Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Review, Thoughts + Censorship

Didn't get a chance until this year to play this game and I'm glad I did. It wasn't really talked about when it came out from what I remember. I picked it up day one but didn't really follow the news of it prerelease. Now that I finished it, here's a super long detailed review for you! ^_^;;

The main story was good but somewhat predictable. The best thing wasn't the actual story but the events and scenes with the main cast themselves. I loved their interactions with each other. There were lots of humor and wit. The game embraced the full aspect of the entertainment world in Japan and did a fine job mixing it in with the main story. This wasn't just about idols and songs but it also delved into movies and TV shows. I loved all the parodies and homages to Sentai shows, cooking shows, kids shows etc. They even include the Vocaloid phenomenon into it which shows the times we're in. They were really funny and well produced with their own faux presentations. I was constantly surprised what they parodied and with whom from the main cast they used for the scenes. It added a lot of charm and fun to the overall narrative. While the story had some cheesy moments, it was actually pretty self-aware and characters would call out certain silly things I noticed. It's a pretty witty script at times even with some cliche tropey elements thrown in. Also, the way they tied the Fire Emblem and SMT franchises together was pretty interesting. I think fans will appreciate it. The ending was wholly satisfying and very well done.

The localization was excellent. While some of the text didn't match what was being said exactly by the Japanese VAs, it was close enough and also added a bit of its own flair to the conversations. The jokes and conversations were natural. I also didn't notice a single unintentional typo which was quite an accomplishment. I was particularly impressed with the text messages. Each character had a distinctive style of typing and some of their replies and banter were eerily realistic. I like to text and tweet all the time and the responses here were pitch perfect. The peeps at Altus definitely know their social media manners...lol.

One minor gripe I had with the localization was that none of the character interactions and dialogue during battle are translated at all. So all the banter and quips are lost to anyone who can't understand Japanese. I'm not sure what prevented them from doing so but a large part of interactions are gone. Oh well.

The real gems were the Side Stories. Each character in the main cast had their own story that had a beginning, middle and end. These weren't optional sidequests like the random fetch quests with random NPCs found throughout the game. These were full on stories in of themselves. They were really well written and developed the characters really well. Not only do you learn a lot more about them but you also see how they bond and become better friends. There were some genuinely touching moments in these stories that I loved. It made these characters much more complex and interesting. Their confessions and revelations gave me major Persona vibes. It's my favorite part of the game and each objective is varied enough that I never knew how each one would progress. They also tied in some must-have gameplay perks and rewards when you finish different parts of them so they're a must play for story AND combat reasons.

The art direction for this game is fantastic. There are very vibrant colors everywhere and the look and feel is very nice and inviting. All the characters are very well designed and look super clean. Even NPCs you barely see that often have a unique and distinct design. The main cast are all attractive and good looking although since they're performers, that shouldn't be a surprise. I liked the majority of their different outfits as well. I really liked how the 2D concept art transitioned to 3D. I found myself taking a ton of screenshots constantly. The Mirages in your party as well as the various enemies also look fantastic. Some of the redesigns for the Fire Emblem characters as Mirage looked particularly fanastic. The special attacks in particular also looked awesome. While it's not a technical marvel (some stiff animations in cutscenes, aliasing and slowdown occasionally), it's a very nice looking game overall. I also loved the idea of making the NPC crowds you can't interact with as just randomly colored people. It's quite stylish.

There were also a bunch of cutscenes for the music videos which ranged from much more detailed cel-shaded models to 2D animated scenes and some even used the in-game character models. They were all very well produced and looked amazing. Note: There were some major changes to the game during localization but you can read my rant about the censored visuals/content later in this review.

The music is the real highlight and compliments the visuals perfectly. Considering pop idols were the main focus, this shouldn't come as a surprise. I didn't expect to like most or all of the songs in the game since I don't like most modern J-pop songs these days. The songs were produced by Avex Trax which is a real record label in Japan and they did a pretty great job. Every song is catchy and memorable. They range from traditional J-pop songs to ballads and there's even a Vocaloid equivalent. Some songs actually got stuck in my head even when I wasn't playing the game. Even if I didn't like the singing for a few songs, the music itself was still great. It's a shame you don't get to hear the full songs in the actual game though. You only hear a portion in the debut music videos as well as clips from some special attacks. The only way to hear the whole thing is from the Vocal Tracks album they released in Japan. I actually imported that before I finished the game since I knew I would want to listen to all the songs after I finished the game. A selection of tracks were also released with the Special Edition but it's just a small sample. It's really good and I recommend picking up the album if you liked the songs in the game.

But the songs weren't the only good tracks. The in-game music is also great and memorable. I found most of the slice of life themes to be nice and relaxing while most battle tracks including some boss ones were really hype. They fit in within the scenes really well and had a really modern J-drama feel to them. I'm a bit disappointed that they never released an official OST for the rest of the game's music aside from the vocal tracks. The only way to to listen to them outside the game would be from a game rip on YouTube which someone has done.

Combat was super fun. The battles started out somewhat repetitive but once you start amassing the rest of your party members and unlocking more and more attacks and special moves, it's a sight to behold. You mainly try to attack an enemy's weakness to start a Session which will have every party attack in sequence.  Not only does this look super flashy but it's a must to take down really tough enemies and bosses later in the game. The enemies can also do the same to you so it can prove to be quite challenging at times. I actually died because some enemies will take advantage of the whole Session mechanic. The addition of special performances, adlibs, duo arts etc also add an insane amount of extra flashy animations and effects to the battle making it quite a feast for the eyes and ears. It's what keeps the combat enjoyable and addictive. There are more systems in the game that involve upgrading your weapons and characters but my review would end up even longer if I explained it in more detail. It's good, trust me. I also liked that you could basically save anywhere. No save points here! That was unexpected.

The dungeons were okay. They felt and looked a lot liked the dungeons from the SMT and Persona games except the ones in this game are much smaller in scope and less of a grind. There were some light puzzles except for one dungeon where it was actually a bit of a brainteaser and frustrating to solve. I had to look up a guide a few times because some parts just weren't clear enough for me to figure out. I also found the dungeons to be a bit of a drag at times especially when you need to revisit them for Side Stories, sidequests and other reasons. That was a bit too grindy for me. But I did like that each dungeon looked different and had its own music. Each one is based on a specific theme and I think they were pretty well thought out. The backtracking sucked but at least the dungeons weren't super long. I also liked that they would put in some unexpected objectives in order to complete a dungeon.

I should also give a special shout out to the UI and the way they implemented the Gamepad functionality. The UI is very similar to a visual novel where you can fast forward through all the dialogue, let it play out automatically or manually progress it. It also allows you to press a button to hide all the dialogue boxes so you can take clean screenshots of of the scenes. It's pretty handy and I wish all RPGs allowed this function. The Gamepad screen is not only a nice easy access to the map for the world and dungeons but it also uses the texting messages really well. Here, you can check all the texts very easily and see the very humorous dialogue as I mentioned before. I also love that when you get a message, the Gamepad would vibrate like a phone. The ability to check the stats and weaknesses for your party and the enemies during combat in the Gamepad which was also a nice touch. It's all very slick and made navigating around quite painless. Whoever designed this did a great job.

