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Issue #26: Holiday game time

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I’ve been meaning to get back to writing about games for quite some time. There are so many great experiences out there, and quite a few that truly shine on an iPad. With the holidays coming up, and the off-time that means for many of us, I figured you’d want to add some games to your collection.

My name is Thord D. Hedengren, and I’ll be honest: I prefer using a controller most of the time. It mostly boils down to the games I play, but if it’s something that requires precision input, I tend to long for a proper button to press. I blame my Nintendo days. Oh, and my controller of choice is the Xbox One, err, one, because it’s pretty darn solid. I do keep a small 8BitDo controller in my bag though (replacing the Kanex GoPlay Sidekick, which is small but somewhat lacking), as you might’ve seen.

But enough of that, let’s talk games!

Genshin Impact

I enjoyed Genshin Impact (free, but they’ll get your money if you get hooked) right away, until I didn’t. This is a game that has controller support on other platforms, and sorely needs it on the iPad too, but only in comparison. The touch controls are good enough, I just want the better experience of a controller, so I set this one aside for the time being. I know I’ll regret that though, because I’ll get behind on all the things in the Genshin Impactworld…

So yeah, if you like the typical 3D-JRPG style, this one’s for you.

Among Us!

The big one at the moment. Find the killer in this multiplayer game. It’s cross-play too, so you’ve got no excuse really. Great fit for the iPad, great game, and if you’re too old to know about it, ask your kids because they will. Among Us! is free to play but you might want a new hat or something.

Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition

I’m old enough to remember (not) playing this game when it came out. Your kids haven’t heard of it, so when they’ve chewed you out about not knowing what Among Us! is, you can throw this retro CRPG D&D nugget in their face. And yes, knowing those acronyms are worth something, dammit!

This version of Baldur’s Gate is a solid one ($5). You can easily move on to the sequel ($10), as well as Icewind Dale ($10) and Planescape: Torment ($10, and have your work cut out for you. Fingers crossed that the third Baldur’s Gate gets an iPad release, right?

Stardew Valley

If Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is too, well, boring to you, then Stardew Valley will scratch the true Animal Crossing itch. I’ve mentioned this one before, but it recently got at great update with ever more chores and things you’ll have to stress out about (not) doing on your downtime. What is it with this kind of games and the way they hook us, doing things that are not even the slightest glamorous in-game?

I keep struggling with Stardew Valley, but it’s something of an indie masterpiece, and I both love it and want to drop it. If you want to get hooked on the same kind of dope, then be my guest. It’s a premium release that’s seen many updates, to the $4 price tag feels almost silly.

Star Wars: KOTOR II

Star Wars: KOTOR, short for Knights of the Old Republic, is a bloody great game. It’s also an old one, as is the sequel KOTOR II, but they’re both great. It’s the perfect 30-hour role-playing game to dig your teeth into after swallowing that supposedly massive Mandalorianseason finale (that I haven’t seen yet, no spoilers please).

I played both KOTOR games way back when, and I’ve started playing the second one again. It’s a great game. The first one is probably better, but still, great stuff.

Don’t like Star Wars? Go with Jade Empire: Special Edition instead. Same sort of game, but with an oriental fantasy flavor.

All these games are ad-free premium releases. KOTOR is $10KOTOR II is $15, and Jade Empire is $10.

SteamWorld Quest

I have a soft spot for card games, and though I try to stay away for the ones involving digital card packs (like Hearthstone) since they take all my money, I’m always on the lookout for more. Enter SteamWorld Quest, a card-based role-playing game-adventure-thingie based in the robot SteamWorlds universe. You might’ve played SteamWorld Dig, which is a great Mr. Driller clone, and this is, well, a pretty nice game all in all. I’m not far enough into it to give a proper verdict yet, but all SteamWorld games has been enjoyable so far, and this is shaping up nicely, so I’ll just leave it at that for now.

SteamWorld Quest is a premium release, setting you back $10. It’s also available on other platforms if you want to hunt for the lowest price.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

I was going to wrap this up with Bloodstained, but I have to admit I haven’t even started that one yet. I bet I’ve missed something, but then again, you’d miss something if you didn’t take a look at its spiritual predecessor first.

Now, I think Super Castlevania IV was the best game in the Castlevania series, released for the Super NES back in 1991 or something like that. Symphony of the Night got all the hype though, and it’s a way prettier game, arriving for the PlayStation in 1997. This isn’t a perfect port, but it does it work, and it will make you scream in agony because Castlevaniagames is all about being annoying action platformers with challenging controls. In other words, don’t bother if you don’t have a controller, that’s just wrong.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is a measly $3, so there’s no reason not to pick this one up if this is your jam.

The holidays are usually when I get a chance to truly sit down with a game these days. I look forward to it every year. What are you playing this weekend? Let me know on Twitter.

I’d like to wish you all a merry Christmas, a happy Holiday, or just a nice weekend, depending on what you’re up to in the coming days. Next week, we’ll talk what Apple Silicon in the M1 Macs mean for us iPad switchers.

— Thord D. Hedengren

In the wild…