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!
October total: 40
1. Fortnite, PS4
Still chipping away at unlocking all the Marvel stuff and really been diggin’ this season, all the tweaks and adds have been great — this is the first time in a while where I’ve been motivated to check in at least once a day and keep the EXP rolling in. Plus, the “Fortnitemares” Halloween events are always great fun. Playing daily.
2. Marvel Puzzle Quest, Android
My one and only mobile fix. Playing daily.
3. Ring Fit Adventure, Switch
I bought this out of a desire to collect an oddity that might become hard-to-find down the road and ended up with the most entertaining, engaging fitness game I’ve ever played. The workouts are good, the gameplay is varied, and the RPG aspects are designed well enough to keep me coming back because it’s legitimately fun and I want to make progress in the world. There’s no question that it’s about exercise first and foremost, but it does not ignore the game part and that’s what makes the difference. Even better? The whole family plays and we all take turns encouraging each other to stick with it. Best exercise game EVER because it’s actually a real game. Still playing. RECOMMENDED!
4. Embracelet, Switch
Apparently teenagers going off to remote, lightly-populated islands is A Thing in Scandinavia? I think this is my third or fourth game featuring this exact premise. Unlike the others under my belt, this one is a really slow starter… A teen gets a magic bracelet from his grandfather and has to return it, so he travels on his own and arrives on a tiny island. Once there, he wanders around and solves small puzzles like using the bracelet to create a path, or clearing a dead tree from a power line. Gotta be honest, I just didn’t care about the kid or what was happening — the story needs to pop a lot faster, and the deadtime between the ‘why am I doing this?’ puzzles needs to be zapped — it kept putting me to sleep. Deleted.
5. Going Under, Switch review by CJ Salcedo
This colorful roguelike has a lot of charm. It doesn’t feel super-great to play thanks to loose combat and questionable collision, but the writing (about being an intern at a shitty start-up) is sharp, and it generally nails the genre basics like an ever-expanding set of unlocks and the usual sorts of mechanics to ensure that each run is different from the last. Also of note are a set of accessibility options that let players cater the experience — things like giving the character more life, adding i-frames to the dodge-roll, and more. Unfortunately, they want the player to repeat dungeons they’ve already finished before credits roll and I lost interest. In this case, less would have definitely been more. Deleted.
6. Hide & Dance, Switch
Coming from the makers of Mom Hid My Game! (which is AWESOME) this one takes the same visuals and style, but instead delivers a rhythm-action game where players tap buttons in time to the music. It’s not the sequel I was wishing for, but it still made me smile. Did not finish.
7. Super Mario 35, Switch
It’s Tetris 99, but with Mario. I bailed on this free download after three runs… adding battle royale rules to stuff like this just isn’t my thing. Deleted.
8. Deathtrap: World of Van Helsing, PS4 review by Dan Weissenberger
This is an Active Tower Defense (ATD) game where the player sets up a variety of traps to slaughter processions of monsters before they reach Earth. It’s… fine? It checks off the usual boxes but the three available character types are kinda bland and the general presentation/UI leaves something to be desired. It’s perfectly serviceable but it doesn’t stand out and doesn’t feel compelling enough to get me to go through the campaign. However, it did remind me that I had purchased the remastered Van Helsing trilogy on PS4, so I fired that up. (See below!) Deleted.
9. The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing, PS4
This diablolike feels super creaky and definitely shows its age. It covers the basics of isometric hack-and-slash/looting, but there was none of the magical combat design that got me so hooked on WH40K: Inquisitor (from the same devs.) It was interesting to go back to this and examine the team’s earlier work, but from this piece it’s clear they hadn’t found their sweet spot yet. Deleted.
10. Hellpoint, PS4 review by Dan Weissenberger
I dig the idea of a sci-fi soulslike and I like the character design, but this one is hurting on several levels. The combat feels janky — too lightweight and squirrelly despite the ‘heavy’ attack of most weapons taking an absurd amount of time to wind up. Onboarding is terrible thanks to a rough first area and a lot of ball-kicking before the player’s found their feet. The level design is also atrocious with identical monochromatic hallways and mazelike architecture that is in desperate need of a map function. Some of the concepts are good (Guns! A helper robot with a flashlight and a warp power!) but too much of it is straight-up miserable. Deleted.
