On Honorable Mentions, 2016

As is becoming tradition, for the end of January we recorded a two-part “Games of the Year” show, in which we talk about the things we enjoyed playing in 2016. Both parts are now out, but here are some things that I thought were amazing, but didn’t make the cut.


Stumbling into this game was a bit of a fluke. The game chosen for Game of the Month in January was pretty boring, and there was a lot of desire for co-op, so a few of us gave this another try.

It turns out that space ninjas are actually pretty cool. There are a variety of characters with different abilities, gun variety that gives Borderlands a run for its money, and a movement system and level design that emphasizes how acrobatic the playable characters can be. Unexpectedly, there’s also an actual plot.


I did mention this one on the podcast a few weeks ago, but it’s worth repeating. Owlboy is one of several games with a very long development history to release in 2016, and the only one so far that I’ve finished. (For the record, it was announced between Final Fantasy Versus XIII and The Last Guardian and released slightly before both.) It’s a platformer that superficially resembles a metroidvania, but is much more linear than most examples of that genre. There’s also not a lot of actual platforming, as the main character has unlimited flight.

This game looks amazing art-wise; the music is also excellent. There’s a lot of humor in some of the dialogue, but other parts are much more serious. I didn’t mention this because I thought it might become a game of the month, but that seems unlikely at this point.

Stories: The Path of Destinies

This probably isn’t going to make any “Best of” lists for 2016, but I still think it’s worth a mention. Stories is a mostly isometric action-RPG of sorts, that looks like diablo but plays kind of like the Arkham games when fighting things. There’s a heavy emphasis on positioning, counterattacks, and keeping your combo string going which makes it pretty fun.

The main draw of this game is that it plays like a choose-your-own-adventure book. A complete playthrough from the start to an ending is probably between 60-90 minutes, and is shaped by the decisions you make (usually at the start of each chapter). When you start, these are all going to be Bad Ends in some way or another, but each to you get to one, you can learn a “Truth” that can help guide you toward endings that you haven’t seen yet. Once you have all 4, you can get to the real ending (you can’t stumble into it before that). It’s not the first time I’ve seen this concept, but it is one of the best executions I’ve played.

On Moving

This is a test, more than anything else. Once upon a Time Ashgar acquired ashfang.com because he couldn’t get ashgar.com. Then as he got older and figured out that some things can be obtained for money, he also got ashgar.com.

It’s about time I set up something here that isn’t a redirect.

On Triple-Carting

If you’re aware of Monster Hunter, you’re probably also aware of Dauntless, a very similar PC game that’s coming “soon”. Dauntless was on display at PAX South, where I got a chance to try it.

Unfortunately, my first chance was pretty short. Like Monster Hunter, too many defeats for your team means your hunt can come to a premature end. This number seems to be 5, which sounds less punishing than Monster Hunter’s 3, but came extremely quickly. When you lose all of your health in Monster Hunter, you get a nice long while to think about your mistakes as you get sent back to base camp (in a cart, hence, “carting”) and have to run back to the party. Dauntless allows you to revive teammates on the spot, which leads to two problems: you can go down while attempting this revive, and the newly-revived, not-at-full-health teammate can go down again almost immediately. It sounds like getting back into the action faster is an improvement, but it doesn’t go well with the game as currently structured.

It’s not all bad. Areas seem to be a lot more open than Monster Hunter, the hunt area is contiguous instead of divided into subzones. Weapon selection is very limited right now (the demo only had 3 options), but more are on the way. The dodge roll has a lot more invulnerability, so it’s easier to use aggressively. Monster design is excellent, which is probably one of the most important parts.

I think Dauntless has the potential to be a good game, but in a demo setting with absolute beginners it didn’t feel great. I’m curious to see if they stick with this format, or adopt something like Monster Hunter Online, where downs only count against you personally (you get kicked out of the hunt if you go down 3 times). We’ll see what develops.