Author Archives: thebonusworld

TMoD: Reroll – The End of Everything

“I just want to feel the sun on my — well, I just want to see the sun for once.” Wrapping the arm of a legless warforged over her shoulders, she and the remainder of the party made their way to the outside of the facility to get a view of the landscape. They placed the unnamed bot down, leaned it up against the base of a statue to a long forgotten god, and let them bask in the sunlight for the first time in its life. They sat beside it and silently enjoyed the moment with it, admiring the sprawling outdoor vista through the lens of someone who had never had the privilege to do so before. The light flickered and faded from its eyes, and the bot slumped slightly to the side — motionless.

“This sucks,” said one of my players, breaking the silence.

It did suck. That was the point. We had spent a massive portion of our campaign inside of a place that was supposed to be miserable and oppressive, but I was never able to truly make things feel as bleak as I wanted it to. But right there, right at the end of our campaign, I was able to gut-punch them real good.

But the truth of the matter is that I also gut-punched myself, because I realized that moment was the last non-combat thing they were going to do before they sailed off into the final encounter. I’m proud to know that the last role-playing moment they’d have was seeing their characters finally experience sadness, which is a huge accomplishment for me. Bittersweet as it is, this marks the end of our Eberron campaign.

As of writing this, we still haven’t actually done the final battle, but we have exhausted all of my prepared content, something I thought I’d never actually be able to confidently say. I’ve tinkered and fiddled with the final session plan over and over and finally have it at a place that I’m satisfied with, but I still wonder if it’s going to be good enough?

Did I make good on the story? Did I help the characters grow? Have I accounted for every plot point I put forward over the course of the past two years? Definitely not that last one, but even if I somehow did I still would be tense at the very notion that this thing is finally ending.

I think what I’m going to miss the most about our campaign is the world that we crafted together. Our version of Eberron was fairly by the book when we started, but the story and the player’s actions have so dramatically changed the world around them, that it’s going to be really tough going back to a vanilla setting that my players haven’t thoroughly sullied. I’m positive that whatever we do next will get just as filthy, if not more so than our Eberron world, but it’s going to take time.

I don’t know about my players, but there’s a lot of emotion wrapped up in this final session for me and I don’t know how to process it at the moment. This is by far the longest creative project I’ve ever worked on, and to finally be able to complete it is a massive accomplishment for me. It makes me wish I had been documenting our journey better, something I’m considering doing for our next endeavor.

Ultimately, I’m not looking for my players to have an epiphany or anything from the conclusion of this campaign, but I am curious to see how they react. This is the ending their characters have earned, and I hope that what I’ve prepared for them meets at least some of their expectations. Although, all of this could be for nothing considering they still have to survive my devious gauntlet. So maybe the ending they earn could be a shitty one, and that’s on them — mostly.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Leaks are Making me Second Guess Myself

I’m normally not one for engaging with spoilers, often chastising certain people in my life who are so deep in the spoiler game that they do things like dangle the plot points of unreleased Star Wars movies in my face because they needed to talk about it with someone. I’m usually pretty good about not engaging with that kind of stuff, but recently my normally steely resolve crumbled into dust when The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom leaked all over the internet, making for the most tantalizing of minefields I so carelessly wander through. While most of what I’ve seen is cause for excitement, building upon the sensational foundation of Breath of the Wild, I’m getting pretty worried that it might not be the game for me.

Note: There will be a clearly marked paragraph with a non-story spoiler later in this article. Aside from that, this article only references things seen throughout the various trailers that have been officially released by Nintendo.

So how could the upcoming release of sequel to one of my favorite games of all time be cause for panic above anything else? Simply put, it looks really difficult. I know a lot of folks like to debate how difficult Breath of the Wild was and if it should have been tougher or not, but I found it to be an extremely challenging and punishing game, both in terms of the mechanics at play like weapon degradation, and simpler elements like how hard everything hits you.

I recently started another playthrough of Breath of the Wild in preparation for the sequel, and found myself getting my ass kicked up and down Hyrule with minimal resistance. I struggled with some of the bosses, and have been so thoroughly stomped by the slightly tougher variants of the basic enemies that I go out of my way to avoid any and all conflicts. I don’t remember the game whipping my ass as much when it released 6 years ago, but maybe in that time my “gamer skillz” have atrophied. Or maybe I just don’t have the time or desire to bash my head against the rippling abs of a Lynel that’s dead set on skewering Link and making him a delicious, blonde, shish kabob.

So when these leaks reveal a whole litany of bone-crushing, skin-melting enemies lining up to pummel Link into dust, it makes me a tad worried that this game might be a bit much for me. I’m all for more enemies and challenges, but I’m not looking for something that’s basically Dark Souls dressed up in a green tunic. Maybe I’m in the minority here, but I enjoyed Breath of the Wild in spite of its combat mechanics, not because of them.

What really made Breath of the Wild so special for me was that feeling of limitless exploration mixed with endless possibility. Combing through every nook and cranny of Hyrule was the best part of the game, but it was constantly undercut by being ambushed by some enemy or enemies that were not only eager to but exceedingly capable of turning Link into toothpaste.

Breath of the Wild was one of the only games I’ve ever played that was so good at encouraging exploring and charting a wild, untamed world. That feeling of cresting a hill only to spot some far off anomaly that necessitated further investigation, whether it be a curious stone formation, a forest shrouded in darkness, or the gentle puffs of smoke coming from a distant campfire, Breath of the Wild was unparalleled in fostering that sense of discovery and wonder.


I’m not saying that I want no enemies or combat whatsoever in my Zelda games, but would it be too much to ask for an easy mode or the basest of accessibility options? Tears of the Kingdom apparently boasts a massive underground map that rivals the size of Hyrule’s overworld from Breath of the Wild, and that sounds really exciting to me in concept, but I’ve also heard that some of the hardest enemies in the game reside down there, making it one of the most challenging areas of the game. The area is positioned as incredibly tough and punishing, a fact I’m sure plenty of people are thrilled about, but I am most certainly not one of them. Hearing about the depths just fills me with a looming dread that gives way to the realization that I’m going to have to head down below eventually, and I don’t know if I’ll be able to overcome whatever awaits me down there.


I don’t know what the optimal balance is for me when it comes to a game like Tears of the Kingdom, but I fear that from what I’ve seen already, it’s going to be a much harder game than I am prepared to take on. I get that Zelda games are all about Link stopping some, usually Ganon-centric, world ending calamity, which Tears of the Kingdom seems to absolutely be leaning into, but how about a “story mode” for me and my fellow aging gamers?