11. Cuisine Royale, PS4
Downloaded this F2P title as research for an episode of So Videogames, and was instantly put off by the shit-tastic UI that reeks of a mobile ‘gimme money’ game. Cluttered and chaotic, it was a terrible first impression. The gameplay was just as bad – a throwaway tutorial led to basic-ass PC-flavored royale play. Deleted.
12. Dogfighter WW2, PS4
See above — another title downloaded as research. Basically the same problems as Cuisine Royale. It’s obvious F2P garbage with basic gameplay and the stink of desperation in every aspect. Worse, the game’s store info features anthropomorphized dogs as pilots, but they were nowhere to be seen once I started play. Deleted.
13. The Last of Us, Part II, PS4 review by Jarrod Johnston
I was a huge fan of The Last of Us and I consider it to be a pretty amazing experience in many ways. I was in the camp of “does not need a sequel” but GameFly sent it and I hung onto it until I was in the mood. It started off alright and I wasn’t spoiled on the first “big event” but I lost steam soon after. It started feeling like I was playing through filler sections too often and too soon, and the action started to get dull. I wasn’t fully onboard with the story, either. Once people told me how much I had left (a lot) I didn’t want to put any more time into it, so I read Mike Suskie’s blog breaking down his problems with the plot and all I can say is that I’m glad I stopped playing because YEESH. Did not finish. Sent back to GameFly.
14. Ring of Pain, Switch my review
I love the fresh, innovative design of this card-based roguelike, and the art is pretty sharp too. That said, it’s hard as fuck and it’s not the kind of difficulty that makes me want to rise to the challenge. Frankly, it feels unbalanced and it needs a few patches to sand down the ridiculous difficulty spikes. I’m guessing this will be a much smoother experience in six months. Did not finish. Deleted.
15. Space Crew, Switch my review
This personnel management sim IN SPACE is a great idea that riffs off of the same developer’s earlier game (see #22 below) but it’s too repetitive and too simple to maintain interest for long. My guess is that the devs got feedback that their last game was too hard and they way overcorrected in this one. It is easier (which is not a bad thing) but the real issue is that it’s simpler — there’s less to do, the missions all sort of feel the same, and there’s not not a lot of depth to any aspect of it. Really, really disappointing. Did not finish. Deleted.
16. Picross S2, Switch
Almost… done. Just… a… few… puzzles… left…. Still playing.
17. Ghost of Tsushima, PS4 review by Mike Suskie
I got this from GameFly so I popped it in for a quick whirl. Wasn’t really jonesing for a huge open-world game, but it was here, SO. I think Nioh 2 has spoiled me for samurai games because the combat felt slow and clunky in comparison. The main character also didn’t grab me either — way too much prattle about “honor” and acting like a doofus in the face of overwhelming Mongol hordes. It didn’t feel interesting or relatable, so I put it back in the envelope and sent it on its way. Did not finish. Returned to GameFly.
18. Genshin Impact, PS4
Everybody in the world seemed to be talking about it this month and it’s free, so what the hell. The combat is actually kinda great — it feels good and there are some neat elemental interactions. On the other hand, I’m not a fan of the anime aesthetic, the RPG story/dialogue bores me to tears, and the gacha elements are confusing. I’m still trying to figure out which crystals are needed for what. I kinda wanna put some more time into it, but I just want to play it. Whenever a story section pops up, my hand starts moving towards ‘delete’. Did not finish.
19. Rebel Galaxy Outlaw, PS4
This one is about being a freelance spaceship captain in a Western-themed universe. The presentation is slick and the devs spend a lot of time trying to immerse the player in the experience by simulating a lot of UI elements into the in-game cockpit. It seems like there’s a lot of content here, and I could easily imagine it to be the sort of experience one would sink 50 hours (or more) into by bagging bounties, running cargo and upgrading your ship. It’s a little overwhelming and I could have used more hand-holding in the beginning, but it seems very cool for players wanting this kind of experience. Definitely a huge step up from the original Rebel Galaxy. Did not finish.
20. Torchlight III, PS4
This diablolike offers colorful graphics, cute pets and a boatload of skills, but what it doesn’t offer is a compelling reason to play beyond engaging with the mechanics. The story seems throwaway and most of the text feels unimportant and skippable. There’s little effort made to get players to invest in the world — it’s mostly about putting a lot of Menus and Content in front of the player and letting them wade in since, I guess, that’s what the devs think players want out of an experience like this? I dunno, maybe they do, but I need something more than mowing through crowds of enemies for ever-slightly-better drops. It seems like a fine ‘one-of-these’ for players who are in the mood, but it didn’t hook me. Also, where the hell are the subtitles for all of the voiceovers??? COME ON. Did not finish.
