Your video games of 2021 December 3, 2021 5:16 PM   Subscribe

We don't have games on Fanfare, so let's chat about them here! They don't have to be your greatest, or anything that came out this year, I'd just like to hear about what you played and what it meant to you.
posted by curious nu to MetaFilter-Related at 5:16 PM (109 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

Oh gosh, yes. I have a list as long as my arm that I'll swing back with, but I'd be excited as heck to hear what everyone else has been playing this year. (One sorry-not-sorry freebie: I have been enjoying poking daily at, which manages to very consistently stay on the good side of my many druthers regarding chill idle games. And you can name your cows.)
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:17 PM on December 3, 2021 [1 favorite]

The only games I play are on a 15-year-old Nintendo DS and I have no complaints. Tetris DS is such a great stress-reliever. I like to play for 15-20 mins after work. I love the feeling of getting into "the zone" when I get to a really high level, it's quite a high. Also love New Super Mario Brothers DS.
posted by radioamy at 6:38 PM on December 3, 2021 [2 favorites]

I enjoyed Control, although it was less substantive than I’d been led to believe. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was very pretty and good until it started feeling repetitive. I’m going to finally break down and play the Last of Us II this weekend, with vague trepidation.
posted by aspersioncast at 7:01 PM on December 3, 2021 [1 favorite]

My husband and I haven't had much time for playing games this year but the surprise hit of our year has been Conduct Together. It's a co-op game on Switch have where you drive trains and deliver passengers around ridiculous tracks. Similar vibe to Overcooked. We've had a lot of fun with it.
posted by carolr at 7:30 PM on December 3, 2021 [2 favorites]

Mobile games have come and gone, but the one I keep returning to is the old PC game Plants vs. Zombies. It's over a decade old (!) but still ranks as the most replayable game I've enjoyed. Huge variety of gameplay.

Another of its charms: There's something about the backstory and cutscenes that just exudes fun and positivity (see the game's end credits for example, where the good guys and bad guys work it out dancing in the yard). It's the 'Ted Lasso' of tower defense games.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 7:38 PM on December 3, 2021 [5 favorites]

I played a good amount of Old World, a pretty fun Civ-but-what-if-100-little-things-were-better game that also has interactive storytelling built in. Excellent world music original score, too, by Christopher Tin of "Baba Yetu" fame.

Some of the new Monster Hunter with friends, although I couldn't quite form the regular habit needed to keep up with them.

Slipways, which technically came out in 2020? Wow. And was on Itch before then. Fun to click planets together for hour to make trade routes. Eventually converged on almost always prioritizing technology because it makes the game more fun, but it was worth the $6.

And I have a long-running browser tab accumulating antimatter in Antimatter Dimensions. Don't start playing it if idlers destroy your day/week/month, I urge you.

Played some multiplayer Shell Shockers with my kids, which is a browser-based FPS where everyone's a cartoonish hat-wearing egg trying to break the other eggs. It's basically something kids teach other to play in computer labs that has dozens (hah) of alternate domain names to dodge school IT. Unexpected fun family activity.

That's about it! Fun thread idea.
posted by michaelh at 8:34 PM on December 3, 2021 [2 favorites]

If you've got a Switch, check out Luigi's Mansion 3. Best graphics on the system and the gameplay is an absolute blast. I had to use wallkthroughs here and there but it's still 100% dynamite.
posted by porn in the woods at 8:37 PM on December 3, 2021

Cloudpunk. I enjoyed driving around and exploring the voxelly always night-time always raining cyberpunk city more than I did the actual game, but that's fine. I don't mind a good hang-out game.

Loop Hero is good. I didn't think I would like it, the screenshots didn't appeal, and I thought I would bounce off the fantasy setting, card collecting, and weird looping mechanic. But then it turned out to be kind of awesome. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. I like tile-laying and base building, and it scratches that itch.

Wildermyth has a lovely hand-drawn, paper-cutout look, and it brings a bit of relationship stuff to what is otherwise a turn-based RPG kind of thing.

Dorfromantik is a relaxing tile laying game. It sort of reminds me of Townscaper and Islanders, in that they are all small, pretty, plonk down some stuff and marvel at how pretty it all is kinds of games.

In Other Waters is a game that used a wonderful color scheme and a topo map to get me to play a text adventure. is Bennett Foddy's game recommendation blog, and it had a post this year.
posted by surlyben at 9:07 PM on December 3, 2021 [2 favorites]

Deep Rock Galactic has been my number one through 2021 and most of the pandemic. It checks all my boxes: co-op, challenging, variety, procedurally-generated, solo-able, fun, silly, and mildly stressful.

I've also put a number of hours into Beat Saber (my favorite workout, I'm in the top ~5% ranked globally!), Disco Elysium (extremely unique, love the atmosphere), Don't Starve Together (solid co-op survival fun with a unique art style), Back 4 Blood (I still like L4D2 more but this is still fun), Valheim (addictive for like 3-5 weeks but then our group moves on to something else), Unpacking (one of my few solo games, really chill, sweet, amazing sound design).

I am always on the lookout for a truly engrossing co-op experience and I am so thankful that I started a Discord server in March 2020 for myself and a few friends. It's expanded my friend group by a bit and has kept me sane while isolating alone and working from home in my apartment for long durations.

I love video games :)
posted by rachaelfaith at 9:23 PM on December 3, 2021 [1 favorite]

I've been playing a lot of Minecraft. That's recent, right? (If you haven't played for awhile, check out update 1.18; it changes the game a lot, making the world bigger and more spectacular.) (Links are to my reviews... you did want opinions, right?)

Also new to me this year, and excellent: Little Nightmares. Struggled through Cyberpunk 2077 (great romances, terrible gameplay, too much Keanu). Bounced hard off Sable. And, still playing Overwatch.
posted by zompist at 9:39 PM on December 3, 2021 [1 favorite]

Until basically just a few days ago it was clear that BattleTech was going to be my personal game of the year. I’ve had lots of fun leading my big stompy bois around the star map exploding baddies on behalf of the mech princess and her allies in the third wave feminist utopia.

But I picked up Suzerain on a whim last weekend and started playing it a few days ago. It’s a simple country management game, where you start out as the newly elected president of a fictional country, Sordland, that is in a made up world which bears a striking resemblance to the Cold War era. On top of the country management there’s a choose-your-own-adventure political thriller, which is really engrossing. The game world is really well thought out and surprisingly deep, and the story, at least so far, is well constructed.

If it maintains the quality of its beginning, it’ll be my game of the year, easily.
posted by Kattullus at 11:04 PM on December 3, 2021

I saw in 2021 playing MarioKart on the switch with my sister, her (then-fiancé) now husband, and her 11-year old step-daughter. I kicked everyone's ass because I was the only one not boozed up or with the manual dexterity of a child.

Then on subsequent visits to my sister's throughout the year I have been very slowly playing Breath of the Wild in instalments. We sit around chatting while I meander my way around, progressing extremely slowly. It's a nice environment and setting to just hang out in together. Very lovely.

Then my sister goes to bed and I watch my brother-in-law play Dark Souls. Also fun but less soothing.

I play Threes and Twenty all day long, usually concurrently with watching videos which is an extremely bad habit that I'm sure is giving me accelerated cognitive decline.
posted by Balthamos at 3:41 AM on December 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

My big obsession for the year was and continues to be Noita. Noita is a run-based wand-tinkering game where everything tries to kill you - imagine Spelunky but you're a wizard and sometimes you build a bad wand and it shoots you in the face. It is also hard as balls. It took me 767 attempts before I got my first "win" this year. Now I'm trying to get some of the side stuff so I can unlock the really stupid spells that will allow me to kill myself even faster.
posted by backseatpilot at 5:11 AM on December 4, 2021 [3 favorites]

I have reached a point in my life where I almost exclusively "play" incrementals. No names or links here bc I don't want to be responsible for sending anyone down that road.

Aside from that, I did play an almost astonishing amount of lolbeans this year. Each game is just about the perfect length of time and the game just works for me.
posted by Literaryhero at 5:32 AM on December 4, 2021

Civ V is my go-to game and Im only 3 achievements away from platinuming it. I think I can do it!

Other games enjoyed this year:
Cities Skylines
Wilmots Warehouse
Last of us 2
Plants vs. Zombies
And the new Forza is amazing to spectate while I do jigsaw puzzles.
posted by iamkimiam at 5:33 AM on December 4, 2021

I've played a lot—like a loooooooot—of Assassin's Creed during the pandemic. My wife had a bunch of the older ones on Xbox so I kinda just started working my way through them. It does get a bit repetitive, obviously, but I actually find that kind of soothing/relaxing in a way. I can just turn my brain off and go for a few hours. And I like that for a lot of the missions I can try to be all sneaky and clever but if I'm not feeling it or just have some aggression to get out that day I can be like, "screw it," and just run in the main entrance/gate/whatever and fight like 20 baddies at once. And sometimes not even die!

I've been meaning to revisit Breath of the Wild and played through Hyrule Warriors, which I actually quite enjoyed. But if I just want to play something for 20-30 minutes at a time Slay the Spire is my go to these days.

I've been a bit obsessed playing around with PICO-8 for the last 6-ish months or so, so I've played a bunch of PICO-8 games. I've still not actually made a game myself because I keep getting distracted by shiny new sub-projects like animating signed distance fields, for some reason.

