Top 10 Most Anticipated Video Games for 2020

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So many good games coming! What a way to see out a console generation

Getting release windows for upcoming board games is really hard. Video games almost have the opposite problem – there are a huge amount of titles to choose from!

We will still get new announcements during the year, but 2020 is shaping up to be amazing. And none of the next gen PS5 launch exclusives have even been announced yet!

As with all anticipated lists, dates can change. Two games on this list have already been delayed just in the past week! It doesn’t change the fact I want to play them, but it does make the 2020 criteria tricky.

Ah well, with all that said, what can’t I wait to play in 2020?

Number 10 – Outriders

Outriders looks really interesting. It is also being developed by People Can Fly, a development team that has flown under a lot of radars.

What is Outriders? All we really know for sure is that it’s a cooperative shooter for up to 3 players set in a sci-fi apocalypse like future. A lot of the visuals remind me of Stranger Things meets Death Stranding with guns.

People Can Fly have a pretty good shooter pedigree, even if their games didn’t necessarily meet with tremendous success. Bulletstorm comes to mind. It was a solid shooter with great visuals despite some story complaints.

So I am looking at Outriders similar to how I look at Borderlands – I think I will enjoy it. Still, I will enjoy it more if I can find a regular group to play with.

Number 9 – Gods and Monsters

I don’t know a lot about Gods and Monsters, but what I do know has my attention. Being developed by the same team that created Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, my first thought was Breath of the Wild in Greece.

I don’t think I am too far out with this assumption. At least, superficially.

The art style is gorgeous. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is a game people tell me I need to play, with a vast open-world with hours of side-quests and story to explore.

I have a lot of games like this on my backlog. Gods and Monsters has made my anticipated list is because it managed to knock Assassin’s Creed Odyssee off my ‘get to it’ games list.

Number 8 – Destroy All Humans! Remake

This is a guilty pleasure choice for me. I have already ordered the collectors edition with the UFO (DNA Collectors edition). Destroy All Humans! is probably not a game for everyone, but I loved playing the original in the PlayStation 2 days.

An open-world adventure game set on late 50’s B movie style earth. The B movie setting works well, as you play an alien named Crypto that is trying to extract DNA from humans to save his race.

The humour is juvenile, the writing is intentionally corny, but it was amusing to relax, kick back and play. I am hoping the remake will be the same ๐Ÿ™‚

Number 7 – System Shock

I love the System Shock games. They were my first taste of how a first-person shooter could be engrossing. Looking Glass Studios with System Shock and Thief were masters of this style of game, and for me, it all began with System Shock.

On the odd occasion, I have been known to run through System Shock 2 again. I can’t go back to the original. Not because it’s a bad game, but it hasn’t aged well control-wise. Even the Enhanced Edition couldn’t overcome this problem for me.

So why wouldn’t I be looking forward to an old favourite updated with modern control conventions?

Number 6 – Fairy Tail

I enjoy a lot of different anime. Some I enjoy for the multi-layered storytelling. Others are just mindless fun. Fairy Tail is one of the rare series that contains both depending on the story arc.

Given the success of the various Dragon Ball Z RPG games over the decades, it was surprising that no one had tackled a Fairy Tail game. All the elements are there. An extensive roster of characters to build from. The central guild/hub posting jobs for its members to earn money and experience. An established world with different terrains and conditions to explore.

And in 2020, I am getting my wish. I can form my team and go adventuring to my heart’s content. And as a turn-based battle system, so I can play that little bit longer when I am tired.

My only indecision is a question of which platform. PS4 or Switch? Oh, the choices!

Number 5 – The Last of Us Part 2

The Last of Us is hands down my choice of Game of the Decade. Are there games I enjoy more? Yes. But The Last of Us was a great example of gaming being both for adults and an artform. The storytelling is fantastic, and I don’t mean just the script. The non-verbal storytelling and diverse world and characters beat a lot of film and television writers.

So, of course, I am eagerly awaiting the sequel. But why the middling ranking you may ask? Not all stories need a sequel, in my opinion. I am not saying I don’t think Naughty Dog can do a proper sequel. But The Last of Us was so good, the potential for disappointment is real.

It’s also not a game you sit down and blow off steam with. The Last of Us was an emotional roller coaster that I had to get up and walk away from sometimes. Not because of a hard boss fight or difficult puzzle, but the story punches you hard at times. Well, it did for me at least.

I can’t wait to see what Naughty Dog has done with The Last of Us Part 2. But it’s a game I will need to be in the right frame of mind to sit and play through. This makes the next few games more likely for me to play before this one.

Number 4 – Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines 2

So, before the buggy Bethesda memes were even possible, Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines was the poster child for bug-riddled adventure greatness.

Based on the World of Darkness RPG games from White Wolf, Bloodlines was an ambitious game that almost delivered on all of its promises. At least, once most the game-breaking bugs and glitches were patched out.

Waking up a vampire, picking a different clan didn’t just mean different starting stats, but thoroughly different play styles and story plots as well. Playing as a Nosferatu, for example, means you can only travel by sewer around the city. Your deformed appearance stops you from passing as human, and you must remain hidden at all costs.

Pick a dialogue choice that means an NPC sasses you as a Brujah? You are probably going to kill them in a blind rage.

Before the Witcher, Bloodlines was my open-world adventure RPG of choice. It still holds up well today with all of the patches. But a proper sequel? Yes, please!

Number 3 – Resident Evil 3 Remake

The remake of Resident Evil 2 was mindblowing. Keeping the game ‘Resident Evil’ while updating almost everything was no small feat.

Take that same engine, and do the same for Resident Evil 3? It was a no brainer. And I am not worried about the relatively short gap between releases. The original Resident Evil 2 and 3 came out closely together as well, partially because of the large number of reused assets. The Racoon City Police Departement can be pretty much lifted straight into RE3.

We even have hints of areas that will change playing Resident Evil 2 remake. We can see the aftermath of what we all knew were Nemesis battles, and now we can see them for ourselves.

Capcom has said they are changing even more in 3 than they did in 2, and on the whole, I can’t wait to see what they have done. I am going to miss the pick your path options from the original – apparently, they are out. But after the team did so well with 2, I look forward to seeing what they have replaced those choices with.

Number 2 – Final Fantasy VII Remake

The game that made a lot of people Final Fantasy fans. Three discs of epic adventure told with large amounts (at the time) of video cutscenes.

It was a console defining game for many. Even people that aren’t fans of the game can’t argue against its popularity.

And after cruel teases and years of outcry, we are getting more than we could have dreamed of. Not a remaster – there have been plenty of those. We are getting a from the ground-up remake that is still keeping all of the favourite fan moments.

The entire Final Fantasy VII story is being split into parts, making the remake more of an episodic game than a full release. If Square Enix is keeping their word, this is necessary. The already massive adventure is being expanded upon so much that Midgar is a game in itself.

This will go one of two ways. It will be received with Resident Evil 2 levels of praise, or it will be flamed entirely and is the only instalment we will get. Time will tell.

Number 1 – Cyberpunk 2077

I have been chomping at the bit for this since the initial teaser reveal 7 years ago. I am not the only one.

Already loving what CD Project Red had done with The Witcher series and being a fan of the original RPG, how could I not be? Rewatching the teaser over and over again, I remember yelling happily because of a poster in the window. The cinematic showed nothing gameplay-wise but showed vital pieces of the RPG lore to show they knew what they were making.

Watching the presentation at PAX Aus 2019 had me excited. Yes, it was scripted mainly. Showing specific areas and a couple of builds to show off options, nothing hands-on. But those options were there. You don’t have to tweak a set character to get through the game.

There were genuine playstyle differences in what was shown, with none being better or worse than the other. If you think one style is better, play that way. It doesn’t force stealth players to be shooters, or talkers to be hackers. Each option is viable, so you can play whatever way you think is the most fun.

