a result, the main desire to play it came from a curiosity and ability to add it to my game reference archives rather than excitement to play the actual game itself. That probably heavily adds to the surprise of how much I loved playing this game. Of the titbits that I had heard, not one thing had lead me to believe that this game was going to be half as funny as it is. That alone would be enough for me to continue, but the intrigue to see where it is going is also strong enough that I didn’t want to put it down.
Now that I have completed this series, Undertale is at the bottom of the Let’s Play priority list purely because I feel like it isn’t going to be easy to pick back up. I also have no idea if I have screwed myself with the choices I have made so I am conflicted as to whether I need to do a little research before diving back in. Don’t worry though, I certainly have to see it through at some point.
Ranking – Continue playing online.
Day 3 – As Dusk Falls (2022)
I am so surprised I didn’t jump on this earlier. It feels like an alternative to a Telltale or a Quantic Dream game, which are some of my absolute favourites. Add in that one of the primary genres – at least in the first chapter – is thriller. How did I not play this sooner?! As opposed to a horror narrative like a Supermassive game (Until Dawn, Man of Medan), I can play this and experience making stressful decisions without the need for reassurance and distractions from the atmosphere. That makes this the perfect game for a Let’s Play as it is exactly the type of content that I love to record. I am always curious to what my gut instincts are in these difficult situations and what happens as a result. It is going to be a lot of fun returning to this and the chapters make for good episode dividers which is always handy for me.
Ranking – Continue playing online.
Day 4 – Deaths Door (2022)
I really enjoyed this game. I loved the concept, I loved exploring the weird world and I loved my little character. I certainly want to continue it, the only hesitation I have is the difficulty. I managed well enough with the combat so far, but I am concerned that I will get stuck and drop off, which I don’t like to do with a series that I am sharing if I can help it. If I do continue online it will be a Let’s Play because that means I can edit any repetitive failures into death montages. I am going to play the other games first then reassess, but if you would like to see it then please let me know. Same goes for all the other games in question as if there is external interest then I will make special effort to continue it online.
Ranking – Continue playing online/Continue playing offline.
Day 5 – Citizen Sleeper (2022)
Ahhh, Citizen Sleeper. I was nervous about trying this one as I knew it was going to be a lot of reading. To top it off, I got sick and lost my voice right as this was my next game to play. So, as much as I heard good things, I was entering this one with an ever so slight dread in my mind. It didn’t take long, however, before I was enraptured in the world. You know it is a good game when you want to keep going and going despite the reading out loud. The further I got and the more mechanics I learned, I was more and more won over by the game, leading it to be my favourite in the entire bunch. At the time of this post it is likely that the Let’s Play has already begun as I am planning on continuing this game first! Don’t sleep on it (hur hur hur).
Ranking – Continue playing online.
Day 6 – Signalis (2022)
I tried really hard with this one. This game is well loved by a lot of people and I wanted to see why. It is just unfortunate that in survival horror, both survival and horror stress me out massively. This was the first excessively long video as I knew that once I put the game down it was likely I wouldn’t be able to pick it back up, so I wanted to see as much as I could. All things considered, I think I did pretty well! It is awesome to have the classically influenced genre in an entirely new style. It feels modern and old school at the same time.
The great thing is, as much as I suffer with survival horror, I LOVE watching other people suffer through it. So even though I won’t be continuing the game, I will certainly enjoy watching someone else’s playthrough and enjoy it vicariously.
Ranking – That’s enough for me.
Day 7 – Exo One (2021)
This is another game that I was nervous to record. I had it recommended and wanted to give it a try as it felt like the type of game that could leave the service before I get around to playing it. From what I understood about the game, I was worried that there was going to be a lot of downtime with nothing to talk about. There certainly was a lot of downtime, but each uniquely beautiful environment seemed to offer enough intrigue to fill the gaps, in a game that also seems well suited to some flow state meditative time.
At the time of recording I decided that it was enough. I reached a point that felt appropriate to stop and called it there. However, for a reason that I cant quite put my finger on, this game stayed in my mind. It could be that we made good progress or it could be a fear of missing out, but not finishing it isn’t sitting right with me. So I think I will actually update my ranking from ‘That’s enough for me’ to ‘Continue Offline’.
