Quick Blurbs on Games From 2015 That I Liked

I don’t ever play enough games that come out in the calendar year to make a real top 10 (see: my haha I bought these and didn’t play them list at the bottom), so instead I like to put together lists of things that I played and liked. With that in mind, here are 10 games that I played and enjoyed in 2015, that came out in 2015. If this were games I played through in 2015 that came out in any year, the list would be different.

Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea – My love of the Atelier games is well known, and any entry that is better than Atelier Iris 3 (that is all of them) is bound to get on my “enjoyed games” list. Shallie is the last in the last game in the Dusk setting and ends on a hopeful note, which is good because I just spent three games trying to save a dying world. Like Atelier Escha and Logy it features two mostly the same but different in parts paths for you to play through, this time two young ladies named Shallie who wind up working together to figure out why all the water in the world is drying up (it starts out smaller than this, of course). The gameplay is the same, you complete tasks in a given period and toss a bunch of stuff together in a pot to do alchemy. If mixing a bunch of stuff together to try and get different/the best results sounds enjoyable, Atelier games are probably for you. The time management aspect has eased up greatly since the Arland series so if you hate that, it’s not present the same way.

Bloodborne – I haven’t finished this, because I am stuck on a boss, because I am bad at crowd control, and then I got distracted by other things like my cats. I stopped playing Demon’s Souls when I got stuck in an area and never went back (the Tower of Latria) because I felt like the game was just screwing with me, but Bloodborne is different. Things can be tough but they are generally manageable and if you are patient, you can work through them eventually (in a past life I beat Shadow Tower so I am a case study in patience with games). Beating the bosses is very satisfying.

Like all (and I mean all) From Software games, you’re navigating a world they don’t really bother telling you much about and I found Bloodborne the most compelling. You’re dumped in a mostly ruined city where people are turning into werewolves, mostly, but other stuff is going on too. There’s a school full of current-slimes-former-people and just not really any information on why that happened. It’s normal, you’re the hunter (which is of course not as straight forward as it seems), just go with it.

Cat Goes Fishing – This is a game about a cat that goes fishing, on a boat. Sometimes he also catches hats. You sell the fish you catch and get new rods and boats that go further out so you can catch new and different fish. It’s a very simple, relaxing game that I enjoy playing when I need to chill out for a bit. I haven’t caught a shark yet, but I will.

Citizens of Earth – Made by a group of people who clearly love Earthbound, Citizens of Earth embraces the feel of the Mother series but doesn’t attempt to do a 1:1 copy which is probably why it succeeds. With a whacky story (you are the Vice President of the United States and have to figure out what is going on with some aliens), the Earthboundiness comes out in the battle system where you have unconventional attacks and text. Besides that, the game is really more of a party recruitment title and a standard JRPG but done very well. If you are looking for something off kilter but doesn’t go off into the whack whacky lands, this is for you.

Crypt of the Necrodancer – This is a rhythm roguelike where you dance around levels and die a lot and cry and then you beat an area and you drink until you passout in celebration. Or at least this is my experience with the game. It’s more fun than it sounds. It is in fact, a whole lot of fun and features a rad soundtrack. If you enjoy rhythm games and also dying a lot in games (it’s a theme for me!), you will enjoy necrodancing. Everyone is making roguelikes now (when they’re not making metroidvanias anyway), so you should support the ones that are executed well with actual unique gameplay.

It’s easier to show than explain the gameplay, so please enjoy the following:

True story: I was in Japan when this game came out and asked my husband to buy it for me so I wouldn’t miss the launch discount. It was definitely worth all of the money he paid.

Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC – I waited so long for this game. I waited so long for this game. I have many thoughts about it which will go in its own post but this is the co-LeoGOTY and an extremely JRPG story in a good way.

Just to get one thing out of the way: Although Trails SC is so JRPG it hurts, the battle system is not turn-based in the traditional way. What I mean is, it’s tactical combat where you can run out of movement points and not execute an action in a turn. You must also wait for magic to be cast. All the Trails games feature this style of combat.

You must play FC (First Chapter/Second Chapter, FC/SC) before this one, but if you like JRPGs you should really play both. You must be willing to devote a big chunk of time to the game, as it is very long and cutting out the sidequesting won’t save much time.

Persona 4: Dancing All Night – I am not a Persona 4 maniac (I still like 3 better), but I am a huge fan of rhythm games (Nintendo if you are reading this please make Elite Beat Agents 2 I will buy 100 copies). I refuse to engage in Hatsune Miku so it’s been a while since I had one to play. While I’d rather have another Ouendan/Elite Beat Agents, Dancing All Night scratches the itch pretty well and includes a visual novel type story if you are into the whole Persona4verse. Since there’s an idol on the comeback trail it actually makes as much sense as it possibly could when you consider that the objective is dancing away evil.

