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2023 Mid Year Fav Games Check-in

July 6, 2023

10 min read

I have been playing way fewer video games the last few months. I've been working on my own projects, reading, and playing board games instead.

# Video Games

#Hitman: World of Assassination - Freelancer Mode

I Finally Get It

I've always heard stories about the emergent game play in Hitman. It generates interesting scenarios. It immerses you in its systems. I've played before and had a good time, but I never really got to that place of systemic immersion.

With the release of Freelancer Mode, I decided to give Hitman another shot and I finally get it. I was too focused on reloading saves every time I goofed trying to finish story missions previously. Freelancer mode encouraged me to keep playing through my mistakes and deeply learn the game's systems.

I finally get it; Hitman is awesome. It is my most played game this year by far.

#Gestalt OS

Pair Programming for Aliens

Inspirational Indie

Gestalt OS by Increpare is my favorite puzzler of the year, and one of my favorite puzzlers of all time.

The game is presented as a cryptic Windows 95 application from another planet. It has a tool bar of abstract icons and none of them make any sense. The main pane is a grid you drag the icons onto and then they do things. Sometimes.

You experiment your way through the game by combining the symbols and learning their rules. I love the feeling of deciphering a system that initially seems utterly nonsensical.

Gestalt OS was great fun to co-play on Discord with my friend Brendan. We've had fun co-playing other cryptic games in the past. Cinco Paus and "X’BPGH: The Forbidden Path" in Last Call BBS really remind me of this experience.

#Doing Poorly and Living with Myself

Relatable Content

Inspirational Indie

Doing Poorly and Living with Myself (DPALM) by NoahKittelson is a very personal and well-written visual novel.

I don't have the words to properly express my admiration of this project, but here's the author's description of the game:

Doing Poorly and Living with Myself is a short semi-autobiographical Visual Novel about work, stress, imposter syndrome and burnout. I started writing it after quitting my own job, to help relieve & explore the guilt of having given up on a job I worked so hard to get, and so hard to keep. For anyone else who has also done poorly, I hope this can help you live with it.

It's about an hour to play and free to download. If anything in that description resonates with you, please play the game. Then, kick Noah a few bucks if you feel it was a good use of your time.

I played DPALM after being laid off earlier this year. The situation Noah goes through is not identical to mine, but many elements resonated with me. Playing it was a great use of my time.

# Board Games


Crowd Pleaser

Spots is an aesthetically pleasing game about placing dice (which have spots) on dogs (which have spots) by Jon Perry. The art and central mechanic is so charming. It has gone over well every time I've played it.

Though I like Spots a lot now, my very first play was actually a bit of a dud. I played it with my partner and we had an underwhelming first game. It just sort of ended unexpectedly before we really felt like we got anything interesting done.

I've gotten warmer and warmer on Spots with each subsequent play. I really like it at 3 and 4 player counts especially. With more players, the game sticks around longer and feels like it has time to breath.

All in all, I'm really happy to own Spots!

#Star Realms

I Like Deckbuilders?!

I've been meaning to give deckbuilding another shot and try Star Realms for a while and am glad I finally did.

I've not played a deckbuilder since Ascension a decade ago. While I initially enjoyed that game, I got very sick of it and wrote the whole genre off.

Star realms has been so much more fun than my memories of Ascension. It's one of my most played board games this year.

Deckbuilding at 2 players immediately feels like it alleviates the problems I had with Ascension at 4 players. I can leave a card in the market and it might actually come back to me. It matters what my opponent picks up. I care what my opponent is doing now. A lot!

I just picked up the Colony Wars expansion and am looking forward to trying that out soon.

#Cosmic Encounter

Terrific Table Talk

Drama Queen

At first glance, Cosmic Encounter appears to be a war game about conquering your opponents' planets. In reality, it is about becoming a whacky alien with game breaking abilities, politicking, and drama.

I misplayed this as a war game where every inch counted for my first play and had a bad time taking it too seriously. On subsequent plays, I've really embraced doing dramatic, fun, and stupid stuff and had a blast playing Cosmic Encounters.

I cannot wait to play again and see what ridiculous aliens hijinks we get up to next time.

#Hive Pocket

Anytime, Anywhere

Hive Pocket is an abstract 1v1 game where you try to surround your opponent's queen bee with your bugs.

It reminds me of the joy I had as a kid playing Chess before everyone decided that memorizing openings was a cool and fun thing to do.

The pieces are made of a lovely smooth, clacky material and feel incredible to hold and place.

Hive is my go to "bring it everywhere" game. The pocket edition is small and you can play it on any mostly flat surface.

You can play it in your house, you can play it with a mouse. You can it in the park, you can play it for a lark. You can play it in the wind, you should go play it with your friends.

It's lovely. 🐝

#Games I've watched

#From 2023

#Older ones

#Games I'm looking forward to

#Upcoming in 2023 (probably)

#Older ones