2017 has been a helluva year. While the sky apparently fell and Mark Serrels rejoiced at all of the #content, I was off enjoying a lot of stuff that didn’t come out this year. Things that are good tend to stay good.
Join me for a little self-indulgence. Okay, maybe a lot of self-indulgence.
I’m terrible at ‘thank yous’ but I’d like this to serve as a massive ‘thank you’ to the entire Kotaku community.
Some of you already know this but I met my wife through Kotaku. We both frequented Talk Amongst Yourselves and were on a TeamSpeak server for fellow TAYbie back in the day. Over time, we became friends and then fell in love. I packed my life up and moved to Sydney so we could be together. Now we’re happily married, living in Canberra with a very energetic dog.
The Kotaku community has been with us every step of the journey and they really came together for our wedding back in March.
Thank you to the friends that came and celebrated with us. Thank you to the friends that couldn’t make it. Thank you to Chris for serving as a groomsman and keeping me sane. Thank you to the friends that banded together to organise the quilt made by Strange and the art drawn by Dane Krams (above). Thank you Strange and Dane for the beautiful gifts you made. Thank you to everyone who has touched our lives in so many ways.
And especially thank you to the person that wrote “MASHAAAAAAAA” in our guestbook, you legend.
Special mentions: Mark, Alex, Amanda and everyone here at Allure Media who have been so incredibly helpful and supportive while I’ve covered for Alex, who is on leave with a broken wrist.
I love to talk about the accessibility and fun of board games. Vinhos Deluxe is out of print, intimidating and only fun if you’re a certain type of person.
I am exactly that sort of person.
Vinhos Deluxe is the 2016 re-release of Vinhos, an extraordinarily heavy board game by Portuguese designer Vital Lacerda. The premise is simple: Players are aspiring wine-makers in Portugal and have several years to build their estates, make wine and impress the judges at regular wine fairs.
Players have twelve actions over the course of the game. While it’s easy to understand all of the actions available – making the game simple to learn once you understand the general flow of it – making choices and dealing with the ramifications of them is hard.
Vinhos is a brain-burner. It can take up to three hours for players to take their twelve actions.
It’s one of the best board games I have ever played.
Decisions matter. Having so few decisions with such drastic impact on the course of the game means that players are heavily rewarded for planning ahead, for considering the actions of their opponents and for being efficient. Making tough decision is hard but so very rewarding when they pay off.
I wouldn’t recommend Vinhos to everyone but for the right group of players, people who really want to sink their teeth into a game and stress over difficult decisions, this game is amazing.
Special mentions: Azul, Century: Spice Road and Through the Ages.
Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2
I know most people would expect this sort of list to have something like Super Mario Odyssey, Breath of the Wild or NieR: Automata. The fact of the matter is that I haven’t played enough of the hottest games this year to have a worthwhile opinion on them.
What I have played a lot of is Under the Knife 2.
You see, I’ve been obsessively speedrunning this game for the better part of two years. No single game has ever held my attention like this one. It’s a bit janky. It’s incredibly over the top. It’s ridiculously difficult. It’s so niche that I’m practically the only person on the planet that still cares about it.
Still, it is the game I’ve had the most enjoyment with this year.
Under the Knife 2 – or as I like to call it ‘Anime Malpractice Simulator’ – is an almost ten year old Nintendo DS game where you perform surgery on an increasingly ridiculous set of patients in order to save the world. No game uses the DS touch screen in the way that Trauma Center does. No game lets you abuse the touch screen like Trauma Center either.
Special mentions: Stardew Valley, Spelunky and NieR: Automata (which I’m 6 hours into and hope to finish over Christmas).
Too many people are sleeping on Mr Robot. The third season, which wraps up today, has been an onslaught of some of the best television I’ve ever seen including an 42 minute episode that takes place as a single shot over a chaotic day.
This is a hard show to talk about because so much of what is happening now hinges on major events of the past seasons. Mr Robot follows anarchic hacker Elliot Alderson in his war against E-Corp. As the show progresses, things go right, things go wrong and Elliot starts to learn his true role.
The viewer is Elliot’s imaginary friend, who he speaks to often. It’s an interesting way to work fourth wall breaks into the plot of the show itself.
David Fincher was a clear influence on show creator Sam Esmail, who brilliantly weaves story elements with innovative camera shots to make one of the best looking and most engaging shows on television.
Special mentions: Atlanta, American Gods, Norseman and Bojack Horseman.
Thank you for indulging me while I blathered about the things I enjoyed this year. Now tell me about yours.