Category Archives: playstation 4

The Top 10 Videogames I Didn’t Get to Play in 2018

Well, here we are once again…the end of a year, and boy howdy has this been one strange, life-changing year. For those that don’t know, this past July I was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. At the ripe age of…35. With no family history of this disease or long-showing symptoms. Yeah, it sucks, but I am still positive and fighting it like heck and even drawing a journal comic about my journey through this bastard of a disease so far.

Still, there’s been some good to enjoy as well. For instance, Melanie and I are engaged and getting married next year. Plus, because of my cancer, I’ve now met so many amazing and genuinely good people, people I would have never interacted with before this disease, and they have helped tremendously to make this battle not as scary as it should be. There is so much support out there, you just have to be willing to embrace it. That’s been hard for me, but also rewarding.

That said, this blog of mine is supposed to be all about videogames, not this super serious stuff–that’s not to say gaming isn’t serious; evidently it is now cool to play games, so says the almighty Ninja–so let’s get on with it…

I’ve been doing this Grinding Down feature of mine starring pictures of dogs looking sad and sighing audibly for a while now. Don’t believe me? The proof is in the pudding…or rather the bulleted list below, dating all the way back to 2010, which somehow got featured on the WordPress home page and saw many, many comments. Never happened again since, but maybe this year it’ll get noticed. Anyways, here, go back in time and play the fun game of figuring out if I still haven’t played some of these yet:

Wow, wow, wow…that’s a lot of games I didn’t play then, and might still not have played now. Of course, the brand-spanking new list below is beyond complete, and here are a few other titles I would have liked to play this, but just didn’t find the time: Yoku’s Island Express, WarioWare Gold, Lost Sphear, Octopath Traveler, and The Swords of Ditto.

Okay, here we go.


10. Fallout 76

I pretty much knew right from its announcement at E3 2018 that Fallout 76 was not for me. Still, I held my breath and waited. As it turns out, this game is super not for me. I’m not against online-only games, but I come to the Fallout universe for its strange stories and eclectic characters, and it seems like Fallout 76 has none of that. Just audio recordings and NPC vendors and no V.A.T.S. combat. I get that some of the fun is you doing your own thing and maybe running into another player, which could be friendly or a new foe to fight off, but that doesn’t sound all that entertaining to me. A shame, as West Virginia seems like a cool place to explore shortly after the nukes went off. I’ll keep my eye on it, as Bethesda will probably continue to update it for a good while; here’s hoping they eventually add a campaign.

9. Donut County

Donut County, a wonderful name on its own, is about controlling a hole and filling it with stuff. The experience just seems super chill and silly. The hole gets bigger as you put more stuff into it, and you have to solve some puzzles along the way while dealing with a rude raccoon named BK. The game takes inspiration from Windosill and Katamari Damacy, so you know it has to be stellar. Shame on me. Deep, deep, dark shame on me. Evidently, the game just came out on Xbox One recently…so, no more excuses, I guess.

8. Minit

I own a copy of Minit. I got it fairly recently from the Humble Day of the Devs 2018 Bundle, which also contained a number of other sweet indie titles, such as Burly Men at Sea, RiME, and Hyper Light Drifter. It’s installed on my laptop via Steam. I just…haven’t had the time to sit down and play it, which, when you think about what this game is and how it was designed, is rather humorous. I hope to get to it real soon, but it’ll mostly likely be an early 2019 playthrough at this point. Look out for a future blog post with the ultra clever title of: I’m in it to win it with Minit.

7. Into the Breach

I’m usually not one for strategy games, but there is something cool about Into the Breach. I can’t decide if the cool thing is the game’s title, its general aesthetic, the different mech teams, or the way the battlefield is shown on a tilted angle. Either way, it seems both neat and tough, and I’m thinking this might be a great one to have on the Switch…y’know, next year, when I end up getting a Switch to mostly wait for whatever the new Animal Crossing thing is.

6. Unavowed

I’ve really fallen down on keeping up with the many point-and-click adventure games from Wadjet Eye Games. There was a time in my life where I was obsessed with these things, but then something major happened on the day of Resonance‘s release, and I was soured on just about everything that I enjoyed at that very moment. Since then, I still haven’t played Shardlight, Primordia, or Technobabylon, all of which I own copies of, but it sounds like Unavowed, the company’s latest release, is a good one to jump back into, with its multiple protagonists and ancient society dedicated to stopping evil. Here’s praying I get to it, along with others, somewhere in 2019.

5. Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age

I’m still bummed to heck and back that the Nintendo 3DS version never made it to the United States, as that is where I like to do most of my Dragon Questing these days, on a handheld device. Still, maybe that will change down the road with enough hooting and hollering. The game is pretty traditional and follows the perilous journey of a hunted Hero who must uncover the mystery of his fate with the aid of a charismatic cast of supporting characters. In short: it’s Dragon Quest, and it looks absolutely gorgeous. Alas, I believe the game is currently only available on PlayStation 4 and Steam, and my laptop is most definitely not able to run such a beautiful beast. Boo to that.

