If one of us played it, then we are ranking it. Below is the list of all the games we played from 2015 ranked in order of worst to best.
|164||J-Stars Victory VS+|
|163||Castle in the Darkness|
|160||Egg Returns Home|
|158||htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary|
|156||Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival|
|154||Resident Evil: Revelations 2|
|149||Five Nights at Freddy’s 3|
|148||Just Get Through|
|147||Robot Roller-Derby Disco Dodgeball|
|146||Airscape: The Fall of Gravity|
|144||Plug & Play|
|143||Holy Potatoes! A Weapon Shop?!|
|142||Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water|
|141||Citizens of Earth|
|140||Chibi-Robo: Zip Lash|
|138||Rise of Incarnates|
|135||The Magic Circle|
|134||XBLAZE: Lost Memories|
|132||Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax|
|129||Karmaflow: Rock Opera|
|128||Human Resource Machine|
|127||OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood|
|126||Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters|
|125||Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell|
|123||Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson|
|122||Read Only Memories|
|117||Guns, Gore, & Cannoli|
|116||Swords & Soldiers II|
|114||Emily is Away|
|112||Mario Puzzles and Dragons|
|111||Story of Seasons|
|108||Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy|
|106||The Fruit of Grisaia|
|105||Gunman Clive 2|
|103||Tales of Zestiria|
|97||Renowned Explorers: International Society|
|96||Kerbal Space Program|
|93||Not a Hero|
|92||Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed|
|88||Onechanbara Z2: Chaos|
|85||Samurai Warriors 4-2|
|84||Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart|
|83||Mario Party 10|
|82||Code Name S.T.E.A.M.|
|81||Dragon Ball: Xenoverse|
|80||Contradiction: Spot the Liar!|
|77||Forza Motorsport 6|
|76||Kirby and the Rainbow Curse|
|75||Five Nights at Freddy’s 4|
|74||Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines|
|73||Act of Aggression|
|71||Just Cause 3|
|70||The Beginner’s Guide|
|67||Dragon Quest Heros|
|66||Galak-Z: The Dimensional|
|63||Crypt of the Necrodancer|
|61||Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai DX|
|59||Hand of Fate|
|57||Assassin’s Creed Syndicate|
|51||Affordable Space Adventures|
|50||Westerado: Double Barreled|
|49||Mortal Kombat X|
|48||Rock Band 4|
|46||The Order 1886|
|45||Yoshi’s Wooly World|
|44||Super Mario Maker|
|41||Call of Duty: Black Ops III|
|40||Star Wars Battlefront|
|39||Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number|
|38||The Legend of Zelda: Triforce Heroes|
|37||Heroes of the Storm|
|36||Halo 5: Guardians|
|35||Assault Android Cactus|
|34||Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late|
|33||Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea|
|31||Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes|
|29||Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime|
|27||Persona 4: Dancing All Night|
|25||Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls|
|24||Guitar Hero Live|
|23||Ori and the Blind Forest|
|17||Everyone’s Gone to the Rapture|
|16||Final Fantasy Type-0|
|13||Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate|
|12||Rise of the Tomb Raider|
|9||Life is Strange|
|8||Xenoblade Chronicles X|
|7||Tales of the Borderlands|
|5||Batman: Arkham Knight|
|3||Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain|
|1||The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt|
Another year has quickly gone by. There were some games that came out in that time, and here are our thoughts on which were the standouts in our special brand of categories.
Best Non-2015 Gaming Experience (Personal)
We begin today with our personal categories, the “Best Non-2015 Category” encapsulates all games released prior to 2015, Early-Access games that have not yet been released, and episodic games that have yet to release their final episode.
Isaiah B – Payday 2
Brock – Destiny: The Taken King
Derek – King’s Quest
Zach – Destiny: The Taken King
Alex – Dreamfall: Chapters
Drew – Destiny: The Taken King
Thomas – Persona 3 Portable
Most Surprisingly Good Game (Personal)
We expect a lot out of our games, but some more than others. These are the games that surprised us the most in 2015.
Derek – Helldivers
Isaiah B – Helldivers
Zach – Undertale
Brock – Life is Strange
Thomas – Rocket League
Drew – Rocket League
Alex – Runbow
Biggest Disappointment (Personal)
In direct opposition to our “Most Surprisingly Good” we have, “Biggest Disappointment.” Games that bummed us out, did not meet the hype, or were at all disappointing.
Derek – Star Wars: Battlefront
Drew – Star Wars: Battlefront
Brock – Rock Band 4
Zach – Star Wars: Battlefront
Isaiah B – Evolve
Thomas – Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Alex – Resident Evil: Revelations 2
Most Addictive (Personal)
What games could we simply not tear ourselves away from? Some games are addictive by design, and here are our picks for “Most Addictive” game of 2015.
Brock – Persona 4: Dancing All Night
Thomas – Fallout 4
Isaiah B – Fallout 4
Zach – The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt
Alex – Fallout 4
Drew – Batman: Arkham Knight
Derek – Batman: Arkham Knight
2015 might have not been quite as strong of a year for multiplayer as last year, but it was no slouch.
Winner – Rocket League
Beauty through simplicity is Rocket League’s appeal, and what it accomplishes wish so little is undoubtedly impressive proving to be an obsession for many throughout 2015.
Affordable Space Adventures
Best Voice Acting
This category examines all the voice acting in a game.
Winner – Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture
Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture’s voice acting is critical to its success at what the game is going for. For being such an emotionally-charged experience, it is amazing what it accomplishes without characters models. The British accents certainly don’t hurt either.
Batman Arkham Knight
Best Voice Performance
Where “Best Voice Acting” looks at the entire game, “Best Voice Performance” looks at one singular performance.
Winner – Viva Seifert – Her Story
In a lot of ways, Viva Seifert is Her Story. Without a solid performance, Her Story lacks the breadth necessary to make it engaging or sell the character on the screen. Viva manages to produce the ambiguity needed to confuse the player just enough to keep going to the game’s arbitrary conclusion.
Oliver Dimsdale as Steven Appleton from Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture
Peter Stormare as the psychiatrist from Until Dawn
As time continually marches on, it gets harder and harder to feel original and innovate in an established place. This category recognizes those who dare to try to be different.
Winner – Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes definitely feels different in the field of 2015 videogames. Playing more like a board game, one player (or a group) is armed with a bomb-defusal guide, and it is their objective to help the other player disarm the bomb before somebody explodes. It’s fresh, it’s original, and it’s our winner for this category.
Affordable Space Adventures
Kerbal Space Program
It is hard to master comedic timing in videogames, we also value a good dose of the absurd on occasion, thus the category of “Most Funny/Ridiculous” was born.
Winner – Tales From the Borderlands
Tales From the Borderlands is among the most funny videogames ever made. It is continually laugh-inducing and more than suitably ridiculous. It was the easy winner of the category this year.
