The 'Shroom:Issue 107/Dippy's Top 10 Games of 2015
So we're already two months into 2016, and we're now all far enough from 2015 that we can get a clear look back to what's happened over the past year and determine exactly what went right and wrong, and what we want to change in this coming year. But this isn't about that. This is, instead, about the game from 2015 that had the biggest impact on me personally, and that I feel everyone should try out at least once. After all, I write Crocodile Style Reviews, so my opinion is clearly of greater importance than all you goddamn plebeians reading this. Bask in my almighty gaming knowledge, and ignore everything Glowsquid (talk) tells you because he most certainly does not know more about video games and their history than I do! Please don't go to him for answers, I need this job so badly...
|TOP 10 GAMES OF 2015
|I've given Nintendo crap in the past for churning out endless same-y sequels to their existing franchises, and rarely trying anything new or trying to create entirely new IPs, but Splatoon is definitely the game I've been waiting for Nintendo to release for a while. A very unique take on the shooter genre in that you play as squid kids who use paint guns that fire coloured ink based on their respective teams, with different goals depending on the game mode, but almost universally involves covering an area with your team's ink. Many of my biggest gripes with the game came from its lack of content at launch and its poor matchmaking system, and while its matchmaking could still use some work, they've done what all dedicated multiplayer games should be doing; giving a steady stream of ongoing free content in post-release updates to keep the game fresh and interesting.
I haven't played it as much as I have, say, Team Fortress 2 or Dota 2 (possibly because those two are on my PC, so it's much easier to play them in short bursts between writing), but I fully understand people dedicating hours upon hours towards improving their performance, learning all the best weapon combos, deciphering the best strategies on each map, etc. An adorable, fun little experience that I found one of Nintendo's better outings in recent years. I just hope they keep the updates coming instead of releasing a same-y sequel, as they just love to do.
|Hand of Fate
|Windows, PlayStation 4, XBox One
|I'm not just throwing this on here because it was made by an Australian developer and I want to represent. Although, still... REPRESENT! OZZIE OZZIE OZZIE, OI OI OI! Ahem... anyway, I'm throwing Hand of Fate on the list because it's a genuinely inventive take on the roguelike genre that's been saturated in the indie games market, framing the dungeon crawling around a very rich variety of playing cards, some helpful, others detrimental, which are strewn out across the board for you to explore. A mixture between old-school tabletop RPGs and more modern action-RPGs is a shockingly good mix, keeping the player on the edge of their seat as a fantastic run can very quickly go to hell due to a few bad decisions, bad reflexes, or just plain bad luck. The difficulty escalates significantly as the levels progress, and ensure the player is always challenged from start to finish.
The sheer amount of cards available to you also makes deck building a really creative, personalised process, and can often be the difference between a successful campaign or an absolute disaster. The game can be fairly slow-paced at times, and sometimes the combat is fiddly, but those are just minor gripes in this otherwise thrilling, unpredictable game.
|Downwell is the perfect iPhone game; it's simple, fast-paced, visually gripping, and outright explosive. The concept is simple; you have gun boots, and you need to travel further down the cave, shooting your lil' booties to either kill enemies or stop you from descending... kind of like the inverse of Doodle Jump. It takes cues from roguelike games where you can collect a currency - in this case, gems - purchase upgrades, or receive them at the end of each level, which creates a layer of strategy wherein you have to decide which upgrades work best for your equipment, and even then does it suit the character you've chosen? The game is challenging and while it can definitely be played with a sense of accomplishment from just small doses, beating your kill streak records or getting to a deeper level than last time, it can also be dived right into (GET IT?!) for extended playthroughs to try your damndest to get to that bloody final boss tonight.
I had a lot of fun with this cute, short, simple platform game, and it's available on Steam for just $3, so what are you waiting for? Get right on this, it's sure to go... down well. Hyuck!
|Action role-playing game, first-person shooter
|Windows, PlayStation 4, XBox One
|Fallout 4 is, in many ways, a much shallower experience than previous titles, what with its greater focus on shooting, somewhat weaker skill upgrade system, and dumbed down dialogue choices. However, this is Fallout we're talking about, so the open-world, time-wasting, mutant-punching is still an absolute blast to spend hours upon hours at a time indulging in, and the shooter gameplay has been refined enough that it's now much more viable to get into fights even if you're pursuing a less combat-oriented skill build. The writing outside of dialogue options is still fine, with probably the best assortment of companions of any game in the series thus far, and being able to have gay and even polyamorous relationships is a big plus.
It's still a great open-world shooter adventure, and definitely has enough missions and weapons to keep the player engaged for a few weeks at least, but if you do want something with a bit more depth and detail to it, then you may want to try...
|The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
|Action role-playing game
|Windows, PlayStation 4, XBox One
|My review for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt wasn't negative by any stretch, but I feel this was a game that warmed up to me more as the year went on. Carrying a truly incredible crafting and upgrade system that puts Fallout 4's "every piece of junk is craftable!" mechanic to shame, this is a game you could literally spend hours on just learning the various recipes needed to create the best equipment, and then finding the right smiths to do the job. But the game isn't just crafting to me, it's a vast, dynamic world with a very rich assortment of varying missions and objectives to keep the already long game as engaging as possible well beyond the primary story campaign. The game is already packed to the brim with content, but CD Projekt Red have continued to release a steady stream of DLC with considerable content all for very reasonable prices, which is great to see from a big-budget game like this.
