2017 was a big year for me. I finished my degree and went into the wide, wild world. That involved a serious period of unemployment and then good chunk of employment. I learned a lot in both times, that I had plenty of time to play when I didn’t have a job but no money, and vice versa when I landed myself gainful employment. It becomes hard to justify spending time on hobbies when 9-5, Monday-Friday is accounted for and you need to prioritise relationships and making food for yourself. MonsterVine in that way is a fantastic outlet for me, there’s a purpose to playing games and an opportunity to try titles I never would have got around to otherwise. 2017 was a good one, 2018 is looking even better.
I’ll be real, I’ve been chasing that Binding of Isaac mechanical interaction in a roguelike for years. Finally, Dead Cells has that perfect mix of moment to moment gameplay and strategic choice that makes me day-dream about perfect runs and unique synergies and itch to just keep playing. If you’re looking for something that really understands game flow pick up Dead Cells and while away some time.
Highlight: getting that perfect “2-shot-the-main-boss” run.
Divinity: Original Sin II
Divinity: Original Sin II managed to capture the feeling that so many RPGs strive for and fall short. A lot of modern RPG stories are highly consequence focused, big decision points that branch out into different outcomes. Divinity truly felt like a tabletop RPG – you were free to pursue any number of approaches to problems and have them work out in strange and unusual ways.
Highlight: Teleport shenanigans
In the past couple of years developers have been taking swings at the third person action platformer and usually missing. That’s why Odyssey was such a joy to play – tight controls, beautiful worlds and filled to the brim with content. While it didn’t reinvent the series like Breath of the Wild, Odyssey felt like a perfection of a long beloved set of tropes and mechanics. I felt like a kid again playing my 64 – excited to hang out with my good pal Mario.
Highlight: when you go inside the frog you see pictures of an actual real life frog. The implications are truly horrifying.
Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition
The list was best games, not best video games – what up loophole. Seriously though, 2017 was the year I discovered tabletop gaming through the granddaddy of tabletop games: D&D. All of the qualities listed in the games above are central to a good game of D&D: choice, consequence, strategy and a childlike sense of wonder and adventure. When you forget about things like “graphics” and “professional voice acting” you start paying attention to story and character development – D&D has taught me more about games than playing any video game.
Highlight: selling my players paid DLC so they could imagine their character with a sweet hat.