So it’s come to the end of another year! A year of sequels, broken AAA titles and dodgy business practices. The biggest games of the year being sequels to game franchises I have no attachment to, this year was quickly looking to be a fairly quiet one for me.
With the leaving cert and my break from not only writing but also most of the gaming scene in general, I have not played nearly enough games this year. Saying that, let’s jump into what I did actually play in my top five games of 2015 list.
Biggest Disappointment – Fallout 4
Fallout 4 was such a colossal disappointment to me on so many levels, from its dumbing down of the text tree system to its choppy, down-right broken PC release, Fallout 4 has left a bad taste in my mouth. While the game does feature a lot I disliked, the tighter gunplay, colourful wasteland and a handful of amusing characters (Piper is bae) did keep me engaged well over the sixty hour mark, so I can’t say it’s all bad.
Fallout 4 isn’t a bad game by any means, its just a bad Fallout game. I did have fun with it and some small moments did make me smile, but here it is, my biggest disappointment of the year.
4. Transformers: Devastation
With last year’s lackluster The Legend of Korra, hope for this year’s licensed Transformers title from everyone’s favourite character action developer, Platinum Games, was looking slim. Luckily it seems that Korra was a one time slip, as Transformers: Devastation featured some of the most giddy fun I’ve had with a game this year.
Platinum delivers their fast paced action with an aesthetic accurate to generation one Transformers, complete with returning cast members to voice characters. Offering up a fast and frantic weapon based combat system, including similar elements of witch time from the Bayonetta series. My personal favourite element of the combat is a system that allows your character to transform mid way through a combo and slam themselves into the enemy as their automobile form. Ridiculous, ludicrous and polished, all elements that scream Platinum, and are exactly what Transformers: Devastation delivers in spades.
3. Her Story
Early in 2015, the indie scene saw releases of Hotline Miami 2 and Axiom Verge, but people didn’t lose their minds until the release of Her Story this Summer. I was one of the many people who adored the sombre, fascinating and multi-layered tale that developer Sam Barlow created. It’s hard to talk about what truly makes Her Story so engaging without spoiling it, but what got me so enamored with the game was how well it one ups itself in terms of its twists and how elegantly they are used. While the idea of digging through multiple video files and piecing together a story may sound dull to some people, I found it had a fantastic flow of story chunks being fed to the player, all told by video recordings of a single woman, who carried the game on her shoulders on all accounts.
With a late ’90s PC interface, an award winning performance by actress Viva Seifert and an incredibly underrated soundtrack, Her Story has everything for lovers of thrillers, crime stories and narratives with more twists than anything Hideo Kojima created this year.
2. Read Only Memories
Probably the least known game of this list (which is a crying shame), Read Only Memories had me grinning from ear to ear this year with its witty writing, adorable characters and Snatcher inspired world. This retro ’80s style text adventure received very little fanfare at its release this August (due to the simultaneous release of the biggest indie hit of the year) but I reviewed it with an open mind, finding one of the most heartfelt and genuinely pleasant games I have played this year. With a primary focus on queer representation in a sci-fi cyber punk setting, Read Only Memories held my attention through its lengthy story, complete with six unique endings.
I would go so far as to say that Read Only Memories is my favourite new IP of 2015, as it is the newest indie title that I can see being a series. While its predecessors may have only had been single entry franchises, Read Only Memories felt like it was only getting started and I desperately want to keep exploring Neo San Francisco with Turing again.
While other entries on this list certainly entertained or enchanted me, nothing up ’til now had me surprised. Then September happened and both the Internet and the indie scene exploded with excitement over a little RPG in which no one has to get hurt. That game is Undertale, my choice for game of the year for 2015.
All you need to know about Undertale is that if you like being surprised by what games can do, then you will adore this title. Kickstarted back in 2013 by lone developer Toby Fox, Undertale took the world by storm this year, offering up frantic turn based RPG/Bullet Hell fusion gameplay, branching stories depending on how you play and one of the most beloved and well written cast of characters in recent memory. On the surface Undertale is a quirky 16 bit RPG similar in style to that the Mother series, but when you begin playing you quickly realize that the game is far more than meets the eye. Undertale challenges game convention in such an elegant sense that it baffles me that this game was created by a single developer. The game can change at a flip of a coin depending on how each person plays, as a simple act of killing a grunt enemy can change the entire story, creating a complicated butterfly affect that can affect the very essence of the story. With an iconic soundtrack, devastating endings and a story that I will not soon forget, Undertale grabbed not only the world’s heart, but mine as well.
Do you agree with my choices? Let us know in the comments below.