Bounzy! is a neat iOS game where you shoot balls, breakout-style, at enemies coming toward your wall. If they make it, you lose health and eventually lose the map. In order to defeat increasingly powerful foes, you need to upgrade your projectiles and acquire new spells, like a poison effect or piercing shots. You also can use more powerful spells like meteors and electricity a few times per map. All of these systems are okay and the core gameplay of Bounzy! is actually really good, the problem is that you are drowned in ads, micro-transactions and gameplay balance obviously skewed towards taking forever if you don't spend money on the game.
Destiny 2 isn't a great game, I didn't have much hopes going into it - and the only reason I really did was because I got it for free and it was on PC - and I thought that at best it would get on some level similar to Borderlands. It's more like an MMORPG played in the first person view, with a sci-fi setting. The mission structure, lack of customization options and general gameplay loop turned me off from the game and I didn't put much time into it.
PUSH is a neat little puzzle game with a simple, clean aesthetic that follows a pattern I've seen with iOS puzzle games these days; Start with a very simple mechanic, get a few levels with that mechanic, then move on to another mechanic and repeat that pattern. Sometimes you overlap two mechanics together, but most of the time they are lost after you encounter them and go through what they mean. It's a nice way to make sure you don't repeat the same puzzles over and over, but at the same time you also need to come up with a bunch of puzzle mechanics. PUSH managed to do it pretty well!
Glittermitten Grove is a fairy forest management game where you accumulate food and other resources in other to maintain a thriving fairy population. You use these fairies to build more buildings and help you collect mana in order to cast spells to grow trees and do other things. It's a neat little game and I find that the act of managing how trees grow (if you stack too many buildings on one side, the tree will collapse) and the need for trees to get a lot of sun to be real interesting. It is not, however, the reason why I got Glittermitten Grove. I'm talking about Frog Fractions 2; Hidden inside this other game is a product following a classic misdirection entertainment product about a frog eating flies to teach kids about maths. It's pretty tough to do misdirection when people are expecting it, but Frog Fraction 2 manages it admirably.
Swipe Casters is barely a game; it is an okay core mechanic slapped around in-app purchases, weird systems and one-note gameplay. The idea to trace glyphs in order to deal damage to enemies is fine, but when that's all there is to it, when all the game does is pile on more difficulty on the glyph tracing and when the upgrades feel pointless and not fun, it feels more like a tech demo than an actual game. I tried to have fun with it, but I left sorely disappointed.
At first, I didn't think Darkest Dungeon was for me; It's way too oppressive and difficult, and the game wears that on its sleeve. I struggled a lot at the beginning, experiencing full party wipes with characters that I had already started to become attached to. Then I did something I almost never do; I installed a few mods. This simple tweak made the game much more palatable for me and I managed to get through a huge chunk of its content. Darkest Dungeon is a fantastic title and I wish I could've played the whole thing.
AdVenture Communist follows in the style and concept of Adventure Capitalist, a game I have reviewed a few years back. An idle game that's trying to do some things differently, I had some fun with it, but I lost interest quickly. It's a very pyramidal game; You have basic resources like potatoes and ore and you have production resources like farmers and miners. You need to spend farmers and miners in order to get other production resources that create farmers and miners automatically, which you then spend to get another layer of resource that produces more producers. It's a neat idea, but I hit a wall of not being able to upgrade fairly quickly, so I stopped.
Ladykiller In A Bind is a visual novel about lesbian sex taking place on a cruise ship. It's also a visual novel about consent and a various cast of characters living in an alternate universe where everyone can just be themselves without getting destroyed by the mockery of their peers. The concept of the game is interesting and you really want to see the story play out and the relationships are interesting. You also need to balance votes and suspicion and this allows for various objectives and multiple playthroughs. I really enjoyed it!
Cityglitch is a neat little puzzle game where you move around small grids of tiles in order to light up special panels while avoiding to lock yourself out of the puzzle or to be defeated by various enemies and bosses. It's pretty cool even if some of the later ones are quite fiendish and I couldn't finish the game. It's got style and its easy to control, so I'd recommend it to puzzle enthusiasts!
TIS-100 is a game where you program a fake computer using some kind of assembly language made of simple commands like MOV (to move things around), ADD (to add values to an accumulator), JMP (to jump to a label) and conditionals like JGZ (to jump to a label if the accumulator is greater than zero, for instance). The special thing about this TIS-100 computer is that you have a bunch of nodes physically located around each other and while they have a small space for you to write code, you can move values around and create complex programs. I had a really good time with it, even if I feel the game doesn't do enough to help non-programmers.
Klocki is an iOS puzzle game where a series of levels with varying and complex mechanics add on top of each other to create interesting little challenges. Starting with simple tile-swapping puzzles where you need to connect all lines and ending with complex tile-sliding with rotation and color puzzles added on top of that, I just burned through all of it. Not all puzzle types were hitting it 100% with me (and the rotating puzzles lagged like crazy on my old iPad) but Klocki is a great puzzle game.