My wife got really into Animal Crossing at the start of the pandemic, like a lot of people, but it started to stress her out after a while because it started to feel like an obligation and that she had to "keep up" with people. She's picked it back up again recently and been playing more like how the game was actually designed to be played: a little here, a little there, etc. and she's enjoying it a whole lot more now.
posted by Mister_Sleight_of_Hand at 5:55 AM on December 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

So I haven't played Untitled Goose Game, but in the same vein of nonhuman fucking humans' shit up, I have greatly enjoyed Rain on Your Parade. Not quite nonviolent once your abilities grow beyond just raining on people, but what violence there is stays cartoony with no death, plus it scratches my Zelda itch of getting upgrades/abilities to interact with the world in new ways. The levels are zany and clever and surprising, like
minor spoiler about one unlockable abilitywhen your cloud decides to try out art theft via tornado.
Some replay value too, as once you beat it you unlock more goals for the levels.
posted by solotoro at 6:18 AM on December 4, 2021


At least when I'm not playing Splendor.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:58 AM on December 4, 2021 [6 favorites]

I played Disco Elysium which I enjoyed mechanically and in terms of atmosphere but which I was less blown away by plot wise than many people had suggested I would be

I read Neuromancer for the first time and that got me to pick up Cyberpunk 2077 which I enjoyed enough to immediately start a second play through after finishing the first.

I also started playing meatspace D&D with some colleagues! My tiefling warlock is an evil finance type with an accent based off my impression of Daniel Craig in Knives Out. he’s a lot of fun.
posted by dismas at 7:53 AM on December 4, 2021

I picked up Deep Rock Galactic for my brother and myself at the beginning of the year, and we've played fairly regularly throughout. I've got issues with some of the aesthetic choices, and the missions had been getting a bit stale, but the new events and mission type have livened things up a bit again, and the Deep Dives are still my favorite part of the game.

I sunk weeks into Hades in the spring, and it is wonderful and brilliant.

Wildermyth was my big summer game. Big sitting-around-the-table playing someone's homebrew roleplaying game energy. Also played Subnautica: Below Zero, but it seems to have left less impression on me than the first one (which is probably my favorite survival game to date).

Fall was Dreamscaper, about which I might make another comment (I have written something like 3000 words on this game so far). Take Hades, except instead of exploring the nature of (a) family, you're examining what long-term depression is like, and how to help manage that. Some of the things it does are absolutely aching.

I just started Horizon: Zero Dawn, finally, and I think this will carry me through the next few months.

Other smaller/shorter things: Dorfromantik, Sunshine Heavy Industries, Boyfriend Dungeon (very catchy soundtrack), The Ascent, Bravery Network Online, Osteoblasts.
posted by curious nu at 8:04 AM on December 4, 2021 [4 favorites]

I got Animal Crossing the instant it came out and am still enjoying it. (I haven't even really dug into the new update much because I just wanted to enjoy Mushroom season fully and not cram everything new into one short time.) I keep having small goals for what I want to do next in the game, as well as just liking running around saying hi to everyone I see each day. It's fun to have new things over two or three years of playing, since I don't know how long it will be until they develop another one and this is basically my game. (I've been playing Animal Crossing since a friend set up a town and invited me, maybe fifteen or twenty years ago, don't quite remember. But have gotten new versions on new systems ever since.)
posted by blueberry monster at 8:09 AM on December 4, 2021 [3 favorites]

Jigsaw puzzles.

I play at the highest level; I buy new puzzles with the points I earn. The background music sends me messages from the mothership. I am not alone.

And Free Cell.
posted by mule98J at 8:55 AM on December 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

I suppose this year I mostly played D&D over Roll20 Discord and Zoom.

One of them was a resurgence of an old-friends campaign, that was very fun for a few months until the DM got busy. His previous (decades-long) campaign had been notoriously fiddly and spreadsheet-y, and this time around he cut through all that by making our characters time-hopping royal consultants who could only take with us what we could carry. We solved a lot of puzzles, did some heists, got baffled by some mysteries, and hurt our heads trying to think about time travel.

I also played a few other campaigns with strangers, but they all fizzled out for one reason or another and right now I'm gameless.

I've wanted to DM my own campaign but sadly that has also not happened and I have nothing to blame but my brain.
posted by fleacircus at 9:20 AM on December 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

I downloaded the demo for Ori and the Blind Forest on a whim knowing nothing about it and loved it so much I downloaded the full game and played it obsessively until I beat it. Then as soon as it was over bought the sequel and did the same. Those two games are definitely my favorite games I played this year. Recently I've been working my way through Eastward and Cuphead and have been enjoying both. Cuphead definitely scratches my itch for Gunstar Heroes style run and gun action games.
posted by downtohisturtles at 10:27 AM on December 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

Playing the heck out of Diablo 2:Resurrected. Thoroughly enjoying the Necromancer (easy mode).
posted by Splunge at 10:47 AM on December 4, 2021

A few days ago, a friend sent me a link to Oskar Stalberg's new web demo of Townscaper which is a city builder "game" that is quite elegant and fun. I put "game" in quotation marks because there's no goal in Townscaper, no winning or losing, it's more a relaxing exploration of procedural graphics.

However, it got me wondering if Stalberg had made anything else, and the answer was yes! He made a strategy game called Bad North, which features the same procedural map generation as Townscaper and shares some of the same DNA as Kingdom Rush and other tower defense games, but it's a refreshingly minimalist game, just as easy to pick up for one or two rounds or dive deep into an entire morning of binge play.
posted by jeremias at 11:34 AM on December 4, 2021 [3 favorites]

I've joined the cult of Dark Souls (and associated FROM properties). Ran through 1, 2, and 3, just about finished with Bloodborne, Sekiro queued up next. Even at a glacial pace I should be done in time Elden Ring's release in February (which I am unbelievably hype for).
posted by rodlymight at 11:46 AM on December 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

I finally finished Yakuza 6 (the story of it, anyway--I still have a cat cafe to fill with rescued strays). I've now played the entire main-line Yakuza series.

I've also been playing Forza Horizon 5, which is a bit weird for me because I don't usually care for racing games at all. It's got enough personality and adjustable difficulty, though, to make playing it worthwhile.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 12:17 PM on December 4, 2021

posted by overeducated_alligator at 1:12 PM on December 4, 2021 [14 favorites]

I'm addicted to PUBG Mobile. That is all.
posted by dobbs at 1:53 PM on December 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah, I bounced off Sekiro's parrying mechanics, the part of FROM's games that I am the worst out. Which is a bummer, because the game was fun, I just hit a wall on an early boss and decided to be a cyberpunk instead.
posted by dismas at 1:56 PM on December 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

My #1 video game of 2021 was easily Hades. I sunk a lot of time into it in the winter and early spring, and I keep coming back to it every so often. I know there's still a lot left to explore and unlock. I really love the attention to detail -- most recently, I discovered that there's special dialogue if you show up to the Theseus fight holding the Yarn of Ariadne. Real "the dev team thinks of everything" vibes with this game.

A couple of honorable mentions:
-- Dreamscaper, which curious nu mentioned above. Gameplay-wise, it's doing a lot of the some things as Hades, with a totally different emotional tone and frame. I'm playing through it more slowly -- I don't find it grabs me in the same way, but I think that might be intentional in a way, part of the portrayal of the struggle with depression.
-- Sunless Skies. I'd been waiting to finish the two more advanced "ambitions" (basically win conditions; you choose one when you create a character) until after the big update came out, but by then Hades had stolen my attention. I just started again, but I'm starting from a fresh save so I have to figure out again how to unlock the hidden ambition. Oops.

I picked up a few in the recent Steam sale, most excited about Sable; and I still have Outer Wilds and In Other Waters near the top of my to-play list. Never enough time...
posted by egregious theorem at 2:04 PM on December 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

I haven't been playing as many games lately (I work from home now, so I don't want to spend my evenings in my office in front of my computer as much as I once did).

But: my favorite game this year is Inscryption. It's a little difficult to describe without giving too much away, but it starts a horror-themed rogue-like deck builder (in the same neighborhood as Slay the Spire), combined with an escape room puzzle. They did a fantastic job of minimizing the tutorialization so you have to just figure stuff out (which makes you feel clever) and then using those lessons to build on each other in a really satisfying way.

If you're on the fence (or, like me, if you finished the game and want to relive it), Rob and Natalie from Waypoint have been streaming the game for the past few weeks as well. But if you are interested, definitely play it--the less you know going in, the more interesting it will be.
posted by JDHarper at 3:18 PM on December 4, 2021 [4 favorites]

I bought several games this year that I didn’t play, because I’m still hopelessly addicted to Overwatch. I’ve played a few games of Back 4 Blood, which scratched the itch but isn’t as good as L4D2 by any stretch. I used to play a lot of games, just can’t work up the enthusiasm right now to try anything new. Hoping to snap out of that at some point…. Thanks for some good suggestions here!
posted by gemmy at 6:18 PM on December 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

Aspersioncast: pace yourself on Last of Us 2. In many ways it’s the best singleplayer narrative execution this industry’s ever produced (in the traditional linear format at least), but in other ways that very fact means you’re being asked to internalize a lot of serious trauma for a fictional person and none of it is delivered gently by design. It’s a gutpunch of a game that I loved profoundly, cried openly from at multiple points and feel privileged to have experienced yet have no desire to revisit. It ought to come with a giant “Practice Self Care While Playing” warning label. A year later all I can think is “goddamn that was a ride,” and “let’s never do that again, okay?”

For both non-traditional narrative and pure mechanics design Hades was probably the best thing I played this year and I think it’s been referenced in some way by every game mechanic design document I’ve written or read since it came out (as a technical designer who builds game systems that’s a lot on both counts, and this is a good thing). As with everything by Supergiant it’s flawless and leaves me both a little intimidated and a little angry I didn’t create it, but Hades in particular is worth a thesis which I will not write in favor of playing more Hades - I think I’m at 75 consecutive runs now since the last time I failed one? So it goes.

