An Early Yearly Rundown, Part 1
I thought it would be interesting to do a rundown of every game I played this year with a few brief impressions of each. It turned out to be a much larger task than I thought; it seems I played a LOT of games this year. In fact, I think it would be fair to label this year The Year of Small Games.
I omitted a handful of games from this otherwise overwhelming list; we’ll look at those, the top 5, next time. I wanted to devote a little more time to each of those games. So, without further ado, in no particular order:
Probably the best ARPG I’ve ever played. It has a ton of convenience features, a good story, fluid gameplay, and good graphics. The only drawback is the very limited class selection, but a DLC, I’ve heard, helps with that, but I rarely do DLC or play through games more than once.
Path of Exile 4/5
My buddy and I played this in beta, but eventually he couldn’t see well enough to continue. We’ve very recently gone back to it now that it’s in full release and he can see and are still thoroughly enjoying it. I strongly suggest you play through on non-hardcore the first time, as there are bosses later in the game that have the potential to one-shot you, and if you haven’t learned them in non-hardcore, you may have to buy a new pair of pants. It’s easily one of the strongest F2P games I’ve played, and a split-hair second to Van Helsing (above) for ARPGs. If you like a lot of replay, it’d be first, as it’s got 6 free classes and a 7th for finishing the game.
Papers, Please 4/5
So dark, so basic, so grim, so fun. What an odd jewel of a game; who thought anyone would make being a bureaucrat engaging? The game goes beyond just pure mechanics, too, making the player make moral choices on a short clock, which helps reveal who the player really is (at least as a character in this game). Great for its price.
Planetside 2 2/5, but mostly because I don’t like FPS PvP
I’m not huge on PvP, but for a full-pvp first person shooter, this game did a good job. I didn’t get too far into it, but only because my buddy was totally and completely disinterested, and I don’t really see the point of PvP.
What an excellent free to play game. I cannot imagine actually completing it as its simply gargantuan, but you can’t beat its dollar value in visceral, fast-action shooting. If you like space and ninjas, this game is a great choice.
Civilization 5 4/5
I’m going to be playing this on and off until Civ 6 comes out, and I’m happy to report it just keeps getting better and better. I like the new DLC (some of the rare DLC I actually purchase), and I like being able to play alone or with my wife. It’s the perfect game for when you’ve got 12 hours to eat up and don’t feel like putting out all the Arkham Horror pieces.
I returned to Skyrim again this year determined to follow the main story to completion. I didn’t. Interpret what you will.
Card Hunter 5/5
What a surprise out of thin air. This almost made my top five, but, alas, it would be number 6. The only thing I don’t like about it is how much a factor RNG is; I can build a beautiful deck and still lose because I just draw the wrong cards at the wrong time while the enemy draws exactly what he needs all the time. Still, I like the design, the originality, and the setting – a table where you’re “playing” Card Hunter, a physical Pen and Paper game. It’s great!
Borderlands 2 4/5
The Borderlands franchise is a safe bet when you’re just looking for good FPS action. I don’t think it offers anything particularly unique, but the solid game play and entertaining cast of character (though I absolutely hated the little girl character in the most recent one) make it fun.
Endless Space 3/5
I enjoyed Endless Space for what it was; another 4x game that was supposed to be the “actual” successor of Master of Orion 2. It was well-designed and fun, but I still think Civ 5 is a better 4x game.
I also returned to Terraria this year when one of my friends started playing it. I got a lot further this time than I had the previous time, but again I hit a wall where I just wasn’t really prepared for the next challenge and didn’t want to farm forever to get prepared for it. The Wall of Flesh, which I think is where I stopped last time, defeated my interest again.
This, again, was a “safe bet” for purchasing. I like these kind of games, and its billing of “stealth done right” was absolutely true. You could, theoretically, play through the whole game without killing or being seen. Finally! If you liked Deus Ex: Human Revolution but hated the fact that DE:HR was so poorly done from a stealth standpoint, you absolutely should try this game.
Dead Rising 2 2/5
I think I played this during this year, but I’m not sure. It didn’t leave much of an impression, other than having to run around a lot.
X-Com: Enemy Unknown 3/5 (but probably it deserves 4/5)
I really liked this game up until the point that I didn’t. I acknowledge perhaps I shouldn’t have played Ironman the first time through (meaning permadeath, essentially), but I rarely play games through more than once. Then I hit a wall where the aliens got super-strong without warning, and my team got wiped out. It irritated me enough that I quit and haven’t gone back.
As its tagline says, it’s a Rogue-like in Space. It was fun. Yep. That’s about it.
Castle Crashers 3/5
A simple beat-em-up in the spirit of Double Dragon. It was fun to play with my buddy and worth the 3 or 4 bucks we paid for it, but not much more.
Another Rogue-like. Maybe I’d just had too many, but I didn’t really get into this game at all, or even really like it. My buddy did, though, and played through all the way at least twice, so that speaks well for it. It just wasn’t for me, I guess.
Another side-scrolling platformer. It reminded me a lot of Out of This World, and the barren artistic style of it served it well. The plot was terribly predictable, but the game play was enjoyable enough.
I really wish I’d played Monaco more, but I just couldn’t find anyone to play with me. I REALLY liked it, but my buddy couldn’t see and my wife didn’t seem interested. Stealth’s not her thing, and that made it hard to deal with.
Wizardry Online 1/5
Terrible. Do not play. Permadeath MMO with connectivity issues.
Seemed like it might be fun, but it never really grabbed me. Another 4x space game, but this one in “real time,” though the real time is very slow, so it’s almost turn-based.
There was so much hype about this game, but I didn’t really like it. Is it sacrilegious to say that? It was okay, I mean; I don’t regret playing it, but it was kind of slow and had very confusing overall design, which may have been a goal, but didn’t endear me.
Lone Survivor 3/5
What a bizarre game. And I like bizarre, but I didn’t finish this one. I didn’t uninstall it, either, so I may go back, but so far, there’s always been better options.
Binding of Isaac 2/5
A Zelda-like rogue-like. I really disliked it. The random elements of the game meant even if you were doing really well, you might just not get the items you need to survive later levels. I don’t like that level of randomness.
I’ve written a lot on it, and I’ve recently gone back to playing it. I like it a lot, but the other players make it frustrating and pointless. The other players are also really the only reason to play, as the best and most memorable moments of the game stem from those encounters. It’s a hopeless dichotomy; it’s pointless without the other players but evil jerks who shoot for no reason invalidate all the fun of playing.
I don’t think I need to say much about this. It’s more of a habit than a game at this point.
The Secret World 5/5
Still the best MMO I ever played. If my friends were still playing it, I would be to instead of WoW, but they aren’t.
I liked Neverwinter, but like The Secret World, not enough of my friends liked it enough to stay. I think it did a good job bridging the gap between a “forced” party system and building a game meant for parties (unlike DDO or Wizardry), and I think it did a good job making “D&D” approachable by outsiders. It just wasn’t enough to keep us around.
Like WoW, there’s not much more I need to say. I love it, and I hate it. Like DayZ, the best and worst aspects are the other players.
So that’s a majority of the list. You all should do one of your own, too, and we can compare! Let me know if you do.
Stubborn (and exhausted from all these games)