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Found 10 results

  1. Harrison Lee

    Game of the Year 2016: Harrison's Picks

    2016 was a pretty crappy year in general for everything not related to video games. Fortunately, the video game side of things was flipping awesome, with scores of great releases from well-established franchises and brand new IPs. The bounty of games inevitably leads to the all-consuming question: which ones should be added to your played list during the holidays? Or better yet, can I afford them all? Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen Dragon's Dogma has been around a couple of years and finally made its way to PC early this year. This definitive edition, which includes the Dark Arisen content, adds all sorts of small visual improvements, unlocks the framerate to 60 FPS, and has fast-travel. If you have a PC and a pulse, Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen needs to be in your library. The unique blend of action-RPG elements and a Monster Hunter-esque host of beasts is unlike anything else out there. The best news is that it can be found on the cheap. Battlefleet Gothic: Armada Official GP Review The Warhammer 40K mythos has always been prime grounds for a proper video game treatment. To date, very few competent releases have graced our palms. Then along came Battlefleet Gothic: Armada, a wonderful space-based RTS that pits giant warships against each other in absolute slugfests. Featuring a deep campaign with story-altering decisions and a robust combat system, this game does the Warhammer universe justice. Alienation Guns, gore, and aliens. Alienation delivers exactly what Housemarque promised and then some. Explosions shatter the landscape as monsters are reduced to piles of goo. Players are given a host of alien-dispatching tools to get to work, a nice progression system, and randomized loot. While the difficulty spikes can be off-putting, Alienation is at its best when players are teaming up or squaring off against each other to silence the beasts from beyond. DOOM I really can't say much more about DOOM that hasn't been said already, but if you have any interest in shooters, this needs to be in your library yesterday. DOOM is a great interpretation of the classic franchise, eschewing nuance for nut-punching the devil over and over again. With a thrilling campaign and serviceable multiplayer, DOOM is one of the best FPSes to come out in ages. The Elder Scrolls Online: One Tamriel I'm not much for MMOs, but The Elder Scrolls Online is one of the rare exceptions that deserves your attention. The original game came out some time ago but was derided by reviewers for restricting what made The Elder Scrolls so memorable; player freedom. The recently-released One Tamriel update unshackles players of all levels and sets them loose to tackle quests and exploration in whatever order they please. It makes a very solid foundation a totally fresh experience, and that's before Zenimax adds the Homestead update. Game of the Year Titanfall 2 DOOM would have held the title of 'Best Shooter', but Respawn shocked me with just how great Titanfall 2 is. The sequel to the under-rated online shooter adds a campaign and further refines the progression system to a spit-shine. The result is a varied experience backed up by gorgeous visuals and one of the best gameplay feels in some time. Titanfall 2 is an excellent shooter and deserves your hard-earned cash.
  2. GP Staff