What’s really frustrating is that Nintendo could address these concerns with some difficulty options, or heaven forbid, any accessibility options whatsoever, but that seems like a bridge too far with them. Seriously, just allowing me to be heartier or make enemies less formidable would be huge for opening up the game to more players, but it just doesn’t seem like they’re interested in that.

Maybe I’m just psyching myself out and The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom won’t be that difficult, but some of the stuff I’ve seen really makes me think that I’m being set up for disappointment. A lot of what I’ve seen, hell, most of it is really exciting and makes waiting for May 12th even harder than it already is, but I keep being brought back every time I see anything about the difficulty. Hopefully the people saying this stuff just suck at playing video games more than I do.

The Perfect City

I sometimes think back on the numerous, half-formed neighborhoods and townships I’ve left behind to fend for themselves after some catastrophic occurrence led them to ruin. I wonder if the people there are still suffering the effect of polluted ground water, coastal flooding, rolling blackouts I inadvertently inflicted upon them through a combination of ignorance, amateurism and neglect. I’d routinely rub up against some society ending issue that I’d opt to run away from rather than stay and attempt to fix my terrible city planning blunders. This is my endless cycle in Cities: Skylines, the rinse and repeat I find myself in as I search for the perfect city.

I’ve enjoyed Cities: Skylines a lot in the past, mostly by disabling all economic restrictions and building idyllic utopias to my heart’s content, as if some altruistic Scrooge McDuck was financially backing me. But after a long hiatus from being such a prolific mayor, the new console remaster of Cities: Skylines released recently, and I’ve fallen right back into my old ways. There is a big difference this time around however, which is that this time I’m playing by the rules. No cheats, no mods, no deviations from the standard, city-building experience, just pure, uncut mayorship.

It has been an adjustment to say the least, as suddenly I have to account for the fact that I can’t just give the people a fire station to preempt a burning building. I can’t just give people an elementary school, nor can I just take out the trash or even provide a steady supply of electricity. I kind of have to let the people tough these things out until the finances work out in such a way that building that service won’t doom the entire city. It’s required a patience that I’ve had no choice but to learn, but it’s been kind of satisfying to see my city experience these financial boons that ultimately allow for extremely expensive boondoggles that usually result in my unceremonious abandoning of the city.

This is NOT a picture of a city I doomed. This is a nice zoo

The first city I started, Lakeshore, a city with a ridiculous name that Cities: Skylines ginned up all by itself. Lakeshore, as the very good name would imply, had access to water, albeit a river and not a lake, but whatever, there was water. It was only a few months into the simulation before I learned the harsh lesson about how generalized industrial zones pollute the ground beneath it, making that a pretty shitty location for a water tower that would supply a burgeoning city. Not having a hospital really compounded that issue, which led to a sudden drop in the population and the income Lakeshore was enjoying. People were just dying off in droves, collapsing in the streets or not being found until some conscientious neighbor came to check on the smell next door. The snowball rolled faster and faster downhill, gaining speed and size with every unattended moment. Eventually it got so big that I turned tail and walked away towards my next unintentionally dubious endeavor.

That next endeavor was where I experienced an unyielding success that resulted in me being brought down by my own hubris. San Ramos, (again, stellar name generation) was a cozy, sun-soaked beachfront city with a speedy little river running through the starting landmass. Picturesque in its natural beauty, I built waterfront properties, thriving business districts, and a vast logging and farming operation that funded so much of the services and utilities that the citizens had come to love and expect. It was also a place that had significant waste management issues, particularly when it came to wastewater.

See, in Cities: Skylines, the only tool you get to deal with sewage when you start a town, is a literal shit-spewing pipe that you can either output onto land or into the water. I chose to place that output line far enough downstream that it would be some other Cities: Skylines player’s problem. Side note: I find it fucked up that the only option, aside from buying DLC, to deal with shit in this game is to dump it in the ocean. It wasn’t a huge problem unless you angled the camera in such a way that you’d see all of the rivers in the distance had turned a nasty brown, but the water in San Ramos was totally fine.

You can’t see it from here, but the traffic is terrible

As my city began to outgrow its predefined borders, I had to buy up the surrounding land to expand my fledgling empire, which also meant that the nasty shit pipes had to be moved. Not a problem though, it was an easy fix. As the city grew, however, so did our need for energy. The best option at my disposal to handle this growing crisis was by building a hydro-electric dam, which with my overwhelming success as mayor, I could easily afford and would solve the energy crisis 30 times over.

Here’s where I have to mention that in the console remaster of Cities: Skylines, you don’t have the ability to freely look at the plots of land you don’t own. Maybe there’s a setting I could toggle, or maybe I could have just gone to the display for buying more land to get a better look, but either way, I could not actually see the areas of this continent that I didn’t currently own. This is an important detail that the jury should know.

Upon placing the dam down two things immediately happened. The first was that rolling blackouts were a thing of the past and everyone in the city was stoked out of their minds about it. The second thing that happened was that I’d see the icon for “this shit is flooded,” pulsating faintly over stretches of highway that I did not own and could barely see at best. Unable to actually do anything about those locations, I continued on my way.

What happened next took time. It was a gradual thing that I might have seen coming had it not been for arbitrary camera restrictions, but ultimately it was something I did not have any ability to fix. It was too late for intervention. The river of San Ramos flowed from east to west, the latter direction being the place where my city’s nasty toilet leavings flowed away into. So you can imagine my surprise when that same fetid, toxic sludge rolled back through the river, only this time from the east.

Yes, it turned out that the dam raised the water levels in the east enough that they poured over into the river that housed our wastewater, which wrapped around the continent in just such a way that made these two separate bodies of water, one menacing flume of doom whose endpoint was right at my dam.

The brown water splashed up against the front of the dam, settled and collected there. Our hydro-electric plant wasn’t fast enough to process this hideous sludge, which created this massive Ouroboros of shit that wrapped around the entire world, starting and ending in the heart of San Ramos. When that slime finally came back around and made a perfect loop around the continent, that’s when things got really bad.

The shore was quickly overtaken by the shit-slurry we had created. It washed over roads and neighborhoods, slowly and completely infiltrating every artery of the city, painting districts a heinous brown as it flowed across the ground. It consumed so much of my city, so fast, and there was nothing I could do but watch in horror and think about how to better plan for this situation in the next city. Surely in the next place I’d get it right.

