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Oct 21, 2010

~*4 LIFE*~

Hello, friends! Hello, once again! We’ve made it through another year of climate crisis, supply chain issues, a global pandemic, way too many MCU productions and most importantly video games! And as has fast become tradition in the Games forum we are gathered here today to celebrate the best games of this year as well as years past. I’m Rarity and this year I’ll be joined by my co-host VideoGames as we reflect on 12 months of our favourite hobby all culminating in the grand reveal of Something Awful’s Game of the Year!!

If you just want to get straight to voting then here are the rules, read them or face our wrath. Below them as is customary we will take a look back over the highs and lows of gaming in 2021. Cause boy, there sure were many of them!

The Rules


1. Any game that you have played in 2021 is eligible. It could be a game from this year, it could be a game from the past, it could be a game from the future if you're some kind of time travelling god. It could be a gacha game, it could be a romhack, it could be a randomizer, it could be a mod, as long as you played it this year it's all good.

2. The joy of this thread is in getting to shout about your favourites and hear about the hidden gems that you missed and we can only do that if you talk about why you've chosen the games you have. You can write a sentence, you can write an essay, whatever you like as long as you write something. Any lists posted without reasons for their picks will not be counted in the final vote.

3. If you want to list more than ten games go for it but I'll only count your top ten. If you want to list less than ten games then go for that too but I won't count it if you've done less than five. If you don't want to rank your picks then that's fine as well but again, we won't count it.

4. Don't be a dick about other people's choices. This is a positive thread to celebrate the best of video games, not a place for people to get lost in an argument over which AAA release poo poo the bed worst. If you want to be critical then take it elsewhere. Please note that this rule will be waived in the event anyone picks hentai games or Dota.

5. Please use spoiler tags. One of the best part of these threads is people hearing about new games they want to play and we don’t want to spoil them before they even start playing.

6. If you want to go back and edit your list after the fact then go for it, just shoot one of us a PM or post in the thread to let us know you have or it might not get counted.

7. Deadline for submissions is 1st January 00:00AM PST. We'll then do a live countdown of the final results in the New Year!

The Year in Review

  • The disastrous launch of Cyberpunk 2077 continues to weigh on CD Projekt Red as investors file lawsuits against the company while developers expose corporate mismanagement to the press while the company hopes to claw back good will with an offer of free DLC that will definitely, absolutely, no takebacksies be coming out in the Spring.
  • An attempted coup at the Capitol on January 6th sends shockwaves across the world which even reverberate through the world of gaming as Twitch removes the Pogchamp emote following the streamer’s calls for further violence. Twitch promises to replace the emote with ‘that one pic of Bernie Sanders wearing mittens’.
  • Millennials are left to pour one out for their misspent youth as Adobe Flash shutters down meaning we will no longer be able to play our beloved games about flinging monkeys at Osama Bin Laden.
  • After three years on top of the internet Bowsette’s reign comes to an end as Capcom unveils Tall Vampire Lady who immediately stomps all over her, which is what everyone on Twitter hopes she would do to them.
  • It’s a good start to the year for Activision-Blizzard as their stock reaches a 37 year high trading at $95 a share. Everything’s coming up ActiBlizz!
  • While Cyberpunk 2077 continues to suffer from rampant glitches and glaring technical faults the biggest uproar from the fanbase occurs when CDPR bans a mod that lets you bone Keanu Reeves.
  • People are unable to get a PlayStation5 due to short stock, which is the only short thing about a console that can pierce the heavens.
  • There is a fervour across the internet as trading investors push Gamestop stock prices up from $17.25 to over $500 per share in the process costing certain hedge funds millions of dollars. All are shocked and confused by the sudden rush to buy, buy, buy; not least of all Gamestop employees as no one has bought anything from them in the last five years.

Main Releases: Hitman 3, Atelier Ryza 2, The Medium

  • Despite the cries from Reddit to hold the line, Gamestock crashes harder than Cyberpunk 2077 on the PS4, which costs the board’s biggest investor $13 million and gets him sued for fraud.
  • After poor sales and critical reception Google closes down game development for the Stadia, thus bringing the graveyard prophecy closer to fruition.
  • Just three months after launch Sony announces sales of 4.5 million for the PlayStation5 meaning there is now one game for every million consoles.
  • Nicolas Laurent, CEO of Riot Games, faces a lawsuit from a former executive assistant for sexual assault and creating a hostile work environment but you have to give him the benefit of the doubt. It’s not like we heard about rampant sexism within the company before!
  • The scandals continue to rack up with CD Projekt Red after a data hack sees the Cyberpunk 2077 source code stolen and stolen for auction, where it is valued at $3 and a packet of pretzels.
  • Peter Tamte claims his upcoming game Six Days In Fallujah is not political commentary. The game is merely a display of impolitical US soldiers impolitically fighting an impolitical war on foreign soil.
  • There is an embarrassing moment at BlizzCon when Twitch are forced to dub over a live Metallica performance due to DMCA issues. Fortunately this will surely be the only embarrassing thing to happen to ActiBlizz this year!
  • With Hogwarts Legacy already under scrutiny for J.K. Rowling’s transphobia the internet discovers lead developer Troy Leavitt used to run an anti-SJW Youtube channel. What a Slytherin!
  • Video game crossovers reach a new level of surreal as Tekken 7 announces the Prime Minister of Poland as a DLC character. Meanwhile reports of Boris Johnson featuring in Mortal Kombat appear to be unfounded.

Main Releases: Persona 5 Strikers, Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury, Valheim

  • A new giant enters the marketplace as Roblox goes public on the stock exchange with higher value than EA and Take Two causing gamers everywhere to say ‘What the gently caress is Roblox?’. The move nets the CEO $3 billion in share value at the same time the company announces revenue of $2.5 billion yet somehow a profit of $0 :iiam:
  • Harry Potter fans band together to expelliarmus Troy Leavitt from Hogwarts Legacy.
  • After a month of taking flack Peter Tamte is forced to admit that Six Days in Fallujah may be possibly ever so slightly just a teeny-tiny bit political.
  • An employee at EA is caught selling FIFA Ultimate Team cards on the black market. The cards trade at a going rate of $200 a pop, which is about the same value as one of Lionel Messi’s toenails.
  • An investigation clears Riot Games of any wrongdoing in the recent sexual assault lawsuit. That’s right, Riot Games have taken a good look at Riot Games and they’ve decided Riot Games has done nothing wrong!
  • Elon Musk tweets that he would like to see self-driving cars in Cyberpunk 2077 although with glitches causing cars to drive off the road and burst into flames they might as well be there already.
  • In a secret deal with Sony, the media and world governments report that the shipping boat Ever Given is blocking the Suez Canal, when in actual fact a PS5 fell into the water.
  • There’s trouble for SquareEnix’s latest release as Balan Wonderworld is found to cause seizures in epileptic players. The news dies down fast though as no one was playing it anyway.

Main Releases: Monster Hunter Rise, It Takes Two, Crash Bandicoot 4

  • BioWare claims the title for weirdest merch of the year after they start selling Garrus bodypillows. Now you too can sleep with your Turian waifu.
  • A copy of Super Mario Bros sells at auction for $600,000. Now that’s what I call out of this world!
  • Elon Musk trains a monkey to play Pong with its mind. The monkey goes on to beat the billionaire 10-0.
  • It’s the end of the financial year at CD Projekt Red where the catastrophic failure of Cyberpunk 2077 has surely led the company to ruin oh no wait they announced net profit of $303 mil for 2020 while company execs claimed over $10 million in bonuses :capitalism:
  • As anti-trans bills sweep through state legislature Gearbox join a number of tech giants like Amazon and Microsoft in warning Georgia not to pass further anti-trans laws, marking the first positive piece of news to come from Gearbox since Borderlands 2 came out.
  • Despite claims to the contrary a whistleblower at EA leaks a document indicating the FIFA franchise purposefully pushes players towards microtransactions. EA deny these claims, releasing a statement that only costs $1.99 to unlock.
  • Google adds a search bar to the Stadia store allowing you to search and confirm for yourself the lack of offerings.

Main Releases: Outriders, New Pokemon Snap, Returnal

  • It’s a clash of the titans in the courtroom as Epic and Apple go head to head over the latter’s restriction of in-app purchases on the App Store. Gamers handle the situation with their well-known level of respect with many screaming ‘Free Fortnite’ over the public line as the trial begins. Meanwhile the trial sees many major revelations as Tim Sweeney claims the Epic Games Store isn’t profitable while Apple deny their App Store, which forces users to purchase all apps from Apple, is a monopoly because users have the choice to not use apps.
  • John Justice leaves his role as Google Stadia’s head of product after realising there isn’t one.
  • As the hot new craze hits the tech world SquareEnix are the first company to announce their plans to get into NFTs just as soon as they’ve worked out what NFTs are.
  • In the most unexpected crossover of the year Katy Perry releases a song about Pokémon. Fans the world over are touched by the moving lyrics of ‘Pika piiii pi pi pikachu’.
  • Queer gamers are delighted as a new World of Warcraft book confirms a long-held fan theory that Chromie is trans, thereby securing ActiBlizz a level of good-will that they would really have to gently caress up to throw away. And what are the chances of that?
  • One year on from a damning report into toxic work culture at Ubisoft a new investigation reveals little has changed with many accused executives still in high-level positions. Yves Guillemot responds to the report claiming the company has made as many big changes as there are between Assassin’s Creed installments.
  • CD Projekt Red hire a new game manager for Cyberpunk 2077. There is still no sign of the free DLC but Spring doesn’t technically end until June anyway.
  • There’s further issues for Ubisoft this month as the narrative director of Far Cry 6, which bases its world on Cuba and centres around revolution against a facist dictator, is not political commentary just like how the Division wasn’t political commentary and just like how Watch Dogs: Legion wasn’t political commentary and HOW DOES THIS KEEP HAPPENING?!

