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Found 11 results

  1. As the title says. ^ Basically, how would you rate 2015 in gaming for everything overall (not just your own personal experience of playing games)? This takes into account all of the games released for every console and handheld. Do you think it was generally a good year for gaming? Or was it disappointing? Or was it just kinda okay? Give it a ranking from 1 to 10 with 10 being best. You can also do half points if you want (i.e. 7.5). Personally, I think it was a better year for games than most people thought it would be. Sure, a lot of big games got delayed into 2016 (Uncharted probably being the biggest), but if you've been following our GOTY lists, there've been some awesome smaller games as well as larger ones. I would probably give this year an... 8 out of 10. Keep in mind that the two most lauded years in gaming so far have been 1998 and 2007 (both of which would have been 9.5 or 10 due to the amount of insanely good games that came out during those years). So what would you give 2015?
  2. GP Staff

    Game of the Year 2015: GP's Top 10

    2015 has been an interesting year for sure, although I'm pretty sure we can say that for just about every year (and we probably have). But whereas 2014 saw the rise of "that" movement, 2015's biggest story definitely has to be the slow and utter collapse of Konami and Hideo Kojima's relationship. I'm not sure if we'll ever completely get the details on that, but it's been crazy to see it all unfold. In other news, there were a bunch of good games this year; have you heard? Nintendo may not have had as big a year as last year, but you better believe they represented with a few big titles. Sony had at least one big high profile game delayed (*cough* Uncharted 4 *cough*), but they still had a few good exclusives as well. Let's not forget the indie scene either, which was abundant with amazing games that seemingly came out of nowhere; it seems like they just keep getting better every year. So without further ado, here are GP's Top 10 games of 2015. 10. Destiny: The Taken King Bungie had a pretty radical vision for shooters when the conceptualized Destiny. One that ultimately fell short of expectations. Though many players stuck it out and saw slow improvements to the game, no previous effort has been as great as Destiny: The Taken King. It seems odd to include a game“s expansion on the premise that it “fixed” the base game but The Taken King seemed to do much more than that. It polished Destiny significantly, allowing it to shine brighter with much needed changes and exciting new elements alike. Special events like Festival of the Lost and the Sparrow Racing League complimented improvements such as a streamlined post-game system, better drop calculations, the addition of much more engaging story missions, and even a new approach to earning the game“s most elusive elements: exotic weapons and gear. Existing areas received new life, new areas surpassed expectation, and old friends became and continue to become as interesting as we always wanted them to be. When you think about it, that“s a pretty big achievement for a single expansion. - Chris "WildCardCorsair" Summers, Staff Writer 9. Yoshi's Woolly World Official GP Review When Good Feel“s latest endeavor was revealed to the world on January 23rd, 2013, we got to see the beginnings of another entire world made from yarn. Over the two years it took for Yoshi“s Woolly World to establish an identity and be released, everyone familiar with the developer's“ pedigree had already formed opinions on what the game was going to be, and what everyone making it was capable of. There's no denying that Woolly World is a cute game, but everything about how it works will exceed even the highest expectations. It's absolutely the best Yoshi“s Island game since the original on SNES -- and it even deserves to stand with console contemporaries like Super Mario Galaxy 2 & Super Mario 3D World. - Jonathan Higgins, Managing Editor 8. Axiom Verge Official GP Review How many Metriod-likes does it take until one comes along that challenges the parts of classic gaming canon that inspired it? Axiom Verge isn't just a game that cuts and pastes the same themes and concepts from Super Metroid. The first area certainly gives off that impression, but developer Tom Happ“s vision derezzes the familiar and forces every player who thinks they know what to expect to rethink what both the game and the over-saturated genre are capable of. Axiom Verge deserves to stand out as much as Shovel Knight, Super Meat Boy, and Cave Story -- it's an indie game whose success should keep established developers who“ve been around for decades longer on their toes. - Jonathan Higgins, Managing Editor 7. Super Mario Maker Perhaps the greatest thing Nintendo has ever done is put the gift of level creation in their fans' hands. Super Mario Maker is a game with pretty limitless potential; players are still coming up with levels that wow and surprise us in ways that we never thought of before. People will still probably be creating amazing stuff a year or even five from now, and that's a testament to how greatly designed Super Mario Maker is as a level creator. Long live, Mario. - Jason Clement, Editor-in-Chief 6. Bloodborne Bloodborne is an exhilarating action-RPG that is very unlike even its spiritual predecessors. It's haunting but imaginative world, incredibly fast-paced and diverse gameplay, and occasionally fiendishly hard difficulty (The Old Hunters DLC, specifically) makes it clearly stand out. Even if one were to start growing weary of the Victorian architecture, Bloodborne tactically flips the entire script at the halfway mark with its dramatically different enemies designs and scenery to keep would-be naive hunters on their toes. It is by far one of the best titles you can pick on the PS4, without a doubt, and a blast to play. - Barrel, Mod/Staff Writer 5. SteamWorld Heist Official GP Review There's almost nothing I can add here that I haven't said before. SteamWorld Heist is the real deal, and if you have a 3DS, you owe it to yourself to check out Image & Form's finest game yet. The Steampunk universe within is incredibly charming, the turn-based strategy gameplay is extremely tight and varied, and there's much to do, explore, and plunder. SteamWorld Heist is without a doubt the best strategy game of 2015, and one of the best games of the year overall. - Jason Clement, Editor-in-Chief 4. Splatoon Destiny: The Taken King may be this year's best co-op multiplayer experience, but Splatoon is easily the best competitive multiplayer game of 2015. It's kind of an anomaly if you think about it. A couple of years ago Nintendo was convinced people didn“t really want multiplayer. Now in 2015 they“ve given us a game that is designed primarily around an online experience. Shooters have never been a part of Nintendo“s game plan either, aside from the rarities like the Metroid Prime series and Duck Hunt, yet now we have a fast paced third-person shooter. But despite how much Splatoon seems like the antithesis of Nintendo games, it couldn“t feel more like one if it tried. The vibrant colors, zany paint premise, and character design are all right at home among Nintendo“s pantheon of legendary characters. And if this were all there was to Splatoon you“d still have a solid game worth purchase, but it isn“t all. Regular updates have added new weapons and maps for the better part of this year and shows no signs of stopping. Miiverse integration gives Inkopolis, the game“s interactive menu and hub, a lively, populated feel. Regular Splatfest events continue to give players a reason to jump back in. The single player campaign even feels a little like Nintendo“s answer to Portal. But the best part of Splatoon, and the reason why it“s on this, and many other Game of the Year lists, is the feeling you get when you play, that even though the four squids on the opposing team are your enemies for three minutes, but they“re your friends immediately after. - Chris "WildCardCorsair" Summers, Staff Writer 3. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Official GP Review (Editor's Note: We, uh, weren't able to get the written entry for this by the time of publication, so for now we're running a blurb from John's list.) The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt hit on all cylinders this year. Great narrative. Great, natural shift to a true open world setting. Great visuals. Great soundtrack. Did I mention that the Witcher 3 was great? - John Kidman, Staff Writer 2. Xenoblade Chronicles X The Xenoblade Chronicles series began with quite a blunder for Western audiences, as you may recall. If not for a certain organization named after the weather, the states may have never gotten the first game. Which would have been a shame, because Monolith Soft's Xenoblade Chronicles for the Wii is a critically acclaimed work of art. That might explain why Nintendo of America did not hesitate in localizing Xenoblade Chronicles X for the Wii U. And just like that, BAM -- lightning strikes twice. Not only is Xenoblade Chronicles X a quality RPG and a great addition to the Xenoblade Chronicles series, but it's also one of the best games the Wii U has to offer. With its intriguing story, gorgeous visuals, amazing soundtrack (composed by Hiroyuki Sawano of Attack on Titan fame), fun gameplay mechanics, and a massive world that's easy to immerse yourself in, Xenoblade Chronicles X is one game you don't want to miss. - Jordan, Community Manager And our 2015 Game of the Year is... Artwork by Gigi D.G. (Used with permission) Be sure to check out her webcomic Cucumber Quest 1. Undertale It may be tempting to want to fight the passionate fandom for Undertale and act without thinking. Still, those who wield enough mercy to give Undertale a fair shot will notice that unassuming looks and deliberately playing upon one“s expectations are very much an item with the whole experience of playing it. Singing Undertale“s praises is easy for most of those who have played it through, but avoiding direct spoilers of both its storytelling and gameplay situations out of respect for the uninitiated is far more difficult for a generally short game... or as long as you want to make it, I guess. You see, even that can actually be a spoiler considering how deep the game is willing to go at times. Undertale is a lot of things. It pridefully pays homage to classic RPGs, while also humorously roasting them in that same breath and it somehow still feels sincere all the while. The turn-based combat system is simple in theory until you learn that you don“t actually have to kill anything at all. You can tell a ghost that it looks beautiful today, or kill it with a plastic knife. It's all up to you. Naughty or nice, however, gameplay can also be quite challenging and will shamelessly test your determination throughout. It feels reminiscent of bullet hell titles at times, yet is also very willing to change up its gameplay rules throughout by dipping into entirely different genres and somehow not feeling forced at all. Believe the hype -- there's nothing like Undertale. It's an innovative experience that's full of heart and will stick with you long after it's over, and that's why it's our Game of the Year for 2015. - Barrel, Mod/Staff Writer - Jason Clement, Editor-in-Chief
  3. Jason Clement

