My Top Ten Most Anticipated Games of 2022

The ten games I’m most excited about in 2022.

Last year we saw the effects of a multi-year pandemic delay many games into 2022, and create horrible shortages on new platforms and video cards.

Hopefully things improve this year. And the best way to stay optimistic is thinking of all the awesome video games soon to come!

Here are the top ten games I’m most excited about as of January 2022.

Continue reading “My Top Ten Most Anticipated Games of 2022”

My Top Ten Games of 2021

My top ten video games of the year.

Sometimes I play video games. Sometimes. My delicate balancing act between freelance writing, running a Patreon-funded YouTube channel, and being a stay at home dad with the youngest entering the terrible toddler years has given me less and less time to devote to gaming.

We also got new puppies this past year, which I definitely don’t recommend alongside a new baby.

Lots of cute, and lots of poop.

So much poop.

doggies

And there’s the whole ongoing COVID pandemic, which is gradually receding into the background radiation of our lives as we collectively (and worryingly) become numb to the news and the death toll.

But I still managed to play a few games this past year. At least ten of them!

Before we begin my Game of the Year countdown, let’s take a look at my Most Anticipated Games list from January 2021. Here’s a reminder:

  1. Baldur’s Gate 3
  2. Monster Hunter Rise
  3. Horizon Forbidden West
  4. Back 4 Blood
  5. State of Decay 3
  6. Endless Dungeon
  7. Griftlands
  8. Bravely Default 2
  9. Humankind
  10. Songs of Conquest

Five of those games didn’t release this year. I did play the other five, though only the trial/demo for Back 4 Blood. That’s a better rate than last year!

Did any of my Most Anticipated Games make my final top ten? Let’s find out!

My Top Ten Games of 2021

10) Slipways

Played on: Steam

Slipways is a brilliant little indie puzzle game about creating trade routes between planets. The controls couldn’t be simpler: hold down the mouse to reveal new planets or asteroids, click on planets and choose their supply and demands, and drag routes between them.

The simply strategy is instantly compelling thanks to the complex supply chain between planets. Almost no two planets can supply each other; often I’ll need to create complex, interweaving chains of four or more planets. Add in faction side quests, space stations, and limited time, and you have one of my favorite indie games of the year.

9) Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin

Played on: Switch

The first Monster Hunter Stories on 3DS was a fun spin-off that combined the monster-battling genre dominated by Pokémon, with the hugely cool monsters of the MH series.

The Switch sequel expands the story and graphics, while only slightly refining the solid tactical combat and monster-fusing gameplay. Its hampered by awful pacing in the early game, however, taking forever to unlock the more interesting elements of the gameplay. Still, the series maintains a much-needed halfway point between the light simplicity of Pokémon and the hardcore complexity of the SMT/Persona series.

8) Solasta: Crown of the Magister

Played on: Steam

D&D has never been more popular than right now, yet officially licensed video games remain rare and mostly underwhelming in recent years.

Though it does some neat stuff with bringing custom player characters to life, I wish Solasta: Crown of the Magister had better production, voice acting, and writing. Despite its flaws, it’s easily the best D&D 5e game we’ve had yet, expertly replicating 5e turn-based combat far more accurately than upcoming D&D game, Baldur’s Gate 3 (which I’m still very much looking forward to when it finally hits 1.0).

7) Bravely Default 2

Played on: Switch

I have a mixed relationship with the Bravely Default series. On the one hand, I love how they feel like old-school, 90s era JRPGs with modern conveniences, such as speeding up combat animations and seeing enemies directly on the map. The job system of combining and synergizing all the classes is rewarding and enjoyable, and I really dig the simple, Chibi-like art style.

But on the other hand Bravely Default 2 is absolutely a gigantic grind to unlock all the cool jobs and abilities, and like most JRPGs, my patience begins wearing out around hour 50. Not my favorite RPG series, but the sequel still deserves a spot on the top ten list.

6) Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous

Played on: Steam

Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous more than scratched my itch for an epic, party-based tactical RPG. In fact, it’s way too much for me, as I may very well retire after 50 hours of live streamed gameplay, only having finished the second act of five!

This stand-alone sequel is way better than the first game (Kingmaker), and features excellent writing and story-telling, memorable characters, and the amazing ability to seamlessly swap between real-time and turn-based tactical combat, giving me the best of both worlds.

