Category Archives: archived GOTY

Game of the Year 2020

Welcome to 2021, a year that I will set no expectations for because we all saw how well things turned out in 2020. But before we leave 2020 to rot in it’s rightful place in the universe’s dumpster, let’s bid one last farewell to the worst year I’ve ever experienced by celebrating the games that got me through it.

It took a long time and a lot of effort to get to a place where I could even list ten games I truly enjoyed this year, partly because nothing really stood out to me for most of 2020, and partly because the year itself was a debilitating nightmare that not even video games could distract me from.


Every year I find myself dipping into the latest entry in the NBA 2K series and pour hundreds of hours into it, and NBA 2K21 is no exception. It’s like this nice bit of comfort food that I can just dip into and have a decent time with my favorite sport as I live out my wildest fantasy of making the New York Knicks a good team. I never participate in the more exploitative modes that try to milk you for money in order to boost your stats or wear a cool hat, but I still have a bunch of fun just running through a couple of years of the franchise mode, adjusting rotations and negotiating contracts and whatnot. There isn’t much else to say about the game otherwise. It’s a solid basketball simulation that manages to consume a lot of my free gaming time throughout the year, which is enough to make it onto this list in some capacity.


Risk of Rain 2 opens up this list not just because I think it’s a good game worth sinking a couple dozen hours into, but because it was one of my favorite multiplayer experiences from this year. It’s one of those games that if I had played it on my own I’d be completely lost thanks to its large levels of inscrutability and ultimately back away from, but when I had some friends acting as my Risk of Rain 2 navigators, I found it to be an overwhelmingly good time.

The game itself is a tough as hell rogue-like shooter that is relentless in how much it throws at you. Eventually you reach a point where you’re inundated by items and abilities that don’t exactly explain themselves well, but thankfully I had people around me to help fill in the gaps. Aside from Risk of Rain 2 just being a really well made game that really shines when you play with friends, the soundtrack is amazing. It’s this incredible progressive-rock soundscape that washes over you while you play it and is quite well done. If nothing else, you should listen to the soundtrack.


When I think about the absolute misery that was 2020, it’s important to try and counteract the constant stream of negativity with the few moments of pleasantness I was able to find. Spiritfarer is a game that granted me some reprieve from the horrible world outside, by making me the shepherd of departed souls that’s been tasked with ferrying them to the other side. While that pitch sounds grim as hell, I assure you that the game itself is a heartwarming experience that provided an incredible story despite dragging in a couple of places.

The real thing that won me over in Spiritfarer was just how it looked. Everything about the presentation is warm and inviting, masking the reality of the task you have to take on as the titular Spiritfarer. You learn about the people you’re ferrying along and who they once were through talking to them and doing side missions on their behalf, most of which were really touching. It’s also got some farming simulation and management stuff in there to help break up the monotony with a different kind of monotony. But aside from some of the slower and less story relevant bits of the game, I think it is just a tremendous title that was well worth the time I put into it.


As an unapologetic lover of games that “simulate” relatively mundane professions, Hardspace: Shipbreaker was a particularly exciting blend of that concept and my love of science fiction. In Hardspace: Shipbreaker, you’re just a person whose job it is to break down and salvage derelict spaceships. Armed with some cool laser beams and a recently added explosive charge, you can really destroy your frame rate with how granular you can get when dissecting these floating behemoths. But it isn’t without some challenge, because one wayward cut could result in a catastrophic explosion that will obliterate much of ship along with any salvageable materials.

What I really enjoy about Hardspace: Shipbreaker is how it takes this fantastical world of accessible space travel and decides to focus on this mundane concept of just being a scrapper rather than some fighter pilot. It reminds me of all of those Star Wars side stories that focused on like a Death Star janitor or something. It’s also just an intensely satisfying and meditative experience to just get in there and slice a ship apart piece by piece while listening to a podcast or something.


If it wasn’t for Fuser, I don’t think I would ever have discovered my secret ability to create true auditory hell-scapes, and that’s a newfound talent that I’m incredibly proud of. But Fuser isn’t just about making nightmarish song combinations, it turns out you can actually make unlikely mashups of classic and contemporary songs that sound really good. That’s the power of Fuser.

I’ve always been really keen on making music but never really had the understanding nor the desire to dip my toes into the world of being a live DJ. I don’t foresee myself ever buying turntables or any of the other required pieces of equipment to live out that particular fantasy, but Fuser allows me to dip into that world without much prior knowledge needed. It’s an incredibly accessible and instantly fun, albeit a fairly thin experience.

Fuser more of a game I can dip into a couple times a year and have a blast with as opposed to a game I’d spend consecutive days playing, but that’s honestly fine by me. It’s also just a really fun thing to pop on and show friends, although that particular party trick will have to wait until I can once again entertain people. But till that happens, I’m perfectly fine being a DJ for an audience of one.


I don’t think many folks actually know about I Am Dead and its particular style of puzzle solving, but I would implore anyone who wants a fairly light and breezy puzzle game to check it out. Despite the overly morose title, I Am Dead is actually a really pleasant game with a heartwarming story. It isn’t overly difficult and doesn’t soak up too much time, clocking in at around 6 hours or so. I found the main puzzle mechanic of peeling back layers of the world to reveal hidden objects to be pretty satisfying without ever wearing out it’s welcome.

It’s also just a really pretty game to behold, with an overall aesthetic that can simply be described as colorful and endearing. It’s a delightful little game that I feel didn’t get its due when it released, something that I’d describe as criminal. I fear that going into more detail about the game would teeter on the edge of spoiler territory, so all I’ll say is that you should absolutely check out I Am Dead if you’re in dire need of a puzzle-based palette cleanser from this miserable year.


Baldur’s Gate III is still in early access and will probably remain that way for most of, if not the remainder of 2021, but it still deserves a spot on this list. The game itself launched in a pretty rocky state, but has only been improving as time has gone on. Many of the issues I had with Baldur’s Gate III when it launched into early access have been addressed or are at least on the list for tweaking, which is a great sign for someone like me who has no love for traditional CRPGs.

But therein lies the real reason why Baldur’s Gate III is on my list. See, up until it released towards the end of 2020, I very much wasn’t a fan of CRPGs and would even go as far as to say I had an aversion to them. But Baldur’s Gate III managed to capture my love for Dungeons & Dragons in a way that made me willing to give the genre one last shot. It turns out that all I needed to connect with this genre was a good entry point and Baldur’s Gate III gave me that. Now I’ve got like 4 other CRPGs in the backlog that I’m eager to dig into which might have been a little ambitious if I’m being honest, but it is what it is.

Aside from how Baldur’s Gate III basically opened up a world of new games to me, it’s just really fun even if it plays a little fast and loose with the rules of D&D. They recently patched in an update that fixed a lot of the graphical weirdness and camera issues that I had, but it also invalidated all save files from before the patch, so I’ve been putting off playing through the intro for a fourth time. But I truly think that when Baldur’s Gate III enters a 1.0 release, it will be a titan of a game. Even as is, the game shows so much potential both mechanically and in terms of it’s story. I just wonder how much time I want to put into it between now and then.


You awake in the middle of the night to the sound of your old timey telephone ringing. Since it’s like the 1930’s and there’s only one phone in your home, you throw on your nightgown and head into the room with the phone in it. You pick up the receiver and say “Hello?” That’s when you realize that on the other end of the call is no person, but the sea itself, calling to check in on you. Because the sea is in a different time zone they called you thinking it would be okay, but the sea realizes now that they’ve made a poor decision and are terribly sorry for disrupting your sleep.

So Call of the Sea is a really cool puzzle and adventure game that didn’t seem to get too much press, probably because it came out like two days before Cyberpunk 2077 did. But instead of playing that game, you should all play Call of the Sea instead. Call of the Sea is a narrative driven adventure game with some pretty challenging puzzles to solve, as well as a really intriguing mystery that unfolds and only gets wilder as you progress.

When I first launched the game I didn’t think I would end up spending too much time with it, but the story that kept unfolding around me was enough to keep me going to see it through to the end. I don’t really want to go in depth on where the story goes, but the setup is that you’re this woman who is heading to this mysterious island to find your husband and his expedition crew. They went in search of a cure for the mysterious disease that your character is afflicted with, but too much time has passed and your character is worried and decided to just find her partner on her own. Aside from the really captivating mystery of your missing husband and his crew, there’s a very touching love story that’s unfolding around you as your character recalls all the reasons why this man is so precious to her. It’s a very sweet subplot in a game that has a very haunting story, and I think it all comes together pretty flawlessly.


By the time June rolled around I was pretty sure I hated Animal Crossing: New Horizons, something that came as a surprise to me considering that like the rest of the world, it dominated every free moment I had when it launched. I feel bad for Animal Crossing: New Horizons, because I think a lot of people had that same trajectory with it. The truth of the matter is that it released as one of the darkest moments in human history was unfurling around us, thus thrusting it into this position of being everyone’s go-to game for both escapism and social gatherings. The problem is that Animal Crossing: New Horizons isn’t meant to provide you with long gaming sessions, rather, it’s a thing that’s designed for you to check in with once every few days.

But the pandemic just started an the world entered lock down, leaving us with nothing but the newest and cutest game out there to keep our minds off of the misery outside as well as keeping us all connected. Animal Crossing: New Horizons was a lifeline for so many people, myself included. My partner and had a lot of date nights on our islands in lieu of being able to actually see each other in person, and I’m thankful as hell for that. Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a really good Animal Crossing game, but might actually be better described as the most important game of 2020, similar to how Pokemon GO! was the biggest cultural event of 2016.

Around November I eventually found my way back to my island much to the delight of my little virtual animal neighbors, and I started playing it the way it was intended. Once I got into that rhythm with Animal Crossing: New Horizons, I started remembering why I was so taken with this series in the first place. It’s pleasant and charming and never aims to stress you out. It truly is the best foil to 2020 that we could have asked for, and for that alone it deserves a spot on this list. But because of how well made it is, minus some quality of life improvements that Nintendo just refuses to make for some reason (doing anything that involves the internet), it would have been on this list regardless of a pandemic or not.


