10 Games I Must Play From 2022

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)

  • Elden Ring
  • Stray
  • Escape Academy
  • The Quarry
  • Powerwash Simulator
  • 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.

You can see more here.

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.

You can buy it here.

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.

Get more information here.

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.

You can see more here.

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.

More info on the PS Store here.

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!

More details here.

6th December – Kynseed – Pixelcount Studios

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.

You can buy it here.

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!

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12 Days of Game Pass 2022 Round Up

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)

Valheim is a brutal exploration and survival game for 1-10 players set in a procedurally-generated world inspired by Norse mythology. Craft powerful weapons, construct longhouses, and slay mighty foes to prove yourself to Odin!

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)

Welcome to UNDERTALE. In this RPG, you control a human who falls underground into the world of monsters. Now you must find your way out…or stay trapped forever.

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)

As Dusk Falls is an original interactive drama from INTERIOR/NIGHT that explores the entangled lives of two families across thirty years. Starting in 1998 with a robbery-gone-wrong in small town Arizona, the choices you make have a powerful impact on the characters’ lives in this uncompromising story of betrayal, sacrifice and resilience.

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)

Reaping souls of the dead and punching a clock might get monotonous but it’s honest work for a Crow. The job gets lively when your assigned soul is stolen and you must track down a desperate thief to a realm untouched by death – where creatures grow far past their expiry and overflow with greed and power.

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)

You are a sleeper, a digitised human consciousness in an artificial body, owned by a corporation that wants you back. Thrust amongst the unfamiliar and colourful inhabitants of the Eye, you need to build friendships, earn your keep, and navigate the factions of this strange metropolis, if you hope to survive to see the next cycle.

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)

Awaken from slumber and explore a surreal retrotech world as Elster, a technician Replika searching for her lost partner and her lost dreams. Discover terrifying secrets, challenging puzzles, and nightmarish creatures in a tense and melancholic experience of cosmic dread and classic psychological survival horror.

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)

A strange signal… an alien craft… Exo One is an interplanetary, gravity-defying journey through space and time.

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)

Be the architect of your own universe with Spore, an exciting single-player adventure available for download to your PC. Will you be a bloodthirsty carnivore destined to crush your competitors, or a gentle herbivore seeking out stronger allies to enforce your quiet way of life?

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)

KENTUCKY ROUTE ZERO: TV EDITION is a magical realist adventure game in five acts, featuring a haunting electronic score, and a suite of hymns and bluegrass standards recorded by The Bedquilt Ramblers. Rendered in a striking visual style that draws as much from theater, film, and experimental electronic art as it does from the history of videogames, this is a story of unpayable debts, abandoned futures, and the human drive to find community.

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)

In No Man’s Sky, every star is the light of a distant sun, each orbited by planets filled with life, and you can go to any of them you choose. Fly smoothly from deep space to planetary surfaces, with no loading screens, and no limits. In this infinite procedurally generated universe, you’ll discover places and creatures that no other players have seen before – and perhaps never will again.

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)

Asteroids emitting a sound known as “Starsongs” have become the center of conflict for the immense power they hold. Determined to claim asteroids of his own, a young man ventures out with a girl who can imitate starsongs, lending her voice to unravel an ancient myth deep in the heart of space.

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)

Explore a land filled with lost legends, ancient powers, and ferocious monsters in TUNIC, an isometric action game about a small fox on a big adventure. Stranded in a ruined land, and armed with only your own curiosity, you will confront colossal beasts, collect strange and powerful items, and unravel long-lost secrets.

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

  • Undertale
  • As Dusk Falls
  • Citizen Sleeper
  • Tunic

Potentially continuing as Let’s Plays

  • Death’s Door
  • 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!

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Noob’s Top 10 Games Experienced in 2022

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!

Here is a chart of the release year of all the games I experienced 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.

Happy gaming and all the best for 2023!

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A Noob’s Review – Moonlighter

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.

+ A Good Podcast Game

– The Combat

+/- The Progression

+ The ease of use features

– Valuing items becomes finicky

– Some minor technical issues

+ The Familiars

– The Notes

If you would like to see my first few hours with the game then you can here!

