The title of this article says it all, but I would like to give credit where credit is due and say that this piece was ultimately inspired by @CoreyMotley and @StephenTotilo. Custom art by @Alex_Connolly!
August Total: 23
1. Marvel Puzzle Quest, Android
There have been some recent UI revamps, new characters and plenty to do every day. This is my one and only mobile fix. Playing daily.
2. HuniePop, PC
I started this adults-only match-three/dating sim last month, and after hearing so much hubbub about it when it came out, it was a pretty decent experience that ended up better than expected. The art isn’t great and the writing isn’t either, but I’m always interested to see how devs combine different gameplay elements. This one is largely successful thanks to a match-three half that’s fairly sophisticated and clever design that forces the player to engage in the dating half to keep going. I probably wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, but it was interesting to examine and I had a genuinely good time playing once I figured out the nuances of the matching. Finished.
3. Nioh 2, PS4 my review
I finally finished the campaign! And then I finished the DLC! And then… I was sad because there wasn’t any more content! Don’t get me wrong, this game is IMMENSE. I just loved playing it so much, I couldn’t get enough. I will 100% play the two remaining add-ons that are coming, and for the moment I’m jumping into random games once or twice a day to keep my skills sharp. My wife is also playing it right now, and it’s fun as hell to go through levels in co-op with her — I may end up playing this all year. Finished but still playing. RECOMMENDED!
4. Nowhere Prophet, Switch my review
I started this roguelike deckbuilder last month and recently finished it with the starting character and the one that gets unlocked next. Fantastic art, sharp gameplay, wonderful worldbuilding and theming… This game is tops, and I was very close to giving it a perfect score. Super, super good stuff here. Finished. RECOMMENDED!
5. Peaky Blinders: Mastermind, PS4
I’ve never seen the show so I’m not familiar with the license, but the trailer showing a ‘manage multiple characters back and forth on a timeline to pull of a caper‘ system got me intrigued. I only put in enough time to play two levels before peeling off to cover a different game for review, but it looked interesting enough. Paused.
6. Heroes of Hammerwatch, Switch
This one turned me off immediately with tiny graphics, tiny fonts, absolutely no tutorial and no direction as to what I should be doing or how to do it. I guess it’s some sort of Diablo-like with roguelike elements? Maybe? I’m not gonna go read a wiki to figure out how to get started in a game when there are so, so many quality experiences to be had on the Switch. If the devs don’t give a shit about getting me into their game, I’m not gonna waste my time trying. Did not finish. Deleted.
7. Cruel Bands Career, Switch
I love the black-and-white, hand-drawn animation in this one — it looks sharp as hell. Unfortunately, it’s also hard as hell. It’s tough to describe the gameplay but it’s a roguelike where the player is basically barraged by streams of incoming enemies. You’re going to eat constant damage so you need to figure out ways to mitigate it as effectively as possible in order to survive to the end of a stage. It feels bad to play, as there’s rarely more than a few moments when things go right – more often than not, it’s just a slow (or fast) slide downhill into defeat thanks to constant attacks, and there are too many situations where it feels like there’s no good move to make. I love the visual style but the underlying concept is too punishing and masochistic for my taste. Did not finish. Deleted.
8. Conjurer Andy’s Repeatable Dungeon, Switch
This one must be a mobile port because it screams ‘casual microtransactions!’ even though there aren’t any in this version. However, it’s barely got any gameplay (click on a spinning wheel to see if your attack lands!) and it’s all about grinding gold to buy characters and upgrades. It looks cute in screenshots but it’s nothing but a huge timesuck with no redeeming value. Did not finish. Deleted.
9. Wide Ocean, Big Jacket, Switch my review
This tiny indie was absolutely charming. It’s a brief tale about a couple who take their niece and her boyfriend to the beach for a short camping trip, and all they do is chill and hang out. The conversations feel natural and everything about the experience feels human and real. It’s a delight. Finished. RECOMMENDED!
10. Slayin’ 2, Switch
This is a micro-scale arcade-style game where the player starts with knight who fights on single-screen levels that host a fore-and background. The player can jump back and forth between them at will, and while they’re doing that, they’re bumping into enemies with their weapon to kill them and earn gold. There are upgrades, a little town with buildings to unlock, and other characters to play as. It’s super simple but I had a good time with it and will probably play more. Paused.
11. Children of Morta, Switch review by Jeff Ortloff
I started this one when it released in 2019 — I was in love with the pixel art and the concept of each member in a family having a different kind of combat style with a central narrative tying it all together. Sadly, I found it really grindy and I dropped out. I’ve heard it’s received a bunch of updates and some fixes since then, so I decided to jump back in. I didn’t get far enough to see if the changes are going to change the experience for me, but I do want to put some more time into it. Paused.
12. Struggling, Switch
I took one look at this and I had to play it. Your character is some kind of weird, flexible blob with limbs that act independently of each other and it’s trying to escape from a science lab. However, when I started the game, it threw me a curveball by introducing some sort of weird medieval backstory about a race of mutated people that were heroes in the distant past. It was bizarre and unnecessary. Story aside, the gameplay reminds me a lot of a 2D Octodad. It’s been quite difficult in a ‘wonky physics’ way but I really dig it — it feels genuine and earnest to me in a way that I can’t ignore. Still playing.