Ranking – Continue offline/That’s enough for me.
Day 8 – Spore (2008)
This game is adorable. Seeing where we started and where we ended up is so entertaining and fascinating to me. From weird little critter to slightly bigger weird critter, I am still curious to see how far the game goes. The fun part about it is that everyone’s game is going to be slightly different. I am definitely more interested in the evolution and creation than the rest of the gameplay, but it kept a pace so that you were never far away from your next adaptation. The rest of the gameplay was made more interesting by the other weird critters that you can meet. I am unsure why the game isn’t calling me back, but at the same time I don’t think I can uninstall it until I’ve at least played a little more.
Ranking – Continue playing offline/That’s enough for me.
Day 9 – Kentucky Route Zero (2013)
It is funny how there are so many individual things that I like about this one, but as a whole it didn’t really capture my attention or imagination. I enjoyed the freedom of being able to talk to people then explore the map, seeking out the places they talked about. It felt fantastic that I found a place that was just mentioned off hand when my objective was to go elsewhere. The issue was that I didn’t really feel any pay off from it. Things were weird but I don’t know why they were weird, and even whether to expect any explanations or just more weird.
The thing I liked the most was the art style. It is distinctively simple and effective, and I loved the use of shapes. I am still interested in continuing the game, I am just unsure whether I should record it as there is no way of knowing whether it is going to fall flat for me or not. It will be interesting to see how it developed over the years, but I can see that by playing it myself. Do let me know if you would like to see more.
Ranking – Continue playing online/Continue playing offline.
Day 10 – No Man’s Sky (2016)
For whatever reason, I did not expect this game to be such a survival game. I knew it was about exploration but it has all the fundamentals that I have seen in survival games before. The great thing about this though is that you can customise to your heart’s content.
I did enjoy my time with it but I am beginning to think that survival games in general aren’t for me. The introductions and tutorials tend to either be very long and by the time I get freedom I have had enough, or very short with no direction and I lose patience trying to figure it out. That, combined with either a lack of a beginning direction or a lack of an end goal and I should probably conclude that I am not the target audience for the genre. Having said all of that, I am glad to see that this game turned everything around from release and has turned into a vast game with lots to discover, should you choose to.
Ranking – That’s enough for me.
Day 11 – Opus: Echo of Starsong (2021)
I am not sure whether it comes through on the video – I think I hid it well enough – but I honestly shouldn’t have recorded on this day. I did it because I was on a schedule but I was so exhausted, I probably should have rescheduled. Having said that, if there was any game that I could have played while feeling that way it was this one. The story moved along at a good pace to stay engaged. The world was fictional enough to capture the imagination yet familiar enough with its politics. It was easy to play, nice to look at and is told from a perspective that I feel is more common in movies than games, which happens to work very well in my opinion. The characters are imperfect which makes choices fun, and I definitely would like to see more of the story. It is just a huge shame that the voice acting isn’t in English. Please let me know if you would like to see more of this one.
Ranking – Continue playing online/Continue playing offline.
Day 12 – Tunic (2022)
Tunic swooped in at the end there to claim the title of my second favourite game in this series. It is very similar to Death’s Door in genre, gameplay and perspective, but with an entirely different vibe. Both of these games have similarities to the Souls series and as a fan from a distance, it is wonderful to get to have the things I like about that series in a game that is more my style. The exploration and level design is wonderful, and the lack of direct information elevates the achievement of figuring something out, as well as the mystery of the land. It is colourful, satisfying, and the accessibility features give me the confidence to definitely pursue this one as a Let’s Play. I cannot wait to get back in there and find a god damn shield!
Ranking – Continue playing online.
The best part about doing this series is not only that I got to experience so many games, but it has also given me a great insight in to the types of games that I would like to play on the channel. Since then, I have created a bigger list of games that I would like to record, so I have plenty of options when my Game Pass runs out. This has been an experiment, a challenge and a joy all at once, and I am so glad that I managed to get it finished in the planned timescale without sacrificing any quantity or quality (I did sacrifice my Christmas Eve so rip to that, but it was worth it). I hope you guys had at least some of the fun that I had. Thankfully, this was just the beginning. I now have the pleasure of actually playing these games!