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Introducing ‘Indie Showcase: Magazine Edition’

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!

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Indie Game Festivals – 2021 Releases

I recently made a post about a bunch of the Indie Games that have released this year, of who’s demos I had played over the years. Since I didn’t cover all the Indie Game Festivals as comprehensively as I would have liked at the time, I decided to do the same thing again except this time, for games that got their releases last year. This still feels relevant as thankfully, the games havent gone anywhere. In fact, now may be better than ever what with updates and such.

4th February 2021 – NUTS – Joon, Pol, Muutsch, Char & Torfi

NUTS is a single-player walking simulator surveillance mystery. Record the squirrels, report your findings, and piece together what’s really going on in Melmoth Forest.

This games striking art style grabbed my attention almost as much as the premise. We play as a sort of wildlife watcher. Our job is to place cameras and watch them each night, in order to track the movements of Squirrels. I really enjoyed both the puzzle of the tracking and the potential of the story that is being told through it.

You can get the game for yourself here on Steam

18th February 2021 – Lemon Cake – Cozy Bee Games

Restore an abandoned bakery and prepare pastries from farm to table! Grow fresh ingredients in the greenhouse, cook pastries & sweets in the kitchen and serve your baked goods to hungry customers in your own shop!

Lemon Cake is an especially cute bakery management game. The adorable art and the cozy vibes made this a pleasant experience all around. Eloise from Cozy Bee Games is also very open with her development, sharing her designs and progress on Twitter and Twitch!

Here is a link to the Steam Page

26th February 2021 – Tiny Room Stories: Town Mystery – Kiary Games

Everybody are missing in a town. Find the answers of town mystery in a point and click adventure game with escape the room mechanics

I love escape room games. Tiny Room Stories: Town Mysteries features escape rooms – or escape buildings/areas – each in their own little dioramas, connected by an ongoing story. The difficulty was perfect for me to make it an enjoyable experience that I want more of.

Check it out on Steam here.

22nd July 2021 – Song of Farca – Wooden Monkeys

Hack into crime scenes, look for evidence, analyze data, interrogate criminals, track suspects and deal with the consequences of your decisions. This is a dark and brutal detective story with a Black Mirror-esque atmosphere of digital dominance and the narrative structure of a US crime procedural.

The Song of Farca Prologue is still available to play for free at the time of writing. This game is set in an apartment, but it is easy to forget as you are interacting with the story through different panels, experiencing the world beyond. It is fun making use of the tools given to you and working your way through mysteries in a way that only a private detective could.

Try the prologue or buy the game here.

17th September 2021 – TOEM – Something We Made

Set off on a delightful expedition and use your photographic eye to uncover the mysteries of the magical TOEM in this hand-drawn adventure game. Chat with quirky characters, solve their problems by snapping neat photos, and make your way through a relaxing landscape!

TOEM is a black and white adventure game where our goal is exploration and taking photographs. I had a lot of fun scouring every area for things to snap to fill up my compendium. Best of all, the game has just had a big update, including new areas and more. So even if you have already played there is every reason to go back and take another look.

Get it here on Steam.

14th October 2021 – Growing Up – Vile Monarch

This is the story of your life. Experience the entire journey from toddler to adulthood. Go to schools, learn new things, meet new friends, and have wild adventures! Every choice you make will influence your future career, and decide who your romantic partner will be. Who will you become?

When I first started this demo I had no idea what to expect. I had never played a game that looked or played like it. I ended up really enjoying it and being sad when I reached the end. In this game you will play through your characters life, shaping their personality and experiences through the choices that you make. Balance their needs and life decisions and see how you turn out.

Check it out here.

18th October 2021 – Sacred Fire: A Role Playing Game – Poetic

Sacred Fire is a psychological role-playing game. You’re a refugee hunted by Rome, your actions compromised by fear and rage. Build up your willpower to control story choices and master battle tactics. Outsmart opponents and gain allies. Wage war or strive for peace. End up a hero or an outcast.

I loved this demo. I have never played anything like it and I got really into it. The art style is somehow simple and complex at the same time. It is a game full of choices and you are in a lot of control of how to deal with situations. Or at least, you are in control of how you intend to deal with them, as long as the dice roll goes your way.

