Oh dear me, where has the time gone. It's been ages since I've written a thing on TAY! Before I dust off the cobwebs and break into this article, I feel an explanation is due. In October, I left my job due to a severe anxiety attack that led me to finally treating some mental health problems that have plagued me since grade school. Since then, I've had nothing but positives (and no money). My career is back on track, and my pre-graduation goals are finally starting to take form after a few missteps. My fiance and I's engagement can now be described as "officially official" instead of simply a great idea, and really, things are just going swimmingly. 2014 will be fun. (PS, I'd love a mini update on the goings-on of TAY!).
Let's get this thang rollin'. Oh, and honourable mention to Shadowrun Returns.
I'm really goddamn bad at Outlast. In fact, I'm not even that far through it. But I know a magically wonderful, pleasantful, happytime OH FUCK STOP CHASING ME, FUCK game when I see one. Outlast is, to me, the west's answer to the survival horror perfection of games like Resident Evil (the remake one especially) and Silent Hill 2. The environments are beautiful in their own twisted way, and something about decaying buildings and Gary's Mod levels of body parts strewn about excites a certain artistic part of my brain... While I'd find this sort of gore revolting in real life, there's a sort of art to human mortality. Death, after all, is merely the last step of life. But again, I'm bad at it. I thoroughly hate stealth games where it's not particularly clear where the enemies are and what they can see, because every death feels cheap. Still - Outlast is great. Maybe I'll beat it someday.
Not to be confused with "They Bleed Pixels", which also came out this year and is merely "okay", Bleed is awesome. It's like Gunstar Heroes and The Matrix had a baby. It stars one of the best characters in video gaming, Wryn - a girl who hopes to become the "ultimate video game hero" by defeating all of the current heroes (which are horrible monsters instead of Mario because copyrights, probably?). Best played with a controller, Bleed plays like a twin stick shooter, but lets you use the trigger buttons to both jump/dash in mid-air and slow time to land better hits. There are games that are good for artsy and story reasons, and then there are games that are great because the gameplay is incredible. Bleed is one of those. And seriously, it's only $5 on Steam. Buy it. Now. D: It's so good! And unlike $60 games, you can actually play it without going through a piss-poor server that never works!
#3: Bioshock Infinite
Man, talk about missed potential. While Bioshock Infinite was a great game, it could have been a PERFECT game. Like Aliens: Colonial Marines, the first trailers made it look better than it actually wound up being. I was really hoping for some cross-dimensional, time-travelling hullabaloo, and I never got that. At least not until the end, which I'll admit, was one of the best in gaming history. It really feels like the Bioshock series has better ideas than it does design choices - and this one feels like a game with three heads. It obviously wants to be an intellectual game, and it wants to be a character study, and it wants to tell a great story.... But it's held-back by some really boring gameplay and surprisingly repetitive environments. And it's not that I hate shooters or violence - I love both. There's a reason why everyone says the first and last thirds are amazing and the middle third is dull - the middle third is all gameplay and no bravado. And a game with mediocre gameplay just can't be Game of the Year.
#2: Pokemon X & Y
Pokemon X (the version I played) rekindled this love of Pokemon I had back when I was 8 years old. This game is so good at removing so much of the bullshit about previous Pokemon games that the franchise has begun consuming heaps of my time. I skipped Gen 5 - and yet last week, I wound up buying holo Pokemon cards of my current Pokemon Showdown team. That's how much this game stole my heart. It really represents the pinnacle of what Nintendo can do with the existing Pokemon formula, and I feel that, going forward, the games will be so much more enjoyable with the (shitty) creases ironed out. It's hard to put in words just WHY it's so good, but I'll try:
- It removes the overburdening handholding of some of the newer entries.
- EV training is no longer a secret to everyone.
- They fixed the roars of each Pokemon, finally.
- Fucking 3D models! The Pokemon look so alive.
- It actively makes fun of a lot of the crap that made the series tedious in the past.
- Dem online features, good golly, Molly.
I mean, it's not perfect - it's still a bit too kid-friendly (a common problem among Nintendo games since the GC era), the plot is bare-bones and inconsequential, and the post-game is literally non-existent... But why piss on hospitality?
#1: Metro: Last Light
Why is it that I seem to be the only person who LOVED this game? I haven't even seen an honourable mention for it on any GOTY Awards list. Blasphemy, I say! If you want to see the image of horror shooter perfection, look no further than Metro: Last Light. Metro 2033 was an amazing game in its own right, but it had those fucking green bubbles at the end. This one does not have those bubbles. What it does have is an amazing plot, more trippy visual effects, the best graphics in gaming (in that, instead of overusing masturbatory effects, it crafts a real-looking/feeling world with its assets) and much better immersion thanks to the improved voice cast (at least with Russian audio - if you play it in English, you're not getting the best experience), deeper story and little flourishes that makes everything feel more lived-in and alive. Metro LL is one of those games that knows what it wants to do and fucking nails it. If you have any appreciation at all for ideas coming to fruition, play Metro: Last Light.