    Game of the Year 2016: GP's Top 10

    We're nearly a month into the new year, but you didn't think we forgot to post GP's top 10 games of 2016, did you? Okay, so it's a little late, but better late than never, right? In any case, there were quite a few memorable and great games in 2016; our individual game of the year lists tended to reflect that a lot as each one had at least a few unique games that didn't pop up in others. Some games dominated the conversation for most of the year, some were quaint surprises, and yet others popped up at the last minute to steal the spotlight. And in a year where shooters had one of their biggest years in a while, perhaps the most surprising thing about our list is that only one made it on (which speaks to the quality of the games that released in 2016). But enough talk! Here are the ten games the GP staff and contributors voted on as our overall Top 10 games for 2016. Enjoy! 10. Kirby Planet Robobot "Kirby“s latest outing has me reflecting upon my childhood, and how these games make me feel, in a different way than I expected. I simply haven't felt this impressed, this unbelievably delighted from a Kirby game since my childhood. I've often said that Return to Dream Land marks the pinnacle of traditional Kirby gameplay. But Planet Robobot takes it -- and fans“ expectations -- and manages to make everything feel like a mechanized wonderland." - Jonathan Higgins 9. Severed The beauty and the pain portrayed in Severed is matched only by how simple and refined the combat is. It may not have the whimsy of their other games, but Severed is easily one of DrinkBox Studios“ best, and one of the best games overall on the Vita -- not just of this year, but of any year. - Chris "Wildcard Corsair" Garcia 8. Owlboy So much about what makes Owlboy worth experiencing isn“t in the mechanics, but in its cast and environments. You won“t feel triumphant in the end — it“ll be more like you just watched a really awesome Disney movie. The folks behind Owlboy put so much meticulous care into their work that it took nine years to make. The end result is absolutely worth your own time and attention. - Jonathan Higgins 7. Pokemon Sun and Moon Alola is an absolutely, positively phenomenal place. Its challenges were versatile; I“ve never had as much fun with a main story in a mainline Pokémon game. The soundtrack is absolutely phenomenal; “The Battle At the Summit!” is probably Masuda and his team at their absolute best. Narrative direction? Superior, bested only by Black & White. Music, sounds, and general ambiance? Also top-tier. All of this and more make Sun & Moon easy to recommend to first-timers, or lapsed fans. - Jonathan Higgins 6. The Witness It's hard to follow up a game like Braid, but developer Jonathan Blow did it. The Witness is truly unlike any other game I've ever played, thanks to its unique combination of exploration and puzzles. The game teaches you organically how to think about the solutions to each puzzle, and the way that each area is divided into different types of puzzles is extremely well done. It is, without a doubt, the smartest game of the year. - Jason Clement 5. Tokyo Mirage Sessions As a fan of both Fire Emblem and Shin Megami Tensei, I can certainly understand the disappointment some felt when Tokyo Mirage Sessions turned out to be a game that in no way matched what they had envisioned Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem would be. But the heart of both franchises shines through in ways expected and not, with a top-notch presentation and a warm heart that in my mind turned out to be the Wii U“s last and greatest hurrah. - Justin Graham 4. Final Fantasy XV Though it“s rough around the edges, Noctis“s road trip tale of brotherhood and a desire to find his betrothed after his kingdom has fallen under imperial rule shines through where it counts, wearing its inspirations from past Final Fantasy games on its sleeve while standing well on its own. And the game“s ending is not only rewarding, but one of the very best that the series has delivered yet, nailing the game“s themes one after another. - Justin Graham 3. Dragon Quest Builders Building has never been quite as compelling in video games as it is in Dragon Quest Builders. While the simplistic combat is perhaps the game's weakest point, Dragon Quest Builders is by far one of the deepest experiences I've played this year thanks to its blend of exploration, construction, and traditional JRPG mechanics. Nearly everything about it from its addicting gameplay to its fantastic soundtrack make it an outstanding experience and one of this year's biggest surprises. - Jason Clement 2. Overwatch I won“t tell you my exact hour count, but I“ve put a disgusting amount of time into Overwatch. You know how I complained about not having enough time to play games in my backlog? Well, I'm pretty sure I could've finished a couple of RPGs with the amount of time I have thrown at Overwatch. But anyway, Overwatch is a total blast to play. Rich with personality/polish, an incredibly varied playable cast, rewarding team-based gameplay, and plenty of positive reinforcement built right within the game makes the consistent fun I've had with it far outweigh the criticisms I could level against it. And from someone who pretty much never plays first-person shooter multiplayer is incredibly high praise. - Barrel 1. The Last Guardian The Last Guardian is, by all accounts, a game that very possibly could have come out and completely underwhelmed; after all, it was in development for some eight years (and more often than not, those types of deals tend to be disasters in the end). But somehow, some way, Fumito Ueda and his team at GenDesign pulled it off. By no means is it perfect; playing the game can be challenging at times due to some awkward controls and stubborness on Trico's part to obey at times, but the journey is worth it at the end and incredibly compelling. The Last Guardian has some of the most stunning environments and architecture I've ever seen in a video game. The visuals are breathtaking, especially when you're in the outdoors areas and see Trico's feathers glistening in the light and ruffling in the wind. The Last Guardian is triumphant, its story possibly exceeding what Team Ico had accomplished in its two previous games thanks to a touching narrative that is built on the relationship between the boy and Trico throughout their journey. I can't imagine how Ueda plans to top this, but I can't wait to find out. - Jason Clement
  3. Hey everyone, thought I'd try a new idea out for 2017 - hopefully it'll stick around as a new feature. Monday Musings is a feature where every Monday, I'll shoot the breeze about what I've been playing and what my thoughts are on various news and events in the game industry. It's a bit more informal than a lot of the stuff that goes up here, so hopefully it'll be different and at least entertaining to read. That said, let's kick things off with our first topic... The Star Wars cast voiced original lines in a LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens? So I've been playing quite a bit of LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens recently (which is pretty darn good btw), and noticed, well, a disturbance in the force, you could say. That is to say - apparently, somehow, some way, TT Games managed to get the main cast in The Force Awakens movie to voice some extra lines for the game. I haven't played LEGO Jurassic World yet, so I'm not sure if that it also did this, but man, this is wildly unheard of for a Lego game. Why? It might be one thing for up-and-comers like Daisy Ridley and John Boyega to do this, but it's entirely surprising for someone like Harrison Ford (y'know, only one of the biggest stars of the last half century?) to do it. "Why would the cast record lines for a lowly video game when it would normally be beneath a lot of other actors (both in prestige and pay)?" TT Games generally has been using the movie voice track for their movie adaptations of games ever since LEGO Lord of the Rings, and they do in this one as well, but my first cue that extra lines were recorded by the main cast when I started hearing Han Solo say things like... "Darn, the door is locked. If only we could access the panel to get into it," or "Hey, maybe we should press this button over there." Which is SUPER jarring when you realize Harrison Ford is actually voicing these generic hints. To TT Games' credit, they did give Ford some actual witty Han Solo-isms to say, which you'll hear interspersed throughout some of the other banter when you're playing, which was a nice touch. So how did this all happen? Why would the cast record lines for a lowly video game when it would normally be beneath a lot of other actors (both in prestige and pay)? My guess is that when they signed on to star in The Force Awakens film, there was a clause in their contract that obligated them to also do voices for a tie-in game -- in this case, LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens. ...Or maybe they really did just do it just for the money. Who knows. -------------------------------- Backlog is good, backlog is life Now that 2016 is finally over and the bulk of GP's Game of the Year event is over (we still need to put up our overall top 10 for the site), I'm actually excited to dive back in and start playing some of my backlog games again. Around last November, I had a weird hankering to finish up Lego Marvel Superheroes (so much talk about Lego games, I know), which I previously left off in the Spring of 2015. Needless to say, I beat it and was enthralled with it enough to want to 100% it, but I had to put aside once I realized I should be focusing on finishing games for that year for GOTY consideration. I still have Katamari Damacy to get back to as well which was pretty fun (and challenging), so hopefully that'll mark the beginning of me making a big dent in my digital PS2 game collection on PS3. But going back and playing these games really reminded me that it's good to intersperse backlog titles with newer ones because they kind of help give you some focus and make you realize that it's not all about keeping up with the Joneses and what they're playing. No doubt there's definitely something to playing a new game when everyone else is playing it (see: Splatoon, FFXV, Overwatch), but playing backlog games helps me realize that it's good to go at your own pace as well. Otherwise, sometimes I kind of get lost in the shuffle of just playing recently released games and -- even though I'm having fun a lot of the time while doing it -- I realize that I'm sort of forcing myself to play through stuff that I may not really want to play at that time just to justify the expense or to experience what everyone else is talking about, even if it doesn't click with me in the same way. It also shows me that I don't need to have every single game right when it releases. Given this, I'll try now more than ever to only buy the games I'm most excited about at release, and also try not to buy too many altogether at once as well. On the upside, however, I did notice that I ended up beating many of the games I bought in the latter half of 2016, especially those that I was playing in anticipation of writing up my game of the year list. This is in stark contrast to 2015 when I bought a bunch of games that I still haven't played or beaten to this day -- stuff like Tembo the Badass Elephant, Ori and the Blind Forest, Axiom Verge, Undertale (still need to beat), and others. Hoping to continue that upward swing this year! Really digging Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright right now So, to put things in context beforehand: I actually had a really hard time putting together my game of the year list this year, so much so that I actually wrote up most of it the night before it was published. It wasn't that I had a hard time thinking of games that I wanted on the list -- no, it was actually the opposite. There were too many games that I wanted to play and experience before I wrote up my list, and I just didn't know when to cut things off. I had actually only just played Abzu two days before, and Firewatch only the night before it went live. Yeah... Needless to say, I didn't truly get to let the whole experience of Firewatch set in on me after the credits rolled, and I found myself going with my gut reaction to keep Fire Emblem Awakening since I spent way more time with it. The next day, I found myself thinking about Firewatch all day long and wondering if I made the right choice. But after spending the weekend and yesterday really digging into Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright, it reconfirmed my faith in that game is well-placed. What really makes the experience for me is a rich blend of deep strategy combined with the relationships that build between different characters via support conversations (a mechanic where characters can build a relationship based on the amount of time they spend next to each other in battle). Eventually, male and female characters that reach a high enough level with each other will marry, producing a child that -- through really lazy writing -- has been raised to adolescence via an alternate realm (where time passes much faster) and will join you in your quest (after beating their paralogue chapter). If the reasoning behind that sounded dumb, it absolutely is, but the gameplay ramifications behind it are amazing because it essentially allows you to breed new units with the unique special abilities that parents have, similar in a sense to Pokemon breeding (sounds weird when I put it that way). Anyhow, I've been spending much of my time pairing up the characters to get their child characters, but also leveling up lower level characters on skirmish maps and doing the main story chapters in between as well. Some of the later chapters are challenging in a really refreshing way; like, you'll have to deeply think about where you're positioning your units before they strike whereas earlier maps you might have been mostly bulldozing through it without as much thought. You also have to make more use of pairing units together (and thus making use of stat bonuses), not only to take down tougher foes, but also to defend from them as well. Those two aspects of the game are what really makes it for me, and the main story is just the sprinkling on the top, really. I've heard complaints about the plot from others, and -- maybe it's just that I haven't gotten to the end where something happens but I think it's fine so far (I think I'm on Chapter 23?). In the meantime, if this is your first Fire Emblem experience, I'd probably recommend Awakening first, but you really can't go wrong with any version of Fire Emblem Fates. "You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain." I recently finished the Batman Telltale Series (yes, that was another game I didn't actually finish before I had to put up my GOTY list), and holy cow, that's a good game. They do some really unique things with the story, especially with Bruce Wayne's side of the story that keep things on the edge from beginning to end. Being Batman is great, but I'm thoroughly convinced that for a Batman story to be truly good, you need almost equal amounts of Bruce and Batman to really flesh things out. I'll save my full thoughts for a review, but I will say that you should definitely play, especially if you've been holding off of recent Telltale games. Hopefully Season 2 is a foregone conclusion at this point; we'll see! That wraps up this edition of Monday Musings! I don't know if they'll always be this long, but definitely let me know what you think below; I appreciate any and all feedback and will try to tailor future ones accordingly. Thanks for reading!
  4. Jason Clement

