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!

September total: 24

1. Fortnite, PS4

Still chipping away at unlocking all the Marvel stuff, doing both daily and weekly challenges. Really diggin’ this season, all the tweaks and adds have been great. Doctor Doom’s gauntlets FTW. Playing daily. 

2. Marvel Puzzle Quest, Android

My one and only mobile fix. Playing daily.

3. Control: AWE, PS4 my review

A disappointing and tedious expansion for what is an otherwise-fantastic game. Feels like Remedy had no good ideas for this one but had to release something to fulfill their promises for the Season Pass, so here we are. Blergh. Finished.

4. Struggling, Switch my review

This is a ridiculously difficult game with crazy physics, yet I found it really charming and its sense of humor was on point. I’m glad I played through and finished it – it was really something else! – but I would only recommend it to players with immense patience. Finished.

5. Nioh 2, PS4 my review

Still playing a few levels here and there with the wife and occasionally jumping in to be summoned for folks who need help. Still waiting for the next DLC… The season pass promised three additional campaigns, but we’ve only gotten one so far. Playing weekly.

6. Necromunda: Hive Wars, PS4 my TINAR

This turn-based tactics game seemed like another win for the 40K license, but it soon ran into trouble. After the first few levels, the pace of play slowed down to intolerable levels and the AI went back and forth between brainless and uber-lethal. I like the concept here, but it needs more balance, more polish, and to speed up the pace of play. Deleted.

7. Here Be Dragons, Switch

I love the look of this one – it resembles the old-timey maps of the world where they thought there was an edge to the flat Earth and there were monsters in uncharted areas. Unfortunately, the writing is awful and the game mechanics are a little too complicated and unforgiving. Players roll dice and assign the results to various slots on a ‘board’ as a way of determining attacks and initiative, but it felt like too much was left to RNGesus and I lost more far more often than I won. It’s a shame that something so neat-looking ended up being so frustrating. Deleted.

8. Ring Fit Adventure, Switch

I decided to grab this since being isolated at home for so long means that I’ve been putting on a few pounds and opportunities to get out safely and away from COVID are limited – and since the forest fires hit and the air turned toxic on the West coast, we haven’t even been able to get outdoors at all. I expected it to be pretty gimmicky, but what I got was a really well-designed game that is both fun to play and provides a great workout. The ring works well, the routines are varied, and it’s engaging enough to keep me coming back and working hard despite being someone who generally doesn’t enjoy exercising. I’ve honestly been shocked at how positive the experience has been, and I’d recommend this to anyone who wants a way to exercise that also engages their gamer muscles. Playing (almost) daily. RECOMMENDED!

9. Paradise Killer, Switch

This one seemed like it would be my jam thanks to hyper-stylish ‘80s-inspired art and Visual Novel content, but I bounced off of it almost immediately. The writing was hipster-annoying – it struck me as being aggressively quirky for the sake of being quirky, and the premise of being a detective on a reincarnating island of immortals (I guess? Maybe??) was abstract and hard to get into. Beyond that, it’s also a first-person open-world exploration game where you’re wandering around while hunting for clues and… doing platforming? Yuck. It didn’t feel respectful of my time or that it even cared whether I was drawn into the experience or not, and with a million other things to play on my docket, I wasn’t going to work overtime to get stuck into something that wasn’t clicking. Deleted.

10. Fight Crab, Switch Mike Suskie’s TINAR

I mean, the title says it all. There are crabs, and they fight! This surreal, silly combat game uses real-life crabs but gives them all sorts of weapons – lightsabers, revolvers, axes and more – and asks players to battle it out in increasingly-bizarre situations. One of the best parts is unlocking an AI crab buddy and going into battles as a pair. This thing was 100% up my alley and I had a fantastic time with it. Finished. RECOMMENDED!

11. Picross S2, Switch

I fell off for a while, but I’m determined to finish this one. The 20-square grids with 1,1,1 as clues can FUCK RIGHT OFF tho. Still playing.

12. Welcome To Elk, XBO my review

This unconventional indie tells the tale of a girl spending the summer on a small, close-knit island while also weaving in meta-elements taken from real life. It’s an incredibly unusual, unique experience that could only be achieved in the videogame medium – I enjoyed playing it and also felt like I learned a little more about what can be done with games themselves. Finished. RECOMMENDED!

13. West of Dead, Switch & XBO A.J. Small’s review

I played this one as a beta on XBO a while ago and liked it, but it felt a bit undercooked. PR sent me a code for the new Switch version so I felt like it might be a good time to jump in and the Switch is exactly where I like to play run-based roguelikes, but I gotta say, this one feels better on a big box. Still playing on the XBO, Switch version deleted.