What isn’t to like about Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2? It’s a fantastic remaster of two of the most beloved games of all time that was able to make good on how I remember those titles looking and feeling. From the soundtrack to the levels and challenges, everything was pretty much just how I remembered it, although I did appreciate how they went ahead and aged up the skaters to reflect what they look like now. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 is really just a celebration of two classic titles that despite the efforts of some later and more mediocre entries in the series, never were overshadowed or forgotten.

It only took an hour or so for my muscle memory to kick in, allowing me to pull off some insane lines and combos that I would inevitably fuck up because I tried to do one too many rotations in mid air. You wouldn’t believe it, but I miss that particular brand of frustration. I remember being a younger man and bashing my head against so many of these challenges while listening to the first two minutes of every song on the soundtrack. I usually try to catch myself when something is trying to play off of my nostalgia in such an explicit way, but I fully embraced what Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 did to me and I’m much happier for it.


And here we are, at the number one spot chilling with Spider-Man himself. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales is the refined version of its 2018 predecessor, Marvel’s Spider-Man. That game was fantastic, but Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales is even better. It’s story is emotional and moves along at fast enough pace that you don’t feel like you’re ever losing the plot. It also cuts out a lot of the bloated side content that existed in Marvel’s Spider-Man, but isn’t completely without some truly lame side missions. That just seems to be a pitfall of most open world games though.

But Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales wastes no time in letting you bounce around the city as a much more competent Spider-Man, circumventing the need to spend upgrade points on essential traversal abilities. From the jump you’ve got way more combat, stealth and traversal options at your disposal, and Miles has his own unique set of upgrades to work with that make him feel very different from 2018’s Peter Parker. The game as a whole manages to skirt the line of being a “Spider-Man living in the shadow of Spider-Man story”, by making it obvious that Miles is his own character and his struggles both as Miles and Spider-Man are just as important and impactful as anyone else’s.

I truly loved the time I spent with Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales and basically devoured it within the first few days of its release. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales is a truly fantastic game that tells its story incredibly well and efficiently, is mechanically rewarding and engaging, and it doesn’t even cost as much as a full priced title. It’s a truly exquisite game that every Spider-Man fan should play. For all of those reasons and more, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales is my game of the year for 2020.

Well that’s it I suppose, another year in the books. Thank goodness. I’d like to personally thank you all for sticking with me this year and reading the things I write, it truly means more to me than you could ever know. But that’s it y’all. I hope your 2021 is demonstrably better than 2020, although that can’t be too high of a bar to clear. Thanks again everyone.

Game of the Year 2020: Bottom 5

This year has seen its fair share of great video game experiences worthy of both praise and recommendation, but it’s also seen plenty of stinkers too. Now this list isn’t meant to imply that these games are the worst games of the year, because they simply aren’t. These are just some games that I happened to play this year that I really did not enjoy for one reason or another. A lot of the games in this list either already have or will eventually see significant fixes and updates that can technically fix a game I had issues with, but some of the games on this list are beyond what a bug fix can rectify.


Ghost of Tsushima isn’t a bad game, but it definitely left me wanting something more engaging and technically proficient than what I played back when it launched. I wrote about my issues with the game back when it released, focusing on a bevy of story issues and just the mechanical weirdness I had encountered during my truncated play time. I found the camera to be the most formidable foe in the game because I would die more often than not due to its ineptitude.

But that was all back in July. I would imagine that after several months of existence some of the rougher edges of Ghost of Tsushima would have been ironed out through patches and updates, ultimately leaving the game in a much better place. This could very well be the best time to jump back in, especially considering that there’s a new cooperative mode where you and 3 other friends fight demons and stuff. That alone kind of makes me kind of want to boot it back up, but considering I lack any friends who have any interest in doing that, I don’t know that I’ll be able to enjoy that particular aspect of the game.

While that all sounds cool, it doesn’t change the fact that I was deeply underwhelmed by Ghost of Tsushima upon release. Unlike most of the other games on this list however, I do think that with a lot of the technical jank fixed Ghost of Tsushima could be a really fun stealth/action title. It’s one of the few games here that I would actually consider revisiting, and that’s kind of the highest honor one can achieve on this list.


Where do you even start when talking about Cyberpunk 2077? I tried to capture as much as I could in a short post a few weeks back, but there’s so much to take issue with in that just thinking about all of my grievances is exhausting. What I will say is that it’s a buggy mess of a game that falls apart the second you look too closely at anything, boasts a introductory sequence that’s just a real slog, contains an abundance of convoluted and confusing menus, and doesn’t even feel especially fun to play. I don’t see the silver lining around Cyberpunk 2077, and I don’t think I ever will.

From lying about mandated crunch for their employees, lying and misleading investors, getting pulled from the PlayStation store, and having a couple of retailers issue refunds for the game, Cyberpunk 2077 has destroyed the goodwill that CD Projekt Red earned throughout their time working on the Witcher series and the GOG platform. It’s absolutely nuts to see how hard everyone turned on the company for their unfinished and unpolished game in just like two weeks, although it seems entirely justified.

The worst part is that even if the game worked perfectly, I still don’t think it would be very fun. People have told me that the game doesn’t really get going until about 8 hours in, which is an insane requirement for someone to endure in the hopes that they might be interested in a game. Aside from that, I don’t think the combat, driving or conversational stuff is that good, at least from the little of it that I saw. Truth be told, I think Cyberpunk 2077 fails to encourage players to stick it out for 30 or 40 hours of gameplay, and it doesn’t sound like that argument ever really gets made.


It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to say that I had some issues with Watch Dogs Legion. From its nonexistent story and its horrendous performance on PC, I found that Watch Dogs Legion felt like an afterthought rather than sequel to a very positively received game. Watch Dogs Legion‘s failings are only exacerbated when compared to the previous game in the franchise, Watch Dogs 2, a title that had its fair share of issues but was way more of a cohesive and complete product than this latest release.

I’ll stand by the assertion that the core gameplay mechanics are still solid and rewarding, but outside of that, Watch Dogs Legion offers nothing new or interesting aside from the incredibly lame ability to “recruit anyone” in London to fight alongside you. The mechanic sure sounds nifty, but in practice it’s an incredibly tedious element of the game that I eventually abandoned because you would just get cooler playable characters after completing story missions anyway. The incentive to hunt for NPCs with unique and helpful characteristics and abilities vanishes under the weight of being upstaged by story progression unlocks, and by how monotonous it really is. It also feels so firmly rooted in the traditional “Ubisoft open world formula,” that it’s just a complete bore to progress through.

Watch Dogs Legion just feels like a complete misfire of game that failed to not only capitalize on what made Watch Dogs 2 so successful, but completely abandoned any attempt at providing a cool story or characters in favor of a stupid mechanic that wears out its welcome after a few hours. If I haven’t made it obvious enough yet, I really did not enjoy Watch Dogs Legion. It’s yet another example of a game that even if it was technically solid, it would still be an absolute slog to play through.


Unlike my severe distaste for Watch Dogs Legion, I don’t actively dislike Marvel’s Avengers. In fact, I’m not even that disappointed with the game because I never really had any expectations for it. For as long as I’ve wanted a good, big-budget Avengers game, when the news came out that it would be a live service game I kind of just wrote it off.

The weirdest part is that it’s a pretty decent game, but by being shoehorned into this business model that just didn’t make sense for the license, it just felt overly convoluted and messy. Unlike other games on this list, I can’t really point to one aspect of the game that’s particularly bad. The issue is that there’s nothing particularly good or bad about Marvel’s Avengers aside from being a really weird and oddly dated feeling live game. I would love a great Avengers game, but this isn’t it.

The main issue is that the game is constantly undermined by being a live service product. With an abundance of tiered gear and currencies, Marvel’s Avengers, despite having a decently interesting superhero story, was diluted by being a licensed game that tried to offer a lasting live experience for players without being able to get too wacky with the property. None of your gear was visually represented thanks to Marvel being overly precious about their characters, which led to a bunch of invisible items that just made numbers in the background go up. The whole game just seems like it was designed by committee, which left it feeling bland and forgettable.


I was so excited for the return of skateboarding games, especially when you had some of them trying to illicit the same warm feelings people got from the Skate series. Skater XL seemed like the game that would bring that pseudo-realistic style of skateboarding game back from the dead, but it was more of a wet fart than anything else.

Skater XL allows you to ride a skateboard and do all sorts of tricks and grinds, albeit in a messier way than expected. The thing that made the Skate series so approachable was the way it made you feel like you were being technically adept while not having to really do that much. All of your tricks were done with the right analog stick and maybe another button for a grab or spin. It was simple but required a level of competency to pull off more advanced tricks and lines.

Skater XL on the other hand ditches that approachability in favor of turning your controller into a game of Twister for your fingers. The controls are overly complex and require you to do unnatural things like steer with the triggers. It never felt intuitive or satisfying because for every successful trick I managed to pull off, there was a trail of blood and viscera behind me that chronicled my failure. Also, there’s not a game in Skater XL. There’s no story or challenges or anything that could qualify as connective tissue. It’s just a level select with some overly convoluted controls at this point.

To be fair though, it’s been a while since I’ve actually checked in with the game, so maybe they’ve incorporated more usable control schemes or some sort of progression system. But I genuinely have no interest in returning to the game after the bad taste it left in my mouth when it launched.


That’s right motherfuckers, I took some time off of complaining about this, but by far it’s my least favorite trend of 2020. I have been inducted into a miserable realm of the internet where I’m following people who track the stock of consoles in several different retailers. You might be thinking, “Ari, that sounds insane,” and you’d be absolutely correct in that thought. It’s beyond wild that I’ve had to invite a bevy of Twitter notifications to light up my phone whenever they please just for the opportunity to spend $500. It’s maddening.