It was a weird surprise to see a new version of Titan Quest rise from the ashes of the series after all this time and the announcement of a new expansion sure was even more of a surprise to me. Titan Quest: Ragnarok continues the main story into the Nordic lands, adds a new class and probably reworks balance for a great number of skills and items. Is it the expansion I've been waiting for? Probably not. Is it a great reason to go back into Titan Quest? Absolutely.
Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is an okay version of Animal Crossing for mobile devices. It's not great, but it's not catastrophically bad either. I fell off it pretty quickly because what was there didn't catch me enough to keep me away from my 3DS and Vita, it's a campground simulation game where you collect fruits, bugs and fishes to give to animals in order to level up their friendship and get more stuff to decorate your camp with. The interactions are minimal and even if the whole package is well presented and isn't THAT different from mainline Animal Crossing games, the differences were enough to leave me uninterested.
Chroma Squad is a neat little strategy RPG where you move your characters on a grid to fight enemies, like Fire Emblem, Disgaea or Final Fantasy Tactics. Inspired strongly by the Power Rangers, it follows a team of actors as they progress doing their own show, growing their studio and equipment from nothing to having a ton of fans, great gear and even a giant robot they can fight with. I enjoyed the core gameplay of the game although I feel that there is too much stuff on the edges that ultimately prevented me from having a great time.
2017 was really a great year for videogames. I've worked on a bunch of game jams, I've made a few games here and there (you can play them on my itch.io page or on my website and I played a bunch of them. The Nintendo Switch came out this year and I think it's my favorite console yet. It's almost perfect, but I kinda wish that it was smaller and easier to transport. Here's my top ten list of favorite games from this year, starting at number 10. You'll notice that I have Switch, PS4, 3DS, Vita games and even one iPad title, but no PC titles. That's a bit weird because I did play a bunch of PC games this year, but none of them really hit me. Better luck next year, Personal Computer!
#10 - Realm Grinder (iOS)
I find it a bit weird to give a GOTY award to an idle game on iPad, but I've 'played' this game for months and I'm still unlocking new stuff. I really enjoy idle game, and this one got everything I want; Mainly new mechanics that you unlock over a long period of time, builds and optimization, some neat in-app purchases that are one-shot done deals that boost your production permanently, and enough complexity to be interesting after such a long time (I'm really looking forward to getting Ascension 2 in 2018!) I just wish it was better optimized on my old iPad.
#9 - Persona 5 (PS4)
I'm not a huge Persona guy, although I went through most of the Shin Megami Tensei games. There always was something about Persona that paralyzed me and kept me from playing these games; The decision-making aspect that carried on day after day where you constantly need to pick what you're doing, which people you interact with and what attributes you decide to increase. I've been playing Persona 3 Portable and I'm about 2/3rd of the way through and I really enjoy it, Persona games can be great.
Persona 5, however, is style over substance. It is extremely polished and most of it's design is simply fantastic. The UI, music and other gameplay systems have been refined from P3 and P4 dramatically. However, the story left a bland taste in my mouth, the main cast of characters were really uninteresting and while the Palaces were cool and well-designed, the big sprawling random dungeon was really boring. I also cringed at the numerous 'gay panic' moments Atlus chose good to add in this one. Persona 5 is a great RPG, but I feel like P3P made with such level of production values would've been greater.
#8 - Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age (PS4)
Technically a remaster of an old game, FFXII:TZA is the first time I've played the International Edition of FFXII where you have character classes and a few other changes made to the game's systems. I just devoured this one and did everything there was to be done. I'll probably remember that five hours long boss fight forever! There's so much content in that game, the gambit system still feels fresh and while you might get overpowered and defeat the finale enemies really easily with Quickenings, the optional bosses still are an interesting challenge.
#7 - Metroid: Samus Returns (3DS)
This is a great return for the Metroid franchise even if there were justifiable fears about how Mercurystream would handle this game. I didn't play the original Metroid 2 much because the sound design - and the Metroid design - was terrifying to me when I was a little boy, so much of the game was a secret to me. With the addition of special abilities that allowed players to scan for hidden collectibles and power themselves up and with the addition of the melee counter to protect from dashing enemies, the game felt like a new idea from this year basking in the glory of previous 2D Metroid games.
#6 - Nier: Automata (PS4)
It took me a while to get into Nier, I had difficulties with the game's systems for a while - I wasn't really good at the fighting and died during a really early boss fight before you could save and had to restart the whole game over - and it's weird game all around, but it goes for certain storytelling beats that are really interesting, and you can tune the game to make it easier for yourself if the gameplay isn't your thing. After a while you just get caught in the story and all its characters and twists and turns. The ending was great too.
