I wanted to take a stab at a Game of the Year list this year. I think gaming categories are a little too boring though, so I spiced up the categories for the people who don't particularly care about best sound design or best indie game. Maybe you're more interested in the best game to regret playing, or the best game to play while procrastinating. Well, if so, here ya go.
Best Game to Drain Your Battery – Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp
This is wonderful game that will absolutely drain your battery quick so please bring a charger with you before you leave your home. Pocket Camp came out at a time where I felt emotionally drained, so it only makes sense that I’d fall in love with a game that drains batteries. It’s a bit of a simplified version of the main titles, and I’m completely okay with that. Having fewer bugs and fish to collect doesn’t bother me. And I actually enjoy building furniture for my camp. I like to think my mayor from New Leaf decided to take a camping trip and never came back, and when the animals finally discovered her hiding in the wilderness, they decided to tag along.
Best Game to Stress You Out: Bury Me, My Love
This game is stressful in a great way. Through text messages, you watch as your wife Nour travels from Syria to Europe in hopes of finding a better life for her and her husband. The game is moves in real time, so sometimes Nour will do something and not text back for hours. HOURS, I said. I checked my phone as if I were waiting for a text from a real person. Every decision you make is bad. Not necessarily game over bad, but bad to the point where it’s hard to pick an option that feels right. It took me a lot of playthroughs before finding a winning path. Unfortunately, when you start over you can’t skip what you’ve already seen, so it gets a bit repetitive. But it’s still a powerful game and I highly recommend it for anyone looking to turn your hair gray.
Best Game That Burns Me - ARMS
"What a dumb name," I thought, as I played my 300th hour of the game I so desperately love and hate. I can only play this game for about an hour or two before I get so pissed that I need to take a break. It's a fighting game, and sometimes the players you face simply want to win. They don't care about strategy or tact. They want an easy win, and that's infuriating! Getting punched in a corner over and over is not fun! Having a character regenerate their health while you can't get a punch in is maddening! I hate this game! I've played ARMS for three hundred and fifteen hours and counting!
Best Game I Want to Stop Hearing About – Overwatch
Listen, I’m sure Overwatch is great, but I really can’t be bothered with this game. I don’t care about the characters, their shorts, their shirts, their shoes, or their service. I'm happy to see some people really connect with some of the characters. But, I don't know, I just don't see the appeal in the game to be honest. What's the point in all the story when the game is just to beat each other up?
Best Game I Keep Meaning to Play - Dishonored: Death of the Outsider
I really enjoyed the first Dishonored. I thought the story was actually good! It fell into a few tropes, but honestly I was okay with it because of the gameplay. Yet, despite my love for the first title, I still haven’t played Dishonored 2, or Death of the Outsider. Sometimes there are games you can’t quite find a time to play, even if you’re excited for them. That’s what happened with me and the Dishonored franchise. Oops.
Best Game to Play and Then Regret Playing - Yooka-Laylee
Listen, I want more 3D platformers. I don’t think the form should be bound to the past with games like Banjo-Kazooie or Spyro the Dragon. In fact, they’re not dead. I know I’m supposed to be talking about Yooka-Laylee, but let me just tell you that Skylanders is actually a fun 3D platforming collect-a-thon. It would have gotten more attention if it didn’t require expensive figures to collect everything. But anyway, Yooka-Laylee is a bad game. I do know that the developers have made some upgrades to fix the things that really made the game bad, like extremely slow text speed and unskippable cutscenes, but even then, I just don’t think the game is that fun as a whole. It relies so heavily on nostalgia that it forgets it's not the 90's anymore.
Best Game to Read - Seedship
Seedship is SO good. I know I’ve mentioned it once or twice on Twitter, but please go play it. It’s a great look at the ways Twine can do some really cool things with a simple text-based design. Seedship is all about finding a habitable planet for the few humans who survived after Earth was destroyed. You control their ship, an AI meant to think like a human, to find a new planet for the humans to call home. There's a lot to maintain while looking for a new planets, like making sure the humans don't die, or that your scientific data isn't destroyed. There's a lot to it that my own text cannot adequately explain, so play Seedship instead of reading this. It’s a great Twine game that really proves the power of text is a real thing.
Best Game to Play While Procrastinating - Tiny Heist
Tiny Heist is the game I played when my brain needed some downtime from thinking. I pop in a CD to listen to while playing and bam I’m zoning out and forgetting about all the things I’m supposed to be doing. In the game, you play as a little thief bent on collecting as much as possible in a 15-floor building. Each floor has more challenges you must avoid to get to the next floor. The interesting thing is that no one moves until you move. If you’re still, the enemies are still, even if they spot you. So you can strategize as to where you’re going or how you’ll attack each enemy. I played a lot of it, and while it doesn’t have a counter to show how many players I put into it, I’m sure it’s somewhere in the hundreds.
To be honest, I didn’t play a lot of games this year. There are so many games I bookmarked that I meant to return to but never did. My year had a lot of self-doubt and lack of motivation. I still don’t think I’m a good writer, though I’m working to change that. Writing about games is very stressful. Who knew? Twitter doesn’t help. The U.S. is in shambles. I got married this week. This is how my life has been this year. It was a roller-coaster with no straight track, a sandwich that tasted great but had a horrible aftertaste. I played a lot of games that I already knew I loved as a way to stay in my comfort zone. But I’m happy that there were a few games that I did decide to try, because there really were some absolutely wonderful games this year. Hopefully I’ll play more next year, and I can continue to make this Extremely Serious GOTY list next time.