Definitely continuing as Let’s Plays
As Dusk Falls
Potentially continuing as Let’s Plays
Kentucky Route Zero
Opus: Echo of Starsong
Along side this post I am going to run some Twitter Polls to see if I can gauge interest in the games I am unsure about so please look out for those!
I wasn’t going to make a New Year post this year, but upon reflection it almost feels necessary. Instead of publicly reflecting on what has been a particularly difficult year for me, I think it will be a lot more useful and enjoyable to think of what comes next.
A constant in my life is my resistance to consistency. Give me 6 months of anything and I need change, it is just the way of the Noob. With that in mind, these are the latest thoughts in the everchanging realm that is my brain.
I am really enjoying my current schedule on Twitch. Two consecutive days and a seperate third is pleasing for me, allowing me to get into a zone and then let it go to work on other things. I recognise that a day stream can be inconvenient for many and I wish that I could change that, but it is the only way this structure fits together with my other commitments for the time being.
When it comes to game choice, I am going to continue to alternate longer games with shorter ones. This year we played a few games that were the start of a series. For now, I am going to continue to prioritise new games over sequels. This is because there are still so many games that I have no experience in. I’d rather spread the limited time I have around to new experiences wherever I can. That doesn’t mean we won’t be playing sequels, but do expect the potential of years between them.
I am going to continue to balance older and newer games in the same way, but all of this is really dictated by whatever I have access to at the time. Anything with limited access is probably going to take priority.
Something that I have learned this year is that I need recording time to balance out stream time. Both are great but they are entirely different experiences that I love for their own reasons. A YouTube playthrough is entirely about the game. For this reason, I am really looking forward to bringing Let’s Plays back. I am unsure about the distant future but I have a list of games that may end up lasting the entire year without any further planning, so that is one possibility.
The current plan is Let’s Plays 3x a week, Indie Showcase Saturdays forever, and I have some other ideas. Depending on my workload, a potential I have been considering is Repentance Sundays. I haven’t played any of the Repentance DLC for The Binding of Isaac yet. It could be fun to put out a run or two a week as I get to know the new content. I will see how my schedule is in a few weeks.
YouTube is such a strange thing for me. I have been doing it for much longer than Twitch but can’t say I have ever found what anyone would call success. It is wonderful to hear when people enjoy my videos, or the rare occasion I see my series is being binged. But when you look at my overall time, I can’t help but think there is a problem. The trouble is, it is hard to figure out what the problem is. Is it just oversaturation, or is it my content? Occasionally an Indie Showcase video will get more viewers than normal because it gets in the algorithm, but it rarely ever translates into more subscribers. I have tried to make my intros as short as I can while including all of the information. I kind of like my thumbnails how they are. My channel is clearly organised. I have tried calls to action but I just can’t do it. I can’t help question whether I am just not entertaining enough. My philosophy is that I make the content that I would want to watch. The thing is, I can have weird and different tastes that potentially others don’t. All of this is to say – I would LOVE for my YouTube to become something. I am not a fool and know it wont, which even makes it difficult to admit my aspiration. But man, I love what I do and just wish it had more appeal. I think the only actionable thing that I can do towards that at the moment is to keep creating.
Just to be clear, I didn’t used to care about numbers, but since trying to make my content a sustainable career it makes it especially sad to think about. Unless something drastic happens, it is not going to work out long term, which sucks but I do need to start coming to terms with.
I go through phases with my writing. Blog time has been wonderful in a year when I haven’t always felt up to speaking or being around folks. Having said that, if I am not in ‘the mood’ then what I write can be just terrible. When I started using my Blog more regularly this year I hoped that I would do some more thought pieces, a hope that I will bring forward into 2023. The amount of half written pieces and pages of notes that I have that just need a little more time in the oven is excessive. I want to write things worth reading, but I also have to work on finishing them.