The game is currently in Early Access with a free demo here.

19th October 2021 – Escape Simulator – Pine Studio

First-person puzzler you can play solo or in an online co-op (best with 2-3 players, but playable with more). Explore a set of highly interactive escape rooms. Move furniture, pick up and examine everything, smash pots and break locks! Supports community rooms through the level editor.

Escape Simulator is an escape room experience specifically designed for multiple players. The rooms themselves are fun and well themed, and another selling point is that you can create your own rooms, as well as play rooms others have created.

Here is the Steam page if you would like to check it out.

21st October 2021 – Growbot – Wabisabi Play

An adventure about a robot saving her home from a dark crystalline force. Set upon a biopunk space station bursting with fantastic plants and aliens.

Growbot is an adorable point and click adventure. While art style can play a huge part on whether I enjoy a game, that isnt the only reason I liked it. Upon solving the puzzles and reading every bit of lore I could find, I was fascinated by this world that I was learning about. From what I can tell, this game is fairly short. I would love to stream it sometime.

Take a closer look here.

16th November 2021 – Moncage – Optillusion

Moncage is a unique puzzle adventure game where you explore a fascinating world trapped inside a mysterious cube. With each face displaying a unique scene, you’ll have to leverage the illusions and discover the hidden links to solve the puzzle.

There were so many unique games released in 2021 and Moncage is no exception. This is a puzzle game in which you need to manipulate objects within an environment, in order to alter the perspective. It is very satisfying when you solve a puzzle and everything lines up the way it should. It is also telling a story throughout. I would say it is comparable to a 3D Gorogoa, all be it in a totally different style. 

You can buy it on Steam here.

There were of course many more Indies released in 2021, but I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed the demo of every game above. It is so great to watch a game go from releasing a demo to releasing the full game, rooting for them and seeing how they do. Now, I will get back to playing more demos, scouting for more of these delights!

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Indie Game Festivals – 2022 Releases

Over the last couple of years since the very first Steam Game Festival, I have spent a lot of time playing the demos of Indie Games. The idea of these festivals was fantastic to me. Games get the chance to showcase what they are, and I get the chance to try games that I may not try otherwise. Since then, I have covered festivals on my blog, on my YT channel and in my discord. It is something that I enjoy very much and would like to continue for years into the future. Seeking out the Indie gems is like panning for gold and when you find it, it makes you want to shout from the rooftops.

I got the idea to look back over the demos I have played back in July when 4 of those games released in one month! It is so nice to see games that I first tried back in 2020 finally get their release. So here are the demos that I enjoyed that have released this year, and some more to watch out for in the coming months. I haven’t played them all but I am itching to!

March 19th – Eternal Threads – Cosmonaut Studios

Eternal Threads is a single-player, first-person story-driven puzzle game of time manipulation, choice and consequence.

I prioritised playing this demo, not only because it looked up my alley but it is set in the North of England. I was not disappointed. Taking place within a house, this narrative based walking sim absorbed me, flashing between the past and the present, piecing together what happened. This is a game that I would love to stream sometime.

You can check out Eternal Threads on Steam here.

April 14th – Cat Café Manager – Roost Games

Travel to the sleepy village of Caterwaul Way and rebuild your grandmother’s cat cafe. Renovate your restaurant, befriend the local cats and townsfolk, forge lasting friendships, unravel catty mysteries, and build a home for dozens of unique felines!

Cat Café Manager is a very chill, cute, management game. The problem with management games is that you don’t know whether there will be a difficulty spike, or equally, whether it will stay engaging for long. As far as I can tell, this is a nice, easy going game that would be a good entry to the genre for anyone intimidated by management sims or looking for something that isnt too taxing on the brain.

Buy or Wishlist it here.

May 20th – Apico – Tngineers

APICO is a laid-back beekeeping sim game about breeding, collecting, & conserving bees! Set in a series of lush environments, APICO uniquely combines resource gathering, biology, and beekeeping minigames, taking ideas from a mix of real-life and fantasy apiculture & floriculture.

This is another management game, but instead of serving food you are breeding bees! The simplistic art style is easy on the eyes, giving way to the addiction of repopulating the island. I really enjoyed trying to breed them all, and the demo is still available so you can try bee-fore you buy.

