The Best of What I Actually Played 2015

As a grown adult with an unconquerable gaming backlog, I’m actually quite impressed at managing to complete 6 whole new games this year, as pictured in the header image, so frankly all 6 deserve praise for being good enough to jump ahead of my backlog. Chances are I would have loved MGS5, but that one got bumped into backlog by Fallout 4.

So, without further ado, I’ve narrowed the games which I most enjoyed this year down to two incomparable runners up in no particular order, and one definitive game of my year.

Runner Up A:

Bloodborne – FromSoftware – PS4

As I wrote back in August, Bloodborne is a game I was genuinely afraid just wouldn’t be for me, having never enjoyed hack and slash games in the past, but it quickly won me over with its atmosphere, sense of accomplishment and, above all, the respect with which it treats the player.

Runner Up 1:

Undertale – Toby Fox – PC

Check out my review from August if you want to see me gush about Toby Fox’s indie masterwork. A perfect combination of a singular artist making the game that he wanted to play, coupled with the unique craft of a musician turned programmer. That such a concise, emotional, coherent piece of work can come from a single developer is deeply inspiring to my inner indie dev.

Game of the Year:

Splatoon – Nintendo – WiiU

Splatoon is the triumphant emergence of Nintendo’s next generation of developers, bringing with them the boldest, freshest new gaming franchise in years. Equal parts platformer and third person shooter, yet also incorporating unexpected inspirations from MOBAs and puzzle games, Splatoon is compulsive, joyfully presented and polished to an impossibly precise degree in terms of fundamental control and game design.

The longest I’ve ever stuck with an online shooter before boredom from repetition kicked in was probably about a week, so the fact that I still find myself jumping back into Splatoon 7 months on speaks volumes, and is of course helped along by the charming online community, whose graffiti is splattered all over the lobby and arenas for all to see, and Nintendo’s unprecedented decision to offer 8 months of free map and weapon packs for a £30 game.

Perfection in a mad squiddy package, and I’m so excited to see where this series can develop after such a confident start.

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Bloodborne vs The Cowardly Gamer

I had huge trepidation even as the title screen came up. Despite a growing curiosity, I only picked up Bloodborne when I did because it was essentially free with the console. Otherwise, I was going to wait until somebody else could buy it for a birthday or something, to take away the regret if I hated it.

14 hours in and this is already shaping up to be one of my favourite games of all time.

Let me explain. I am a coward at hard action games. I could never play a Resident Evil game at any setting higher than Easy. I tried Devil May Cry as a teenager and struggled a whole lot. I hate having to learn complicated combos or enemy patterns before you can become successful, and I especially hate artificial or cheap tactics to make a game harder.

Bloodborne though, hard as it is, is a game with immense respect for the player. Not a single enemy has jump-scared through a window at me, nor (at least so far) has an enemy spawned out of nowhere behind my back when entering a room. The only times I’ve been snuck up on were due to my own negligence. Same for death, which happened a lot at first, but surprisingly a lot less as I’ve progressed (several hours into the Catherdral Ward and not a single death! Yet.).

This respect for the player is really empowering, and the confidence with which I find myself adventuring through this exceptionally deadly, beautiful world is astonishing to me, the former action coward.

Bloodborne_Alpha_PlayStation_4_gameplay_screenshot

It also helps that the combat isn’t at all padded or overly complex for the sake of it. No silly combos to learn through trial and error. Each button on the controller does one thing, and using this limited, direct toolset based on my own intuition within a situation enriches the sense that I’m the one doing the fighting, pulling off the impressive moves instead of pressing a series of buttons in an arbitrary way that doesn’t match up with what’s going on on screen.

So, just getting started as I may be, Bloodborne has already earned my respect.

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