    Game of the Year 2015: Jason's Picks

    2015 will forever live on in my memory as a year of gaming regrets. Not because it was a terrible year or anything, but because there were so many great games I didn't get to play due to a lack of time. There's no doubt in my mind that if I had been able to play games such as Grow Home, Axiom Verge, Tales of the Borderlands, and Yoshi's Woolly World, they would all probably share a place on this list. But alas, we can't play everything at once! There are also a number of games I'd like to give honorable mentions to. BoxBoy! is a fantastic, smart puzzle game and an extreme value. Stretchmo is also one of the best puzzle games in recent history. Airscape: The Fall of Gravity is a wonderfully whimsical physics-based platformer that was woefully underlooked. Pokemon Shuffle is an evil, evil -- but super addicting -- free-to-play game. And Etrian Mystery Dungeon nearly made the list for successfully infusing the roguelike with Etrian's fantastic quest-driven formula. In any case, the games I did play and love were still quite memorable indeed. So without further ado, here are my top 10 games of 2015. 10. Star Wars Battlefront Haters gonna hate. The truth is, I don't know what all the fuss is about with people being angry and upset with Battlefront. And frankly, I don't really care either, because Battlefront delivers on the most important point -- it's a fantastic visual representation of Star Wars and pretty dang fun to boot as well. Although I haven't put in nearly as much time with it as I would have liked before making this list, I had a blast taking down AT-AT's, playing capture the flag mode (or whatever its equivalent is called), and generally just being enveloped in the Star Wars universe. Battlefront probably doesn't come anywhere close to being a Call of Duty killer, but as an authentic Star Wars experience, it exceeds on every level and then some. 9. Super Mario Maker When it was first announced, Super Mario Maker didn't excite me much. It was an intriguing idea, but would making your own levels actually be as much fun as people think? Could anyone even approach the type of game design Nintendo came up with, anyhow? Surprisingly, the answer was 'yes.' Don't get me wrong; there are swaths of user-created levels that are absolute garbage, but the great ones really make the experience all worth it, and playing through your own deviously- and meticulously-created levels is one of the best feelings ever. 8. Evoland 2 Many games have attempted to incorporate the natural progression of video game visuals into their story without much success, but Evoland 2 is the first I've played that uses it in a unique way and succeeds. The base game is Zelda-like and the story is fairly generic at first, but the plot quickly evolves and is revealed to be something much larger and -- dare I say it -- approaches Chrono Trigger quantities of plot twists thanks to its time travel story. With four different visual styles to represent each age (Game Boy, NES, SNES/PlayStation, and PS2-era), Evoland 2 also successfully pays homage to most major game genres out there while remaining fresh and original at the same time. 7. Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. This title might've been an epic sales flop, but Intelligent Systems made a legit game that borrows some of the best elements from X-Com and Valkyria Chronicles and creates some high tension, strategic shootouts. And though the overall alien invasion plot isn't anything to write home about, the Steampunk world within is actually a pretty neat one. There's just something unbelievably cool about an Abraham Lincoln that not only leads his own Men In Black-esque taskforce, but also pilots a giant mecha called A.B.E. that's modeled after himself as well. Seriously, please buy this so there's an inkling of hope that we might get a sequel at some point. 6. Xenoblade Chronicles 3D "Wait... where's Xenoblade Chronicles X?" is probably your first reaction to this. While X looks to be an amazing game, I only got to spend a few hours with it so far, which just isn't enough time to land it definitively on this list. However, I did play Xenoblade Chronicles 3D and had a blast with it, especially since I was able to play about 95% of the way through this time before getting stuck on a boss at the end (I'll go back and beat it at some point). Sure, it doesn't look quite as good as the Wii version does, but the ability to play this game on a handheld does all the favors in the world for it and is actually part of the reason why I was able to make real progress this time around. Really though, Xenoblade's story is fantastic and one of those few JRPGs that really get to you with all of its moments throughout. While I do think it goes slightly off the rails near the end, everything up to that point is pretty fantastic and it'll definitely remain on my top RPGs list for some time to come. 5. Splatoon Splatoon was definitely that zeitgeist game of the year, in addition to that other indie one (you know which one I'm talking about, *wink*); you were either in on the fun, or you didn't play it and were wondering what the fuss was all about. A number of things really make the game stand out, not the least bit being the whimsically weird Inklings and sea creature-inspired cast, but it's the addictive gameplay that really ties it all together. Playing multiplayer with friends was the icing on the cake to what is a great new IP. 4. Undertale Speaking of zeitgeists, here's a funny story for you: I actually haven't finished Undertale yet (this year is killing me, I'm tell you!), but the two hours I have played are something else. And much like Journey, Undertale is quite literally unlike anything I've experienced before. The only other game I've played that has this much heart is probably Mother 3, but even then, that game didn't let you choose to be a pacifist at every turn. Pacifism aside, though, the game is amazingly well-designed and well-written; I don't laugh out loud a whole lot when playing games, but there are some great moments in comedy here. I even admit to laughing at some of the skeleton puns (hey, don't judge). Since I can only reference half the game with any real authority here, what really struck me during my experience playing was Toriel (the goat mom). The kindness and motherliness she shows right from the beginning in taking your hand and getting you through the tutorial area is pretty touching. But what really got me is when you get to her house and she's basically resigned herself on the spot to taking care of you from now on, even going so far as to give you your own bedroom and DEVELOP A SCHOOL CURRICULUM FOR YOUR EDUCATION. WHAT. I know it's "just a game" but deep down I actually felt something at that point that no other game had made me feel before. Bravo, Undertale. 3. Fast Racing Neo I can't say I've loved every game Shin'en Multimedia has developed, but more often than not they are fairly good. That said, Fast Racing Neo is the first game they've completely knocked out of the park. Are you sick and tired of waiting for a new F-Zero? Boom, you've got it; Shin'en went out and did what Nintendo wouldn't in the last 10 years. All I can say is that this game fires on all cylinders; it's visually stunning, sounds great, and is ridiculously fast and fun. If we never get another F-Zero game ever again, I might just be okay with that, because now we have the Fast Racing series. 2. StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void Ever since the end of Heart of the Swarm's campaign, I thought Legacy of the Void would probably play out to be a pretty predictable ending. Instead, LotV goes out with a bang, and a few surprises to boot. The Protoss and their culture, traditions, and different sects are really explored like never before here, and several great new characters are introduced as well. What really stuck with me the most was that, as great as the gameplay was, the story and themes it developed inbetween missions were equally as fantastic, if not better. This is StarCraft's finest hour, and I can't wait to see what's next for the series. 1. SteamWorld Heist Official GP Review There was a moment in SteamWorld Heist where it suddenly "clicked" for me as to just how good it actually was. My entire crew of steam-powered robots was being gunned down one by one. I only had two left to work with, and we were completely surrounded by enemies who were rapidly closing in on our position. And wouldn't you know it, through a series of amazingly calculated shots and pure luck, I managed to take out multiple enemies at once and turn the tide. If a strategy game can take you to the brink of destruction and despair, only for you to come back and win it all through sheer strategy, that's a great game, my friends. Interestingly enough, I had a similar moment with Code Name: S.T.E.A.M., so what makes this better? Not only is Heist the more original game between the two (in regards to its setting, characters, and even the plot), but it's a much more expansive game as well, giving you extensive options when it comes to assembling your crew, choosing a loadout for each Steambot, and exploring branching paths that lead to new missions and more. SteamWorld Heist has it all, and Image & Form didn't skimp on anything. It looks, plays, and sounds fantastic, and the fact that it's on 3DS (at least to start) still completely blows me away. For all of these reasons and more, SteamWorld Heist is my Game of the Year for 2015.
  4. Gaming-wise, 2015 encapsulated a wide range of emotions from myself. Whether or not it came from reviewing lesser known games... that should remain lesser known, witnessing shocking announcements (I can no longer say the FFVII: Remake and Shenmue 3 are impossible?!), or just the generally consistent great heavy-hitters that sprouted in 2015. More than anything else, however, 2015 was a strong reminder of my own mortality in that I could not even come close to playing/finishing everything I wanted to this year. I made an effort to play quite a bit, but alas, my efforts were not nearly enough. Even so, here are my top 10 games of the year. 10. Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn did the impossible. It made me play an MMO... and like it. Not only like it, but be invested in it enough to expedite a PS4 purchase in order to play it on much stronger hardware (Playing late-game content on PS3 = bad times.). Then came along the first full-fledged expansion pack to the title with Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward. Heavensward added fun new dungeons, abnormally cool boss fights, a few new classes (Astrologian ftw), a soundtrack to brag about, but the most pleasant surprise is probably its intriguing storytelling. The narrative that takes place across Ishgard from its Ivalice-styled political intrigue, or themes like the damaging effects of unchallenged traditions, with the fairly sharp writing to accompany it more than convinced me that the world of FFXIV is the best thing to bear the name in a very long time, some MMO-jankiness aside. 9. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain For the longest time, following Metal Gear Solid V felt like an unobtainable myth. A white whale if you will. It seemed like a fever dream until... BOOM, we wake up with shrapnel lodged into our forehead and the realization that Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is actually a real thing. Now, I could make fun of the storytelling, and it noticeably missing an entire third act all day, but for what it sacrifices in storytelling it more than makes up with incredibly rock-solid gameplay. The huge open world, smooth controls, and many buried gameplay nuances that allow one to tackle seemingly simple missions in a multitude of ways makes it easily far surpass its predecessors in gameplay alone. Also, D-Dog 4 lyfe. 8. Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance Official GP Review Even after five main entries, Disgaea feels anything but normal. Sure, they have a similar appeal game by game but their inherent absurdity and gameplay depth keeps rising to the point where their 9999 level caps and a damage counts that reaches past a trillion seems normal in contrast. In spite of it, Disgaea 5 finds a common ground in being a great SRPG. Disgaea 5 boasts many smart refinements of gameplay systems as well as entirely new ones outright that I enjoyed uncovering even as it betrayed my free time. I only wish that an enhanced version formed an alliance with my Vita one day... 7. Splatoon I made a fairly big 180 on Splatoon in general. I was rather annoyed by excessive fandom and was pretty unimpressed by the early "testfire" beta as well. After a couple months of actively ignoring it, and an impulse purchase later, I completely turned around on it. Frankly, Splatoon is a whole lot of fun in multiplayer, more so with a steady group of online victims friends to play with (thanks, GP). The title has only gotten better over time from fixing key criticisms at launch to regularly adding new weapons and maps -- all for free. 6. Divinity: Original Sin: Enhanced Edition Official GP Review I usually avoid adding games to GOTY lists that technically debuted last year (or earlier) but... the Enhanced Edition itself (plus my hypocrisy of adding FFXIV prior to this) gives me just enough of an excuse to include Divinity: Original Sin to forego any such thinking. While I found this year's Pillars of Eternity more on the safer side of a classic feeling computer-RPG in the modern era, Divinity: Original Sin felt both progressive and oddly nostalgic for my former PC gaming self. It forced my creativity to go into overdrive with its fantastic, and flexible, gameplay systems and also had an unapologetic depth to it that can easily run the risk of drowning most people that I highly enjoyed... well, after several early hours of immense confusion about character builds. 5. Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea Official GP Review I feel like I have gradually been associated with the Atelier series. Now, I have no idea why people would get that idea. I mean, it's not like I've reviewed at least five games in the series or have a fascination with barrels or anything. False accusations aside, it has been several years since I've even considered an Atelier game to be anywhere near a GOTY list. That said, even after being disappointed by the prior two entries of the Dusk trilogy I definitely was not disappointed with the gameplay of Atelier Shallie (story/characters is another matter...). As someone who tends to judge how much I like a game by how absorbed I am while playing it I'll just say that I was pretty addicted to Atelier Shallie's deceptively addictive and actively rewarding gameplay structure to say the least. Also, I'm easily impressed by "Barrel!" shouts. (Editor's note: Yep... *looks at article image*) 4. Xenoblade Chronicles X With the original Xenoblade Chronicles, I liked the setting despite my contention with the so-so gameplay. In Xenoblade Chronicles X, I really enjoy the gameplay despite my contention with its so-so main story. What I mean to say is that even though it is a surprisingly significant departure from the well-respected original Wii title it manages to carve out its own distinctly different appeal. The art direction for its massive open-world is top-class, new online features oddly immersive, but, most importantly, its compelling and fairly deep moment to moment gameplay makes me want to keep going back for more. Plus, the mecha Skells are pretty dang cool and anybody who says otherwise I'll just quote the hub theme by saying: "I CAN'T HEAR YOU! I CAN'T SEE YOU!". 3. Undertale Undertale is very clearly the indie darling of this year. You are either swept alongside the fandom hype or find it quite obnoxious for possibly ruining the holy integrity of Gamefaqs polls. Usually I brush off such indie fanfare *cough* Gone Home *cough* but I was actually quite charmed by Undertale. I can certainly nitpick several facets, most from a gameplay standpoint, but what Undertale has in spades are moments. Moments that are only very memorable, from characters to clever gameplay gimmicks, but also show an incredible amount of foresight and heartfelt touches from the modest indie developer Toby Fox. Passionate fandom may have blown it out of proportion by this point, yet it is also telling that Undertale manages to be so memorable and charming in a time where so many games can easily blur together. 2. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Official GP Review I honestly anticipated The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt to be my game of the year before it even started, and I'm surprised it's not. I mean, I know why. The Witcher 3 played quite poorly at launch and I stick by my criticisms of it at the time. However, CD Projekt Red has more than gone the extra mile supporting it with their incredibly respectable work ethic by adding hugely significant patches (granted, many of which should've been implemented day 1) and great DLC in addition (most free). Plus, the game that is there is more than excellent. The incredibly sharp writing and well-developed characters alone outclasses most in the medium but the attention with its world-building and divergent, and unpredictable, quest design sets it head and shoulders above any other RPG this generation. 1. Bloodborne Compared to most other titles on this list, I probably could not tell you much about the setting or story of Bloodborne. I mean, there is an obsession with hunters, dreams, and most obviously blood but... like hell if I can tell you many nuances beyond its powerful and basically nightmare fuel imagery for its enemy designs -- even after two playthroughs. What I can say is that I was very utterly engrossed during both runs by playing and seeing content very differently each time, which was more apparent after playing the downright fantastic and shockingly worth it The Older Hunters expansion pack. People tend to be fixated on the difficulty Bloodborne and prior -Souls games have, which is obviously there, but I care far more about its immensely satisfying gameplay, disturbingly imaginative world design, awesome and versatile weapons, and very creative online features integrated within Bloodborne. Prior -Souls titles rewarded much more passive play and Bloodborne tells you to get over such habits in favor of a much faster and more aggressive, but smart, playstyle that makes it far more fun to play because of it. If you are patient enough to stick with it even as you are learning the ropes, Bloodborne showcases its rightful place as the PS4's best exclusive title. But seriously, I can't tell you much about the convoluted story. Awesome game, though.
  5. John Kidman