Find it on steam here.

July 14th – Escape Academy – Coin Crew Games

Welcome to Escape Academy. Train to become the ultimate Escapist. Solve Puzzles. Hack Servers. Meet the Faculty. Brew the perfect cup of tea. Escape Rooms in single player or co-op with a friend – local or online!

Escape Academy is a delightful escape room puzzle game. If you enjoy escape rooms then you are sure to like it. With a fun story between and silky smooth gameplay, I can’t recommend this one enough. This is the only game on the list that I have played in full, and you can too right now if you have Game Pass!

Here is a link to the steam page.

July 15th – The Final Earth 2 – Florian van Strien

The Final Earth 2 is a vertical sci-fi city builder. Earth is unlivable, so you decide to create a space colony. Gather resources, then build and research your way to a better future! Grow your city from an exploration ship to a huge metropolis, full of advanced technology. What will you build?

This is a great city builder. Easy to pick up, but so difficult to put down. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it. The graphics are simple but clean and clear, making a visually unique game that you can get creative with. Definitely a recommend from me.

Check it out on Steam here.

July 20th – Hazel Sky – Coffee Addict Studio

Hazel Sky is a heartfelt adventure about a young engineer facing his destiny and his desires. Fix ramshackle flying machines and jump, climb, swing, and slide through a beautiful, mysterious world.

Hazel Sky is one of the earliest demos that I played and I was very happy to see it recently get a release. I can’t speak for the rest of the game, but the demo made me laugh out loud, and contained intrigue that made me want to see the rest of this world.

You can take a look for yourself here.

July 28th – Bear and Breakfast – Gummy Cat

Bear and Breakfast is a laid-back management adventure game where you build and run a bed and breakfast…but you’re a bear.

I am seeing a trend here. And the trend is lovely, laid back management sims. In this one, you play as a bear running a bed and breakfast. I really do have a spectrum of management covered! You can explore while gathering resources to make your business the best that it can be and meet the people(?) around you, all with minimal stress!

For more info check out the Steam page here.

July 28th – Lord Winklebottom Investigates – Cave Monsters

It’s the 1920s and the world’s foremost detective is about to embark on his most challenging case yet. Thankfully, in this world that’s not quite like our own, there’s nobody better to crack the case than the great detective and gentleman giraffe, Lord Winklebottom.

I really want to play this game! Lord Winklebottom is a classic, point and click murder mystery adventure game. I love the style, it feels so nostalgic and has charm. The people are animals (obviously), fully voiced, and British. As someone who loves playing detective.. Yes please to all of the above!

Buy the game for yourself here.

September 13th – Deadwater Saloon – Creative Storm Entertainment / Tanglefoot Games

Dive into the wild west as a saloon owner in a volatile frontier town. Customize your character and face the consequences of your choices as you forge friendships and enemies of townsfolk, travellers, outlaws and lawmen. Build the most famous saloon in the territory, or be overwhelmed and destroyed.

I was so mixed about this one. On one hand, I had problems with it. But on the other, I couldn’t stop playing. Two hours in and I finally forced myself to stop. At the time of writing the game has just released, so I will be interested to see if the problems have been fixed!

Check it out on steam here.

All of the above have released so far this year. But wait.. There’s more! September and beyond are full of releases.

September 22nd – Beacon Pines – Hiding Spot

Beacon Pines is a cute and creepy adventure game. Sneak out late, make new friends, uncover hidden truths, and collect words that will change the course of fate!

I really enjoyed this one. The mixture of its really unique art style, and the contrast of cute but eerie makes me want to continue. The closest tone I can think of is if Night in the Woods, except younger characters. The gameplay however is a story book narrative puzzle. You collect terms that you can add to the story in certain places to alter the sentences and as a result, branch the paths. I have seen similar mechanics in Fate of Kai, and Indie Showcase demo Storyteller, and I have loved them every time. If this couldn’t be better, it is, because it will be available day one on Game Pass! I’m really looking forward to see how this one does.

Wishlist on Steam here to be notified when the game releases!

