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Destructoid Originals

Experience Points .30: Dragon's Dogma

Jan 23 // Ben Davis
Mount your foes Ever since Shadow of the Colossus came out, I've always wondered why climbing on monsters never really became a thing. It's an effective strategy for dealing with massive enemies, and it really opens up options for interesting combat as well. But these days, it seems like monster climbing is relegated to quick time events, like in God of War and Bayonetta, where the majority of combat takes place on the ground or in the air, but every once in a while Kratos or Bayonetta jump up onto a giant foe to chop off its body parts, as long as the player remembers to press X at the right moment.Dragon's Dogma revisits the idea presented by Shadow of the Colossus, allowing players to grab onto enemies and climb around them in the heat of combat. This often makes it easier to deal tons of damage in a short amount of time. I could just latch onto one of that Hydra's heads and hack away for as long as my stamina allowed, or until the creature decides it's tired of being poked by some insect and tries to dislodge me. Even smaller enemies could be grabbed, but usually this was only useful for holding them in place while the pawns attacked freely. My favorite thing to do is to climb atop a flying enemy, such as a Griffin, so that I could keep stabbing it even when it tries to fly away. Some of my most thrilling moments involved slashing away at a vicious Griffin's back as it soared through the sky, its feathers catching fire thanks to my mages, until it finally plummeted back to the ground all bloody, singed, and ragged as I hopped off triumphantly to finish the deed. Those kills were always the most satisfying! Pawn to King 4 The pawn mechanic is an idea unique to Dragon's Dogma, or at least I can't think of another game that has done something similar in quite the same way. Along with creating a main character (the Arisen), players also get to create a pawn, their primary sidekick throughout the game. Pawns act on their own, but the player can choose their equipment, combat strategies, personalities, and so forth. And for a game with such a robust character creator, being able to make two different characters in any given playthrough was a godsend. I made my fighter pawn, Demetrius, a thin, muscular, bald man with a full beard. Eventually, I got him equipped with a huge, rather intimidating spiked mace, and gave him an incognito mask and a golden belt. He basically looked like an executioner who had just won a wrestling championship. Not sure what I was going for, but I thought he looked pretty cool anyway.Pawns also act as the primary way to interact with other people online. By entering a Rift Stone, players can browse through pawns created by others and enlist up to two into their own party. These pawns will have all the equipment and stats provided by their creators, and they might even know some strategies for defeating certain enemies or info about specific quests that the player has yet to encounter. Once a player is done using someone else's pawn, they can send along ratings, messages, and gifts to the original creator. I had a lot of fun simply viewing everyone's pawns to see what they came up with, from the beautiful to the grotesque.I always enjoyed logging back in every now and then to see how my own pawn was doing and find out whether or not he had been helping other people on their adventures. Demetrius received above average ratings and seemed to come back with a lot of different gifts for me, so I'm glad at least a few people got some use out of him. I figured his wrestler/executioner style might get him noticed in the Rift due to his bizarre, yet menacing demeanor. I wonder if someone is still using him today. Three heads are better than one I'm very fond of the enemy designs in Dragon's Dogma. They're based on classic depictions of mythical beasts, so even though they're not particularly fantastic or unique, they have a certain traditional charm to them. They almost look unusually realistic, at least compared to most other video games that contain the same types of monsters. My favorite enemy was the Chimera, one of the more common giant beasts to be found in the game. A chimera is simply a hybrid monster made up of different parts from more than one kind of animal, most commonly depicted as a lion with a goat's head protruding from its back and a snake for a tail. And that's exactly what the Chimera in Dragon's Dogma looks like.Chimeras are so fun to fight because of all the different tactics that can be used to defeat them. Each of its three heads have their own specialties; the lion primarily uses physical attacks, the goat casts magic, and the snake can inflict poison. Each head can also be “killed” independently, so its up to the player to decide which part of the Chimera to destroy first. Personally, I liked to take out the snake first, followed by the goat, and finish with the lion. The best part is seeing the effects of damage in action. The snake head can be chopped off entirely, leaving a severed, bloody stump of a tail flailing around. The goat head will remain attached to the body, but once it's been defeated, it comically flops around like a limp rubber toy. It's even possible to kill the lion head first, in which case it sort of droops and rolls around sadly while the goat and snake keep up the attack. It's a bit unsettling how much I enjoy watching a Chimera suffer, really. Your Dragon Aside from the pawns, another way for players to interact with others online was through the dreaded Ur-Dragon. This massive, undead dragon is the most powerful enemy in the game. While playing online, it's simply not feasible for any one player to defeat it on their own. Instead, the battle employs an asynchronous cooperative component, meaning players from around the world will be working together to slay the beast. Damage from each individual player will slowly stack over time until the Ur-Dragon has finally been defeated. Players lucky enough to be fighting during the killing blow will have the chance to earn some nice rewards, and any other player who contributed to the Ur-Dragon's death can enter the Chamber of Lament later to claim some loot as well. Afterwards, the next generation of the Ur-Dragon will spawn as an even more powerful foe than the last. This type of idea isn't anything new, as similar things have been done in some MMOs, but they're still fun to participate in every now and then. I fought a few of the earlier generations of Ur-Dragons, but never managed to land a killing blow (aside from offline). Last I checked, the PlayStation 3 Ur-Dragon was around Generation 800, so it's pretty cool that people are still fighting them. The legendary Hot Pants, forged in dragon's flame This one may seem a bit random at first, but it has to do with one of my funniest moments. There is a ton of equipment to choose from in Dragon's Dogma, ranging from practical, to stylish, to revealing. While there is some gender-specific clothing, most pieces can be worn by either gender – even some of the more revealing ones. Whenever I play games like this, I tend to choose equipment that I think looks good on my character, so I go for the highest possible stats while still trying to look nice.In my first playthrough, I left the first town with not much armor to speak of, since the shops didn't really have much to offer. Since I was playing a Strider, I wanted light armor anyway, so I was dressed in cloth wrappings and a pair of short pants, which basically look like denim hot pants. Not gonna lie, my beefy adventurer could really rock those short pants! I figured I would find better armor later, but eventually I was in Gran Soren and still wearing those short pants. Everything else I could find was either worse stats-wise or just plain ugly. And then I began adventuring farther north and encountered my first Drake. Why mention the Drake? Well, upon defeating a Drake, or any other dragon-type enemy, there is a chance for a piece of equipment to become “dragon forged,” meaning it automatically reaches the highest level of enhancement, past the normal three-star level. And it just so happened that the one piece of equipement to become dragon forged was my pair of short pants. Suddenly, this silly piece of sexy clothing was one of my most powerful possessions. It was a sign – my Arisen was born to wear these short pants. I never switched them out for the remainder of the game, because it was too perfect that they were the first thing to become dragon forged. Plus, by that point, they basically provided more defense than the majority of other pants anyway. My Arisen gets to show off his well-toned legs and can still take a beating doing it. That's definitely a win-win in my book! What is love? Romance options in games have never really interested me all that much. This is partly because there are usually no gay options, but even when it is an option (Mass Effect, Dragon Age), the romance subplots still feel weird, stiff, and out of place in context with the rest of the game for whatever reason. Romance in Dragon's Dogma is also really weird. Like, super weird. So weird that I actually kind of enjoyed it. You see, at a certain point in the game, a character is chosen as the player's “beloved.” Grigori, the antagonistic dragon (dragon-tagonist, if you will), kidnaps the beloved, supposedly as a way to get the player all fired up for revenge and rescue of the character they love most. However, most players won't know who they'll be rescuing until the big reveal. It's like a surprise love interest, and given the romance options provided by the game, the results can be hilarious.Almost any character in Dragon's Dogma can become the beloved. This includes characters of any gender or age, even children and the elderly. That's right, a player might get to the end of the game only to find out that their handsome, burly Arisen is in love with a frail, elderly woman. Or a small child. Or the court jester who bears a striking resemblance to The Legend of Zelda's Tingle (*shiver*). The perceived randomness of it all, while surely annoying to some, was very entertaining to me. I never knew who I was going to romance, and I always looked forward to the eventual reveal.Of course, there are ways to increase the chances of getting a specific beloved, primarily by completing certain quests and giving lots of gifts to increase affinity. However, even knowing that, it's still rather difficult to get who you want. I always had my beefy, bearded Arisen flirt with the armory merchant, Caxton. He may have some annoying catch phrases, but at least he has a nice beard! Apparently, my copious amount of gifts were not enough to woo him, though, because I always ended up with either the young witch, Selene, or the sultry merchant, Madeleine. Dammit, Caxton, quit leaving me with all these ladies! They're nice people, I'm sure, but you're the masterwork of my heart! Where did I go wrong? Past Experience Points Level 1: .01 - .20 .21: Katamari Damacy.22: Tomb Raider.23: Mother 3.24: Deadly Premonition.25: Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars.26: Dark Souls.27: GoldenEye 007 .28: Pokémon Red/Blue .29: Skies of Arcadia
Dragon's Dogma photo
Masterworks all, you can't go wrong!
Experience Points is a series in which I highlight some of the most memorable things about a particular game. These can include anything from a specific scene or moment, a character, a weapon or item, a level or location, a p...

eSports photo
eSports

ESPN interviewing busty blondes for eSports sideline reporter gig (Fauxclusive)


Job requirements include 'keep it tight'
Jan 23
// CJ Andriessen
Much to the chagrin of many traditional sports fans, ESPN is betting big on the future of eSports. The network has already hired reporters to cover the eSports beat, will broadcast this month’s Halo Championship Tour at...

Zack Furniss' favorite moments of 2015

Jan 18 // Zack Furniss
Bloodborne's Bagmen Hot diggety, there are so many moments I could choose in Bloodborne. I wrote this awkwardly-titled piece about how From Software so effectively used misdirection throughout the game's marketing (give it a read, that's one of my favorites!), but one particular enemy encounter immediately comes to mind. The first time you meet the Bagmen/Kidnappers, they're most likely going to kill you in just two hits. That's terrifying enough already, but instead of the regular loading screen taking you back to the last checkpoint, you're greet with a cutscene. At this moment, you watch through your Hunter's eyes as he or she is dragged into an entirely new area, the Hypogean Gaol, where you're even more lost and confused than previous environments. It doesn't help that there are enemies in this area that can slit your throat, probably killing you instantly.  When dying over and over has become routine, changing the rules and subverting your deathly expectations is a smart way to discomfit the player. Well done, From Software. SOMA's second survey For some reason or another, I kept putting off SOMA. While I had enjoyed Frictional Games' previous work, the first few hours of its new underwater horror game put me off. I'm glad I came back and finished it a couple weeks ago, though, because the themes of transhumanism and body horror are probably permanently hard-wired into my brain now. Playing as a man who wakes up in an aquatic base long after the world should have ended, you soon realize there's no point in trying to save humanity in its current state. Instead of attempting to rescue the few remaining vestiges of mankind, you turn to the ARK. This device allows people's consciousnesses to to live on in a simulated utopia by way of brain scans, feeling for all intents and purposes like real humans.  After learning about the ARK, you take a survey that asks you questions, such as "Do you think this new existence will be worth living?" and  "How would describe your current mental condition?" Since you've recently found out that you're an imprint in a robotic suit, these questions are uncomfortable, but thought-provoking. You find new hope in the idea that you will, in a way, be able to regain your body and live in this new paradise. When launching the satellite, you try to transmit your consciousness to the scan on the ARK. However, you lose the coin flip, and remain in the body in an empty base, with no one to talk to and no reason to live. Even though you just "saved" humanity, there's a lump in your throat because you didn't get to save yourself. Puts things into perspective, doesn't it, you monster? The credits roll. But it gets worse. After the credits, you awaken in the serenely beautiful simulation of the ARK as the brain scan of your duplicated consciousness. On your way through an idyllic forest, a computer monitor nonsensically juts out of the soil. You can take the same exact survey as before, but knowing that you left part of yourself down to rot underwater on Earth, it's amazing just how much your answers will most likely change. Usually, games are more interested in altering the questions of the game, so watching Frictional Games morph your answers was a delightful surprise. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt's Snowball Fight From an outsider's perspective, Geralt of Rivia sounds like a try-hard Dungeons & Dragons character made by an obnoxious friend: he has rippling muscles, wields two swords, is a mutant, has long, flowing white hair, and a magical penis that can't make babies or contract sexually-transmitted infections. Playing The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt with expectations of him being that simple is a mistake, though. Sometimes he has an annoyed half-grin plastered on his face; he's not above getting drunk, or trying on women's clothes, and he has a paternal, caring streak that makes him want to protect Ciri. Ciri's constantly imperiled, but can handle herself. As her father figure, you can keep defending her and trying to shelter the girl from the evils of the world, or you can accept that she's going to face danger head-on just like you've taught her. In a poignant moment, when she's struggling to learn how to use her abilities, Geralt can choose to either give her yet another lesson, or take her mind off things with a surprise snowball fight. Better yet, this is a playable moment, rather than a cutscene, and you can either beat Ciri or let her win. Sure, Geralt seems like an amalgam of clichés at times, but throughout The Witcher 3 you get to see him from all sorts of perspectives. This tender moment was a welcome respite from the monster hunting and Gwent playing (Gwent is awesome, shut your mouth). Undertale's Photoshop Flowey So, like SOMA, I only played Undertale once this New Year started. I was apprehensive because some things were spoiled for me and people who love the game fucking love it. It's hard not to go in with inflated expectations in a situation like this, but somehow Toby Fox's little creation completely won me over. Just like Bloodborne, Undertale is filled with moments that could go on this list. But the final boss of the Neutral Route edges out everything else out for me. I've always enjoyed games that hide horror elements under a false veneer, like Eversion. So when you think you're about to get a somewhat upbeat ending and a small Flower ends up being a terrifying Photoshopped monster that can destroy in seconds, I was sold. Photoshop Flowey looks especially disturbing considering the rest of the game is simple pixel art. Sure, the music is wonderful throughout, and Undertale plays around with RPG mechanics in fun ways, but this boss (and the way he toys with you and your save file) will stay with me the longest. So that's my little list! Here's to a memorable 2016!
Best of 2015 photo
Well, a few of them!
I know, I know. The first month of 2016 is halfway done and I'm still writing about 2015. Well it was a damn good year for games, okay? Back off, Mom. Instead of talking about my top picks from last year, I'm going to tell yo...

The sweet annihilation of Nuclear Throne

Jan 17 // Nic Rowen
Nuclear Throne is about mutants and freaks obliterating each other in a fucked up biohazard of a world over a supposed seat on a likely meaningless throne. It's about winning the right to lord over a dead world. It's about twitch reflexes, the honing and sharpening of the most mechanical and merciless of gamer reactions. That dead-eye arcade stare that comes from quickly identifying the most pressing threat and eliminating it as quickly as possible with minimal resource usage. It's about repeating that process about a thousand times, trying to get ever so slightly better at it every time you try. It's about dying, quickly and cheaply. It's about a health bar that is so fragile as to be essentially meaningless. Bullets that gouge three pips of health out of a bar of eight and don't even have the decency to make you flicker for a second. One-hit kills from bosses. One-hit kills from mutant sewer rats. One-hit kills from cars accidentally exploding too close, the clumsy use of a plasma cannon, or getting a little too curious about a mysterious crystal. It hardly matters, most games of Nuclear Throne take anywhere between five and fifteen minutes. Another try is just a click away. Nuclear Throne isn't a game about learning from the mistakes of the past, it's about doubling down on them. Fucked up the planet with nuclear hellfire and warfare? Well, guess we better slaughter each other by the dozen to fight over a fancy chair. Get killed by a random grenade? Mash that "retry" button to jump right back in and eat another one. Die immediately trying to figure out how to play as Melty, the incredibly squishy pile of walking goo? Play as him another 20 times in a row until it's late and your eyes sting, and you know you'll hate yourself in the morning. To me, Nuclear Throne is the game I turn to when I'm not in the mood to learn from my mistakes, when I'd rather wallow in them. When I want to pile them on top of each other again and again until I can make myself a comfortable pile of failure to sit on. I've read that Luftrausers, Vlambeer's previous game, was made while the team was angry. That the fury of having one of their other games ripped-off in the Apple marketplace and the long, bitter process of trying to resolve that issue crept its way into Luftrausers and became the black core of its angry heart. That the unrelenting aggression of both the enemies and the player (motivated by a strict score-attack combo system to keep fighting at all costs) was a result of how they felt at the time. It's not hard to extend the logic and imagine how those feeling influenced the rest of the game. The ultra minimalist design, the obsession with cutting out every superfluous element of the game, reveals a design team wasn't just uninterested in niceties, but hostile to them. One of the iconic ship abilities in Luftrausers is a suicide bomb that triggers a skull-shaped nuclear explosion when the player dies, clearing out every enemy left on the screen. It's pure schadenfreude -- they might as well made the nuclear cloud a middle finger. In many ways, Nuclear Throne seems just as angry. It's hyper-aggressive and utterly merciless. The kind of game where you are expected to die. Failure is the default state and winning is the rare, precious exception (and all it does is toss you back into an even harder NG+). The game is hostile to the player, with disorienting screen shake accompanying every explosion, dick-bag cheap shots from off-screen enemies, monsters disguised as ammo boxes -- the kind of tricks you'd expect to see in something like I Wanna Be the Guy. But it's also a whole lot of fun. Nuclear Throne celebrates nihilism. It finds the joy in self-obliteration. Every aspect of the design speaks to a willful disregard for safety, a rejection of self-preservation. While ammo and health are precious commodities, half the weapons you can pick up are more dangerous to you than they are the enemy, and the rest gleefully waste ammunition. Suicidal choices like the disc gun with it's bouncing buzzsaw blades that are 100% guaranteed to ricochet back at you, radiation grenades that leave dense clouds of toxic smoke for you to walk into, blood sledgehammers that gamble health for a more powerful swing -- madness in a game where you're always a hair's breadth from death. There is dumb shit like the triple and quad machine guns, which flood the screen with firepower while evaporating your ammo reserve in the blink of an eye. Great fun for about seven seconds or so. Or Y.V's “Brrrpt” upgrade that lets him fire a weapon four times per trigger pull combined with something like the “precision” crossbow. Completely wasteful, entirely satisfying. Nuclear Throne seems like the kind of game the War Boys from Mad Max would enjoy. Then you have the little details. The loading screen messages that alternate between poignant and asinine, constantly pointing out how pointless and nihilistic the situation is only to laugh at it. The grotesquely cute design of the characters, little monsters you can't help but love. Chicken, an avian-samurai so committed to carnage that she'll keep fighting for a few seconds even after losing her head. Or my personal favorite character, the Robot, who's special ability is that he can devour spare guns to restore health and ammo. He is a being that literally subsists on violence, but that doesn't stop him from being cute as a button. I play a lot of different games for many different reasons. There are some games that I play for the story, or the world, the Fallouts and Dragon Ages of the world. I like fighting games and multiplayer first-person shooters to test my skills against other players, and MOBAs as an excuse to play with friends. But you know what? Sometimes I'm not in the mood to go scavenge around for copper wire or perform fetch quests for peasants. Sometimes the last thing I would want to do is go online and put up with trash talking morons or try to put on a happy face for my friends. Sometimes at the end of the day I'm tired and sad. I don't have the energy to invest in some 80 hour RPG or the focus to deal with online bullshit. I just want to blow everything up. I want to get killed. I want to do it over and over again until I feel like all the bile and frustration of the day has been expunged. That's a valid reason to play games as well. As the industry moves further into huge triple A multiplayer titles and massive open-world adventures, and many indies become increasingly story driven and emotional charged, I feel like that desire for mindless, cathartic, healing obliteration is getting lost in the shuffle. It makes me thankful for Nuclear Throne and its sweet embrace of annihilation.
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I DEMAND A CROWN
It may not seem like it, but most post-apocalyptic narratives are fundamentally optimistic. They might be set against a godforsaken backdrop of radioactive fallout with roaming packs of cannibalistic thrill-killers, but beyon...

Kyle MacGregor's sexy picks for Game of the Year 2015

Jan 16 // Kyle MacGregor
Lara Croft Go If you were to glance through my collection of Wii games, you would see a number of rail shooters. This isn't because I especially love light gun games, though. They're just something the platform did particularly well. They played to the platform's unique strengths and sidestepped its weaknesses.  Acknowledging your constraints isn't a surefire recipe for success, but it does go a long way toward limiting the potential for failure. Had Square Enix Montréal attempted to craft a console-quality Tomb Raider game for mobile platforms, it might have come close. But doing so would have been an uphill battle, one where the best result would be a qualified response. "It's impressive, for a mobile game," you might say, rather than lauding it as a quality representation of the medium or series at large. Lara Croft Go doesn't attempt to do that. It goes with the grain, working with the limitations of a portable machine without buttons or joysticks. It distills the essence of Tomb Raider into a puzzle game with a limited scope and doesn't pretend to do any more. It knows exactly what it is and succeeds on its own terms, working with what is has instead of trying to be something it's not. Splatoon I've been playing a lot of Star Wars: Battlefront lately. I'm not entirely sure why, other than the fact it trades on nostalgia and I'm still caught in the penumbra of The Force Awakens hype. I've come to accept Battlefront as a competent multiplayer shooter, but initially I was quite disappointed in the game. It had me questioning whether the genre was something I could even enjoy anymore. Splatoon is a beacon of hope in the dark, gritty, stale, banal world of multiplayer shooters. It's difficult to believe that Nintendo, a company that owes much of its success to recycling decades-old formulas, to leave its comfort zone and brilliantly turn an established genre on its head. I pray this is a sign of things to come for Nintendo and its new generation of young designers. Downwell These days, there are so many games out there competing for our time. It's impossible to play them all. I only gave Downwell the time of day because my coworkers refused to shut the fuck up about it. And I'm glad they didn't. She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts, kid.  Under Night In-Birth: Exe Late As a member of the enthusiast press, it's sometimes easy to forget how small a slice of the gaming public are "core gamers." Even though it seems like everyone and their brother has a PlayStation 4, I think it's important to remember there are still a lot of PlayStation 3s in active service around the world. Hell, I know a good number of people who never moved on beyond the Nintendo 64. That said, fewer and fewer games are coming out for the last-generation platforms all the time. And many of the games that are still trickling onto the older hardware are of the Japanese variety. Because Japan didn't take to the new machines as quickly as did the West, it's created a sort of lag between the generations, which in turn has been exacerbated by long localization times. The result is relatively niche games coming out on platforms where a large part of the hardcore audience potentially interested in them has moved on. That's how we end up with new PSP games in 2015. I think there's a reason publishers still put these games out on old hardware, though. It's because a lot of them are top quality and will still find a market, or at least that's the hope. Anyways, before I ramble on any longer, dust off that PlayStation 3 and find yourself a copy of Under Night In-Birth. It may have a silly name, but it's hands down the best fighting game released last year. Metal Gear V: The Phantom Pain I feel like all I want to do is complain about Metal Gear Solid V. It comes so close to perfection, but it ultimately misses its mark, and does so in unbelievably frustrating fashion. The Phantom Pain is both unfinished and far too long. It's clear at some point there were plans for a third chapter, which Konami bizarrely decided to use as bonus material, showing off what might have been with work-in-progress cutscene footage and storyboards. And while it's disappointing Hideo Kojima never had the opportunity to properly cap things off, I honestly can't imagine that campaign being any longer. Even without its final act, Metal Gear Solid V goes to extreme lengths to pads its runtime, recycling a limited amount of content to artificially ensure the experience far longer than necessary. While I enjoyed my time with The Phantom Pain, I'm not sure if I'll ever manage to decouple my memories of it with all of the trifling bullshit it makes you go through to get to the "real" ending. Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim While Ys VI originally launched over a decade ago, XSEED Games re-localized the Nihon Falcom JRPG for a Steam release in 2015, allowing me to experience and fall in love with it for the first time. It may not be particularly new or innovative, but that's part of the charm. It's refreshingly old school. OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood  Its predecessor made my GOTY list in 2014, and this one takes things to a whole new level. IA/VT Colorful I wound up playing a lot of rhythm games this past year, but IA/VT Colorful was my far my favorite of the bunch (sorry Persona 4: Dancing All  Night). It's a pity Marvelous has no plans to ever publish the game to the West, but at least it's import friendly and doesn't require you to know Japanese. Xenoblade Chronicles X Ever since I lost a friend to World of Warcraft, I've had this belief that MMOs are intrinsically bad. They're time sinks designed to ensnare weak-minded individuals with senseless, repetitive tasks, keeping players hooked while the makers slowly bleed us dry with monthly subscription fees. So, naturally, I'm uncomfortable with how much I enjoy Xenoblade Chronicles X, which seems to veer dangerously close to MMO territory for someone who has vowed to hate all MMOs forever. The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky: Second Chapter AHHHHHH! IT'S HERE! IT'S FINALLY HERE! AHHHHHHH! AHHHHHHH! Yakuza 5 One of these days I'm going to finally make it out to Japan and it's going to be glorious. But until then, I'll have to make do with living out fantasies of romping around Tokyo with the Yakuza games. I'm not sure Yakuza 5 is the high-water mark for the series. Yakuza 4 currently holds that distinction, at least in my book. But I'm always more than happy to hit the streets of Kamurocho once again.  Even though it arrived on western shores three years after its Japanese debut, Yakuza 5 was well worth the wait. Sega's Yakuza Team does incredible work. I sincerely hope they never stop. Bloodborne I already wrote some nice words about Bloodborne when it won Dtoid's award for best PlayStation 4 title released in 2015. So, instead of delving into why I think it's wonderful, I'll just say it's a rare game I've volunteered to help teach and shepherd people through. I think that speaks to how much I love Bloodborne, that I am willing to go out of my way to spread its gloomy, Lovecraftian gospel. 
Kyle's Goaty photo
Staaaay fresh!
It may be 2016, but I'm still writing 2015 on all my cheques. So, here are a list of games that came out last year that I liked a bit and am still thinking about because I'm clearly living in the past.