13. Volta-X, Switch my review
I love the concept of this one — a small team of anthropomorphic animals pilot giant customizable mech suits and battle kaiju. How awesome is that? Even better, it’s kind of a crew management sims similar to something like Bomber Crew or Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime. I love the visuals and I love the style, but I’m sad to say that a lot of what the game gets right is undercut by an effort to turn the experience into an online PVP-heavy mega grind. Once I blew through the story content in 2-3 hours, there was nothing to do but grind for random drops and unlocks. The strategy aspect of the game is also kneecapped by not not letting the player have any info about their opponent, so most battles come down to a roll of the dice. There are a lot of really good ideas here, but it feels generally misguided. Finished.
14. A Short Hike, Switch
It sounds a little crazy, but this tiny indie is best described as a combination of Animal Crossing and Breath of the Wild. Your character goes to a mountain for a camping trip and you’re free to wander all over the place without any penalties or fear of damage. It’s consequence-free exploration and it’s easy to get into a groove, start wandering around and talking to inhabitants — they have little sidequests to do, but it’s really about just having a good time. Also, since your character is a bird, you’re able to glide as much as you like, and that feels great. The whole thing is just charming AF. Finished. RECOMMENDED!
15. Picross S2, Switch
Still chipping away at this, one level here, one level there. Slow and steady. Still playing.
16. Rogue Legacy, Switch review by Mike Suskie
Hearing the recent announcement for Rogue Legacy 2 reminded me that I never finished the first. I dipped back in to refresh my memory and it’s still fun. Adding it to my list of ‘games I’d like to finish someday‘ but that day is not today. Paused.
17. Raji: An Ancient Epic, Switch my TINAR
The trailer for this one during the Nintendo indie showcase sold me — it looked like a mix of God of War and Prince of Persia wrapped up in Indian theming. Unfortunately, the combat is terrible and this game is mostly combat. A few more months in the oven might fix that, but there are also larger issues that give the game an outdated, behind-the-times kind of feeling. I think this team has promise, but this one isn’t quite there. Did not finish. Deleted.
18. Helheim Hassle, Switch
This one is about a long-dead viking kid who gets resurrected and is able to detach and reattach his body parts to get past puzzles. The graphics are bright and colorful, the writing is genuinely funny and I dig the vibe. The puzzles got a little too challenging for playing in “relax” mode so I put it on pause, but I liked what I saw. Paused.
19. Fortnite, Switch
I didn’t finish out the Battle Pass last season — I just kind of lost interest because the skins weren’t that interesting and I just wanted to spend my time elsewhere. Basically it was one of those instances where you only have so much time that can go to gaming, and sinking it into an endless game-as-service didn’t feel like worth it when there were SO many other things to try. I was actually close to deleting it off my console altogether, but then right as I think I’m out, they drag me back in with an entire season of Marvel-themed stuff — new characters, new skins, and superpowers. For a Marvel nut like me it was irresistible. I jumped back in and I’m actually caught up on all of the challenges for the first time in a while. Playing Daily.
21. The Avengers (beta), PS4
Speaking of Marvel, I popped into the Avengers beta when it was free on PSN, and I wasn’t a fan of what I saw. The action felt stiff and I didn’t like the loot systems I was seeing. Not going to buy it until it goes on mega sale, and although some friends say the full version is actually much better than the beta would lead one to believe, I’m still feeling cautious. Deleted.
22. Runestone Keeper, Switch
This one is a weird mash-up of Minesweeper and roguelike RPG elements. Each dungeon is like a small grid and the player clicks on squares as a means of exploring. There are items, spells, skills and everything you’d expect in a roguelike… it’s just grid-based/point-and-clicky. The feedback tot the player during combat isn’t great, but I like this one and plan to chip away at it as time allows. Paused.
23. Lair of the Clockwork God, Switch
Tons of people suggested this as one of the year’s best games when I did my survey in June, and I can see why it got such high recommendations. It’s basically a mash-up between a point-and-click adventure and a platformer, with lots of colorful artwork and snappy writing. I think it’s genuinely funny and very clever. That said, I am absolutely terrible at point-and-click games — my brain just doesn’t get into that mode and I often get stuck on simple things that genre fans blow past, but it is absolutely a quality product and I can see why so many people like it. One thing I will say, though — the control scheme for the Switch port is fucking insane. It’s like the team bringing it to the Switch has never touched a Switch before… The mappings make NO sense, and it’s actually physically difficult to perform some of the basic controls. It makes the game really unpleasant to play as common functions are a pain in the ass, and there’s no way to remap them. It’s ridiculously poor planning and the controls need to be patched A-S-A-fucking-P. That aside? Great game and I bet a lot of folks are going to love it. Paused.
24. 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim, PS4
Still under embargo, can’t say a word about it. ^_^
Every game I played in JANUARY
Every game I played in FEBRUARY
Every game I played in MARCH
Every game I played in APRIL
Every game I played in MAY
Every game I played in JUNE
Every game I played in JULY
Brad still loves Transformers, he's on Marvel Puzzle Quest when nobody's looking, and his favorite game of all time is a toss-up between the first Mass Effect and The Witcher 3. You can catch his written work here at GameCritics and you can hear him weekly on the @SoVideogames Podcast. Follow Brad on Twitter and Instagram at @BradGallaway, or contact him via email:
bradgallaway a t gmail dot com