Another year has gone by and I've found myself thinking of a new approach to how I’d like to honor my favorite games from this year. Instead of trying to stack rank games in an ordered list of ten, which seems par for the course, I decided instead to do things a little bit differently.
Below is a list of games I played this year that I have no reservations recommending to just about anyone. I figured this is probably easier than making caveats for certain games to fill out a list of ten, or trying to split hairs over whether one fantastic game is better than the other. I love every game on this list, and the only reason certain games are listed before others is because this list is ordered by release date. Check them out:
Meteorfall feels like the ultimate mobile dungeon-crawler in a lot of ways. It’s turn-based and uses deck-building mechanics that make it super easy to play in just about any situation, while also staying deep enough that you can really get obsessed with it. It also helps that it’s got a sharp art style and a few coats of polish to make the whole thing feel really nice.
Disc Drivin’ 2
I probably played Disc Drivin’ 2 more consistently than just about any other game this year. It’s exactly my speed. It’s a turn-based racing game that takes place across asynchronous multiplayer matches. It’s just brilliant.
There’s nothing quite like Florence. It’s a narrative game, but it doesn’t have much in the way of dialogue, or even any puzzles, really. Instead, you interact with the story through small mechanical actions that end up making you really identify with the characters. It’s a neat trick that is super effective, making Florence the most emotionally affecting game I played all year.
Oddmar is one of the most pleasant platformers I’ve played. It has some really creative level design that never feels repetitive, and the game has remarkably smooth animations that make every moment you spend with it feel special.
I didn’t really think that color-matching puzzles had room for improvement or innovation, but Tiny Bubbles changed all that for me this year. This clever little game uses tons of little tricks with physics and color-blending to make a matching game that actually feels like a new kind of game, rather than a variation on a tired theme.
Minesweeper Genius is a game that makes my brain happy. It’s a ruthlessly logical puzzle game that takes the core concepts of Minesweeper and repackages them into an updated format. Minesweeper has always been great, but not many games have found a way to replicate its strong points well. Minesweeper Genius does exactly that.
The most charming game of the year for me is certainly Donut County. It’s a kind of spin on Katamari Damacy with some light puzzle-solving and really great writing. It also helps that the game’s story actually has something purposeful to say, which is rare in games, particularly ones on mobile.
Much like Meteorfall, Twinfold feels tailor-made for mobile play. In fact, it’s modeled off of a mobile game. If you took Threes! and made it more like a dungeon-crawler, you’d have Twinfold. Simply leaving it at that would be doing a disservice though. This game has enough variety to give it some satisfying depth while you're sliding stuff around, ensuring that you’ll always be diving back into a run to try and top your high score.