Okay! Rant time start:

One major gripe I had with this game was the censorship. It made no sense whatsoever so I need to talk about it. I can understand if they wanted to take out some of the pervy aspects of the game they found too mature for children but some of the censoring choices were baffling. I'm usually fine with changes made to a game for local consumption but this was done all wrong. Some of the decisions felt like one hand didn't know what the other was doing. Example: A few outfits were censored for some cleavage but then there were other ones that showed MORE skin and cleavage but they were left untouched. Huh?

I was going to list my grievances in detail but these guys at Censored Gaming did a great job summarizing the bulk of the major changes in this YouTube video. They also mentioned some of the inconsistencies with what Nintendo and Atlus felt inappropriate. Make sure to watch it if you're curious what they changed. Nintendo and Atlus put way too much effort into this including changing or adding in a ton of new assets/textures and changing hundreds of lines in the dialogue. The amount of work they did to censor the game was pretty insane. It's really quite a shame because the people who are buying this game know what they're getting into. If you're going to change what the game originally was just because you're afraid of offending some people outside Japan then you are doing it wrong. This whole game is about the idol culture, pop entertainment and fanservice in Japan and going ahead and fucking with it doesn't make it acceptable. The people who are interested in this game know this stuff well. It's a niche game for a niche audience especially for the audience outside Japan. Taking away the original content from them isn't a positive thing no matter how you spin it.

If you already own or played the game but you don't want to import a JPN Wii U or JPN copy of the game, then you can check out a fan-made patch to restore the original content. I discovered this while looking up the censorship issues. It seems pretty involved and I'm not sure if I'll bother with it but if you're interested, it's worth checking out just to play the game the way the developers intended for the Japanese audience. I might just import the JPN version myself and play on an emulator in the future.

Also, you can thankfully watch a full playthrough and all the music videos/cutscenes for the original Japanese version on YouTube. You can see all the costumes and whatever else Nintendo and Atlus decided was too "offensive" for our poor child-like eyes. Seriously, I haven't been this annoyed with a censored game since Yakuza 3. That was bad and this comes close to that.

It's ironic that this game was so heavily censored because it goes against the message of what the game is trying to tell us. It tells the player that you need to be true to yourself and your art in order to entertain people. I bet Barry (the otaku dude in the game as seen above) would've been pissed.

Rant end.

Overall, aside from the silly censorship, the game itself is great. The changes didn't destroy the positives that much. It was much longer than I expected and I was constantly surprised with the scenarios it presented. I loved all the characters and the setting. It was really cool to see a cast of heroes made up of performers from the entertainment industry. It felt fresh and new. You could tell the devs put a lot of love and care into this game. This is one of the best RPGs from last year and should not be missed. You should definitely play it. I really hope Nintendo and Atlus gives this game another chance by porting it to the Switch. It needs a bigger audience. Here's hoping!

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Steins;Gate 0 Review + Thoughts

Before you even read this, if you loved the original Steins;Gate, then stop right now and get this game! Don't even ask, just get it. This is a MUST play for fans since it's a direct sequel and continues the story of the original. YOU MUST PLAY IT.ヽ(`Д´)ノ

*ahem* If you want my opinions about it, then let's continue...

This is a pure visual novel so there's not a lot of gameplay to speak of  just like with the original. I will mention that the UI is much improved over the original. I will try to be as vague as possible about the story to avoid spoiling anything.

The overall story and plot was fantastic! I was skeptical how they tied this game's story to what happened in the original to create a brand new adventure.  Not only did they do a good job expanding upon what we already know but they managed to tie up or clarify a lot of dangling plot threads of the original with some new mysteries. Fans will eat this up (like me!). The pacing is also much improved. The original had a super slow burn but the sequel flows at a much better pace. The conversations were really great and natural. I was never bored and I found the humor to be much better. The interactions between the characters were the true highlights and my favorite part of the game. I found myself enjoying the daily slice of life parts more than the sci-fi elements. Some of the banter and arguments made me laugh out loud pretty often. If the devs ever decide to do a spin-off that focused purely about these characters' everyday life over some crazy sci-fi adventure, I would gladly welcome it. I simply adored these characters.

One thing I really enjoyed more over the original is that the game actually jumps around to other characters during the game. Not only does this allow us to see their point of views but it also fleshes out the supporting cast tremendously. I really really enjoyed seeing their side of the story and their thoughts. These scenes were really well written and also made the overall cast even more likeable than the original.

They featured a lot of new characters but the one who really stood out for me was Maho. I won't get into specifics to avoid spoilers but I friggin' loved her. She was extremely well written and super complex. They really did an amazing job developing her through the course of the game and made her quite a stand out among the rest of the cast. She's a very flawed character and that made her quite relatable to me in more ways than one. They also did a great job connecting her into the overall story and she fit in with the rest of the original cast just fine. She is definitely my favorite character in this game and probably the series in general.

I had mixed feels with the art in the game. The overall character art is much cleaner than the originals and the coloring was also much more detailed for the clothing and hair. I liked most of the redesigns for the existing characters' faces but some of them looked off or actually looked worse. They completely redrew most of the characters for the new game and I think they match the anime style much more than the original designs.

 I loved Mayuri's new design the most. She actually had a much sweeter face. She looked especially cute with some expressions. Her original design did sorta freak me out because of how janky her face looked in some parts. I also loved Moeka's redesign. She's also much cuter and sexier in this game compared to the original. One redesign I hated was for Suzuha. Her face just looked off compared to the original. You might be wondering why I feel the need to complain about it. Well, the game actually reused art quite often from the original game for some odd reason. Even though the redesigns have been made, they actually reused character art from the first game in many scenes and it was really jarring. I had no idea why they did this at all. At first I was thinking they did it for flashbacks to give us the feels of the original but they did the same thing for the present  time which made no sense. There were several scenes where the old and new character art were standing right next to each other. Some CG scenes looked amazing while a handful looked pretty rushed. The art was pretty inconsistent throughout the game which was a shame. Some people might not be bothered by this but I was.

The VO in this game was excellent just like with the original. Every voice is distinctive and recognizable and the amount of varying emotions were pretty epic. If you were only playing this with the text, then you're missing out. It's not just just the way they say their lines but even minor sighs, sounds of disgust/surprise/horror etc added so much humor and emotion to a ton of scenes in the game. If it weren't for the voices, then a lot of the scenes wouldn't have been as great as they were. Sometimes the most emotional and funniest scenes were all from the voices alone. The timing is impeccable. The text and music that accompanied it was just a cherry on top. So even if you don't understand Japanese, you can still hear all the tones and sounds from their performances that made it so great. I would just let the audio play out cuz they were that good. So good!

Speaking of the audio, I urge everyone to use headphones or speakers when playing this on the Vita. The Vita speakers are crap and I found both the audio and music sounded pretty bad there. All the voices and music sound so good with a good pair of cans or speakers. Make sure to do this in general for all your Vita games when possible. If you found the audio to be subpar, it's not the game it's the Vita speakers.

The localization was great overall. I had no issues with the terms and phrases they used and I was pretty impressed with several CG scenes and RINE messages where they had to translate them all into English.  I wasn't sure if the changes in spelling with the names of real world people were intended with the original Japanese audio/text though but that didn't bother me too much. I did find there were some odd things like using the wrong words (ex: "fear" instead of "hear" or "chance" instead of "change") which messed up some dialogue. I also saw a few errors in general too like ("/" showing up at the end of some sentences or words like "N?ckel"). They didn't pop up too much but it was pretty jarring for me when they did since I'm the type of guy who pays attention to these things. It's not a huge deal and I think most people will overlook them.

