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Found 39 results

  1. Doomfist is here! Come check out the Overwatch stream on Twitch for all the new hero fun! https://www.twitch.tv/royzoga123
  2. We're going live with Overwatch goodness on Twitch here! And some Anime music too, so tune in for fun! https://www.twitch.tv/royzoga123
  3. We going live with that Anime music and playing some Overwatch on Twitch Be sure to stop by for the nonsense! https://www.twitch.tv/royzoga123
  4. Overwatch mah Dudes and Anime Music Come hang out on Twitch for the fun! https://www.twitch.tv/royzoga123
  5. Overwatch and Weeb Music! Come hang out on Twitch for some comp matches and nonsense! https://www.twitch.tv/royzoga123
  6. Good evening, Podunkers and the like! I've been gone for a while now, and while I can't promise I'll be as active as I have been in the past, I can make a new promise. This new promise is for streaming games on a daily and weekly basis! Monday - Friday I'll be streaming around 4PM EST and then again at around 9PM EST. Right now, I'm streaming Overwatch during the 4PM time block and then the new Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age during the 9PM block. However, I'm open to suggestions on things to play and bringing in new users and the like all the time. Below will be some of my personal handles and ways to reach me through social media as well as see when I go live among other things. Twitter - @royzoga Twitch - https://www.twitch.tv/royzoga123 Well, that's pretty much it for now! I certainly hope to see some of you guys around and the like sometime soon! Be sure to stop by when you get the chance, even if it's only for a few moments. And most importantly, have fun!
  7. If you're getting a bit bored playing Overwatch's current set of maps, I have good news for you: the game's director, Jeff Kaplan, mentioned in the Overwatch forums on Battle.net that the team currently has three new maps in development for Quick Play and Competitive modes. Kaplan also said they've passed the initial playtesting phase but cautioned that "something could always change." In the event that everything works out, he said that a release this year was "likely." Of course, that's not the only thing the Overwatch team is working on; Kaplan mentioned that three non-standard maps (not QP or Competitive) were also in the works along with various other experiments. Considering that seasonal events have kept the fanbase engaged over the last year, it seems pretty likely that potential new events are part of those experiments. Overwatch's latest seasonal event Uprising began just a few weeks ago, in which players experience a pivotal moment right before the fall of Overwatch. Source: Battle.net (via Game Informer) Are you excited for new Overwatch maps?
  8. If you're super into Overwatch, you probably heard this way before now but the Year of the Rooster event starts today and will run through Feb. 13. That means new costumes and other such stuff! I have to say I'm digging the new costumes for D.Va, Roadhog, and Zenyatta especially, and that Catch the Rooster mode looks interesting. Which costume(s) do you guys like best? And anyone down for some Overwatch sometime soon (most of us play on PS4)?
  9. GP Staff

    Game of the Year 2016: GP's Top 10

    We're nearly a month into the new year, but you didn't think we forgot to post GP's top 10 games of 2016, did you? Okay, so it's a little late, but better late than never, right? In any case, there were quite a few memorable and great games in 2016; our individual game of the year lists tended to reflect that a lot as each one had at least a few unique games that didn't pop up in others. Some games dominated the conversation for most of the year, some were quaint surprises, and yet others popped up at the last minute to steal the spotlight. And in a year where shooters had one of their biggest years in a while, perhaps the most surprising thing about our list is that only one made it on (which speaks to the quality of the games that released in 2016). But enough talk! Here are the ten games the GP staff and contributors voted on as our overall Top 10 games for 2016. Enjoy! 10. Kirby Planet Robobot "Kirby“s latest outing has me reflecting upon my childhood, and how these games make me feel, in a different way than I expected. I simply haven't felt this impressed, this unbelievably delighted from a Kirby game since my childhood. I've often said that Return to Dream Land marks the pinnacle of traditional Kirby gameplay. But Planet Robobot takes it -- and fans“ expectations -- and manages to make everything feel like a mechanized wonderland." - Jonathan Higgins 9. Severed The beauty and the pain portrayed in Severed is matched only by how simple and refined the combat is. It may not have the whimsy of their other games, but Severed is easily one of DrinkBox Studios“ best, and one of the best games overall on the Vita -- not just of this year, but of any year. - Chris "Wildcard Corsair" Garcia 8. Owlboy So much about what makes Owlboy worth experiencing isn“t in the mechanics, but in its cast and environments. You won“t feel triumphant in the end — it“ll be more like you just watched a really awesome Disney movie. The folks behind Owlboy put so much meticulous care into their work that it took nine years to make. The end result is absolutely worth your own time and attention. - Jonathan Higgins 7. Pokemon Sun and Moon Alola is an absolutely, positively phenomenal place. Its challenges were versatile; I“ve never had as much fun with a main story in a mainline Pokémon game. The soundtrack is absolutely phenomenal; “The Battle At the Summit!” is probably Masuda and his team at their absolute best. Narrative direction? Superior, bested only by Black & White. Music, sounds, and general ambiance? Also top-tier. All of this and more make Sun & Moon easy to recommend to first-timers, or lapsed fans. - Jonathan Higgins 6. The Witness It's hard to follow up a game like Braid, but developer Jonathan Blow did it. The Witness is truly unlike any other game I've ever played, thanks to its unique combination of exploration and puzzles. The game teaches you organically how to think about the solutions to each puzzle, and the way that each area is divided into different types of puzzles is extremely well done. It is, without a doubt, the smartest game of the year. - Jason Clement 5. Tokyo Mirage Sessions As a fan of both Fire Emblem and Shin Megami Tensei, I can certainly understand the disappointment some felt when Tokyo Mirage Sessions turned out to be a game that in no way matched what they had envisioned Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem would be. But the heart of both franchises shines through in ways expected and not, with a top-notch presentation and a warm heart that in my mind turned out to be the Wii U“s last and greatest hurrah. - Justin Graham 4. Final Fantasy XV Though it“s rough around the edges, Noctis“s road trip tale of brotherhood and a desire to find his betrothed after his kingdom has fallen under imperial rule shines through where it counts, wearing its inspirations from past Final Fantasy games on its sleeve while standing well on its own. And the game“s ending is not only rewarding, but one of the very best that the series has delivered yet, nailing the game“s themes one after another. - Justin Graham 3. Dragon Quest Builders Building has never been quite as compelling in video games as it is in Dragon Quest Builders. While the simplistic combat is perhaps the game's weakest point, Dragon Quest Builders is by far one of the deepest experiences I've played this year thanks to its blend of exploration, construction, and traditional JRPG mechanics. Nearly everything about it from its addicting gameplay to its fantastic soundtrack make it an outstanding experience and one of this year's biggest surprises. - Jason Clement 2. Overwatch I won“t tell you my exact hour count, but I“ve put a disgusting amount of time into Overwatch. You know how I complained about not having enough time to play games in my backlog? Well, I'm pretty sure I could've finished a couple of RPGs with the amount of time I have thrown at Overwatch. But anyway, Overwatch is a total blast to play. Rich with personality/polish, an incredibly varied playable cast, rewarding team-based gameplay, and plenty of positive reinforcement built right within the game makes the consistent fun I've had with it far outweigh the criticisms I could level against it. And from someone who pretty much never plays first-person shooter multiplayer is incredibly high praise. - Barrel 1. The Last Guardian The Last Guardian is, by all accounts, a game that very possibly could have come out and completely underwhelmed; after all, it was in development for some eight years (and more often than not, those types of deals tend to be disasters in the end). But somehow, some way, Fumito Ueda and his team at GenDesign pulled it off. By no means is it perfect; playing the game can be challenging at times due to some awkward controls and stubborness on Trico's part to obey at times, but the journey is worth it at the end and incredibly compelling. The Last Guardian has some of the most stunning environments and architecture I've ever seen in a video game. The visuals are breathtaking, especially when you're in the outdoors areas and see Trico's feathers glistening in the light and ruffling in the wind. The Last Guardian is triumphant, its story possibly exceeding what Team Ico had accomplished in its two previous games thanks to a touching narrative that is built on the relationship between the boy and Trico throughout their journey. I can't imagine how Ueda plans to top this, but I can't wait to find out. - Jason Clement
  10. Never has my gaming backlog felt so insurmountable until 2016. I thought I did reasonably well keeping up with popular releases such as Uncharted 4 and Dark Souls III to several lesser known titles that I mostly played for the sake of review (and shall remain unnamed since many don't deserve to be). Well, until the second half of the year. I quickly learned that buying at least five new games a month does not lend itself to a manageable backlog. Despite wishing for more free time, and wishing certain things didn't happen with the world at large, 2016 was an impressive year for gaming even if many of the more noteworthy ones were at the tail end of it. I suppose I can pretend that The Last Guardian has not been released yet for just a while longer while I try and haphazardly present my top 10 games of 2016 without anymore regret. I0. Inside I have a real respect for games that just toss you in and know the player is smart enough to pick up the fundamentals. I have a bigger respect for games that continue to expand upon such ideas with an actual logical escalation of puzzles. A showpiece example of both is playdead's game Inside. Though the developer“s prior work, Limbo, bounced right off me; Inside does in a lot of ways feel like a much better constructed Limbo. With plenty of clever puzzles, an intriguing dark atmosphere, and… probably one of the most bizarre finales in terms of gameplay makes it more than worthy to note on my own personal list. 9. Titanfall 2 First-person shooters I rarely go out of my way to play, much less for their single player content. But, both this year“s Doom as well as Titanfall 2's campaign proved otherwise. I personally enjoyed Titanfall 2“s single player just a bit more than the resurrection of the cult-classic shooter in raw gameplay and the briskly paced level design. There is an immense satisfaction towards controlling the powerful and different mech loadouts, or speedily zipping around and wall-running on-foot, that is downright unrivaled in any other first-person shooter I“ve played. Not to mention that the campaign also has very neat gameplay moments that heightens its inherent strengths even more. 8. Shiren the Wanderer : The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate Official GP Review As devious as it is charming Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate climbs right up there to become one my all-time favorite RPG roguelikes. Alleviating many grievances I have with the subgenre with a tangible sense of progression, an insane amount of hidden content and depth, and plenty of old-school charm made it a bliss to play.... despite it occasionally kicking my teeth in. 7. Thumper Thumper is quite unlike any other rhythm game I“ve ever played. I may not quite latch onto its “rhythm violence game” tagline, but no doubt that there is strong brutal-like feeling with its intense rhythm gameplay even as you are just flinging beetles around. With F-Zero levels of gameplay momentum, and the finesse needed of compelling rhythm games (especially for the crazy bosses), creates a highly rewarding gameplay experience, if not a bit unrelenting at times. 