Plug & Play
Best Looking Game
Combining artistic and technical merit produces our “Best Looking Game” category. Which game was the most visually impressive in 2015?
Winner – The Order 1886
The Order 1886 shows that consoles can still compete graphically despite aged hardware. The Order is highly directed making the visuals pop, the lighting stand out, and the character models impress. Also, just check out the game’s cloth physics.
Star Wars: Battlefront
Ori and the Blind Forest
Typically one of our more contentious categories due to the subjectivity of musical taste, but we decide which games had the best music anyway. The quality is always raising in this category from year to year.
Winner – Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture
A clear standout with its choral pieces and string arrangements, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, feature a soundtrack like no other. The music aids in driving home the game’s more poignant moments and always complements what is happening on screen.
Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number
Best Boss Fights
Boss fights are still relevant as a test of player’s’ skills and we always like to reward that.
Winner – Undertale
Nearly every encounter in Undertale is unique, and the boss fights even more so. From heart-wrenching to maddeningly difficulty, Undertale always has something up its sleeve when it comes to its boss fights.
We combine overarching story and moment to moment writing in this category.
Winner – Tales From the Borderlands
While having a great culmination of choices at its end, none can compete with the moment-to-moment dialogue in Tales From the Borderlands.
The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt
Best New Main Character
In what was a weaker year for new main characters, a couple rose above the rest.
Winner – Rhys – Tales From the Borderlands
Rhys, though he may be altered by the player somewhat, is a defined character that is easy to root for. Stuck under the shadow of Handsome Jack, he attempts to fill the power vacuum created by the end of Borderlands 2. His arch throughout the five episodes is interesting and possesses a surprising amount of depth.
Jenks – Contradiction
Max Caulfield – Life is Strange
Best Secondary Character
“Best Secondary Character” does not have to be new like with our “Main Character” category. This allows for a wide array of characters new and tried.
Winner – The Joker – Batman Arkham Knight
The Joker is what makes Batman Arkham Knight. His implementation, though lazy in concept, is executed brilliantly. His dialogue makes him unforgettable in a game that might not otherwise be the pinnacle of its series.
Gortys – Tales From the Borderlands
The Bloody Baron – The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt
Continuing the madness that is Nintendo’s supply shortages, we support amiibo here at the EXP Shared podcast.
Winner – Palutena
Detail was the name of the game this year, and no amiibo is as impressive as Palutena’s with her shield, staff, and translucent blue aura.
Green Yarn Yoshi
Most Memorable Moment (Personal)
What moments stood out as the ones that are still ingrained in our minds? Don’t worry *NO SPOILERS*
Zach – End of Until Dawn
Brock – Flowey Fight in Undertale (neutral route)
Isaiah S – Genocide Route in Undertale
Isaiah B – Dying by Old Woman in Mortal Kombat X
Thomas – Besting the Vicar Amelia in Bloodborne
Drew – The Barbara Gordon scene in Batman Arkham Knight
Derek – Sidequesting in Batman Arkham Knight
Alex – The End of Episode 2 in Tales From the Borderlands
2015 was the year of…
What defines the year?
Winner – Open-World Domination
The Triple-A games industry has been trending towards the open-world genre for a while now with the unprecedented commercial success of games like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Grand Theft Auto V. But 2015 witnessed an absolute saturation of the genre with varying success. As someone who plays a lot of games, it was a year filled with long, satisfying experiences, and it proved difficult to get through all them (especially when two come out in December, Xenoblade Chronicles X, Yakuza 5). It says something when our Top 5 games of the year are all open-world games.
Transhumanism as a narrative device
The Fall of Konami
Most Anticipated (Personal)
Now that 2015 is over what are we pumped for next?
Brock – The Witness
Isaiah S – The Oculus Rift
Derek – Warhammer 40K: Eternal Crusade
Zach – Uncharted 4
Alex – Zero Time Dilemma
Isaiah B – Pokken Tournament
Drew – Final Fantasy XV
Thomas – Horizon: Zero Dawn
Paul – No Man’s Sky
I’m excited and ready to get back to it! Thanks for joining me as I attempt to again play video games for 24 hours straight. Whoa, it has been a while since the last one; time to knock the rust off. I have a few new games this time around that I am pumped for, so it should make for a good day. It also looks like it is going to be raining all day, so naturally, that makes it wonderful weather for gaming.
Getting back into the grove of Final Fantasy IX, and I must say that it feels good.
The most notable happenings this time around were that war is breaking out all over the place and Dagger has acquired the ability to use eidolons or Summons, a series staple. The story is brewing nicely as I cross the 12 hour mark.
Atelier Ayesha is back on the docket. As it becomes a series staple to my marathons, I do want to finish it soon so I can move on to Atelier Shallie.
The whole point of the game has been to find Ayesha’s sister, Nio. We finally saw her for the first time at about the 12-hour point. The gameplay has been a satisfying grind of crafting and turn-based combat. I’m still liking it a lot.
I started playing the peculiar RPG Undertale.
The game messes with players’ expectations early and often. I put in about 30 min in, just enough time to get through the game’s introductory sequence. I will certainly be finishing this one up next week.
I started playing the confusing and overwhelming Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy.
From the maker’s of last year’s great Demon Gaze, Operation Abyss is not nearly as story driven so far and not nearly as straightforward. It is trying to be more investigation-based with less of a focus on the turn-based combat of Demon Gaze. It sets an interesting tone and atmosphere, but it has been rough around the edges so far. The art, however, is fantastic.
Isaiah S. and I started playing Secret of Mana for the SNES. It has been a while since I played an older game in a marathon.
I had heard that Secret of Mana is the Kingdom Hearts of the 16-bit era, and I am definitely seeing it. The more action-based nature of the game’s combat is refreshing for that era of video games. Pleasant music and bright visuals also help to carry the experience. The story seems painfully cliché at the moment. Hopefully, that part changes.
It is time to find out what all this Shenmue business is all about. My love for the Yakuza franchise will likely set unreachable expectations for the gangster simulator, but maybe I’ll see why so many people love it and are so pumped for Shenmue 3.
Well… I tend to write a “Before & After” section when playing through games during marathon like this one. Unfortunately, my Dreamcast didn’t feel like reading the first disc of Shenmue today, it played other games fine, but no Shenmue. I then tried to play some F.E.A.R. 2 and my disc had gotten damaged sometime between now and the time I got it. So, there goes 2 games and 4 hours of what I had planned for today. Time to ad-lib.
I started to the play some XBLAZE Lost: Memories.
The first XBLAZE game was a great looking, but boring virtual novel, and Lost: Memories is so far, trying to be more “gamelike” with varied results. The games still look striking and impressive, and there are some more interactive elements, so hopefully it ends up having a better story than Code: Embryo.