I enjoyed / am enjoying Deathloop but I don’t feel much compulsion to push through to the end (I will, eventually). Great pitch, excellent execution in most respects but faceplants the inventory cross-session persistence system so badly it nearly cripples the experience.

I dropped maybe 300 hours into the latest CoDs early this year since I was going back to AAA FPS design work. Warzone and the titles that feed into it were quite enjoyable and they’ve really dialed in the seasonal/metagame progression mechanics but I gather the community is in a state of acute distress over cheaters/botched design calls. I have no desire to duck back in and verify if those complaints are legitimate. So: it was good, but I can’t guarantee someone starting it right now would agree.

The overwhelming winner for my time this year was Warframe at 935 hours. Couple designers at work introduced me to it with the description of, “none of it is balanced but Warframe now literally contains all other games within it,” and I found this to be largely true. Some 47 frames (each effectively a different class with its own mechanics), 363 weapons (maybe 70 of which have some real creativity to them), and all of the above with 8~11 slots for a couple hundred of the 1231 total mods (all of which can be leveled up). In addition to a dozen base mission types and easily another dozen esoteric one-offs, there are three open worlds, fishing, mining, taming, pet breeding, photography, mech suits, a very deep but unsatisfying modular hoverboard system, flight suits, giant fleet multiplayer crewed ships, submersible gameplay and the list just goes on and on. This is what happens when a company reinvests into their game for eight years and, being largely co-op-oriented can shrug off design imbalance with “the next major system we’re launching will make the current imbalance obsolete anyway” and just carry on. It the most delicious sprawling mess of a game I’ve encountered in large part because this is probably the least toxic community of any large, popular, free to play game. By a lot. Because as much as the developers are willing to shrug off a little imbalance, they are exactingly religious about ensuring that other players in your session are mechanically only capable of making your experience better: rewards, completion time, etc. other players only ever help, and it sets a tone that has slowly infected the community with a shocking degree of good will for something this size. The trolls are too busy playing other games where they can hurt you. I honestly don’t know if I recommend it, unless you’re also a game designer in which case: run, do not walk, and drop at least 300 hours into deconstructing how every design decision yields positive player interaction. Then go forth and do likewise in your own games.
posted by Ryvar at 6:42 PM on December 4, 2021 [5 favorites]

Maybe I'm a little weird but i just finished my 4th playthrough of the Last of Us 2, a genuine work of art, certainly the AAA linear narrative game against which basically every other will be compared for the next 10 years at least. I keep trying to get into other games but the zombie apocalypse just calls me back. Both main characters are compelling to play as, deeply sympathetic, and the combat is endlessly fun.

I'm also enjoying death stranding directors cut, but this i have to take in smaller doses. It's somehow far more harrowing, lonely and depressing than the last of us, and nurtures the gnawing suspicion that humanity is entering it's winter season more than any book or movie I've experienced.

When i want a break from the bleakness, Hades (on the switch in my case) is endless fun with entertaining voice acting and humor mixed with the fury of the Gods. Play Hades if you haven't yet!
posted by dis_integration at 5:38 AM on December 5, 2021 [2 favorites]

As 2020 rolled to a close, I was feeling bereft, having done everything in Breath of the Wild that I could do without moving on to crazy completionist stuff like finding all the koroks or 100 percenting the map (or, y'know, playing master mode, which I am not cut out for). Hades had come after that, and I'd played it to the point of dreaming about its mechanics over and over. So as 2021 came in, I wanted to find something that felt like one of open world adventure, maybe with some flying, maybe with some mythological background? So I came across Immortals: Fenyx Rising, which seemed to combine both! And so the year began with an important lesson in being careful what you wish for, because whoooo, Fenyx is tedious. A small world which asks you to do only one or two things, but repeatedly, wouldn't be so terrible, but the game was further shackled with its pride in its own cleverness, a narrative hubris which brought about its downfall because oh my god nobody in that game will ever shut up. There was never any peace, never any sense you could explore on your own, only the nagging voices in your head driving you ever onward to your predestined doom or glory. I can't recall any other game that so forcefully stamped the jackboot of its sense of humor in my face. At one point I switched the language over to French just so I wouldn't really understand what they were saying.

I tried one of the Assassin's Creeds, but on the Switch it looked and played like a phone game...none of the smoothness of running and jumping and climbing that I'd been hearing about the series for years. And lots and lots of talking. I set it aside. Someone was gushing over Ori and the Blind Forest so I tried it, and even though the graphics were cute, I quickly ran issues because my hand-eye coordination stiiiiinks, and it's really not a very forgiving game if you don't have perfect timing. I set it aside too.

Overcooked? Fun with the kids for about five minutes, before becoming so stressful it was more like work than play. Don't Starve? So cute! But all the dying, who can stand it?

And so it was looking like maybe 2021 was just not my year to play games. Until, finally, Subnautica came out for the Switch. THERE was the game I was looking for. Everybody talks about how scary and stressful Subnautica is, and that's absolutely true, but it envelops you with a world and asks you to explore. There's a story, but it's not forced on you. There's a pleasing repetition to crafting things, as you become more and more certain where to find the minerals you need. You build a little home, and maybe it's not as fancy as your house back in Animal Crossing, and the animals would rather eat you than offer you furniture, but it feels very much like a place with its own identity, a place you could belong. Sometimes I'd just swim and explore without any goal in mind, sometimes going purposefully in a wrong or dangerous direction just to see what was out there, and I loved it. I moved on to Subnautica: Below Zero which--well, you know, no sequel is perfect, but there was still so much to explore, so much to look at, and so many penguins to talk to.

It took a little while to find another game to spend time with after that. Some were too depressing to do much with (This War of Mine), some were a lot of fun but short-lived (Steamworld Dig), and some didn't feel quite right on the Switch even though I probably would've played them a ton on my PC if I ever used it for games anymore (Diablo III, Civ VI).

Unravel Two turned out to be that game for a little while, because I could play it with my younger kid, and there was a whole lot of hooting and awwing and celebrating, as we swung our little yarn guys around a treacherously beautiful world, following a story that turned out to be very emotional even without a narrator constantly laughing in your ear (take notes, Fenyx!). We'd pause to discuss strategy, plan out how we'd solve a puzzle, then there would be cheers when we got it right, and it just felt good. But it's not a very long game!

Doom and Quake came out, and I had to at least try them. I'll spare you the book-length exposition on what those games meant to me back when they first came out, but it was pretty strange playing them on the Switch, with its little controllers, rather than being huddled over a keyboard and mouse back at my parents' house, eyes inches from the monitor. But Nostalgia was had, which I guess is the whole point.

Playdead's Inside and Limbo had made an impression on me back on my PC, and so when I saw Little Nightmares was similar in theme and playstyle, I picked it up. Definitely atmospheric, very spooky, with hard puzzles that weren't too hard, although again my bad coordination and timing probably had me playing a lot longer than the developer intended.

Then Northgard kept me busy for a happy few days, trying to keep my poor little Vikings alive--I could tell there was a deeper game there available, and want to go back to it when I'm in the mood for a civvy simmy vikingy kinda thing.

But it really wasn't until last month, with Dying Light coming out on Switch, along with its expansion The Following, that I felt like I finally got back to the open world experience I'd enjoyed so much with BOTW and Subnautica. I had so many mixed feelings about it! Like, a bit of nostalgia, because I'd liked the little bit of Dead Island I'd played way back when, on a computer that really wasn't beefy enough for it. The game is so stressful, that at moments I'd have to put it down, and everyone would ask, 'Why don't you just stop playing if you hate it so much?' But I didn't hate it! I kept going back! And putting it down! And picking it back up! It really gets inside you, I think, in an effective way. You think, yeah, this is probably what it would be like to have a nearly-unstoppable horde of the undead coming after you, unstoppable not because they're so powerful, but because there are so many of them, and you're so weak, with your iron pipe as a weapon.

I think the moment the game really clicked for me, though, was when I got the grappling hook. Like BOTW's paraglider, or Subnautica's seamoth, the hook opens up how you play the game, offering a whole new perspective on moving around. Suddenly you feel a little like Spiderman, launching yourself up the sides of buildings, leaping off only to catch yourself in mid-air. The game is about zombies, sure, but it's also about how it feels to be a runner, someone whose entire existence is about movement, about always moving. I think the game captured that really well, and it was one of the most addictive things about it.

It definitely wasn't a perfect game. I don't want to get into a whole essay about my concerns about it. But even after finishing the main story and the side quests, I keep finding myself dropping back in to look around, to climb to the top of something and take in the sunset (no longer quite as scary as it was at the beginning of the game), to watch the light filter through the trees. Or maybe try motoring my little buggy around, although my steering skills make me a real danger to the tree life of the countryside.

I guess I'm still in search of more games like ideal game would be all about movement, without someone trying to force a story on me, or scare me with big monsters, or make my whole purpose be to kill. To just live in a world where you can go wherever you want. Which, well, I wasn't trying to make a point about the pandemic when I started this paragraph, but maybe life is influencing my taste in games right now.
posted by mittens at 5:43 AM on December 5, 2021 [8 favorites]

There is a stunning horror game by Taiwanese studio Red Candle that came out two years ago, an emotionally complex, thoughtful little 5hr historical horror experience called Devotion. It tells of a family who due to the stigma of mental illness in the 70s/80s in Taiwan fall victim to predatory cults who capitalised on these stigmas. It quietly comments on inherited fame and child stars, stigmas on mental health, the intersection of damaged pride/patriarchy/toxic masculinity, the psychology of cults (the fear to need-for-religious-belief pipeline, the headiness of religious rituals and how they match people's emotional needs, when you realise that the wife appears as a demon because you're playing from his POV and he'd started believing the teachings that anyone against their religious beliefs/ideas is demonic, and the people in the 'religion' are the clean and righteous). I've also never seen Taiwan depicted in a game before. My grandma's place (the game's jokingly called 'grandma's house simulator' in Taiwan due to the realistic sets) doesn't look like that but there are things that feel intimately familiar - the concrete floors, the incense and red glow of the light at the prayer table, the piles of books on the floor, the iron wrought outside door. As a third culture person it's interesting to have a story feel personal because of its setting. None of the puzzles felt pointless - they were all tied to the narrative. I appreciate how they tended towards the tasteful and used gore in a way that made sense to the story and emotional tenor of the moment. Most horror games look kinda janky and low budget to me, even the higher budget ones, but the artwork in this was gorgeous. The voice acting (even - especially - the kid) was top notch. The music was fantasic and used really effectively. It's rare to see such a tightly-made, well paced game. I'm bad with consuming horror by myself so I've been watching Let's Plays and weeping along with the players at the end.

