Jess Zammit’s Game of the Year 2015
Given that 2015 was such an incredible year for games overall, trying to pick a game of the year almost sent me into crisis mode. Of course there was one that really stood out, but before I get into that I want to give some honourable mentions (and believe me, this list could have been much longer)
Rise of the Tomb Raider
There were a lot of great AAA titles released this past year, but this was the one that really stuck with me. It gave me more of what I loved from the first one: varied weapons and equipment, a captivating story, interesting characters, and a hell of a lot of well-paced action. Plus, Lara Croft is one of the best game protagonists of all time, which doesn’t hurt.
This was very nearly my GOTY, just because it was unlike anything else I’d ever played. It was innovative, enthralling and every time I thought I’d worked out what was going on it threw another curveball right at me. It also got me thinking in a way that no other game ever has, to the point where I was scribbling everywhere in a notepad in an attempt to figure things out. And the acting was incredible. And… just play it, okay?
This was easily the best traditional point-and-click adventure I played all year. Yes, the gameplay was great and the story was interesting, but what really made this stand out was the incredible depth and diversity of every single character involved. That depth, mixed with the well-executed Lucasarts vibe made this one worth checking out.
Game of the Year 2015
LIFE IS STRANGE
I honestly believe that in almost any other year, any of those games could have been a contender. But this year, there was one game that hit me harder than all the rest. It pushed all the right buttons, involved themes that struck me on a really personal level and even had a style of gameplay that was both creative and familiar enough to make me feel like I knew what I was doing. I finished it months ago and I’m still reflecting on it in new ways, and feeling the ache of the punch to the heart that the ending gave me, even though I knew all along I should have been ready for it. If you hadn’t guessed, that game was Life is Strange.
The characters felt so real, and just watching their relationships play out was captivating enough that sometimes I honestly forget that there were other huge elements to the story. It was just such an emotional narrative that I found myself savouring every moment with Max and Chloe (mostly Chloe, because really – what a babe) and letting the story take a back seat to some really beautiful themes. It’s hard not to use overly emotive language about the game, and to be honest it’s hard for me to talk about the gameplay itself, because I’m not sure that I wouldn’t have forgiven it even if was the most annoying game I’d ever played. I do know that every choice I made felt like it meant something, and sometimes even though I knew the consequences weren’t always good, there was never a moment where I felt like I didn’t understand why the choice had to be made. I have so many things to say about this game that I could probably write a novel, and I’m excited to be able to say that if this is the direction that games are heading in, 2016 is going to be even better than the knockout that was 2015. The bar has been lifted.