OMG! It's Stevil T's personal faves of 2015!

Jan 14 // Stephen Turner
HOTLINE MIAMI 2: WRONG NUMBER I get why this isn’t on many writers’ lists, I really do, but it’s my GOTY, bar none. Wrong Number is the Ying to Hotline Miami’s Yang; taking under-utilised elements of the original and pushing them to the forefront of its sequel. Left Shift/Look Ahead became essential, guns were integral, and the safe reliance of mask powers were replaced by changing character tactics. Wrong Number is a reactionary game, using its cast of oddballs and misfits to represent Dennaton Games' reflections on critics, fandom, and its own legacy. It’s a surprisingly affecting game at times, humanising perceived antagonists or showing poignancy in its uber-violence by a mere change in setting. Look past the combo kills, the shock value, and conspiracy theories and there are wonderful messages to be told. It also happens to be blissfully nihilistic, throwing any complaints you had about the plot retcons or broken gameplay to the wind. As the final fire rises, there’s a conversation about how very little matters as long as you enjoyed yourself. And I certainly did, even during the times when a dog would warp through a wall and kill me. STASIS The more I think about STASIS’ plot and puzzles, the more it falls apart. But for that initial run, it was definitely one of the best old-school adventure games I’d play in a long, long while; totally deserving of Patrick Hancock’s plaudits. STASIS is relentlessly grim, yet lovingly detailed with its audio/visual designs. It’s Sanitarium by way of Event Horizon/Pandorum/Dead Space, if you will. Puzzle-wise, it’s rarely obtuse, mostly a case of using everything in your inventory until something works, and only becoming a problem when the puzzle is technobabble-centric. But overall, STASIS works best when you’re allowed to pass through its story of unethical medicine and human spirit at a brisk, unnerving pace. It’s pretty easy, though, to see how the similarly themed SOMA stole its thunder. STASIS is a pulpier take, narrower in scope, and lacking a good cast; which explains why it’s been left at the wayside after getting some praise earlier in the year. But for a solid point-and-click adventure in an era where the puzzles have given way to dialogue choices and morals, this horror throwback is well worth a look. D4: DARK DREAMS DON’T DIE (PC VERSION) Much like the excellent Deadly Premonition, D4 has big ideas on a small budget. The whole game is basically one man wandering around his apartment or in a plane aisle, and yet it manages to tell an involving story about love and loss, not to mention fashion and gourmet cooking. I love Swery65. He and his games always remind me of my film school days, where hard work on a good script would overcome real-world restrictions. That’s why I see him as a filmmaker at heart, a genuinely good one who understands the importance of characterisation in storytelling, and I don’t doubt that’s been shaped by his low-budget experiences throughout the years. Sure, D4 might not be on Deadly Premonition’s level, due to the lack of resolution and breakneck absurdity of David Young’s investigation, but it’s a wonderful slice of Japanese weirdness mixed with a memorable set of characters. I also absolutely adore the idea of getting into Young’s head and asking questions as he would to get the best possible answer. It’s a rewarding way of playing detective without ever having to worry about penalties. They’re all right responses, but the best ones show you how close you’ve grown to David, crazy Bostonian accent and all. I know I’m cheating by using the PC version here (released in 2015), but that’s the only version I’ve played and it’s thoroughly deserving of a second season. Mouse controls during the action scenes need a little work, though. HARD WEST Liev Schreiber impersonator Zack Furniss wasn’t a fan of Hard West, and while I agree with his points, I’m a little more forgiving. Yes, it’s a buggy experience (I had to contact a developer for an upcoming fix, yikes) and the lack of character progress is off-putting, but there’s potential under the initial shock and disappointment. Once you get over the fact there’s no Overwatch and learn how the Luck system works in its place, it’s a dynamic little six-shooter, where you’re encouraged to flank enemies and take risky maneuvers. I’d actually compare it more to Shadowrun and FTL than XCOM. In between the shootouts, you get some tough dilemmas to mull over, where nothing is black and white, and every helping hand comes with long-term consequence. The main story is incredibly slight, but the low-key Weird West/Deadlands vibe works well, smirking away at every choice you make. With a little more time in the oven, maybe a better explanation of the gameplay, or bigger crowdsourcing funds, it could’ve been universally liked. The potential is there, especially for an expanded sequel, though if you’re currently interested in purchasing Hard West, I’d strongly recommend waiting for a patch or two. BREACH & CLEAR: DEADLINE I’m going to be honest, here: Deadline is not GOTY material, far from it, but I did enjoy my time with this tactical zombie shooter. Think an isometric Left 4 Dead-meets-SWAT with a bit of looting thrown in and that’s Deadline in a nutshell. Deadline is more than rough around the edges, and despite having the Breach & Clear preface (it’s a horror spin-off), the tactical planning rarely comes into play. For what it’s worth, Deadline is a co-op arcade shooter, only slowing down when you have to root survivalists out of a gas station or suburban household. That’s not to say there’s no tension, though. Its finer moments come from surprise sieges, like you’re re-enacting the Operations attack from Aliens. It also happens to be a highly customisable game, from the look of your squad and weapon upgrades to the levelling up of their skill trees, with the RPG elements being pretty useful as the combat scenarios get tougher. I suspect if you bought Deadline for the full price, you’d be pretty disappointed, even with the co-op incentive, but considering how I picked it up for £3/$5, I got my money’s worth. If you’re still interested, my advice is to wait for a sale and completely avoid the pointless dungeon crawling maps, unless you loved the Chrysler Building in Parasite Eve. You sycophant! WAY OF THE SAMURAI 4 (PC VERSION) Alright, I’m cheating again since I’d played this one on the PS3 and eventually bought it on PC, which was ported over in 2015. But my cheekiness is worth it to say this, and only this: Way of the Samurai is a criminally overlooked series. Under its exploitation cinema veneer and the bawdy Japanese humour lies an incredible complexity, from combat stances to the swords, from mini-quests to branching storylines. Sure, every instalment is exactly the same – you’re the next Yojimbo looking to play off all the different factions for personal gain or selfless heroics – but its one of the few games where your choices will drastically change the direction of the plot (and back again, given the right circumstance); like if Yakuza wasn’t so tied down by its soap opera narrative. WotS 4 is probably the most audacious and comical one, yet; vibrant in colour and tone, a far cry from its maudlin predecessors. It’s more Samurai Champloo than 13 Assassins (an effort to stand out more, perhaps), but that doesn’t take anything away from your Machiavellian actions and lone wolf skills. The only thing that would elevate the solid PC port (save for the 30 FPS lock) is if every massacre ended with you walking away to the Shogun Assassin theme. DR. LANGESKOV, THE TIGER AND THE TERRIBLY CURSED EMERALD: A WHIRLWIND HEIST As a troubling peek into how my mind works, there was a random bit in A Whirlwind Heist that instantly took me back to a school production of Grease. The snooty girl playing Sandy had just done her big solo number, did a bit of sad acting, then turned around to exit through the curtain. She tripped on her nightgown at the last second. Her feet were the only thing left on stage, lit up by a spotlight brighter than the sun. As a stagehand, I remember wincing through the slow dragging of her body through the curtains, like a victim being dragged into a dark alley. Then I burst out laughing. A Whirlwind Heist is all those horrors of stage production, like a hundred It’ll Be Alright on the Nights, rolled into a perfect 20 minutes. It’s also one of the few genuinely funny games I’ve ever played, both layered and sharp as it pokes fun at the thankless hard graft behind your favourite artistic endeavours and player defiance. Simon Amstell is perfect as a stage manager barely holding it together. Justin Roiland of Rick & Morty fame does some optional improvisation, but his rambling is probably the weakest part and also fairly intrusive of the real-time humour. Tim Kasher of Cursive once sang, “We all know art is hard,” and as a film school graduate, I totally agree with him. But behind the scenes, it can also be an extremely enjoyable adventure of its own accord. CLANDESTINE I’d never even heard of Clandestine until Patrick Hancock (him again!) splurged all over it in a recent review. So thanks to him, I was totally sold on this Splinter Cell throwback. I’m still in the midst of playing it, but I already love what’s on offer. Clandestine looks and plays like a stealth game from the early '00s, but it’s also quite astute when combating its own technical limitations, like setting the whole plot during the mid-'90s as a way of covering for the lack of in-game gadgets and an emphasis on real-time hacking. I’m sure the whole game worker smoother in co-op, but even in solo play, there’s real tension to be found when stalking the corridors as rookie spy Katya, only to hit “H” and disable cameras as her stationary partner, Martin. Though, honestly, I have more fun playing as the latter because Clandestine is not without some major faults in the stealth department; think more along the lines of Pandora Tomorrow than Chaos Theory, because the stealth really is that archaic at times. But you know what really makes up for it in my books? It’s like every spy show and conspiracy movie that cropped up in the paranoid '90s, with its chunky monitors and modem connections, a needlessly angry boss, and a cool spy duo that ticks every post-Grunge look known to fashion. Part-Alias, part-The Lone Gunmen, part-Spy Game with that guy who played Johnny Cage, all badly acted and jarringly animated. I already want a sequel.
GOTY photo
No, I didn't play Bloodborne, okay!?
At the start of 2015, I was basically done with video games. I’d made myself a promise to read more books and play fewer games, which lasted all of two months before I read Willy Vlautin’s utterly depressing North...

'I don't like champagne, but I'll grab a beer': Lightning on her Louis Vuitton ads, life