    Game of the Year 2016: Jason's Picks

    I'll skip the real-world comparisons and say that for the most part, 2016 was a pretty good year for video games overall. Two of the most long-awaited games finally came out (and not a moment too soon), and they were both surprisingly excellent. Many more great indie games made their debut, and I'm looking forward to catching up with a lot of them over the next year. And the 3DS had one of its best years yet in terms of RPGs for the handheld. Heck, we even got cool surprises like the NES Classic Edition. As usual, I want to acknowledge some of this year's runner-ups, such as Firewatch and Stories: The Path of Destinies; both of which nearly made my list. Coatsink's Shu also deserves a lot of credit for being one of the most original games I played this year as well. And last but not least, Overwatch is a game I wish I had spent more time with, but ultimately there just wasn't enough time to play everything. In any event, here are my top 10 games of 2016. 10. Fire Emblem Fates Fire Emblem Fates was far and away one of my most anticipated titles coming into 2016. Awakening was my game of the year for 2013, and now the series was plunging headfirst into a story that would see new protagonist Corrin split between two warring sides: his adopted family and the family of his birth. It was an interesting twist and a great setup for a potentially epic story and character-rich plot, even if the story gets away from itself a bit at certain points. The strategic gameplay is still as good as ever and I enjoyed pairing up various units to see how their relationships would unfold. 9. Abzu Confession: I was already completely biased in favor of Abzu from the start, especially since two of the three major creative people behind Journey (aka my game of the year in 2012) worked on it. Also, in light of that latter fact, it's also not surprising that Abzu is essentially Journey except under the water, in a sense. However, it does not out-Journey Journey, and that's okay. Abzu is a short but breathtaking experience, and Austin Wintory's woodwind-filled orchestrated soundtrack adds to the epic feel of swimming alongside majestic sea creatures and currents in exotic underwater locales. There's virtually no challenge to it, but I almost can't wait to dive back in and experience it all again. 8. Batman: The Telltale Series The last Telltale game I had played before this was The Wolf Among Us, which I really enjoyed, but for some reason I hadn't had the desire to play any more after that -- until Batman, that is. Unbeknownst to players at the outset, Batman: The Telltale Series exists in its own universe, meaning Telltale gets to tell Batman as they want to tell him. Everything you knew about Batman potentially gets thrown out the window, which is refreshing and exciting to me, and Telltale used this to their advantage to tell one of the best Batman stories of recent years. Also, it probably has the most exciting quick-time-event sections I've ever experienced. Season 2 can't come soon enough. 7. Star Fox Zero If you haven't played Star Fox Zero yet, you might be surprised to see it on this list. Aren't the controls terrible? Isn't it a bad game? And to that I say no, it's not a bad game. At all. The controls aren't 100% ideal, but they're fine once you get used to them for 30 minutes or so (with occasional spottiness). But underneath the stigma of its motion controls, Star Fox Zero contains one of the best Star Fox games, bar none. Platinum's signature is definitely felt in this game especially with certain levels that feature over-the-top action (especially some of the latter ones), and it was a joy to hear the new songs as well as new renditions of old classics. It may not be exactly what everyone wanted, but as a reimagining of Star Fox 64, it definitely achieves what it sets out to do (with a few twists) and be incredibly entertaining at the same time. 6. Paper Mario: Color Splash Paper Mario: Color Splash may continue the same direction that the much criticized Paper Mario: Sticker Star started, but I'll defend it to the death as one of this year's great titles. While the plot is still rather thin (pun not intended, I swear) compared to the first three Paper Mario games, Intelligent Systems gives Mario and friends more to work with in this game as he investigates why the color is seemingly disappearing from Prism Island. The new color system doesn't add a ton of depth to the card-based battle system, but it's used surprisingly well in various puzzles throughout the game. Also, Color Splash has a fantastic soundtrack and arguably the best/funniest writing in the entire series (The Thousand Year Door included), where each level is essentially a brand new scenario to work through (mini story arcs and all). What it lacks in the main plot, it more than makes up for in its witty writing and zany characters, making for a memorable Paper Mario experience. 5. Song of the Deep In many ways, Song of the Deep is this year's Child of Light. It's a fairytale/storybook plot featuring a little girl who goes on a journey, except this time it's under the sea. It's a shame that this game never got much more recognition than it did because it features some outstanding atmosphere and environments throughout. Insomniac Games managed to tell a touching story about Merryn's journey through the sea but also make a compelling, underwater Metroidvania world to explore at the same time. 4. The Witness As someone who enjoyed Braid (and especially its big twist at the end) years back, I knew I had to experience The Witness when it finally released (being from the same creator and all). While the decision to have no music is definitely strange at first, there is something really interesting about just having ambient rustling of leaves, the wind, and your footsteps as all you hear. The island you explore is incredibly beautiful thanks to the unique low-polygon style used but also hauntingly lonely. More than anything else, the combination of exploration and puzzles is what truly makes this a unique experience. The game teaches you organically how to think about the solutions to each puzzle, and the way that each area is divided into different types of puzzles is extremely well done. It is, without a doubt, the smartest game of the year. 3. Final Fantasy XV What a long, strange journey it's been for Final Fantasy XV. While it's definitely not the game that was originally presented to us at Final Fantasy Versus XIII, I'm thrilled to say that it turned out to be a good game in the end anyhow. It's not perfect by any means, with much of its world suffering from an identity crisis (is this a Final Fantasy world or is this Middle America with some fantasy elements?) and its main plot being a jumbled mess at points. Yet, Noctis and the bond between his three friends form the core of what makes Final Fantasy XV one of the best games this year. They go through quite a bit throughout the game, but none of their interactions ever feel forced, instead feeling like four good friends going a bachelor road trip before one of them (Noctis) gets married. Even though the broader spectrum of the plot (such as the invasion behind Insomnia) is somewhat lost in translation over the course of the game, Hajime Tabata and his team got the most important aspects right by honing on the relationship between Noctis and his friends, making the open world feel alive and worth exploring, and creating a fairly memorable villain that keeps you guessing as to what his motivations are. Also, the ending is definitely one of the more interesting finales in the series and will have fans talking about it for a while. 2. Dragon Quest Builders Minecraft is a game that has only ever vaguely intrigued me, but I still haven't had the urge to play it even in the midst of its insane popularity today. Dragon Quest Builders made me a believer in the concept by taking Minecraft's building and crafting elements and pairing it with objectives and an RPG plot that's surprisingly more compelling than it should be. Exploring each area of its rich world and gathering materials is just as much fun as building towns from the ground up, block by block. It could easily be a dull, grating experience but DQB makes the experience fun by giving you a wide array of building materials as well as objects and rooms to build. While the simplistic combat is perhaps the game's weakest point, Dragon Quest Builders is by far one of the deepest experiences I've played this year, and nearly everything about it from its addicting gameplay to its fantastic soundtrack make it an outstanding experience and one of this year's biggest surprises. 1. The Last Guardian Hoo boy -- where do I even start. The Last Guardian is, by all accounts, a game that very possibly could have come out and completely underwhelmed; after all, it was in development for some eight years (and more often than not, those types of deals tend to be disasters in the end). But somehow, some way, Fumito Ueda and his team at GenDesign pulled it off. By no means is it perfect; playing the game can be challenging at times due to some awkward controls and stubborness on Trico's part to obey at times, but the journey is worth it at the end and incredibly compelling. The Last Guardian has some of the most stunning environments and architecture I've ever seen in a video game. The visuals are breathtaking, especially when you're in the outdoors areas and see Trico's feathers glistening in the light and ruffling in the wind. The Last Guardian is triumphant, its story possibly exceeding what Team Ico had accomplished in its two previous games thanks to a touching narrative that is built on the relationship between the boy and Trico throughout their journey. I can't imagine how Ueda plans to top this, but I can't wait to find out.
