As it seems very unlikely that I will finish another video game before the end of 2017 in just a few hours, it’s a good time to go ahead and write this wrapup post. I did one of these last year as the first long-form post on this site, so why not make it a tradition?
Games bought, 2017
Mercenaries Saga 3 (3DS) The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (and a Switch!) Persona 5 (PS4) Nier Automata (PS4) Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap (Switch) FFXIV: Stormblood (PC) Arms (Switch) Devil Daggers (PC) OneShot (PC) Splatoon 2 (Switch) Shadowrun Triple Pack (PC) The Shrouded Isle (PC) Super Mario Odyssey (Switch) Yakuza Kiwami (PS4) Destiny 2 (PC) Guilty Gear Xrd -Rev2- (PS4) Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness (PS4... _twice_ by accident) Dragon Quest Builders (PS4) Aragami (PS4) Received: --------- 2064: Read-Only Memories (PC) -- gift Cosmic Star Heroine (PS4) -- Kickstarter Inside (PC) -- gift Pyre (PC) -- gift Zero Time Dilemma (3DS) -- gift Darkest Dungeon (PC) -- gift Psycho Pass: Mandatory Happiness (Vita) -- gift Civilization VI (PC) -- gift
19 games purchased (down from 25), and only 1 fewer game received as a gift or a Kickstarter. I also apparently didn’t claim a single free game on PS Plus this year (I did buy Guilty Gear via a sale, though). However, you’ll notice I somehow managed to purchase the new Star Ocean game twice. I blame Gamestop’s end-of-year B2G1 sales.
I did, however, manage to finish a few more games than usual this year, in part due to a willingness to recognize when I was in fact done with a game, whether it was ‘finished’ or not. On the other hand, I played Persona 5 exclusively for like half the year, so that chewed up some time as well.
Games finished, 2017
Persona 5 (one-and-a-half times) Long Live the Queen Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap Arms Splatoon 2 The Shrouded Isle OneShot Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp Yakuza Kiwami
I wrote at length about Persona 5 already back in May, when I finished it the first time. I fully intended to write up most of the games I played in this fashion, but totally did not. Oops.
Anyway, Persona 5 probably occupied fully half my year of gaming; even when I was playing other games on the Switch on the go, I was usually coming back to Persona 5 when at home. I completed it once and am halfway through a 100% playthrough, but it doesn’t look like I’m gonna finish it this year. So it goes.
Long Live the Queen
(image courtesy of Hanako Games’ website)
I enjoyed the time I spent with Long Live the Queen - which I thought was much longer but which Steam informs me was a mere two hours. The format is pretty fun; I tend to enjoy ‘time management’ style games (probably starting with… Monster Rancher, honestly?), and the intrigue angle is pretty fun. At first I was kind of annoyed with the number of skill tests that came would throw at you on specific days that seemed impossible to beat without going full bore on being ready for them, but then I realized that was the point, and started to keep track of what was going to happen when.
In the end I got one of the ‘good’ endings - I survived long enough to see a crown put on Elodie’s head, and I think all that happened along the way that was bad was sacrificing someone else in one of the big magical events near the end instead of myself - but I can already tell from the list of locked achievements there’s a lot I never saw. I’m not sure I intend to go back and get it, either - I enjoyed my time, but I don’t have a burning urge to, say, fire it back up and make Elodie be an angry jerk with a penchant for political assassinations.
Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap
(image from the official website)
This game is absurdly pretty. I never played the original, so I didn’t have the nostalgia factor going for me; I picked it up because it was during that very short period where the Switch didn’t have much in the way of games, and I beat it in a few hours while hanging out with my father-in-law. It’s a very competent platformer, a Metroidvania before that word was a thing, and the animation in this revamped re-released is just too gorgeous. And the soundtrack!
Arms & Splatoon 2
I’m lumping these together because in my head they’re basically the same things: multiplayer games from Nintendo with a token singleplayer component. The Grand Prix is slightly more important in Arms because it’s the primary way of earning new Arms, but I digress.
These games are both pretty okay. And if anyone is breaking them out, especially for, say, Club Tiny multiplayer nights, I’ll probably play. But I’ve stopped playing both of them altogether apart from that.
The Shrouded Isle
In theory, there’s a lot for me to like about The Shrouded Isle. The striking art style aside, playing the leader of a cult of Chernobog, deciding how best to uphold the tenets of the strange island religion while also making periodic sacrifices, keeping people from uprising, dealing with weird events that occur, and keeping the five dynasties of the island happy - it’s great on paper.
