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!
December Total: 33
1 – Chronos: Before the Ashes, PS4 my review
This souls-adjacent title offers a great mix of action and puzzle-solving, while throwing in a supercool “character ages with each death” mechanic that starts the off as tanks while young and healthy and slowly morphs them into wise magic-users with maturity. The combat’s not as tight as I’d like but overall, I had a great time with it. Finished.
2 – Marvel Puzzle Quest, Android
My one and only mobile jam. Playing errday.
3 – Fortnite, PS4
The previous marvel season was awesome, but moving on to “Bounty Hunters” and kicking it off with the Mandalorian is a hell of a way to start. Been doing Family Fortnite with the wife and son almost daily and it’s been great to share the experience together — and we’ve won a few times! Good feels. Playing daily.
4 – Bomber Crew, Switch review by AJ Small
Still trying to finish the USAF DLC, and about halfway there. Had to put it on pause to review other things, but I’ll come back to it. Still playing.
5 – Picross S2, Switch
Still working on the last multipart puzzle here and there in bed. Slow progress but it’s going. Still playing.
6 – Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate, PS4 my review
MK11 is pretty great. The latest batch of characters — Mileena, Rain and Rambo (yes, that Rambo, from the movies) are super solid and every session is still fun as hell. It may just be my favorite fighter these days. Finished (story mode and multiple characters). Recommended!
7 – Tesla Force, PS4
A top-down twin-stick procedural roguelike shooter starring Nikola Tesla, a combat mech, and some Cthulhu monsters. It sounds way more fun than it actually is — the gameplay here is shallow with repeated levels and enemies that operate only on a ‘swarm the hero’ mentality. Deleted.
8 – Call of the Sea, Xbox One
The devs called this a Lovecraft-style adventure that wasn’t a horror game. Absolutely intriguing, but I didn’t make it past the first world thanks to uber-gamey puzzles that frustrated me immediately and didn’t allow me any time to invest in the concept or the setting. Deleted.
9 – Unto the End, PS4
This brutal 2D action game focuses on physics and parry-heavy combat. It seemed both challenging and interesting, but I got stuck on a puzzle pre-release and had to move on due to the rush of Q4. Might come back to it.
10 – Nine Witches: Family Disruption, PS4 my review
This is one of those extremely rare Adventure games that has both great humor and great puzzles. The WWII setting features a duo of heroes trying to stop Hitler’s occult division and along the way they’ll find ghosts, aliens and salmon with three testicles. Absolutely loved it. Finished. RECOMMENDED!
11 – Evolution Board Game, Switch
I’ve never tried the *actual* board game this is based on, but this electronic version is neat. Players compete for food resources by either adapting as herbivores or carnivores, and there are all sorts of modifiers — things like increasing body size, growing horns for defense, and more. It takes a while for the rules to become clear (and I’m still a bit jazy on some finer points) but once I got the gist of it, I found it pretty neat. There are also robust online options, to boot. Still playing.
12 – Immortals: Fenyx Rising, PS4
I’m a sucker for Greek mythology and I had a good time with Breath of the Wild (which this is HEAVILY based on) so I thought it’d be a no-brainer, but I ended up bailing due to a boring main character, too much busywork and puzzles that were more tedious than interesting. Also, it’s too much like Breath of the Wild. Like, way too much. Deleted.
13 – Synthetik: Ultimate, Switch
This top-down shooter is also a roguelike, and not only is it fairly hard, the tutorial and UI are kinda awwwwwwwful. However, the game itself? Pretty good once you start to understand the systems and how it works. (PROTIP: it handles better with a Pro controller than the JoyCons.) There are lots of different classes and some of the weapons and perks are neat — summoning lightning once every 30 seconds is a hoot. I’ve only scratched the surface but I’m looking forward to seeing how it develops. Still playing.
14 – Wallachia: Reign of Dracula, Switch
This game is trying to summon 8-bit Castlevania vibes but 8-way aiming and lots of enemies at odd angles is not a great formula, and I’m not sure I have any room in my heart left for games that send a player back to the start of a level after three lives. Deleted.
15 – Star Wars Squadrons, PS4 review by Mike Suskie
I picked this up on sale when I saw that the B-Wing was being added as DLC, but I didn’t realize that there’s never a chance to see your ship in third-person view, even in the singleplayer offline campaign. Boo! Deleted.
16 – Picklock, Switch
A top-down voxelly stealing game. Pick a caper, break into the targeted building and steal some stuff. It’s pretty basic and straightforward without too much personality, mostly about avoiding guard patrol patterns and learning timings. Lost interest after 2 or 3 missions and moved on. Deleted.
17 – Red Rope: Don’t Fall Behind +, Switch
The screenshots for this were mega-interesting and I’m always up for a game where you control two characters at once (see #18) but this one starts off brutally hard and very confusingly — there’s little info on anything and (I guess?) the player is supposed to be enamored with the mystery and figure things out. I bailed almost immediately, I don’t have a lot of time for games that don’t care about onboarding new players. Deleted.
18 – Morkredd, Xbox One Game Pass
Another title that features the player controlling two characters at once. In this top-down physics puzzler, amand and a woman are rolling a ball of light to a mysterious goal, but the catch is that if either touches a shadow, they’re killed instantly. It’s supremely frustrating in some spots but the save points are frequent and the puzzles are of a small size and paced well. Also, the story takes a great turn at the end! Finished.
