GOTY 2015 – Here I go again on my own (well, not really), going down the only road I’ve ever known (towards GOTY blogging? Now I’m confused.)
An Introduction (eerily similar to the one from last years list/blog)
Rejoice! It’s this time of the year again.
Time to spend time with our families and loved ones, eat an unhealthy amount of cookies and hope that this time around we’ll actually get presents that we won’t have to later sell on Ebay (stealthily of course, we don’t want to hurt anyone‘s feelings and all that).
So you guessed what time I meant by now? That’s right: It’s Christmas season again and so let’s talk a bit about…wait what do you mean we are a bit early for that and I can’t just assume that you are even celebrating Christmas in the first place? I mean come on, who wouldn’t celebrate Christmas? Oh I see, different religions and such - makes sense.
Well, okay then. I guess let’s not talk about Christmas, religion or why we hate that not everyone believes in the same things we do and instead let’s all despise and fight each other over things that really matter and make a difference:
Let’s all compile lists with our favourite games of the year and hate each other for including/excluding that one game that we really love/hate, since that’s just how we roll. (Yeah, I just used that phrase.)
Anyone wanna go first? No? Okay, then I’ll start.
Another Introduction (Can’t have too many of those)
With the intro out of the way (did anyone even read it and is still around?), once again I felt this was a really good year for games and so a simple Top 10 list just won’t do it justice.
It’s a GOTY list in blog form, because why not? One which includes not only my top 10 games of 2015, but also the games that didn’t quite make it and some random stuff.
Everything‘s even blocked up in some handy categories, so highlights are quick to find and no one has to read anything they don’t want to. (This took a long time to write, so read it anyway, damn it!)
Games that might have made the list had I played them
- Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate – I kinda want to play this since the setting is cool and the reviews made it sound fun, but just didn’t get around to it yet. Also not sure if I should play Black Flag first or not. (I know it’s not really all that connected any more, but I care too much (for whatever reason) about the stupid AC backstory to want to skip it.)
- Undertale – Sadly I got spoiled a lot of the plot points of this game and so I want to wait a bit before I actually play this (and let my bad memory do it’s unholy work).
- Cradle – Loved the Quick Look, since I’m a real sucker for sci-fi themed games with an intelligent story, but didn’t manage to fit it in yet. Not much else to say.
- Soma – See above. Plus as with Undertale I got some story stuff spoiled. Damn you, internet!
- Rise of the Tomb Raider – Loved the first entry in the reboot series (it’s a series now) and so I’m confident I’ll also love this one, especially considering that there are now actual tombs to explore. Gonna have to wait a year for the PS4 version, though, I guess.
- Ori and the Blind Forest – I really like the look of this game and seems to be a pretty good platformer in it’s own right too, so I’m sure I’d enjoy it. No Xbox One, though.
- Yoshi’s Wooly World – This looks so much like Yoshi’s Island that it makes me really happy and that I definitely want to play this, but I don’t own a Wii U (yet), so yeah.
- Mario Maker – See above. (I’m not sure how much I’d like it though, without having a following like the GB guys).
- Dragon Quest: Heroes – Technically I own this and played a few hours, but didn’t have enough time to really sink my teeth into it. Never been huge on Musou-style games, but this is fun, so if I’d played more it might have had a shot at the Top 10.
Games that probably wouldn’t have made the list, even had I played them, but that I still want to at least comment on
- Mad Max – I like the Mad Max universe, always have, so I kinda want(ed) to play this, but from everything I’ve seen I doubt it would end up anywhere near my Top 10.
- Halo 5 – I don’t own a Xbox One (yet), so I couldn’t try this if I wanted to. As always with Halo I’m torn. On the one hand it’s really well made and looks great, but at the same time I just don’t feel this game and the only thing I might actually really care about, the multiplayer, probably still wouldn’t be enough for this to make the Top 10.
