Your ACTUAL "Games of the Year"

My list changes to something like:

  1. Trials of Fire
  2. Grim Dawn
  3. Total Warhammer 2
  4. EU4: Anbennar Mod
  5. Guild Wars 2
  6. Shadow Empire

I have had many candidates. I played too much. But I have two that really floats over all the rest.

One is X-Plane 11. It’s been my first flight simulator proper experience since X-Plane 5, prior to the 3D texture (!) update. I consumed two months and most of my wages in it. The only thing preventing me from spending more time with it is that my computer is suffering from high fever while running (I don’t think any games use as many resources as X-Plane, it is quite famous for that), and I have the guilty notion that I shouldn’t be expositing it to that. A bit like eating too much cake, but for a computer.

The other is Drag’on Dragoon/Drakengard.
I went into the Yokoworld through NieR Automata. I liked the world view, the unsympathetic protagonists, the world as a puzzle in a lighter way than LA-MULANA.
I took upon myself to try the earlier games, and one I had heard a lot about, and not in a good way, was Drag’on Dragoon. It was love at first sight. The strange dialogues, the banging soundtrack that mirrors the protagonist’s plunge into insanity, the absolutely overambitious gameplay (in what other game do you jump down from your dragon after firing her breath, to mow armies of archers personally, then jump back on her to burn the rest!) and, of course, the wacky storylines. The sound design is incredible for a game this complex (see Drag’on Dragoon 3/Drakengard 3 for an example of how the same ideas can become an aural mud): you hear dialogues, screams, clangs and booms. The dialogues, again! During your gameplay, the characters will bless you with various considerations about your actions. This happens in other Yoko games, but none did it this well.
I proceeded through all of Yoko’s other games (I’m currently playing the much maligned for wrong reasons NieR Reincarnation), but Drag’on Dragoon is my favourite by far. They are definitely not for everyone, as the writing is very uneven, often on purpose — as to keep the reader on her toes —, the themes are definitely dark, the politics of the author are the very rare Japanese leftist take, and his single overarching obsession is that if heroes of videogames were living beings, they’d all be unsympathetic maniacs. Drakengard was my favourite, but I really enjoyed my time in Drakengard 3. Both NieR: Automata and NieR: Replicant had two unecessary extra endings — I think neither games trusted the player enough, and they should have stated that the extra endings’ goal was to accomodate the people with fetish into their characters. SinoAlice was kind of a pretentious mess for the few hours I played it, although I’ll get back to it when I’m done with Reincarnation — You never know what the game may have got in store, which is part of the enjoyment of those!

I think you mean “games of your life” for these two!

Hum, interesting. I’ve never been interested in a Yoko game because of his eyerolling other overarching obsession with skimpy costumes, among other reasons, but this one reminds me of that take on Evangelion and child soldiers, so maybe I’ll check it out.

My big thing, at least in the second half of the year, was playing through all three Dragon Age games in succession. I guess that makes them collectively my GOTY, although I have some ambivalence about all of them. Origins is still my favorite.

Starsector v.95.1

I am a glutton for its punishment.

  1. Cyberpunk
  2. Evil Genius 2
  3. Darkest Dungeon
  4. MLB The Show
  5. Factorio
  1. Elex
  2. King’s Bounty - Crossworlds
  3. Anno 1800
  4. Batman - Telltale Series
  5. Football, Tactics and Glory

I didn’t really start playing games actually released in 2021 until October 2021, so this was the majority of my year.

I installed this but the opening was so laughable I couldn’t get past it. Maybe someday.

I keep thinking maybe I should try Elex someday. It sounds kind of outrageous in a fun way. But I doubt I’d be able to see it through.

  1. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
  2. Guilty Gear XX Accent Core +R
  3. Atomicrops
  4. Desperados III
  5. Going Under
  6. Guacamelee 2
  7. The Messenger
  8. Trine
  9. Moss

Discuss’ not working function of the day seems to be quote here.
The obsession over skimpy clothes is probably not his (as Drakengard illustrates), he likes to blame one of his co authors for his obsession over little boys, though.
I’d expand, but hush, spoilering and babbling me!

Maybe not! I’m going on secondhand info here, so it’s very possibly incorrect. I love this right here:

See, not an obsession: simply what is being asked by the producers at Square and him doing his work.

I’m not sure Elex is a good game, but it is the game that I’ve enjoyed playing the most this year. It has all the historical Piranha Bytes jank from Gothic. I’ve missed many quest triggers and started quests mid-story and have no idea where or how I missed stuff; had to reload after getting stuck in door textures multiple times. If you enjoyed the running and sneaking and exploration and danger around every turn in Gothic and coming back 20 levels later to destroy that animal that killed you regularly though, then this sure is a trip down that memory lane.

RPG’s have moved on for good reasons though I think.

actually, in 2020 I was mostly impressed by replaying

  1. Inside Replayed with my daughter, she was amazed
  2. Resident Evil 4 (Remaster) With a controller just perfect, campy all the way
  3. Dune: Imperium or Rocketmen Both very elegant boardgames.
  4. The Witness (PS4) almost completed, maybe 80% … it is just too much.
  5. Doom (2016) and Doom Eternal I need to drop the difficulty in D:E compared to Doom (2016)

Runners up: MGS5 : Prologue, finally I played it through, strange game, ready to play the main game now, Planetbase (PS4) just a relaxing colony builder on Mars.

I played those games the most in 2020.

@Kolbex I nearly bunged my ACTUAL games of the year under my Quarterlies list but now I’m glad I didn’t! These should be called the Actualies :)

My Quarterlies earnt their places but these are the other highlights of my 2021!

  1. The Longing

This would slot in just under Echoes of the Eye.

All the old king asks of you is to wake him after 400 days to end all fear and longing. Just wait and never leave these caves deep, deep beneath the earth. Boom, easy. But 400 (real time) days… that’s a long time for your gloomy little yellow-eyed shade. So you explore and have a poke around the palace and you come across a big menacing set of doors leading up… and, well, that’s all it takes to make you ask: what is outside? What happens if you have a quick look? A little peek wouldn’t hurt, right? The old king is asleep after all and just look at those doors. You might be a dutiful and obedient shade for a while but… for 400 days? The curiosity will gnaw at you but will it kill the proverbial cat? Will patience and restraint reward you?

I loved the ambiguity of The Longing (assuming you don’t spoil anything for yourself–I think the mysterious and unclear structure or thrust of the game is so exciting so the less you know the better) and the way it wove ‘idle game’ mechanics into its themes of loneliness, isolation, ennui and duty and waiting for something–indeed anything–to happen. It’s often quite meditative. You’ll spend so long walking the same halls that you’ll notice things and ask ‘was that always there?’

The visuals, music, space and bold, languid pace gave the game such a distinctive and powerful identity and atmosphere, but the slow drip, drip of discoveries kept me checking in and wondering: what is going to happen? I’m still amazed how much this strange thing totally had me under its spell, how much it exceeded my expectations and how attached I got to ol’ Shady. Just a bold, remarkable and singular experience, and one of my all-time favourites now.

I’m sure you don’t need to read more but there’s a thread about it here.

  1. Hunt: Showdown

2021 was the year I finally got to play this properly ie. with friends. At first with my brother then a little later we found a good tightly knit community of UK/European players so most days and evenings there have been folk to play with and it’s been fantastic. It’s unforgiving and has a steep learning curve but the showdowns can be thrilling and incredibly tense. Of course, some can be instant death, salt and misery, but that’s Hunt.

  1. Going Under

It feels like I played this in 2020 but apparently not! It was a long year. I might possibly have preferred it to Hades overall. Possibly. You can read more of my thoughts in this thread here.

  1. Tales from Off-Peak City Vol. 1

Off-Peak, The Norwood Suite, now Tales from Off-Peak City Vol. 1… While they’re very strange games, there are thematic threads or motifs running through them and they’re eminently musical experiences. I think they’re fascinating and, if nothing else, akin to enjoying a good music video, but a game instead. This feels like the most sophisticated of Cosmo D’s work but The Norwood Suite is perhaps the best place to start. Off-Peak is free, but there are demos for the others too.

