Games I Played Thoroughly In 2015

I may not beat them all, but I've played these games long enough to warrant a solid opinion on them. Some of these are holdovers from 2014, either because they haven't finished their episodes yet (Tales from the Borderlands, Game of Thrones, Kentucky Route Zero, etc.) or because they came in so close to the end of the year that they weren't eligible for my 2014 GOTY list.

List items

  • This F2P game melds Bloons 5 with a city builder in an unfortunate and unnecessary mess of a game. The lack of new bloon types or any real gameplay changes to the vastly superior Bloons 5 is disappointing. The city elements aren't enough to keep me coming back, and the F2P pay-to-play elements get pretty blatant as the difficulty takes a steep hike shortly after you've started to gain territory. There is a great idea here somewhere, in that tower defense needs more to survive as a genre, but there's a dire lack of effort here that ultimately disappoints me. Ninja Kiwi seems better than this.

  • 80 Days is my new favorite iOS game. It's a fusion of Jules Verne's novel, Oregon Trail, and a choose your own adventure novel. If even one of those things appeals to you, check out 80 Days. It's immensely replayable, it's challenging without being super difficult, and even when I lose, I still find myself having fun.

  • Friends don't let friends play Chompy Chomp Chomp.

  • Or Bad Rats.

  • Hm. You know, I get the criticism leveled at this game for its really shitty microtransactions, but there's actually a pretty good game behind all that crap. I've put in about five hours into it, and so far, I'm having a ball with it. Using only the in-game currency, I've managed to keep my character relevant and develop a few really good weapons. Whether or not this will continue into the later game, I have no idea, but I'm hopeful I can continue to make some progress. I don't know. It's not terrible. The graphics are nice and cartoony, and while the "color blind" mode really just turns the red colors above names to a sometimes-even-less-useful yellow, I'm not really having any difficulty hanging with mediocre teams. That's a first for me.

  • The New Order does absolutely nothing to advance the shooter genre. You've seen these environments before - the prison escape, the mad dash through a collapsed bridge, the moon. You've seen this protagonist before - the square jawed good ol' American hero, hard as nails but has a soft tender spot for the women of his life. You've seen all these weapons before - cookie cutter machine gun, cookie cutter pistol, cookie cutter laser.

    Somehow, though, The New Order manages to take all these shooter staples and makes something... well, not great, but certainly good. There likely won't be many moments of The New Order I'll remember a year from now, and it certainly won't be regarded as a modern classic. But the shooting feels fine, the surprisingly sober take on Nazi Germany winning WW2 and conquering the world is a rock solid (if mildly cliched) premise, and they've managed to make BJ Blaskowitz into a firmly likable, gruff hero. There are no catchphrases, no stupid one liners, no bullshit. BJ's thoughts about his surroundings, colleagues, and enemies feel human, and that's a mighty fine thing to accomplish in a video game.

    So Wolfenstein might not set the world on fire, but I'd sure like to see more AA games with this sort of solidity.

  • Deponia seems tailor made to piss me off. It's everything an adventure game shouldn't be. Instead of puzzles or plot, the gameplay consists of pixel hunting and item combinaation. Lame. The characters are by and large infuriatingly grating. And in one of the dumbest rising cliches of the modern age, the game developers wink at how awful things like tutorials can be, and then include an awful tutorial. Look, if you know a game element is bad, don't include it at the sake of a shitty joke.

    Oh, and the dialogue and script are painfully awful. Not even in a delightful way. Just fucking atrocious.

  • Fun, but the camera angle ruins the experience in way too many spots.

  • Big on ideas and the writing is delightful, but it never quite is fun enough to see those ideas really put its hooks into me.

  • Lego Hobbit is, at its best, a frustratingly thin retread of Lego LOTR, down to the exact same map, same locales, same assets, and many of the same characters (despite not being present for the novel). At its worst, it lazily pads out the gameplay by making me explore the dull, maddeningly laid-out locales for stupid amounts of little trinkets to help me advance in the storyline while infuriating me with tiny graphics, samey characters (the fuck am I supposed to keep track of which dwarf does what if I can't read their text?), and the same exact Lego gameplay from every other Lego game. This is quite possibly an early forerunner for the worst game I played all year.

  • Surprisingly fun, great combat, and is occasionally pretty funny.

  • Superb RPG gameplay, terribly designed world that in no way makes me want to explore any of it beyond what I have to.

  • Playing the remastered edition feels like the video game equivalent of coming home again. I love this game.

