By Becky Snyder
2015 was the year responsible for some of the best games I’ve ever played, so I thought it would be a good idea to compile them into a top five list.
Please note, this is my personal opinion and does not in any way reflect on those of Post Script Magazine.
- Fran Bow
Fran Bow is the kind of game that when you finish, you’ll pause, sit back, and wonder: “What the heck did I just play?”
As you can probably tell from the picture, the game is in the category of “psychological horror” for a reason, and that’s what I find so interesting about it. It’s disturbing in a way that makes you think. Not to mention, the art style of the game is the kind of style that blurs the line between disturbing and beautiful. The gameplay consists of mostly puzzles, which fits well with the overall thought-provoking theme of the game.
The reason this game isn’t higher on the list is because of the story’s ending. As the game winds to an end, a huge plot twist occurs. It’s probably one of the most interesting plot twists I’ve ever seen, but after it the rest of the game simply spirals downward into confusion.
Overall, the game has beautiful art style and thought-provoking gameplay, but the confusing and unsatisfying ending takes away from the disturbing beauty of it.
- Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes
This has got to be the most ingenious idea for a game ever created.
This game is a complete gem. It is by far one of the easiest ways for friends to get into arguments since Monopoly was created. It is the reason I can say I’ve heard the phrase: “I’m talking about the circles, you Twit!”
I don’t know how to properly describe how unbelievably intense it is when there is a bomb about to go off in 30 seconds, there’s one puzzle you can’t figure out, you’ve got two strikes already, your other player is frantically flipping through their manual trying to find the correct instruction,s and you’re both screaming at each other.
The game itself is great — the sound effects and music add to the overwhelming intensity, and the fact that every bomb is different makes it even more fun. You literally cannot play the same bomb twice.
The reason this isn’t higher on the list is due to the fact that, even though this game is incredibly fun, it is, essentially, a minigame. There is no story and although that doesn’t take away from this game, I prefer story-rich games.
- The Beginner’s Guide
The Beginner’s Guide is a game that will leave you unsure if you should cry or have an existential crisis, and then it won’t matter because you’ll do both anyway.
The Beginner’s Guide has no traditional gameplay mechanics. There are no goals, no objectives. Doesn’t sound like much of a game, does it? However, it’s more than that. This game is made by the same guy who made The Stanley Parable, Davey Wreden, and it is about the works of his friend called Coda.
Quick warning for anyone considering playing this: the game has no shortage of triggers.
While I can’t say much about the plot without giving spoilers, I’ll tell you one thing — I have never played a game that made me feel the way this one did. This game brings out emotions that I didn’t think games were able to bring out. That’s what makes this game so beautiful. It hits you, and it makes sure to hit you hard. You’ll be fooled by the cheery beginning, but trust me — this game is out for tears.
The plot twist is one that I’m sure I won’t forget anytime soon, and the finale moral of the game nears earth-shattering levels.
The only reason this one isn’t taking the number one or two slot is because there is zero replay value. You play it once, and that’s it. When you expect the plot twist, it doesn’t hit you anywhere as close as it does the first time.
Overall, this is probably one of the only games out there that has zero replay value, but at the same time, will leave you with an experience that you won’t forget for quite some time.
- Life Is Strange
Ah, Life Is Strange. People who know me well probably expected this to be up here.
Life is Strange is a “your choices change the story” style game split into 5 different “chapters” that follow the story of an eighteen year old girl named Max Caulfield who has the power to reverse time.
Now, while this may seem like Max’s life may be a little strange (ba dum tss), the story is actually extremely compelling. As it goes on, it begins to get more and more complex but, unlike Fran Bow, which ended up collapsing in on itself, Life Is Strange’s complex storyline fits together well and makes sense. The plot is really well done. It has enough action to keep you engaged, but not so much that you feel overwhelmed.
The gameplay is fantastic. The puzzles put into the game are thought-provoking and engaging, but not so difficult to the point where you get annoyed.
The art style of the game, as you can probably tell, is unique and beautiful. It’s a strange kind of style that looks realistic, but at the same time, doesn’t. The most interesting thing about the art style, however, is that it was all hand painted. You heard me right, everything in this game, save for the lighting effects and other features relating to that, was painted by hand. If that doesn’t show incredible dedication, I don’t know what will.
The only real problem I can find with Life Is Strange has to do with its explanation for certain events. Max getting her powers is never explained throughout the entirety of the game; they just suddenly appear with no reasoning whatsoever. It relies way too much on Chaos Theory, relating everything back to it, but not really explaining how the events fit into Chaos Theory. It leaves the player a little confused after playing.
Overall, Life Is Strange is a game that is compelling, beautiful, and fun all at the same time. I just wish they had explained the reasons behind it a little better.
- Until Dawn
Until Dawn is a mix of genres, taking your typical cheesy horror movie and smashing it together with a Telltale style of game where your choices affect your story.
This game is one of the only horror games that I’ve even seen, due to my overwhelming fear of everything in the jumpscare horror genre. But, I have to say, I’m glad I didn’t chicken out on this one.
The story itself is perfect for this genre. It follows the basic pattern for a cheesy horror movie, but with this game (and I’m not sure how they did it) it works. It feels as though you are right in the midst of an authentic horror movie experience.
The style of the game where your choices affect the story makes this even better, because it is your choices that determine which characters live and which die. You can make it to dawn with anywhere from zero to all eight characters alive, and I love that about this game. It’s not one of those games that claims to be a “your choices matter” game but then it turns out it’s not. In this game, your choices play a huge factor. One wrong choice, and a character ends up dead, just like that. Also, the jumpscares in this game are timed fantastically. There’s not so many that you expect them, but not so little that you aren’t at least a little jumpy.
The thing that truly makes this game worthy of the horror genre, however, is how it molds itself based on your choices. Between every “section” of gameplay, there is a small scene where you are speaking with a therapist, and the therapist asks you about your fears. Based on what you answer, your fears are literally implanted into the game, making it all the more scary because the game is then based off of your personal fears.
Aside from the gameplay, the characters are fantastic. Every character has a different personality, and while, yes, they are your typical cliche horror movie personalities, that’s what you expect from this game and it works. The characters’ features were actually based off of the voice actors who played them, using motion capture, and they look incredibly realistic. See if you can recognize the familiar face of a certain Night At The Museum star, Rami Malek, or maybe, if you’re from my generation, Meghan Martin, a.k.a. Tess from the 2008 Disney hit, Camp Rock.
There is practically nothing this game got wrong. From the amazing story to the fantastic gameplay to the perfectly done characters, this game worked to be called number one and deserved it.
There you have it — my top five games of 2015!
Becky Snyder is a Freshman Creative Writer at Barbara Ingram.