Games I chose to ignore/skip (this year)
- F1 2015 – I played a bit of this at a friend’s and while I like the way it plays, the fact that there is no real career mode really bummed me out. Hopefully the next release will be more feature-rich, I’ll certainly pick that on up then.
- Call of Duty: Black Ops III – I loved Advanced Warfare and played a ton of that game, but burned out on COD in the process again. So this was a clear no go for me this year.
- Battlefield: Hardline – See above. Well, pretty much. I also think the idea behind this game is just dumb and it doesn’t look all that well executed either.
- Need for Speed – I like all the dumb FMV scenes, but just didn’t feel in the mood to play a NFS type game this year, also it seems like it’s not actually that great, so whatever.
Game that didn’t make the list because of what most people might call „technicalities“ (and probably justifiably so)
- King’s Quest – I still don’t like the idea of granting a place on the list to an episodic game, before all episodes are out, so King’s Quest is out of luck. It’s a really cool game, though. I like all the throwbacks to the previous King’s quest games and it’s terrible pun-y charm. It’s also not quite as simple as most other modern adventure games (looking at you Telltalle Games).
Game that I bought to support the developer and loved watching GBeast play through, but haven’t touched myself (and probably never will), so it can’t go on the list
- Contradiction: Spot the Liar – Man the titles for these categories are getting ever more ridiculous aren’t they? Anyway I loved every minute of the Beast playing through this, but since I haven’t played it myself this is a no go.
Games that turned out to be rather disappointing
- Hotline Miami 2 – The first game was amazing. I liked the story and all the really gory but fun gameplay and the soundtrack was definitely in a class of it’s own (that year and beyond), so I was really excited for the sequel. Sadly I don’t think it delivered at all. Sure it’s still fun and gory, and the soundtrack is good (but not great, damn it!), but there are lots of little things that annoyed me way too much in this (the controls, some of the characters, the story, the general feel).
- Galak-Z – I love the setting and the visuals (that pause screen is so fucking great) and it controls and feels really good, but it gets so damn repetitive so damn fast. I really like the difficulty curve, and don’t mind dying over and over in these kinds of games in general, but when you feel like „Oh, it’s this same shit again. Great.“ all the time after dying, something is wrong.
- Magicka 2 – It’s too damn short. Really not much else to say here, since it’s pretty much just Magicka 1 all over again otherwise.
- Citizens of Earth – As a big fan of Earthbound I was all over this game (Note: I have not played Lisa yet) when it came out. It’s a repetitive and grindy mess though and the humour falls short an astounding 95% of the time.
- Final Fantasy Type-0 HD – Oh boy, this game is bad. The story is even more confusing and convoluted than most other FF games (aside from the somewhat interesting set-up), which is a real feat, and the gameplay (from the combat system to the weird side stuff and the pointless town/base invasions) just isn’t fun. Tried my best, but could not finish this and really don’t want to ever touch it again.
Games that didn’t come out this year, but that I played in 2014 and I think deserve a mention
- Tales of the Abyss – Finally found the time to finish this entry of the Tales series (bringing me ever so close to having played and finished all Tales games, that had a western release. Damn you, Tales of Symphonia: New Dawn. Why do you suck so much?) Against all odds (people aren’t kind to this game online) I did end up liking it a lot. I even think the story isn’t half bad and while Luke might be an asshole, I still found him to at least be written well and even funny at times.
- Metal Gear Solid 4: Sons of the Patriots – Had to get this over with before Drew and Dan did, so I played through this earlier in the year. My memories are bit hazy, but I didn’t quite enjoy the game as much as I did previous MGS games. The more shooter-y approach here just fell short in my opinion and I also really don’t like how the series ends.
- Wolfenstein: The New Order – The best game to kill Nazis in that came out in years and years. (And oh boy, you kill Nazis in a lot of games.) The shooting feels great and the story is actually good too. I’m not surprised this made a lot of lists last year.
- The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask – After only having played through the very first dungeon years and years ago on the N64, I went and got the 3DS release and ended up really loving this game. All the little improvements are great and the game was pretty damn good to begin with. A „hidden gem“ in the Zelda series.
