Rhete: No Man's Sky was a game that made me feel truly tiny on a cosmic scale, as you journeyed planet to planet in a universe that contained literally quadrillions of star systems. The goal of this game seems to have literally been to make a 70s sci-fi book cover generator and they succeeded wildly. Every frame of No Man's Sky is beautiful and inspires a sense of wonder and exploration.






John: Tense unrelenting war game. It's a very cute and well-communicated game vocabulary, but the framing makes it haunting.






Zeloz: I don't see much talk about this cute, eco-friendly beat em' up that's only a handful of stages long and plays like Super Smash Bros. optimized for single-player and built around a system of knocking your enemies into each other, and it's a bit of a shame. Fairy Bloom Freesia was the first Steam game I really latched onto, with its easy-to-learn fighting system that can be upgraded to fit a more seasoned brawler's tastes, and it's one I'd implore fans of character action and/or Koei-Tecmo's Warriors/Musou games to check out if it ever pops up on sale; it's no Platinum game, but knockin' around blobby manifestations of Man's apathy for Nature is fun for an hour or so.






John: A very tasty puzzle-box with an eerie framing device. One of my favorite meta-texts about "exploration as colonization" in games.






DoorCurtain: Let me explain what Project M is. It's a mod for Super Smash Bros. Brawl that began in 2011 to make the game play more like Super Smash Bros. Melee. I'm aware of the reputation Melee has gotten over the years, but whatever your opinion on it, this mod is very high up on my list because it's what got me to start posting in online forums.

For a very long time, I believed the myths that online friends weren't real friends, and yet, in my later high school years, I felt more alone than ever when almost no one around me shared my interests or seemingly had anything in common with me. Having heard of the mod through an IGN article highlighting the Skyloft stage, I found an old SD card, emptied it, and downloaded my first video game mod ever. The result was a game that played as sharp as I wanted it to while reimagining everyone's moveset in fresh ways. Stages were redesigned to be more straightforward, with layouts that complimented the fighting rather than disrupting it. They programmed in an item that allowed whoever consumed it to cancel any attack on-hit into any other attack, forever, which in the right hands could make the game as ludicrous as Marvel vs. Capcom 2.

I played the game on a casual party level like Masahiro Sakurai (Smash's director) preferred, but this mod was so fun to me even though it was ostensibly meant only for competitive Smash players that it motivated me to finally join an online forum just to find other people to talk about it. The result was a period in my life I...don't look too fondly back upon, as I've since abandoned the friends I made there when they turned out to be bad company after getting to know them for a few years. But if it wasn't for Project M, I never would have posted on Twitter, or joined Discord, or, most importantly, joined and talked to members of the Socks Make People Sexy community. So, even if I know some people here don't like Super Smash Bros., or Nintendo, or stuff like that, I hope I conveyed how important this mod was to me more or less learning to make friends online. And hey, I thought it was fun, too!






Nate: I didn't think I would like this game so much, but it surprised me and it's really, really a good argument for golf being actually decent.






Zeloz: I could really take or leave Soukoban and its various iterations; the games often require more time and effort to solve than the likes of Sudoku or Picross/Nonograms, but they don't feel nearly as satisfying to play. John Thyer, an avid Soukoban fan, has and I imagine would still disagree, and I probably would too if most Warehousevanias had the charm, wit, and atmosphere of Spider's Hollow. There aren't many puzzles, and the ones that are there are easy enough to be solvable by any Soukoban beginner, but it's all wrapped around a delightful fairy tale with a unique sense of humor.






Nate: We'll see how Frezno's Christmas Adventure comes out.






DoorCurtain: My favorite Ace Attorney game, by far. It's the Japan-only sequel to the Miles Edgeworth game on Nintendo DS, and it tells a far more involved story than that game did. We learn more about Edgeworth's character, his decision to become a prosecutor instead of a defense attorney, and an old friend of his father's. The game's plot is intricately set up so that all 5 cases tie perfectly into each other, meaning I think it's just as good as Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Trials and Tribulations was. The final culprit is unforgettable, even if I was unfortunately spoiled on who it was beforehand. Definitely the most beautiful of the sprite-based age of Ace Attorney games, too. Best Pursuit theme by a mile, full-stop.






jetstorm4: This rhythm music game is just a good time. While sure it's mostly just tapping points on the screen or pressing buttons to the beat and rhythm of the song playing, it's just a good feeling when you score a really high combo on a higher difficulty. A game I have gone back to multiple times as time has gone on.