But I found that in practice, there’s just not much to The Shrouded Isle. The “random” events that happened seem to happen at about the same time each playthrough, in the same order, with the same outcomes. There wasn’t much variety at all, and so by my third or fourth playthrough I had figured out pretty well what the ‘ideal’ game loop was like and completed it with the best possible ending.
Which, since you’re a cult, is your dark god rising from the seas to cleanse the world of the unjust, or something. Praise Chernobog.
(As an aside and perhaps a different view, based on this review from Errant Signal I think there may have been an update to the game or something that I haven’t received - or else this video is showing an earlier version. It certainly didn’t directly cost family favor to interrogate about vices and virtues when I was playing, but I’m not sure if that was a new or old feature.)
(image courtesy of the game’s official website)
OneShot is a very cute but very melancholy little game where you play as a (cat?)girl named Niko who must carry the sun back to its place in a world full of darkness. I won’t spoil any more of the story than that; I’ll just say this game is very much worth your time. It’s got some puzzles, it’s got a surprisingly rich little world, and it’s got some big decisions.
Plus Niko gripes at you if you try to get her to put the sun into a crushing machine, and that’s pretty funny, honestly. Definitely recommend OneShot.
Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp
(image courtesy of Dualshockers)
Congratulations to Nintendo for producing an Animal Crossing game that seems to have been developed by people who have zero understanding of what makes Animal Crossing interesting.
The only thing I liked about this game was the music. It’s fine.
Please, Nintendo, just give us an official AC for the Switch so I can forget this “game” (this glorified to-do list) ever existed.
Until I played this game, Persona 5 was easily my game of the year. Now, well, now it’s a toss-up.
Before this year, I’d never played a Yakuza game. But between JC Fletcher raving about them on Tiny Cartridge and in Club Tiny Discord, and a sale on Yakuza Kiwami on Black Friday for $15.99 on Amazon, I figured what the heck and picked it up.
What I expected was an open-world game. My expectations were low. What I got was so much more. Yakuza Kiwami has the open world aspect, sure, even if Kamurocho isn’t as expansive as some cities. But it almost seems to have anticipated my favorite activity in most open world games (closest example probably being GTA games) and rewards that gameplay - between collectibles (locker keys, MesuKing cards, etc.), fights with thugs/Yakuza/street punks, and the endless substories, Yakuza Kiwami says hey, thanks for poking your nose into this obscure corner of the city, here’s a reward.
All the characters are just strange and cool, and everyone has their own motivations going on; Kiryu is stoic (and, incidentally, probably the first main character I’ve played in a game in a long time who’s older than me), Haruka is adorable, Detective Date is the classic One Good Cop In a Lousy System, and Majima… dear God, Goro Majima.
Kiwami added a huge new feature to the original game in the form of Majima Everywhere, which is exactly what it sounds like: in order to get you back in fighting shape, Goro Majima will randomly accost you in Kamurocho and force you to fight him. And it’s called Majima Everywhere for a reason. Buying food at the Smile Burger? There’s Majima, and he wants a fight. Picking up dog food at a convenience store? Majima’s there too. Visiting a hostess club? Instead of your usual lady, you get Goromi the Hostess.
Sometimes he’s in a trash can. Or in a giant traffic cone. Or underneath a manhole cover. Or locked inside a car trunk. Or hanging out in the West Park refusing to fight you because he’s trying to figure out how you make you fight him. Whatever!
There is just so much to do in this game, but perhaps the best part is that - unless you want trophies - you don’t have to do even a third of it. For example: the gambling games. I’ve had no issues with money, and spending time in a virtual casino is not my idea of fun, so I’m just … not doing them. And it’s okay! It doesn’t impact anything other than that I’m not gonna get all the trophies, and that’s fine.
Oh, and as a bonus: it’s approaching Christmas during the events of Yakuza Kiwami (there’s wreaths in most businesses, most of the konbinis play Christmas music over the speakers if you hang out long enough, etc.), so this is now my favorite Christmas game - which is appropriate, because I played it for most of December.
In short, play Yakuza games. I’m kind of upset I didn’t, and I’m gonna rectify that going forward. Between the (honestly pretty batshit insane) story, the pile of substories, and Majima Everywhere, Yakuza Kiwami gave me a satisfying open world that felt full and left me with more than enough to do - and I can tell you that my first purchase of 2018 will probably be Yakuza 0.
Goals for this year
- Don’t buy a whole bunch of games.
- Finish the backlog from 2016 and 2017, maybe?
- Yakuza 0!
Also, this year:
Do it bud. Tell you what, me too. And if we don’t make games we beat each other up— Phil (@stoppableforce) December 15, 2017
I have to make a game or Tony gets to beat me up!