Games that came oh so close (only the first 3 games are ranked)
- Axiom Verge – I really love Metroid, Castlevania and Metroidvania style games (even though I hate the term Metroidvania, ugh), so this game was just up my alley. It even spins some nice twists on the player’s expectations with some of it’s mechanics and guns. I didn’t much care for most of the boss fights, though, which is pretty much why this didn’t make the Top 10. (I’d place this game at 11, by the way.)
- Pillars of Eternity – I love this game. I really do. But at the same time I also hate it. It’s really cool to see this kind of game getting made in 2015, since I’ve always been a huge fan of Baldur’s Gate and Co., but I’m really torn on how I feel about the „modern“ tweaks the made to some gameplay aspects in this, which is why it didn’t make the list. Also Divinity: Original Sin did almost everything better. (This is my number 12.)
- Star Wars: Battlefront – Star Wars was a freakin‘ huge part of my childhood and I still really love the old movies to this day (the new ones not so much), so it’s great that the game got the old Star Wars feeling just right. Blasters/Tie-Fighters etc. sound just amazing and the game also looks fantastic (even without that PC mod). I even think it plays just fine and don’t mind the often criticised „lack of content“ (aside from not enough maps, there’s a lot there), but there’s too many other great games this year, for this to make the list. (Lucky number 13 goes to this one.)
- Batman: Arkham Knight – Never thought I’d enjoy this game quite as much as I actually did, but hey, it’s nice to get pleasantly surprised. After having skipped Batman: Arkham Origins, I was in the mood for more Batman action and this game delivered. The Batmobile stuff mostly sucks though and as a long time Batman fan the story was way to predictable. Arkham Knight is who? Well, you certainly went with the obvious choice, didn’t you?
- Mortal Kombat X – It plays just as well as it’s excellent predecessor, who made my Top 10 four years ago, but it just didn’t feel distinctive enough from it (a general problem in the fighting game genre, really) to make the list again. I also think the story is a lot weaker, which is a real shame.
- Armello – I like card-games. Fact. Armello is kind of a card-game. Fact. It’s really good, but runs out of steam rather fast. Sadly another fact.
- Hand of Fate – Another quasi card-game, so I like it, even though the combat isn’t fun and it’s stupidly unfair at times.
- Ronin – Bought this one immediately after watching Vinny play it. I just love these kinds of games and trying to do all three objectives in each level gets appropriately tough. It’s better than it’s most obvious inspiration, Gunpoint, but sadly it’s not as good as Mark of the Ninja.
- Her Story – Love the way the story is told and that it’s actually telling a compelling (albeit fairly unrealistic) story. Something out of it’s time, really, but still a really fun experience. Not really much of a game, though.
- Just Cause 3- It’s really fun and the wingsuit controls great, but it’s very repetitive and the challenges mostly suck. Also there are all the technical shortcomings on PS4. (Holy shit, those load times are the worst I’ve ever seen in any game. Even games on my old ass PC in 1995 loaded faster than this, what the hell happened? Framerate also sucks.) Plus why are half of the story missions about you escorting/protecting someone. Those missions suck in every game, but doubly so in one were everything fucking explodes all the time. Ever have a mission fail because a helicopter randomly exploded and landed on top of the NPC you had to protect (and who was at full health)? No. Than you haven't played Just Cause 3 yet.
- Cities: Skylines – The game the latest Sim City wanted to be. It’s great, but it runs like shit on PC, when my cities get to a certain size, so I stopped playing it after only about 30 hours or so.
- N++ - One of the best platformers in recent years, but I still prefer Super Meat Boy over it.
- The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 – I liked the first one better, but this is still a solid enough adventure game and since those are rare to come by this days, I enjoyed it a lot.