The opening hour of Swords & Soldiers II sure looks better than the first one. However, the game does not have the original feel of the first one. The missions without the base-building and character creating are boring and tedious.
Back to Code Name: S.T.E.A.M.
It is still solid, but there was the introduction of a very annoying enemy that stuns characters and is very difficult to hit. I managed to get through a mission in an hour pushing my play time up to 3 hours.
It has been far too long since I have played Ori and the Blind Forest.
I finally made a lot of progress in my one additional hour of time with the game. There is no way around it, Ori is a hard game, and it is going to take some patience to finish off.
With two games not working for me I decided to start Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture.
I did not stop playing Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture until credits rolled. It took 4.5 hours and it was a wonderful, and absolutely gorgeous experience. More to come on Rapture in my review hitting soon.
I had not gotten stuck in Final Fantasy Type -0 I would probably already have had it done by this point of time.
I got unstuck quickly and finished up chapter 4. I still really really like this game and I need to wrap it up soon.
I’m going to close the night off with a little Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls.
I tend to leave some of the games I want to play most for the end of the marathon to keep my motivation up, and more Danganronpa is typically great motivation. I finished up a lengthy Chapter 2 and got a good jump on Chapter 3. It is not as good as last year’s two GOTY contenders, but there is still plenty to love here.
6:30am – 10:00am – Final Fantasy IX
10:00am – 12:00pm – Atelier Ayesha: Alchemist of Dusk Plus
12:00pm – 12:30pm – Undertale
12:30pm – 2:00pm – Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy
2:00pm – 4:00pm – Secret of Mana
4:00pm – 6:00pm – XBLAZE Lost: Memories
6:00pm – 7:00pm – Swords & Soldiers II
7:00pm – 8:00pm – Code Name S.T.E.A.M.
8:00pm – 9:00pm – Ori and the Blind Forest
9:00pm – 1:30am – Everbody’s Gone to the Rapture
1:30am – 3:00am – Final Fantasy Type – 0 HD
3:00am – 6:30am – Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls
Another six months have blown by us. Five of us discussed the best and worst of the year so far at length; the results of said discussion are below.
Most Surprisingly Good
We started off the day positive; looking at games that were better than we initially expected.
Alex – Monster Bag
Isaiah B. – Splatoon
Brock – Hand of Fate
Paul – Her Story
Thomas – The Order 1886
Always one of our more contentious categories, Best Multiplayer shows how we like to play with others.
#IDARB encapsulates what an e-sport can be. Upon initially diving in, the player can feel how deep and complex the team dynamics are in #IDARB, and oh, does it feel so good.
The first six months of 2015 have not been free of crushing disappointment. Which games bummed us out?
Alex – Broken Age (Act II)
Isaiah B. – Life is Strange
Brock – Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate
Paul – The Order 1886
Thomas – The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt
In putting together the list of categories, it was clear that a lot of games this year focused around the mechanic of hunting. Thus, this award was born. If more hunt-tastic games are released in the next six months then we will keep it on board for full year.
Evolve is a game all about hunting, so it felt right to give it the win. A game about hide-and-seek, trapping and escape made for an exciting hunt.
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate
Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt
Which game is the most visually impressive?
The Order 1886
The Order may suffer from a lack of interesting gameplay, but it does not lack technical prowess and beautiful visuals.
Kirby and the Rainbow Curse
It has be a solid year for music in games so far, here are our top picks:
Crypt of the Necrodancer
Music is gameplay in Crypt of the Necrodancer. The hard hitting techno/electronica beats are undeniably awesome. Toe tapping is important as to keep the beat in the game is when one can move and attack.
Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number
Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late
It’s been a weaker year for good stories, but here’s what we have so far in 2015:
Tales of the Borderlands
As long as all five episodes make it out this year, Tales of the Borderlands is looking to dominate our awards proceedings. Its humor and dialogue are second to none in a video game making it a fairly easy pick this time around.
The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt
Best Games of 2015 (Jan-June)
We took our personal top 10 picks of the year, through them all together and saw what stuck to the wall:
34. Plug ‘N’ Play
33. I Am Bread
32. J-Stars Victory Vs. Plus
31. Saints Row: Gat out of Hell
30. Mario Party 10
29. Mortal Kombat X
28. Fallout Shelter
27. Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart
26. The Order 1886
25. Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late
24. Dying Light
23. Grow Home
22. Heroes of the Storm
19. Box Boy
18. Axiom Verge
17. Kirby and the Rainbow Curse
16. Roche Fusion
15. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate
14. Ori and the Blind Forest
13. Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number
12. Crypt of the Necrodancer
11. Invisible, Inc.
10. Hand of Fate
8. Titan Souls
7. Her Story
6. Life is Strange
5. Batman: Arkham Knight
4. Final Fantasy: Type – 0 HD
3. Tales of the Borderlands
- The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt
It’s that time again: time for me to attempt to play video games for 24 hours straight. Today’s focus is primarily on starting or continuing games from 2015, but the usual suspects from my backlog will appear as they always do.
I’m getting started a little earlier today, and of course, I’m beginning with Final Fantasy IX.
FFIX has a “mechanic” called Action Time Events that not like quick-time events as we know them in a post-God of War era. They are little scenes that fill in backstory or show what another character is doing at the same time as the current playable one. It’s interesting, completely optional, and adds some nice flavor to the game.
Six hours into Final Fantasy IX and things are going well.
New party member in Grandia II!!!
Though one party member left, another has joined.
The story is really heating up as I return to Ryudo’s (the main character) homeland. The air is thick and the atmosphere is tense as he is about to have a showdown with his brother.
It should be said that despite having spread my playthrough of Grandia II out quite a bit, I always know where to go and am still invested in the story. That says a lot, I think.
It was a rough two hours with Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate.
I was hoping to have my time with the game wrapped up by now, but the game is soooooo HUGE. I’m getting very close to where I would be comfortable reviewing it however.
I fought and killed two monsters in 2 hours; long fights that I died on and had to do again. Whew. At least their corpses now lie at my feet.
I got through about a chapter and a half of Super Paper Mario. Unfortunately, chapter 5 was not very good… at all. Annoying puzzle and enemy design made for a slog for 2 hours.
At least chapter 6 starts off well enough with a faux 100-man face-off. So, the session ended well-enough.
Oreshika: The Tainted Bloodlines is a weird one. I’m about 5 hours into the game and it hasn’t really grabbed me yet. That is probably due to the lack of structure and defined goals.
Like Animal Crossing or Tomodachi Life, one is expected to make their own fun and objectives, except there is even less outright direction in Oreshika. It feels especially strange in a JPRG. There is a character designed to help the player out, but it is easy to rely on her as a crutch and think, “Okay, you just do everything.” I’m trying to wrap my mind around the game, but it is going to take some more time.
Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters is another weird one. It is a strategy-RPG/virtual novel. The strategy part is different in that you have to predict where enemies will be before you attack. You don’t know where they are going to be, but you have to attack them. This makes for a very frustrating time.
The presentation is fantastic however and carries the game a long way. It doesn’t look like it is going to be super long, so I will hopefully finish up it up soon.
I am still thoroughly enjoying Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk Plus. The more freeform nature works, and the story is more engaging than Escha & Logy’s, but the overall flow of the game is not as rewarding.
We got four people together and played Mario Party 9. We have been working through all the Mario Party games getting ready for 10, and we were on 9, so 9 is what we played.
I first played Mario Party 9 sometime in 2012. The second time I played Mario Party 9 was today. It was much better the second time. The complete upheaval of the old structure of the games was not as dramatic when I knew it was coming. Regardless, playing them all so closely together made me not hate 9 nearly as much as I thought I did for whatever that is worth.
I started playing Code Name ST.E.A.M. today. It is a challenging game from the makers of Advance Wars and the Fire Emblem games, but it plays like SEGA’s Valkyria Chronicles.
The game looks a lot better in motion than I expected based off of the previous footage and screenshots. Critiques that I had heard about the game ring true, mainly that “overwatch” (a mechanic popularized by XCOM: Enemy Unknown) is completely and totally broken. Enemies can get two free shots on a party member without moving or shooting, breaking line-of-sight is all it takes and to make matters worse, the little buggards are deviously hidden.
It’s not bad. It’s not amazing.
One of the roommates wanted to play Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, so that is what we did. We got lucky and got a guy in our party who was Hunter Rank 255. For perspective’s sake, my roommate and I have put in around 30ish hours and we just hit HR 4. Let that sink in. Seriously. Some people REALLY like Monster Hunter.
Final Fantasy Type-0 is pretty great. I definitely didn’t want to stop after my 3 hours of it. The game looks good sometimes, and at others it reminds you that it was a PSP game first. The graphics as a whole can be jarring at times, but keeping in mind the game’s crazy journey to the States makes it much more tolerable.
The game is just fun. The combat is a blast. Experimentation is encouraged and there is a lot of it to be done. The RTS mechanics are light, but interesting and I’m intrigued to see how far they will go in that direction.
I intentionally saved some of the games I wanted to play for the end of the 24 hours. And Type-0 and Ori and the Blind Forest certainly topped the list for games I wanted to play today. I was an hour in Ori before I started today, and the first 10 minutes of the game are up for my “Most Memorable Moment of 2015.” The game makes an incredibly strong first impression, largely because how exceptionally amazing the game looks.
The game gets tough. It counters this by allowing the player to save a number of times wherever they want, so make one tough jump… plop down a save point so you don’t have keep doing it over and over again. The system works for the most part, but I am still fairly early in the game, hopefully the game can remain consistent to the end.
And that was my day. 24 hours of gaming goodness… well not all goodness, there were a couple of speed bumps along the way but we made it. Grandia II, Type-0, and Ori were definitely the highlights of the day with Atelier bringing it consistently as well. See ya next time!
6:00am – 9:00am – Final Fantasy IX
9:00am – 11:00am – Grandia II
11:00am – 1:00pm – Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate
1:00pm – 3:00pm – Super Paper Mario
3:00pm – 5:00pm – Oreshika: The Tainted Bloodlines
5:00pm – 7:00pm – Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters
7:00pm – 9:00pm – Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk Plus
9:00pm-10:00pm – Mario Party 9
10:00pm – 12:00am – Code Name S.T.E.A.M.
12:00am – 1:00am – Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate
1:00am – 4:00am – Final Fantasy Type-0 HD
4:00am – 6:00am – Ori and the Blind Forest
Each year it proves harder and harder to choose the best music found in video games. Developers are getting better at utilizing music in creative ways as well as having generally stronger efforts from composers. This list is less about how well music is used in a game and more of which tracks sound the best on their own.
Presented in an album format, we have an “A” side and a “B” side totaling in 20 tracks. The only rules of the list are 1. Only one song per game. 2. No remixes of previously existing songs. Here we go!
#1. Tomorrow is Mine – Bayonetta 2
The music from Bayonetta 2 is similar to that found in the first game. While playing through the game the music fell somewhere in the background and I never really caught any of it. However, after listening to the soundtrack outside of the game it blew me away. The game is so crazy with what is happening on screen and so demanding in its action that the amazing music is missable, and that is unfortunate because it is some of the best music to be found in a video game in 2014.
The Bayonetta 2 soundtrack is available on iTunes.
#2. That Person’s Name Is – Bravely Default
The boss battle theme from Bravely Default is performed by Revo of the Japanese band Linked Horizon. The music takes the classic style of the older numbered Final Fantasy games and infuses them with hard rock. The result is a soundtrack that helps propel the player through a long game with catchy melodies and memorable music overall.
CDJapan is going to likely be the best place to acquire Bravely Default’s OST. Amazon also has it, but at a higher price.
#3. My Name is Legion – Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky
Logy’s battle theme from Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky is among the best I’ve ever heard. The entire Escha & Logy soundtrack is refreshing with its smooth jazz, use of flute and acoustic guitar. It has a unique feel not heard elsewhere in video games.
Play-Asia is the place to lock down this soundtrack.
#4. New World Order – Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc
The music of Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is special. The music always fits what is happening and always enhances the raw emotions that the game pulls out of the player on a consistent basis. New World Order swells as the game begins to reach its conclusion and sends the player on ride to the insanity that is the end of the game. Few tracks hit me harder than this one in 2014.
The soundtracks for both Danganronpa games are available on iTunes.
#5. Misrid Hunter – Demon Gaze
Demon Gaze’s OST is short, but extremely well done. If I have said it once, I have said it at every available opportunity: “A JRPG has to have a great battle theme.” Misrid Hunter is Demon Gaze’s main battle theme, and it is fantastic. The game utilizes voice more than most game soundtracks, and I think it is utilized to great effect.
Demon Gaze’s soundtrack is hard to come by, and unfortunately your best bet might be YouTube.
#6. Our Heels Bleed From the Bites of Wolves – The Banner Saga
Now, I am not the biggest fan of Journey. I’m not even that big of a fan of the game’s Grammy-nominated soundtrack either. The game’s simplicity and look are its biggest selling points to me. The composer of Journey’s OST also did the music for one of my favorite games of the year: The Banner Saga. The music is never intrusive, but is always there and fits the dour tone and mood of the game perfectly.
The Banner Saga’s soundtrack is available on iTunes.