Jan 13 // Steven Hansen
ME: You've starred in more Final Fantasy games than most; is there some kind of equivalent to the club for hosting SNL multiple times where you all sit around and laugh at Zidane because no one gives a shit about Final Fantasy IX, or what? LIGHTNING: [Laughs] No, there's nothing like that. I don't really have that much connection with any of the prior cast just because, you know, it's a fresh story every time around. I crossed paths with a few of them on Dissidia, but even then schedules are crazy and people are booked for different times. ME: Are you aware of your status among series fans as, well, a less than ideal ambassador to the series? LIGHTNING: I know I upset a lot of people, yeah. I mean, I am doing my job, doing what I love to do, I don't want to apologize for it-- ME: No, I mean, you shouldn't have to, but why do you think you set people off so much? I get a Kristen Stewart thing where you become the face of a popular, but critically panned thing and people just freak out, or think that's all there is to you -- and you have that same kind of aloofness that can be seen as standoffish or wooden. LIGHTNING: Maybe modeling designer wear like an ice queen doesn't help [laughs]. Look, people are going to heap their discomfort on the easiest target, and a lot of fans didn't like the direction of the series that I starred in so I'm an easy punching bag, I get it. And I can't complain too much, because look where it's gotten me, right? I mean, 5-6 years ago I was a nobody, and now I'm part of a Louis Vuitton campaign and getting interviewed by Destructoid. I'm very blessed. ME: How do you feel about ISIS? LIGHTNING: What? ISIS? Oh, they're bad. ME: Good. LIGHTING: They're good? ME: No, I mean good you think they're bad. LIGHTNING: Oh, ok, yeah, they're bad. ME: Good. LIGHTNING: Huh? ME: Nothing. So, I noticed you're a fan of the classics. I read that you spent downtime on the set of Final Fantasy XIII trying to memorize "Rime of the Ancient Mariner?" LIGHTING: [Laughs] Well, I tried. Coleridge was my favorite Romantic. It's a long poem, though. ME: Did you ever get the whole thing down pat? LIGHTNING: It is an ancient Mariner, and he stoppeth one of three. [Laughs] I didn't get the whole thing, no.  ME: Where does that particular passion show up in your work? LIGHTNING: Well, it doesn't much, I guess. I mean, when you're an actor serving someone else's vision [as with the Final Fantasy XIII series], you're limited in your expression. Hopefully you can bring something unique, but they have a tone and style they're going for. I don't know. One of my obsessions right now is Fritz Lang. Have you seen The Big Heat? ME: No. LIGHTNING: It has to be Lee Marvin's best role. I mean, Lang basically invented film noir. His dark surrealism--like, all this started for me when I saw a still from The Testament of Dr. Mabuse and Rudolf Klein-Rogge's eyes just piercing the screen. The rawness, the darkness, I was drawn to it. And so I started exploring Lang beyond Metropolis. Sorry, did I answer the question? ME: Yeah, no, yeah. So, well, that segues into my next question. Which -- it doesn't seem like your interests are lined up with the direction of gaming. Do you think the industry is healthy, moving in the right direction? I mean, what the hell are they doing over at Square Enix? LIGHTNING: Square was so good to me. There are a lot of talented people working over there. I think, maybe [pause]. I don't know, I don't know enough about how things come from on high, or how things work over there. [Final Fantasy designer Tetsuya Nomura] is a bit much. Generally I think we're in a healthy space, yeah, but I would like to see more of reality -- and different realities, you know, other peoples' realities' -- reflected in games, in stories. ME: So do you feel at home here in Paris, where we're talking for this interview, at this Louis Vuitton party? LIGHTNING: God no! [Laughs] I mean, everyone's nice, the spotlight, you know, I'm used to that by now. And I like the clothes, I really do. They're cool, they look great. I prefer my day to day social outings to me a little more lowkey, though. I don't like champagne, but I'll grab a beer. ME: Who's your favorite member of Jurassic 5? LIGHTNING: [Chali] 2na! His voice is amazing. ME: Right? [Laughs] You answered that way too quickly. Most interviewees I ask that are really confused and then I just talk about Jurassic 5 at them for a few minutes while I think of other questions. Ok. Uhm. Would you go back in time and kill baby Hitler? LIGHTNING: Well, I've already learned time travel isn't something you want to mess with [laughs]. ME: Come on. LIGHTNING: What? ME: Don't do that. LIGHTNING: What? ME: The cutesy question dodge. Would you or would you not kill baby Hitler? LIGHTNING: I mean, I don't really want to answer that. ME: I'll take that as a no. LIGHTNING: I didn't say that! ME: So you would? LIGHTNING: [Pause] Do you have any other questions? ME: Will you go on a date with me? We can go to the Louvre or whatever's around here, in Paris, where we are. LIGHTNING: Of course! Fuck, I've been waiting all interview for you to ask me. You are so beautiful, understanding, and intelligent. And not to mention funny. I'm actually a huge fan of yours, I was nervous when I heard you were going to be interviewing me! ME: Thanks.
Interview with Lightning photo
'Coleridge was my favorite Romantic'
Final Fantasy XIII (and then some) star Claire "Lightning" Farron made headlines last week when the she became one of the new faces of prestigious fashion designer Louis Vuitton, for whom she will model the spring-summer 2016...

Madden Ultimate Team photo
Madden Ultimate Team

California dad betting on big lottery win to pay son's Xbox One bill (Fauxclusive)


Son totally not to blame here
Jan 13
// CJ Andriessen
Millions of people across the country will be watching tonight when the winning numbers for the biggest Powerball jackpot in history are announced. California father Gerald Present says he hopes the $150 he spent on tick...
GOTY 2015 photo
GOTY 2015

Mike Martin's picks for games that he picked in 2015


My picks bring all the boys to the yard
Jan 11
// Mike Martin
Hello everybody! Your (not so) favorite, foul-mouthed, perverted, shit-posting Community Manager here. 2015 was a helluva year for games. All bullshit aside, we are starting to see some truly amazing games come out. When I wa...