14. Haven (demo), XBO

This demo offered a really fascinating peek at the full game to come. Offering a mix of narrative elements featuring a romance between two refugees in a sci-fi setting and gameplay that has the pair flying around abstract landscapes and participating in turn-based battles, this one definitely has my attention. Finished the demo.

15. Sail Forth (demo), XBO

Another neat demo, this one features a roguelike structure where players sail boats using wind physics to attack pirates on and around islands to steal their loot and upgrade their vessel. It’s a challenge to sail efficiently while dodging enemies, keeping track of the wind and raising/shifting sails but I’m definitely up for this one when it hits. Finished the demo.

16. Spellbreak, PS4 C.J. Salcedo’s preview

It’s basically Fortnite with magic spells and levitation. There’s also a season-long (?) level-up process where using the same types of magic spells makes them stronger to encourage people to keep coming back via tangible gains. There’s not much content and the whole thing feels a bit bare-bones, but I kinda like it… Using spells feels significantly different than guns, and the idea of being a super potent poison mage has got me interested. Been playing a lot of teams with the wife and son (max team sixe is three) and it’s been great fun. Still playing. RECOMMENDED!

17. Mortal Shell, PS4 my review

This soulslike is a tough one to recommend – it’s a mix of great ideas and design choices that are hostile towards the player. The main concept of being a creature that hops between the bodies of deceased warriors is great (but undeveloped) and the idea of parrying to regain health is interesting, but with no way to mitigate the parrying for players (like me) who struggled with it mean that there’s an air of ‘git gud’ permeating things. On the other hand, the slow, chunky combat is super-visceral and some of the art design is amazing. I’m glad I played it, but I think it’s better as a statement of the studio’s potential than as an experience itself. Finished.

18. Hades, Switch Mike Suskie’s review

This is such a bizarre one for me. I am “Mr. Roguelike” – I play basically every one that hits the Switch (and there are a LOT!) and Hades checks all the boxes. Progression, permanence, story, variation in runs, weapon combinations… It’s like, the perfect roguelike. Perfect. And yet? For some reason it’s just not clicking with me and I can’t say why. I’ve put maybe 6-8 hours into it and have virtually no criticisms, but when I put it down I feel no desire to come back to it, and I don’t feel much drive to finish it. It could just be a case of the right game at the wrong time? Did not finish.

20. Unrailed, Switch

I watched a trailer for this one and somehow got the impression that it was somewhat puzzley in nature, but the reality is that it’s a multiplayer-focused game similar to something like Overcooked where friends need to work together on a tight schedule. Chop wood, mine steel, lay tracks… Solo players can go it alone with one AI bot assisting, but it’s a miserable experience without real folks along. Deleted.

21. Reflex Unit 2, Switch

This is a pretty simple and straightforward game where the player starts with a mecha-tank and goes into isometric levels to destroy enemies and complete simple objectives. The camera perspective is a bit too limited, but it’s easy to play, feels like a good fit for Switch in terms of content/depth, and you can unlock new mecha parts as you go, so… win? Still playing.

22. Bartlow’s Dread Machine, XBO

What if someone created a side-scrolling shooter in the time before electronics existed? This game attempts to answer what a mechanical arcade experience might be like. The presentation is great thanks to old-timey music, loads of gears and pulleys, and a low-tech engineering appearance to everything. Sadly, it’s just not fun to play… the simplistic shooting gets repetitive almost immediately and it’s also easy to get overwhelmed by the numerous foes. It doesn’t feel great to play either, since the character is limited to moving down a track while trying to shoot enemies that come from multiple angles. It’s a super cool idea that seems more appropriate as a bonus mode in a larger game. Deleted.

23. Jenny LeClue, Detectivu, Switch

This is a cute, colorful game about a fictional girl detective (as in, she’s a character in a book that someone in this game is writing) and she talks to folks, gathers clues and solves mysteries. It’s almost like a visual novel in that there’s more dialogue than gameplay (and what gameplay there is amounts to clicking on something or making simple deductions) and it seems perfect for younger players. Did not finish.

24. Warsaw, XBO & Switch

What if Darkest Dungeon, but Polish freedom fighters in WWII? The graphical and design similarities to Red Hook’s work are too close for comfort despite the subject being vastly different. I tried it on the Switch but found the text to be too small to play comfortably, so I went to check it out on the XBO. It’s better there, but it’s not great. UI and text aside, I dig what it’s doing but I gotta be honest — if I had never played Darkest, I’d be eating this up and singing its praises. But, since I know exactly where Warsaw is drawing its, uh… “inspiration” from, it’s hard to ignore how much it takes from that playbook. I’m gonna put some more time into it and hope that things start branching out, but we’ll see. Still playing.

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

Brad Gallaway
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