#7. Too Late to Love You – Kentucky Route Zero Act III
Though Kentucky Route Zero is not even a complete game yet, I would be remiss to not mention this track as it is the best use case of music in a game that I experienced in 2014. KRZ’s music is more ethereal and atmospheric than anything else, but in Act III, the music takes center stage… quite literally. Too Late to Love You is a choose-your-own-lyrics song, and it is incredible. Kentucky Route Zero’s gameplay is largely picking from various dialogue options, so getting to choose the lyrics to a song was memorable. It doesn’t hurt that the song is excellent to boot.
Kentucky Route Zero Act III’s music is available on iTunes.
#8. We All Become – Transistor
The Transistor soundtrack is tied to the game’s identity. Few OST’s this year encapsulate their games better than Transistor. Many of the tracks have a vocal accompaniment, and We All Become is a standout in a collection of music that stands on its own.
The Transistor soundtrack is available on iTunes.
#9. Elusive – Toukiden: The Age of Demons
Now, Toukiden: The Age of Demons may not be the best game of 2014, but I constantly found myself going back to the game’s music. With flares of Eastern musical stylings, the music matches the action in this Monster Hunter-style game from the makers of Dynasty Warriors. Though the gameplay can quickly become dull and repetitive, the music helps in alleviating the game’s poor design.
Toukiden: The Age of Demon’s OST is best sought after from CDJapan.
#10. Scream – Lethal League
Lethal League came out of nowhere for me last year. It was quite the pleasant surprise, as was the game’s soundtrack. Scream easily outclassed the rest of the soundtrack, but the music in the game always elevated the intense action and fierce competition found at the core of Lethal League.
These bangin’ beats can be located on the Lethal League website and SoundCloud.
#11. Strike the Earth! – Shovel Knight
It was a great year for chiptune music. Super Time Force and Mercenary Kings both provided strong offerings, but it is Shovel Knight who buries the competition. Strike the Earth! is among the first tracks heard in the game, and it is among the most memorable with its catchy hooks and depth of variation.
Shovel Knight’s nostalgic soundtrack is available on BandCamp.
#12. The Opening Theme – Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney
Though I was disappointed with how the game ended, the music of Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wight Ace Attorney was far from disappointing. It perfectly fuses the style of music from both handheld powerhouses in creative and impressive ways. It can also be emotionally manipulative when it carefully chooses to play certain character theme music.
There are Amazon and eBay listings for the import version of the soundtrack.
#13. The Showdown – Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII
Final Fantasy XIII possesses one of my favorite soundtracks from last generation, and Lightning Returns is full of amazing remixes from FFXIII and FFXIII-2 plus plenty of excellent tracks of its own.
The soundtrack for Lightning Returns is available on iTunes.
#14. “Folding Socks” by Meat Market – Sunset Overdrive
Sunsets Overdrive’s music is incredibly distinctive and unlike much that can be found in another video game. Sunset fully commits to its over-the-top and ridiculous tone, its brashness is also felt from its strong collection of tracks.
Sunset Overdrive’s soundtrack is available on iTunes.
#15. To the Songless Hill – Ar Nosurge: Ode to an Unborn Star
This list could have easily been a list of all the anime opening tracks from the myriad of Japanese games from 2014, but for the sake of diversity, Ar Nosurge’s opening scene and accompanying song was the best one of the year. Song is a weapon in Ar Nosurge, so the strong soundtrack was not surprising in its high quality.
The OST for Ar Nosurge: Ode to an Unborn Star is available at CDJapan.
#16. Untold Legends – Destiny
Despite Destiny’s many flaws, its soundtrack stands as one of its best elements. Though Bungie fired composer Marty O’Donnell shortly after completing his work on Destiny, his effort stands right there with his now-classic work on the Halo franchise.
Destiny’s OST is available on iTunes.
#17. War – Valiant Hearts
The soundtrack for Valiant Hearts is phenomenal, but I never noticed while playing the game. The track “War” is clearly taking a little inspiration from John Williams, and that is more than okay. The entirety of the OST is exceptional, though the available versions of the soundtrack do not include all the tracks.
The Valiant Hearts soundtrack is available on iTunes and Amazon.
#18. Light the Fire Up in the Night-Dark Hour- – Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth
The Persona games all have some excellent music, especially P3 and P4. Persona Q has two possible routes. The player can choose to play as the P3 protagonist or the P4 protagonist, and the music, especially the battle theme above, is dependent upon who is selected. Despite the grind that is Persona Q, the top-notch battle theme helps the hours go by a little easier.
The soundtrack for Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth is available for purchase on CDJapan and PlayAsia.
#19. Theme of D4 – D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die
Like a trippy walk into a time-travel-y sitcom, the docile opening track to D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die feels out of place, yet it feels so right. I would say that the opening track sets the tone for the madness that is the rest of the game, but it doesn’t, and maybe that is how it was originally intended; soft rock to soothe the player in order to subvert the expectations. Regardless, it is a track that I greatly enjoyed from 2014.
D4’s soundtrack is available on Access Games’ BandCamp page as well as iTunes.
#20. Big Top Bop – Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
The original Donkey Kong Country games have some of the most iconic video games tracks out there. Tropical Freeze is full of brilliant remixes and some rockin’ boss themes like those above. The music is probably the best part of Tropical Freeze.
Sadly, the OST does not appear to be available for purchase anywhere, and YouTube is among the few places to hear it.
It was a wonderful year for video game music. Honorable mentions go to TxK, Strider, inFamous: Second Son, South Park: The Stick of Truth, Conception II, Half-Minute Hero: The Second Coming, Divinity: Original Sin, Guilty Gear Xrd – SIGN, and Persona 4 Arena Ultimax. There is so much amazing music from games to choose from. I hope you enjoyed my picks, as we look forward to another year of awesome games and outstanding game music.
February 21, 2015
It has been way too long since I did this. Moving and getting readjusted took a little longer than I expected, so this will my first marathon in the new location. Today’s goal is to continue chipping away at the backlog and catch up on the flurry of new releases in February of 2015. Only nine games today though.
I started a little later than I wanted to. I was aiming for 7, but I guess that happens when I forget to set my alarm.
I’m starting with Final Fantasy IX. I may have not finished FFVIII (I got really close), but it is finished with me. Think of it as “a new year, a new Final Fantasy.”
I am pretty excited about starting IX, I have heard from several people whose opinions I really trust that it is their favorite in the long line of Square RPGs. It also has the highest metascore of any game with the big ole FF attached.
The game begins with some nice scenes on a boat.
The first three hours of FFIX were solid. The world is being set up, the characters introduced, and the, thankfully, more traditional combat is being explained. It is definitely too early to call it, but IX is looking a lot better than VIII and I could see myself liking it more than VII by the time credits roll.
Starting another new game! This time it is Kirby and the Rainbow Curse for WiiU. Kirby Canvas Curse is one of my top 2 Kirby games, so seeing a sequel on WiiU seems like the natural progression.