Overpriced bundles, terrible website infrastructures, scalpers and bots, all of it is absolutely infuriating on its own, but nothing is more annoying than these Twitter accounts trying to capitalize on this sudden surge in followers by constantly trying to build a community around people who are being fucked over by retailers. I don’t want to watch a live stream of you checking retailer websites so you can announce a stock drop. I get it, you gotta capitalize on whatever little slice of fame you can get, but when all I want is to know when I can be disappointed by Best Buy, getting notifications for YouTube videos, shouting out other people who are tracking the same shit, and the really bad memes, are all things I could do without.

I don’t mean to go so hard at these people who are just trying to help, cause I do appreciate their efforts. But every tweet that isn’t about stock availability is just another reminder that what I am doing is crazy, and it didn’t need to happen. Look, I know that COVID went and fucked up everything this year, especially manufacturing and shipment lines, but despite knowing how constrained stock was going to be, neither Microsoft or Sony did anything about it. Because at the end of the day, seeing an entire company’s stock of their console vanish with seconds is great news for them.

You could write this off as me being salty about not being able to get my hands on one of these new funny looking boxes, but it’s been genuinely demoralizing to finally be in a position in my life where I can actually afford to drop half a grand on console, but I just don’t have the chance to. Every logical part of my brain screams at me when I feverishly click on links to retailers because deep down I know that there isn’t really anything to play on these boxes. I also know that eventually I will be able to get my hands on one of these things, but that’s the power of consumerism I suppose. I don’t need this thing, I just really want it. Unfortunately the whole release of these consoles has been a colossal shit-show from top to bottom, which is hands down my least favorite gaming trend of 2020.

This has been day 3 of The Bonus World’s Game of the Year 2020 coverage. Check back tomorrow for our final list about video games from this year.

Game of the Year 2020: The Trends I Missed

One of the things that’s been most interesting to me this year has been seeing the types of games that unexpectedly exploded in popularity. The fanaticism around games and forming communities around them isn’t anything new, but in more typical years it was inevitable that someone might miss a big trend or event in gaming. Considering I’ve been home most of the year however, I was able to see these wild surges in popularity among various games and genres in a way I hadn’t ever been able to before. Despite all of this, I feel as if I’ve dipped into several of these big trends that took the internet by storm this year and managed to bounce off of most of them.

Like I said, big trends in gaming is nothing new. A few years ago PLAYER UNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS exploded onto the scene and thrust the battle royale genre of games into the spotlight. There was Overwatch, which arrived in 2016 and prompted every company in existence to try and take a stab at the hero shooter genre, with newcomers like Valorant releasing this year and finding an audience, while games like Hyper Scape, Rocket Arena and Crucible, all games which released within two months of each other, failed to gain any traction. Hell, even years ago we saw plenty of MMO’s get conjured into existence in an attempt to dethrone World of Warcraft… which definitely happened.

My point is that these big trends in gaming isn’t a new phenomenon in the slightest, but it’s been particularly interesting for me to watch them come into existence and either explode in popularity or just fizzle out into obscurity. So I’d like to highlight a few big things that happened in the game-o-sphere in 2020, and discuss how they all managed to pass me by.


February sure feels like an eternity ago, but we definitely had one of those this year. In fact, I was still working in my office, a concept that feels completely foreign to me now. But back in February, specifically Valentine’s Day, Dreams, the wildly ambitious game creation tool by Media Molecule, released on the PlayStation 4 and was immediately heralded as an impressive piece of software more so than being a fun game. It allowed creators to make their own games within the Dreams engine, either through hand crafting everything themselves, or collaborating with other users by importing their characters, settings, objects, sound effects and more into their projects. Dreams smartly credited every piece of content used to the user who made it, which encouraged a sense of community that seems to still be active to this day.

Above is a video from the YouTube channel, Ugly Sofa Gaming, a channel that highlights interesting and fun creations from the game. They’re still cranking out videos about the nearly year old game on a regular basis, which to me seems like a great sign for the entire Dreams community, although recent reports make it sound like the player base is waning. I watched a couple of their videos that highlight the cool games people are making in Dreams, and it’s genuinely impressive what people are doing with that engine.

But despite adoring what people were making and mostly catching the wildest things on my Twitter feed, I knew that Dreams wasn’t the game for me. I don’t have the patience to build a game in the slightest, and shelling out the cash for the ability to peruse the user generated stuff back when the game released just didn’t seem like a great investment to me at the time. But looking back on it now, I feel compelled to check in on it and see what people have been able to do in the past 10 months since it released. But it would be absolutely wild of me to, while writing this article, open up a new tab, navigate to Amazon, notice that Dreams is on sale, and purchase it, right? That would be ridiculous…

Let’s move on.


I don’t know exactly when Among Us exploded in popularity, but it sure dominated most of the internet and continues to be one of the most watched things on Twitch. It’s kind of wild when you think about it. Here’s a game that released in 2018 for five dollars and didn’t really make an impact, only to find incredible success two years later during a pandemic. Among Us is another one of those Mafia or Werewolf type games where one or more people are the bad guys who are trying to carry out their grim mission in secret, while the rest are innocents who need to figure out identities of the bad guys while also working towards their own goals. The formula is tried and true, but I’ve never really seen one of those games be as popular as Among Us is.

From what I can surmise, Among Us being as cheap as it is, available on the platforms it is, and existing in a world where people are in their homes more often than they aren’t and are desperate for human contact, were really the things that made Among Us a go to game for so many people. Streamers also helped immensely and that cannot be overstated. For as shitty as 2020 has been, it was the perfect set of circumstances for a game like Among Us to garner such a massive following. It did so well that the developers just straight up canceled the planned sequel they were making and decided to weave the new content into their surprisingly popular game.

Now to inject myself into this story. I played a little bit of Among Us with some friends on a handful of occasions, and it was fun. But it never felt like more than a novelty I could dip into once and a while, and certainly not at the rate that some other people play it. Aside from not falling head over heels for it, there was something weird to me about playing a game solely about lying to people you know. Now, I’ve played plenty of Jackbox games where I have to lie to people, but for every one game in a pack that’s about duping your friends, there’s four others that are about just knowing trivia or being the best at non sequiturs. Whenever the pressure of lying to people was too much, you could just pivot to something else. But Among Us is solely about lying to your friends and playing mindless mini-games. It’s fun for sure, but it just wasn’t something I wanted to play for more than a half hour at a time.


I think we kind of all knew that Fall Guys was gonna show up on this list. Fall Guys isn’t a bad game by any means, but it just felt like a game with no lasting appeal, which I mentioned back in the Gut Check from when the game released in August as a “free” PlayStation Plus game. The long and short of it was that to me, Fall Guys was kind of a one-note experience. Yeah seeing the little bean-people flop around and get flung through the air is fun, but it truly felt like a game that relied more on luck than anything else.

Although it’s in my favorite genre of games, the “wacky physics” genre that is, something about Fall Guys just never clicked for me. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that it is a battle royale, a genre of game that I am truly tired of at this point. I exhausted my desire to play any battle royale back when PUBG was big, and never really felt compelled to play another game like it. While Fall Guys doesn’t have any guns or anything and is a different kind of battle royale altogether, it’s still a game solely about competing with other people, something that I feel less inclined to participate in as I get older.

There’s nothing wrong with Fall Guys, I actually think it’s a really neat concept. But in addition to me not digging the genre, a lot of the wind was taken out of my sails by the fact that the first game I managed to play, I won. That’s not some weird flex or anything, it’s just something that happened thanks to an accidental, yet helpful glitch. Within ten minutes of booting up the game for the first time, I was able to clinch a victory, effectively closing the book on my desire to keep playing. But Fall Guys is still going strong with consistent support and updates. In fact, their latest season released earlier this month and seems to be fairly popular, so good for you, Fall Guys.


Man, for a hot minute there I really tried to get into Blaseball but just could not. Blaseball is essentially fantasy baseball in a fantastical league where rules can change, referees and players can randomly die, super powers can be bestowed, and all manner of weird shit can happen. None of it is visually represented however, which might sound like a drawback, but it allowed for people to fill in those gaps for themselves with a ton of fan made artwork. In Blaseball you pick a team to follow based on little more than their name and home city. I chose to follow the New York Millennials, a team with a player named Dominic Marijuana on it. They were good… I think.

Honestly, the biggest drawback to Blaseball is how inscrutable and inaccessible it can feel to new spectators. For instance, I just checked the site for the first time in months, and all of the teams now have different names (UPDATE: They’re back to “normal”). I don’t have any idea what just happened, but apparently the weird “sport” got even weirder somehow. I’m having a really hard time describing what the fuck Blaseball actually is, and that’s kind of the problem.

Despite my best efforts to understand this spectacle, I eventually just bounced off of it because of how difficult it was to wrap my head around it. According to the website, I have 22,000 dollars, 6 tickets, and 10,000 peanuts. I can vote on rule changes with tickets, I can buy certain buffs and bet on the outcome of games with money, but I have no earthly idea what the peanuts do. I can however, purchase more peanuts with the money, or buy a squirrel to help me eat the peanuts. It’s shit like this that a wiki could probably explain pretty well, but I just do not have the desire to do that. But hey, Blaseball is going strong I suppose.


At some point this year, everyone really hopped aboard the Hades train and never got off. Well, maybe they got off, but not in a way that makes sense with this particular train-based metaphor. Look, Hades is an incredibly fun and well made rogue-like action game that has a bunch of different elements from other genres weaved into it, all of which it does incredibly well. It also blends storytelling with the rogue-like genre in an apparently very successful way. It’s a very good game by all accounts… except for maybe the people who just aren’t into rogue-likes.

While everyone was getting incredibly horny for the cast of Hades, I was giving it an honest shot in an attempt to see what all the fuss was about. And hey, even I thought it was good. The problem is that these kinds of games just don’t have any real staying power for me. I don’t find the rinse and repeat nature of rogue-likes to be particularly rewarding, so even in the face of a tremendous one of them like Hades, I still would rather just play a more traditionally structured game.

