Matt McLeod’s Game of the Year 2015
2015 was a year in which some video games were released. Some of them were good, some of them were bad. I didn’t play all of them. I probably barely played 10% of even the notable ones. I haven’t played Undertale yet, nor the Witcher, nor Bloodborne, nor your personal GOTY, most likely. But of the ones I did play, there were definitely some that I enjoyed more than others. I’m going to talk about the handful of games that I appreciated the most. There is no quantitative way to determine the “best” game of the year–all I can do is discuss the ones that had the most profound effect on me and hopefully propose an argument as to why I might value some games higher than others. As always, you probably disagree with me, which is perfectly fine–I can’t reasonably expect anyone to agree with every decision I’ve made in compiling this list of VIDEO GAMES.
My favourite game of 2015 is:
The Beginner’s Guide
I bought TBG when it came out, and it sat untouched in my Steam library for an unforgivable length of time. I wanted to play it, but I wanted to treat it with respect, which means setting aside an evening without distractions (for example, no watching Dota 2 on the other monitor) so that I could fully appreciate it. Full personal disclosure: I just finished my degree at university a month or so ago, and I still live with my parents as it’s the cheapest way to study. The night that I did play it, it would’ve been early January 2016–around the 6th or 7th. We were putting our Christmas decorations away. I started playing TBG at around five in the evening, completely oblivious to what the game is about, what it contains, or anything else–all I knew was that it was made by the same guy who made the Stanley Parable.
So, I sit down, I start up TBG, and next thing I know it’s over. It’s quick. It is incredibly affecting. I was in shock for about half an hour. It floored me. I do not want to say a single thing about the contents of TBG as I think that the best way of going into it is blind, but after I’d finished it, I had dinner. After dinner, I put some Christmas decorations in the roof. I’m not really a Christmas-sy person, but TBG hit me hard. I put the last box of decorations in the roof, came down the ladder, and started sobbing. Just, sobbing. Something I haven’t done for quite some time. I recognised that this would be my last Christmas at home, but it wasn’t just that–it was a mixture of that and the whirlpool of emotions that TBG brought up. Again, I don’t want to go into detail because I’d rather you play it clean, but just play it. Whatever your opinion is on “walking simulators,” TBG is a highly personal, emotional, abstract story that I’ve constantly been thinking about, and will constantly think about for years to come.
Honourable mentions (in no particular order):
Emily Is Away
This is a free-to-play fifteen minute trip down memory lane in which you are conversing with a friend named Emily, one day a year, for four years. It takes place in an MSN-like instant messenger. At first I thought it was a silly, casual little game made purely for the sake of invoking nostalgia, but it’s much, much more than that. It was one of those rare games that left me staring at my computer for about five minutes afterwards, speechless. The last conversation, as you’re typing out the words you don’t want to type, hit me incredibly hard. There’s really no excuse to not play Emily is Away.
Probably the most fun a console multiplayer shooter has been for me since… well, maybe forever. Splatoon is classic Nintendo doing what they do best–making games fun. The combat is unique, the aesthetics absolutely gorgeous, and it’s just about impossible to put your controller down without just having another game. Pure fun, and something I’ll be playing for a long time to come.
If you’re one of those “THIS ISN’T A GAME!!!!!!” people, you’ve probably come to the wrong website, as this is the third “non-game” game to appear on this list already. Her Story is an engrossing murder mystery in which you play as a character watching old footage of detective interviews of a suspect named… well, I can’t tell you that. You find videos in the database by entering a query that is said by the interviewee–“murder”, “blood”, etc. I had four or five pages of handwritten notes full of arrows pointing from one to the other, clues jotted down quickly, secret codes translated by repeating a video clip 15 times. When I was done (which is NOT when the game thought I was done), I looked down at my notes and smiled a massive smile. Her Story is simply brilliant acting and brilliant writing, and with such a clever, intricate story to pick through and investigate, it was a fantastic experience.
Star Wars Battlefront
Fuck you. I have one casual shooter game that I turn to when I can’t be bothered to think very much. I’ve always had that one game. It used to be Battlefield 4. Star Wars Battlefront now holds that prestigious title. It’s simple, packed with love for Star Wars, and absolutely breathtakingly beautiful. All I want is a server browser and the ability to find games at all times of the day, not just 6:30 on a Friday evening. I’m worried that the Australian server is dying. I hope it doesn’t.
Super Mario Maker
People were tired of 2D Mario games–that DS one lauched a whole second wave of the Mario platformer, and they seemed to be chugged out one after the other. Super Mario Maker is incredibly simple on Nintendo’s part, but genius in its idea and execution. I’m awful at making levels, but it was worth the price of admission and then some to play levels made by absolute fucking cun…. wait, no, very clever people.
2015 was a good year. I’m looking forward to playing the games that I missed out on. Here’s to 2016 being half as good.