The title of this article says it all. Rad custom art by @Alex_Connolly!
September Total: XXXXX
1 – Marvel Puzzle Quest, Android
My one and only mobile jam. PLAYING DAILY
2 – Blackout: The Darkest Night, PC – covered in So Videogames episode 248
This is a visual novel about a guy who wakes up with amnesia and has to piece together what’s going on. The art is pretty nice, and it has a vague R. Crumb or maybe a Richard Corben sort of vibe to the art. I dig it! STILL PLAYING.
3- Lamentum, XBX
A 2D indie horror tale about a man who takes his ill wife to a remote mansion in search of a cure and finds — of course — Bad Stuff Happening There. I expected it to be more action-oriented from the trailers (and there IS action) but it’s also heavily inspired by Resident Evil in that there’s a lot of backtracking, odd items to use, locked doors, etc. I also thought it would be on the smaller side, but a quick search revealed that the campaign was maybe twice the size of what I was bargaining for. I made some okay progress but the saving was limited to a resource, and that was discouraging me from playing. Luckily, the dev soon announced that they got feedback saying this was a Not Cool thing and that they were patching in an “unlimited save” mode, so I’ll wait for that and restart it after it’s ready. PAUSED.
4 – Induction, Switch
This is a stylized, abstract puzzler that uses time loops to solve its challenges. It’s pretty cerebral and minimalist… Kinda cool, but not it’s not for me. DELETED.
5 – Zengeon, Switch – covered in So Videogames episode 248
A top-down roguelike that’s not realllly a roguelike? The aesthetics are rad, there’s a real Persona cool-kid vibe going on, and it’s well done. However, each character only has three abilities and a dodge move, and these don’t change. The roguelike aspects come in the form of randomized dungeons (hardly noticeable, TBFH) and pickups that offer buffs like “3% chance to inflict lightning damage per hit” or “6% chance to create shield when using earth abilities” and so on. It’s awfully weaksauce and ends up making each run feel identical to the last since the differences are so negligible. Feels like these devs leaned too far towards a standard action game template and didn’t go hard enough on the randomness and variation that makes roguelikes so great. DELETED.
6 – Space Marshals, Switch – covered in So Videogames episode 249
Still chugging away at this, one level at a time. It’s the perfect example of “nothing special, but every aspect is perfectly tuned” so it becomes fun to play despite not really bringing anything new to the table. Great polish and clear design for a straightforward isometric stealth/shooter here. STILL PLAYING.
It’s a trippy, psychedelic music video of a game that I had a great time with. It’s short, to the point, and delivers a great ride. FINISHED. RECOMMENDED!
8 – Frostpunk: The Last Autumn/On the Edge DLC, XBX – covered in So Videogames episode 249
I love me some Frotspunk so I was glad to jump back in, but I can’t lie — The Last Autumn is goddamn tough. I failed it maybe 8-10 times and had to take a break because I was losing self-esteem. Will definitely come back to it and I want to finish, but GOD DAMN it is brutally hard. PAUSED.
9 – Fire Tonight, Switch
This indie is about a girl trying to make it to her boyfriend’s house while her city is on fire. None of the mechanics felt very polished and I was not drawn into their relationship or their situation. DELETED.
10 – Stay Safe, Switch
Way too complicated and the text was too small. DELETED.
11- Dead Dust, Switch
A Western indie all about shooting Native Americans. YUCK. DELETED WITH PREJUDICE.
12 – Fortnite, PS5
A new season, and I’m back in. Not playing hardcore, but a couple of times per week for sure. Carnage is the reward for hitting level 100, so I definitely want to nab that. Also, VERY glad to see team challenges return, and the new punchcard system is fun. PLAYING WEEKLY.
13 – Crown Trick, Switch – covered on So Videogames episode 249
This is an excellent turn-based roguelike that covers all the classic design bases while nicely updating the formula with some neat ideas and some gorgeous artwork. This one is a winner. STILL PLAYING. RECOMMENDED!
Very possibly my favorite game of 2021. It’s rich in cultural content, has an excellent story, solid Visual Novel and Deckbuilder mechanics, and delivers an e-p-i-c adventure. Thisgame is fantastic. FINISHED. RECOMMENDED!
15 – Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts 2, PS5 – review by Dan Weissenberger
If you want some snipering, this delivers some pretty good snipering. I have issues with the story, though — you’re… kind of working for the bad guys doing bad things? Not sure I’m on board. DID NOT FINISH.
