This year has been a wild one. Outside of gaming, I went through a few moves and substantial life changes that affected my time for video games. I wouldn’t call it burnout, but depression had a hand in this lethargic attitude toward my hobbies. I would sit down to play something and immediately feel tired and turn it off, only to lay in bed for hours. So, instead of sinking further, I went on a sort of discovery tour to figure out what makes me happy and find various ways to fill my day and keep my goals close. Thankfully, it worked, and I rediscovered my love and passion for gaming with the help of a few notable releases from this past year. So, without bumming you out further, here are my top 5 games.
I’m a massive fan of yokai and Japanese lore, so it was inevitable that I would find enjoyment in Tango Gamework’s Ghostwire: Tokyo. The narrative follows Akito Izuki, who the wondering spirit of KK has just possessed as the entire city of Tokyo is consumed by a deadly mist. What begins as a random chance encounter becomes fate, given that Akito is closer to the event than what is initially revealed. This game flew under too many radars based on general reviews. It’s an experience that develops throughout the game and becomes more supernatural and exciting toward the final hours. I loved this game as it reignited my love for open-world adventures and fast-paced action. If you have yet to play, I think you should change that.
Speed running-type games have never been something that I gravitated towards. However, the artistic style of Neon White had me eagerly wanting to play. Thankfully, it didn’t disappoint, and every moment of the adventure displays brilliant puzzle platforming that puts your gaming skills to the test. On top of the card-based stage exploration, there’s a narrative crafted around character relationships and the theme of second chances. You piece together how the events came to be; you develop some quick reflexes to get passed the challenging level designs. It’s a game you can take at your own pace, but you’ll probably not want to put it down for a second. When I felt the most removed from playing video games, Neon White was a game that left me excited to be awake at 2 am, if only to progress a little further or beat my time by maybe half a second.
The DioField Chronicle
I used to love tactical JRPGs to the point where I would spend hours playing any that I could get my hands on. However, over time, I could connect with the vast systems and extra activities of some of the more extensive series, which left me craving something more straightforward. The DioField Chronicle’s reveal left me wanting something more similar to Final Fantasy Tactics, but I appreciated the real-time tactical systems that this title boasted. Further, its runtime of around 20 hours was perfect for me since time is something that I don’t have too much of. Finally, I immensely enjoyed the over-the-top drama-filled narrative that made sense just because. It reminded me of why I loved this genre and enjoyed the creative new features this game delivered, as it isn’t like anything available now. This will likely be one of those hidden gems, but I’m glad it exists.
Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream
Atelier Sophie happens to be my favorite alchemist in the series; I know that may hurt Ryza fans. However, for me, Sophie raised the bar of the series that continually manages to evolve across each entry. Atelier Sophie 2 does the same while still managing to take the relationships and systems of the original and present them in an entirely new way. The battle system is fantastic and one of the best the series offers. Each character plays a role in the battle as you can switch between party members and take advantage of enemy weaknesses. Further, the skill animations are gorgeous, and the characters are necessary for the story. Elements of the narrative become a little complicated based on the setting, but like other Atelier games, the drama sets in, which leads you to some of the most exciting boss battles the series has to offer.
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII: Reunion
It’s tough to express how much I genuinely love this game. Maybe the fact that I all 20 hours of it over one weekend would prove its brilliance. The Final Fantasy VII timeline has been evolving ever since I was 9; the fact that we are still playing and talking about it today would make my little-kid brain hurt. As the story and events alter, as seen in FF VII Remake, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII: Reunion brought me back to a time when I was playing in bed on my PSP, not sleeping even though I had school in the morning. Reliving the story of Zack and understanding his place in the series could not have been better delivered than through this remastered effort. The assets and controls make this an experience worth replaying. If this is your first time, you’re in for one hell of a time. I don’t care if the material system is broken. This game is fantastic. Just thinking about it makes me want to cry.
This post may contain Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate Noisy Pixel earns from qualifying purchases.