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Found 5 results

  1. HAIL 9000

    Game of the Year 2015: Hailee's Picks

    Editor's Note: Today's list is from our second guest writer, Hailee Kenney! Like Justin, she's also a friend of some of us on the staff and is also a video game enthusiast who works as a software developer. You can follow her on Twitter @HAIL_9000 ___________________________________________________________________ I have to admit, when I set out to write a list of my favorite games for this year, I was worried I wouldn“t be able to fill ten slots. I“ve found myself more and more frequently reaching back into older games that I haven“t played before, because I haven“t been all that dazzled with the AAA titles coming out in recent years (I know I“m ten years late, but if you want to talk to me about how Knights of the Old Republic 2 is a really interesting exploration of the Star Wars universe let me know). I was pretty pleasantly surprised, though, that when I sat down to make this list I had way more than ten games I wanted to include. I also realized that my list includes a pretty wide variety of games from publishers of all sizes, and even from crowdfunding. I“m excited how many avenues are now available to deliver unique and interesting games, and this year renewed my excitement a little for what the future has in store. Before we dive into the list, I just wanted to give an honorable mention to Tri Force Heroes and Until Dawn. Both games made it on my list at some point, but I ultimately decided to exclude them because I realized it was the people I played them with that really made those games enjoyable. But if you“re looking for a good time with some friends, Tri Force Heroes is incredibly fun, and Until Dawn is great with a room full of people shouting over each other to make decisions. But enough of that -- let“s send off 2015 in style. 10. Ori and the Blind Forest Of all the games I played this year, Ori and the Blind Forest was one of the most beautiful. A Metroidvania with mechanics polished to a perfect mirror sheen, Ori managed to remain fresh and challenging throughout its running time. There are some incredible acrobatic gameplay challenges, especially during some of the timed “race†segments. The game also had incredibly beautiful art, which made the world a joy to explore. Best of all, though, it married its mechanics and art with a simple yet powerful story. Ori doesn“t have dialogue, and none of its characters speak (aside from the narrator), yet the game affected me on a deep level. The fact that it achieved so much in terms of story with so little is a marvel, and that combined with its sharp mechanics and amazing art make Ori one of my favorite games this year. 9. Tales from the Borderlands I“ll be the first to admit that I (like many) have grown a little weary of the five episode Telltale formula ever since season two of The Walking Dead. I wasn“t even planning to play Tales from the Borderlands until I started to hear a lot of positive buzz about the first two episodes. I decided to give it a shot and I“m glad I did. The game is charming, and has a dorky sense of humor that really drew me in. I found that I really liked the characters, and I liked the lighter mood Tales from the Borderlands had compared to some of the other recent Telltale games. And to top it all off, the episodes were much closer to the length I would expect (2 to 3 hours), as opposed to the 40-60 minute episodes Telltale has been putting out. So even if the new Telltale adventure game formula isn“t my favorite, Tales from the Borderlands proved to be a fun game with great characters. 8. Technobabylon Speaking of adventure game formulas, here“s one that follows the old school formula that I do like. Technobabylon was a lot of fun, and was a return to the puzzle focused adventure games that I love. On top of having good puzzles, it pretty much had good everything else too: an interesting (cyberpunk!) setting, a compelling plot, and great characters. It was a really nice example of both cyberpunk and classic adventure games, two things I feel have faded away in recent years (although cyberpunk seems to be making a bit of a comeback in the gaming world). And while we got another cyberpunk adventure game this year, Read Only Memories (which I did enjoy), I found Technobabylon to be a bit more carefully written and interesting. 7. Splatoon Splatoon filled a really important role for me this year in that it was the game that I could sit down and play for as little or as long as I wanted. As someone who tends to seek out strong narrative experiences, I find myself drawn to long, involved games that I don“t always have time for. Sitting down for one or two (or sometimes twenty) short matches of Splatoon was awesome, and on top of that the game was just a lot of fun. I found the gameplay mechanics to be enjoyable and well tuned, the character customization was great, and I was pretty into the game“s “90s punk aesthetic. And of course the inklings were super cute. Plus the Miiverse integration, the Splatfests, the ability to easily play with friends, and the lack of voice chat made the community feel really vibrant and welcoming. It was also really nice to see some of my friends who had avoided competitive online multiplayer get really into Splatoon. 6. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain I could definitely write a novel about all the things I didn“t like about Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, but since it“s on my top ten list obviously I loved a lot of things about it. It“s true that when I finished the game I said I never wanted to talk about the Metal Gear series again, but once I calmed down a little bit, I realized how much fun I had and how amazing the gameplay was. There were so many options when it came to stealth, and so many cool details like guards getting helmets if you relied on headshots and the player being able to take advantage of patrol schedules. It was also a pleasant surprise to see a game that took advantage of it“s open world to enhance the core gameplay, instead of just to be an Assasin“s Creed clone. And the game did have a lot of the Kojima silliness that I know and love (who doesn“t enjoy running in guns blazing on a pink D-Walker while blaring Friday I“m in Love?). And while I was ultimately disappointed with the game“s narrative, I was impressed that Kojima managed to reel himself in and present some much more subtle storytelling. Was it the way I wanted to say goodbye to the series I love? I“m not sure. But was it a pretty good game? Definitely. 5. Pillars of Eternity Back around the turn of the millennium, Bioware and Black Isle made some incredible RPGs filled with sharp writing and tactical, RTS-like combat. As Bioware moved towards a more modern cinematic style, the rest of the RPG genre followed. Pillars of Eternity was pitched as a return to this style, and it definitely followed through. The game truly felt like a modern successor to the cRPGs of old, and was absolutely packed to the brim with lore. Obsidian“s writers clearly spent a lot of time fleshing out the world of Eoras, and explored the world“s pantheon of gods in unique and interesting ways, picking up the torch from Baldur“s Gate and Planescape. It also had a great combat system that, while occasionally clunky, was challenging and strategic. Really, though, it was the characters that made Pillars. Obsidian crafted an interesting world, and added in some exceptionally written companions. I hope to see Obsidian return to explore more of Eoras in a sequel further down the line. 4. Fallout 4 I doubt there“s ever been a Bethesda RPG that didn“t make my top ten list the year it came out, and Fallout 4 is no exception. Even though I did have some issues with it (my two chief complaints being the stripped down roleplaying mechanics and a shortage of interesting quests), I really enjoyed the time I spent with it. As always with Bethesda games, exploring the world was incredibly fun and provided hours of entertainment, and I love the environmental storytelling of the Fallout series. Even if the main plot fell a little flatter than usual, Fallout 4 still had some great world building, and for the first time in a Bethesda game, I found the characters to be very memorable. It was a nice addition, and it made me want to bring my companions along to get to know them. So even if it wasn“t my dream Fallout game, all the important elements were there, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. Also, my character looks badass in aviators and road leathers. 3. SOMA Before I talk about SOMA, for the sake of full disclosure I have to say that I really hate scary games. Jump scares, suspenseful chases, all the other usual elements make most horror games unplayable for me. However, I found those to be quite minimal in SOMA, to the point where even I was able to play it. The real horror in the game is much more existential. It asks some really important and interesting questions that you“ll be thinking about for hours after you stop playing, and explores some fascinating philosophical concepts in the way that only the best science fiction can. It“s carefully written, and the story really drew me in. In addition to that, it excels with its atmosphere, exploration, and setting. Even though I would normally have written SOMA off as “not my thingâ€, I“m glad I gave it a shot. 2. Everybody“s Gone to the Rapture I can guarantee that Everybody“s Gone to the Rapture is not a game for everyone, but it“s definitely the game for me. It“s long, meandering, and absolutely beautiful. I loved exploring the carefully crafted English countryside, and the storytelling is done in such a unique way. I liked slowly discovering not only what had happened, but also getting to know the people who lived in the village through their memories, which are scattered about the game. I also found the plot incredibly intriguing, and was hooked by the mystery almost immediately. I love games that leave me thinking about them long after I turn them off, and Everybody“s Gone to the Rapture was very much that kind of game for me. It“s calm, beautiful storytelling leads to some very poignant moments, and I really appreciated that it had a much more concrete plot to discover than Dear Esther, a similar game by the same studio. So ultimately I“d say that if you“re patient, and you love being forced to think, it“s definitely worth checking out. 1. Undertale Even though I had a tough time narrowing my list down, there was never a question of what my game of the year would be. I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about Undertale, most of which I haven“t shared because I“m not sure I could do the game justice. Undertale is so amazing and unique in many ways, from its save system to its gameplay mechanics to its writing and characters. But ultimately the thing I love about Undertale the most is its focus on kindness, and how it questions the fundamental mechanic of violence at the center of most games. Undertale has so much heart, and it gives the player so many chances to be compassionate. Even better, you“re rewarded for it. Befriending your enemies and showing them compassion leads to one of the best and most meaningful game endings I“ve ever experienced. I wish that more games would take a page out of Undertale“s book and explore kindness and friendship as a mechanic, and encourage the player to take that extra step and get to know an enemy instead of fighting it. And that“s why Undertale is my game of the year for 2015, and why it has probably earned a spot as one of my favorite games of all time.
  2. Jonathan Higgins

    Game of the Year 2015: Jonathan's Picks

    It seems this year is nearly over. Thinking about all the games I“ve played fills me with determination. To be completely honest, I“ve spent more time playing old games than new ones this year. One of my fondest memories of 2015 will no doubt be playing through every Kirby game I own to honor Mr. Iwata. I glitched out Link“s Awakening, got one of my childhood-favorite games from a friend, and more. Still, this list is about the present! Like last year, though, you won't find any Pokémon games on this list. I have a million more Individual Values to give those games some love. Without further ado, here are the ten greatest games I've played that were released this year, and a few reasons why I adore them so. 10. Gunman Clive 2 I never thought panda physics would be a concept to worry about in an action game. But Gunman Clive 2 has a handful of obtuse surprises! I liken Bertil Hörberg“s games to the ones I mastered during childhood -- short and sweet; ones you“ll replay over and over again. Gunman Clive 2 in particular is about the length of any given Game Boy platformer, but remarkably varied and surreal. It improves upon precedents set in the first game, with enough crazy moments to properly set it apart. You really can“t beat the price, for what you“re getting. I feel like that“s the case with at least one other game on my list this year, too. Maybe sticking with games of the past has me attached to simplicity. Gunman Clive 2 is proof you don“t have to make your platformers overly complex adventures that last forever and overstay their welcome. 9. Tembo the Badass Elephant Official GP Review When Game Freak & SEGA announced they were partnering for a new project in March, I so wanted it to be another Pulseman. What we got instead was a zany action game whose graphical stylings and appeal are torn right from the pages of comic books. It“d been awhile since I last played the game after reviewing it towards the end of July, but picking it up again brought me back to the many challenges and laughs it provided: I showed my friends the game after reviewing it. The sarcastic one in the group kept making quips about my platforming skills as I struggled through some of the trickier objectives in the game“s penultimate world. She likened the experience to Donkey Kong Country -- a game whose difficulty could frustrate the heck out of the person playing, but be hilarious for backseat gamers to watch and comment on. That kind of fun is what“s going to make Tembo have some lasting appeal, to me. 8. Bloo Kid 2 Official GP Review I was playing both Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash and Tri Force Heroes at the time winterworks dropped the free update for this game, and I totally dropped both of those to go running back to the fun I remembered having in May. As it turns out, I“m among the first to 100% complete the game by gathering all 360 stars and collecting every last little thing in both the original and added levels. Bloo Kid 2 is absolutely stratified in the 16-bit era. It feels like playing it will transport you back to the past and offer a handful of challenges many of those developers weren“t creative enough to think of at the time. A majority of players will only remember the mine-cart levels and the game“s lack of originality. But me? I“m going to remember that this game outdoes plenty of big name Nintendo releases of this holiday season despite its flaws. It says something when you can get a perfectly competent experience for less than 10% of the asking price for many 3DS retail games out there. 7. BOXBOY Official GP Review I was browsing my 3DS library looking for something to play to pass the time recently, and I noticed something unique about BOXBOY. Most of the 3DS title cards on our systems, even the ones for the most elaborate games available, just feature some variation of a spinning logo. BOXBOY dismisses this in favor of displaying a cool little animation that demonstrates a basic game mechanic over just a few seconds. Everything about BOXBOY hearkens back to the very beginning of HAL Laboratory -- dismissing complex visuals in favor of a minimalist approach that focuses almost entirely upon gameplay, but that has enough charm to make its characters memorable and its players want more. I hope this great game becomes one of the next great franchises for Nintendo. 