2015 is coming to a close, and with it goes one heck of a year for video games. Narrowing down everything to a list of ten was remarkably difficult even despite a number of terribly disappointing
releases this year (I’m looking at you, Calvino Noir). I strongly advise that you use this list as your Christmas wish list, because these are titles worth playing! Please note that they are in no specific order.
At first, I thought Happy Home Designer would be a flop. I’m a huge Animal Crossing fan, but removing all the exploring and just doing home decorating seemed like it would be boring. It’s definitely not, though. The game is whimsical and happy, with a Pokemon-type mentality of “gotta catch them all” except it’s more about collecting all the furniture than catching live animals. Players take over as the newest real estate agent and home designer at Nook’s Homes, then go out and find characters whose homes need decorating in their own personal style. You can then choose from hundreds (thousands?) of items to place in their home, as well as what lot their home is located on and the exterior design as well. Where the game truly excels is how, as the best designer around, you now get to design main buildings in town, such as the school, the hospital, and various shops and restaurants.
You’re probably laughing at the fact this is on my list, and I don’t care. This game is like a Sherlock Holmes game with an Adventure Time skin, and I can’t get enough of it. Play as Finn and Jake to solve mysteries all across the land, and run into familiar faces along the way. Okay, the story is kind of lame. And some of the interface is questionable. But it is a game that I played all the way through then found myself wanting to play it again, so it earned its position on this list.
What can I say about Her Story other than that it is a game I am still contemplating months after “completing” it. “Completing” is in quotations because there is no real end to the game. There’s no real beginning either, now that I think about it. The player is plunked down in front of an old-school computer interface and must solve a murder mystery through only watching old videos of a woman talking. It’s up to you to pick out important key words in what she says, because those words can be searched and may pull up new videos that add another piece to the puzzle. Her Story is not a traditional game: there is no action or adventure. But what is lacks in action it more than makes up for in narrative. If you’re interested, also check out our interview with Her Story’s creator, Sam Barlow.
Layers of Fear is still in preview on the Xbox One, but it feels and acts like a complete game so it certainly deserves a spot on this list. It is a first-person psychological horror game about an artist trying to complete his final masterpiece. Explore a mansion during a thunderstorm to uncover secrets as well as things that go bump in the night. And don’t play alone … or with the lights off … unless you have diapers handy, because you’ll need them.
Tired of hearing about Life Is Strange yet? Too bad, because it’s awesome! If you’ve played it, you get it. If you haven’t played it, what are you waiting for?! Life Is Strange puts players in the shoes of Max, a teen attending a special high school to study photography. Max isn’t a normal teen though, as she learns she has the ability to control time (and in some cases, travel through it) and change the outcome of certain events. Life Is Strange has everything: murder, missing teens, friendship, unrequited love, questionable adults, and a story all about the butterfly effect.
The Legend of Legacy is everything I want in a JRPG: random encounters, turn-based combat, party members written into the story, and so very much grinding. However, the game also allows you the freedom to play how you want from choosing your character to how you reach the end point. The story is what myths are made of, as the island of Avalon has awoken after a long slumber, and adventurers are travelling there seeking fame and fortune. The graphics are charismatic, the sound is top-notch, and the system (3DS) is perfect because you’ll never want to put it down.
This War of Mine is the most depressing game I have ever played, yet I cannot put it down. I’ve found myself craving to play it at least once a week for a solid six months now, and sometimes I go on weeks-long binges where I play almost nothing else. Experience war through the eyes of those non-combatants who live through it, as you control characters living in a war-torn city and just trying to get the daily necessities of food, shelter, warmth, and safety. It’s up to you who leaves at night and who uses the cover of darkness to pillage local buildings or steal from other poor souls. Sometimes people will join your crew. Sometimes people will leave. Some people will have to die in order to let the others live. This War of Mine is nothing but one difficult choice to make after the other.
Beyond Eyes is so incredibly aesthetically pleasing that the content could be so-so and this game would still make the list, but it’s the way the graphics interact with the story that make it a show-stealer. The protagonist is a blind little girl, afraid to leave the comfort of her own garden until a befriended cat stops appearing for its regular visits. She must leave the place that she knows for the scary world of the unknown. As she walks, what she can sense and what she experiences merge together into a gorgeous watercoloured world.
The Room Three (iPad)
The Room was one of the first games I ever picked up for my iPad, and from the instant I began I was hooked to the puzzle game-turned-trilogy. In the first, you need to escape one room. In the second, a series of rooms. In the third, you need to escape an entire mansion. The puzzles are challenging to the point that sometimes hints are useless; normally this would drive me up the wall, but for some reason that doesn’t happen with The Room Three. The best part of the third instalment of the series is that there are multiple endings, so many playthroughs become expected instead of done just because it’s a great experience.
Pokemon Picross (3DS)
Pokemon Picross is an abnormality on this list for two reasons: one, it’s a free-to-play game, and two, at the time of writing it hasn’t even been released yet. Regardless, the game must be included because of the simple fact that it’s the best ever puzzle game combined with Pokemon. What could be better?!
Have you found 2015’s game release schedule?
— Digitally Downloaded (@DigitallyDownld) December 4, 2015