So I left. I abandoned San Ramos in its greatest moment of need. I did the mental arithmetic and the only answer was that this place was doomed and nothing could save it. The water was poisoned, the people were sick and the roads and buildings were destroyed. San Ramos was done for, and I got out while I still could. Since then, I’ve moved on to a new city, and this time I’m going to do it right. Surely nothing could go wrong this time around. Right?

Hogwarts Legacy is Pretty Good; Rowling Still Sucks Though

When talking about anything related to Harry Potter, it’s important to remember that its creator, J.K. Rowling, is a bad person who does not deserve your attention. It’s a damn shame how much of a shadow she casts over this beloved franchise by being a bigoted asshole, particularly in the wake of the release of Hogwarts Legacy, which is a good game with its fair share of faults. It also raises the very good question of, “should I play this game knowing that she benefits from my purchase?” To that end, I don’t have a good answer. All I can confidently say is that Hogwarts Legacy is an enjoyable game and Rowling is a bad person.

I’m not very well-versed in the Harry Potter franchise, having only seen the movies for the first time this year, but even I was intrigued by the idea of being able to explore a fully realized Hogwarts Castle and its surroundings. In terms of presentation and world construction, Hogwarts Legacy is an absolute triumph. Nearly every house and room is immaculately designed and explorable, packed with shelves overflowing with books, knickknacks and all kinds of magic minutia, well-worn chairs and the clutter of everyday life strewn across the floors. The houses are cozy and lived in, the shops are dense and stocked with all sorts of baubles and trinkets, and in-between all of it are sprawling meadows, hills and forests that hide dank and dreary dungeons and other curious oddities to discover. Every ounce of the world is filled with evidence of a development team that truly loved and understood what fans of the series were looking for.

I was surprised to find just how much that presentational excellence actually worked for me, considering I was more interested in the gameplay going into it. I was curious as to how you make magic-only combat interesting, fun and impactful, especially over the course the near 70 hours it would take to see everything it has to offer. It turns out that all you really have to do is give the player an absurd amount of magical powers on short cooldowns, and graft the Arkham Asylum combat onto it. It didn’t take much time before I was pirouetting my way through enemies, 360-no-scoping everything that so much as threatened to attack me. A dozen hours or so and the only real wrinkle in combat has been when enemies use magical shields that require certain types of spells to dispel them. The combat is serviceable and visually exciting, but has yet to be overly challenging or exceptionally interesting in any way.

That actually leads me to one of my biggest issues with Hogwarts Legacy, you know, aside from the obvious one, which is how clunky playing it can feel. Early on, you’re given access to more spells than you can actually use at once, as spells are mapped to the face buttons and there’s only so many of those. Using another spell requires you to open your spell book and map the new spell to one of the face buttons in order to cast it. This makes for a real clumsy experience when you need to use something new to accomplish one of the many collectible-based challenges that litter the open world. Through upgrades you can open up more sets of mappable slots that you have to page through with the d-pad, but even that feels impossibly awkward to do when you’re in combat and dodging attacks.

Hogwarts Legacy follows the classic open world format that has you running from map marker to map marker, gathering collectibles, crafting items and so on and so forth. It isn’t reinventing the wheel with its structure, rather, it’s just a really solid one of those kinds of game, with a very cool and fan-service-filled setting. It doesn’t really deliver on the promise of being a student at this school either. The classes start out as fun little tutorial levels, but devolve into montages of wacky magic imagery, followed by the professor giving you a checklist of objectives to accomplish before the next story mission.

Hogwarts Legacy is a lot like AI generated art in that at a glance looks it phenomenal, but once you start to look a little closer at the details you notice how the hands are all fucked up and the NPCs are kind of phasing through the floor. Textures don’t load in correctly and the game hitches a lot both in and outside of the magic castle, whether it be décor, lighting or the people themselves. In fact, the other students seem to be nothing more than ephemera that you sprint through from objective to objective, listlessly lingering in common areas and meandering up and down hallways. It’s clear that developer Avalanche Software tried to make the world feel alive and lived in, but following NPCs around for more than a few seconds breaks that illusion when you see them get hitched on the environment or disappear into the walls. I know that walking through walls is a thing in Harry Potter, but these were not clever little nods, these were glitches.

But that’s all of Hogwarts Legacy. The game is a little messy and buggy, but it’s so expansive and filled with things for Harry Potter fans to experience. One of those experiences however, happens to be engaging in a significant aspect of the story that’s about crushing a goblin rebellion, which doesn’t seem great considering the already problematic portrayal of goblins in the world. Like I said, I don’t know much of anything beyond what I vaguely remember from seeing the films, but even I can see just how bad the depiction of the goblins is.

The moment to moment stuff in Hogwarts Legacy is very good though. Juggling enemies with endless magical combos, solving the bevvy of micro-puzzles that are scattered around the world, and jetting across the massive landmass, which I’ll call Wizardville, on your broom is a blast. In the open world, there’s definitely that, “just one more thing” aspect to exploring, where you just can’t help but take a little peek at what lay beyond the next ridge.

There’s a lot of game here, and even 12 hours in I’m still being introduced to new mechanics and concepts that open up entirely new questlines, activities and abilities. Oh, and if you like seeing numbers go up, then you’ll love the sheer amount of scored loot this game hurls at you. Genuinely, it becomes a problem with how frequently you have to do inventory management, and how you have to manually change the appearance of every piece of clothing every time you equip something new in order to avoid looking completely ridiculous.

There’s a lot for Harry Potter fans to like here, and it’s evident that the people who worked on this game poured a lot of love into crafting a love letter to the universe, and they deserve praise and reward for their work. While some could argue that most of the things we buy benefit some shitty CEO with horrendous views, something about the visibility of Rowling makes it harder to ignore than the usual bits of soul crushing capitalism we have to engage with on a daily basis.

As someone on the outside of this fandom looking in, I feel like there’s also an aspect of betrayal that permeates this whole situation. Someone creates this wonderful world that captivates a generation of children who literally grow up alongside these beloved characters, only for the creator to come out as a hateful piece of garbage. Maybe I’m completely off base, but even as someone who doesn’t identify as a fan, I kind of feel that way about this whole mess.