21. The Red Lantern, Switch
This is a roguelike about driving a dogsled through a winter landscape. It seems really cool, but I was hitting some pre-release bugs and decided to put it on pause until they’re worked out. Did not finish.
22. Bomber Crew, Switch review by AJ Small
After being let down by Space Crew (see #15 above) I was craving the game that came before it, so I re-downloaded it onto my switch, bought the DLC I was missing and started fresh. Honestly, the campaign is too long and it’s full of ridiculous difficulty spikes that can be gutting when crew (or the entire plane) are lost, but overall? I really love it. It’s tense, stressful, nail-biting, hair-pulling and absolutely riveting. Still playing.
23. G.I. Joe: Operation Blackout, PS4
Although I’m more of a Transformers fan, I still have plenty of love and nostalgia for G.I. Joe. As such, I checked into this third-person shooter reviving the license only to find terrible controls and levels that drag on way, way too long. Deleted.
24. Nioh 2: Darkness in the Capital, PS4
This is the second (of three) DLC expansions to the main game, adding a bunch of new monsters, a new weapon (fists) and a few new mechanics for endgame folks. I did one level and liked it, but wasn’t quite in the mood. Will probably wait for the last DLC to come out and then blast through both in a row. Did not finish.
25. Cloudpunk, PS4
I dig the nighttime flying-cars-and-neon vibe of this voxel-based experience, but the gameplay (what I saw of it, anyway) was a lot of boring back-and-forth package delivery and too much dialogue that failed to click with me. Bailed after an hour. Deleted.
26. Ikenfell, Switch
I heard a lot about this indie the week it was released, but didn’t spend much time with it. The graphics are fairly drab and too simple, and the gameplay feels like standard RPG turn-based stuff with some positioning involved. I got the gist of it pretty quick and that was good enough for me. Deleted.
27. Scourgebringer, Switch
This 2D twitch-action roguelike has amazing controls. The main character can double-jump, air dash, wall-run and has several attacks that can be used against enemies in small single-screen-sized rooms. The graphics are great, the animation is great, and the roguelike action offers progression via a skill tree. There’s also a fantastic suite of options to let players customize the experience — bullet speed can be slowed down, the game itself can be slowed, the need to mash the attack button can be removed, and so on. I’m not sure I’d like it as much if I had to play it on the stock settings because fast but tweaking things makes it supremely playable. This is great, great stuff in a year already chock-full of awesome roguelikes. Still playing. RECOMMENDED!
28. Pumpkin Jack, Xbox One
If you miss the days of loosey-goosey, janky-feeling character platformers, this game is made for you. It feels like it arrived here from a time warp leading back to the mid-’90s and would have easily been at home on the N64 or PS2 — you run, jump, whack baddies and collect widgets just like you would have in any number of countless titles back then. I don’t miss this low-rent stuff, but I know it has fans. Deleted.
29. Filament, Switch
This is a narrative puzzler set on a space station. The player’s character arrives and finds the sole survivor is trapped in a remote room. The only way to free them is to solve puzzles that are located inside generators (???) located throughout the station. The trapped person speaks to the player as they make progress and the puzzles are clever affairs where you need to string a line connecting power cubes together, but you can’t cross your own line. Later, more elements show up to complicate things. The puzzles are neat (even if I’m to dull to figure some of them out) and I’m pretty curious to see how the story resolves. I may need a walkthrough before I’m done, but so far I dig this one. Still playing. RECOMMENDED!
30. West of Dead, Xbox One
Came back to this one while I had the Xbox One fired up for something else. I was hoping that the devs would have added more polish and fine-tuned their work since the last time I dipped in, but it seemed largely untouched — some placeholder stuff still obvious, some weird animation bugs still happening, etc. I’m wondering if maybe they’ve thrown the towel in on this one. It’s still a fun ride and not in terrible shape at all, but it doesn’t feel like it’s meeting its full potential right now… and maybe won’t ever? Still playing occasionally.
31. Spellbreak, PS4
Fortnite is my go-to when I want to grind an hour away on something competitive, but this one is becoming my solid second-place. It still needs more content and some polish, but I really dig the flavor and the action, and the devs did just drop their first major update — the new ‘team rumble’-ish mode is a good add that gets right to the action and they’ve tightened up some of the progression elements. Looking forward to this one continuing to grow. Playing weekly.
