Dec 31, 2015
My Five Best and Worst Games of 2015
By Trevor Anderson
Hey, it’s the end of the year- and guess what that means. I get to write my first ever ‘Best and Worst’ list! Honestly, I know it seems juvenile, but it’s the one time of the year where I get to look back and assess myself as a writer and see if my opinions are the same as they were when I first had them. Thankfully, I tell you my good-looking and astute readers, that I’m in love with my picks for the highs and lows of this year. I didn’t get to play EVERY game out there, so my list is simply my own- but out of the games I played, these were the most memorable.
For my list, I didn’t rank them- so they’re in no particular order. I don’t think it’s fair to pit an indie title against the big budget games, simply because it’s two different styles. So, I just grabbed up the ten that resonated with me the most and included a link to either my reviews or the review from the site. Despite this year including some of the worst games I ever played, this was one of the best of my life. I want to thank my beautiful wife, who allowed me to follow my dreams of covering the industry- even when I had to play games like Cricket Captain 2015 (you barely missed this list!).
I love Point and Click Adventure games. In my time at the site, I’ve reviewed a few, but nothing as charming and memorable as Anna’s Quest. Developed by Daedalic Entertainment, creator of other great PnC games like the Deponia series, Memoria and The Night of the Rabbit, this is another stellar entry by the studio. Anna is a small girl who goes on an adventure in search of a cure for her father’s mysterious sickness. After being captured by a mysterious witch, she discovers that she has telekinesis with the help of a talking teddy bear. Her adventure leads her out into the fantastical land that’s filled with deceptive and mean people, all while she stays charmingly strong-willed and confident in a bleak and unforgiving world. This coming of age tale is beautifully animated, professionally voice acted, and filled with difficult and yet fair puzzles. If you’d like to check out all the reasons this was one of my favorite games of the year, check out my full review here.
Man, what can I say- it’s the game I keep coming back to over and over. I’ve got twenty minutes to kill; time to hop onto Rocket League. It takes everything that’s beautiful about sports and combines it with a fresh and engaging experience that anyone can play. The curve in which you learn the complexities of the controls is excellent, and you always feel like you’re improving as a player. Even when you’re riding along a wall, and you jump to deflect a pass only to score an out of nowhere goal, you’ll still envy the players who can escort a mid-air shot across the field. Not to mention all the free and reasonably priced DLC the developers keep including in the game, including a new hockey mode. It’s addictive, fun and without a doubt one of my favorite games of the year. For my full review, click right here.
Ori and The Blind Forest
While Scott had the privilege of reviewing the game, I have to agree with him- it’s a phenomenal game. While the story is pretty simplistic, I have to say it’s an emotionally driven experience that’ll compel you to conquer it’s Castlevania inspired gameplay. While it may look simplistic, the game is tough as nails and requires a fair amount of twitch-based reflexes in a world that seems weighted against our pint-sized hero. The levels are bright and incredibly vivid and exploring them to discover new skills only opens up untraversable paths you had to leave behind, adding reason to go back and explore previous areas. The game is beautiful both in appearance and soul and is an experience that any action fan should pick up. I agree entirely with Scott, and you can watch his in-depth and extensive review here.
I have to admit- I was surprised to see this one up here too. It’s a relatively unknown title, but I lost sleep over the prospect of this game not receiving a nod this year. Whereas the first Evoland was an overly simplistic and childish entry into the RPG genre, Evoland 2 succeeds in finding an identity all of its own. The game takes inspiration from Chrono Trigger and Radiant Historia and uses time travel in a brilliant way. Instead of only moving through the eras of RPGs, the game utilizes the visual changes as a way of identifying what time period you’re in as you embark on a space-time journey involving the destruction of an entire race. The game travels between the ancient past with gameboy graphics all the way to modern 3D visuals representing the future. The story is wonderfully engaging and has some clever nods for the old-school gamer. The game is worthy of applause, simply for creating the same game world in four different art style. Throw in a brilliant mix of mini-games ranging from RTS, space shooter, fighter and puzzle game, and you have yourself a unique gem that more people need to discover. You can watch my full review of the game here.
Oh, Bethesda- are you incapable of making an average game? Despite all of the missed opportunities (seriously, what happened to the underwater stuff) and hilarious bugs, I’ll look past all of it simply because you’re the most engaging game that came out this year. Your world is so rich with backstory- your characters so fascinating- and your gameplay leaves me adventuring out into the unknown with a smile on my face every time. It just feels so real, as I spend a little time investing random junk into building up a defense on a fortress, only to see a mini-nuke explode on some distant battlefield. You approach to tackling the issues of the rights of artificial intelligence, freedom over security and the cognitive dissonance of enjoying one’s time in the muck. Choice in gaming is an illusion, but you paint it so well that I question my morals with every mission. While I may one day get around to writing the huge love letter I want to, so for now, I would suggest reading the fantastic review by Scott.
