Gams in the 2017

League of Lonely Geologists

List items

  • If there's a single game that challenged how I understood and thought about procedural generation in games circa 2017, it's Unexplored. I've long maintained that the * Souls/*borne games are mechanically along the same continuum as roguelikes, but with slightly different concerns and 2017 is the year in which those lessons overtly bled back into the indie roguelike scene. Unexplored *feels* like a handcrafted experience, and its real-time combat (and the generally defensive AI) evokes the deliberate fights found in the Dark Souls series.

    I based an entire conference talk around Unexplored and even got to chat with the creator. Everything I've heard about the sequel sounds extremely rad, and I can't wait to, ahem, delve deeper.

  • If Unexplored took the real time combat from Dark Souls to heart, Haque took its cues from the boss fights. With a dedicated writer on the team and a truly compelling art style, Haque very quickly became my roguelike comfort food in 2017. It's the game I would boot up the moment I got home and play a couple of rounds, luxuriating in the satisfying character animations, likable and charming boss banter, and a lighthearted tone that always seemed to gesture to more substantial, darker themes.

  • Subterfuge didn't come out in 2017, but I sure as shit played two very memorable matches this year. My first game ever was over the summer and was a uniquely anxious affair. I was up against people who I knew were experts in the game and whose writing I deeply respected. I'm still unpacking my thoughts around those matches, but Subterfuge is certainly the game I spent the most time *worrying about* in 2017. That's worth acknowledging.

  • I nearly completed Persona 5 in 2017. It was a semi-regular presence in my life for the majority of the year. Not all of that time was entirely positive and I often took lengthy breaks. Its homophobia and sexism frequently grated (though I'd hasten to point out that Persona 4 was a far worse offender as far as I was concerned). There's a lot I liked about it, but I'm nearly 2/5 of the way through the final proper dungeon and it feels a bit like a chore. I'm sure I'll come around on it once I beat it, and I do think it's probably one of the stronger Persona games, but it's also a bit tough to recommend.

  • I didn't care about Destiny until I started hearing about how fucked up it was, how stingy it was with loot, how incoherent the story, and how good the shooting was. I put a phenomenal amount of time into it and even played through a raid or two in 2017. I'm an uncommon Destiny player because I haven't entirely enjoyed my time with the raids, but I'm usually glad I put in the work. Destiny 2 was good but also more of the same. I didn't like the changes they made to the shaders, and I didn't like that I had to have a gun of the same type if I wanted to use it to strengthen another. Those changes really pushed me away from making Destiny 2 the thing I played in the morning or on the weekend to chill out. I went in, enjoyed the story, played until I was satisfied with my progress, and then stopped. I feel like that's the point, and it's fine, but it's messy missteps are nowhere near as interesting as the first game's were.

  • On Christmas Eve, I was sitting at my in-laws playing Imbroglio and falling in love with that game again after a bit of a hiatus (I'd played Imbroglio intensively through the early half of 2017). I wondered when Brough would be releasing a new game. Turns out, it was already en route to the App Store. I've talked about this in other contexts, but what I like about Brough's designs (especially 868-HACK and Imbroglio) is that he'll take some ideas from classical roguelikes and try to polish one or two mechanics to hell and back. They're still recognizably roguelikey in nature, but crystallized in a way that gives a certain amount of insight into the different types of pleasures that can be extracted from an almost uniformly unfriendly genre. Cinco Paus makes me feel like I'm learning a language (and since the instructions are all in Portuguese, I'm doing that, too). Each time you start a game, you're given five wands. Each wand has five possible abilities and you figure them out as you use the wands and those abilities fire off. You won't know if your wand's beam is lethal to lizards until the beam happens to hit a lizard, for example. I'm still not very far into the game but every time I boot it up, I can't help but play multiple rounds in one sitting, so that's a good sign.

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  • The Fire Fades edition came out in 2017, so I picked it up.

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  • This is probably never coming out????

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