  5. Never has my gaming backlog felt so insurmountable until 2016. I thought I did reasonably well keeping up with popular releases such as Uncharted 4 and Dark Souls III to several lesser known titles that I mostly played for the sake of review (and shall remain unnamed since many don't deserve to be). Well, until the second half of the year. I quickly learned that buying at least five new games a month does not lend itself to a manageable backlog. Despite wishing for more free time, and wishing certain things didn't happen with the world at large, 2016 was an impressive year for gaming even if many of the more noteworthy ones were at the tail end of it. I suppose I can pretend that The Last Guardian has not been released yet for just a while longer while I try and haphazardly present my top 10 games of 2016 without anymore regret. I0. Inside I have a real respect for games that just toss you in and know the player is smart enough to pick up the fundamentals. I have a bigger respect for games that continue to expand upon such ideas with an actual logical escalation of puzzles. A showpiece example of both is playdead's game Inside. Though the developer“s prior work, Limbo, bounced right off me; Inside does in a lot of ways feel like a much better constructed Limbo. With plenty of clever puzzles, an intriguing dark atmosphere, and… probably one of the most bizarre finales in terms of gameplay makes it more than worthy to note on my own personal list. 9. Titanfall 2 First-person shooters I rarely go out of my way to play, much less for their single player content. But, both this year“s Doom as well as Titanfall 2's campaign proved otherwise. I personally enjoyed Titanfall 2“s single player just a bit more than the resurrection of the cult-classic shooter in raw gameplay and the briskly paced level design. There is an immense satisfaction towards controlling the powerful and different mech loadouts, or speedily zipping around and wall-running on-foot, that is downright unrivaled in any other first-person shooter I“ve played. Not to mention that the campaign also has very neat gameplay moments that heightens its inherent strengths even more. 8. Shiren the Wanderer : The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate Official GP Review As devious as it is charming Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate climbs right up there to become one my all-time favorite RPG roguelikes. Alleviating many grievances I have with the subgenre with a tangible sense of progression, an insane amount of hidden content and depth, and plenty of old-school charm made it a bliss to play.... despite it occasionally kicking my teeth in. 7. Thumper Thumper is quite unlike any other rhythm game I“ve ever played. I may not quite latch onto its “rhythm violence game” tagline, but no doubt that there is strong brutal-like feeling with its intense rhythm gameplay even as you are just flinging beetles around. With F-Zero levels of gameplay momentum, and the finesse needed of compelling rhythm games (especially for the crazy bosses), creates a highly rewarding gameplay experience, if not a bit unrelenting at times. 6. Blazblue: Central Fiction I make no bones about it that I generally prefer Arc System Works“s fighting game efforts to most others. While I had a lot of fun with Guilty Gear Xrd: Revelator, and even enjoyed the likes of non-Arc System Works titles like King of Fighters XIV and Street Fighter V as well, the one fighter that I most felt at home with during 2016 is Blazblue: Central Fiction. The incredibly complex and dense playable character roster, stylish music and 2D visuals, and various smart refinements makes it one of the outright best fighters on the market. Even the huge story mode, which been utter nonsense that almost rivals Kingdom Hearts over the years, also impressed me with the surprising amount of narrative resolution that it had. 5. Final Fantasy XV For a while I have been really unsure as to what my stance is on current Final Fantasy releases. Add an absurd amount of wait time towards Final Fantasy Versus XIII, which as everyone knows became Final Fantasy XV, only added to my increasing doubt with the series going forward. And, while it is certainly easy to nitpick many aspects about it, from disjointed storytelling to gameplay quirks, Final Fantasy XV manages to be much better than the sum of its parts through sheer charisma and heart. There is a wonderful dynamic between the goofball main characters and the journey they have along the way that helps weave it into one the very best games in the series. 4. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE It“s weird that we got official entries of both Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem in 2016, and my favorite of them was the fanfare spin-off of both. I originally had a strong knee-jerk reaction to Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE with its saccharine approach to anime tropes, especially of the J-pop variety. Quickly enough, however, I warmed up to the game underneath once getting acquainted to the final release. Chock full of lighthearted personality, Fire Emblem and Shin Megami Tensei gameplay fanservice, and probably some of the most insane mechanical feature creep I“ve seen in an RPG in a long while (in a really good way, I think), makes for a whimsical RPG that I never knew that I wanted. Though I may ponder what Shin Megami Tensei x Fire Emblem might've been like, I'm willing to contend with my dislike of J-pop culture in order to play the highly enjoyable RPG that is Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE. 3. Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir Official GP Review I was struggling quite a bit to justify putting this on my GOTY list. In my brain, Odin Sphere came out almost 10 years. It was also a game that deeply disappointed me and I would go as far as to say that the actual gameplay of it was just plain bad. At the same time, an excellent remake named Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir magically fixes the game in a way I never thought possible. So lovingly refined was it made, by entirely revamping gameplay mechanics and level design in the best ways possible, and then some, that it has retroactively altered my entire opinion of a game. Which is still near unfathomable to me, because man do I dislike original Odin Sphere and most Vanillaware games but dote upon Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir. 2. Overwatch I won“t tell you my exact hour count, but I“ve put a disgusting amount of time into Overwatch. You know how I complained about not having enough time to play games in my backlog? Well, I'm pretty sure I could've finished a couple of RPGs with the amount of time I have thrown at Overwatch. But anyway, Overwatch is a total blast to play. Rich with personality/polish, an incredibly varied playable cast, rewarding team-based gameplay, and plenty of positive reinforcement built right within the game makes the consistent fun I've had with it far outweigh the criticisms I could level against it. And from someone who pretty much never plays first-person shooter multiplayer is incredibly high praise. 1. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II My adoration of The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II is somewhat rather specific to me. I would not go out of my way to really recommend going through one entire lengthy previous game to truly appreciate an equally long sequel. The dialogue-heavy nature and dated presentation alone I'm sure would push many people away from the series. Plus, I was not that enchanted with the original Trails of Cold Steel to hammer down that point even more. That said, because I have developed quite a history with the Trails of- series, it has made me that much more impressed with it being hearkened back in Trails of Cold Steel II. Not only is it an excellent follow-up to the prior game with much better storytelling, fantastic character development, and smart (if not a bit too familiar with recycled assets) gameplay enhancements, but it is also astoundingly meticulous with its consistent world-building. This is complemented further by the superb localization. To be blunt, there were so many moments throughout that made me downright giddy during Trails of Cold Steel II's massive main narrative. From references to very serious cameos, some as deep as featuring characters from entirely separate trilogies like Trails in the Sky, that had me on the edge of my seat as the narrative unfolded. It was also the first RPG in a really long time that totally fooled on what I thought was the ending, only to continue for a third longer. Not because I wanted it to end, but because just that much happens throughout. And surprisingly, it was totally warranted despite jamming in so much character development, narrative resolution, as well as fiendish twists prior to it. Oh, and there are like hype mecha fights, and tons of things to do like a Final Fantasy VII-ish snowboarding mini game, and that's pretty cool. But seriously, guys. You don't know how excited I am for Trails of Cold Steel III on PS4. YOU. HAVE. NO. IDEA.
  6. WildCardCorsair

    Game of the Year 2016: Wildcard's Picks

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

    Game of the Year 2016: Hailee's Picks

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

    Game of the Year 2016: Liz's Picks

    Since I've mostly left the game-writing-freelance-thing, I've found a bit of freedom in the fact that I haven't played a bunch of 2016's latest and hottest releases. But even I, in my almighty gaming wisdom, could not resist the allure of some of hype of the games released this year (whether there was an actual hype or not). So, let's talk about five games I've played this year that are pretty darn cool. Cool Game that You Beat People Up In Guilty Gear Xrd -Relevator- Official GP Review This year has been an odd one for fighting games, with some good ones like Pokken Tournament coming out on dead systems and questionable ones like Street Fighter V coming out on the most popular systems. But, the best fighting game this year is criminally underlooked, and that is Guilty Gear Xrd -Revelator-. Of course, the name probably doesn't help the PS4 and PS3 (and soon to be Steam!) game much… but Revelator is an effective sequel to Xrd -Sign-, offering new characters and at least some closure to a convoluted plot that's lasted years… but more importantly, has a fantastic tutorial that introduces many of Guilty Gear's aspect to a new crowd. Something that was sorely needed given Guilty Gear's complicated mechanics, and something other fighting games should try to emulate. Cool Game that You May Have Already Played if you Owned a Vita Gravity Rush Remastered Say what you will about re-releases and remasters, I love them. With my picky and frugal nature I miss out on a lot of the "classics", and I enjoy being able to play these games on new hardware, as I don't like to keep older consoles hooked up if I don't need to. Of course, the situation is a bit different with Gravity Rush Remastered — as with my constant battle of "why do I own a Vita anyway", I originally bought Gravity Rush for the Vita, only to sell it and eventually rebuy the PS4 version. And honestly, I'm really glad I did. Gravity Rush is such a unique, wonderful thing. I'm amazed with how fluidly and almost naturally Kat flies (or sometimes barrels) through her strange world, something that honestly easily could have become a control nightmare. The plot is also very interesting, though it unfortunately ends very abruptly. I'm looking forward to Gravity Rush 2 as a result, though. The first game is well worth the experience and I'm glad it came to the PS4, in order to give a broader audience a chance to give Gravity Rush a try. Cool Game That Scratches That Collection Itch Pokémon Sun and Moon Official GP Review I was really kind of done with Pokemon. I did not enjoy Black 2, and the whole of Generation VI I found to be one of the worst ever. But, as more (almost to much) information came out about Pokemon Sun and Moon, I begun to get excited again. I'm glad I gave it another try, too, as I thoroughly enjoyed Pokemon Sun. Pokemon Sun attempts to have an actual plot, and while it's not some kind of masterpiece narrative, it provides enough of an incentive to see its conclusion. The removal of HMs made it so I could finally have a full 6-Pokemon party without an HM slave taking up a spot. The game telling me a Pokemon's weaknesses and resistances after fighting it once allowed me to try new party combinations, instead of sticking with the types I managed to memorize the matchups for. I can't tell you how liberating it was to not feel like I needed a Water or Fire type to balance out my party. That said, Pokemon Sun is far, far from perfect, but seeing some steps finally being taken to address some of the long-running series' more stagnant bits fills me with hope for the future. Cool Game that was Released Yet Again This Year So I Can Put It On This List Steins;Gate Steins;Gate has had a release for the last three years… the PC release in 2014, PS3 and Vita in 2015, and this year with a Steam release. So, by the powers of time that may be, I can add this to the list this year, and thank goodness as it is probably one of the best visual novels I've ever played. The story starts off slow, really slow, but eventually opens up to a tale of time travel and intrigue… and the consequences of messing with time. There is little gameplay to speak of other than responding to text messages in sometimes vague ways, but the plot more than make up for accidently being dismissive to your friends from time to time. And I learned a bunch of Japanese terms while I was at it. Coolest Game (aka Game of the Year) Dragon Quest Builders All of the above games are pretty cool, but there can only be one, one coolest game of 2016. This super cool game is one I didn't even expect to be cool — even though I preordered it, it was more out of a weird sense of brand loyalty (huzzah consumerist America) than actual excitement for the game. But when I tried the demo to Dragon Quest Builders, I was blown away with just how fun it was. I immediately started playing the PS4 version, and did not stop until I finally beat it probably 40 hours later. I've never been a huge fan of Minecraft, but I could see the appeal of being able to gather resources and build (and with some hostile enemies if you so chose). Dragon Quest Builders added the thing I was missing most from Minecraft — direction — with towns to rebuild and baddies to smack down. In addition to that, Dragon Quest Builders hides a secretly amazing plot. As a long time fan of the series, I absolutely loved how they took a joke question from the original Dragon Quest game and turned it into a 'what if' scenario… what if the Hero saying yes to the Dragonlord wasn't a dream? Given the somewhat dire situation, the world is in a state of ruin. But, Dragon Quest perfectly blends its silly nature with the grimdark setting, making a game that's not overbearing in its dreariness while making it apparent that the end of the world did, in fact, happen. I could go on for ages on how much I loved Dragon Quest Builders, but I'll leave it at that. It really is a fantastic game. That's it for my 2016 Cool Game list! Do you think these games are cool too? Let me know in the comments below!
  9. Laddie13

