Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
Nick: Genshin Impact
This is a game that the developers could have easily charged people full AAA price for and it would have been bought up. That it is a free-to-play and so polished is kind of amazing really. The microtransactions are there of course (they need to make some money on it), and they’re pretty unobtrusive as the levels are all accessible right off of the bat. There is a very Breath of the Wild influence at play here, with tons to do over an ever-growing map. The game’s not complete, and I was reluctant to include it on my list because of this, but Chris and I have spent so much time playing it already that even as a living game that will continue to expand, what is here is pretty fantastic
I've been a fan of Roguelikes for a long time. There's just something about the challenge that will either make or break you that I find interesting. With nothing more than your wits and a bit of luck, Undermine captures the magic of a more traditional Roguelike only allowing you to bring back some money in hopes of buying better gear to make your next run through the mines easier. Taking it a step up from that however, and now, instead of just making your life easier by getting new gear, once you do get the new and shiny equipment bonuses to help, the mine itself will start to throw nastier things at you keeping you on your toes at all times. It was brilliant and I'm glad that I had the chance to see what both the Xbox and the PC versions had in store as they weren't quite identical at the time with one coming out of Early Access.
Susan N: Pumpkin Jack
My second runner up is Pumpkin Jack for a couple of reasons. First, it is just an amusing character. Sure, it’s a pseudo 3D platformer that I’m generally terrible at playing, but I had a fantastic time with this title. When I think back on my playthrough of the game, I wickedly laugh at the idea that the skins you can purchase throughout the game were actual skins. From other characters. Thankfully, you don’t see how those skins are acquired. I also was amused at the fact that there were times where Jack had to literally take off his head to complete a couple of puzzles! Overall, the uniqueness of certain elements as well as the biting wit of certain characters places Pumpkin Jack on my list of favorite games from this year.
Richard: Prinny 1 & 2 Exploded and Reloaded
I'll admit, I'm a sucker for side scrolling platformers, Disgaea, and almost anything NISA puts out. But Prinny 1 & 2 came around just as I was thinking "most of the stuff I've played recently is either too easy, or the difficulty is artificial" . Yeah, Prinny 1 & 2 will make you cry, but it's an enjoyable cry.