I have really enjoyed writing reviews this year and I hope to continue. I have found a format that clicks very well with my thought process that I also believe is good and reader friendly. It has been a great outlet, particularly for games that I didn’t play on stream. What I would like to do going forward is take this to the next level. I would like my reviews and my blog in general to be visually friendly and interesting too. While I don’t have specific ideas yet, I am taking inspiration from the magazine I made.
I’m making it a goal this year to try out a monthly game service recap post, as well as finally figuring out my own way of covering the Indie Festivals. These things are the type that need to develop over time, but I hope to make a start on them relatively soon.
Game Dev – I am in a place in my life where I need to seriously consider my future. I have worked so hard since I lost my job, trying out different things and seeing if I can find a place. Unfortunately, I am still struggling with that. I want to work in games, but I am not skilled enough to write or design anything professionally. Once my schedule has settled down, I would really like to look into Game Development. It is a little difficult because I don’t know what areas I could be good at, so I would like to dip into a bit of everything and see what calls to me. I find self learning incredibly difficult but in my current situation, I have to use all of the time that I can right now to develop a skill that can help me be self sufficient in the future. The great thing about this is that I am surrounded by talented, creative and motivated people. I would like to join that group too!
Podcast – Finally, I have been wanting this for so long that I am writing it here for my own benefit if nothing else. I have so much on my plate currently, no matter how much I wish I could make a Podcast, the circumstances just aren’t right. I still have hope for the future but for now, I have to eliminate this from my current goals. The strange part about doing that is that Podcasts are probably my favourite form of entertainment. I really enjoy and respect them, but as a result of that, I don’t want to do it until I can do it right and that unfortunately just isn’t now.
While this has been a little back and forth on past reflection vs the future plans, I believe they go hand in hand and I do like to let everyone know where I stand every once in a while. It is an unfortunate fact that I don’t know what the state of my content will be in a few months time, let alone a year. Realistically, at the current rate, I will have to be seeking other employment before then. The thing is, I desperately need that to be something that I enjoy. So this year is really going to be a juggling act between trying to grow my current content while also learning new skills. There was a time in my past that I found the unknown exciting more than scary, that is how I would like to be again. I am going to do everything in my power to make 2023 a great year.
Another year and another bunch of photos! I somehow feel like I did less and yet more game photography this year. Rather than doing full photography playthroughs like I had hoped, I mostly dabbled here and there. I only made my way through 3 more Colossi but they are still as phenomenal as ever. At this rate I should have them done in another 3 years! I finally got to try out Demon’s Souls which I had been really looking forward to, but sadly that photo mode isn’t as functional as I had hoped due to it being an online game. I am still however having fun with games that don’t have photo modes. Starting the year with Sea of Thieves and ending with Skyrim, I love the challenge of trying to capture interesting and beautiful moments live. Gris is a bonus image as it wasn’t photography (it is a cutscene), but that game is art and whenever this screenshot pops up on my desktop background cycle I love to see it.
For next year, some games that I would really like to take a look at are Hellblade: Senuas Sacrifice and Ghost of Tsushima. This year I would have loved if Stray and Elden Ring had photo modes, but it was not meant to be. Instead, I hope to share some more of my Shadow of the Colossus and Skyrim adventures.
The year is almost over! Since I don’t make a habit of playing many brand new games on release I don’t often have a lot to add to the Game of the Year conversation. I do however track all of the games that I play within a given year. Since I missed so many titles throughout my life, I am very fortunate to experience many amazing games for the first time all year around. I want to celebrate that, so here are my Top 10 Games from this year!
10. AI: The Somnium Files (2019)
It was very difficult narrowing this list down. I have played so many good games this year that could make my top 10 for so many different reasons. After much back and forth, I have chosen AI: The Somnium Files as number 10. Despite not enjoying everything about it, I have to acknowledge that I loved the core mystery. Not only did the game deliver a murder mystery that kept me guessing with so many wild yet somehow plausible theories, it managed to bring it all together to a satisfying conclusion. When an ending falls flat it can often dampen my memory of the rest of the experience and that could very easily happen with a story so full of twists and turns. Thankfully, they nailed it!
If you would like to hear more about my mixed feelings on this crazy game, you can read my review here.
