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Matt Ventre


10 Video Games to Play From My Backlog This Winter

People love to say video games are without merit, and it's true that they can create addiction and dependency like all other forms of entertainment that amplify the dopaminergic feedback loop; however, when you establish the right mindset to get the most out of your gaming, they become a source of inspiration, a tool to train your mind in game theory, and a way to test boundaries otherwise unreachable in meatspace.

In other words, they're fun, but they're more than that.

Winter is a time for me to reset my baseline system operationally: sleep schedule, work schedule, entertainment options, physical training regimen, etc. I use games during this time to help break the rhythm a little and provide inspiration and fuel for further creative work in the new year. This is my list...

*dun dun* (Law & Order sound)

10 Video Games to Play From My Backlog This Winter

    1. Pokémon Legends: Arceus

    Said to be like the origin story of Pokémon and a relaxing adventure to boot. It'll be my first try at a Pokémon game in 30 years of playing Nintendo products.

    2. Bayonetta 3

    Latest in the great Platinum Games action brawler series. Take it to new extremes.

    3. Rocket League

    I topped out at Diamond 2 Div 4 which is a shade below D3. Best ranking yet. More to come in the new year. Champion tier is within reach.

    4. No More Heroes III

    I'm almost finished with this one. Creator Goichi Suda (aka Suda51) continues the bloody stroll through the "garden of insanity" with his plucky otaku assassin, Travis Touchdown.

    5. Live a Live

    They remade a cult classic 16 Bit RPG from the SNES era! It's brilliant! More of this, please, Square Enix.

    6. Monster Hunter World: Iceborne

    Yeah, it's a 2 year old game at this point, but I never played it on release and it's sitting there. I love Monster Hunter and I have a couple friends who also want to play through it with me.

    7. Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition

    Since my original affair with AoE II over 20 years ago, I've been drawn to the franchise. I might not be the best RTS player, but I always found the gameplay in AoE intuitive and exciting.

    8. Endless Legend

    Another game on my backlog from years back. It's 4x strategy game (explore, expand, exploit, exterminate) that takes the Endless Space formula and applies it to a fantasy world. I love strategy, I love fantasy. Seems like an easy pick.

    9. Pier Solar and the Great Architects

    A modern game that's a throwback to the 16 bit RPG era. A brilliant independent effort, it's been praised and panned in equal measure. With some of the quality of life improvements the dev put into it, it's finally playable in the modern era. I abandoned the intro after a weird savegame bug, but the story and combat are excellent.

    10. Any one of the 1990s-2000s era AD&D-based games

    Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale, Neverwinter Nights, Planescape: Torment. I'd like to experience the OG titles that were powered by earlier versions of the Dungeons & Dragons game rules to get a feel for how these CRPGs were derived from their TTRPG forebears.

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