We have a little longer to wait now. Cyberpunk 2077 has been delayed until September. A lot of people have complained (the internet, how surprising). But think of the insane details included in The Witcher 3. If they want more time to do things, they can have it. And I will be waiting to enjoy the fruits of their labour.

Honorable Mentions

Video game announcements tend to be made long before board game announcments, so there was a much bigger pool to pick from.

That said, there were four games I struggled to put on this list but just didn’t win out. In no particular order, they are:

Sports Story
Disnintegration
Iron Man VR
Bravely Default 2

Sports Story is the follow up to indie fun rpg Golf Story, which was a lot of fun. Light hearted and simple while remaining engaging, I can’t wait to see how this turns out.

Disintigration looks really cool. A mix of RTS and FPS, where humans have been transferred into robots. Think Cayde-6 on a species level. There have been a lot of missteps in these mashups before though, so I am hesitant.

Iron Man VR I hope will live up to the hype, but I am also looking at maybe a 5-6 hour game if I am lucky. Well, based on past VR games – it might surprise me.

The really close one was Bravely Default 2. The Bravely series on the DS was amazing, and I really want to see how a direct sequel plays out. I can’t explain why, but I don’t think we will see it in 2020. I have a feeling it will slip to a 2021 release. But you never know – it could be an ‘available now’ after a future Direct!

What do you think? Is there a game coming in 2020 you think should have been on this list? Let me know in the comments, Twitter @JohnHQLD or on my Facebook page!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Top 10 Most Anticipated Board Games for 2020

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The new shiny games I know I want to get this year

Anticipation. It’s a wonderous thing. So many new things to look forward to, including what you don’t know is coming!

But like any time you try to read the future, it’s exciting and scary at the same time. What do I want to play more than anything else? It’s easy when you look back with all the information. Trying to predict what is coming – no so easy.

I have included games that are not only announced but should be in my hands this year. This excludes Kickstarters like the current Return to Dark Tower, as it won’t deliver until next year. As much as I can’t wait to play it, I can’t play it in 2020, so it’s out.

Will my Top 10 look anything like this list? Probably not. But enough about that – let’s get to the list!

Number 10 – Lander

This is a leap of faith addition. Lander is due to come to Kickstarter in March 2020, with no release date yet. It has been sent around to various game stores around the world for playtesting and demos. Not Queensland though – boo! :p

It also looks like a contender for quick manufacturing, so I am taking a chance it will be delivered by the years’ end.

But what is Lander? Think of a mix between Terraforming Mars and Catan, and that should put you in the right frame of mind. Build your area, control your resources, and trade with others trying to do the same.

Different game modes to help learn the game also help a lot. Expect a Kickstarter preview article when the campaign launches later this year.

Lander

Number 9 – Dungeon Drop

Dungeon crawlers are great fun, but they tend to have two things in common. First, a lot of setup and teardown time. Second, they can become multi-hour game sessions where a small mistake can invalidate hours of gameplay.

So what about a small scale dungeon crawler that can be set up, played and packed away in about 30 minutes? That is what Dungeon Drop is promising! Using cubes instead of minis may not be as appealing to some, but it keeps Dungeon Drop small and affordable.

I missed the Kickstarter, but it should be hitting retail later this year, and I will nab a copy then!

Dungeon Drop

Burgle Bros was a fun little adventure that is on my ‘Need to get into my games night’ list. I quite enjoy it, as did a lot of people as its popularity increased over the years. I get most of my plays on my phone, which for this game isn’t as fun as playing with people around a table.

And now, in 2020, the sequel should be coming to me from the successful Kickstarter! Burgle Bros 2: The Casino Capers isn’t just more Burgle Bros. There are streamlined mechanics and new challenges to overcome.

New rooms, new decisions, new gear even! Expect this to come up a few times once it arrives, even if only in solo mode ๐Ÿ™‚

Burgle Bros 2

Number 7 – Kemet: Blood and Sand

This will be much higher in some peoples choices for great games coming in 2020. For me, this might take some convincing to get some game night regulars to try it. So, a little further down my list.

Kemet is basically an area control game. Deploy your and try to keep areas the longest to collect points. One of its biggest draws is the Egyptian theme, which includes summoning monsters to fight with you.

Kemet is excellent, but it had some rules issues. This was addressed very well with a ruleset built with the Board Game Geek community, commonly referred to as Kemet 1.5.

Kemet: Blood and Sand goes even further in addressing these issues, without the limitations of existing components. I can’t wait to see how this goes.

Kemet Blood and Sand

Number 6 – Crypt X

Another Kickstarter that is being delivered this year all going well. Crypt X describes itself as a narrative puzzle. You must use the missing professor’s notes to discover what has become of him.

The game contains 51 puzzles, solved with a mixture of physical and augmented reality. Each solution takes you further down the narrative path, and each problem is not necessarily stand alone.

Think Unlock! or other escape room in a box type games, but with a campaign mode and overarching story. Not 100% accurate, but close enough to explain why I am excited by Crypt X.

I might be playing this on date nights with Rabbit rather than a game night experience, but it should be a heap of fun.

Crypt X

Hostage Negotiator is a game I pick up and put down regularly. It has an app version that works well, even if graphically there could be improvements.

Hostage Negotiator: Career does just what you think it does from the title. It takes the solo gameplay of the original and adds a career mode to the game.

Will this make Hostage Negotiators gameplay better? Probably Not. It should be more of the gameplay I know with some add ons. Hostage Negotiator is already an excellent game. The career mode will just give me a reason to play a few more games more regularly, and that can’t be a bad thing.

Hostage Negotiator Career

Number 4 – Deep Space D-6: Armada

I have spoken a few times about Deep Space D-6, the strangely absorbing space dice worker placement game. I even got around to giving it a review.

One of the things I wished I could do was play this game with others. It’s not that I don’t like solo gaming, it’s just games give me an excuse to catch up with friends. Solo gaming rarely lets me do that.

That is all set to change because the follow-up game Deep Space D-6: Armada is on Kickstarter, and delivers this year! Now I can work with my friends to save the galaxy ๐Ÿ™‚

Read my review, check out the Kickstarter (there should still be 2 days left to back it!) and see why I can’t wait for this game.

Deep Space D-6 Armada

I have written about this Australian Werewolf inspired game before. It even made my most anticipated games of 2018 list. Ooops, bit of a time slip there ๐Ÿ™‚ I have even had the chance to watch a couple of games while at PAX Aus.

Werewolf and The Resistance were social deduction staples at my game stores game nights. Playing such games is mostly how I formed my more recent circle of friends.

Blood On The Clocktower is more than just a ‘werewolf clone’, and I cannot wait to start hosting games at my game nights soon after it is delivered.

Blood on the Clocktower Box Art

Number 2 – Escape the Dark Sector

So you know I love Escape the Dark Castle. I have reviewed it. Made a podcast episode about it. It even made my Top 10 games of 2019! OK, through a couple of small technicalities, but you can see I love it.

Why wouldn’t I be waiting to move from the castle into space? It’s not just a retheme though, there are some new additions to the gameplay as well.

I am delighted that Themeborne can now refer to the Escape The Dark as a series, and can’t wait to see what else is in store down the line.

Escape the Dark Sector

Number 1 – Cosmic Encounter Duel

This was a by the skin of its teeth contender for this list. It was literally revealed while putting the draft article on the site, requiring a quick re-shuffling of my list!

Cosmic Encounter is excellent and has been loved (and lovingly hated!) for almost 45 years. Various new editions have come out over the years, but the core gameplay has remained largely intact over that time.

One problem with the original game is it isn’t great at two players. So why not take a page from 7 Wonders book and make a two-player version? Hello, Cosmic Encounter Duel.