9. God of War (2018)
God of War felt like my first delve into the best that cinematic gaming has to offer. I felt like I was playing a blockbuster and because that is so rare to me, it was pretty damn awe-inspiring. I think the reason that this game doesn’t make it further up the list is becasue when something shines so much, the rough edges feel a little rougher. Slight issues with pacing, invisible walls and certain character arcs occasionally took me out of the experience and stopped this from being up there with my favourites. However, the fight choreography, the mythology and the characters themselves were so much fun, it was overall a fantastic experience.
8. Yes, Your Grace (2020)
I almost missed this one so I am so glad that I got to play it before it left Game Pass. The tough choices every day, the looming threat and the never knowing whether we would get through the next week created an extremely stressful and melancholic atmosphere in which I personally felt the weight of the kingdom on my shoulders. Yet somehow that is not all I remember. I remember the charm of every character being recognisable despite their pixel forms. I remember the nerves when someone returned to the palace, and the joy when they were saying thank you (and bringing me supplies). I remember the shenanigans of my daughters that elevated the game from a management sim to a life sim. It can be sad, it can be stressful, it can be buggy, but it is very worth playing.
7. Astrologaster (2019)
Having zero expectations helped as I discovered how much of a total delight Astrologaster really is. The music, the history, the choices, the relationships, the consequences – that is what the game is all about. It is all delivered with a sense of humour that couldn’t be nailed by just anyone. The passion and heart from the devs is palpable. If you are having a bad day, I couldn’t recommend this enough to get at least a few giggles. For how simple the game is moment to moment, the production value shines and makes this a stand out indie title.
6. Zero Time Dilemma (2016)
Finishing the Zero Escape series was the end of an era for me. I played the entire series for YouTube and each one was as wild as the next in their own way. It took me a while to adjust to the third and final game having such a new style, but once I got used to it I grew to love it. The janky animations added character as much as anything else, and the new flow of gameplay made a lot of sense in terms of the story. As I reflect, this game and Virtues Last Reward keep trading places for my favourite in the series, and that was very unexpected considering how much I enjoyed VLR.
If you would like to hear more of my feelings on this game, not only can you watch my series in the video above but I guested on the Left Behind Game Club podcast where we talked in a lot of depth. You can find more information about that here.
5. Elden Ring (2022)
One one hand, it almost feels wrong to put Elden Ring on this list as I am not even sure I am half way through yet. On the other hand, I HAD to put Elden Ring on this list. I have quietly enjoyed the souls games from a distance for a few years, but never thought I could actually play them. I wanted that sense of exploration but I don’t have the patience required for the combat. Then Elden Ring came along. It is like Dark Souls had a child with.. well.. me. Every change they made and feature they added feels tailored to my enjoyment and I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with the game so far, knowing I have many more hours of joy, discovery, fear and fascination to go. This was my onlyday one gaming splurge this year and I am so glad that I did it.
4. Guardians of the Galaxy (2021)
I am not entirely sure why it took me so long to play Guardians of the Galaxy. I had access to it for a while but the timing never felt quite right. Now that I think back, it is like it was for a reason. In an extremely stressful time in my life, this game gave me a wonderful place of respite. It is another that felt designed for me on a few different levels. The character interactions and small details were fantastic and the levels were very fun to explore. I even enjoyed the combat which isn’t usual for me. The only hype I really heard about this game were the few who were championing it saying it is underrated, and I whole-heartedly agree. I always hope for more people to play it because I’m sure there will be many that have as much love for it as I do. It is funny, colourful, bold, emotional, and so worth your time.
3. Stray (2022)
Stray was everything I needed it to be and more. To this day I see people calling it ‘that cat game’ but that feels so reductive to me. In my review I went into detail about why I believe this game worked so well, so instead of rehashing that, I will leave a link here. What I do want to say is while this game will not be for everyone, I am so happy that there is a space for games like these to be made. Not everything has to be a blockbuster, but I do believe games need some sort of substance. This is a short game that is bursting with atmosphere, gorgeous visuals, small moments, world building, and feelings; perhaps even more impressive considering all of the characters are animals and robots.
2. Persona 5 (2016)
This game took over my life in a way that I didn’t expect. At a time when I was creating a schedule – forcing in some mandatory yet reluctant rest time – P5 became part of my evening routine. Having never played a story based JRPG before (unless Pokemon counts) I wasn’t even sure what to expect, let alone whether I would like it. But after playing the first couple of hours I was completely sold. It was a totally new experience and I was entirely on board. The further in I got, the more I loved the characters and the more excitement I got from new mechanics, new story beats or discovering new elements of the game. This game is a masterclass in style and I couldn’t get enough. I lulled in the middle which isn’t unusual for me during a long game, but overall, Persona 5 took a place in my heart. Maybe even stole it? A hugely enjoyable experience that I will remember for a long time.
1. Return of the Obra Dinn (2018)
The award for favourite game that I have played this year goes to – Return of the Obra Dinn! All I knew going into this game was that there might be murder mysteries and puzzles, and that I was slightly off-put by the art style. It is so interesting how thoughts like that can 180 so hard that it becomes one of your favourite game experiences to date. As soon as I felt the game in motion I knew I had it wrong. This game is art in every sense. Not only the visual aesthetic, but the music, the audio design, the pacing of every reveal, the setting, the characters, the story, the clues, the unravelling. It is crafted to perfection.
In puzzle books my favourite pages are the logic grid puzzles. I had no idea this game would basically be a huge, sprawling version of those. Except for a couple of tiny niggles, this game ‘hit’ on every level for me. My only regret is not being able to experience it for the first time again.
Looking back over my list and writing this post is pretty magical. These games are outstanding and were one of the saving graces of a tough personal year for me. And the best part? I know there are 1000s more where they came from, just waiting to give more fantastic, wild, emotional, challenging, thoughtful, hilarious, *insert all other adjectives here* experiences, and the library just grows and grows.
For anyone else like me – people who want to experience everything there is, Indie and AAA alike – we will never be able to play all of the games that we would like to before we die. There literally aren’t enough hours. On one hand, that could be a reason to be super selective. On the other, how many games have clicked with you on a level that you never expected or could not have predicted? For me, that number is pretty high. The conclusion – be adventurous. Go with your gut. Listen to others, but not too closely. Curious about something? Give it a go! Not really feeling anything? Try absolutely anything! Games are more accessible than they have ever been, what better way to celebrate that then.. well.. playing games.
If you would like to see more of what I played this year, I have a Twitter thread with initial thoughts of every game I played here. I also have a more concise visual list on GGApp that you can view here.
Moonlighter is a game in which you hunt for treasures by night, and sell them by day. Both of these jobs create two different modes which construct the daily flow of the game. The dungeons you pillage are randomized in a rogue-like fashion. The further you get into a dungeon, the more valuable loot you will find. Kill the main boss to complete the dungeon and unlock the next one, with a new biome and new loot. Throughout the journey you will be fighting creatures, finding notes and organizing your bag in order to maximize your haul. What is the catch here you may be wondering? Well.. If you die you lose the majority of the loot that you have collected that night. It becomes a game of deciding whether you dare go into the next room. There may be enemies that could kill you, but there also may be a healing pool or something worth everything you have already collected combined. Do you want to risk it all? Or are you satisfied to come back another day.
The second half of this game is managing your shop. Almost everything that you find is sellable. Your job is to figure out the optimal price to sell these items. Price them too low and you are missing out on valuable cash, but price them too high and they will not sell or customer demand for said item will plummet. The game kindly provides you with a book that updates automatically to allow you to focus on pricing up the new goods while quickly selling old ones. Another catch? A lot of what you find are also materials that you will need to upgrade your equipment, so you have to make some decisions – managing money vs benefit when it comes to what you sell. My advice? Prioritize upgrading every time. It makes a huge difference as you can spend longer in the dungeons, allowing you to bring even more valuable loot home. And thus, the loop continues.
+ A Good Podcast Game
My favourite thing about this game is that it is a great podcast game. By which I mean, once you are used to the mechanics and know what you are doing, you can easily put on your favourite podcast and listen away.
