Here at Player2 we are not doing a traditional game of the year article. Our tastes vary wildly so finding one game that could qualify as the best game of the year would almost be impossible. So instead our writers got thinking about their own personal 2015 and the games they loved, the games they hated and the games that surprised them. Over the next few days we will be publishing these thoughts. Welcome to 2015: The Good, The Bad and The Surprising.
2015: The Good, The Bad and The Surprising – Part 2
The Good – Bloodborne
Good lord this was a tough call, but I think I have to give the biggest kudos to From Software’s Bloodborne. It certainly isn’t the title I spent the most time with this year (that goes to The Witcher 3) but it is the one that has stuck with me the most. The combat system is masterful as is the environment and enemy design, each piece weaved together with heavy doses of Lovecraft and Poe to create a world where all is not as it seems. While Chalice Dungeons are a fairly large misstep, there are areas in Bloodborne that rank as some of the best work From Software has ever done – nearly all of them optional. No other game I’ve played this year has matched the heights of adrenaline and satisfaction or the depths of misery and despair Bloodborne brought me to – I can’t give higher praise than that.
The Bad – Metal Gear Solid V
I don’t think ‘bad’ is the right word – but I certainly found Metal Gear Solid V disappointing based upon my expectations of what an MGS game should be. The elements I most enjoy in the Metal Gear series are the tightly constructed set pieces and linear storylines – neither of which I found in the latest entry given its open world and mission structure. After investing over 20 hours in the two weeks following its September release, I haven’t found myself compelled to return to Hideo Kojima’s final work for Konami. While we’re on the topic of Konami, their handling of the online components also has a lot to do with my dissatisfaction with MGSV, pushing ludicrous IAP’s for the poorly implemented FOB modes. I have no doubt that plenty of people will disagree with me, which is fine – my disappointment with MGSV shouldn’t in any way take away from the enjoyment of someone else, but of all the games I spent time with this year, MGSV was my biggest let-down.
The Surprising – Yo-kai Watch
Having visited Japan a number of times over the past few years, I felt somewhat apprehensive about Yo-kai Watch given the amount of its merchandise flooding stores all over the country. However, I think it is exactly my experience of Japan that has warmed me to the game, so well does it convey the architecture and cultural quirks of its home country. From frequent vending machines to hot springs, not to mention the Yo-kai themselves, Level-5 have crafted something that will tide me over until my next Japan visit. Forget anybody who tries to stack this up against Pokemon – they are doing a disservice to both franchises, nevermind being lazy to boot. I’d recommend giving the demo a try for those who are unsure – I myself wasn’t sold until a hands-on experience at PAXAUS.
The Good – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Not only my favourite game, but also in the busy year the clear standout as the best game of 2015. Geralt’s journey has consumed hundreds of hours of my life, but at no point did I feel overwhelmed by it at all. There’s always something to be done, but everything feels meaningful, everything carries weight and everything builds up to a fantastic climax. Add to that sensational visuals, an engaging cast and narrative, incredible post release support and The Witcher 3 has delivered not just at launch but in the many months that have followed. Extensive free launch DLC and the first of two 10+ hour expansions has endeared the game to me ever further, making me unable to let go of the game. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is the one reason why my 2015 Pile of Shame has gotten so out of hand.
The Bad – The Order 1886
It hurts me so much to pick The Order 1886 as my biggest disappointment. By no means a bad game, The Order 1886 had the potential to be the Playstation brands new Uncharted or God of War, but instead, we got a plot that while excellent was all too short, too many cutscenes, too many quicktime events and not enough real gameplay. Incredible cinema-like qualities and an incredible premise are a fantastic start, so it’s just such a damn shame that Ready and Dawn dropped the ball in a few areas that subsequently resulted in the game failing to be what many had hoped it would be. With a sequel at least on the cards, I can only hope that the studio has learned from its mistakes and delivers in whatever follow up may eventuate.
The Surprising – Ori and the Blind Forest
Though many had expected good things out of Ori and the Blind Forest (Phil Spencer rarely vouches for a game that doesn’t end up being exceptional), we couldn’t possibly expect the wonder that was the final product. Who would have expected that a game, developed by a team who primarily communicated via Skype as they were scattered about the world, would end up being one of the greatest games of 2015? Ori and the Blind Forest shines in every way, from its wonderful artistry, sensational score, crushing escape sequences right down to its tightly tuned exploration components. A near faultless experience that the Metroidvania genre is far from a thing of the past, Ori and the Blind Forest is one of the gems of 2015, and my biggest surprise of the year.
That is Part 2 of our look back at 2015. Stay tuned for the third and final part tomorrow!