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The video game shelves

Here are some games I've played long enough to have an opinion about. More entries will be added every so often.

PC

My main platform.

Armello

A fairytale-themed salt mine shaped like a board game. Players draw cards, roll dice, and mind their positioning to try and either kill the King in the center of the map or have the highest Prestige score when someone else tries and fails. Depending on who you ask, there is either too much RNG or just enough to keep the game interesting. The devs are also keen on making changes to multiplayer and telling everyone to just deal with them.

The Blackwell Series

A solid set of five point-and-click adventures featuring reluctant spiritual medium Rosa Blackwell and her cosmically assigned spirit guide Joey Malone. Together, they help lost souls realize they're dead so they can move on. The puzzles and characters get better with each game, though I had mixed feelings about the series finale. Also, if you gave it a try and thought the first game was only okay, the next four have more polish. If you're done with all of them, consider trying Unavowed next. Or try Unavowed now, I hear it's good.

Crusader Kings II

Despite playing for a few hundred hours, I've yet to finish a single game because I keep wondering how things would play out if I did this or played a character from here. The scope of the game is nuts. You pick your starting era and your character, and as long as at least one person in your dynasty holds a playable title, you can do anything you want. Restore the Holy Roman Empire? Go for it. Convert all of Europe to Germanic Paganism? Sure. Introduce Buddhism to Siberia? Why not? None of these things are easy, but they're all possible* and all "correct" ways of playing. You will never run out of possibilities.

*All of the DLC together costs well over $200 USD, but much of it is necessary to have a "complete" game. Some of it is entirely skippable (Sunset Invasion, Monks & Mystics), some of it is essential (The Old Gods, Charlemagne, Way of Life), and some varies based on taste or whether you would engage with its limited-scope content (Rajas of India, Conclave, Jade Dragon). I may offer some opinions on this in the future.

Descent I & II

Possibly my favorite FPSs of all time. 6DOF is where it is at - complete freedom of movement coupled with 3D mazes that take skill to manuver. Pivoting joystick highly recommended for actual 360-degree movement and precision aiming towards those damned machinegun robots and II's annoying thief-bots. Both games run in good ol' MS-DOS, but if you want a modern alternative, Overload is a spiritual successor made by the same developers.

Elite: Dangerous

I can never get excited or angry enough at this game to warrant a review. Basically, you have a spaceship, everyone else has a spaceship, there are a number of things you can do with spaceships, and none of it is really that interesting on its own because it's also technically an MMO and you're supposed to be interacting with other commanders. My internet speed isn't great and I'm absolute trash at dogfights so I don't know how that would work out for me. In the meantime, I have to catch up on the Beyond free updates that seem to have overhauled exploration.

Minecraft

The hunger meter was a mistake. I don't get the appeal of survival, I guess, especially after the point where mob factories and massive indoor farms take all the drama of survival out of the equation. I was content in the alpha days with building houses and exploring caves with the added peril of finding a monster around the corner if I wasn't careful. It's still fun as it is now, especially if you have a good combination of mods.

Starbound

Somehow, Starbound fixes some of my gripes with Terraria and replaces them with new gripes. There's a lot more variety in how you build and decorate buildings, which gives me a reason to build ridiculous megastructures, and there's more to do than survive. In exchange, the universe is a mile wide and an inch deep (there are infinite iterations of a handful of planet archetypes) and the story gets in the way when I just want a nice, sandboxy kind of game. But hey, mods will fix it. They fixed Terraria too probably, but something about Starbound's style is more captivating, where Terraria feels spartan.

Stellaris

Despite expecting this to be Crusader Kings II in space and subsequently being disappointed, I've sunk plenty of time into this RTwP 4X. The game keeps improving with every update and has fixed a lot of the micromanagement issues it had in the past without taking away the good complexity. I would even argue the game is more complex now but with less busywork. I'm now worried about whether I have the right balance of Consumer Goods production and Pop growth instead of whether I upgraded all the buildings on the planet grid, and if not, when I can. I can't help but think of richer backstories for the empires and aliens involved, as the game gives you enough "hooks" in the mechanics to give you an idea of how they operate but few enough that you can imagine the rest how you wish. Great fodder for sci-fi stories.

Terraria

Every time I've played it, I either lost interest partway through a solo run or lost my stuff in a multiplayer game and signed off after getting it back. Starting out is the fun part since I get to build the future NPC hotel from scratch. Occasionally I'll try to build a castle out of stone brick, and then end up playing Starbound for the extra flair or Minecraft for the extra dimension. Better with friends, not much fun alone, even for someone who normally sticks to singleplayer.

UnReal World

A simulationist freeware/donationware survival game about living as a tribesman in random-map Scandinavia. I have only played long enough to be fairly confident I can build a house if I want to, though hunting still eludes me (tip: for easy mode, play as an Islander with a high Fishing skill). Though there are optional goals, I would suggest starting with surviving the winter and getting the basics down - there's a bit of a learning curve.

Console

Ah, consoles - I remember those. I don't game too much on them these days, but I used to. For games released across multiple consoles, I put the console release(s) I'm talking about in parentheses.

Gran Turismo 4 (PS2)

OOOOOHHHH YEAAAAAAHHHHH

Ever wanted to play a racing game where low-tier cars handle like dumpsters and race cars handle like dumpster fires? That's how this feels compared to the arcade-like feel of, say, Need for Speed, and it's great. I actually like it quite a bit for deepening the challenge of knowing a course as well as your car's performance and adjusting your technique accordingly. Your vehicle's "stats" are more fine-grained and it requires careful tuning to get the most out of your new parts (except weight reduction, which is always good). Buying a used car in the career mode and building it up to compete in races is immensely satisfying. License tests, however, are not. If you want to get to the endgame, I hope you can do a clean ten-minute lap around a skinny ten-mile loop with a back-heavy sedan. Granted, if you can do that, you're probably pretty good.

Pokemon (GBC, GBA, DS, 3DS)

I played the shit out of Pokemon Silver and Emerald as a kid, and I loved the TV series on the rare chance I got to see it. I even got a bunch of spinoffs for non-handheld consoles so I could connect my games and do other cool stuff with them - that never got old. What did get old was doing mostly the same thing in every game and never having enough friends to trade and battle with once I beat the main story. I also never wanted to do EV training, though the newer games "fix" that by offering different methods of training than "fight these specific types of Pokemon over and over so your [key stat] goes up more." And I liked grinding.

Still, I don't think I'm a big enough fan to give this a whole page. As for recomendations, G2 (Gold/Silver) though X/Y are all good. I'm not a fan of how handholdy Sun/Moon is but it seems good otherwise. If you like the mainline games, consider diving into some of the spinoffs and media surrounding it - it's a whole universe in itself.