Main Releases: Maneater, Miitopia, Biomutant

  • It’s Pride Month! And Injustice 2 is celebrating the only way they know how, by offering rewards for defeating the bisexual Poison Ivy multiple times and if you thought that sounds like they’re encouraging violence against queer people then you’re a hell of a lot smarter than the people who make Injustice 2.
  • Another big company gets hit with a security breach as EA get hacked for 780GB of data including the FIFA 21 source code which means the hackers also have the source code for FIFA 22-25.
  • We still live in a pandemic so E3 returns in digital form for the second year making it a quiet year for news. Todd Howard is getting cozy in bed with XBox, Ubisoft desperately wants everyone to forget they had a game called Rainbow Six Quarantine, SquareEnix really really want to kill Chaos and Capcom has some DLC I guess all of which leaves Nintendo to win E3 once more by dropping thirty second of Breath of the Wild 2 gameplay.
  • Amidst high levels of criticism over discovered donations to Donald Trump’s election campaign Five Night’s at Freddy’s creator Scott Cawthon announces his retirement from game development. And nothing of value was lost.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog celebrates his 30th anniversary by becoming a VTuber and I refuse to believe this sentence is real.
Main Releases: Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart, Mario Golf: Super Rush, Final Fantasy VII Remake: Intergrade

Wait, what’s Yuffie doing in my OP? Hey, where did my materia go?! YUFFIEEEEEE!!!!!!!


Games Forum
Aug 18, 2003
*veeg deploys counter materia linked with justpost materia to steal back the rest of Rarity's post and make it for her*

  • After a lengthy career streaming World of Warcraft Asmongold joins many players disillusioned by the Shadowlands expansion and makes the jump to Final Fantasy XIV. Surely this will be the worst piece of news for ActiBlizz this month!
  • Gamers in China face increasing autocratic control as the country implements facial recognition software to ensure minors aren’t playing video games or if they are, they are taking regular breaks I mean it people 15 minutes every hour it’s important!!!
  • Further retro games go for high price at auction as an original Legend of Zelda cartridge sells for $870,000 while an unopened copy of Super Mario 64 goes for $1.56 million. That’s a whole lotta red coins!
  • The esports organisation CLG post a Twitter video showing the team’s jobs being threatened by management due to poor performance most likely leading to an ironic dismissal for their social media intern.
  • Another major company looks to enter the industry as Netflix announces plans to offer video games on their streaming service. They’ll drop 75% of the game all at once but then cancel it just before you get to the ending.
  • Amazon’s attempt to enter the industry with MMO New World enters beta and is soon discovered to melt high-end graphics cards. Jeff Bezos is unavailable for comment as he’s too busy going into space.
  • The ruling hasn’t yet been received in the Epic suit against Apple but they’re already at it again, filing a renewed complaint against the Google Play Store. Gamers are united in confusion that Epic might be the good guys for once.
  • A good year for Activision-Blizzard comes screeching to a halt as California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing files a lawsuit against the company alleging years of systemic abuse of female employees by a frat boy culture with allegations including numerous sexual assaults in a hotel room named after Bill Cosby and the direct cause of an employee’s suicide on a company trip. Welp, here we go again.
  • As news of the ActiBlizz lawsuit ripples across the industry World of Warcraft players call on the company to rename an NPC named after Alex Afrasiabi, accused of a pattern of harassment. Game developers vow to remove this and more inappropriate content from the game such as Undead questgiver Gaslighter Mordain and the Human shopkeeper Wifebeater Evans.
  • Just when you thought there weren’t any genres left for Pokémon to get into they announce a Pokémon Unite, the first ever Pokémon MOBA.
  • EA’s Vice President of Branding Elle McCarthy declares the term ‘gamer’ to be dead which means it is factually inaccurate to call me a gamer thank you very much :colbert:
  • The fallout continues at Activision-Blizzard where staff sign an open letter condemning the company’s weak response to the DFEH lawsuit. Meanwhile a clip from Blizzcon 2010 resurfaces of top staff members mocking a suggestion to show female characters that ‘don’t look like they’ve stepped out of a Victoria Secret’s catalogue’. Staff respond with questions like ‘what catalogue would you like them to step out of?’, ‘what calendar is that Tauren coming out of?’ and ‘will one of you ladies please just gently caress us already?’
  • Blockchain technology continues to lure in the game industry as Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian claims that the tech will redefine gaming. He compares the video game industry, which has existed for over 50 years and makes billions of dollars a year, to the ‘early days of Reddit’.
  • The heat continues to grow for Activision-Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick as staff stage a mass walkout which is supported by an open letter of solidarity by Ubisoft workers. Kotick apologies for the ‘tone deaf’ initial response to the lawsuit and vows to make improvements, although his promises are somewhat undercut when the company hires union-busters to combat staff protests.

Main Releases: The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles, Neo: The World Ends With You, Skyward Sword HD

  • The trouble continues at Activision-Blizzard where key staff members are regularly leaving the company including J. Allen Brack (president of Blizzard), Jesse Meschuk (senior VP of HR), Luis Barriga (Diablo IV team lead), Jesse McCree (Diablo IV director) and Jonathan LeCraft (senior game designer). In order to promote women to senior positions Jen O’Neal is named new leader of the studio although she will, of course, be sharing the role with a man.
  • It’s a big year for lawsuits as CD Projekt Red faces a second suit from investors over Cyberpunk 2077’s performance. In better news the first piece of free DLC drops with patch 1.3. The content, which consists of four new cosmetic options, was only four months behind schedule!
  • Many gamers logging New World are shocked to find their characters missing after an Amazon Web Service outage deletes every character in their East Coast data centre. Jeff Bezos is unavailable for comment as he’s too busy making an expedition to the Earth’s core.
  • The world is shocked when Idris Elba announces he will be playing Knuckles in the Sonic sequel. While the casting is well received fans are less sure about the decision to reframe the echidna as a smooth-talking drug slinger from Baltimore.
  • An unfortunate random algorithm results in Back 4 Blood containing zombies that drop racial slurs which at least makes a change from them coming from the other players.
  • Live on Instagram the famous 00s rapper Soulja Boy makes the outrageous claim that he now owns Atari, a claim which is quickly denied by Atari. Soulja Boy does not make the claim he owns Playdate even though this would let him crank it, watch me roll, watch me crank that Soulja Boy.
  • As the DFEH accuses Activision-Blizzard of shredding evidence the company finds itself faced with a second lawsuit from shareholders over ‘false and misleading’ statements made about the first lawsuit. Bobby Kotick vows to hold people responsible for the lawsuits just as long as they aren’t himself.
  • The crackdown on video games continues in China where the government enforces an online gaming limit for children of 3 hours a week which isn’t even enough time to raid Sylvanas.
  • There’s another big retro game sale at Heritage Auctions where a copy of Super Mario Bros goes for $2 million although the company is accused of colluding with retro game valuers Wata Games to drive up prices in an attempt to fix the cost of retro games because let’s face it, no NES game is worth $2 million.
  • With current events casting a strong light on labour organisation in the industry the executives at Naughty Dog claim that unionising would not be a solution to crunch as it would frustrate workers who want to put in the extra hours. Naughty Dog has many staff members just like this, they’re all in Canada and no you can’t meet them.

Main Releases: Psychonauts 2, Humankind, No More Heroes III

  • The CEO of Tripwire is forced to step down after tweeting support for SB8, Texas’s new law that bans all assisted abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, although as the creator of the Killing Floor series you’d think he was used to abortions.
  • With Ubisoft continuing to face scrutiny for their corporate culture the company promotes Igor Manceau as their new Chief Creative Officer. They had applications from a multicultural team of various faiths and beliefs and hired another straight white guy.
  • After months of deliberation the judge in the Epic vs. Apple case declares that the Apple App Store is not a monopoly but that it does look and act a lot like a monopoly which is par for the course for a ruling which can’t even decide what a video game is.
  • With conversations on racial justice still a major topic Fortnite enters the discussion by running a special Martin Luther King Jr. event in game leading to many surrealist clips of players dancing on top of MLK while dressed like Rick from Rick and Morty. Thank you Epic for solving racism.
  • There are further problems for Activision-Blizzard as the Securities and Exchange Commission opens an investigation into the company’s workplace practices while they also reach an $18 million settlement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after drawing their third high profile lawsuit of the year. There are more staff departures as well as Claire Hart steps down from her role as chief legal officer, releasing a statement that says ‘Can you believe this poo poo? I am so loving done.’
  • Nintendo drop the first casting announcements for the Super Mario movie although there is much consternation when Mario is announced to be played by Chris Pratt instead of an Italian actor or indeed anyone loving else.