Pillars of Eternity – I backed this Kickstarter at a rather high level due to being a complete nerd in desperate need of cloth maps. If you are a fan of any of the games the people who work at Obsidian created before they were at Obsidian (Black Isle Studios and Troika) then you will absolutely be a fan of Pillars of Eternity. A strong story in a fleshed-out world with very hard combat that takes a while to learn. This is not a “pc revival” like Divinity: Original Sin (which featured a combat system way more JRPG than CRPG), it’s a direct successor to the Infinity Engine games.

Shadowrun: Hong Kong – More of Harebrained’s Shadowrun is a good thing, though it is not as good as Dragonfall: Director’s Cut. It’s always weird when a game is set somewhere like Hong Kong because it falls into certain cultural trappings, but I thought they were fine and it’s Shadowrun so it’s all weird anyway. The big thing in Hong Kong is that they overhauled the Matrix and it is so much better than it was previously that I wish they could go back and

Tales of Zestiria – Much like Atelier games, Tales games are an autobuy for me. If you want to read a lot of words about my thoughts on Zestiria, I have a whole post about them for you! The long and short of it is that it has the best battle system since Graces F and none of the Graces F garbage story and horrible voice acting. It’s very charming with none of the rargh dark edgy story you find all over these days. Not everything in the game is flowers and sunshine even on the good guy’s side but it never gets up its own butt about it which I greatly appreciated.

Games I didn’t play in 2015 but meant to and oh well that’s life:

Age of Decadence, Amnesia: Memories, Code: Realize, Danganronpa: Ultra Despair Girls, Dragon Fin Soup, Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel, Legend of Legacy, Lost Dimension, Norn9, Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines, Stella Glow, Story of Seasons, Undertale,  Xenoblade Chronicles X

I didn’t play and don’t intend to:

Fallout 4, any multi-player focused FPS games

Video Game Year in (Brief) Review: 2014

Another year has passed and as usual, I spent far too much time in that year playing video games. I hope to break some of these paragraphs out into longer pieces where I can dig into specifics, but I have no idea if I’ll be able to follow up and deliver.

Games I Played

Age of Wonders III – The problem I have with all turn-based strategy games (not 4X, like Civilization) is that they are not Heroes of Might and Magic III. That said, Age of Wonders III is pretty solid and unlike previous entries in the series I feel like I actually know what I am doing when I play.

Bayonetta 2 – Deserves a longer write-up from me–I really mean to do these things, I swear–but my favorite game by a big margin in 2014. I have spent many quality hours with Bayonetta and pals, scooting around on my chainsaw skis and kicking both angels and demons in the face. Every Platinum game is wonderful (I can say this because I haven’t played Korra!), but Bayonetta is the best of their best. Bayonetta herself is just amazing to me, she is so control of everything around her and this is not only established in cutscenes but in how the game plays. The way Bayonetta walks, the animations when she fights, they all tell you how she is going to do what she wants and nobody is going to tell her no. The incredibly slick battle system helps project this attitude when you realize you are having as much fun kicking ass as the character on screen is shown to be having. Very seriously the best action game I’ve played, and stored in that same space in my heart where I keep Onimusha and Devil May Cry 3.

Bound By Flame – A flawed but honestly very enjoyable game. It seems to me to have gotten a bad rap because people come into it expecting one of the following: Dragon Age or Dark Souls. While it is closer to Dragon Age 2 than Dark Souls it is really not a whole lot like either of them. It’s a rough around the edges ARPG that requires the player to be willing to die a lot (this is where the Dark Souls comparisons come from, because * Souls games are the first where the player dies a lot!), and that they not just rush into action. The Dragon Age part comes from making a few decisions in the game that affect the way the story goes in a small way. The worldbuilding lore is very interesting and I hope that Focus Home Interactive has Spiders do a second one or maybe some DLC, but that is probably a dream.

Child of Light – I love this game so much it makes me want to cry. It is just a really beautiful experience all around. Interesting and well thought out battle system, beautiful art and a very sweet Grimm’s Fairy Tales type story. PLAY IT.

