By thatpinguino 1 Comments
10: Loop Hero
Loop Hero was a fun second screen game to have running when I was watching a stream or a video. Its mix of active decision making with passive gameplay makes it perfect for that specific gaming niche. If you share my need to have every waking moment filled with some sort of activity that implies progression, Loop Hero might be for you! The game definitely loses some luster if it is your primary activity. So take that into account before you pick it up.
Unsighted was a game that I went into blind (pun intended) and came away impressed. It is a bit of Metraoidvania blended with a dash of Souls leveling mixed with some Minecraft crafting and some Zelda dungeon design. For a while I couldn’t get past how many transparent influences were at play in Unsighted, but once I realized that the crafting system allowed you to make any and all of the game’s items without blueprints as soon as you have the constituent parts, I was back in. The first playthrough of Unsighted is fairly straightforward. The second playthrough is almost certainly a speed run and that gameplay pattern was unique enough to hold my attention.
I have a bit of a deckbuilder obsession. Given my insatiable need to build decks, when I heard Richard Garfield, the creator of Magic: The Gathering, worked on a Rogue-like deckbuilder, I had to check it out. Roguebook is one of the first deckbuilders that I’ve played that directly incentivizes building big, fat decks. The key to success in most deckbuilders is building a lean machine that does the same thing every game. You want to cut cards and exclude anything that doesn’t fit your core focus. Roguebook gives you a little more wiggle room to build a deck that does multiple things and plays differently from game to game. Unfortunately, the duration of a run is a bit too long to play the game regularly. A winning run takes about 2 hours on average and that is a big commitment for a run-based game, especially if you lose to the final boss.
Get in the Car, Loser is a delightfully funny and heartfelt RPG about four lesbians on a road trip to save the world from some sort of robot devil. From the jump the game had me laughing and smiling at all of the car banter and absurd setup. Even better, the game parlayed that goodwill into several larger arguments about self-acceptance and radical action in the face of a resurgence of bigotry. My one qualm with the game is that the combat system is heavily inspired by Final Fantasy XIII, my least-favorite game. As a result, I kind of hated playing Get in the Car, Loser, but that is more FFXIII’s fault than GITCL’s.
Tales from Off-Peak City Vol. 1 did not come out this year, but I played it this year and it left such an impression on me that I simply had to shout it out. Cosmo D’s funhouse mirror version of a city block oozes charm out of its many orifices. The corner of July Avenue and Yam Street is the center of pizza-based intrigue, political revolution, and urban blight the likes of which you must play to understand. If you’re in the mood for a far-out adventure game with outstanding music and impeccable vibes, give Tales from Off-Peak City Vol 1. a look. The less you know, the better.
I went into The Artful Escape with very low expectations. Coming hot on the heels of Twelve Minutes, I was not enthused to play an Annapurna published game touting a vocal cast full of movie actors. Fortunately, The Artful Escape largely utilizes its high-profile voice actors in supporting roles, opting instead to center the game around the plot: the musical awakening of the young nephew of a Bob Dylan stand-in. The game starts out grounded in the musical frustrations of a young guitarist trapped in the shadow of his famous uncle before it wildly spins out into a space-spanning adventure of personal discovery. There is not much gameplay to The Artful Escape, but the visuals, audio, and story carry the experience for its tight 4-6 hour run time.
Like I said in my Roguebook discussion, I love deckbuilders. Once I saw the trailer for Inscryption I knew I had to give it a try. A horror themed Rogue-like deckbuilder with escape room elements seemed like my jam. Unfortunately, the actual deckbuilding in Inscryption is pretty straightforward and simple if you’ve played a lot of this style of game. Thankfully, the vibes and story carry Inscryption further than almost any other deckbuilder. Inscryption is the rare deckbuilder that I have no problem recommending to people who don’t ordinarily play card games. Give Inscryption a shot. Play to find out more, leave Google out of this.
I wasn’t able to actually play FFVII Remake until this year and, as a Final Fanatic, the main game blew me away. Intergrade brings Yuffie and Fort Condor into the 2020s alongside some streamlined character progression. While I’m not exactly ecstatic at where the main story seems to be going, the gameplay is still as smooth as ever and Yuffie might be my favorite of the reimagined characters to use.
Devotion technically came out in 2019, but the game was basically unbuyable until early 2021 due to some international incidents it caused. I’m happy to say it is a great horror game that is worth checking out beyond the controversy around its release! Devotion is kind of like if Silent Hill 4: The Room wasn’t a convoluted mess and decided to focus on the whole “trapped in a haunted room” vibe instead of detached Silent Hill levels. On top of having a great, scary look, Devotion centers its horror on a grounded and topical story that hits especially hard given some of the turns of the last year. Please try to check it out if you can!
I am a die-hard Psychonauts fan, so the sequel to one of my favorite games of all time had to take my top spot. Double Fine managed to refine the gameplay and improve upon the storytelling of the original game. Pyschonauts 2 uses its mind-hopping conceit to explore a shared trauma from multiple perspectives, which was an unexpectedly nuanced direction for a fairly cartoony game to take. I frankly didn’t expect Psychonauts 2 to ever come out so I’m very happy to report it was as good as I hoped a sequel to Psychonauts would be.