Roshan’s Ten Favorite Games of 2015

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Posted January 25, 2016 by Roshan Krishnan in Video Games

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Honorable Mention- Star Wars Battlefront

Battlefront is a deeply flawed game. That said, it is the most beautiful representation of Star Wars in a video game to date. The maps look great, the weapons look photorealistic, and the characters seem lifelike. In terms of gameplay, however, Battlefront is only passable. The gunplay is simplistic, and there’s so much wasted potential; a campaign set in the original trilogy, for example, could have greatly improved my opinion of the game.

Battlefront seems so empty, and I just can’t bring myself to play it for more than an hour at a time. When my friend and I battle each other as Luke and Vader, trying to test their force abilities to the limits, I honestly can’t think of a better experience I have had in a game this year. Battlefront, however, doesn’t make it on my list because it seems too much like a one-trick pony. If you love Star Wars and/or casual shooters though, you might enjoy it.

 

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10. Tales from the Borderlands

Because of my love for the Borderlands franchise, I was initially apprehensive of a Telltale spin on it. The story of Borderlands never quite got its hooks into me when compared to its humor and excellent gameplay. I was surprised, to say the least, because Tales retains the Mad Max-esque charm of Borderlands, while adding some of the heartrending emotional beats of The Walking Dead. It is especially successful in fleshing out the new characters as well as Borderlands favorites. In fact, I hope that future Borderlands games will make use of some of the excellent characters that we see in Tales.

The episodic series definitely has some lows, but there are a few standout moments that make up for any and all missteps; the climactic battle in the fifth episode is innovative and feels like a step in a new direction for Telltale. My favorite part of the series is undoubtedly the finger gun battle in the fourth episode–a comical, plot-related action sequence unlike any other. Such bizarre humor is present throughout the series and makes Tales the funniest game of the year.

 

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9. Rocket League

Rocket League is another game that’s incredibly fun to play with friends. It feels very arcade-y and isn’t too complex for people to jump into. A car football game sounds pretty mediocre on paper, but Psyonix implemented excellent matchmaking and tight gameplay, complemented by intuitive controls. The customization in the game is dependent on a great rewards system and as a result, doesn’t seem repetitive. The game also has a simple in-game communication system using the D-pad, useful for quickly calling plays and spamming the chat with sarcastic compliments. I was also surprised to see Psyonix return to Rocket League after making oodles of money and implementing free updates. The new mutator settings can turn Rocket League into a weird objective based game. When I recently played it with one of my friends, we tried to make moon football, boost deathmatch, and so many other ridiculous game modes.

Rocket League is one of the best social experiences of 2015.

 

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8. Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

Steam sometimes has gems disguised as indie games. Keep Talking is a game that, in my opinion, destroys most relationships. That shouldn’t deter anyone from trying it out as it can be incredibly fun to play with friends or family. Keep Talking seems to occupy that middle ground between video game and tabletop game–something I hope more games can emulate. The idea is actually very straightforward: One player is a bomb defuser who apparently knows nothing about bombs, while the other has a bomb defusal manual in front of him. The game requires communication and puzzle solving, but both of these requirements are so much harder with a timer ticking away on a bomb.

Keep Talking neither story nor gameplay depth, but it belongs on this list as it has excellent execution of a novel idea. Even after defusing twenty bombs, the manual can still be extremely difficult to navigate and decipher. Keep Talking also has VR support (which I have not tried), which means that it could be a glimpse into the future of indie gaming on Steam. If you still have second thoughts about the game, here is the transcript of a conversation I had with my friend while playing it.

“So is that ‘your’?”

“No, it’s ‘your’ spelled ‘U-R’.”

“Okay look at the top right.”

“Right.”

“That’s what I said. Top right. ”

“No the word is right.”

“Okay, check if there’s an ‘uhh’ or an ‘uh huh’.”

“Awesome, I see an ‘uh uh’… and I exploded again.”

 

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7. Besiege

In games, unlike in reality, physics isn’t something that just exists, rather, it has to be built from the ground up. So, it’s that much more special when people try to uncover the wonders of the physics engine in a sandbox game. Besiege is introduced as a straightforward game that allows you to build medieval era contraptions to complete various tasks. Much like in any other sandbox game, the pre-built levels quickly take a backseat, and I found myself trying to build weird, hellish flying machines which seemed more inclined to spontaneously combust than fly. Tinkering with creations is made convenient by the ramps, platforms, enemy AI, and sheep (the sheep proved invaluable in my experiments) present in a free-building mode. The game also has the same social element that Minecraft has; I would frequently load my friend’s creations and try to improve upon them, or at the very least attach a flamethrower to them. There are also weird exploits in the game’s physics like the Chaos Engine that can power spaceships and walking monstrosities, opening the door to a whole other world of craziness.

