January 2, 2015

2014 Year in Games Review

I thought it would be interesting to look at what games I played this year. I don't mean things like Basketball (which I did play, about once a month with the Amazon JP basketball club) but games on the computer.

I supported a few games on Kickstarter a few years back, and some of them finally came to fruition in 2014. Looking at my Steam page, I've played a few games, 10 with more than 2 hours on them. Too bad Steam doesn't have an option to limit game time by time period, I would love to see how much I play in a year or a month or whatever. I guess that on average, if I can get three hours of gaming a week, that is a good week. Anyway, some of the games shown in Steam I didn't play this year. For example, those 199 hours logged on Fallout: New Vegas were definitely from a few years back, before I had little Alan running around. So what did I play this year? I'll give it my best shot based on a real spotty memory. February 27th: Shadowrun Returns: Dragonfall is the second in the Shadowrun Returns franchise. That came out in July 2013, and I'm pretty sure I played and finished that game then, but the Dragonfall campaign came out in late February 2014. I definitely played and finished that sometime this year. It was great. I really liked the original, it has some things that I really enjoy: turn-based tactical combat, a very interesting setting (I liked Shadowrun back in high school) and a good story. Not a great story, but a good one. The second installment makes some improvements in combat, and really brings a much better story and game structure to the table. There is more freedom in how you decide to tackle objectives, and there is less linearity in the game with more optional quests. Overall a lot of fun. It looks like they are kickstarting a Hong Kong campaign in 2015, and I will definitely back that.

July 30th, 2011: Bastion. This game came out in 2011, but I picked it up in a Humble Bundle at some point, and played it. I think it fell between Shadowrun and Divinity. It was lots of fun! I logged 12.4 hours, and completed the game once (there are two endings, and I think I chose the less popular one.) I keep meaning to go back and get the other ending, but I haven't had the motivation to do it.

June 30th: Divinity: Original Sin is the game that I spent the most time with this year. I logged an amazing 131 hours, which means I put an average of about 45 minutes a day into it since it came out. That isn't quite right, because I would say that 30 or 40 of those hours were actually logged while I was putting Alan down for a nap or otherwise not actually playing the came, but I'm still really surprised that I got that much time logged! I was just able to finish the game a few days before the end of the year (it released on June 30th.)

January 14th: Broken Age. I backed this on Kickstarter and played through the first part at some point. Steam says that I have 4.7 hours on it, and that sounds about right. I enjoyed it, the game has a great sense of humor. I'm not really good at adventure games though, and there was one puzzle solution that took me a long time to figure out. I really enjoyed the voice acting and the humorous lines you get when you try to use things on other things that make no sense. The second part is supposed to be coming out sometime in 2015, and as a backer I will get that too.

???: Dark Souls Prepare to Die Edition. Steam says that I put about 6 hours into this game. That sounds about right. I got out of the tutorial section, and that is about it. I enjoyed it though, and do want to go back and play some more. I just have many other games ahead of this one to vie for my limited time.

June 3rd: Ultra Street Fighter 4. I've continued playing Street Fighter 4, but not as much as I would like. I'm not as good as I used to be. I have trouble on the execution side of the game, and it seems like Capcom keeps bringing Street Fighter further into the heavy execution required side of things. I didn't like when SF4 introduced single frame links, and they keep adding more of those. Also, the new systems like Red Focus and Delayed Standing make you have to pay more attention to subtle signs to be successful. The same thing for hit confirming. I don't like kara-throwing at all, and option selects are ridiculous. If you want to be good you have to learn about all of theses things. I just don't have as much capability in those areas, although I still enjoy the zoning and building predictive models of the other player and exploiting those.

September 19th: Wasteland 2. Steam says that I have 31 hours on Wasteland 2. This is the game that I was most looking forward to. I really enjoy it, I've pretty early in the game, but I like the combat a lot, and love the world and writing. I'm not a big fan of the camera controls and strange viewport that you are limited to. It seems like you can't play it zoomed in because your characters block too much of the view, and zoomed all the way out you miss a lot of the very pretty environments. I don't like the square based combat grid. Actually, I think Divinity: Original Sin did an amazing job with their tactical combat field. They don't have a partitioned battlefield, everything is positionally free and not aligned any kind of (square or hex) grid. They use the computer to keep track of how much movement would cost and have a great UI for displaying how that looks. I wish I had larger character portraits in Wasteland 2 as well, but for the most part I'm very happy with what my kickstarter backing delivered. I'm excited to keep playing this one, but it is the kind of game that I want to be able to sit down and play for an hour or two, and that has made it hard for me to have many sessions with the game.

So that's my year-in-review for games for 2014. I think I had the most fun so far with Divinity: Original Sin, but I also really enjoyed Shadowrun Returns: Dragonfall, and Wasteland 2. It was a great year for turn-based RPGs actually!



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