Months and months after playing this gorgeous game it's still in the back of my mind. From its soft, watercolour-like art-style to its beautiful soundtrack (which is on Spotify by the way), there's nothing forgettable here.
Despite its short length, a hugely important step is that the two protagonists of the game come from a more diverse background, since Florence is Asian and Raj is Indian, and that is a refreshing change of pace. Led by Monument Valley's art director, the mechanics in this game are simple but effective in relaying the topic and tone of events without using actual words.
More than anything it has a feel-good takeaway which goes in a slightly different direction than you originally anticipate. It's a little bit bitter, a little bit sad, but a whole lot happy.
Learn more about Florence here.
Flipping to the complete opposite end of the spectrum from Florence, Death Coming is a game about murdering people. Well, not in a rampage-style flash of fury, but because it's your job as Death's apprentice.
This isometric puzzler is devilishly good fun as you pick through each level with care to harvest the most amount of souls. It sounds simple, but this is a game all about combinations and timing. You can just poke and prod at the screen until something happens, sure, but you might miss the chance to take out an even larger party of souls.
Take a listen to this week's Christmassy podcast for a bit more information if you fancy.
Learn more about Death Coming here.
Night in the Woods
It'll always be a firm favourite of mine, but Night in the Woods came to Nintendo Switch this year and, besides being an amazing port, it became the most comfortable way to play the game yet. Yes, I know that it came out a while ago on PC, but I still had to mention it.
What really gets me about NitW is its fantastic use of character. Though the story is engaging and fun most of the time, the characters are what shine brightest throughout and that's just the most wonderful thing.
As I noted on this week's podcast, each of the characters aren't just interesting to look at with good banter between them all, they're believable. Infinite Fall don't shy away from difficult issues like abuse, self-worth, and disassociation, and make the game incredibly relatable – particularly to young adults.
Learn more about Night in the Woods here.
Several years in the making, Donut County is a fantastic and utterly daft game by Ben Esposito all about puzzles and holes. You, a racoon with a bit of a devious side, deliver 'doughnuts' to the residents of Donut County whenever they're required.
While that sounds like a dream these doughnuts aren't the food or wheelie sort, but rather the 'swallow up an entire town' sort. This one's got a unique physics-based mechanic where you drag a small hole around until you've engulfed the whole level. Your hole grows the more you put into it, very Katamari Damacy-style, and it's really weirdly satisfying to clear out everything on the map.
Besides its cool puzzle mechanics, the thing that had me howling was its absurd list of names and commentary for every item you swallow in the level. Considering how much I love the 'ouch mouse, danger noodle' images, it's probably no surprise that I find name alternatives hilarious.
Learn more about Donut County here.
For my final entry I was a little bit torn. There have been so many fantastic games out this year, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Candleman included, but Pocket City just edged out the rest of the competition.
I usually find city builders pretty tedious and boring, but Pocket City offers up a wholly premium experience which I found hard to stop playing. That was a big surprise to me. With energy bars and waiting times cut out, it's a fluid and snappy game which lets you expand your city with ease and seriously consider the best routes for its progress.
Broken down into fewer parts, it's just as much about strategy as it is about design and management, and its simplification makes it easy to drop in and drop out. Plus, after four hours of play, a huge tornado came ripping through my city and tore it to bits. Brutal.
Learn more about Pocket City here.