2015 in Video Games

Since it’s now {{ current year | yy }} I supposed it’s best to continue the tradition of a wrap-up for the last year’s worth of video games. I briefly contemplated doing another award crest, but I ran out of ideas for categories. Instead, I’m just going to note an arbitrary number of games that I played this year that I felt very strongly positive about, which were also released this year. I won’t put any unfinished/unreleased games on my list, and none of them are good anyway so it works out perfectly.

Without further delay:

1. Tales from the Borderlands

What a delightful surprise this turned out to be. Honestly speaking, I didn’t actually expect Telltale to finish this game by the end of the year, but here I am. I meant to write a far more in-depth collection of thoughts regarding this game, but I simply ran out of time. In short, this is another of Telltale’s grand visual novel-esque adventure. This one, in contrast to their previous work, was far more light-hearted, fan service-y and delightful fun. I wasn’t grabbed at the edge of my seat like the Walking Dead, and frankly the story in this one was quite flimsy and ludicrous at times. However, the characters features here was simply fantastic, and had me in fits of laughter at times. It also allowed me to be part of the 2% to stop the silly end game romance from happening, and boy was I glad for it. In further contrast to their previous work, your choices here actually made quite a bit of difference past the immediately resolution. All in all, it was video game in its pure enjoyment.

2. Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number

The much anticipated sequel to 2012’s Hotline Miami. In this utter mess of gore and violence under the psychedelic soundtrack is a very challenging and at times absolutely infuriating game. I enjoyed my time with it massively, though not as much as the original game. There was a lot of design problems in both mechanic and story telling, admittedly only one of those really mattered. The increased randomness, unfair enemy AI, and sometimes simply baffling levels left a lot of hardcore fans of the original game feeling wanting. It’s a lot different in that sense, removing a lot of customisation choices in the very light ‘build’ elements while generally increasing a lot of bs. Despite this though, it was still a bigger and far more versatile experience. It’s not making my favourite game by any stretch, but nevertheless a good game.

3. Her Story

Now this was a fun one. A VHS-themed murder mystery drenched in old school cassette charm (of which I experienced up until 2012). There was a lot to like about the game, considering how there really ever was only one single actor throughout the entire game. The process of dipping into a mystery one by one and having to figure out plot lines and mismatched times from old interview clips was a feeling I’ve never before experienced. If anything, it deserved praise for simply being unique and inventive with its bold approach to the ‘game’ aspect, faithfully replicating a very real, albeit fantastical process. The second and last ‘twist’ after you figured out the story felt a bit heavy-handed to me personally, but I cannot deny the sheer delight of the sense of exploration this game has given me.

4. Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist

Honestly speaking, I don’t know what to think of this game. It is the game that I spend the majority of my PS4 time on, despite the repetitive nature of competition. For someone like me, a YGO game is something that I usually have a lot of strong feelings toward. It has been quite a few years since I was personally invested in the physical card game, but I’ve maintained to this day that it is the best card game on the market right now. This is all in spite of the hilarious inflation of its rule set and rampant power creeping because what else could Konami possibly do. #FucKonami. This is the most recent official YGO video game, and hence has the most updated card list. It still requires insane grind and luck just like every other YGO game, but at least it’s not reaching into your wallet and burn you at the stake like Hearthstone. If I ever feel like a card game fix, I know that LotD is here for me, and I respect that.

5. Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition

This is a strange one. Despite my having already finished the original version of this game long before, this year I played the entire thing through co-op with a friend, and I have to say it was an extremely different experience. Offensive jokes and silly insults aside, it was extremely enjoyable. While the puzzles are still arcane and the quest line confusing, we managed to bs our way through this epic adventure without too much frustration. Frankly speaking I didn’t even notice much of the enhancement from the remake for the game until far later, but the game was always good, so here’s a positive pass.

6. Life is Strange

I’ve written about the game at length here. Thinking about it now that the year is over, it is probably by far my favourite new release.

7. Pillars of Eternity

There’s a lot of things I love and a few big things I hate about this game. The whole classic RPG feel is great, and the design and characters of the game is commendable. However, combat feels like a chore and is frequently quite abusable (call me casual, it’s fine). The world is ultimately uninspired, and the story forgettable due to the fact. The base construction is extremely shallow and underdeveloped, although the scenery is quite gorgeous for the kind of budget they were running with. It is something I would say to be good, despite my list of gripes with it. I finished it a bit too long ago, and don’t quite remember what else I thought at the time, but since the game has had frequently balance and content patches by then I assume that it’s only gotten better.

8. Invisible Inc.

It’s a turn-based stealth game done well, and we don’t have a lot of those. Frankly speaking I fell in love with the art style of all Klei games, and it was a lot easier from there. The game is meant to be a rouge-like sort of deal, with the strategic choice hovering over micromanagement. I wasn’t particularly good at it, but there was a lot of personalised storyline that I was able to draw from this little game. With the release of Contingency Plan, the game’s endless mode and depth was further enhanced, making it one of the better rpg-lites of the year. It’s unique, pretty, and handles itself competently. There needn’t be anymore.

________________________

List of notable things that are not on this list and a quick run down

  1. Grim Fandango Remastered: I found the story fun, but the game itself was plagued with archaic puzzles and bafflingly nonsensical turnouts at times. Buy it, I guess/
  2. Heroes of Might and Magic III HD: Bad, just play the original.
  3. Cities Skylines: Fun for a bit but ultimately dumb and shallow. Rely far too much on mod. Doesn’t really even compare to Sim City 2013, and that was bad.
  4. There Came an Echo: Another fun game, but too short and has no lasting effect. Soundtrack is good. Would recommend for a discount price.
  5. Ori and the Blind Forest: Didn’t finish it, but I don’t like platformers that much either way. Silly tacked on progression system.
  6. Battlefield Hardline: Just play Battlefield 4.
  7. GTA V: I’ve written about it at length here.
  8. Starcraft 2 – Legacy of the Void: I’ve written about it at length here.
  9. The Witcher 3: Beautiful world and impressive amount of content, let down heavily by its busted controls and unnecessary busywork, making the game feel weighed and padded.
  10. Heroes of the Storm: The worst Blizzard game ever made. Incredibly shallow in its mechanics and heavy-handed in its balance.
  11. Batman Arkham Knight: Heavily iterative. The PC disaster notwithstanding, a game with fine mechanics boggled by its terrible narrative.
  12. Star Wars Battlefront: Just play Battlefield 4. Not to say they are similar.
  13. Just Cause 3: Padded with copy paste content, the game also runs horribly.
  14. Fallout 4: Just play Fallout New Vegas.
  15. Undertale: I’ve not yet finished this game. From what I’ve seen so far, however, it would have been a strong contender for the original list.

Games not mentioned I probably didn’t play, or played too little. Most of my year was spent on Diablo 3 and Warframe.

And that’s that.

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