4. Return of the Obra Dinn

I played a decent amount of 2013’s Papers, Please, but it was tough and challenging and often made me sad. The next game from Lucas Pope is called Return of the Obra Dinn, and it puts you firmly in the role of a detective. The crew and passengers of a fictional East India Company ghost ship have all mysteriously died, with the game’s objective being to discover how. The player must use a combination of deductive reasoning and a Memento Mortem stopwatch to return to the exact moment of each crew member’s death to determine the identity of the sixty crew members, how and where they died and, if killed by human hands, the name of their killer. Sounds freaking amazing; plus, the 1-bit monochromatic graphical style inspired by games on early Macintosh systems really gives the whole thing an eerie as funk feel.

3. God of War

I have a secret to reveal: I never finished the original God of War. I got real close, and by that I mean…I basically stopped at the final fight against Ares. I don’t recall if I found the whole thing too tough or just didn’t care to see Kratos end his rage-filled journey. Either way, that’s all the God of War I’ve ever played. Missed out on everything since that 2005 debut, but this new God of War seems to be striking a much more somber and serious tone, and that has my interest piqued for sure. I like the mechanic behind throwing your axe and then recalling it. Too bad this is only on PlayStation 4.

2. Red Dead Redemption 2

I’m never going to play this. Also, I’ve still not played the original Red Dead Redemption. The cowboy life just isn’t for me, I guess. Unless you count things like SteamWorld Dig 2 and Call of Juarez: Gunslinger. That said, this game sure is pretty, and I love all the attention you can put into Arthur’s look, from his outfit to facial hair to even how stinky he stays. It sounds like too much focus on animation priority really slows things down, but to each their own. Again, I’ll never know, because I’ll never play Red Dead Redemption 2.

1. Marvel’s Spider-Man

One of my favorite demo discs from back in the PlayStation 1 days contained a demo for…Spider-Man, an action-adventure game based on the comics that followed an original storyline and featured narration from the recently departed Stan Lee, rest in peace. I remember it being set on rooftops, and there was some swinging action, some punching of bad guys, and Black Cat was there too. It used the same engine from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, so it has this speedy vibe. I played it a whole bunch, and to me, then, it felt awesome being in control of the Spider-Man. Since then, a whole bunch of other Spider-Man games have come out, and not all of them have been winners. From the sound of things, the latest one from Insomniac gets it right, and truly makes swinging around New York City feel amazing. Alas, once again, not having a PlayStation 4 has cut me off from some solid gems; too bad I’m only planning to get a Nintendo Switch in 2019.

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The Top 10 Videogames I Didn’t Get to Play in 2017

Happy holidays, dear readers! Gather round, gather round, for I have a tall tale to tell…

As always, I’m back to wax and wane about the games I did not get to play this year because I’m only one person with two hands and so much time on them to play these wonderfully entertaining things. My bad, but also–whatever. There’s always next year, and the year after that. To refresh everyone’s memories, because I’ve been doing this Grinding Down feature for a few years now, here’s a bulleted list of previous entries, and I do suggest y’all dig in to play detective and figure out whether or not I’ve played any of these games since these age-old posts:

I’ll spoil an entry from that bottom 2010 list that I’ve still not touched, some nearly eight years later: Red Dead Redemption. Oh well.

Naturally, there are more than 10 games that I didn’t play this year, but not all of them are things I was interested in from the get-go. Such as Mass Effect: Andromeda, NieR Automata, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, and Yakuza 0. I’m sure they are all worth trying out eventually. But enough about those. Let’s get into the ones that I probably would have played if…I could have played them. Er, don’t think too hard about that sentence.

10. Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy

Did you know a new Professor Layton game came out this year for the Nintendo 3DS? Yeah, me neither. Huh. I had a pretty busy year on my 3DS, with Ever Oasis and Miitopia taking over much of my handheld gaming time. Evidently, this stars a new protagonist for LEVEL-5’s classic point-and-puzzle adventure series–Katrielle Layton, who becomes embroiled in a casual, quizzical quest in search for her missing father. Y’know, the Professor Hershel Layton. I felt a little burned out after Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy, but I think I could dip back into this series next year. Also, screenshots show that you get to redecorate the Layton Detective Agency and dress Katrielle up in different outfits, so I’m more than intrigued, plot aside.

9. Cuphead

I have never been interested in difficult platformers, doing only the bare minimum in Super Meat Boy to get to the end credits and staying away from many of these. Though I did recently beat this weirdo. It sounds like the run-and-gun Cuphead is also just as tough. But I wouldn’t be playing it for the challenge, rather to see every inch of art and animation. See, the game was heavily inspired by the rubber hose style of animation used in cartoons of the 1930s, like the stuff coming out of studios like Fleischer and Walt Disney Animation. It seeks to emulate the most subversive and surrealist qualities, and if you don’t know what that means, look at the screenshot above. Maybe we’ll get lucky in 2018 and get this as a Games with Gold freebie.

