Underneath my yellow skin

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The one true game of 2019

*Bonus Post*

I have written about how meh this year has been as far as gaming goes for me. There have been dozen of games that I’ve tried and stopped after an hour or less of play. There are some that I played more than an hour and actually liked the game, but then fell off it for one reason or another. In fact, I wrote about two of those games in my last post. I toyed with naming this award The best game that I wasn’t good enough to finish (again) in homage to the category I used for the last two years (for Hollow Knight and Dead Cells, respectively), but, really, there is no need to name it anything other than The perennial FromSoft best game award. Or, The take my money, Miyazaki, award. I could drag this out for several more paragraphs, and you know I can do it, but it’s the worst-kept secret if you know anything about it–and me–so I’ll just blurt it out.

The one true game of 2019

My best game of the year–and The Game Awards agree with me–is Sekiro. It’s a FromSoft game. What a surprise!

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is a brilliant game. I could end the post right here, but I won’t. I have written about the game countless times as I was playing it, and I’m currently doing a replay from the very start. Why? I mean, I do have an NG+ run in the bank (fighting Bird Daddy for the second time. One of my personal nightmares, and it only gets harder from this point on) and an NG run where I’m currently sat at the bonfire in front of the Guardian Ape. I started a new playthrough because I haven’t played it in several months, and it’s not a game you can go into rusty and expect to come out ahead. At least, I cannot as I’m firmly a scrub.

Funny side note: My niece’s husband is a big FromSoft fan, and we were talking about Sekiro at Christmas Eve dinner. We were also talking about nerd stuff along with my niece, and I said I didn’t consider myself a nerd. He looked at me weirdly and said, “Not even a Dark Souls nerd?” I laughed and said I wasn’t good enough to be a Dark Souls nerd. I think we’re using nerd in different ways. I think he and my niece mean it in the more popular nomenclature which is being a huge fan of something techie or sci-fi. I was using it ironically in that the more hardcore members of ‘the community’ disavow anyone who does not play the game in the exact same way they do. Of course, they don’t play it the same as each other, so that’s fun. I like to say that I am firmly mediocre at FromSoft games, and I stick by that. I also remain absurdly proud of myself for beating all the games without ever learning to parry.


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The state of my game in 2019

Normally, this is the time of the year when I start handing out game awards with goofy names. The criteria is not what I consider the best games of the year, but games that I liked the best. I very rarely play the games on the best of the year lists, especially in the year they are released, so I don’t have much to contribute to that conversation. The one exception, of course, are FromSoft games, and I promise I will get to that later–but probably not in this post. A few weeks ago, I started thinking about the games I played this year, and I realized that there weren’t many that really stood out for me. More to the point, there weren’t that many that I actually finished.

I tend to play one ‘big’ game at a time (big in terms of amount of things to do, not necessarily Triple A or story-wise or whatnot). Ian and I like to joke that he has an ADD approach to gaming whereas I have an OCD approach. However, I’ve been thinking lately that I am more ADD than OCD than I previously thought. Yes, I can focus on one thing to the exclusion of everything else, but that’s the hyperfocus part of ADD. Anyway, this year, I played Sekiro at the end of March/all of April when it was released. I played it obsessively. I thought about it when I wasn’t playing it. I dreamed about it. It was in my blood, and I didn’t have room to think about anything else. We shall,  of course, get to that later.

One of my enduring quests is to find a mystery game that I can really sink my teeth into.  There are plenty of mystery games out there, but, unfortunately, most of them are…not great. I’ve written at length about my disappointment with them before (and the point-and-click genre in general), so I’m not going to rehash those points. I’ll just say that my experiences this year with the genre cemented my belief that those games are not for me. I tried Unavowed and Thimbleweed earlier in the year, and while the former held promise (the latter irritated me from the beginning), it inevitably fell into the trap that so many point-and-clicks do–namely, making me do elaborately nonsensical things to accomplish a quest AND showing me things I knew I would need later, but did not allow me to pick up the first time I saw them. This is the year I’ve given up on point-and-clicks, and I’m a bit sad about it.


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My Weird-ass Game Awards

So, most end-of-the-year game award posts/videos are about the top ten games of the year, which is fine, but not that interesting. Sure, there is slight variability, but it’s mostly the same games over and  over again. In addition, I’ve probably played little more than ten games this year, and not all of them were great. Or new. So, I’m going to do my own twist and just give out the game awards that tickle my fancy in no particular order. Ready? OK! Oh, and, this way be spoilers.

The Best Game I’ve Been Replaying Obsessively Despite My Previously Being Done With It Months Ago

Binding of Isaac: Rebirth

I’ve put countless hours into this game back when it was Rebirth, and several into Afterbirth, then lost complete interest when Afterbirth+ came out. I’ve already complained about the expansions and how they’re for the hardcore players, which I’m not (and I have Real Platinum God!). Hardcore meaning those who did all The Lost shit without the Holy Mantle (I did it with), which means not getting hit the entire run (barring the use of certain items). Since I’ve been sick, I mostly game on my laptop, and BOI: R runs easily on it. I reinstalled it and fired it, and I rediscovered the joy I originally had playing it. There’s been a ‘booster pack’ added since I last played, which means more items, trinkets, and cards. I stick mainly to Isaac, Eden, and Azazel, but I’m also trying to finish The Keeper’s Post-It Note. I only have MegaSatan and Delirium to finish off, but, man, it is no fun at all.

Still. A run can take up to and over an hour depending, and I like to do the rerun of the run immediately following. If I’m playing Eden, I can usually win the run without much problem IF I start with more than one heart, decent speed, and decent damage. By the way, speed makes such a difference in this game. Anything under the base of 1 makes it really difficult for me and my slow-ass reactions. It’s funny because I watched Pat and Woolie (of Super Best Friends) play the game for the first time, and it was both hilarious and frustrating as hell. I actually yelled at my monitor when Woolie (on the sticks) or Pat (giving commentary) did or said something stupid. It was especially funny when Pat would declare something confidently, and he was 100% wrong. He does that a lot, especially in the Souls series. He’s not so much factually wrong there as he’s taking his own personal feelings about something to be universal.

Anyway, BOI: R is my version of comfort food, and I’m enjoying it once again. It’s a way to turn my mind off and give it a break, and I am thankful for that.

The Most Anticipated Sequel That I Had Given Up Hope Would Ever Happen

Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!!

I loved the original game, and when the sequel was announced soon after, I was hyped! Then, a year came and went with no sequel and nary a mention of it. Then, the sequel was announced, and I was hyped again! Then, it was postponed, and I feared it would never happen. The roller coaster of emotions! The ups! The downs! When the release date was announced again, I held my breath. When it released, I was overjoyed. I dived in and was immediately transported back to my frenetic pounding on the keyboard days of CSD, the original.

The sequel is better in so many ways. The chores are more streamlined and no longer feel as intrusive. The food is gorgeous, and it makes me want to eat every time I play the game. I like the info on all the food, and playing is as intuitive as always. The menus are better than in the original, and I love the ability to design my own restaurants. It’s a wonderful sequel, and I’ve played the shit out of it. There are constant updates, and I’m glad the emails are back. The sequel was definitely worth the wait!


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