*sickmetalguitarsolo* And now finally for the main event:
It’s been a strong year for RPG’s once again, so it didn’t come as a surprise to me that 4 of those would end up on this list. But wait, one of them is a JRPG, what happened there? Did we travel back in time about 15 years to when that genre still really mattered? (Note: I love JRPGs.) No? Well, if you say so.
I have 100+ hours on in a single game file on 5 of these games again too, so it’s also been another year of quite long games, and that’s fine by me. Anyway, enough random chatter and let’s just see what the Top 10 actually are, why don’t we?
- 10. Dying Light – I didn’t think I’d ever care about an open world Zombie game ever again after Dead Rising 2, but then came this game. The story is laughable, the characters are terrible and the voice acting comes straight out of hell, but who cares? It’s just plain fun to fuck up Zombies with a multitude of different melee weapons (never use guns!) and weird wrestling moves. The parkour mechanics really make the traversal enjoyable too, which is essential for an open world game. Also running around outside at night can lead to some really nice tense moments, something you’d really never expect out of this kind of game.
- 9. Tales of Zestiria – I’ve been a huge fan of the Tales series for years now, it’s also kind of the only JRPG series still going strong (with regular releases and actually mostly good games), so I was rather disappointed with how Tales of Xillia 2 (and 1 to a degree) turned out after the outstanding Tales of Vesperia. Zestiria isn’t quite as good as Vesperia but it at least comes close at times. The combat is excellent (it’s mostly taken from Tales of Graces, so that’s a good thing), the story is okay, the characters are mostly fine (love Rose and Edna) and the equipment fusion mechanic is interesting, albeit really damn confusing. One of the best JRPGs to come out in the last few years.
- 8. Rocket League – What a great little surprise of a game this turned out to be. Going into this after having seen some gameplay videos I was very sceptical to say the least, but after playing a few games I found myself coming back to it again and again, to the point of it being the only game I played regularly for about 2 months or so. It’s just plain fun to drive around on the wall, explode other people and scream at the TV because your team mates are idiots/that damn ball shouldn’t have flown into the goal like that. I got pretty good at the game, but never quite grasped the boosted flying and eventually fell off as I felt you needed to really nail that stuff for playing at a higher level.
- 7. Until Dawn – I love cheesy, bad horror movies/slasher flicks, so it’s no surprise I also ended up loving Until Dawn. It’s written appropriately dumb and has characters you just want to see getting murdered in horrible ways, so you can laugh to yourself thinking „You deserved it, you idiot.“ The game looks great and the acting, from more or less known actors, is also really spot on so the presentation as a whole is just top notch. Also some of the decisions are either very tough or completely ridiculous, which just fits the games tone perfectly. Hopefully we’ll get a sequel that isn’t just on-rails VR bullshit.
- 6. Tales From The Borderlands – Catch a riiiiiide! This game turned out to be a hell of a ride, even though I was very sceptical about it before actually playing it. (I burned out on Borderlands and it‘s humour early on in Borderlands 2). Tales From The Borderlands luckily is a whole different beast when it comes to humour and great writing in general. I’d go as far as to say it tells the second best story (after Witcher 3) this year and several of it’s characters (Rhys, Loader Bot, Vasquez) deserve at the very least a mention in the „Best new character of the year“ category. The dual protagonists and hence dual perspectives were a genius idea and I just hope there’ll be a worthy sequel (sporting a new engine).
- 5. Bloodborne – There are aspects about Bloodborne that I just love and others I fucking hate. The combat moves and feels great and just is a lot of fun, as are the transformable weapons, but why the hell is their suddenly only one viable build possible? Also why are there so little different weapons and items? Why does every piece of armour basically have the exact same stats? The chalice dungeons are a great idea, especially since they are randomly generated, but they all look the same because of it and are way to grindy. (I really don’t want to spend hours and hours farming items in this game. It’s worse than in an other Souls game.) I like the story, the world, the bosses, it’s general look, but now the invasion mechanics are just broken. Why will I never ever encounter just one single dude and instead always 2 or 3 people? That’s not fun. Overall I still vastly prefer Dark Souls‘ approach.