I know a few people that would play Cosmic Encounter more if there were more players available. Now, if it’s just a pair of us, we can still play it! I will also be able to introduce this as a date night game with Rabbit, who I don’t believe has played Cosmic Encounter.

How can one of my favourite games of all time, coming in a version I can play with just one other person, not be my most anticipated game of 2020?

Cosmic Encounter Duel

What do you think? Is there a game coming in 2020 you think should have been on this list? Let me know in the comments, Twitter @JohnHQLD or on my Facebook page!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – January 20th, 2020

Silver Amulet

I can’t wait for my board game nights to start again!

Not that I am short of things to play. Even with a bit of a week last week, I have had a ball with the games I have played.

I even starting learning a couple of games that I can hopefully get a group together for in the next couple of weeks!

But I talked enough about the future last week. Let’s have a look at what I did get to play!

Werewolf is one of my favourite social deduction games. You need a larger group to play it, but that’s one of the great things about it. Want to play a game with 12 people? Werewolf should be on the list!

Playing with lower numbers can be done with the One Night series, but it’s not the same game. One Night isn’t bad – it just isn’t Werewolf.

Silver falls into this category as well. It isn’t Werewolf, even with shared characters. But that doesn’t make it a bad game, and I can’t wait to play it again.

It’s basically set collection with a trick-taking edge. Once the vote is called, you want to have the lowest score. It really is that simple, and it’s fast to teach and play! I can’t wait to play this once my game nights recommence ๐Ÿ™‚

Silver Amulet
A card game that only needs the cards - rare these days!

Dr Kawashimaโ€™s Brain Training for Nintendo Switch – Switch

OK, so if this is a game or not is debatable. I had heard people enjoying Brain Training on the DS ages ago, but it’s not a title I ever picked up.

But now that it’s on Switch, I thought why not? First thing – I am actually regretting buying the physical copy. It does come with a stylus, but I didn’t consider one important factor. You only play a mini-game for a couple of minutes each day, and swapping carts can be a pain.

On my first day, I got a Brain Age of 65. Learning how to write and have the Switch interpret it correctly meant a lot of mistakes and lots of penalties.

One week later, I can write 4 and 5 correctly about 95% of the time, and I scored a brain age of 27! The tests were much easier for me this time, but I wouldn’t claim it was because of training. I just randomly got activities that I usually enjoy as diversions.

Each day you play, you earn a stamp that unlocks other activities. I have enjoyed a couple of games, like Rock-Paper-Scissors with random “Try to Win/Try to Lose” conditions. Doing basic arithmetic is also strangely calming, much more than the Germs mini-game. There is nothing wrong with Germs, but using the stylus to control Dr Mario isn’t great.

I will keep playing this for a couple of weeks, then give a review and progress report after a few weeks.

Final Fantasy XV – PS4

One great thing about the holidays was the chance to get into one of my backlog games. As I said last week, I have finally gotten the opportunity to jump into Final Fantasy XV. And now I have not only been playing, but I finished it!

So while I have finished Final Fantasy XV, I am not sure if I am finished with it. I have only 4 tasks before earning the platinum, and only one of those tasks will require level grinding – the Adamantoise fight.

I also have the Season Pass content, but a reveal during the game means I really want to see Prompto’s story. If I play one of the episodes, I will probably want to play them all.

Will I play it or not? Next week I have an article talking about just such temptation ๐Ÿ™‚

Final Fantasy XV
Not bad. I would have picked a different picture but I got impatient at night.

Onirim – Android

A game I always enjoy pulling out for a diversion is Onirim. I have talked about it in depth in my review.

Onirim is a game that even after hundreds of plays, I can lose easily. And yet a loss is not frustrating, and playing on the phone is a quick reset.

I have spoken about this before, but it’s amazing how I can completely miss playing on my phone as ‘gaming’. True, I tend to play solo games on the phone, but that doesn’t make it any less fun.

Onirim
It's a nice feeling when you can't lose! Wait, there is one more nightmare....

Onitama – Android

Another game that I have reviewed,ย Onitimaย is a game I pick up now and then. Not as much as Onirim, but it has the same sense of comfort playing it.

I am still playing with the base cards on the app, but the hard AI mode is still giving me a challenge. I can technically play online, but a quick round now and then is always my preference. Waiting for my opponent online isn’t always a smooth experience.

But while waiting at work for a few things like code to compile, jumping on my phone and playing a quick round is always a bit of fun.

Onitama
This did not end well for me. But it was still fun!

What about you?ย  I hope you got some great games in.ย  Or are you looking forward to a new one?ย  Let me know!ย  Shout out onย Facebookย or @JohnHQLD me onย Twitter!

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD

Top 10 Video Games 2019 (I Wish I Played)

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Oh how I wish more time. And energy. Mainly time ๐Ÿ™‚

We all know that great equation. You need sleep so you can work and earn money. But you wish you could still play games and only have 4 hours sleep and still function ๐Ÿ™‚

2019 had some fantastic game releases, and I only got to play a fraction of all the releases I wanted to. So welcome to the Top 10 list of games I wish I played last year!

Number 10 – Concrete Genie

Released late in 2019, Concrete Genie has been getting some great reviews. And it’s PSVR compatible!

At its core, Concrete Genie is a puzzle game that uses freestyle drawing and colour instead of pure logic and fetch quests to complete. What isn’t to be intrigued about?

I am a little concerned that my colour blindness could impact playing the game, but playing with Rabbit in the room should help teach me what is where.

By all accounts a laid back but challenging game, I will probably try and give Concrete Genie a go later this year.

Concrete Genie

Number 9 – Sea of Solitude

I remember when Sea of Solitude first caught my eye, it was 2016ish. It looked like an interesting premise, a young girl escaping monsters in a submerged city, with a world to explore and learn the story.

Then I saw it coming up in a few Game of the Year 2019 lists. I didn’t even realise it had released!

A story that focuses on a young girl facing her inner demons, both narratively and in-game. The monsters in the game are facets of her personality and the issues that bring them out. Building the story as she (and you as the player) is intriguing and challenging, so I wish I knew it had come out.

Sea of Solitude

Number 8 – River City Girls

River City Girls is more a throwback to the old school Double Dragon/Final Fight arcade days with a few twists. The most obvious one is that you play as high school girls rescuing their boyfriends, but the changes go deeper than that.

There are the standard moves, combos and power-ups that side-scrolling beat-em-ups are known for. But you can also beat up enemies and then recruit them to work for you, giving you the ability to customise your team and assistance when required.

River City Girls isn’t deep, but it is a retro arcade throwback that looks like fun and from all accounts delivers on that promise.

River City Girls

Number 7 – Borderlands 3

I wouldn’t say I am a huge Borderlands fan, but the series is fun and a shooter I would play over a lot of others. On my wish list to start is Borderlands 2 VR, and if I could get a group of players regularly would love to try and play all 3 in coop mode.

One thing I do hear about Borderlands 3 is it is more Borderlands. This isn’t a bad thing at all. But even though I enjoyed the first 2 games solo (I haven’t played the pre-sequel), the most fun is had when playing with friends.

I will eventually give Borderlands 3 a try, but I wish I had time to have already done so.

Borderlands 3

Number 6 – Trover Saves The Universe

I am a huge Rick and Morty fan, so this was always on my radar. I really want to play it in VR, and I haven’t had the time or the proper setup lately to do so. I also want to finish Virtual Rick-ality which I have problems touching the ground in PSVR, and I don’t want the same thing happening.

Is this a groundbreaking game with a deeply satisfying story? Nope. It is a fun platformer with the co-creator of Rick and Morty providing the jokes, so I imagine it will be a fun couple of days and then put it away. Think an adult-oriented AstroBot Rescue Mission. Oh alright, a childish adult-oriented version :p

But what a couple of days ๐Ÿ˜€ Final decision eventually will be stick with the VR dream, or pick it up on Switch where it was recently released?