Overall, this is a must play. Just make sure you played the original first or at least watch the anime because this is a follow-up and you'll probably won't understand what's going on if you skipped the original. I was worried when I heard they were doing a follow-up but it turned out to be another masterpiece and a worthy sequel to one of the greatest sci-fi stories ever told.

El. Psy. Kongroo.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Hitman Season 1 Review + Thoughts

So I managed to squeeze in Hitman for the last week in December but it missed being in my Favorite 20 Games list because of that. So I'm going to give it its own review because it deserves it.

This is a return to form for the series. This brand new Hitman is essentially the old Hitman with lots of improvements and refinements to the gameplay. Every mission was really fun and engaging. It's amazing how many different ways you can take out targets and the amount of disguises and tools at your disposal are mindboggling. Each map has so many optional pathways and entrances to check out that you probably won't see everything your first time through unless you invest a lot of time into exploring every nook and cranny. I found myself really taking the time to study the maps and keep an eye out for those set objectives called Opportunities. They give you a good challenge and give players a goal to follow which is nice. While the AI for NPCs are pretty good, it's all still very gamey where you can mess with the AI quite easily. It's a bit old school in that way and can make some really fun goofy things happen as a result. I liked that random NPCs would be suspicious depending on what disguises you wear or where you're trespassing. The way it works adds so much tension to the missions which was a delight.

I also love the look of this game. It's a very nice looking game with some fantastic art direction. The decor and interior design for the buildings like the mansion in Paris and the hospital in Hokkaido are simply gorgeous. I was gawking at how pretty everything was. Also, lots of shops in Marrakesh are just full of random chachkies and other little details that make exploring a lot of fun. The devs put a lot of love and care into the set dressing for the maps and should be commended. Every map is a work of art and feels and looks like a real place you can go to.

The layout and building architectures were also really great. There aren't any random dead end rooms or stairs that lead to no where. Everything makes sense and is logical. Too many games put little effort into designing real buildings and Hitman is an exception. I was really impressed with the amount of work put into the layout of the maps too. I also need to point out that some maps have an insane amount of NPCs. The crowds look very impressive and add a lot to making the world feel alive. Paris and Marrakesh in particular are quite the showpiece in terms of just scale. But I think maps like Sapienza and Hokkaido did a splendid job in placing NPCs in certain locations that make sense with who they are and what they do. If you need a disguise from a certain NPC, you will know where to look once you scouted the area. Good stuff.

The ambient audio is also very nice. Everything from the music playing in the Paris fashion show to the random work noise in Colorado was also well done. But it wasn't all good. My major gripe with the presentation was the VO from random NPCs. They're just awful. While the VO from the main characters like Burnwood and the villain sound amazing, the random NPCs all sound like shitty American douchebags with some British exceptions. Every location has the exact same VAs which I found annoying. While I had no issues with some places like Paris and Sapienza where it's not unusual for mercs from other countries to be there, it was stupid annoying to hear these voices in maps like Marrakesh. Even the local people there all had the same English VO. It killed my immersion constantly and I'm wondering why they didn't give them accents or hire people who can speak the native language there to do the ambient chatter. I also found that I recognized the same half dozen or so voices from these NPCs and sometimes they pasted these voices onto some NPCs that don't even match them like there was an old guy and he sounded like the same douchey millenial guy in another map. I can understand putting some hammy performances into the game to keep it light but it totally destroys the work they did making the rest of the world so believable. I hope Season 2 addresses these issues with better VO at least. Most of them sound like the devs doing the VO themselves. I want each location to feel distinct and the bad English VO didn't help.

Overall, I really enjoyed the game a lot. I liked the story and where it's going. I plan on replaying the missions for the objectives and I want to try out the other modes, limited time special events and Elusive Targets. It's a game with a lot of legs. This is a really fun game that really rewards methodical players with patience. I can't wait to see what other maps they come up with in Season 2. Definitely worth playing. Welcome back, 47.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

LiK's 20 Favorite Games of 2016

Once again, I wasn't able to play every major title this year due to lack of time. There were just way too many games that came out this year that I wanted to play but haven't had a chance to (for games like Steins;Gate 0, Watch Dogs 2, Mafia 3 etc). So there will be a bunch of games missing from this list. But I did play plenty and I'm going to list 20 games I enjoyed along with some of my thoughts. I didn't do any reviews for these games this is the perfect time for it. Don't worry, there are no spoilers. I will probably do a follow-up early next year for games I've played after this post. I want to continue to recommend titles I like without waiting until the end of the year. Okay, let's go!

Overwatch (PS4) -  Competitive Season 1 (67), 2 (Diamond), 3 (Diamond)

This was one of my most played games this year. It lives up to the hype and popularity.  Overwatch is a lot of fun and easy to get into. All the heroes are fun to play with and the maps are simple to learn. The real challenge comes with learning to be a team to win. Depending on your teammates and skill level, it can make you love or hate this game. But I've enjoyed it and will continue to play it from time to time. I've enjoyed this game so much that I spent a ridiculous amount of money on the loot boxes. I won't say how much I spent but it's ridiculous. I look forward to the future updates and I really hope Blizzard will consider adding in some permanent PVE content. This game still has a lot of potential for more awesome modes.

Tip: Play whoever the fuck you want! One thing I've learned from playing this since launch is that you need to choose heroes you like and excel at to enjoy the game. Don't follow the "meta" or let randoms pressure you into picking a hero you don't like. Play and have fun but don't quit matches especially in Competitive. That's just being an asshole. :)

Destiny: Rise of Iron (PS4) - Completed

Yea, I don't know why this game keeps popping up in my lists either but this may be the last time. I decided to pick up this expansion after quitting the game for a year. I became fed up with the changes to the weapon balance and I was starting to find myself unhappy with how competitive some people in the community got because of Trials of Osiris. I like to have fun with my shooters. Anyway, it took a bit of time to get back into it but once I figured out all the new systems and changes it was like home again. There's something incredibly relaxing and addictive about this game. I found the story mode to be lacking just like with the other expansions but the new raid was pretty fun and fairly short compared to previous raids. The main reason I found myself coming back is because of MP and the community. I've been playing with a lot of the same people since launch. Made some online buddies as a result and it was almost always fun playing with them. I also do fairly well in PVP and the core shooting is still fun and satisfying especially when you're doing well. This was the only other online shooter to pull me away from Overwatch this year.

I'm not gonna lie, but I think this game is running on fumes and will most likely die next year with my community. I think once I complete the raid in Hard Mode and get the last trophy, I will finally delete this game and wait for Destiny 2. It was fun for the past 3 years but I think it's time to move on.

DOOM (PS4) - Completed

Who knew that this would be good? What a breath of fresh air of nostalgia. Even though I wasn't a big fan of the old DOOM series, this new iteration was still amazing to me. The gameplay is fast and furious. You feel like a badass throughout the campaign. The weapons are fun and the levels were paced pretty well with some fun boss fights. The bits of the story was also well done. There was just enough to make you care about what was going on. The level design was okay. It wasn't the best but I did like that it never lasted too long. I only felt it dragged a bit later in the game. The soundtrack also added a lot to the game. It's pretty awesome shooting whenever the music plays. The music its own character. I didn't bother with the MP but the SP was great.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (PS4)  - Completed

Yea yea, we know CoD campaigns are usually good to great but IW really changed things up and surprised me. Not only did I really like the space setting but I also liked how much more intelligent and down to the earth the characters were. I really liked the crew and they were memorable. I enjoyed the optional sidequests that expanded the gameplay and stories. While I found the villains to be completely flat, the good guys were people I cared about. They were diverse and interesting. I wish there were more scenes with them that fleshed them out. This entry made me believe that when CoD dies, the devs can make a new action-adventure game and I would be satisfied with it. This is definitely my favorite CoD campaign in the series by far. It's super polished and you could tell there was a ton of manpower put into it. I enjoyed the new weapons and gadgets and the dog fights were really fun. I didn't think I would enjoy all the flying missions so much. It was really well done. I haven't bothered with MP or Zombie mode. Maybe in the future.