    Game of the Year 2015: John's Picks

    A new Disney entry into the Star Wars franchise lit up the box office, while a Pixar movie flopped in the box office. We have experienced a full year of watching companies and people alike partake in digital panhandling for finances on websites like Kickstarter, Patreon and GoFundMe. The Cubs met with an untimely exit from the MLB playoffs to stifle their Back to the Future II World Series forecast and we lack our sweet hoverboards. We saw some new entries into some of our favorite game series and a massive amount of hype for future projects. This year has been filled with highs, lows and everything in between. Like it or not, 2015 is in the bag. The Ultimate Sad Face Award -Rise of the Tomb Raider- Rise of the Tomb Raider is the automatic winner of my Ultimate Sad Face Award because it is the one game that I really wanted to play this year, but skipped entirely. My decision was not a criticism of the game's exclusivity, but rather the result of some pretty poor marketing. A ton of money was thrown at television spots and it is well received, but in who in their right mind thought it was a good idea to drop Tomb Raider on the public the same day as Fallout 4? I may get a mulligan to do right by Lara Croft next year when we likely see it launch on Playstation 4, but at that point I will have played Uncharted 4 and will not want to pay $60 for a year-old game on a different platform. If this list were on my phone, it would just read Tomb Raider with a large, adjacent sideways sad face. The Snorlax Award -Super Mario Maker- Snorlax does not move to the beat of anybody's drums except his own. So. What you do when you're being criticized about not creating games or content fast enough? You give them a polished tool to make their own levels. Nintendo did this in the form of Super Mario Maker. I have a soured disposition toward pushing user-generated content creators as a “game,” but even I found myself intrigued by what Nintendophiles could do with such a user-friendly interface. Garden variety sadists and Yoshi haters rule the day, but there are quite a few levels out there that would fit perfectly in the confines of a 2D Mario title. The great thing? They are not hidden behind a wall of horribly built levels. ` The Shameless Double Dip Award -Destiny: The Taken King- Have you ever been to a place that sells ice cream by the scoop and they shamelessly up-sell you on a second scoop? Typically that second dip only costs a fraction of the original scoop because they've already packed the cone and put the first scoop on top. Unfortunately, Bungie is the company that sold you on the first scoop, didn't pack the cone and then gave you a generic Vanilla/Chocolate flavor despite ordering something a little more extravagant. When confronted, they offered to sell you a second dip of ice cream, but that second dip would cost the exact same amount of money as the first dip (sprinkles sold separately). In case you missed it: Destiny: The Taken King is the ice cream. The base game is still the same and it still lacks a bit of soul, but the additional content offered makes a bit of difference and one of the biggest turnarounds for a game this year. The Amnesia Award -Pillars of Eternity- My favorite video games are ones that use amnesia as a story telling device, but how often are video games the source of amnesia? The Amnesia Award belongs to the game that will make you sit back at the end of the year and think “that game was great, but did I really play it this year?” This year's winner, Pillars of Eternity, topped the chart for this award, following the trend of good game that may have been forgotten because of its release at the beginning of the year. I would recommend picking this game up, especially if you are in the market to fill your isometric RPG void. The Golden Wrench Award -Fallout 4- “If it ain't broke, don't fix it.” Why? It might just be a feature. Fallout 4 may initially seem like a game that receives a free pass for its faults because of an unhealthy love for the developers, but Bethesda's ability to create an atmospheric experience through the expertly crafted locations is unparalleled. Fallout 4 gave me unique companions to accompany me across the wasteland, where I spend the majority of my time exploring and scavenging. This is the exact same thing I did in Fallout 3 and I've loved almost every minute of the game. If you need direction and structure, don't waste your time with Fallout 4 because this game is designed for those who ask “What's just over that hill?” The Leisure Suit Award -Fallout Shelter- This award is dedicated to all those games we play that aren't really considered heavy hitting, but we spent a lot of time playing. Fallout Shelter may be free and designed for your mobile devices, but there is a reason people find it so addictive. The Fallout series is one that is played from the perspective of an extraordinary dweller, but Shelter lets the player engage their vault life as an overseer. You can dictate where each person works, choose procreation partners and the more sadistic players can opt to eradicate the dwellers who get on your nerves. Fallout Shelter appears to be a shallow simulation game on the surface, but there are a lot of nice touches that help bring it under the Fallout umbrella. Two Fallout games, one list. This just isn't right. The Sportsball Award -Rocket League- Electronic Arts and 2K keeps players inundated with new licensed sports titles each and every year, a trend that will not likely vanish in the foreseeable future. Many sports titles do little more than perform minor tweaks to last years product, update rosters and offer plenty of new microtransactions. The Sportsball Award belongs to the best sports title of the year and this year's winner is Rocket League. It is one one of the few sports titles that felt like it brought something new to its predecessor, even if that only means taking the existing formula found in Psyonix's Super Acrobatic Rocket Powered Cars and rebranding it. Rocket League provided players an upgraded multiplayer experience, graphical updates and a whole slew of microtransactions. The Dessert Award -Xenoblade Chronicles X- One day you will find yourself at a restaurant after eating a large meal and decide that their lava cakes look delicious. You order dessert, but can only muster the energy to eat one-fourth of it before needing to box it up. Xenoblade Chronicles X could easily be my favorite game for the entire year, but its release date so close to the Holidays and at the tail end of a veritable buffet of video games ensured that I wouldn't be able to sink enough time into the game to dethrone The Witcher 3. I may not have finished Xenoblade Chronicles X yet, but the game's quality and appeal are two absolutely undeniable selling points. The beautiful environment even gives you untethered access live actual wallpaper for your television. Xenoblade Chronicles X may be jockeying for playtime at the end of the year and a little indulgent, but just like that lava cake it will be devoured before the next meal. That One Artist Award -The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt- No. This award does not belong to the most overrated, self-important or racist artist on the market. This year's 'That One Artist Award' belongs to the game that snatches the microphone when people are speaking positively about any other game. Was your DLC good? That's fine and I'll let you finish, but CD Projekt's earliest DLC was good AND free. Good story and Open World? That's great, but Geralt of Rivia has something he would like to take up with you. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt hit on all cylinders this year. Great narrative. Great, natural shift to a true open world setting. Great visuals. Great soundtrack. Did I mention that the Witcher 3 was great? This game, without a doubt, is my Game of the Year.
  6. Jordan Haygood

