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Five Game Challenge 2020: my picks

At the time of writing, 8,181 games have been released on Steam during 2020 so far. That’s an average of 27 new titles every day and an awful lot of choice. But which ones would you choose if you were made to pick only five to last you an entire year?

This is the question posed by Naithin from Time to Loot. The first part of the Five Game Challenge community event involves writing a blog post about your choices, and those who were brave enough could test their selection by playing only those titles during November and writing about their experience for part two. I opted out of the latter as I had a bunch of half-finished games I really needed to complete this month – but I’ve been looking forward to joining in with the former and thinking about what my picks would be.

It’s a similar question to one asked by Kayleigh from Strange Girl Gaming all the way back in April 2018: you can only play one video game for the rest of your life, so which one is it? I found this pretty tough to answer because there’s so much choice available to us, but I eventually managed to narrow it down to two titles. It will be interesting to see whether these make an appearance in my selection this time around and what the other choices will be.

Coloring Pixels

I first tried Coloring Pixels towards the end of last year after it popped up in my Steam suggestions and two things happened after that initial session. First, I was surprised to find a game without a story had held my attention for as long as it did (I completed ten levels without being the slightest bit bored or even realising I’d done so many). And second, it turned out to be a great way to wind down after work because an hour or so of colourful clicking proved to be wonderfully therapeutic.

With 25 DLC packs now available and providing even more pixelated images to colour in, I think this could be a great choice for the Five Game Challenge. It’s perfect for those evenings when you want to do something but don’t have the energy to play an intense game, and there’s no risk of frustration because you aren’t penalised for filling in a pixel with the wrong colour. You can just zone out, click away, and eventually your masterpiece will appear in front of you.

Horizon Zero Dawn

One of the two games I chose for Kayleigh’s question in 2018 was Horizon Zero Dawn and there are a few reasons why it made the cut. If you’re going to spend an entire lifetime with a single protagonist, you’d better make sure it’s one you get along with – it’s incredibly difficult to hate Aloy. She tells men that her ‘eyes are up here’, questions the right of the matriarchs to take power simply because they’ve had children, and pulls apart any traditions that don’t make sense. You go girl.

With the main storyline, side-quests, errands, hunting grounds, Tallnecks and DLC, there’s plenty here to keep you going for quite some time. And you can always go exploring for the best scenic spots to make use of the Photo Mode when you need a break from fighting mechanical beasts and saving the world. I recently started playing this game again after being reminded of how much I enjoyed it three years ago so let’s see how many photographs I come away with this time.

The Elder Scrolls Online (ESO)

I’ve had an on-off affair with ESO since first playing it at Christmas in 2015 and found myself returning to it during the COVID-19 lockdown. The absence of a steep learning curve makes it so easy to get back into and there’s always something new to see: a villager who’ll reveal some local gossip, a hunter chasing a fox, a clifftop with a beautiful view. All simple things and events that don’t have any direct impact on your journey but ones which add more depth to this online land.

There’s plenty of exploring and action to get stuck into, but it’s not all about fighting long-dead draugers and killing giant spiders. This is a great game for simply hanging out online with friends. Some of the most memorable moments for me have been the evenings where we’ve left the dungeons behind and done something completely different – such as viewing everyone’s mansions in an ESO-version of MTV Cribs or seeing how many other players we can convince to dance with us. Good times.

The Long Dark

I became a Kickstarter backer for The Long Dark over seven years ago in September 2013 but haven’t yet tried it. At first, I was waiting for it to come out of early-access as I prefer to play titles once they’ve been fully released; and after that happened in August 2017, I’ve been delaying until all episodes of the first season of the story mode have been published. But if I’ve got to pick just five games to last me an entire year, I think this could be a very good choice because it contains a lot of content and looks beautiful.

Entries in the survival genre don’t usually appeal to me but the supernatural edge to the plot here made me pay attention. After mysterious lights are seen in the sky, the world is plunged into darkness and all our technology is knocked out in an instant. I think I’d end up getting wrapped up in getting to the bottom of what’s going on – but there is also a survival mode and standalone challenges alongside the story episodes. In fact, I think I might get this one installed and give it a go over the winter.

The Witness

The Witness is a title which frustrated me immensely when I played it in 2016. It was hard to accept that I’d sunk so many hours into completing hundreds of puzzles – some of which I’d had to bash my head against for hours – for so little pay-off in terms of a story, when all along it felt as though a mysterious secret was going to be revealed at the end. I think I would have gotten so much more out of it if I’d gone into it treating it as a pure puzzle game rather than a narrative one.

But this is knowledge gained with hindsight and the reason why it would be a really good entry for my selection. It’s similar to Coloring Pixels above in a sense because it provides a mental break: after a long day at work when I don’t have the energy to save the world, I can spend the evening mulling over a challenge or two and forgetting about everything else. There are also plenty of locations to take lovely-looking screenshots so my library won’t be full of Horizon Zero Dawn photographs only.

There you have it: the titles I’d choose to spend a year with as part of the Five Game Challenge. Would any of them make your list too? Thank you to Naithin for hosting the event, and good luck to everyone participating in part two this month!

kissingthepixel View All

Video game lover, Pragmatic Pixel blogger and SpecialEffect volunteer. Lifelong fan of wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets.

16 thoughts on “Five Game Challenge 2020: my picks Leave a comment

  1. Nice list to last you for a year!

    I guess my picks would be

    A Hat in Time with DLC, the Main game is short but Seal the Deal and Multiplayer brings it back for me

    TemTem for my MMO, becauce Iove Pokemon and that is the longest lasting option on Steam
    To be close to it..catching them all would take a long while

    Beyond Good and Evil,so I can finally take all the photo’s win all the races and that kinda stuff

    My Time at Portia, as my relaxxy game, but building everything, dating girl and doing everything would take me a long while.

    Final Fantasy a Realm Reborn.. because I never managed to get high levels, I wanted to find RolePlay but I did not find that.. but beating it seems a nice goal for the year.. I will probably strand when Gold Saucer unlocks for me though and end up just being a Tripple Triad Master

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve tried starting Beyond Good & Evil several times but have never managed to finish it. I know I should finally do it because everyone says what a good game it is… I should probably schedule in some time before the sequel is released. 🤔

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Fun list! Coloring Pixels I’d not even heard of, and both The Long Dark and The Witness I need to give some time to at some point! Both have been in my library for quite some time.
    ESO and HZD though, the ones I actually have some experience with, both seem like really solid picks for a short list of games that need to last a long time! 🙂

    Awesome to see your list, and that you can keep this going, even though the savage attack on my thumb (even if self-inflicted, lol) has put an end to my run this month! (Mostly!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve installed The Long Dark and am planning to start it on Sunday, if all goes according to plan. I said I wasn’t going to participate in the second part of the challenge but you inspired me to finally do something about it!

      Thank you for hosting the event – this has been fun. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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