I discovered Fantanical Games this year and have accidentally spent too much money on bundles (despite having not even gone through 95% of the Palestinian aid bundle from last year).

Last week: played through a queer/diverse life sim game, kind of like Harvest Moon but science fantasy (you're a scientist off to help colonise a planet). I liked all the ideas and worldbuilding the game presented. Ran out of content after about 10 hours (and I tend to grind to excess in games because anxiety makes me need to feel overprepared for things), but I kind of appreciate the contained experience - it's nice not having to give myself to huge open worlds that I can't control and finish. I used to play a lot of minecraft but I think the amount of content nowadays and the sandbox aspect would overwhelm me now (apart from my motion sickness worsening in the last ten years to the point where accidentally hovering my mouse over a Minecraft video thumbnail sends me gagging and dizzy)

This fortnight: making my way a couple of scenes at a time through a charming artsy offbeat handdrawn point-and-click called Landlord of the Woods. I'm waiting for a sale for a similar looking game called When the Past was Around, which demo I've played a few times because the vibe of it is so lovely.

Last three days: I've been alleviating the stresses of some work drama with a driving game called Retrowave, where you weave a retro car through the traffic of a four lane highway in a retro, neon light setting with retro music. I don't usually enjoy driving games (I don't actually drive IRL either) but this one had enough atmosphere and simple enough gameplay that I found it easy to pick up and sink into. It doesn't use up any brain cells and is just smooth and relaxing to play. I'm not usually a lights off to play games person either (and for mefi I use the professional white background bc dark bgs make me a bit dizzy), but this one I have enjoyed playing that way.
posted by womb of things to be and tomb of things that were at 6:17 AM on December 5, 2021 [3 favorites]

There's been a real dearth of new Games like what I like so on the console this year I've been puttering around with Witcher 3 and the remaster of Kingdoms of Amalur. Fortunately, rumour has it both HZD:FW and Elden Ring are dropping the same day early next year so that's my 2022 in gaming sorted. If I don't need to buy a PS5 that would be nice but we'll see.

I always have a browser window open to Kittens Game, which any reasonably comprehensive playthrough takes several years.

On my phone there's the crossword game with the easy crosswords (which I did all of) and the game with the very hard crosswords (which have shit clues) which I've done most of. And the Mah Jong game which is okay.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:55 AM on December 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

I’m playing Immortals: Fenyx Rising and really liking it! I agree the dialogue is way overdone and the humor is hokey but I just go get a snack or whatever when one of the long scenes gets going. I love how the puzzles are repetitive and easy and there are a million chests all over the place that contain nothing much of interest. It’s the best way I’ve got right now to turn off my brain.
posted by something something at 7:46 AM on December 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

I replayed some of my very favorites in short bursts, ones I find perfectly soothing somehow: Stardew Valley (with the 1.5 expansion I'm getting to find and do many new things), Plants vs Zombies (why is a tower-defense game so comforting instead of stressful? I do not know), Breath of the Wild.

I got way into one new (to me) game, Subnautica--a friend had talked it up to me but it took until this year for me to really try it and get hooked. Agreed with mittens on its many virtues. I first played on the setting where you don't need to worry about food/water--loved the game--finished it--and was so hooked that I turned right around and did a whole new playthrough on the Survival setting. I loved that even more--once I was able to grow plants, the fruit-eating mechanic and sound effects are so pleasing and satisfying!

You make me very curious about Dying Light, mittens...given how deeply I love BOTW and Subnautica, maybe that is a game for me.
posted by theatro at 10:23 AM on December 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

Well, I’ve beat Bloodborne, ended the nightmare, and become a slug. Bailed on Orphan of Kos but I feel no shame. On to Sekiro! I suck at parrying so this should be fun or not at all fun.
posted by rodlymight at 10:29 AM on December 5, 2021

At the beginning of the year, I played Paradise Killer, and I still think about it most every day. It's a combat-free open world murder investigation, where the game organizes the clues you collect but leaves the deduction up to the player entirely. The characters and world are bizarre and fascinating, and learning more about them is a huge draw beyond the mysteries themselves. Exploring the world is sort of a high-speed walking simulator with a small amount of not difficult platforming sometimes (I don't even recall if that's necessary for solving the murder or just for additional collectibles/currency/worldbuilding text). It's a game I wish I could erase from my memory to start over again with no knowledge.

For the past couple months, I've been going back and playing games from my teen years. It began with Star Trek: 25th Anniversary and Sam & Max Hit the Road and kept going from there. I also started getting a little obsessive with building decent PS4 controller mappings for some of them. I've got a pretty good controller mapping for Heretic/Hexen (through GZDoom), a passible one for Catacombs 3D (through DS4windows), and an unfinished-but-looking-good-so-far one for Wing Commander Privateer/Armada (through JoyToKey). Once I get that finished, it's time for what I assume will be my crowing achievement in joystick mapping -- X-Wing/Tie Fighter.

All that aside, I've probably put more hours into Dorfromantic than anything else this year. That game is calm and comfortable to me.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 10:32 AM on December 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

I discovered the older game Danganronpa and its sequel this year: Japanese "visual novels." For those of you who enjoyed the Squid Game setup, this may well be your jam. (Squid Game, in high school? Battle Royale, but even more anime?) Some of the mini-game mechanics are maddening and the characters are adolescent-tropey, but then suddenly you'll be like, wait, why is my heart breaking??? The character designs are a lot of fun (if I had to do a cosplay, I would totally do Kyoko), and the soundtrack is a banger.

With some of the gameplay frustrations and the limitations on choice-branching of visual novels, it may actually be more fun to do these as Let's Plays, in which case I recommend ProZD's and lucahjin's.

(Note, though: this is an older non-Western game and reflects outdated attitudes about certain stigmatized groups. In particular, there's a GNC character whose story includes certain transphobic tropes even though the character is overall portrayed in a very positive way and actually turns out to have mostly saved the world over the course of both games.)
posted by praemunire at 10:34 AM on December 5, 2021

Breath of the Wild!

I've started it a bunch of times and gotten most of the way through and then bailed because I didn't want to finish and be done with it. I just have too much fun wandering around and getting lost in the world, but I should probably actually finish it.

I need to buckle down and Git Gud so I'm not such a wuss about facing off against lynels. I also really need to do the Champion's Ballad. I get bogged down because I haaaate this "one hit and you're done" thing, which is not fun for me, but I've somehow managed to avoid watching the DLC cut scenes and I finally want to see them for myself.
posted by Salieri at 11:11 AM on December 5, 2021 [2 favorites]

Re finishing Breath of the Wild, you just get like a star by the save file. You still get to run around the world and finish other things, and even fight the end battle again if you want. You don’t have to start a new save file to continue enjoying the rest of the world. I say go for it Salieri :)
posted by one4themoment at 11:35 AM on December 5, 2021 [2 favorites]

At the beginning of the year, I played Paradise Killer

I listen to the soundtrack for at least half of my bike trips. This game is so bizarre and dark and philosophically interesting, and it's one of the few games I am 100% glad I went in spoiler-free.

Also, thank you everyone for sharing about your games! This is super fun to read. :)
posted by curious nu at 12:37 PM on December 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

It's short, and it did technically come out in 2020, but I played Present Quest [free, browser-based point & click puzzle/adventure game] earlier this year, and ... well let me just say it took me longer to recover from the emotional impact of it than it took to play it. (May not be for everyone, consult the built-in content warning before the game actually starts for more info)
posted by aubilenon at 12:59 PM on December 5, 2021

I mostly play games on my phone these days--I've been playing TypeShift, SpellTower, and Dear Reader, all word games with daily challenges, pretty obsessively for a year and a half. Duolingo's not a game, but it's so gamified it might as well be. Retro Bowl is a pretty good updated version of Tecmo Bowl. Apple Arcade games Skate City and Sayonara Wild Hearts, and flowy wintersports game Grand Mountain Adventure, are all pretty good. I also like the Pako car-chase games and the Reigns games.
posted by box at 3:08 PM on December 5, 2021

During the pandemic I spent xxx hours in Valheim, half of them sailing. I miss sailing.
posted by hat_eater at 3:44 PM on December 5, 2021 [3 favorites]

I enjoyed Dark Souls 1 even if not brilliant at it. I struggled to engage with DS3, and then played a bit of Nioh when it was on PS plus last year and i was rubbish at it. Levelled up massively to finally eke it past the first boss. First go around with the second boss made me quit. Picked up DS2 in a sale and it turns out I suck at that also. Not quite thrown the controller yet, but there is time.
posted by biffa at 4:12 PM on December 5, 2021

I've played a few different ones this year, though mostly they slip from my memory pretty quickly. Recently I finished Pathfinder:Wrath of the Righteous, where I did a bit of game fiddling so I could get the 'secret' ascension ending, a satisfying cRPG.
Also played way too many incrementals.
Currently playing a nifty survival-ish game called Dysmantle, but it has a plot/goal to it. I mostly like it because you can smash up most things in the game for resources. I just got the sledgehammer and ran through a town smashing walls with gleeful abandon. I can't wait for the new Lego Starwars game for more smashing fun.
posted by Marticus at 4:51 PM on December 5, 2021

I have an old friend who asked me to join, and start playing chess. So I signed up and I am reviving my 12 Monkeys brand of chess playing I gave up in 1961. Yeah. Chess is like continuously finding the holes in my attention span, or my feeble grasp of spacial issues. Anyway, in my first game I missed a checkmate at the eighth move, but I still, even looking at the game in retrospect, don't see where the opportunity to checkmate was.

