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.
Broforce is a really neat shooter where you run around battlefields, shooting an extreme number of enemies with various characters - each equipped with signature weapons and special abilities - while dodging bullets, explosions and other hazards. I really enjoyed my time with it, although I didn't get all the references it makes - characters all have 'Bro' puns, like Rambro and the Brosen One. The chaos is a bit overwhelming at times, but the game is pretty forgiving with its checkpoints and the difficulty isn't that high, so I could have a good time with the whole game.
Euclidean Lands is a small puzzle game for iOS where yo move your character around while trying to defeat enemies in a set number of turns, the interesting hook comes from the fact that you can rotate and turn around all parts of the map and that action is happening in all dimensions. I enjoyed it, but completing all levels with a perfect rating was a bit too much for me, and I kind of wish that they had an undo function, since sometimes it's easy to mistakenly move somewhere.
I've always enjoyed my time with Path Of Exile, but I also always felt that it's a game better played in your mind; Figuring out builds, trying to create good characters using the skill tree planner, looking at gems on the wiki and thinking about what would work to get you to the end, and then some. Sometimes, you can also look at Builds Of The Week on their forum as well to get inspiration. In reality tho, I get bored kinda quickly, either my characters die all the time, or they can't do anything, or they're just not fun to play. Fall Of Oriath adds loads of content on top of the original PoE experience, but I couldn't see it more than once.
TurretZ is a weird mix between twin stick shooter, idle game and tower defense. I'm not sure which of these genres this game is supposed to be, but it isn't very fun. You have a planet in the middle of the screen with a whole lot of enemies around, and the planet rotates while auto-firing with various weapons, after you defeat a bunch of enemies, a boss appears. Defeat that boss, and you get to the next level, which is almost identical to the previous one. The planet is tough to control, your weaponry is unreliable, and progression is extremely slow, I didn't enjoy TurretZ much.
While Diablo 3 remains one of my favorite games right now, the Necromancer pack wasn't the greatest thing in the history of the universe. It adds a new class and a bunch of other cosmetic things for other blizzard games, a few new areas and some items and quality-of-life fixes to go with all of that. We're very far from Reaper Of Souls, an expansion that brought a ton of new gameplay systems, fixed itemization and made the game endlessly enjoyable, alongside a new act of story content.
Crashlands is a neat little game almost in the vein of something like Don't Starve combined with Minecraft or Terraria. It's not entirely a survival game, it's not entirely a crafting/decoration game, but it has elements of both and it pits you against a large world where you must accomplish missions, mine resources, craft better gear, rinse, repeat. It's a fun and interesting idea, but I'm not sure it works 100% well on iOS, both because of control issues, and also because when I have hours to spend doing nothing but tight loops of crafting and fighting, it's rarely on my iPad.
Steamworld Heist is a weird strategy RPG with shooting and platforming aesthetics that I really enjoyed. You build up your team of robots and bring them on missions where you have to gather loot and defeat enemies to get stronger and advance through the story. It's really fun and the challenge level is customizable enough where you can tweak the difficulty if it's too tough for you. I really enjoyed playing it and I almost completed it because I kept wanting to see more of the skills, items and challenges it had to offer.
Layton's Mystery Journey is an iOS/Android version of an upcoming 3DS game featuring the daughter of Professor Layton as a detective going around the Level-5 version of London, solving puzzles and figuring out the implausible logic behind a series of weird cases. It's a good version of such a game, although it's clear that they haven't put enough work into making it a complete mobile experience. Not to say that LMJ isn't good, but it's for sure not exactly at the quality of a DS or 3DS game.
Inexistence is a platformer RPG that didn't do anything for me. I've found it too difficult and I've found that it didn't offer me enough customization or options in order to defeat the challenges in front of me. I feel like I've gave it its fair shot, but couldn't muster enjoyment out of it. On the positive side, I liked the graphics and style of the game.