6. Blazblue: Central Fiction I make no bones about it that I generally prefer Arc System Works“s fighting game efforts to most others. While I had a lot of fun with Guilty Gear Xrd: Revelator, and even enjoyed the likes of non-Arc System Works titles like King of Fighters XIV and Street Fighter V as well, the one fighter that I most felt at home with during 2016 is Blazblue: Central Fiction. The incredibly complex and dense playable character roster, stylish music and 2D visuals, and various smart refinements makes it one of the outright best fighters on the market. Even the huge story mode, which been utter nonsense that almost rivals Kingdom Hearts over the years, also impressed me with the surprising amount of narrative resolution that it had. 5. Final Fantasy XV For a while I have been really unsure as to what my stance is on current Final Fantasy releases. Add an absurd amount of wait time towards Final Fantasy Versus XIII, which as everyone knows became Final Fantasy XV, only added to my increasing doubt with the series going forward. And, while it is certainly easy to nitpick many aspects about it, from disjointed storytelling to gameplay quirks, Final Fantasy XV manages to be much better than the sum of its parts through sheer charisma and heart. There is a wonderful dynamic between the goofball main characters and the journey they have along the way that helps weave it into one the very best games in the series. 4. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE It“s weird that we got official entries of both Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem in 2016, and my favorite of them was the fanfare spin-off of both. I originally had a strong knee-jerk reaction to Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE with its saccharine approach to anime tropes, especially of the J-pop variety. Quickly enough, however, I warmed up to the game underneath once getting acquainted to the final release. Chock full of lighthearted personality, Fire Emblem and Shin Megami Tensei gameplay fanservice, and probably some of the most insane mechanical feature creep I“ve seen in an RPG in a long while (in a really good way, I think), makes for a whimsical RPG that I never knew that I wanted. Though I may ponder what Shin Megami Tensei x Fire Emblem might've been like, I'm willing to contend with my dislike of J-pop culture in order to play the highly enjoyable RPG that is Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE. 3. Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir Official GP Review I was struggling quite a bit to justify putting this on my GOTY list. In my brain, Odin Sphere came out almost 10 years. It was also a game that deeply disappointed me and I would go as far as to say that the actual gameplay of it was just plain bad. At the same time, an excellent remake named Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir magically fixes the game in a way I never thought possible. So lovingly refined was it made, by entirely revamping gameplay mechanics and level design in the best ways possible, and then some, that it has retroactively altered my entire opinion of a game. Which is still near unfathomable to me, because man do I dislike original Odin Sphere and most Vanillaware games but dote upon Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir. 2. Overwatch I won“t tell you my exact hour count, but I“ve put a disgusting amount of time into Overwatch. You know how I complained about not having enough time to play games in my backlog? Well, I'm pretty sure I could've finished a couple of RPGs with the amount of time I have thrown at Overwatch. But anyway, Overwatch is a total blast to play. Rich with personality/polish, an incredibly varied playable cast, rewarding team-based gameplay, and plenty of positive reinforcement built right within the game makes the consistent fun I've had with it far outweigh the criticisms I could level against it. And from someone who pretty much never plays first-person shooter multiplayer is incredibly high praise. 1. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II My adoration of The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II is somewhat rather specific to me. I would not go out of my way to really recommend going through one entire lengthy previous game to truly appreciate an equally long sequel. The dialogue-heavy nature and dated presentation alone I'm sure would push many people away from the series. Plus, I was not that enchanted with the original Trails of Cold Steel to hammer down that point even more. That said, because I have developed quite a history with the Trails of- series, it has made me that much more impressed with it being hearkened back in Trails of Cold Steel II. Not only is it an excellent follow-up to the prior game with much better storytelling, fantastic character development, and smart (if not a bit too familiar with recycled assets) gameplay enhancements, but it is also astoundingly meticulous with its consistent world-building. This is complemented further by the superb localization. To be blunt, there were so many moments throughout that made me downright giddy during Trails of Cold Steel II's massive main narrative. From references to very serious cameos, some as deep as featuring characters from entirely separate trilogies like Trails in the Sky, that had me on the edge of my seat as the narrative unfolded. It was also the first RPG in a really long time that totally fooled on what I thought was the ending, only to continue for a third longer. Not because I wanted it to end, but because just that much happens throughout. And surprisingly, it was totally warranted despite jamming in so much character development, narrative resolution, as well as fiendish twists prior to it. Oh, and there are like hype mecha fights, and tons of things to do like a Final Fantasy VII-ish snowboarding mini game, and that's pretty cool. But seriously, guys. You don't know how excited I am for Trails of Cold Steel III on PS4. YOU. HAVE. NO. IDEA.
  11. WildCardCorsair

    Game of the Year 2016: Wildcard's Picks

    End of the year lists are fun for me, mostly because it allows me to reflect on the things I loved about video games during the whole year. Typing these out and remembering "Oh yeah, that really was a good game" is like a wonderful trip down gaming memory lane. One that you, dear readers, can take with me! I had less trouble than I thought picking my 10; in fact I had a few fight just to get on. I guess that makes 2016 a pretty good year (in gaming at least... sheesh!) and as excited as I was for many of the games on my list, I know 2017 is going to be just as good. Until then though, I had lots of releases to keep me busy, the best of which (in my opinion, at least) are below. So read and enjoy, or fight me, whatever! 10. Pokemon Sun/Moon I“ve had my share of criticisms of the seventh generation Pokemon games Sun and Moon but that doesn“t mean I don“t like them. For one, they finally gave me the thing I“ve always wanted: a slow and public death for HMs. Sun/Moon even gave me things I never knew I wanted, like island trials, which even on their worst day are still more fun than gym leaders. Trials even allowed for better characterization of the trainers of their island, which lent to an already more intimate Pokemon journey than we“ve had in a very long time. Even catching the same Pokemon for the unpteenth time was more fun with the addition of regional variants. At the end of the day this game may come in last on my list, but it doesn“t come in last in my heart, for what that“s worth! 9. Animal Crossing: New Leaf ~Welcome Amiibo~ What? Didn“t this game come out like 4 years ago? It might have, but right when I think I“m finally done with it the Welcome Amiibo update hits, bringing features, improvements, and content for days. Seriously. How is a guy supposed to move on? Entirely new villagers to invite, vast improvements to the ease of filling your town with the villagers you want most, a much needed expanded storage system, two new minigames that are tied to two of a slew of new furnishings, even the ease of Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer“s interior designing UI are all now in the game you could have sworn you were done playing. The update is so hefty it really could have been called an expansion. I was already just shy of 400 hours, but I have no doubts I“ll hit the big four-oh-oh now. 8. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided It“s funny, that the largest criticism I“ve heard about Deus Ex: Mankind Divided was how similar it is to Human Revolution. It might have been a problem, I think, if it had been less than the five-year-long hiatus the series took between installments. Instead, the game expands the Deus Ex world, which has managed to become somehow even worse for Augmented citizens. It“s sad to say but the plot -- despite its solid Sci-Fi theme -- feels all too real in our current day and age. Even though the game kept some of the things I wish it hadn“t (*coughgridbasedinventorycough*) it still has fantastic level design and unparalleled freedom in how you approach the missions you are given. So yes, it“s more Adam Jensen. I definitely asked for this. 7. Odin Sphere Leifthrasir I“ll admit, I never played the original, but after both Muramasa Rebirth and Dragon“s Crown, there was no question in my mind I needed to. Leifthrasir, however unpronounceable the name is, proved to live up to my every expectation for a Vanillaware game. The artwork is absolutely gorgeous, with it“s hand drawn character animations and magnificent backgrounds. The entire game belongs on the side of some epic van mural. The action is no slouch either, with a combat system that keeps the action fast and fun, like a perfect mix of Muramasa and Dragon“s Crown. The high-fantasy Norse-inspired theme even gives it that little extra bit of charm. Really, there are really very few reasons not to check out this game. So what are you waiting for? 6. Kirby Planet Robobot Ok I“m really not the world“s biggest Kirby fan, in fact I suspect that might be Jon, but I digress. Kirby: Planet Robobot truly surprised me, mixing classic Kirby action with a new mechanic that didn“t focus the game too tightly around it, some fun new mini games, and of course you can“t go wrong with amiibo support. It even has a lot of call backs to Kirby“s long history, which I“m sure Jon already discussed to the point of beating a dead horse so I won“t touch it, but what I will say is that I enjoyed it even more than I did Triple Deluxe (which I did enjoy). Plus there“s a freaking mech suit, man. Come on, how do you top that? 5. Bravely Second I know I got a lot of… fiddle faddle for having the original Bravely Default on my GOTY list way back when. However, being the stubborn (and always correct) person that I am, I stand by that decision. What Bravely Default did right, it did in spades. A well thought out and nothing short of revolutionary combat system sold me that game in a big way and its sequel, Bravely Second continues that proud tradition, but fixes some of the more infuriating plot devices of the first. It even adds some cooler jobs (Catmancer, hello!). If you passed on Second because of Default, let me be the first (or perhaps only latest) person to tell you, you“ve made a huge mistake. 4. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Sometimes it“s hard to imagine that a game like Tokyo Mirage Sessions exists. Nintendo collaborating with Atlus to produce an RPG for Wii U that combines the fundamental elements of the Fire Emblem series with that of Atlus“s Shin Megami Tensei games (including elements of Persona) -- well pinch me cause this year Christmas came in June! Aside from the multifaceted combat system and game“s rich Japanese idol culture premise (both of which are highly enjoyable by the way), the game manages to do the one thing few other games on Wii U ever do… make the gamepad make sense. Aside from a functional map, the game uses the bottom screen like a cell phone, allowing you to receive (and occasionally send) text messages to your friends, all of which feel like message convos taken from my actual phone. TMS's cast of characters are as charming as they are genuine, hardly the typical JRPG tropes seen in other games. The side missions are incredibly worth it, and the designs for both mirages and main characters alike are unforgettable, especially when the game“s solo mechanic kicks in, treating you to a miniature concert as an impressive mirage attack occurs. Sure, it“s got tons of style, but TMS#FE has plenty of substance too! 3. Zero Escape Vol. 3: Zero Time Dilemma This is one of those video games in which I almost can“t say anything because SPOILERS. But the third game in Kotaro Uchikoshi“s Zero Escape series, for those of you who haven“t had the pleasure of playing them, is somewhere firmly between SAW and The Butterfly Effect (minus that goon Ashton Kutcher). The puzzles in this series are well thought out but seem to be harder in this installment, giving the most challenge I“ve encountered in this series to date. The game also hilariously has an ending you can earn in the very first minute -- if you“re lucky. But you probably aren“t so prepare to die… a lot! I honestly wouldn“t recommend playing this without playing the first two first, cause you“ll be more lost than the S.S. Minnow, but if you like a good survival horror/sci-fi-ish/VN/puzzle/psychological thriller loaded with fringe science theory and cat puns this is definitely your game. 2. Severed Imagine there“s this game system. PlayStation makes it, it“s a handheld. It has a gorgeous OLED screen, with touch capability and dual analog sticks. Now imagine the people who made other top tier games for this system that were fun, funny, and vibrant, they make a game that is about death, loss, and grief. You get to see what profound loss can turn you into if you aren“t careful. And it does all this with mostly images and very few words. And it plays like a grown up version of Infinity Blade mixed with an old school first person dungeon crawler. Well, you don“t have to imagine because all of this happened -- you probably just didn“t play it. The beauty and the pain portrayed in Severed is matched only by how simple and refined the combat is. It may not have the whimsy of their other games, but Severed is easily one of DrinkBox Studios“ best, and one of the best games overall on the Vita -- not just of this year, but of any year. 1. Overwatch It“s hard to quantify a single thing about Overwatch that pushed it to the top for me, because it isn“t a single thing, or even a few things. In truth what I liked about this game is everything. The characters are diverse and loads of personality, way more than they should considering there“s no actual story mode. Instead random character interactions and voice lines work well at giving you plenty of insight into their personalities, while additional material like the backstory and comics on Blizzard“s website fill in the gaps. The action itself is fun and frenetic, with enough updates, character and map additions, and special events to keep me playing all year. All of which were free, in fact. But at the end of the day I think the real deciding factor here is that the game is just fun, capitalizing on the things people loved about Splatoon and Team Fortress 2 and mashing them together for something that managed to stand out above just about every other game for me this year. And the best part is, I know I will still be playing this game around the time I begin to write next year“s GOTY list too.