Divinity: Original Sin – Pretty good party-based CRPG that has the kind of problems that really annoy me. The controls in-battle are just clunky and it’s far too easy to do something you didn’t mean. The mouse-target floats way too much so I found myself going to a location instead of attacking a creature more often than is acceptable. The targeting is also bizarre in that it changes based on ??? and you’ll be told an enemy is “Out of Sight” and then five seconds later, nothing changes but suddenly you can attack. Very sloppy.

Dragon Age: Inquisition – After Dragon Age 2 my expectations were seriously low and I pre-ordered DA:I at the last minute just so I could bitch about being a stupid idiot (it’s a personal problem, ok?), but it turns out that it is a really effin good game. The story is the feature, the big world is just there for you to plow through things. The first area you play through is very MMOish which makes me think EA was planning to shift the game that way, which would have been a bad thing so I’m glad they didn’t. I do think that Bioware has now created so many branches that they’re going to have to retcon some of what they’ve decided is the canonical story but that’s their problem, not mine. Overall, though, DA:I it is at the same level and better in some respects than Dragon Age: Origins.

Half-Minute Hero: The Second ComingHalf-Minute Hero has a very specific audience: People who have played lots of JRPGs. I have played a lot of JRPGs. I very much enjoy HMH.

Legend of Grimrock 2 – I haven’t played nearly as much Legend of Grimrock 2 as I had hoped, but I think it’s really fab. It’s rather difficult but that doesn’t bother me at all. I spend way too much time in the character creation screen whenever I start a new party.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky – I know this came out on PSP earlier, but my PSP has been collecting dust for something like five years and I have no idea where the charger is anyway. Trails in the Sky, like the other Legend of Heroes games is a very straight-forward, story-focused JRPG that isn’t here to shake up JRPGs as we know them. A fun 30ish(?) hours or so, I am a sucker for dumb ~fight for your love~ stories so I am eagerly anticipating the release of the second in the series.

Road Not Taken – Who got emotions in my rogue-like?? This is an extremely haunting dungeon-crawler style game about rescuing children ever year when winter comes around. You have to decide how you’re going to play: Save all the kids, or save only as many as you need to. There are a lot of gutpunches. The game itself is a match-3 style puzzler where you arrange items on each screen to progress/save children/not freeze to death yourself/etc.

Shadowrun: Dragonfall – Director’s Cut – I installed Dragonfall and when I finally got around to playing it, Harebrained announced that they were doing the standalone Director’s Cut with improvements to gameplay so I waited it out. A good choice, as Dragonfall fixes some gameplay issues from the original Shadowrun Returns and offers an even better module. The game has some very solid writing and an excellent strategic battle system.

Strider – I really wanted to like this but I just felt like the levels aren’t done very well and drifted away from it before finishing, never to return.

Tales of Hearts R – I bought a Playstation TV around the time of the secret price drop that has become official just to play this game. I am a Tales maniac and it hurts me deeply when there are Tales games out there ready to be played in a language that I understand that I haven’t gotten around to. This is no Abyss but it is a very solid entry with an endearing story and some cool characters. The battle system is simplified from the full blown ones found on the console but it’s never been so easy to string together 300 hit combos and I enjoy doing that very much. It has a skill customization system that is pretty neat; you decide how to allocate certain points you gain while leveling up to different kinds of skills for each character. There are overlapping skills in each area between a few characters so this allows you to build your party based on which characters you like the best once you figure out how that’s all working. Honestly, though, all the characters in the game are good and fun to have around.

Tales of Symphonia ChroniclesSymphonia is my second-favorite behind Abyss. The HD collection allowed me to be a total sucker for Lloyd and Colette all over again and I don’t’ care if you think she’s annoying, Colette is the best and you are wrong. Dawn of the New World isn’t very Tales-like at all outside of fanservice cameos and a real-time battle system and I have no idea why they decided to go the monster-collecting route. You don’t even have Pokeballs or anything strategic, sometimes monsters just ask if they can join you randomly after battle. The random aspect of recruiting is a huge failure in the game design and drags the game down. Add the most annoying lead character this side of Graces and the game just doesn’t work.

Transistor – Gorgeous, but doesn’t really work for me. Enemies do too much damage, and the game tries to be both real time and turn-based at once through a “planning” screen you can use to queue up a series of attacks and it doesn’t mesh well.

Tropico 5 – Overhaul of the game systems after Tropico 3 & 4, adds some interesting stuff related to eras but doesn’t reach the level of the previous games. I buy that you can’t build an apartment building in the colonial era but you should be able to build a clinic, dammit. Outside of the structure of the game, they replaced the previous radio hosts with a rather annoying and offensive “spicy Latina” girl who talks a lot about how cute boys are and how if they’re mean to her she’ll kill them. Bring back Sunny and Penultimo, please.