This has been day 2 of The Bonus World’s Game of the Year 2020 coverage. Check back on Thursday for another list about video games from this year.

Game of the Year 2020: 5 Games I Considered Playing, But Didn’t

Despite finding myself at home and with an influx of free time this year, for a multitude of reasons I ended up missing out on a lot of big and well regarded games. All of these entries go beyond the obvious, “lack of money and time” argument that might usually pollute a list like this, so I figured I’d shed some light on why there were such glaring gaps in what big titles I played. There are certainly more than 5 games I considered playing this year but didn’t, but I feel as if these were the biggest ones in the bunch. But hey, even if I did want to play every big release, there’s no way I could possibly make time for all of them, let alone afford that many games, so I guess money and time is a factor after all.


There are certain gaps in my gaming history that for one reason or another, I know will never be filled. Even now, with nearly infinite access to a near infinite amount of games, both past and present, I know I will not ever go and revisit some of these titles. I don’t think there is a series that exemplifies that for me quite like the Final Fantasy series. I recall playing one of them on my NES, but that’s pretty much where that series started and ended for me. Oh, I suppose I did play the demo for Final Fantasy XV, which is surprisingly important for this particular blurb.

That’s my history with the Final Fantasy series of games in a nutshell. When Final Fantasy VII Remake released earlier this year, I figured maybe this was my chance to see what all the fuss was about. Finally, I too could hang out with beloved characters like Big Sword Boy, Gun Arms, and Punch Lady. But seeing how this remake used the same combat as Final Fantasy XV, I hesitated. I didn’t enjoy what I played of the FFXV demo, and the idea of paying for a game with mechanics I don’t like and for a piece of a story I already knew the major beats of, just didn’t seem like a great use of my time and resources.

I’ve heard some pretty conflicting reports about the remake anyway, with most people usually conceding that they enjoyed it but not without first complaining about bad side quests or something. I think I just have to accept that Final Fantasy as a concept is just something that will never jive with me, and that’s okay.


You can’t see it right now, but on my computer’s desktop exists a little icon of a golden bug with a gem on its back. I have no idea what it is specifically referencing, but thanks to the words below it I know that this is how I can start playing the video game Spelunky 2. Yes, I indeed purchased Spelunky 2 when it was released earlier this year, a fact that might make some of you wonder why it’s on this list. Well since its release at the end of September, that icon has sat there completely unused and gathering virtual dust. It’s a testament and constant reminder that I am terrible with my video game purchasing decisions and need to be stopped.

I thought that Spelunky 2 would be one of the games capable of making me “get” the whole rogue-like genre, something that it might still be able to do, although to find that out would require me starting it. This game has just kind of sat here for months, waiting for me to dedicate some time to playing it, but the truth of the matter is I probably won’t ever launch this game. That isn’t because I think it’s a bad game or anything, because I literally have no way of knowing that. No, I just won’t launch it because whenever I do have some time to boot up a game, I usually end up weighing my options for long enough to the point where I no longer have time to play games, and that’s something both Spelunky 2 and I have to come to terms with.


Honestly you could just kind of look back at the Spelunky 2 post and it would be the same story. Rogue Legacy 2 is the sequel to Rogue Legacy, a game that I actually enjoyed when it came out a few years back. Without retreading what I literally just said a paragraph earlier, I think the main reason I never booted this game up had to do with it being an early access release. I knew what I had paid for, but the general consensus around the game was that you should wait until it was fully released. I also thought that would be a good idea considering I’m not a fan of the genre as is, and I have a tendency to burn out on games I enjoy by playing them incessantly. Now, unlike Spelunky 2, I do actually intend on playing this game once it sees its full release. Now that I think about it, I have no idea when that might be. It might be out right now for all I know.


Back when The Last of Us Part II released, I wrote a blog post about how I really didn’t have any desire to play it whatsoever. Something about a deadly virus that swept the globe and turned people into hideous monsters, leaving the few survivors to fend for themselves and be exceedingly shitty to one another, just didn’t sit well with me at the time. It turns out, I still don’t want to play The Last of Us Part II for the same reasons.

It’s a real shame too considering I really enjoyed The Last of Us and thought it was a wonderfully crafted game. Hell, I even called it one of my favorite games of the 2010’s. I still think the weakest part of that game was anything that involved zombies, but even with that caveat it was still a veritable masterpiece. It was gritty and raw, providing many emotional gut-punches along the way that still occupy a place in my memory to this day. While I wasn’t immediately dismissive of a sequel, I wasn’t necessarily excited for one either. Like I said, I thought the story stood up on its own just fine and didn’t need another chapter.

Once The Last of Us Part II did release though, I found myself in a pretty dark place myself as my world had essentially crumbled around me thanks to a certain pandemic. I didn’t need to play a game that was going to double down on the misery angle, because I was already pretty miserable myself. Even now I have no desire to play The Last of Us Part II, not because I think it’s a bad game or anything, but because I just don’t need that kind of negativity in my life right now. I don’t know if I’ll ever play it honestly, and I’m okay with that.


Okay, so full disclosure, I did in fact play about 15 minutes of Crusader Kings III, but it still has a home on this list. After it was released I found myself captivated by the sheer absurdity of the images and stories people were sharing on social media about this game, so much so in fact that I had to jump in on the fun. Sure it’s a genre of game I actively dislike, but I play D&D, surely I could handle a complex video game that might make me discover a newfound passion for a different kind of game. Also it was on Xbox Game Pass for the PC, so I had no real reason not to try it.

Within minutes I felt like I was drowning in a sea of menus, tutorial messages and windows displaying words I had never seen before. I was so out of my element and Crusader Kings III knew it. A message popped up, “Oh hey Ari, I see you want to get to the funny stuff that you saw on the internet, but before that you need to read this textbook on feudal class systems in Europe first.” I was out of my depth with Crusader Kings III, and eventually had to ALT+F4 my way out of the game before my brain melted. I was never a great history student in retrospect, and this game seemed like it was made by all of my past history teachers in attempt to get me to turn in some long lost homework or something.

For the people who managed to spend the time with it and really give it a fair shot, it seems like they came away with great experiences and stories that were capable of luring in a rube like myself. But maybe that’s where it started and stopped for me. Maybe the stories were all I really wanted from the game itself, and the mechanics just got in the way of that. Or maybe I just don’t have the patience for a game like Crusader Kings III.

This has been day 1 of The Bonus World’s Game of the Year 2020 coverage. Check back tomorrow for another list about video games from this year.

Game of the Year 2019

Man, 2019 has been a weird one for me.  Normally by this point in the year, I have a pretty clear idea of what a top ten games list looks like, but not so much this time around.  That isn’t to say it’s been a bad year for video games, in fact, I bet there’s people out there who were spoiled rotten by many of the releases.

The problem wasn’t a lack of quality games coming out, it was just an issue of those games managing to keep me engaged long enough to power through them.  So with all of that pretext, here are the top 10 (11) games that I played this year.

Red Dead Redemption II Screenshot 2019.11.24 -


Before we dive into the list, I gotta pour one out for the PC release of Red Dead Redemption 2.  Granted, it was an abysmal launch of a port in an age where PC ports have been pretty good, but returning to the old west that I fell in love with last year has been wonderful.  Especially now that it isn’t running like utter garbage.

Technically it came out last year, so I can’t in good conscience put it on the list.  Just know that it would probably be top 3 if it was.


Later Alligator wasn’t a long experience, but it was a fun one.  The hand animated, point and click adventure game that’s chock full of diverse mini-games really won me over this year.  The writing was funny, the story and characters were all charming in their own ways, and the premise itself just oozed with ridiculousness.

Desktop Screenshot 2019.11.15 -


Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is a tough game to talk about because I feel so conflicted about it.  On the one hand, it’s scratching that Star Wars itch so well for me, telling an interesting enough story in a world that I absolutely love.  Yet on the other hand, it can kind of be a trial in tedium the further in you get.

That isn’t to say I didn’t have a good time with Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, because I really did.  It’s just unfortunate that as you progress further into the game, it starts to feel very repetitive and uninspired.  It also suffered from a lot of performance issues which consistently made themselves apparent.

But even through all that, I managed to find joy in the world and story that Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order was doling out.  The satisfaction of chaining together all of your force powers and light saber abilities is a delight, and gave me those rare moments of fulfilling a Jedi power fantasy.


I’ve never played a game that physically hurt me, but Ring Fit Adventure is a game that’s left me sore while rubbing in the fact that I haven’t actually done much.  In case you aren’t aware, Ring Fit Adventure is the latest in Nintendo’s attempts to make you healthier.  It comes with a Pilates ring that houses one Joy-Con controller, while the other goes on a strap around your thigh.  You then do exercises to progress through levels, fight battles, and sweat profusely if you’re like me.

Even if we set aside the exercising aspect of  Ring Fit Adventure for a moment, it’s a pretty fully featured game with various modes including a full on story mode, mini-games and custom routines.  You also do things like upgrading your gear to make your workout attacks and defenses better, as well as crafting different smoothies which will give you certain buffs in battle.

Oh yeah, also you battle monsters in this pseudo turn based workout fight.  Each enemy is color coded to match a type of workout that you can do.  For example, a blue monster is weak to leg based workouts, so selecting squats or knee lifts will damage the enemy more.

It is wild that I’m describing the RPG mechanics of a workout game, but it’s actually a lot of fun and really effective at what it does.  Ring Fit Adventure has been my go to for working out, not only because I can work up a sweat with it, but because it’s actually fun.


One of the first new games I played this year ended up being one of my favorites.  Pikuniku was a delightful little game in which you stumble through a world besieged by an evil corporation that’s trying to take over everything.  Through a light mix of puzzle solving and platforming you make your way across the land, solving all the problems you can in service of overthrowing said corporation.

It’s oozing with charm, it’s light and breezy, and it’s weird as hell.