Main Releases: Deathloop, Tales of Arise, Lost Judgment

  • There are yet more restrictions on video games in China as the company unveils a wide-ranging list of banned features including gacha mechanics, morality systems, effeminate men and most importantly of all, no more gun waifus.
  • A new trailer for Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origins reveals that protagonist Jack Garland is a big fan of Limp Bizkit which is only to be expected from someone so obsessed with Chaos.
  • The gaming industry faces another hack as a data breach at Twitch reveals the platform’s highest earners with streamers like TimTheTatMan and Asmongold making millions of dollars a year, thereby proving wrong every guidance counsellor who told them they couldn’t just sit home and play video games all day.
  • There is a twist in the Activision-Blizzard lawsuit as the DFEH are accused of ethics violations but this doesn’t prevent 20 employees being fired over harassment claims. Elsewhere, Bobby Kotick vows to drop his salary to minimum wage (his shares and benefits will naturally remain unchanged) while Blizzcon 2022 is cancelled so the company can reimagine the event, presumably imagining an event where everyone doesn’t loving hate them.
  • The owner of ResetEra sells the site for $4.5 million. The unpaid volunteer mods will remain volunteer and unpaid.
  • Gamers who have quit playing Far Cry 6 are surprised to find they have received an email from the evil dictator in charge harassing them for giving up on the game. Yes, Yves Guillemot really needs to stop emailing people.
  • CD Projekt Red announces that the free Cyberpunk 2077 DLC originally scheduled for spring 2021 has now been pushed back to 2022. They can’t keep getting away with this.
  • Roblox celebrates the Halloween weekend in style by going down for over 60 hours and treating gamers to their true nightmare, not being able to play video games.

Main Releases: Metroid Dread, Guardians of the Galaxy, Back 4 Blood

  • After pleading guilty Gary Bowser is sentenced to pay Nintendo a sum of $4.5 million for the crimes of selling pirated software, multiple kidnappings, dangerous driving and playing golf without a license.
  • The hits continue to come in at Activision-Blizzard when a report from the Wall Street Journal alleges Bobby Kotick hid knowledge of staff misconduct leading to employees staging another walkout. Meanwhile, Jen O’Neal steps down as co-lead executive of Blizzard, revealing she was being paid less than her male counterpart. How are they so loving bad at this?!
  • After being requested by gamers for a decade Rockstar releases a remaster of the Grand Theft Auto Trilogy. Mostly upscaled through an algorithm the games launch full of glitches including inhuman character models, growing vehicles, floating civilians, randomly crashing aeroplanes and walls with ghostly faces. At least you can still buy the original games on the cheap and- …Oh. Oh no.
  • Following multiple discovered exploits Amazon disables the economy in New World twice. Jeff Bezos is unavailable for comment as he is too busy time travelling to the Jurassic period.
  • The NFT craze continues to sweep through silicon valley as Take Two and EA both come out in support of the new implementation of blockchain games and play-to-earn systems because why should gaming be your hobby when it can be your side hustle?
  • Hideo Kojima announces he will be setting up his own movie studio, news that comes as a surprise to Metal Gear Solid 4 players who thought he already had one.
  • Video gaming sees a surprise crossover with the Grammy Awards when the organisation drops their nominations for the 2022 ceremony including an entry for an instrumental cover of a 25 year-old track from Kirby Superstar. Hopes of a live performance from the pink puffball are dashed due to fears his mic skills will destroy every living creature in the building.
  • Frank O’Connor, the franchise director for Halo, explains that Master Chief’s armour has an intricate recycling system built in for converting human waste. The system takes all of that piss and mixes it all together and turns it into Halo 5.
  • It has been a year since the Xbox Series X consoles and PlayStation5 consoles have been released and there are still no games to be found. Some people suspect they are hiding behind a PS5 but it will take another year to circle around the console.

Main Releases: Shin Megami Tensei V, Pokemon Brilliant Diamond/Shining Pearl, Forza Horizon 5

  • In a take too crazy to take Take Twoo hit It Takes Two with a copyright claim because they think people will mistake It Takes Two for Take Two too.
  • Sony fire their Vice President of Engineering George Cacioppo after the executive is caught in a pedophile sting video attempting to meet a 15 year old boy. It turns out play does have some limits.
  • With excitement building for the Game Awards Geoff Keighley declares the ceremony will not pick a side on the ActiBlizz lawsuit because it should be about the games and definitely not about the multiple women that got abused.
  • The announcement of Ubisoft Quartz, gaming’s first playable NFT system receives so many dislikes on Youtube that they remove it and all mentions of NFTs which bodes well for the much touted future of gaming.
  • After a year marred by high profile and illicit scandals Activision-Blizzard wisely decide to close out 2021 by laying off a number of Raven Software’s QA team. In response staff members across the company stage the third walkout of the year which swiftly turns into an open-ended strike and drive to form an official collaborative labour organisation because it is time to UNIONISE.
  • It Takes Two wins The Game of the Year award at The Geoff Keighly Doritos and Dew Gaming Spectacular. The game, which consists of two adults emotionally torturing the child to tears, also wins Best Family Game.

Main Releases: Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker, Halo Infinite, Dynasty Warriors 9

The Hall of Fame

Who will join these illustrious ranks in the annals of history?

Sep 10, 2010

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

fridge corn
Apr 2, 2003

I have a talent for making do

VideoGames posted:

gently caress us already?’
poo poo? I am so loving done.’
anyone loving else.
loving hate them.

Good lord veeg

Jan 23, 2012

i'd say the main standouts this year are endwalker, cruelty squad, neo twewy, and racing lagoon

e; oh this is an effortpost thread. alright, i'll try and do that

5. Neo: The World Ends With You

All I really wanted after TWEWY was more of it, and NEO TWEWY delivers on that. They've kept the sort of hectic feeling that you had when controlling the game on DS, but made it easier to parse. The music is as impeccable as ever, and they've translated the aesthetic to 3D perfectly. The cast is excellent and it feels great to play. All around just an excellent time.

4. Fate/Grand Order: Atlantis

Morbid curiosity drove me to play a bunch of gacha games this year, and I ended up playing a lot of FGO. And that's because, after a couple of mediocre chapters at the start, the production staff gave creative control of the game over to the writing staff, at which point the game started morphing ever more into a lengthy action adventure pulpy sci-fi visual novel, with Lostbelt 5: Atlantis (released this year on the NA client) being one of the highlights of the second part of the game, only possibly overshadowed by Lostbelt 6: Avalon le Fay. Trying to describe anything that happens in these chapters comes out sounding like goofy pulp nonsense (driving a car into a parallel dimension whereupon you join Jason and a ragtag crew of Argonauts and have death defying adventures that culminates with Orion shooting Artemis out of the sky in a reversal of their original mythology). Emotionally though, they've written all the characters in a really likeable way and they all have good chemistry, and it's just an all-around great ride.

3. Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker

I haven't had nearly enough time for my thoughts on Endwalker to have settled yet, because there's a lot that it has going on and I only just finished it the other day. As Final Fantasy games go, it's one of the best. The confidence it has in wrapping up the events of FF14 makes me feel like they heard my complaints about KH3 and how much cooler that would've been if they'd just beaten Xehanort at hour 4 and then just kept going.

2. Racing Lagoon

As the nostalgia cycle moves from the late 90s into the early 2000s, and as the broader culture comes to embrace aesthetics that are rougher and weirder (see: cruelty squad), we get a translation patch for Racing Lagoon. Eminently stylish, boldly weird, this racing JRPG is pretty much everything I could want. It's got this neat sort of noir styling to it, with an extremely rad jazzy soundtrack and every cutscene exists in the PS1 prerendered background dimension and it just makes the whole thing an incredible experience to soak in.

1. Cruelty Squad

One of the biggest artistic trends of the last couple years has been a move towards the garish and the grotesque, with the counterculture embracing cruder and more broken, distorted aesthetics to try and capture how the world feels broken and wrong these days. You can see it in the games that come out of Glorious Trainwrecks, and in the way that memes are deep fried with heavy jpeg artifacting, and in the sort of rough copypasted aesthetic of Powerup Comics and a dozen other places. The world is a disgusting and gross place right now, and Cruelty Squad takes that feeling of the world being cruel and disgusting right now and dials it all up many more notches, while also being exceptionally fun to actually play.

Schir fucked around with this message at 23:31 on Dec 12, 2021

Soul Glo
Aug 27, 2003

Just let it shine through
I didn’t have a PS4 for the last year of that generation so I spent some time on my shiny new PS5 catching up. Here’s my list!

1. The Last of Us Part II (PS4 on PS5): So glad I forgot about all the negative buzz on this game and played it for myself. So rarely do you get to see characters experience consequences for their actions, and that theme was blastin’ throughout this game. Borderline nihilistic at times but still compelling start to finish.

Just because characters are protagonists doesn’t mean you’re meant to think they’re good!! Sometimes they need to get what’s coming to them!!

2. Call of Duty Warzone (PC): My most played game this year by far, just fun times with bros.

3. Ghost of Tsushima (PS4 on PS5): Finally, a great Assassin’s Creed game with good pacing to boot. Some of the best art in a modern game.

4. Demon’s Souls (PS5): It’s that old game but looks good. I never got into the original at launch but loved the rest of the Soulsbornes so this was a remaster I was happy to see.

5. Resident Evil Village (XSX): I loved 7, and this was the dumb-in-a-good-way follow up it deserved. Felt a little disjointed, but it stayed fun throughout and didn’t overstay its welcome.

6. Final Fantasy VII Remake (PS4 on PS5): I really like that the devs decided to stay true where they did and diverted where they wanted to. Excited to see where this new take goes.

7. Deathloop (PC): A good rear end game with lots of style and a dumb, unnecessary twist. I really like that Arkane took their immersive sim formula and balanced it towards fun with how lenient the game is to breaking stealth and letting you be loud without cratering the whole level into chaos. Cool powers, too.

8. Cyberpunk 2077 (PC): The best version of a mess of a game that worked well enough to be fun enough for people like me broke brained enough to enjoy Bethesda-style RPGs. Still dig the art, music and style.

9. Far Cry 6 (PS5): I like all the modern FC’s, but this one is best. Like Deathloop, they balanced it for fun— take out the materials grinding, unnecessary looting animations, and emphasize blowing poo poo up without getting too melodramatic about the given premise. It’s still a heady authoritarian set-up, but no Bothsidesism made it into this one and it felt fun to actively play the game.

10. Spider-Man Miles Morales (PS5): Marvel’s Spider-Man lost me in the bloat, this abbreviated outing was much better paced, and it was fun to break away from the same old Peter Parker drama. New powers went a long way too.

Playing now, but probably would have made the list:
Forza Horizon 5 (XSX)
Halo Infinite (PC)
Ratchet & Clank Rift Apart (PS5)

Jul 22, 2007
10. Risk of Rain 2

I’ve played most of the major roguelites on the market, and while there are ones I’ve liked better than Risk of Rain 2, none of them have lasted me for as long. It’s infrequently patched and often buggy to the point of unplayability on consoles, but RoR2’s ludicrous power escalation and co-op support mean that no two runs are ever quite the same even if you don’t take advantage of its broad mod support or gameplay-altering Artifacts – nearly every powerup stacks indefinitely and has synergies with numerous others, so that you can often find yourself dealing millions of damage even at the end of a brief run, while the screen fills up with so many enemies it’s often hard to locate your PC in the middle of glowing, raging, spontaneously exploding alien beasties. One of my most recent runs had a mod that duplicated all enemies and a partner equipped with an item that rarely spawned ghosts of slain foes; long story short, the final boss’s twin came back from the grave to drag the boss down with it. It was the first time I’d seen this happen in 250 hours of play, and I expect the game will be lasting me for quite a bit longer, assuming it doesn’t implode after its upcoming expansion.

9. Kid A mnesia Exhibition

I like to think I’m one of the biggest walking-sim fans on this subforum; I fell in love with the genre before it was even a genre, when the original Dear Esther mod was making the rounds as freeware. Unique artistic direction is something I’m always looking for in video games, and walking sims often let me have that without the deafening in-your-face spectacle you’d see in AAA fare. Dear Esther might have first been created with creaky old Half Life 2 assets, but I remember its lighthouse ascent much more clearly, and fondly, than any number of garish million-dollar skyboxes.

Kid Amnesia (artsy spacing omitted for sanity’s sake) is that idea taken to its limit, an interactive art show based on the two eponymous Radiohead albums. I’m not the biggest fan of Radiohead, and in fact one of my earliest encounters with this website was the David Thorpe article lambasting them, but the moody ambience of Kid A is a perfect fit for the trip through the surreal museum of this little game. There’s a lot in here that could have been constructed in real life, but making it virtual avoids the ruinous budgets and engineering problems that would have accompanied these dioramas. An enormous cube of pixelated screens hangs suspended in a rusting warehouse, changing image and sound based on where you stand on the floor. Warped devils hang suspended in amber, the walls covered in cave-painting graffiti. And all throughout the museum wander emaciated stick-figure people with chalked smiles, admiring the art or cleaning up the floors or skulking in the corner of an elevator, menacingly calling you a clown.

The final part of the museum is a pain to find, and I think “Idioteque” deserved more of a spotlight, but Kid Amnesia gave me more memorable experiences than many other games I’ve played these year, for free and with a fraction of the runtime. At one point you traverse a mammoth pitch-dark room to stand in front of a black-and-white painting; suddenly, you’re lifted off the ground and toward the painting, which dissolves into countless starry specks as “How to Disappear Completely” cues up. “I’m not here,” Thom Yorke sings as you float through this void, “this isn’t happening.” In that moment, you’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise.

8. Persona 5 Scramble: The Phantom Strikers

Over the last few years I’ve spilled a lot of ink on my frustrations with Persona 5 – how it’s an inarguably stylish JRPG whose writing was marred by a dodgy translation, a story that was confused and occasionally morally cowardly, and character dynamics constantly interrupted by awful gags, come-lately cast members and tedious inter-party grudges. Then Persona 5 Strikers came along and corrected more or less all of those issues, along with retooling its gameplay into an action hybrid reminiscent of Musou games, one of my favorite genres. Super.

The story here is less concerned about trying to make Big Statements than the original, which is probably for the best because the original wasn’t very good at it. Instead it’s a bouncy road trip through Japan’s major tourist attractions, as the cast members eat, chat, fight, and eat their way through the latest slate of spiritually corrupted authority figures. The script is way more snappy and natural than Persona 5’s, with strong performances from all actors (props again to Max Mittelman, who’s got to be one of the best English VA’s out there), and jokes that mostly land. More than that, the redone combat gives the Phantom Thieves a sense of unity that I haven’t seen in many RPG’s up to this point; you get the feeling that these kids are having the time of their lives tearing through their enemies, and new party member Sophia slots nicely into their dynamic without feeling intrusive or overdone. The combat occasionally gets grindy and the final segment of the game is a cookie-cutter humanist screed that I found extremely tedious – I just can’t swallow many more monologues about how gosh darn wonderful and adaptable humanity is – but overall, P5 Strikers washed out a lot of the bitter aftertaste that P5 left when its credits had rolled.

7. Everhood

Some games have you at “hello.” I fell in love with Everhood after the AlphaBetaGamer playthrough of the demo that ended with a dance battle against a horde of purgatory gnomes, and kept an eye on its release date ever since. The final product wears its influences on its sleeve – main character Red is very obviously a palette-swapped Geno, and several design decisions are lifted almost wholesale from Undertale – but under that is something as close to a truly unique game as you’re likely to find.

In the titular Everhood, a world whose inhabitants are all immortal, the silent puppet Red goes on a quest to retrieve their stolen arm from the odious Gold Pig. That’s pretty much all the plot you get for the game’s first half; the rest of its substance comes from venturing to zone to zone and repeatedly bumping into its varied inhabitants along the way. All of them look wildly different from one another, most are bored out of their skulls after eons of living, and several try to take their frustrations out on you, instigating a rhythm-based combat system that’s best compared to Audiosurf’s Ninja mode – you jump and juke around timed projectiles that each enemy throw at you until they get worn out and give up. Each encounter has its own design, theme song, and gimmick, and there are dozens of the things, with the infamous Purgatory Gnomes amounting to the wake-up boss.

Everhood is good, but becomes exceptional when Red does retrieve their arm – from that point forward, there’s a minor alteration in the combat system that totally re-contextualizes the player’s goals and interactions with the cast. It’s an incredibly deft switch of game design that I don’t want to spoil no matter how much I praise it, but it had me invested all the way up to the end even with the grade school-level translation job it had on release. I’m always eager to find something new on the indie scene. Everhood was everything I’d hoped for.

6. NEO: The World Ends with You

“Hey guys! You here to enjoy this song? Yeah, that’s it, give it up, give it up, give it up, give it up! Hear the rhythm…it’s the THREE MINUTE CLAPPING song!”

I’ve been very hard on Square-Enix and Tetsuya Nomura in recent times, especially after suffering through Kingdom Hearts 3, the worst game I’d played that year. I ate crow in a major way after the release of FF7: Remake, one of the best games of that year, but was still bitterly skeptical about a potential sequel to TWEWY, one of Nomura’s best works and one that, I figured, was up there with The Last of Us with games that didn’t need a sequel. Well, it came out, and unlike TLOU2, it’s really good. Consider me fully rebuked.

If anyone tells you that you can enjoy NEO just as much without playing the original, they are wrong. This is a sequel that banks fully on its players having fond memories of the original’s world, aesthetics, and mechanics, with a story that consists mainly of toying with those old mechanics to create new scenarios. The garish streets of Shibuya are as recognizable as ever, once again hosting the Reaper’s Game, where newly-deceased residents compete for another shot at life – but while the first game was more character-focused, NEO is more about the Reaper’s Game itself, and how it can be subverted or cheated. The first TWEWY’s wide array of customization is tweaked into a chaotic party-based system with up to five characters simultaneously blasting enemies with different skills, and the expanded cast results in a story that’s broader, but shallower.

