Since it appears as though all the cool kids are making GOTY lists I feel obligated to join these cool kids.
This has been a year filled with quality games so I could probably talk about a ton of games, but I’ll keep it to a select few so we aren’t here all day. So, without further ado let us begin with the runner ups for my GOTY 2015, in no particular order, beginning with the game in the header....
Hatsune Miku Project Mirai DX
Is this really a surprise to anybody? I absolutely adore vocaloids, and this game does nothing to change that, it just feeds on said adoration. This game takes the vocaloids and turns them into little chibi versions of themselves, which while it isn’t my favorite look, it has grown on me, and who can deny how adorable it is?
To compliment the fact that this looks different from past Diva games, the gameplay has also undergone some changes. Instead of having notes flying in from everywhere the notes instead follow a neat and orderly line. This change is very nice, with my only complaint being that it does feel easier than the other Diva games, although that is not to say that Mirai is easy at the high difficulties, and the difficulty is offset by the fact that each song has 2 different ways to play, one by tapping the screen and one for traditional button inputs. I think the biggest reason this isn’t my GOTY is that I haven’t played it as much as I would like to.
SOMA was one of my most hyped games going into 2015, and boy did it deliver for me. Frictional is one of my favorite game developers around these days, and SOMA just further cements them in my favorites. The game maintains the horror that their previous games had, but as opposed to that tense, always in danger horror, it goes for a more Silent Hill-esque psychological horror. Now the fear comes from the story, which is absolutely the highlight of the game.
Avoiding spoilers for the unfortunate souls who haven’t played SOMA yet, the story is a deeply unsettling experience, and is the reason to play SOMA. The story has some of the most poignant choices I think I will ever make in a game, even if they aren’t big game changing choices like a Telltale game, they will leave you with something to chew on after making your choice. I won’t even start on the ending of the game as it is... Wow.
Life is Strange
Life is Strange surprised me, several times. The first surprise was that it was good, very good, I went into it having no idea what to expect, except that people seemed to like it. The rest of the surprises would be spoiler territory so I won’t go into detail, but I will say that Life is Strange’s story goes to places I can’t say I was expecting when it started, along with some genuine surprises as it went along. The biggest thing this has going for it is the choices, it takes the Telltale formula, and perfects it, each action you take can come back to haunt you, and when it comes to the big choices there is usually no right and wrong, there is just X or Y, and they oftentimes carry heavy consequences.
The ending for Life is Strange is it’s biggest fumble, the game should’ve just ended a little sooner than it did and it would’ve been perfect, but they just kept going, and it kinda killed some of my love for what the game had been up until that point.
That about sums up my runner ups, I would put Until Dawn in there if I had finished it, but alas I still have a little ways to go on that one so it will sit, in the so close, but oh so far category for my GOTY awards. Now it is time for the main event, which is my GOTY...
Pillars of Eternity
This one surprises me, when it first came out I just passed it over, expecting a hollow shell of classic RPG’s and when I finally picked it up, it failed to grab my attention, so it got set down in favor of other things for a while. My first impressions were so wrong I don’t even know where to start, as it is now one of my favorite games I’ve ever played.
Pillars of Eternity is an odd little game, it takes the classic Infinity Engine formula and modernizes it ever so slightly. With tweaks to combat, including many skills now being “X uses per encounter” as opposed to older where every skill was uses per rest so in those you could often find yourself in the routine of, fight, fight, rest, fight, rest, so on, and so on. The fact that now characters heal after fights is also very welcome, yet another way to combat the excessive use of resting, however HP damage still only heals by resting and if it hits 0 that character dies forever. The party of 6, realtime with a pause combat still keeps a lot of the charm of the classics, but with these changes it makes each encounter feel much more substantial.
While the gameplay is good in Pillars what really bring it up to ‘top games ever’ status is the writing. Chris Avellone’s writing is absolutely stellar in Pillars. It brings the world of Eora to life, and makes it worth seeking out all the lore you can find. The story presented is also something worth noting, it follows some standard fantasy ideas, but also presents some new ideas on a world centered around souls. Another highlight of the world are the characters, everybody who inhabits this world is worth talking to, there is always something to learn, or just hear an interesting story. These are even more important with the party members, each and every one of them has a tale to tell, and each and every one of these tales is worth experiencing.
I will stop myself there before I end up writing for the rest of the day. So what do you guys think of my choices? Feel free to tear them up (or talk good on them if that’s your thing) below.