Rainbow Curse is pretty great. The art style carries it a long way. I was able to get through the first two worlds of what looks to be a not very long game, which is fine though. The game was only $40, and so far I would say that it is well worth the price of entry.
It’s time to hunt some monsters in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate.
MH4 is a lot like MH3. There are some nice tweaks here and there, but I’m still not loving the series. I understand the appeal. Maybe I just need more narrative justification in my gaming obsessions nowadays. I’m getting close to 15 hours in the game, and it still isn’t clicking like I know it can, maybe it just take a couple hundred hours more for me to properly appreciate it.
Super Paper Mario. The two hours fly by fairly quickly as I complete world 4 and a good chunk of 5. It is nice finally being over the halfway point in this game. I find it weird how this game is more like an adventure game than anything else with its puzzles and focus on exploration.
Back to Grandia II, it has been far too long.
I beat the Claws of Valmar on my first try. The bosses keep getting more difficult, and the fights keep getting longer. I’m glad I was able to make such progress.
Now for some Atelier Ayesha PLUS: Alchemist of the Dusk Sky. I love me some Atelier.
It took me a while to figure out where I was at and what I needed to do since it had been over a month since I last touched the game. However, it did not take long for the game to cast its spell on me again. I’m going to have to blitz through the rest of Ayesha because the new Atelier game comes out in a couple of weeks.
One of the main reasons I wanted to another 24-hour marathon was due to myself falling behind on the year’s releases, one of which being Grow Home.
News Flash: Grow Home is excellent. It might run a little on the short side (I beat it in under an hour and a half), but I haven’t played anything this fresh in quite a while. A full review should be coming shortly.
Another reason I needed to do this marathon is to get in some serious time with Apotheon. The game looks like a Greek painting/pottery art. Much like Rainbow Curse, the art style gives the game a good edge.
Apotheon has some nice gameplay to back it up too. The game is like a Metroidvania style RPG. Armor and weapons can deteriorate, be repaired, and be upgraded. The game is more deliberate than its action-heavy genre bedfellows. Attacks take a while to wind up, momentum is gained over time while running, and it has a crafting system. It has a unique feel, and some cool boss fights so far.
I left 2 hours open for the day to be filled with whatever I was feeling, and with guests over, handhelds make sense. So, it’s back to Monster Hunter 4!
Earlier today the focus was on multiplayer, now I’m going after single-player.
I defeated several enormous monstrosities.
I got unstuck in Oblivion rather quickly, in order to get stuck right after it. I need some bright dust from a will-o-the-wisp in order to summon a daedric being in order to get an artifact for a reason I can’t remember. ESIV: Oblivion has continued to be obtuse and generally unfun to play. It should not come as a surprise that I do not think it has aged well. I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to finish it or not.
Back to Apotheon to close out the day. I probably got through a good two-thirds of the game today and should be able to finish it up quickly later this week. It is still solid, and the boss encounters are probably the best part.
As I always say: there are far too few hours in the day, and I’ll be ready to do another one of these soon. After all, March is typically one of the busiest game release months of the year.
7:30am – 10:30am – Final Fantasy IX
10:30am – 12:30pm – Kirby and the Rainbow Curse
12:30pm – 3:30pm – Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate
3:30pm – 5:30pm – Super Paper Mario
5:30pm – 7:30pm – Grandia II
7:30pm – 9:30pm – Atelier Ayesha PLUS: Alchemist of the Dusk Sky
9:30pm – 11:00pm – Grow Home
11:00pm – 12:00am – Apotheon
12:00am – 2:00am – Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate
2:00am – 4:00am – The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion
4:00am – 7:30am – Apotheon
If one of us played it, then we are ranking it. Below is the list of all the games we played from 2014 ranked in order of worst to best.
|206||Kung Fu Rabbit|
|203||Intake: Be Aggressive|
|201||Bug Heroes 2|
|200||Alien on the Run|
|196||A Bird Story|
|187||The Legend of Korra: A New Era Begins|
|184||Kinect Sports Rivals|
|181||Volgarr The Viking|
|180||Powerpuff Girls: Defenders of Townsville|
|179||Finn & Jake’s Epic Quest|
|174||If My Heart Had Wings|
|171||Scram Kitty and His Buddy on Rails|
|170||Chibi-Robo: Photo Finder|
|168||Great Little War Game 2|
|167||Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment|
|165||The Legend of Korra|
|164||Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z|
|163||Pokemon Battle Trozei|
|159||Senran Kagura: Bon Apettit|
|158||The Last Tinker: City of Colors|
|157||Weapon Shop de Omasse|
|155||XBLAZE: Code Embryo|
|154||JoJo’s Bizzare Adventure: All-Star Battle|
|153||Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution|
|152||Tears to Tiara II: Heir of the Overlord|
|151||Deception IV: Blood Ties|
|149||The Hungry Horde|
|148||Among the Sleep|
|147||Tower of Guns|
|143||Drunken Robot Pornography|
|141||Gods Will Be Watching|
|138||Hack ‘n’ Slash|
|137||Defense Grid 2|
|133||Adventure Time: The Secret of the Nameless Kingdom|
|130||Toukiden: The Age of Demons|
|129||One Finger Death Punch|
|128||Yoshi’s New Island|
|126||Rollers of the Realm|
|125||Pix the Cat|
|124||Five Nights at Freddie’s|
|123||Age of Wonders III|
|121||Geometry Wars 3|
|119||Half-Minute Hero II|
|117||Murdered: Soul Suspect|
|116||Azure Striker Gunvolt|
|113||Disney Infinity 2.0|
|111||Costume Quest 2|
|110||Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze|
|106||Tales of Hearts R|
|103||Fairy Fencer F|
|102||Ar Nosurge: Ode to an Unborn Star|
|101||A City Sleeps|
|100||The Talos Principle|
|99||The Floor is Jelly|
|98||Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus|
|95||Hyperdimension Neptunia PP|
|94||The Witch and the Hundred Knight|
|93||Hidden in Plain Sight|
|92||The Vanishing of Ethan Carter|
|91||Professor Layton & the Azran Legacy|
|88||Octodad: Dadliest Catch|
|83||Lara Croft & The Temple of Osiris|
|81||Escape Goat 2|
|80||Road Not Taken|
|79||Guilty Gear Xrd – SIGN|
|77||Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball|
|73||Hakuoki: Stories of the Shinsengumi|
|72||Shantae & The Pirate’s Curse|
|71||Fantasia: Music Evolved|
|70||Five Nights at Freddie’s 2|
|69||Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth|
|68||Hatsune Miku Project Diva 2nd F|
|67||Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call|
|66||Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel|
|64||Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare|
|62||Kirby: Triple Deluxe|
|61||Divinity: Original Sin|
|60||Diable III: Reaper of Souls|
|59||Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments|
|58||Super Time Force|
|55||Super Smash Bros. 3DS|
|53||This War of Mine|
|52||Persona 4 Arena Ultimax|
|49||Lords of the Fallen|
|48||The Evil Within|
|42||Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2|
|41||Zelda: Hyrule Warriors|
|40||Child of Light|
|39||Assassin’s Creed Unity|
|38||Assassin’s Creed: Rogue|
|37||Tales of Xillia 2|
|35||Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars|
|34||Wolfenstein: The New Order|
|33||MGSV: Ground Zeroes|
|31||D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die|
|30||Earth Defense Force 2025|
|29||Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft|
|28||Mario Kart 8|
|24||Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare|
|22||Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII|
|21||The Walking Dead Season 2|
|19||Far Cry 4|
|13||Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky|
|12||South Park: The Stick of Truth|
|11||Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney|
|10||inFamous Second Son|
|9||The Banner Saga|
|7||Dark Souls 2|
|6||Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor|
|5||Super Smash Bros. WiiU|
|4||The Wolf Among Us|
|3||Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair|
|2||Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc|
|1||Dragon Age: Inquisition|
Another year has bit the dust, and here we are to sweep up the ashes. Our winners (and losers in some cases) follow below. Unless otherwise stated, the following categories were debated by a panel of 7 people until consensus was reached. Naturally, some were easier to agree on that others, but either way, we all hope you enjoy our picks.