8. Thimbleweed Park

I didn’t play Thimbleweed Park, a brand new point-and-click adventure game developed by Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick for PC and modern consoles in 2017, for the obvious reasons. It’s a spiritual successor to Gilbert and Winnick’s previous games Maniac Mansion and The Secret of Monkey Island, both of which I’ve still not played. Ugh. Send me directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200. At least I do have access to both of them, so here’s hoping 2018 is the year I finally tackle those genre classics, and then maybe I’ll see what is going on with that creepy clown.

7. What Remains of Edith Finch

What Remains of Edith Finch doesn’t sound like a happy time. This follows the titular character, a young woman revisiting her old family home as she recalls and discovers the stories of deceased family members. So, it’s probably a somber affair, though I do know that at some point you turn into a shark and roll down a hill. Shrugs. It comes from Giant Sparrow, the developer that brought us The Unfinished Swan, which I enjoyed a good amount, and I imagine this is a wild ride, the best experienced in one big gulp.

6. Rime

Rime, one of two new games from Tequila Works this year alongside The Sexy Brutale, which made the side-scrolling cinematic platforming survival horror Deadlight back in 2012, sounds like Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild minus all the combat. Which, honestly, is perfectly okay with me, considering I often tried my best not to get into fights in that game because I’d just end up losing health, weapons, and arrows without getting much to replace them. It’s about a young boy that has washed ashore on an abandoned island, with the main focus being on solving environmental puzzles. It looks both gorgeous and relaxing.

5. Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles

Speaking of relaxing, that’s the vibe I get from Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles. It’s an adventure game set in an open world environment, which doesn’t sound like anything unique, but the tone seems to be real low-key. Hey, welcome–stay a while. The game’s primary goal is collecting magical creatures, known as sprites, to banish an ominous shroud known as the Murk. Along the way, you can take part in non-violent activities like farming, fishing, and crafting while exploring the island, and that’s the part I’m most interested in. Last year, I was all about that sweet pixely Stardew Valley, and this seems to share some of the same traits.

4. Divinity: Original Sin 2

Divinity: Original Sin 2 sounds like the end-all, be-all überlegen CRPG, with content bursting at the seams and a story that reacts to nearly every single one of your choices, no matter how major or minor. That’s cool. Maybe I’ll try it some day. Though there’s that terrible part of my brain that says I shouldn’t until I’ve at least played Divine Divinity, Beyond Divinity, Divinity II, Divinity: Dragon Commander, and Divinity: Original Sin. You can’t tell because this is just written text, but I’m laughing hysterically over here.

3. Pyre

Supergiant Games is a rad developer with some highly imaginative titles. I loved Bastion, and I was a little mixed on Transistor. Pyre looks gorgeous, but I don’t know if I’ll get into the fantasy sports element since I don’t even like normal non-fantasy sports, but I have to imagine that the plot will draw me into this strange, amazing-looking world. Here’s a quick plot summary, which sounds fascinating: you controls a character who has been exiled from society and quickly meets three other exiles. The three exiles then discover that the player-character is literate and invites them to join their party, nicknaming them the Reader. The Reader aids the exiles and other exiles met during the course of the game in their travels through the land of purgatory as they look to cleanse their souls via defeating other exiles. Yowza.

2. Tacoma

I played a bunch of Gone Home in 2017. It’s still a masterpiece. Fullbright’s follow-up Tacoma is another exploration game, this time set aboard a seemingly-empty space station in 2088. You play as Amy, who has an augmented reality device that allows her to review the actions and conversations of non-player characters that were part of crew that had been aboard the station. These recordings can be manipulated, fast-forwarding or rewinding as necessary in order to see what happened and move the plot forward. It’s another rummaging simulator, but this time aboard an abandoned spaceship, like Prey but without the constant fear of a coffee mug trying to kill you. I also think the polygonal character models look super neat.

1. Super Mario Odyssey

I don’t have a Nintendo Switch, and I probably won’t for a long time. That’s just how these things go, too many consoles, not enough money, space, and time. Thankfully, I was able to play Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild this year via the Wii U version, which is fine. Then again, when I think about it, I haven’t played many of the big Mario marquee titles over the years, like Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, both Super Mario Galaxy titles, and so on. So this isn’t anything new or shocking, but the twist is that Super Mario Odyssey is the first one in a while that I’m actively interested in playing. The hook of using your hat to take over enemies and use their abilities to better yourself seems fun and instantly reminds me of Brave Fencer Musashi. I also really like how organized the game is when it comes to tracking how many moons you’ve collected, and that the collectibles are your ship’s currency to get you to new places.

And there we have it, the top 10 games I didn’t get to play in 2017. I hope I can play one or two of these some time in 2018, but there’s never a guarantee on that (see the previously mentioned Red Dead Redemption at the top of this post).

