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.

No comments: