The Games I Loved in 2017

Okay, let’s get one thing strait before I start: this is not a “best of” list. I haven’t played nearly enough of the big games that came out this year to feel truly comfortable making that kind of list. This is just a few games I played this year I either missed the chance to talk about or want to remind people about because they left an impression upon me like few other games did this year.

1) Nioh

If you know me then you probably know that I fucking LOVE Dark Souls. The original game still ranks among my all time favorite games and I even wrote my first editorial for this site crediting it with my current school success, and now that I’m interning a real university, I still feel the same way about it. But even with all the acclaim I heap upon it, after four games (yes, including Demons Souls too) of medieval fantasy, I was hoping someone would take the formula in another direction. Take the core game play that I loved so much and move it somewhere new, like what From Software ended up doing with Bloodborne. Thankfully for me Team Ninja did just that with Nioh.

Nioh is everything I could have wanted and more. The game is every bit as challenging and rewarding as Dark Souls, but with a faster and overall smoother combat feel that felt almost more akin to Bloodborne but with more defensive options that made Dark Souls battles so tense. On top of that, the game is simply layered with complexities that you can ignore, but added so much more depth than anything any of the Souls games ever had. Three Stances for each weapons, seven types of hand to hand weapons, elemental damage, magic and ninjutsu skills, and on top of that, something like 20 different guardian spirits offering different bonuses. Add to that the beautiful Japanese setting that mixed real life historical events with Japanese mythology, and you have the first non-From Software game to truly equal the Souls games. Nioh truly feels like Team Ninja studied everything From did, then made a game using the best parts from every game, yet they still managed to give the game it’s own personality.

2) Persona 5

I wanted Persona 5 since before I knew there was going to be a Persona 5. I jumped on the Persona bandwagon with P4 on the PS2, then went back and played 3. Those two also near the top of my all time favorite games list. But each one has a pretty major flaw. P4 has a great story, but it takes forever to get going and a lot of the dept was lost in the years since P3. Persona 3, on the other hand, had the dept I wanted, but you could only control one party member which I hated and the real story didn’t even begin until you were ¾ done with the game. And Tartarus was a simply boring dungeon.

Persona 5 feels like the best of both worlds. The story is fantastic, and while it is still slow the game opens with a bang and keeps things at a much more reasonable pace. Like with Persona 4 each dungeon is a representation of it’s master/boss, but the fact they were all hand made make each one infinity more interesting and memorable than they were in the previous game. The game wasn’t perfect; I like everyone else didn’t appreciate Morgana constantly telling me to go to bed, but in the end the best thing I can say about the game was that it was 100 hours long and it never felt its length to me. And that opening theme was a jam.

3) Dusk Episode One

I haven’t gotten to episode 2 just yet, which may be the only reason it’s not here. But as far as Episode One is concerned, I cannot recommend this enough. It’s as old school as it can get yet never feels dated, which is a true triumph of game design. And yes, if you red my review you know a large part of my love of the game is that it gave me the chance to take pot shots at the kinds of backwards-thinking renecks I grew up around, and I do like taking potshots and backward-thinking redneck troglodytes.

4) Bear With Me

I think Episode One of this came out last year, but Episodes 2 and 3 were released in 2017 and….god damn do I love this game. I don’t want to say too much because I still have a review for Episode 3 coming out, but if you like point and click games, I highly recommend Bear With Me. This is the game I could nit-pick the easiest, but for all the issues I had with it I never once fell out of love with the game.

5) 20XX

At first mention, a roguelike tribute to Mega-Man doesn’t sound like the best idea. But since getting the game it i’ve found 20XX nearly impossible to put down. What makes it so good is that the game does two things i’ve never seen another roguelike do: 1) It actually manages to tutorialize new concepts. When a new trap or platforming mechanic was introduced, it was always introduced in a way that made it feel like there was some genuine level design at play instead of having the typical roguelike issue of simply having to try your luck when something new is brought in.
The second thing it does is have a consistent difficulty curve. In most other roguelikes a really good or really bad run near the start can make the best of the game either too easy or too hard. While 20XX only has three level types, new enemies types are introduced as you go and bosses have new challenges as you put the off. So a boss that might be super easy if you fight them first can become a pain in the ass if you wait too long to fight them. If nothing else, I home more roguelike devs take note of this and try incorporating some of it’s ideas into their games.

6) Little Red Lie

Like I said in my review “Little Red Lie isn’t a fun game. Hell, it’s not even a pleasant one. But it is gripping, engaging, and honest.” It’s a game that took me way too long to get through as it was so damn heartbreaking that I couldn’t stand to play it for more than an hour at a time. If you’re into interactive fiction, go get Little Red Lie.

7) Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment

The only thing holding me back from saying that Yacht Club Games are the best indie developers currently working is the fact that they have technically only made one game. However, both peaces of Shovel Knight DLC are full games in their own right and change things up so drastically that to call them merely DLC feels like an insult. Here the team took a platformer and made it feel almost like a rhythm game and continued their tradition of wordlessly conveying a relationship using the same core mechanics are the rest of the game. I cannot wait for the last expansion but i’m even more excited to see what this team does next.

8) SuperHot

It’s the most innovative shooter I’ve played in years. It’s the most innovative shooter I’ve played in years. It’s the most innovative shooter I’ve played in years. It’s the most innovative shooter I’ve played in years. It’s the most innovative shooter I’ve played in years. It’s the most innovative shooter I’ve played in years. It’s the most innovative shooter I’ve played in years. It’s the most innovative shooter I’ve played in years.

(I Played on PS4, so it counts)

9) Cosmic Star Heroine

As it is with many of us, I love me some Chrono Trigger. It’s one of my all time favorite RPG’s, and as an RPG guy, that makes it one of my all time favorite games. Cosmic Star Heroine reminded me of Chrono Trigger in the best of ways. My biggest complaint with the game was that it felt like it was made for a mobile platform and I was playing it on PC.

10) Hollow Knight

I’m not going to lie, in a year where I was more productive this would have been relegated to an “honorable mention”. I took me a while to warm up to the game, and it never quite resonated with me the way it did with other people. The early hours had too much grinding and it is obviously trying to get by on the admittedly beautiful artwork and music. But after a while, around the time you get the dash I did start to see enjoy myself. I’m sure this is going to end up on a few “best of” lists, and I don’t fault anyone for that, but personally I don’t think it ever got to be that good, but i’m not upset that I put time into Hollow Knight either.

School is Finally Done

So, as of today, Friday December 8th, i am done with class. I still have finals Tuesday through Thursday of next week, but this is it for the quarter. And with that, i’m done with Community College. In a week or two, i will officially be a college graduate. Granted this is only my AA, but god dammit, i’m proud of myself. Back in 2013, when i first started college and ended up flunking out, i never thought i would make it this far. I never thought i’d end up going to a university; i never thought i would have a future of any kind, let alone one as bright as mine is looking right now.

This also means i’ll be able to spend some time playing games and writing over the next few weeks too! I’ve got two or three games to review that i haven’t been able to torch over the last three months, so it’ll be nice to clear those out. The only question now is, will steam get through all the updates in time for me to play something before my break is up….i kind of doubt it.

The Games I’m Thankful For 2017

I wasn’t sure if I was going to do another article like this one, but last years did pretty well and I’ve finally got enough time to do some writing, so I figured “why not”. So here are a few more games that either had a profound impact on me or were the catalyst for something great in my life.

Kingdom Hearts

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Kinda sucks i didn’t talk about this one last year so i could make an easy “when is KH3 coming out” joke. Meh, fuck it: WHERE THE FUCK IS KINGDOM HEARTS 3

I moved in with my mother the summer before I started high school. I wasn’t expecting too, I thought it was just going to be a visit, but that turned out not too be the case. Because she had to work I had decided to bring my PlayStation 2 with me, and since I knew I’d probably be spending a lot of time with the sister I hardly knew, I decided to pick up a game for her. Something she could play if she wanted, and something I wouldn’t go nuts having to sit though. I remember hearing good things about this odd little Disney/Final Fantasy cross over and it seemed like the perfect game for a young girl. At the time, I’ll admit to my great shame, Disney meant “princesses” and “princess” mean “boring girl stuff”. I figured the Final Fantasy stuff would balance out the Disney stuff so maybe it would be tolerable.

The game was….not quite what I was expecting. For one it was good. Like, really good. Secondly, it was way more difficult than it had any right to be. I’m not sure how I beat the final boss the first time and my sister….well, I ended up playing most of it for her. But the game did it’s job. We and her bonded a lot over it, and when Kingdom Hearts 2 came out we spent a lot of time playing that one together too. Along with the band Coheed and Cambria, Kingdom Hearts may be the reason me and my sister got along so well.