6. Ori and the Blind Forest Turns out the next great Studio Ghibli movie is a video game. Ori and the Blind Forest isn“t just a beautiful Metroid-like with masterfully-crafted mechanics: it“s got a story with as much emotion as games six times its size and sixty times its budget. Most music sets the mood for a level or environment in a game; this one“s helps better tell its story. The crescendo of a powerful melody will typically hit right at the same time Ori accomplishes a breathtaking platforming feat. The visuals and soundtrack combined help this forest to feel like one of the most vibrant worlds I played in this year; it“s truly alive. If this game hadn“t been released on Steam, it would have sold me an Xbox One. And to be honest, the “definitive edition” kind of has me thinking along those lines again. 5. Tearaway Unfolded My love for the original Tearaway is well-documented at this point. I got hands-on with the new PlayStation 4 game at both E3 and PAX Prime this year. By the end of the Vita version, I had my lady snuggled beside me to see just a tiny piece of what the game had to offer on the small screen. As I made my way through Tearaway Unfolded, it was just as much her adventure as mine. She helped me create rainbow snowflakes (pictured above), a dinosaur flag, a Pikachu scarecrow, and more. Pictures of both of us -- not just her -- are on the books devoted to the study of the You, and the banner on Gibbet Hill. This game is worth experiencing on PlayStation 4 not just because of the brand new content tailored to it, but because seeing that world on a much bigger screen allows it to be shared with others easily. The world of Tearaway that you help create should be proudly shown! I“ll never forget the experiences I shared with other Messengers this year -- and that includes both my lady and showgoers at E3 & PAX Prime who played the demo. I've put one of their creations beside my own. 4. Devil Survivor 2: Record Breaker Official GP Review At just over 115 hours total, Devil Survivor 2: Record Breaker is my second most-played game of 2015, behind only Pokémon Omega Ruby. And that shouldn“t surprise anyone, considering how in love I am with the original. As mentioned in my review, the revised script and voice cast helped breathe new life into the game I love, and the new story just proves these characters don“t overstay their welcome. I still play this one regularly to this day, trying to accomplish every last one of the post-game challenges. This game“s design, particularly in the Triangulum story, is one of the best examples of starting a character out virtually powerless, then allowing him to effectively (and purposefully) break the game by the final boss fight. I think this game should be played by everyone, not just because it“s welcoming for everyone (with DLC that helps alleviate the grind and challenge of the original game), but just so more than just me can see what wonderful things a bizarre combination of Fire Emblem, Dragon Quest, and Pokémon is capable of. 3. Yoshi“s Woolly World Official GP Review I expected Good Feel“s efforts to be worth the wait, but I didn“t expect to have as much fun as I did playing Super Mario Galaxy -- or the original Yoshi“s Island, decades ago. The wonderful world of wool makes for one of the best Yoshi games to date. If you even mildly enjoyed Yoshi“s Story or the many games to come after the SNES original, you absolutely owe it to yourself to pick this one up. This is another experience my lady and I shared -- both of us have each completed our own file of the game. It was cool to see the things Mellow Mode allowed you to do as I watched her play, and I love that the game never punished her for keeping things at a difficulty level she could enjoy. We each have our own favorite Yoshis we unlocked, and she may have adopted one of my Yarn Yoshi amiibos as her own -- but our memories of Yoshi“s Woolly World are definitely shared between us. Long live Poochy! 2. Axiom Verge Official GP Review This game is better than Super Metroid. I know that“s going to make me a lot of enemies over time, but I“ll never stop saying it. I didn“t play any Metroid games back when they originally released -- I have no strong feelings of nostalgia for Samus or her world. I played both games back to back obsessively, drawing comparisons between their respective mechanics and boss fights. Tom Happ is the clear winner because he was so heavily inspired by Super Metroid. He knows exactly how to mess with your expectations and turn tried and true formulas on their collective giant robotic head, inside out, and then some. I gave it a perfect score. I stand by it. I“ve played plenty of Metroid-likes this year, but I“ll only call one revolutionary. I“ve handed out this game to several friends and told them to pay it forward and pass along good words, if they like it and agree with most of the praise I“ve given it. Considering I had no idea this game existed prior to it being handed to me, Axiom Verge is definitely the single biggest, most critically acclaimed surprise hit of my year... ...except for... 1. UNDERTALE Restraint is the ultimate character builder. If you“ve ever felt guilty striking down your enemies in an RPG, Undertale will teach you mercy. If you ignore its lessons and choose to kill or be killed, the game will show no mercy. You will be judged. You will be judged for your every action. I“ve tried for the longest time to convince my brain to find the words to give this game justice in my eyes -- to allow me to write some review or editorial that perfectly conveys my feelings. But it refused. You all have no idea how many times I“ve saved and reloaded documents filled with the right words and the wrong ones. This is the space where I“m going to make it count. I can“t describe what Undertale does without spoiling the plot and all the bad skeleton jokes. But I can tell you how meaningful its message was to me personally. When I was a kid and I sat down with a Final Fantasy game for the first time, I vividly remember asking my parents why I had to kill everything. They watched me get a Game Over when I tried to run and couldn“t escape. RPGs aren“t like Mario games where I can just avoid foes as I work towards the goal. There“s typically no avoiding combat when it comes to achieving victory. Running away will only hurt you. Showing restraint or finding a peaceful route didn“t just make winning more challenging; it made victory impossible. Undertale is the first and only RPG I“ve played where you can choose to finish the game without lifting your stick, frying pan, or dagger. You can choose to engage monsters by simply talking to them or picking actions tailored to their likes and dislikes. You can spare them by selecting Mercy and moving on. Some enemies are difficult to run from, but it can be done without dying. Every boss fight is passable without an actual fight. Everything has a peaceful option. And yet, even a Pacifist route has consequences. Undertale isn“t my game of the year because I think it's the ideal game for everyone, even if it is critically acclaimed. I'm not going to demand all of you play this game, and experience everything the world has to offer. I don“t think other developers should follow Toby Fox“s lead and create games like it. Honestly, I hope people experience the game blind -- just savor it like the perfect bowl of spaghetti. It“s my Game of the Year because it let me show mercy. It affected me like few games ever will... because I was comfortable being myself -- a Pacifist at heart.
  3. Ori and the Blind Forest has been one of the most critically acclaimed games of 2015 so far, and now the game's director has announced that the game will be receiving an expansion dubbed The Definitive Edition. This expansion is set to include new content, areas, artwork, mechanics, and more. Thomas Mahler, the game's director, also mentioned that they went back and fixed all of the design and content issues that people had a problem with. Right now, it isn't clear whether Ori and the Blind Forest Definitive Edition will only be sold as a standalone product or if it will also be a payable (or free) add-on for current owners, but you can expect to see the expansion release during the holiday season on Windows 10, Steam, and Xbox One. Source: Game Informer Are you interested in playing this Definitive Edition of Ori and the Blind Forest?
  4. Ori and the Blind Forest was one of the best looking new games shown during Microsoft's press conference at E3 2014; however, it looks like you'll be waiting a little bit longer to play it than previously expected. Moon Studios announced the delay on their website today, saying that they made the decision along with Microsoft Game Studios in order to put the final layer of polish on what they hope will be an "unforgettable experience." In the meantime, you can check out a new gameplay footage below. Ori and the Blind Forest will now be coming to Xbox One and PC in early 2015, with an Xbox 360 release following later in the year. Source: OriBlindForest.com What are your thoughts on the delay?
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