That’s another year gone by! This year I ended on the Backloggery memory card with a score of +25, which is just slightly less than my end score last year. This year I released JMPR for Game Boy Jam 5 and Tahira’s Tower (also for Android). That’s just two projects, but I’ve been hard at work on Mobility as well, which I’m realistically aiming to release this year. I’m currently also making stuff in Puzzlescript, so you can expect to see those soon as well.
As part of the wrap-up, here’s the list of my favorite games of the year. As always, it doesn’t have to mean the games have been released this year – just that I played them. The list is in no particular order. These also mainly list commercial games – if you’re looking for freeware games I like, check out this itch.io collection.
A fantastic minimalist rhythm game that I’ve played a ton this year. This game proves for me that rhythm games work excellently on mobile, and although I’ve also played the other rhythm games by the same developer, I think this is the one that plays the best, and has the nicest soundtrack selection of both free and paid tracks available. Deemo has a free demo on Android.
I’ve mainly been praising Falcom for the Ys games (which I’ve also played a ton of this year). In Trails, the story and its characters are taken significantly more seriously, and the combat system actually stays decently fresh throughout the games. Everything else has the usual level of detail and charm, and does a ton of interesting stuff, like the in-universe quest log, revisiting locations in fresh light in the second game, and it’s many little other nuances. It did cause me to burn out on long RPGs, though!
Vocaloid culture isn’t really my thing, but rhythm games are, and the gameplay is actually really good. Most of the beatmaps in the game are really good and fun to play. It has a decent track selection and some side activities. Its difficulty is a bit lower, but I don’t really mind that.
I wanted to invest a lot of time into reading a story, something I could do in my downtime, and wasn’t disappointed with Clannad. I like to compare it to Mother 3 (or Earthbound) in the fact that it’s story switches tone very often between comedy and tragedy. I loved how in-depth the story goes, and the music backs up the story perfectly. This is one of my first exposures to a really long visual novel, and now I’ve got a taste for more…
Earlier in the year, Two Tribes announced RIVE would be their last game, and what a finale it is. Twin stick shooters are secretly one of my most favorite genres, and the combination of that genre with plain old platforming works really well. It’s a short but sweet game, and recently got some extra bonus content so I’m still revisiting it from time to time. One of the most ‘fair’ difficulty games I played this year.
The other Fire Emblem Fates storylines are also nice, but this last one that ties them together is the best. It also experiments with the new ‘Dragon Vein’ gimmick, includes some of the best maps, and finishes the story in a satisfying manner. I liked the early missions the best, where you’re still with a small army and the levels are more puzzle-like than strategy-like.
The original DS game kept me busy for a long time, so I was super exited that a ‘Best of’ compilation was the next game in the series to release. It contains both classic, nostalgic rhythm games as well as new additions. That amounts to a record number of rhythm games, and add in the quality of life improvements and the Challenge Train, and bam! The 3DS has had a ton of great rhythm games, and this is a splendid finale for the genre on this console.
Fast Racing Neo: Nice fast racing game that can be unnecessarily punishing at times.
Rune Factory 4: Really nice to just chill out with and attempt to make some story progress. I got to the credits but there’s still more to it, and I’m revisiting it from time to time.
Human Resource Machine: Nice puzzle game, code can get messy when you’re enthusiastically attempting to turn your idea into code, but the interface and puzzles are really well thought out.
NaissanceE: Platforming and puzzle bits were a bit meh (as well checkpoints often being spaced too far away from each other), but world design and architecture are absolutely amazing and nothing short of breathtaking. You can find secrets in every corner of the world. This game just oozes mystery.
Affordable Space Adventures: I played the main story completely in co-op with my brother, with regular mental support from other family members. It’s a blast and can get hilarious from time to time. Some puzzle elements (like forced sound/heat maximums and avoiding overheating or undercooling) can get annoying.
Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright and Conquest were also pretty good. I still dislike that you can only unlock extra missions by pairing up characters, which I almost never pay attention to since it messes up my short term strategy too much. The QoL improvements over Awakening were quite good, though.
Fantasy Life: Another excellent game for chilling out. Overall enjoyable, story is short but has a lot of after-story missions you can do. Some QoL-related design is questionable. It still has DLC you can play, but you need to grind up to level 50 to play it which isn’t worth my trouble at the moment.
Mark of the Ninja: I really enjoyed playing this even though it’s a gerne I don’t normally enjoy. Finding out the way to create the most chaos in each scenario while staying hidden is really super fun, and the tension in this game is incredibly high. Controls do take some time getting used to.
Even the Ocean: Extremely accessible, good platforming, and a special kind of story. In some aspects similar to Anodyne, but the world and story take itself significantly more seriously. Interesting options are available, like only playing either the story-heavy or the platforming-heavy part of the game, or playing through an earlier, unfinished concept of the game.
Steamworld Heist: A really fresh approach on the turn-based strategy genre. I enjoyed this one, but got annoying at some times and can be pretty punishing, even on lower difficulties.
Not a lot. I might get excited for the Switch if it turns out to have good games on launch (Zelda is good but not enough for me). Otherwise, I’ll stick to indie games and maybe do retro gaming (particularly interested in the SNES era of games).