2015: My first trips to America and a ton of Factory Sealed fun. Same again please, 2016!
2015 was a decent year for games as we continue to be very much spoilt for choice through multiple networks: big retail offers on huge open world experiences, PS+ freebies, gog.com’s throwaway deals and endless Steam sales. I even managed to play Just Cause 3 on my PS4 – via Eric’s – for an entire 60 minutes with fairly minimal input lag considering he lives 5,500 miles away… What a world we live in!
So anyway, hope you all had happy holidays, here are the games I most enjoyed playing in 2015.
10. Crash Team Racing
(Yes, I stole your graphic, Dan). When we decided to compare 3 well-known, stress-tested and acclaimed kart racers, we ended up having a lot of fun playing CTR, Diddy Kong Racing and Mario Kart 64.
Our show was a highlight for me as we really dissected and got lost in debating which one would take the chequered flag. Ultimately the characters, weapons, hop mechanic, variety of environments and tracks along with an authentic sense of speed left Mario choking on Crash’s exhaust fumes.
9. OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood
As I made preparations to move house, I had little time to get stuck into a massive game and needed something more casual – along came OlliOlli 2 to scratch that itch. Filled with a bold, flat art-style, trip-hop music and bone-crushing trial and error gameplay – OlliOlli 2 had me failing and bailing till the cows came home. It’s addictive, but ugly, as slicing up your thumbs to achieve victory is entirely possible (ask Dan).
8. Life is Strange
I read a preview on Life is Strange a few months before it came out and I instantly knew I wanted to grab the first episode. I’m a sucker for non-linear narrative and this would be the first episodic series I had played in line with release dates; it did not disappoint.
Sure, Max (the main character) is a bit cringey at times but this is soon forgiven as she’s supposed to be this somewhat awkward and confused teenager. The relationships between her and an array of other characters you meet gets more and more interesting and complex across all 5 episodes, and had my partner and I constantly theorising as to what could possibly happen next.
The middle episodes are a bit flat, but it’s all 100% worth it for the final, fucked up showdown which explores some both unexpected and mature themes. Now, no decision is necessarily final, as I should of mentioned you do have the ability to time travel… But, we all know what happens when you mess with time…
7. Emily is Away
It’s a 45 minute, 20mb experience on PC/Mac that plays out via an emulated version of Windows XP and the chat client: AIM (AOL Instant Messenger). Yes, it even has that Windows XP startup chime. Curious? I bet.
You play as yourself, talking to a girl called Emily through AIM, your relationship changing and altering depending on your actions throughout 5 chapters, labeled as college years. It’s a terribly accurate and successfully cringeworthy attempt at restoring the memories of naivety and adolescence in 90’s kids.
If you grew up using either ICQ, MSN or AIM – the nostalgia here will blow your boobies right back to 1999 when you had to disconnect from the internet whilst talking to girls from school because a parent had to use the telephone. It’s a very interesting game that is worth one of your hours.
6. Actual Sunlight
We had the developer for Actual Sunlight – Will O’Neill – on one of our shows, and discussed with him the ins, outs and true meanings of his short interactive story. It became clear that Actual Sunlight’s origins were – at the very least – deep and thought-provoking.
We got very existential and reflective on the show, discussing serious themes addressed in the game: depression, love and the corporation. Ultimately, I felt Actual Sunlight was very positive and somewhat strangely comforting. I also believe it is both necessary and crucial that games continue to branch out into multiple forms and become more than just arbitrary sets of rules and boundaries.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good bro-shooter, but Actual Sunlight really challenged the status quo here, probing for extraordinary emotional responses… and I’ll always make time for shit like that.
I didn’t play many RPG’s in 2015 and yet that’s almost all I played in my teens.
So, Eric suggested I give Popolocrois a whirl… Turns out it’s a wonderful, classic, turn-based RPG with all the little ingredients I needed to get my 2015 RPG fix. It’s a loving tale that follows Pietro – a young prince – along with fairly-tale like friends he meets along the way to, of course, save important folks and worlds.