- 4. Life Is Strange– This game wins the award for having the title that fits it the most, because this is a really strange game. Something you really wouldn’t think after just playing the first two episodes, but if you keep going, it really goes places. I especially loved what they did in the second half of the last episode, it's the perfect kind of weird. I’ll obviously not spoil anything here (I’ll say this: I chose the ending that most people didn’t), but I really liked all the directions they took the story in and felt it was rather well written overall. (There are of course flaws and some inconsistencies, but who cares?) As a big fan of time travel fiction, Twin Peaks and Donnie Darko I ended up truly loving this game.
- 3. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain – What a mixed bag this game turned out to be for me. It plays amazingly well and is certainly one of the best, if not the best, action game to come out in years (it’s just plain fun to sneak around a base, slowly clearing it of enemies by strapping them to god damn balloons, all the while accompanied by your trusty wolf/dog), but at the same time the story is thin and just not that great, especially for a MGS game (the big twist is also really obvious) and the online component, already weak when the game came out, got patched to be the worst train wreck I’ve seen in a game in forever. (Fuck Konami!) I’d stopped playing for a while after finishing the main story, but before going for the real ending (the grind annoyed me and I had some personal things to deal with at the time) an when I came back to it I suddenly found myself in the red money-wise and 90% of my resources were gone. Fucking fun! I tried to amass it all again, but got robbed over and over and eventually gave up and just watched the true ending on YouTube. This is not how you handle microtransactions/online gaming. Real shame.
- 2. Fallout 4 – Still not as great as the old isometric Fallout games, but definitely the best 3D Fallout to date, Fallout 4 is a truly good game. It features the strongest story (except for the fact that there is no „middle ground“ ending) in any Fallout game to date, something I didn’t expect at all, and also some really memorable characters. (Nick Valentine, Curie, and Hancock are great.) The world is huge and it’s just fun to once again pick a direction and just wander off, never advancing the main story for 30+ hours, because of getting caught up in exploration and sidequests (of which there are many, and quite a few good ones at that). The combat is pretty much the same from previous games, but the shooting does actually feel better, so that’s a step in the right direction at least. The weapon/armour crafting is also fun and at least somewhat meaningful and the settlement mechanics swallowed up way more of my time than I’d liked, even though they are ultimately meaningless. It’s a bit of a shame that it’s once again plagued by loads of technical problems, especially considering that it really doesn’t look much better/different than Fallout 3 or New Vegas, but that’s just a minor hiccup to an otherwise amazing game.
- 1. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Where do I even start with this game? I was going into this with pretty high expectations, having liked the first game and loved the second and having read the books just before it came out, and not only was I not disappointed, I was completely blown away by it. The Witcher 3 is an amazing accomplishment, in pretty much every aspect and it’s the best game to come out in years and years. The world is huge, packed full of things to do and people to see (or the other way around), well realized and looks just great (even on consoles). All the side activities are fun and worth doing, especially the Witcher contracts. The combat is fun (I’m glad I started out on the highest difficulty though, since the game gets really easy after you reach higher levels).and you are given a lot of options to handle every different situation. The changes they made to the combat system between this and The Witcher 2 are meaningful too, especially the different approach to Witcher potions. The story is well written, expertly crafted and even well acted. Though the main story has it’s up and downs, the side quests and little random things are just so great that it forms an amazing whole. The decisions you make matter and alter things in interesting and often unpredictable ways, which isn’t a given in this kinds of games, because they are often to ambitious for their own goods. Then there is Gwent, the best in game card game next to Final Fantasy VIII’s Triple Triad, and fun enough to maybe even make it big in the real world. Add to all this dozens of free DLC items/quests and a fantastic first DLC addon and you get a game that is simply a masterpiece. My favourite game since the first Dark Souls. The Witcher 3.
That’s it, folks!
PS: If anyone actually reads this, or at least parts of it, I'd love some feedback.