With colossal new worlds, fascinating heroes and breathtaking adventures, there was a deluge of excellent video games last year.
5. Life Is Strange
Many games these days revolve around “go here, kill this and get reward.” An antithesis to this template is Life Is Strange, which depicts the quaint Pacific town of Arcadia Bay and the dark mysterious secret that lies beneath its charming exterior. Main character Max Caulfield gains a supernatural power to reverse time and uses it to solve the many different problems that arise during the game’s five chapters. The story has some predictable turns, but by the final chapter I realized I had no idea where the story was going, a notable feat for any narrative. The graphics and music also deserve special mention with a soundtrack bursting with Indie and hipster music and an art style that looks like a water-color canvass in motion. These details make Arcadia Bay a character in the story. With a length of anywhere between 12-15 hours based on how much time you spend exploring the environment and partaking in optional activities, Life Is Strange offers an excellent value for the $15 price tag.
With athletes replaced by cars, Rocket League is certainly the most unique game on the list. In this 5-on-5 soccer game, players control their cars directly and have a plethora of insane jumps and tilts to help them guard, shoot and save the ball. Its vibrant color palette and “easy to learn, hard to master” game-play provides a uniquely addictive quality that made me want to keep playing so that I could improve. In between fast-paced matches of between 5-15 minutes, players can customize their cars with cosmetics and other accessories that become unlocked as you keep playing. From a quick and casual game between friends, to a round robin tournament, Rocket League fits the bill for your wacky fun party game. Much like Mario Kart and Smash Brothers, I expect to see this game being played and thoroughly enjoyed by people of all skill levels.
The spiritual successor to the difficult Dark Souls marries challenging combat and some of the most terrifying enemies. Creative director Hidetaka Miyazaki returns with Bloodborne and his work is evident in the sprawling, interconnected and non-linear level design that rewards players for meticulously exploring every nook and cranny of the detailed, maze-like environment. The aesthetic can best be described as Victorian England mixed with H.P. Lovecraft. The game has some of the most unique and haunting enemies ever showcased on the small screen. Bloodborne’s combat revolves around attacking enemies and quickly dodging their counter-attacks. The lack of any means of shielding gives the combat an urgency and threat that makes every enemy encounter a potentially game over screen. The story is as enigmatic as the level design—leaving players piecing it together from item descriptions and sparse dialogue from the game’s few friendly NPCs (Non-Player Characters). It is worth noting that as of right now, the game remains a PlayStation 4 exclusive, although a PC version is being considered by the developer FromSoftware, Inc.
This open world adventure follows the story of Geralt of Rivia and his quest to find his wife. It takes place in a medieval open world heavily reminiscent of Game of Thrones and is actually based on a series of Polish books. The game has possibly the best graphics ever showcased on PC and certainly on consoles. The story has large branching paths with choices you make at the very onset having sweeping consequences hours later. Combat revolves around methodically picking your moment to strike and staying on defense. Sword fighting against one or two enemies is manageable, but fighting larger groups will leave you feeling like you barely survived.
The highly anticipated latest entry in the series, Fallout 4 invites players to explore the post-apocalyptic Boston Commonwealth. The graphics are the best that the series has had, although weird graphical glitches and occasional muddy textures detract from what is otherwise a good-looking game. For what the game lacks in graphical fidelity, it makes up in atmosphere, setting and storytelling. Fallout 4’s Boston actually feels like a real city (or the ruins of one). Almost every building can be entered and explored, with many of the game’s best Easter eggs and interesting quests being found in these niches. The character customization, which finally provides the option of creating a female protagonist, has a lot of depth, and players can spend hours attempting to recreate their likenesses.