But that was me, and now I want to know more about you. What big or small games did you not get to touch this year? Tell me all about them in the comments section below.

The games of E3 2017 that have me keyed up

E3 2017 is not technically over yet, but a majority of the big announcements and reveals have come and gone, with Nintendo swooping in yesterday to present a world where a hat can Mario-ize any object, living or not. It’s a fascinating gameplay hook, one that does now have me interested in owning a Switch far down the road. Forget vapor champers and 4K streaming and how good rain looks in your driving game–that hat is where it is at. Still, not a single one of my wishes was granted, and for that I’m a sourpuss. Just kidding, all–I love videogames, even the ones I don’t like, and there’s never been a better time to be playing these digital thingies.

The following is a list of the games announced at E3 this year that have got me all full of excitement and curiosity. They are in no particular order, and no one company “won” E3, especially not Sony, which definitely only won the “Did Not Win” category. Sorry, y’all, if that was confusing, but it’s true. Look into your heart, and you’ll see it’s so.

A Way Out

I enjoyed what Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons did, both thematically and gameplay-wise, and I think I’m going to dig A Way Out‘s focus on cooperatively escaping from prison. This comes from Hazelight Studios and will be published by Electronic Arts. Josef Fares, the game’s creative director, spoke about this project passionately and with excitement, and it is difficult to ignore that and not let yourself stir at the thought about distracting guards and crawling through a tunnel of poop in the middle of a thunderstorm to taste that freedom air.

Anthem

I’m glad there’s not a new Dragon Age game coming from BioWare. I’m still working on that last one, though I hope to complete it this year. No, I must complete it in 2017. For those wondering, I’m around 60 hours in, maybe three-fourths of the way through. Anyways, this, this Anthem, sure looks a lot like Destiny and Dragon Age/Mass Effect, but it’s third-person and seems more focused on exploration that bragging about some sick gun I found in a cave. I’m interested for sure, but if this is the kind of game that requires a full team of peeps all the time to enjoy…well, count me out. Either way, curious to hear more.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds

I’ve watched a lot of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds over these last few weeks, fully understanding that I myself might never play this Battle Royale-inspired extravaganza. I don’t believe it requires that big of a machine to run, but now I don’t have to worry about even attempting this on my ASUS laptop because it’s coming, exclusively, to the Xbox One this year. I’m so ready to find a quiet, hidden hole and sit in it until the number of participants left on the island rapidly depletes and then stumble into a firefight unprepared and get killed unceremoniously. You heard it hear first.

Super Mario Odyssey

New Mario is new Mario. And this one keeps on surprising, with the reveal of Mario’s hat friend Cappy able to take over people and items in the environment for Mario to use. It instantly made me think of Brave Fencer Musashi and how you could steal abilities from enemies to help you on your journey. A Nintendo Switch is most likely a long way’s off for me, considering I can still get Breath of the Wild for my little used Wii U, but whenever I do eventually acquire the device, this will be an obvious purchase.

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions

I’m pretty sure I have a digital copy of Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga on my Wii U. Let me go check. Yup, definitely do. I think I got it a while back by redeeming some Nintendo Club points before that system vanished. Anyways, naturally, I bought it and have not played it. Looks like I can continue to hold off because an enhanced remake for the 3DS is coming out soon, and that’s probably the better version to play at this point in time.

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

The turn on Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle happened fast. It all started with people scoffing at the inclusion of guns on the hands of Nintendo’s sweet, innocent original characters, the absurdness of Rabbids wearing costumes to look like those characters, and the fact that no one really knew much else about the game other than its title and that Mario was ready to shoot something. Well, now we know–this is XCOM plus Nintendo silliness. I’ve always been intimidated by permadeath-driven strategy games, but this tone seems gentler and more fun, so I’m interested in seeing how it plays.

Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology

Sigh. Radiant Historia has long been a game I’ve put on my “I will play this game this year” lists…and have failed to do so. Boo to me. The thing is, I really like it, but it’s a game about time travel and manipulating past events, and at this point I’d be totally lost going back to my years-old save file. Might as well wait for Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology, an enhance remake for the Nintendo 3DS. I wonder if it’ll have any StreetPass functionality.

Well, that’s that. I’m sure I’m forgetting a few key names here–there’s been a lot to keep track of these last few days–and don’t be upset that Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, Days Gone, and that new God of War aren’t here. The hard truth is that I have never been excited for them and never will be.

But that’s just me. Now I’d like to hear from y’all…what games are you most excited for, whether this year or slated for 2018? And on a scale of 1 to 100, how upset are you that Suikoden VI is still not a thing?