I play some cribbage on my phone, and I absolutely quit Mahjong, unless I find some ladies to play with in some community here, with real pieces.
posted by Oyéah at 6:38 PM on December 5, 2021 [2 favorites]

Valheim and Satisfactory, played weekly with friends, helped fill the social hole in my life this year. My girlfriend and I both got hooked on Hades, and had a lot of fun taking turns on rooms.

I'm itching for something new, especially a big sprawling first-person rpg, but nothing has caught my attention for a while.
posted by Fully Completely at 11:41 PM on December 5, 2021 [2 favorites]

Okay so this thread motivates me to do several things I've been procrastinating on. But first, to address the question in the post!

Games of 2021:
League of Legends -- mostly ARAM (with chat turned off, always) and Teamfight Tactics. TFT is really in a wonderful spot right now with the new Gadgets and Gizmos set and especially the Hextech Augment system. Adds a ton of variability to the game, with random highrolls being a lot more satisfying as well.

Hades -- yeah. Played the absolute shit out of this one, got the full second ending done, and will likely still fire it up for a run or two from time to time.

FFXIV -- mostly played this with a dear friend on the West Coast when I was still on the East Coast, US. I'm a longtime final fantasy player and MMO fan. The game is good! It's also just like, a lot of game. It can be a bit overwhelming.

Hearthstone Battlegrounds -- actually, the Blizzard installer / client on my Macbook Air m1 is so buggy that I eventually just stopped playing after failing to reinstall for the 15th time. But the game is actually still really fun to watch streamers play. I watched a lot of dogdog and his spouse hafu playing this game this year.

Recently, I've started playing Unsighted on Switch and it is pretty fucking great. Which is a great segue to the stuff I mentioned in the first line!

Thing the First:

I have always been the sort of person that fixates on a handful of games and plays them for hundreds of hours. That's cool! But one side effect of that is that I don't play a ton of games across a ton of genres, and so I haven't had a lot of chances to really develop my tastes beyond my hyperfocus games.

Enter a podcast called The Besties! Weekly jawn from 2/3 of the McElroys (Justin and Griffin) plus Chris Plante and Russ Frushtick. A bunch of nice softboys talkin' games every week, and a wide fucking range at that. I learned about Unsighted from that podcast.

They seemed like they kinda started hitting their stride around the 200th-ish episode on October 1st of this year. So I'm gonna post up the episodes over on FanFare starting then and catching up to present day soon. Hope that lots of folks in this thread will join if you're looking for new recommendations!

Thing the Second:

There's been many MetaTalk posts about videogames on FanFare, and I know it's not a priority to make changes over there. So I'm taking the advice of cortex from a prior thread and making A Videogame Club over there. We can discuss games in Club Talk posts. Please feel free to join and make a post about any game you like!

My ultimate hope for that space is that the combination of Besties recs and FanFare recs will become two new influxes of game recs from outside my usual fare.

Here's the first Besties post and here's A Videogame Club and here's Unsighted over there. I'll probably make a MetaTalk post as well to get more visibility but will wait a bit so as not to overcrowd the Grey with videogame stuff.
posted by lazaruslong at 3:10 AM on December 6, 2021 [1 favorite]

I also sunk hundreds of hours into Hades this past spring. It's a game with beautiful character design, great music and sound design, fantastic voice performances, incredibly tight action, and all of those add up to something more than the sum of their parts, but the real groundbreaking part for me was the narrative design. As someone who has been decidedly "meh" on both rogue-likes and isometric action games for the 30-odd years I've been playing games, it was the way the story unfolded that drew me in and kept me there. The way that the story content shifts and responds to what has happened before, and almost forms a sort of after-care after the inevitable defeat and failure that are built in to the rogue-like mechanics. Sometimes I was annoyed or frustrated at being killed (especially when the killing blow came from that smug bastard, you know the one I mean), but it was always tempered by curiosity at what the denizens of the house of Hades would have to say to me next. If more rogue-likes found interesting ways to reward failure like that, I would play a lot more of the genre.

I also just completed Inscryption, which is a horror/rogue-like/deck-builder/room escape/ARG that is best experienced knowing as little as possible going in. It is a game that will relentlessly troll you, but also wants you to find ways to break it open. Definitely one of the weirdest, most interesting and exciting games I've played in years. (Content Warning: Inscryption is a horror game, with all that comes with that, it's not gory, but does involve a lot of unsettling stuff. In particular, there's some injury to the face stuff that isn't super explicit, but is still pretty disturbing, so if that's a particular trigger of yours, you probably want to give it a pass.)
posted by firechicago at 5:36 AM on December 6, 2021 [3 favorites]

Oh yes, Inscryption is on my list.

If you liked that, Daniel Mullins Games has more offerings. The Besties crew recommended Pony Island! A game about an island full of ponies, with limited amounts of the devil.
posted by lazaruslong at 6:05 AM on December 6, 2021 [1 favorite]

I am totally obsessed with a beaver-themed city building/survival game called Timberborn.
posted by quaking fajita at 7:42 AM on December 6, 2021 [3 favorites]

I've played Cozy Grove every day for 236 days. I "finished" months ago but there are still daily quests, new collectibles every season, and a festival period of about a week every season. It's really only about 20 minutes of active gameplay per day, but you can continue foraging and collecting (and decorating, which lots of people are into) beyond that.

I really loved Spiritfarer but it kind of fizzled toward the end, and I'm kinda hoping for better DLC eventually.

The original Plants vs Zombies remains the greatest game I have ever played.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:30 AM on December 6, 2021 [4 favorites]

It's only been out a week or two, but Forza Horizon 5 is wonderful. It's probably the closest a game experience will give you to just driving for pleasure in a beautiful environment. I've been a big fan of arcade-style racing games (Burnout, NFS, Blur, Mario Kart, and half a dozen others). The Forza Horizon games take that stuff and add massive open worlds to them. This newest one is set in Mexico, and does a brave job of trying to overturn stereotypes of the country by showcasing the landscapes, history and culture of the country, while at the same time offering something for pretty much every sort of gamer. There are even people who spend all their time decorating their cars and photographing them without ever entering a race. I enjoyed the hell out of FH4, and with 5 they just seemed to have upped the game just enough. I find it incredibly relaxing to just cruise around the game exploring. Sometimes I even enter a race.
posted by pipeski at 1:04 PM on December 6, 2021 [3 favorites]

I've been playing Plants vs. Zombies 2 on my phone. It's pretty bad unless you have adblocking DNS, lots of unskippable ads. But if not, it's a joy. Graphics are hilarious and effective, there are new plants to chase, including the mints, which you can't directly buy, you have to win matches against other players. This week I put a lot of effort into leveling up my "Turkeypult", and absolutely destroyed every single person I played against. I'm sure they thought I was somehow cheating, because a typical score was a few million and I was 10x that. Someone managed to get half my score once. And of course it is a point of pride that I have never put one dollar into the game or spent one gem to "keep my streak". The fun of the game is earning and unlocking new plants, why would you pay to win that if you didn't enjoy playing with them? Makes no sense to me.
posted by wnissen at 2:39 PM on December 6, 2021 [1 favorite]

Outer Wilds released some DLC ("Echoes of the Eye") which had me transfixed for a while. Outer Wilds is qite possibly my favourite game that I have ever played and I've been playing computer games since Colossal Cave was the latest thing, so the DLC had some big shoes to fill. Base OW is an ingenious game about you, an alien, exploring what is essentially a little pocket solar system with your wooden spaceship, but it's very diffcult to say more without spoiling stuff, so you'll just have to take my word on it. I've put a couple of friends onto it, and one asked me early so 'so...what do I look at first' and the answer is, wonderfully, it doesn't matter. As you explore the various planets you piece together info about how things work that is useful in other places. It is an exquisitely crafted game.

The way the DLC was grafted on to the original game was also ingenious and exquisitely crafted. Finding the new place to explore was suitably jaw-dropping. But there were some stealth bits in the last half that just didn't quite fit with the 'everything is solvable with enough information' ethos the rest of the game had exhibited so I did have a twinge of disappointment when I got to the end that wasn't purely because I had run out of game. Still, minor flaw notwithstanding, it's as near to perfection, for me at least, as the gaming gods allow.
posted by Sparx at 3:17 PM on December 6, 2021 [8 favorites]

Well, I "discovered" Destiny 2 back in like...July I think? And I played it pretty much non-stop up until a few weeks ago, when I realised I was completely burned out with the thing and was basically just chasing very slightly better rolls of stuff. Which, fine, that's the core conceit of a looter-shooter.

So anyway, I've been taking a break until The Witch Queen expansion (though I'll probably do some of the Bungie 30th Anniversary stuff over the next couple of weeks).

In the meantime I've been playing Far Cry 6, which is a lot like every other Far Cry since 3 except more half-assed. After that I guess Vanguard, just because it's there. But what I'm really looking forward to is Lawn Mowing Simulator!

