It’s that time of year. The holiday season is upon us and, well, frankly we wanted people on staff to have a chance to take a break. So, to give us all that time, we figured we would have a series of Siliconera Speaks Up over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Our first topic is games for personal reflection. Which games really got you thinking in 2020? Which titles did you connect with?
I absolutely adored Spiritfarer. There’s something about how it handles grief, growth, loss, and relationships that really connects with me. I’m not ashamed to admit that some characters made me cry when it came time to learn more about who they were or say goodbye. It’s definitely a game people should take time to play and ponder. — Jenni.
A Fold Apart really hit home for me. It’s the story of a long distance relationship and all of the trials and tribulations, the insecurities and doubts that people experience when apart from each other for so long. At its heart, it is a tale in communication and love. And I’m not ashamed to admit it made my eyes water a few times. — Annette
While it doesn’t take too long to play through, Carto gives you the small moments to think about life in a larger context. What does it mean to move on and form your own life? What do you owe to your past? Does who you are now define what you can be? It’s subtle. It’s simple. But it definitely works. — Graham
Gris is a gorgeous puzzle-platformer with meticulously crafted audio and visual presentation. Everything looks like a watercolor painting, and the story is told visually. It’s an emotional experience that’s just vague enough for the player to interpret it however they like. Is it about depression? Acceptance? Coming out? It’s a fantastic, short game that’s perfect for a night alone. This writer recommends the Switch version with headphones while wrapped up in blankets. — Oni
A lot of games this year engaged my brain, whether it was some raw engagement designed to tune out my troubles (Destiny 2) or some agonizing complexity designed to confound my sense of strategy, but that’s not what we usually mean when we talk about things that “make us think.” Usually that phrase implies something that gets us beyond just playing the game, keeping us wondering or engaged long after the program’s off.
In that respect, the not-technically-2020 game Kind Words is what really got me thinking. It’s barely a game in the traditional sense. It’s almost a social media program, one where you write short letters to anonymous, real people looking for help or, well, a kind word. Its developers have done a great job filtering out trolls and toxic letters, leaving a chill, positive vibe. But at the same time, finding the right “kind words” to say has been surprisingly tough, and it takes time and opening yourself up to get even a few sentences into helping a person that might be in need. — Josh
The game I’ve probably thought about the most this year is the somewhat perplexing Final Fantasy VII Remake, but I think that’s for reasons that are outside the spirit of this category. More consistent with the spirit is a game like Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate. It’s a port of an older title from a series that is virtually ancient in terms of gaming, but its tactical gameplay pulled me in like few other games can. It’s a dungeon-crawling rogue-like with a beautiful art style and although it looks like an action game, it’s a punishing, turn-based gauntlet of death that gives you the time you need to contemplate your moves. That way, when you die, you can often figure out just how you messed up. Well, usually. — Ben