Game of the Year 2015 User's Choice

Also as per usual my list is weird as fuck because who plays videogames in the year of their release anyway.

More seriously, this year was the final year of my degree and so I've been far more busy programming than playing videogames. There are a lot of games languishing in my wishlist right now that I just never even got around to buying. Hopefully they'll be good fodder for next year's list.

List items

  • I, a few years ago now, once embarked on a ridiculous journey. That journey was my Giant Bombcast Catchup. Starting from the very beginning all the way back at the Arrow Pointing Down Podcast and working my way to this year.

    For a very long time I was stuck, however, at 2014's GOTY podcasts. Mostly because I didn't want to spoil The Fall for myself. Once I'd finished that, this game still remained as something a friend said I should play before listening. The only catch was that I don't own a Vita to play it, so that same friend volunteered his Vita and his copies of both this game and the sequel.

    This game basically became my commute. Every train trip to or from uni was spent either playing this or its sequel and I'm so glad I held off listening to the podcast until I finished it.

    Danganronpa is a very well told story that manages to tread the line between tragedy and comedy almost flawlessly save for one or two points.

    Sure most of the minigames besides the Non-Stop Debates are kinda bunk, and if you're a perfectionist like I am you end up constantly bopping out to reload the game whenever you make a mistake. And sure, individually dumping in all 100 of your coins after each trial to make sure you always have the best presents to give people is time-consuming and dull, but the thing is I *wanted* to spend that time.

    The characters I was giving these presents to I wanted to make sure I always had something on hand that they would like, because I liked them and would've felt bad if I didn't.

    As I said though, there's a couple of points in this game where it trips up, namely the way the victim in the second case is handled. The way all that stuff works out made me literally shake with rage and I needed to put the game down and go lie down somewhere. That's how bad it was.

    So I guess it's a testament to the game that even if it made me feel like that, I still thoroughly enjoyed playing it.

  • If I had a VR headset and zero responsibilities, this would probably be my game of the year. As it stands, the austere loneliness of space is intruded upon by the real world all too often for me to properly immerse myself in.

    Playing as a lady I think would be really fun in VR because of where I'm at with my gender identity.

    Perhaps where this game falls down is personality more than anything. I don't mind lonely, dispassionate space-travel, but I want more of a relationship with the places I visit.

    I used to play an open source space sim called Vega Strike. It wasn't anything special as far as looks, or feel or whatever. Dogfighting actually kind of sucked in it, to be honest. But the thing that kept me coming back to it was the relationships and stories I created within the world. And the difference was dialogue, plain and simple. It was just very simple text chat between me and the planets and stations I visited. There was perhaps 3 to 4 randomly chosen lines on either side for each tier of "familiarity", but it worked.

    I used to run seafood from an oceanic planet named Atlantis, take it to a local mining station named Serenity, and bring back a bunch of minerals for sale at Atlantis and as part of that I felt like I was building a relationship with the people that worked at both locations. This was also reflected in the game's reputation system.

    None of that really happens in Elite. There's no dialogue on any of the stations you land at, and the reputation system moves so slowly that it doesn't feel like anything you're doing is acknowledged by the universe around you.

    I don't regret picking this up, or the stupidly expensive HOTAS I use to play it, but I keep feeling like it should be more, or that I should like it more than I do. It's not like I haven't played it a bunch, though. I've dumped about 50 hours into this thing, and I've really enjoyed that time, but man. I just don't really know how I feel about it.

    Maybe when I pick up Horizons my feelings will change.

  • After finishing the first game I immediately got to work on finishing this. It loses some of the original's charm simply because you already know what's going on for the most part, and the updated minigames gave some pretty major problems if you're going for a perfect trial score as I was.

    But it's still good! The story in this one is fucking bonkers and really goes places. It's also cool that in this one they have a couple of queer characters that aren't treated like complete trash! The downside is that a couple of the characters are absolute creeps.

    I still had fun with this one, and it's definitely worth playing if after the first game you want to learn more.

  • I initially ignored this game when it was first described to me (I have very discerning taste in card-related games), but I blame that entirely on the bad description I was given. It's not really a deckbuilding game at all, despite there being a lot of building of decks.

