So that’s why we’re posting in January. Personally the extra month didn’t really alter my list, but it very nearly did. Undertale didn’t quite deliver the way I hoped, but Until Dawn very nearly snuck on to my list. Truth be told, outside the first couple I could have switched around my other games, bringing in Until Dawn, The Music Machine, Blazblue Chronophantasma Extend, and Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. All of which are very good games, all of which are worth your time, and were I editing this piece tomorrow rather than today, emminantly likely to be included.
There’s also a lot of games that we didn’t play to even be considered. Again, speaking just for myself, I’ve got Metal Gear Solid 5 sat with a whopping 2 hours played, Mario Maker sat on a shelf, Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines sat on a digital shelf, Batman Arkham Knight was a shambles, and Mad Max a disappointment. There’s a whole host of games, and genres I guess, that just wouldn’t even show on the site’s radar. Not that we actively try to avoid things, but there’s only so much time in a year, we only get sent so much stuff to review, and everything else is what we’ve chosen to play. Bear all that in mind as you disagree with our picks!
I know this is a stupid thing to say, but Witcher 3 seems like a Game of the Year Game of the Year. I think I may have picked Witcher 2 as my game of the year a few years back, but that was that was some janky ‘little’ rpg that was better than it had any right to be. Witcher 3 on the other hand is a huge, stunning, big budget, hyped rpg, you don't really feel obscure for picking it.
I know people have issues with Witcher 3, the one I'd concede is the levelling up system, I'd like to feel a bit more difference in my character than you do currently. The combat though I love, playing on the right difficulty even low level enemies can mess you up if you get swarmed. Witcher 3 is a dangerous world, grim but often funny, and packed with so much content, that I still want to play, I probably won't be done with it by this time next year.
I played the first Disgaea way back when, then replayed it on the DS, not finishing it either time. So when I was tasked with reviewing Disgaea 5 I was more than a little apprehensive. The games are daunting, too long, overflowing with systems, borderline impenetrable grind-fests. Or not as turned out to be the case.
Disgaea 5 still has a lot of systems on the go, but they’re presented more piecemeal, the story mode drip feeds them to you. And more so than in the first game, you don’t really need to engage with them if you don’t want to. You might need to pick up and throw every now and again, tower attacks aren’t the worst idea, and chaining attacks should become 2nd nature, but there’s a lot else that I never needed to master. Granted, Disgaea 5 is another Disgaea game I haven’t finished, but it’s one that feels eminently doable once everyone stops releasing videogames for me to play
I quite liked Wolfenstein The New Order, as a reboot for the series it played as a fantastic, over the top, single player fps, that, for me, out stayed its welcome. Wolfenstein The Old Blood is a more condensed experience. It's still not short, and it does feel a little 'built' at times in the way it reuses scenarios, but it's also paced much better. There's some great bad guys, the scene on the train is a particular standout, some ludicrous weapons, and some memorable set pieces to use them in. It also manages to mix some fairly dark themes and violence with moments of humour and absurdity. Honestly, I'm amazed Wolfenstein The Old Blood didn't feature in more Game of the Year lists.
This might be a slightly strange pick because I had some issues with Lost Dimension in my review. My problem was the game exists outside its story, it doesn't justify itself, at least not without seeing the true ending (and even then…). As a strategy rpg though it's great, breezy and light in a way that makes it accessible, with plenty of depth there if you want it. If anything Lost Dimension could do with pushing that more, but not knowing who's still going to be alive hampers that somewhat I guess.
Gunman Clive 2 split the site a little bit. I, correctly, rate it as one of the best games of the year, a refined, fun, action platformer. The WiiU HD port wasn’t quite as good, I think because Gunman Clive 2 on 3DS does benefit from some depth, despite largely being played on a 2D plane. It’s basically more of the same as the first game, but it’s tighter, fewer frustrating deaths, just generally a better, more varied version. It’s fun, simple as that really
This is a bit of a cheat, Prison Architect was in Early Access for what seemed like forever but was finally released in 2015 with some excellent additions and an extra mode that tasks you with escaping from prison rather than trying to keep inmates contained. Introversion have injected a great sense of humour into Prison Architect and it reminds me of the early Bullfrog "Theme" games. I've sunk more hours into Prison Architect than any other 2015 release, and for good reason!
Dungeon Crawlers are everywhere on handhelds now, but Etrian Mystery Dungeon is, in my humble opinion, the best example of the genre (although Sorcery Saga: Curse of the Great Curry God is certainly up there for the top down variant of the genre). The reason for this is that whilst Etrian Mystery Dungeon is constantly challenging, its never unfair and the idea of shaking your approach when it comes to the games boss fights means the gameplay never gets stagnant. I said this in my review, but I want to reiterate it here, Etrian Mystery Dungeon is Dark Souls but for the 3DS and that's a great thing.
