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The Games That Got Away In 2015

Playing Catch (Up)

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We’ve been drawing up our end of year list here at RPS and in trawling through 2015’s releases, I found a fair few that I hadn’t played and feel like I really should have done. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been catching up. Here are the games I missed. Until now.

I play as many games as I possibly can. I’ve always liked to have as broad a knowledge of any given subject or medium as possible, sometimes to the detriment of any expertise, and working as a critic has caused me to double-down on that particular aspect of my behaviour. I’m irritated if I haven’t at least tried the latest thing that people are talking about and even more irritated if I haven’t found something odd and unexpected by the end of the working week.

Partly, that’s because I can’t help but have an opinion. I can talk for hours about films I haven’t seen and tell you exactly what I think about the latest trends in any given form of entertainment or art. God knows, I wish I had more control, but thoughts and opinions sprout like mushrooms in the musty cellar of my mind.

To ensure those fungal ideas aren’t entirely based on make-believe or reheated second-hand opinions, I watch, listen to and play as much as I possibly can. My need to devour culture goes into overdrive around this time of year, when people start publishing Best Of lists. I fell off my chair when I saw this and when I managed to drag myself up off the floor, I’d somehow spent 50 quid in the Kindle store.

Enough of books though. Here are the games that got away.

Technobabylon

I tend to play all things Wadjet Eye. As a developer, Dave Gilbert is at the top of his field and as a publisher, the company has a good eye for traditional point and click adventures. While it’s a little too exposition-heavy at times, Technobabylon is one of the best adventure games I’ve played in a long time. The world-building is fantastic, the puzzles are sensible but challenging, and it manages to craft a dystopia that is believable, and built on social and technological progression rather than an outbreak of evil or a sudden and complete collapse of cultural values.

The Static Speaks My Name

Possibly the funniest game I’ve played this year. It’s free, very short and unnerving. Every element works and is put to work, form the objectives that flash up on screen and perform as instruction and gag simultaneously, to the hints of more horror to come. Loved it.

A Wolf In Autumn

Another brief game here. A Wolf In Autumn is the latest from David Szymanski, creator of The Moon Silver among others. Short-form, plot- and text-heavy first-person horror is Symanski’s trademark and A Wolf In Autumn is a slightly more puzzle-centric take on a familiar format. On paper, all of his games could have been made just for me but I tend to find I admire them more than I enjoy them. This is no different – I’m glad I played it but I don’t know how long it’ll stick in my mind.

Dead or Alive 5 Last Round

I have fond memories of Dead or Alive 3 winner-stays-on tourmanents during drunken get-togethers in my room at university. Either the series has fallen off a cliff or I was more tolerant of the repetitive mechanics back then. Dead or Alive 5, as released on PC, is the worst game I’ve played this year. There’s no proper sense of space or collision detection smooth enough to make the fighting flow, and the characters are almost universally dull.

Mortal Kombat X

Maybe I just hate fighting games. To be fair to Mortal Kombat, I only dipped into the story mode. Time spent watching cutscenes and clicking through QTEs felt like an hour to get through two actual fights, each of which lasted around a minute and a half. And the story didn’t even amuse me in a hokey way; It reminded me of the later Resident Evil films, head firmly crammed up its own lore-hole.

Kerbal Space Program

This rocket flight sim has been available for some time and I’ve dabbled with it before now, but I’d always meant to devote a couple of weeks to it as soon as the full release arrived. That didn’t happen and now that I have put aside a few hours, I’ve been struggling to learn the basics. Is it just that my brain doesn’t understand this kind of stuff or am I approaching with too much trepidation and making problems for myself? I feel like I need to learn too many things to start having fun.

Axiom Verge

I started this earlier in the year and finished it last week. One of the best Metroid games I’ve ever played (I’ve only played the Prime games – well, I’ve played others but never finished them).

Zombi

This melee-focused redead ’em up looked like everything I wanted from a zombie game when it released on Wii-U. In fact, it nearly tempted me to buy one of Nintendo’s latest under-the-telly boxes, such was my desire for a new console and a new horror game. Conceptually, I still love it and it’s one of the few games that makes scavenging and crafting seem intense and necessary rather than like a cross between supermarket sweep and greedy toddlers at the pick ‘n’ mix. But I haven’t fallen in love with it and I prefer Dying Light for my daft undead killing antics.

***

What have I missed? I’m catching up on the year’s films as well, sucker that I am for these arbitrary cut-off points, so any recommendations on that front are most welcome. To round things out, here are my Top Ones of the year, in various categories. I’ll probably catch up on 90% of what happened in 2015 in 2020 or thereabouts, so these aren’t based on a comprehnsive overview.

Best Film: Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Album: Tunde Olaniran, Transgressor

Best Book: The Strange Case of Thomas Quick, Dan Josefsson

Best Wrestling Match: Sasha Banks vs Bayley, NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn.

Best Meal: A bog standard vegetable supreme pizza from ASDA that I ate after 24 hours of travelling on an empty stomach.

Best TV Show: Review With Forrest MacNeil (premiered on 2014 but I discovered it starting with this year’s second season)

Best Pint: The next one.

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Adam Smith

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