Games I Played This Year That Kicked Ass: 2021 Edition
December 31, 2021
|Lots of horror, as usual|
I don't know if it's just me, but this list feels short. I mean, in comparison to the total number of different games I played this year, this catalog feels like nothing. I blame Wild Arms 3 for soaking up so much of my time, but also my own lack of scrutiny for buying so many blah Steam titles. Thankfully, I still ran into a respectable handful of decent games, and that's gotta count for something...
Honorable Mentions: Games I Didn't Play Enough to Qualify
Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark- A solid quasi-FFTactics that fell out of my favor because it just wasn't quite what I was looking for at the time I started it. I can see myself going more thoroughly through this one down the line...
Artifact Adventure Gaiden- An indie RPG done up like a Game Boy title. There's a lot to take in here, and I would only bother going through this one if I were to ever devote all of my attention to it.
Song of Horror- Indie survival-horror with perma-death. I have to be fully ready for something like this, and I really wasn't at the time...
Dead Space 2- More necromorphs and necromorph chopping, sidelined by my work promotion. One day...
Asguaard- I'm currently playing this Aldorlea RPG. It's not looking too promising, but it could still surprise me.
Gato Roboto- Metroid, but with a cat in Samus's place. It's breezy and enjoyable so far.
Enola- A first-person dark fantasy adventure that seems pretty neat, but definitely wasn't what I was looking for after starting it. I was after something a little more "edge of my seat" terrifying.
The Count Lucanor- This one seems pretty decent, except that death sets you back a very long ways in the campaign. If I'm not mistake, there are only a few checkpoints that pop up, and I just don't have the patience for something like this right now.
A Hat in Time- Maybe it was just me, but I'm probably the only person in all of the world who wasn't feeling this game. I wanted to like it, but it felt very messy and disorganized. I'm definitely going to give it another go, but not any time soon.
AMID EVIL- I only played a brief fragment of this Heretic-inspired piece, and I intended to play more. Again, work ended up putting this one on a back burner.
Taimumari- I tried my hand at this platformer back when I was burned out on gaming. Obviously, it didn't go well, but nothing about this title said I wouldn't eventually enjoy it after my burn out subsided.
Imagine Hotline Miami, except played from the perspective of an escaped gorilla. You charge through the hallways of your prison, shoving guards into walls and splattering them all over the place--and to the rhythm of snazzy music, no less. This is yet another one of those violent, magical things that cropped up outside the AAA realm.
Burly Men at Sea
A rather whimsical adventure that was offered just the right amount of silliness and heart at a time when I was severely burned out. You play as a trio of adventurers who repeatedly get lost at sea and run afoul of various mythical beings. This breezy piece helped get me back on my feet, even if it is a tad dry at times.
Metroid meets Zelda in the best and most challenging way. To a degree, I blame this game for my burn out. Even though I really liked it, it punched a hole in my patience. Between this and Sekiro in the last couple of years, I think I was due for a break from face-breakers.
Dread X Collection
An anthology of horror games published by horror channel/website Dread Central, featuring ten short titles/fake teasers/mock demos. A few offerings left something to be desired, but most of them hit just the right, creepy notes. There was such a varied assortment on offer here that it was difficult not to appreciate it.
An survival-horror title that does for Indonesia what Unforgiving: A Northern Hymn does for Sweden. You venture around an abandoned town searching for your lost classmates and teacher, all while avoiding entities from Southeast Asian folklore. It's creepy as hell, but feels incomplete.
A surreal horror game where you're constantly tracked by your hideous grandma in the afterlife. I almost left this one off because its content seems run of the mill in a lot of ways, plus its plot was pretty straightforward. At the same time, it hits enough fair notes that I can't not include it.
A Good Snowman is Hard to Build
A standard puzzle game where you push snowballs around to build snowmen. My only complaint (and the main reason I didn't review it) is that there's supposed to be a whole other assortment of puzzles after you complete the main ones, and I can't figure out how to access them.
I wrote about this in my last GIPTYTKA topic. My opinion hasn't changed since then.
Confession: I fully expected Husk to blow. I've become so cynical towards Steam's horror library that I approach anything with less than a "Very Positive" rating with due caution. I figured a first-person Silent Hill-inspired title on Steam with a "Mixed" rating would be the drizzling shits. I'm pleased to announce that Husk is actually quite good, even if it its shooter elements are phoned in. Still, it's a nice love letter to Konami's classic, and a damn shame we don't see more form its developer.
Mad Father Remake
I love this game so much. It's so deranged and creepy, even with its 2D super-deformed sprites. I would totally play a sequel (which, I guess, would be called "Mad Mother").
The Music Machine
I discovered David Szymanski this year, having played several of his titles. This one deconstructs cosmic horror and serves a side helping of ghostly possession, all through the lens of first-person walking simulator. It works wonderfully as a character-driven study and a surreal adventure with brooding atmosphere, even with its minimal interaction.
Jurassic Park, but as a first-person horror game. You love to see it (and I loved playing it).
Buster Bros./Pang revived as a modern arcade title, complete with a story mode of sorts. I had a lot of fun with this one, mostly because popping balloons relieves a lot of stress.
A found-phone game where you track down a missing girl who doesn't want to be tracked down. A fair piece of tech horror with some great puzzles and a lot of hidden backstory. Never mind the over-the-top acting, though...
Obstacle-puzzle-platformer with horror elements and grotesque character models and environments. Just an all around fantastic, dingy, challenging experience, and definitely one of the best things I played for this year's wave of OctJOEber reviews.
I don't know what you call this genre, where you knock off as many enemies as you can without dying. Ubermosh is the first in a series of eight cyberpunk-themed titles of this nature. Unlike some of its brethren, this one has a time limit that you need to survive, so playing defensively is just as important as playing offensively. At any rate, this one's really addictive and features some catchy music.
The sequel to Ubermosh that rebalances the difficulty rating a little, plus adds mana strikes that crop up after so many enemies have been defeated. This one's just as good as the original, but with a few small addtions.
Ubermosh Vol. 7
I skipped posting Vol. 3 all the way to 7 because those games removed environments obstructions in favor of an open, endlessly scrolling terrain that not only feels empty, but makes surviving a session almost effortless. Because of that, the series hit a slump for a few episodes. 7 reels things back in with a very tight, limited space, but also gives you numerous characters with their own ups and downs. I haven't survived this one yet, but maybe one day I can get at least halfway through an event, with some effort. All the same, it's just as bloody and exciting as before.
What Remains of Edith Finch?
One of the most varied interactive stories I've played, where each segment revolves around a different character's death (like seriously, a toddler drowns at one point in this title, after a whimsical little segment). It's soul-crushing, but somehow still a lot of fun. You'll be entertained between bouts of hysterical crying. It's great.
Wild Arms 3
The third game in Sony's dormant JRPG series, which features cel-shading and the return of classic series villain Siegfried. I honestly felt like this one took a while to get warmed up, but it was wonderful when everything finally came together. It's definitely a cut above its quasi-philosophical and absolutely goofy predecessor.
Wild Arms - Alter Code: F
A remake of the original Wild Arms with 3's mechanics. A lot of people hate on this title, but I think it's one of the best remakes of all time.
A Wolf in Autumn
Szymanski strikes again with an allegory-heavy adventure featuring a lot of idle threats. Somehow, the game is all the better for them rather than worse. Again, it's a walking simulator, but this time with numerous puzzles to keep you busy.
That's all I got. Hopefully 2022 will prove to be a better year for great stuff to play.