Control is a weird one for me.  Early in the game I was completely enthralled, exploring every nook and cranny, reading every note and memo, and watching every video log I came across.  Control does world building better than any game I played this year.  But as I got further and further into the game, I stopped doing a lot of the side quests and stopped reading every piece of paper that wafted past me.  The tension and intrigue that drew me in from the beginning began to feel rote and tiresome, and none of it because of any inadequacies in the story or world.

No, the real issue I had with Control was the combat and how frequently you had to engage with it.  Every encounter became a chore that ended with me having to hunt down the one last enemy who got trapped behind a corner, or buried under some rubble.  More importantly, the boss battles were the thing that eventually broke my back with Control.  The difficulty spikes that usually centered around the bosses eventually made me stop playing the game all together for a while.

Eventually I came back to it and powered through to the end.  The story manages to hold up its end of the bargain, but the combat never gets any better, even when you get some of the late game powers.  It’s a real shame considering when it came out, I was ready to place it at the top of my list.  Still though, Control is a hell of a ride despite its failings.

That being said, there’s a sequence at the end of the game that is absolutely incredible.  Look up the “Ashtray Maze” if you’re curious.

My Friend Pedro - 20190620151614.gif


My Friend Pedro is one of the few games I felt compelled to actually review this year, mostly because it’s just so damn cool.  In another example of style over substance, My Friend Pedro isn’t the most elegant game to play, but it provides such an awesome power fantasy that I still will occasionally pop into just to get my Matrix fix.

It’s a game that really only has the one, slow motion, bullet-time gimmick, but it does it really, really well.  It’s because of how well it does that gimmick, that I find myself coming back to it every once in a while, just to get that action movie feeling again.

The controls can be a little weird and cumbersome at times, but when it clicks, it just looks and feels so good to play.


I’m pretty sure I pissed myself once while playing Heave Ho.  It’s a game that’s so utterly absurd and preposterous, that you and the people you’re playing with can’t help but crack up.

Heave Ho is a physics based platformer, I guess?  You and your buddies are these creatures with a face and two arms, each controlled using the triggers on the controller.  You navigate levels using “teamwork” and your incredible climbing skills in an effort for everyone to make it to the goal.

It’s the kind of game that you need to play to really understand it, because describing it doesn’t do it justice.  Do yourself a favor, get some friends and a copy of Heave Ho, and you won’t be disappointed.


Super Mario Maker 2 along with its predecessor, managed to tap into this primal horror that lurks inside of me – making people test their might in the crucible of my own design.  I normally don’t engage with level creation based games, but with Super Mario Maker 2, I already knew the language of how everything interacts with each other from years of playing Mario games.  I know what kind of blocks a shell with break and bounce off of, or what a super mushroom does, or that music blocks are evil.  Knowing all of that just makes it so easy for me to dip into the creation suite and have a great time.

On the flip-side, I get to play near infinite amount of new levels, some of which are well designed, whenever I want.  While the creation tools aren’t as easy to work with as they were on the Wii U, Super Mario Maker 2 has a permanent place on my Switch.


It’s really odd that I enjoyed The Outer Worlds as much as I did considering my general apathy and dislike of the games it so clearly is building off of.  Where The Outer Worlds succeeds as opposed to games like Fallout and The Elder Scrolls is in its refinement and focus.

The Outer Worlds isn’t about the scale of the world as much as its about packing it with (mostly) meaningful and interesting things to do and see.  From brilliant writing, excellent gameplay, interesting characters and a well thought out and engaging setting, The Outer Worlds is a complete experience that doesn’t waste your time.

I’ve heard some people grouse about how this game is too easy or too streamlined, striping away some of the deeper RPG elements they love, but they can huff my shorts because this is the first time a game in this style has ever won me over.

Honestly I’m shocked that The Outer Worlds is a game I enjoyed, let alone put this high up on my list.  I would’ve never believed you if you told me this earlier in the year.


Okay, so hear me out.  Untitled Goose Game isn’t the best game I’ve ever played, in fact, it isn’t even that good of a stealth game.  But, what it did was bring me a ton of joy and made me laugh.

I’ve had more fond memories playing as a nasty goose than any other game this year.  Untitled Goose Game constantly kept me smiling and laughing as I fought against the purposefully cumbersome controls in an effort to throw a rake in a lake.

The truth is that Untitled Goose Game is just pleasant.  Even when you’re traumatizing a kid who clearly is terrified of geese, or stealing a mans crops, or getting a guy to break his neighbor’s vase, the game still manages to just be fun without being overly complicated.

I genuinely enjoyed my time being a nasty goose and come back to it pretty regularly to try and sweep up the additional challenges that unlock when you beat it.  It may not be what you’d imagine a traditionally good game looks like, but this game made me happier than any other game I played this year.

It’s short, it’s sweet, and it’s my game of the year for 2019.

So that’s it everyone, Game of the Year 2019 is in the books.  I hope you enjoyed the articles that went up this week, because they were a lot of fun to write.  This is the last post going up in 2019, so I just wanted to thank you for sticking with me throughout the year.  You have no idea how much your support and readership has meant to me.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year everyone.  See you in 2020.

Top 15 Games I Didn’t Play Because I’m Not Made of Money

The money tree I planted in my backyard never really payed dividends, so I couldn’t fiscally find a way to play everything I wanted to this year.  So in no particular order, here are 15 games I wanted to play but couldn’t, because I’m not made of money.



I like Call of Duty well enough, but hearing the positive reception it’s been receiving really ramped up my desire to play it.  The original Modern Warfare was responsible for some of my favorite gaming memories with my buddies, and while I know I can’t ever recapture that magic, it would’ve been nice to revisit it.



I’ve only ever seen other people play any Luigi’s Mansion game with the exception of playing some terrible mini-games in Luigi’s Mansion 3 with friends.  I never owned a Gamecube or Nintendo DS, so I was pretty excited to get the chance to play this newest release on a platform I actually owned.  But like most of the games on this list, life happened, and I had to prioritize other things.  The reception on this one has been mostly positive with some people taking umbrage with the controls.  From what I’ve seen, Luigi’s Mansion 3 seems charming as hell, and I definitely want to check it out.



Okay, I’m not the biggest Pokemon fan, so I can’t say I was actively looking forward to playing this latest entry at all.  But I was curious about what a Pokemon game on a more or less, home console, would actually look like.  Not curious enough to drop sixty big ones on, but still curious.  With this one, I was more just window shopping.

Combine my mild desire to play a Pokemon game with the very mixed and sometimes angry reception of this latest entry, and I think I’m good on never playing it.



Despite the miles of coverage on this game, I still just wanted to try it for myself if only out of pure curiosity.  Most people are pretty split on it either loving it or hating it, but after seeing some of the stuff floating around the internet, mixed with my general dislike of most Kojima games, I’m 100% positive I made the right choice for me.  If you like the game, great, but it doesn’t look right for me.



I’ve been so close to pulling the trigger on this game 3 or 4 times now, but still haven’t for some reason.  It’s this adventure game set in these facsimiles of old 90’s GeoCities pages where you play as a cyber cop that cracks down on infringements and infractions of cyber-law.  It sounds great, but I just never found the right opportunity to go through with buying it.  Luckily, one of my dear friends gifted me Hypnospace Outlaw for the holidays, which means I no longer have an excuse to not play it.



I’m not a Dark Souls guy at all, but people told me that Sekiro, while still being tough, wasn’t as brutal as a traditional Souls game.  Whether they’re telling the truth or not is pretty subjective, but deep down I knew what they actually meant was that this game would still relish in any opportunity to whip my ass.  So I kinda decided to save myself the hassle and just skip it.  Looks really cool though.



Speaking of games that I definitely wouldn’t be into, the Fire Emblem series is an extremely popular role-playing, turn based RPG with an emphasis on crafting relationships with various NPCs in an effort to make them better fighters… I think.  It’s certainly not a game I would enjoy, but all the praise people were throwing at it did make me curious enough to consider throwing money at it.  Yet after hearing that the game could take upwards of 70-80 hours, I politely declined and moved on.



I really wish I had some friends who would’ve played Mordhau with me.  I enjoyed games like Chivalry back when they came out, and Mordhau just looked like a more refined version of it which was a very appealing proposal to me.  But it isn’t a game I would play unless I knew that I had a crew to roll with.  Buying multi-player focused games is a pretty tough sell for where I’m at in life, but if my friends were down, Mordhau wouldn’t be on this list.



Crypt of the Necrodancer was so cool and unique that I’m surprised it took them so long to make another one.  I’m even more surprised it came in the form of a Zelda-themed game.  For those who don’t know, just like its predecessor, Cadence of Hyrule is a top down dungeon crawling game that has you move and act to the beat of music to attack and move around and all that.  It’s such a neat concept, but I just never got around to picking it up.



Two things basically stopped me from actually picking up Link’s Awakening.  The first being that I couldn’t afford it at the time, and the second being that the performance of the game looked really bad.  On top of that, people who had finished it were pretty lukewarm on the later game content.  I’d still like to try it for myself, but probably never will.



This is just like Death Stranding to me in that they’re both fairly inscrutable.  I really wanted to play Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey, but after seeing it in action my desires quickly subsided.  There appears to be no direction in how to play or progress which isn’t super enticing for me.  I was ready to approach this game like I was on a fact finding mission and I would report my findings back to all of you.  But yeah, I don’t know that I’m ever going to buy this game.



So here’s the thing about Astral Chain that can probably explain exactly why I didn’t play it.  Up until I went to make this list, I forgot it had even come out this year.  I’d heard mixed to positive things about it, but I was on the fence to begin with.  It looked like a cool action game and reports of the satisfying combat definitely piqued my interest, but it just kind of fell off of my radar so hard and I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything big.