Titanfall 2 (PS4) - Completed

Just like with DOOM and CoD: IW, this campaign is worth playing. Do you see a trend? This was another fun campaign with some good characters. The gameplay was a lot of fun and some levels had very clever platforming segments. I think Respawn has mastered the art of parkour/shooting. Other games do it half-assed while Respawn has created and embraced it fully. It felt really good to play. The different Titans were also really fun ride around in. While not as polished as the shooters above, it was still very enjoyable with a satisfying ending. I hope Respawn seriously considers continuing this franchise and give us more story-related content. I didn't check out the MP here either. Will check it out in the future as well.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered (PS4) - Completed/Platinumed

I wasn't sure if I should put an old game in this list but the Remaster was so well done that I couldn't ignore it. This is more like a complete overhaul of the graphics more than anything. It's simply gorgeous and looks like a brand new game. I couldn't believe the amount of work that went into this. I found myself constantly staring at how detailed everything looked. What a difference. The game still plays very much like the original. Same levels, story AI etc. There are some changes but nothing I remember that stands out. The iconic moments still shine and all the parts that frustrated me are still there especially if you played on Veteran mode. Woof. Anyway, the campaign is still great and very memorable for a reason. The devs did an admirable job with this remake and should be commended. I haven't bothered with the MP at all since I played it to death back in the day but I'm sure fans and newcomers will like it. I hope they sell this separately because I feel like people's distaste for Infinite Warfare's setting is preventing more players from checking this out since it's exclusively bundled with IW. Please check it out when you can.

Dragon Quest Builders (PS4) - Completed

I honestly didn't think I would like this game. I was never a fan of Minecraft and just glancing at it made it seem that way. Thankfully, it's nothing like it. DQB was a lot of fun. Not only does it have a pretty good story that ties into the first game, but it also features a lot of good characters. While a lot of the writing is fairly simple and tropey, I still enjoyed it overall. The gameplay was also pretty fun. The combat sucked but building out your town for the residents was satisfying. The scope of the game was fairly limited and I really hated certain parts of the UI/building mechanics. Examples: Why couldn't we rotate objects while we're holding the item? Why can't we easily move completed structures? Why can't we easily travel around discovered locations on the map without an item to go back to town or using some marker? All these little things made the game much more tedious than it needed to be so I hope they improve upon these aspects in a future installment. The foundation for this game was solid. I'm hoping they can expand upon what they did and I hope they improve it for future possible sequels. This needs to be a franchise.

World of Final Fantasy (PS4) - Achieved True Ending

This was truly a pleasant surprise. While I had expected it to be a fun romp, I had no idea how invested I got into the world and characters. I really enjoyed the humor and moments. Some of them made me laugh out loud which was unexpected. I thought the main characters were a bit dumb in the beginning but as the game progressed, you start to warm up to them. They did a good job developing them over the course of the game. All the FF characters you meet were fleshed out and some of them were even more likeable than their real counterparts. Yea, I actually liked Squall and Lightning in this game! The game had good humor and some really touching moments. It was really well done. My main complaint is that some dungeons dragged especially later in the game and the combat is a bit slow. I found myself constantly pressing the fast forward through the animations. The game has a great look and the soundtrack is one of the best this year. Both the original and remixes were well done. I also need to mention that this game has one of the best ending credits in all my years of gaming. It was amazing and well worth seeing. Definitely one of the best RPGs I played this year.

Note: I tried playing in English and while it was good and very similar to the original JPN dub, I found myself enjoying the JPN dub much more. The mannerisms and lips synced up better to the original dub so I went JPN for the entire playthrough and it was great.

Final Fantasy XV (PS4) - Completed/Platinumed

TEN YEARS! Anyway, this was worth the wait. While the game's story and plot had some issues, the characters themselves were great. I do highly recommend watching Brotherhood and Kingsglaive before playing this game. The Brotherhood anime gives you some much needed insight into the origin of the bros and Kingsglaive gives more background into the events before the game starts and some of the lore. I enjoyed Brotherhood way more than Kingsglaive. The slice of life aspect was better done than the politcal/action-heavy stuff. Overall, I enjoyed my time with it. I enjoyed the combat and I liked doing most of the sidequests. The first half of the game was much better than the second but it's a solid package overall. I ended up caring about the bros and they were very likeable. Most of the supporting characters were also good and I really liked the main villain. The game had some pretty epic moments and some nice quiet moments during their road trip. FFXV also has one of the best endings in the mainline series. I felt it ended really well even though the final chapter could've been more fleshed out. Missed opprutunity. Anyway, don't forget to check out post-game content like the optional/secret dungeons if you missed them. They're worth checking out. I liked the game enough that I will happily replay it in NG+ in the future once the story content patches are out. I'm also interested in the DLC if they get good reviews. I also need to mention that the soundtrack was amazing. This might be one of the best FF OSTs period.

Note: Just like with WoFF, I played entirely in JPN. Unlike WoFF, the English dub for FFXV is atrocious and I couldn't stand it. I actually recommend playing in any other language other than English because most of the performances were just that bad.

Uncharted 4 (PS4) - Completed/Platinumed

Ah, the final game with Nathan Drake. I decided to replay the original trilogy in the remaster collection in preparation and it was worth it. I think this game continued the story pretty well even without Amy Hennig's involvement. The story was good and I liked the banter between Drake and the various supporting characters. This also had the best villain in the series. The ending was super satisfying and was a proper goodbye to Drake and his crew. It was really well done. The gameplay was also improved over the original trilogy. There was a good balance between exploration, shooting and puzzles. The stealth mechanics were surprisingly good as well. You could totally go through some areas without killing anyone if you're committed. This also might be one of the most gorgeous games to come out this year. It's truly a technical marvel. I was constantly impressed with how good this game looked. The amount of detail in some areas is just insane. I found myself constantly stopping to stare at every vista and room. I played the MP a bit and it was fun but it's not a mode I'm invested in. I'm looking forward to the Uncharted spin-off coming out next year!

The Last Guardian (PS4) - Completed

Another long awaited game and I have mixed feelings about this one. I'll mention the positives first. This game features the same amazingly ethereal world that we've come to know and love from Ueda. It felt a lot like Ico and Shadow of the Colossus.The art direction is gorgeous and the music and audio made the world really immersive. The main star is Trico though. He/she is absolutely adorable and so damn precious. He/she animated beautifully and is so lifelike it's scary. You could barely see any breaks in the animations. Everything is so seamless. I bet they took the most time animating this creature because of how good it looks. The way the feathers are constantly flapping in the wind is also impressive. The Boy's animations are also really well done for the most part and very cute. There are times where it's a bit janky but those times are few and uncommon. The experience was pretty amazing especially near the end and I found it incredibly touching. The bond you experience with Trico is extremely natural and anyone with a pet will be able to relate. There were some really clever puzzles along with some really bad ones. Thankfully, there were more good than bad overall. I felt some puzzles could've been axed because they felt like padding to a game. The game does feel a bit too long for its own good but some may disagree.