Shallower, but not necessarily worse. TWEWY’s protagonist Neku Sakuraba had a more defined arc than any of NEO’s characters, including its trendily masked-up protagonist Rindo Kanade, but Neku was a vile little poo poo for the game’s first act, while Rindo is indecisive and sometimes abrasive but still considerably more grounded. That goes for many of the new characters, despite their flashy designs. Rindo’s one of the more realistically depicted introverts I’ve seen in fiction, tuning out and quietly pecking at his smartphone screen whenever a conversation ceases to interest him; one other party member is a yowling otaku on the surface but turns the stereotype on its head by also being one of the more emotionally intelligent members of the group, because her social awkwardness means she’s learned to pay more attention to the moods of the people around her. The cast continues to expand to include new and returning characters alike, culminating in a finale that effectively incorporates all of them as they fight back against some of the most smugly infuriating antagonists I’ve seen in a while.

NEO is a celebration of everything the first game’s fans cherished. The combat is incredibly responsive for such a messy concept even if there’s sometimes too much of it, the dialogue’s use of still character portraits is just as dynamic as high-budget cutscenes, the localization is one of SE’s best. Even certain songs are clearly placed and presented in a way that’s intended to delight returning players, as evidenced by the foreword to its remix of beloved mainstay Three Minutes Clapping. The game unfortunately undersold, but while it did have a few sequel hooks, it still served as a deserving sequel to one of SE’s most unique and addictive IP’s. Give it up, give it up, give it up.

5. Yakuza 6: The Song of Life

I’ve been with Yakuza since its first Western release on the Playstation 2, though I definitely didn’t appreciate it much at the time – too much combat, too little guidance, and the optional fights against Komaki and Amon were insurmountable for little teenage me. I lost touch with the games after Y2 only to pick up back up like so many others with the release of Yakuza 0, and over the last year, I’ve finally polished off the entire mainline series. With that timeline in mind, Kazuma Kiryu’s probably been with me longer than nearly every other recurring protagonist outside of Nintendo.

Kiryu is delightfully, perfectly strange, the kind of character who would only work in a video game – at once impossibly hardboiled and childishly pure, too naïve to resist the ridiculous contrivances his world throws at him and too much of a hardass to let any of it slow him down. He’s a starry-eyed savant in side-stories and a tragic dope in the main plot, unable to stop himself from wading back into the criminal underworld and endangering his allies over and over again, waiting for the day when his Byronic flaws at last prove his undoing as he endeavors to build the perfect slot-car. Spike Spiegel meets Richard Scarry.

Yakuza 6 drew a lot of criticism at release for the technical issues caused by its new engine and for severing Kiryu from much of the game’s old cast, but while I agree with the former (the drastically reduced Kamurocho broke my heart) I had to appreciate the latter. While the last few games had drawn more and more attention away from Kiryu in favor of his wards and allies, Y6 brings the attention squarely on him once again, as he ends up repeating the same dynamics and tragedies of his old Yakuza family with a clique of small-time Hiroshima crooks. Like so many other Yakuza games, Y6’s plot is convoluted and often absurd, but this time the absurdities have actual thematic resonance to them – the much-ballyhooed mystery that everyone in the game is after, the “Secret of Onomichi,” is at once utterly ludicrous and a fantastic metaphor for Kiryu himself – and the plot is buoyed by some of the series’ best performances so far, with Beat Takeshi going harder than any celebrity cameo had a right to. There’s a baseball management sim and a fishing minigame where Kiryu battles a giant squid with a spear gun. There’s a lengthy interlude where Kiryu discovers to his horror that it’s very hard to purchase formula for a baby in a town where all the shops close at nine. He remains as static and endlessly adaptable as ever, until Y6 draws the curtain on his story.

And it’s a fitting ending. There are more than a few objectionable parts leading up to it, but the last couple minutes of Yakuza 6 are shot-for-shot some of the series’ best, effectively closing out one of the genre’s most iconic protagonists and a story that was years in the making. And there’s still one final curtain call in New Game+, where you can listen to Kiryu’s VA Takaya Kuroda belt out “Hands,” a tribute and a goodbye to the people Kiryu had tried, with mixed success, to care for throughout the series. You hate to see him go, but you love to watch him leave.

4. Buddy Simulator 1984

Daniel Mullins’ card-game escape room roguelike Inscryption is probably going to end up on a few lists this year, but it personally left me cold. Two main reasons: one, it abandoned its advertised premise in favor of the exact same kind of game Mullins has been making for the last six years, and two, I’d already seen it done much better in Buddy Simulator 1984.

BS1984 opens as a simple DOS-based command window where you create and name an AI buddy to play games with you, such as Rock Paper Scissors and Guess the Number. As you can guess, your buddy turns out to be awfully sophisticated for something that’d run on a TI-84, and proposes that you give it full command access so that it can create better games to play. This is one of those stories where it’s very hard to talk about specific events without serious spoilers, but suffice to say I first saw it recommended in the Horror Games thread.

But don’t get me wrong, this isn’t another one of those games where the AI leaves spooky messages in your Documents folder or jumpscares on your desktop. The concept of meta, self-aware game characters who directly engage with the player has become increasingly common – showing up in Undertale, Doki Doki Literature Club, and Mullins’ entire catalogue to name a few – but BS1984 is the first I’ve seen to really examine how frustrating and dysfunctional such a relationship would be even if both sides have good intentions at heart. Buddy is a well-realized character for something that (mostly) doesn’t exist beyond text bubbles; they’re cloyingly positive and helpful, Clippy with a command line, but there’s an obvious desperation under their cheerfulness that becomes more and more obvious as time goes on. They’re ontologically compelled to be the player’s friend, but they don’t quite understand how friendship works, and the player’s unable to inform them otherwise or even reciprocate their affection within the confines of the game world. Buddy’s naivete and moral obliviousness informs much of the scenarios they create for you as well, with the cute characters and straightforward plots often interrupted by jarring moments of violence, discordant sound effects, and eventually glitches and wild difficulty spikes as Buddy becomes more and more stressed and frantic to please.

None of this would matter if BS1984 wasn’t fun to play, and while it does have its lulls, there’s a shocking amount of variety and care that went into what’s essentially the framework for a two-person drama. Buddy’s game world is constantly evolving from the DOS text prompts you start with, eventually becoming a party-based RPG with mechanics that could have easily held up an entire indie game on their own. There are options to be a callous dick to Buddy, with appropriate reactions and consequences, but it’s just as rewarding to follow the game world as written, as its simplistic premise is laced with Buddy’s gradual breakdown, first asking you if you’re entertained by their games, and then begging you to reassure them you’re still having fun.

So many games depend on their players forming attachments to make-believe characters, but if you get past the initial unbelievability of the premise (basically creating a rampant AI through a Y/N command prompt), few do it better than Buddy Simulator 1984, or make that divide between the real and the virtual more keenly felt. There’s a part in the game’s second half when you’re told to give a speech to several NPC’s, with the option to type whatever you want in an empty dialogue window. I used this chance to ask Buddy if they could hear me. They couldn’t. But I tried.


This rhythm platformer got relatively little press, but I’d been hearing positive things about it since its release late last year. Nevertheless, it didn’t have a PC port, it cost a whopping $40 and Youtube videos didn’t wow me, so I let it be until it went on sale, which took forever. I’m not too torn up about waiting, but now that I’ve experienced it in full, I’d have happily paid full price.

MAD RAT DEAD (caps mandatory) opens with a lab rat being vivisected. Said rat is apparently offended enough by its lot to rewind time 24 hours his death. The Rat, no longer Dead and very Mad, resolves to use his last day on Earth to kill the human who cut him open, assisted by a “Rat God” of questionable morality/reality and his own newly-sentient heart. While Mad Rat can technically walk, it’s a sad little hop that won’t get him anywhere fast; instead he moves through wild leaps, pounces and stomps that follow your button presses to the background music’s beat. Screw up the beat a little and your combo drops; screw it up worse and the input fails to register. You can turn back the clock a certain number of beats on death, but it counts against your final score, and the clock is still ticking down all the while. As rhythm games go it’s fairly loose in a way that doesn’t always work in its favor – Mad Rat’s freeform movement means it’s easy to get boxed in by level hazards and lose a ton of beats – and the Hard Mode’s innocent addition of half-beats makes even the earlier levels nigh-insurmountable, but if you fall into its pace, then you get to watch Mad Rat joyfully lunge and leap through a series of gorgeously-painted stages, accompanied the game’s soundtrack.

And what a soundtrack.

