Ok, itís that time of the year again. Well, itís about a month after that time of the year given than most sites put their Game of the Year articles up just before Christmas. We here at Bitparade like to give ourselves a bit more time with games. We donít get to do nothing other than play games all year, more's the pity, so that extra few weeks, after some sales and a week off work, gives us some time to finish up some games, and pick up some others. we also work with a rule that no game can be mentioned twice, so if James, to pick an entirely random and non-resentful example, picks Box-Boy, I (Ben) canít
So thatís why weíre posting in January. Personally the extra month didnít really alter my list, but it very nearly did. Undertale didnít 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 Everybodyís 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.
Thereís also a lot of games that we didnít play to even be considered. Again, speaking just for myself, Iíve 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. Thereís a whole host of games, and genres I guess, that just wouldnít even show on the siteís radar. Not that we actively try to avoid things, but thereís only so much time in a year, we only get sent so much stuff to review, and everything else is what weíve 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 Ďlittleí 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 theyíre presented more piecemeal, the story mode drip feeds them to you. And more so than in the first game, you donít really need to engage with them if you donít want to. You might need to pick up and throw every now and again, tower attacks arenít the worst idea, and chaining attacks should become 2nd nature, but thereís a lot else that I never needed to master. Granted, Disgaea 5 is another Disgaea game I havenít finished, but itís 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 thenÖ). 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 wasnít quite as good, I think because Gunman Clive 2 on 3DS does benefit from some depth, despite largely being played on a 2D plane. Itís basically more of the same as the first game, but itís tighter, fewer frustrating deaths, just generally a better, more varied version. Itís 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!
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 whatís impressive is the way HAL takes this mechanic and runs with it, forcing you to think out of the box (haÖha) 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 Ė some of the missions feel like filler material designed to lead you around the environment Ė but taken as a whole, you canít help but admire how well the gameís vast world, NPCs, narrative and systems link together.
is just a delight on so many levels. Thereís 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 thereís nothing quite like it, despite it feeling so instinctively right to play. But itís 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 Nintendoís garage developer programme Ė it initially came about from developer experimentation in an internal ďGame JamĒ event Ė Grow Home
is Ubisoftís 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. Itís easy for 3D, open world platformers to become sprawling, incoherent collectathons, but Grow Home avoids this by focusing on traversal over collecting objects Ė just like Super Mario 64. So where does the ďrefreshingĒ part come from?
Well, there havenít 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 itís great to have a 3D platformer that resurrects a forgotten genre. Thereís 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. Youíre 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 Ė you spend most of its six hour running time growing a giant beanstalk, and gawping at the distance youíve made along the way. Itís 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 whatís 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 Ė itís 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 laterÖ