Since a good deal of the bigger new releases this month are remakes or re-releases, and because there were a number of tantalizing 2018 games I didn’t get to on time, I’m very excited to play some older games this January. As I said on my 2018 top ten podcast with Cado, I suspect The Return of the Obra Dinn will be like catnip for me, and maybe my 2019’s 2018 game of the year. I’m excited to play much more Smash Ultimate, and finally lay into The Missing and Austin’s #2 Pick, Heaven Will Be Mine.
But also, I’m really pumped to play Oxygen Not Included, Klei’s latest (in early access now), which inspired this little tidbit of discussion yesterday.
Oxygen Not Included is a survival sim/management game in the vein of Klei’s own Don’t Starve (a game I adore), with a 2D side-scrolling presentation. You roll a team of three starter “duplicants” to survive in a space-base, all of whom have traits, quirks, and strengths. And you need to dig, mine, and build facilities that make life possible (and tolerable) for your little buddies, oxygen included.
I’m itching for another survival game of its ilk, especially since my marathon sessions of Don’t Starve have gotten to be a fond but distant memory. The theming here is cleaner and more sci-fi, but no less tinged with quirky humor—apparently, one of the most important early considerations in the game is building proper bathrooms—and I just sort of love games where you spin a million plates to keep your charges alive and well. Your little buddies have so many needs: food, warmth, places to sleep, places to pee, a penchant to get sick from too many germs. I’ve always found this game design paradigm fascinating and fun to play in, and it’s thematically resonant, what with all that space exploration and thoughts of the abyss.
Space is cold and cruel and brutally, fundamentally unbreathable, and a massive test of both engineering ingenuity and the human spirit. It’s one of the reasons reading about or watching the Belters from The Expanse series can be so intriguing: one faction of humanity has learned to live entirely outside of the gravity wells afforded by solid planets, and they’re very passionate about air filters.
So yes, I’m very excited to sink a probably-ridiculous number of hours into this. Bad bong jokes included.