My E3 2017 wishlist because a boy can dream

It’s one of the best times of the year, with E3 kicking off this weekend, followed in a month by Awesome Games Done Quick. In short, time to watch a lot of livestreams. Either way, I’m always excited to hear about new developments in the industry, even if I ultimately never procure many of the new machines or play a majority of the big name games to come. It’s fun being in the know, and I love the nightly interview segments with a mix of industry peeps over at Giant Bomb. Still, I do have some desires for this year’s event, and they are as follows:

Borderlands 3

Look, it’s time. It’s beyond time. No one really got into Battleborn, so Gearbox needs to accept this and move on to the thing that retains a strong fanbase to this day–the Borderlands series. Specifically, the one where you collect a million guns and shoot them at cel-shaded enemies, not the one where you talk your way out of a bad situation into a worse scenario. I’ve been dipping my toes back into Borderlands 2 over the last few months, but a service built solely for these new consoles would be extra great, and I’d love to see something along the lines of Hitman contracts with new raid-like bosses to attack every few weeks instead of a lackluster DLC package.

Death Stranding

We already know this game exists, but I want more info on it. Especially since Mel and I have been working our way through Hannibal and I’m finding Mads Mikkelsen to be highly watchable as an unpredictable villain. I’m still curious if it’ll play like Metal Gear Solid 4 or be a completely different thing. I suspect Hideo Kojima really likes stealth action, so it’s a good bet, but he himself can be unpredictable. I don’t expect the narrative to be clear until the game is out and played through multiple times; I just want to know what the running around is like. Either way, tell us more.

The Elder Scrolls VI: Valenwood

Fallout 4 did not take hold of me and never let go. Instead, I played it, enjoyed a decent chunk of it, beat it, murdering a lot of people to my dismay, and have not really gone back to the thing. I’ve thought often about returning to Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, but that would require booting it up on my Xbox 360, and I don’t want to do that. I’d rather wait for the next installment. Which, maybe, might be set in Valenwood. I don’t know. Your guess is as good as mine, but Bethesda is hosting its own press conference again this year, so maybe we’ll get some updates about what is next from their blockbuster high fantasy RPG time-eater. There’s probably going to be a Doom sequel too for those believing that lightning can strike twice in the same spot.

LEGO james bond

Rest in peace, Roger Moore, my favorite 007, but maybe we can bring you back to life in LEGO form. There are still plenty of LEGO games I haven’t gotten to play yet, but if this thing became a reality it would move right up to the top of my priority list. Traveler’s Tales could either do like they did with LEGO Harry Potter and split this across multiple games, or, if they loved us even just the littlest bit, put out a super compilation of Bond’s best and coolest movies for us to play through. These have everything a LEGO wants: colorful cast of characters, cool gadgets and gizmos, enhanced vehicles, and globe-trotting adventures.

Picontier

I don’t remember when this “slow living miniscape RPG” was announced, but it was some time back. Immediately, it reminded me of Stardew Valley and Rune Factory, which is great, and it was destined for the Nintendo 3DS. It’s also now coming out for the Nintendo Switch. When that is, I do not know, but I love the retro look, and having this kind of experience on the go is really appealing to me. Hopefully we’ll get some more concrete coverage during Nintendo’s streaming hours. Or it’ll just be a tiny tidbit hidden in some press release that goes out after their Nintendo Direct vid.

Suikoden VI

This is never going to happen. I know that, you know that, Konami knows that. But still, a boy can dream. Is it too much to ask for a game with an empty castle that one can fill up with people they meet along their way to stop an evil thing from becoming the ultimate evil thing? No, Dragon Age: Inquisition–you do not do the job well enough.

Right, right. What games are you looking forward to hearing more about at this year’s E3? Speak up and share your wishlist in the comments section. Be sure to include Suikoden VI and get it trending on social media.

The Top 10 Videogames I Didn’t Get to Play in 2016

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2016 is certainly a tough year to summarize. When I really sit and think about it, several things flash before my eyes, many of which I wouldn’t describe as good. I’m not going to name them. They don’t need naming, and I know Hermione Granger once said, “Fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself,” but I’m worried. Deeply concerned and cautious, scared for those that are living in true fear. I’ll be okay, but many others won’t. Also, losing David Bowie, Alan Rickman, and Sheri S. Tepper sucked. Still, one area that seemed to shine and press onwards, at least to me, was videogames, and I’ll never turn down the chance to disappear elsewhere for a time being. That said, I still didn’t get to play everything that came out this year, hence the list.

Once again, because I am the biggest fan of this ol’ feature of mine and love reveling in the games I haven’t played, dreaming of the days when I will get to them, here’s a short bullet list of the previous entries for this annual Grinding Down event:

You could even make a game out of those old posts and try to discover, based on what is visible on Grinding Down, which games I’ve finally gotten to and which ones are still lost in the haze that is other games in my collection yelling at me simultaneously for attention.

All right, on with it…

10. The Witness

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Perhaps I should actually finish Braid before I even attempt The Witness, not that the two are, as far as I know, connected in any tangential way. Here’s the rub: I already know how Braid ends, its twist, the reason it is more about the journey and not the destination. I would just need to soldier through the remainder of its puzzles to see it for myself. After that, yeah, I can move on to line and environmental puzzles on a mystical, magical island brimming with color. It sure does look pretty, but I do worry that my brain might not be up to snuff for some of these trickier areas excitedly whispered about when the game was released at the start of the year.