Some say its light on content, with far too much potentially locked away for the Season Pass, and some say its far too approachable. I disagree with both of those parties, the game modes in Star Wars Battlefront are different enough to keep things interesting and the fact you can pick it up and put it down at will means you never really feel out of your depth. Unlockables are fed to you at a decent rate and it scratches that nostalgic itch of acting out such battles in the play ground. Although I'm bloody awful when it comes to using the Heroes and Villains.
Its more of the same, and yet different. Its as bloodily and brutal as ever but brings an intriguing puzzle element to its levels. There's an organised chaos to Hotline Miami 2 which makes it utterly compelling, which tied into the visuals and (once again) excellent soundtrack, creates an oddly addictive yet disturbing environment that'll test even the most patient of players.
Okay, okay it was actually released in 2014 but let's face it Driveclub was pretty horribly broken until 2015, and for that reason I include it in my GOTY entry for said year. We'll dust over the fact that I didn't actually play it until later in the year. Driveclub is an example of how many developers, or at least their publishers a treating "Triple A" games this generation, adopting a "release it now, patch it later" method of creating games. Its rare that such titles become excellent examples of their genre though, but Driveclub achieves that by making its racing both fun and challenging whilst obtaining a sense of realism and, importantly, community. Evolution have manage to out Forza Forza in this regard, and whilst its missing some of Microsoft's top line racer it more than makes up for it by tying its challenge aspects together seamlessly. Plus let's not forget those weather effects!
BoxBoy! is a great example of when good game design triumphs above all else. Made within the constraints of Nintendo Web Framework, developer HAL Laboratory managed to squeeze as much as possible out of what initially appears to be a very simple 2D puzzle platformer.
The main gist of BoxBoy! involves producing chains of boxes from your character, Quby, to traverse environments and solve puzzles. This initially appears in a simple form that has very little going for it, but what’s impressive is the way HAL takes this mechanic and runs with it, forcing you to think out of the box (ha…ha) in each new world you encounter.
While many wanted a straight up sequel to Xenoblade, what makes Xenoblade X all the more interesting is its wildly different take on the RPG, despite it having a few skin-deep similarities to its Wii cousin. With Xenoblade X, Monolith Soft nails open world RPG design, implementing a structure that not only gives you an immense amount of freedom, but the curiosity to explore its vast world in the first place.
There are of course a few trade-offs associated with the move to a truly open world game – some of the missions feel like filler material designed to lead you around the environment – but taken as a whole, you can’t help but admire how well the game’s vast world, NPCs, narrative and systems link together.
Splatoon is just a delight on so many levels. There’s the most obvious one: Nintendo knocked it out the park in designing a genuinely different and validated take on the shooter genre. Painting the map with ink complements the ability to swim in the stuff extremely well, and there’s nothing quite like it, despite it feeling so instinctively right to play. But it’s also worth remembering some of the other things it did, all of which helped make it feel fresh and compelling. It focused on emphasising playing for fun over the need to accumulate levels or perks. Its lobbies allowed players to express themselves through Miiverse drawings, often to comedic effect. And the inclusion of a single player campaign complemented the multiplayer proceedings well.
And the consistent rollout of new content, either purposefully locked away on disc or downloaded, turned out to be a masterstroke that kept the game fresh for months, while also giving us all a good excuse to sink a few more dozen hours in.
If Splatoon is a proof of concept for Nintendo’s garage developer programme – it initially came about from developer experimentation in an internal “Game Jam” event – Grow Home is Ubisoft’s equivalent. Developed by the unlikeliest of teams, Ubisoft Reflections, Grow Home serves up a refreshing slice of 3D platforming action that most brings to mind Super Mario 64, which of course is a Very Good Thing. It’s easy for 3D, open world platformers to become sprawling, incoherent collectathons, but Grow Home avoids this by focusing on traversal over collecting objects – just like Super Mario 64. So where does the “refreshing” part come from?
Well, there haven’t been many games like Super Mario 64 given how hard it is to follow up on a piece of game design and programming that nailed every aspect right down to the nuances in the controls, so it’s great to have a 3D platformer that resurrects a forgotten genre. There’s that, then, but Grow Home feels so refreshing because it has its own identity. You could say the game is characterised by its use of procedural animation for its lead character, BUD. You’re given control of his arms and legs, all independently, which lets you traverse the sides of the environment, manipulate objects or a manner of both simultaneously. Or you could look at how the game handles traversal itself – you spend most of its six hour running time growing a giant beanstalk, and gawping at the distance you’ve made along the way. It’s a real treat, and I suspect it will feel just as fresh when fellow 3D platformer Yooka-Laylee is eventually released.
