Games that Got Me Through This Challenging Year
2020 was kind of mess on any number of fronts, but I found that there were some pretty enjoyable video games out there that helped me weather the difficult situation. Truth be told, I'm a casual gamer at best and not on the forefront of computer or console technology, so while some of the games included here are newer, several are older games that I really sat down to enjoy during 2020.
Persona 4 Golden
A reworked edition of a game originally released on consoles in the late 2000s, this game mixes high school simulation with traditional Japanese RPG elements with social interactions among characters being featured prominently. The story really hooks you, and while somewhat grindy, this was probably the most generally outstanding and rewarding game I played all year.
Being a DIK: Season 1
Okay, I should start off by saying this game (NSFW links) is definitely an adults-only experience, but if you're playing this game just to, uh, "play it one-handed," as they say, you're doing it wrong. From the maker of the equally outstanding Acting Lessons comes this quite amusing and also emotionally affecting visual novel that plays kind of like a modernized (and X-rated) National Lampoon's Animal House. A really well-developed story and engaging cast of characters set this title apart.
This game is a couple years old at this point, but the devs have put together pretty fun DLC packages for a Halloween release the last two years. Humorous, dark, though somewhat unrefined (especially compared to something like the conceptually similar, absolutely streamlined Stardew Valley, which just got a nice update itself), Graveyard Keeper nonetheless provides a wonderful sense of escapism.
I'm digging into the past with this one, but I randomly stumbled upon it mid-summer and immediately fell in love with it. So much about this game could have gone wrong: it is, after all, a dating sim designed by 4chan users dealing with physically disabled characters. Still, I don't think I've ever gone through a game as emotionally powerful and moving as this one. In my opinion, it's stunning.
Being a fan of racing games, I look forward to trying out the various titles out there and seeing how they compare to one another. While many of them are increasingly technical and intense, Wreckfest somewhat goes in the opposite direction. I might describe it as a rallying game where you're driving beaters. Also, the crash physics and car damage elements are pretty boss.
A strategy game set in the world of commercial whaling of the early 19th century. Similar to Graveyard Keeper, this game benefits from its odd setting and scenario. I'm sure this game wouldn't please animal rights activists, but it's definitely different and rather challenging at times. This isn't a AAA title by any stretch, but I thought it was quite evocative and moody, with a nifty selection of vintage sea shanties on the soundtrack.
As a kid, I was fascinated by history, particularly World War II. Hence, when I discovered this tactical RPG game, set in the Polish capital in 1944 and focused on a group of ragtag resistance fighters roaming the city and battling straggling German forces, I was intrigued. This is another fairly low-key kind of game, but it has just the right amount of historical accuracy and a period-appropriate level of difficulty.
World of Horror
While I suspect they'd be hit or miss for modern gamers, I loved playing the old school point and click games back in the day. World of Horror looks and plays like a game for 1980s computer tech designed by a demented programmer. It's unsettling, frequently downright disturbing, and overwhelmingly doomy with menacing chiptunes nicely solidifying the mood. I pretty much love it even though it kicks my ass every time.