Xbox Gamepass I have to say has been a pretty worthwhile investment. Hades and The Ascent were both pretty good, Carrion was incredible, and there was that one that was basically Hades except it was Heretic and used voxels and everything was very muddy and "retro". Forza 5 I've been dabbling with as well. And there's a bunch in the backlog that I keep meaning to play, like Visage.

Anyway. Videogames!
posted by turbid dahlia at 4:35 PM on December 6, 2021 [1 favorite]

I spent so much time this past year on Planet Zoo. Between a bunch of DLC and the modding community adding a ton of animals, it's been my main game. Lots of zoos started, no zoos finished, of course. I also played a fair amount of Assassins Creed Odyssey, mostly in the winter months when riding a horse around the countryside stabbing Greeks seems more appealing than walking through -20 windchill and snow.
posted by Superilla at 4:35 PM on December 6, 2021 [1 favorite]

On mobile:
Puzzle Retreat: basically a peg puzzle game with mechanics you won't find in real boards, like ice, sliding, redirection, etc.
Concordia: digital version of the board game, with a hard AI that is good and doesn't cheat AFAICT.
Istanbul: digital version of the board game.
Roll for the Galaxy: another late night insomnia goto

On Steam:
A Short Hike: finally got around to this from humble bundles in the past i think. Realistically, half of it is about flying not hiking, but I am okay with this, and less okay with the "Short" part. I'm sure when the author realizes they like money we'll see more =)
Murder by Numbers (2020): picross with a hint of Ace Attorney. Not a bad combo, but the difficulty doesn't seem to really ramp up much.
Shantae (Risky's revenge): turns out photon works really well these days, and now i have a backlog of metroidvanias to churn through on linux.
A Good Snowman is Gard to Build: sokoban game about building snowmen
Hexceed: free hexagonal mindsweeper game. very similar to hexcells

Bravely Default 2 -- kinda lackluster plot at the end, but really you buy this game for the combat puzzle interactions & cheese
Picross S4/S5 -- I'm a bit behind on these. im getting to the point where only the last levels present a challenge though.
Boxboy+Boxgirl -- A platform puzzler. mostly what you expect from the trailers, but going in i assumed one wouldn't be able to cheese puzzles with near pixel perfect accuracy
Great Ace Chronicles: Ace Attorney spinoff, but doesn't stray very far from the formula. basically a prequel. The Victorian era slang was a bit rough at first, and I suppose it heightens the sense of language barrier the characters face.
Metroid: Dread -- Standard metroid, with a hint of those scenes in Aliens movies where the the evil thing chases people through the ventilation.

Horizon: Zero Dawn -- picked this up cheap on black friday last year, only got around to finishing it in january
hulu? idk at this point nothing ps4 exclusive appeals
posted by pwnguin at 5:29 PM on December 6, 2021 [2 favorites]

Sometime last year I ended up buying Xenoblade, Outer Wilds, and Fire Emblem: Three Houses for my Switch. I only got around to playing Xenoblade and got to the point where I needed to level up my party a bit so that I could finish the last boss battle and then I started watching Taskmaster and stopped playing and haven't gotten around to it or any other game since. My birthday was last week and a friend got me Metroid Dread so I started playing that over the weekend and am hooked. It's a really fun game although I'd prefer it if I could more easily teleport between areas.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 5:40 PM on December 6, 2021 [1 favorite]

Does Outer Wilds get less spinny? I downloaded it excitedly, but I get so queasy?
posted by mochapickle at 6:11 PM on December 6, 2021

Factorio. It runs very well on my laptop (running Linux to boot). It's also the greatest time-sink I've ever encountered so I have to very strictly ration how/when I start playing. I have a new playthrough teed up and ready to start once we get a bit deeper into the holiday season and I find myself with a bit of time in the evenings.
posted by jquinby at 6:20 PM on December 6, 2021 [2 favorites]

My idle-time "I want to try to get better" games this year are Race for the Galaxy, Mini Metro, and Wingspan (in increasing order of time required per game). I try to get better often. They're each good in single-player for me.

My active "reflexes" games this year are Destiny and Hades, vying for top of list placement. I'm a shieldbearer in both, which I never realized until now. Nifty.

Two Point Hospital is code-named Bullfrog Medical Park in my mind, and is my hands-down favorite simulator game of the past ten or twenty years. If you played Theme Park or Theme Hospital, imagine a love letter from the future to those games, with impeccable graphics and sound design. And music. It seems deceptively simple. It is incredibly challenging. Highly recommended.

I have danced and forged and danced again. Hours stand witness to my desires. My powdered wings beat ceaselessly in the wood's silent airs. I am un-Know'n, un-seen, un-made.
posted by Callisto Prime at 7:45 PM on December 6, 2021 [3 favorites]

Final Fantasy XIV's free trial has done a good job of letting me hang out with distant or locked-down friends and even make new ones, despite me very much not being a fashion connoisseur, MMO player, or action RPG player.

Besides that, lots of Monster Train.
posted by polytope subirb enby-of-piano-dice at 2:24 AM on December 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

I need to read through this thread but I want to say that I went back to Graveyard Keeper after running out of steam one grind before the end and the expansion packs are actually great. More story, more automation pathways, more stuff to do. I ended up finishing the main plot then reloading the save to finish the expansion packs, and I'm really enjoying it.

Also in mobile games, Rush Royale is a tower-defense game with some very smart design and no time-based gatekeeping (at least, none that prevents you from playing as much as you want.) And Monster Super League is the best gacha game I've found, and is being very actively developed, which is nice.
posted by restless_nomad (retired) at 4:44 AM on December 7, 2021

Because of life reasons, I can only game in short stints on my phone, which excludes the sort of meaty games that I loved in my youth, but I have been really enjoying this puzzler on Apple Arcade called Dear Reader, which has you re-arranging the words to classic texts in ways that really satisfy something in my brain.

The writings are from a more diverse authorship than the term "classic texts" might imply; the game has exposed me to the poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar, for instance, whose work I am quite enjoying and whom I had not heard of before.
posted by gauche at 4:53 AM on December 7, 2021 [2 favorites]

I started playing Hades last month on the recommendation of some MeFites and I don't care if it's more syllables, I just started calling it "the dog game" after getting the dog petting achievement and the name stuck.

I believe in Bouldy, and Bouldy believes in me!
posted by avocet at 8:47 AM on December 7, 2021 [5 favorites]

I haven't really played video games, except weird art project games, in at least 20 years. (I'm looking forward to new ideas from this thread.) But, I bought an Occulus Quest on a lark at the start of the year. And, while I'm in favor of burning metafacebook to the ground, I've got to say, this device is ridiculous fun and really impressive tech.

The game I'm not ashamed of loving is Walkabout Mini Golf VR. The physics is really well done, the world is large and explorable, and it's exactly as goofy as a real mini golf game if there were no cost barriers to building enormous and complicated structures, including a space-station with local artificial gravity.

The game I am ashamed of loving is Gun Club VR. Everything about the concept and the aesthetics are terrible. (Though, they do try to be less racist than one might have expected for a gun-loving, cop-worshiping game.) After a long day of meetings, spending half an hour shooting Nazis who aren't actually real sure is fun. I'm not proud that I've now played through normally, with my non-dominant hand, and without any upgrades. I tried to play through it without killing anyone, but that's literally not possible. I'm now on "only knives and grenades," but it's a real challenge and mostly involves ducking and hiding. I don't think it will be possible to clear the sniper tasks, so I'll either have to make compromises or give up. I'm not sure the concept of catharsis is real. But, violent video games can be great fun, even for people who abhor violence.
posted by eotvos at 9:09 AM on December 7, 2021

I've been playing Plants vs. Zombies 2 on my phone. It's pretty bad unless you have adblocking DNS, lots of unskippable ads.

I just started playing this on my iPad. You get to play one puzzle/level, and then you get ads for other games (some are truly horrific looking ones). In case it helps anyone, I just close the program and re-open it. It's a pain but avoids the ads.

Two Point Hospital is code-named Bullfrog Medical Park in my mind
YES. Very big Bullfrog fan here. I should play this again. I will admit the decorating is probably my favorite part.

I continue to play a few old Steam standbys:
Planetbase - colony building game. Could use more kinds of rooms, but I'm still playing this dang thing. I don't have any trouble winning any of the difficulty levels at this point, but I keep going back to play again.
Oxygen Not Included, colony building-space survival-cute and VERY involved. I've never actually built a rocket but still start a new game for a few hours now and again.
They Are Billions. Zombies. HARD. (If you have any tricks, let me know!) Every time I stop playing I tell myself I won't play again, but then enough time has passed I start over and the first 5-6 levels are doable. I did kill the first swarm (between outposts) ONCE. I keep starting over to try to get more points to spend on skills. SUCKS you can't save mid-game. : /
posted by Glinn at 9:34 AM on December 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

mahjong soul. soooooo much mahjong soul. riichi mahjong is surprisingly deep and bluffy and moreish. and i get to be a catgirl, so there's that.
posted by pmdboi at 2:50 PM on December 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

i really enjoyed the puzzle games bonfire peaks, a monster's expedition through puzzling exhibitions, and yugo puzzle, all sokoban-esque puzzlers with really clever design. a monster's expedition was a bit more gentle with the difficulty curve but had lots of brilliant "aha" moments. i cannot recommend it enough.
posted by pmdboi at 3:01 PM on December 7, 2021

I've been having a blast lately with Deep Rock Galactic in co-op with a friend. It satisfies my love for digging for ore in games, but then pairs it with (dress-up!) dwarves and mission objectives far more fun than I imagined a first-person shooter could be. I want to marry my grappling hook.

