2015 Game of the Year (JasonR86)

Hey guys, so I've made a GOTY list, checked it twice (hah...) and am posting it here on the forums for those that are so inclined to read it. Keep in mind that my PC is very old and I can't play most modern games on it so that rules out a lot of games. I also don't own a Wii U or an Xbox One. So my games were limited to mobile and PS4 with one exception on the PC. Also keep in mind that I work a lot of hours and so my time dedicated to games is split between work and everything else I do. So where I am in my life has impacted what types of games I play. Also, I've played games for a long, long time and so I'm at a point now with the hobby where I tend to put a premium on novelty and uniqueness over mechanics. I'm also a sucker for atmosphere and tone, always have been, and I've always liked games, and movies and music, that try something interesting even if it doesn't always work. All that said, lets start with the my disappointments before I go into the actual list.

Disappointments of the Year:

Witcher 3

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I beat all of this game on the PS4 and boy did it take a lot of effort. On the PS4 it is just such a technical mess. The framerate was rarely good for me (30 fps) and was often poor (sub 25 fps). I had audio glitches, animation glitches, scripting glitches. I didn't much care for the main story and the side stories were only occasionally intriguing enough to see through. I didn't really like any of the characters, I thought the art design was boring, and the combat was a slog. In hindsight, I'm not particularly sure why I stayed with it. I'm happy I played it just so I could have an opinion on it but I can't recommend it. Especially on consoles.

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture

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I really, really like Dear Esther. The year it came out it was my #4 game of the year. I thought the presentation was phenomenal, the narrative was great and spoke to me on a personal level and it was fun to explore the environments. Everybody's Gone to the Rapture should be a perfect game for me, then, all things considered. I love atmosphere, I love new experiences and I loved the developer's past work that is most similar to this game. But this game was just boring. It's been said a million times but the movement was far too slow, even with the "run" button, and especially considering the size of the environment. Then the environment is rarely worth exploring. Unlike Dear Esther, rarely does exploring yield more narrative. But even when it does the narrative itself was mostly based around the day to day drama of characters I didn't really know, regarding topics I didn't care about, and so the drama was lost on me. Which is all a shame because the game looks great, minus the inconsistent framerate, the music is beautiful and the voice acting is really well done. It was just a boring, forgettable game that I had really high hopes for.

2015 GOTY

10: Ether One

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Yes, this came out in 2014. But it was released on the PS4 in 2015. And it's my list and I'll do whatever I want with it. So Ether One is on it! Ether One, like Dear Esther and Gone Home, largely hangs its hat on the tone, atmosphere and the player's desire to explore the environment. Which is right up my alley. Though, the game does have some pretty well designed puzzles and secrets all over the place what I liked most was the atmosphere and the narrative. The game tells the story of a character exploring and repairing the mind of a client with dementia, via a computer simulation, in hopes that by repairing memories the client with dementia will recover. I won't give it away, but the story itself unfolds as more and more of this client's mind is explored eventually culminating in a fantastic conclusion.

9: MGS V

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If I had more time to dedicate to it, this game would probably be higher on my list. But, honestly, I had the same amount of time when I played 40 hours of Bloodborne so maybe that's just a lame excuse. I really like MGS V. It plays really, really well and when everything goes according to plan it's really fun. Even when nothing goes to plan it's fun improvising. I just didn't spend enough time with it to fall in love with it. I think it was because, though a game like Bloodborne can be stressful to a lot of people, I've been playing From Software games since the King's Field games on the first Playstation. So I understand the flow of those games and don't feel the same anxiety other people might. But I feel that anxiety and stress with MGS V. Yes, I can improvise when things go terrible but sometimes, like after a long day of work or during my limited free time during the weekends, I just don't want to. That said, MGS V is a fantastic game.

8: Broken Age

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Broken Age is pleasant. I mentioned the long work days a lots of stress earlier, right? Broken Age is one of those games where you can just wrap yourself up in it and all that stress just goes away. It looks amazing, the music and sound design is delightful and it tells a nice little story. This was my 'relax' drug of choice for a while. So that alone puts it on my list. It's also a really good adventure game which is a genre I haven't played in a long time.

