Howdy, y’all! At the time of writing this I am deep in the submission process of my graduate school (PhD) applications. By the time this goes up (if it goes up at all) I’ll be catching up on games that I should have played but didn’t have time to. This list should really be “Top 5 games that probably would have made the Top 5” and would feature games like Cinders, Hatoful Boyfriend, Eidolon, Sunless Sea, and This War of Mine because those games sound awesome and are in my Steam library and won’t get played for a while.
Favorite Game Released Before 2013, Played in 2014: SSX (2012)
This game is basically therapy for me. I took a break from it for a year but came back to it recently. I’m only good at the trick aspect but boy am I really good at that third of the game. Doing the trick runs in SSX is the closest I have to stress-relieving substances that are hella illicit in Pennsylvania.
5. Nidhogg / Sportsfriends / TENNNES
I cannot separate those games from each other. Even with Nidhogg and TENNNES being their own releases, to me they still occupy the same collection of local multiplayer sports-ish games that I love setting up and sharing with other people.
4. Crypt of the NecroDancer
I have not made it past Zone 2 of this game because I’m bad at games but Zone 1 was an amazing experience. I love moving around the randomly generated dungeons to the beat of Danny B’s tunes, always discovering something I haven’t seen before, and learning a new way to kill monsters. Also playing this game with a DDR pad once or twice was magical.
Not only have I played a ridiculous amount of this game, I am fascinated by the drama and academic discourse it generated about the nature of cloning and original work.
2. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
Goodness gracious this game has thematic and representational problems, but despite its problematic messaging and moral repulsiveness, I simply could not stop playing this game for hours at a time when it came out. It did so many mechanical things so right (e.g. Assassin’s Creed-ish environment traversal, Arkham Asylum-ish combat, Far Cry 2-ish NPCs that the player systemically develops a relationship with over time). I loved playing the game but hated myself for it.
Transistor is a game that I went into totally ignorant of what it was. When Supergiant first announced their follow-up to Bastion, I resolved to stay clear of all media surrounding it. I had no idea what to expect when I started playing it and ended up loving every minute that I played. I think the way the character bios had to be unlocked using their respective powers in different slots was a brilliant solution to the problem of players optimizing toward a specific style/tactic and usually sticking with it. I think the bios that were unlocked turning out to be blocks of boring text in an especially audiovisual-heavy game was a poor decision. I think this game has some of the best art and sound design I’ve experienced in a game so far.
When those end credits finished rolling and that beautiful song wrapped up, I couldn’t help but start a new game. I wanted to keep playing. It just felt so good.
Honorable Mention: Jazzpunk, Broken Age Act I, OlliOlli
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