GOTY 2015

It's a weird year for me, most of the games I played actually came out in 2015. Although at the same time, most of my year was spent not playing games. In the past, there was a sort of regular amount of gameplaying I would do per week, and that's now somehow been replaced with nothing for long periods of time and then a huge unhealthy binge, where I play nonstop, where I go to bed at 5 in the morning or skip sleep entirely in order to be awake in time for class or work, then finish the game and go back to a normal schedule.

And I'm realizing more and more that roguelikes are becoming basically my crack.

I did not get Fallout 4. I'm sure I'd enjoy it and spend a lot of time with it, but I made the decision not to get it when it was new because I had to get my exams done instead. And now, well, I feel fine waiting longer.

Besides what's listed, I also went through and played all of AC Unity. It's fun. Y'know, it's an AC game. I also went ahead and did my umpteenth Total War playthrough, and of course there was plenty of Civ IV tossed into the mix.

I like these lists. I like being able to go to past lists and look back on what I played, what I thought was important to me, and what I thought about the year. This would be the first year I haven't run the GB community GOTY lists. So I'm a bit more free to just make my own list, and not worry about anybody else's.

List items

  • Fully and honestly, I don't care about the plot of the Witcher 3. That's never particularly taken me in any of the Witcher games. The Witcher, to me, is all in those moment-to-moment interactions, the relations between people, Geralt's place in the world. That Geralt is, first and foremost, this next-to-broke monster slayer that the world hates, out of place and time.

    Of course, that bit of character always seemed a "little" absurd considering at the end of my playthrough money was absolutely no object. But even then, I still wanted to roleplay that destitute monster slayer.

    And that's where the game shines, I think, best. Not in the main quest, but in its side quests. In the mini-stories it tells. And every town has them. They're fully voiced too. And detailed, and different. Sometimes its as light as "my husband went into the woods and didn't come back", other times its... well... the Bloody Baron.

    What truly cemented the Witcher 3 for me as my GOTY was when, after hours of questing and fighting monsters for various townspeople, I was told a rumor and thought to myself "Hm, I've seen this before, this sounds like a noonwraith, I better find whatever is holding them here."

    And then Geralt said that sounds like a noonwraith. I had to go searching for the item that was holding them there.

    And that was more satisfying than defeating a challenging foe, or buying better armor. The knowledge that, in that moment, I was truly roleplaying Geralt, I wasn't just along for the ride.

  • Something broke in me when I was playing Amnesia so many years ago. I suddenly stopped being frightened by horror games. And I was actually initially fairly cold with SOMA. Blah blah human consciousness, blah blah are machines human. I'd seen this in sci-fi before. And, in all honesty, even after finishing the game, I still can't say I haven't seen all this before.

    And that didn't change for a lot of the game. Looking back, I think that slow ramp up was needed for the game to make the impression it did. But SOMA shines, brilliantly, in its final hours. The dark, isolating nature of being at the bottom of the ocean. The disturbing descent into the techno-organic bowels of the machine... I ended up being completely entranced by SOMA's presentation.

    And the ending, that the game robs you of a decent ending, intentionally so, giving you the same feeling of disappointment and desperation that the protagonist feels. It's effective, it's really effective, in a way that only a videogame can manage.

  • Games I can play without a mouse on my laptop: congrats Crypt of the Necrodancer! Really, if a game is half-good and I can play without a mouse, that goes a long way for me.

    But Crypt of the NecroDancer is better than just that. Its highly addictive, in the way that roguelikes can be, but even moreso because of its rhythmic nature.

    After playing Crypt of the NecroDancer for a prolonged period of time, I found myself actually scrolling websites to a constant rhythm. I was racing to read a page faster than my hand would move the scroll wheel, because somehow subconsciously it was impossible for me NOT to keep scrolling to a rhythm.

    It gets under your skin, it's a super clever interpretation of "turn" based combat, and man... that Konga Conga fight. So catchy.

  • I like fiction where the definition of "humanity" is stretched farther and farther away from normal. That's what I liked most about the most recent X-Com, that subplot of how in order to get every edge possible against the aliens, the soldiers were becoming less and less human.

    So I like that about Satellite Reign. It has some of that. The "cloning" aspect is a really interesting way to both "keep" your characters while also losing them.

    But really what I like about Satellite Reign is how many tools it gives you and how good the level design is. I felt versatile, like I could improvise, but also that I could plan out a perfect attack. I could get in and out of a base without being seen, or orchestrate the perfect ambush.

    Satellite Reign lacks a story, has an unsatisfying ending, and I also feel it gets too easy eventually. But it's very fun to plan your actions and then have to adapt to changing situations on the fly.

  • Pillars of Eternity is just solid. It's a brick wall. Strong, reliable, historic. It played more to the rules of DnD than I do in an actual game of DnD. You can't not respect Pillars of Eternity. Strong writing, interesting characters, little-to-no hand holding.

    I wish I had played more of it before Witcher 3 came out, but I'm already coming back to it.

  • Okay, I think Undertale explains its story elements a bit too much. Certain pieces of it are a little "too" clever. Like Lv standing for Love which stands for Level Of ViolencE. Or its need to explain exactly where Flowey comes from, exactly what Chara is, etc. I don't like, really, the story's need to be an exact one-to-one stand in as an allegory for a person playing a videogame.

    I love Undertale for its OST, for its characters, and for the instances where it subverted my expectations. Those tricks have been done before, but they were done well. But I love Papyrus, and I love...

    ...Papyrus, really.

    And the clever things the game does, they're really fun and surprising. It's true when they say Undertale feels like it really understands the language of videogames.

  • ROGUELIIIIIKES.

    Nuclear Throne honestly doesn't feel finished in places. But it's breakneck, easy to start over, fun to shoot, and the weapons and powerups can be combined in ways to make each playthrough feel pretty unique.

  • Here we are again, another Go title. Played around the same time of year as last year.

    Lara Croft Go is really pretty. And it's different from Hitman Go, in that it actually feels like it is telling a story. Lara Croft Go is cinematic. Which is amazing, for a puzzle game.

    I do not like how it replaced the challenges for Eye Spy book collectibles that you just have to search for in a level, but that doesn't mean the actual puzzles themselves aren't very, very good and incredibly well designed. Keep making these, please.

  • Stupid dumb garbage game with stupid plot and the co-op missions are dumb and repetitive. Why can't you play archon mode campaign co-op. Ugh stupid game. Stupid stupid game. I wish I wasn't hardwired to enjoy and want to play Starcraft games.

  • Gem matching game combined with a dating sim. It's a truly noxious combination of addictive gameplay. It's on here because I played too much of it, and I have to recognize its power. HuniePop has opened my eyes to the darkness in a man's heart. The sad, sad darkness. In my own heart.

    Why don't they do this shit with other stuff? Make a stupid dumb Threes clone and staple a dating sim to it? Oh fuck, a roguelike dating sim? Terrifying. A terrifying thing to contemplate.