  1. Sagebrush

I’d seen this recommended when I picked up the itch Bundle for Racial Equality and Justice. It must be one of my favourite slow-burn horror/thrillers and it can be finished in a session or two. I don’t want to say too much about it because I think going in blind is the best way but I loved the setup and how this resolved.

  1. Deep Rock Galactic

You know why.

  1. Unrailed!

Damn. What an incredible co-op design and what a bastard of a game. So so good with friends.

  1. Commune Corvidae

This was just what I needed when I played it. Beautiful (in a Chahi or low-fi Ueda kind of way), relaxing and melancholic but with an air of hope and an invigorating sense of… renewal, I suppose. ‘Returning home as the descendant of a long-deposed leader, you explore what has become of your family’s old domain. Though the scars of your ancestors’ influence remain, the community has turned away from the past toward a hopeful future.’ I just loved exploring this strange place, and flying makes it all the more enjoyable. It’s a bit janky at times but I believe it was made in 7 months by one guy. @divedivedive you may be interested in this!

This is really cool!

My man!

What @Kolbex said! Also: my man! ;)

I finished the original Quake(spasm) for the first time weeks before the remaster was released. I was a bit annoyed about that! 25 years of timing there. But I enjoyed the game a lot more than I expected, despite those bastard spawn creatures in the last chapter. Didn’t enjoy it quite enough to crack a list though!

I have never heard of Commune Corvidae, but I will check it out. Thanks for the recommendation.

Same here! Thanks, @geggis!

See, this thread is more my speed since I spend 80% of my gaming time playing older games:

  1. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
  2. Divinity: Original Sin
  3. Yakuza: Like A Dragon
  4. Resident Evil II (Remake)
  5. Diablo III (Switch)

Runner ups Torchlight 2. Played a bunch on the Switch over the summer, and picked it up again over the holidays for the Xbox and having a blast with it the past few weeks.

First, there’s the perennial title that I get back into with friends, League of Legends. If Riot Games has its way, I should feel foolish for thinking one would want to conceptualize a best esport of the year. (Hmm, looking around, what’s with the fondness for the loudness that is pickleball? Definitely my least favorite sport of 2021.) Were this more formal, I would considering excluding games with more than a thousand hours played, or less than 1/3 of their total play-time during that year, from Actualies eligibility… Can’t even have a friendly discussion without rules being argued, what’s with this man?

I don’t have the archival cred of @Left_Empty, only picking up NieR Replicant v1.22… and getting through its endings. It doesn’t have much to say that isn’t said better in NieR Automata. Enjoyable, good on its own terms, but outclassed by the later work. The character Kaine shines through–very memorable, excellently voiced.

Thanks to PS+ I tried Subnautica. Seriously good in a way that survival crafting never has been for me. Severe stability problems on the PS5, though.

Final Fantasy VII: Remake is unnecessarily great, seeing how fans seem satisfied with pixel remasters. This delivers a reimagining. The characters start as the stereotypes they were, but their time together provides development into people I cared about. The combat was the series’ best. I started to replay on Hard difficulty, and that feels like how it’s meant to be. No wandering for items during time-critical situations; veteran characters in peak form. I was having to delve into skills I had ignored up to that point. I think it set it aside because of the announcements about upgrades for the new consoles. Speaking of, shouldn’t Square-Enix be handing out some PS+ bennies now?

I fell hard for Death Stranding’s mystery world and moody soundtrack. I don’t think it could ever deliver answers in keeping with the oddities, so I give it credit for making it work as well as it did. It was a grind, but I felt genuinely happy connecting everything with a road. Maybe because I could see all of the other usernames that were part of the effort?

Overall best was The Last of Us: Part II. I was breathless for so much of it. Whatever had caused me to feel that Part I had different worlds between the game play and the characters was gone here. The characters lead their own lives, and the game’s great feat is bringing me with them, empathizing, caring, shouting but enacting their goals.