5) Gloomhaven

Played on: Steam

Would you believe the official digital adaptation of one of the best board game RPGs ever made had been in Steam Early Access for two years? Gloomhaven finally hit 1.0 in 2021, and holy crap am I impressed.

Between my completed physical copy and our run on Tabletop Simulator, I have played hundreds of hours of Gloomhaven, and this version is still absolutely worth the time. The monster AI and the 3D graphics and animation are a huge plus, not to mention including the entire 90+ scenario campaign, as well as an additional 100+ scenario Guildmaster mode, with its own interesting system of unlocks and progression. And all of it features online four player co-op.

This is a game I’ll be playing a lot more of in the months to come — check out our new run through!

4) It Takes Two

Played on: PlayStation 5

I was late to the party with this co-op 3D platformer that recently won Game of the Year at The Game Awards 2021. This is not a genre I usually enjoy, but It Takes Two is perfectly designed from the ground up for two players working in tandem through a variety of clever puzzles and interesting locations, whether we’re operating magnets underwater, racing down ski slopes, or battling through a toy castle.

It’s a bit like Honey I Shrunk the Kids meets Portal, wrapped up in a satisfyingly heart-warming story. If you have a gaming partner, you have to play It Takes Two.

3) Monster Hunter Rise

Played on: Switch

I’m prepared to admit I’ll never love a Monster Hunter game as much as my first, 2018’s Monster Hunter World (and my #1 game that year).

But the Switch follow-up is a worthy successor. What it lacks in graphics Monster Hunter Rise makes up for with fun new additions: the Palamute (a cute doggie mount!) and the wirebug (new attacks + mounting monsters!). The gameplay loop of attacking big boss monsters with impressive AI to get more powerful gear is just as fun in World, and I still dumped over 70 hours into Rise. I’m looking forward to the big expansion coming in 2022!

2) Pokémon Unite

Played on: Switch

Pokémon + MOBA is a winning formula, yet I never thought I’d be seduced by a free-to-play Pokémon game. I’m glad to be wrong.

Pokémon Unite is a refreshing, fast-paced MOBA of 10-minute matches, simple controls, and a sports-like scoring system. New Pokémon have been added at an impressive pace, and though Aeos Coins come slowly, I haven’t quite felt the need to drop any hard cash. Yet.

But the real treat is being able to play a competitive multiplayer game with my wife and oldest child together — in fact we literally got my wife her own Switch mainly to play Unite with us!

1) Humankind

Played on: Steam

Despite my love of strategy games, an actual 4X strategy game rarely dominates my end of year top ten list. But 2021 was a strange, stressful year, and Humankind provided a refreshing refuge.

Humankind changes just enough from the Civ formula to make it fresh and exciting, starting with changing cultures upon entering each new era, as well as satisfying tactical combat and intriguing district management. It’s not without some flaws, mostly when it comes to balance, but of all the games on this list, this is the one I’m most likely to return to and play for just one more turn.

End of Year Awards

Most Played: Monster Hunter Rise (70+ hours)

Best Multiplayer: Pokémon Unite

Best Cooperative Game: It Takes Two

Biggest Surprise: Humankind

Most Disappointing: Back 4 Blood

Best Early Access/Beta Game: N/A

Best Original Music: Humankind

Best Art Design: Spiritfarer

Best World Building/Atmosphere: Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous

Best Writing: Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous

Best Game Nobody Else Played: Slipways

Most Improved Sequel: Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous

Favorite New Game Mechanic: Seamlessly swapping between real-time and turn-based combat (Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous).

Most Innovative: It Takes Two

Best New Character: Ember (Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous)

Favorite Moment: Playing Pokémon Unite with my wife and daughter.

Best Industry Trend: D&D (or D&D-adjacent) RPGs!

Worst Industry Trend: COVID delaying many games into next year

Didn’t Have Time to Play: Jurassic World Evolution 2

Too Long; Didn’t Finish: Bravely Default 2, Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous

Favorite 2020 Game of 2021: Marvel’s Miles Morales

Total Games Finished in 2021

  1. Immortals Fenyx Rising
  2. Children of Morta
  3. Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth
  4. Smelter
  5. Monster Hunter Rise
  6. Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition
  7. New Pokémon Snap
  8. Legend of Keepers
  9. Cyberpunk 2077
  10. Persona 5
  11. Heroes Chronicles: Conquest of the Underworld
  12. Solasta: Crown of the Magister
  13. Roguebook
  14. For the King (first scenario)
  15. Marvel’s Avengers (+1st Hawkeye DLC)
  16. Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin
  17. Marvel’s Spider-Man (+City that Never Sleeps DLC)
  18. Marvel’s Miles Morales

Thanks for reading, and let’s all have a good, or at least a better, 2022!