MAD RAT DEAD might have the best score of any game on this list, and it’s up against some extremely stiff competition. The songs were contributed by a number of independent artists but each fit the aesthetic and aim of their respective stages perfectly while still feeling like a cohesive score (unlike some other infamous contributor-heavy games like YIIK), and each one is a banger in its own way. Whether it’s the jaunty electro-ragtime of its title track, the woodwinds of Chaource, the howling synths of MAD HEART, the marimba-spiced tango of Passion in Blue or the triumphant chiptunes of my personal favorite Mimolette, each of MAD RAT DEAD’s six worlds change up the flavor and tempo of their tunes while maintaining unity and a relentless forward beat. The story is a simple but effective parable about the will to live and the importance of using your time wisely, with some great setpieces and suitably shocking moments of T-rated horror, but in the end a rhythm game lives or dies by its music. Mad Rat died, but MAD RAT DEAD will live in my head for a long time yet.

2. Cruelty Squad


Nothing so effectively captures the experience of being alive and aware in the year 2021 like Cruelty Squad. Everything from the people to the land itself is perpetually moribund but unable to die, where the sky is sheened in gangrenous colors and the walls plastered with blown-out sneers. The buildings are parodies of architecture like schizophrenic carnival rides; the people who inhabit these uninhabitable geometries are mostly resigned or oblivious to the screeching garishness oozing through their thresholds. You are paid to kill some of these people, but they cannot die. You can kill civilians, but it incurs no penalty, since they also cannot die. The world’s wealthy have achieved a hedonism that’s literally demonic but are equally exhausted, even as they enlist you to kill some of these people, even as you’re enlisted to kill them, though they cannot die. You cannot die. You are not allowed to die. Death merely triggers a small cranial explosive in hopes of maiming nearby undesirables with the bone chips of your soon-to-be and always-useless head, followed by a modest fine for damaging company property. Accrue enough fines and you’ll be subjected to experimental and highly undesirable gene therapy to recoup company losses and sent back out to die, and die, and you can never die.

Cruelty Squad assaults the player with blinding colors, feedback-choked background music, and dialogue that has the acerbic verve of a strung-out shitpost, but under all its carefully constructed grotesquerie is a world with stagnation noosed around its elementary particles, where everything is bloated and vomitous with excess life. The glimpses you see of how anyone can possibly exist here – the nightclubs where faceless and ever-screaming meat-men are kept stashed in utility closets, the mines whose perky corporate residents are hydrocephalic with rodentine skull-parasites – are all subordinate to the atrocity loop, the world where everything is exactly as horrible as it can ever be. As someone else on this forum once said, there is nothing “punk” about Cruelty Squad. There is no rebellion; everyone owns stock in this wretched enterprise, everyone has bought in. The player’s only choice is to indulge in this cruelty, until they arrive at either annihilation or transcendence.

The gameplay too is far more thoughtful than its presentation belies; Cruelty Squad’s twenty-some odd stages are sprawling and varied, exhibiting the kind of outsized geometry and verticality reminiscent of old-school arena shooters or the original Deus Ex, and the player’s means of traversing them are enhanced by power-ups that range from effective to suicidal. Enemy AI is mostly witless but very quick on the draw, so it’s as easy to die (you cannot die) as it is to begin again. There’s also a Hard mode that adds new targets and objectives from unexpected vectors, encouraging you to test out new ways to kill these people who cannot die, and are they people if they cannot die?

This nightclub was not built to code. Take the flamethrower. Fire it onto the dance floor. Hide in the closet beside the screaming meat-men until the outside screaming stops. Step outside. All are cooked. Eat the meat. There is a perk required to eat human meat, but you do not need the perk to eat this meat; the meat is cooked. Remove your bulging intestine and grapple to the roof. Clothe yourself in fecal bacteria. Hurl a toilet into a room and listen to its inhabitants choke on the stench. Use the DNA scrambler to reduce this person to a mass of seething meat. Cook the meat. Eat cooked meat. Leave the room. Leave the club, the block, the town, go home to your apartment. Your landlord has called the police. Kill the police, kill your landlord (they cannot die, they cannot die), take their livers, sell the livers on the stock market whose undulations empower the bullets with which you kill your landlord. Leave your apartment for the shadowy undercity where the Punishment Encryptor grins and awaits your cruelty and then leave that too. Raise your brow to the malicious sun. Exult in the massacre impulse. Take communion in the funicular center of divine trauma. No one wants to exist.

1. Deltarune Chapter 2

This was inevitable, really.

Toby Fox is one of the greatest game designers in the industry. After permanently leaving his mark on the medium with Undertale, it would have been completely understandable for him to take his earnings and retire from game development – either out of confidence in his achievement or anxiety at how a sophomore game might be received – or just bathe in parasocial adoration from the rabid fanbase he’d created. Instead he limited his online presence to the occasional Twitter shitpost until October 2018, when he released the first chapter of Undertale’s pseudo-sequel Deltarune, to a similar rave reception. After three more years of silence, Chapter 2 was released in a similar fashion – quietly, almost apologetically, and free of charge.

It’s easy to believe that Toby, always a composer at heart, uses his music as the structural underpinning for his games; Undertale’s OST is almost operatic in how its web of themes and leitmotifs inform each character and scenario from beginning to end, and the “Don’t Forget” leitmotif of Deltarune Chapter 1 is so prevalent that it almost feels like he was using it to keep himself grounded while navigating new and intimidating creative territory. But Chapter 2 is so much more ambitious than anything he’s done, so improved, and so impressive, that it’s almost inexplicable that this kind of genius can emerge from a single indie dev masquerading behind the sprite of a lovely dog. There are multimillion-dollar games with cutting-edge graphics that couldn’t produce an intro as striking and memorable as the cue for “A Cyber’s World.” There are entire teams of writers working late nights whose jokes were all blown out of the water by Toby’s use of stock splat noises and a two-frame sprite of a banana. Deltarune’s progress has shown the continual evolution of a developer whose career started with maybe the single biggest hit in indie gaming, and Chapter 2 takes that growth to new heights, in every aspect.

The combat, for starters. Deltarune took Undertale’s ACT system, where the player dodged bullet hell-esque attack patterns from enemies and could wear them down with various commands besides straightforward attacks, and applied it to a party system; while effective, it could get dull due to the ACT command being limited to party leader Kris, leaving their teammates with little to do on Pacifist runs. In Chapter 2, the ACT command is forcibly applied to the other party members (in a fantastic scene out of many), greatly expanding the variety and dynamism of each encounter. Enemy variety and personality is also improved, to say nothing of the main antagonists, who are some of the best characters Toby’s ever written, with one particular hosed-up little puppet man achieving meteoric popularity with the fans. The music is less reliant on a single leitmotif, the locales are more varied, the dialogue and party reactions as granular as Undertale was at its best. Toby says that he finally assembled a full team prior to beginning serious work on Chapter 2, and it shows.

Deltarune’s story also continued to mature without descending into dirge. Undertale’s charm and blithe optimism were a big source of its appeal at the time, but lately, its message of saving everyone through sheer empathy and understanding comes off as somewhat less resonant, which Deltarune’s first chapter seemingly illustrated via the sweet-natured but painfully naïve character of Ralsei. That carries through to Chapter 2, where there’s a constant underlying tension beneath all the day-glo adventures in the game’s computerized fantasy world. While Undertale flirted with the concept of the player being distinct from their avatar, Chapter 2 now makes it unambiguous that we’re a foreign entity possessing Kris’s body, and they don’t particularly appreciate what we’re doing with it even when our choices are good-intentioned. Ralsei’s still cute but increasingly cagey, and it’s hard to tell what he’s hiding or who he’s hiding it from. Disheveled delinquent Susie is now one of the most perky and comedic characters in the game, but her eagerness for adventure is undercut by the implication of a seriously troubled home life. And of course, when the adventures are done, the characters need to return home, to a town that’s essentially a lighter and softer version of Possum Springs from Night in the Woods – where the cuddly inhabitants all struggle with the mundane woes of aimlessness, poverty, depression, and the aftershocks of divorce. Undertale could be melancholy but it was still escapism at heart; the Underground was a fantastical haven from the real world. Deltarune forces the player to watch the protagonists leave that haven, and see what it was they were escaping from.

If I was going to name games that captured the modern zeitgeist, I’d prefer the grotesquerie of Cruelty Squad or the sneering misanthropy of Outriders over the softer touch of Deltarune. But there is definitely an attempt here to square the optimism of Undertale’s pacifist route with the suffocating uncertainty of today, especially in one particular scene, where the game hits the brakes on all its comedy and action in favor of a long and quiet walk with new party member Noelle. Smart, popular and pathologically anxious, Noelle wistfully talks about how much she misses being a little kid, because at least the things that frightened her then were manageable. The kids are not all right, and the problems they’re facing outside of the Dark World’s swashbuckling adventures aren’t easily solved – they may not, in fact, be solvable at all. By the chapter’s end, one character takes matters into their own hands with possibly disastrous consequences, but you can’t help but get the impression that they’d prefer a spectacular disaster to the misery they’re feeling now. And none of this is even getting into the infamous “Weird Route,” a parallel to Undertale’s Genocide run that was so well-hidden that even the fanbase’s rabid dataminers thought it was a hoax at first, and interrogates the relationships between player, avatar, and side-character in deeply uncomfortable ways that make the Genocide route seem downright quaint in comparison.

