My Favorite Video Games and Tabletop Games of 2017
From my Steam Summer Sale write up on this one:
“Dead Cells is an Early Access title, but one that overcomes the stigma that label can sometimes bring. Like a side-scrolling Dark Souls, Dead Cells drops your nameless protagonist in the middle of an island dungeon with no knowledge of how they got there. As you run, jump, and kill enemies, you collect the two currencies of the game: gold and cells. Gold helps you purchase items in the shops and unlock treasure doors during play. The cells are spent at the end of each stage to upgrade and unlock new weapons and abilities. When you die you start over with your primary weapons, but everything you unlock carries over from playthroughs, able to be discovered and purchased. Addictive, smooth gameplay.”
The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+
With this final big update, Edmund McMillen finishes out his long-running bullet hell roguelike. But rather than closing it off for good, he has opened it up with enough modding tools to allow the devoted fan base to continue creating content for the foreseeable future. Not only were there a ton of official new monsters, levels, and items added with Afterbirth+, McMillen combed through the fan-created content during the year and made the best official with booster packs. As I have said before, Isaac is an endlessly replayable game for me and with this year’s freshening up continues to be just that.
Yes, Spelunky first came out 2008, but I had never really gotten caught up in the magic of this game. Much like Isaac, but with a much high difficulty curve, Spelunky caught me in its spell this year. I’ll admit I suck at this game, but there is something about its simplicity that brings you back to try again despite dying over and over. The random level generation keeps the layouts fresh so you can’t rely on memorization. Instead, it becomes about skill and agility with a little bit of luck. Spelunky has the challenge of old 80s/90s consoles games, but not the unfairness that often came out of poor programming on those titles.
Game Dev Tycoon (iOS)
Darkest Dungeon (iOS)
I’d played both of these games on PC, but found they shine wonderfully on the tablet format. In the last couple years, I have become to warm up to tablet gaming output. I have no interest in the pay to win model, so I go for what is considered “premium” iOS games simply because they cost a buck or two. It’s definitely worth it to get full PC-tier games like these. Much like Papers, Please, these two lend themselves to the touchscreen format in my opinion. I was able to start up both and begin playing with ease. The chief hallmark to how good these games are is that I can lose hours playing them, the gameplay is immersive enough you get caught up in it.
Reigns: Her Story (iOS)
The sequel to 2016’s Reigns, Her Story takes the unique Tinder-style gameplay and adds elements to enhance it. In Reigns: Her Story you play the queens of the kingdom. You’re faced with choices that will affect your standing in four categories (The Church, The People, The Military, The Treasury). You make these decisions by swiping left or right on cards that pop up. As you play, you unlock new sets of cards connected to characters. When one of the four categories bottoms out or overflows, the Queen is killed, and a new Queen begins her reign. One of the goals is to see how long you can keep her alive while unlocking new secrets and choices. A purely unique tablet gaming experience.
I covered Scythe in my post-Origins wrap-up. Read my full review here.
I also covered The Networks in my post-Origins wrap-up. Read my full review here.
Five Minute Dungeon
An excellent game for all ages, I have played it with both a group of 3rd graders and adults and everyone had a lot of fun. The game is speed matching with a dungeon crawler overlayed. Each player chooses between a character type (Ninja/Thief, Ranger/Huntress, etc.) and each class has a unique ability, usually consisting of playing any 3 cards to pull off a special move. Once the timer starts, cards from a deck of monsters, people, and obstacles are flipped, and players must work together to play cards from their hands that match symbols on the cards. It’s fun and fast, a great warm-up game for a more extended game night.
I helped back this game on Kickstarter and have played it multiple times with groups that are always very pleased and want to play more. Six venue cards are laid out, each with a different polyhedral die that accompanies it. The higher the die value, the higher the possible payout. Players secret choose which venues they will place their two trucks at and then reveal. After trucks are set the dice are rolled, and any site with multiple trucks will have to split the payout. Then the players choose how many cards from a finite deck they will play in each of five rounds. These cards are where the game really happens, allowing players to shut down an enemy truck or shut down a whole venue. They can also move their own vehicles, double their personal payout, or reroll the die on a site. A tremendous cutthroat game to play out with the right group of people.