Turns out I haven't posted in this thread since January... Here's what I crossed off my increasingly unrealistic "to play" list.
Halo Infinite is a weird apologetic shrug of a game. I’ve played better Halo games, I’ve played worse Halo games. It has the feel of a loose, ODST style experiment, not a mainline series entry which probably played a big part in how much I enjoyed it. Doesn't bode well for the series future, but serves as a somber, elegiac final chapter for the time being.
Into the Breach and Loop Hero I think I appreciated as pieces of intricate game design more than I enjoyed actually playing. Into The Breach I found was too rigidly deterministic for my tastes, to the point that it felt more like a logic puzzle that I wasn't allowed to experiment with more than a tactics game - I would have probably enjoyed it a lot more if it had a Tactics Ogre style undo history and really let me play around with cause and effect. Loop Hero I never fully clicked with the logic behind the way the tiles interact. I liked them both enough to get through to the end, and both games demand you put some effort in to engaging with the mechanics to get there but I didn’t feel the need to keep playing after the credits so probably barely scratched the surface.
Mad Stalker was a short but sweet unreleased Megadrive mech-brawler from 1994 that I liked the look of enough to get the limited edition physical release. Mid tier as far as the system's library of action games go and I managed to tear through it in a single evening (with many, many continues), but a good time.
Death’s Door reminded me of dying days of Amiga / Late DOS era stuff underneath the obvious Zelda / Dark Souls comparisons. In a good way. It brought up fond memories of Heimdall 2 in particular, another game where you go travel through networks of astral doorways in to different realms. It's a better game than Heimdall 2 though.
Metroid Dread weirdly replicates the main problem of Samus Returns by repeating the same mid-boss encounters over and over again. Samus Returns has been my watermark for a decent but unexceptional game for 5+ years now and Dread manages to be better in every respect despite the weird encounter repetition, but it doesn’t stand with the genre greats.
Final Fantasy 12 is the only game with the balls to ask “what if Chewbacca was a hot bunny lady and Han Solo was boning her?”. Still, surprisingly dull.
Shin Megami Tensai: Strange Journey Redux didn’t live up to its reputation for me. The combat, demon fusing mechanics, story, gonzo humour – all excellent. But there’s so much padding, forced backtracking and tedious dungeon design. It’s a handheld game with an auto-map, don’t put dark regions or fucking teleporter mazes in it! The whole point of those is to provide a mapping challenge to work out with a pen and paper, which no one is going to do with a handheld game, so it's just tedious busywork... It got me interested in trying out more SMT games for the core mechanics and the tone but I wouldn’t recommend this over say, Persona Q or one of the 327 (rough estimate) Etrian Odyssey games.
2022 so far: