I don’t do Game of the Year, but I can do the games I enjoyed the most this year. This is the first of four.

Guildmaster Story (WZO Games, 2019) is an honorary entry in this year’s Most Enjoyed List because I lost the will to play after a certain point – but the Will O’Neill kept me going.

Guildmaster Story is a basic Match-3 game with a story told in cutscenes between the levels. I played on mobile which was a free-to-play affair with certain levels designed to encourage players to splash cash on powerups, otherwise you’d spend eternity trying to get lucky enough to make progress. The Steam version does not support the microtransactions, so it’s probably less wearying.

But the genius here is O’Neill’s blackly comic writing which translates Silicon Valley capitalism and the gig economy into a fantasy setting. For example, adventurers doing menial tasks for XP is a stand-in for interns who take no salary. There are some clever juxtapositions here and a real fire propelling it forward. Initially you’re hoping that anti-hero protagonist Ganyo might turn things around and become a genuine human being but as the game progresses your dreams become much more mundane: you’ll be satisfied if he suffers a horrible death.

Sure, some of the comedy is on the nose but it’s so well done I wrote a month-long Twitter thread on the it. It even seems to taunt you for playing a game with microtransactions, you fool.

Guildmaster Story is available from Steam, Google Play and the App Store.

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