Games I've Played In 2018

I'm going to be keeping track of the games I'm playing this year! My plan for this year is to play more text-based games, such as visual novels and adventure games. Hopefully I'll get around to filling in some blind spots!

List items

  • One of my favorite games I've played in a while. Exploring the world, getting to know all the characters, and solving an interesting mystery were all completely up my alley. I also thought the themes of individuality, purpose, and effects of sentient robot life in a modern society were all very well-realized. I know everyone loves Nier: Automata, and while I respect that game, Read Only Memories did a lot more for me in terms of character work and story, making its broader themes a lot more impactful as a result. I highly recommend it.

    EDIT: Great game, horrible company.

  • Was really disappointed in this one. It seemed to want to explore themes of depression and the importance of friendship/kindness while also deploying every awful horror trope in the book. Some scares and meta-gameplay events are neat, but overall almost everything fell flat. I audibly groaned at the last major reveal. DDLC has so much potential, but it fails by thinking that it's incredibly clever, when in reality the things that it attempts have been done time and time again.

    Check out the podcast episode I did on DDLC over here:

  • I really tried to give this game a chance. Alas, at the end of chapter one, it isn't doing much for me. It has its moments, but those moments are squandered by casual misogyny or odd (read: annoying) character choices. Nearly the entire cast of this game is unlikable (I think my favorite character was a literal brain in a container) and the dialogue isn't nearly as sharp enough to reasonably justify the game's length. An intimate conversation between two friends at an end of a chapter shouldn't feel centuries long.

    Maybe I'll come back to this one later and appreciate it for what it is. But for now, there are so many other games I'd rather be playing than to spend any more time entertaining VA-11 HALL-A's mediocrity.

  • A fun platformer. I like the art style and the music is wonderful. Its narrative felt too much like "You're Valid" twitter for my taste. The controls felt really good, but I definitely wouldn't have finished it without assist mode.

  • Shadow of the Colossus is beautiful.

    I played the PS4 remake, and while that version has updated, high resolution graphics and amazing lighting, it isn't what makes the game beautiful. It's beautiful because the core of Shadow of the Colossus is beautiful. The process of scaling these massive creatures, hanging on for dear life, and barely managing to take them down; all while making you ponder life, death, and how we treat the world around us, is what makes SotC beautiful.

    Sure, the game looks amazing on PS4 (though I would have loved an option to switch to the low-fi aesthetics of the original), but it is in service of what is already an amazing game. I'm glad I actually finished it this time around.

  • A neat game with some major pacing issues. I hope future games are a bit shorter, because all of the good ideas and fun character moments are buried under hours of fluff and repetition. The casual misogyny and fat shaming is a bit off-putting as well. Hopefully these games get better as they go along.

  • "Everyone is a mess when they're growing up. Some people are just better at hiding it than others. It's okay to be a flaming dumpster fire. It's okay if you're not what your parents wanted you to be. It's okay to change your mind."

    Butterfly Soup is a cute game about discovering oneself and coming to terms with sexuality and gender expression. What impacted me the most, however, is the way that the game explores queerness in relation to parental power dynamics, and how hard it is for someone to come into their own when their family actively works to limit their growth and happiness. Butterfly Soup handles these themes gracefully, giving them the seriousness they deserve while maintaining a sense of humor and warmth. I'm glad I played it.

  • Bayonetta feels padded out by boss rushes and mini-games, and the story alternates between boring and incomprehensible. But I'm surprised at how well the gameplay holds up, and I still had a lot of fun with it.

  • What Remains of Edith Finch is a game full of beautiful vignettes that tell the story of the Finch family. Lots of really creative and powerful sequences here, definitely worth playing.

  • At first, Fortnite's Battle Royale mode was a fun game to play with friends. But as I continued playing, its shortcomings became more and more apparent. The weapon tiers ensure that players who stumble into better weapons have a more of a chance of winning. The implementation of additional weapons -- such as the useless burst rifle -- makes me feel like there's a disconnect between how Epic wants people to play Fortnite vs. how people actually play the game. The "Gold Guns Only" mode only further proves this point.

    At the end of the day, Fortnite is a game that became popular because it's free. The shooting is unsatisfying, the character movement is painfully limited (why is hopping one of two ways to avoid getting shot?), and the building -- while a fun idea in concept -- feels tacked on. There are solid ideas here, but it never comes together in a satisfying way.

    If I hear the main menu music one more time, I'm going to scream. If you're going to make a massive multiplayer game, at least produce good music for it, instead of creating generic fanfare with a guitar that plays a grand total of four notes over it.

  • Burnout Paradise is a personal favorite, and its recent port to current consoles is fantastic.

  • A dull crime story and an equally dull co-op game. Its ending is the only real trick up its sleeve, and even then it feels boring and anticlimatic. I wonder who this game is for: if I wanted to play a crime game with my friends, I could have chosen one of many co-op shooters that already exist.

    Maybe worth a rental if you want a spiritual successor to David Cage's dumb bullshit.

  • This is the first time I actually tried to finish a Sonic the Hedgehog game. While Green Hill Zone is a great first level, most of the others demand too much of the player. They feel as though they were designed for a different game -- the platforming you are asked to do runs counter to the nature of Sonic's movement.

  • A vast improvement over the first game -- this is the first Sonic game I've finished. I really like the core of these Sonic games: freely roaming these levels at a fast pace while navigating the obstacles that are in your way. It's a tension that I enjoy. I've never understood the Sonic fandom, and have mostly written them off as People Who Enjoy Bad Games. Playing this helped me see differently, and I can understand why these games are so beloved. (Still not sure why Sonic likes chili dogs though.)

  • It never feels as tight as you want it to, but it's a perfectly serviceable game. I like the idea of playing the "2D" and "3D" versions of levels. Due to it being a retrospective game, it introduced me to a lot of the ideas from the 3D games, both good and bad.

    Things I have learned since playing Sonic Generations:

    - Knuckles is a rapper

    - Shadow is from Sonic Adventure 2

    - I should play Sonic Adventure 2

    Why does a giant truck chase sonic

  • It's another 2D Sonic game! It's good! I wish it was a bit easier: we don't need Game Over systems in 2018.

  • Tacoma is wonderful. It depicts a dark future where overpowered corporations are ready to throw people under the bus for profit -- without falling into deep cynicism. It feels especially relevant in today's political climate, and I'm glad the game ends on a hopeful note. It has a lot of well-written characters and fun interactions between them as well.

  • SOMA has become one of my favorite horror games. The themes explored -- humanity, what it means to be human, the nature of human conscious being stored in the digital realm -- feel impactful, even existential. Frictional Games are incredible at establishing atmosphere, each room painting a picture of previous events while leaving much up to the imagination. Some of the most striking visuals are well-framed, especially given the medium of the first person exploration game. One segment towards the end of the game -- intense in abstracted visuals and haunting sound design -- reminded me of James' gradual descent in Silent Hill 2.

    The combination of SOMA's art style, brilliant sound design, haunting atmosphere, and existential story all come together to create something special. It's an artistic achievement.

    Play it on safe mode.