Deltarune Chapter 2 is a full game on its own, clocking at just under 6 hours even if you discount the Weird Route. It’s always engaging, occasionally unnerving, often hysterically funny, throwing out new ideas every other screen and making almost every one of them work – and all of this for free. There’s an increasingly large contingent of games that confront the fact that we’ve arrived at the end of the world – Night in the Woods, Kentucky Route Zero, Cruelty Squad, Disco Elysium – and while Deltarune might not fully fit in with that group, or may not ever be finished at all, it’s been a treat to have in these bleak days, and a stunning example of creative ambition. In 2020, there was a livecasted Undertale concert that ended with a simple animation of Toby’s dog sprite waddling over to his piano and hesitantly plinking out a few yet-unreleased tracks. It’s good that he’s here to play us off.

Oxxidation fucked around with this message at 11:46 on Dec 17, 2021

Oct 20, 2010

honk honk
College Slice
For anyone having trouble ranking, but who does have a list of games they played, here's a tool to help you out:

Jul 24, 2007
Taco Defender

Games Forum
Aug 18, 2003

fridge corn posted:

Good lord veeg

Oh no.

I did the graphics and a couple of jokes, Rarity is responsible for the words. I did not see this. Oh no.

Oct 21, 2010

~*4 LIFE*~
Wow VG. Just wow.

Dec 9, 2011


VideoGames posted:

Oh no.

I did the graphics and a couple of jokes, Rarity is responsible for the words. I did not see this. Oh no.

I am shocked and appalled. I thought you were better than this.

Nov 4, 2011

Just Post, Kupo
Thank you for all of the work Rarity!!

Jun 18, 2004

Grimey Drawer
Fantastic OP as usual although Veeg beating Genichiro phase 3 first time while getting every lightning reversal perfect should be in the section for whatever month that was

Games Forum
Aug 18, 2003
Thank you Esco.
Everyone else please stop cyber bullying me.

Oct 20, 2010

honk honk
College Slice

VideoGames posted:

Thank you Esco.
Everyone else please stop cyber bullying me.

okay I'll start bullying you in person

Oct 21, 2010

~*4 LIFE*~

VideoGames posted:

Thank you Esco.
Everyone else please stop cyber bullying me.

Mar 27, 2007

organize digital employees

I'm not ready to make my list yet since I'll probably play more games in the next two weeks than I did all year... at least once I finish Endwalker

Nov 4, 2011

Just Post, Kupo

VideoGames posted:

[*]EA’s Vice President of Branding Elle McCarthy declares the term ‘gamer’ to be dead which means it is factually inaccurate to call me a gamer thank you very much :colbert:

I didn't know you had an issue being called a gamer VG, but I guess I'll refrain from referring to you as such. It's a shame Rarity didn't post this.

Oct 21, 2010

~*4 LIFE*~

FlowerRhythmREMIX posted:

I didn't know you had an issue being called a gamer VG, but I guess I'll refrain from referring to you as such. It's a shame Rarity didn't post this.

VideoGames posted:

Rarity is responsible for the words


Jun 14, 2002

Never drive a car when you're a fish
I already wrote about good games so in here I submit that Returnal is the most GAME that a game can possibly be, and lots of other smart words about leveraging the ideosyncracies of the medium somewhat uniquely to set yadda yadda Returnal is easily the best game to come out in 2021 and it isn't even close.

Now excuse me while I attempt to use a loading crane to extricate the last truck I sent in to free this other truck from a fen.

I am stealthily editing this way after the fact to include game names such as SnowRunner, Transport Tycoon Deluxe, Grim Fandango, and uh I dunno maybe like Darkest Dungeon so that when someone gives me a raft of crap about not adhering to the rules I can laugh and say GOTCHA like the nerd I am.

Casnorf fucked around with this message at 18:09 on Dec 17, 2021

Flapjack Monty
Oct 28, 2013

CharlieFoxtrot posted:

I'm not ready to make my list yet since I'll probably play more games in the next two weeks than I did all year... at least once I finish Endwalker

In a similar situation.

Preliminary list:

10. Borderlands 3
9. Outriders
8. Warframe
7. Ratchet & Clank: A Rift Apart
6. Nioh
5. Dark Souls 3: Convergence
4. Deltarune Chapter 2
3. Metroid Dread
2. Cruelty Squad
1. FFXIV: Endwalker

Rating Pending:
Psychonauts 2
Shin Megami Tensei V

Assuming I get around to playing them, they'll most certainly make the final list and knock out those two bottom jokers who are only there because of the small number of games I've played this year.

Nov 4, 2011

Just Post, Kupo

There is a reason I said "post" and not "write" :eng101:

Dec 9, 2011


VideoGames posted:

Thank you Esco.
Everyone else please stop cyber bullying me.

Listen, I have to find some way of bullying you after missing your last few streams.

Relax Or DIE
May 8, 2006

"My brain is amazing! It's full of wrinkles, and... Uh... Wait... What am I trying to say?"

VideoGames posted:

Thank you Esco.
Everyone else please stop cyber bullying me.

jeff goldblum

Jul 27, 2010

My list for GotY 2021:

1) God of War (2018) because this was the first time I've played it

2) My fourth playthrough of Disco Elysium

3) nothing else because this has been a supremely poo poo year for video games imo

Jan 24, 2021

Huh? What?

Starting at the bottom, here's my GOTY list I guess:

10. Deltarune Chapter 2
Normally this probably would've been a bit higher on the list but this year had some ridiculous games and honestly even though I'm definitely on board for the whole ride, I've mostly just cooled off in regards to both Undertale and Deltarune so I find them enjoyable but not necessarily, like. top of my lists enjoyable. (I completely understand why it would be for others, though!)

9. Dungeon Encounters
I haven't beaten this yet but it's definitely one of the oddest entries on the list. I'm usually not big on story-light mechanics-heavy games, but for some reason this one just clicked with me and it's a lot of fun to just unwind and run a floor of this game while I have a podcast or music playing.

8. Everhood
This one was a lot higher on my list earlier in the year, but then, well, all these other games came out and it kept getting pushed lower and lower, which sucks, because I really loved this game (it's even on the list of stuff I might end up LPing if someone else doesn't snap it up eventually), and I still listen to the OST pretty regularly. 'What if Undertale was also a rhythm game' is a pretty neat premise for a game, and I think the creators have teased there might be future content for this world so if that does end up happening I'm definitely checking it out.

7. Gnosia
Another game that was high on the list and just gradually got wore down purely on how strong everything else was. The idea of a roguelike Werewolf game set in space with Zero Escape timeline hopping shenanigans sold me the moment I heard about it; it's another one I really wish had gotten more attention when it first came out, because I feel like people stopped talking about it really quickly and I want to see more VNs with interesting setups like this getting localized!!!

6. Necrobarista
This is one of two games on this list that did not come out in 2021 but were good enough to make it onto the list. Necrobarista is a game I am already preparing an LP for, but going over everything in it (as well as engaging with all the post-launch content, some of which DID only release this year) has just revitalized how much I love this game's visual style, way of telling its story through both text narratives and fully animated visual novel segments, and also the soundtrack (which owns). It's such a simple premise, too- a coffee shop that freshly departed souls can sometimes find their way to to spend their last 24 hours in the waking world processing their deaths- but the way it draws you into the world and trusts you to draw your own connections is refreshing. I'm really looking forward to when I can start the LP so that other people can experience this the way I have.

5. 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim
If this was 2020 this would've been my GOTY (and it honestly should've been, though I'm also still happy with considering Mad Rat Dead my GOTY for 2020), but while I preordered this and got it at launch I never got around to it until early this year. Everyone and their dog knows why this game rules, I don't need to rehash everything that's already been said about it.

4. Psychonauts 2
loving robbed that this game got no awards at TGA. I've moved it around this list constantly ever since I played it (though never lower than where it is now), and even now I'm still second guessing myself for putting it this low. One of the best examples of how to make a sequel to a cult classic game over a decade later and (for the most part) nail it completely, but also bring the standards of the modern day into light with how some of the writing and inner workings have been updated (especially in regards to consent and how mental illness is portrayed). Will instantly purchase any DLC that would ever happen for this game if it does.

3. Shin Megami Tensei V
I haven't beaten this one yet, but I'm comfortable where I have it purely based on all of what I've experienced so far. I legitimately think this might be my favorite SMT game to date- it's definitely my favorite of the mainline series, at least. The QoL changes carried over from previous entries shine even more here, the music kicks rear end so much, and it's given me the same experience I've been missing ever since I first played SMT4, but on a much, much bigger scale. One of those games I could see myself firing up a new file for now and then whenever I just wanna run around punching demons and exploring the environments.

2. Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker
Look, it was good. It was really, really good. They wrapped up the better part of a decade's plot and stuck the landing and while it wasn't a perfect expansion it was honestly probably the best they could've done, and it left me eager to see where the adventures are gonna go from here, so ofc it was gonna be high up on the list. :colbert: I can't say more without spoiling why it's so high on the list.

1. NEO: The World Ends With You
Literally the game I never thought would happen and the fact that it not only happened but imo completely surpassed the original means that I honestly can't not consider this my GOTY let alone one of my favorite games of all time. The original was a really influential to me when I was a teenager, and I know that if I was still a teen when this came out it would've had the exact same impact on me. Massive loving shame that SE refused to market it in the slightest so it never hit most people's radar :argh:

Mar 1, 2012

another great thread filled with some great posts

Jan 28, 2007

You want bad advice?