    Game of the Year 2015: Jordan's Picks

    It“s that time of the year again, kiddos! That“s right, time for my annual eye exam. But while I await my appointment, I“ve got something else on my mind… Video games. They“re what this great Podunk of ours is named after. Every year we see a countless number of the things make their way onto store shelves, whether actual store shelves or the digital kind. Some are outright terrible. Others are so good that ya just gotta make a “best of†list at the end of the year to showcase the ones you“ve enjoyed the most. Hey, that“s not a bad idea… You know what? Forget the original idea I had for this article. Instead, allow me to share with you my picks for the 2015 games of the year. The Game Most Like EarthBound Undertale When I first heard about Undertale, I was told that it was a lot like EarthBound. Needless to say, I was immediately interested in trying it out. And boy am I glad I did. Undertale is not just similar to EarthBound, even though its similarities are huge pluses in my book, but in general it“s just a fantastic game. It doesn“t take all that long to get through, but with various different endings that depend on the choices you make throughout, you will likely end up playing over and over again until you“ve seen them all. I know I did. The Steampunkiest Strategy Game SteamWorld Heist Official GP Review If you“ve played SteamWorld Dig, you“ll know just how awesome it is. Because it is. No objections. So naturally, the next game set in the SteamWorld universe is also awesome. In fact, SteamWorld Heist might even be better. Especially since Steam Powered Giraffe did the music (and even make a cameo). Hey, I like steampunk stuff, alright? Can we move on now? SteamWorld Heist is a completely different game than SteamWorld Dig, being a strategy game and all, so don“t expect it to be a straight-up sequel. They“re both great, though, and totally worth playing. The Woolliest Platformer Yoshi's Woolly World Official GP Review I freaking adored the incredibly clever Wii game Kirby“s Epic Yarn. Wait, did I use past tense? Silly me. I still adore it. I also adore the latest craft-based Good-Feel title – Yoshi“s Woolly World. Not only is it a quality Yoshi game, and the first home console game featuring the lovable dinosaur we“ve been given in a very, very long time (the last one was Yoshi“s Story, which was released waaaaaaaaaay back in 1997), but it also has perhaps the coolest aesthetics I“ve seen since, well, Kirby“s Epic Yarn. And just like Epic Yarn, Woolly World“s yarn focus also allows for some really clever mechanics. And that“s not even all I love about this game. Like I said, I adore it. The PS4 Exclusive Bloodborne There weren“t exactly a whole lot of PS4 exclusives released in 2015, when you think about it. But who really needs a lot when you have Bloodborne? Not only is it arguably the best PlayStation 4 exclusive to come out of 2015, but it“s also one of the best games to be released for the console thus far. It“s also a new IP, and one that I hope has a pretty long future ahead of it. It“s a bit like the games in the Souls series and has a big H.P. Lovecraft inspiration behind it, which in my opinion is a rather awesome combination. If you have a PS4, buy this game. The Most Ink-redible Shooter Splatoon I“m gonna refrain from making the usual Splatoon joke. You know the one. Instead, I“m just going to praise this Wii U shooter for the awesome game that it is. Nintendo“s newest IP is a lot of fun, whether you“re playing online or enjoying the story in single-player mode. It“s such a creative and enjoyable experience that you can just tell that it“ll go down in history among the ranks of such iconic Nintendo franchises as Mario and Zelda. Or at least, it totally should. I usually don“t enjoy shooters as much as some people, but Splatoon is a blast (of ink). The "Dude, It's Fallout 4" Award Fallout 4 I was waiting for Fallout 4 for quite some time. I know I“m not alone. I mean, as good as Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas are, it“s only natural that I“d be a little impatient. But was it worth the wait? Is…that a serious question? Oh wait, I“m the one who wrote that question… Anyway, Fallout 4 is fantastic. It“s not without its problems, but many of those problems are bound to be fixed via patches, if history repeats itself. I have plenty of hours sunk into this game, and I“ll be sinking plenty more hours after this article. The "Going Out with a Bang" Award Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain In light of the recent dispute between developer and publisher, Hideo Kojima“s final game with the, erm, nice folks over at Konami was quite possibly his best game so far – Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. And really, while I would have loved it if Kojima could stay with the company and make even more Metal Gear Solid games (and perhaps a certain Silent Hill title), it“s nice to be able to go out with a bang. Seriously, The Phantom Pain is so good that all I can really say about it is GO PLAY IT. Check out the review scores if you don“t believe me. Thank you for making such an amazing game, Kojima-san, and good luck with your new company. The Best Level Creation Tool Super Mario Maker Anyone who knows me knows that I love to create stuff. And ever since I played my first (and possibly still my favorite) Mario game, Super Mario World, I“ve entertained the thought of creating my own Mario levels. Especially after seeing ROM hacks upon being introduced to this little thing called “the internet.†But I honestly wasn“t sure if that would ever happen without learning the art of ROM hacking myself or creating a fan game or whatever. Anyway, Super Mario Maker exists now, and I much prefer that option. It“s a pretty in-depth level creation tool that also allows you to play other people“s levels worldwide. Whether you like playing Mario games or like the idea of making your own levels for others to play, Super Mario Maker is a must-have. The Game with the Wildest Hunts The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Official GP Review With so much awesomeness packed into The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, it“s no wonder so many people have it on their game of the year lists. Obviously, I“m one of those people. If you haven“t played it yet because you“ve never played the first two, then… Well, play ”em. They“re all great games, so it“s not like it“ll be a chore to play them. But while The Witcher and The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings are both fantastic, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is hands down the best entry into the series. The story, the gameplay, extra stuff you can do; pretty much everything about this game is just another reason to play it. And hopefully one day they'll make another one. Game of the Year X Xenoblade Chronicles X I“ve enjoyed quite a few games in 2015, but none quite as much as Monolith Soft“s newest game – Xenoblade Chronicles X. If you recall, I really, REALLY enjoyed the first Xenoblade Chronicles for the Wii (I even gave it a 9.5 out of 10 in my review and named it Game of the Year for 2012). I“m not sure yet if I like X better, but it“s certainly a close call. Once I eventually beat the game, I“ll know for sure. On that note, I really am not that far in Xenoblade Chronicles X, even though I“m almost at a 40-hour playtime. Simply put, this game is freaking massive. Not only is the world of Mira massive, but the number of missions you can get addicted to completing can really make you lose track of time. I haven“t even gotten into a Skell yet, though I am really looking forward to it. In any case, while I still have a ways to go, I am already quite confident that Xenoblade Chronicles X is my favorite game to come out of 2015. If you disagree with my choice, or any other choice on this list, there is a complaint box up front. Just write your complaint and I will be sure to not read it. Cheers~ Do you agree with any of the games in this list? What games are you thankful for this year?
  7. Harrison Lee