Ultimately it’s your decision as to whether or not you want to engage with Hogwarts Legacy and handle all the baggage that comes with it. You may want to support the people who made the game, which is fantastic, developers deserve adoration for their good work. But I also recognize that there’s no way to do that without kicking cash over to the shithead who thinks Trans people aren’t people, which is objectively wrong. Hogwarts Legacy is a fine game, made by people who clearly cared, based on the wonderous source material of an miserable and awful person. So do with that information what you will.

blog: Internet Friends

A few years ago we were streaming out some Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds to our gigantic audience of like 4 people, when one of the folks in our chat blindsided us with a simple request: “Can I join you?” It was a request that more experienced streamers would not engage with at all, but like a house of cards our convictions came crumbling down in an instant. Our inexperience laid bare and our judgment dissolved, we let them join us — live and unvetted. Of all the ways that story could have ended, I would not have expected it to end with us having excellent chemistry with what would become a really good friend, which is exactly what happened.

But that story is an outlier and represents the only time in my life that I’ve ever made an ‘internet friend’, and they kind of forced my hand cause I didn’t know how to say, “nah, we’re good,” in the middle of a stream. Like, they could have hopped on our stream and just said the most horrendous shit they could imagine, but instead they were extremely cool. It all worked out, but it’s made me think about all of the online communities I’ve avoided and the connections I never made, mostly because of a crippling social anxiety.

It’s weird to me that in an age where internet anonymity emboldened people to be as vile and repugnant as possible, that I can’t muster the courage to interact with people online. I think my fear comes from that ’emboldened asshole’ thing though, cause while I’m not the type to engage with folks online whether it be positively or negatively, I worry everyone else is gonna be really shitty to me the second I open my mouth.

I see people engaging with each other inside of games, on social media or over Discord, basking in the glow of their shared interests and I wish I had that. I wish I had a place that I could log into and just kind nerd out with random folks who are just as weird and dorky as myself. But I don’t know where to start, and more importantly, I have this crippling social anxiety that makes even the simple task of hitting the automated “say hello” button that pops up in Discord servers a tall order.

All of this begs the question, ‘to what end?’ I have friends that I talk to pretty regularly and we’re all pretty dorky, it isn’t like I couldn’t blab about video games or D&D to them. I guess I just want to meet new people, but regardless of if that’s in-person or online, I’m terrible about being brave enough to engage with anyone new. Like, I’m not even the guy at the party who spends all his time on his phone, I’m guy who didn’t even show up to the party and feels terrible for not going but also relieved.

This isn’t just about wanting to make new friends though, because the other side of this whole situation is me wanting to find welcoming communities of like-minded individuals. I know they’re out there, but I just don’t have it within me to make that jump and engage with one of them. It’s social anxiety manifest in spaces where I assume I’d be welcomed, but the possibility of them being exclusionary, no matter how infinitesimal, outweighs my desire to make new connections. Simply put, I think I’m just afraid of rejection.

TMoD: Reroll – Invested

From plot inconsistencies to rule clarifications, there are a ton of pressure points that have popped up over the course of every campaign I’ve run, but for the most part any obstacle in a TTRPG can be addressed if given enough time. We can take a brief pause to look up a rule for more clarification or we can stop to discuss how a plot point is at odds with some previously established lore, but the one thing we can’t easily address is a player’s level of investment in what’s happening in the game, and that can be a problem.

For the uninitiated, I’ve been running my players through an Eberron campaign that started with their characters living normal lives in the big city, but has evolved into exploring the Mournlands, a zone of wild magic where incomprehensible horrors exist. I tried to make it a point to not just throw bigger and badder enemies at them in an attempt to emphasize how bad this place is, cause that’s not really interesting or apt to what the area is about. Instead, I’ve genuinely tried to put them in challenging positions where they have to really consider their actions and choices, attempting to make situations less binary than they’ve been in the past.

Despite my best efforts however, when I asked them how their characters were holding up in a mental capacity, I was a little disappointed when some of the answers I got boiled down to, “I’m good.” Really? You’re just fine? I’ve been hitting your characters harder than ever, both in terms of battles and narrative content, but you’re good? Sure that’s deflating to find that my story and world-building haven’t done the trick, but maybe your characters are genuinely taking this whole situation in stride. Fine.

But that investment isn’t just limited to a player engaging with the content of the story, it’s also a question of if their character has any additional motivations outside of just, “defeating the bad guy.” We rarely explore all of the little lifestyle stuff that TTRPGs have to offer, nor does anyone really engage in a vice or follow up on personal quests, but that may just be a result of us having limited time from session to session. I get the idea of not wanting to feel like you’re monopolizing the session with some stuff that isn’t intrinsic to the plot, but some of the most interesting and memorable stuff happens in those moments. My players are more or less tethered to one another and act as a hivemind rather than individuals, although to be fair to them, there isn’t a whole lot else to do aside from experience anguish and suffering inside of the Mournlands.

I don’t want to sound overly negative because I do love my group, they just happen play the game a little differently than I was expecting. I think that part of it is the aforementioned short amount of time we have to play, and the other factor is that I don’t like juggling clocks and timers. Because of that, it ultimately allows them to pocket a bunch of quests and tackle them later like in a video game without much consequence, but that’s something I’m working to fix.

I also think it’s an issue of playing too meta. They know that splitting the party is dangerous and tend not to do it, especially considering I’ve used it against them before. I try to pull them apart from time to time, not just to hurt them, but because I want them to have a chance to act like fully realized characters with their own motivations and goals. I also think it makes for a more satisfying experience when you have some sort of emotional attachment to your character, but maybe that’s just me.

But maybe they are attached to their characters and are experiencing all of these things in their own way. This could be a situation where I’m expecting one thing and getting frustrated because I’m not getting the response I want. Regardless of how they react in-game, they keep showing up and keep wanting to play and make progress, so something must be clicking for them.

This all comes form a place of being hyper-critical of myself and I 100% recognize that. I desperately want to make sure that everyone is having fun, and in my mind that equates to them being invested in the story, their characters, the world and everything else that I’m invested in as the GM. But that isn’t how it works and it’s unrealistic to expect them to care as much as I do about this game that I spend way more time thinking about than they do.

To circle all the way back around to the thesis of this article, how do we address player investment when running a campaign? Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s a clean answer to that. I think, like most elements of TTRPGs, it depends on the people you’re playing with. Simply asking upfront, “what kind of game are you looking to play” might garner some actionable information, but your players might not know what it is they actually want until you’re several sessions into a campaign.

