By artelinarose 6 Comments
I'm going to go ahead and preface this entry by saying that I have not actually finished this game and this may be why it is not higher on my list. It asked me to sneak around a maze of enclosed offices and cubicles with a nightmare hell monster following after me, and that was fine. But then they turned the lights off and I immediately saved, quit and have not returned to it. I genuinely feel this is a mistake, considering how amazing this game is and how much it tickles every part of my brain, but you weren't there. You didn't see the lights turn off.
SOMA is a game that asks some very simple questions: What is it to be human, and is that humanity something that should be intrinsically valued for its existence? If you know anything about me you will know that I am a total sucker for media that can effectively tackle the themes of humanity being less a biological trait and more a sum of the parts of the human experience; pain, joy, loss, love, compassion, calculated violence. The idea that any sufficiently advanced technology is not so much indistuingishable from magic, but from being human. It is a long standing trope in science fiction but one that has yet to wear out its welcome activating the parts of my brain that love to philosophize about the nature of ourselves and our increasing reliance on modern technology, and the paths it will take in the future.
Every new room, every new section in SOMA had something interesting to throw at me and complicate the story in important, fascinating ways. I will not say much more than that about the details of the story because it's something worth experiencing for yourself, but you'll know within the first hour or so if this game is for you. When I had to pull a machine free from things I did not understand and it begged me to stop because it wanted to keep living, I knew that I was in for a treat that I would recommend to anyone of like mind.
4. Life is Strange
You know what game, Life IS Strange! But it probably would have been a lot stranger if my high school experience had included the ability to time travel! Also if I had known I was girl back then. And if I'd had cool lesbian friends. Or friends at all. Uh.
It was at the end of episode 2 that I realized Life is Strange was something special. To avoid spoilers here, I will just say they ask you to make a very powerful decision that cannot be reversed no matter how much you might want to. It was something that resonated with me very powerfully, having been in that moment myself in real life, and having had friends in the same position. When I managed to get through the other side of it the way I wanted to I felt so relieved that I was able to make a difference, even in some small virtual high school.
And I think that is what Life is Strange is trying to get through to the player, with its focus on youth, what some may argue to be the best times of one's life. The transition from adolescence to adulthood and the confusion, the sudden overwhelming power and responsibility that comes with it. The way your actions have consequences and affect the people around you, for good or bad, and that it is all up to you what kind of difference you want to make. The main character's fascination with photography being a metaphor for making memories. Moments that cannot be regained. Finding what is important to you and how that defines you as a person.
I played the episodes as they came out and I really feel this contributed positively to my experience with this game; sitting around for months wondering what was going to come next, fearing what decisions I'd need to me, talking with my friends about theories and decisions we'd made and what outcomes those lead to. I could talk a lot about the themes of this game and all of the fun symbolism and deeper metaphors for quite a while, but what it really comes down to is that this game made me laugh, cry, love my friends, get engrossed in the small things that felt overwhelming, fear for the future but find myself engrossed in the possibilities it could bring. And isn't that really what youth is?
also max is a scorching lesbian dont let the haters confuse you
I have not finished this one, but there's a lot to say about this game. I'm not going to say much of it because you either already know, or knowing will detract from playing it. Play Undertale. The only reason it's not my top spot is because I have not finished it, but no other game this year has made quite an impression on me as Undertale has.
This one kicked The Witcher 3 off of the list because the more I thought about it, the more I realized The Witcher 3 didn’t leave a lasting impression. It is a very good game, and I enjoy it and would recommend it to people with the clause of It Hates Women, but ultimately it was just another big game to me. A new bar for open world RPGs to meet in terms of content worth doing and the feel of the world, but not something I’m going to carry with me. It wasn’t something that felt incredibly special.
Not the way Bloodborne does.
There is so much I want to talk about regarding Bloodborne, about how good the gameplay is and how it makes a single redaction to the Souls formula and immediately changes every rule you’ve learned in doing so: You can’t block. Dodge, and get in there, and do not stop being in there. About how it’s the best horror ANYTHING in years. But what stuck with me the most about this game is the world, its lore, its history and its themes.
I could write paragraphs and paragraphs of praise and theorycrafting and study discussing the metaphors and symbolism and how each facet of the game’s world and systems feed into every other part of it, a creation so wholly interconnected and complex that it almost has a life of its own, a horrible biological monstrosity begging you to delve into its unknowns and greedily devour every last secret it tempts you with, even while reminding you that knowledge is power, but absolute power corrupts the low and the mighty both absolutely, and thus knowledge is the root of all suffering.
A world so massive that it is easy to get lost in, but so interconnected that you can always find where you’ve been. A world so close to one we have already known, a history that we recall so lovingly as one of the heights of any of our civilizations, but so alien and grotesque that it speaks of the forgotten horrors of these times and the fascination the human mind has with the unknown and the unattainable. The reminder that behind every massacre, every tragedy, every sacrifice for the greater good, there are human hearts and human minds and human intent and these can be the most evil things of all, the corruption that can take hold of our being and our bodies and turn us into nothing more than Beasts. Beasts that cannot coexist with Humanity, for their very essence is antithesis to what is Good and Right.
That when you worship the heavens, anything that comes from the sky must be an angel in the eyes of those who believe. And that these Gods do love us, but that does not mean that we love the Gods in return, or the way they should be.
1. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Metal Gear Solid V is really really really good.
It may not have had as much of an impression on me as Life is Strange, SOMA or Undertale did. The story doesn't hold a candle to any of the other games on this list. It kinda deflates a bit towards the end with a clearly rushed second act, a paper thin story that relies on a twist at the end that doesn't actually change anything(though it is fun to talk about the deeper meanings of it!) to have an impact and just sort of falls flat. It is missing its final third. Quiet's design capital S Sucks.
But Metal Gear Solid V is really really really good. I put 215 hours into this game within 40 days of its release and I plan on going back for a second run through at some point. The act of playing this game is so pure and good and complex and wonderful that I get excited just thinking about it. The game gives you so many tools to see something, immediately imagine some bullshit on the spot and go about executing it. And it works! There are just SO MANY WAYS to do anything in this game! Some of it just because you can! You totally could just run into the base, sneak through all cool person like, or slap on the heavy armor and machine gun and go for it, and it'll work! Or you can put yourself in the driver's seat of a jeep with your eyepatch wearing, electro knife weilding armored wolf(!!!!!!!!!!!!!) in the passenger's seat, slam it into a wall at full speed, bailing just before you crash, then surround it with inflatable versions of you to create a distraction, clearing a full path to where you need to be. You can drop yourself down in a tank and then call in your helicopter for support, explosions and machine gun fire illuminating Afghanistan sands at midnight with the best looking lighting engine I've ever seen in a video game, all while Rebel Yell by Billy Idol plays. You can stand up in a cardboard box with an anime idol girl pasted onto the side to get a horny guard to come over and get blown up by C4 on the road. You can make your horse poop to make a jeep transporting a VIP you need to extract skid(heh heh heh) out and flip. You can sled down a sand dune in a cardboard box and knock out a full patrol by colliding with them.
That's not even getting into the FOB system, stealing materials from other players or enemies around the world, building up your base, playing around with randomized soldiers instead of Snake, or developing increasingly more powerful items, customizing your weapons, your emblem... This game is fantastic. It didn't have such as big an effect on my as the other games on this list may have, but for the game I went back to most this year and the game I would say is simply the most fun to PLAY, Metal Gear Solid V takes it.