16 – Curious Expedition 2, Switch
A neat spin on roguelikes that has a strong tabletop boardgame feel to it. The devs iterated and improved on the first game, and it shows. STILL PLAYING.
17 – I Am Fish, XBX – covered on So Videogames episode 250
It looks like Finding Nemo but it’s a physics-based platforming game that’s way too hard and frustrating. If I had any hair, this would have made me pull it out. The devs really missed a trick by not making this easy and kid-friendly. DELETED.
18 – Eastward, Switch – covered on So Videogames episode 250
There’s some really nice pixel art going on here, but it starts s-l-o-w, there’s too much talking, and the dungeons felt too long. I’m also not much into Zeldalikes/RPGs these days, so I bounced pretty quick. I was thinking it would be more action-focused than it is after watching the trailers, but that wasn’t an accurate impression, so that’s my bad. DELETED.
19 – Bonfire Peaks, Switch – covered on So Videogames episode 251
I had to look up what “sokoban” meant, but this is one of those. A guy needs to burn boxes of his stuff because reasons, so he arranges them as stairs, maneuvers them through tight corners, etc. etc. with the ultimate goal of getting them to a bonfire. I like the look of it, but my brain can’t process these types of puzzles. Seems neat, but not for me. DID NOT FINISH.
20 – Picross S3, Switch
Yep, I’m back on this train. STILL PLAYING.
21 – Space Grunts, Switch
A 2D roguelike recommended to me by a friend. It might be good, but I just couldn’t get past the ugly art style — it’s a true eyesore that had no visual appeal. DELETED.
22 – Weapon of Choice DX, Switch – covered on So Videogames episode 251
A true indie classic. This 2D run-and-gun has a great sense of humor, wild mechanics and applies a healthy dose of irreverence to every aspect of its design. It’s short, but offers some neat replay via different story routes and characters to unlock, and the guns are something else. Where else can you find a character wearing a spider-arm backpack and using a turbine engine as a weapon? FINISHED. RECOMMENDED!
23 – Metallic Child, Switch – covered on So Videogames episode 251
This realtime action roguelike has the player “in” the story as someone who controls a robot who’s lost self-control functions. It’s a neat conceit and the action is pretty good but my main issue with is is the art. Characters are squat and blocky, and there are a lot of lights and details that only serve to clutter up the screen. It’s tough to tell what’s going on at times, and it’s a little hard on the eyes overall. A less-is-more aesthetic would have done wonders here. DELETED.
24 – Dustwind: The Last Resort, XBX – covered on So Videogames episode 251
This eurojank, action-focused version of Fallout or Wasteland could have been great, but it takes ages to get going and the difficulty spikes are brutal. It turns into a repetitive slog almost immediately, and it also has no qualms about killing a player in the blink of an eye. Hope you remembered to save before you accidentally stumbled into that crowd of enemies! DELETED.
25 – Knights and Guns, Switch – covered on So Videogames episode 251
An arcade-style 2D shooter with knights… and guns. They fire upwards at monsters that pop into existence, earning cash and such as they go. Not much more to say about it, honestly — felt like I had the measure of it after about ten minutes. DELETED.
26 – Skatebird, Switch – covered on So Videogames episode 251
A cute little bird on a cute little skateboard — what else needs to be said? I was sold on the premise alone. Sadly, the game is horrible to play thanks to load of clipping, wack physics and a busted camera. A true shame to waste such a neat idea, but this is zero fun. DELETED.
27 – Shape Suitable, Switch – covered on So Videogames episode 251
This simple game asks players to draw shapes that solve puzzles. For example, a UFO might need help carrying three balls. The player draws a ‘basket’ shape and the challenge is solved. It’s fun, breezy, and a great fit for the Switch. The perfect thing for ten minute bursts. STILL PLAYING. RECOMMENDED!
28 – Slay the Spire, Switch – my review
I was inspired to pick this back up after seeing a good friend go all the way and get the true ending — it’s no small feat and something that eluded me when I played it when it first hit the Switch. Not sure I’ll go all the way but I did enjoy this one for *many* hours and it would be a shame to never really finish it in the true sense. We’ll see… STILL PLAYING.