A player might come into a campaign thinking they want tons of role-playing opportunities or that they want to play a character that excels outside of combat, but they might find out that they really just wanna roll some dice and do bigger ouchies to their enemies, which is fine if they communicate that to you.

Like most relationships, communication is so critical to making sure everyone’s needs in a campaign are met. But when they don’t make a distinction one way or another about what they prefer, you’re left in this nebulous zone where you’re just hurling spaghetti at the wall, not even hoping that something sticks, but hoping that they’ll be somewhat interested in one of the piles that’s formed on the ground. A flawless metaphor, for sure.

Ultimately what I’m saying is that I keep trying to decipher what it is my players like so I can do more of that, but I feel like I’m misinterpreting what it is that they want more of and just try any and everything I can think of. The truth probably is that they just like the whole of the experience and are just happy to be playing at all, which is a heartwarming sentiment if true. But if that’s the case, that means they enjoy the fact that I have a small crisis every single time we play, which results in me second guessing myself constantly.

So maybe they just enjoy my suffering.

blog: The Gift of Spending

As a little gift for the holidays, I decided to splurge and treat myself to something that’s equal parts superfluous and unnecessary, snagging a shiny new virtual reality headset. While I’m not thrilled about having to buy a Meta product, the Quest 2 was the only affordable standalone headset I could find, so I bit the bullet and took the plunge and was immediately confronted by the need to spend more money.

While less powerful than some of its PC reliant contemporaries, the Quest 2 is still a really impressive piece of technology that more than just gets the job done. But if you’re like me and already have a pretty robust library of VR games on other platforms, you can plug in a long USB C cord and harness the power of whatever beefy rig you’ve got. That was the intent, but unfortunately my computer had other plans.

I thought that buying a prebuilt PC would solve a lot of the issues I had with the Frankensteinian mess I hobbled together years ago, but it turns out that computers can be incredibly fickle no matter what their origin is. The computer I originally scrumbled together was prone to crashing and just hated the idea of turning and staying on, which is an attitude I can kind of relate to. But this newer computer, I stupidly assumed, would be more reliable because it was ‘professionally’ built.

To its credit, my newer PC is great at being a normal computer that streams videos, plays music, and allows me to play D&D on virtual tabletops without much issue. What it doesn’t like doing is playing games, which was kind of the whole reason I bought the damn thing in the first place. Much like me, the second I ask for the littlest bit of exertion from it or anything that would mildly tax the graphics card for more than ten minutes, makes it get all crash happy in a way I’ve never seen before. Everything locks up, the displays go green, and the computer is unresponsive until I manually reset it. When it does come back online, it resets some of my display settings, specifically the monitor sleep settings, which I assume is a symptom of some cyber-amnesia that only computers suffer.

It drives me nuts because I’ve never really been able to play games on this computer as is, but for some reason I forgot that fact when I bought a 16 foot USB C cable with the intent of having this crashy piece of crap attempt to run VR games. While the green screen crash is disruptive and startling under normal circumstances, having it happen while inside of VR is truly akin to an Eldritch horror.

I was trying out a game called Wanderer, which is this very moody, post-apocalyptic adventure game that allegedly has you jumping around through events in history and solving puzzles in order to fix your shitty future. I played about an hour of it and thought it was pretty neat until the sound suddenly cut out and everything kind of froze. The game had hiccupped before like this, so I just thought I’d wait it out. But as I looked around I saw the walls start to melt, and the colors turn into beams of light that extended into oblivion. It was like the ending of 2001: A Space Odyssey, except unlike the movie, this crash made sense.

So what’s the play here, then? Cause from where I’m standing, my options are to either buy a new computer or laptop that can run some VR stuff, dropping well over a grand, or rebuy my entire VR library on the Meta store. Both options seem absolutely insane to do, but buying a new computer at least offers some utility and the ability to play the even more non-VR games I across the 15 launchers I have installed. It’s wild to think that the more sensible option is to buy a new computer, but that’s money I super don’t feel like dropping right now.

I can’t believe that my fun little present to myself has led to me having to genuinely consider spending an extra grand or more just to be able to fully utilize it. And now that I’m aware of my computer’s inability to handle the slightest of strains, I can’t not address it. I’m cursed with this knowledge and I’m genuinely afraid that I’m going to act on it. Send help.

blog: Guiltless Gaming

I remember being around 14 years old and begging my mom to drive me to our local GameStop so I could pick up the brand-spanking new Xbox 360 I had reserved. I walked into the store, picked up the prepaid console I had spent so much time saving up for, and headed back to the car. Excited as I was, there was a weird energy in the car that even my underdeveloped teenage brain could pick up on. Breaking the silence, my mom eventually asked the question that still nags at me till this day and said, “So when do you finally grow out of this stuff?”

Ten words was all it took to cast this dark cloud over my very good day, but it got me genuinely thinking about if and when I ever ‘finally grow out of this stuff.’ Clearly it never happened, hence the existence of this website, but at the time I didn’t have a good answer for it. I didn’t know how to properly express to my mother that this was my favorite hobby and there’s nothing wrong with playing games. To her and a lot of my family members, this was just another toy, some expensive brick of wires and plastic that was exclusively for juveniles.

It was from then on out that I did my best to avoid even acknowledging my love of games to anyone in my family. It turned into this self imposed taboo that I would hide away in my room and do in private, which sounds way more sinister and gross than I want it to. Even at 18 when I moved out I still kept my hobbies squirreled away from everyone in my family. I’m sure they all still knew that I was a big nerd, but I would always just do my best to never bring any of it up to anyone. When asked simple questions about what I got up to that day, telling them I watched TV all day was more palatable than being honest and saying I played games.

Hell, even to this day I still downplay my gaming hobby to most people I meet solely because in the back of my mind playing video games still feels a little childish. I know in actuality it isn’t, and I know that I shouldn’t care about what people think, but it’s hard to get past the antiquated stigmas that have carried over from my childhood.

It’s even weirder considering I have absolutely no problem boasting to anyone who will listen about enjoying Dungeons & Dragons, but I think that’s a case of me getting into as an adult and knowing how to defend myself from some jagoff who wants to try and tear me down for liking it, but video games are tougher because of how they were stigmatized when I was a kid. They were products for children and advertised as such, which makes it really hard to portray myself as a functioning adult who also enjoys playing video games, especially when it comes to my family. It makes me wonder if people who got into Magic: The Gathering or Pokemon as kids feel the same way as I do now that they’re adults.