  • Holy jumped up Abraham Lincoln in a clown wig, this game is fun. Of course. Because it's more Dead Island. AND NOW THE WORLD KNOWS WHAT MY OBSESSION FEELS LIKE! Ahahahahahahahahahahah!

  • Always Sometimes Monsters never quite lives up to its early promises, but it's still a stellar game with a lot of fun ways to reach its foregone conclusion. It's a bit too bad that everything boils down to an ending you can't control regardless of what you've done. Otherwise, this is a stellar non-traditional adventure game with an RPG backbone I quite like.

  • The platforming feels somewhat tighter than in prior games, but the clutter of the interface, the unnecessary parts like stickers, and the overly busy nature of the game tend to overshadow everything else. Apart from the level design stuff for creators, they need a "back to basics" approach for this series if they're to continue making them.

  • Playing this on the PS4 and it's about three trillion times better than my experience with it on PC. This is now a really, really good game.

  • Do you hate fun? Do you have a twelve year old anarchist's sense of humor? Do you want the mental equivalent of being punched in the balls, the head, and kidneys all at once? Do you look at yourself in the mirror and wonder how you could possibly do worse in life? Look no further than this heap of fucking knockoff garbage.

    First, the two good things - it is influenced by the point and click versions of Quest for Glory. Go play those instead. Those are classics.

    Also, someone did some great background work for this game. It gets the spirit of QfG and King's Quest right in that regard.

    The bad? Everything else. Holy shit, this game is juvenile, mean-spirited, and flat out ugly-hearted. Within the first few minutes, the game calls one NPC fat and another a sissy. Sounds like a laugh a minute, am I right? Clearly, these designers looked up wit and humor in the dictionary, then jumped on a Halo multiplayer server and asked the kiddies there, "What is teh funny?"

    The game makes me a worse person for having played it. The world is actually more terrible for its existence. I hope its creators someday graduate from high school, look back at this, and change their names out of shame.

  • Transistor ultimately fails at that most crucial basic question - "Is this fun?" There are some cool ideas on display here, and it's got a fair bit of charm, but it fails disastrously at being a game I actually want to play.

  • The Crew is going to be one of the contenders for that questionably coveted Sparky GOTY award for "three legged dog I can't help but love." It's a mess of a game, filled with bits I really, really hate while pushing forward some really cool ideas that just never quite work out as well as I hope.

    The game's scope is staggering. While not all the environments are pleasant to look at (the northeast is full of samey-looking woods, most of the cities look alike save for a distinguishing landmark or two, etc.), there's a huge scale to this game that rivals just about anything I've seen before. I love just cruising around in this game and trying to see what The Crew might be if someone were to try this again in ten or so years.

    I'm also sort of fond of the idea that you can level up cars. It's a novel approach, and it's fun to see those numbers tick upward on your car part stats. Unfortunately, too much time is spent grinding out levels to take on the ridiculously hard missions and the whole thing sort of falls apart at the seams.

    Part of this could have been allayed with the inclusion of a Forza/Dirt-esque rewind feature or a way to ratchet down the difficulty of the missions. As it stands, you'll be spending most of your time blowing through the side activities, grinding out better parts for your car. And I say your car in the singular because whoooo boy, does this game not want you to have more cars at your disposal. You earn a pitifully small amount of cash per race, leaving you with the option to either buy DLC to round out your cars or forcing you to use the same bland generic starting car for the near-entirety of the game.

    Not that it matters much. The rest of the cars you can buy are a mish-mash of generically popular cars with no real love or passion thrown into the selection. It's a boring, by-the-numbers selection that will have anyone who even remotely likes cars wondering where the hell the love is in a game that should be ostensibly about cars.

    I can't recommend it for more than $20, but at that price point, it's worth a look as more of a curiousity than anything else. It's a fascinating game, one that reaches for the stars and falls flat on its face, but it does so with eager good cheer. I respect what they tried to do here, even if it needs a different hand behind the wheel. See what I did there?

  • While the idea of a rogue-light-like shooter is fine, the actual gameplay here is not. In fact, it's kind of awful. Instead of tactful AI, the enemies just swarm you with bullets and explosions. The aiming is ridiculously hard on the PS4, the graphics and sound are uninspired and dull, and the upgrade system is tedious. There's just nothing here to like.

  • Don't get me wrong, if you like Madden football games, this one's perfectly serviceable. But who the holy fuck thought the main menus were at all intelligible?