#5 - The Legend Of Zelda : Breath Of The Wild (Switch)
I've been on and off zelda games for a while and BoTW is a fantastic entry in this timeless franchise of classics. While you'll find in it everything that most zelda games have - swords and shields and bombs and rupees and great fairies - the open world format and the amount of content to be found changes the game significantly. Running around, completing trials in shrines, cooking food and upgrading weapons was really fun and while the dungeons weren't plentiful, they were focused on what mechanics they wanted you to use. With it's open-ended physics and almost infinite number of ways to accomplish tasks, you could play BoTW like you wanted to, and that's why it's one of the few Zelda games I've finished.
#4 - Danganronpa V3 (Vita)
I had a good time with the first two Danganronpa games and I really wanted to see where the story went from there and... It sure went. The gameplay of V3 was a bit improved over previous titles - the minigames in the trial sections weren't that terrible - and the optional content was interesting. The cast of characters had a few stinkers and I feel like the game only gets real good at around the 2/3rds, but then the direction it goes makes it completely one of the best 10 games of this year.
#3 - Tales of Berseria (PS4)
I'm a big fan of Tales games and Berseria was really, really good. I liked the tonal shift they used on the main cast of characters, making them more villains than heroes while still having them carry motivations making them well-rounded instead of being one-dimensional. I feel like the gameplay systems improved on previous Tales games where you had to fuse characters together or use really complicated crafting systems and it's just a blast in multiplayer, like always.
#2 - Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle (Switch)
I always was on-board with a potential Mario role playing spinoff featuring Ubisoft's Rabbids (since it meant that there was going to be a new Mario RPG) and while M+RKB is more of a strategy RPG akin to XCOM and Fire Emblem, it's one of the best I've played. Combining simple (yet complex) mechanics, a ton of content to go through - complete with secret missions, unlockable gear and a nice level of customization for your team in a package chock-full of reverence to the Mario universe and some good humor as well, I just went through the game without stopping until I had done everything.
#1 - Super Mario Odyssey (Switch)
This is my favorite game this year. It's so much full of fun and joy I could talk about every little detail that makes it great. On paper, it's a pretty formulaic Mario 3D Platformer. You go through various worlds and collect Moons in order to unlock the following worlds, you fight bosses that you need to hit three times, and then you save the day. What this description doesn't properly let through is that the game is full of things to do and every little challenge is so unique and properly crafted that you can't help but wander around, trying to find every little secret you can. Taking control of other characters by throwing your hat on them was a great addition to the Mario repertoire and even if I put a ton of hours into the game, I'm not done with the post-credit content.
Not to spoil anything, but the world you go to after the credits is probably my best gaming moment or sequence for this year, it's really good. The 8-bit segments are a nice throwback and the game makes reference to a bunch of things from Mario's past. It plays really well and with the cap-throwing you have a bunch of new ways to traverse levels and discover more stuff. A challenging game that doesn't feel too tough, a celebration of joy in gaming and an extremely polished product, that's what Super Mario Odyssey is and that's why it's my Game Of The Year 2017.
Arkanoid vs Space Invaders is an interesting mix of two classics that blends into something that's really fun to play - but can get pretty frustrating at times - with a good variety of gameplay elements and some light customization. The basic concept of the game is to move the Arkanoid paddle around to reflect Space Invader projectiles - and sometimes a ball - in order to accomplish different objectives. I did stop after a while because the game was asking too much from me and it was just an experience in futility at this point, but that was hours in and it was well worth my money.
The latest Grim Dawn expansion didn't fix everything that bothered me about the action RPG; I still don't like how skills and masteries synergize with each other and the two new classes - Necromancer and Inquisitor - don't fix that much. They add some interesting mechanics to the game, but otherwise it still feels like a slog to play. I managed to get through the new story content, but I'm not chomping at the bits to go back to more Grim Dawn.
Squarespace doesn't auto-save and it ate my review of Blyss. Here is the short version; Blyss is a game where you draw lines over tiles to remove dots on them and you need to get rid of all tiles without creating a situation where you don't have any more room to draw 3 or 4-tiles lines. It's a neat game with very little mechanics so it didn't grab my attention too much, but it's still a solid puzzle game.
Stardew Valley is a masterpiece of a game. It's a great Harvest Moon-alike, but it's much more than that. If I have one 'big' complaint about it is that there are too many things you can do. You can fish, farm, explore dungeons, you can date people and complete quests for a community center. If you want to focus on only a few things - like I did - you'll feel like you're missing out on other stuff to do. That's not a big deal in the grand scheme of things tho; Stardew Valley is a gem that I had a great time spending hours with. There are some little flaws here and there, but otherwise it's an all around success
Dandy Dungeon has a somewhat neat core mechanic of puzzle-rpg that is heavily bogged down by free to play mechanics and unnecessary cruft. There is a good idea in there about planning paths for your character to take and defeat all enemies, but I think that it would've been a better product with a premium price and more balanced mechanics. I had -some- fun with it, but in the end it could've been way more enjoyable than what it was.