Shame Of The Year – Expand My Horizons

I know what games I like, and I stick to them. The same goes for books, films, and every form of media barring music. For the latter, my tastes include everything short of house, and while I’m sure there are some very good DJs playing stuff that doesn’t just feel like a repetitive thud with random noises and over-autotuned samples thrown on top, I don’t need to seek them out.

With games, though, I’m aware there’s a lot I’m missing out on. Obviously, there are too many games to play them all, but I rarely stray outside of my ride-or-dies. A new narrative RPG dropped? I’m there. A shooter with Apex-y movement? I’ll give it a whirl. A dating sim card game involving your favourite superheroes? I didn’t even look twice at Midnight Suns, despite many of my colleagues adding it to their Game of the Year lists and one in particular telling me that it might be their favourite game ever. A part of that is superhero fatigue, a part of it is that the genre doesn’t appeal to me. Yes, I play Marvel Snap every day. What of it?

Over the Christmas break, I started playing The Witcher 3. I finally have managed to get some momentum going in the acclaimed fantasy RPG after multiple failed attempts, but it’s hardly pushing the boundaries of my tastes. I’m a big fantasy nut (as you can probably tell from my countless Lord of the Rings articles), and it’s an RPG. I’m getting a bit old for open worlds, but the small stories of The Witcher are sucking me in.

But this isn’t an article about playing The Witcher. It’s the opposite, in fact. And there’ll be plenty of those to come, don’t worry. Today I’m trying to avoid playing The Witcher in favour of something I’ve not tried before.

Towards the end of last year, I downloaded Vampire Survivors and Dwarf Fortress, but I haven’t started either yet. It’s a little daunting, I’m not going to lie. They’re both games with prestige, but they’re nothing like what I would usually play. What if I hate them? What if I bounce off before they can show their worth? These are things that I shouldn’t really worry about, but still. Here I am.

If you’ve been living under a rock for the past year, Vampire Survivors appears to be some kind of genre-bending shmup where you provide the bullet hell. If you’ve been under that rock for like 15 years, Dwarf Fortress is a game like no other, where punctuation marks sprawled across your screen tell stories only you can decipher. There are new graphics and mouse support for the full release, but that’s not really the point. I think there’s a lot of resource management, but I’ll have to play it to know for sure.

They’re the first two games on my list, but there are classics I’ve missed, too. I want to play spooky platformer Inside (I’m really not good with horror) and try to get into JRPGs that aren’t called Pokemon. I might take after Editor-in-Chief Stacey Henley and try out Yakuza. That’s not far outside my comfort zone, but it’s a big gap in my gaming repertoire. On a similar note, I want to get into more mechanics-heavy CRPGs, too. I might try to get into Divinity: Original Sin again, with an eye to get stuck into Baldur’s Gate 3 and Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader later in the year.

I’m not going to ignore games I know I’ll like, though. My most anticipated games this year are indie RPGs Cassette Beasts and The Plucky Squire. I’ll definitely play Starfield and Tears of the Kingdom. I want to finish Dragon Age: Inquisition before Dreadwolf (although I suspect I’ll have plenty of time for that). But my goal is, instead of loading up Apex Legends or FIFA to kill an hour of my time, instead trying something new and seeing whether I like it.

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