29 – Death’s Gambit: Afterlife, Switch – covered on So Videogames episode 252
I’d heard lots of good about this one from Souls circles and I can see why. It offers many small tweaks on From’s formula (many make things less brutal to players!) but it just didn’t grab me. Part of it is that I’m pretty over metroidvanias at the moment, and part of it is that the controls feel overcomplicated and not very intuitive. There’s a mix of attack 1, attack 2, special attacks 1-3, items, shield, dodge, slide, jump, parry and probably a few more functions that I’m forgetting. Even after an hour or two I was still hitting the wrong buttons and forgetting what did what. Also, this Switch port feels sub-optimal — the text and graphics all feel too small and it’s a bit of an eye-ache. I can see why it has fans, but this isn’t the right one for me. DELETED.
30 – Suzerain, Switch – covered on So Videogames episode 252
A text-based narrative political intrigue simulator. It is surprisingly detailed and nuanced, and I was pretty impressed at how thoroughly it tries to simulate a real-ish version of politics. This is not for me, but it’s pretty cool. DID NOT FINISH.
31 – Nira, Switch
Under embargo. Sorry! CAN’T DISCUSS
32 – Diablo II: Resurrected, XBX – covered on So Videogames episode 252
I’ve heard — for YEARS — that Diablo II was the unsurpassed standard in ARPG/loot titles, but I never had the chance to play it until now. And while this game probably was the shit back in the day, it’s just a tedious, boring grind right now. The first several hours are slow and dull as dirt, the drops are few and far between, the skill trees are small and limited, the level design (randomized) is annoying and there are a ton of design and quality-of-life issues that need work. I have no nostalgia for this game and as such, it holds no appeal. All it really did was make me want to go back to Diablo III and put more time into that. DELETED.
33 – Death Stranding: Director’s Cut, PS5
I played and finished this when it first dropped, and despite the issues I had with the story (it’s utter horseshit) I LOVED the gameplay. Not the combat so much, but just the walking across terrain, shipping boxes, setting up ziplines… it’s all very zen and chill, and so far outside the norm that I wanted to re-experience it. I don’t know that I’ll finish it — it’s more likely I’ll get halfway and start noodling around and build roads or something, but that’s kind of exactly what I’m in the mood for right now. STILL PLAYING.
This realtime action roguelike is a lot like Hades, just on a smaller scale and with a smaller budget. The level design is a bit lacking, but the art is cute,the controls are right and the card system of mixing-and-matching powers is solid. It’s a pretty good time if you’re looking for fast-paced roguelike action. DID NOT FINISH.
35 – Ruin Raiders, Switch
Under embargo. Sorry! CAN’T DISCUSS
36 – Voice of Cards: the Isle Dragon Roars, Switch (demo) – covered on So Videogames episode 252
This is a neat demo where everything and everyone is made of cards, plus Yoko Taro is involved! Will check out the full version for sure. JUST A DEMO.
37 – A Juggler’s Tale, XBX – covered on So Videogames episode 252
A puzzle-platformer that seems like it’s going to be a mellow, experiential game but then gets a bit annoying due to inconsistency in checkpointing and non-intuitive puzzles. The music is great and the graphics are beautiful, but it was a little grating to play. DELETED.
38 – Magical Girls, Switch
It’s Breakout, but the reward for finishing are pics of anime girls who do not get nearly naked enough. DELETED.
39 – Evertried, Switch
Under embargo. Sorry! CAN’T DISCUSS
40 – Lemnis Gate, XBX
This puzzle-based ( !!! ) first-person shooter asks players to deploy a series of troops in ever-overlapping time loops. It’s a fantastic idea, but there’s no campaign or puzzle mode… it’s just a series of versus modes against other players or bots. My heart broke a little, but there’s no way I’m gonna get in on this without a more robust singleplayer side. DELETED.
41 – Tetragon, Switch – review by Brian Thiesen
A single-screen puzzler that has players rotating levels to make their way to an exit. It’s pretty neat but I’m not sure that I have the patience for it. WE’LL SEE!! STILL PLAYING.
42 – Underland, Switch
A single-screen puzzler where two people are trying to reach un underground city and they have to dig in various ways to get there — drills, dynamite on carts, or whatever else is available. Pretty early says but so far, I’m into it! STILL PLAYING.
43 – Dungeons & Bombs, Switch
A turn-based, puzzle-based indie that has no tutorial, explains nothing, and offers a princess with a beard. Why? No idea. I bailed after ten minutes. If you’re not going to take the time to explain your game, I’m not going to take the time to struggle to learn it. DELETED.
This team-based shooter is my favorite of the bunch. Fun classes, excellent level design, a fresh and exciting campaign and some staggering setpieces. I won’t want to play it forever (and seriously, that’s a shitty way to measure these types of games) but I’m having a blast going through it again with the wife and son. STILL PLAYING.