The top 33 indie games to look for in 2016

Jan 11 // Patrick Hancock
Let's start with a handful of games I listed in 2013 that have still yet to come out. They aren't counted for this list, but you should still look out for them and I hope they come out this year: A Hat in Time, Distance, Intruder, New Game+, Overgrowth, Owlboy, Project Zomboid, Quadrilateral Cowboy, Routine, Scale, The Iconoclasts, The Magical Realms of Tír na nÓg: Escape from Necron 7 – Revenge of Cuchulainn: The Official Game of the Movie – Chapter 2 of the Hoopz Barkley SaGa, The Moonlighters, The Witness, Under the Ocean. Wow, so that's 15 games that have taken at least 2 years longer than I thought they would. Whoops! Anyway, here's some more that will be sure to disappoint me when they release in 2020. [embed]330358:61679:0[/embed] BombernautsDeveloper: Eyebrow InteractiveFollow it: Steam, Twitter, FacebookCan I play it now? Yes It would be easy to write Bombernauts off as just some Bomberman clone, but you'd be doing yourself a huge disservice. While this is a large departure from the studio's last game, Closure, the pedigree is there. Bombernauts is online, voxel-based mayhem that reminds me more of the multiplayer in Super Monkey Ball than traditional Bomberman. It's wacky and zany, and is even available now on Early Access. [embed]330358:61678:0[/embed] CogmindDeveloper: Grid Sage GamesFollow it: Newsletter on official site, TwitterCan I play it now? Yes  Please, don't let the aesthetic turn you away. I get it, ASCII graphics are a turnoff. But think about the beauty of Dwarf Fortress! What I'm trying to say here is that gameplay is everything. Cogmind's world is procedural and challenges the player to think strategically to navigate it. And really, it's not pure ASCII graphics. As the website puts it, it's "ASCII evolved."  Seeing the aesthetic in motion clears things up a bit, and in fact, it's rather beautiful. It's a roguelike with permadeath and turn-based combat, which is like taking the highway straight into my heart. All the little things start to add up in Cogmind: a destructible environment, lack of grinding XP, stealth as an alternative to combat, and its apparent "living world" that will evolve as the player exists within it. This is definitely one to look out for. [embed]330358:61680:0[/embed] Courier of the CryptsDeveloper: Emberheart GamesFollow it: Mailing list, Steam, Twitter, FacebookCan I buy it now? Yes Courier of the Crypts is one of the most intriguing games on this list to me. Players guide a courier through crypts (duh) using his handy-dandy torch, solving puzzles and killing enemies along the way. But the way it's presented making it look slower and more methodical than you might think. For example, it seems that the primary way to kill enemies is leading them into traps that, from the looks of it, are likely designed to kill the player instead. It's got great pixel art and a wonderful premise, and I'm very interested in these "magical torch mechanics" the game mentions...   [embed]330358:61681:0[/embed] CRYPTARKDeveloper: AlientrapFollow it: Steam, Twitter, FacebookCan I buy it? Yes  I've played CRYPTARK in its current Early Access stage, and it's easy to see this game's bright future. Made from the same team that did Apotheon, one of my favorites of 2015, CRYPTARK brings players into space as they search through "alien space-hulks" with their space mech. It's got a lot of customization, a great art style, and most importantly, wonderful impact behind the gameplay. Going through these alien vessels is a blast, thanks in large part to the combat mechanics at play. [embed]330358:61697:0[/embed]  CupheadDeveloper: Studio MDHRFollow it: Blog, TwitterCan I buy it?  No Cuphead is all style. If you're not enraptured by the complete dedication to its aesthetic, well, I have nothing more to say to you. While aesthetic can only go so far, I think the level of love poured into a project like this speaks volumes. We can only hope that Studio MDHR has put the same amount of time and dedication into the actual gameplay as they have the aesthetic. [embed]330358:61698:0[/embed] Darkest DungeonDeveloper: Red Hook GamesFollow it: Steam, TwitterCan I buy it?  Yes This one is coming out soon! January 19, to be exact. Darkest Dungeon has been in Early Access for most of 2015, and has certainly had its ups and downs. Fans were very disappointed at an update that made the game incredibly hard, but Red Hook Games responded appropriately and listened to its community. Long story short: the disliked elements have been turned into options that can be toggled on or off, depending on an individuals preferences. This is a brutal roguelike that focuses on heading into dungeons with a handful of party members and doing your best just to make it through alive and sane. Party members can have mental problems creep up and take over them, hindering their abilities. Definitely worth it for fans of brutal challenges. [embed]330358:61699:0[/embed] Dead RealmDeveloper: Section StudiosFollow it:  Steam, Twitter, FacebookCan I buy it? Yes I've had my eye on Dead Realm ever since it was added to Steam. My friends and I have spent a good amount of time in Damned, a clunky, yet enjoyable multiplayer horror game, and Dead Realm looks like a great addition to that genre.  It's basically a horror-filled version of hide and go seek or manhunt (the outdoor game, not the video game). The asymmetric gameplay and the environments are key here. The humans need to escape from the ghost in any way possible, which includes moving objects around and building little forts. I'm hoping this is a little more complete and fluid than Damned is, but it looks to be a fun time with friends regardless. [embed]330358:61700:0[/embed] DrifterDeveloper: Celsius Game StudiosFollow it: Steam, TwitterCan I buy it? Yes I've mentioned this a lot in the past, but Freelancer is one of my favorite games of all time. Drifter looks to capture a lot of the same vibes with space trading, exploration, bounty hunting, piracy, all in a procedurally generated sandbox galaxy. It's been in Early Access for quite some time, and is currently in version "0.6.3." The last time I booted it up it was genuinely enjoyable, but incredibly clunky. With those clunks ironed out, this might be my go-to game to kill time in. Oh, and the music is by Danny B, so you know that will be great. [embed]330358:61701:0[/embed] Due ProcessDeveloper: Giant Enemy CrabFollow it: Blog, Twitter, FacebookCan I buy it? No, but there is an alpha sign-up I want this game....so bad. It's a multiplayer strategy first-person shooter where one team must defend an area while another must infiltrate. What's unique is that there is a planning phase beforehand where players literally draw on the map to orchestrate their plan, all while choosing weapons and discussing strategy with the team. All of this culminates in (hopefully) everything being executed and seeing who had the better plan. It's brilliant and simple to the point where IT NEEDS TO BE OUT RIGHT NOW. This is easily one of my most anticipated games of the year. [embed]330358:61702:0[/embed] Dungeon SoulsDeveloper: Mike StudiosFollow it: Steam, Tumblr, TwitterCan I buy it? Yes What I love most about Dungeon Souls is its pace. It's quicker than many roguelikes out there, which forces players to really think on their feet. When last I played it, it was a bit easy, but the game is still in Early Access. It's more hack-n-slashy, which contributes to the fast pace, but attacks really feel like they pack a punch. With various classes and an amazing art style, Dungeon Souls stands out in an incredibly over-saturated genre. [embed]330358:61736:0[/embed] DuskersDeveloper: Misfits AtticFollow it: Steam, Twitter, FacebookCan I buy it? Yes Duskers is...sort of hard to describe. Players remotely control various drones inside of empty spaceships in order to find out what has happened to the ships and possibly the universe. What's unique is that all drone commands are given by legit command prompts. Oh, and don't worry, the game has an auto-complete feature for typing, so players won't have to type the same things a million times during a playthrough. What makes Duskers worth keeping an eye on is its atmosphere. Everything is seen through the drone's motion sensor, and there's always a lot of unknowns out there. This stuff gets creepy real fast. It also forces players to continually think of and implement new strategies to tackle the obstacles in their way, which helps prevent things from getting stale. [embed]330358:61737:0[/embed] Dying EmberDeveloper: Private Beats NinjaFollow it:  Twitter, TIGSource ForumsCan I buy it? Nope Dying Ember is described by its creator as "2D/3D isometric action RPG inspired by Dark Souls."  That have your attention? Good, it should! Now, I'll admit, this one could easily be pushed into a 2017 release date, as stated by its developer, but it's too interesting to not put on your radars right now. The animations look smooth as butter from what's been shown, but unfortunately it's all in small chunks. Scrolling through the Twitter page reveals plenty of short GIFs that exemplify my point. As long as the combat feels as good as it looks, this is sure to steal the hearts of many. [embed]330358:61738:0[/embed] Enemy StarfighterDeveloper: Marauder InteractiveFollow it: Twitter, NewsletterCan I buy it? No Space games are hot right now. as evidenced by this being the fourth or so game already on this list that focuses on space. Enemy Starfighter is being developed by ex-Bungie employee Mike Tipul, and focuses more on the combat portion of space travel (hence the name). It's great to see a project more focused than the tradition "do all the space stuff!" pitch. The aesthetic looks wonderful, and from the videos produced so far, much of the fun will come from unscripted events, which are pretty much my favorite. [embed]330358:61739:0[/embed] ErnestoDevelopers: Daniel Benmergui, Jeremias Babini, & Hernan RozenwasserFollow it: Twitter, Dev Blog (tumblr), NewsletterCan I buy it? No Note: The video above gets the concept across, but the art is very outdated.  Ernesto is a puzzle game with combat, loot, and riddles, oh my! Sorry that was lame. Regardless, Ernesto puts many things into its design blender and the result, so far, looks wonderful. It's a game about dealing with the punches and optimizing a path through the enemies and chests in order to get the best result. Perhaps the best news is that it's coming to PC, Mac, and tablets, since this game looks perfect for a touch-interface and could also be great in small bursts! [embed]330358:61741:0[/embed] Gang BeastsDeveloper: BoneloafFollow it: Twitter, SteamCan I buy it? Yes Oh boy. Where do I begin with Gang Beasts? It's a game of goofy physics and relatively complex controls that my friends and I have played for hours on end, even past the point where sanity was still with us. I guess it's a 3D fighting game? But that sort of sells the game short. It's a physics-based local multiplayer combat game, where players can individually control arms and grab things. You can pick things up, including other players, climb walls, jump around like an idiot, and even get thrown into meat grinders. The game sets itself up for some of the most hilarious unintended consequences during these fights, and the animations only play in to the fact that you will be grinning ear-to-ear if you get some buddies around the TV to fight each other. [embed]330358:61742:0[/embed] Hyper Light DrifterDeveloper: Heart MachineFollow it: Twitter, FacebookCan I buy it? Pre-order Damn, is this game gorgeous or what? A "2D action RPG" that oozes personality, this is sure to make any list similar to mine. It just seems to nail the feel of the every move. Even just watching the trailer, there's so much umph to things! I mean, I just can't stop italicizing words! Dang! Our past preview had great things to say, and boy am I jealous that other people have played it who aren't me! Also, the music is by Disasterpiece, so fuck yeah! [embed]330358:61744:0[/embed] KrautscapeDeveloper: Mario von Rickenbach, PlayablesFollow it: Steam, Newsletter, TwitterCan I buy it? Yes I absolutely love Krautscape. It's a racing game that actually feels innovative and enjoyable. First of all, the leader of the race dictates how the track is set up. The track is built as players race on it, and the next "chunk" is created depending on where the leader drives when they reach the end of the current track. If they are all the way to the right, it'll be a hard right turn. In the center? Keep it going straight! Slightly to the left? Slight left turn is next. You get the idea. OH AND DID I MENTION YOU CAN FLY? At any time, players can sprout wings and take to the skies. This is especially helpful for the players who fall behind, and adds a new layer of strategy to track creation. Oh, the leader is making a harsh right turn next? I'll just jump off the edge and fly straight there! The music and overall aesthetic are soothing and beautiful, and I hope that more people enjoy Krautscape as I have done in its Early Access period. [embed]330358:61745:0[/embed] Lethal TacticsDeveloper: SkyBox LabsFollow it: Steam, Twitter, FacebookCan I buy it? Yes I've already written about Lethal Tactics before, and I'll take any opportunity to do so again! It's very much like the amazing Frozen Synapse, though does enough to differentiate itself. Plus, more of a great thing is still a great thing! The environment plays a key role in Lethal Tactics, since various objects can be destroyed during play. I just hope they add enough singleplayer content to satisfy a large chunk of potential customers. [embed]330358:61769:0[/embed] LiegeDeveloper: Coda GamesFollow it: Twitter, FacebookCan I buy it? Pre-order I finally got to try out Liege at PAX East last year, and now it easily tops my list of most anticipated games. Though it describes itself as a "JRPG," I'd say it's more along the lines of an "SRPG" because of its turn-based tactical approach to the battle system. Actually, developer John Rhee just came out with a blog post talking about the battle design. He transitioned the battles to have player and enemy turns happen simultaneously, but has recently decided to move back to the separate turns design. As I played through a tutorial-ish area at PAX, I couldn't help but fall in love with the game's aesthetic and accessibility. I understood the mechanics quickly, but could tell that things would go way deeper further into the game. As a huge SRPG fan, this game feels made for me. [embed]330358:61771:0[/embed] MiegakureDeveloper: Marc ten BoschFollow it: Newsletter, Twitter, Facebook, feedlyCan I buy it? No I don't understand what the fuck is going on in this game and I love it. (There's actually a really well written explanation here and you should all read it and be super stoked for Miegakure) [embed]330358:61772:0[/embed] No Man’s SkyDeveloper: Hello GamesFollow it: Newsletter, Twitter, FacebookCan I buy it? No I've always wondered if it's difficult to go from making games like Joe Danger and its sequel to making No Man's Sky. Not only is the scope a billion times bigger, but just about everything is drastically different. Unless maybe there are motorcycles and jumps hidden away on planets? Or maybe we can be giant cupcakes and race our friends through loopty-swoops and fire pits! Yeah, definitely thinking that last one is true. [embed]330358:61773:0[/embed] OverlandDeveloper: FinjiFollow it: Newsletter, TwitterCan I buy it? No When the creator of Canabalt is making a new game, you know it belongs on this list. Overland is a survival strategy game that has players on a "road trip through a ruined continent." Players will be scavenging for supplies in randomly generated levels in order to complete their journey. After watching the gameplay overview (embedded above), it looks like players will have to make a lot of smart and challenging decisions. This is yet another game where the art is wonderful. The whole thing gives me a bit of a Kentucky Route Zero vibe, which is probably one of the best compliments I can give! [embed]330358:61774:0[/embed] Paradise NeverDeveloper: Kitty Lambda GamesFollow it: TwitterCan I buy it? No Playing Paradise Never at PAX East and speaking with developer Calvin French made me realize that this game is going to be big. It has a repetition cycle reminiscent of Majora's Mask, with a cellphone that keeps data between time skips. Judging from French's work with The Real Texas, I expect wacky and memorable characters alongside meaningful mechanics, with a good dose of goofy thrown in for good measure. [embed]330358:61794:0[/embed] ParkitectDeveloper: Texel RaptorFollow it: Twitter, TumblrCan I buy it? Yes Parkitect is taking something that many people hold sacred, the rollercoaster management sim, and attempting to make it worthwhile in 2015. If this were some run-of-the-mill sim game, it wouldn't make it on this list. Parkitect seems to nail every aspect. It uses a light-hearted aesthetic to create a beautiful atmosphere that fits perfectly with the theme (heh) of the game. I'm not sure I trust any major players to re-ignite the love of theme park sims, but I believe that this indie team can do exactly the right thing!  Plus, it has mod support! Just think of all the crazy crap the community can come up with. [embed]330358:61795:0[/embed] SpeedrunnersDeveloper: DoubleDutch GamesFollow it: Steam, TwitterCan I buy it? Yes Similar to Gang Beasts, Speedrunners has been on regular rotation at my local multiplayer game night for quite some time. There is nothing as intense as a match of Speedrunners. Players race laps around a 2D platforming level and can run, slide, jump, and most importantly, grappling hook their way into first place. Jumping and nailing a perfect grappling hook to get around obstacle is easily one of the best feelings in competitive gaming. I think my favorite thing that Speedrunners does is slowly brings in the edges of the screen to focus on the remaining racers and eliminate the one who are too far behind. What you're left with is two racers with no peripheral vision where one mistake means losing. God damn, what a thrill! [embed]330358:61796:0[/embed] SquadDeveloper: Offworld IndustriesFollow it: Steam, Twitter, FacebookCan I buy it? Yes I'm a sucker for games that go for a strong cooperative experience. Squad is all about coop. I mean, it's called Squad! Reading experiences from those who have been playing it in its Early Access phase, it's somewhere between Counter-Strike and Arma in terms of realism, leaning towards Arma. In other words, it's pretty realistic but not inaccessible. It's a game that relies on solid communication, so prep your headsets and get ready to COMMUNICATE! [embed]330358:61797:0[/embed] StarCrawlersDeveloper: Juggernaut GamesFollow it: Steam, Twitter, FacebookCan I buy it? Yes I haven't played StarCrawlers since its early days, but even then I knew it was something special. The atmosphere is wonderful, regardless of whether you're exploring ships like Legend of Grimrock or sitting in the hub city talking to NPCs. The gameplay goes back and forth between roaming spaceships and turn-based combat. This is a game that I briefly lost myself in, and forced myself to stop and wait for it to be more completed. ....is it completed yet? Stephen’s Sausage RollDeveloper: Stephen LavelleFollow it: TwitterCan I buy it? No It's a puzzle game. With a sausage. What else do you need to know? Also, please do yourself a favor and check out the website.  [embed]333190:61809:0[/embed] STRAFE Developer: Pixel TitansFollow it: Tumblr, TwitterCan I buy it? No DISCLAIMER: I BACKED THIS SHIT ON KICKSTARTER Personally, I'm excited that more indie developers are going for the 90s low-polygon count models. I don't want it to get abused, but I enjoy it as of now. STRAFE is a fast-paced shooter that doesn't take itself too seriously. It's "90s retro" as hell and makes no apologies about it. It's got attitude that only 90s kids will remember lololololol ;) This also has an amazing website which you need to check out ASAP. [embed]330358:61800:0[/embed] Sub RosaDeveloper: Cryptic SeaFollow it: Steam, TwitterCan I buy it? No One of my favorite things is to watch people play Sub Rosa. It's not a competitive eSport or anything that I usually watch, but the events that happen are completely player-driven. It's a game that gives the players a world, objectives, and mechanics, and let's the rest happen naturally. Players work for corporations and have to make deals with other players for colored discs, which grant the players and corporations bonuses. The result is tense deals, double and triple crossing, and plenty of hilarity. [embed]330358:61806:0[/embed] TacomaDeveloper: FullbrightFollow it: TwitterCan I buy it? No This is another game that deserves attention by pedigree alone. Fullbright, the team behind the game Gone Home, is back with a more Rapture-esque feel to it, except it's in space and not underwater. If anyone can create an atmosphere and own it, it's Fullbright games. I look forward to rotating many space things in 2016! [embed]330358:61807:0[/embed] Tooth and TailDeveloper: Pocketwatch GamesFollow it: Twitter, FacebookCan I buy it? No Tooth and Tail has had a couple of name changes so far. Announced as Armada, it later became known as LEADtoFIRE. Now, it's Tooth and Tail, which is leagues ahead of both of the previous names. This is a real-time strategy game by the developers of Monaco: What's Yours is Mine. The goal is to create an accessible RTS that feels comfortable on a controller. Very bold goals, since the RTS genre is notoriously difficult to get into for many. If Andy Schatz and company can pull it off, this could be a breakthrough game of the genre. More accessibility is a great thing, especially in such a tough genre. [embed]330358:61808:0[/embed] The Long DarkDeveloper: Hinterland Studio Inc.Follow it: Steam, Twitter, FacebookCan I buy it? Yes I bought The Long Dark during the most recent Steam sale, and absolutely fell in love with my first experience with it. It's unforgiving as hell, which is ironic because the game world itself is cold as....ice? It's a survival game that tasks the player to simply survive while dealing with the elements. I'm terrible at it, but that hardly prevents me from thoroughly enjoying my time dying. I'll likely never forget my first venture out into the wilderness. I left my cabin behind in search for something, anything, to help my sustain my future. Well, turns out that night wasn't too long off. So I headed towards a broken down cabin I came across, hoping it had a stove. It did! However, it also had a corpse right next to it. So, with no other real options, I opened my bed roll, threw some wood and tinder into the stove, and slept all night next to some stranger's corpse. It was a bit of a harrowing experience, and I can't wait for the game to be completed. -- So, what did I miss? What indies are you pumped for in 2016? Oh, and I made a convenient Twitter "list" of all the games and developers mentioned here in case you want to use that.
Top 2016 indies photo
Or 2017, or 2018...
Alright, last time I did this, most of these games didn't come out the next year. In fact, some of the "top indies of 2013" according to me still aren't out. That's the indie lifestyle I suppose, releasing a game "w...

Nic Rowen picks the best of 2015

Jan 10 // Nic Rowen
Best game of the year: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is one of my favorite games of all time. As I've shared before, I've replayed it at least ten times over the years. I didn't keep coming back to it just because it was fun, I kept coming back to it because it was surprising. Every time I played through it I'd find something new. I feel like I haven't even scratched the surface of The Phantom Pain's surprises. Forget replaying the entire game, every time I replay one of  The Phantom Pain's missions I find something new. Every other week someone posts a YouTube video of some outrageous tactic or bizarre mechanic I never even considered before. The other day, I found a new cassette tape despite having plunged more than 70 hours into the game already. Let that sink in, I've played this game for 70 hours and I haven't even uncovered all the easy to find stuff yet. Of course, it's also an amazing game to play. The Phantom Pain is a total leap for the series, a massively needed redesign of Tactical Espionage Action that finally, FINALLY, makes you feel like the super-spy Snake was always trumped up to be. Instead of the hurky-jerk movement of previous entries that saw Snake frequently kneeling in front of a a two-foot high obstacle and then somehow accidentally dropping a flashbang at his feet while searching for the right button, this Snake moves just like how you'd expect of the world's greatest soldier. He effortlessly hurdles barriers, dives into cover, slides down hills, and climbs sheer walls, and you never find yourself reaching for the manual. Combat is fast, fluid, and accurate, the enemies smart and responsive. A never ending supply of gadgets, gear, partners, and chopper support options provide an answer to almost any situation you could get yourself into. The Phantom Pain is one hell of a game. Despite Konami doing everything it can to ruin the game post-release, it still remains the best time I had playing video games this year, and I wouldn't be surprised if I end up coming back to The Phantom Pain just as much as I did with Snake Eater. Best spoooooky: Bloodborne Dark Souls is still my favorite From Software game to date, but Bloodborne certainly gave it a run for its money. While some elements of Bloodborne's design disappointed me (the PvP never felt as well developed and I would have loved a few more sets of clothing and armor to choose from), I was absolutely enamored with the Victorian Gothic look of the world. Yharnam is a scary place, and the population of werewolves, fallen priests, and creepy eye monsters never let me drop my guard for a second.  Best budget anatomy lesson: Mortal Kombat X I like to learn. I've always considered myself an eternal student, but have you seen the cost of post-secondary education these days? One can't afford to just take up a medical class as a hobby anymore! Which is why I was so delighted to see how detailed and painstakingly rendered the bloody viscera of Mortal Kombat X was. If anyone ever needs an emergency whole body bisection via a razor-bladed hat, I'm the man to call. I feel like MKX didn't make a lot of GOTY lists, and that's a shame. For my money, it's the best Mortal Kombat game ever made. Sure, it has balance issues and the PC launch was an absolute travesty, but the core gameplay is best the series has ever offered -- fast, brutal, and mean, the way Mortal Kombat should be. The variation system that gives each character three distinct fighting styles with different strengths and weaknesses is something I'd love to see more fighting games adopt. Best interior design options: Fallout 4: Happy Home Designer I have no idea why I put so much time into the settlement system of Fallout 4, but I did and I loved it. Fallout 4 is a magnificent game (even if it is lacking the role-playing options of New Vegas and the quests work a little too hard to funnel you down certain paths) with an amazing sense of exploration and surprisingly fun gun-play. But it turns out if you put a half-baked doll-house simulator in a game, I'll focus on it nearly exclusively to the abandonment of all else. Maybe I should just start playing The Sims and get it over with. Best descent into nihilism: Nuclear Throne Something about this game brings out the worst in me. It's my “2:00am, I should go to bed but I've been drinking and feeling sad, so why not do another run (or twenty)” game. A blitzkrieg of furious action and pointless violence that I'm more than happy to wallow in at the end of a long frustrating day. If Fallout 4 was my chipper little game about optimism and rebuilding life after a disaster, Nuclear Throne was its dark shadow, a celebration of defeat and chaos. Best dinosaurs: ARK: Survival Evolved Yeah, this is technically a Steam Early Access game, but who cares? It has dinosaurs! Who would have thought watching a mutant caveman getting devoured by a Carnotaurus could be so much fun (even when you are the mutant caveman in question)? I didn't play tons and tons of ARK, but my time wandering around the jungle jabbing my pointy little stick at anything that moved left an impression. I still think of heading back into the wilds every now and then. Best “I should play more of this”: Galak-Z: The Dimensional I love everything about Galak-Z; the way the ship moves, the rogue-lite structure of the missions and power-ups, the retro '80s anime aesthetic, it's all great. I just haven't played a ton of it. I got into the second season of the game (when you get the big robot), died, and never quite got back to it. It isn't that I haven't wanted to, it just seems to keep getting buried under something more pressing (or convenient) to play. I have a feeling if I played a little more, Galak-Z could end up being my next Binding of Isaac. Best argument to buy a Wii U: Super Mario Maker Why the fuck didn't I buy a Wii U!? I'm such a moron. Can I borrow yours? C'mon, just for a week or two? I've been watching all these videos and I have an idea for a level that uses P-switches in a really fucked up way and I'm just dying to try it and... Best way to find out your friends are total monsters: Jack Box Party Pack 2 Everything is all fun and games until someone makes a punchline out of Boko Haram. Best use of fingers: Fingered The stubby digit of justice.
Nic's best of the year photo
I mean, you've seen the rest
It's like the middle of January and you've read about five thousand GOTY lists at this point, so let's get to brass tacks. There were some great games released last year, but which ones were the best? I have no idea. Sorry,...

Experience Points .29: Skies of Arcadia

Jan 09 // Ben Davis
Sky's the limit Skies of Arcadia has one of the most intriguing worlds I've ever explored in a video game. Civilizations of people living on floating islands, traveling between them via airships, with fish and other creatures normally associated with the sea flying around in the clouds, and entire sections of the world blocked off by powerful air currents and other obstacles that could tear ships apart. It was all very exciting and mysterious. I constantly wondered what secrets lay hidden on the other side of those currents, or past that ominous rift. Would it be possible to descend under the clouds, or perhaps fly even higher into the sky? Eventually, Vyse gets to explore all of these places, satisfying every last bit of the player's curiosity. Each new area discovered is a thrilling experience. Everything from the lost civilization of Glacia, the thriving society of Yafutoma that had been cut off from the rest of the world, the terrifying depths lying beneath the clouds, and the bright, open atmosphere above. I kept wondering what I might find next. The most powerful moment for me was when they dive beneath the clouds and enter Deep Sky for the very first time, by flying through the huge maelstrom known as the Vortex. Entering the land beneath the clouds was unheard of for Vyse and his people, but they attempt it anyway in order to retrieve Fina's lost ship, even though they run the risk of damaging their own ship in the process due to atmospheric pressure. The area under the Vortex resembles a deep ocean abyss. It's incredibly dark and murky, and almost looks alien compared to the bright, airy world above. The crew of the Delphinus must use sonar to navigate the area and locate Fina's ship, but they also need to be wary of the giant bioluminescent creatures known as Raja which lurk in the darkness! There's nothing more terrifying than the unknown horrors of the deep. Wonders of the world Continuing the theme of exploration, my favorite activity in Skies of Arcadia was flying around and making Discoveries. This involves searching the skies for hidden landmarks, rare creatures, forgotten shipwrecks, and other special locations which don't normally appear on the map. Once Vyse makes a Discovery, he can then sell the information of its whereabouts to the Sailor's Guild for cash. But he also needs to be mindful of other Discovery hunters, such as the famous explorer, Domingo, who might find them first if Vyse takes too long. I've always been the explorer type while playing video games, keen on visiting every last location and wandering around all edges of the map to see what I might find. So games that try to reward that exploration really make me happy, and Skies of Arcadia is just about the perfect example of that with its Discoveries side quest. It may not seem too exciting for some, searching for hidden objects which don't really do anything except float there and are only good for making money, but I found it to be oddly captivating. In the world of the game, Vyse is the usually first person to have found these things. Lost landmarks like the Giant Throne spoken about only in legends, fabled creatures like the Ancient Fish which many believed to be extinct or pure fiction, shipwrecks that no one had been able to locate, slowly fading from memory. Finding things like that in the real world would be truly awe-inspiring, and it made me really get into playing the role of Vyse because I loved the idea of living that kind of life. From Hell's heart I stab at thee The story of Captain Drachma and Rhaknam is heavily based on my favorite book, Moby Dick, so it's no surprise that it left an impression on me. But even for those unfamiliar with the themes of Melville's classic novel, Skies of Arcadia's take on the relationship between man and whale was quite powerful in its own way. Much like with Captain Ahab and the white whale, Drachma had dedicated most of his life to hunting down the giant purple arcwhale, Rhaknam, who not only stole Drachma's right arm from him but also caused the deaths of his crew, his wife, and his only son, Jack. The hunt eventually proves fruitful, when the crew of the Little Jack confronts Rhaknam and manages to spear it with the ship's harpoon. Unfortunately, an enemy ship manned by Ramirez takes the opportunity to fire upon the Little Jack while they're distracted with the whale, setting the ship aflame and forcing Drachma and crew to evacuate. But at the last moment, as Vyse and the others are getting into the lifeboats, Drachma pushes them overboard. He remains on the burning Little Jack, dragged along by the harpoon stuck in Rhaknam's back, presumably to his death. Of course, that wasn't the last we would see of Captain Drachma. Vyse and crew eventually meet up with him again in the most unexpected of places, the abandoned ancient city of Glacia. Rhaknam had apparently made the place its home, and fled to the icy fortress with Drachma in tow. Realizing that the whale had actually saved his life, Drachma had a sudden change of heart and decided to care for and comfort Rhaknam, who had been mortally wounded during the attack by Ramirez. Vyse and friends arrive just in time to witness Rhaknam's final moments, as the whale sings mournfully and sheds a single tear before passing on. Afterwards, Drachma decides to live out his days as a fisherman now that he no longer has to spend his life hunting down his arch-nemesis. Even though the death of Rhaknam is rather sad, it's still heartwarming to know that the two lifelong enemies were able to make amends. It's actually a much cheerier end than the one Captain Ahab received. Kraken the sky While most of the battles aboard the ship are fought against other ships, there are a few optional engagements with huge, frightening sky beasts which are particularly exciting. My favorite is the battle against a certain blue cephalopod. For a game centered around sailing (even though it takes place in the sky), you just know there's going to be a giant squid encounter, and Skies of Arcadia doesn't disappoint. Of course, any game with a giant squid is going to get a shout-out from me, because giant squids are awesome! Once Vyse's ship gains access to certain parts of the map, the crew might happen upon an open area with nothing but some floating rocks and an ominous Discovery called the Giant Squid Nest. Nearby lurks a beast named Obispo, a huge blue squid floating lazily through the clouds. Flying up to Obispo, who is larger than the Delphinus itself, will initiate an optional ship battle. Obispo will attack the Delphinus with huge bursts of ink, but it's probably no match for the ship's cannons. Cause enough damage, and the giant squid's tentacles will begin to fall off one by one, sinking to the clouds below. Upon death, the animal actually bursts into flames and falls out of the sky. I almost expected it to go out in a glorious explosion! Build-a-base At one point in the story, Vyse finds himself stranded on a desert island where he is forced to figure out a way to survive while rebuilding a lifeboat to escape. This island, called Crescent Isle, later becomes the base of operations for Vyse and his crew. A small settlement is built for crew members to live while not aboard the Delphinus. But the coolest thing about Crescent Isle is that the player actually gets to customize it to their liking. Players can choose which buildings to upgrade, decide who should rebuild them (which changes the architecture), add decorations like fountains or cliffside reliefs, bring animals to the island (like fish, flamingos, alligators, and pandas), and pick a flag to represent the crew. I had Kirala construct most of the buildings in the exotic Yafutoma style, with fish and pandas to liven things up. I decided to forgo the cliffside reliefs, because having a character's giant face looming at everyone seemed kind of unsettling to me. I also went with Fina's flag design, which features a super happy flying dolphin, because duh. I loved being able to give the island my own unique flair; it made the place actually feel special to me, rather than just some rock that I could return to every once in a while. I wonder how many others spent as much time designing their islands as I did. Trial by dragon Skies of Arcadia's battle system featured Super Moves, which were special attacks that had short cinematic sequences to go along with them. They were all pretty cool. Vyse had a bunch of pirate-themed moves, Aika's were named after the Greek alphabet for some reason, Fina called upon the power of the moons to help them out, and Drachma straight up body slammed dudes. But my favorite Super Move belongs to Enrique. Upon activating his final move, “The Judgement,” Enrique summons a huge colosseum full of roaring spectators, announcing, “Your trial shall be swift and just!” as if this is a perfectly normal thing to just suddenly appear out of nowhere. He then calls upon a dragon-shaped sigil on the ground, which opens up a portal in the sky above him to release an actual dragon. The silver beast spirals through the air before flying face-first into the enemy, slamming into them for massive damage as Enrique yells, “Face your punishment!” And then he ends the attack with a confident flourish of his sword. Wow, Enrique. Way to make everyone else look bad! Past Experience Points Level 1: .01 - .20 .21: Katamari Damacy.22: Tomb Raider.23: Mother 3.24: Deadly Premonition.25: Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars.26: Dark Souls.27: GoldenEye 007 .28: Pokémon Red/Blue 
Skies of Arcadia photo
Cutlass Fury!
Experience Points is a series in which I highlight some of the most memorable things about a particular game. These can include anything from a specific scene or moment, a character, a weapon or item, a level or location, a p...