The story does drag on a bit, and the combat seems somewhat... underwhelming for the crafting system that frames it, but it's still one of the most intelligent RPGs to be released in a long while. And if I was giving out specific rewards, The Witcher 3 would be winning the award for Best Writing of 2015, hands down; no other game of 2015 managed to reach that same level of detail, believability, and maturity in a game's dialogue.
|City-building simulator, management simulator
|I have a bit of a weakness for city-building simulators, although Electronic Arts made sure to sabotage the SimCity series with their always-online bullshit a few years back. So getting a new city-building sim from a newer, fresher studio, one that actually gives a damn about the genre and has a desire to see it progress, was something that caught my attention, and I have wasted so many hours on this game as a result. Cities: Skylines is a lot more detailed than any SimCity game, with a tremendous amount of options and statistics relating to construction, types of buildings, citizen needs, ground, water, and air pollution management, etc. The game keeps an ongoing interest by providing several tasks and challenges to be accomplished to unlock more expensive tourist buildings, and any game that lets you build road concurrency is a-OK in my book. Open mod-support and tools to allow asset editing are just icing on the cake, showing EA how you do ongoing service and community involvement right. Bunch of pricks, EA are.
Cities: Skylines is a great game to get your creative juices flowing, and I know for me at least, it'll keep haunting my nightmares until I'm finally able to make that damn point-for-point replica of Melbourne's Central Business District.
|Interactive movie, survival horror
|Now this was a pleasant surprise, if I've ever seen one! I went into Until Dawn expecting another bland triple-A horror game completely failing to understand the subtleties and intricacies that go towards making a truly horrific experience, and while it's not necessarily scary, what I got was a completely unpredictable thrill ride! Framed around the concepts of interactive cinema that games like Heavy Rain have tried (and failed) to realise, Until Dawn takes the player down a variety of horror tropes and themes that pay homage to every B-film genre you can think of in a pleasant way, with a very intricate Butterfly Effect mechanic keeping tabs on all of your decisions and coming to impact the story in very surprising, fascinating ways.
This was a game that, despite not being a more "action-packed" game, is so dynamic in its presentation that I can't help but love it. With David Cage continuing to misunderstand what an "interactive movie" experience actually entails, Until Dawn is, in my opinion, the closest the industry has gotten to a true cinematic experience in a video game.
|Crypt of the Necrodancer
|Brace Yourself Games
|Action role-playing game
|Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita
|I'm biased, I admit it. I love dungeon crawlers, music, and anything Klei Entertainment touches even if it's just as a publisher. So when Crypt of the Necrodancer comes out ticking every one of these boxes, naturally I'm going to gravitate towards the game and love every moment of it. A unique take on the roguelike dungeon crawler experience by structuring its mechanics around music, with both yours and the enemy's actions being restricted by the beat of the music, forcing you to move to the beat to keep a combo going. The playable characters are diverse enough to provide unique challenges and gameplay styles, including one of the best Hard Mode characters I've seen in quite some time, and the enemies and bosses are all so beautifully and cleverly designed.
Crypt of the Necrodancer has a wicked amount of content, and its diverse soundtrack coupled with external music compatibility for those who want to listen to their albums is sure to keep the players coming back.
|Action role-playing game, hack 'n' slash
|F E A R T H E O L D B L O O D
Bloodborne is a tough-as-nails RPG that expands on the methodical, challenging gameplay of its predecessors, Dark Souls, with faster, more chaotic gameplay, and a far more brutal, crushing atmosphere. Heavily inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft, Bloodborne starts out with a somewhat tame Van Helsing theme of fighting werewolves and monsters, before slowly evolving into something far more sinister and haunting, with a story that's vague enough to be interesting without sacrificing any of its horror. This may be the closest the game's industry has ever gotten to marrying action gameplay with survival horror atmosphere. With intense combat bolstered by a streamlined upgrade system, and some really damn fine weapon choices available to you, Bloodborne is the perfect answer for players who were turned off by how slow Dark Souls could be and need something more action-packed to maintain their interest.
Equal parts terrifying and beautiful in its environments, its gameplay, its narrative, and just about everything, Bloodborne is easily my absolute favourite triple-A release of 2015, and with Dark Souls III coming out later on this year, FromSoftware are keeping my unforgiving hacky slashy fix tended to like the loving bastards they are.
|Role-playing game, shoot 'em up
|Undertale... man, Undertale. What can I even say about this game to do it justice? For the majority of the year, I had Bloodborne pegged as my game of the year, but I had no idea a small, humble little indie game would just come out of bloody nowhere and blow my mind in such a way it hasn't been blown since Spec Ops: The Line back in 2012. That was worded badly. Undertale is an EarthBound-inspired RPG with a seamless marriage between turn-based RPG and real-time shoot 'em up gameplay, which would be great in and of itself, but what elevates it is in its narration. Undertale presents an incredible branching storyline that takes into consideration every decision you make, including whether you've chosen to kill enemies or befriend them, with instantly likeable and well-written characters that bring the world to life. But the twists and turns that the story and events take, and the sheer detail invested into the backstory and how everything ties together, messes with the player's expectations in such a beautifully vivid way, bolstered by one of the best soundtracks I've ever heard in a video game.
I don't want to say too much about the deep specifics of Undertale, as this is most definitely a game best experienced firsthand without any prior knowledge to truly appreciate it, but believe me, it is well worth the experience. No game has messed with my head and my perception of the player's relationship to and involvement in the game since The Stanley Parable, and I can't remember a game ending that has genuinely made me cry quite like this. Kudos, tobyfox, you have done a great service in 2015. Here's hoping your next project is just as thrilling and subversive.
|The 'Shroom 107
|The 'Shroom Spotlight
|Fake News • Fun Stuff • Palette Swap • Pipe Plaza • Critic Corner• Strategy Wing
|Dippy's Top 10 Games of 2015 • 2016 in Anticipation • Ultimate Character Tournament • Zelda Memories