The list you’ve all been waiting for.
This year has been one of catching up. My blog and review style went through a complete overhaul at the beginning of the year. This required that I replayed some of the older titles I had once covered to make sure my thoughts were correct. As such, a lot of time was spent on games like The Witcher 1-2, Alan Wake: American Nightmare, Dust: An Elysian Tail and so on. Those were the memorable games for me this year they don’t qualify to be on the list. Still, I did finish some games and there had to be at least a few that I enjoyed the most. All that’s required to be on this list is that I played it this year. I hope you enjoy!
Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
A Paladin’s Steam Review: Enslaved: Odyssey to the West: Premium Edition. A Colorful Post-Apocalyptic Hack & Slash.
I don’t play a lot of AAA games normally and this year has probably had the least amount played by your’s truly. Still, there were a few memorable ones and Odyssey to the West is one of them. You play as angry Andy Serkis as “Monkey” as he travels along with Trip, forcibly due to a slave…thingy, as they attempt to survive in a world dominated by old robots and hostile forces. This 3rd person character action title has a lot of action, beautiful environments, an engaging storyline and fun characters. It’s a bit on the budget side and some of the combat is not as fleshed out as I would like. But otherwise? I don’t have any major complaints to voice. Outside of whatever I mentioned in the review.
Honestly, I thought this wasn’t worth the time. Twice. I played the demo three times and it was only on the third time that I finally figured out this game was pretty darn good. I almost never give games three impressions to win me over. But when it was pointed out that this wasn’t designed to be a Railroad Tycoon title, I gave it a third shot with a different perspective. Thus, it won me over. Train Valley is about directing trains to the correct stations through a string of lines and constantly changing switches and dangers. While it might look graphically weak, this micro-management strategy title is quite a bit of fun. So long as you don’t mind cursing at the really dumb trains that stop at the wrong station and ruin your plans. There’s plenty of content for the asking price and there’s promises of DLC levels coming soon.
Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet
A Paladin’s Steam Review: Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet – An Enjoyable Metroidvania That Made Me Feel Clever.
I don’t play enough Metroidvanias but Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet was certainly a standout this year for me. Playing as an alien ship, you must go through a planet collecting upgrades and items to progress through and stop the onslaught of shadow across the universe. There’s some interesting mechanics with changing perspectives, physics puzzles and puzzlecraft in general that’s worth experiencing. Story is a bit on the light and vague side. But, I really enjoyed my short time with this game.
One of the last games I finished this year. You know, my thoughts and feelings on this game aren’t settled yet. I’m actually planning a second (or third) playthrough so I guess they don’t have to be settled at this point. Transistor is about a woman and her sword in some sort of digital world and they’re attempting to…stop the “Process” and the individuals that set the world’s course for complete destruction. It features a bit of an odd turn-based combat mixed with aRPG mechanics that gives the player a wide range of attacks and capabilities. The story is a bit hard to figure out but the combat is rather enjoyable. Graphic style is also rather good. It’ll be interesting to see if it holds up to multiple plays or not.
Gemcraft: Chasing Shadows
I used to really enjoy Tower Defense titles but in late 2013 till mid 2015, I completely lost interest. Probably not helped when Defense Grid 2 came out in such a horribly bad state. When I was encouraged to try out three new tower defenses titles that had shown up on the Steam store this year, I decided to try the genre out again. Those titles being GemCraft: Chasing Shadows, Infested Planet and Creeper World 3: Arc Eternal. I’m not close to finishing any of them but the one I most enjoyed playing (and watching videos of) was GemCraft. It’s also the title I see the most potential in the series. I’m curious to see what the developer does on his new engine. GemCraft is about building gem towers on a map with constantly approaching enemies. The gem mechanic allows you to construct towers in a variety of different ways and strategies all to protect the player’s core from being destroyed. It has an RPG system for leveling up, granting & enhancing abilities and more. Story is a little…out there though. I need to finish one of these games next year. But until then, GemCraft deserves a place on this list.
Before The Echo
I had been told this game was good but I wasn’t too sure when I looked at it. Still, I had my eyes on There Came An Echo and figured giving Before the Echo a try couldn’t hurt. The tutorial is a little confusing but I eventually figured it out. This combination of RPG and rythm-based mechanics is very well done as you, playing as Kye, traverse a seven level tower seemingly designed to kill you. You’re accompanied by a Naia, a “Sheppard” who guides you through the tower. Enjoyable music, interesting mechanics and a pretty well told story combine for a great experience considering how very indie this game is. One of my favorites this year.
StarCraft II: Legacy of The Void
In before the strategy gamers wonder what the hell this game is doing on the list. I loved this expansion. I mean, I had fun with Wings of Liberty and Heart of the Swarm was great but Legacy of the Void brought it home spectacularly. So much so that I decided to greenlight a review of it for next year. You play as Artanis, Hierarch of the Protoss, leading his people to a potential victory on the lost planet Auir. Now that the Queen of Blades is no longer protecting it and all that remain are wild zerg, the time feels right to invade. However, Zeratul brings ill tidings and warns Artanis that now is not the time to reclaim Aiur. What follows is a strong storyline following Artanis’ growth as a leader, a uniter of the various Protoss factions and the discovery of the long talked about Nemesis of the series. Legacy of the Void’s campaign learns from the missteps of past campaigns and really changes the game up with new units, a wide variety missions and overall fun. Even if I don’t care about the multiplayer aspect, the campaign was a ton of fun to enjoy. (Though I did try a few ladder runs and quickly remembered why I don’t particularly enjoy SCII’s Multiplayer scene. I suck at it is why). It definitely deserves a place on this list. It’s been a long journey to this ending and I’m curious to see where SCII goes from here now that they’re no longer shackled by finishing up this arc.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
A Paladin’s Steam Review: The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. A Subtly Disturbing Yet Compelling Mystery Game.
I’ve talked at a reasonable length about why I enjoyed this game as much as I did. There’s tension throughout this first person mystery “walking simulator” game. Puzzles are well done too, challenging while remaining appropriate to this decaying land we find our hero in. The atmosphere I think is the icing on the cake for this game. All of these little elements combine together to make for a great experience, even if it’s a walking simulator.
I’ve put in over 10 hours into this game and been having an utter blast with it. This Sci-Fi open world game about flying around in your own ship that’s completely devoid of DLC and microtransaction reminders was a breath of fresh air. The mechanics and variety of missions have been enjoyable so far. I’m slightly worried that my “honeymoon” with this title could come to an end as it sometimes does with open world titles and I’ll get sick of it. And I do think it’s gotten way too much flack for the player’s ship being restricted to a 2D plane. I think the combat system alone more than makes up for this restriction. Will probably do a review of this next year. Oh right, I should describe this game. Rebel Galaxy has you, some pilot, flying out to the back end of nowhere in an old, outdated ship to help out his Aunt. When he arrives, he finds himself surrounded by criminals, scum and a military force trying to keep order in this rule-by-force galaxy. All the while, s/he’s attempting to figure out this device that their Aunt found. You start out in a Corvette-class ship but I’ve seen as far as Destroyer-class ships. Plenty of ship customization and playstyles exist in this game including combat (duh), mining, trading and couriering. It’s been a lot of fun, so far, and I look forward to more of it in 2016.
Homeworld Remastered Collection
I’m nowhere near finished with this title but I’m putting this on the list because it’s notable for one thing: giving me a reason to trust Gearbox again. At least, maybe just a little bit. Ok, it’s not just one reason but it’s certainly the biggest reason. After the major fiasco that was Aliens: Colonial Marines, I was willing to just blacklist the hell out of this company and never deal with them again. Homeworld…Homeworld changed that. I’ve put in 3-4 hours with it and unfortunately got distracted by more pressing priorities. But what I’ve seen is a post-release support from the devs as they continue to make improvements. Homeworld is an old style RTS series that all but died before our current modern age of gaming. Set in the far flung future, this ship-based combat is based around a single mothership trying to survive in a hostile universe. You’re being hunted by a hostile force set on destroying you utterly but you have the last remnants of humanity onboard. Homeworld has been masterfully updated and is definitely one of the better restorations of an older title. Its a promising start for what I hope becomes a rich series.
It was a game that left me, well, shocked. This should have been a cheap write off title designed to sell BOOBS. Anime boobs no less. It shouldn’t be this good. It really shouldn’t. When I first saw it, I wrote it off but it wasn’t until I saw gameplay footage when I realized that this may not have been nearly as cheap as first impressions would have you believe. What I found instead was a game that cleverly combined its narrative with a tactical match-three puzzle game. It knows what it is, doesn’t care and is here to have fun. I have to give the developers kudos. I like being surprised and Huniepop was quite the surprise. This dating simulator has you trying to hook up with 1 (and more) girls, learning about their personality and who they are while getting to the eventual, umm, goal. I think it’s probably the best videogame to handle the whole date-to-bed mechanic. While it’s certainly flawed in some aspects, it’s better than just talking “nice” things to random women till their clothes fly off. Looking right at you Bioware. If you don’t care about the nudity/sex aspects of the title, the mechanics make it worth picking up. It’s definitely my favorite genre-mixing game of the year.
Far and away my favorite game that I played this year was Cities: Skylines. This is the SimCity experience I’ve been wanting for the past five years. This is the creativity engine I’ve been hoping for. There is a lot to be excited about in Cities: Skylines’ future. Paradox does great post-release support (for popular games admittedly) and so far the amount of improvements we’ve seen has been great. That said, I’m slightly concerned with some of the mechanics (I’ve noticed it can be a little hard to fail and there’s a bit of lack of gameplay variety per city). The DLC is also a little bit questionable but considering that DLC was made with modders in mind, I’m ok with that. Colossal Order has their work cut out for them and I’m curious to see where this city builder goes from here in 2016. This is on my to-do list to review next year as I just didn’t have the time to truly tackle it. This is the game I’ve enjoyed and look forward to playing it years afterwards.
SMITE: Battleground of the Gods
This game. Two years and counting and I can’t quit you. I don’t know why. I put way too much money and way too much time into you. All I get is drama and abuse. I’m an underappreciated support player and I don’t get any love. Why do I keep playing this game?! Oh, right, because I enjoy the hell out of it. SMITE is one of the top MOBAs right now and I think it deserves it. The business model is great, the god balance is well done and there’s plenty of variety in gods, skins and game modes to enjoy. There are things I’d like to see fixed though: A proper Chinese and Egyptian maps as well as much better account security. We’ve been demanding this for the past year Hi-Rez, it’s long since time that you implemented even the most basic forms of two-factor authentication considering our accounts are tied to three active and popular games. Looking forward to the Smite World Championship coming up soon too.
Tribes Ascend & Paladins
“Could you be any more of a Hi-Rez fanboy”? No, I think I could be much worse. The recent massive update to Tribes Ascend has me very excited about the future of the game. It completely overhauls the class and weapon systems as well as shores up a lot of balance problems that have plagued the game for the past couple of years. I will always give kudos to developers giving long-term support of their titles and not giving up on them. Paladins is a somewhat promising title as well though it’s currently far too much in flux to really give a solid opinion about it. It’s an interesting mix of CCG, FPS and MOBA and I’ve enjoyed what I’ve played of it in its BETA so far. But so much is changing that this could be an entirely different game next year. Who knows.
Age of Wonders III: Eternal Lords Expansion
The post-release support of Age of Wonders III has been fantastic. Multiple balance patches to shore up the balance, two big expansions to the gameplay that introduced new races, classes and situations. The list goes on for miles and I have to give big kudos to the developers of Triumph Studios for their work. It’s bittersweet that the major post-release support seems to be coming to an end this year with the Eternal Lords expansion but I don’t begrudge them for wanting to move onto their next game. This is on my to-do list to review next year. It’s a great mix of 4X, RPG and fantasy elements all combining into a great game.
The Talos Principle
I’ve just started playing this but I’ve liked what I’ve seen thus far. Who knew that Croteam, developers of the Serious Sam franchise, could create such an intelligent first person puzzle game that looks to be at least on-par with Portal 2’s game mechanics? Well, apparently they can. I’m looking forward to finishing this game next year. It’s a beauty of a game.
I finally got around to tackling this game. This is my first entry into the long running 4X series. I’ve only touched the surface of this game’s sheer amount of content. But it still leaves one heck of an impression to experience.
Planetary Annihilation: Titans
I’ve had a lot of beefs with Uber Entertainment over this game. I think they messed up more than once in delivering upon their Kickstarter promises. This recent deal with releasing a Titans stand-alone “expansion” was something I heavily criticized when it came out. I’ve since decided that maybe I was a little overly harsh. I think Uber is trying to make the best of their situation and while they did mess up on the business end, Titans does admittedly fix a lot of problems the original Planetary Annihilation title had. I’m curious where things go from here.
I think my review says more than enough about Circuits. The more enjoyable minimalist puzzler/rhythm game I played this year deserves at least a mention, even if it is at the end of this post. While short, it’s well done and I think worth giving a look.
Thanks for reading! This year has been quite a blast and there’s been a lot to be thankful for and enjoy. Feel free to like/share this post if you enjoyed it as well as leave a comment on what you felt was your favorite title of the year.