Non-2015 Games of 2015:
7) Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken
One of the biggest surprises on this list for me. It was a freebie off PS+ and a game I’d been curious about for a while. Think Flashback and Abe’s Oddysee but with chickens, albatrosses, jetpacks and a tyrannical penguin regime led by dictator ‘Putzki’. It’s got a very slick look about it that’s made even cooler by the music video-like cutscenes punctuating the solid shooting, puzzling and platforming. It’s a surprisingly great mix that I managed to finish in only a few sittings. Recommended.
6) Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath
Oddworld is very close to my heart after Abe’s Oddysee so it saddens me to think that the IP nearly croaked after Stranger’s Wrath, an Xbox exclusive when I didn’t have an Xbox. That was back in 2005. Fast forward to 2012 and an HD version exists on most platforms. In 2015 I finally got round to playing it on PC.
Stranger’s Wrath doesn’t feel like an Oddworld game but has the heart of one, and tells a fine tale to boot. Some of the voice work is a little annoying at times and there are a few frustrating action sequences that I was glad to see the back of, but for a game that’s getting on 10 years, it holds up well. Thanks to some good pacing, careful roll out of ammo types and abilities, some great set pieces and plenty of personality and humour it doesn’t outstay its welcome either (weighing in at a good 15-20 hours).
This is one of Meho’s recommendations from fairly early on in the year and it was cheap enough to purchase from the hip.
David is a challenging, abstract and minimalist action platformer. You control the titular David who has a time-slowing ability and a tricky projectile burst. You can almost jump indefinitely but you can’t exactly fly so… it’s a strange thing okay? The game revolves around a series of unique challenges behind a number of doors, most of them involving acrobatic boss fights that play out like Crouching Triangle, Hidden Rhombus. I found it irresistible because it was exciting to see what sort of challenge the game was going to throw at me next. Yes, I died a lot but the restarts are almost instant which makes it a lot easier to have just one more go…
4) Little Inferno
Like Brothers and Gone Home, Little Inferno belongs in that category of games that don’t fritter away your time. It’s a game that couldn’t really exist as anything else but a game because its message is in its mechanics as much as it is in its story. Some see it as a cynical snipe at F2P treadmills or a riff on global warming, and that’s fine, but at its heart it embodies a much simpler, warmer and personal sentiment (spoilers!): don’t waste your time– make the most of it. Which couldn’t be more perfect given how I started this paragraph.
3) Abyss Odyssey
If Rocketbirds was one of the biggest surprises of the year for me, then Abyss Odyssey was the biggest.
Featuring gorgeous visuals with Mucha-esque Art Nouveau stylings, lots of fascinating mythological creatures from Chilean folklore, a deep Smash Bros.-like combat system, the action-platformer feel of a Castlevania, a peppering of roguelike and procedural elements, a light loot and gear system, a fantastic soul capture mechanic that allows you to play as any enemy in the game (each with their own attributes and movesets), local and online co-op and PvP up to four players… it’s such an unlikely but effective mix. Typical Ace Team then, who brought us Zeno Clash and Rock of Ages.
I’ve sunk 23 hours into this just playing as one of the three main characters on normal. There are numerous creatures I haven’t played as yet, lots of gear I haven’t been able to afford, various chambers and secrets of the abyss I’m sure I’ve yet to encounter and I still need to attack the merchant one of these days. I’m keen to capture his soul as well and see what his moveset is like…
Abyss Odyssey is one I foresee myself going back to a lot and, surprisingly, it’s conducive to shorter play sessions too.
2) The Ship: Murder Party
Wow. Well. I’d played The Ship with a small group of friends before 2015 and it was stupidly good fun, but the big thing last year was that we managed to get 13 people together (from a possible 18 who were interested) for a good three or four hours of murder partying. It’s such a wonderfully chaotic, slapstick and sly take on player versus player thanks to a number of overlapping systems and dynamics that make for all sorts of funny scenarios. It’s so damn exciting it makes me giddy just thinking about it. The Ship: Remasted (that’s not a typo, it’s a pun), is due out on Early Access next month and I really hope it manages to achieve the success it deserves.
1) Gone Home
So this is my Non-2015 Game of 2015 and it impressed me in a number of ways. Firstly, it’s suspenseful and creepy as hell, but not in a cheap way. It’s very subtle, and the one cat scare in it is well earned (and holy shit is it effective). Secondly, it’s hugely intriguing so you’ll want to know what’s going on. I was hooked almost instantly. Thirdly, it rewards careful exploration and examination; there’s a lot to discover at the Greenbriar’s. Fourthly, I cared about the characters in a way I haven’t felt for years in a videogame, which is quite an achievement. And I’m not just talking about the main characters either.
If you haven’t played Gone Home I highly recommend it, even if you’re the sort who uses the phrase ‘walking simulator’.
The ‘Best Soundtrack I Heard’ award: Machinarium
A charming if at times seemingly aimless and nonsensical adventure game with a sublime soundtrack.
The ‘Biggest Disappointment’ award: Hero Generations
I helped kickstart this and was so excited about it after playing the Facebook prototype that was released and shelved several years ago. The end result however was an unsatisfying and repetitive grind that failed to live up its promise of an involving and deep legacy system.
The ‘Game That Most Outstayed Its Welcome’ award: Alien Isolation
Seriously, just stop. No more. Please. I don’t want to power anything else up. Or power it down. I don’t want to have to hide in a locker or under a desk any more. I don’t want to die instantly again and have to repeat entire sections again. I don’t want to have to backtrack for another keycard or terminal to hack. Just stop, please…
The ‘I Can’t Believe I Finished It’ award: The Witcher
Kept me interested for far longer than I ever expected it to. Granted, I dropped it for a few months after hitting the penultimate chapter, but eventually came back and beat the sucker. And enjoyed it. Bravo.
The ‘Magic’s Gone’ award: Dishonored: The Knife of Dunwall
I loved Dishonored so was really excited to finally get round to the Knife of Dunwall, but I just never fell under its spell like I did the main game. I felt like I was treading the same ground all over again, only this time I got to hear the voice of Daud (Michael Madsen) instead of Corvo (Gordon Freeman). I wonder whether this will affect my interest in Dishonored 2?
The ‘Game I Wish I Had An iOS Device For’ award: Kindo
Played this at the EGX in March last year and asked a developer whether it was coming to Android. He said they had no plans. Sob. Take a look at it here.
The ‘Most Obnoxious Collectibles’ and ‘Oh Wow, This Really Is Boring’ award: Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
It should have been a film because the game punctuating — or should that be puncturing? — the otherwise entertaining story bits was a total let down. And: collectible orbs. Collectible orbs everywhere.
The ‘This Is Impossible!’ award: Snakebird
Right, thanks for reading, that’s me done. Over and out!
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