Due to me waking up late yesterday, I didn’t manage to our #5 games out on Monday when I should have. To make up for my sloth, today we’re posting both #5 and #4. This, if you haven’t figured it out by the title of the post, is #4.
Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle
If I hope, in some distant afternoon in a rest home, to reminisce about the joys of the Switch’s first year, I will need to be cautious. My caregiving robots may interpret an accurate description of Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle as a sign of worsening dementia. It does sound like I just forgot what I was saying halfway through and started confabulating details: “Mario and his pals are trying to restore the Mushroom Kingdom in, uh, XCOM, but made kid-friendly by making it more of a puzzle, and they have to fight Rabbids unless they’re dressed like friends.” If I ever get around to playing Kingdom Hearts, the caregiving robots will never let me near sharp objects.
My favorite tabletop game of the year is dice-drafting game Sagrada. In Sagrada you compete to build a beautiful stain-glass window by taking turns drafting dice of different colors. The dice are placed on a game grid and restricted by several placement rules. Each player gets tokens that allow them to make use of different rule-breaking special tools and scoring is based on certain conditions that vary by game. Sagrada is a lot of fun with just the right amount of strategy and tactics to keep things challenging but not tiring. The game supports one to four players, but two is the perfect number, making it a great addition for anybody looking to bulk up their date-night gaming options.
Night in the Woods
Night in the Woods is a game that feels like it was made for me. It’s the first game I’ve played that really nailed Millennial angst and how we actually talk and interact with each other. Nearly every character reminds me of a friend or someone I know, and Mae’s quarter-life crisis hits home hard. Night in the Woods feels infinitely more relatable than, say, Life is Strange (Which is still a good game!) despite being populated entirely by Scarry-esque anthropomorphic animals. I attribute that to its writing, which never veers into the Poochie-like depiction of teens Life is Strange does. It treats its young adult characters as actual young adults, instead of some person’s perception of Millennials formed from countless panicked thinkpieces. There’s empathy there that games and even other media struggle to find, and that’s worth celebrating.
Heart of the House
I’m just off the high I got from playing Heart of the House, so I’m hedging against my impulse to rate it even higher. In a year where I was looking for non-binary representation in games, Heart of the House offered the most sublime representation of diverse genders and gender roles as a natural part of story that I found. Moreover, and for most players more importantly, its characters are engaging, nuanced and exceed the boundaries of their roles. The worldbuilding of Heart of the House is nearly as compelling as its characters, grounded in an understanding of Victorian England and expanding into an original and coherent dark fantasy setting I’d like to see more of.
- Heart of the House for iOS Universal, $6
- Heart of the House for Android, free
- Heart of the House for Kindle, free
- Heart of the House for PC/Mac/Linux via Steam, $7
If Card Thief was my choice for heavy solitaire card game this year, Onirim from Asmodee Digital was my go-to for a quick card game fix. A simple game of abstractly trying to escape a hellish dreamscape, Onirim was the perfect time-waster of 2017. Games are full of decisions but your fate could be wrapped up for good or evil in only a couple minutes. Not only is the game fun and easy to play, but Asmodee keeps adding expansions which make the game better and better. One of Asmodee’s best games on the App Store.