Maybe I’m just in my own head too much and need to learn to better let go of the shitty and snide comments people have said to me in the past, but that’s easier said than done. It helps to have friends and a partner that are all supportive of and even partake in gaming cause I don’t have to defend or justify anything to them. It’s mostly just about how the general public and my family perceives the act of gaming that makes me feel intensely judged for liking what I like.

That insecurity that I feel about my gaming habits is mostly of my own creation and I recognize that. I fear a lot of ‘what if’ scenarios, where someone is going to make me explain myself and score me on how good of an adult I’ve been or something. It’s completely irrational, especially because I’m a grown-ass man who doesn’t have to explain shit to anybody if I don’t want to. So I’m gonna go ahead and keep on doing what makes me happy even if some of the most important people in my life think it’s too childish.

2023 Seems Cool So Far

While malformed and incomplete, 2023’s release schedule is already looking pretty impressive full. In the first few months alone we’re getting highly anticipated titles like Forspoken, the Dead Space remake, Atomic Heart, Octopath Traveler 2 and Destiny 2: Lightfall. While I don’t necessarily care about those games, other people seem pretty jazzed about it. But hey, let’s take a look at the announced titles that I actually am looking forward to thus far.

Hogwarts Legacy

I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of the Harry Potter films or books, but even I can appreciate the atmosphere of the source material enough to want to play a game set in that universe. Considering Hogwarts Legacy is set around 100 years before the events of the film, I feel like I can get away with playing this game and not feel like a sucker for not being a diehard fan.

Based on the trailers, Hogwarts Legacy is visually impressive and certainly nails the feeling of kicking it in that old, wizardly castle that we all know and love. It also looks like its got a speedy and mechanically satisfying combat system coupled with some cool in-world RPG trappings, mostly surrounding making and learning new wizardly abilities by taking their respective classes, which to clarify all sounds pretty rad to me.

Outside of a trailer or two, I haven’t really kept up with much of the marketing blitz or promotional materials which has allowed me to live in blissful ignorance about whether or not Hogwarts Legacy is actually going to be the game for me. The one thing that does worry me and give me pause about actually buying the game surrounds J.K. Rowling being a miserable transphobe who monetarily benefits from my purchase, along with the fact that the lead designer has a history of being a shithead. I’ll wait and see how this one reviews when it eventually launches on February 10th, 2023, but I don’t know if I can justify a purchase.

Wild Hearts

On paper I really like the main conceit of the Monster Hunter franchise, but in practice I’ve found them to be clunky and unsatisfying to play. I know that I’m in the minority with those complaints but they’ve always been obstacles that have kept me from enjoying this wildly popular franchise. I’m hoping that the upcoming Wild Hearts can scratch that long unattended monster-hunting itch for me with what looks like much faster and more action-oriented combat.

The idea of teaming up with friends and setting out to hunt down some monstrous prey is extremely tantalizing as is, but Wild Hearts looks to blend in some light tower defense elements into the mix which if done well, could be a real game changer. In my mind I’m imagining a game that isn’t just about tracking creatures down, but also setting up traps and acting on what you’ve learned about said creature to use its natural instincts against it. I assume that’s something that happens in Monster Hunter, but I’ve never played long enough to know for sure. I also am well aware that this being a game about hunting legendary beasts, there might be less natural instinct to work against and more ancient magic or whatever.

If the combat and the tower defense mechanics actually deliver on their promise however, Wild Hearts might be the first monster hunting game I end up enjoy playing. Lastly, and this is a minor quibble, but if the menus in this game could be more straightforward and less of an Eldritch mystery that requires a damn cypher to decode, that would be huge for me. Wild Hearts is slated to release on February 16th, 2023, potentially becoming the second video game I end up buying in a six day period.

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor

While not perfect, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order was one of the best pieces of Star Wars media I’ve consumed in the past few years and a fun game to boot. The characters were likeable, the gameplay was tough but satisfying, and the story, while underdeveloped, was still filled with interesting and surprising moments filled with nods to deeper Star Wars lore for the hardcore fans.

Hopefully Star Wars Jedi: Survivor will build upon its solid foundation, adding in more variety in both lightsaber and force power combat, the latter of which in my opinion should resemble the Stormtrooper flinging simulator that was Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. Judging by preorder bonuses, it also looks to address the pitiful lack of customization options of the previous entry by offering more character skins that aren’t just color swaps of the tunic you’re wearing.

My only real fear here is that Star Wars Jedi: Survivor leans too much into its ‘souls-like’ or ‘masocore’ inspirations, tweaking the difficulty curve to be more inline with other games in the genre. Hopefully with it being a licensed game of one of the most popular franchises ever, the game will boast a wide variety of accessibility and difficulty options that’ll let even a casual like myself enjoy it. Guess I’ll find out when it releases on March 17th of 2023.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

I feel like I really shouldn’t have to explain why I’m excited for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom considering its predecessor is probably one of the greatest games of all time, but I’ll give it the ol’ college try.

I’ve never been a big Zelda guy, but Breath of the Wild was such a phenomenal experience that dropped you into a painterly version of Hyrule with the simple goal of ‘stop Ganon.” You could always look toward the castle to see wisps of his menace swirling around and encompassing it just begging for you to come and square off against the horrors within. But before you’d even attempt to tackle that, you could see seven other interesting places to explore, all of which led to several more.

Breath of the Wild represents the pinnacle of motivating the player to explore their surroundings and all I can hope for from a sequel is more of that. More places to see with more tools at my disposal to explore them. I’d also super love to not have to worry about weapon degradation anymore. I know that’s a common complaint and hot debate topic amongst fans, but for once I’d like to see Nintendo give a shit about their players and offer some accessibility options, specifically one that lets me use the Master Sword as much as I want without having to go through hell to do it. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom allegedly comes out on May 12th of 2023, but I won’t hold my breath.

Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League

I’m not gonna sit here and pretend that I’m a big fan of the Suicide Squad or anything, but I’ve certainly been won over by what little I’ve seen Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. Granted, there hasn’t been a ton of gameplay or anything for me to reference, but I trust Rocksteady Studios’ ability to make compelling gameplay so much that I’d play a game solely about Calendar Man if they made it.

In Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, you play as one of 4 members of the Suicide Squad, Harley Quinn, Deadshot, King Shark, or Captain Boomerang, as you square off against a Brainiac controlled Justice League that’s doing some real nasty shit. I don’t know too much more about it other than it’s cooperative, but will fill in computer controlled allies where you need them which will come in handy when you can’t find anyone to play as Captain Boomerang, a character I know nothing about aside from his dumb name.

