Categories
Debaser

Pyre

I love both of Supergiant’s previous games, Bastion and Transistor, and so that alone should have made me want to jump in right away on a new game from them. And although I knew I’d eventually give Pyre a go, the fact that most of the gameplay revolves around a fantasy sport did turn me off a bit — sports video games are definitely not a genre I tend to spend time on. But having played an hour or so, the strong narrative does make it feel like a Supergiant game, and the sports part is enjoyable enough that I want to keep playing. I’m not completely sold on it yet, but enough to want to see how complex things get.

Categories
Debaser

What Remains of Edith Finch

Just like Tacoma, this was another game I knew I’d get around to playing, and was just waiting for the right time — I grabbed it at the start of the year during a PSN sale, along with Pyre and Thumper (two other games I’d been wanting to play). It’s been a critical darling since its release, and I’d say it’s well deserved. Not only a beautiful game/environment to take in, I also enjoyed the twisty narrative style, and how it revolved around light puzzles. The one level I had an issue with was where you need to do a bit of platforming along tree branches, which was more frustrating than it should have been. But overall, a lovely experience that I played in two sessions (and it could have been one, I think it probably takes 2-3 hours to get through).

Categories
Debaser

Tacoma

This was a game I’d been wanting to play ever since release, and was just waiting for the right time to get around to it — it also had to be something I play on my work PC, because I don’t have a PC at home, or an Xbox One. I finally grabbed it at the start of the year, and if I had played it last year, it definitely would have made my year-end favorites list. I quite liked Gone Home too, but this is definitely a better, and more interesting follow-up. The sci-fi setting is already a plus for me, and I really enjoyed how you go about taking in conversations, by moving around in recorded time and space. Can’t wait to see what they produce next.

Categories
Debaser

Rime

I played through Rime last night (played pretty much all of it in one play session — overall I think it took me about 6 hours to get through it), and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’d been wanting to play this ever since I saw the first trailer, and was planning on eventually playing it on Switch, but since it’s one of the PS+ free offerings this month, I jumped in on my PS4, and I’m glad I did. Each chapter gets more and more interesting, and although it’s never super challenging, it made for an entertaining playthrough. It was the aesthetics that first got me interested, but the mix of exploration and puzzle solving made for a fun mix, and it was refreshing to not play a game like this where you’re constantly required to fight enemies. I definitely recommend playing it.

Categories
Debaser

Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition

I only played it for an hour just now, but I already think I prefer this to the proper Final Fantasy XV (which I didn’t finish, but played over 20 hours). First off is that I really do like the cartoony look, and it makes the lead characters much more palatable to me — in the proper FF15 game, I thought the world itself was fantastically rendered, but I never could get into the main characters, with their Japanese idol boy band look. The combat itself is pretty simple, but still fun — and I wasn’t a huge fan of the combat in the regular game anyway (felt too chaotic, and so I never felt like I had a good control of what was happening). Again, I’ve only played an hour, so we’ll see if I actually stick it out (and end up paying for more, since the early game is free), but for now I find it quite enjoyable.

Categories
Debaser

Yakuza Kiwami

I love this game so damn much. After playing through Yakuza 0 (which I adored), I told myself I’d take a little break before starting Kiwami (a remaster of the first Yakuza game), but I just couldn’t wait and dived in the following week. I’ve played 7-8 hours so far I think — took a break to play some other games I rented — and it’s pretty much what I want and was expecting from a Yakuza game: a beautifully rendered world, a tough-as-nails storyline, and insanely funny character bits. As good as it is, it does show its age a bit compared to 0 (a lot of annoying back-and-forth between missions for example), but it’s great, and I am definitely going to play Yakuza 2 Kiwami when it releases — and of course Yakuza 6 in a couple of months. Oh, and “Majima Everywhere” (where Majima just randomly pops up in a weird manner to challenge you to a fight) is quite possibly the best and funnest feature implemented in a game.

Categories
Debaser

Gloomhaven

I had quite a nice board game collection by the time I left Japan, and was organizing (mostly) weekly game nights at my place. When I did leave, I sold all of it to friends, and then put all of that behind. I did get a chance to play a few games since moving to Montreal with colleagues at work, and over the past couple of years bought a few small 2-player games to possibly play with my wife (we played some, but not that much). Recently though I started playing pretty much weekly with a few colleagues at work, and it gave me the bug again, not only to be playing regularly, but also to get some games of my own. I bought a few small things over the holidays and in January, but then I made the big jump, and got the most insane board game I’ve ever owned (well, the World of Warcraft board game is pretty close). Currently ranked #1 on BoardGameGeek, Gloomhaven is all the rage, selling out through its print runs (following the re-release last month, there’s already a new print run announced). I’ve liked this sort of hack-and-slash board game adventure style forever, from the 80s when I was playing Talisman (and that’s the only board game I kept, that original edition), to more modern stuff like Runebound. This of course promised to trump them all, with an insane amount of scenarios (95), legacy-style development as you play a campaign, and just so much stuff in the box that I felt like a kid on Christmas morning when I opened the box. I’ve only played 1 session so far, and a lot of it was spent going over the rules with all the players, but we were already having a lot of fun as we started the first scenario, and I’m incredibly excited to play more (which will be this Thursday, and we’re planning weekly sessions).