The main issue I had with the game was the camera. It's AWFUL. I was fighting it the whole time and sometimes it would black out in narrow spaces or get too close to Trico. It's very floaty and a chore to deal with especially in some precarious platforming sections which caused some stupid deaths. I wish they made it control like most cameras in other games these days. I was also frustrated with the UI. The constant button prompts were obnoxious. Why couldn't we turn them off? This would be annoying during replays. I hope they patch that option in in the future. Framerate was also an issue since I was playing on base PS4. Heard it's better on the Pro but I wouldn't know. It actually gave me eyestrain early in the game but I adjusted over time. Overall, I'm glad this game finally came out and I'm glad I was able to play it even with the issues I mentioned. It's unlike anything else you will play this year.

Dark Souls III (PS4) - Completed/Platinumed

The supposed final entry in the Souls series from Miyazaki ended on a pretty satisfying note. The game was fun and still very challenging in spots. Some of the bosses were brutal especially the optional ones in those hidden areas. I really liked that it was a direct sequel to the first one and brought back certain areas and enemies for fans of the series. While some areas and NPC quests could've been done better, I think it was a pretty solid game overall. It had the lore of the original with a lot of the gameplay refinements from Dark Souls II and Bloodborne. This entry also had my favorite final boss fight in the Dark Souls trilogy. Fantastic arena, music and the boss itself was challenging depending on your build. My major gripe is trying to summon for coop was a pain in the ass. I had a pretty easy time in DkS2 but this game had some really annoying issues. I haven't checked out the DLC yet but I will soon.

Quantum Break (Xbox One) - Completed

I really enjoyed this game. The shooting, time powers and story were decent. It had a pretty interesting premise and the presentation was good. The live-action TV stuff was unnecessary but at least they tried to flesh out the supporting cast with them. Not the best writing or acting but it wasn't as bad as I expected. I felt some levels could've had more polish and some parts of the story felt rushed. I also wish there were more enemy variety but I found the ones in the game consistently fun to fight against. I liked what Remedy was going for. It was ambitious but going multimedia with any game is a risk. It's a shame that I'll probably never see DLC or a sequel to this title. There's a lot of potential for an improved game which we'll never get. Shame.

INSIDE (Xbox One) - Completed

Wow, what an amazing piece of art. That's what I would consider it. The visuals, audio, gameplay etc were all perfectly done. It was seamless. The controls were perfect and felt right. I was super impressed with how polished it was. The platforming was good and the puzzles were oddly intuitive. The game doesn't tell you what to do at all and yet I was able to figure out mechanics all on my own. I never got truly stuck like I did with their previous game, Limbo. The climax was amazing. My only gripe was I never really understood what was going on in the story and the ending was a bit abrupt. But still, this was an amazing game and experience overall.

Oxenfree (Xbox One) - Completed

Bought this on a whim and it was a delight. Really enjoyed the dialogue and characters. It has an air of mystery and the revelations were pretty cool. Some of the puzzles were also fun to solve. It's a bit short and I wish certain parts were more fleshed out. The ending I got was a bit mindblowing. I really liked the art style and music too. There were a bunch of extra content added to the game later and I haven't checked them out yet. I will def do a replay in the future.

Ace Attorney: Spirit of Justice (3DS) - Completed

Hell yea, the sixth entry in one of my all time fave franchises finally arrived and it didn't disappoint. The story was really good and all the new characters were great. I enjoyed all the new twists and revelations. Some of them were insane. The graphics were improved a lot and had some exquisite 3D animations. The soundtrack is also excellent with a lot of new awesome remixes and original tracks. The localization was also very good and much improved over AA: Dual Destinies. My major gripe was that there was one case that didn't fit in with the overall narrative at all. It felt like it should've been a standalone DLC. It ruined the momentum of the story and was nothing more than an excuse to give one of the main characters their own case to solve. I also felt the final case should've been split into two separate cases because it's super long and there was clearly a a part where the first part ended. Once again, I feel like the bits of English dub I heard were bad. They sounded stiff and most of the voices don't match the characters. I'm not sure who's in charge of the VO direction but it's pretty terrible just like with Dual Destinies. Anyway, this is a great continuation of the series and I look forward to the next entry. I haven't played any of the DLC yet but I will soon.

FYI, make sure you played the original Phoenix Wright trilogy, Apollo Justice and Dual Destinies before jumping into this. It's a direct sequel with lots of callbacks and carries over many hanging plot threads from the previous games.

Zero Time Dilemma (VITA) - Completed/Platinumed

I was super excited to hear about this game's announcement a while back. While this may be the weakest entry in the series, it was still good overall. There were some pretty great twists and some of the moments were quite touching particularly for one group of characters. I think they did a pretty admirable job trying to tie up a lot of loose ends and connect this game to the previous ones. Some of these moments were done better than others. I liked most of the characters except for one whom I found to be an absolute dick. Hated that guy to death. I also have to admit that I found a few returning to characters to be way less likeable than before and I wasn't a fan of how they were handled. Other fans may agree with me. I enjoyed most of the puzzles since they were way less difficult than the ones in previous games. I think only one or two puzzles truly stumped me. The game overall had some problems with both the plot and characters but I think anyone who played the previous Zero Escape games will need to play this just to see how it ends. I'm glad this game exists even if the results weren't as satisfying as the previous entries.

Batman: The Telltale Series Season 1 (PS4) - Completed/Platinumed

WOW, what an amazing story. This might be one of the best Bruce Wayne/Batman stories period. The risks they took was unexpected. Some changes to some longtime characters were really well done. I was constantly wondering what would happen next. There were some genuinely great twists and surprises throughout every episode. The character development was great and the overall story was very well paced. I marathoned the entire season in one go and didn't notice any weird pacing issues at all. Not an easy thing to do especially for an episodic game. The action was also super well directed and exciting to play and watch. This game definitely earns the M rating because the gore and violence is brutal in spots. There were also some very disturbing things that happened. They definitely made this for adults.

My major gripes with the game are primarily the technical issues. I almost didn't want to list it here because of them but the story was so strong that I had to keep it. The game basically crashed on me 1-2 times per ep (except for the first ep) which was quite infuriating because it would just happen randomly. The other issues included some really bad framerate stuttering, slowdowns and some janky animations during scene transitions. It was quite a shame because it not only pulled me outta the story a few times but it also affected the quicktime button gameplay. Seriously guys, you need to build a brand new engine that doesn't run like crap. It's 2016 and even open world games with a ton more things taking up resources can run better than this. I heard PC version ran better and I may consider replaying it on PC in the future before Season 2 comes out.

Dead Rising 4 (Xbox One) - Completed

I loved Dead Rising 3 so I was pretty excited for the next entry featuring Frank West's return. While DR purists will not like what they took out from the original games, I didn't mind it at all. I enjoyed the freeflowing combat and the more linear campaign. This is a much leaner and tighter game without the timers. I was having so much fun that I beat it in a single session. It wasn't as long as previous games due to me mainlining most of it while doing some side activities along the way. I just couldn't be bothered to try and collect everything the first go. Maybe I'll do it in NG+ in the future. The dialogue and writing for this game is hilarious and very well voiced. The new VA who does Frank West did an amazing job. I laughed at so many conversations that I wish there were more throughout the story. I didn't find the story here as epic and crazy as DR3 but it was decent and tied well into the previous entries. I also missed not having Psychopaths in the game because they added a lot of creepiness and horror to the series. DR4 is more funny than scary. I played and completed it during Christmas Day and it was perfect since the game is set mostly during this holiday. The Chistmas music in the menus was a very nice touch. Wish you could play them during in the open world. The ending was fairly satisfying although a bit short.

I encountered some minor glitches and jank but that was to be expected. The weirdest one was the VO disappeared during cutscenes and gameplay while all other audio was still working.  I had to quit and restart the game to fix it so if you encounter this weird bug, make sure to do that. Overall, super fun game with some fun weapons and vehicles.

SUPERHOT (PC) - Completed

I backed this game on Kickstarter way back and it didn't disappoint. What a strange game with a weird story. The puzzle-like gameplay using bullet time as a gimmick worked really well. Things move when you move so you need to be aware of who to attack and when to avoid enemy attacks. It's hard to describe so I recommend you check out some gameplay online to see how clever it really is. I really liked how creative some of the levels were in the campaign. There's also a bunch of challenges for anyone who wants more from it. It's a pretty short game but well worth checking out. I'm hoping there's an expansion or a sequel that will continue to refine what they made because it's pretty novel.

And one more as a bonus...Most Disappointing Game of 2016!

Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright (3DS) - Completed

Yes, I had to mention this. I had such high hopes for this crossover especially with Takumi's involvement but I was pretty disappointed with the story/plot. I didn't really care for the majority of the new characters and the overall mystery was kinda lame. I also didn't like how they did the exploration/investigation sections either. It's basically a Layton game with many of the same bland puzzles we've come to expect from Level 5. I was hoping for the same VN-style humor and interactions from the Ace Attorney games but no, you only get tidbits of dialogue from clicking random shit on screen and they weren't very funny. The trials were the other half of the gameplay and I was frankly bored by them. Unlike the proper AA games, the trials here constantly shifted their rules and the multiple witnesses were a chore to question. I was pretty much forcing myself to finish it because I wanted to see how it ended. Well, the ending was interesting and revealed something I think fans of both franchises would be happy about. It was unexpected. The English dub was also very good overall as expected and I was impressed with the 2D animated cutscenes. It made me wish this was just an anime film instead. But overall, I couldn't get how disappointed I was with this title. Meh.

Thanks for reading. 2016 was a pretty awful year for me both personally and professionally. I absolutely hated most of what happened in the world as well. Here's hoping 2017 is a much much better year. I think we've had enough of an emotional beating already.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

LiK's 5 Most Disappointing Games I Enjoyed - 2016

So yes, I thoroughly enjoyed these games this year but I couldn't help but feel disappointed by them. I'll explain my reasons below.

The Division (PS4) - Completed/Platinumed

This game had soooo much promise. I loved playing the Beta when it came out and instantly preordered it. The graphics were gorgeous and the shooting was relatively good. I enjoyed exploring the city and I found all the civilian stories to be fairly well done. I also found the coop to be enjoyable with randoms and friends. But the end game was crap. Once you finish the relatively disappointing story campaign, there's nothing to do but try and grind for better loot in the PVP areas or replay old missions. That's not fun at all. The DLC that had been released so far hasn't enticed me to return at all. I'm not into more random dungeons and while the Survival mode sounds cool, I'm still not sure what I'll get out of it without a story. It was a month of fun but I think I'm done with it.

No Man's Sky (PS4) - Platinumed

So yes, what can I say that hasn't been said before? This game didn't live up to their promises. It's fairly barebones without much of story or objective in its "vast" world. While I enjoyed relaxing with the exploration and mining from time to time, it became stale pretty quickly. What kept me going was seeing what worlds and creatures would show up in every new planet I checked out. I also loved the music which is definitely one of the highlights to the game. But everything else was a bore and managing the inventory/UI was a chore. This game wasn't finished and you could tell. I didn't even care about journeying to the center of the universe once I got the Platinum trophy. There was a massive update that added content and fixes but it's not enough for me to return. I hope the devs continue to improve and expand upon the game because the foundation for something better is there.

Firewatch (PS4) - 100%

Great art direction with some really nice banter between the two characters but the gameplay was barely there. There wasn't much to do and the exploration wasn't extensive enough to make the world you're in truly immersive. I also didn't like the overarching story too much. I usually enjoy these types of games but it felt unfinished or incomplete. I feel like there could've been much more to the story but what we got was a bit lame. The revelations weren't earned and I feel the ending could've been done better. I also wanted way more Days where we saw more interesting things happen to the main character and I wanted more conversations between the two characters. I just wanted more and the game didn't provide it for me. It ended way too soon.

Gears of War 4 (Xbox One) - Completed

I was a hardcore Gears fan back in the day and looked forward to checking out this new entry. It was a fun game overall and I liked the new characters a lot but I felt the story and levels could've been better. The first third of the game had promise but then the later 2/3s was a bit of a chore. There wasn't a huge variety of enemies and they actually made me backtrack through most of a level which was a no-no to me. I liked some of the set pieces and most of the conversations between characters were fun even if their lighter moods didn't make sense within the story at the time. The finale was insane and pretty awesome but it didn't make up for the incredibly abrupt cliffhanger ending. The game totally didn't earn it! That left a sour taste in my mouth. Why would you do this to us? I feel like MS pulled a Halo 2 ending again and I didn't appreciate it at all. I haven't bothered with the MP at all and I doubt I ever will.

Street Fighter V (PS4) - Completed?

Yup, we got an incomplete game which was filled with all sorts of issues at launch for the longest time. Not only was Arcade mode missing, individual character Story mode was junk, the netcode was crap, rage quitting was a major issue AND we couldn't even play single player modes offline. WTH... Not only that but the long awaited Cinematic Story Mode was pretty bad and had a pretty dumb story. It somehow managed to make some characters look super duper dumb while giving very little attention to the more interesting parts of the story.  It wasn't great at all. Capcom also decided to sell a bunch of DLC costumes/stages for very expensive prices which didn't help.

So why did I still enjoy it? The core fighting game is still fun to play. It's such a shame that a good game is surrounded by all this BS and I blame everyone involved who pushed this game out the door. You fucked up and should feel bad. The game has been patched to hell and the recent update included a bunch of fixes and solutions to the rage quitting issue but my experience with the game before it was just an exercise in frustration. So yes, it's still enjoyable but I'm hoping Marvel vs Capcom Infinite won't pull the same shit or I'll just wait for it to be in the bargain bin. Fool me once...

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

LiK's 25 Favorite Games of 2015

2015 has been a terrible year for me personally and professionally but at least I had plenty of great games to keep me distracted. I've been focusing more and more on story-driven games and you might see a lot of those listed here. I won't spoil anything (as usual). I wasn't able to play everything this year so a lot of big games were left out. Hopefully, I can make some time for my pretty massive backlog soon.

Before I start, I'm going to list my favorite games I played in 2015 that weren't released in 2015.

Persona 4 Golden (VITA) - Achieved True Ending

So yes, if you read my review from earlier this year, I absolutely adored this game. It was a life-changing experience and gave me perspective on my life. Not many games do this but this game did. P4G has an amazing cast of characters with some of the best English VO I've ever heard. The story and combat isn't as amazing as the writing but I was still into it. There's a reason why this particular entry in the series is so beloved. It's a long game especially if you go for the amazing True Ending but it's worth it. By the time you finish it, you'll agree me that it's one of the best RPGs you ever played with a memorable cast of characters you don't want to ever leave. I still cannot believe I only played and completed it this year because it felt like a lifetime ago.

D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die (Xbox One) - Completed

This was a pretty weird game. Yes, when I say weird, it's pretty weird. Swery and friends have done it again. D4 is quite similar to his previous game Deadly Premonition in terms of the really bizarre characters and strange sense of humor. Some of the characters were pretty charming and endearing even though they were weird. The story is quite mysterious and you don't seem to know what the fuck is going on. It's just so bizarre in both the story and gameplay that it must be experienced. I truly hope the next season will come out soon because I NEED to know what happens next. Did I tell you that this game was weird?

Far Cry 4 (PS4) - Completed

The first game I beat this year and it was incredibly fun from the beginning to the end. I loved how quickly they give you your weapons/gear and the story was decent. There's also a lot of great ambient music that really made the exploration immersive and fun. The graphics were pretty impressive especially the art direction for those mystical levels. Drop dead gorgeous. Definitely worth playing if you want an open world game with lots of shooting and explosions in a beautiful environment.

Diablo III: Reaper of Souls (PS4) - Completed

I enjoyed my time with the PC version even though they originally launched it with the dreadful Auction House stuff. But I was interested in playing it with a controller instead so I picked up the console version when it was on sale. I gotta say that this is the superior version of the game. The controller support is excellent and the redesigned UI for consoles is also great. The ability to dodge is a game changer and made battles more fun. The game also looks pretty excellent on the PS4. I haven't tried out all the new modes they added but the core game was still fun and enjoyable. Definitely worth picking up if you enjoy these types of games.

Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments (PS4) - Completed/Platinumed

Probably the best Sherlock Holmes I ever played. The way you solve crimes is great and actually being able to accuse the wrong person of a crime was pretty cool. While I wasn't a fan of some parts of the gameplay, I thought it was nice that they let you skip any puzzles you don't want to solve on your own if you want to just enjoy the story. I'm excited for the next game in the series and can't wait to see what they improve. There were some rough edges with their new format here but it was relatively well done. Definitely worth playing for Sherlock Holmes/mystery fans.

Valiant Hearts: The Great War (PS4) - Completed

This was a pretty interesting game that not only had a pretty emotional story with some humor but its ability to educate people about World War I was really impressive. I learned quite a bit from it even though I'm a history buff. The cartoony style made it fairly palatable and the music was great. I enjoyed most of the puzzles and gameplay. A really unique experience that anyone with an interest in history will definitely enjoy.

FRAMED (iOS) - Completed

Picked this up on a whim because it was free for a limited time. WHOA, what a great game! The way they structured the comic book-style panels and integrated them into puzzles was brilliant. I really liked the look of the game and the story was decent. I hope to see more games like this from the devs. There's a lot of potential with the format they used here.

Okay, back to the 2015 release list!

UnderTale (PC) - Achieved True Pacifist Ending

This was a huge surprise for me. I first heard of this game from Giant Bomb's Quick Look, podcasts and various people on Twitter. I wasn't expecting much from its simple graphics but this quickly changed when things started happening. Not only is this one of the funniest games I ever played but it also has some of the most touching and creepy moments. It was an incredible experience and full of creativity. There's just way too many things that happen that blew my mind and kept me going. The music is also amazing. I actually bought the soundtrack right after I beat it. If you're wondering why UnderTale fans loved it so much, you should give it a chance because it goes to the most insane places in both story and gameplay. It's a journey worth experiencing and the True Pacifist ending was pitch perfect. Toby Fox and friends, you have created something special and should be commended. YOU NEED TO PLAY IT.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (PS4) - Completed

I've always been a fan of the Witcher games and TW3 proves to be the best in the series. All the issues I had with the previous two games are gone. The combat has been improved greatly and seems to combine the fighting styles of the first two games into one. The writing and characters were excellent. While the main story was good enough, the sidequests were the real winner. Not only were every single one of them unique and interesting but they all had their lil stories that made me hunt them out. You can tell they put a lot of work into the quests making them not cookie-cutter fetch quests like in other open world RPGs. Even the most minor of side characters have great VO and bits of dialogue to call their own. It was quite impressive. The ending was super satisfying but I'm sad that this will be Geralt's last game in the series. I'm happy there's another DLC I can check out as well as an expansion next year so it's not over yet. Btw, did I mention that this was a gorgeous game even on the PS4? I'll probably replay it on the PC in the future cuz it looks pretty stunning on consoles already.

Tales from the Borderlands (PS4) - Completed/Platinumed

This almost didn't end up on the list because I only just beat it recently but I HAD to include it now! I heard a lot of people praise it but because I never fell in love with the FPS Borderlands games, I was reluctant to check it out. I waited until a sale before picking it up and I'm glad I did. This is definitely hands down the BEST game by Telltale. There's no question about it. The writing, VO and directing was top notch. The story itself was really amazing and had a lot of surprises. Also, the cast of characters you meet and who join you were awesome and fun and gave me the feels from Persona 4. The jokes were really excellent and perfectly timed. This was another game that made me laugh quite a lot this year. The devs really pushed their old engine hard because some of the scenarios and events that happen were insane and over the top. There's also lots of scenarios that would play out differently depending on my choices and characters I chose to side with so I'm definitely going to replay it on Xbox One to see the other options. Even if you don't care for the Borderlands series, this is still a must play for adventure game fans. It's excellent and should not be missed because if you're like me, you'll fall in love with the characters as well.

Life is Strange (PS4) - Completed

What an amazing experience. LiS really felt unique and different than many other adventure games I played this year. It managed to capture that slice of life feel that you don't see often in many games these days. The time travel aspect was done really well and made some puzzles pretty fun. Some parts of the game could've been more polished but I didn't encounter any weird bugs or issues in my entire playthrough. I fell in love with the characters and found myself riveted in what happened with them from one episode to the next. This game also gave me some major feels that I haven't felt since the first season of Telltale's The Walking Dead game. The ending was absolutely beautiful and bittersweet. I couldn't stop thinking about the game for a few days after I finished it. I can't wait to see what the devs come up with for the next season.

Yakuza 5 (PS3) - In Progress

This is the only game in this list that I haven't finished but I love what I've played of it so far. I've always been one of Yakuza's biggest fans and it was pure joy when this installment was finally localized. You cannot believe how frustrating it was when SEGA refused to localize this for the fans. Thankfully, Sony stepped in and granted our wish. THANK YOU SONY/GIO! Anyway, I can honestly tell you this is the best game in the series to date. I already love all the new sidequests and missions in my current playthrough. I also love all the new characters I met so far. They're real living breathing people with very complicated backgrounds. The combat is also much improved over the past games and is just as fun as before. Some of the new finishers are BRUTAL. I really can't wait to see where the story goes and what other new characters to meet. I also have to point out that the localization is pretty excellent so far. Very well done. I love the world of Yakuza and it feels good to be back. Feels like home.

Until Dawn (PS4) - Completed/Platinumed

A game that took me by complete surprise even though everyone was saying how good it was. Funny, scary and shocking. The game combines a wide variety of common horror tropes and blends them together into one great game. I got into the story and actually cared about the characters. There were a lot of moments that made me jump. The graphics for the characters' faces were genuinely impressive and also photorealistic depending on the lighting. The performances by the actors were top notch and helped sell the script. I don't think the game would be as good if they got shitty actors. I also really liked the lore and mystery of the story. I liked the game so much that I just had to play and see all the other major decisions in the game. It was super well done and I hope to see the devs do another game like this in the future.

Bloodborne + The Old Hunters DLC (PS4) - Completed/Platinumed

I've always loved the Souls games and Bloodborne was one of my most anticipated games of the year. It certainly didn't disappoint. Tough and challenging on every level. Fans of shields will need to completely change their playstyles just for this game. It was also one of the creepiest most horrifying games mainly from the monster designs. There were some really disgusting stuff in both the main game and DLC. The world was both beautiful and ugly. The transforming weapon designs were brilliant! Whoever was in charge of the animations and sound effects should be commended because they make you feel like a total badass every, single, time. No other game has made weapons as unique and as fun to use as BB. The only parts that detracted from my experience were the awful Chalice dungeons and subpar online system. Trying to coop with friends/randoms when it first came out was awful. I'm still not a fan of how it's implemented even with the patches especially compared to Dark Souls 2. Like with all of Miyazaki's previous games, the endings will disappoint. But hey, it's the journey blah blah, right? Also, don't forget to check out the DLC/expansion. It's awesome and includes a lot of new crazy weapons.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (PS4) - Achieved True Ending

The final MGS game from Hideo Kojima is certainly his best in terms of gameplay. I've never had so much fun in an open world where you really do whatever you want to complete a mission. The flexibility of your loadouts and playstyle was truly amazing. It's too bad the story presentation doesn't hold up to his previous works. The lack of extended insane cutscenes actually hurt it because the spectacle of the previous games has been replaced with a much more dour atmosphere. Most of the story is relegated to audio tapes which were interesting but not entertaining to listen to. There were still some really great moments and interesting characters but their moments were few and far between. You can tell things felt unfinished and that's a shame. Also, the True Ending will make you either love or hate a pivotal character in the series. Weakest in story but the most fun game in the series. I also need to point out that the FOB stuff and time limits when gathering resources were terrible. You need to respect players and let them play offline without the need to waste time looking at a timer to get the most out of your game. C'mon Konami.

Batman: Arkham Knight (PS4) - Achieved True Ending

The last Arkham game by Rocksteady and it ends on a pretty mixed note for me. The combat was still fun and I enjoyed many moments in the main story involving a certain character. He made it a wonderful and unique experience. But there's a reason why it's so low in my list. I still enjoyed the game but some of the decisions the devs made for the missions were baffling. The main culprit is the Batmobile. One of the most requested features was a be-careful-what-you-wish-for scenario. They used the Batmobile too much and even used it in some pretty laborious "boss fights".  The twist in the story was predictable but some of the fan servicey moments were well done and very well directed. While it may be the weakest entry in the series, the finale was pretty amazing and should not be missed. I still cannot believe I got all the Riddler trophies just to see the True Ending. But hey, it's the final Arkham game, might as well go for it. Did I mention that I will not buy any of the meh DLC?

Dying Light (PS4) - Completed

Picked this up during a sale and really enjoyed it. The FPS parkour was super well done and the missions were fun. I found that I really liked how they handled how people would react in this zombie-infested city. There were some really interesting sidequests with some colorful characters that you meet along the way. I also liked how powerful you can get as you level up making the combat more and more fun as you progress. You use some pretty ridiculous weapons and it never gets old. The day and nightime aspects of the game were well done. You definitely feel more vulnerable at night when you need to avoid those crazy strong zombies. While I enjoyed the core gameplay, I didn't like the final few story missions which were frustrating and the last boss was a complete joke. Awful fight. Anyway, it's well worth playing even if you're sick of zombies like me. It's a lot of fun.

Ori and the Blind Forest (Xbox One) - Completed

One of the most beautiful and visually striking games I played this year. The art and animation is just a sight to behold. The music is also incredible and kept me going even though I had to retry parts of the game over and over again. Yes, this game is BRUTAL and extremely difficult to get through but once you get past a tough part, it's one of the most satisfying feelings ever. I also enjoyed the story quite a lot. It's worth playing if you want a challenge.

Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void (PC) - Completed

Always loved the Starcraft series and we finally get to see the end to the conflict. This is the best campaign in the sequel. Wings of Liberty was decent and Heart of the Swarm was alright in their mission structures. But both suffered from some incredibly cringe-worthy dialogue. The Protoss campaign features the dryest dialogue but at least I didn't find myself cringing at it. I also liked some of the new characters. There were some very memorable ones. But overall, I really enjoyed the campaign. It was a lot of fun and the missions were varied enough that it didn't get stale. The CGI cutscenes were gorgeous as usual. The ending was bananas and well worth experiencing for fans of the series. Definitely worth playing for the insane conclusion.

Contradiction: Spot the Liar! (PC) - Completed/100%

Super thanks to Giant Bomb's Quick Look and Playdates for bringing this game to my attention. I fell in love with the quirky characters and campy humor of this FMV mystery game. Inspector Jenks and friends were really colorful characters that made me laugh a lot. All the actors really chewed up their scenes. The story is pretty silly but the gameplay was pretty fun. Trying to find contradictions were sometimes pretty challenging. Anyway, really fun game with a memorable cast. I hope to see a sequel in the future.

Her Story (PC) - Completed/100%

A lot of people I followed on Twitter were talking about this game so I decided to check it out on a whim. I actually picked it up for iOS first but decided to double dip on PC and find all the clips there. Really engaging game where you just watch clips of one woman being questioned by police. It was really interesting trying to piece together her story to understand what really happened. The actress' performance along with the good writing really sold it. It's unlike anything else I played this year.

The Fall (PS4) - Completed

I heard good things about this game when it was on PC but didn't check it out until it arrived on consoles this year. Boy, what a great story and the puzzles were good. I really liked the humor and setting. I'm a bit perturbed that it's only the first episode but I'm really looking forward to seeing where the story goes. Definitely worth checking out.

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture (PS4) - Completed

This game has a pretty interesting story and beautiful graphics and art direction for certain moments. There's not much to do in this game but the VO performance by the actors in this game were amazing and well worth experiencing. The music is also incredible and one of the best soundtracks this year. I was intrigued until the end and found this game much better than the dev's previous game, Dear Esther. There's really no real gameplay to speak of so if you're looking for puzzles and the like, you might be disappointed. I remember someone saying it's like watching a play and that is pretty correct.

The Room Three (iOS) - Completed

Another fantastic game in the series. While it's not quite as good as the two previous games, it's still pretty great. Some really clever puzzles and the graphics were quite impressive. If you enjoyed the previous games and want to see where the story goes, definitely check it out.

Destiny: The Taken King (PS4) - Completed/100%

I have really mixed feelings about putting this game/expansion on my list. I really liked the improvements Bungie did with the base game and the new campaign was pretty fun. I really liked fighting the Taken enemies as well. I also enjoyed a few of the new Strikes and the new Raid was fun and challenging at times. I had plenty of laughs and frustrations with people I played with and I won't forget those good moments. BUT, the most recent updates have really soured me on the game as a whole. I hate the changes/tweaks to the weapons and how it affected my enjoyment of the PVP. I don't like all the new microtransaction stuff and I also think the Events they've released so far have been quite lame. Yea, I had fun with the initial release but I don't think I'll be returning to the game anytime soon until I see a new expansion or sequel. I need more substantial content, not more filler. It's been real, game.

Thanks for reading people. See you in 2016.