– The Combat
I am so hit and miss with combat that anyone would be forgiven for taking my opinion with a grain of salt. However, I found the combat to feel really clunky. Hitboxes were strange, it didn’t feel super responsive and I never really got the hang of it. The first thing that I did was rebound the controls (excellent feature I am always happy to see) to feel more familiar which helped some, but the further I got it never felt better. The only thing that helped me make progress was upgrading my equipment. Of course, that is to be expected, but I never felt like I was improving as a player. I was still feeling as frustrated by the end as I was at the beginning. By the fourth dungeon I ended up turning down the difficulty because I just wasn’t having fun with it. Granted, I am used to playing The Binding of Isaac where you can attack in a different direction than you are facing. You can’t do that here and I felt it a lot. It resulted in lots of running into enemies while trying to face them, taking damage in the process.
+/- The Progression
This being a pro or a con really depends on how much you enjoy the core loop. I did enjoy the loop, but I was excited to see how it was going to progress as I unlocked new areas and facilities in the town. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t enjoy the direction it took. The best way that I can describe it is – more of the same but with a few added annoyances. The dungeons and your gear upgrades all follow the same patterns with a couple of changes here and there. That was fine. It was the shop progression that I had a bit of an issue with. As an example, the larger your shop grows, new mechanics are introduced. One of them is a bird flying into your shop. You have to chase it around and catch it by pressing X. It startles the customers and everyone freezes until you catch it. The first time this happened was fine, but it happened around the same time every single day, with the bird flying in the same predictable pattern. It wasn’t a challenge or a delight. It was just a thing that happened to give you something to do and it didn’t add anything. In fact the opposite, it developed to be quite annoying. I do enjoy how the variety of customers grows as your shop does, but I hoped for more in the shop itself.
+ The Ease of Use Features
Simple mechanics such as moving everything to and from chests, easily being able to pick up individual items or stacks, sorting via price, getting rid of items mid dungeon, automatically updating my price book, being able to see my price book easily mid looting, and having a wish list option that highlights crafting materials you need as you find them, were all very gratefully received by me. Often when I thought ‘I wish I could do this’ my thought was cut short because the game had already given me a way to do it.
– Valuing items becomes finicky
To create more challenge and variety, your book doesn’t store item price data if the item is in high demand when it is sold. That means that you can charge more than normal for profit, but the number doesn’t get saved. I wish there was a separate section for recording this data. In addition, it doesn’t save the price for certain customers. This can result in an attempt to figure out the best price of a particular item thwarted because some rich or interested dude bought it. This then gets frustrating becasue you not only have to remember the item and price range that you were working with, but find it again and try another day where it is just as likely to happen again. By the third dungeon I would say around 95% of my prices were not getting recorded and it was really frustrating because figuring out the price boundaries was my favourite part of the game. I loved testing the boundaries, slowly testing the maximum I could get without being too cheeky. This aspect was completely taken away due to the progression of the mechanics and instead turned into annoying robbers and just trying to sell everything as fast as I could. It improved slightly in the fourth dungeon but by then I felt defeated. It had me questioning whether my game was bugged, a question I still don’t know the answer to.
– Some Minor Technical Issues
Every time I pressed X – from entering a dungeon to reading a note – the game would switch my weapons. Which would mean I would run up to punch an enemy only to slowly shoot an arrow in their face because I didn’t realise it had switched. This isn’t game ruining at all, but it was an annoyance that added onto previous ones. I also had some chugging and framerate drops occasionally which felt a little strange in a 2D top down game like this.
+ The Familiars
You can happen upon eggs in the dungeons that after a few days hatch into little friends that aid you during your dungeoneering. I loved this addition. They were cute and had some legitimately interesting perks.
– The Notes
There are notes you can find throughout the dungeons and every time I found one I felt excited. They are there to give the player some hints and add some flavour. I just wish they were a bit more interesting. It didn’t take long at all for them to start repeating and I found them to be quite generic. Occasionally it would be a hint for something that I figured out 2 dungeons ago, and it just ended up feeling very disappointing.