Deltarune Chapter 2 was also released recently, and oh my god. Oh my god. The first chapter a few years back was nice, and cute, but it didn't really grab me much past the first playthrough. Chapter 2 ramped it up and I have been obsessed since I played it. The soundtrack! The jokes! I love it so much.

I'm even in the middle of writing (and posting) a novella-length Deltarune fanfic with ties to the Undertale universe. Whoops! There goes my time! I've managed weekly updates since October--and have been humbled and excited by the well-received response so far--and I am so grateful to this game for rekindling my love and getting me to write again.
posted by lesser weasel at 8:20 PM on December 7, 2021 [2 favorites]

I'm still trying to beat the end boss on The Game.
posted by loquacious at 8:47 PM on December 7, 2021 [2 favorites]

Although I've always loved video games, I've been running linux exclusively for more than a decade, and tended to have weak hardware, and so my gaming has always tended to be restricted to obscure open source games.

With my professional life (machine learning) and hobby life (gaming) converging in terms of computing hardware, and linux gaming becoming a thing, all of a sudden I find myself in possession of an extremely powerful computer capable of playing the latest in AAA games.

Oops! Hasn't been the best for my time management this year, but it's been fun. My top game was probably Horizon: Zero Dawn (at 4k 60fps). HZD didn't do anything exceptionally (except maybe creature design) but each of its many aspects was so good than it created one of the most immersive and engrossing games of recent memory. In terms of other games that pushed my hardware, I really enjoyed Control and The Surge 2, and Relicta was a devilish first person puzzler which also happens to have lovely graphics.

My wife and I really enjoyed playing through Spiritfarer together, and my boy and I really enjoyed the lovely Carto. Otherwise I've played through a number of indie-roguelike games, which remain my bread and butter. Highlights include Space Crew, Star Renegades, and Curse of the Dead Gods. I remain oddly resistant to playing Hades, even though my wife also loved it. I think when something comes along that ticks absolutely every single one of my boxes, I feel a little too seen, and refuse to engage with it.
posted by Alex404 at 5:15 AM on December 8, 2021 [3 favorites]

I played a good chunk of Dysmantle and was enjoying it immensely until I got to a giant robot which both fires missiles and has a flamethrower; then I realized after failing that fight a half-dozen times that I was no longer having fun, and I haven't played it since.

No Place Like Home is in early access still but I've been finding it curiously enjoyable going along vacuuming up garbage, adopting animals, and planting crops and trees.

Dragon Quest Builders 2 was a lot of fun. If you like Minecraft but wish it had more of a story, you might like it.

I've been having a lot of fun with Rush Royale on my phone, though I seem to have stretches in PVP where I beat everybody followed by stretches where I lose to everybody.

And of course there's Skyrim Anniversary Edition. I just started a new playthrough (this time as a sneak archer who dabbles in two-handed), but I've been avoiding most of the quests in favor of wandering aimlessly. I haven't yet stumbled onto any of the new weapons, but it sounds like the two new bows are each great in their own way.
posted by johnofjack at 2:37 PM on December 8, 2021 [1 favorite]

Alex404: Your comment on linux and machine learning hardware is exactly my experience...

Many games this year or two, I think mostly mentioned here.

If anyone's in the East Bay and interested in tabletop rpgs, feel free to shoot me a memail. All my meatspace friends here are more into board games, but I'd really like to play a good story-oriented ttrpg on the regular.
posted by kaibutsu at 8:04 PM on December 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

Update: The Last of Us II is so far paying off although I’m still in Seattle and have no idea how much game is left. Yes there is a game element where you have to decide whether to murder everyone on a board including their hunting dogs or twitchingly try to sneak past them, and there are boards where you have no choice but to kill or be killed. But there are also all the great design elements of the first game, slightly improved. I get why lots of people didn’t like it, but so far I’m having trouble finding why a fan of the (brutal, intense, morally questionable) first game would be so opposed to this one.

Maybe I’m not there yet and none of this will pay off; playing in small chunks as advised.
posted by aspersioncast at 5:21 AM on December 10, 2021 [2 favorites]

It's been 90% Valheim for me this year. I can go explore, or build mighty castles (or little cabins in the woods ((or docks or crafting halls or farms)), or sail around, or mow down those who would attempt to harm me. Basically everything I would want to do IRL but are contrained from for assorted reasons.
posted by Mitheral at 9:23 PM on December 10, 2021

>I'm still trying to beat the end boss on The Game.
I'm stuck on the tutorial. I guess I just don't get it.

Video gaming: 4K detail pack on Mark of The Ninja when I'm not going for a drive in Project Cars and/or Codemasters' Formula 1.
posted by k3ninho at 9:24 AM on December 11, 2021

I'm playing my way through Halo Infinite--it's not really my kind of thing, but it's on Game Pass and I played the rest of the series, so here I am.

I've got the difficulty cranked all the way down, because a.) I grew up in the arcade game days, and I don't have anything to prove; and b.) if a game is selling me the experience of being an enhanced power-armored god of war, I'm going to take it to the limit. So far I'm really enjoying shooting my grappling hook at enemies and reeling myself in to deliver a lethal People's Master Chief's elbow to their faces.

It's still got the annoying habit, though, of naming everything The Noun. The Banished. The Endless. The Reclaimer. The Conservatory. It'd be nice to get a proper noun every now and again.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 11:43 AM on December 11, 2021

Halo Indefinite didn't work for The Focusgruppen.
posted by k3ninho at 3:14 PM on December 11, 2021 [1 favorite]

Condor 2 : Racing competition sailplanes around with my dad for a couple of hours most weekends was a great way to get through 2020 lockdown and that's continued, more sporadically, into 2021. Looks lovely on the Quest 2 with 120Hz wireless streaming too.
Kerbal : Still great, and now they're done updating it all the mods are easier to keep running.
Orbiter : Went open source this year. If only I had time to contribute.
Resident Evil 4 : I'd never played a Resi game before this came out on the Quest. Good VR port, though a little old school, and maybe they could have taken another pass at some of the character art; Anime Girl proportions are a bit weird when one is actually in the room with you.
Lone Echo 2 : Much like the original, but somehow even more railsy, and poorly optimised. Flinging yourself around in zero g is still super fun though, and the plot and puzzles are working better for me so far.
Beat Saber : Lady Gaga tracks just dropped!
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 11:20 AM on December 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

I almost forgot, I spent a bit of time playing Unexplored 2 and it finally got to the point where it's fun to play, though it's still very much in early access. There are a lot of cool ideas in that game.

Unexplored 1 is on my GOAT list, and while the developer was always careful to call it a roguelite, it is definitely the game that fully convinced me of the heretical point of view that a traditional roguelike* does not need to be turn-based.

*A traditional roguelike is a procedural death labyrinth with an Amulet of Yendor at the bottom. You spend a lot of time fighting in doorways. At first you think the graphics are crap, but over time they become beautiful in a way that always reminds me of falling in love. I'm not trying to start a flamewar.
posted by surlyben at 4:51 PM on December 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

Hollow Knight. I've been obsessed and it's turned me into a maniac who wants to throw remotes and break things. Reading walkthroughs, watching videos, and still sucking. But it is so damned satisfying when I beat a boss or find another secret room. Trying to beat the Watcher Knights right now and arghghhg!

Is it crazy that I want to be a professional video game player as a 41 yr old woman? I lovelovelove video games.

I was playing The Long Dark also am close to the end of the latest chapter but haven't finished because then it will be over.

A Short Hike was cute and fun.
Also started Spiritfarer and it is really lovely but I think I'm preferring dark and weird for now.

I love Zelda and started Skyward Sword but dont love the controls so haven't gotten very far.

Was obsessed like many others with Animal Crossing but it started to feel like too much work. I was never going to be able to create one of those beautiful islands and one day just never opened the game again. The obsession was dead and over.
posted by mokeydraws at 7:01 AM on December 13, 2021 [2 favorites]

I'm playing my way through Halo Infinite

On a related note, an open plea to UNSC Marines:

For the love of God, please stop standing directly on the landing pad when I call in a vehicle. So far at least two of you have been squished by tanks I had dropped in, and writing the reports back to HQ is getting embarrassing.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 7:22 AM on December 13, 2021 [3 favorites]

I spent a ton of time this year with Factorio and Oxygen Not Included. The base game of ONI is big enough to sink hundreds and hundreds of hours (I've still never "finished" it) and the Spaced Out! expansion adds a ton of additional fun and different kinds of challenge (scheduled to leave Early Access this week, I believe).

I've realized that the common thread that makes me enjoy Factorio, ONI, and Kerbal Space Program is the sense of "OK, my research has unlocked this new thing. What does that let me do, and how do I revise my existing designs?" But having a sense of discovery in the process - I try to never read too far ahead in the research tree kind of thing.

Plus I like the survival aspect and dying in hilarious ways.

I'd love to play Dyson Sphere Program as I think it's likely to scratch similar itches, and They Are Billions sounds like a lot of fun too - unfortunately they're both PC-only and I'm a Mac gamer. Alas.

