Middle-earth: Shadow of War 
What's it about?: "It's Lord of the Rings, only this time my ghost pal and I made a second One Ring, but the big spider that tried to eat Frodo  who is now a sexy woman  stole it. No, the spider is a sexy woman, not Frodo. Anyway, rather than trying to get the ring back I'm now endlessly killing/befriending orcs for some reason."

My wife is a much bigger Lord of the Rings nerd than I am, so she had way more follow-up questions for Shadow of War than she usually does. It was about the time that I guessed the ghost's name was Celebimbo that she stopped asking me them and just started looking up answers on a game wiki. After that, she was the one feeding me plot summaries – mostly heated ones about all the stupid changes the game makes to the lore. She ain't wrong!

Destiny 2
What's it about?: "Well, this big alien named Ghaul locked up that giant ball in the sky, which is what gives me my powers, so I'm trying to kill him  though the real goal is to collect as many shiny colored guns as possible."
I tried going back to the original Destiny shortly before the sequel launched, and my wife was very confused why I was once again creating a well-armed Smurf and shooting a bunch of the same aliens when I started playing Destiny 2. She hasn't had many questions during my ensuing obsession with the game, other than why I'm still playing weeks after I beat it (her and every Destiny 2 player, amiright?) – and why I'm always yelling, "Dog! Cup! Sun! Axes!" at my co-workers when we play together.

Mario + Rabbids: Battle Kingdom
What's it about?: "Mario and his friends got sucked into a world with the Rabbids  they're basically demented rabbits from a different game  and now they have to find a way to separate the worlds again."
Mario + Rabbids was another review game for me, and I mostly played it in handheld mode. My  wife seemed pretty indifferent about the game, though she said she felt sorry for the little Rabbid that gets the magic VR machine stuck to his head, and she also asked me to turn down the manic boss music a couple times because it was "stressing her out." I mean, I get it, but that's one catchy Kirkhope jam!

Mass Effect Andromeda
What's it about?: "It's a continuation of one of my favorite series, except now all the characters are super lame and I've done nothing but open-world fetch quests for 10 hours."
Oh, Mass Effect Andromeda. I wrote a whole column about how my opening hours with Mass Effect Andromeda sucked, and it kept sucking from there like...oh, I don't know, a giant vacuum cleaner. If you want to read more of my thoughts on Andromeda's story, just click the link, alright?

A black hole! Dammit, I definitely should've said black hole. Boy, I really blew that one, huh?

Diablo III
What's it about?: "You're supposed to be stopping Diablo and all of his minions from taking over the world, but I did that a long time ago. Now I'm just killing everything I see to score more sweet, sweet loot."
Aside from telling me to never say "sweet, sweet loot" again, this is another game where my wife didn't offer a lot of follow-ups. I think it's because Blizzard's storytelling is stupidly obvious pretty straightforward: good takes on evil, good wins, The End. That said, despite playing through Diablo III more times than I can count*, I'm still not super clear on the details. I mean, there's the part about Diablo, obviously, but beyond that? I remember a woman who got possessed by evil, some other evil wizard who ends up being your friend after you give him a magic upgrade cube, and those fat naked guys that explode into eels – they don't have anything to do with the story, but they're still my favorites. Man, being a Diablo story writer must be a sweet gig...

Stardew Valley
What's it about?: "There is no story. I'm just a farmer now, honey. I'll miss you."
I managed to wean myself off of Stardew Valley** earlier this year, but the addiction never fully goes away; even just thinking about it now makes me want to jump back in and farm until I'm up to my eyeballs in blueberries. Dammit, Jeff – stay strong!

My wife didn't understand why I was so enraptured by Stardew Valley, but she didn't mind it either – the graphics are charming, the music is catchy, and it's about the only game that doesn't fill our living room with the sounds of gunshots and explosions. What's not to like?

Oh, turns out there is one thing: Penny. I gave Penny a melon on her birthday (mainly because I felt sorry for her having to live in a trailer with her alcoholic mom), and my wife got weirdly jealous about it – and pointing out that she's just a stupid sprite only seemed to make matters worse. I guess in my wife's defense, I've never given her a melon on her birthday, so maybe it hit a little too close to home.

Regardless, my wife eventually got over it, and after she learned a little more about Penny's backstory, she gave me her blessing to court her – which totally weirded me out. At that point I just decided to stay celibate and focus on my crops – ol' Bessy is the only companion I need!   

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*Look, I swear this isn't just an elaborate ruse to get you to reread all of my previous columns. (back to top)
**Alright, maybe it is. (back to top)