Trover Saves The Universe

Number 5 – Doctor Who: The Edge of Time

I was so excited when I heard The Edge of Time was coming out, and then I just glossed over it. Partly moving, partly unhappy with PSVR setup, mostly just busy and forgot.

Like a couple of other games on this list, The Edge of Time won’t be for everyone. Having grown up on Doctor Who (Tom Baker was my first), the chance to explore different scenarios and in VR is very appealing.

I can’t say for sure (obviously or it wouldn’t be on this list), but I am getting a bit of a VR Escape Room experience vibe from The Edge of Time. Some of these are fun, some not so much.

Either way, I picked it up on PSVR with the Jan sale recently, so I will let you know in a formal review later this year!

Doctor Who The Edge of Time

Number 4 – The Outer Wilds

Consistently confused with and for The Outer Worlds launched at almost the same time, I heard the title but missed the pitch. Some blinders attached themselves to me and stopped me from seeing this title. And I really, really regret it.

Yes, it’s an open-world(ish) sci-fi adventure ala The Outer Worlds. Yes, you have to save the universe. But you can’t win the game without losing. And losing. And losing again.

Closer to space Groundhog Day, you have a small window of time to find out why your planet is destroyed and save it. But you can’t do it the first time. When you fail, you wake up again at the start of the game with your memories of the previous loop intact.

This sounds great, and it’s on Game Pass, so I will be giving it a try sometime.

The Outer Wilds

Number 3 – Control

I had a lot of doubts about Control when it was coming out. It wasn’t the game itself, Remedy has provided some great experiences over the years. It was the PC port and RTX that had me fed up with the hype.

Graphics help in many ways, but they aren’t all that makes a game. A lot of internet trolling about graphics effects not on their Xbox or PS4 because they didn’t have a brand new graphics cards that cost 3-4x their console just annoyed me. So I didn’t even look at it.

Yeah, I should have just picked up Control. It sounds like my style of game. Lot’s of exploration with a story as deep as you want it to be – it’s a JohnHQLD dream that I let tech trolls kill for me. Need to fix that.

Control

Number 2 – Luigi’s Mansion 3

I first played Luigi’s Mansion on a friends Gamecube. Never finished it until it came out on DS recently. I have Luigi’s Mansion 2 but haven’t started it. I don’t know if I will at the moment, but that’s because DS gaming is all but officially dead at the moment. But I digress.

Coming out on Halloween, why hadn’t I even started this game up? Well, because I was neck-deep in The Outer Worlds, but that was a whole another console!

I am pretty sure Luigi’s Mansion 3 will be a great palate cleanser between some of the big games I want to play in 2020 (More about that soon!), but the included mini-games might even make for a fun games night or two ๐Ÿ˜€

Luigi's Mansion 3

Number 1 – Death Stranding

Hideo Kojima. That is all I needed to hear to be onboard with Death Stranding. I even pre-ordered the PS4 Pro Death Stranding Console. Partially because I wanted a Pro that didn’t sound like a jet engine. Partly because it looks great without being overboard.

As regulars know, the end of last year was all over the place for multiple reasons. I wish I had time to sit down and play Death Stranding, but I just didn’t. Unlike a lot of open-world adventures (like The Outer Worlds for example), Kojima games tend to require more alertness to play. Bottom line, I was too tired to give Death Stranding the attention it deserves.

I have been trying to avoid anything substantially story related to the game, so I can enjoy as fresh as I can. As things go on, this will probably get harder. I have heard lots of opinions, but I know I am not walking into an action game. I just don’t know exactly what I will be walking into.

This will be rectified in the coming months ๐Ÿ™‚

Death Stranding

What do you think? Is there a 2019 release you think I should be playing before any of these? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Top 10 Video Games 2019 (That I Actually Played)

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What a great year to be a gamer

I had a better year for Video Games than I initially thought. I didn’t realise I spent a lot more time on one platform more than the others, and by a fair margin.

Spoiler, but for the first time in a VERY long time, I haven’t really played a game on PC. It makes sense. Usually when I sit in front of the computer I am getting ready to work, and if I am playing on the PC I always have work in the back of my mind. That will change in 2020 as well ๐Ÿ™‚

Similar to my Board Game list, I have added a couple of cheat entries. Well, I call them cheats, becuase I haven’t finished them yet! They are weighted down thr lidy becuase of this, but the small amount of play I had still put them over other entries.

Enough explaining – on to the list!

Number 10 – Astral Chain (Switch)

PlatinumGames are evil. Here I am, a mid-40’s grumpy old man that can’t play twitch reflex games like he used to. Somehow though they manage to pull me back in to play another one.

I am enjoying the world-building of Astral Chain, and the story exploration is enough without being too grindy. Well, up to Chapter 5, where I am. And that is where I got up to.

I think it was PAX Aus prep after the site redesign that derailed me on this one? I am not sure. But if you like action games at all, you need to check out Astral Chain. It’s only number 10 because I haven’t finished it.

Oh, and if you want to play on the move, the Hori Split Pad Pro controller will do nicely ๐Ÿ˜€

Astral Chain

Number 9 – Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (Switch)

A classic game remade. I skipped a lot of the Nintendo consoles, with the original Gameboy being my only console until the DS a couple of years ago. Because of this, I missed a lot of classic NES gaming, including the Legend of Zelda series.

Now before a lot of people go berserk that Link’s Awakening is at the bottom of my list, I have two reasons. Firstly, I haven’t finished it. So it’s in my top 10 unfinished. Secondly, even though it’s my first time through the game, at its core, the game is 25 years old!

I am genuinely enjoying Link’s Awakening, and now that I have finished Pokemon Shield I intend to go back and finish it. But the older gameplay mechanics that drive the game, even though they hold up, keep it lower down on my list, most likely even if I had finished it.

Links Awakening

Number 8 – Fire Emblem: Three Houses (Switch)

Fire Emblem on the DS was terrific. Huge story to explore, character interactions, permadeath – it was a turn-based RPG geeks dream. Fire Emblem on the DS was like Valkyria Chronicles for me on PlayStation – I can’t get enough!

And on a work trip, I got just far enough into it to know I didn’t have the time to invest in it just yet. I knew that the world was involved and you had to keep on top of what was happening. But in the DS version, you only had to worry about that at particular times. Quests were manually triggered, so you soon knew when to close it.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses will let you play this way, but only to an extent by what I have tasted. The between battle interactions are on track to take up 40-60 hours on their own!

If you enjoy turn-based strategy, pick up Fire Emblem: Three Houses for yourself. The casual mode will let you pick up and play no problem, and is still quite a challenge.

Fire Emblem Three Houses

Number 7 – The Jackbox Party Pack 6 (Switch)

Yes, it’s a collection of silly mini-games. It also let me run and join in for a games night with zero prep time.

For those that don’t know, the Jackbox Party games are just general games where the audience votes on winners. You can be designing T-Shirts, redefining the English language, or finding evil alien stowaways!

Buying the pack on a console (or PC, Apple TV, Pretty much anything) lets you host the game, and everyone uses their own devices with a web browser to join in. Then you follow the prompts!

Setup is easy, fun is great, and there is plenty of variety, so replayability is there. If you have groups of people that appear, this is an excellent standby as a group activity.

Jackbox Party 6

Number 6 – Untitled Goose Game (Switch)

Proof that gameplay trumps graphics ๐Ÿ˜€ Untitled Goose Game came out last year on PC, but not they are on consoles the game’s popularity has soared, and the Switch is where I got to enjoy it ๐Ÿ™‚

Like any great simple game, from the description, it doesn’t sound great. Be a goose and do tasks that appear on the screen. They can be anything from finding a flower, all the way to terrorise a child enough to hide in a phone booth.

And it’s hilarious.

I played it in small bouts while travelling and needed something I could turn off without consequence. I thought it would be perfect. Word to the wise – losing progress bites :p

If you haven’t seen it, play someone’s copy now. I am sure they will let you. Twenty minutes later, try to give them back their Switch/Controller without honking at them – I dare you :p

Untitled Goose Game

Number 5 – Pokemon Sword and Shield (Switch)

So missing a lot of the Nintendo early consoles, I only played a few Pokemon games. Yellow, Ruby, Moon, Let’s Go and now Shield.

A lot of fans are annoyed and vocal. Competitive play has already banned Dynamaxing, a new battle mechanic. Apparently, DS assets like sounds and models have been reused, which people feel ‘cheated’ by.

I had fun with it. The story isn’t really anything amazing (nothing new there). The battles are fun, and I enjoyed cooking a meal for my Pokemon. The inclusion of the Wild Area I thought was fun. Yes, online has issues, but I also didn’t need it to complete the game.

If you enjoy Pokemon, to me Sword and Shield are excellent additions to the series. If you are new to Pokemon but want more than the Let’s Go series ‘simple’ gameplay, it’s all here and more. And because Pokemon were cut, there is also the benefit of not having so many Pokemon to learn, so your learning curve is only steep instead of a vertical wall ๐Ÿ™‚

Pokemon Sword and Shield

Number 4 – Kingdom Hearts 3 (PS4)

How long have I waited for Kingdom Hearts 3? And was it worth it? Mostly ๐Ÿ˜€

I love the series, but the timelines and retcons are crazy. Basically, I tell anyone trying to play the game to go with it, it’s much more manageable. What kind of timeline shenanigans are we talking about? Well at the start of 2019, the first Kingdom Hearts game is about the sixth in chronological order. It also includes movies, games, browser games and even concerts as authoritative entries.

That is not including most entries have been released and re-released with changes and story updates at least once. Usually as a full-priced game.

Bottom line though, I loved Kingdom Hearts 3. I would come home from work and work some more before going to bed just so I could get a solid 8-10 hours on Saturdays.

Everyone can play it, very few can understand it all, but a lot of fun no matter how you look at it.

Kingdom Hearts 3

Number 3 – Tetris 99 (Switch)

Well, talk about left field. Nintendo introduced one of my all-time favourite games and added Battle Royale. I thought they were mad. I thought it wouldn’t work.

Yeah, I was wrong.

With new play modes and little Grand Prix events always adding a bit of a carrot to come back, Tetris 99 still manages to be in the first few tiles of my Switch menu.

If you don’t know about Tetris 99 by now, check out my review. Better yet, if you have Switch Online, just jump on and play it. Really.

Tetris 99

Number 2 – The Outer Worlds (Xbox One)

So my first ever platinum trophy was Fallout 3. This was after voicing concern to my gaming group at the time that I was worried about bringing back Fallout and in a new game style to boot. In my defence, the previous couple of spin-offs weren’t great. Doesn’t mean I wasn’t wrong, though.

Flash forward to the next game from Obsidian Entertainment called Fallout: New Vegas. I was playing on PC, but that is putting it kindly. New Vegas was a bug-riddled mess of frustration. A year later, and after a lot of coaxing from friends, I said hello to my favourite Fallout game of all time.

Yep, the same team that made Fallout: New Vegas made a Fallout like game in space, and it’s fantastic. The multi-branching story, unforeseen consequences, and a relevant overarching story arc make The Outer Worlds a game I basically hoovered down. And it’s on Game Pass (hint, hint).

Playing it through the first two weeks, it wasn’t perfect. But it was far from an unplayable mess. The most significant bugs I met were apparently I was supposed to be given some more quest options. Still, I didn’t notice they were missing – the story made sense, and I could continue on.

Seriously, if you have Game Pass, put this on your drive (PC or Xbox). If you don’t, play it anyway. And apparently, it’s coming to Switch this year!

The Outer Worlds

Number 1 – Resident Evil 2 Remake (PS4)

Usually, as you can see with Link’s Awakening earlier in this list, I put a big negative in terms of weight for remasters and sequels. But then you get a remake that changes almost everything about the game, and for the better. This year, that game was Resident Evil 2.

You have the same characters, with some tweaks. The A/B Scenario system remains in place. And of course, item management and puzzles are still a concern.

Oh, and you still have good old Racoon City, the most magnificent collection of disasters of a city that never was.

Pretty much everything else is different though. Camera styles, combat, AI direction, even the Tyrant/Mr X – if you think you can use the same old tricks, be ready to reload your save.

I still remember playing this during the year, sitting on the couch with Rabbit reading/playing with her phone next to me. Hearing Mr X’s footsteps, she looks up to see what is making the noise. Then she sees him come through a door and lock on to me. “What the f#!* is that!” she yelled out, and it was at that point I knew just how well Capcom had nailed the remake.

If you haven’t played Resident Evil 2, then grab the new demo from your digital store of choice. That’s right – the ‘new’ demo. Capcom has started baking in Resident Evil 3 easter eggs into RE2, which is impressive in itself. Can’t wait for that to come out this year!

Resident Evil 2

Honorable Mentions

Tie – Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (PS4)/Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order (PS4)

So here are two very different games that share one thing in common – I played them enough that I can’t put them on the ‘I wish I played’ lists, but didn’t play enough to fairly put higher on the list.

Both games are graphically impressive (personally, Sekiro more than Fallen Order but it’s not a huge difference). Both have a control system that requires practice and gaining skill (again, Sekiro more than Fallen Order). And both games have been raved about since release.

I have played enough of both to know I want to play more. I have also played enough of both (about 3-4 hours each) to realise I need to be playing when I am fully alert. And when my joints don’t already betray me.

I honestly think at least one of these games would have pipped Link’s Awakening for number 10 except for one thing – I can’t just pick either of them after 6 months and know the timing. The controls are not brutal, but the nuances are.

So while I think I will love both of these games, when you don’t see them on my ‘I Wish I Played’ list don’t think it’s because I don’t like them. On the contrary, at least one will appear in another article soon.

If you have any interest in either pick it up. Yes, you will need to practice and ‘Git Gud’, but no one has said otherwise. All I can say is from what I have seen, I think it will be worth it.

What do you think? I couldn’t believe how much the Switch dominated my gaming this year. But with the portable nature of the console, it does make sense.

What about your favourite games of 2019? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Top 10 Board Games 2019 (I Wish I played!)

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The list of games I wish I had more time and/or money for

Today I am going to take you through the top 10 games I wish I had played in 2019. The ones that others talk about with that certain gleam that reminded me of a moment of excitement or gave a moment of envy.

Like any list of favourites and wishes, they are very personal and different for everyone. As I haven’t played any of these games, the list order should not be seen as “In my opinion, this game is better/worse than that game”.

This list is more “If I had all 10 in front of me, which one would I play first” style ranking. If I happen to own (or know someone that does) a specific game, it will probably have a higher position than one I would love to play more but have to track down.

Make sense? I hope so because we are going in!

It’s a Wolfgang Warsch game, so of course, I am interested. Like a lot of his games, it takes a bit of coaxing to get players excited initially.

The premise of Taverns? Compete against other players to build the most successful pub in your little valley. It has dice drafting and deck management.

By itself, it sounds a lot like so many games out there. But. Wolfgang Warsch has proven himself a designer that takes known mechanics and adds that magical X factor to make them work better than the originals. And for that alone, I wish I had been able to get a copy of The Taverns of Tiefenthalย and play it last year.

The Taverns of Tiefenthal

2019’s Ridiculously Big Box Delivery Kickstarter Champion (if you see the boxes of all in pledges arriving, leaves CMON to shame!).

It’s not only the size of contents and boxes delivered that brings on comparisons to Gloomhaven. That really isn’t fair though, as Gloomhaven is more combat-based where Tainted Grail is more exploration-based. Tainter Grais is closer to (but still different from) The 7th Continent.

Either way, I missed the Kickstarter, and both Gloomhaven and The 7th Continent are on my shame shelf. If I am given a chance for go, I feel it will be 2-3 hours well spent ๐Ÿ˜€

Tainted Grail

Number 8 – Nemesis

So Alpal and I have a running laugh about Kickstarters I thought I backed but didn’t. Nemesis was one I could have sworn I backed, and I did. And then cancelled. I don’t remember why, and I am kicking myself.

Nemesis is a semi-cooperative survival horror game. You all need to work together to survive, but you also have your own objectives to complete. Sometimes at the cost of other players, and hopefully not at your characters!

I have Lifeform for solo ‘Alienesque’ board games, and a few one-vs-many games, so I have options. The reception to Nemesis has been so positive I am really kicking myself for cancelling my pledge.

Nemesis

Number 7 – Cthulhu: Death May Die

Summing up Cthulhu: Death May Die as ‘Cthulhu Zombicide’ is both a quick summary and an unfair comparison, like so many games in our hobby.

Cthulhu: Death May Die is a CMON game with beautiful minis and lots of ‘stuff’. Zombicide. Where it differs is Death May Die is split into specific chapters and closer to a strategic mini-game than a fun ‘dice-chucker’.

And did I mention this is a collaboration between Eric Lang and Rob Daviau? Why didn’t I back it! Well, the cost, but we won’t dwell on that.

I already have heaps of exploration/survival games on my shelves of shame, so I don’t think I will try and track down Cthulhu: Death May Die. But I would love to play a chapter/episode to see if it is as good as I think it will be.

Cthulhu Death May Die

I really love the Roll Player universe. The original Roll Player made character creation into a dice worker placement game. Lockup became a bluffing area control game. And now Cartographers brings Roll and Write to the series.

I generally try not to be one of those people that says games need to stay in a specific genre. If there are alternate ways to bring people into the lore, go for it. And that is precisely what is happening with the Roll Player universe.

On its own, the gameplay description isn’t unique. Roll dice, create your map and try and group things to earn more points than your competitors. But everything so far in the Roll Player universe has appealed to me, so I would love to give Cartographers a play or five.

Cartographers A Roll Player Tale

Number 5 – Marvel Champions

When I first heard about Marvel Champions, I was pretty meh about it. I still need to get through my Arkham Horror LCG (Living Card Game) packs, and I didn’t want another retheme of the same core mechanics.

Well, I guessed wrong apparently. Marvel Champions is being praised as a story-driven, yet casual friendly, LCG. I cannot say that Arham Horror is exactly casual friendly, hence the rarity of getting it to the table.

A casual-friendly story-driven version with a streamlined ruleset, where I can mix in only the packs I want going forward? Yep, I am interested.

Marvel Champions

Number 4 – Wingspan

Well, this has been an interesting release. Demand far outstripped the initial supply, and there seems to be a ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’ mentality on the net. It’s rare for me to hear an “It’s fine” opinion about Wingspan.

I was a little upset initially that almost everything I heard about Wingspan was about everything but the game. Supply issues are unfortunate, but they happen. It also made me laugh that the US was complaining so much that the game didn’t have enough releases to go around. Try buying initial runs in Australia :p

I don’t have an overwhelming urge to add Wingspan to my collection, but I would love to have a game and see where it falls for me. Competitive without being cutthroat and a unique theme have my curiosity well and truly piqued.

Wingspan

Number 3 – Star Wars: Outer Rim

I love Firefly. A universe that has (had?) so much promise, cut short just as it had begun to make its mark.

I am not as big a fan of Firefly: The Game. Essentially a hand management/pick up and deliver game, it was overly complicated admin wise and needed streamlining. Also, it was huge – a single-player game took up more space than my 8 person poker table provided!

Star Wars: Outer Rim is being described as a streamlined version of this, and in the Star Wars universe which fits thematically. So I really want to play this. Alpal and I have this in a shared library, I just need to be able to play it!

Star Wars Outer Rim

I have had Detective: City of Angels for ages. I backed it on Kickstarter, I was so excited, but I haven’t had the chance to get it to the table yet. Boo!

If you think of Detective: City of Angels as “L.A. Noire the Board Game”, you won’t be too far off the mark. An actual interrogation/threaten system instead of other deduction “Here is all I say” mechanics intrigues me. And I can play it solo then help others play game night.

I really need to get this played over the coming weeks so I can make that happen.

Detective City of Angels

So you may know I am a fan of Penny Arcade. This was the one game I was praying would be available at PAX Aus 2019, and it wasn’t so I didn’t get to play it though.

I did get my hands on a copy just before Christmas, so yes this will be one of 2 Legacy games I will be running this year. The other? Betrayal Legacy ๐Ÿ˜€

Clank! is a popular push your luck/hand management series, of which I own Clank! In! Space! (Yes, you have to pronounce it like that :p). Adding the silliness of the Acquisitions Inc. world by having your group starting their own franchise is appealing. You also get to build up your own world similar to Charterstone, a mechanic I appreciated. Still, as a game, I felt Charterstone missed the mark. By all accounts, Clank! Legacy nails it.

My plan is to run a couple of Clank! In! Space! sessions once the regular games night resume, then find players for the campaign. Expect to hear more of Clank! Legacy from me later this year.

Clank! Legacy Acquisitions Incorporated

What do you think? Are there any games you wish you could have played in 2019? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Yeti in Wahroonga Village – January 15th, 2020

Week 27

Can you find the Yeti and the Footprints?

Week 27

Last Week’s Answer

Yeti – In Pink Monster

Foot 1 – In Elsas Book

Foot 2 – In White Dragons Mouth

Week 26

How did you go? Alpal absolutely smashed it, even picking the correct names and everything! Pink Monster is the best I could describe it as lol ๐Ÿ˜€

Best of luck this week!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Top 10 Board Games 2019 (That I actually played)

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My first list in over 18 months!

It has been far too long since I have done a list like this. Once thing I noticed when I compiled my list was the numebr of games I meant to review but didn’t get around to! So these lists have helped from a roadmap for a lot of reviews this year already ๐Ÿ™‚

As you may have guessed from the title, this list is made up of games I actually played this year. I tried to also restrict it to games that were released in 2019, and no expansions. As I didn’t do a 2018 list I kind of fudged that rule a bit though as you will see.

Think I missed a great game? That is a possibility. It might also be on tomorrow’s list – Top 10 Games of 2019 I Wish I Played!

Any list like this is very subjective. Even without bending the rules a little bit for eiligability this year, I may have played a game you loved but it didn’t make the cut. That doesn’t mean I don’t like that game or think it’s bad – I just liked these games better. I would love to hear what games you think should be on this list!

All that said and done, let’s get on to my favourite games of 2019.

Number 10 – MegaCity: Oceania

MegaCity: Oceania is an exciting game. Not quite a dexterity game, not quite a city builder, but something in-between. And it is better for it.

Right off the bat, MegaCity: Oceania won’t be everyone’s first choice to play. It might not even be their second choice. But I can’t see many people that wouldn’t play it if it was in front of them.

Not into deep strategy games? Just have fun building your cities. Not the greatest at building blocks? Go for the ‘safe’ buildings and use location to your point advantage.

I played this right at the end of 2019, so it has the ‘fresh in my mind’ advantage. But while a review will be coming, if you get the chance to try MegaCity: Oceania, give it a go and enjoy a light but fun experience.

