This year was huge for gaming, with Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild winning Game of the Year and Wolfenstein II calling Nazi's out on their sh*t. We traveled back to the 1930's with Cuphead and went in on the new 99 v 1 in PlayerUnknown's:Battlegrounds. Though for every game that burst onto the scene, there were even more games that, for some reason or another, have not made the rounds or received the recognition they deserve. So while there are still a few days left in your work vacation, or winter break, give one of these titles a play through. If I can't convince you, at least watch a play through while doing some mundane task your parents or significant other forced upon you. If you like what you see, there is a good chance that one or more of these are on sale with all the deals going on right now.
1. Bendy and the Ink Machine (PS4, Xbox One, PC, Mac)
Just like Walt Disney cast a shadow over Max Fleischer, the same unspoken rivalry seems to have arisen between Cuphead and Bendy and the Ink Machine. While the two are very different in approach, they both feature characters inspired by the cartoons of the 1930's like Betty Boop and Popeye the Sailor. Play as Henry, a retired animator who returns to the shutdown Joey Drew Studios after 30 years upon invitation from Joey Drew. Though what he finds there is much darker is he is attacked by his own creations like cartoon demon Bendy and Borris the Wolf. While there are currently three episodes out, TheMeatly Games released a trailer for episode four in November noting the release in early 2018.
2. Battle Chef Brigade (Nintendo Switch)
Though there has been a rise in cooking simulator's in the past decade, this is definitely not your grandma's Cooking Mama. Kickstarted in 2014, the Switch title combines side scroller action using swift combos to take down monsters and create new dishes through Bubble Pop-esque mini-games. Playing as Mina, you take part in cooking challenges against chefs across the land of Victusia in order to become pat of a group of top tier chefs called the Brigade. In order to do that you'll have to use a "theme ingredient" in your cooking to impress judges and make it to the final round of the contest. Battle Chef Brigade was developed by Trinket Studios and picked up by Adult Swim for publishing this year, and is available on the Nintendo Switch.
3.Divinity Original Sin II (PC)
Building off it's predecessor,Divinity Original Sin II continues to amaze through its bold mechanics, creative storytelling, thrilling score, and unique world; standing out amongst current RPG's. Launched as Kickstarter in 2015, the story takes place after the events of the first with Bishop Alexander declaring that all Source magic is to be banned. You take the role of a Sourceror on the run from the Divine Order who wants to take away your magic. From there, the adventure begins and you are free to create whatever experience you want with different interactions with each play through. Though you must be careful about your decisions, as each relationship built and interaction had, there are reactions that can cut you off from certain side quests and content. From your first class choice, you will be given advantaged and disadvantages that will determine others view of you. It is up to you to either work with, or try to overcome these traits. Larian Studios has once again exceeded expectations with beautiful graphics and design in Divinity Original Sin II.
4. A Hat in Time (PC, Mac, PS4, Xbox One)
Indie studio Gears for Breakfast does a really great job in creating an imaginative world with challenging but enjoyable platforming. The plot unfolded is relatively simple, as you search for your time pieces that power your ship after being attacked by a Mafia goon and stranded in Mafia Town. Its from there that you are launched into a world of quirky and cute characters, including the rebel Mustached Girl or the several inhabitants of Mafia Town, that almost makes it feel open world. Though I have to say that its true strengths lie in the creation of new abilities, as you specific collect yarn to sew together hats that do everything from boosting your speed to creating platforms. Whatever you choose to make, the game itself is a nostalgic homage to the days of 3D platformers on the Nintendo 64 and Playstation. A Hat in Time began as a Kickstarter in 2013, and was first released on Steam October of this year as well as PS4 and Xbox One in early December.
5. Perception (PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Android)
With all of the unique horror games that have launched or been announced this year, The Deep End Games' Perception is unlike any other experience out there. Playing as the blind protagonist Cassie, you explore the mystery of the Echo Bluff estate that has haunted your dreams for years. While you are blind, you use your hearing and "sight" that is created by the sound waves of tapping your cane, you unravel the stories of the previous owners of the paranormal property. Perception keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time, never completely allowing you to trust your surroundings as manipulated by the evil that lurks within. Drawing from inspirations like Amityville Horror, it's solid storytelling does an excellent job at creating a deeper understanding of the experience of dealing with a disability. Not only that, but unique backstory of both Cassie and the houses victims an innate urge to actively root for the victims of the house's influence. With unique mechanics and emotional performances from the voice actors, it is an experience that will stick with you even after you've played it.
6. Dusk (PC)
Guns simply aren't enough to survive the supernatural psychos in the world of Dusk from David Szymanski and New Blood Interactive. Thanks to some Lovecraftian magic and a secret government facility, the town of Dusk, Pennsylvania has turned into a supernatural sh*tshow and you are front and center. You'll have to be a one man army wielding everything from crossbows to dual shotguns as you take on an army of cultists, sentient scarecrows, and demonic livestock to escape with what's life. A true love letter to the FPS' of the 90's, the low-res graphics and retro artistic direction do anything but hinder the fast paced experience of navigating mazes and surviving hordes to reach the end goal. If you're not a fan of just running down enemies, there is 15v1 deathmatch mode in DUSKWorld.
7.Night in the Woods (PC, Mac, PS4, iOS, Android)
If you ever wanted to relive the unwarranted awkwardness of being launched into adulthood, or look forward to what life's got in store, than check out Night in the Woods. You get to play as the anthropomorphic 20 year old cat girl Mae, as she returns home to Possum Springs after bailing college. While these interactions include background story about the town, and cute mini-games including knife fights; the game sometimes gets very meta covering topics like death and free will. Night in the Woods started as a Kickstarter in 2013, and reached its $50,000 in only 26 hours, with the final product developed by Infinite Fall.
Did I leave any out that you love? Let me know in the comments below, and subscribe to The Senpai Project to keep these games in the conversation!!