As the game is still in Early Access, I can’t imagine what a full release would entail, but I can only assume that someone will find a way to make a masturbating statue.

 

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6. Pillars of Eternity

Although it didn’t garner as much buzz as some of the giant open-world games that came out this year, Pillars of Eternity is an immensely dense, classic RPG that rekindled my love for turn-based gameplay. From the character creation screen, I was able to discern that Pillars places a heavy emphasis on roleplaying. Although I expected a straightforward text-based adventure, Pillars destroyed my expectations with its narrative, which unravels much like a fantasy novel. The quests almost always have a layer of complexity that I didn’t expect from such a game. After a significant chunk of time, however, I started finding the gameplay loop more exhausting. While I don’t discount a game for not having as many ‘flashy features’, the somewhat stripped-back nature here meant that I stopped having fun with it after a few hours. Still, the game is a must play for anyone who likes RPGs or turn-based combat.

 

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5. Ori and the Blind Forest

Generally, I get bored with platformers fairly quickly, but the unique gameplay mechanics of Ori set it apart from the other platformers that the industry churns out. The story, while not the primary focus of the game, had a substantial emotional impact on me. Of course, the crowning achievement of Ori, in my opinion, is its art direction. The game has such a distinctive style that permeates every corner of the world. Fortunately, Ori is not just a beautiful game that I could stare at for hours, but also a challenging platformer with excellent gameplay. The game can get almost too hard at times, but I enjoyed the refreshing change of pace from the games that insist on treating players like they aren’t intelligent.

Ori also has an aura of freedom as I could explore the world to my heart’s content. As a piss-poor navigator, I would often backtrack to places I had already explored and would sometimes stumble upon a previously undiscovered area. I hope to see more platformers in the coming year that offer more freedom to the player to discover the world as they please.

 

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4. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Surreal. That, I think, is the best word to describe running over a herd of sheep with your horse after a successful mission involving tying a man to a large balloon. The Phantom Pain is the feather in Kojima’s cap as it tried to one-up all the ridiculousness of the Metal Gear series. Oh and just in case that isn’t enough, it’s also an incredible stealth action game. The Phantom Pain’s gameplay is unparalleled as Kojima takes a different approach to progression. Sure, you can get better weapons and items as the game progresses, but you also learn more about the game’s systems with time. Even after thirty hours, there is still a lot of gameplay nuances that remain undiscovered. Kojima’s direction is really where the game shines as the unorthodox camera angles in cutscenes make The Phantom Pain seem more like an action movie, and in case it wasn’t apparent, I love action movies.

 

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3. Fallout 4

Fallout 4 was poised to be my game of the year. When it came out, I was ready to sink hours into it and explore the Commonwealth. I ended up doing exactly that, but my feelings are conflicted after forty hours or so in the game. Fallout 4 is much bigger than its predecessor, but it feels like it was released a couple of years too late. Considering how massive, open-world games are so prevalent in the market today, Fallout 4 doesn’t seem like a giant leap forward for Bethesda.

That said, the game is still a lot of fun and retains the zaniness of Fallout. The crafting system on its own is worthy of being its own game, and I spent too many hours building settlements with torture rooms and terrible pixel art. The gameplay is hugely improved, meaning Fallout finally feels like a good shooter. The art direction is incredible, but the graphics are mediocre at best. As an experience, Fallout 4 is great, but it’ss definitely not as impressive as Skyrim or even some other games this year.

 

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2. Life is Strange

When the first episode of this series came out, I was convinced that I had stumbled onto something special. Fortunately, I was not disappointed as Life is Strange is easily one of my favorite games of the past few years. I generally hold games’ narratives to the same standard as those of movies or of books, and Life is Strange is one of those rare games that went beyond this basic expectation. In fact, the game has amazingly complex characters, so much so that I was genuinely saddened when I finished it. Max and Chloe are given incredible depth, but so are most of the secondary characters like Kate, David, and Victoria. The game definitely adapts and improves upon the Telltale mechanic of choices having consequences; I was able to see that there are no right choices and having the option to go back in time and change my choice doesn’t really do me any good. Some characters don’t appear in later episodes depending on the choices made in the prior ones and so, the story significantly varies. While the gameplay is pretty simplistic, some puzzles are quite innovative and require some thought. One of my favorite puzzles is an evidence board  puzzle that connects the various clues collected over the course of the game. Life is Strange has an amazing narrative, and I hope that DONTNOD eventually goes back to it in some form or another.

 

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1. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

My favorite game of 2015 is The Witcher 3. What can I say about the game? Quite a lot, apparently. In order to keep this article ‘short’, most of my thoughts about the game can be found here.


About the Author

Roshan Krishnan

Roshan is an avid writer and was recommended by four out of five doctors. He loves watching TV shows, reading as many novels as he can, and generally surfing the internet. He would be a much better writer if he knew how to finish stuf