Wasteland 2Very good RPG that would be my top of the genre this year if not for Dragon Age: Inquisition.  Strong writing, strong battle system, lots of stuff to do all over the world in the game and it lets you do things how you want to do them. Sure, there are repercussions but one of the themes of Wasteland 2 is that there is no easy choice that fixes everything. It has immense replayability potential, there are at least three ways to do one area and get very different results.

Games I Watched My Husband Play

The following are some games I wanted to play, but let my husband get first dibs because he was more excited about them than me. I think they look cool and still intend to play through them:

  • The Evil Within
  • Infamous – Second Son
  • Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes

Games I Meant To Play, But Didn’t Because I Played Some More Tropico 4 Instead

Ar Nosurge: Ode to an Unborn Star – Waffled on buying this because Ar Qoga was not a particularly pleasant experience and then the year turned into 2015.

Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky – I usually fall into an Atelier related hole and emerge months later but I fell into a Tales related hole instead. I am 100% sure I will like this because I am the entire audience for Atelier games in the United States, I just wound up working towards platinuming older Atelier games and playing Tales of [X] and then I forgot it came out.

The Banner Saga – I backed this on Kickstarter and really, really meant to play it but I installed it and got sidetracked and never came back to it.

Dark Souls II – My husband got me a PS4 and so I decided to wait until it made its way to PS4.

Kirby: Triple Deluxe – My commute didn’t mesh very well with playing 3DS games last year so Kirby fell to the wayside.

Never Alone – Snatched this up straight away, ran out of time in the calendar year to play through.

Games I Am Probably Never Going to Play

Destiny – This is included because people have asked me about it; it is not my thing.

Sunset Overdrive – This one is sort of a lie, if it comes out for PC a year down the road I will definitely buy it and then theoretically play it. I do not have room in my living room for an XBox One until it has more than one game I am interested in, though.

Titanfall – Even less my thing than Destiny but people pretty frequently ask if I’ve played it at all. My answer is “nope”.

Telling You What To Buy: Good Old Games Holiday Sale Edition

The wonderful and amazing Good Old Games store is having a holiday sale, where almost everything is 50% off. There are some exceptions (why the first Gothic never goes on sale ever is a mystery to me), but if you’ve been thinking about picking up something from your catalog, now is the time.

If you haven’t actually been thinking about buying old games, I urge you to start. The GOG catalog is full of amazing games, both really old and only moderately old. Their recent contract with EA has made games like Ultima VII easily available for the first time in ages for anyone who is interested in playing them again, or first the first time.

Since GOG’s focus is on old(ish/er) games, you might be worried about getting them up and running on your modern machine since I assume you’re not reading this on a 486 box somewhere. Well, have no fear–one of the best things about GOG is that before they release a title they make it compatible with modern Windows machines. This saves a lot of headaches and spares you from having to mess around with DOSBox for many titles.  Plus, all the releases are DRM free and it’s nice to support a company that isn’t interested in coming up with aggravating schema to make it harder for you to play games you’ve paid for.

With all that in mind, here’s my ~handpicked~ list of games I recommend. This is only my most favorite titles on the site, a list of everything you should buy from them would be much longer and less useful. You should buy all of these games, and then dink around and buy some more. If you love RPGs, Strategy and Classic Adventure games they have a lot more than what I’ve got outlined below.

2.99 Games 

  • Arcanum (RPG) — Huge open RPG with a bigger map than Fallout. You can play this game pretty much however you want, most of the quests don’t have a set way of being solved.
  • Caesar 3 (Strategy/City Building) — Standard setting city builder. If you’ve played any game in the genre since this one came out, you know the drill. It’s amazing that it still does almost everything better than modern games.
  • Dungeon Keeper (Strategy/City Building) — Build up your dungeon and kill heroes. It’s fun being evil.
  • Fallout (RPG) — It’s Fallout.
  • Fallout 2 (RPG) — It’s Fallout 2.
  • Freedom Force vs the Third Reich (RPG) — Squad-based action RPG where you control super heroes straight out of the golden and silver age of comics. Made by Ken Levine.
  • Ishar Compilation (RPG) — True classic of the Amiga era. Try not to create a murder chain in your party.
  • Lands of Lore 1 + 2 (RPG) — Westwood’s first game outside of the D&D ruleset!
  • Rayman 2 (Platformer) — Michel Ancel’s masterpiece. One of the greatest non-Mario platformers ever.
  • Septerra Core: Legacy of the Creator (RPG) — Underrated (and unknown) RPG with a lot of unique aspects. I found it in a bargain bin moons ago and was taken aback by how good it is.
  • Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri (Strategy) — Sid Meier’s best game.
  • Tropico Reloaded (Strategy/City Building) — If you’ve ever wanted to be a dictator in Latin America now is your chance!