32. Mortal Shell: Rotten Autumn, PS4
The game announced a new mini-quest and some skins or shaders as a reward, so I jumped back in to check it out. I wasn’t quite sure how to start the quest, and then when PR told me what to do, I didn’t feel like grinding out the drops needed to do it. Plus, the game forces you to go into New Game Plus after you finish it properly, so trying to get it done with the tougher enemies around was an added hassle. I feel like I had the full experience going through it the first time, so I let this go without seeing the new quest through. Did not finish the DLC.
33. Grood, Switch
This side-scrolling shooter was on sale for .99 and the ship had a neat design, so I gambled on it. And lost. The controls don’t feel great and the action has a weird speed to it — I had my fill almost immediately. Deleted.
34. Diablo III, PS4
I hadn’t played this since it launched on PS3 seven (!!!) years ago, but my co-host @onawa brought it up on a recent episode of @SoVideogames and it got me in the mood. I didn’t have a great time with it back then, but all that time and all those patches have got it in great shape these days. It also runs a hell of a lot better on PS4, for sure. I started with a Paladin, then went Barbarian, and then went Necromancer, putting maybe an hour into each. Good times with each one, and I think I may chip away at this until my next big review game pops up. Still playing.
35. Disc Room, Switch
What an odd one. This game is all about piloting a little scientist dude through rooms FULL of spinning sawblades. Meet certain criteria to unlock doors (survive 20 seconds, get killed by 5 different types of blades, etc.) and move on. It’s a bizarre idea and also a fairly neat one. The scientist looks amazing, and the art style is neat. That said, I think I may have had my fill after one run and I was also sort of annoyed that a game which seems so focused on mechanical performance also had a number of secrets which I had no idea what to do with. The part that made me quit, though, was a section of rooms which are almost completely dark. Survive 10 seconds in a pitch-black room full of whirling blades? Ugh, no thanks. I don’t need that kind of annoyance in my life right now. Deleted.
36. Shoot 1UP DX, Switch
I first played this in 2010 on the Xbox 360 when indies-on-console were just starting to take off, and @MommysBestGames was right at the forefront of the movement. This was a brilliant shooter back then thanks to unique mechanics that allow the player’s ship to expand or contract based on how many lives have been stocked up — go small to dodge, go big to unleash a massive laser. It’s still a fab experience after all this time and it just goes to show that strong design is forever. Finished. RECOMMENDED!
37. Wasteland 3, XBO
This is basically Fallout: New Vegas from an isometric perspective, and it is awesome. Great writing with lots of laughs, interesting choices to make, and detailed combat full of options and things to tweak. I’ve been sinking every free hour into it since I started, and I’m having a blast. It’s a little buggy here and there and the inventory system kind of sucks hard, but no major problems so far. I don’t think I’m anywhere near the end, but that’s fine by me — I’m happy to get lost in this one. Still playing. RECOMMENDED!
38. Tokyo Mirage Sessions: #FE Encore, Switch
GameFly sent this randomly and I gave it a quick whirl. I knew it was from the makers of Persona, but I guess it somehow slipped past me that the game is essentially Persona + Fire Emblem. I generally enjoy Persona but I haven’t gotten along with a FE since Awakening, so I don’t have a lot of love for the franchise at the moment. Still, it seems…. alright? No time for a JRPG right now but I’ll put a few more hours into it when things slow down after Q4. Paused.
39. Crown Trick, Switch
This adorable turn-based roguelike came out of nowhere to charm the pants off of me. The art style is soooooooo cute and colorful, and the experience is quite polished. It takes the classic “enemies only move after the player moves” formula and streamlines it while adding neat features like a reusable ‘teleport’ and acquiring boss attacks after defeating them. It’s not revolutionary, but it’s a perfect example of fantastic execution. Still playing.
40. The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope, PS4
I played through Until Dawn and Man of Medan with my wife as a co-op team, and we’re doing the same here. Look, the games from Supermassive aren’t great — the writing always needs work and they’re not very complex to play, mostly relying on QTEs and time-based decisions. AND YET, they boil down to being interactive horror movies that you can enjoy with friends and family on the couch, and that’s an experience that’s worth having for me. Shouting at the dumb things that happen or screaming at the jump-scares in unison is good, clean fun, and I will play every single one of these with my fam and want more. Still playing.