  12. HAIL 9000

    Game of the Year 2016: Hailee's Picks

    2016 was a busy year for me, what with moving to a new country and all. Unfortunately that meant that I didn“t get to play everything I wanted to this year, but despite that I still had quite a tough time narrowing this list down to only ten games. There are definitely a few games that I really enjoyed that didn“t make the cut. I won“t give shoutouts to all of them, but at the very least I have to mention Kentucky Route Zero Act IV, which after much deliberation I decided not to put on the list because it“s only a part of a game and can“t stand alone without the other acts. But all and all this was a pretty good year in video games, at least for me, so let“s dive in! 10. Hyper Light Drifter Hyper Light Drifter is a game I“ve been looking forward to since I first ran into it at PAX last year. The game“s art direction is what drew me in immediately, but after playing the demo I was even more excited to see the finished product. When the game finally came out earlier this year, I was excited to find that it had been worth the wait. While I definitely found it to be pretty darn challenging and sometimes frustrating, I overall had a great time with Hyper Light Drifter. The gameplay, although often difficult and tense, was a lot of fun and felt rewarding, featuring some very satisfying and fluid combat which was nicely complimented by great puzzles. That said, the game was certainly an exercise is resilience, and did sometimes feel quite punishing, but never so much that it pushed me away completely. But where Hyper Light Drifter really shines is in its worldbuilding. With the aid of its stellar visual design and soundtrack, the game manages to create a consistent mood that“s mysterious and often sad. It masterfully crafts a world world that succeeds in being beautiful as well as interesting, which drove me to play and explore as much as I could. All these elements helped make Hyper Light Drifter a memorable experience. 9. Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse As someone who first came to the Shin Megami Tensei series through Persona, I often find myself wishing that some other games in the series were a bit more accessible with stronger and more prominent plot and characters. While obviously not a Persona game, Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse was kind of a happy medium, at least for me personally. Apocalypse brings back the world, locations, and gameplay of Shin Megami Tensei IV with a new, stronger, and more consistent plot that intersects in interesting ways with that of the original. Additionally, various gameplay and UI improvements address a lot of my frustrations with Shin Megami Tensei IV. The most welcome addition for me, however, was a cast of much more compelling and engaging characters, all of whom are unique and full of personality. All and all, it really felt like it managed to be a new experience that took advantage of its foundations while improving and building on them. It succeeded in not feeling like a rehash, despite revisiting many of the same locations as Shin Megami Tensei IV. And it does all of it with an awesome post-apocalyptic cyberpunk aesthetic and the Shin Megami Tensei art direction that I“ve come to know and love. 8. Dragon Quest Builders This is one game I never would have expected to end up on my list but holy heck did I have a lot of fun with it. I was barely even paying attention to this game until I happened to play the demo at PAX to kill some time. Dragon Quest Builders is kind of a perfect storm of several gameplay elements that I tend to have a lot of fun with. I dabbled with Minecraft a few times back in the day before it became an overwhelming cultural phenomenon, but I was never able to stick with it for more than a few days. Although I very much enjoyed the gathering and building, I struggled to give myself something to do. Ultimately, I just found the sandbox to be too big and directionless for me to really enjoy. Dragon Quest Builders does an excellent job of solving this problem by giving the game a plot (I use this term very loosely here) with quests and objectives. When I wasn“t feeling particularly creative or inspired, I had a stream of guests to give me direction. And when the mood struck, I had the opportunity to set aside the quests for a while and create a new building or improve my town here and there. Additionally, the separate chapters provide enough variety to keep things interesting. And the game has that cute whimsical Dragon Quest feeling which just makes it feel that much more fun and inviting. It ended up being my favorite game this year for all the times I just needed to wind down and relax. 7. Owlboy My list this year seems full of games with notably long development cycles, and Owlboy is no exception. It may be kind of unfairly baised, but Owlboy“s origins definitely color my feelings toward the game. It just warms my heart when developers get to see a personal project that they“re passionate about realized, even if it takes years. Owlboy is first and foremost a really fun platform-adventure game. The mechanics are solid, the levels are well designed, and the fights feel rewarding. Owlboy also builds on its well established genre template by adding fun mechanics of its own, like flight and the ability to carry Otus“ companions to utilize their various skills. It also definitely succeeds in invoking that nostalgia for some of my favorite Nintendo titles of the past. While my taste in videogames has certainly broadened over the years, I got my start with The Legend of Zelda series, and it still feels great to master the mechanics of a well-crafted boss fight and finally get it right after several tries. While great gameplay is at the core of what makes Owlboy great, it“s certainly not the only place that it shines. The art direction and character design are both lovely. The characters are endearing in appearance and personality, and to top it all off the game has a big heart. 