I have wanted to like the games that developer Spiders have made in the past, like Mars: War Logs and The Technomancer, but found them to be clunky and mostly uninteresting.  But Greedfall looked like the most comprehensive of all of their offerings and certainly showed well in trailer form.  When it came out, the response was pretty mixed, but there’s still a part of me that wants to give it a fair shake.  There’s also my weird desire to play a big meaty action RPG even though I know that I have a hard time seeing games through to the end.  That is unless they’ve really grabbed me, which is something I doubt Greedfall would have done.

Also, Greedfall?  That’s the name that comes out of an idle game name generator.  It’s a very bad title is what I’m saying.



A lot of people have been singing the praises of Disco Elysium and even giving it their top honors this year.  Since it released that’s kind of been the tenor of the conversation around it, so I was definitely intrigued.  But seeing it in action quickly reminded me that it isn’t my kind of game.  A CRPG is most definitely not what I’m looking for, and Disco Elysium looks to be a CRPG-ass CRPG.

I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t feeling some sort of FOMO with this game, especially because when I hear it described, it sounds awesome.  I just know that Disco Elysium isn’t a game for me.



I just… like… I gotta know.  I need to see this stupid game.  I need to see if after almost twenty years this game is worth a damn at all.  I don’t hate Shenmue games, they were impressive at the time, but they didn’t age well at all.  Hearing that Shenmue 3 feels like a game made in the late 90’s but today, is a wild prospect.  It sounds like the creator of the game, Yu Suzuki, stopped playing games after releasing Shenmue 2 back in 2001, and decided to make another one without looking at any advancement in the industry since.

Give me infinite time and money, and I will give you the review of Shenmue 3 that you all deserve.


Now even with an unlimited budget, I don’t think I would have had the time to dedicate to playing all of these games anyway.  It’s a shame I missed out on some of these games, but I’m not balling out in a way that I can buy them all.  Anyway, thanks so much for checking out my list, check back tomorrow for my Game of the Year list.

My Favorite 15 Games of the Decade

Alright, it seems like everyone is doing one of these lists right now, so why shouldn’t I do the same?  As we round the corner and leave this decade in the dust, I’d like to take a look back at just a handful of my favorite games from the past 10 years.  These are in release order, and don’t indicate how much I enjoyed one over the other.  Also, I didn’t want to write this article forever, so I limited it to 15.  Don’t worry, I liked other games too, but these ones jumped out at me immediately when crafting this list.


MASS EFFECT 2 – (January 26, 2010)

When Mass Effect 2 arrived at the beginning of the decade, I was instantly taken with it.  Having never really enjoyed the first one, thanks to its cumbersome mechanics, Mass Effect 2 provided a more streamlined an accessible approach to the action-RPG.  With its tight combat and extremely well crafted story and world, there was very little to take umbrage with upon its release.  It had its fair share of missteps to be fair, but those complaints drifted into the background pretty quickly.  Mass Effect 2 is still a colossal experience to this day, and it also had some phenomenal pieces of downloadable content to provide new and interesting stories in this world I came to love so much.


ROCK BAND 3 – (October 26, 2010)

Rock Band 3 was the pinnacle of the plastic instrument craze that dominated the mid and late 2000’s, providing not only an amazing and diverse set list, but offering people the chance to live out their most rockin’ piano fantasies in the form of a plastic key-tar.  It isn’t hard to see why the franchise and its competitors were so popular, but the Rock Band franchise is especially dear to me because without those games, I would’ve have never started playing the actual drums.  While plastic guitars don’t really translate to real world musical talent, the fake drums actually taught me a lot about timing and limb independence.  That and it had both At The Drive In and Metric on the base set list.


THE WALKING DEAD SEASON 1 – (October 31, 2010)

When the first season of Telltale’s The Walking Dead concluded, I was devastated.  Through its highs and lows, it managed to tell a beautifully morose story that left me teary eyed.  It also reinvigorated and reinvented the stagnate adventure game, making it not only a viable genre again, but proving that these kinds of games could tell amazing stories while not requiring you to solve obscure puzzles which had been a staple for so long.


PORTAL 2 – (April 18, 2011)

Do I really need to explain why Portal 2 is on this list?  It’s one of the best puzzle games out there to this day, providing an excellent learning curve, intriguing story, and for being genuinely hilarious.  For years people have been clamoring for Half-Life 3 and Left 4 Dead 3, but the correct answer is making Portal 3.  I can safely say that I haven’t enjoyed a puzzle game as thoroughly as Portal 2 since its release.


JOURNEY – (March 13, 2012)

The way Journey handled not only its story and world, but its multiplayer component, was a revelation to me at the time.  There was this constant feeling of isolation that would encompass everything around you, until a mysterious figure would show up in the distance, beckoning you to come over.  They had no name, they couldn’t speak, but they were another player, and they were waiting for me.  And it was an incredible feeling to know that while we once thought we were both alone, we were both wrong.  Without saying a word, you and your buddy would trek through the entire game together where Journey would finally reveal the name of the player or players that you spent a few hours with.  Journey was a beautiful game on all fronts, and everyone should play it.


SLEEPING DOGS – (August 14, 2012)

It’s a shame that Sleeping Dogs never saw a sequel, because it’s a fantastic game.  It’s like if Grand Theft Auto had a better story and didn’t rely on shooting everything in sight to progress.  It combined all of the fun aspects of GTA, the open world, the vehicles, and the side activities, and paired them with a really good hand to hand combat system in the vein of Batman Arkham Asylum.  It was a joy to play, with the least interesting parts of it ironically being the bits where you had to shoot things.  Also, Emma Stone was in it and I don’t understand why.


MARK OF THE NINJA – (September 7, 2012)

Okay, so here’s a reference that maybe like 7 people will get, but does anyone remember those old Splinter Cell games that they put out on flip phones like the Motorolla RAZR?  They were these 2D stealth games that were way better than they had any right to be.  Why did I bring that up?  Because Mark of the Ninja scratched that itch for me in the best way possible.  It was this 2D stealth action game where you were unsurprisingly, a ninja, who would sneak around and slice fools up.  Not only did it play great, but it looked phenomenal.  I wholeheartedly recommend Mark of the Ninja to anyone that wants to play a stealth game that isn’t overly complex.


THE LAST OF US – (June 14, 2013)

There’s like 5 or six moments in The Last of Us that still stick with me to this day, and I’m willing to bet anyone who’s played the game can guess what they are.  From a gut-wrenching story to tense combat and stealth situations, The Last of Us was a triumph of a game.  Ironically enough, my least favorite part about it were the zombies, but I still really loved this game despite their presence.  Also, The Last of Us had a really amazing multiplayer aspect to it that I feel was under appreciated.


SUPER MARIO MAKER – (September 10, 2015)

I’ve never been a huge fan of level building games or modes, but Super Mario Maker was so brilliant in its design, using the language of Mario games that I understood so well to empower me to stretch my level building muscles.  It was so cleverly designed in a way that made logical sense through the lens of Mario games.  If I wanted a large goomba, I’d feed him a mushroom.  Want a flying Bowser?  Slap some wings on that fool.  It took the pieces of Mario we all understand, and made them work in the context of a level editor.


FIREWATCH – (February 9, 2016)

There aren’t too many games that I could say “made me feel things,” but Firewatch was definitely one of them.  From the jump you’re thrown into a tragic situation that’s the impotence for the rest of the game.  It’s this constant, nagging feeling in the back of your head that reminds you that you shouldn’t be here.  “Here” of course being in the middle of the woods working as a forest ranger in a fire watch station.  You spend all of your time exploring the wilderness and talking to the voice of another fire watcher who is guiding and directing you while asking you increasingly more personal questions.  You’re not only learning about each other, but you’re learning about a mystery lurking in the very woods you’re wandering through.  It’s amazing and I can’t say enough good things about it.  Play Firewatch.


TITANFALL 2 – (October 28, 2016)

It’s such a shame that when Titanfall 2 was released, it was wedged between a Call of Duty and a Battlefield game, essentially killing any moment it could gather before it had a chance.  Like I said, it’s a real shame considering that Titanfall 2 is one of the best first person shooters of the last decade.  From toe to tip, everything in Titanfall 2 is crafted with care and attention to detail.  The campaign, while not the most interesting story, is incredible from a design standpoint, with each level boasting a new mechanic or idea that dramatically changed how you played.  The multiplayer was no slouch either, building upon the chaotic fun that the original Titanfall introduced back in 2014.  Titanfall 2 is still worth your time even if you don’t plan on engaging with the multiplayer aspect of it.  In fact, I might even recommend just getting it for the campaign at this point.


NIGHT IN THE WOODS – (January 10, 2017)

Night in the Woods is hands down my favorite game of the decade.  I wrote a review that goes into my feelings on it in detail, but I’ll quickly summarize what I can here.

Night in the Woods struck a real chord with me and even managed to make me genuinely reconsider things in my own life.  I know it sounds ridiculous, but the themes, the interactions, the setting, everything about it just rang so true and hit me hard.  It’s a hard game to recommend because when I start out by saying, “you play as an anthropomorphic cat,” people tend to tune out immediately afterwards.  But for such a visually adorable game, it gets really dark and intense.  Adventure games aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I really can’t say enough good things about Night in the Woods.



I’ve never been the biggest fan of The Legend of Zelda series, enjoying some of them but never really feeling any affinity or passion for the series, but holy hell did Breath of the Wild change all of that.  You’re plopped onto this massive and sprawling land mass, given all the abilities you’d need to conquer any and all obstacles along the way.  Breath of the Wild isn’t a game about getting stronger, it’s a game about getting smarter by using your skills and the tools you find along the way.  By incorporating a system that rewards exploration and puzzle solving in order to maximize your HP or stamina, you were always encouraged to explore the world as opposed to just charging towards the finish line.  The only thing that I absolutely hated about Breath of the Wild was its system of weapon degradation.  I felt like it didn’t add anything to the game itself, and made me hoard more things that I normally would in games.  But that’s barely an issue when stacked up to every other triumph in Breath of the Wild.