    Game of the Year 2015: Harrison's Picks

    Now that the year“s coming to a close, I think it“s safe to say that 2015 was fairly generous to gamers. With the likes of Fallout 4 and The Witcher 3 headlining the launch schedule, there were more than enough meaty releases for players to sink their teeth into. Unfortunately, college life kept me from playing all the great stuff that hit the market, so this list will be a bit abbreviated. Even so, a few titles stood out more than the rest from the crop that I had the chance to experience. Here are my top picks for the best games of 2015. 8. Broforce The name should tell you all that you need to know about Broforce. It“s a Contra-style side-scrolling shooter with more movie character parodies than you can shake a stick it. Broforce is bloody, explosive, and stupidly fun. If Mr. Torgue were a videogame, he“d probably look a lot like Broforce. Even if this doesn“t convince you to go out and buy it right away, there“s a free Expendabros game on Steam that should give you a decent idea of what to expect from the main release. Hint: expect copious amounts of gratuitous fun! 7. Helldivers If you“re the sadist in your group of friends that likes to turn friendly fire on, Helldivers is the perfect game for you. It combines the frantic pace and isometric combat of Magicka with the guns and gore of Starship Troopers. Bringing democracy to aliens and cyborgs never looked so good…..and played so well. If you need reinforcements or equipment, entering a series of button prompts will drop a crate of goodies. Just don“t stand beneath it or you“ll end up as a puddle of goo. 6. Mad Max Mad Max is a genuine guilty pleasure. By most accounts, it“s a bog-standard open world action game, with the main hook implemented in the form of car combat. While that“s true, something about the dusty dunes and ashes of fallen civilizations really engrossed me in the experience. Whether I was upgrading Max“s car, the Magnum Opus, or pummeling bandits into a bloody pulp, Mad Max felt like a rewarding experience. It“s certainly not for everyone, especially if you“ve tired of franchises like Rocksteady“s Batman. If, however, you enjoy plowing through waves of raiders in a militarized junker, Mad Max serves up a generous helping of everything you crave. 5. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Honestly, Metal Gear Solid V is something of a polarizing experience for me. On the one hand, I love the attention to detail and the freeform combat on offer. On the other hand, the narrative is relatively uninteresting and the writing leaves much to be desired. All that said, the gameplay and mechanics are engaging enough to overcome MGSV“s flaws, providing an action-packed send-off for Kojima and co. It also doesn“t hurt that the Fox Engine produces some gorgeous environments and combat sequences. MGSV, in many respects, is more than the sum of its parts. 4.Fallout 4 Post-apocalyptic wastelands are starting to become a dime-a-dozen in games. Bethesda“s offering, however, stands above the crowd. Fallout 4 is an artistic achievement, with a sprawling, irradiated Boston at your beck and call. New to the series is the ability to build settlements, where players can recruit allies and harvest resources. It adds a significant dimension to the gameplay, should you choose to use it. Exploration and combat have been made more fluid, while the dialogue and writing remain as witty and sharp as previous entries. Though the game lacks New Vegas“ humor and the dialogue tree is horribly simplified, Fallout 4 is still one of the richest, most exciting releases of the year. 3. NHL 16 It“s not secret that I“m relatively obsessed with hockey. I“m a fan of hockey analytics, the Winnipeg Jets, and the moment-to-moment action that characterizes the sport. EA“s NHL 15, however, left me wanting. It was devoid of numerous online modes and the team authenticity was lacking. Enter NHL 16, a major step forward for the franchise. NHL 16 incorporates all of the missing online modes, while adding helpful training systems and authentic arena atmosphere. It helps to personalize the experience and makes the game a strong addition to any hockey nut“s collection. 2. Rocket League If you haven“t been addicted to the wiles of Rocket League“s charm, you“re missing out on one of the best multiplayer party games ever made. Rocket League combines cars, rocket boosters, and soccer into a gloriously chaotic amalgamation. Teams of 3 or so players square off with the simple objective of smacking a gigantic metal ball into the opposing net. All the action and style that occurs between the start and finish, however, is what makes Rocket League so darn good. It“s an accessible game, but one that requires dedication and skill to master. It“s “the beautiful game” as it was always meant to be. 1. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Official GP Review CD Projekt Red“s franchise swan song is, unequivocally, one of the most ambitious action-RPGs ever crafted. The Witcher 3 is a beautiful, dark, gothic fantasy adventure and a fitting conclusion to the tumultuous saga of Geralt. If you haven“t played any of the previous games, the third entry offers quite a bit of expository lore and conversations to fill in the narrative gaps. If you“ve been following the series since its introduction, you“re in for a genuine treat.
  8. gaiages

    Game of the Year 2015: Liz's Picks

    Editor's Note: In case you missed it, this list was authored by Liz "Gaiages" Henges; not Elizabeth "Liz" Atkins (aka TheLiztress), who has contributed in years' past. This is the first year we're using her real name, so hopefully there won't be any confusion going forward! ___________________________________________________________________ Man, it's December already? Where did 2015 go? Then again, I can't say I'm not excited for 2016... it's the 'Year In Which Every Gamer's Dreams Come True,' after all. But then again, that's doing a bit of a disservice to this year -- it was a pretty good year, after all! Lots of ups and downs in terms of releases, but overall there were a lot of great video games. Let's get right into my somewhat unorthodox list of the best games of 2015, shall we? 10. Bloodborne Consider this the 'honorable mention' position for me. It's not that I think Bloodborne is better or worse that any of the other games on this list, but I've simply not been able to really to dig deep into what Bloodborne has to offer this year, so it's hard to properly grade it... but even with the little I played, I could see why the fanbase loves it so much. Bloodborne, like the Dark Souls games that came before it, is hard. Very hard. But it's also fair. The game forces you to really learn how to fight, when to push the advantage and when to fall back, when to parry and when to dodge. It's frustrating at times, but it's also so rewarding when you finally take down a boss or get through an area. If nothing else, Bloodborne makes you 'git gud.' 9. You Must Build a Boat Putting a mobile game on the list?! Obviously I'm a filthy causal gamer now. But honestly, You Must Build a Boat is the perfect example of what a mobile game should be. It's simple to learn but requires skill to see the end; it can easily be played in short bursts while idling on your phone for whatever reason; and there are no microtransactions, just the cheap entry fee of $3 to jump in and enjoy. You Must Build a Boat is a puzzle game, with light RPG elements. Kinda like Puzzle Quest, but better. It's one of those 'easy to learn, hard to master'-type games, but you'll always be making decent progress, and always unlocking new features and stuff. It's absolutely perfect for the mobile environment, though it's also available on Steam. 8. Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~ Official GP Review I didn't really think I'd be throwing a visual novel on my GOTY list this year, but here I am, prepared for any minor controversies this will bring. But you can throw all the accusations of 'this isn't a real game' and 'all you do is romance men' all you want; I don't care, because Code: Realize is a legitimately good game. Code: Realize follows a young woman named Cardia, who has a mysterious power (or possibly curse) that melts everything she touches . She is one resigned to her fate of isolation, but events lead her to hold the company of famous fictional characters in a steampunk version of London. Despite all the oddities, though, this is a compelling story that is worth spending the 30 or so odd hours to read through. 7. Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree's Woe and the Blight Below Dragon Quest Heroes is one nostalgia-laden trip. While the Action RPG with Dynasty Warriors flavor can technically be played by any gamer interested, without the Dragon Quest memories, this doesn't amount to much. Of course, I'm a huge Dragon Quest fan, and to me, this game was an absolute blast. The musical and character throwbacks are great, the gameplay is solid if a bit repetitive, and everything about it simply oozes the series' style. It is by no means perfect, but it warmed my cold, jaded game reviewer heart, and I can only hope that the sequel can improve on some of this title's weaker points. 6. Westernado: Double Barreled The Red Dead series is more or less runs the Wild Wild West, but I wish it really wasn't that way. There's a dearth of Western titles available, and there's plenty of content there for developers to work with. Thankfully, Westernado is there to help fill that gap. In Westernado, your family is murdered by a wandering psychopath, and it's up to you to get revenge. By helping the townspeople and exploring, you'll learn clues of the murderer, which is randomized each time. There's multiple solutions and choices to each quest, too -- including the choice to pull your gun on anyone and everyone (of course, they all have guns too). It's a short adventure, but quite fun and worth the entry fee. 5. Shovel Knight: Plague of Shadows What is this, DLC on a GOTY list? Madness! But even though it's the same stages as the original Shovel Knight, there's enough new stuff in Plague of Shadows to justify it getting recognized in its own way. And Plague of Shadows is all about the little touches, like the new 'town' and story, and all the cute little changes that happen from the original Shovel Knight campaign to keep Plague of Shadows' continuity in check. Of course, Plague Knight's control scheme allows for a new play style too, making the old levels feel new again. It's amazing how much work went into this free update, and it's well worth booting that copy of last year's beloved indie games again. 4. Splatoon So, I only got Splatoon on Black Friday. It was one of those titles I've always meant to pick up, but never had time to play, so I didn't. Eventually though, I bought it and finally put it in my Wii U, and... quite frankly, I was blown away by how great it was. After I learned to turn off gyro controls, that is. Splatoon isn't a typical shooter -- instead of sheer kill counts, gaining turf is name of the game here, and you do so by spreading your ink everywhere. I'm not particularly great at shooters because I'm bad at aiming, so running around and shooting with little care in the world while still doing something productive is a lot of fun to me. And, there's a lot to do that really gives you a sense of progression, from weapon unlocks to other neat things. Oh, I guess there's a single player mode, but that's not really important. 3. Shin Megami Tensei Devil Survivor 2: Record Breaker Official GP Review In my few years of reviewing games, I've only given a perfect score to a single game, and that game would be Devil Survivor 2: Record Breaker. That might lead you to wonder why it's only number three on this list, but GOTY lists are inherently subjective things that shouldn't take review scores into account. Anyway... Devil Survivor 2 on the DS was a pretty great game, but there were a few problems that plagued the original version of the title, the most notably of which was the unreasonably hard difficulty. Record Breaker takes complaints into account and offers an easier difficulty, as well as a whole other 30 hour story to play on top the lengthy main game... not to mention that the SRPG gameplay, plot, and music itself are all fantastic. Record Breaker is certainly worth the 'Atlus tax' price of entry 2. Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengence Official GP Review Disgaea 5 surprised me. I had really loved Disgaea 4, but I knew the fifth entry was going to be handled by a different team, and I loved Disgaea 4 because of the twists it pulled on the regular Disgaea formula. Imagine my surprise by how downright good Disgaea 5 is. First off, Disgaea 5 actually has a good plot, which I haven't been able to say since I've played the original title. On top of that, Disgaea 5 takes all the good from the many previous entries to the series and gets rid of (most) of the bad, leading to tons of stuff to do without most of the tedious work to go along with it. It certainly has a few downsides (that song that plays in the Netherworld is horrid), but Disgaea 5 is just a ton of fun and probably the best game in the series yet. 1. Undertale My favorite games aren't always the objectively the best; instead, they are the ones that affect me, stay with me after the credit roll. Last year, that title was Danganronpa 2, and this year, that title is of course Undertale. It's such an unassuming little game. It looks like some kind of Earthbound mod -- a bit bland and low key. The game kicks RPG tropes to the curb and encourages you to not fight -- something that won't appeal to everyone. Everyone that plays the game seems to clam up whenever the game's story is mentioned... that is, aside from a big boned jokester skeleton. But Undertale is so much more than what's on the surface. The plot is an emotional ride, one that's best to go into unsullied. It's also a programming marvel, with so many Easter eggs and tricks that even though it can 'run on a toaster', no console could handle it. Oh, and the humor is great, and I hate most humor in games. Undertale is an experience. It's not perfect, of course, but something every gamer should at least try. I haven't played such a charming video game in years. That about wraps up my Game of the Year list, which is completely objective and no one can disagree about. But, if you just want to go into the comments below and gush about my infinite wisdom, you are free to do so.
  9. HAIL 9000