9. Dragon Quest Builders

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I like Minecraft, and I love Dragon Quest. Thus, this fusion of the two, this Dragon Quest Builders, sounds absolutely wonderful. It’s got style and charm, with a fun story to tell that is evidently directly connected to the very first game. Alas, I don’t have a PlayStation 4.

8. Inside

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If Inside follows the same path as the developer’s previous creation Limbo, then it’ll be given out for free, multiple times, on every platform imaginable in just a few years. I can wait.

7. Samorost 3

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Man. I feel bad. Samorost 3 is really something I wanted to play this year, and I even went back and finally played the first Samorost in preparation for a world of weird, quirky things, starring a tiny man in white pajamas. I watched the Giant Bomb Quick Look for the game and was pleased by what I saw…but then never sealed the deal. Not really sure what happened. Hopefully I can rectify this problem early into 2017 as Samorost 3 is probably the best world to escape to if you want to forget what reality is actually like and just want to solve an obscure, mechanical puzzle by clicking on everything.

6. Firewatch

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So far, I’ve not been spoiled for Firewatch, but that’s likely to be undone as I listen to more and more Game of the Year podcasts and read up on many numbered lists. I guess that’s okay. I’m a huge fan of Olly Moss and his art, and when you combine that with adventure-esque gameplay mechanics, jerk teens, the mystery of what’s hidden in nature, and a lot of dialogue from Chris Remo, Jake Rodkin, Olly Moss, and Sean Vanaman (hi, three-fourths Thumbs!)…sigh. Many of us were asking for so long what is Firewatch. Turns out, it’s one of the top 10 games I didn’t play in 2016.

 

5. Doom

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Now technically I did play Doom this year, but only the first level. Several times in a row before determining that yes, this is great fun and something I look forward to playing more of whenever that day arrives. Alas, it didn’t arrive in 2016, but maybe that’s okay. The game isn’t going anywhere, and 2017 seems like a really good year to wallow in the glory kills of cult-like beings and a demonic invasion from Hell. I probably won’t touch the multiplayer, but it seems like the general consensus is that the main campaign is plenty meaty enough to satisfy the trip below.

4. Oxenfree

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Oxenfree seems neat. It’s a supernatural mystery graphic adventure with style and drama-driven teenagers. I bet it’s my thing. Evidently, the game is on sale for about $4.99 right now for the holidays, but my Xbox One, besides deciding to not show my pins anymore, has decided to refuse me access to the store. I click and click and click, all for naught. Fine. Don’t take my money, Microsoft. I’ll go buy a sandwich instead. Sorry, Oxenfree devs.

3. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

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I’m still working on my no kills on the hardest difficulty setting quest for Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and until those Achievements are popped, no future Adam Jensen for me. That said, I’ve heard that Prague is a lot of fun to explore, the sort of introductory hub space one can spend far too long in, like the Hinterlands in Dragon Age: Inquisition. Truthfully, I’m down with that. Let me live in a world and never leave. Even if that world is full of heavily prejudiced people towards humans augmented with artificial upgrades.

2. No Man’s Sky

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As previously mentioned, I don’t have a PlayStation 4. However, I do have a laptop, and this laptop can run some indie games on it, as well as a few bigger games with all the settings turned down low. Such as Red Faction: Armageddon. It’s not ideal, but I make it work. At one point, on Giant Bomb‘s Unprofessional Fridays, they played No Man’s Sky on its lowest settings–resolution, textures, everything–and, to me, it didn’t look terrible. It looked like something I could do to experience one of the biggest launches of the year. However, I never took the bait. I held my breath and listened to those that played the game, hearing both their praises and criticisms. Exploring planets and collecting data on plants and alien life is certainly my jam, and I’m okay with this not actually being more than that. Regardless, I think I’ll wait and see how No Man’s Sky evolves over the next year as the developers update it to match more of what they originally promised.

1. Hitman

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In 2016, I played Hitman: Absolution and rang just about every inch of content from it, getting all the evidence, costumes, and most of the in-level challenges. It wasn’t all that tough. I left one Achievement unpopped, the one for beating it on the professional difficulty. No thanks. I had an okay time with it, but Hitman: Absolution is the exact opposite of IO Interactive’s Hitman (2016). My history of the series has been documented on Grinding Down, but this new entry, which everyone thought was going to be a disaster due to it being served up episodically, seems so wonderfully open that you can truly play however you want. Except using guns. That’s the big difference. For a number of levels in Hitman: Absolution, I hid behind a corner and shot every enemy to death until there were no more people searching for me; that definitely can’t be done in the new game, and that’s a good thing. Hitman is about sneaking around in the open and using the environment to your advantage, with the occasional chokehold or push off a ledge. I hope to play it in 2017, but I am somewhat saddened to have missed out on all the elusive targets along the way,

Well, there it is. And here we are. You may notice some big name, triple A titles missing from the list, such as Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Titanfall 2, and Overwatch. It is true that I also did not play those this year, but the twist is that I had no desire to play them compared to the ones listed above. Twist.