MARVEL’S SPIDER-MAN – (September 7, 2018)

Let’s get this out of the way, Marvel’s Spider-Man is repetitive in spots and doesn’t offer a tremendous amount of variety in what you actually do in it.  That being said, I’ve never had more fun with a superhero game than this one, and coincidentally it stars my favorite one.  Marvel’s Spider-Man, by my own admission, is just a good game.  It isn’t great and probably doesn’t stack up to several other games on this list, but it was easily one of my favorite and most memorable experiences with a game in recent memory.  It’s one of the only games I’ve felt the need to 100%, despite the repetitive chores I had to complete to accomplish that.  Marvel’s Spider-Man just feels good to play, providing a satisfying swinging mechanic mixed with some great (yet repetitive) combat.  It’s rough around the edges in spots, but I still love it so dearly.


RED DEAD REDEMPTION 2 – (October 26, 2018)

I’m willing to bet that a good percentage of the posts on this site are about Red Dead Redemption 2 in some way.  That’s with good reason though.  You can read my review, but Red Dead Redemption 2 is such a triumph of a game in terms of story, atmosphere and world building, that I can’t even fathom a game that’s done it better.

Every piece of Red Dead Redemption 2 is crafted in a way to reinforce the Wild West setting, while still providing interesting and engaging story beats.  Like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, it does a great job at encouraging exploration.  Almost every cottage, structure or cave you stumble upon has something there for you experience or find.  The amount of random events in the world that crop up do a great job of breaking up what would be the tedium of riding your horse from mission to mission, while also being pretty interesting for the most part.

I could go on forever about how much I like Red Dead Redemption 2, but I have a review to do that for me.  And if you haven’t played it yet, my one bit of advice is that the game is slow.  You have to be okay with going at its pace or else you’ll have a miserable time.


The 2010’s have been really great for video games as a product.  Less so for the business end of things… more specifically the “being an employee at a game company” part of it.  I know we’re going to get some great games in the coming decade, but we need to see real change in the way game companies are run.  Here’s hoping for some progress in 2020.

5 Games I Didn’t Finish This Year

Every year I find myself struggling to find the time or energy to power through a particular game for one reason or another.  Sometimes it’s because of a glut of releases, other times it’s just the game itself repelling me from it, but more often than not, it’s because something in my life came up.  This year I’d like to highlight the games that I just couldn’t bring myself to finish this year for one reason or another.



Okay, so I know that The Outer Wilds is probably high up on a lot of Game of the Year lists for a lot of people, but despite the incredible first impression it makes, it never managed to get its hooks in me.

For those who don’t know, The Outer Wilds is kind of a run based adventure game about space exploration.  I say “kind of” because there are story justifications for the looping of time that actually build up a pretty intriguing mystery that involves ancient civilizations.

The problems I ran into with the game however, are less the fault of the game itself, and more my own issues with certain styles of game.  For instance, while it’s cool, the looping nature of the world didn’t engage me as much as it repelled me.  I like to explore things at my own pace, and while I understand that different events happen at different times during the loop, I just never shook this nagging, pressured feeling.

I also felt that controlling the spaceship was way more of an obstacle than it needed to be.  It’s just so unwieldy and hard to control with any accuracy.  It ends up getting in the way of my desire to actually follow up on the elements of the story purely because of how bad controlling the ship feels.

The other big thing that kept me away from it, was just putting it down for too long.  I stepped away from The Outer Wilds for one reason or another when it released back in May, and I haven’t touched it since.

All things considered, The Outer Wilds is the game on this list that I most consider coming back to and might get around to by the time this article gets published.



I wrote about Knights and Bikes a while back and how despite being a very charming looking game, the gameplay was lacking.  To quickly catch you up:  Knights and Bikes is an action adventure game with a focus on cooperative play.  It kind of plays a little bit like a top down Zelda game, except it’s nowhere near as fun or interesting.

So why didn’t I stick with Knights and Bikes?  Because life is too short to struggle through a game that isn’t doing anything for you.  From the combat to the dialogue, nothing really stood out to me about the game.  That is of course, with the exception of Captain Honkers, the very good goose in the image above.



Okay, so let’s just rip this band-aid off.  A few months back I wrote a pretty positive Early Impressions article about Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order.  I stand by that article considering it was about, my early impressions.  Unfortunately, what should’ve been a fun beat-em-up with all my favorite superheroes turned into an all out snooze-fest mixed with a healthy dose of grinding.

I really wanted to like Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, but the loop of going to a new level to punch beefier enemies just got really tiresome after a while.  The main issue I had with the game that ultimately stopped me from proceeding, was that it never fulfilled the power fantasy of being a superhero.  I was always outmatched no matter what combination of heroes I threw at the endless horde of enemies.

And ultimately it just stopped being fun to play.  Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order felt too long for its own good while never adding enough to shake up the formula to keep things interesting.



Remnant: From the Ashes is a game that people said was a manageable Dark Souls-esque experience if you were to go at it alone.  Those people are clearly better at video games than me and I’m okay with that.

I really liked my short time with Remnant: From the Ashes, but I just never had the desire to come back to it.  I have some friends who have the game, but even that wasn’t enough to keep me engaged.

I genuinely don’t know what’s stopping me from jumping back into Remnant: From the Ashes, but I suspect it has a lot to do with my general lack of enthusiasm for the, “hard” game genre where games like Dark SoulsSekiro and The Surge live.

I would love to come back to it, but let’s be honest here, it isn’t going to happen.  It’s just another example of a game that you spend enough time away from, that going back to it seems like an ordeal.



Lastly on the list is the most recent example of a game that I said, “I’ll get back to that one later,” and never did.  Afterparty is a game that I was so excited for ever since it was announced, and then when it finally dropped in late October I found myself strapped for time.

By the time my schedule cleared up, 2018’s game of the year, Red Dead Redemption 2 was released on PC and consumed every free moment of gaming time I had left.  Do I regret not playing a new release for a game I beat twice already?  A little.  Do I care?  Absolutely not.

Afterparty as a game didn’t do anything to repel me from it, the problem was that it got buried under the weight of the cowboy simulator.  It isn’t a very long game from what I’ve heard, so I might try to bang it out over the winter break.


So there they are, 5 games I didn’t finish this year and probably wont ever.  Check back in tomorrow at 3pm ET for another Game of the Year article.  And to answer your question, yes, this list exists in an effort to explain why certain games aren’t on my Game of the Year list.

Game of the Year [2018]

I don’t know how 2018 managed to do it, but it simultaneously felt like the longest and shortest year of my life.  It was tumultuous to say the least, but we made it through and there’s no way things could get any worse, right?  But throughout it all we were graced with some pretty phenomenal games to play.  Here are what I consider to be the best of the year.

#10 – House Flipper


This is a weird one to kick off the list with, but hell, I played so much of this damn game that I’d be lying if I didn’t put it somewhere on this list.  I wrote about the function of games like House Flipper in my life earlier this year, and this was the one that spurred it on.  Oddly enough, the reason why I enjoyed House Flipper so much was because of my ability to disengage with it and just play it in the background.  Despite it being janky, and a little crashy at times, I really enjoyed the loop of restoring, decorating and selling homes.

There’s something oddly therapeutic about House Flipper and games of its ilk, and that’s mostly why it now is immortalized in my list.

#9 – God of War


So look, I really enjoyed God of War this year, but definitely not as much as a lot of people out there did.  Don’t get me wrong, it was a joy to play given the rewarding combat and engaging story, but that was about it for me.  I didn’t get hooked by any of the side missions or additional challenges, and I felt a little underwhelmed by some of the enemy encounters.  I really got sick of fighting that ogre with the rock, over and over again.  But still, God of War is a tremendous game that I enjoyed from start to finish, even if I did just power through the story to get to the very satisfying ending.

#8 – Celeste


For the first few levels of Celeste, I was pretty lukewarm on it.  I didn’t hate it or anything, it was just fine.  But a few levels in and Celeste started to show a little more of its hand, and hint at what the game was really about.  Celeste isn’t just a game about climbing a mountain, it’s about coping and acceptance.  The game, very literally, reveals that it is about the main character accepting herself for who she is and utilizing every aspect of herself to continue pushing forward.

That’s when I was on the hook and and really started to feel compelled to press on.  Celeste is one of those games that’s so good that any quibbles you might have with it are overshadowed.

#7 – Hitman 2


Hitman 2 is more Hitman 2016 and there isn’t a damn thing wrong with that.  I love the new Hitman games and everything they’re bringing to the table.  Blending into crowds and bushes are welcome additions to the formula, but overall this is just more of a good thing.  I can’t say for certain, but in terms of objectives, map design and just what options are available to you, it feels like the developers are leaning into Hitman being less of a serious game, and more of a comedy sandbox.  For that, I’m eternally grateful.

#6 – The Messenger

Holy moly The Messenger caught me off guard this year.  When I heard people raving and ranting about this game, I was fully expecting it to be mostly hyperbole.  It looked like a pretty neat homage to Ninja Gaiden and the like, but the more I played of it, the more The Messenger made it clear that first impressions are deceiving and that there was something truly special here.  The Messenger was a blast to play and honestly, it’s really well written too.  There’s also a pretty insane twist in the middle of the game that fundamentally changes everything, and while the change itself isn’t groundbreaking, it was definitely surprising.

In a year of phenomenal platformers and action games, The Messenger is definitely one of the best.

#5 – Dead Cells

Speaking of killer platformer and action games, how about we talk about Dead Cells?  Boy howdy is Dead Cells a good game.  If there was an award for “Best Feeling Game to Play,” Dead Cells would win it.  It’s one of those games that whenever things go bad for you, you’re immediate thought isn’t to blame the game, but rather yourself.  Dead Cells will punish you and try to break your spirit, but will leave you feeling so accomplished when you clear a level or beat a boss.  Aside from that it’s also got a real good look to it that I appreciate.

My only real gripe is that I’m not a big fan of rogue-like games, and Dead Cells is most certainly one of those.  While it wasn’t ever difficult to make it through the first few stages, I did start to feel burnt out on them and just wished for some sort of level skip feature or something.  Despite that though, I love the hell out of Dead Cells.