Best Non-2014 Gaming Experience (Personal)
This category is designed for us to be able to talk any great standouts from our backlogs, any unfinished episodic games, and early access games that have not officially released yet.
Paul – Spec Ops / Binary Domain
Thomas – Pokémon Omega Ruby
Zach – I Am Bread
Drew – Chrono Trigger
Isaiah – League of Legends
Brock – Dark Souls
Alex – NES Everything
Most Surprisingly Good (Personal)
This category is for going over the biggest expectation buster (in a positive direction).
Paul – Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc
Zach – Pix the Cat
Drew – Earth Defense Force 2025
Thomas – Lethal League
Alex – Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky
Brock – Dragon Age: Inquisition
Most Original/Innovative rewards games that strike out and do something different.
P.T. definitely does something different. Traversing a hallway over and over noting the changes and going mildly insane was certainly one of the most unique experiences 2014 had to offer.
Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball
Biggest Disappointment (Personal)
Time for the sadness, the games that bummed us out and didn’t live up to the expectations we had for them.
Drew – Destiny
Brock – Yoshi’s New Island
Paul – Destiny
Zach – Destiny
Isaiah – The Legend of Korra
Alex – Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney
Thomas – Watch Dogs
Most Addictive (Personal)
These are the games that gripped us and wouldn’t let us go.
Alex – The Banner Saga
Thomas – Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor
Drew – inFamous: Second Son
Brock – Dark Souls II
Paul – Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc
Zach – Destiny
Isaiah – Tap Titans
Best Looking Game
We combine all aesthetics, technical proficiency, and art direction to form our category for Best Looking Game. It is as simple as it sounds.
The game looks like some found footage horror movie. We haven’t seen a more realistic looking game making P.T. our Best Looking game of 2014.
Mario Kart 8
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Best Boss Fights
Many could consider this category somewhat antiquated, but we here at the EXP. Shared podcast still love us a great boss encounter.
The Evil Within
Best Voice Performance
A new category for us this year! Who delivered the best vocal performance of the year?
Erin Fitzgerald & Amanda Miller as Junko Enoshima from Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc
Junko’s voice performance was no easy task. No spoilers here, but the fact that two people had to voice her character should be a hint to how much her awesomeness cannot be contained.
Mamoru Miyano as Rintaro Okabe from Steins;Gate
Troy Baker as Pagan Min from Far Cry 4
Best Voice Acting
Where Best Voice Performance looks at only one specific voice acting entry, Best Voice Acting examines the game as a whole and rewards the game with the best vocal talent across the board.
Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc
Danganronpa has an edge due to the sheer impressive amount of voice acting in this half-visual novel experience. The cast is varied with no weak links in the 16+ person cast. Again, Danganronpa has both quality and quantity when it comes to great voice acting making it our winner for this category.
South Park: The Stick of Truth
The Wolf Among Us
In what was our most contentious category at Game of the Half-Year 2014, we had much less strife in selecting our winner here at Full Year. We combine both local and online multiplayer experiences for this category.
Super Smash Bros. for WiiU
This was not a shocker. We are pretty big Smash fans, but it was experiencing the game’s 8-player mode that made this category go so much smoother for us this time around. Smash’s greatness as a local multiplayer get together staple is undeniable.
As Amiibogeddon still strikes fear into the hearts of millions with its crippling supply shortages, we tasked ourselves is deciding which one of the first two waves is the best one. There were no clear parameters for how we determined which one was “The Best One,” so we just argued for a while about the little Nintendo figurines.
…because of course it is. His pose is perfect and encapsulates everything that is the Man in Green.
Best Music includes a game’s soundtrack and how a game uses music.
Honestly, I was not overly impressed by Bayonetta 2’s music as I was playing it. This is likely due to how crazy and over-the-top the game is, so there wasn’t room in my brain to process the music as I running through the game’s onslaught of insanity. However, upon listening to the OST on its own, I was floored. Moon River and Tomorrow is Mine easily steal the show, but the game’s soundtrack is surprisingly diverse and we had to give it to Bayonetta.
Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney
Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair
We combine story and writing together for this category because they go hand in hand with each other. For example, though a game like Dragon Age may not have the strongest overarching story, the character-to-character interactions display how well written a game can be despite its story.
The Wolf Among Us
The Wolf Among Us won this category for us this year due to how well it all comes together. The courtroom like setting at the end brings all of the game’s decisions back and reminds the player that they have made an impact in this world regardless of how they determined to play. It is this feeling of “mattering” that gave strength to the game’s overall story and writing.
Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair
A game doesn’t have to be funny to be nominated or win this category, if it isn’t then it better be pretty ridiculous. We combine the two adjectives to praise games that essentially aren’t boring.
Hatoful Boyfriend is a game where the player is a female human who attends a school for all boys… who just so happen to also be birds (mostly pigeons). It is indeed as stupid and ripe for humor as it sounds. The game perfectly encapsulates what we are going for with this category, and though this category appears to get harder to choose a winner every year, it was clear that Hatoful Boyfriend was easily the most funny and ridiculous game of 2014.
South Park: The Stick of Truth
Octodad: Dadliest Catch
Best New Main Character
A new generation of consoles typically brings a new wave of great new characters, but that was not the case in Generation 8’s first full year.
Bigby Wolf from The Wolf Among Us
Bigby’s strength of character and viewing the world through his eyes made him unforgettable this year. Being an established character where everyone had views of him already then choosing to alter them or feed into the expectations made his role in Fabletown an appealing one for players.
