Outside of MMORPGs, this was an odd year for my gaming. I had a lot less spare time this year, and while titles continued to pile out, only occasionally was I able to dip into a new game for Try-It Tuesday. Also, some games that I was anticipating — particularly Torment, Galaxy of Pen and Paper, and and Dreamfall Chapters — ended up being less-than-satisfying.
But when I look back on the year, here are the six non-MMOs that I ended up enjoying the most:
1. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2
For those keeping track at home, KOTOR 2 was pretty much the main retro game experience that I covered (Duke Nukem 3D and a handful of “try once and discard” titles were the only other ones). And even that wasn’t a regular event, as I could only cobble together enough gaming time since April for about 10 sessions. It’s just how my schedule is right now, and I’m afraid it doesn’t look like it’s going to change soon.
Anyway, I was pleased to get further into KOTOR 2 than I ever did before, taking my Dark Jedi-who-only-uses-a-blaster into this surprisingly story-rich title. While there’s some pressure on myself to move on to other games, I would like to see it through to the end. Someday.
2. West of Loathing
This single-player RPG set in the same universe as the multiplayer Kingdom of Loathing was a hilarious treat from start to end. Clever, funny, and fun, West of Loathing delivered this graphically minimalistic experience that was nevertheless deep and oh-so-satisfying. It tweaked RPG conventions (and western genre ones, too) left and right while teaching me how important it is to check every spittoon no matter how much grief the game gives you.
3. The Sims 4
I had previously missed out on the fourth installment of the Sims franchise, and when I found it on sale, I decided why not. I get Sims cravings every now and then, and for a few weeks I had a great time setting up houses and fiddling about with my virtual people. It was a great title for playing with my kids by my side, I found, especially when they got to voice input on my choices.
There were a LOT of old mobile favorites that kept coming up on my phone — Fallout Shelter, Crazy Kings, Clash Royale chief among them — but Hearthstone was a pleasant surprise in my mobile gaming time when I finally went back to it after years away. The new expansion and general Blizzcon excitement prompted me, and I discovered a game that was still pretty accessible and engaging in short spurts. It still stinks when you go up against people with super-expensive decks, but I give as good as I get.
5. Divinity Original Sin 2
While I’m still scratching at the surface of this critically acclaimed RPG, I can definitely say that it’s among the greats from this year. After all, it lets me talk to animals and wear a bucket as a helmet, so that’s a sign of quality! I know I have a long way to go with this anything-goes RPG, and part of me is tempted to reroll and get a better start, but I like the idea of actions having consequences. It’s like the best modern Baldur’s Gate II I’ve played.
6. Love You to Bits
Speaking of mobile, I finally finished Love You to Bits, an incredibly creative adventure game in which your little space guy is trying to reassemble his robot love, one piece at a time. Each level has a unique theme, unique challenges, and tons of secrets to unlock. My favorites had to be the time loop one and the poltergeist level, and I was very impressed by the non-verbal environmental storytelling going on.
Honorable mention: SNES Classic
Tossing in an honorable mention for grabbing an SNES Classic this fall, which gives me great pleasure to play with my kids and remember some of my favorite games of the past. Of course, this now means I’ll have to play FFVI as it was originally published, since I’ve never beaten it. Please, Santa, give me more gaming time!