Following in the steps of SideQuesting’s 2014 Game of the Year coverage, we’re again not hosting a definitive Game of the Year for the site, instead focusing on the individual writers and their favorites. Hopefully, you’ll be able to connect a little better with the writers that make up this little corner of the web, as many of us will be posting our Top 5 lists throughout the next week. Enjoy, and bring on 2016!
This is one of those games you can’t really afford to miss. The not-quite-real-hacking-but-hey-maybe-it-could-be-real-hacking thing hasn’t been done nearly enough, and not nearly so well. Even if there was nothing else to praise, Hacknet might still have made my list, but it’s got a really cool story backing it up.
When I first started playing Hacknet I was so totally out of my element that I couldn’t really make much forward progress, but I just needed to know how the story would unfold. By the time I taught myself how to play, that story might as well have been talking to me, the player, instead of the fictional hacker you’re playing as. As soon as I could ‘hack’ with the best of them that distinction was meaningless, and that’s something a rare few games ever manage to pull off.
Crypt of the Necrodancer
Here’s something I’m sure has come up in my writing before, and has definitely come up on Twitter before, but is something not a huge many people know about me: I have no real appreciation for music. I don’t actively listen to it or seek it out. I don’t have any favorite bands or songs. I am equally content driving in a vehicle with no radio turned on as I am with a radio turned on.
Where that gets tricky is that there are sometimes games which require you to pay attention to the music to succeed, and fewer still are games I ever really bother with. I used to be very good at Dance Dance Revolution, for example, though I couldn’t name a single song that has appeared in any of the games in that series.
Crypt of the Necrodancer is another of those few. It’s a rogue-like that demands you pay attention to the music, or at least the beat of the music, and is way better for it. I can picture that game without the music, and it’s honestly not very interesting. There’s a character you can unlock in the game that lets you ignore moving to the music with no penalty, and I think anyone who picks that way to play misses the point entirely.
Shadowrun: Hong Kong
I’m a pretty big Shadowrun nerd. I’ve read a bunch of the novels, though some of them are very difficult to find. I’ve played all of the games, and even enjoyed the online multiplayer one, Boston Lockdown. I’ve briefly considered getting my crew of D&D players to play some Shadowrun pen and paper, now that the newest edition has released some extra rulebooks, but I haven’t pulled the trigger on that, yet. I’m not sure they could handle it. So I get my fix from the video games and of the three games in the Shadowrun Returns trilogy, Hong Kong is certainly one of the best. The story is engaging and opens in a very Shadowrun way, with everyone around you getting mercilessly gunned down out of nowhere – and the most interesting aspect is it’s the first game where the main characters aren’t already established as Shadowrunners. There’s a believable reason why they start out as unskilled as is standard for an RPG.
Plus, you live on a boat, and get to name it Big Texas.
RWBY: Grimm Eclipse
This might not technically count as being released, since it’s still in Early Access, but I can’t help but like this game. It’s based on a show done by Rooster Teeth, which I happened to get linked to when the first episode debuted, which in turn got me into all of their other content. What the game actually is, though, is a pretty decent multi-player Dynasty Warriors style game, and the combat is intuitive enough that even if you don’t know anything about the show, the characters, or the enemies you fight, you can still very easily get to work slaying hundreds of monsters with a slew of attacks that all manage to feel like there’s a real weight behind them.
In addition to the combat, the actual set pieces you move through are pretty awesome to look at. Vast forests, ancient machinery, a massive, ruined city and underground caverns help add a touch of uniqueness I’ve always thought the Dynasty Warriors games lacked.
While the previous four games are a random selection of my top ten list, Rocket League is my game of the year. I’ve only played about 150 hours of it, but in that time I managed to get into the Top 100 players in ranked 3v3 and hold my spot there while I was actively playing, and thanks to my ranting and raving on twitter during that run my skills in the game have become something of a running joke across a weirdly large number of people.
It’s a running joke that either started, or was greatly exacerbated by me playing in, and also commentating and streaming matches of The Rocketreational, the Games Industry Rocket League Tournament, which was some of the most fun I’ve ever had in that game.
Let me be absolutely clear, though. I’m not amazing at Rocket League. The people who dedicate their days to only playing that game are so far above me in skill that I might as well be playing my very first match if I were to play against them. The ways they can move their vehicles through the air and calculate exact trajectories of both the ball and their car, on the fly, is almost magical to watch. It’s very difficult to tune into a random stream of any Rocket League pro and not be immediately entertained, and because of how the matchmaking works you can quickly begin to recognize the names of all the top players and actively root for or against them. It’s the kind of viewing experience I can only assume other people get while watching DOTA or League or Counter-Strike, but one that I’ve almost never truly experienced until now.
I loved Rocket League in 2015, and thanks to the constant content support Psyonix has been doing for it I’m sure I’ll love Rocket League in 2016 as well.