6. Overwatch It almost feels silly to write about Overwatch or put it on a GOTY list considering the game“s hilarious popularity, but it definitely deserves a spot on mine. Overwatch is just so darn good and so much fun, and I“m not usually one for competitive multiplayer, especially in first person shooters. As I“ve come to expect from Blizzard, the game takes many of the best aspects of the genre and perfects and builds on them. It“s a class-based shooter with so much variety that it“s easy to find something that works for you. And although I had my favorites, I happily switched between a broad list of characters between matches, unlike other class based games where I tend to perfect my role as only one or two characters and avoid deviation. Overwatch also takes some deliberate steps to take the pressure off by focusing on player accomplishments at the end of matches rather than offering a ranked KDR. It makes the game accessible not just by offering lots of ways to play, but also by giving players lots of avenues to get the hang of things in a low stress way where they could focus on improvement rather than performing well enough to avoid being singled out. It was exciting to see a lot of my friends who don“t usually go for this genre try out and get into Overwatch. On top of all of that, the amazing and diverse cast of well designed characters, the colorful aesthetic, and (notably minimal) interesting lore and character relationships just makes the game a lot of fun. Although we don“t know a ton specifically about the heroes, the shorts, comics, and quips passed between characters gives us a window into who they are. And all in all the game is just a lot of fun. 5. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Spirit of Justice The Ace Attorney games are some of of my all time favorites and their characters have a special place in my heart, so I“m always excited about a new entry in the series. While I enjoyed some of the spinoffs like Apollo Justice and Ace Attorney Investigations, I was so pleased with Dual Destinies because it felt kind of like a return to the first three games, which are far and away my favorites. It was nice to see Spirit of Justice continue in this vein while bringing some fresh ideas to the series with the cases in Khura“in and the new Divination Seances. While these cases still stick to the same structure we“ve come to expect, they change up the formula in a way that I thought was interesting and fun and require you to think about things a little differently than previous games. The game of course features the usual series staple of likable characters with horribly punny names and great character designs. Additionally, moving some of the cases to Khura“in also lets the game tackle some new and interesting issues. This leads to some excellent writing which even manages to push the boundaries of the series in a few ways, with one chapter in particular completely overturning my expectations of what was possible in an Ace Attorney case. All and all, Spirit of Justice brought something new while still maintaining the staples of the series that I love so much, making it a welcome entry. 4. Stardew Valley I have a lot of love for the Harvest Moon/Story of Seasons series (shoutout to Natsume for making this extremely confusing), so I was pretty darn excited about Stardew Valley. And for me, Stardew Valley is the perfect realization of everything good about Harvest Moon. Pretty much all aspects of the gameplay feel very well done, and make my day to day life as a farmer/adventurer/best friend to everyone in the town so satisfying. It“s addicting to the point of being dangerous, because you can lose hours to the game by falling into the “I“ll just play one more day†mentality. On top of that, it definitely adds a nice level of complexity to the writing and character development that I“ve never really felt was there in Harvest Moon games. The heart events feel more meaningful, and the characters have distinct personalities and backgrounds. It means that choosing a spouse goes beyond “do I want to marry the mermaid or the archeologist†(FYI I wanted to marry both in Harvest Moon DS). And on top of that, the game receives regular content updates based on player feedback, so it just keeps getting better. The other thing that really endears me to Stardew Valley is that it came about as the creator“s passion project which (as far as my understanding goes) he tackled almost completely on his own by learning to create his own art and music. The game is so lovingly crafted, and it“s clear that it could only be born out of a deep love and understanding of the Harvest Moon series. 3. The Last Guardian As an obnoxious Team Ico fan who“s always trying to force Shadow of the Colossus on everyone I meet, I was really looking forward to The Last Guardian. I definitely had tempered my expectations considering how long the game spent bouncing around in development hell, but in the end I really was not disappointed. The game is certainly not perfect, and as many have pointed out, it has its frustrating moments. I am absolutely guilty of having to turn it off and step away from it because Trico was just not cooperating. But I also find Trico to be one of the game“s greatest triumphs. He really does feel like a separate entity with his own personality and agenda, even when his agenda is doing everything but carrying me up to some dang ledge. The game excels at creating a bond between the player and Trico through shared experiences and hardships, and their symbiotic cooperative relationship feels like something unique I haven“t experienced before. I definitely applaud the developers who perfected Trico“s behavior. The game is also reminiscent of Team Ico“s previous games, Shadow of the Colossus and Ico, in more ways that one. It“s definitely a contemplative game, with the moments of calm far outweighing the moments of tension. The level design is both well executed and interesting, and the art direction is beautiful. The game excels at teaching you about its world and characters through small thoughtful details in things like the way characters move and interact with the environment. And as we“ve come to expect, the game has a strong emotional core and a story that many players will find quite moving. Of course, it also has some of the studio“s less stellar staples like awkward movement and controls, but the positives far outweigh the negatives. 