It’s December, which means it’s the customary time for people to start making lists of their favorite games of the year. The last few times, I asked people to submit nominations and vote for them, which went alright.
However, I gotta say: I’m tired of game of the year stuff.
When it comes to game of the year content(TM), there’s usually a clean sweep for some games. In the mainstream spaces, let’s be real, Elden Ring and God of War: Ragnarok will probably sweep everything they’re eligible for. It’s boring! Hell, even indie only spaces can face the same kinda heat. On this very site, Deltarune: Chapter 2, OMORI and Cruelty Squad pretty much dominated last year’s list, and the only reason why other games got mentioned at all was because I did a ranking system for the categories. Those are all good games, but it’s boring that the guaranteed winners that everyone already knows gets all the attention.
On a personal level, I can’t even get into games of this year because I’m still mainly playing games that came out years ago. In fact, I think the only new games I played this year (besides the IGMC game jam stuff) was A Ghostly Rose and Vampire Survivors. It’s not even just “I have no time to play new games,” it’s more like “I can’t begin to care, there’s too many fucking games.” Like, I dunno what’s best this year, I’m playing Fear & Hunger, the quirky Berserk inspired RPG about depression and the trans girl simulator Secret Little Haven, and those both came out years ago. It’s unbecoming of a journalist to not care about current trends, but it’s not as if I’ll have a proper career or anything. My brand is too rancid and the media ecosystem’s too fucked up by Facebook and Twitter to depend on.
In fact, I doubt that a lot of you played a lot of new games this year, either. We’re all struggling with backlogs, even while insane people complain about content droughts in the middle of the year.
So, that had me thinking: instead of bothering with discoursing about the best of the best, how about we talk about games from this year that people may have missed? A lot of games release every year and a lot of them wind up flying under the radar. Instead of elevating the best stuff that people already know, we could elevate other stuff.
So for this year, instead of voting for your favorite games to make the most boring lists possible, why not tell me about a game that released this year that you feel deserves more attention? If things are just going to sit around on our backlogs, let’s at least make an interesting variety. I want to make a list of indie games for people to look at and think, “dang, I hope to find the time to play that.”
In fact, let me start things off, with the few games that I had my eye on that I want to one day play/want other people to play:
A Ghostly Rose was a pretty alright RPG that I played earlier this year, by zDS. A dead father tries to find closure in death by trying to reach out to the daughter he felt he’s wronged one last time. Maybe you might be sick of sad/mad dad games, especially with God of War out, but this is something I enjoyed. It tries to find an interesting gameplay rhythm in making an RPG with only one usable character, which is a challenge in itself.
If you love media about devil hunting and lesbians, you’ll like Chainsaw Man, which has both. But also, you might like BOSSGAME: The Final Boss is My Heart, by Lily Valeen. Two girlfriends hunt down the devils infesting Mammon City to make rent through the power of love. Hunt devils, hang out, and discover the secrets of Mammon City with rhythmic action gameplay. I sorta followed it for a while because I liked its vibes, so now that it’s out I can hopefully find the time to play this.
This Way Madness Lies is the latest game by Zeboyd Games. It’s a turn-based RPG about a group of girls that hop around dimensions to weird fucked up versions of Shakespearian stories in a blend of classical literature stylings and magical girl hijinks. So, I played one of the studio’s previous games, Cosmic Star Heroine, and to be honest, it didn’t grab me. However, it had an excellent base experience, so I have hopes that this is an improvement on that game in terms of story and character.
There Swings a Skull: Grim Tidings by Conor Walsh and Quinn K. could be described as a RPG horror game, but the horror here is the mundane yet real threat of climate collapse. A gay couple lives in the collapsing town of Pareildas, where its citizens slowly hang in the gallows in the name of a cruel sun. Real bad vibes here, but also with some of the stuff I make, it’s perfect for me.
This is a small selection of things that came out this year, so let’s make this list bigger! Submit your own recommendations and add to a list of small games that represent this year! The form will be closed on Christmas, so get those suggestions in; even if they’re not game of the year material, there will surely be somebody else that will have the same appreciation you do.