We made our list for Games of the Year or Bestest Bests or Advent Calendars or whatever it was but some of my candidates were missed off the list for NO GOOD REASON WHATSOEVER. I mean, fine, some of them were console games and some of them are from the wrong year but they're still games that were good this year and I still want to highlight them. Read on for gory janitorial duties, party crypts and the end of Dinklebot. I've also included a link or two in case you wanted to read a bit more about those games :)
Viscera Cleanup Detail
Probably the most consistently joyful multiplayer experience I've had all year. It combines the satisfaction of tidying and sorting with the bratty fun of working out exactly when to kick over a bucket of mucky water or charge down a corridor dropping entrails to most infuriate your industrious friends. When I last played it there were still issues, like giblets clipping through the floor or desyncing or there being too many objects in play for the game to handle but with some judicious footprint scrubbing and some leaving and rejoining I don't think we found a problem we couldn't fix.
I really love that tense bit at the end of a level where you have to decide whether you're happy with the job you've done and how convinced you are you didn't miss anything. You walk around with your detectors out, trying to work out if a change in the beeping is just natural variation or whether you missed a bullethole.
Crypt of the NecroDancer
Crypt of the NecroDancer is brilliant. It's a rhythm-based roguelike dungeon crawler which means you explore caverns and kill monsters as you search for your father all to the beat of the music. Above you'll find Quinns' Cogwatch episode which looks at how the game mechanics work.
I first played it when it was in early access while writing for cheery RPS fansite, PC Gamer. Looking at my Steam account, I've now put 31 hours of boogying into the thing. It's been a while since I played, although if memory serves, there's a daily challenge like you'll find in Spelunky which I played with friends for a while. They were better than me so I ended up dipping out of that. It felt especially egregious given I'd bought the game for one of them – if that happens you should have the decency to be worse at it than I am.
By the looks of things, when I last played I'd customised the soundtrack again to create a personalised party crypt but right now I miss the shopkeeper's singing voice too much so I'm going to get rid of the customisations and go with the vanilla mode. Also WHY DID NO-ONE TELL ME ABOUT THIS.
SquareCells is a smart, minimalist logic puzzle which manifests as a Picross/Nurikabe. You can read the review from a few weeks back to get more info on how it all works, but it tickles my brain in the same way as Brown's previous Hexcells series. I'm hoping that the game progresses in that same way, too, expanding as the series develops. This first outing for SquareCells contains 36 puzzles and I'm yearning for more so two more games, each with puzzles to really chew on would be utterly wonderful. Which makes it sound like I'm saying the game would be good if it had two more games. I'm not. It's that the first game is good puzzling and I'd like more. Oh shit I just reinstalled Hexcells.
It's still brilliant so I'm still including it.
Destiny: The Taken King
I've not played this in a while because of all the work trips and the gallivanting but Destiny has been one of my mainstays this year and I loved what they did with The Taken King. I think Destiny is actually the first time I've properly stuck with an MMO. I didn't get on with WoW so I left and other people didn't get on with Wildstar so they left. But there's a whole bunch of us in Destiny who stayed. Destiny also makes it easy to keep in touch with friends and my partner when we're far apart, hence the video above.
TTK added new locations, new story, new raiding, it retooled older bits of the game and the UI to make them more approachable or user-friendly, and it beefed up the game's personality. Maybe that seems like a weird thing to say but in fleshing out the characters in-game the game itself felt more… personable? Pre Taken King I can't imagine Destiny having a Halloween event where Cayde is wearing an Eris Morn mask and Eris herself just gives you a tiny box of raisins for Trick or Treat instead of the candy being dished out by everyone else.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf
Blah blah, PC gaming specialist site, blah. Animal Crossing: New Leaf is a delightful community sim on the 3DS. I played the Gamecube version of Animal Crossing years and years ago and it got to the point where I was weirdly obsessive. I paid my own mortgage off incredibly fast then sent letters containing massive sacks of bells to my fellow residents – the human ones who had given up playing well before their houses were finished. I then logged in as them and paid off their mortgages. I caught all of the fish (some by resetting the console clock to speed through the seasons) and all the bugs (same time fuckery for these guys as with the fish – I'm basically a timelord) and dug up all of the fossils. I never completed my collection of gyroids, though. There's these weird singing fire hydrants or possibly cactuses.
I played a fair chunk of Wild World on DS too but by that point it was less delightful because I'd burnt out. I'd also gotten so used to my Gamecube home that everything else felt wrong. Not home. With New Leaf enough time has passed that it feels lovely again. At first I spent a lot of time taking boat trips to the tropical island and spending an hour or three fishing and catching bugs. Right now I'm all about rolling snowballs to form snowmen and catching snowflakes. Unlike last time I'm determined to just play the game at its own pace, experiencing the seasons as they actually turn up. It's my go-to game for feeling happy and chilled out right now.