MegsCity Oceania

So I heard a lot this year that Pandemic: Rapid Response isn’t a ‘Pandemic’ game. That it’s theme was not there or too hard to immerse yourself in.

I don’t understand most of these arguments. These are all things I will cover in the full review later. For now, all I can say about Pandemic: Rapid Response is that is was a fun time on the table. I felt that the theme made sense for the gameplay, with certain leaps of logic that Pandemic already asks you to make in other games.

Was it perfect? Nope. But we did have a lot of fun, and that is what counts most of all.

Pandemic Rapid Response

Number 8 – That’s Pretty Clever

So I really got into That’s Pretty Clever last year, both physically and digitally. A tremendous mental puzzle that allowed you to zone out while playing, I really enjoyed playing this game.

My biggest complaint about it has nothing to do with the game at all. What was my gripe? I always played solo. You can play against other people, but I just never really found the time to start a group game. And the digital implementation is basically solo only, so there goes that idea.

For my full review, click here.

Thats Pretty Clever

Number 7 – Disney Villainous

Well, Villainous took me by surprise. I only got to play a few rounds with Alpal, but they were really, really fun.

There are usually two drawbacks to multiple themed card games. The first – learning curve. You have to learn all of the decks to know what works and what doesn’t. Secondly – mashing the ‘wrong’ cards together. Having Genie face-off against Snow White’s the Hunter doesn’t always work.

Prospero Hall took care of both issues with elegant simplicity – you pick a deck, and your opponents use your cards against you. You are even given tips on how to win/what to watch for on all of the other characters.

Is Disney Villainous a top tier competitive game? Of course not! But it is a quick and fun game that you can have new players getting into straight away, and that is always appreciated.

Disney Villainous

The first Roll Player ‘universe’ game I played, I was a little confused about Lockup when I first saw it. How could you take the dice placement of Roll Player and make it work as a bluffing worker allocation game?

The answer is you don’t. You let it be its own game within the world of Roll Player and enjoy.

Lockup was a game that I wouldn’t have seen for a while without Alpal’s influence, and I can imagine a lot of other gamers being in the same boat. If you get the chance, give Lockup a try – even if you didn’t like Roll Player. The game is entirely different and deserves to be judged on its own.

Lockup A Roll Player Tale

Ahh, Funko Pops. I have too many, and not enough. I will not let myself buy any Kingdom Hearts ones though. If I get just one, I will need to get the rest. And we already don’t have enough room!

Why am I going on about Funko Pops? Because now they have their own strategy game! Games? They have lots of things coming out!

The Funkoverse Strategy Game is no Memoir 44, Warhammer, or even Imperial Assault. It is very streamlined, quick to play, and with an expanding universe of characters and missions, here to stay. The only pack I am missing so far is The Golden Girls. I knew I had to try this when on the internet someone was complaining that Bea Arthur was the most overpowered character in the game.

Just let that sink in – Bea Arthur is seen as stronger than Batman, Rick Sanchez, The Joker, or even Voldemort.

Whether in amusement or disbelief, you must be smiling about that. And that moment of silly suspension coupled with simplified tactics and Pops replacing minis makes Funkoverse a great experience.

Number 4 – Escape the Dark Castle

So this one may be seen as a cheat, as I have definitely played it before 2019. But 2019 is when I got the collectors big box and expansions. I also didn’t do a 2018 list. So, it’s on the list!

Escape the Dark Castle is a light narrative dungeon romp that is still fun to play. Similar to a Fighting Fantasy/Choose Your Own Adventure game with randomised ‘pages’, each run is different. And that is just with the original base cards!

For my full thoughts, you can check out my review here. For something a little different, you can listen to Alpal and I playing here ๐Ÿ™‚

Escape The Dark Castle

Wolfgang Warsch seems to have come out of nowhere in the last couple of years. The Mind, That’s Pretty Clever, Twice as Clever, and now The Quacks of Quedlinburg. The man has yet to design a game I haven’t enjoyed.

Quacks of Quedlinburg is my favourite to date though. It contains a ‘rubber band’ catch up mechanic similar to Mario Kart. What is this? If you are behind, you are given some advantages to help you catch up to the leader, keeping it competitive. And it is implemented so seamlessly, it was a couple of games in before I realised how good it is.

Yes, there are some random elements. Push your luck is also a more significant part of the game than I usually give it credit for. I enjoy it so much, and we are yet to play an ‘advanced’ game.

If you have a mixed group of players and are looking from something different, play The Quacks of Quedlinburg.

The Quacks of Quedlinburg

Another game not released in 2019, but I have had a ball playing it through the year. Also, this would have been on my top games of 2018 list, but that didn’t happen! Replacing the mancala like movement strategies of the original board game with dice rolling sounds disastrous, but it works well.

I know plenty of players that love the idea of Istanbul but get frustrated at various aspects of the gameplay. For these people, the dice game works wonderfully. You get the same sense of tension and racing your opponents as you do with the board game but in a fraction of the time.

If you are new to gaming, Istanbul: The Dice Game is a fun introduction to an intense euro game with a natural learning curve. The tactics you learn in the dice game can carry to the board game quite easily, even if it doesn’t look like it at first.

If I want to play a game, Istanbul: The Dice Game is usually on the list of options. For more information, check out the review here.

Istanbul The Dice Game

Number 1 – Chronicles of Crime

Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective remade for the digital age. There are plenty of new deduction games out there, including Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game and Detective: City of Angels, both with their own twist.

Chronicles of Crime is probably the most accessible to play and works well in small sessions. Lucky Duck Games have outdone themselves with this setup.

The use of QR Codes makes reading easier to digest for most people. Instead of being faced with a wall of text, everything is in smaller bites. Plus you can actually interrogate people about items, something that is very difficult in the preprinted document format a la Consulting Detective/Legacy of Dragonholt.

The look on new players faces as they use their phones to actually examine a crime scene is priceless as well.

I am yet to make it through all of the original cases. I also have both expansions to look forward to. Chronicles of Crime is easily my choice for the best game of 2019, and I look forward to playing it through 2020 as well.

Chronicles of Crime

Honorable Mention

Deep Space D-6

I was really tempted to give Deep Space D-6 a spot on this list. A solo game only game that came out a few years ago, I still love to pull this out now and then.

Released in 2015, I only got my hands on it this year. By my bedning of the rulesfor thiis year, I could have found a way. The main reason I marked it off the list is that it is only solo, where as every other game on the list you can play with others.

All that said, for 2020 the follow up is now live on Kickstarter – Deep Space D-6: Armada. Check out my review of the original Deep Space D-6 here., then check out the Kickstarter here.

Deep Space D-6

What do you think? Is there a game you saw me talk about in Last Week’s Gaming that you think should be on this list?

Or even better, what were your Top 10 games of 2019? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – January 13th, 2020

Pokemon Shield

MORE GAMES PLEASE 2020!

So it’s been a big 5-6 weeks here. Rabbit and I have moved, end of year work crunch, all the fun stuff has been happening.

That said, I did get some gaming in – including finishing a couple of video games! I even got a platinum. Yay!

So considering the huge welcome back article earlier today, let’s jump straight into what I played.

The Tokyo Series (and indeed most Jordan Draper games I back) are games I love, but always have trouble pitching to others why they excite me. The come in plain boxes, have small components, and usually can be multiple games in one box.

Michael Fox (no, not that one) and Jordan Draper have collaborated on expanding Tokyo Jutaku, a dexterity game in the Tokyo Series. The fruits of this collaboration is MegaCity: Oceania. It also doesn’t hurt that thematically it’s played just off the Gold Coast ๐Ÿ˜€

MegaCity: Oceania
Combining stategy with dexterity sounds strange, but this was so fun to play!

There is a dexterity component of building up your city on a tile according to a random plan. Then, you have to move your completed section into the central MegaCity, all while trying to maximise points.

It sounds like two genres that shouldn’t work together, but it did. MegaCity: Oceania was fun while having deep stratagies hidden away. Building your city is fun, and you can take your time to a degree. Moving your city without anything collapsing is tense, without being frustrating. Give it a look if you get the chance.

I think this will be a great way to get people to look at other Jordan Draper games I own

Deep Blue

Days of Wonder knows how to present games well. Best known for the Ticket to Ride series, Days of Wonder publishes a staggering amount of well-known games. For example, Memoir 44, one of the most popular tabletop war games, is also a Days of Wonder game.

Deep Blue is a push your luck game crossed with hand management/deck building. That can sound daunting, but like Ticket to Ride a wide range of gamers can jump straight in.

I didn’t think about it at the time, but on reflection I definitely got a ‘Quacks of Quedlinburg lite’ feeling about Deep Blue. I think the games are different enough, but a lot of those base ‘do I or don’t I?’ moments dominate both games.

What can I say? I am just going to have to pull more people in for some more games and really give Deep Blue a workout ๐Ÿ™‚

Deep Blue
Deep Blue is a Days of Wonder game. The components are so fun to play with!

I have talked about Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time before. You can see my review of it here. A puzzle in a board game, with a lot of replayability – sounds good to me!

While taking a break from starting to catalogue the library, Alpal and I sat down for a game. And for some reason, absolutely smashed it. I can’t see anything we did wrong, and we didn’t use an optimised team – we just did really well.

So now I suppose I am just going to have to track down the expansion. Professor Evil and the Architects of Magic adds new characters, powers and objectives. It even adds time portals, meaning the Professor himself can take multiple turns in a row if you aren’t careful!

Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time
It's been too long since I played this. And an expansion is coming!

I didn’t know what to expect when Alpal showed me Atlantis Rising. I had heard mostly good things about it in the past, but I didn’t realise it had a revised edition.

Playing three players, we dove into the cooperative worker placement game. The idea is simple – Atlantis is sinking, and the players must work together to build a cosmic gate (cough stargate) to escape.

During setup, I joked that we should pay on Forbidden Island to get used to it. Turns out, I was kinda right. The board sections get flipped when they sink, and player powers can bring them back.

Atlantis Rising
Atlantis Rising was a lot more stressful than I thought it would be!

The other similarity is that lovely ‘have your turn, now deal with bad things’ mechanic. If you don’t like games like Pandemic or Forbidden Island, Atlantis Rising won’t be for you.

If you are a fan of these sorts of games though, give Atlantis Rising a try. I will need to try it at different player counts, but I can feel a full review coming at a later stage.

Pyramid of Pengqueen

On paper, Pyramid of Pengqueen sounds like a lot of fun. One player takes the role of the Pengqueen/Mummy, and the other players have to steal the treasures.

This plays out on a two-sided magnetic board, with the Pengqueen on one side and everyone else on the other. The Pengqueen can’t see where the player pieces are, but the players can all see where the Pengqueen is.

It’s cute, and the theming with the Icecool isn’t terrible. Feels a little like a wannabe Ducktales comparison, but that might be my age talking.

Pyramid of Pengqueen
An entry level one vs all, but a little lacking in gameplay

While this is aimed at younger players, I would say to the older person watching the young ones play to be prepared for fights. The Pengqueen has most of the advantages, and there is going to be inadvertent cheating by everyone.

I am going to review Pyramid of Pengqueen very soon, watch out next week to get my full thoughts.

Pokemon Shield – Switch

I FINISHED POKEMON SHIELD! I AM CHAMPION!

And that’s about as far as I think I am going to take it. I am not really interested in the usual post-game cleanup to fill my Pokedex. The battle system sounds interesting, but I am not really invested in that either.

What I did have was a fun time playing through the story. There is a lot of love and hate for the new entry in the series. Like any opinion, both sides have fair points. But I wouldn’t go so far as to say one side is right.

Pokemon Shield
I beat the unbeatable Champion! OK, almost everyone will. But it is where I call the story ended.

Pokemon has excelled for me as a light RPG experience. Pokemon Shield lived up to this for me. Yes, I would have liked some story holes filled in, but I can say that for any of game in the series. Bottom line is I had fun, I enjoyed the experience, and you will see my full thoughts in a couple of weeks ๐Ÿ™‚

And, since I wrote all this, it looks like I’m not done with Shield. Friday, Nintendo and Game Freak announced the first ever Pokemon DLC – there will be more story later this year!

Terminator: Resistance – PS4

My first Platinum trophy since Kingdom Hearts III in February 2019. Well, that’s not technically true. I finished Access Denied in March, but I don’t count that Platinum Trophy. Why not? You will have to wait a couple of weeks for that tidbit ๐Ÿ˜€

Enough teasing, I finished Terminator: Resistance. The two and a bit weeks of no gaming with the move didn’t diminish the experience a jot.

Now, Terminator: Resistance is not what I call a shooter – at least at easy or normal difficulties. You shoot at things sure, but this isn’t a twitch shooter like Call of Duty. Conversely, while there are stealth elements, this isn’t a Metal Gear Solid either. You have a lot of freedoms when it comes to the machines recognising you.

The story itself isn’t exactly groundbreaking either. But it did make me want to keep playing it and explore the world. Terminator: Resistance is fan service done well, in my opinion. Set characters, set events, but a unique story that enhances the whole.

For more, you will have to wait until Friday for my review.

Terminator Resistance
Exploring the post-Judgement Day world shows the love this game was developed with.

Final Fantasy XV – PS4

Oh, I have wanted to play this for years now. Open-world RPGs are games I love to play when I can really sit back and take my time with them. Hence, a massive backlog of 80+ hour games waiting to be played!

I started a while ago not too long after the initial release, then had a bad thing happen during my first play. It took almost four years for that annoyance to stop creeping in as I loaded the game! But now I am happily working my way through it.

I have probably spent almost 10 of the 30ish hours played just letting the Regalia drive me around. This doesn’t sound very good, but it is how I have been playing. When I could lie back on the couch, do a few hunts or explore an area, then kick back and relax and watch AP build up – why not? The point of a break is to have a break after all. Final Fantasy XV has let me do that.

Final Fantasy XV
It's not news anymore, but just watching how beautiful the world is bringing me much joy.

I am only up to Chapter 7 for people that have already played through it. Seriously, I am taking my time. So this will probably pop up as my video game for the next few weeks, especially on PlayStation. So sorry in advance for lots of pictures of bros in a car ๐Ÿ˜€

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order – PS4

So one of my favourite YouTubers is Jirard Khalil, aka The Completionist. I had already heard mostly good things about Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, but his review convinced me to get it that night.

And I had fun with it. Playing on easy, I died multiple times in the start/tutorial section of the game. This didn’t put me off playing though, as I loved the world and the pace of the story setup.

I finished the beginning section, then played long enough to open up flying to another world of my choice. By now, most of the controls were in muscle memory. I had a feel for the rhythm of the gameplay. I wanted to sit and really get into it. Only one thing stopped me.

I am one of those gamers that hates significant actions being assigned to L3/R3. Clicking a stick does not come naturally to me, and R3 all but replaces X in Fallen Order.

I have a plan though. I have already preordered one of the newly announced Dualshock 4 Back Button attachments. Come mid-February, I will be able to play Fallen Order and use those buttons mapped to L3 and R3.

Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order
Umm, hello. Nothing to see here. Well, that's not true. This isn't a cut scene, so it gives you an idea of how beautiful the world is.

Victory is Mine! Well, hopefully it will be :p

What about you?ย  I hope you got some great games in.ย  Or are you looking forward to a new one?

Let me know!ย  Shout out in the comments below, on Facebookย or @JohnHQLD me onย Twitter!

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD