You might be wondering, at this point, why my number 1 game of the year is technically a demo for a full game that hasn’t arrived yet. Deciding on this was not an easy task, but I firmly stand behind my decision. Was P.T. the most polished and well-designed game to come out this year? I would actually answer “no” to that question. It was, however, the most visceral and immersive experience in gaming I had this year if not in several years. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve been as effectively scared by anything in a very long time.
Licensed video games don’t have the best history in term of quality. Whether rushed through development or chained down by expectations, these titles are often written off before they even get a chance. Thankfully, many people gave Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor a chance and it turned out to be one of the most memorable games of the year thanks in large part to the game’s nemesis system. With a vast and ever-changing array of uruks to fight, I constantly found myself just running around and having fun, not worrying about any particular objectives. This marks a truly successful game that, intentionally or not, prioritizes fun and exploration.
A few years ago, there was a big push for smart phone integration into console video games. Microsoft had their SmartGlass initiative and Sony followed their lead with the PlayStation app shortly afterward. Since then, aside from a few games putting the mini-map on an iPad, there really hasn’t been much utilization of this. Enter Jackbox Party Pack and one of the more innovative moves to take place in gaming this year. This game allows anyone with a mobile device to log on to their web browser and play the game via touch screen. This eliminates the need for extra controllers and all but assures everyone can play. One of the games, Lie Swatter, even supports up to 100 players.
If you and told me last year that I’d soon play a game that combined elements of Ace Attorney: Phoenix Wright, Persona 4 and Virtue’s Last Reward, I’d say you were crazy person. Those games don’t appear to fit together at all on face value, at least not in a way that makes sense. Thankfully, this did not stop the creators of Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc from releasing one of my favorite games this year. With a dark and silly story, this game sucks you in and doesn’t let you go until the very end. The crazy thing is that the sequel also came out this year, though I only made it a short ways into that game.
The first major PS4 release that I was looking forward to this year was the third game in the super-power fueled action sandbox series inFamous. The promise of inFamous: Second Son was that it would take you to a realistic-looking Seattle and allow you to have a myriad of powers at your disposal. I truly believe that it delivered on both of these in a way that left me quite satisfied. So much so, that I actually took the time to complete everything this game had to offer. With a beautifully realized city and some of the best motion capture work I’ve seen in any game, it was certainly a sight to behold as well as a blast to play.
Tension is one of the hardest things to properly build during a video game. Most either end up going a little too slow and boring you or way too quickly and become an action game. In Five Nights at Freddy’s, the game takes control completely out of your hands and simply forces you to try your best to survive. As you sit in your office, waiting to be attacked by killer Chuck E Cheese rejects, you have limited options and power for defending yourself. The game takes it from there and very slowly ramps up the aggression of your attackers, continually surprising you with new rules to which you may not have been privy.
Many games in the past few years have attempted to recapture the pixelated goodness of the 80s and 90s, but few of them have been completely successful. Along comes Yacht Club Games this year, with their debut title Shovel Knight to remedy this fact. Having grown up playing quite a bit of Mega Man, I have a strong opinion of how that era of games felt. Shovel Knight takes pages from both the Mega Man series and even the surprisingly good Duck Tales game for the NES and combines them into, aside from Mega Man 9, the most successfully retro-feeling game I’ve ever played.
Tis the season for having the being jolly and having the crap scared out of you. I may be thinking of another holiday with that second part, but I’ve given you an extended look at P.T. either way in place of my Wednesday Night Stream! Have a happy holiday everyone!
In television show form, South Park has been around for quite some time. As such, I’ve been waiting for quite a while for there to be a good game based on the series. Frankly, I’m glad it took them this long to actually achieve this goal, because South Park: The Stick of Truth is packed to the brim with fan service from the entire series. Even without all of that, the game is a fun and often hilarious RPG that has finally reached the lofty goal of feeling like you’re actually playing an episode of the show.
While they’re not saving, or endangering, the Mushroom Kingdom, Mario and his pals can get up to quite a few antics. They like to play golf, soccer and even tried their hand at baseball once. My favorite of their side adventures however has always been the Mario Kart series. This year brought Mario Kart 8, which not only introduced several new things to the series, but is one of the most gorgeous games to grace Nintendo’s current home console. Upon first playing this game the year they started showing next-fen games at E3, I remember it being the best-looking thing available to see, which really speaks to the level of polish Nintendo put to the visuals of this game.