Solasta’s dungeon builder is Neverwinter Nights meets Super Mario Maker [PC Gamer]

Read my full article at PC Gamer

You know when a business advertises itself as being the second-best at something, then says, ‘We try harder?’ That’s the position Solasta: Crown of the Magister is in, as the other turn-based RPG based on D&D’s rules currently in Early Access. Developer Tactical Adventures would dearly like its game to emerge from under the shadow of Baldur’s Gate 3, which is why the indie alternative to Larian’s sequel now comes with Dungeon Maker, an in-game editor for crafting dungeons using an interface familiar to longtime PC RPG fans.

The Dungeon Maker lets players easily create their own D&D-based dungeon crawling adventures with a level of detail not seen since the days of Neverwinter Nights.

Gem Wizards Tactics is bite-size strategy that pits potato wizards against corporate demons [PC Gamer]

Read the full article at PC Gamer

A pair of demons surround the nearest keep. My team includes a potato armed with sunglasses and a water hose, a robed forest witch (who is also a potato), and a demon-powered bulldozer named George Cybercrime.

Gem Wizards Tactics is a turn-based strategy game that uses terraforming, permadeath, and a healthy dose of fantasy humor to craft a tiny, arcade-like tactics game with an impressive layer of strategic depth.

My Top Ten Most Anticipated Games of 2021

The ten games I’m most excited about in 2021.

We’re all hoping for a better year in 2021. This will be our first full year with the next generation of consoles courtesy of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S, with confirmed sequels like Horizon Forbidden West and Halo Infinite, and not-so-confirmed sequels like the next God of War, and the sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Here are the top ten games I’m most excited about as of January 2021, including a few delayed games you may recognize from last year’s list.

And if you missed it, my Top Ten Games of 2020.

Continue reading “My Top Ten Most Anticipated Games of 2021”

Immortals Fenyx Rising Beginner Tips [Pixelkin]

Read the full guide at Pixelkin

Immortals Fenyx Rising may be a smaller version of Breath of the Wild, but it’s still an incredibly dense game. Even if you’re an open-world expert, we’ve compiled some tips as you take your first baby steps into this colorful, mythological world.

Let’s Play Gloomhaven TTS Episode 27

We play Gloomhaven on Tabletop Simulator!

Scenario # 60

Party:
Piccolo, level 9 Quatryl Soothsinger (Eric)
Igneous, level 6 Savvas Cragheart (Chris)
Scourge, level 8 Harrower Plagueherald (Heather)

TTS Mod: Gloomhaven – Fantasy Setup (Scripted UI)

Watch my How to Play Gloomhaven tutorial video.

Chat with us in the Official Discord Server.
Support the channel via Patreon.

My Top Ten Games of 2020

My ultimate year-end top ten gaming list for 2020.

What can I say about 2020 that hasn’t already been said? It’s been a shit year, shadowed by a still-ongoing global pandemic that affects everything in our lives.

With social distancing, video games became more important than ever. This year saw the release of new consoles from Sony and Microsoft, a monumental occasion that only happens once every five or six years. The Nintendo Switch continues to dominate, though you’ll find far fewer Switch games on this year’s list compared to last year.

Indie gaming remained my bread and butter – especially a stellar run in the middle of the year when I live streamed new releases like Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Desperados 3, and XCOM: Chimera Squad.

Before we begin my Game of the Year countdown, let’s take a look at my Most Anticipated Games list from January. Here’s a reminder:

  1. Baldur’s Gate 3
  2. Cyberpunk 2077
  3. Ori and the Will of the Wisps
  4. Desperados 3
  5. The Last of Us Part 2
  6. Empire of Sin
  7. Final Fantasy 7 Remake
  8. Songs of Conquest
  9. Humankind
  10. Warcraft 3 Reforged

Three of those games wouldn’t launch in 2020 (BG3, Songs of Conquest, and Humankind), though I did live stream the Early Access version of Baldur’s Gate 3, and enjoyed it quite a bit – bugs and all.

Four of them I wouldn’t play this year. With everything going on, I wasn’t ever in the mood for the bleak violence of The Last of Us Part 2. Empire of Sin and Warcraft 3 Reforged both received poor reviews to keep me at bay. Only FF7R did I just not have time to pick up. Oops!

That leaves only three other games on this list that I did play – and all three made my list!

Without further delay, here are my top ten games of 2020.

My Top Ten Games of 2020

10) Streets of Rage 4

Side-scrolling Beat ‘Em Ups were all the rage in the early 90s, and the Streets of Rage series was always the best – I still own my copy of Streets of Rage 3 on the Sega Genesis.

Streets of Rage 4 is the beautiful marriage of classic game design with modern sensibilities, like retrying a level at the cost of a lower score, rather than a Game Over screen. Fun story, attractive art, unlockable skins, and a killer soundtrack makes this everything I wanted from a sequel, in a series I didn’t know I wanted more of.

9) Monster Train

Monster Train is this year’s Slay the Spire, a roguelike deckbuilder that sucks hours of my life as I unlock new cards and try new strategies. Unlike Slay the Spire, Monster Train focuses on fewer but more meaningful battles, with three different lanes to play monsters and spells, and defend against those awful angelic armies.

Multiple factions focus on different strategies, like the tanky, defensive Awakened or the spell-focused Stygians, and each run includes choices on upgrades, artifacts, and random events. The one thing holding it back – it’s currently only on PC, and would make an awesome Switch game.

8) Journey to the Savage Planet

I’ll forgive if you missed this first-person sci-fi adventure back in January, but know this, Journey to the Savage Planet is one of the best games of the year. It’s basically Metroid Prime with a much cheerier disposition, and focuses on exploration over combat.

It’s a metroidvania where you gradually acquire upgrades and new tools to explore new regions and alien landscapes filled with secrets. It’s also legitimately funny and features two player co-op. One of the most underrated games of the year.

7) XCOM: Chimera Squad

Chimera Squad was the biggest surprise for me this year. An XCOM spin-off that was only $10 on release? Chimera Squad replaces the custom, killable soldiers of the main series with integral party members, each with their own set of skills, not unlike an RPG.

The story is set in an interesting post-war time period that sees aliens and humans trying to work together amidst domestic terrorism. The scaled-down combat still leaves me wanting a proper XCOM 3, but Chimera Squad remains a successful and enjoyable spin-off.

6) Desperados 3

Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun was on my Top Ten list back in 2016. Developer Mimimi returned with Desperados 3, which is basically the same real-time stealth-tactics game in a Western setting.

The story and characters continue to impress and keep me engaged, and each of the large, lengthy missions are intricately designed for multiple viable strategies. With lighting-fast reloads, it’s a stealth game that rewards experimentation and puzzle-solving.

5) Cyberpunk 2077

A lot has been said about Cyberpunk 2077. The oft-delayed, open-world, sci-fi RPG-shooter launched with a bevy of bugs that sets a new low standard for preorders, rendering the last-gen console experience nigh unplayable. Thankfully I’m playing on a mid-range PC and, despite some glaring flaws and limitations, am enjoying the hell out of this game.

Night City features a ridiculous amount of content on every city block, the perk system makes leveling fun, and I’m really enjoying the main campaign and all the quirky characters I get to work with. This is not cyberpunk via Skyrim or Grand Theft Auto, and the hype was grossly misplaced, but it’s well-deserving of a spot on my Top Ten list.

4) Ori and the Will of the Wisps

It’s been five long years since I fell in love with Ori and the Blind Forest. Ori and the Will of the Wisps meets and exceeds all my expectations for a sequel, with the same lovely art style and emotional storytelling of a forest spirit on a grand adventure.

The sequel maintains the fluid platforming that defines the metroidvania series while providing a ton of new abilities and weapons, and the welcome feature of quickly swapping loadouts. We’re also provided with a much richer world, with actual NPCs to interact with and complete quests for, along with a hub area to build up to earn rewards. Giving me exactly what I want, along with welcome new features, is the definition of an excellent sequel.

3) Immortals Fenyx Rising

Yes, Immortals Fenyx Rising is Ubisoft’s unapologetic clone of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It says something about my gaming tastes when Immortals ranks #3 on my game of the year list (Breath of the Wild was my #1 in 2017).

It checks all the right boxes for a Zelda-like open-world adventure: dozens of mini-challenge dungeons, nearly endless collectables that increase health and stamina, and a colorful world with the perfect amount of distracting content at every distance. The writing is also delightfully funny and cute thanks to our omniscient narrators, Zeus and Prometheus, and Greek Mythology is always a fun theme to explore in a game.

2) Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition

Xenoblade Chronicles technically released back in 2010, but this HD remaster released in 2020, and I played it for the first time, and it’s making my top ten list, damn it. While I loved JRPGs back in the 90s, I’ve fallen off since then, with very few exceptions. I adored Xenoblade Chronicles X back in 2015, and with the Definitive Edition, finally had a great excuse to experience the original game.

I was not disappointed. I love the MMO-style zones and real-time, cool-down based combat. I missed the bigger open-world, giant mechs, and plethora of exchangeable party members of Xenoblade Chronicles X, but the original features a much, much better story with more memorable characters. I recently picked up Xenoblade Chronicles 2 as it’s looking like I finally found a modern JRPG series that I enjoy.

1) Hades

I’ve been a fan of Supergiant Games since Bastion, and both it and Transistor made my game of the year lists in their respective years. Pyre fell short for me, but Hades has to be my new favorite game from one of the best indie developers around.

Hades is a roguelike arena brawler. As the angsty son of Hades, Zagreus is trying to escape the underworld. On each run he can choose from one of six weapons, acquiring many different abilities, buffs, and bonuses from Greek gods and other infamous characters. In a smart evolution of the roguelike genre, death is common, but the story marches forward as you learn more about Zagreus’ plight and the tales of those around him.

Supergiant’s exemplary art, music, and character design has never been better – who would have thought an indie roguelike would feature one of the more gripping stories of the year? Even successfully completing a run doesn’t end the story, motivating me to continue to talk to my compatriots, unlock more abilities, and experiment with an endless combinations of weapon attacks and bonuses.

Honorable Mentions: Fae Tactics, Iratus: Lord of the Dead, Genshin Impact

End of Year Awards

Most Played: Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition (overall it was my 3rd most played this year, behind older games Pillars of Eternity 2 and Persona 5)

Best Multiplayer: Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout

Best Cooperative Game: Animal Crossing: New Horizon

Biggest Surprise: XCOM: Chimera Squad

Most Disappointing: Dungeon Defenders Awakened

Best Early Access/Beta Game: Baldur’s Gate 3

Best Original Music: Streets of Rage 4

Best Art Design: Hades

Best World Building/Atmosphere: Cyberpunk 2077

Best Writing: Hades

Best Game Nobody Else Played: Fae Tactics

Most Improved Sequel: Wasteland 3

Favorite New Game Mechanic: Talking to the denizens of the House of Hades between runs.

Most Innovative: Hades

Best New Character: Megara, Achilles, Nyx, Theseus…basically everyone from Hades.

Favorite Moment: Beating Hades the first time

Best Industry Trend: Greek Mythology

Worst Industry Trend: Unavailable new consoles!

Didn’t Have Time to Play: Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla

Too Long; Didn’t Finish: Cyberpunk 2077

Favorite 2019 Game of 2020: Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

Total Games Finished in 2020

  1. Bloodstained Ritual of the Night
  2. Bloodstained Curse of the Moon
  3. Remnant From the Ashes
  4. Guild of Dungeoneering (Let’s Play live stream series)
  5. Borderlands 3
  6. Titanfall 2
  7. Kunai
  8. Invisible, Inc (Let’s Play live stream series)
  9. Pokémon Sword
  10. Ori and the Will of the Wisps (Let’s Play live stream series)
  11. State of Decay 2: Juggernaut Edition (Let’s Play live stream series)
  12. Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
  13. Biped
  14. Assassin’s Creed Origins
  15. XCOM: Chimera Squad (Let’s Play live stream series)
  16. Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition
  17. Streets of Rage 4
  18. Steamworld Dig 2
  19. Heroes Chronicles Chapter 1: Warlords of the Wasteland
  20. Desperados 3 (Let’s Play live stream series)
  21. Will Morgan and the Curse of Bone Town
  22. Borderlands 3: Moxxi’s Heist of the Handsome Jackpot
  23. Hades
  24. Journey to the Savage Planet
  25. Monster Train
  26. War for the Overworld (Let’s Play live stream series)

Thanks for reading, and have a happy New Year!