I wrote this review for my personal youtube page- but it was one of the worst games I played this year, so I’ve included it in my MnJ list. I couldn’t resist, considering how upset this game made me. I wanted to like it, as it kind of reminded me of Oregon Trail, only set in a frozen wilderness where everyone is out to get you. Sadly, the game feels more like an abandoned Kickstarter game with a severe lack of passion. Technically, the game looks like it could run on an old flip phone, and yet it’s no frills components are all so boring. The story is dreadfully slow, the gameplay is repetitive, the artwork is inconsistent. But the most depressing aspect; the game’s core mechanics don’t work right. If you want the full skinny on why it’s one of the worst games of the year, check out my full review here– but honestly, there’s not much to see. It’s a pathetic example of a choose your own adventure game that forgot to put the adventure in.
I did not care for Bedlam- at all. It’s bad game design hides behind the illusion of being a game parodying retro shooters but does nothing to reveal more competent game design beneath the facade. It’s based on a book with a cult following, but the game feels like a five-page treatment and is more of a companion piece to the real deal. There’s some real opportunities here, with a game about jumping between game worlds, that if it were handled correctly could’ve been like one of my favorite games of the year (How you doing up there Evoland 2?). Sadly, each jump just brings you another poorly designed, glitchy example of better experiences. Not to mention the game has the longest and most repetitive final stages, leading to the worst final boss fight and ending I’ve ever seen in a game. Ever. Honestly, it made me throw my controller down and curse the developers’ names. You can read my full review if you’re curious about how bad the experience can get.
I absolutely hate how bland and middle of the road casual gaming can get. I by no means have a meter on what makes a “gamer,” but games like Loot Hound are the worst example of the lighter side of my hobby. It’s lack of challenge, and pedestrian motivations are utterly offensive to me. Why would I want to continue playing a game where you dig up random pun-filled treasures? It’s a game that lacks any desire, both on my end to finish the game or on the developer’s end to create a sense of engagement. You take one of your three postal-shipped dogs on walks, trying to find buried treasures, and the only obstacle you’ll have is park rangers. If that sounds like fun to you- be my guest. Mom taught me not to laugh at the less fortunate. I, however, wouldn’t even play this game as a distraction if I were banished to an endless purgatory of having to watch ‘Legally Blonde’ on repeat. If you want to hear how mindlessly simplistic and how vanilla the industry can get, make sure you read my full review here.
Do you enjoy cleaning your house? Of course you don’t- but you have to so Mom and Dad doesn’t think they raised a slob. So, who would want to procrastinate away the time by playing a game where you’re a maid cleaning up an awesome penthouse? Sure, I’m over-simplifying the admitting impressive setting of an ivory tower overlooking a Central American revolution in the 70’s, but sadly the game is neither entertaining or interesting. You play Angela, a woman who’s been tasked with maintaining the home of a socialite who seeks the same freedoms that your government-detained brother does. Sadly, the story never takes off, and instead leaves you with Angela’s pathetic insight into the events unfolding around her, as you click on beds to make them. What can be called ‘the action of the game’ is broken up by never-ending journal entries that tries desperately to sound intellectual. It’s long-winded, vapid and simply a very boring and redundant experience that felt like a worse job than being an actual maid. To understand, you really need to read my full review.
Afro Samurai 2: Revenge of Kuma Volume 1
What can I say about Afro Samurai 2 that I didn’t already say in my video review of the game? As a continuation on the storyline, it’s utterly abysmal. As an action game, it’s repetitive and tiresome; lacking any creativity or style. Technically, while it’s not broken, it’s barely held together, and you’ll often slip through the poorly duct taped cracks. The voice acting is side-splittingly laughable. The pacing is unbelievably amateurish. Nothing about this game by the usually quality publisher Versus Evil works here. But don’t take my word for it; even the General Manager Steve Escalante called the game “a failure,” saying that they could “not do, in good conscience, volume 2 and volume 3.” Sony, for the first time, had to figure out how to refund the money to their customers after they decided to refund everyone’s money. While the studio swears the studio pulled the game because of consumer tastes, the fact is the game was a buggy, weak-wristed attempt at stroking a fandom. This shameless attempt at cashing in makes it one the worst game of the year.
Thanks again to everyone who has supported my dream- looking back- it’s been a pretty fantastic year both for me and the crew at Mouse N Joypad. I want to thank you all for reading our reviews and news, and I hope to see you in the coming year.