Volchaos

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Volchaos isn’t really a good game. But it is the game that proved to me that I was doing something right with this site, and it cemented the best friendship I’ve ever had. I had been following and talking via twitter to Cathy from IndieGamerChick.Com for a while. The day after her birthday last year (I remember this because a happy birthday post I made was the catalyst for event), she had decided that I was cool enough to be actual friends with. She friended me on Facebook, and we started talking more on their. When I told her I also did game reviews and stuff, she asked me to send her some of my work. I did, and about 15 minuets latter she messaged me saying “yeah, look, I’m going to be your editor now”. I know that sounds harsh but, it was much nicer that that. She had helped me with a few things I was writing at the time, then asked me if I was getting review codes. I told her I wasn’t and that I didn’t really know where too start with that. A few minuets latter she came back with a code for Volchaos. A friend of her’s developed it, and she went to bat for me to get a code. It was the first game I had gotten a review code for, and I had only gotten it because someone saw something of worth in my writing. Someone saw value in me succeeding in the field I wanted to be in. That was the moment any and all doubt evaporated: I had met my best friend for life. But for fucks sake Cathy, you couldn’t have gotten me a good game? God, friendship over. :p

(On a related note, you can read that review HERE)

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3

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Guys, look, i know. I’m supposed to be better than this, you expect more form me. I know. It’s embarrassing to admit, Let’s just get though this like that awful political speech your drunk uncle is going to give. We can do it together, we just have to push on and persevere.

I’m sorry. I’m sorry i’m sorry i’m sorry i’m sorry. But, I do have to be honest here. If you’ve been reading my stuff for a while, you know I freaking love Overwatch. Even though I haven’t played it in a while (god, this quarter fucking sucks.) I’ve been keeping up with the news and it’s one of the things I’ve missed the most since school started up again. Well, truth be told I wasn’t always the kind of guy that would have liked it. See, once upon a time, I didn’t really care about multiplayer. At all. But when I got my PS4, the only one in stock came bundled with Black Ops 3. I never imagined I would play it, but I wanted that PS4 so damn bad. That was i’d be able to start this site and focus on more topic games, where as with my last site it was pretty much whatever I could get my hands on. Well, being that I was (and still am) poor as shit, I ended up running out of games to play pretty fast. So, one day I decided to just bite the bullet and try Black Ops 3. And to my great surprise, I had a lot of fun with the multiplayer. I was even pretty good too. It wasn’t uncommon for me to be in the top three for my team, or even for me to be #1. That ended up turning me from a “multi-player is a wast of time” kind of guy to a “if I dont get at least one good game of Overwatch in during this break i’m going to FUCKING KILL SOMEONE” kind of guy. I’m not 100% sure that’s a positive change, but it is a change nonetheless.

Well, that’s it for this year folk. Have a happy (and safe, I need you fuckers for the page views) Thanksgiving.

Personal News

Hey Folks! I was hoping that the next time i could carve out some time for the site it would be for some more fun stuff like…you know….talking about games….that thing i started the site to do in the first place. But, sadly this last quarter has really been kicking my ass. Hell, to be honest the only games I’ve even played in the last few months has been Clicker Hero’s or Bejeweled. But, with that does come some good news: I’ve been excepted to Gonzaga University. Starting in January (unless i reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally fuck things up), i will be pursuing a degree in Journalism. I wish i could have posted about something other than “nope, still not talking about games”, but fuck it, i’m excited about this, so i wanted to make a post.

Lab Notes 19: Where Have I Been?

Hey guys! It’s been a while since i posted, and i just wanted to give a bit of an update.  So the big thing is that school’s started again. And that means things have slowed waaaaaaay the hell down. I have to wake up early, and i’m there way longer than i wanted to be as my classes are so spread out. By the time i get home all i want to do is crash, which hurts my sleep at the end of the day, which makes getting up harder, which makes me want to crash more when i get home which….i think you can see how this goes from there.

So, yeah. For the last week and a half i have not been nearly as active as i wanted to be. I dont even think i’m going to be able to keep up with my saturday streams….the things i started IN CASE school got in the way of my posting. Funny thing that.

But there is some good news. I applied for graduation and, unless i truly fuck up this quarter, i will be a college graduate this December. It’ll only be an AA, but that’s better than nothing. Plus, i’m meeting with some university people next month, and i have a good feeling i’m going to get in.

I do have a few reviews planned over at IndieGamerTeam, though, and i do intend to keep posting stuff here as well. I’ve got an editorial about hype i’ve been planning on writing up, so there’s that.