GOTY 2015 photo
GOTY 2015

Games CJ would have played in 2015 if he weren't so goddamn lazy


I'll totally get to these in 2016
Jan 09
// CJ Andriessen
2015 was a very weird year for me. Back in January I was just another blogger trying to be funny by making light of the industry we so love. When Jonathan Holmes first asked me to join the main page, I told him no saying that...

Myles Cox's dope picks for Game of the Year 2015

Jan 07 // Myles Cox
10: Nuclear Throne Huge props to Vlambeer for pulling out all the stops on Nuclear Throne. I don't necessarily have a lot of time to sink into huge games (unless it's a mainline Metal Gear title), and Vlambeer games have usually always been the staple of my Friday nights. It's exactly what I want out of a twin stick shooter, and it's even better that it feels vaguely like a cross between Hotline Miami and The Binding of Isaac, two games I hold very near and dear to my beating heart. There's something to be said about a game that not only looks and plays well, but a game that just straight up feels good. Nuclear Throne is addictive as hell and I could write paragraphs and paragraphs on the subtle things and incredible attention to detail that make the player-feedback loop feel so incredible.  9: Splatoon If you turn off motion controls in Splatoon, you're a baby and deserve to get splatted. Splatoon is one of the cutest and genuinely fun video games I've had the pleasure to play in a long while, and the pure sense of style this game constantly throws at your face is incredible. I had just as much fun playing around in the different online modes as I did offline, with the game's stellar single player campaign (which has one of the greatest songs to grace a Nintendo game). A small portion of my immense love for this game might be due to the Jet Set Radio-esque vibes I'm picking up throughout, which really just reminds me once again that we definitely need a new Jet Set Radio title. Don't you dare tell me otherwise or I'll cry. 8: The Beginner's Guide If you haven't touched this game or looked anything up about it, please close this webpage, point your web browser here and play The Beginner's Guide right this instant. Go ahead, I'll wait. There's not even much I can or should write about this game. A part of me almost didn't even want to give it a ranking among my top ten games of the year. I went in expecting a spiritual sequel to The Stanley Parable, and it left me with tears on my face and a slew of emotions I had to deal with lying down. As a content creator, one of the most important things is to show your work with other people and accrue feedback from others, as well as to strive to hit your own goals and show your own personality through your work. The Beginner's Guide plays heavily on the theme of exploring the process behind the creative process, and touches gently at human relationships as well as the effects one might not know they have on others. If you've ever lost a friend for a reason unbeknownst to you, I'm sure The Beginner's Guide will tug gently at your psyche until you're on the edge of your seat and then punch you square in the face, unraveling you like a ball of yarn. 7: Super Mario Maker Level design used to be something I loved to do in my spare time when I was younger, so much that I designed levels for a Portal mod years and years ago. Don't bother looking, you won't find it. Being able to try my hand at creating my own Mario levels had been a dream of mine for so long -- but be careful what you wish for. I just can't get over Super Mario Maker's ability to look innocent and cute, masquerading as a simple level editing tool, and ensnare you in its gaping maw of expert levels and Cosimano traps once you've shown literally any sign of weakness. It'll catch you off-guard and tear you apart, and I think the unpredictability of the Maker community really drives home the point that humans are fucked up and dangerous.  Super Mario Maker was single-handedly knocked down a few spots by the devastating torture level that Mike unleashed upon me in September. I will not forgive him. My heart goes out to Patrick Klepek for enduring the gauntlet of madness that is Dan Ryckert and his cruel Super Mario Maker creations. Pouring one out for you, buddy. 6: Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes Pure. Adrenaline. This game makes me sweat and I love it. No other game to my knowledge nails the pure essence of tension and urgency quite like Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes. Think of the drowning song from the original Sonic The Hedgehog games, distilled and refined into a playable title about bombs and wires and yelling and absolute chaos. It fits very nicely into a small collection of games I keep around for parties, like SpaceTeam and Quiplash. I ended up playing this game a lot with my roommate, using an Oculus Rift and Skype from separate rooms to increase the immersion and difficulty factor. Don't get me wrong, it's stressful as all hell, but nothing beats the sigh of relief you get after clearing a bomb with eight modules in five minutes, all the while knowing exactly zero Morse code and not knowing who's on first. Keep Talking is an endlessly fun experience that's predictable yet fresh with every new bomb you take on, and it's a perfect way to wake up your neighbors on a Saturday night. 5: Bloodborne Bloodborne was, admittedly, completely out of my radar for a long period both before and after release. Only my best buddies Braden and Cameron were able to push me in the right direction, and after some drunken arguing and mumbling I created a character in the guise of beloved Twitter user @dril. I went into Bloodborne with much hesitancy, having previously failed to grasp Dark Souls and Dark Souls II. Muddling my way through the first few hours of the game did end up proving to be an increasingly enjoyable experience, but it all got kicked into twelfth gear once I got my bloody hands on the Kirkhammer. Hell, this section could just be me gushing about how I think the Kirkhammer is one of the most enjoyable and satisfying weapons in all of video games, right up there with the double-barreled shotgun in Doom II.  What started out as a joke playthrough quickly evolved into something far more engrossing. Absolutely everything I love about Bloodborne lies in the animation-prioritized combat, and boy do I like taking huge risks to accomplish most things (hence, the Kirkhammer). With fun weapons, a fantastic art direction, and seemingly bottomless depth, Bloodborne is a magnificent experience that I very much wish I could spend more time with in 2016. 4: Rocket League Now, I don't necessarily see much appeal in the prospect of eSports (or real sports, for that matter), but Rocket League certainly makes a strong and undeniable case to the contrary. Hooting and hollering usually doesn't occur too often within the House of Cox, but when it does, somebody probably just scored a sick goal from across the field with only seconds left to overtime. These are moments I cherish in the form of saved replays I can then use to stroke my own ego over and over again. Rocket League meshes extremely well with most of this list in the fact that it controls like a dream. There just hasn't been a game since Super Smash Bros. Melee that seems so accessible at first, and hides the inner complexity far underneath its tight controls, even though the depth is a bit more apparent in Rocket League. Even if you completely suck at the game, I guarantee there will be at least one moment where you felt like you pulled off something seemingly impossible, a sweet-as-hell move that pretty much nobody saw because screen peeking is a dick thing to do. It feels so good. 3: Downwell Continuing further down the list of games that control great and have tight gameplay loops, Downwell is, penny for penny and hour for hour, the best investment I've made in a game during the whole year. I do a ton of commuting via bus these days, and it's thanks to Downwell that I look forward to sitting with a bunch of strangers inside a large smelly rectangle. If I'm being quite honest here, even I'm surprised that this game is so high up on my list. But what can I say, some of the most joyful moments I've had in 2015 were the constant cravings to play just one more run, visit just one more shop, just one more gem high. In fact, I'm not even going to write any more, because Downwell is cheaper than a coffee and one of the best video games released in 2015. 2: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Goodness gracious, it finally happened. I was alive to experience the release of Metal Gear Solid V, as well as witness the apparent death of the series shortly afterwards. Like it or not, this is what we ended up with, and for the most part it exceeded my expectations built up over the years of waiting.  Yes, yes -- I know, you want to know what I thought of the story. I'm afraid... the series has definitely seen better. Since The Phantom Pain sits right smack dab in the middle of the transitional period between Big Boss' story and Solid Snake's story, we all knew how it was going to end, it was just a matter of subtlety and details, of exactly how the loop is closed up nice and tight. Even the Truth ending left much to be desired, and the entire existence of The Skulls was a complete pain in the ass. Now that I'm done talking shit about The Phantom Pain, I can tell you just how much I loved it. The game is absolutely huge in every way, and it's almost illegal just how much content, love, and care that was packed into it. Backed with the best gameplay of any Metal Gear title, the open world breathes so much life and diversity into the tactical espionage operations we've all come to know and love that I never wanted to stop Fultoning soldiers and resources to build my Mother Base all big and strong. The Phantom Pain has soured my taste for any other open world game at this point, since it actively encourages experimentation and clearing obstacles in drastically different ways. I'm not talking about picking between going in stealthy and rushing in loud and hot, I'm talking about experimenting with traditional Metal Gear guards in an open world context with Metal Gear toys you're familiar with. I think probably 20-30 hours of my playtime with V consisted of straight up fucking around in the world, trying to cause trouble in the stupidest ways possible. Even replaying missions is a joy with self-placed limitations (try a grenade-only run sometime, it's a blast). Despite the less-than-stellar story and questionable characterization of pretty much the only female in the game, the gameplay alone solidifies its slot as my second favorite game of 2015. 1: Undertale Toby Fox, if you're reading this, I wanna give you a kiss on the mouth. Undertale is without a doubt the most enjoyable and delightful experience I've had over the year. I don't know how you did it, man. Somehow you managed to surpass Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door in terms of writing, which is something that is incredibly hard for me to say with a straight face. It's filled to the brim with clever moments, amazing music, charming characters, tense boss battles, all tied together in a nice bow that's actively designed to make you smile, as well as question your own motives and play style. Here's a testament to how much I love Undertale: I have purchased this game nine times, as gifts for several different people who all ended up loving it. I named my cat after Undertale's player character. Replaying RPGs is not something I do very often. Undertale hooked me so deep that I ended up playing over and over to get every possible ending and see as much of the dialogue and world as possible. Did you know that reloading a save file five or six times right before one of the final encounters both establishes context and explanation for a certain character's powers, as well as grants you a key to a locked door in Snowdin? Did you know that during a genocide run, silly inventory abbreviations such as "ButtsPie" (Butterscotch Pie) turn into just "Pie"? That the final boss is foreshadowed in an optional secret room during a pacifist playthrough? What if I told you that saving the aforementioned Butterscotch Pie for a later fight will make the encounter drastically easier? Undertale is filled with so many subtleties and tiny details that are so specific and fleeting -- just when you think you can predict what's next, it throws something entirely different at you. I cannot write enough about how much I adore Undertale without either spoiling it or boring you all to death completely. It's a delightful game that managed to stick with me closer than any other game on this list, and I sincerely hope that you'll give the game a shot. [Undertale header art credit: palidoozy-art on reddit]
GOTY 2015 photo
It's a good one!
Another year, another dollar -- that's what they say, right? More importantly, who is this mystery entity giving you a dollar every year? What the hell am I supposed to do with this dollar, slide it into my piggy bank and sav...