Rintaro Okabe from Steins;Gate
Zero from Drakengard 3
Best Secondary Character
A main character cannot stand alone. Most video game protagonists are blank voids for the player to project themselves on, so typically story-heavy games have strong supporting casts. This year was no different. 2014 was full of rich casts and top-notch secondary characters.
Nagito Komaeda from Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair
It was a surprisingly easy decision to give the honors to Nagito. Though one NEEDS to have played Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc to get the most out of Danganronpa 2, it is the continuity between the games that adds so much to Nagito’s character. His name is an anagram for the player character in the first game, and he resembles him as well. Danganronpa 2 is chock full of moments where the player asks, “What is happening!?” And most of those moments come directly from Mr. Komaeda.
Reggie Rowe – inFamous: Second Son
Junko Enoshima – Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc
Most Memorable Moment (Personal)
*SPOILERS!!!* Our most memorable moments of the year follow. Some are sad, some are happy, all are stand-out moments from the year.
Drew – Reggie’s end in inFamous: Second Son
Thomas – The end of episode 1 of The Wolf Among Us
Alex – Realizing what it means to return to the prime timeline in Steins;Gate
Isaiah – Realizing what it means to return to the prime timeline in Steins;Gate
Zach – The Alien, from Alien: Isolation
Paul – The series of insane happenings that is the end of Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair
Brock – Besting the Dark Souls II DLC
Most Anticipated Game of 2015 (Personal)
What is going to rev our engine in 2015?
Thomas – The Order 1886
Zach – The Division
Brock – Hyper Light Drifter
Drew – Kingdom Hearts 3
Paul – No Man’s Sky
Isaiah – Heroes of the Storm
Alex – Persona 5
2014 is the year of …
Our last category (other than Best Game) is what defined the year that was 2014. 2014 wasn’t the best year for games, but what was it that made it that way?
Hype Train Derailed
The new consoles brought with them unbelievably high hopes; hopes that were, in many cases, dashed to pieces. Games like Watch Dogs, Destiny, Assassin’s Creed Unity, among others failed to live up to expectations. Even the “good” triple-A games all came with caveats, inFamous: Second Son and Dark Souls II were far from the pinnacle of their respective series; Titanfall had a campaign that was joke, the Halo: Master Chief Collection is a burning ruin of online technical problems, and Platinum Games put out their worst game to date with The Legend of Korra. The failures at the top of the game’s industry allowed for smaller titles to take center stage, and boy did they step it up. Indie games flourished while the triple-A’s floundered.
Great Multiplayer (both online and off)
Stayed tuned for our ranked list of ALL THE GAMES we played from 2014 coming shortly.
So, Steins;Gate is great. Since it was recently announced for PS3 and PSVita, it probably has some people questioning “Is it really worth all this hype?” The short answer would be, “Yes, absolutely.” Others might be wondering if it would be better to watch the anime or play the game first, and my answer is “play the game!” Explaining this answer allows me to gush even more about one of the best gaming experiences of 2014.
#1 It’s All About Perspective
The main character of Steins;Gate, Rintarou Okabe, is among the best and most well-developed game protagonists out there. He can easily rub people the wrong way at first with his extreme immaturity, but his character arc is so good you have to see it to believe it.
In the game, the player’s experience is viewed through Okabe’s eyes. This allows the player to connect more with him as he details his thoughts internally, where they cannot be found in the anime. The added commentary to everything in the game goes a long way in establishing place and the further developing the characters even if it is warped through the mad scientist’s worldview.
Playing through the perspective of Rintarou Okabe and his delusional alter ego, mad-scientist, Hououin Kyouma is the number one reason to play the game first before watching the anime; which nicely lead us to #2…
#2. It’s a Game
Think back to Metal Gear Solid 3… remember how powerful one of the final scenes of that game is due to the player having to quite literally “pull the trigger” on a loved one. Yeah, that is the power of the medium of video games. Interactivity adds so much to a narrative by the simple request of asking the player to do what has to be done to continue the story.
In Steins;Gate, the player is faced with crushing choices that lead to some of the game’s multiple endings. The game forwardly asks its players if they possess the emotional fortitude and strength of resolve to completely wipe a character’s happy memories. It goes as far to even requesting that a character essentially sacrifice their father for the greater good. The game and anime get incredibly heavy, but the weight of the actions on screen is felt tremendously more when the player has to personally seal a character’s fate instead of watching another execute an unthinkable act.
#3. Time is of the Essence
Time breeds intimacy and connection. Playing through Steins;Gate’s multiple endings efficiently is going to take over twenty hours while watching the anime is going to last between 10-11. The time investment of the game may push people towards the anime, but the experience is richer after spending about a day of real time with the amazing cast.
#4. There’s More to This Story
As previously mentioned, Okabe’s internal dialogue adds a lot to the game that those watching the anime will miss, but this does not even make up for half of the excellent content and writing that is not in the anime. The most interesting sections of Steins;Gate come from the false endings centered on specific characters.
Steins;Gate is actually structured exactly like a dating sim game, with there being endings for all the major female leads (sorry Daru, no Cloud/Barrett date for you). The endings provide yet another reason to why the game should be played before watching the anime that is to be discussed next.
#5. The Game is Darker, Deeper
While playing Steins;Gate can often feel like a mental exercise in questioning the validity of differing theories in quantum physics, the false, character-specific endings explore the negative consequences that go along with this brand of time travel.
The alternate endings in Steins;Gate are obviously not found in the anime, and it really is a shame. The endings offer a deeper look at time travel and the effects it might have on a human being, such as becoming completely detached from everything around you; questioning what is right and wrong when you can just redo anything. In one of the alternative world-lines that Okabe explores, he finds that he does not know any of his friends and falls into an expected depression. The game also allows itself to get much, much darker than the anime in its false endings. I’m not going to spoil anything, but I certainly will not soon be forgetting how twisted the human mind can become under the right circumstances.
#6. It Just Looks Better
With what is my most “subjective” reason for playing the game before watching the anime, I think the game is more distinct in its appearance and the character drawings are more aesthetically pleasing. The biggest example of this can be found in the character of Kurisu Makise.
In Defense of the Anime
Although I would whole-heartedly recommend playing the game before watching the anime, the anime is not without merits of its own.
There are several smart changes in the anime like trying to explain Okabe’s “Reading Steiner” ability. There are also some great shortcuts the anime makes to help speed things along. Early on in the story Kurisu delivers a lecture on all the time-travel theories that is heavily rushed through, unfortunately.
The OVA, which of course is absent from the game, is quite good. It fills in a couple of the blanks left open by the game like meeting Daru’s future wife, and what happens to the characters after the events of the main story.
No Way to Lose
The game is the best way to experience Steins;Gate, but it’s a story you need to experience no matter what. Make it happen however you can. Just know that the game presents the story in an impactful and visually unique way that the anime cannot match.