4.99 Games

  • Baldur’s Gate 2 Complete (RPG)  — Probably the best AD&D branded game of all time. Avoids a lot of the hilarious dialogue found in BioWare games.
  • Beyond Good & Evil (Action) — Not a perfect game, but a really well done and interesting title. It’s quite an experience, and maybe some day we’ll actually get BG&E2.
  • Gothic 2 Gold (RPG) — If you’re into Elder Scrolls type games, this is up your alley. Much more story driven and you play as a set character but you have a lot of options in terms of how you can play through.
  • Heroes of Might and Magic III Complete (Strategy) — If you like turn-based strategy non-Civ type division there’s nothing better than HoMM III.
  • The Longest Journey (Adventure) — Play through a wonderful story. One of the best adventure games of all time.
  • Sanitarium (Adventure) — Adventure game where you have to sift through crazy people doing crazy things.
  • Syberia (Adventure) — Insanely beautiful setting, charming story, puzzles that make sense.

Games Amazon Has On Sale That I Recommend

I keep posting random links on Twitter to games Amazon has on sale as a part of their that I think everyone should buy Christmas discount bonanza that I think everyone should buy so I decided to just make a whole list. These are only games I have played and personally recommend. I’ll even write quick blurbs, because I care.

I went through every page of their sale section (because I’m crazy), and this is stuff that is generally around or below the prices being charged used if you wander into a Gamestop or similar store. I am in no way a stickler for new games but if the price is close I generally go in that direction.

Playstation 3

  • Demon’s Souls – $19.99 This has been on sale on and off for a while so there’s no excuse to not pick it up. Critically acclaimed game that starts out ridiculously hard and eases up a bit. Only for the patient.

XBox 360

  • Bayonetta – $17.99 – If you like games like Devil May Cry and don’t have Bayonetta you need to buy it immediately. The combat in this system is so smooth and awesome that it has tons of replay value because you’ll just want to pop it in and play through certain levels. Also one of the weapons is a pair of figure skates.
  • Resident Evil 5 – $14.99 – It’s not Resident Evil 4 in terms of quality, and it’s very much a straight action game but even if it’s not Resident Evil enough for some people it’s a super fun game. It’s essentially the combat from RE4 with none of the puzzles, and an AI partner who helps you shoot things instead of crying and hiding in corners. The co-op feature is also great.
  • Dead Rising – $9.99 – I think you can find it used for about $10 but if you prefer buying things new you can’t beat this price. The controls can get clunky at times and you’ll probably want to kill instead of save some of the people in the mall (which you can do if you are so inclined) but it’s a classic and really good.

Wii

  • No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle – $16.35 – It’s a giant in-joke but a great game. The action is really great, if you’ve played a lot of video games you’ll giggle a lot and the 8-bit mini game Side Jobs are amazing. Other than the last boss the only other thing in this game that is horribly frustrating is the power-up mini games which I was awful at.
  • Super Mario Galaxy 2 – $39.99 – It’s only $10 off but this game is basically never going to drop in price. If you enjoy platformers you really need to own this.

Nintendo DS

  • Contact – $19.13 – Extremely quirky, fun and imaginative RPG. Feels a bit like Earthbound/Mother. If you like RPGs and are tired of the standard 14 year old has to save the world with his buddies and make peace with his father who left him as a child this is up your alley. The job system is cute and pokes a little bit of fun at the standard Mage/Fighter/Thief classes.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks – $18 – This is such an amazingly good price for this game that has the usual Zelda quality that I am not sure what else I need to say. Buy it.
  • Mario & Luigi Bowser’s Inside Story – $24.96 – Latest and greatest Mario RPG action, incredibly fun. It doesn’t recycle from the previous M&L games other than the basics of the battle system, and you get to play as Bowser.
  • Rune Factory – $18.42 – “A Fantasy Harvest Moon” translates into action RPG/farm simulator hybrid where you make friends with monsters and get them to water your plants, raise them as livestock and grow corn all while saving the world from doom and convincing the girl you video game love to marry you.
  • Rune Factory 2 – $15.99 – You got action RPG in my farm simulator again. This one is more farming, less action RPG (and story) than the first.

PSP

  • Not a single thing >:(