Categories
Media

Favorite Media of 2017

Just like I’ve done for the past 7 years (201020112012201320142015, and 2016), I like to end the year with a gigantic list of my favorite media that I consumed throughout the year. As I warn each year, this is not a “best of” list, but rather a highly subjective list of the stuff I really liked this year — I like the exercise of it all, because it gives me a chance to look back at what I took in during that year, and hopefully it can act as a list of recommendations for others. I stick to stuff that was released this year, and so there’s always stuff that falls through the crack (for example, all the 2016 releases that I only watched this year). For each category, I offer up an alphabetical top 5, and then include a few honorable mentions.

Favorite Games
Not only did we get an awesome new console from Nintendo this year, but three of my favorite games of the year were released on it — yeah, Mario Kart is pretty much the same game we got on Wii U, but it doesn’t change that I played it again just as much, and I still play it regularly. I’d say the two games that just missed my top 5 were Untold Stories and Uncharted: Lost Legacy (my favorite entry in the Uncharted series). I don’t include For Honor because I was too close to it, I include Destiny 2 for the campaign (I haven’t really played much post-campaign), and I do have a copy of Yakuza Kiwami but I haven’t played it yet.

  • Assassin’s Creed Origins (PS4)
  • Super Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Switch)
  • Super Mario Odyssey (Switch)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch)
  • Yakuza 0 (PS4)

Honorable Mentions: Arms (Switch), Bound (PS4), Destiny 2 (PS4), Fast RMX (Switch), Ghost Recon Wildlands (PS4), Graceful Explosion Machine (Switch), Mario + Rabbits Battle Kingdom (Switch), Nier: Automata (PS4), Skyrim (Switch), Subsurface Circular (PC), The Fidelio Incident (PC), Uncharted: Lost Legacy (PS4), Untold Stories (PC)

Favorite Mobile Games
Let me start by saying that all these are played on iPad — I very rarely play games on my iPhone. I also include games like Super Mario Run that weren’t released this year, but still released new content this year (I love the “Remix 10” mode, which I still play). I included the Animal Crossing game because I played a lot of it when it was released, and was quite enjoying it at first, but I eventually tired of it.

  • Fire Emblem Heroes
  • Gorogoa
  • Monument Valley 2
  • Reigns: Her Majesty
  • Super Mario Run

Honorable Mentions: Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, Card Thief, Old Man’s JourneyPhoenix II, The Elder Scrolls: Legends

Favorite Movies
I spent most of the year watching older movies, and so still have a lot of catching up to do with this year’s releases, but here’s what I liked from what I watched. And yes, Valerian is a deeply flawed movie mostly ruined by the casting of the leads, but I was wowed throughout by the visuals.

  • Atomic Blonde
  • Baby Driver
  • Blade Runner 2049
  • The Last Jedi
  • Thor: Ragnarok

Honorable Mentions: Alien: Covenant, DunkirkGet Out, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, LoganNapping Princess, T2 Trainspotting, The Incredible Jessica James, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Wonder Woman

Favorite Movies of the 1980s
To anyone who follows my media consumption, you’ll be aware that this year saw me invest the majority of my movie-watching time looking back at films (one hundred in fact) from the 80s, specifically for the years 1985, 1986, and 1987 (I also dipped into 1967 and 1977). Since that was such a big part of what I watched this year, I thought it would be fun to list my fave 5 of the 80s for each year that I revisited.

1985

  • Back to the Future
  • Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome
  • Ran
  • The Breakfast Club
  • Weird Science

1986

  • Aliens
  • Blue Velvet
  • Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
  • Pretty in Pink
  • Stand By Me

1987

  • Evil Dead II
  • Full Metal Jacket
  • Good Morning, Vietnam
  • The Last Emperor
  • The Lost Boys

Favorite TV
Even though I list a lot of series below, this year saw me enjoying movies more than I have in years, which meant watching a lot less TV shows — or maybe it’s more a case that I ended up only watching stuff I really enjoyed. My absolute favorite TV series of the year was Twin Peaks — during the 16 weeks it aired, there was nothing I looked forward to more than Sunday nights for new episodes.