September 26th – Monorail Stories – Stelex Software

Monorail Stories is an adventure game focusing on extraordinary things happening to ordinary people. Board the monorail and experience a special story about humanity, friendships, and intertwined destinies manifesting during the everyday commute.

This is another demo that I played a long time ago. It was short but sweet, telling a story and building a world through rides on a monorail. You only need to look at the screenshots to see how much care has gone into the art. I wish them all the luck for a successful launch!

Wishlist on Steam here.

September 27th – Dome Keeper – Bippinbits

Mine for resources, choose from powerful upgrade paths and fend off waves of alien attackers in this innovative roguelike mining action game. There’s just enough time to mine a little deeper, find a little more and get back to defend before the next wave attacks your dome.

I played the Dome Keeper demo earlier this year as recommended by a few friends. They were right, it was a blast! In this roguelike your time is split between mining for resources and defending your base, using upgrades gained from said resources. It is fast paced, easy to learn but I imagine not so easy to master, and has that ‘one more try’ appeal. I hope this one blows up!

Wishlist here on Steam now.

September 28th – The Excavation of Hobs Barrow – Cloak and Dagger Games

The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow is a folk horror narrative-driven adventure. Explore the isolated moors of rural Victorian England as you uncover the mysteries of Hob’s Barrow. The answers lie in the soil…

I am generally not a fan of horror so I avoid it, but for whatever reason this is one of the demos that I played. And honestly? I was so glad I did. I played this one on my own without recording and I remember having a great affection for it. But – my memory being my memory – I can’t remember exactly what happened or how it played. What I do know, is that it immediately went on my Wishlist, and I would love to stream it sometime after it releases. The art is gorgeous and I want to be back in that atmosphere.

Previously known as Incantamentum, you can wishlist on steam here.

2022 – Nobodies: After Death – Blyts

Nobodies: After Death is a puzzling point-and-click adventure in cleaning up dirty work. After your agency takes out a target, you make the evidence disappear without a trace. Find a way to get in, get out, and leave no bodies behind.

I loved the demo for this one and it is still available now! The best comparison I can make is that this is like a point and click, escape room style game. You are cleaning up after murders and trying not to get caught by solving the puzzle of the area you are in. The art is gorgeous which sounds like a contrast to the concept of the game, but it makes it even more fun to see where you might end up next. I hope this one finds its audience because the demo is a strong recommend from me!

Follow along on Steam here.

2022 – Organs Please – TECHHOME

A dark and satirical management sim, where you take control of a recycling factory with a twist: it recycles humans. Your job is to decide who gets to escape our dying planet in a cozy spaceship and who sacrifices their blood, sweat and tears for humanity. Literally.

Finally, Organs Please doesn’t have a release date except 2022. Despite the dark humour in the dire world that we are living in, it is easy to forget the horrors of what you are actually doing as you enter a flow state of maximum efficiency. The mechanics are introduced at a satisfying pace, building you up from rookie to mega multitasker in no time. I really enjoyed the gameplay of this one and would definitely like to play more upon release.

Here is a link to the Steam page.

And that is it. Apparently this has been a quiet year for games. While that may be true in the AAA spaces, new indie games are coming out every day. It can be hard to know how to filter through the volume of games, so hopefully someone will not only find this list useful, but also give these ones a chance! Some of these games were created solo and they are absolutely excellent. Let me know if you give any of them a go!

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A Noob’s Review – PowerWash Simulator

Playing PowerWash Simulator is like using a colouring book. It is something mindless to keep your hands and a specific part of your brain busy while you are doing something else such as watching a show or listening to a podcast. I never intended on finishing this game but I have had a challenging month, and this game turned out to be the perfect white noise that I needed to get by. It has a very similar feeling to the paint-by-numbers game I play on my phone when I want to pass time without engaging my brain.