7: Fallout 4

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I really liked Morrowind. And then I really liked Oblivion. Then I really liked Fallout 3. Then I liked New Vegas a little less. Then I really liked Skyrim for like 40 hours but by hour 90 the love had dissipated. And now I like Fallout 4...but, guys, this design isn't quite what it used to be, is it? I mean it's good. But it's exactly the same. Well, there are differences but I don't really care about those differences. Yeah, you can build settlements but, you know, who cares. Yeah, the shooting is better but it's only gone from poor to average. Yeah VATS doesn't freeze time but, you know, whatever. I'm playing this on the PS4 and it's pretty ugly, the framerate is impacted for seemingly nonexistent reasons considering how pretty shitty the game looks, the voice acting is ok and the main story is fine. I do like this game. I do. I swear. But this is kind of it for me and Bethesda open world games if the next Elder Scrolls and Fallout are just as sloppy and just as similar as this game is to its predecessors.

6: You Must Build a Boat

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I drive a lot for my job and when I get to my destinations I do a lot of waiting. And while I wait I mess around with mobile games. Like 10 Million before it, You Must Build a Boat was my go to mobile game for a long time. It's just an addicting game. It's not as novel as 10 Million was but it doesn't really need to be. It's fun, it's engaging and I played the hell out of it.

5: Talos Principle

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Another 2014 game I played when it was rereleased in 2015 on the PS4. This is a great puzzle game with a really, really cool narrative. Without getting into spoiler territory I left this game questioning how I would have felt had I been Adam in the Garden of Eden and coming to the conclusion that I would have probably had been miserable. I also had deep thoughts on the nature of consciousness, humanity, and the value, or lack thereof, of free will and choice. Oh yeah, it's also a really cool puzzle game.

4: Until Dawn

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This game was fun. Even when things went terribly it was a ton of fun. Yeah, the writing is really dumb and the main story has a million problems and the gameplay isn't very mechanically interesting. But whatever. This game is fun.

3: Her Story

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My one PC game! I first heard about this game, probably like a lot of you, through this site and thought I'd give it a shot. So I woke up one Saturday morning, made and ate my breakfast, made a pot of coffee and sat down to try out Her Story. Six hours later I had played the ever loving shit out of this game, was wrapping my brain around the story, and going to Youtube to look up Jody Arias police interviews. The next day I watched the full, chronologically correct and uncut video of each interview on Youtube dying to see what videos I had missed and if my conclusion of the story was correct. What a great, great game.

2: Bloodborne

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My favorite game on the Playstation was King's Field II. The three Souls games last generation were some of my favorite games on those consoles and Bloodborne is one of my favorite PS4 games all for the same reasons: atmosphere and the lack of hand holding. I love atmosphere and exploring in games because it allows me to feel fully wrapped up in a game's world. When a game doesn't hold the player's hand it encourages that exploration and experimentation which makes me as the player feel like a living part of that world. Just like the character, I don't know when I play these games what to expect next in the game I just have to explore and discover on my own. All of the From games I've played have excelled at this and Bloodborne is no exception. Plus, the gameplay loop of explore, grind for experience, become more technically sound with the mechanics and beat a boss is really satisfying. Bloodborne isn't as good as the other Souls games to me because of the lack of loot and the simplified level progression but it is still a ton of fun.

1: Life is Strange

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Sort of like when the first season of Telltale's Walking Dead first came out, I eagerly anticipated every episode of Life is Strange. I thought the premise was awesome, the characters grew on me, the choices were surprising and, for lack of a better word, ballsy and the story stuck the landing for me at the end. But what makes this game stand out is that is has a ton of moxie. Yeah, there are some technical issues and some of the writing can be a little rough but my God is it a charming thing. Of the games I played this year, this was the game I look back at the most fondly. It was the most memorable and was the most fun I had with a game this year. So it easily takes my GOTY.

Honorable Mentions: Tales of Zysteria, Project Cars, Dying Light, Rocket League