I’m excited to play this game because I’m a big fan of the Arkham games and trust that Rocksteady is going to make something that’s fun to play. As long as they don’t add some boring but mandatory Batmobile-tank battles to Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League like some other Batman games, I think it’ll be a great time. They say it’ll be out on May 26th of 2023, but I’ve been lied to before.

Baldur’s Gate 3

This one’s interesting because I’ve already played Baldur’s Gate 3 back when it released into early access approximately 14 years ago and liked it despite its rough, buggy busted-ness. I made the conscious decision to not play it until its full release because every major update brought with it a wipe of save files and I didn’t want to deal with that, so I just put it back on the digital shelf so it could marinate longer.

But now Baldur’s Gate 3 has a projected release window for August of 2023, and once it does I’m fully anticipating losing a lot of hours of my life to what might become the best Dungeons & Dragons video game of all time, depending on who you ask. I for one have high hopes for Baldur’s Gate 3 because it represents the first real turn-based RPG I’ve ever really enjoyed, which is a colossal feat in itself.

The biggest thing for me about Baldur’s Gate 3 is that it’s using the 5th Edition rules, and since I’m fairly well-versed in those I’ve had a much easier time playing this genre of game without essentially having to learn two games at once. I just want a good way to play D&D without having to be a DM or even finding a group, and Baldur’s Gate 3 seems like it’ll fill that void for me.

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2

I really enjoyed both Marvel’s Spider-Man and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, so being excited for their inevitable sequel doesn’t seem like that much of a stretch. Insomniac Games already proved that they know how to make a mechanically sound Spider-Man game that can also deliver a compelling narrative, and that’s kind of all I want out of a sequel.

A lot of folks are clamoring for some sort of cooperative play between Miles and Peter, which would be cool for sure, but isn’t something that I need from Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. All I want from the sequel is a little more variety, both in terms of main story missions and side quests. Sprinkle in some new abilities and costumes, and you’ve got yourself a solid follow up to one of my favorite games of 2018.

But therein lies the exciting part, cause I don’t know what Insomniac could do outside of the things I’ve already listed in order to top themselves. I’m sure they’ve got something wonderful cooked up for players, but I’d sound stupid even attempting to predict what that could be. Sure I could theorize payoffs for the last game’s cliffhangers, but I’m more excited about what mechanical changes are implemented. I suppose I’ll find out at some point in 2023.

Mina the Hollower

For those unaware, Mina the Hollower is the next title from Yacht Club Games, makers of the tremendous Shovel Knight series. If Shovel Knight was their Mega-Man, then Mina the Hollower looks to be their Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past, which an incredibly exciting concept to me.

Full transparency: I backed Mina the Hollower on Kickstarter because it not only looks dope as hell, but is being made by a studio I trust. What really sold me in its initial pitch was the core mechanic of digging through the earth as a quick means of transportation, hence the ‘Hollower.’ That coupled with the variety of weapons, enemies and zones in the world made it really easy to throw 20 or 30 dollars at this unfinished product.

As I’ve mentioned, I’m not really a Zelda guy, but as I’ve essentially screamed at the top of my lungs twice already, I think Yacht Club Games could be the ones to finally make that math work out for me. It doesn’t have a concrete release date just yet, but they’re aiming for 2023 at the moment, but something tells me that date wont stick.


Call it wishful thinking or misplaced optimism, but I really hope that Starfield is good. My feelings about Bethesda as a competent game maker aside, I would love for a good sci-fi RPG cause I haven’t had one of those since Mass Effect was set in the Milky Way. I guess The Outer Worlds was pretty good, but it didn’t really leave a lasting impression despite really enjoying it at the time.

What excites me about Starfield is the fact that it’s a fresh start in terms of lore. Despite enjoying some of the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, I could not tell you much of anything about that world because of how dense the lore was. I can’t say for certain, but it definitely felt like I was missing a lot of context for the universe by not following the series since its inception. Starfield represents a chance to get in on the ground floor and have Bethesda introduce not just myself, but everyone to this new setting.

Aside from lore, I just hope that Starfield isn’t as buggy and busted as some of its predecessors, a thing that most fans seem to find endearing for some reason. I also wouldn’t mind if the shooting was good. I get that it’s an RPG first, but there has never been anything less satisfying to me than shooting a character in the head being met with them just losing slightly more health. I mention this because as a sci-fi game, I would expect Starfield to rely more on gunplay than Fallout did, which I would hope would result in weightier combat, but what do I know? Those and other questions are bound to be answered when it releases sometime in 2023.

This list could have been a dozen or so more entries long, but these are kind of the big ones that I could think of from where I’m at in 2022. I’m sure a bevy of things will be announced and released as the year progresses that I’ll be equally excited for. There’s also the possibility that something on this list will slip into 2024 which would be insane considering most of these games already have been delayed. But hey, I’m sure we’ll talk about that stuff as it comes up during the year.

My Top Games of 2022

Between unemployment and being depressed, I had a lot of time to play video games this year, and while I did play a decent amount of titles only a handful of them really left a lasting impression on me. More accurately, these were the games this year I remember playing and thinking, “yeah, I had a good time with that.” So in no particular order, here are my favorite games that I played this year.


When I think back on my time with Tunic, also known as the cute fox Zelda game, I tend to remember a lot of the negative things first, like how difficult and incongruous the combat felt in comparison to the rest of the game. I remember feeling frustrated at the lack of direction and general ambiguity of everything that was happening. I remember feeling lost and confused, almost like I wasn’t smart enough for Tunic and should just give up and stop playing.

But then I remember the many “Oh shit!” moments I had with Tunic, where I’d figure out how to navigate a seemingly impassable part of the map and felt like the smartest person in the world. I remember finding pages for and utilizing the in-game manual to complete puzzles and shed some light on what the hell was going on in this world. Every low moment I had with Tunic was eventually followed by some satisfying high that would carry me over and past each of these peaks and valleys.

Tunic was a game that genuinely challenged me even after I adjusted the accessibility settings to nullify the challenge of combat. Tunic is filled to the brim with mysterious secrets that lead to wondrous revelations, most of which I pretty much understood. My only complaint with Tunic is that its combat didn’t need to be as punishing as it was, as it detracted from the real treasure of the experience, which was exploring and uncovering every little secret Tunic had tucked away.