+ (Non-)realism

Upon cleaning my first van I felt slightly irritated. Bugged by the fact that this is not how cleaning works. I can be a very systematic person. I have a set way that I wash my dishes, and that is because cleaning is annoying and awkward and putting things in water doesn’t = clean. So imagine my confusion when this game allowed me to clean the windows of the vehicle before I did the roof. How could that be? Everyone knows the dirt would come off the roof and re-dirty the parts you have already cleaned. This was against the laws of cleaning nature and I had a hard time accepting it. I finished up my now squeaky clean van and got to work on a huge garden. Slightly overwhelmed, I started on the fences and worked my way around. But then while I was doing the fences, I may as well do the floor between them. But I hadn’t done that bench yet so I should probably do that too. Then it clicked. If this game had real life cleaning physics it would be unbearable. It would go from an alternative to colouring in, to absolute chore simulator. I thanked the game dev gods that it wasnt me making this game, petitioning to make it realistic. Instead, they took fun and convenience into consideration, which enabled my compulsion to do things in any order that made sense to me in that very moment without consequence.

+/- The Compulsionism

I found my rhythm by the end of the game. Go around the edges of things, then do the betweeny parts. The only problem with this – how do you ever stop. Everytime I splash a bit of water onto a new section, I feel like I have signed my soul to a soapy devil and I am now committed to finishing this piece. Do my edges, splash onto the next area, sign a new contract, rinse, repeat. It is very hard to stop. Some times it feels less out of enjoyment and more of a duty. Of course, this isn’t a problem with the game, this is entirely in my head and if anything, it shows good game design. Not being able to put a game down is often a goal in making a game and usually the sign of a successful one.

– Bugs

I had a couple of bugs while playing. One time I got stuck somewhere unable to move. Then there were multiple times where my ‘show me the dirt’ button wasn’t working. Thankfully all of these were solved by either leaving then re-entering the level, or restarting the game. Nothing too major, just little annoyances but I could never tell when they were going to happen.

+/- Navigation

The menu is generally laid out well. It is really easy to jump between levels in seconds should you need to. It is designed as a tablet which works well with the theming of a mobile business. You can use the menu button to get a list of things like ‘Shop’ and ‘Settings’. That was all very clear. What wasn’t as clear to me was how to change your clothes. Throughout your cleaning career you are constantly opening your equiptment tab to change the length of your machine, so often that you cease to actually see the menu. What I didnt notice is that within that tab there is a clothing tab. I only realised after a google search because I was near the end of the game and desperate to try on my new gear. I never actually figured out how to change the skin of my Power Washer until I purposefully reloaded the game to figure it out specifically for this review. It is a triangle on top of a tab and it is so easy to miss. Again, only minor things but they felt worth mentioning.

+ Game Modes

Career mode is the bulk of the game. You will receive texts from clients offering you jobs. Near the beginning you can often choose between two or three, but by the end it becomes one at a time. As you complete jobs you will earn stars which will unlock upgrades in the shop, and money that will allow you to buy said upgrades. When you are done with career mode you can use free play mode to redo previous areas with all of the shiny equiptment and unlimited soap supplies. Also, there are special levels that contain 4 novelty scenarios to clean. I wonder if this is going to be added to over time. Co-op mode is an option if you want to clean with your friends, or just clean you friends. Finally, there are challenge modes, including time challenges and water usage. I tried and failed a time challenge three times before I gave up. I am no speed cleaner but they are there for others if you are up for perfecting your power washing technique.

+ Story

Wait.. This game has a story? Actually, kind of! As you play through career mode you will recieve funny texts that may or may not be related to the job you are doing. Admittedly, I was so absorbed in my podcasts (Bonfireside Chat in case anyone was wondering) that I didn’t read them for most of the game. As I got to the final third or quarter of the game, things begun happening and the messages were catching my eye more and more. At this point, I was ready to stop. When I started flagging I went to trusty google to see how many levels were left, and seeing some of the titles of said levels gave me a bit of a second wind. True enough, I was then committed and had to see it all the way through to the end. I had to know what would happen. The game has a fun tone and it really works in its favour.

+ The little things

There was something so joyful about seeing something you have previously cleaned show up on a level. One example is seeing vehicles you have previously cleaned in the background of your current job. It happens more as the game goes on and consistently gave me a little dopamine boost.

+/- It’s a time sink

If I can loop back round to the intro, you can spend a lot of hours in this game. On one hand, fantastic. My time is filled without allowing and creeping thoughts or problems. Just keep washing. On the other hand though, where the hell did my time go? So many hours… down the drain (hur hur).

