Written by Twisted Ideas
2015 has been a great year in gaming. There have been a strong showing from long awaited sequels, anticipated games that lived up to their hype and some surprise breakouts from new IP’s. While I haven’t reviewed all of these games throughout the year and the last few months of 2015 have been busy for me in the writing department, I have played and thoroughly enjoyed these games.
Life is Strange
I have to give my love to Dontnod Entertainment. This is their second game and they managed to create an episodic series that stands next to Telltale while taking steps forward that are necessary to help the adventure game genre grow. The time travel mechanics work in the game’s benefit. You often weren’t aware of your consequences until they happened but you often wouldn’t be left in the dark without feeling strongly in your decision. The series had a few issues with the writing and poor adventure game mechanics at the start but they improved after each episode’s release. Each episode after the first left on strong and heavy notes and ended on a heart wrenching conclusion.
I was excited in Until Dawn but expected it to be a disappointment due to it’s similarities to Heavy Rain and Beyond Two Souls. I was very wrong. Until Dawn does play like a Qunatic Dream game but it somehow works in the horror genre. This is as close you can get to play a horror movie. It takes many of the horror tropes from not only the classics but some modern horror movies too. The true genius lies in the fact that every character can live and die based on your decisions. There’s a real sense of urgency and concern when you know where a bad outcome was because of a bad choice. It leaves you on the edge of your seat and it doesn’t let go until the end.
Bloodborne simplifies the Souls formula into something more approachable yet challenging. Bloodborne is a faster paced and in someways a more unforgiving game than the three previous Souls games and the recently released DLC is daring players to comeback for more. On the surface the game seems to be doing less than before, with less weapons and the reduced alternate combat options but the depth is there if you go deep enough. The Gothic aesthetic and the brilliantly designed weapons give Bloodborne a unique feel from the Souls series and From Software have been supporting the game with updates, making it better for the players.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
I’m new to The Witcher series but the story is inclusive. I’m not a huge fan of the fantasy genre but The Witcher 3 is more focused on the stories it’s telling than the lore it draws from. It crafted fantastically deep quests that can spiral in unexpected directions. While the vastness of the would can feel empty at times, its strong suit are the people within the world. Few expenses are spared in the Witcher and it has my favorite minigame in a long time, Gwent.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Konami’s customer relations have been terrible in 2015. The mistreatment of their staff, mainly Hideo Kojima as well as the cancellation of Silent Hills and the removal of the PT demo caused me to have concerns regarding MGSV. These concerns were put to rest when I played the game. MGSV makes bold steps away from the traditional series formula but still feeling like Metal Gear Solid. MGSV is an expansion of the concepts introduced in Peace Walker and a complete version of Ground Zeroes. It maintains the feel of the series but allows for different approaches by the player. If this is Kojima’s swan song for Metal Gear, then this was a high note.
OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood
Fast, simple and difficult are the best words to describe OlliOlli 2. Roll7 took their 2D skateboarding concept and amped it up to 11 in the sequel. The new gameplay mechanics of manuals and reverts keeps your mind on your execution at all times. Accompanied by a rocking soundtrack, smoother visuals and gameplay, OlliOlli 2 is a downloadable title that you shouldn’t miss.
Xenoblade Chronicles X
Xenoblade Chronicles X and its predecessor managed to create incredibly massive worlds with fantastic visuals and designs despite both games being on consoles behind the pack. Chronicles X does falter on the story but it makes the necessary improvements on gameplay and visuals. The main storyline paces itself well by giving you mandatory goals and quests to complete before you can continue the plot. This lets you dive into the massive amounts of quests and learn the ropes of the game at your own pace. Once you get your first Skell, you will see the game in a whole new light even after dozens of hours in. Xenoblade Chronicles X does feel lacking in some aspects to other open world games but it is surprisingly engaging and you really don’t see too many games like this.
Nintendo successfully created a new third person shooter IP that is unique to the triple A video games industry. They’ve made a shooter where you success doesn’t involve getting kills. Splatoon is a game where whoever makes the biggest mess wins. The game isn’t non-violent but it encourages stage awareness and strategy more than offense. It did have an unusual launch as it slowly rolled out content as the weeks passed but now the game really has evolved into a more complete experience. I still think they need a couple of changes to multiplayer before I’ll be satisfied. They should have more than two stages in rotation at a time and the ability to change loadouts during matches. The other great thing about Splatoons is that ever since it’s launch, Nintendo has been continually adding updates to the game without adding a single piece of DLC if your don’t count amiibos.
It’s the same, good old Fallout you remember (from 3 and NV) with minor changes with significant results. The voice acting for the main characters really draws you into the world and stories, in a way you never had before. The settlement building was something I thought I would hate but was incredibly addicting. It gave you a reason to take junk that you would normally ignore and put it to good use. If you still don’t like the settlements you can still use the junk for crafting. The removal of the level cap makes it easier to make decision in your character builds and it will take you even longer to max your character out than it will doing every single quest in the game.
Her Story is an FMV (full motion video) game with a simple yet original concept. It is about you digging through a database about an one woman’s interview regarding a murder. This is a story that slowly unfolds as your search keywords that will satisfy your questions. The story will reveal itself differently for every play based on what you search. It doesn’t have a traditional start or finish but it is something that seeks to spark discussions and analysis. Her Story