    Game of the Year 2016: Laddie's Picks

    Each year there is always that one game that comes out of nowhere and completely blows my mind; last year it was Until Dawn. 2016 was a lot like that, and for me could be summed up as the year of pleasant surprises. A few of my most anticipated games fell short of my expectations and landed a slightly lower rank for others that weren't even on my radar. The biggest shake up in my gaming universe came in the form of VR, not only did I vicariously live out a life long dream/biggest nightmare of cage diving with a shark, but the PSVR also renewed my interest in the horror genre. A few games that were also contenders that just missed being included were, Inside and No Man“s Sky. Dishonored 2 was left off because sadly I never found the time to play it. Then there“s Overwatch, just kidding I have no interest in that game whatsoever. So without further adieu, I present you my (spoiler free) top ten games of 2016. Ok, there“s 11, I have this thing about even numbers, odd, always odd numbers with me 11. Tom Clancy“s Division I love a good pandemic outbreak in a video game, but maybe after playing The Last of Us, my expectations were too high for The Division. I felt no sense of urgency trying to save the human race. I think a lot of that was because much of the story was presented to you in the form of various audio recordings scattered within the open world of the fictional Manhattan. However, that didn't stop me from sinking several hours into the game. Gameplay was a lot like Destiny, but I found the loot drops and leveling up in this game less frustrating than the abusive relationship I had with that game. There“s something about the concept of looting and leveling a character up in a video game that I can't resist. I feel the heart of The Division“s story is a morality tale warning the human race that Black Friday shopping is evil and if you partake in the barbaric ritual, you will die a painful death from smallpox. 10. Call of Duty Infinite Warfare I would have loved Activision to forgo the Call of Duty brand for Infinity Ward“s Infinite Warfare. Sure it still has the foundations of a COD game, but it could have just as easily been marketed as a new sci-Fi franchise separate from COD. Multiplayer is pretty much what you would expect; no one is reinventing the wheel here. Maps are decent, and the game features a wide variety of standard and more futuristic versions of various weapons, and of course zombies. Infinite Warfare“s real strength comes from its campaign. Visually it is stunning especially running on a PS4 Pro. It tells a decent story and features memorable characters, including a charming and witty robot named Ethan, and something COD has sorely lacked in the past, a positive female character, Lt. Nora Salter. Too bad Infinity Ward wasn't brave enough to make her the lead playable character, but it's progress nonetheless. I love the missions where you have to fly a Jackal, so much fun. Too bad IW didn't think to include a multiplayer Jackal mode similar to Battlefront“s Fighter Squadron. 9. Until Dawn: Rush of Blood This game bears very little resemblance to last year's excellent Until Dawn regarding gameplay. It's an on-rails shooter, macabre roller coaster ride through a very creepy carnival/haunted house where dolls, demons, squealing pigs and everyone's favorite, clowns are the enemies that often jump out at you when you least expect it. While it still perfectly fits the category of horror, Rush of Blood is more a light-hearted scare, one that you never really sense you are in danger unlike the demo, Kitchen or the Playtest episode of Black Mirror. Rush of Blood has a fun arcade-y feel to it and is a perfect introduction to VR. Akimbo move controllers are the only way to play this game; the dual shock 4 will work, but hitting various targets in quick succession heightens your score, and the DS4 will slow you down. The game features seven different uniquely themed levels and while the enemies all tend to feel the same despite their form, it's replay value is high, and it's some of the best entertainment $20 can buy. 8. Ratchet and Clank (2016) Ratchet and Clank is not a remastered version of the PS2 classic but rather an all-new game based on the animated movie that is based on the original game. Err, whatever it is, it's spectacular fun. Often the thing I find with remastered/ remakes is that you can't always go home again. While you may have loved a game fifteen years ago, it may not have aged as well as single malt whiskey. Not a problem here, though, the characters, gameplay, and story feel brand new. It looks fantastic, once again it has PS4 Pro support that really makes those graphics pop. I've always thought Insomniac games have the best weapons and gadgets, the sheepinator will transform your enemies into harmless sheep, while the Groovitron forces enemies to uncontrollably dance, you don't find that fun in Battlefield“s arsenal. Ratchet and Clank was worth revisiting or playing for the first time. I only hope the upcoming Crash Bandicoot reboots are this good. 7. Titanfall 2 First off, no one is more surprised than I am that Titanfall 2 wasn't higher up on this list. [Editor's note: Full disclosure - Laddie is a moderator for Respawn's official Titanfall forums]. Respawn has delivered a great campaign that incorporates elements of genres you don't often see blended with an FPS like platformers and puzzles. Where Titanfall 2 misses the mark with me is, multiplayer. The first Titanfall was something so magical that I have invested over 60 days of playtime into it. Of course, I expected changes in the sequel, but Titanfall 2 doesn't feel like Titanfall anymore. The maps hardly encourage movement; the Titans are a shadow of what they used to be, and only two game modes feature grunts, and even then they have been stripped of their witty banter. Respawn prides itself on listening to the community, but I have to wonder if they were listening to the right community. They almost shipped Titanfall 2 without the most popular game mode Attrition in favor of the camper“s delight mode, Bounty Hunt. Luckily they came to their senses and added it back before launch. Titanfall 2 is still a decent game, especially if you didn't play the first, and all future DLC except cosmetics will be free. There“s also the grappling hook; that's fun. 6. Here They Lie I pretty much freaked out when I saw the trailer to Here They Lie for the first time. I“d been anxiously awaiting to see what Cory Davis (Spec Ops: The Line) and his Tangentlemen were up to. Here They Lie was a PSVR launch title and Sony Santa Monica and Tangentlemen took a Blair Witch approach to building up interest and promoting the game in the weeks before it released in the form of a website. Each day I would visit in hopes of finding out more about the Daedalus Project and the woman in yellow. Here They Lie is a psychological horror game, one that is steeped in surrealism, so much so that I felt like I was in a David Lynch movie. By that, I don't mean an actor playing in a David Lynch movie but rather your life becoming a Lynch movie. The look is gritty and reminded me of Eraserhead, and another aspect that was very Lynchian was the use of sound as if it became a character in the game. It also took a bit of getting used to, and at first, I could only play it for short periods at a time. Oddly enough, it is the only VR game that made me feel slightly queasy. It's not a game for everyone as it often relies on symbols and metaphors for the player to interpret for themselves. Here They Lie is an interesting horror experience, one that doesn't last long but will haunt you for days after. 5. Rusty Lake Roots Someone very wise once recommended that I play Rusty Lake Hotel, it was a puzzle/room escape/adventure that was so dark and twisted I instantly became addicted. This lead to the discovery of the Cube Escape series also developed by Rusty Lake, which kept me occupied right up until the announce of Rusty Lake Roots. If you have ever been intrigued by the prospect of tracking your family tree through things like Ancestry.com, Rusty Lake Roots might just change your mind. There are 33 levels in Roots, solving one, opens up another part of the story that traces the Vanderboom family through several generations of a deeply disturbed family. If David Lynch (yeah, I know another Lynch reference) were to make a strange and surreal point and click adventure game, it would probably be a lot like this. It's tough to discuss Rusty Lake Roots without spoiling things, but for a mere $3, you should give it a try. 4. The Deadly Tower of Monsters Every month I'm constantly disappointed or already own the free games offered with PlayStation Plus and Games with Gold. Recently PS+ offered up a game I missed called The Deadly Tower of Monsters. Right before Thanksgiving I went and caught myself a terrible cold/sore throat combination which freed up some time that I filled with video games. By chance, I decided to give DTOM a try. The concept of the game is that a cheesy science fiction B-movie is being re-released on DVD, and the director is brought in to record commentary while you play. It felt like an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and features a mix of aliens, dinosaurs, and dragons as enemies while the gameplay is a hack and slash/ dual stick shooter hybrid complete with irreverent humor. Seriously, was this game made for me personally, of course not but it sure felt like it. There are three playable characters and each feature different abilities that you will need to swap out to access or complete various levels. It's not an exceptionally long game, but it makes up for that with fun and cleverness. 3. Uncharted 4 I was saddened by the thought of our hero Drake“s story coming to an end and worried that an Amy Hennig-less Naughty Dog would not do his ending justice. I was wrong, Uncharted 4 -- while probably my least favorite of the series -- delivered a beautiful and perfect ending while leaving the possibility of another Uncharted series in the future. Uncharted games have always been the perfect mixture of great storytelling and fun gameplay; Uncharted 4 didn“t quite get the balance right this time. One minute I would be in the moment of action packed adventure only to be interrupted with extremely lengthy cutscenes that stole my momentum. Stealth based combat has always been an option and even sometimes a necessary means of survival in Uncharted, but it felt forced in Uncharted 4. I guess what I'm trying to say is the influence of Bruce Straley and Neil Druckmann made it feel more The Last of Us than Uncharted regarding gameplay. That“s by no means a terrible thing; I just felt it slowed up the pace. It goes without saying the game looks gorgeous. What surprised me the most was how good the multiplayer is. I don't prefer third person and no one buys an Uncharted game for MP, but it's worth a try. 2. Doom I expected nothing from Doom but a slight disappointment. Was I ever wrong; I love this game. It was a tough decision putting it in second place and could just as easily be my number one. Doom“s ultimate strength is the excellent single-player campaign; it's not exactly groundbreaking material but what it lacks in originality is surpassed by pure fun. It“s also quite a lengthy campaign by today's standards, one in which I have played through several times to find all the hidden things and areas. Kudos to the artists and level designers at Id that made Hell and Mars look so good. Initially, I wasn't impressed with Doom“s multiplayer but it got better once I learned to lose my regenerating health sensibilities and remember to pick up health packs. Id“s dedication to the game is admirable as well; They keep adding free content and game modes that keep me coming back to play. 1. The Last Guardian In the nine years it took for The Last Guardian to come out, my interest in this game has run the gamut between super excitement to indifference. In all honesty, I never thought the game would ever be more than an urban legend. On December 6, 2016, Sony finally released The Last Guardian. My journey began as soon as it unlocked at midnight and for the next few days, the game consumed me. The game is not without flaws, and everything you have heard is true, camera angles and wonky controls are often frustrating but if you have played Ico or Shadow of the Colossus they will come as no surprise. There were times I felt the awkward controls were by design and that later in the game controlling the nameless boy became more intuitive as if the boy was learning. More than likely it was due to just becoming more accustomed to the controls. I've heard several people complain of terrible frame rate issues as well, but I didn't experience that, it's probably just less noticeable on the Pro. The real star of the game is Trico, a giant cat/dog/bird that is the most advanced AI I've encountered in a game, which probably contributed to the delay as I'm not sure PS3 could have pulled it off. I fell in love with that magnificent beast and the relationship between Trico, and the boy is truly something special. The game hit my emotions in a way I didn't expect, I“m not even ashamed to admit it brought me to tears, both of sadness and of joy. The Last Guardian is my game of the year because it was such a powerful moving experience despite its flaws. Sometimes I stray, but we all know my gamer heart has always truly belonged to Sony, games like The Last Guardian make me proud to be a Playstation fan.
  10. Hailinel