    Game of the Year 2015: Hailee's Picks

    Editor's Note: Today's list is from our second guest writer, Hailee Kenney! Like Justin, she's also a friend of some of us on the staff and is also a video game enthusiast who works as a software developer. You can follow her on Twitter @HAIL_9000 ___________________________________________________________________ I have to admit, when I set out to write a list of my favorite games for this year, I was worried I wouldn“t be able to fill ten slots. I“ve found myself more and more frequently reaching back into older games that I haven“t played before, because I haven“t been all that dazzled with the AAA titles coming out in recent years (I know I“m ten years late, but if you want to talk to me about how Knights of the Old Republic 2 is a really interesting exploration of the Star Wars universe let me know). I was pretty pleasantly surprised, though, that when I sat down to make this list I had way more than ten games I wanted to include. I also realized that my list includes a pretty wide variety of games from publishers of all sizes, and even from crowdfunding. I“m excited how many avenues are now available to deliver unique and interesting games, and this year renewed my excitement a little for what the future has in store. Before we dive into the list, I just wanted to give an honorable mention to Tri Force Heroes and Until Dawn. Both games made it on my list at some point, but I ultimately decided to exclude them because I realized it was the people I played them with that really made those games enjoyable. But if you“re looking for a good time with some friends, Tri Force Heroes is incredibly fun, and Until Dawn is great with a room full of people shouting over each other to make decisions. But enough of that -- let“s send off 2015 in style. 10. Ori and the Blind Forest Of all the games I played this year, Ori and the Blind Forest was one of the most beautiful. A Metroidvania with mechanics polished to a perfect mirror sheen, Ori managed to remain fresh and challenging throughout its running time. There are some incredible acrobatic gameplay challenges, especially during some of the timed “race†segments. The game also had incredibly beautiful art, which made the world a joy to explore. Best of all, though, it married its mechanics and art with a simple yet powerful story. Ori doesn“t have dialogue, and none of its characters speak (aside from the narrator), yet the game affected me on a deep level. The fact that it achieved so much in terms of story with so little is a marvel, and that combined with its sharp mechanics and amazing art make Ori one of my favorite games this year. 9. Tales from the Borderlands I“ll be the first to admit that I (like many) have grown a little weary of the five episode Telltale formula ever since season two of The Walking Dead. I wasn“t even planning to play Tales from the Borderlands until I started to hear a lot of positive buzz about the first two episodes. I decided to give it a shot and I“m glad I did. The game is charming, and has a dorky sense of humor that really drew me in. I found that I really liked the characters, and I liked the lighter mood Tales from the Borderlands had compared to some of the other recent Telltale games. And to top it all off, the episodes were much closer to the length I would expect (2 to 3 hours), as opposed to the 40-60 minute episodes Telltale has been putting out. So even if the new Telltale adventure game formula isn“t my favorite, Tales from the Borderlands proved to be a fun game with great characters. 8. Technobabylon Speaking of adventure game formulas, here“s one that follows the old school formula that I do like. Technobabylon was a lot of fun, and was a return to the puzzle focused adventure games that I love. On top of having good puzzles, it pretty much had good everything else too: an interesting (cyberpunk!) setting, a compelling plot, and great characters. It was a really nice example of both cyberpunk and classic adventure games, two things I feel have faded away in recent years (although cyberpunk seems to be making a bit of a comeback in the gaming world). And while we got another cyberpunk adventure game this year, Read Only Memories (which I did enjoy), I found Technobabylon to be a bit more carefully written and interesting. 7. Splatoon Splatoon filled a really important role for me this year in that it was the game that I could sit down and play for as little or as long as I wanted. As someone who tends to seek out strong narrative experiences, I find myself drawn to long, involved games that I don“t always have time for. Sitting down for one or two (or sometimes twenty) short matches of Splatoon was awesome, and on top of that the game was just a lot of fun. I found the gameplay mechanics to be enjoyable and well tuned, the character customization was great, and I was pretty into the game“s “90s punk aesthetic. And of course the inklings were super cute. Plus the Miiverse integration, the Splatfests, the ability to easily play with friends, and the lack of voice chat made the community feel really vibrant and welcoming. It was also really nice to see some of my friends who had avoided competitive online multiplayer get really into Splatoon. 6. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain I could definitely write a novel about all the things I didn“t like about Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, but since it“s on my top ten list obviously I loved a lot of things about it. It“s true that when I finished the game I said I never wanted to talk about the Metal Gear series again, but once I calmed down a little bit, I realized how much fun I had and how amazing the gameplay was. There were so many options when it came to stealth, and so many cool details like guards getting helmets if you relied on headshots and the player being able to take advantage of patrol schedules. It was also a pleasant surprise to see a game that took advantage of it“s open world to enhance the core gameplay, instead of just to be an Assasin“s Creed clone. And the game did have a lot of the Kojima silliness that I know and love (who doesn“t enjoy running in guns blazing on a pink D-Walker while blaring Friday I“m in Love?). And while I was ultimately disappointed with the game“s narrative, I was impressed that Kojima managed to reel himself in and present some much more subtle storytelling. Was it the way I wanted to say goodbye to the series I love? I“m not sure. But was it a pretty good game? Definitely. 5. Pillars of Eternity Back around the turn of the millennium, Bioware and Black Isle made some incredible RPGs filled with sharp writing and tactical, RTS-like combat. As Bioware moved towards a more modern cinematic style, the rest of the RPG genre followed. Pillars of Eternity was pitched as a return to this style, and it definitely followed through. The game truly felt like a modern successor to the cRPGs of old, and was absolutely packed to the brim with lore. Obsidian“s writers clearly spent a lot of time fleshing out the world of Eoras, and explored the world“s pantheon of gods in unique and interesting ways, picking up the torch from Baldur“s Gate and Planescape. It also had a great combat system that, while occasionally clunky, was challenging and strategic. Really, though, it was the characters that made Pillars. Obsidian crafted an interesting world, and added in some exceptionally written companions. I hope to see Obsidian return to explore more of Eoras in a sequel further down the line. 4. Fallout 4 I doubt there“s ever been a Bethesda RPG that didn“t make my top ten list the year it came out, and Fallout 4 is no exception. Even though I did have some issues with it (my two chief complaints being the stripped down roleplaying mechanics and a shortage of interesting quests), I really enjoyed the time I spent with it. As always with Bethesda games, exploring the world was incredibly fun and provided hours of entertainment, and I love the environmental storytelling of the Fallout series. Even if the main plot fell a little flatter than usual, Fallout 4 still had some great world building, and for the first time in a Bethesda game, I found the characters to be very memorable. It was a nice addition, and it made me want to bring my companions along to get to know them. So even if it wasn“t my dream Fallout game, all the important elements were there, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. Also, my character looks badass in aviators and road leathers. 