Simogo are always constantly trying new things, from stealth rhythm action platformers to horror adventure games. You can never quite guess what’s coming next, and SPL-T turned out to be no exception. Released out the blue, SPL-T is a puzzle game that recalls simpler times. No online leaderboards. No social media links. No data analytics. Just a well-crafted puzzle game that reveals layer upon layer of depth the more you play it.
To explain the game itself would be to spoil it – it’s best experienced when you know nothing about it, when you naively prod the screen at first and try to figure out what exactly is going on. And then it all clicks moments later…
|0 comments / permalink|
CD Projekt are very much a PC developer, Witcher 2 notably had a huge update patch for free on the PC to coincide with the 360 release, they have no DRM (which has led to a bit of a spotlight on them regarding the Witcher 3 Xbox One release), and they regularly have sales.
Unfortunately, as have become apparent with the Xbox One drm issue, CD Projekt don't get that kind of control when it comes to the console releases of their games.
“It’s too early to talk specifics, but definitely all the DLCs and updates will be free,” he said. “Of course, we’ll see what the platform holders will allow – what we can do for free [on next-gen consoles]. I mean, there are different business models on consoles. From our standpoint, we’ll definitely do everything we can to deliver the same experience across all platforms.”
So don't hold your breath from free console dlc but there is a chance, or at least a chance that some of it will be free
|0 comments / permalink|
Details are fairly scarce so far but we do know it's going to be more open world, apparently 20% bigger than Skyrim's game world, involve horse riding, and will be coming to "all high-end platforms available".
The combat is getting a bit of an overhaul, and Geralt's spells are being improved, with things like the Igni fireball becoming more powerful. It sounds like the potions and alchemy will be just as, if not more important this time, same with having to find out some background about the monsters you'll face out in the world.
I'm a little rusty with my Witcher lore, but the Wild Hunt, if memory serves, are the demons who took Yennefer away from Geralt, and what took his memory. In this third game he has recovered his memory, which as someone who has only read one of the books and played one of the games, should help fill in some gaps for me.
Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is due in 2014, and is seemingly coming to at least PC and the next gen consoles from Sony and Microsoft
|0 comments / permalink|
In the trailer for CD Projekt's upcoming game Cyberpunk 2077 is a hidden message from the developer.
"And that's not all that's new. We are about the reveal our other project, which is much closer to being completed, and yes it will be a fully open-world game with an intense story. You can probably guess the game we're talking about. On the 5th of February it will be all clear."
There's only one game they could be talking about right? The "open-world" comment is a bit odd, I'd take an open-world Witcher game, but I suspect they mean it in the sense that you can go off and explore and pick up the odd side mission
|0 comments / permalink|
We don’t see the idea [of DLC] as wrong, but we definitely don’t like to see gamers treated like dairy cows that are primed for milking.Adam Badowski- develolpment director at CD Projekt, tells Rock, Paper, Shotgun that The Witcher 2 will have a... 'friendlier' approach to DLC.
|0 comments / permalink|
Last week, GOG.com, the CD Projekt-owned digital distribution service announced that they are changing the way their site detects where its customers live in order to avoid errors where the automatic detection might go wrong.
This has had the entirely unintentional effect of allowing Australian gamers to purchase a version of their new game, The Witcher 2 that hasn't been censored to fit that country's notoriously strict videogame censorship laws.
Edge did some asking around, and asked the Video Standards Council, the group tasked with overseeing UK censorship organisations the BBFC and PEGI, what they thought- and their answer was surprising, viewing such actions as an inevitability, and that the role of ratings boards should change, rather than creating even more stringent censorship laws:
The more benign censorship/ratings organisations will probably move away from the mandatory model and replace it with an advisory systems which puts the onus on consumers to make informed buying decisions through the provision of detailed consumer information.The group would continue to go on to say that they would still be of value without the backing of law, pointing out that people would still look to and trust ratings bodies even without the law.
In terms of online availability of such games, we do not believe that any such ramifications currently exist or can be enforced since any national restrictions are very difficult to enforce where, for example, content is delivered from a foreign server.
This is an interesting viewpoint for two reasons- I've been of the view that the current system of media classification (and indeed, censorship) has been rendered outdated, unworkable and obsolete by the internet for some time, and it's good to see this realisation dawning upon people within its system.
It's also much more interesting as this flies in the face of current rumblings coming from government in the wake of Twitter breaching superinjunctions, leading some in govenment to consider regulating social media.
Either the VSC's acceptance must also reach the likes of Jeremy Hunt, and Twitter should be left to break superinjunctions, or they can chase random Tweeters around the world, and take on CD Projekt as well.
|0 comments / permalink|