19 – Star Renegades, XBO Game Pass, review by Dan Weissenberger
A 2D turn-based JRPG-style roguelike. The pixel graphics were hard to look at for me (the use of white, perhaps?) and I’m not the biggest fan of JRPG-style combat. Also, I’m not sure being a roguelike was the right way to go for this one. Deleted.
20 – Kentucky Route Zero, Switch review by Josh Tolentino
Heard nothing but raves for this indie art-house title but I gotta be honest, it bored me to tears. It seemed like a lot of random stuff thrown together that didn’t connect with me, and I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to be getting out of it. Deleted.
21 – Absolute Drift: Zen Edition, Switch
This is a minimalist indie game all about drifting… that doesn’t bother to explain or tutorialize drifting. I couldn’t figure out how the physics worked and was annoyed that the devs didn’t take more time to set their game up properly. Deleted.
22 – More Dark, Switch
Ratalaika did it to me again. This 2D platformer seemed like a fun, bite-sized romp full of devil girls in the trailer, but what I got was a painfully hard, painfully irritating puzzle-platformer with awful jumping physics. Deleted.
23 – Arknights, Android
I saw this one highlighted as one of the year’s best from an article that was criticizing the review sphere for being console/PC-centric and ignoring mobile. Games like this are why people ignore mobile. Basically it’s a tower-defense game with a bunch of anime girls and the usual mobile microtransaction nonsense. I noped out almost immediately. Deleted.
24 – Watch Dogs: Legion, PS4 review by Eugene Sax
I was in the mood for something open-world (rare for me) but this one did not fit the bill. It doesn’t do a great job of explaining itself and the missions turned boring almost immediately with a lot of tech-futzing and driving back and forth. Deleted.
25 – The Rainsdowne Players, Switch
Bought this one a million years ago and just now got around to it. I feel a bit cheated as the promo art looks *nothing* like the game itself and play seemed to consist of talking to NPCs and doing a reflex-based minigame. Deleted.
26 – Dicey Dungeons, Switch
Another winner from Terry Cavanagh — the dude seems incapable of making a bad game. This is a turn-based roguelike featuring several characters who are all living dice, and each one has its own unique set of mechanics. The UI is great, it’s approachable and clear, and the gameplay is super solid. Still playing. RECOMMENDED!
27 – Wingspan, Switch
Heard great things about the IRL boardgame version, but this adaptation just left me confused. The rules felt too complicated and it wasn’t easy to grasp. Maybe it’s because I’m a boardgame noob, but I kinda wanted this port to do more of the heavy lifting for me — it feels like a no-frills conversion to electronic format, rather than an adaptation that capitalizes on the things games can automate. Deleted.
28 – Crawlco Block Knockers, Switch
This is a top-down block-moving puzzle game that challenges players to fill up specific areas on a warehouse floor while fending off enemies. The reward for doing so is an anime-ish pic of a cute girl, and the further players go, the more skin they see — I was stunned when I got to my first pic with a girl being fully topless! I have no idea how Nintendo approved this, but I’m all for more adult-focused content being available, and TBFH this is a pretty good game regardless. Still playing.
29 – Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, PS4 review by Steven Brown
After being bored with Watch Dogs Legion I decided to give this a go and I have been pleasantly surprised. I’m not much of an AssCreed fan, but this could easily be mistaken for something not in that franchise — without the IP recognition, it would still be a fine Greek-themed adventure title that would succeed on its own merits. Main character Kassandra is great, the world is beautiful, and the mechanics are solid. It’s not as good as Witcher 3 (and really, what is?) but it’s Witcher-adjacent and right now that’s exactly what I’m in the market for. Still playing.
30 – Yakuza: Like a Dragon, PS4 review by Dan Weissenberger
Still working my way through this gem, but I absolutely adore it. Great characters, great writing, loads of humor, and a strong move to a new turn-based combat system that fits the series perfectly. I wasn’t sure the devs would be able to top themselves, but they really, really did. Still playing. RECOMENDED!
31 – Pine, Switch
I knew absolutely nothing about this before I started it, and I was definitely not prepared — I didn’t spend a lot of time with it, but it’s a semi-open world with realtime action and apparently there are factions to build relations with? And also crafting and such? This kind of experience on the Switch is not what I’m generally looking for — it seems like it would be a better fit on PS4 or XBO. It’s interesting, but I didn’t have the mental bandwidth to take on something that required as much attention as this does. Did not finish.
32 – When the Past Was Around, Switch
I love the art style here, but the story (told without words) is too vague and the puzzles feel totally arbitrary, with no real bearing on the characters. The elements don’t mesh well here, so it’s ‘get through some puzzles’ and then watch a brief cutscene. I wanted to like it more than I did. Deleted.
33 – Destropolis, Switch
This run-based action game is hyper-minimalist in terms of presentation, and it’s pretty eye-catching. Players pilot a little cube around and shoot other cubes, and eventually get overwhelmed — survive as long as you can! Entertaining in 5- or 10-minutes bursts and a good fit for Switch. Did not finish.
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
Every game I played in AUGUST
Every game I played in SEPTEMBER
Every game I played in OCTOBER
Every game I played in NOVEMBER
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