    I very rarely put much thought into the cards I placed in my equipment and event decks. The choice generally came down to "Have I unlocked the token attached to this card," and "Is this a weapon I want in the final battle." Not really much strategy involved.

    Despite that this game has a really good atmosphere helped along by the wonderful performance given by the Dealer, the excellent music, and the slight hints of what's going on behind the scenes.

    It will also kick your god damn ass. The final adventure the game presents to you starts you with some fucked up curses, has some awful auto-includes in your event deck and the final boss fight is just straight up *long*.

    It was extremely satisfying to finish it, to the point where I tweeted a bunch in all caps about it as soon as I was done with it.

    Its ending theme is also rad:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8CergpGltg

  • Continuing the tradition of Mike Bithell giving me free copies of his games over twitter and me regretting not paying for them, comes Volume, Mike's love letter to MGS1.

    As someone who thinks the correct order for MGS quality is 1 > Special Missions > 2 > 3 > 4 (I haven't played GZ or TPP enough to place) it was nice to see someone try to recreate the old style of tactical espionage action.

    And it succeeds pretty well, for the most part! Sometimes the controls for the gadgets were a little finicky for me, but otherwise I had a great time!

    It's got a good story with excellent voice work and a tonne of well designed levels.

    Sorry you didn't get my money again, Mike!

  • The Fall doesn't always play the best (some of the combat in this game is pretty damn rough), but it makes up for it with its excellent story. ARID's journey through the facility she and her pilot have crash landed in is one of the most touching things I've experiences this year.

    This is just some damn good science fiction that sets up a premise, and shows you what happens with that premise.

    I can't wait for part 2.

  • Fallen London is one of those damn energy bar-locked web browser games and to start with I couldn't believe I was even playing it.

    I got into it as a result of enjoying Fail Better Games' Sunless Sea, a naval trading game set in the same world as Fallen London and it's... really good?

    The writing is just wonderful all throughout, giving you hints of greater secrets without ever outright just telling you things gives the world of Fallen London a great mystique. There's also another thing that's kept me coming back almost every day since August: a third gender option for my character.

    It is really fucking cool to play a game that has a non-binary option for gender so I can actually like, have a character that represents me in a videogame for once. The way my character is described and the way others speak to me is just so affirming in a way.

    This game isn't for everyone, but it's been very important to me this year.

  • As a fan of Syndicate/Wars back in the day I backed this thing pretty damn early and waited god damn forever for it to come out.

    And it turned out really well! Some of the AI isn't always the greatest (I once took out an entire set of guards during an alert by funneling them threw an elevator one at a time), and the way brain hacking people works in comparison to the Persuadatron days of old isn't great.

    Despite all that it presents some really interesting areas in which to complete your missions, even if it is a little weird to rise up against Steven Dengler.

    Out of all the games I played this year, this is the one I wish I'd actually dug into more the most.

  • The last time I'd tried to finish this was back when I was a kid on an actual PS1. I put it down for a few weeks, came back and realised I'd forgotten what I was supposed to be doing and never came back.

    Until last year.

    I picked it up in a steam sale and decided I'd finally get around to finishing this, and on top of that, doing every single thing the game has to offer. I was already fairly well-versed in the game from watching my dad play through the thing with the kind of tenacity and strategy only he can, so I wasn't going in entirely blind.

    I ended up starting this game on 23/6/2014 and finishing it on 47/7/2015. It took me over a year and 197-ish (that number is inflated from leaving the game running, but paused) hours, but I did fucking all of it.

    I mastered every materia (including all four Enemy Skill materias, and every summon materia twice), I got everyone to level 99, I got everyone's final limit breaks and ultimate weapons, I beat Ruby and Emerald weapon, I bred my own gold chocobo, I got the bonus ribbon from the special battle square fight.

    I did everything.

    And it still holds up, despite what many people say. It's still a really good JRPG and I'll miss its battle system when the remake finally comes out.

    If you're thinking of playing this before the remake, pick it up on Steam. It fixes, as far as I know, all of the major bugs in the original game (in particular, the Magic Defence bug). The PS4 version might be the same, but I'm not sure.

  • I kinda like this game! But I'm not very good at it, so I don't like it as much as I probably should.

    My biggest gripe with it I think is just a function of it being a roguelike thing, so the story takes a back-seat for most of it. Hopefully I'll get back to it and finish it one of these days.