I think that is all I have to say about PowerWash Simulator! Overall, I finished the game. Considering I cleaned every inch of this world, I still feel so dirty that I put so many hours into it. Truth is, it is so much easier than cleaning in real life but has a similar satisfying effect. Trouble is, you then stand up from your computer and realise that there will always still be cleaning to do in real life. It served me well, but I am pretty happy to be hanging up my Prime Vista PRO for good.

+ (Non-)realism

+/- The Compulsionism

Bugs

+/- Navigation

+ Game Modes

+ Story

+ The little things

+/- It’s a time sink

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A Noob’s Review – Hades

I feel I need to start this one with a disclaimer. Reviews are subjective. I am going to talk about my experience with the game as a person who doesn’t play games for their combat. People who like the challenge may disagree with what I say, as I have seen many people online say this game is too easy. I, personally, am not a god at video games. I can only talk from my own point of view, that this game can also be great for people like me, even if it does have its drawbacks.

+ The Premise

Alright, so Hades is an artistic, stylish rogue-lite based in Greek Mythology. We play as Zagreus – the Son of Hades – and we have one goal. Escaping the underworld. Everytime you die you are transported back home, which makes sense as that is where the majority of the dead end up sooner or later. This alone is such a fantastic concept. I love when game mechanics are tied to the story and I can think of no better set up for a rouge-lite. Throughout our escape attempts, our family on Olympus will offer us aid in the form of boons and this is where the classic roguelike gameplay factors in. Different perks combine in different ways to allow a variety of playstyles. Throughout our escape attempts – and eventually escapes – we get more and more story, be it characterisation of the gods, or directly talking to everyone back home. We also get more and more mechanics, including weapons to shake up your playstyle and difficulty modifiers, for better or worse. The best part of this set up is that death doesn’t always feel bad. In fact, sometimes I wanted a death just so that I could go back to the house and see what everyone was up to.

+ Aesthetics

At first, when I had only seen others play and not played myself, I didn’t love the aesthetics. Everyone was raving about them but I didn’t really get it until I tried it myself. You would think that the staple colours of red and green would shout Christmas. But they dont. Instead they evoke this regal hell. Rather than a festive cheer, it feels expensive and strict, yet also has a sense of home. The music is so good, everytime I start a run my head has to bob, it is perfect to hype you up for the challenge ahead. There is also diegetic music that is appropriately beautiful and evolves in fun ways as you go. The art in both the portraits of the characters and the movement itself is quite busy, but so unique. When things are busy sometimes my senses freeze up, but once I got used to it I really enjoyed looking at the details put into the characters. Then somehow everything also looks great when it moves. Overall, they took a premise that is already fantastic on its own, but then executed it so stylishly that it oozes personality.

+ The Voices/Dialogue

Before I was familiar with the game I heard a lot of praise for the voice acting. This was another thing that I didn’t really ‘get’ when I started playing myself. I don’t find them traditionally ‘good’. I do find them very stylised in a way that once I got used to it, I loved. As an example, lots of lines are read very quickly and don’t seem to pause in places that you would usually pause. Or there would be no gap between sentences. It felt very unnatural to me for a while, but in the end I feel like it becomes a defining factor in the style of the game. What I do love about the voices are the effects that are used on them. Some of the characters in the game are even beyond gods, and the audio designers did a fantastic job of creating ethereal effects that really characterise the way they speak. This, on top of the fun dialogue and the beautiful art, creates these very evocative and memorable characters, even if we do only meet them one line at a time. There is also so much dialogue. It will be a long time before you hear anything repeated. It is very impressive and a great hook to keep you coming back for more.

+ The Family Dynamics

Family drama is something that can be hit or miss. In real life, it SUCKS. But when that family are Greek Gods? There is something very enticing to be involved in the dynamics of these extremely powerful, extremely temperamental folk. I don’t know much about mythology in general, but I do know a lot of these characters are known for being petty, dishing out punishments, holding grudges etc. I do also believe they know how to have a good time. So having these colourful characters as our uncles and cousins and such was a rush. I didn’t trust them at all, but they so were fun to interact with. The family dynamics in the house are great too and you get to know more as you progress through the game. I really started to care and as dysfunctional as it is, some qualities shine through that you root for.