#4 – Yoku’s Island Express

I’ve had a passing interest in pinball at best throughout most of my life, so the concept of a pinball based platformer wasn’t something that I had pictured I’d enjoy as much as I did.  But here we are, talking about a game that in addition to having a really unique take on the Metroidvania style of game, is also immensely charming.  Within moments of booting up Yoku’s Island Express it managed to win me over.

It’s also an immensely chill game to play.  There aren’t really any enemies or fail states, and there never is any real pressure put on you.  But what I really appreciated was that the game is tight experience that didn’t take more than a few hours to complete.  It never overstayed its welcome, and left me satisfied at the end.

#3 – Dragon Ball Fighter Z

I did not expect to enjoy a fighting game as much as I did, let alone a Dragon Ball Z themed one, but here we are.  Dragon Ball Fighter Z was a constant for me throughout the year, being one of my go-to games whenever I was looking to pass some time.  I think what I really appreciate is how accessible the game is, and how whether it’s through some visual cue or mechanical one, it always makes you feel as if you’re playing well.  The auto combo system is generous and allows new players to feel competitive early on, while also rewarding players for learning actual combinations and moves.

Dragon Ball Fighter Z can be a little hectic though.  Sometimes I’ll lose myself in the action and lose track of what’s happening or where I’ve gone, but I think that’s just me admitting that I’m getting old.

#2 – Marvel’s Spider-Man

Marvel's Spider-Man_20180910221911

I really loved Marvel’s Spider-Man this year.  Sure it had some problems, like bad stealth sections and bland side activities, but it was still overwhelmingly fun to play.  Like a lot of people out there, it was one of the only games in a while I achieved 100% completion in.  Normally I don’t try to achievement hunt in games, but I was looking for any reason to play more of the game that I could find.

I fear I’ll sound like a cliche here, but it felt so damn good to swing around as Spider-Man and just make my way through the city.  What helped even more was the music that would swell every time you’d pick up momentum.  Even the combat, despite being repetitive, felt so good.  Something about just launching dudes off buildings and watching their bodies automatically web to the nearest surface was just so satisfying.

Marvel’s Spider-Man is not a perfect game, but I had a hell of a lot of fun with playing it.  Also, turning J. Jonah Jameson into an Alex Jones-esque podcast host may have been the best decision ever.

#1 – Red Dead Redemption 2


Red Dead Redemption 2 is easily my favorite game of the year.  It’s also ironic that the parts I least enjoyed about it were the parts where you actually played it.  It felt like the game had an identity crisis at some point, wavering between being a survival game and an action game, but ultimately being extremely mediocre at both.

But it was everything around the periphery of the core mechanics that really won me over.  Aside from a very enjoyable story with some really gut-wrenching moments, the random encounters and side missions were such a pleasure to track down and complete that it was worth fumbling around with the muddy controls to get to.

It’s one of the few game worlds that I enjoy taking my time in and exploring.  It’s one of the few games that I just like to boot up and waste time in.  Rockstar did something more impressive than make a good game, they made a world worth visiting.  A place that is so rich and diverse, that rewards me whenever I decide to spend time in it.

Red Dead Redemption II isn’t a perfect game, in fact, I’d hazard a guess that it’s actually an incredibly polarizing game.  But for me, coming into Red Dead Redemption II expecting a rewarding action game isn’t going to get you very far.  I found that it was better experienced as a sort of cowboy themed life simulator, where you can just experience life in old west as an incredibly deadly man who also likes to pet dogs and get into bar fights.


The Gardens Between


The Garden’s Between is a short puzzle game about two children reliving their memories one last time before one of them moves away.  The hook is that you control time, and not the children.  You’ll solve puzzles by manipulating the flow of time in ways like changing the order in which they punch in numbers on a giant calculator, or rewinding debris that’s floating in a river to provide a bridge for both of the children who are walking at different paces.

It’s all extremely stylized and has a soothing ambient soundtrack which I was very much a fan of.


What I liked about Florence the most was how it reveled in the mundanities of daily life, in and out of a relationship.  You play as Florence, a girl who is increasingly dissatisfied with her life.  She meets a nice young gentlemen and eventually falls in love with him.  Through this, you explore their relationship by doing things such as moving some of your stuff off of the shelves to make room for his things.  It’s simple yet effective in the message it sends and how it sends it.

The story went some places, and maybe I got a little choked up, but there’s no way of knowing for sure.  Regardless, Florence is a delightful little experience that you can play on your phone and finish in about 20 to 30 minutes.

Ari’s Game of the Year List [2017]

Video games, lets talk about em.  The year has come to end and it’s about time for me to share my thoughts on the ones I played.  2017 has been a hell of a year, so lets dive right in.


Personally, the game that has endured through 2017 and has been a calming respite remains to be Cities: Skylines. There’s something nice and relaxing about building a new city from the ground up and swearing that this time, there will be no traffic jams. With the addition of some great mods and add-ons that allow me to get more granular than before, I’m continuing to find joy in watching my little hamlet transform into the next Times Square, even if I never play it right.

Alongside of Cities: Skylines, I’ve also been able to return to Astroneer from time to time and see it progressing quite nicely. There’s been noticeable performance enhancements and new feature drops that have made it a delight to return to. As well as that, my favorite game of last year, Hitman, continues to be as fun as ever especially since giving me the ability to attempt the Elusive Targets I’d missed, once more.

Swing and a Miss


It’s probably obvious, but one of the biggest flops of the year in my eyes had to be Mass Effect Andromeda. Right from when EA and Bioware pitched the premise of the game I recall feeling the slightest tinge of skepticism. A story that ran parallel to the events of the original trilogy but also made sure to remove the possibility of ever seeing any familiar characters was enough of a bummer until the game came out. It was so boring and uneventful. Every aspect of Andromeda seemed to be an artists interpenetration of what made Mass Effect great without ever understanding the reasons behind its success. “We gave them aliens to bone, put that shitty car back in, and let them explore the planets that have nothing interesting on them. What more could they want?!” Mass Effect Andromeda was such a damn bummer.

I Think Something is Wrong With Me


I feel so strange. Even now if you were to tell me that I could fight robot-dinosaurs in a post apocalyptic setting with a bunch of science-fictiony intrigue sprinkled on there for good measure, I’d justifiably lose my mind. So then why didn’t Horizon Zero Dawn do anything for me? Everything about that game was wonderful. It looked amazing, it was fun to play and also there were freaking robot-dinosaurs to kill. Many would attribute bouncing off of Horizon due to The Legend Of Zelda: Breath of The Wild releasing 3 days later. But even before that, from the moment they let me loose in the open world, I just had no desire to explore or learn about these characters. I think I wanted to learn more about the fall of modern civilization and where the robots came from a lot sooner than the game wanted to tell me about it. I still don’t know how that game wraps up. Maybe I’ll give it a go in 2018, but who knows.

Along those lines, the game people kept telling me about was NieR: Automata. I was so intrigued by what I had heard about this game that I was desperate to try it. I was told that I needed to beat it a third time to really some crazy shit. But after the first time around I had no interest in forcing my way through it several more times. Another game that I really wanted to like was Absolver. I wrote a piece about my feelings about the difficulty and how it failed to resonate with me, but the quick and dirty version is that I never felt like I was getting better, I only felt like I got lucky.

Bring Your Friends


Some people are an army of one, others like myself are very much not. That’s why the only way I’ve played PLAYERUNKNOWN’s Battlegrounds has been with my friends. We’ve even streamed a whole bunch of it because we play it that much. From defeating another squad who thought they were alone, to flipping just about every vehicle we ever touched, and of course getting that chicken dinner together, PUBG is packed with reasons why it’s the best game I’ve played with friends all year.

But where PUBG is very tactical and requires a ton of coordination, sometimes you just need pure chaos to have fun. Stick Fight and Gang Beasts are two games that released this year that exemplify that mentality. They’re both janky and glitchy enough to where the physics themselves become a new character you’ll have to contend with. But it’s all fun and lighthearted which makes them a blast to play when you’ve got a couple of friends around.

Game of the Year

Ari GOTY.jpg

This year, before most of the biggest titles came out, a little game called Night in the Woods released on the PC and PS4. Night in the Woods is a game that resonated with me on a fundamental level and mirrored a lot of my experiences in life. It told a story that struck me on an emotional level while also having an awesome sense of humor and painfully charming aesthetic. I still have trouble expressing every reason why Night in the Woods was so wonderful in my eyes. Sometimes a game just hits you the right way, and that’s what happened here. It’s the game I’ve thought about most this year and have replayed twice already. Night in the Woods is easily one of my favorite games. Click here for a more complete version of my thoughts.

A close second this year, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is perhaps the most unsurprising entry in this list. I won’t beat a dead horse here, we all know why Breath of the Wild is on so many GOTY lists. It’s an achievement in a systems-driven, open world game. It’s the epitome of “you see that? You can go there.” But the best part about that, is there’s always something to do when you get “there.” It’s truly a phenomenal game and what’s even more impressive is that it made me love a Zelda game the way no other entry in the franchise has.

Where Night in the Woods and Zelda were locked in for a long time, this third entry took me a lot of time to decide on.  While I have plenty of great things to say about PUBG and why it’s one of my favorite games this year, I have to give the edge to Super Mario Odyssey.  Mario Odyssey isn’t a perfect game, but it’s just so damn charming.  In a year where you could look around and have found plenty of reasons to be scared upset or angry, Odyssey was just this beacon of color and positivity that I needed.

Lastly, I’d like to just add one more thing.

2017 has, for lack of a better term, been an interesting year.  The games were (mostly) good while a lot of things outside of the industry maybe weren’t as great.  With that in mind I’d like to thank everyone for watching our videos and reading the occasional features we put up.  You have no idea how much your support means to us.

I hope that 2018 is a better year…  like, in general.  So Happy New Year everyone. Be good to each other.