I'd love to hear more suggestions from folks that like games like those ones (planning to check out Planetbase on Glinn's recommendation). I tried Hades after seeing folks rave about it here, and just... kept waiting for the part where it was fun, and it never showed up.
posted by nickmark at 8:44 AM on December 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

Oh, and seconding the mention of Timberborn! It feels a little cramped at this point - meaning you reach the point of having nothing new to do a little too soon - but that's fair for an Early Access game; it sounds like they've got a fair number of additions still in the works.
posted by nickmark at 8:52 AM on December 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

Its short but the newest game I played this year was The Procession to Calvary, a Pythonesque adventure game. Very silly but I had a few laughs with it - most people I think could probably finish it in a couple hours. I also rediscovered that I had bought, 4 years ago, but never played Witcher 3 and my autumn has been largely spent playing that. My big accomplishment in the past 2 weeks is that I finally figured out how to play and win at gwent, the in-game card game.
posted by Ashwagandha at 2:13 PM on December 13, 2021 [2 favorites]

Project Zomboid released their multiplayer beta a few days ago. It has the art style of The Sims but it's a crafting survival game. I've also enjoyed RimWorld (scifi western themed game like Dwarf Fortress but much more approachable) and Stardew Valley (which also has multiplayer).
posted by AlSweigart at 3:12 PM on December 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

Actually now that I'm halfway through the last of us ii it's just feeling like "the trolley problem: gratuitously and repeatedly illustrated." I'm having a very hard time giving a shit about the Abby character, since I basically find her motivations so far boring af. And like, Seattle is fine, but . . . this is a lot of Seattle.
posted by aspersioncast at 3:37 PM on December 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

For me, the big thing I was waiting for was Endwalker, the newest expansion for FFXIV, and one that promised to tie up the story I've been following for a decade now. And it really delivered, even if fighting Login Queue (Ultimate) each night is getting a tad tiresome. Handing the story for the last two expansions to Natsuko Ishikawa was a stroke of genius that has paid off immensely. And obviously, I want to talk about it all - but there is so much that shouldn't be spoiled. So, I won't.

Beyond that, I put in a good amount of time with Insomniac's Spider-Man games after getting our PS5, even if that meant restarting the first one from scratch. That said, I enjoyed playing as Miles more than Pete, and their banter is genuinely fun, which is why I'm looking forward to the upcoming sequel. I also put some serious time in with Hades as well, and that's been fun, especially all the little bits of levity and compassion that the game manages to incorporate. I also enjoyed NEO: The World Ends With You, and was impressed on how they redid combat for the game - really need to finish it, though.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:05 AM on December 15, 2021 [3 favorites]

last of us ii it's just feeling like "the trolley problem: gratuitously and repeatedly illustrated."

Pretty sure that's Dr Trolley's Problem, a simulation designed to test whether humans are safe enough to be allowed to drive cars.
posted by pwnguin at 9:37 AM on December 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

Late to the game, but I just dug out Dawn of Man again. It's essentially a very small scale city builder where you build an encampment of prehistoric humans (not just men) and have a tech tree that starts out Paleolithic and goes up into, I think, early Iron Age. It's not terribly complex or challenging, which is exactly why I like it. It's very relaxing to just build up a settlement and let it do its thing.
posted by ursus_comiter at 10:11 AM on December 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

Great thread, everyone. I've already picked up a few recommendations, which is helpful since I just finished the amazing gaming experience that is Inscryption. Please consider playing it. It is weird and creepy and funny and challenging and forgiving and goofy and touching and shocking. I'm already thinking about playing it again, but first I just need to figure out a way to both forget and remember everything about my first playthrough.

I loved Hades, but I got to a point where so many of the things I wanted to experiment with (weapon modes, character interactions, interior design) just seemed so grindy and I got pretty frustrated.

Similar story with Animal Crossing, really. I'm excited that the new expansion has a way to make collecting art a bit easier, but I really wish there were ways to ramp up your earning/DIY/shopping possibilities that weren't so slow. I did a few discord-mediated turnip shenanigans back when I was trying to finish paying off my house, and I understand there are folks who have "showroom" style islands so that you can fill out your shopping catalog, so I might have to try that some time.

A fun surprise, though it's hardly new, has been Sneaky Sasquatch on Apple Arcade. I picked up an Apple TV (best streaming box BY FAR) a little while ago, and was hoping for some great games to go along with it, but a lot of the Apple Arcade offerings feel very basic or shallow. Sasquatch is surprisingly deep, but doesn't require too much grinding.

Still just waiting for XCOM 3 really.
posted by Rock Steady at 2:45 PM on December 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

I loved Hades, but I got to a point where so many of the things I wanted to experiment with (weapon modes, character interactions, interior design) just seemed so grindy and I got pretty frustrated.

Unfortunately, "grindy" pretty much describes the roguelike/roguelite genre.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:44 PM on December 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

I play solo-player stuff on a clunky old laptop or X360 so this year I have mostly been comfort-replaying Dark Souls 2 for about five months, larking and chasing some NG++ achievements. Did a bit of DS1 and got further than I'd got before, but still eventually tapped out again. Been Gnolling it up on seeded DCSS games, but not half as much as I used to. Revisited Pinball FX2 and remembered how much I've forgotten.

Started two games recently, one being Rise Of The Tomb Raider, which I want to like for the RPGness and gradual plot/character development, but haven't quite fallen in love with to the point of playing daily. Mostly because of the early tutorial-ish stuff which feels like a lot of cutscenes and unmarked QTEs. I'm Lara flipping Croft, I just want to run and jump and pull levers and John Woo some woolves! Other one is Bastion, which I've completed a couple of times before yonks ago and felt like revisiting because I've forgotten the finer points completely and I was on a soft Cowboy Apocalypse kick.

Honourable online quizzy site mentions go to old MeFi suggestion Guess My Word [of the day] and Sporcle both of which I poke at fairly regularly
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 8:59 PM on December 16, 2021 [2 favorites]

I picked up a new daily online thing--Lovatt's Daily Online Code Cracker.

It's a codebreaker puzzle, which is a thing you'll probably either like a lot or not at all. If you complete it, it tells you how you performed relative to everyone else that's completed it. I am very mediocre.
posted by box at 5:53 AM on December 17, 2021 [4 favorites]

Ok I’ll shut up about the last of us II but overall a helluva game. Probably going to try it again on the hardest mode because “hard” wasn’t that bad if you played the first one.
posted by aspersioncast at 9:38 PM on December 19, 2021 [2 favorites]

After griping for a long time about how I couldn't really take Doom Eternal--my friends had to listen to endless complaining about it--I got it on sale on the Switch't stop playing it. Apparently the whole keyboard and mouse control system, combined with the speed of the game, was just too much for me, but getting to play it handheld with motion controls is much, much easier, to the point that I can actually follow the plot this time! And it means I can enjoy the dopey humor too. The Fortress of Doom is the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen, now that I can explore it without making myself kinda dizzy and confused.
posted by mittens at 5:28 AM on December 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

This year in gaming:

Cyberpunk 2077 -- On a pc, while you can see the bones of things that got left behind, this is basically a solid game with a good RPG structure. I can't decide whether it's good or unfortunate how you can just ignore so much of the game, like how easy it is to just never meet River.

Mass Effect legendary version -- It was nice to see old friends, run through everything one more time. The mako is still shit.

Mass Effect Andromeda -- Why not? You can almost see the good game they could have made. Open-world-ifying Mass Effect is a good idea, and the combat is the most fun ME has ever done.

Fallout 76 -- Bought it cheap on steam, have maybe an hour into it. It really feels like the grind won't be worth it.

No Man's Sky -- The expeditions are a very welcome addition

Subnautica and Below Zero -- The more character-focused, not-just-a-blank-slate parts of BZ work well, as do the NPCs. I don't think any sequel to Subnautica could match the experience of playing it through for the first time.

NGU Idle -- It's a shame that 4G got bored with it and never really finished it, but up through late in sadistic it's been the best idle game I've played.

Zero Dawn -- just playing it through again before Forbidden West launches

Old games I played through again: Borderlands, Stardew Valley, maybe FO4 and Skyrim but I can't remember

Games I'm looking forward to in 2022:
Starfield. Honestly, "2022 in gaming" is pretty much "Waiting for Starfield" for me.
Forbidden West, duh
Saint's Row, maybe.
Tiny Tina's Wonderlands, but honestly I expect reviews are gonna tell me to wait until it's $10 or free on Epic
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 8:39 AM on December 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

My favorite game to play in 2021 was 2019's Anthem, the critically-loathed flaming trainwreck that BioWare promised to rebuild from the ground up and then unceremoniously gave up on instead.

Despite never getting that No Man's Sky-style redemption arc, the early patches it did get were able to iron out the most irritating UX problems that drove reviewers crazy, and what's left is a really strange artifact; a game with unbelievably deep worldbuilding and lore, a lush and beautiful interlinked overworld, outstanding soundtrack, simple but wonderfully crunchy combo mechanics for ability-based group combat, some of the most enjoyable environment traversal I've ever seen and felt in a game; all littered with underwhelming details like the minimal gun variety, terrible in-game explanations of its systems and lack of signposting, confounding stats systems, and (reportedly) total lack of a fleshed-out endgame. In some ways it's all foundation, with no building on top.

Playing it is a marvel, and also a heartbreak. It's absolutely aching with potential, surprisingly well-populated by other lost souls like me (I've never had any problem getting a full group from Quickplay) still wringing joy out of what's there and wishing it had found the second life it deserved, but will surely never get (the name is too synonymous with Failed Game for them to ever do a sequel, and the Frostbite engine it's based on, which many blame for its grueling and hellish development story, likely makes a future rebirth via fan-modding all but impossible). I may just be a sucker for a lost cause or the unfairly maligned, because Anthem is unambiguously both and I just love this stupid thing deeply and obstinately.
posted by churl at 1:46 PM on December 20, 2021 [3 favorites]

The logo suggests the game is called Arfie which i'm fine with.
posted by seanmpuckett at 2:25 PM on December 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

One last game of 2021!

I found a game called Transiruby via Buried Treasure and just really enjoyed this. Relatively short exploration-focused action game (i.e. metroidvania) that's solid all the way through.
posted by curious nu at 1:31 PM on December 31, 2021 [1 favorite]

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