    Game of the Year 2016: Justin's Picks

    2016 was an eventful year for gaming. Well, truthfully, the same could really be said for any recent year, but this was the year that: The Last Guardian finally shipped! As did Mighty No. 9! And I FINALLY got my Kickstarter-backer physical copy of Broken Age. And none of the above made my list. (Although, I doubt many people will be offended by the omission of Mighty No. 9. Hoo boy, that was awkward.) But as we get ready for 2017, which also looks ready and waiting to be an eventful year in gaming, let“s take a look back at my ten favorite games of 2016! 10. Touhou: Scarlet Curiosity The Touhou series of bullet hell shooters has long had a fanbase of creators that have spawned numerous fanworks over the years. The games and their characters have inspired fanart and doujinshi comics, music, and even entirely separate games. Scarlet Curiosity is one such title; an action RPG focused on the vampire Remilia and her devoted maid Sayaka, the game is simple, but well-made and incredibly fun. Filled with charming character aided by a great English localization, it was easily the biggest surprise of the year for me. 9. Style Savvy: Fashion Forward The third Style Savvy game took a while to make it to North America, but the wait was worth it. Backed by an unapologetically fantastical premise involving a tiny magical door, Fashion Forward puts, well, fashion forward as it charges the player with running a fashion boutique while also making time to help out at the hair stylist and beauty salon. With a long list of entertaining and eccentric clients in a fashion-obsessed city, dressing, styling, and grooming them all is addicting, and the light-hearted banter just adds to the charm. It was easy for me to get pulled in, playing the video game equivalent of dress-up for hours at a time. 8. Fire Emblem Fates As a long-time fan of the Fire Emblem series, putting Fates on my list wasn“t a difficult decision. But what was difficult was deciding where to actually rank it. Fates was a divisive game for a variety of reasons, whether it be the release of three separate versions (with one being restricted to DLC) that all tell the same story from different angles, and with different focuses on challenge, at that. And for every innovation that felt like a positive direction (changes to the weapon triangle, the removal of weapon durability), other parts didn“t receive the attention that they should have deserved. (The narrative justification for the second-generation characters being able to fight alongside their parents is the most nakedly lazy writing the series has ever endured.) Fire Emblem took steps forward and back with Fates, but at its core, it“s still Fire Emblem. While the game has a number of issues, it still manages to retain enough to be a challenging, entertaining entry. Hopefully an eventual Fire Emblem title on the Nintendo Switch is in the works. 7. Pokkén Tournament One of the unlikeliest of fighting games to see a release in recent memory, this Bandai Namco-developed Pokémon fighting game with its mix of Tekken and Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme Vs.-inspired mechanics turned out to be really darn good! While the size of the roster in the Wii U version is limited, particularly compared to the arcade version that has seen continuous updates, the variety of Pokémon on the roster is well-picked. And the fighting mechanics, which emphasize a continuous shift between open arena battling and more traditional fighting on a 2D plane is fun in both single-player and online. This is the sort of wild Pokémon spin-off that I would love to see more of! 6. Nobunaga“s Ambition: Sphere of Influence – Ascension Official GP Review Koei Tecmo has gotten back into a real groove with western releases of the company“s historical strategy titles, and Ascension really nailed it for me. Since its release just this past October, I“ve played through multiple campaigns, some more successful than others, and still have a desire to go back and try to conquer Japan again. It“s the sort of difficult strategy game where I constantly feel the pull of “just one more turn.” Ascension feels like a game I could easily play for years. 5. Attack on Titan Official GP Review Koei Tecmo“s Omega Force studio have become experts at the one-against-a-thousand action combat of the Musou franchise in all its forms. To see them take many aspects of that formula and apply them to a game with an entirely different focus, and do so successfully, is remarkable. Attack on Titan“s smooth, rhythmic flow of swinging through the air and cutting down Titans is a delight as it retells the story of the anime“s first season from start to finish. Hopefully we won“t have to wait for a sequel for as long as we“ve had to wait for the anime“s second season, which is due to start airing next year. 4. Samurai Warriors 4: Empires Official GP Review The third and final Koei Tecmo game on the list, Samurai Warriors 4: Empires continues the Empires spin-off tradition of taking the core hack-and-slash Musou action and giving it the backbone of a strategy game. This year“s Empires title is an excellent refinement of that formula, offering challenges not usually seen in standard Musou titles. Playing defense with an underpowered officer and managing to hold off a much larger and more powerful invasion force is always satisfying. Of all of the Musou series, Samurai Warriors has long been my favorite, and Samurai Warriors 4: Empires helps keep it on top. 3. Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X Official GP Review At first glance, Project Diva X might seem disappointing. The game has a relatively small track list, and the more cinematic music videos of past games aren“t present, as all of them are set as concert stage performances. But Project Diva X“s new story mode, which adds a thin but entertaining premise to the proceedings, is surprisingly endearing. The song selection is also top-notch, with some personal favorites of mine making the cut. And the game“s original medleys, which blend songs from past games together into themed performances like Cute, Cool, and Quirky, are some of the best and most elaborate in the game. And it“s a Hatsune Miku game. I just can“t say no to Miku! 2. Final Fantasy XV Oh, what a long and winding road it“s been this past decade. There“s a part of me that says that Final Fantasy XV has no reason to be as good as it is. Pulled out of stagnant development from its years under Tetsuya Nomura as Final Fantasy Versus XIII, Hajime Tabata and his team rebuilt Nomura“s concept into a complete game worthy of being a mainline Final Fantasy title. Though it“s rough around the edges, Noctis“s road trip tale of brotherhood and a desire to find his betrothed after his kingdom has fallen under imperial rule shines through where it counts, wearing its inspirations from past Final Fantasy games on its sleeve while standing well on its own. And the game“s ending is not only rewarding, but one of the very best that the series has delivered yet, nailing the game“s themes one after another. 1. Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE Several years ago, Nintendo surprised everyone with the announcement of Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem, an Atlus-developed crossover title that would match Fire Emblem“s medieval fantasy strategy role-playing series with Shin Megami Tensei“s demon-infested, apocalypse-happy, modern Tokyo-set JRPG franchise. But there was little meat to the announcement beyond a placeholder title and some old character art from past games. Many assumed that the game would be a standard crossover of franchise casts, possibly involving fights between Marth and the Demi-Fiend before everyone comes together to fight the true, common enemy. Because that“s how these crossover games tend to go. And so it was surprising, to say the least, when Nintendo unveiled Tokyo Mirage Sessions for the first time last year. Bright colors! J-Pop! A bizarre title with a sharp symbol in it! And no sign of the Demi-Fiend! I was on board with this unabashed goofiness from day one. Of course, not everyone was. Some were annoyed, or more bizarrely felt betrayed. Where was the Shin Megami Tensei? Where was the Fire Emblem? While traditional franchise crossover games are all well and good, Atlus and Nintendo chose to take Tokyo Mirage Sessions in the more novel direction of a thematic crossover. With the gameplay design and structure of a MegaTen RPG with Fire Emblem influences, and a modern-day Tokyo set against a world of Fire Emblem characters largely reimagined in the vein of MegaTen demons, well, here we are! The entertainment industry backdrop and the game“s bright, beautiful color palette give TMS an identity all its own, with plenty of nodding references and Easter eggs related to both franchises for good measure. The professionally produced musical performances as sung by the cast are some of the many highlights in a game that isn“t afraid to be goofy with characters that range from an enka-singing elementary schooler to a pitch-perfect parody of a western otaku. And yet, it never feels too silly for its own good, easing between lighter and darker moments with ease. As a fan of both franchises, I can certainly understand the disappointment some felt when Tokyo Mirage Sessions turned out to be a game that in no way matched what they had envisioned Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem would be. But the heart of both franchises shines through in ways expected and not, with a top-notch presentation and a warm heart that in my mind turned out to be the Wii U“s last and greatest hurrah.
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