While I have your eyes and ears, what games did you miss out on this year? Share below please. And don’t worry. There’s always 2017 for them, unless of course Drumpf actually decides to play nuclear war with every country ever, and then I guess I’ll just devote my free time to the upcoming Fallout: Old Jersey, to better learn how to survive in a proper wasteland.

The Top 10 Videogames I Didn’t Get to Play in 2014

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Actually, I played and beat a lot of games this year, somewhere around 73 according to my well-kept list. That’s my highest count yet since I started keeping tabs. Many of those games were from last year, years past, or tiny indie darlings. I did get to a few titles that came out this year, such as Transistor, Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, and Fantasy Life, to name a few, but as things often go, I missed out on a big chunk of the heavy-hitters.

Truth be told, this is one of my favorite lists to put together at the end of the year. Sure, it can seem like a bummer to miss out on some of these, but I’m a patient man and will get to some of them in due time. Or maybe not ever, given that Red Dead Redemption showed up on these lists a few times in a row, and I’ve still not ridden a horse to Mexico. My bad.

And for those curious to see how this feature ran in the past, here’s a bullet list:

Remember, this is a list of games I didn’t play that, if I had the time, money, and chance to, would totally play. Just putting that out there if you’re wondering why Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare or Titanfall isn’t showing up below. I don’t want to touch those, not even with a ten-foot pole. Your thoughts and mileage may vary.

10. Destiny

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Hmm. I really like Borderlands II and the idea of a loot-driven first-person shooter. Shoot things with guns, get cooler guns, do it all again. That’s perfectly fine. While the Borderlands series might not have the most illuminating or powerful story, it at least has a story, with characters and twists and resolutions. Sounds like Destiny doesn’t, which is scary, given Bungie’s plan for ten years worth of content. I don’t know. It looks pretty, but I’m a solo player, and a lot of the later game content is slanted towards group play.

9. Assassin’s Creed: Unity/Assassin’s Creed: Rogue

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Another year, another new Assassin’s Creed game to slip past me in the crowds while perfectly pilfering my purse. Based on reviews and fan feedback, neither of these two titles sounded all that great, riddled with bugs and repetition. Still sounds like Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag has been the series high point. That said, this year, I did finally start playing Assassin’s Creed II and am enjoying it very much, though I wish the feathers showed up on the map. Collecting is hard.

8. Child of Light

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Visually pretty RPGs make my knees buckle, but I never got around to trying Ubisoft’s take on the genre. Heard some complaints about the rhyming mechanics and the lackluster combat, but I can see past that for its watercolor painting graphics. It came out on a bunch of platforms, too, though I feel like this might be a good one to grab on sale sometime next year. Until then, Child of Light

7. Divinity: Original Sin

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Instead of playing Divinity: Original Sin this summer, I dabbled in The Temple of Elemental Evil. It was decent fun, but not the same. Hoping to see the newer, better CRPG pop up in some bundles next year.

6. Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

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Generally, if I can’t play a specific game or have trouble gaining access to it, I’ll search out a similar experience elsewhere. See above with Divinity: Original Sin. For Hearthstone, a card game everyone was gaga over this year in the same vein as Minecraft a few years back, I just never got to play it. I don’t have an iPhone or iPad, but I did discover Might & Magic: Duel of Champions, which is a lot of fun. Maybe next year I can try this and say “Job’s done!” myself.

5. Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel

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Remember in the blurb under Destiny where I said I really liked Borderlands II? Well, that’s true. I really liked it. I still like it. I’m still playing it. And so I’m not ready to move over yet to another game that is very similar save for a different setting and an oxygen mechanic. Sounds like there is some collection coming for the series, and it would be awesome to see Borderlands, Borderlands II, and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel all together, bundled with every bit of DLC that’s ever been made for the series. One can dream, I know.

4. Bravely Default: Flying Fairy

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Here’s the thing. While I did not play the full retail release for Bravely Default: Flying Fairy, I did get to try out the special demo put out a few weeks before the game dropped. It’s fun and gorgeous and a modern take on the older style of Final Fantasy games. I meant to pick up a retail copy, but never did. And then a few weeks ago, I had to remove the demo from my 3DS to save space and make room for important things, like new puzzle pieces and themes.

3. Shovel Knight

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An old-school action platform where you hop around on your shovel like Scrooge did his cane in DuckTales. I really shouldn’t have to write any more to sell you on the title, and I’m very sad I never got around to this. Think it would be perfect to play on my 3DS, so maybe some Christmas money can help with that plan.

2. Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes

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One of my goals for this year was to play through every Metal Gear game in order of release. I got all the way through Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Still, a pretty good effort. I won’t be able to try out Ground Zeroes, purported to be the Metal Gear game with the best controls yet, until I finish a few others ahead of it. Hopefully by the time I get to it I can play it like a prologue to The Phantom Pain. Fans believe we’ll hear the release date for that one in just a few days, on Christmas, a gift worth unwrapping violently.

1. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

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All right, here’s the big one. A Lord of the Rings game, and I didn’t play it. I try out just about every title I can. Yup, even Aragorn’s Quest. Yes, even The Fellowship of the Ring on the PlayStation 2 despite its terrible grammatical errors. That said, the reason one plays Shadow of Mordor is to experience the Nemesis system, which is deep and complicated and cool; however, the last-gen versions of the game have the Nemesis system removed due to limitations, leaving behind a more hollow product. My laptop certainly can’t run a game like this, so I will have to wait until the day I get a new-gen console, which won’t happen until I also know when Fallout 4 is definitely coming out. Sigh. This one hurts the most.

Right. That’s my list. Those are ten games I wanted to play, but ten games I didn’t get to play. Boo-hoo. What titles did you miss out on this year? Speak up in the comments below, and may you get to everything you want to in the next, new year! Until we meet again, dear Grinding Down readers.

Mining my experiences as a cowboy steambot in SteamWorld Dig

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I’ve never gone very far underground in my thirty-one insipid years on this planet we share, and that’s fine. A few family vacation one-offs where we’d explore a cave with a tour group or something like that, but never any personal expeditions. Much like the ocean, the underground is terrifyingly expansive and filled with too much unknown. Also–very dark. There’s a 2006 horror movie called The Descent that seems like the most scariest thing possible, as it follows a group of British spelunkers down into the deep dank depths of some labyrinthine caves in North Carolina; on top of that alone, they get pursued by flesh-eating monsters. No thanks.

If I was to go underground, I’d hope it would look more like SteamWorld Dig, all colorful and bouncy and peppered with kooky characters like Lola, who runs the bar in Tumbleton and acts as a respawn point, and Hank “Cranky” McCrank, a repairbot who helps you upgrade your digging tools. I mean, just look at the game’s hero Rusty; with his cowboy hat and big, green metal hands, he appears more than confident to handle whatever is lurking deep beneath the town, and so I’d go with him, though still not too far down.

The story here is slight, but solid enough to give Rusty a reason to dig deeper into the mineral-infested ground. Rusty the steambot wannabe-cowboy has inherited his uncle Joe’s mine after Joe apparently lost his life plunging into its depths for secrets. Naturally, curiosity screams, and Rusty takes up the call (and pickaxe) to continue his uncle’s journey. That’s it for now, and the characters aboveground in Tumbleton are essentially menu options and quest-givers at this point, but that could all potentially change down the line.

There’s a cycle to Rusty’s cavernous adventuring, and it is thus: dig down into the mine, gather as many minerals as you can hold, return to town, sell your stash, purchase upgrades to help you dig deeper, gather more resources, and survive longer. Much like Rogue Legacy and Spelunky, it has that “one more run” vibe to it, because even if you don’t get far or gather too much, every piece of trashium or copper sold is all feeding back into making Rusty better, stronger, more awesome, which promotes sojourning a wee further. You can really only go so far as your tools allow, and eventually you’ll run out of lantern light or hit dirt you can’t dig through yet. Or maybe even some tough critter-crawly enemies. Either way, you have to hightail back to sunlight, and you can either climb back up the hole you dug or find a fast travel point along the way.

On your way down below, you’ll also come across special cavern entrances that basically lead to a platforming section or ability-testing area. You can find some good valuables in these spots, as well as new abilities, like special drill arms, wall-jumping, or boosting upwards from a stationary position, which uses steam, a finite resource to also keep an eye on. These aren’t very tricky so far, and often give you a reason to travel up, left, or right rather than simply down all the time.

Right. I’m one of those crackpots that thinks Super Mario Bros 2 is a more enjoyable time than Super Mario Bros 3, and a favorite section of mine is when you have to travel downwards through layers and layers of sand. You do this by digging, by hitting the “pick up object” button, and the Princess–who else would you even bother playing as, honestly–will lift the sand beneath her feet away, causing her to fall into the next line. Keep doing this, and eventually you’ll get through it. You make your own path, and the enemies will even follow along it just like you. That same idea applies to SteamWorld Dig; how you dig down to the caves or map indicator is customizable, but you also have to be thinking about reverse directions too, about what would make it easier for Rusty with no light to find his way to Tumbleton. Unfortunately, returning to the surface, especially once you really get deep down, is where things become less fun and more of a slog. I thought I read that the underground is randomly generated, so if that’s true, the replayability is at least very strong with this one.

For those with a PlayStation 4 and subscription to PlayStation Plus, SteamWorld Dig is a freebie for the month of November. Even if it wasn’t free, I’d heartily suggest checking it out. So long as you don’t mind a whole lot of digging.