Ultimately, the first couple of hours of was my favourite part of the time that I spent with this game. Where I thought it was going based on those first hours and where it actually went turned out to be a little different, which was unfortunate for me. My favourite part of the game was gradually made worse by strange mechanics rather than staying the same or improving, to the point that I pretty much gave up on it. I started my first few hours wanting to craft every weapon to the highest level, but by the end I was just trying to finish the game. It could be that it is just not for me, but what I really think happened is the niggles that I mentioned above wore me down. The later the game, the more niggly mechanics were added which added to the wear down. I think it is a fantastic, fun core concept for a game that was brought down by a few small things. That all being said, if you go in with the expectations set by everything written above then it is a nice game to keep your hands busy while you listen to podcasts.
Hey guys, it is that time again for a channel update!
Some personal issues that I am having are seriously impacting my ability to provide the content that I have promised and I hate it so much. I think my schedule needs to be a fluid thing untill I figure out something that works for both me and everyone who supports me.
I am going to try going back to 3 set streams a week. I feel like I am currently cancelling more than I am doing. Through the nature of the current flexible schedule they were always going to change, but I can’t get my head around feeling like every time slot that I don’t stream is a failure (even though I know it is not) so obviously the system isn’t working for me.
So the new schedule trial is going to be –
Monday – 1pm GMT
Thursday – 4pm GMT
Sunday – 5pm GMT
These are the days that fit the best around my other commitments. It does mean that there will only be 2 evening streams, I apologise for that.
When it comes to my Evening/Day stream games, I haven’t quite figured that out yet. I would like a name for my day stream concept, then we can just do them whenever. The biggest concern is that if I play an evening game on a day stream then people may miss chunks of the game. I will open this up to discussion in Discord.
There will be no change with Indie Showcase, they will continue to release weekly.
I would like to bring back Let’s Plays. I miss making them. Regardless of how well they do, I think having a balance of solo recording time and live streaming time brings out the best of both – quality wise. I haven’t decided on any games yet but I am going to take a look in the coming days.
So the new YT schedule should be –
Monday – Let’s Play
Tuesday – VOD
Wednesday – Let’s Play
Thursday – VOD
Friday – Let’s Play
Saturday – Indie Showcase
Sunday – VOD
I would really like to make this into something. I spent some time last week intending to upgrade it but deciding I like it the way it is. It is a fun outlet for me and I have some ideas to make the individual posts a lot cooler if I can figure it out. Sort of like taking elements from the design of my Magazine and incorporating them into the posts here. These are only in the early idea phase so I have a lot of playing to do.
I plan to continue with reviews, eventually finish some of the thought pieces I started and most importantly to me, cover the Indie Game Festivals. I would love to do some sort of monthly round up of the game services and some other stuff but these are eventualities.
I would also love to get back to weekly Tuesday posts but I have no guarantees, I need to see how the above scheduling goes first.
I designed my (previous) new schedule to make sure I had 2 days off while maximising conent. What ended up happening is that I only saw my fixed Saturday as my day off. I would then burn out during the week and have accidental days off, which lead to the spiral of working on my scheduled days off to make up for it. With this new more fixed schedule I have 2 days off, as well as time to focus on Streams, YouTube and the Blog respectively. I am going to try this out for the rest of the year. I still have other projects that I would love to work on but first, I need to go back to basics.
Remember the Steam Next Fest that took place one month ago that I said I would make some content for? It’s here! I played so many great demos and I am very excited to finally share them.
One night I had an idea – which then became a personal goal – to create a magazine. It seemed like a fun challenge to get to practice writing, graphic design and art all at once, and that turned out to be true.
Although the festival has been and gone, the games last forever. Some still have demos going and some have even released, so it is always worth taking a look.
You can view on desktop directly or download a PDF below to view at your own leisure. This is something that is a little different for me so if you have enjoyed, please don’t hesitate to let me know!
I had a fantastic time chatting to Dan on his podcast The Greatest Story Ever Played alongside Jacob from the Left Behind Game Club. We had a really fun discussion about The Quarry, the latest entry into the Supermassive game catalogue. I had a great time reliving the game and hearing where our games diverged.
This episode aired on 08/11/2022. The Greatest Story Ever Played is a game club podcast with an extensive catalogue. Take a look at their episodes and if you like the type of games I play, there will 100% be something you are interested in!