A little over a year ago (good lord, has this column lasted that long?), I shared what has become something of a tradition in my house when it comes to video games: My wife sees me playing a new game, asks me what it's about, and then I spend a few minutes bumbling my way through a plot summary that I don't fully understand myself because my brain stops working as soon as I get a weapon in my hand. Her follow-up questions invariably tear apart my explanation like a dumb-as-rocks criminal under cross-examination, but I still appreciate the exchanges; not only do they offer us an opening to discuss video games (other than the stupid Bubble Witch game she's obsessed with), they also help me parse my own thoughts about what I'm playing.

I've played a lot of games since my last round-up, and despite having never been able to muster an adequate plot synopsis, my wife still asks for one every time I start a new game. My ultimate takeaway from the previous collection was that I need to pay more attention to narratives while I'm playing – but have I actually followed through with that revelation over the past year? Of course not Let's find out!

Note: This column may or may not contain spoilers for some recent games. I'm not really sure.

Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds
What's it about?: "Aloy is investigating a mountain in this new region of the world because more machin– OH SH** IT'S A ROBOT BEAR!"
I actually reviewed The Frozen Wilds, and as such I was paying special attention to the plot and taking notes during my playthrough. Not that the extra incentive was necessary; Horizon's intriguing mysteries kept me engaged with the plot regardless, and I had no problem keeping my wife up to speed as I played the main game. What took a little more explanation, however, was how The Frozen Wilds is incorporated into the main story, which went something like this:

"It's not really a sequel  it's the same game as before, but now there's a new area and some other stuff. I DID beat the game, yes, but it takes you back to before the final mission so you can do the new storyline, which ties into the old story kind of. No, I don't have to beat the main game again, I already did that  I mean, technically now I haven't done it, but I know what would happen if I did do it again, which I don't need hold on, another friggin' bear is eating me."

Makes perfect sense, right? I don't know why she was confused...

Assassin's Creed Origins
What's it about?: "You're a guy in Egypt who is almost certainly going to become an assassin, and it sounds like his son is dead? He's probably going to kill whoever murdered his son, if he really was murdered. I'm guessing pharaohs. Or Cleopatra  no wait, that would be stupid. It's gotta be pharaohs."
Hoo boy, how about that intro to Origins? Nothing like getting thrown straight into...what exactly? Flashbacks and flashforwards and combat and – why is he carving up his own arm with an arrow?!

Origins basically starts out like Memento, only YOU are the Memento guy, and not even tattooing CliffsNotes all over your body will keep everything straight. Literary experts call this storytelling device "in media res," which is Latin for "I don't know how to start this thing; f*** it, lets jump straight to the middle."

My wife is vaguely familiar with the premise of Assassin's Creed, so my explanation more or less sufficed. It's a good thing, because I still don't know anything beyond that. Oh, I know you have a pet hawk, because I fell asleep the first night I was playing and when I woke up it was perched on my arm. That was pretty cool.

Cuphead
What's it about?: "I'm a cup who lost a bet to the devil and now I have to collect the contracts of other cartoons, if I can ever get past this F***ING DRAGON!"
Here's a hot news scoop I'm sure you haven't heard before: Cuphead is stupid hard. And I love stupid hard games! I gave Super Meat Boy a 9! And Spelunky an 8! I don't love Cuphead though, and it was two follow-up questions from my wife that made me realize why.

"Wake me up in an hour?" was the first question, which she asked because she had been studying all night for an exam while I was playing, and needed a quick nap. "You're still on this level?" was the second question, which she asked after I woke her up. And I sure was! Nothing like spending an hour and a half on the same two-minute segment against a cheap-ass dragon and his totally random cloud platforms to make you second-guess what the hell you're doing with your life. Friggin' dragon.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
What's it about?: "It's the new Zelda."
My wife isn't a big gamer, but even she has been conditioned to not expect story from a Zelda game. Link, Zelda, Master Sword – we get it. I'm still only a couple hours into the game, but if she had asked for further explanation, my synopsis would've gone something like this:

"Link woke up in a tipped-over refrigerator in his underwear, and now he's scouring Hyrule for a blacksmith who's worth a damn because every weapon he picks up shatters after a few whacks. Oh wait, and now it's raining, so I'm just going to sit at the bottom of this wall like a lump of Deku poop and wait for it to stop so I can climb it." 10 out of 10!

Hidden Agenda
What's it about?: "Remember Until Dawn, that horror game you were worried about me playing because I kept on jumping so much? It's from the same developer, only with detectives this time. No, I'm not going to start jumping again."
Beyond her trademark question, my wife didn't need a plot synopsis for Hidden Agenda – she was sitting next to me on the couch while I played through the entire thing. Instead she just refused my pleas for advice during the hard decisions, and then would mutter, "You shouldn't have done that," immediately after I made a choice. Talk about backseat adventure-game driver!

South Park: The Fractured But Whole
What's it about? What the heck are you doing?:
My wife is familiar enough with South Park that she didn't need/care for a plot synopsis going into The Fractured But Whole (though she did concede that the name was pretty funny). Instead, she asked the above question about a dozen times while she was studying with her back to the television. My answer was always, "I'm farting on people." Come to think of it, that also aptly sums up what the game is about...    

Coming Up Next: More incredibly succinct and insightful summaries of 2017's hottest games...