November is a weird time. Half the people are obsessed with a holiday framed around taking land and overeating with family you can’t stand. The other half want to push past it to the capitalistic, materialistic fraudulence that has become Christmas. I, on the other hand, am still chilling in the spookiness that comes with October. I like to try to live that year-round. Which is why I chose to spend part of this month wandering around an abandoned school. I also tried to out drink Satan and his homies in hell. One time, I went for a bike ride. You’ll see what I mean below. Left Alone (PC) There is a lot to unpack with Left Alone. You’re a former special-op who was in a coma, your wife left you and took your kids in that time, and you suffer from blackouts. Perfect time to go camping with the boys right? Better yet go hang out in the woods next to that old boarding school where all those kids “disappeared”. It sounds like I am getting ready to rag on this game but jokes aside it is a pretty solid first project by a studio. It isn’t perfect and it has some glitches. The light switch puzzle comes to mind but it is pretty creative when it matters. There is a puzzle early in the school that requires players to unlock a few rooms and then figure out what to do with the information it gives you. My first attempt was to just take the number of sides of each shape I found on the computer and input them into the lock. The problem arose when you press zero on the pin pad. For whatever reason, it would cancel out the code and reset it. It drove me insane to the point where I thought the game was bugged and spent about twenty minutes seeing if I could get outside the map. That little sidetrack adventure let my brain subtly work out the next steps of the pin pad. I actually needed to go to the classrooms with each of those shapes on the blackboards, and take the classroom number to the pad then figure out the order they’re supposed to be in. It was a pretty clever puzzle and is one of the strongest pluses for the game. It frequently goes on sale but the full price is only seven bucks on Steam. I recommend checking it out if you are looking for solid advice on what a good starter project can look like. After Party (PC, PS4, Xbox One) I heard a lot that I was going to hell when I was growing up. Well, I’ve been several times thanks to the wondrous interpretations that video games produce. This is the first time that I have been to hell and challenged the dark one himself to a drinking competition in order to get a second chance at life. That’s the story of Milo and Lola’s adventure. Along the way, they meet a cast of zany and mostly likable demons and righteously stomp some of them into the ground at various party games. So the skinny is that Milo and Lola can’t just straight-up challenge dear old Lucy to the contest. Instead, they beat a list of these other big baddies from down under in order to get their chance at the dark lord. After Party is made by the same team that did Oxenfree so dialogue choices will influence what happens along with the beer pong and dance-offs. If hell is this lit it won’t be as bad as that storybook made it out to be. Grab the game now for twenty bucks and start chugging. Descenders (PC, Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch) The whole outdoors thing never struck me as fun, so, I ended my career as a BMX rider. I do find the appeal in games that take that concept of bike riding and stack them with challenging tracks and goals. Descenders takes all that fun and add in randomly generated tracks with random goals for each time you play. In theory, that’s endless replay value, and there is a ton of unlockable costumes to make your character truly unique on the track. Another aspect that makes the game more stand out is the fact that there is a life system for the game. You start the game with a handful of lives and each time you crash you lose one or more depending on how bad the crash is. There are a few ways to earn back lives or build up your pool of them. Completing the bonus objectives in a level gets you one per track. There are also medic levels on each world that will help you get them back as well. The game only costs twenty-five dollars and that’s a pretty solid price for the amount of time you can put into this. Pick of The Month: The Outer Worlds (PC, PS4, Xbox One) It has been a long time since an RPG has grabbed me and pulled me into its’ world the way The Outer Worlds has. Given Obsidian’s previous work in the games industry, with Fallout New Vegas, I was skeptical of how this game was going to turn out. I loathed Fallout New Vegas because of its long drawn out deserts and bland enemies. Seriously if I wanted to wander around a desert I would just go outside and possibly fight one of the lonely denizens of my town. The Outer Worlds is thankfully nothing like that. The game is full of vibrant characters, worlds and color schemes. I wanted to run through this game as a badass mercenary for hire with a moral code. That pretty much came to a screeching halt when I ran into Parvarti. She’s smart, a damn good mechanic, a fantastic person with a bubbly personality and is just one of the cutest companion character’s I’ve ever dealt with in games. I was hoping for a romance option with her but then there was a very well written side story of her getting smitten with another mechanic later on. Both women were clearly into each other and I loved setting aside the main story to help Parvarti try to get a date with her and work through her feelings. It was also awesome to see the ace community represented with such dignity. The Outer Worlds is fully priced, which is why it earns this month’s pick of the month title. It is so worth splurging on and offers a ton of entertainment, with a well-written universe. However, if you have Xbox Ultimate Game Pass, The Outer Worlds is free to play. With the holiday season just around the corner, the games above are sure to be worth your time. More importantly, they won’t break into the present budget. I mean at the very least you can say you challenged the devil to a drinking contest. I would make that a quote on a dating site but a lot of the people in my area have the religious staff so far up their aft end that I expect them to cough out wood chips at any second. You know what? I’m going to go play around in my space ship in The Outer Worlds.