2. Final Fantasy XV If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I was kind of taken by surprise by how endearing I found Final Fantasy XV. As a fairly invested fan of the series, I never would have requested an entry centered around trendy rich boys taking a roadtrip across a fantasy version of middle America, but here we are. Something that“s always endeared me to the Final Fantasy series is its willingness to try things out and do whatever the heck it wants, and Final Fantasy XV is certainly no exception. To start out with the bad, the main plot of the game definitely leaves something to be desired. It“s not incredibly interesting, it doesn“t flow very well, and I often found myself confused and wondering if I had missed some bit of context that would help me understand what was going on. I think some of this can be attributed to trying to fit it into the game“s open world structure, but the plot and its delivery feel like a bit of a mess even after taking that into account. My other complaint is that while the combat is definitely fun and satisfying on top of looking real cool, it“s lacking in strategic depth. However, this doesn“t stop the game from having some really awesome fun boss fights. The thing that really endears me to Final Fantasy XV is its characters and their journey together. Even though the main plot didn“t really do it for me, all the little character moments and interactions really did. I loved the little incidental conversations between the characters, camping at night and picking out meals for Ignis to cook, and going through all of Prompto“s pictures at the end of the day. Driving or walking around the beautiful world feels peaceful and reflective, and I think going through the day to day of this journey with the four characters let me get to know them in a different way than I“m used to. You get the sense that you“re really on a journey with four friends who care a lot about each other, and in that way the game shines. Plus the game has a heavy dose of the kind of dorky weirdness I“ve come to love in Final Fantasy games. So ultimately while imperfect and rough around the edges, Final Fantasy XV was just a lovely experience and certainly a lot of fun. 1. Firewatch Every year or so there“s a game which I am gifting to my friends out of the kindness of my heart so that they feel obligated to play it and talk to me about it. This year, that game was Firewatch. There were a lot of things that made Firewatch for me. First of all, it“s gorgeous. The art direction is incredible, and I appreciated all the time the game gave me just to wander through its beautiful recreation of the Shoshone national forest. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest I spent a lot of time outdoors, and, even though it“s set in Wyoming, the “hiking†in this game felt so nostalgic to me. The writing is where Firewatch really excels though. It deals with the pretty unglamorous lives of real people, focusing mostly on Henry, a middle aged man who“s reached a difficult crossroads in his life. It touches on a lot of subjects I find are rarely visited in games, which I thought was refreshing. Henry is definitely not your average protagonist, and his efforts to escape his life by taking a job as a park ranger out in the wilderness isn“t your average premise. In addition to Henry“s story, you get to piece together the stories of previous fire lookouts as you find traces of their lives left in the park. Every single story told in the game has a strong emotional core which makes them all feel very worthwhile. The way the story is told through walkie-talkie conversations between Henry and Delilah is kind of delightful, and the writing feels both genuine and natural. I got so wrapped up in Henry“s relationship with her and with the game“s central mystery that I beat it in just two sittings, which is quite unusual for me. I also appreciate that between important conversations, you usually spend some time hiking in silence to let you process what just happened. If you“re thinking of playing Firewatch, I“d recommend not reading this last paragraph since I“d hate to color your expectations. This is where I expect my opinion diverges from many others, but the ending was what really cemented Firewatch as one of my favorite games, because I felt incredibly let down. I found myself so invested in the mysteries and in my relationship with Delilah that when things didn“t play out as anticipated I was disappointed. But I thought about it a lot (I mean really a lot) and realized that the game had intentionally manipulated me into thinking the story was something that it wasn“t, and in doing so, had really succeeded in making my experience as the player mirror the experience of the protagonist. That helped make the game“s conclusion much more meaningful and poignant.
  13. It's safe to say that Overwatch is a bonafide hit at this point, but to be honest, I didn't know a whole lot about it up until maybe two (maybe one?) month ago. And while I haven't jumped on the Overwatch bandwagon yet (partly because I don't have many friends playing it, partly because I'm not into MP games), it got me thinking about games that I've been influenced by others to play that I didn't care about before my friends (or the Internet in general) got way into them. What immediately comes to mind for me was Undertale last year. I probably wouldn't have played or even cared about it had the whole internet not exploded and gave it ridiculously high scores and whatnot; even Barrel and Jon kinda influenced me to get it in the end. The only other game I can think of in recent years that I was influenced to play was Gone Home, and that was only because everyone else was talking about it. I can't say I thought it was a great game, it made for some interesting discussions and whatnot regarding the way games are played and how the narrative unfolds. Anyhow, which games have you been influenced to play mainly by either your friends or general high praise on the internet and such?
  14. I'm sure Gearbox had high hopes for Battleborn, and they probably still do, but according to SteamSpy, the game has only sold around 120,000 units so far. Compare that to Overwatch, which is said to have millions in pre-orders (and close to 10 million people played the beta, apparently). Of course, the first Borderlands was actually a slow burn when it came to sales (something not a lot of people remember), and it took them a year to actually start to get to a point where it became really popular thanks to word of mouth and such. Will that be the case with Battleborn as well? I really don't know. If you were to ask me, Overwatch clearly is the more appealing game thanks to characters that are appealing and well-designed, and Blizzard having a bit more gravitas to their works than perhaps Gearbox does. Are you guys surprised at all by the gap between Battleborn and Overwatch? And are you interested in Battleborn at all, or would you rather play Overwatch instead?
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