– The Difficulty Curve

Moving onto the gameplay itself, it is a very mixed bag for me. I am not that experienced with roguelikes but I do know that the more you play, the better you get. You learn the game and you improve. I did enjoy the process in the beginning, however there are certain blocks that felt like a huge wall to me. I managed to overcome some of them, but that doesnt stop them from becoming tedious. Without spoiling too much, the third area enemies often have a lot of armour and can respawn. It would sometimes take me minutes to complete a room. It was frustrating and boring. That might not sound like much but when you have been flying through the first area it feels like molasses. The same thing goes for bosses beyond the second area, I just don’t enjoy them. Thankfully, with every run you are collecting darkness and other items which you can use to upgrade your character. For me though, the satisfaction of coming back upgraded and getting further does not overcome the frustration of the halt of progress in the first place. (This may sound like I just don’t like rogue-lites. The only real point of reference I have is The Binding of Isaac, and I feel like that game moves a lot faster while also having more to think about, so there is less time to be bored). It is not a good feeling when over half of a run feels like a slog and I sometimes feel like throwing it because I can’t be bothered with the boss.

+ God Mode

God Mode is genius and I thank the Devs so much for including it. If you are playing for the story rather than the challenge, God Mode is an optional setting that can progressively make the game easier until it balances out at your level. Every time you die, you will gain a bonus to your damage reduction stat. Meaning enemies will hurt you less. You can turn this on or off at any time and it was a life saver for me. I played the game without it until I got my first clear. To get to credits you need 10 clears. I kept playing and playing but I wasn’t getting any more clears. Then the tedium mentioned above set in. I decided to turn on God Mode and it was the best decision I made. Two clears in a row and my enthusiasm for the game was back. After dying a few more times I reached the correct difficulty for me and got an 8 win streak. These weren’t easy wins either, it was just right that it was down to the wire most times. I urge you that if you are finding it tedious, getting bored, or doing a collect-a-thon, use God Mode. I certainly wouldn’t have got as far as I did without it.

+/- The Pacing

In a game with two distinct sections (gameplay during runs then story time and upgrading between) it was always going to be hard to pace it well. For a lot of people, the story sections ruin the pace of the gameplay. They are ready to jump straight back in but have to go around talking to everyone, breaking their momentum. For me, it was the other way around and play almost felt too long. I wanted to be back at the house for the next story beats and to upgrade my stuff. Based on those two types of players, I don’t really see how they could have a middle ground. It is not detrimental to the game, but it is a common complaint that I have heard and felt myself occasionally, even if it is opposite ends of a spectrum.

+ Other Objectives

There is a lot more to do than just clearing runs. These aren’t things that you have to do but are an option if you need something other than combat like I do. Some characters have side quests that you progress by gifting them items between runs. You can improve relationships, unlocking new dialogue and scenes. Then there are the Boons. If you are a compulsive list taker like me, collecting every Boon is so much fun. Some Boons require you to have other Boons first, and navigating that was a game that I enjoyed more than getting clears. I have officially collected them all and really enjoyed doing so. By the end, every fated choice (one you havent picked up yet) received a celebratory fist bump from me. There are also heat levels that you can unlock to make the game more difficult if you are so inclined. All of these things provide rewards that you can either put towards improving more runs, or buying house fashion.

I hope that if anything, this review shows that Hades can be enjoyed by many different types of people. It is very accessible as a first foray into the genre, while equally providing a new challenge for the genre savvy. While I don’t think it is a perfect game, I do believe it deserved all of the love, praise and awards it recieved. By the end, the game was leaving Game Pass so I was rushing to complete everything that I wanted to. I really don’t think this is the way to play. Chipping away with a few runs here and there after the initial addiction keeps the runs more palatable in my opinion. You can definitely have too much of a good thing! Having said that, it has provided me with many hours of entertainment and I will think back on it very fondly.

+ The Premise

+ The Aesthetics

+ The Voices/Dialogue

The Difficulty Curve

+ God Mode

+/- The Pacing

+ Other Objectives

I streamed my entire journey to my first clear!

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