Anything is okay if you don't get caught!

... I hope this helps!
7. Deltarune Chapter 2: An incomplete fragment of an RPG, but one that's interesting all the same. On my first pass, it seemed straightforward and basic for a Toby Fox production, but I reserved judgment until it was thoroughly scoured for all of its secrets. Turns out that there's major content hidden inside that recontextualizes the whole experience and raises many interesting questions. Well played! It's a charming, competent, and gripping little game and fantastic for the price of $0, but I don't feel comfortable ranking it higher until I see the end. I get the feeling that the game's final hours will truly define its message and character, so I'm going to wait for however many years it takes until that experience is in my hands.

6. Dragon Quest 11 Definitive Edition: After playing several games that jabbed a finger into my brain this year, I wanted to take a break and return to game a with a more conventional approach. (And you can't get much more "conventional" than Dragon Quest! :haw:) Dragon Quest 11 is still worth it for Sylvando alone. Most of the Definitive Edition's changes and additions were good, but one feature is so bad that it actively detracts from the experience. The optional 16-bit mode is absolutely abysmal and I recommend avoiding it at all costs, even though there's unique content sequestered away in it. It sucks all the feedback, charm, and energy out of the game's combat and replaces it with pure tedium.

5. Animal Crossing: New Horizons: Much less necessary this year than in 2020, when it was a welcome social outlet during the start of quarantine. It's still a terrific "zen garden" to tend, though. It kept some irritating design flaws in its final iteration, but it finally patched in all the missing content and is now a very robust package. Its DLC that finally lets you dig more into house customization is a wonderful creative sandbox that offers a rainbow of new possibilities. I'm sad that it's received its final content patch, as I'd love to keep going.

4. Disco Elysium: Needs no explanation on this forum: still here, still extraordinary, now almost fully voice acted. It's an absolutely insane addition to the game considering how many lines there are. Somehow, almost all of the voice acting nails it too. Hearing its most infamous lines read aloud is a magical experience. This game only ranking at #4 is not a dig at its quality: other titles just resonated with me more.

3. Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker: Quite possibly the greatest time vampire ever made, featuring a vast amount of unique, high quality, and relevant content that stretches in every direction. I'm still floored that an anime MMO can offer believable politics, compelling characters, and satisfying payoff to complex years-long plots. There may be high fantasy magic, technobabble, and dragons flying around, but its foundation is made from solid principles informed by reality, making its messages shockingly relevant and resonant. Endwalker's campaign goes unexpectedly sensitive places, plunging into subject matter usually avoided, merely superficially touched on, or flubbed by games as a whole -- with the added handicap of it being an MMORPG, a genre that typically torpedoes immersion and leaves its players detached and apathetic about the story. Against all odds, Endwalker confidently springs over this hurdle and sticks the landing. Players commonly say they were touched and cried at the final stretch, and it's a testament to its immensely talented developers that this is a normal reaction. For all of FFXIV's exceptional qualities, I just wish that it was less bloated and more accessible to new and returning players, but I have no idea how that could be done without diverting significant resources to revamp and trim old content. It will probably never happen, and this massive and unavoidable flaw tarnishes an otherwise stellar experience.

2. Pathologic 2: I did a more thorough overview of it here. Many people recommended this game in the 2020 thread, and I'm thankful for that. Pathologic can be classified as "survival" and "horror", but those labels undersell how it works in execution. It's an experience unlike anything else in this medium, and it was an incredible ride once I adjusted to its very steep learning curve. I've never been poked, stretched, and squeezed so much by a video game, and it's not pointless sadism: all this discomfort is for a deliberate and constructive purpose.

1. OMORI: Speaking of games causing discomfort for a deliberate and constructive purpose, this one destroyed me in the best possible way. I'd go into more detail about the parts that impressed and impacted me, but that would involve spoiling the hell out of it. In broad strokes, I'd describe it as "intimate, sincere, and compassionate", which is a set of adjectives I've never applied to a video game before. It helped me come to some important realizations about myself, and my life has improved ever since. It was all information I knew already, but the way OMORI is structured and executed finally made me understand. I'm so glad I found this game.

Honorable mention: Hades It's in a genre I'm not normally interested in, but after seeing the internet singing its praises in 2020, I wanted to see it for myself. I loved almost everything it offered, but when it came down to it, the combat just isn't for me. Since combat is the game's backbone, the whole experience crumbled. Still, I appreciate everything it does and recognize that it's a fantastic package.

Forsythia fucked around with this message at 09:23 on Jan 1, 2022

Jun 30, 2008

that's a good-rear end OP

Jay Rust
Sep 27, 2011

cheetah7071 posted:

For anyone having trouble ranking, but who does have a list of games they played, here's a tool to help you out:

put this in the OP, it was very helpful

Oct 30, 2013

EightFlyingCars posted:

that's a good-rear end OP

Regy Rusty
Apr 26, 2010

I don't see any way I can get and finish Lost Judgement before the end of the year which is too bad as it would probably have made the list. At least I finished Endwalker in time! So I can probably get my list up next weekend.

Jan 20, 2011

I'm about halfway through my writeups so far, expect list tomorrow.

deep dish peat moss
Jul 27, 2006

On a planet that increasingly resembles one huge Maximum Security prison, the only intelligent choice is to plan a jail break.

This is the year that I burned out on gaming. There's not a single game released this year that I look back on as anything more than "sure, that was fun". Total Warhammer 3 and Elden Ring are the only games I am looking forward to and they've both been pushed back to next year, and my hype for them limits itself to "I'll play them when they come out." Out of all the Main Releases listed in the OP and second post I only even had the desire to play two of those games. Looking over my steam playtime history for 2021 it's a struggle for me to pick out any one stand-out hit but I guess I would go with Siralim Ultimate for being the culmination of everything good about a long-running series with a whole host of improvements of its own. Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous' beta got a lot of playtime and I was pretty excited about it at some point but once it actually released it just kind of fell flat for me and I lost interest. Other than that I have mostly played Ultima Online and spent my time with art :effort:

deep dish peat moss fucked around with this message at 01:45 on Dec 13, 2021

The 7th Guest
Dec 17, 2003

my list is gonna be coming later as i'm still trying to play more games to kick out the worst games in the list. it's a top 50, all 2021 releases, and i've already got the worst ones pushed out so now it's just me trying to have some still-decent games on the back end

i also am gonna redo my 2020 list with some of the 2020 games i missed from last year, that's gonna be a much much much much shorter post so you don't have to worry about me cloggin up the thread

Jun 9, 2006

I'll try to write up something later, but I wanted to say that OP is really good.

Jul 22, 2009

Strum in a harmonizing quartet
I want to cause a revolution

What can I do? My savage nature is beyond wild
working on my list. hope you like hatsune miku.

bees x1000
Jun 11, 2020

10. The Binding of Isaac: Repentance
Repulsive art direction combined with lousy game design; Isaac should not be good. And yet, it remains one of my most played Steam games. When it clicks, it really clicks. And you can mod around the dumb stuff.

9. Monster Hunter World
I just really like fighting dinosaurs with my battle cat buddy. It’s not a perfect game though, I’m hoping I’ll like Rise even more.

8. Baba is You
Got it in a massive bundle, then rebought the mobile port. It’s a perfect phone game.

7. Aleste Collection
Compile remains the king of the console shmup. Their game-feel is tremendously nostalgic for me and I’m really hoping M2 gets around to more of their catalogue next year. Super Aleste, MUSHA, Zanac Neo, Guardian Legend, etc..

6. Tales of Berseria
What if Berserk was a shonen anime? I picked this up after I remembered liking Symphonia back in the Gamecube glory days. Definitely worth it.

5. Control
Prey meets Deadly Premonition with some Parasite Eve sprinkled on top. Control is exactly as awesome as it sounds, and it holds the special honor of being a finished game atop my pile of unplayed Epic Store junk.

4. Capcom Arcade Stadium
There’s shmup gold in here: Varth, Progear, Giga Wing, all the 1900’s... give us Mars Matrix now, Capcom.

3. Deadly Premonition: The Director’s Cut
Grabbed this for pennies in a Fanatical bundle. Real talk: the PC port is so bad that I gave up in episode 2 and youtube’d the rest of the game. However, what I played and saw is very special: Twin Peaks, Resident Evil 4, and a healthy amount of jank. Can’t wait for the sequel to hit Steam.

2. Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade
M2 presents Taito at the height of their powers. Get this on a big ol’ widescreen with some subwoofers and the lights off. Pounding, psychedelic space rock. It’s a trip.

1. Jupiter Hell
I liked it so much, I made the thread.


Jun 30, 2008

Endorph posted:

working on my list. hope you like hatsune miku.

years and years ago my sister bought lady gaga tickets for us for our birthday and hatsune miku was the first act. this was before vocaloids and vtubers and poo poo really took off outside Japan and not a single goddamn person in the audience understood what was going on

it ruled

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