  • Game of Thrones
  • Halt and Catch Fire
  • Samurai Jack
  • Star Trek: Discovery
  • Twin Peaks: A Limited Event Series

Honorable Mentions: Abstract: The Art of Design, Better Call Saul, Big Mouth, GameCenter-CX, GLOW, Master of None, Mindhunter, Million Yen Women, Mr. Robot, Samurai Gourmet, Santa Clarita Diet, She’s Gotta Have It, Stranger Things 2, The Get Down, The Good Place, The Toys That Made Us, Wet Hot American Summer: 10 Years Later

Favorite Web Series
This is a new category, as I’ve noticed that I now watch and enjoy quite a bit of video content that’s produced directly for the web. For Jeremy Parish, it covers all of the amazing videos that he produces, from the various “Works” series to his enjoyable gin-soaked “let’s plays.”

Honorable Mentions: Jeremy Parish, New Territories, Screenland, The Manga Concierge

Favorite Music
Again this year, I only list my favorite albums, as I didn’t really pay much attention to singles. I will say that I feel like I didn’t spend a lot of time discovering new music this year, spending more time listening to older records, thanks to the “For You” section of Apple Music — and I did this happily, because I’ve always found that I spend too much time listening exclusively to new stuff, quickly forgetting older albums that I’ve enjoyed a lot.

  • Colors (Beck)
  • Drunk (Thundercat)
  • Django (Chip Tanaka)
  • Masseduction (St. Vincent)
  • Onism (Photay)

Honorable Mentions: Ash (Ibeyi), Halo (Juana Molina), I See You (The XX), New Energy (Four Tet), Rest (Charlotte Gainsbourg)

Favorite Comics
As with each year, my list tends to focus more on series, which is what I tend to read the most throughout the year, and then at the end of the year I check out the “best of” lists and catch up on all the great graphic novels that came out (which I’ll do again this year). I’ll also say that my American comics reading took a bit of a dive this year once I discovered my local library, and started binging on French-Belgian comics (bandes-dessinées, or BD) again.

  • Aliens: Dead Orbit
  • Batman
  • Mister Miracle
  • Shaolin Cowboy: Who’ll Stop the Reign?
  • The Black Monday Murders

Honorable Mentions: Britannia: We Who Are About to Die, Dark Nights: Metal (and various one-shots), Doomsday Clock, Extremity, Generation Gone, Groo (various mini-series), James Bond (various mini-series), Loose Ends, Magnus, Moonshine, Motro, Royal City, Savage, Secret Weapons, Southern Bastards, The Dying and the Dead, The Goddamned, The Wild Storm

Favorite BDs
What has excited me the most in the world of sequential art this year is that after an incredibly long hiatus (of practically two decades) I’ve gotten back intro reading French-Belgian comics since discovering my local library (or rather the one near the studio where I work, as well as access to the entire Montreal library network). I’ve been reading tons of books since the summer, but the majority has been older stuff, as I’ve been catching up on series I used to enjoy, and new ones that I’m discovering. But below are some highlights of what I’ve read that came out this year — I think that by next year I should be more up-to-date on my reading. Series title is followed by book title.

  • Carthago AdventuresZana
  • I.R.$.Kate’s Hell
  • KatangaDiamants
  • Soleil FroidL.N.
  • UndertakerL’ogre de Sutter Camp

Honorable Mentions: Lady S.Crimes de guerreLe Lucky Luke deJolly Jumper ne répond plusLe Spirou deLe Maître des hosties noires, Tebori (Tome 3)

Favorite Podcasts
For this category, the most captivating podcast for me this year was S-Town, and I couldn’t wait to listen to each new episode of A Twin Peaks Podcast (by editors at Entertainment Weekly) while the series was airing.

  • 8-4 Play
  • A Twin Peaks Podcast
  • Pop Culture Happy Hour
  • S-Town
  • Waypoint Radio

Honorable Mentions: All Songs Considered, Designer Notes, Kotaku Splitscreen, The AIAS Game Maker’s Note Book, The Stack

Categories
Debaser

Skyrim (Switch)

I’ve never been able to get into the Elder Scrolls series. My first try was with Oblivion, which I played for a while but far from completion. I then tried playing Skyrim when that originally came out on PS3, mostly caught up in the hype, and after about 7-8 hours I called it quits. On top of just not really being attracted to this drab world, I also very much disliked the combat. And so now it comes out on Switch, and I’m again hearing how good it is to play, and so I decided to give it another go (renting it from our studio’s game library). I play most of my Switch games on the TV — I don’t really bring out my Switch much — but for this, I decided to try playing it exclusively in handheld mode (figuring it wouldn’t really look great on the TV anyway), and I’m finding that I enjoy the intimacy it offers when played that way. I’ve only played about 2-3 hours, and I still think it’s a drab world to be in, and I’m still not crazy about the combat, but I’ve found myself enjoying the time I’ve spent with it so far. For the next week I’m going to be visiting my parents in my hometown, and I think this is going to be a fun thing to play on my Switch while I’m there.

Categories
Debaser

Reigns: Her Majesty

This has quickly turned into one of my favorite mobile games of the year. I enjoyed the first one, but I feel like this sequel is really superior, with a mix of terrific writing and a few little extra gameplay elements that get added to the choose-your-own-adventure base. Well worth getting.