Zeloz: One of my favorite things Mega Man 9 introduced was the Endless Mode, and many of my favorite Mega Man hacks simply reconfigure sections of a given game into a randomly-generated series of level segments and boss battles that loop endlessly. Splinter Zone takes the idea of Endless Mode and, rather than relegating it to an optional mode of a larger game, centers itself entirely around this idea of running through segments of disparate levels in a largely-unpredictable endurance run. The result is an excellent iteration on the Jump-n-Shoot with a dystopic, glitchy flavor all its own, and enough screen shake to make a Vlambeer blush.






John: It's wild to think that as of 2019 every non-mobile SaGa game is officially available in English. Unlike RS3 this one wasn't even fan-translated, the iOS release was the first time the game was available in English in any form.

Thankfully it didn't disappoint. The Seven Heroes and your relationship with them is the strongest core story thread of any of the SaGa games, and it's carried me twice through a sprawling open-ended adventure across a dozen generations. Don't jump in if you don't know what you're getting into -- the first GameBoy SaGas are still a better entry point -- but this might be my favorite in the series.






Polly: Jazzpunk's non-sequitur off-beat humor may not be for everyone, but for those of us into that kinda thing, this game is a goddamned treat start to finish. It's not often videogame humor lands, so I feel this game should be applauded for just how often it had me laughing out loud.






Carmichael Micaalus: Me: I wonder how crazy it would be to play a Touhou game in first person. Dejobaan Games: Pssst. Hey. Hey buddy.






Atamine634: The original Bioshock took the skeletal framework of System Shock 2 but gave it none of the meat. It takes the design language of a survival game and makes it a power fantasy instead. The dissonance and annoyance I have at the borderline self-plagiarism has made me sour on the first Bioshock, but Bioshock 2 fixes this. It not only compliments the action-oriented gameplay by putting the players in the body of a Big Daddy, but it also greatly improves the level design and action-RPG elements. I also love it for being a game with actual positions and subject focuses that peaked my intellectual curiosity. It's also one of the more thoughtful implementations of a moral choice system I've seen in a game. Instead of ending the game with a cutscene reflecting your choices, your choices are replicated by the one who looks up to you most. Your Little Sister. Minerva's Den is also one of the best pieces of DLC I've played, with game design and mad-science levels of weird that defines the early Shock series more than theBioshock games ever managed. It's a terrific side-story, and honestly a better Shock game than Bioshock 2, as well providing some narrative closure on Rapture.






Zeloz: For a free pinball simulator on the Switch (with 90% of the tables purchasable via DLC) I really wasn't expecting to pour as much time into this as I did, primarily because Pinball FX 3 and The Pinball Arcade are also Free (with DLC tables) on the Switch. Yet, I often found myself shooting for those score achievements on Time Machine while in bed, the warm glow of early 80s neon on my face, the simulated sounds of a thunderstorm in the background, waiting for sleep to ease into my eyes. I think what really elevates this collection of pinball tables more than the others is just how much it appeals to my fascination with old tech; Zaccaria's pinball heyday was quite a bit earlier than Bally or Williams, and they didn't have the clout either, which may account for how old-fashioned their pinball tables feel even compared to their contemporaries.






DoorCurtain: This mystery game beat my ass. It intimidated me so much that I was reluctant to continue it because I kept feeling like I was stuck, or missing something obvious, or in general felt like a complete moron. But I kept at it, and let myself uncover more information even if I felt like I wasn't done gleaning knowledge from past information. Slowly, but surely (and with the help of an online hint guide to nudge me in the right direction), I cracked the case. The premise is simple: as an insurance investigator, your job is to discover how, exactly, everyone on a ghost ship died. To that end, you have a pocket watch that takes you to a fully 3D modeled snapshot of the exact moment a corpse died. It's basically Ghost Trick except it emphasizes solving a mystery rather than watching a story unfold. Though you can piece together a compelling narrative about how the ship came back with no one onboard, and the tragic tale of how everyone passed away. When I finally beat the game and got the golden ending, I felt like the biggest genius in the world.






Polly: The sixth entry in the Lonely Wolf Treat series once again follows Mochi, who must now deal with the aftermath of the cliffhanger in the previous game. We finally get to see Mochi sticking up for herself and her relationship with Treat in a big way, but the outcome may not be what she expected...






Nate: PARTAY!






jetstorm4: Let me preface with this: Blue Reflection is not what you would call a "good game". It's sloppily put together, has no clue what "pacing" means, and its "dungeons" are a meandering of maybe 14 different rooms that makes the factories of Neptunia seem like completely different areas. But it is one of the greatest games I have ever played. A fantastic story (baring really bad localization), tied together with the best soundtrack, incredible boss fights, and probably the hardest cry I've ever had for a group of Magical Girls, Blue Reflection allowed me to live my dream -- to be a Magical Girl and lead an army of schoolgirls into battle against Giant Eldritch Abominations that want to tear down a Japanese High School to become the next God.

Basically the Dream.






Zeloz: To call this a creepy, glitchcore metroidvania would be doing the game a disservice; the jittery, red, white, and black garden of STRAWBERRY CUBES feels less sinister than the visuals would have you believe, tending more towards warm and cozy than anything.

Just... don't go in expecting an objective or anything. Take in and enjoy the surreality.






Pauncho Smith: An incredibly goofy, retro-inspired take on.....well, think of it as a mix between Gauntlet and a RTS with an emphasis on protecting a screaming princess. Easily one of the best hidden gems on the 3DS.






Atamine634: Deserves its reputation as THE horror game of the 2010s. Frictional was already exploring their style with Penumbra, but Amnesia was a far more exciting roller coaster and execution of its craft. It's also great that this tight presentation of horror game design was complimented with an above average story regarding ethics and identity.






Zeloz: I remember this being one of the first really compelling single-player iPhone games I'd ever played. While it plays more like a rhythm game than the runner-esque vibe screenshots may give of it, there really isn't any rhyme or reason to any aspect of the game, musically or visually. Just hit the action button when you run into anything and maybe you won't lose time being harrassed by aliens, yakuza, and dinosaurs? Probably one of the goofiest Konami games to have come out in recent memory.






Rhete: The Witness is a fun puzzle game where you draw lines on screens. At least that's what it says on the box but that's not actually the truth. Once I found out what this game actually was, and engaged with its second set of mechanics, it turned the game completely upside down. Even now I'm still not sure how deep that rabbit hole goes, because naturally I never wanted to look up solutions. This game is nothing short of genius.






Nate: Like Baten Kaitos but fun.






Atamine634: A short and terrible look at a broken family unit. 10 minutes long, but extraordinarily powerful in what it conveys in those short minutes. 18+ warning.






Zeloz: While it may have been intended as a jab at pointless "clicker" games like Cookie Clicker and AVGM (themselves parodies of manipulative, grindy game mechanics), the game itself is more of a streamlined RPG, turning the genre's grindy nature into a rush to click a bunch while also having to manage a handful of stats to get through hostile and increasingly obscure SMPS memes. The game really defies Genre itself to create a beautifully absurd ode to one of the Internet's most lovely corners, and the irreverent web mistress its members revolve around. Wopperbuffet indeed.






Nate: This was a week of my life, nice little combo puzzle with a grim atmosphere and a catchy theme song.






Nate: Chaotic fun.






Carmichael Micaalus: The pinnacle of the Rune Factory series, the third entry added a lot of stuff that just worked so well for it. The town feels much more organic than the first two, and the tweaks to combat and farming were just what the game needed.






Nate: I'm really glad someone made a spiritual successor to Spider-Man 2 for PS2, because we'd never get a proper Spider-Man game otherwise.






John: Remar's most incisive game, and a masterpiece of structure. The final boss is available to you from the word go, but for most players it's far too hard to take on without first exploring the space station and making your avatar stronger. It feels great, the bosses are a blast, the screen construction is well-considered; it's just a very strong and cohesive story.






FreezingInferno: The swan song to the long-running dungeon crawler series on the DS line, Etrian Odyssey Nexus is a celebration of its series at large. It's a massive dungeon crawl adventure, maybe too massive for its own good, but one I nevertheless cherish and am glad I perservered through.






Rhete: One of the greatest visual novels I've ever read. The cast of characters is fantastic, the bad endings you can get are hilarious, and the true ending is a whirlwind of damn near every single plot thread coming together perfectly.






John: The Action Button ethos solidified into a singular jewel of arcade bliss. I'm immensely proud that I reached the end of Andrew Toups's incredible track for the game and witnessed the end of the universe. I mourn that as the game is no longer available on the App Store I will likely never taste victory against one of the Archenemies, the resilient super-bosses that only show up minutes after the world's end.






jetstorm4: Here was an NIS developed surprise! Not a Disgaea game! Instead we have a JRPG with a cute story gimmick and a cute, if minimal art style. The story goes quite a few ways during its short playtime, and the chapter based progression lets you play it in short bursts if you need to.






Carmichael Micaalus: If I ever turn out to have a time travelling friend, then I'll know this game was made just for me.






jetstorm4: The moment Pokemon stopped with the traditional "3rd Game" with a full-on sequel within a generation. Black 2 and White 2 add to the world of Black and White, adding older Pokemon and balancing the game to be a bit of a different twist than the original games.






Carmichael Micaalus: It's not too often that I'll go back and play a 90+ hour rpg, but KoA:R is one of the few I'll do it for. This one clicks with me in a way that Skyrim didn't, and I have a feeling I'll probably come back to this one every few years for another play.






Zeloz: The story is disappointing, but the streamlined combat mechanics and merciful Casual mode made for a surprisigly smooth Fire Emblem experience, even if 3/4ths of my party ended up underleveled for the last maps. And for as one-dimensional as the cast of Conquest get, they take on another definition when applying the Gay Fates hack and plotting silly love stories based on the roles and personalities of the persons involved; I can think of hardly any canon relationship so sweet as that of the one between the tank-like, gluttonous armor knight and her small, timid farmer-turned-archer girlfriend/wife.






Nate: Yeah, I really like some of the aesthetics and creativity even if it's not that scary.






jetstorm4: A Tri-Crecendo made Adventure game that borrows some survival horror concepts such as limited inventory and a flashlight that strains against dark areas. The combat isn't quite the best, but acceptable. The game's atmosphere, story, and characters are the reason to play this fantastic game.






Nate: Like Fallout 4 but with personality. I seriously always wondered why none of your companions were cynical assholes in Fallout 4, because everyone just seemed middle-of-the-road, well I got my wish and it's a great game as well! I hope we get another one.






jetstorm4: Well this was a surprise. Instead of a boring-ass crossover with Fire Emblem and Shin Megami Tensei characters in a half-hearted game like all other crossover games, Tokyo Mirage Sessions turned out to be a creative, stylized, turn-based RPG with a lot of character and heart. It takes Fire Emblem story elements and SMT mechanics and spells to make something different, and something special.






Carmichael Micaalus: I kickstarted this one on a whim, and gods am I glad I did. This controls perfectly, and I absolutely love the story and the characters within. When I started playing this one, I didn't put it down until I had 100% the game, and it had been a long time since I'd done that. Highly recommended.






Pauncho Smith: Imageepoch's final game before bankruptcy, Stella Glow has you fighting alongside a roster of singing witches, whose powers can be augmented by spending your free time with them. Well, you do have to "tune" them........Trust me, it's not as lewd as it sounds......for the most part.






Atamine634: Frictional's masterpiece. Its moment-to-moment gameplay is not as thought-out and clever as Amnesia, but the sci-fi horror story it has to tell is built on existentially dreadful questions that give it a narrative weight that off-set all of that for me. As someone who fears neurodegenerative illness from family history, SOMA is a hard-hitting examination of what it means to preserve life that I deeply appreciated. The addition of Safe Mode was also appreciated and it had at least one encounter that was incredibly inspired by its redesign.






FreezingInferno: An oddball choice, to be sure, but an underrated moving experience of a rhythm action game. Its stylized visuals are a joy, its soundtrack is absolutely on point and worth playing on its own as a standalone album, and its themes of love and loss and healing are incredibly poignant and resonant. It's a beautiful experience, and one everyone should enjoy.






Nate: You know, I always wanted a multi-player dating game, and sometimes the world listens to me.






Atamine634: Tamashii is a short puzzle platformer than leans hard into glitch horror and sacrilegious Christian and Gigeresque imagery, intentionally going for the feel like you've found a cursed game on the internet filled with inscrutable secrets. It is gleeful in its toying of the player, but beyond the surface level edginess hides thoughtful theming about how a fixed and rigid world view affects our perception. It is a work of inspired sacrilege and cursed erratic software.






Nate: Ok, so this is for the Wii version, but the Wii version is bundled with the Wii U version but not all Wii U versions so watch out for that, because the Wii U version is a port of the 3DS version because even though the Wii version was finished it got scrapped because the 3DS version took so long.

Got it? Cool. Happy hunting.






Zeloz: One of the first "artsy" games I felt some lingering connection with, long before seriously considering my own gender identity. In retrospect, the game's message is pretty blunt: the beginning of being trans sucks in a cisnormative world, yet playing it gave me the space to realize the humanity in transgender people and the frustration they constantly face. That made it easier to, in the years after, rid myself of my own negative biases about trans folks, other disenfranchised groups of people, and myself ultimately. Dys4ia didn't make me realize I was trans, but it did make the assurance that any struggle made towards living one's best self wasn't one made in vain.






Nate: Pushmo might be dead but this is a great game nonetheless. For some reason this type of puzzle hasn't really been used all that often, and I think it should. Pollymo would be a great continuation.






John: Builds on the first game's vocabulary to tell a more epic and moving story. It felt a little redundant to me for the first couple hours, but the strength of the relationship at the story's center completely won me over in the end.






Zeloz: I could nitpick about some of the slight artistic changes Vicarious Visions' remaster brought to these games, but that would be a waste of words considering just how well the games and game-feel has been translated through several generations of hardware. Even with the slight differences in physics, playing Crash Bandicoot here felt very much like playing Crash 1 on my PlayStation when I was 5, or playing Crash 1 on an emulator when I was 17, or playing Japanese Crash 1 on a PSP at 21. My deep-seated nostalgia for these games may very well be blinding me from the fact that these aren't much more than mediocre 3D Donkey Kong Country clones (as the GBA games would suggest), but I don't care. These games in their remastered form play just as well as I remember them playing, and that's well enough for me.






jetstorm4: IntiCreates' actual Mega Man-based followup. While not exactly a Mega Man game, it uses that same formula to make an action game that speaks in its own language. The tagging mechanic makes a very neat lock-on system that keeps the game flowing and gives it its own identity. One of my favorite 2D action games in this decade, and one I've played multiple times already.






Nate: This game is just me in a game. Like, it's my humor, my love of stick figures, I should probably just sue them, but it's such a good avant-garde RPG.






(Game mod, requires copy of Pokemon Fire Red)

Zeloz: I had played Perfect Cherry Blossom and Imperishable Night prior to this, but this cute hack of Pokemon FireRed was my official jumping point into the lore and characters and music of Touhou. I mean, it kinda makes sense that having to collect, evolve, and raise the many denizens of Gensokyo as would make remembering who's Kisume and who's Hina and who's Patchouli Knowledge easier than encountering them once as 1-3 minute boss battles in a shmup. Unique to Aichiya Sanae's take on the "Touhoumon" series of Pokemon hacks is their usage of low-sample Touhou fan music in place of the usual Pokemon chip music, as well as a completely reinvented array of Types and evolution progressions, and an expanded world map roughly comparable (but not exactly as large as) Pokemon Gold and Silver. Sure, the balancing is kinda hit-or-miss, but this hack was genuinely the most fun I had ever had with Gen 3 Pokemon. Truly, I don't think I'd love Suwako or Alice as much as I do now had I not had them Surf and Psychic an overleveled Elite Four into submission.






John: The first of Increpare's two Sokoban mega-opuses, and the one I managed to connect with and complete. It's a fantastic set of brain-melting puzzles. There's one stage in the mid-game that completely broke me for a while -- it's still one the most creative and mind-bending individual puzzles I've ever experienced. Finishing this game was a deeply satisfying challenge, and I'm really proud of myself for making it through.






Rhete: Baba Is You is perfect because it creates an entirely unique puzzle genre, and then thoroughly and completely explores it. You think you know what this game has after a few hours, but then world after world it just keeps going, throwing new words and situations at you that totally upend how things work over and over. And then the final worlds push even further, completely opening and closing the book on what can be done with these mechanics.






jetstorm4: I picked this up randomly and did not regret it once I popped it in. This is a mixture of a visual novel with turn-based strategy sections where your two main characters are very very powerful and unite to take back their kingdom. Turns out the turn-based sections are from Sting! This is kinda the last I know of them right now but they're a favorite of mine and this is quite the interesting game!






Zeloz: I feel there's little need to go on about the greatness of SMPS's official 5th Generation, PS1/N64/Saturn/Dreamcast Game of All Time. It is a very good game, and the 3DS version uses the system's hardware very well to communicate this. It's certainly a better-looking, smoother-running port of Ocarina of Time than the GameCube versions at the very least, and having the Master Quest be mirrored made for a nifty remix of a remix.






Nate: You know, Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Blah Blah Blah really is not as good as I remember, but I don't think it should've tanked the company that made it. Luckily, out of their ashes we got this game and it's a quick puzzle game and I love it.






Rhete: A 3D platformer slash third person shooter unlike any other I've played. Cloudbuilt emphasizes movement and speed running, and its just a joy to retry levels over and over to see how fast you can reach the end, using every trick, optimization, and every route you can find. The game really shined for me with it's DLC expansion that added a scant 5 levels that all ended up being incredibly difficult, requiring true mastery of the game to complete. The final level in particular is right up there in my "hardest things I've ever beaten in a game" hall of fame, and it was a great time doing it.






Nate: Zombie Vikings is Castle Crashers done right. It's a comedy beat-em-up with comical weapons, a joke of a story (Loki steals Zeus' eye, so he resurrects zombies to go get it back) and while it's definitely flawed and you can break the game, it's got a fun, fast pace, and you can unlock an early tech demo of FE!






Rhete: An incredibly creative game that constantly invites you to participate by adding your own creative touches to the game. Just absolutely joyous start to finish.






John: Zachtronics games aren't about solving puzzles. "Puzzle" implies a prescriptive solution thought through ahead of time by the designer. These games are about solving problems. You have a lot of tools to play with, and the levels can be approached in countless different ways. It's likely that some later levels in Zachtronics games have never been solved exactly the same way by two different people.

TIS-100 is the only one I've finished so far, and it's magnificent. These games are immensely satisfying to me, and I want to play all of them.






Nate: Hey, here's a game that has made me scared as crap playing it. It's really intense, and I kept getting told it's easier than I'm making it, but I just want to stay in for 5 more minutes and then I'll go-aaaand, I'm dead. God, this game is such scary fun.






Rhete: An incredibly cute action RPG that's relatively difficult and will kick your ass if you get complacent. I always wondered if the adventures your cast of cute girls go on in the game were actually happening, or the product of make believe. I have no idea if that ambiguity was the intention of the developer, but the game walked that line in such a way that I found really endearing. Either way, this game is a great time that I still think about many years later.






John: One of my favorite videogame climaxes ever. Where a similar but weaker story like Hyper Light Drifter fails by sacrificing its emotional impact at the altar of player empowerment, Sword & Sworcery makes you deeply feel the sickness of your avatar. You feel how much she hurts, and you know just how many others have made it exactly as far as her and then failed during the final steps of the journey. It all makes the ending catharsis that much more resonant.






Nate: Oh boy, so this is an adventure/puzzle game about a guy who has a giant purple sticky hand growing out of his head. It's like a Lucas Arts adventure game but made by different people. This is what games by Double Fine should've been like.






(Game mod, requires copy of Doom II)

Atamine634: Being a sneaky little cheat by including a Doom 2 WAD, but this truly was one of the most unique and creative experiences I've had in the last decade. The attitude toward design decisions on display make it only something that could be found outside a commercial space. It features the most interesting level design in any FPS I've played and the abstract narrative exists as an interesting subversion of Doom. Doom is a game meant for power fantasy, A.L.T. does everything to take that security away from you. It leans into the surreal horror element that Doom's lo-fi aesthetic made possible and the lack of narrative reason for The Dead's existence give a sense of dread that can only come from the unknown. The polar opposite sensations Doom and A.L.T. seek out of the player are made more interesting and clear when knowing the history and context of their country of origin. A.L.T. is something that could only be found and made on the internet. It's my favorite First-Person Shooter.






Atamine634: A surrealist dog opera about game devs spending 100 years struggling with the development of a single videogame while enduring poor work conditions under their employer, Donkey Koch, and the effects of catastrophic climate disaster. And all the game devs are animals and it shamelessly rips assets from Ocarina of Time. It's one of the wildest, boldest projects I've seen from the medium and I've never played a game that captured the disjointed experience and perspective of a dream more than this one.






Nate: If you haven't played this game, go in blind. I don't wanna say anything else about it. It's a great experience.






Atamine634: One of the most unique exploration games I've ever played, Future Unfolding is a surreal top down procedurally generated exploration/puzzle game interspersed with philosophical musing about our place among nature. It's a must play if "psychedelic surreal logic puzzle-solving exploration" sounds neat to you. It's one of the best games about the wilderness I've played.






jetstorm4: Toby Fox's followup (sequel) to the game Undertale, deltarune Chapter 1 is only a small preview as to what is most likely to come. While a short quest, it's a fantastic update to the mechanics and themes of Undertale, taking a twist to what occurred in that game and making something special. It's free, and the soundtrack is incredible.






John: I've uncovered the secrets of most of my favorite glitch logic dream games. At this point I basically know how Yume Nikki, Problem Attic, Fjords, and the Game Titles all fit together. Builder still eludes and frightens me. I've finished it of course, but the game is clear that the first ending doesn't give you the full picture.

I've made several earnest attempts over the years. I explored the world outside the walls, I found her shoe, and I saw what seemed like the true exit, just barely out of reach. I plan to keep trying until it all finally clicks for me. I want to grow into a person that can navigate this world.






Zeloz: I feel I may be a bit biased, having briefly tracked the development of this back when it was still "Mega Man 10" and was just art and mockups on DeviantArt, but the time I spent trying to no-death this fairly long (too long, arguably) fan game really got me to appreciate just how much MegaPhilX understands the appeal of the NES Mega Man games and the satisfaction of slowly negotiating their challenges.






Nate: Who knew a Switch game could kick this much ass. Even though there is a teensy bit of lag, I don't think that there's a game that runs this smooth with this much action piled onto a console like the Switch.






John: Longer and more grounded than Howling Dogs, which means you have more time to soak in the gut-wrenching violence of its setting. It may all be a dream, a nightmare... but dreams are real as blood and bone.






Atamine634: As someone who enjoys exploration, wilderness, and the monumental efforts of indie devs, Miasmata was one of my favorite games to come out last decade. Miasmata is a pure exploration-driven survival-adventure game set on a small island in search of a cure for your illness where the minimalist design choices improve the immersive quality of the experience. You must nap, hydrate, collect plants and create medicine to survive your journey. There is *one* creature that hunts you and it is one of my favorite monsters in the interactive medium. The developers studied their cat to simulate and program a AI that stalks like a real predator and it leads to moments that turn a serene exploration game into survival horror in a heartbeat. If you know what it's like to jump and force yourself around terrain in games like Skyrim or Fallout, Miasmata is a game whose mechanical identity is based on that sense of pushing against your surroundings. Miasmata is one of the greatest hiking simulators ever made with a momentum system that requires body awareness and careful footing so you don't trip and fall and the unique cartography system requires you to fill out the map yourself with the use of markers and triangulation. Miasmata captures the beauty of nature extraordinarily well for a game made with an in-house engine built from scratch. Miasmata is made by 2 people, but it sure doesn't feel like it and I can't imagine the effort it took to create the density of detail and level design of the island. Miasmata is one of the greatest triumphs I've seen from a small development team with a story that's minimal and incidental to not interrupt the core gameplay experience, but surprisingly prescient.






Rhete: This game left me smiling ear to ear the entire time I played it. The way VR brings you in and makes you a part of the world is absolutely amazing, making this my favorite VR game to date.






Zeloz: My first 3DS game is still probably the most time I've spent on a 3DS game. New Leaf was also my first Animal Crossing, so discovering the sheer joy of taking care of this virtual garden, changing in real-time and easily accessible as a handheld game, was amazing.






Zeloz: My favorite gacha game, and my favorite endless runner. Devsisters puts so much charm and a surprising dose of queerness and body positivity into what essentially boils down to a twitchy score-attack game with a plethora of modes and a wealth of characters whose playstyles vary.






Nate: Rez is probably my favorite rhythm game of all time, and it's HD remake-ish and the inclusion of a new world with VR support is perfect. Possibly the best use of VR I've experienced for an amazing game.






Zeloz: Just a really silly, somewhat queer platform game where a monster girl beats up a bunch of other monster girls and just has a fun time of it all. The game plays a bit like a less-polished Shovel Knight, and it looks more like a DOS freeware game than something from an 8- or 16-bit console, but even if this weren't a free game, the utter charm of this game really sells it.






jetstorm4: This was the Azure Striker Gunvolt sequel I was looking for. Something that changed the mechanics and ideas just enough to give something new but also allow the story and character concepts to evolve, which is something that disappointed me with Gunvolt 2.






Zeloz: My opinions on this game seem to shift with the weather, but it's one that's had an undeniable impact on my own views on science fiction, time travel, and character writing. Part visual novel, part point-and-click adventure, this erotic game from 1996 does a whole lot and manages to pull off most of it, despite an initially abrasive/cliche-filled cast of characters and some very uncomfortable subject matter being fumbled.

It's ambitious, unforgettable, and has what is perhaps the best soundtrack to ever be put to FM synthesis.






Atamine634: Rain World made me appreciate Super Metroid's uniqueness among its genre for its secret mechanics that could sequence break the game, because Rain World is a metroidvania made up entirely out of the hidden mechanics you discover while playing. Rain World's handholding is bare minimal and there's no real power-ups, but it features an impressive array of mechanics that let you interact with its world which feels more like a simulation than a designed series of obstacles. The interactivity with the world is so good I would say Rain World deserves to be called the immersive sim of 2D metroidvanias, but that would undersell how masterful its fusion of thematics and mechanics is. Its design ethos is to replicate the feeling of being an animal caught in an inhospitable environment, trying your damnedest to survive in a space you don't understand. Rain World is frustratingly unfair in its design, but the hidden Buddhist subtext gives its lore and mechanics a context that formed a cohesion that I would call the best, most unique 2D metroidvania ever made.






Atamine634: Majora's Mask meets No Man's Sky. A solar-system puzzle box that explodes every 21 minutes. The mix of exploration and puzzle-solving is marvelous and the execution of its inventive concept was phenomenal. Outer Wilds is a special game for those who love the exploration genre.






John: Brough's fullest action game, and one I've sunk somewhere between 30 and 50 hours into over the years. It's very demanding and also feels amazing, I was always happy to lose over and over in pursuit of my next high score. There's so much nuance packed into the compact ruleset -- I particularly love how the bonus health upgrade is earned, and how chaining more than one together gives you the opportunity to rack up MANY points. Clearing all three levels of this game in one run is one of my proudest videogame accomplishments.






jetstorm4: A sort of sequel to a Japanese only Life Sim RPG Ciel no Surge that also acts as a prequel to the Ar Tonelico series. While that sounds... odd, the game is a fantastic journey, inserting yourself into the minds of two vessels as they each go through their intertwining stories, all while diving into girls to make magic. Yep. It's a JRPG from the 2010s.






Nate: After a few...meh games, we finally got a good evolution of the series, and it ended up being the perfect thing to REinvigorate the series. You could say it's REvolutionary in its design and was the first time the series actually made me scared to continue.






Zeloz: No lie, this is probably my favorite city simulation game. There's not a lot to playing the game, with sessions lasting an average of a minute, but there's an undeniable satisfaction to checking in to find a cat you haven't yet seen before, and playing around with combinations of items and food to find more of the blob-like felines.






Rhete: I did not expect to like, let alone love this game when it was gifted to me around launch. Monday Night Combat was a mix of online shooters like Team Fortress 2, and tower defense like DOTA. Two tastes I hate, together! AND YET, I got completely hooked with this game, learning most of the classes, and at times being good enough to lead a lane push strong enough to take out the enemy team just a few minutes into a match. Another favorite moment is using the stealth class to immediately hide inside the enemy teams bot dispenser (lane creeps) and just killing them all from behind. A few minutes later, the enemy realize they have nothing guarding their lanes, and by then it's too late and they're overrun. Great game, shame about the sequel.






jetstorm4: This is a very special game to me. I picked it up on the last day of Air Force basic training at the Lackland AFB Base Exchange (these days I'm glad I did becasue HO BOY this game shot up in the price people ask for it). This is a sequel to a PlayStation action platformer called Tail Concerto, and makes an action RPG with a level-based flow. It's a very fun game that keeps going after it seems like it's done and quite well as the story takes a drastic turn after the halfway point that makes its world quite fascinating. One of the best late DS games in my opinion.






Nate: I think the best part in the game was the "Lawn Mower" part where you mow over zombies with the combine while "You Spin Me Right Round (Like a Record)" by Dead or Alive plays. It's a game that my humor is just right there with. It's over the top and I loved every second of it.






(Game mod, requires copy of Rockman 3)

Zeloz: I've played a lot of Mega Man romhacks. A lot of them I've never finished because I am a mere mortal with limited patience, but Burst Chaser is not a demanding work. Far from it, the level design fits the central conceit of the game (you move almost twice as fast horizontally) perfectly, giving the game a vastly different flavor than vanilla Mega Man 3 without it being too spicy for an NES layman.






Zeloz: A darkly cute yuri story communicated through the limited toolset of an ASCII DOS game from 1991, the game demonstrates an incredibly clever use of space and a quirky sense of humor to communicate a touching story of love and overcoming self-doubt, all in the space of 15 minutes.

For a game that I initially played to get through a slow work shift, I think about it quite a lot still.












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