My Xbox One controllers...because why not?

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: 2020 has been a wild ride. Cold take of the year, right? But through it all, you’ve got to have something to keep you happy when your Netflix queue gets boring and your Zoom calls aren’t cutting it. Maybe you read. Maybe you write. Maybe you game. Me? I do all of it. But today I’m here to talk about the latter. So, without further ado, here’s my list of games that have gotten me through the year!

Spoiler Alert: I will be spoiling plot points for most of the games on this list. Read at your own risk!

Batman: Arkham Knight (PC, PS4, Xbox One)

In-game screenshot by Brandon C. Kesselly

Arkham Knight adapts the Red Hood storyline and meshes it with the series’ narrative of escalating threats to Gotham City. With Hugo Strange and Joker both dead after Arkham City, Scarecrow has stepped in to reveal Batman’s identity to the world, and he’s working with a new mercenary. The Arkham series overall is a fun one that showcases Rocksteady’s fundamental understanding of Batman: he’s the world’s greatest detective, a master martial artist, and a master of stealth. He’s also insane, but his insanity drives him to great lengths to sacrifice his body for his city. On top of cruising the streets in the Batmobile, Knight also allows you to play as Catwoman, Nightwing, Robin (Tim Drake), Batgirl (Barbara Gordon), Red Hood, Harley Quinn, and Joker in various scenarios.

Chess [by Chess.com] (Android, iOS, Web)

In-game screenshot by Brandon C. Kesselly

Admittedly, this got into my head after watching The Queen’s Gambit and the show’s protagonist has multiple bots to play against on the site/app. But I’ve missed playing chess in real life, even if I’m far from being a master or even a good player. I like thinking through problems in real time, and strategy games like chess combine planning and puzzle-solving in ways that get my gears turning for the best.

Dragon Age: Origins (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)

In-game screenshot by Brandon C. Kesselly

While I’m a fan of BioWare games, I’m not a huge fantasy fan. But Origins has been worth breaking my convention and playing through. I’m about halfway finished, but it’s such a fun and fascinating game/world that I might run it back just to see more outcomes. I’ve been playing as a City Elf who’s a dual-wielding rogue, which has been very fun to build as a character but also difficult as someone new to the franchise. Still, my Grey Warden is quick and backstabs like mad. If only I’d developed him with more Stealth…

Marvel’s Avengers (PC, PS4, Stadia, Xbox One)

In-game footage streamed by NerdCraft Nation

A cash grab game with squandered potential, Avengers is probably the most disappointing entry on this list. Despite an endearing protagonist and a decent story, the game is too monotonous and the content too shallow to be truly ascendant. Despite the recent addition of Kate Bishop, I don’t have any motivation left to continue the post-game. The loot boxes suck, the game was super buggy, and the customization was hollow and not well thought out.

Monster Hunter: World (PS4, Xbox One)

In-game screenshot by Brandon C. Kesselly

Monster Hunter is one of those franchises that you play during a pandemic while worrying about PETA knocking on your door. Nowhere else can you lose hours of your life hunting dinosaurs, dragons, and other creatures and turning them into weapons and armor. You can even dress your “Felyne” (your cat companion) in all the drip! I will one day have a Rathalos armor and weapon set, and get my Felyne one to match.

Kingdom Hearts III (PS4, Xbox One)

In-game screenshot by Brandon C. Kesselly

I’ve talked about this series ad nauseum, but I can’t keep away from Kingdom Hearts for too long. I’ve grown up with it. I know, I know: the story makes no sense and is not welcoming to newcomers. But there’s something endearing about beating up Disney villains and blackface creatures with Final Fantasy magic and giant keys. And taking Hidden Mickey selfies. Lots and lots of Hidden Mickey selfies. The combat in this game is rewarding more often than not, and the DLC gave us some great super bosses, too.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (PS4, Xbox One)

In-game footage by Brandon C. Kesselly. GIF created by Brandon C. Kesselly.

For the first time in over a decade, we’ve got a real Star Wars adventure game. And Kyle Katarn would be proud. This Dark Souls and Uncharted-inspired game tells the story of Cal Kestis, a Jedi Padawan who survived Order 66. Parts of Fallen Order are frustrating, like those sliding levels (seriously, who makes those?). But the lightsaber combat is just as fulfilling as I wanted, and it’s more realistic than I expected (despite the lack of dismemberment). The DLC, while unsubstantial, lets you make some funny boss challenges.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links (Android, iOS, PC)

In-game screenshot by Brandon C. Kesselly

I had previously given up on Yu-Gi-Oh! but then Duel Links happened. I just gave up on the new shit. If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen me post some duel videos every once in a while. What makes Duel Links work is its back to basics approach to the card game. It initially contained the mechanics to those of the original series. Then, it gradually integrated the later iterations, such as GX, 5Ds, and now Zexal, including the Synchro and Xyz (pronounced “Exceed,” because reasons) Summons. By shrinking the size of the field, and focusing on quicker games with smaller decks, Duel Links has turned itself into a worthy competitor to digital card games like Hearthstone.


This is just a small sample of the games I’ve put a good amount of time into this past year. What about you? What games have you played? Send me your list!


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