Welcome back, gentle human bean, to another year of PC gaming thrills, spills and ambient anxiety about the correct deployment of the term 'roguelite' here on Rock, Paper, Shotgun. As our beleaguered forms struggle to cope with the sudden shift away from Chocolate Oranges for breakfast, now is the time for our time-lost minds to reflect upon how we occupied ourselves over the past ten days.
To wit: what videogames did we play, when time, relatives, bloating and demanding pets allowed?
Alec: Primarily my stolen time was spent with The Binding Of Isaac, whose snacky size and immediacy continues to make it a perfect fit for life with a four-year-old who is clamped full-time to my leg from the hours of 7am to 8pm. It is the Pringles of games, and, not coincidentally, I also ate a lot of Pringles over the past week. I've unlocked more Isaacy trinkets than I ever dreamed possible by this point, though an impossible amount still remains. In occasional after-dark hours, I managed to play a bit of Uncharted: Lost Legacy on that there Playbox, which is an extremely slick technical accomplishment that adds up to something so absurdly polished and tightly-controlled that it effectively leaves no impression on me whatsoever.
So, on the other side of the coin, I finally indulged my curiosity for Remedy's time-travel quandry/man-shooter affair Quantum Break, a game that is a firehose of ideas that rarely gets pointed in the most effective direction. I can't help but like it - muddled and shambolic it might be, but it sure is shooting for the moon.
Adam: I managed to finish gorgeous tableaux puzzler Gorogoa, a game as smart as it is beautiful. It's not very long, so it was perfect to play in the stolen moments between dread socialising and cooking. It begins so gently that I was surprised the first time I had to slow down and think. For the first half an hour or so it had been a game about rearranging pictures so that things fell from one to another, or a man walked from one frame to the next. Then, all of a sudden, I was thinking about how the scenes connected together in all kinds of ways - what really impressed me is that every time it challenged my perception, the lesson felt natural rather than oblique. Loved it.
The stealthy, spooky sci-fi of ECHO was next on the slate and I loved that too. Mostly. It's a genuinely weird game and I find it hard to put my finger on exactly what does and doesn't work. You sneak through enormous, repetitive rooms, avoiding clones of yourself that learn from your actions. It's not the precise stealth puzzle I expected though. It's uncomfortable and strange and unnerving, and the clones are far more haphazard and disturbing than any enemy I've encountered for a long time. I usually like stealth games to overload with me information so I can make smart choices and not feel victim to chance. ECHO made me feel like I was stumbling through a nightmare and, yes, I mostly loved it.
Also lots of Yakuza 0, which really needs to come out on PC along with the remake of the first in the series. Come on, Segaaaaaaa.
Alice: I was in the Highlands over Christmas with no computer or nothing so I have played nothing. I lounged, walked, photographed, and fell on my arse. It was great.
Katharine: I didn't get to play nearly as many games as I wanted to over Christmas, but my main achievement was finally finishing the last episode of Life is Strange: Before the Storm. I think I probably made the wrong decision regarding the final ending, much like I did with the original, but with this one I just wanted it to be over. I didn't hate it, per se, but I don't think it ended up having nearly as much impact on me as its predecessor. I went through everything to give Max and Chloe the friendship they deserve in LIS, but Chloe's relationship with Rachel just left me a bit cold.
I also played a few more chunks of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 in between polite family chat and attempting to find a film we could all watch on Netflix in the evening, but this is a game that's really meant for playing on the big screen, not a tiddly pint-sized one in short bursts.
As such, I tried to refrain from playing too much over the holiday, lest I miss out on all its glorious majesty, so instead I finally started Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma – an apt choice given it's set on New Years Eve. Thankfully, my surroundings were rather less lethal over the New Year, my greatest danger being an errant kitten claw as opposed to having my head chopped off with a chainsaw. Hopefully 2018 won't make me wish it was the latter.
Brendan: It is the year of our Porg 2018 and I am back in Minecraft. Don't judge me, I have my reasons. Caught amidst the screams and wails of the yearly clansmeet, I felt the need to isolate myself on some distant shore and survive by sticking my own hands in the dirt. Minecraft has always been that game for me. But then my girlfriend, long time admirer of Stardew Valley and cattle, saw me threatening a cow with a sword made out of wood and felt it her duty to come and make friends with every animal in the Overworld despite never playing the game before.
We now own a small farm in a peaceful valley. As I tinker with redstone and pistons on the ranch, she goes off on adventures. Sometimes I hear her screaming and understand that she has encountered a creeper. Yesterday she came back after four days in the wilderness and dumped a bunch of wool, string and other goodies into our stockpiles. “There’s nothing out there,” she said, and collapsed into the bed. I do not tell her that I have discovered obsidian in the depths below.
And you, delightful reader? What about you?