3. SOMA Before I talk about SOMA, for the sake of full disclosure I have to say that I really hate scary games. Jump scares, suspenseful chases, all the other usual elements make most horror games unplayable for me. However, I found those to be quite minimal in SOMA, to the point where even I was able to play it. The real horror in the game is much more existential. It asks some really important and interesting questions that you“ll be thinking about for hours after you stop playing, and explores some fascinating philosophical concepts in the way that only the best science fiction can. It“s carefully written, and the story really drew me in. In addition to that, it excels with its atmosphere, exploration, and setting. Even though I would normally have written SOMA off as “not my thingâ€, I“m glad I gave it a shot. 2. Everybody“s Gone to the Rapture I can guarantee that Everybody“s Gone to the Rapture is not a game for everyone, but it“s definitely the game for me. It“s long, meandering, and absolutely beautiful. I loved exploring the carefully crafted English countryside, and the storytelling is done in such a unique way. I liked slowly discovering not only what had happened, but also getting to know the people who lived in the village through their memories, which are scattered about the game. I also found the plot incredibly intriguing, and was hooked by the mystery almost immediately. I love games that leave me thinking about them long after I turn them off, and Everybody“s Gone to the Rapture was very much that kind of game for me. It“s calm, beautiful storytelling leads to some very poignant moments, and I really appreciated that it had a much more concrete plot to discover than Dear Esther, a similar game by the same studio. So ultimately I“d say that if you“re patient, and you love being forced to think, it“s definitely worth checking out. 1. Undertale Even though I had a tough time narrowing my list down, there was never a question of what my game of the year would be. I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about Undertale, most of which I haven“t shared because I“m not sure I could do the game justice. Undertale is so amazing and unique in many ways, from its save system to its gameplay mechanics to its writing and characters. But ultimately the thing I love about Undertale the most is its focus on kindness, and how it questions the fundamental mechanic of violence at the center of most games. Undertale has so much heart, and it gives the player so many chances to be compassionate. Even better, you“re rewarded for it. Befriending your enemies and showing them compassion leads to one of the best and most meaningful game endings I“ve ever experienced. I wish that more games would take a page out of Undertale“s book and explore kindness and friendship as a mechanic, and encourage the player to take that extra step and get to know an enemy instead of fighting it. And that“s why Undertale is my game of the year for 2015, and why it has probably earned a spot as one of my favorite games of all time.
  10. Editor's note: This year we'll be having several guest writers contributing their Game of the Year lists. First up is Justin Graham, a former Operation Rainfall writer, fellow video game enthusiast, and mutual friend of some of us on the staff. You can follow him on Twitter @Hailinel __________________________________________________________________ Looking back, 2015 was a really solid, satisfying year for me when it came to video games. A lot of great games that suited my tastes hit throughout the year, and I never felt wanting for one that could draw me in. There were, of course, a few unfortunate games that I would have loved to have played more of to give their fair shake (Sorry, Codename: S.T.E.A.M. and Type-0 HD!), but that there were so many games that demanded my attention this year really shows how great of a year in gaming it was. 10. Until Dawn/Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water I put two games in the number ten slot because I felt that they were both really strong horror titles, so why not include them both? Until Dawn is a cinematic adventure game of the sort that David Cage might make, but with a script that“s coherent, entertaining, and revels in the fact that it is, in essence, a playable horror movie. Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water, by contrast, is a tense Wii U game that makes incredible use of the GamePad controller as the Camera Obscura. Both offer entertaining, spooky experiences backed by different themes and ideas, and both work in their own ways. 9. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain The Phantom Pain is a weird, weird game. Weird because of the usual meta reasons that Metal Gear Solid is known for. Weird for not being a traditional Metal Gear Solid game with its open world. Weird for having Kiefer Sutherland as the voice of Snake instead of David Hayter (and it works!). Weird for all of the Konami-related drama surrounding its development. Weird for the fact that it“s the last game Hideo Kojima ever made for Konami. Weird that the game“s final mission was never finished. It“s weird. And it“s flawed. But it still works, and it for all of the things that it does, it does most of them incredibly well. 8. Undertale I really debated where to put Undertale on my list. It“s well-written and, the music is superb, and when it pays other games homage, it wears it on its sleeve without being cloying. Its charming, heartwarming, dark (potentially incredibly so if you play it a certain way), and frequently ludicrous. Take EarthBound, sprinkle in a little Shin Megami Tensei, add a dash of bullet hell, and this is the game you get. All that being said, I“m not as enamored with it as many others are. It“s a fantastic, original game that feels like a very personal vision. It deserves incredible praise and I“d love to see what its creator does next. But as far as the actual act of playing Undertale goes, that“s where it fell short for me and why it“s only in eighth place. (Tumblr, please don“t kill me.) 7. Samurai Warriors 4-II Official GP Review I like me some Musou. Dynasty Warriors, Samurai Warriors, Warriors Orochi, Hyrule Warriors -- if there“s an Omega Force hack-and-slash, I will be there, cutting through thousands of dudes. Of the various branches of Musou, Samurai Warriors has always been one of my favorites, and a big reason for that is the survival modes that the series has often included. And they brought back the Survival Castle in Samurai Warriors 4-II. I could easily spend dozens of hours playing that mode alone. (Story Mode? What“s that?) 6. Nobunaga“s Ambition: Sphere of Influence From one style of Koei Tecmo“s historical madness to another, the latest Nobunaga“s Ambition is has a staggering level of complexity of the sort that appeals to the hardcore strategy fan in me that doesn“t emerge as much as it used to. But it“s still really satisfying to build a tiny faction up from almost nothing into a powerful force vying for control of all of Japan, with all of the resource gathering, diplomacy, and warfare that demands. 5. Super Mario Maker The early 2D Mario games were a major part of my childhood, and one of the reasons why I“ve stuck with gaming well into my thirties. I never did beat the original Super Mario Bros. (I suck, I know), but Super Mario Maker lets me live out my childhood dreams of building actual, playable Super Mario courses. While I haven“t built any stages that are full-blown Kaizo insanity (I actually have to beat the stage to upload it, after all), it“s still spurred my creativity in ways that few games have in recent memory. 4. Splatoon Leave it to Nintendo to surprise everyone with an online shooter that single-handedly revitalized online shooters. Just when everything was blending together into a gray/brown mess of indistinct iron sights and military people shooting terrorists, or possibly other military people, Splatoon came along with its incredible, colorful style, sense of humor, and systems that are inviting to anyone. I have never, ever stuck it out in an online shooter for any real length of time, mostly what they had come to represent. But Splatoon, with its “Ink everything!” approach, refusal to take itself seriously, and fresh style made me stick around and have fun for far longer than any shooter I“ve ever played outside of GoldenEye. And the lack of voice chat doesn“t hurt it at all, either. 3. Xenoblade Chronicles 3D A few years ago, it was questionable as to whether or not North America would ever see an official release of Xenoblade Chronicles on the Wii. And here we are in 2015, with not just a Wii release behind us, but a full-fledged port of the game on the New 3DS. Everything I love about the game is still present, from its wide, beautiful world and colorful characters to its engaging story and combat. And while the graphics aren“t as sharp as they are on the Wii, they really pop on the 3D display. The fact that the game is for a handheld makes it all the easier to recommend. Honestly, they took a game that was amazing on every level and managed to put it on a handheld without losing anything that mattered. That is absolutely incredible. 2. Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai DX Official GP Review Ever since its western launch in September, Project Mirai DX has rarely been removed from the game card slot in my 3DS. It“s super-cute, with dozens of catchy songs by Miku and her fellow Crypton Vocaloids, and a ton of extras on the side that make it a soothing, adorable experience. It“s very easy for me to start playing with the intent to just try a few songs for fifteen minutes, only to lose myself in it and it“s suddenly dinner time. Or bed time. Or the middle of the night. In short, it“s a fantastic little rhythm game and one of the best 3DS experiences this year. 1. Xenoblade Chronicles X Xenoblade Chronicles X is the best game I“ve played all year. Everything I like about the gameplay in the original Xenoblade Chronicles is back, but deeper and more refined, with an absolutely massive, gorgeous world to explore, and the addition of mechs to help explore it. There“s never anything not to do, and the game rewards you for just about everything you can do. And while the story isn“t as character-driven as the original“s, the game still has plenty of character in it that shines across the game“s many and numerous missions that cover everything from simply gathering materials for people in need to resolving violent racial conflicts. It“s a game teeming with life and that encourages the player“s sense of adventure and the desire to explore off the beaten path. But for as open as the game is, it“s still a Xeno-game at heart in its themes and storytelling -- one that spells a bright future for the crazy ride that producer Tetsuya Takahashi has been on since the original Xenogears. Heck, the game even has sly references to Xenogears scattered in its character creator. For me, Xenoblade Chronicles X is not just the best RPG of 2015, but the best game of 2015. And it was a very easy win.
  11. Jonathan Higgins