  • Pleasant little surprise, and one I wouldn't be displeased about seeing on a few top ten lists. It's a simple Earthbound/Suikoden esque RPG, with lots of optional characters to recruit and a goofy take on the world. It's charming as shit, the combat keeps it simple (and turn-based!), and for the price, the game is big. This is EXACTLY what I want out of budget minded RPGs, minus the bugs and sometimes annoying characters.

    Also, screw the rhythm and bartending mini-games.

  • I'm playing Unity half a year after its release, having bought it for a paltry $20. It's not a terrible game at that price, but it's a disheartening one. It's clear Ubisoft has pretty much patched up the game as far as they're going to, with their focus now set on whatever the inevitable AC releases are for 2015. As it stands, it works. I've noticed some slowdown on the PS4, with the framerate dropping significantly when there are masses of people and I'm whipping around environments. There are lots of quirky little pop-ins, weird graphical hitches, and a few hiccups, but it's an essentially functional game at this point.

    What's most disappointing isn't the bugs. It's what isn't here. There's no sense that this was supposed to be a step forward for the series. There are no signifcant upgrades to the combat system, no changes to the fundamental flow of movement, very few changes to the structures (Paris sure does look suspiciously like all the environments we've seen before with a few color filters), no particular changes to character modeling, no signifcant upgrade to the meta-game, and perhaps worst of all, no new reasons to come back to Assassin's Creed.

    This is a baffling, heartless cash grab that I can't recommend to anyone who has played prior games in the series. If you're looking to get your toes wet in the AC universe and can find this game on the cheap, great - go for it. Otherwise, buying this game makes you part of the problem. And I'm hanging my head and admitting that yes, that includes me too.

  • I don't know. I like the combat in Guacamelee, but having to remember so many different damned combos and moves to traverse the world gets annoying. That said, the game is charming and relatively harmless.

  • OH GOD WHY CAN'T I QUIT YOU

  • OH GOD WHY CAN'T I QUIT YOU: PART DEUX

  • I'd heard a little about Technobabylon, just enough to know it was another Wadjet Eye adventure game. I'm a big enough fan of Blackwell to convince myself to buy this on the first day it came out, practically sight unseen, something I never do with games nowadays.

    As it turns out, I was justified in its purchase. Technobabylon is a fantastic little gem of a game, blending some light detecting with the same solid kind of adventure gaming found in Blackwell and A Golden Wake. Unlike Blackwell, the story is told in one go, but the universe is strong enough that I sincerely hope they have plans for a sequel somewhere down the line.

    I don't want to get too heavy into spoiler details here, since the game came out literally days ago. I will say this, however - I genuinely like the intelligence behind some of the keener plot details and the cleverness behind the world they've created here. It's a well-fleshed out microcosm with hints of a much larger world and history to it, and it's absolutely fascinating. Some of the characters aren't as strong as the rest (the female detective Lao really needed more of a character arc to match the other protagonists), but by and large, this is a delightful cast of characters with fun little histories and quirks.

    The best part of the game is the multiple ways you can solve a few of the puzzles. More of this in Wadjet's future games would be a huge factor in replayability, though I suspect this is a game I'll revisit down the road based on its other merits.

    There are some problematic bugs. Achievements don't pop properly, leaving my planned 100% playthrough in tatters. Even keeping multiple saves doesn't help. And in the late game, you're able to pass inventory items to other characters, but this is hugely glitched and sometimes won't allow you to pass the items back. More thorough bug squashing would have gone a long ways here, but oh well.

    Overall, I think Technobabylon is a terrific adventure game that should run on just about any computer from the last half decade. it's smart, it's quirky, and it's immensely playable.

  • It's more 10,000,000. That's not a bad thing, but there's just not enough here to really say it's an outstanding game. That said, though, it's still tremendously good fun and it's super cheap, two of my very favorite qualities in video games.

  • iPad version

  • Would you like an hourlong mediocre story, stretched out to about five hours or so thanks to the turtle pace you'll be keeping? Do you like not being told there are more collectibles in the world? Do you like having your time endlessly wasted for no good reason? Then boy oh boy, Rapture is the game for you.

  • Well, it's short. And that worries me. If Phantom Pain has a lot of side stuff and a brief campaign, fine. But if it's all "collect audio tapes" and other collectibles, I'm not sure I want in. I guess we'll wait and see.

  • The times I liked Journey outeeigh the frustration of the snow levels, but not by much. If you want your players to walk down a given path, maybe give them less screen fog and more visual markers. Eh, oh well. Beautiful game, neat ideas, and the nonviolence was refreshing.