There’s an unspoken truism about game reviews: they’re not always the games we want to be playing. What we as a gamer might turn our noses up at, we as reviewers have to give serious consideration towards. Occasionally, those interests line up. And occasionally, things turn out where the games we wanted aren’t nearly as much fun as we had hoped. When this happens, we think about the games we could be playing. The stuff in our backlogs. The new stuff that came out about the same time. The old standbys that we can’t stop playing. And as I work my way through Cyberpunk 2077, carefully building my impending review, I find myself looking forward to other titles.
10. Civilization VI
There’s rarely, if ever, been a bad instance of Sid Meier’s flagship series. And with the New Frontier expansion, I’m definitely excited to dive back in, see what new sorts of problems I can get myself into and the new sorts of fights I’m going to be subjected to. The existing content for the expansion has already added six new leaders, four new game modes, and tons of new options to explore, with more on the way. It’s hard to imagine being tired of this game.
9. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
This one I’ve started and stopped a number of times because as well done as it is, it freaks me right the hell out. It’s stylishly designed and well executed, but it is deeply disturbing, and I end up having to start a new game to relearn the controls because I’ve been away so long. Still, since there is a sequel in the works, I think it’s probably incumbent on me to finish the game at least once.
8. Mordheim: City of The Damned
While I never really got into miniatures wargaming like Warhammer or Warhammer 40K, I did like the settings a lot (primarily through Dawn of War and the Age of Reckoning MMO). A buddy of mine introduced me to the Mordheim miniatures game, and I enjoyed the more tactical feel, as well as the emergent storylines that cropped up as a result of play. So, when I saw the demo for Mordheim: City of The Damned at E3 some years back, I knew I had to get it. It’s been one of those games that I can pick up at any time, and it definitely helps recreate the feeling of going over to my friend’s place for the round robin game nights he’d run.
7. Sea of Thieves
As much as I liked Sid Meier’s Pirates!, there’s was always a slight sense of remove. I was sailing the ship, I was managing the cargo, there was tension, but it was too zoomed out for the most part. Sea of Thieves, on the other hand, puts you right in the thick of it along with your buddies (or crazed randos, if that’s more your speed). You’re having to rely on your friends to read the map, to trim the sails properly, and fire the cannon. And they’re relying on you to do the same thing. It makes for a far more intense experience, while at the same time still being a lot of fun.
6. No Man’s Sky
I can hear somebody in the Peanut Gallery saying, “Why would you want to play that?!” Yes, it was a buggy mess at launch, almost as much as Cyberpunk 2077 is now. Yet, as evidenced by its win at The Game Awards for Best Ongoing Game and its Golden Joystick award for Best Game Expansion (the “Origins” update), it’s clearly not that buggy mess anymore. It’s been refined, expanded, and improved upon in a number of ways, while still keeping that core mechanic of exploring the galaxy at your own pace and in your own way. While I might question the utility of the new Minotaur mech, there’s no question it’s cool as hell. And the living ships are a sight to behold. Say what you will about the launch, No Man’s Sky is currently one of the biggest adventures a gamer can undertake.
This one came out recently on the Epic Games Store as a weekly freebie, and it’s a title I’ve been interested in for a while now. Naturally, I had to snag it. Being a big fan of RPGs with interesting stories, Tyranny scratches the same sort of literary itch I get right before reading The Black Company series by Glen Cook. Instead of a bright shining future, the Big Bad Evil Guy won, and you’re playing one of the minions who has to maintain order in an evil empire. It’s a conceit which has previously been played for laughs in games like Dungeon Keeper and Overlord, and I’m curious to see how seriously it gets treated here.
4. The Bard’s Tale III: Thief of Fate
This particular title is my “great white whale.” More than any other title I have ever owned, it was a complete and utter pain in the ass for me to get running in its original DOS incarnation. So it was a thrill when inXile Entertainment did a remaster of the classic Interplay trilogy as a prelude to their release of The Bard’s Tale IV. Finally, I have the chance to take another crack at the dungeons and wilderness around the ruined city of Skara Brae, and without having to play silly boot disk games. Naturally, I’ll probably have to play the first two games as well to build up a party that can handle the challenge, but I consider that nothing more than basic preparation. Sort of like making sure you packed field rations or ensuring your sword is sharp before going into battle.
3. Sins Of A Solar Empire
If Civ VI is my go-to game for grand turn-based strategy, then Sins Of A Solar Empire is my go-to for a real-time strategy fix. Whether it’s randomly generated maps or one of the many intricately plotted scenarios crafted by Ironclad Games and Stardock Entertainment, there’s something just deeply satisfying about sending massive fleets of starships out to explore and expand my own little stellar empire. In the endgame stages, it’s either a furious amount of struggle or a well orchestrated walkover as the last enemy capital falls to orbital bombardment. It’s really been too long since I last played.
2. The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena
During one big sales event on GOG.com or another, I somehow picked up this title, but never got the opportunity to install it. And so it sat, year after year. Every so often, I keep looking at it, and tell myself, “Shouldn’t you play this? It’s supposed to be good.” There are a lot of other games in my backlog, obviously, but this one probably deserves to be loaded up and run through, if only once. Still, I’m glad I got the chance to add it to my library. It seems the game stopped being sold on GOG.com some time ago, which makes it more important (I’d say) to give it a whirl.
This one I picked up fairly recently, an effort to cleanse the palate after my “Throwback Double Feature” for Halloween. Cyan Studios has long been one of those outfits that has held a special place in my heart. The Myst series when they were running things were some of the most artful games you could find, and that holds a lot of weight for me as a gamer. I can’t wait to see what they cook up with the Unreal Engine at their disposal.