    Game of the Year 2015: Jonathan's Picks

    It seems this year is nearly over. Thinking about all the games I“ve played fills me with determination. To be completely honest, I“ve spent more time playing old games than new ones this year. One of my fondest memories of 2015 will no doubt be playing through every Kirby game I own to honor Mr. Iwata. I glitched out Link“s Awakening, got one of my childhood-favorite games from a friend, and more. Still, this list is about the present! Like last year, though, you won't find any Pokémon games on this list. I have a million more Individual Values to give those games some love. Without further ado, here are the ten greatest games I've played that were released this year, and a few reasons why I adore them so. 10. Gunman Clive 2 I never thought panda physics would be a concept to worry about in an action game. But Gunman Clive 2 has a handful of obtuse surprises! I liken Bertil Hörberg“s games to the ones I mastered during childhood -- short and sweet; ones you“ll replay over and over again. Gunman Clive 2 in particular is about the length of any given Game Boy platformer, but remarkably varied and surreal. It improves upon precedents set in the first game, with enough crazy moments to properly set it apart. You really can“t beat the price, for what you“re getting. I feel like that“s the case with at least one other game on my list this year, too. Maybe sticking with games of the past has me attached to simplicity. Gunman Clive 2 is proof you don“t have to make your platformers overly complex adventures that last forever and overstay their welcome. 9. Tembo the Badass Elephant Official GP Review When Game Freak & SEGA announced they were partnering for a new project in March, I so wanted it to be another Pulseman. What we got instead was a zany action game whose graphical stylings and appeal are torn right from the pages of comic books. It“d been awhile since I last played the game after reviewing it towards the end of July, but picking it up again brought me back to the many challenges and laughs it provided: I showed my friends the game after reviewing it. The sarcastic one in the group kept making quips about my platforming skills as I struggled through some of the trickier objectives in the game“s penultimate world. She likened the experience to Donkey Kong Country -- a game whose difficulty could frustrate the heck out of the person playing, but be hilarious for backseat gamers to watch and comment on. That kind of fun is what“s going to make Tembo have some lasting appeal, to me. 8. Bloo Kid 2 Official GP Review I was playing both Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash and Tri Force Heroes at the time winterworks dropped the free update for this game, and I totally dropped both of those to go running back to the fun I remembered having in May. As it turns out, I“m among the first to 100% complete the game by gathering all 360 stars and collecting every last little thing in both the original and added levels. Bloo Kid 2 is absolutely stratified in the 16-bit era. It feels like playing it will transport you back to the past and offer a handful of challenges many of those developers weren“t creative enough to think of at the time. A majority of players will only remember the mine-cart levels and the game“s lack of originality. But me? I“m going to remember that this game outdoes plenty of big name Nintendo releases of this holiday season despite its flaws. It says something when you can get a perfectly competent experience for less than 10% of the asking price for many 3DS retail games out there. 7. BOXBOY Official GP Review I was browsing my 3DS library looking for something to play to pass the time recently, and I noticed something unique about BOXBOY. Most of the 3DS title cards on our systems, even the ones for the most elaborate games available, just feature some variation of a spinning logo. BOXBOY dismisses this in favor of displaying a cool little animation that demonstrates a basic game mechanic over just a few seconds. Everything about BOXBOY hearkens back to the very beginning of HAL Laboratory -- dismissing complex visuals in favor of a minimalist approach that focuses almost entirely upon gameplay, but that has enough charm to make its characters memorable and its players want more. I hope this great game becomes one of the next great franchises for Nintendo. 6. Ori and the Blind Forest Turns out the next great Studio Ghibli movie is a video game. Ori and the Blind Forest isn“t just a beautiful Metroid-like with masterfully-crafted mechanics: it“s got a story with as much emotion as games six times its size and sixty times its budget. Most music sets the mood for a level or environment in a game; this one“s helps better tell its story. The crescendo of a powerful melody will typically hit right at the same time Ori accomplishes a breathtaking platforming feat. The visuals and soundtrack combined help this forest to feel like one of the most vibrant worlds I played in this year; it“s truly alive. If this game hadn“t been released on Steam, it would have sold me an Xbox One. And to be honest, the “definitive edition” kind of has me thinking along those lines again. 5. Tearaway Unfolded My love for the original Tearaway is well-documented at this point. I got hands-on with the new PlayStation 4 game at both E3 and PAX Prime this year. By the end of the Vita version, I had my lady snuggled beside me to see just a tiny piece of what the game had to offer on the small screen. As I made my way through Tearaway Unfolded, it was just as much her adventure as mine. She helped me create rainbow snowflakes (pictured above), a dinosaur flag, a Pikachu scarecrow, and more. Pictures of both of us -- not just her -- are on the books devoted to the study of the You, and the banner on Gibbet Hill. This game is worth experiencing on PlayStation 4 not just because of the brand new content tailored to it, but because seeing that world on a much bigger screen allows it to be shared with others easily. The world of Tearaway that you help create should be proudly shown! I“ll never forget the experiences I shared with other Messengers this year -- and that includes both my lady and showgoers at E3 & PAX Prime who played the demo. I've put one of their creations beside my own. 4. Devil Survivor 2: Record Breaker Official GP Review At just over 115 hours total, Devil Survivor 2: Record Breaker is my second most-played game of 2015, behind only Pokémon Omega Ruby. And that shouldn“t surprise anyone, considering how in love I am with the original. As mentioned in my review, the revised script and voice cast helped breathe new life into the game I love, and the new story just proves these characters don“t overstay their welcome. I still play this one regularly to this day, trying to accomplish every last one of the post-game challenges. This game“s design, particularly in the Triangulum story, is one of the best examples of starting a character out virtually powerless, then allowing him to effectively (and purposefully) break the game by the final boss fight. I think this game should be played by everyone, not just because it“s welcoming for everyone (with DLC that helps alleviate the grind and challenge of the original game), but just so more than just me can see what wonderful things a bizarre combination of Fire Emblem, Dragon Quest, and Pokémon is capable of. 3. Yoshi“s Woolly World Official GP Review I expected Good Feel“s efforts to be worth the wait, but I didn“t expect to have as much fun as I did playing Super Mario Galaxy -- or the original Yoshi“s Island, decades ago. The wonderful world of wool makes for one of the best Yoshi games to date. If you even mildly enjoyed Yoshi“s Story or the many games to come after the SNES original, you absolutely owe it to yourself to pick this one up. This is another experience my lady and I shared -- both of us have each completed our own file of the game. It was cool to see the things Mellow Mode allowed you to do as I watched her play, and I love that the game never punished her for keeping things at a difficulty level she could enjoy. We each have our own favorite Yoshis we unlocked, and she may have adopted one of my Yarn Yoshi amiibos as her own -- but our memories of Yoshi“s Woolly World are definitely shared between us. Long live Poochy! 2. Axiom Verge Official GP Review This game is better than Super Metroid. I know that“s going to make me a lot of enemies over time, but I“ll never stop saying it. I didn“t play any Metroid games back when they originally released -- I have no strong feelings of nostalgia for Samus or her world. I played both games back to back obsessively, drawing comparisons between their respective mechanics and boss fights. Tom Happ is the clear winner because he was so heavily inspired by Super Metroid. He knows exactly how to mess with your expectations and turn tried and true formulas on their collective giant robotic head, inside out, and then some. I gave it a perfect score. I stand by it. I“ve played plenty of Metroid-likes this year, but I“ll only call one revolutionary. I“ve handed out this game to several friends and told them to pay it forward and pass along good words, if they like it and agree with most of the praise I“ve given it. Considering I had no idea this game existed prior to it being handed to me, Axiom Verge is definitely the single biggest, most critically acclaimed surprise hit of my year... ...except for... 1. UNDERTALE Restraint is the ultimate character builder. If you“ve ever felt guilty striking down your enemies in an RPG, Undertale will teach you mercy. If you ignore its lessons and choose to kill or be killed, the game will show no mercy. You will be judged. You will be judged for your every action. I“ve tried for the longest time to convince my brain to find the words to give this game justice in my eyes -- to allow me to write some review or editorial that perfectly conveys my feelings. But it refused. You all have no idea how many times I“ve saved and reloaded documents filled with the right words and the wrong ones. This is the space where I“m going to make it count. I can“t describe what Undertale does without spoiling the plot and all the bad skeleton jokes. But I can tell you how meaningful its message was to me personally. When I was a kid and I sat down with a Final Fantasy game for the first time, I vividly remember asking my parents why I had to kill everything. They watched me get a Game Over when I tried to run and couldn“t escape. RPGs aren“t like Mario games where I can just avoid foes as I work towards the goal. There“s typically no avoiding combat when it comes to achieving victory. Running away will only hurt you. Showing restraint or finding a peaceful route didn“t just make winning more challenging; it made victory impossible. Undertale is the first and only RPG I“ve played where you can choose to finish the game without lifting your stick, frying pan, or dagger. You can choose to engage monsters by simply talking to them or picking actions tailored to their likes and dislikes. You can spare them by selecting Mercy and moving on. Some enemies are difficult to run from, but it can be done without dying. Every boss fight is passable without an actual fight. Everything has a peaceful option. And yet, even a Pacifist route has consequences. Undertale isn“t my game of the year because I think it's the ideal game for everyone, even if it is critically acclaimed. I'm not going to demand all of you play this game, and experience everything the world has to offer. I don“t think other developers should follow Toby Fox“s lead and create games like it. Honestly, I hope people experience the game blind -- just savor it like the perfect bowl of spaghetti. It“s my Game of the Year because it let me show mercy. It affected me like few games ever will... because I was comfortable being myself -- a Pacifist at heart.
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