So, like all the cool kids have done, I too have written my own GOTY list. There are five games listed in no particular order, and you may or may not agree with them. Check ’em out!
The Stanley Parable
The Stanley Parable snuck up on me and impressed me more than I could have imagined. I had never heard of the original mod, nor the hype prior to the release of the standalone version, but once I saw how people reacted to this game, I had to try it. I launched the game, not knowing what to expect, because a lot reviewers avoided spoiling the magic (much to my appreciation), and I became transfixed and highly amused by what I was seeing and hearing. The only way a person can recommend this game without spoiling it is saying that, “you should just play it as soon as possible”. So go do that, and also read my Honorable Mention in Horror article about The Stanley Parable, on Rely On Horror.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
It’s not often that I find myself so in love with a game that I replay it numerous times back-to-back. Before I did so with MGR, I played through DmC: Devil May Cry about two to three times. Before that, I powered through several replays of Silent Hill Downpour. Before that…I don’t remember a time when I could muster up the drive to do so, outside of my childhood.
My first playthrough of Metal Gear Rising was a tad disappointing. It wasn’t that I was hoping it would be more like MGS or even have some proper stealth elements, but I just didn’t get into it. Perhaps, this was because of how I was playing the game – stepping right off of DmC, I probably jumped into it seeking high number combos and flashy moves. I beat the game, loved the last fight (despite it being pretty difficult), and then replayed it. I then replayed it again. And Again. And again.
Once I understood the game wanted me to play with Zandatsu in mind – eliminating enemies through my cuts rather than my combos – I started to become deeply invested in the game’s combat system. I finished one difficulty and then moved on to the next. Out of all of my friends, I am the only that can say that I completed the game on Revengeance difficulty. I’m not an expert player at anything, but I think I got damn close with MGR!
As of writing this, I am pumped to replay Metal Gear Rising on PC. I don’t know how many more playthroughs I’ve got in me, or if I’ve lost my ripper skills, but I’m excited to hear more goofy dialogue feel the satisfaction of turning cyborgs into sashimi.
Outlast won’t win any awards for originality within the horror genre. It takes place in an asylum, and it’s got an evil corporation in it; and…the enemies are crazy deformed people that want to hurt you. The game also has got its fair share of gore as well, and there’s a heavy usage of familiar gameplay mechanics. But despite all of this, it’s a hell of a good game. I reviewed Outlast and gave it my very first 10/10 on Rely On Horror.
Outlast takes a bucket full of horror cliches and tropes, freshens them up, throws an extremely polished coat of paint on them, and them confidently thrusts players into its wonderfully realized world of horror. The gameplay is simple but tense. The imagery is not original, but it is expertly designed to produce a foreboding and ominous asylum that is both impressive to look at and terrifying to be in.
DmC: Devil May Cry
I’ll start by getting this out of the way: I’m not a diehard fan of the Devil May Cry series. I’ve purchased and completed each game in the series as they were released since the very first, but I’ve never been extremely invested in the characters or world. I enjoyed the first Devil May Cry as a child – it was somewhat creepy but also very exciting to play. Plus, at the time, a game about shooting and fighting demons was on the top of my “that’s cool!” list.
As I’m sure many others will say, I didn’t like Devil May Cry 2 very much at all. As for DMC3, I loved that game when it released (so much so that I completed in a handful of days), but ended up selling it rather quickly. When DMC4 was announced for the Xbox 360 (the only console I had at the time), I celebrated like many others. But when DMC4 released, I was left disappointed by what I got; I didn’t like Nero, and I didn’t enjoy yet another game in which Dante acted like a reserved cool guy that felt too cool to tell anyone what he was planning (DMC2), and I most certainly did not like the game’s plot.
While the internet went ablaze when the line “My name is Dante” was spoken in the first teaser trailer for Ninja Theory’s reboot, I recall enjoying the trailer’s song and making a comment about how New-Dante looked a bit too much like Hilary Swank. Once I got my hands on the game for review, I fell in love. Ninja Theory’s Enslaved was quite the beautiful and charming game. My only issues with it was that the combat system was a bit simple and unsatisfying. With DmC, they crafted something much, much better. Like Enslaved before it, DmC featured a rich and colorful world and striking level design. The style of the game, heavily influenced by anarchist and rebellious behavior, along with its soundtrack by Combichrist and Noisia, won me over. In fact, I used to play a custom Combichrist playlist while playing DMC4, because the in-game combat track got of my nerves fairly quickly.
DmC‘s combat was deeply enjoyable, and new Dante has pinchable cheeks. Both of these features are among the top reasons why the game was one of my favorites this year. If DmC2 is ever sanctioned by Capcom, no matter how unlikely that scenario seems, I hope for a better story and deeper, more complex characters along with a slew combat improvements.
The Last of Us
The Last of Us is a fine game to play and witness. With combat that’s as grim as its narrative, it explores mankind’s penchant for violence. It may be yet another “zombie” title about humans being the true monsters, but it handles this theme masterfully.
Naughty Dog has given us a story that’s filled with hope and despair. Hope for a world to return to what it once was: a mask of order and civility that hides what humans are truly capable of when all structure is lost. Hope for a father figure to save the world (or maybe just his).
The Last of Us is a culmination of a quantity of powerful, brilliant, and engaging elements that come together to forma fantastic piece of interactive storytelling.
Breaking someone’s skull with a brick is pretty fun, too.