Kirby and the Forgotten Land

Kirby and the Forgotten Land isn’t the most difficult or complex game I’ve played this year, but it didn’t need to be. Kirby games are usually a lightweight and breezy experience, and this entry was no different. Kirby and the Forgotten Land was a cozy little 3D platformer that was oozing with charm which is something I needed this year. It was a fun, low-stakes game that I could mindlessly play, stopping to occasionally appreciate its lovely art direction and endearing character design.

There’s a surprising amount of stuff crammed inside of this Kirby game, from some very light upgrade mechanics that alter and change the effect of the powers you suck up, to these challenge levels that test your abilities to control and utilize said powers effectively within a time limit. In addition, each level has a set of challenges or collectibles for you to tackle and collect, granting you additional upgrade resources and currency for the rest of the game.

Kirby and the Forgotten Land isn’t the Mario 64 of Kirby games, but it is a lot of fun and a fresh take on the Kirby formula that’ll scratch that platformer itch I know you’ve got.

Road 96

A setting where a fascist dictatorship violently tamps down on dissent and propagandizes its populace through an overly complimentary ‘news’ network might seem like an odd backdrop for a teenage coming-of-age adventure game, but it actually works surprisingly well.

In Road 96, you play as a series of unnamed teenagers who are hitchhiking their way through their terrible country in the hopes of crossing the border and fleeing into a less oppressive country. On its surface, the game almost presents itself as a roguelike because you’re essentially making runs on the border as different characters, but there is cumulative story that concludes despite which character you choose for each run.

On your journey you’ll run into a reoccurring cast of weird and fairly complex characters, aiding or avoiding them all in service of gaining cash and inching closer towards freedom all while keeping your morality intact. It’s a game about making choices and living with the consequences, and it was one of the more memorable experiences I had this year.

Hardspace: Shipbreaker

Hardspace: Shipbreaker is a game about safely deconstructing and salvaging spaceships with cool laser beams. There’s some other stuff about working in a future capitalism-ravaged hell-scape where you’re paying off a massive debt to the demolition company, but none of that is particularly interesting or necessary to enjoying the simple act of safely demolishing a space ship. It has this zen-like quality where you fall into that zone you get into when you’re doing your job and doing it well, as if it’s second nature to you.

The default mode in Hardspace: Shipbreaker puts some oxygen and fuel restrictions on you that I found to be more restrictive than I wanted, but luckily you can toggle that stuff off or just play in a free-mode with no restrictions, which I’ve found to be the optimal way to play the game. I find that disabling those restrictions lends it a more puzzle game feeling that’s far more satisfying than having to juggle the light survival mechanics.

The pacing in Hardspace: Shipbreaker is a little off, as the first few hours of the campaign don’t really afford you too much variety in ship types or tools to use, but after enough time that eventually starts to change. But aside from that tiny quibble, I’ve got nothing but praise for the slow and methodical gameplay of Hardspace: Shipbreaker.

Sniper Elite 5

Sniper Elite 5 doesn’t reinvent the Sniper Elite formula, but it was one of the most fun cooperative gaming experiences I had this year which is mainly why it’s on this list. While the slow motion bullet-cam is still as exciting and gruesome as ever, but what really made this entry come alive was how flexible it was in catering to different play styles. More specifically, it allowed me to watch from a safe distance as my cooperative partner charged into overwhelming odds and chained knife-takedowns on hostile Nazis, thus obliterating any and all sense of stealth that might be implied in a game called Sniper Elite 5. It was frustrating to watch, but hilarious to experience.

The best thing about Sniper Elite 5 is how much of a perfect platform it was for my friend and I to make each other laugh, which we did a lot of. It’s a game that you don’t have to really think about too much because the objective is simple: destroy all Nazis. Knowing that core mission left ample opportunities for us to perform comedy bits with each other as we bumbled our way through the sprawling levels, completing objectives in our own ways and more often than not, screwing over the other player because stealth was never an option.

PowerWash Simulator

Much like Hardspace: Shipbreaker, PowerWash Simulator is one of those meditative, ‘lose four hours of time’ kind of games that has you doing something mindless yet incredibly satisfying. In this game you blast grime and dirt off of the filthiest structures and vehicles in the world, utilizing stronger power washers, nozzles and soaps. That’s it. That’s the whole game. There’s a story, but who really cares about that? There is something borderline indescribable about PowerWash Simulator that makes it easily one of the best games I played this year.

Aside from its cutting edge dirt-tech, something that I’ve just made up, it doesn’t look especially great nor does it run flawlessly, but it lets you and your friends come together to methodically blast the cruft off of things, and that’s good enough for me.

NBA 2K23

Without question, the games that I end up putting the most time into year after year are in the NBA 2K series, and this year’s entry might be one of my favorites, ever. NBA 2K23 is the latest in a series of basketball simulation games that seems overly eager in siphoning as much cash away from you as it possibly can depending on what modes you play. If you’re like me however and don’t play those modes, opting to stick with the tried and true franchise mode, this is another solid iteration that still has some of the same lingering bugs as it did 3 years ago.

But what really changes everything for me is the ‘MyEras’ mode, which is basically just your standard franchise mode, but you can start it in the ’80s, ’90s or early 2000s. It isn’t a perfect mode, but it is the only thing I’ve been playing in NBA 2K23. The game reskins the courts, jerseys and imports the appropriate draft classes all while implementing historical changes as they happened, such as ripping my precious Nets away from me and taking them to Brooklyn. NBA 2K23 is one of favorites cause it lets me play in the time period I’m most familiar with, which is something I never thought would happen.

Vampire Survivors

I don’t know that there’s a game that I’ve played this year that so deeply sunk its fangs into me like Vampire Survivors did. Never would I have guessed that a roguelike would ever capture my interest for more than a few runs, but Vampire Survivors is the game I keep wanting to play above anything else. Which is crazy considering the only control you have over anything in the game is moving your character and selecting your upgrades.

As you level up during a run, you are presented with a random array of weapons and buffs to choose from, one per level. Combining the right items and leveling them up can create some devastating effects that let you feel like an all-powerful demigod projecting an impassable zone of death around you that vaporizes any enemy the moment they stupidly enter it.

It also takes a lot of weird turns which is a crazy thing for me to say about a game with no real story or lore, but it still found a way to toy with me when I felt like I ‘got’ the game. Ultimately, what I’m saying is that you should 100% try this silly little arcade game if you haven’t, because it’s way better than it has any right to be.