It’s high on my list as I normally don’t like tactics-based RPG’s, but this one has made me see the grid-shaped light. Charming music, detailed artwork and even cinematics seemingly lifted straight from the anime. Wonderful stuff.
Snatcher is one of Kojima’s early games before all of those other snakes and war economy stuff. Set in 2047 in dystopian Japan – it has this cool Akria-like style to it as you venture through via point-and-click format, eliminating Snatchers (cyborgs disguised as humans) and doing some solid detective work with your partner called erm… Metal Gear, wouldn’t you know.
Snatcher is a real gem and has since developed a cult status – it’s well worth a shot, especially if you like Kojima’s games. Fantastic voice acting, long cut-scenes, a fully fleshed out storyline and weird, fourth-wall-breaking moments that are well ahead of their time…
Hideo wouldn’t have it any other way, right?
3. Rayman Legends
Before I played Rayman Legends, the last couch co-op game I ever finished was Gears of War (which was awesome). My partner isn’t much of a gamer, so I decided to pick up an extra PS4 controller and something easy for us to play and enjoy together.
Honestly, I didn’t think Rayman Legends would be anywhere near as good as it turned out to be. It is way too much fun. Often we ended up playing until 2 or even 3 in the morning and both end up loaded with regret the next day at work, it just couldn’t be helped. There’s tons of humour injected into all of the levels and the musical stages smother you in constant fits of joy.
My partner loves it, especially because it’s extremely generous to players at times when you fall, get killed by an enemy or get completely lost off the screen, so put away your Bloodborne shit for a moment.
“One more level. One more level. One more level. One mo…”
2. Rocket League
I don’t want to know how many hours I’ve dumped into Rocket League – but when that dropped as a PS+ freebie in the middle of 2015, I couldn’t put it down. I told Eric and Dan that this game was going to be a real hit and that some online fun between us all was long overdue.
We chose our cars, slapped on the decals and played a ton of matches, won a bunch of times, lost hundreds of times and shouted “Jeeves, strap that unused bag of one-hundred dollar bills to the back of my car!” thousands of times.
Football with rocket-powered cars and a giant ball equals anarchy, chaos and competitive fun – who’d of thunk it?
1. The Last of Us: Remastered
My partner bought me my PS4 for Christmas back in 2014 and with it she grabbed me GTAV, some hot pile of rubbish we won’t mention (Driveclub) and The Last of Us: Remastered.
I’m super late to the Last of Us party, but once I was ready, the lights went off and nobody made a sound during that opening scene… From there I was obsessed with playing through and finding out what on earth was to become of Joel and Ellie. I avoided spoilers for years – it was all completely worth it. It’s been a very long time since I’ve sat in the office, at work, wanting desperately to go home and finish the next chapter of a game.
It took me months to finish. I really took my time, savouring it all – watching the events unfold, right up until that final scene. The story-DLC, ‘Left Behind’ is also incredible and worth a mention. The Last of Us wasn’t just my favourite game of 2015, it’s easily one of my favourite games of all time.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
Memorable Show Moments of 2015:
- Eric shouting ‘GET IT’ when I mentioned Ni No Kuni was only £3.99 on PSN.
- Completing Silent Hill, a game I was terrified of for 16 years.
- Creating Jess’ own personal living hell by making awfully amplified noises down the microphone.
- When Dan said that ‘some smashing could be in order’ (regarding what he thought was a ‘stupid puzzle’ on Silent Hill. I don’t know why, but I laughed so much).
- Reminiscing over 20 years of PlayStation memories.
- Eric’s uncontrollable laughter at the atrocities of Carmageddon.
- Spinning the random game generator to then end up playing utter, utter shite over our precious weekends.
- And…The four of us all actually finishing a game just before Christmas.