I play way too many video games. I've always played too many video games. There was a time when I kept track, then the list hit quadruple digits and I stopped. I don't remember how many games I've played in the past two months, maybe even the past two weeks, let alone the whole year. I'm fairly certain I played Shenmue in the past two weeks, on an actual Dreamcast that I still own.
Shenmue is fine, and I wouldn't mention it at all if I didn't think it provided context for the way I approach video games. Crucially, despite playing it to near-completion, I can't recommend it to most people as of this writing in 2020. Like many of the games I go out of my way to play, I would classify Shenmue as a historical curiosity. In other words, it's a game I felt that I needed to play in order to truly understand what came after it.
Here's a list of six games I played this year that I extremely remember.
The razor-sharp balancing of the weapons and monsters in Doom 2 is why one of the goals of the 2016 Doom reboot was “it needs to be more like Doom.” I don't think there's another video game that will ever stand the test of time like Doom 2 has, in no small part thanks to the still active modding community.
If you want to check Doom 2 out for the first time ever today, grab a copy of the game, GZDoom to run it, Autoautosave to retrofit it with a customizable checkpoint system, and Smooth Doom to add more frames to weapon and enemy animations. Don't let anyone bully you into playing on Ultra-Violence unless you're up for it, and turn off GZDoom's texture filtering: the blurry look doesn't fit the detail level of Doom.
The thing about Supergiant Games is that they've never missed, not even once. They've always succeeded at whatever they set out to do, and apparently Hades set out to be the last video game anyone ever needs to buy. Despite the relatively low number of bosses, the number of variations and the ways to up the ante makes Hades a game that I think I could play once or twice a week for the rest of my life.
Fun Aster Fact: I started playing Hades before I caught Covid-19, and only finished playing it months after I recovered.
Hollow Knight is twenty percent too hard for its own good. It's also my favorite Search Action game ever made by such a wide margin that I'm not even sure its sequel will be able to match it. I could give you a dozen tiny tweaks that would make Hollow Knight easier, but not even one that would make Hollow Knight better.
The thing that makes Hollow Knight brilliant to me is that so little of the world is blocked off to the player with the abilities that are traditionally core to the genre. Hollow Knight features a double-jump upgrade, and there's only one place where it's "required" to use it. I say "required" because, as is the way with video games, clever play can bypass that, too.
It's time for the investigation freak to dive into the sun-drenched abyss of crime. Paradise Killer is maybe the world's only open world murder mystery visual novel. It's definitely the world's only visual novel with an air dash. I can't say too much about this game because learning about this game and its thoroughly rotten setting is almost as important to the experience as solving the mystery central to its plot.
Everyone who has ever written about Planescape Torment has written a million words about it. Here's what they haven't told you because they all used cheats: Planescape Torment sees all the myriad flaws in the Infinity Engine's combat system that made Baldur's Gate 2 and Icewind Dale insufferable and fixes them. Someone on the dev team recognized that spells are super over-powered when the AI can choose to use them with perfect timing in rapid succession.
That's right, I'm here from 2020 to tell you Planescape Torment has the best combat and dungeons available in the Infinity Engine, even as originally released. It's me, the person who knows that.
Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town
I used to think Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town was the perfect farming video game. The platonic ideal of farming. I was wrong. Now you can be gay. Perfection has been achieved.
I'd like to say thanks to Mint for the opportunity to post on their frankly gorgeous website. This is the bit where I'd give you my contact info, but I don't really have any notable social media presence! Maybe watch this space for changes in the future?