Although some feel that the Adventure Card Game is a digital translation of the physical Living Card Game, it’s really a different beast altogether. A co-op partner and I created decks with a questing focus and combat focus, respectively, and took on the game’s most brutal scenarios. It’s far from easy, and on certain occasions I had to create a tailored deck to meet the challenge. The game also featured flavorful cards with appropriate voice lines, alongside thematic backgrounds created for each scenario.
I never would've thought that this game would get its hooks in me. I'm not a particularly big fan of Japanese games in general, and the sensibilities, dialogue, and character design here are monumentally Japanese. However, the tactile feel of the combat and the joy of creating a tailored armor set pulled me in.
I'm so glad I got the opportunity to play this game with a friend. I missed the first Overcooked game, but when online co-op was added for this one I had my shot and took it! Overcooked elicits a powerful feeling of flow in its players, who must be constantly considering whether meat is cooked or plates are clean and must be communicating efficiently.
Outside of one key misstep, God of War tells an excellent tale of fatherhood that I found emotionally resonant. God of War, featuring the same Kratos that killed everything in sight and ripped off minotaur heads, made me ponder questions like "how truthful should I be with my son?" and "how, if at all, can I meaningfully protect him?"
Strange Brigade is a constantly amusing third-person cooperative shooter. You'll pick one of many unique characters with distinct amulet powers, and then explore ancient tombs and destroy waves of skeletons and mummies. My favorite aspect of the game is the design of the environment, which requires your attention in order to solve puzzles and successfully complete the most difficult combat encounters.
I'm just noticing that this is the second game on my list about children growing up - sensing a trend. Anyway, My Child Lebensborn is about raising the child of a Nazi solider in post-war Norway. You'll predominantly be taking care of his basic needs, but you'll also try and attend to his emotional development. It is not easy for him socially, and he will pay close attention to anything you say. Although I may never completely understand prejudice as a white male, I feel that this game got me closer in my understanding.
I'm already a little bit of a sucker for open world games, and Spider-man gives me the wonderful city of New York to play in. Not only is the location detailed and awe-inspiring, but the traversal is simply superb. Webslinging is absolutely awesome, and the suit powers and combat options are myriad. As with Strange Brigade above, I love games that encourage you to use the environment in your fights. The first upgrade I took made me more effective at grabbing stuff on the street (like mailboxes) with my webs and slamming them into the faces of rowdy thugs.
This was my favorite co-op game of the year. From a 2D angle, you and a friend will breach and clear various crime dens, saving hostages and defusing bombs along the way. The game does an amazing job of encouraging you to try different characters and rewarding you for your success with earned abilities, such as sniper support. Not to mention, the soundtrack is nothing but rad 80s-style jams.
I'm already fascinated by cults, so I might've been the target audience for a game like this, that sees you exploring the abandoned compound of a cult whose members were found dead. Although the game includes many details pulled from the real-life Jonestown incident, the narrative thread of the main character explores guilt and acceptance in a very compelling way. Although the game features low-fi graphics, Black Sage Ranch has a tremendous sense of place about it.
This game excellently produced that feeling of flow within me while I played. The goal of the game is simple: navigate the vehicle from the left side of the screen to the right. You can use anything you find for fuel, and by capturing the wind you can squeak out some extra mileage. I loved the graphical design of the environments and the survival-esque feeling of the game (without thirst and hunger meters, etc.). If nothing else, FAR: Lone Sails provides you with a tale that is compelling to contemplate, and forlorn space to do so.