Destructoid's most wanted games of 2016

Jan 07 // Steven Hansen
Last year I wrote about my anticipation for Rob Daviau's next legacy board game SeaFall, but it got pushed back to 2016. It would be easy to just use that one again, because I am still looking forward to it (though I don't seethe with hunger for it since Pandemic Legacy has me sated on that front for now). So instead of that copout, I'm going with an entirely different copout! I'm looking forward to basically my entire friggin' Kickstarter queue of backed projects. Some of these were originally scheduled for 2015, but they aren't out yet. Heck, some of these were supposed to come out in 2014! Good grief. Kickstarter, am I right? The big one for this year is Yooka-Laylee, which I hope lives up to its Rare pedigree. Then there is also the Castlevania-esque Timespinner (originally scheduled for November 2015), beautiful pixel art metroidvania Heart Forth, Alicia (May 2015), cartoony narrative Night in the Woods (January 2015), stealth metroidvania Paradise Lost: First Contact (December 2014), grow/shrink puzzle platformer Scale (December 2014), neon action Hyper Light Drifter (June 2014), and dark hand drawn Metroid-like Ghost Song: A Journey of Hope (May 2014), among others. Yep, maybe a couple of these will release this year. Maybe. I think 2016 will be one of the best calendar years for gaming in the history of the medium; in part because so many of the games seeing release were delayed from 2015. Looking at this year's release calendar it's fucking hard to just pick one. Do I go for The Legend of Zelda NX or 2017's The Last Guardian?  Hell, I could write for days about how excited I am for either of those games, but if I'm being honest with myself I must admit the game I'm most looking forward to is Treasurenauts. Renegade Kid is one of my favorite platformer developers out there and I have been anxiously waiting to get my hands on this title since it was announced two and half goddamn years ago. The run-and-gun platformer is my favorite pick-up and play genre, and if the developer's work on Xeodrifter is any indication, Treasurenauts will be yet another instant classic for my 3DS. Now there is no guarantee this title will come out in 2016, but if the last reports on the game are to be believed, Renegade Kid is hard at work on it in-between sessions of writing blog posts. I've been walking the Kentucky Route Zero beat for a while. You might even say I've been walking it my entire life, if you had a very loose grasp on the concept of time. Over the course of the game's lengthy development cycle, I've made a fuss about Kentucky's rich atmosphere, its fully realized characters, and its re-contextualization of modern adventure game mechanics. There are many adventure games -- most of which have the Telltale name attached -- that allow you to forge a character through immediate choices. If the conclusion to Episode 3 is any indicator, Kentucky Route Zero is more concerned with a shifting past and an immutable future. Here is the part where I attach an asterisk to this prediction; there is nothing to suggest Kentucky Route Zero will release a new episode in 2016. Previously, there was one per year -- but 2015 flitted by with nothing more than a handful of updates from the developers. We may never see Episode 4, let alone the conclusion to the series (which is alright, I think Episode 3's finale works if you've got a melancholy streak), so this entry may be entirely moot. In which case, pretend I said [INSERT WINNER OF DESTRUCTOID GAME OF THE YEAR 2016] instead! I sit here egg on face. My entry for "most anticipated" last year (Persona 5) is coming out this year. My entry from two years ago (Gravity Rush 2) is also coming out this year. I can't do either again, right? Ok. Let's be safe. XCOM 2 is definitely coming out in 2016. What are they going to do, delay it all the way out of February? Ok. XCOM 2. Hell yeah. I have to keep myself from playing XCOM: Enemy Unknown/Within because I know it'll suck up dozens of hours I don't have, but every few months I slip and play a few hours of the campaign. My favorite thing I've written about XCOM has to do with the game's setup, which lets you completely fail to stop the alien invasion, rather than let you brute force through 100 game over screens. Losing is viable narrative, too. And what does XCOM 2 do? It takes the god damn losing route as canon! And, lo and behold, we've got a heck of an interesting thing going on here. There are swords and snake people, damn it. Snake. People. The future is dope as hell. Runners-up: Persona 5, Gravity Rush 2, The Witness, Firewatch, Fire Emblem Fates, Mirror's Edge Catalyst, Dishonored 2, Final Fantasy XV, VVitch It's no secret that I love Monster Hunter. I've made friends, bonded over hunts, and absolutely adore the nostalgic combo system that's both rigid and flexible. Monster Hunter X is the newest release of the long running series that is currently Japan only. Cross introduces more flamboyant and flashy moves to make the normally deliberate looking combat look cooler to watch. With actions like springboard jumps, diving evades, and plenty of explosive looking effects coupled with several brand new monsters and variants, western fans are gnawing at every piece of information they can get as we're left waiting on the edge of our seat for news of a western localization. I'm also a die hard fan of fighting games. I loved my time with games like Marvel 3, Injustice, and Street Fighter IV. With only Smash Bros. 4 to sate my appetite for glory and salt, I'd all but given up hope for something substantially new to come to the Wii U. Then Pokkén Tournament was revealed and it eventually received a 2016 release date. While I've never been much of a Tekken fan, like everything else Nintendo has done in the past few years, I'm absolutely ready to jump into something different thanks to a coat of Nintendo paint. If I could love Hyrule Warriors, which is Zelda themed Dynasty Warriors, I can give Pokkén Tournament a shot. Persona 5 has been my most anticipated game for the past three years, since its release keeps getting pushed back. Hopefully, 2016 will be the year it finally appears, because I cannot wait to dive in! Persona 4 is definitely in my top ten games of all time, and Persona 3 is up there on my list of favorites as well, so I have exceptionally high hopes for the fifth installment. I'll be going in completely blind, having only seen the initial teaser trailer and actively avoiding all other info, so I won't know what to expect. Let's hope it's not a let down, although I can't imagine it will be! I don't know what could top my excitement for Persona 5, unless Shigesato Itoi suddenly takes back his word and announces an official Mother 4 or Capcom suddenly decides to bring back Mega Man Legends 3 (I know neither of those will ever happen), but Nier: Automata comes pretty close! I honestly never expected to see a sequel to Nier, so the announcement was both very surprising and super exciting. If both Persona 5 and Nier: Automata come out this year as planned, it's going to be one hell of a year for me! My pick last year was The Legend of Zelda for the Wii U, and that's still the game I'm anticipating the most at the moment. That text has already been written though, so just for the heck of it, I'll tell you about my second most anticipated game for 2016, even though it's already out in Japan and hasn't been announced for my region at all! Rhythm Tengoku: The Best+ is the latest, and some would say greatest game in the Rhythm Tengoku/Heaven series. It offers up a collection of the best stages from prior Rhythm Heaven/Tengoku games, plus a selection of all new levels. There's even a series of unlockable Wario-themed remixed. Seeing as I still regularly play the previously released games in the series, I have no doubt that Rhythm Tengoku: The Best+ will end up being one of my all time favorite games. I'm giving Nintendo until Dec 31st, 2016 to announce it for territories outside of Japan. If they fail to comply, then I may have to tickle Reggie's feet until he cries for mercy.  And even if they do comply, I still may have to tickle those feet. I bet they're huge... My most-anticipated games of last year got pushed back to this year, so for me, it's Persona 5 and No Man's Sky by default. Barring some kind of disaster - it is an election year -  I'll be able to write about something else this time in 2017. That said, there's plenty to GET HYPE for elsewhere this year, as well. XCOM 2 and Firewatch are due in a few weeks, while playing Gravity Rush Remastered has me excited for what they can do with Gravity Rush 2. And I'm strangely excited about Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth, despite the fact that I know virtually nothing about Digimon other than that some of the 'mons are too damn lewd. Then you've got other franchise heavy-hitters like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and Final Fantasy XV, alongside less-known quantities, like What Remains of Edith Finch, Wild, and Boundless, though those latter ones may end up pushed back as well, seeing as they've only recently been announced. And let's not even start whatever Sony, Oculus, and Valve are planning for their respective VR rollouts, all scheduled to pick up steam this year. I just hope they can all agree on some kind of common standard or something because fuck if I'm gonna pay for more than one set of hardware to enjoy that stuff. Also, I really want to play Summer Lesson. It's everything I want. Traditionally, I use this opportunity to talk about how much I'm looking forward to the next Souls game, and 2016 is no different in that regard. In this case I've actually played Dark Souls III by way of a Namco Bandai event, and I know that it's already looking like it will live up to its name, so I don't think I have a whole lot to worry about here. But next year I may have to find a new franchise to move on to as this might be the end of the Souls series as we know it. I'm willing to bet that Sony and Namco Bandai are going to have a say in that decision too, as Bloodborne and Souls have been huge hits for them, but for now, From Software and series director Miyazaki are keen on possibly stopping it. We'll see what happens, but before then, we'll have Dark Souls III to play. And it looks fantastic. Unsurprisingly, Shin Megami Tensei IV Final rests at the top of my list. I'm looking forward to Persona 5, Fire Emblem Fates, Zelda Wii U, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and the updated version of Odin Sphere as well, but the heart always yearns for post-apocalyptic, crapsack worlds. I'm not sure I buy SMT IV Final's idea of multiple "neutral" paths, though, given one path favors anarchy and another peace. Nocturne pulled a similar stunt with its "Reason" alignments. Chaos and Law weren't really gone, they were just named differently. Just don't let players harm a hair on Nozomi's head. Flynn worked hard to make her queen of the fairies. This is the first time I’ve been able to look at the year ahead for Destructoid, and wow are there some exciting games coming out! The big one I’m looking forward to the most is Mirror’s Edge Catalyst. I love the original game, and have played it to death, but I was unsure of what I played of Catalyst at EGX. At the time, it was due to be released in February, but now that it’s been delayed to May I’m hopeful those extra few months of polish will do the world of good. Taking the original game’s fantastic movement and adding it into an open world with expanded lore is a recipe for greatness, so I really hope they pull it off. I’m also really excited for Mafia 3. Mafia 2 was pretty barebones as an open world game, but everything else about it was fantastic. Exploring a new criminal underworld in New Orleans sounds awesome to me, so I can’t wait to get my hands on it. Other games I’m pumped for are Street Fighter V, Dishonored 2, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Cuphead. There're so many other games coming out this year that I’m sure I’m forgetting a few as well! If there is one thing I want this year, it's closure for D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die. During the game's final moments, there's a big character reveal -- but then it drops a "To be continued..." and raises even more questions in a post-credits sequence. Where's that second season? At this rate, I'd be happy just to get an officially sanctioned plot summary, Carnivàle-style. This year is very special, for me and for you, whether you choose to care or not. More special than awaiting a new console release or a long-anticipated game -- within a few months a brand new paradigm of entertainment finally comes to fruition. Of course, I'm talking about virtual reality. Call me whatever names you want, call me insanely optimistic, but it's undeniable that VR is one of the biggest fundamental changes to how humans consume media and interact with technology in a very long time, perhaps ever. The switch to smartphones or high definition displays wasn't as disruptive as this, and if I'm being completely honest I'm just excited to be around when it happens. Oculus, HTC, and Sony are tasked with bringing VR to the masses in 2016, and even through it might be a bit of a bumpy ride during the early years, it's safe to say that nothing is going to be the same again. That is what I'm looking forward to this year. If I had to name a few video games I'll definitely be purchasing and playing over the coming months, Persona 5 and Street Fighter V are absolutely on that list.  That reminds me, where the hell is Frog Fractions 2? As someone who can't stand to be let down, I often avoid letting myself get hyped over games, but there are still a few I'm looking forward to. As a huge Zelda fan I'm always looking forward to the next iteration(s), which this year will be both Hyrule Warriors Legends and the upcoming title for Wii U. Legends because of the ability to play as Linkle, while not exactly female Link she is probably the closest we will get. I just hope Linkle makes an appearance in the next home console-based title, be it on Wii U or the NX. Outside of Nintendo, I'm looking forward to Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2, as the original is easily one of the best and most original shooters in some time, certainly way better than Titanfall, which occupied around a week's worth of time before I went back to PvZ: GW.  Other games that I'm pretty pumped about that is probably flying under most people's radars is Gearbox's hero shooter, Battleborn, and Fable Legends, both of which I may or may not have played. All I can say is I'm looking forward to them because they look hella fun. Last but not least No Man's Sky, the sci-fi game so ambitious that I'm not sure it will be fun at all, but I have some hope. Surely a giant MMO-like space exploration game couldn't possibly fuck everything up could it? If it includes a bunch of dull survival or crafting elements then, in my opinion, yes it could. I've been hopelessly waiting for for XCOM 2 like a prom night date worried she's been stood up since I first heard about all the soldier customization options. As you might know if you've read what I thought about Enemy Unknown and Enemy Within, I take a particular delight in fashioning my squad of alien hunters to resemble my friends, family, and co-workers, and then watching them get massacred by Mutons and Sectopods. In my more reflective moments I worry there might be something really wrong with me. I'm also really looking forward to Street Fighter V. The closest I ever got to being competitive in a fighting game was Super Street Fighter IV with Vega, so I'm pretty excited that by most accounts he is going to be a serious threat in SFV and I plan to get in early and stick with the game this time. Maybe, possibly, if I wish upon a shooting start and practice till my fingers bleed, THIS will finally be the year and the game that I feel confident enough to enter a fighting game tournament.  Also, I may have to buy a Vita, in 2016, thanks to Gundam Vs Extreme Whatever. Sometimes I hate myself. When I was 18, I broke my wrist. Stubborn and still very much not an adult, I refused to go to the hospital. "It's just sprained," I insisted as my ability to use my right arm waned. This went on for eight months when my mother finally convinced me to get it fixed. I now have a two-inch crooked surgery scar to serve as a monument to my idiocy. That is to say, I'm not one to seek medical attention. For three years now, I've skirted Obama and have gone without health insurance. You may think of me as a god-fearing, law-abiding American but I am just the opposite. Steven's a family man; I'm a goddamn rebel. Quick parable: Before working at Destructoid, I was employed at a law firm. One day, I was working on a case with the firm owner when his property manager interrupted. She started talking to him about insurance on some vacation homes he was renting out. I told him verbatim "Insurance is for people who plan to lose." He looked the property manager in the eye and said "Yeah, insurance is for people who plan to lose." She left in a huff and I stifled a laugh about the absurdity of the situation. I bought health insurance this year. I plan to finally lose. That's what I'm anticipating most for 2016: Some sort of physical and emotional trauma, a pain or ailment so great that I can't just ignore it. Good tidings to you and yours, friends. -- New year, new me! What games are you looking forward to getting your slimy, suction-cupped hands on in 2016? This is the first time I’ve been able to look at the year ahead for Destructoid, and wow are there some exciting games coming out! The big one I’m looking forward to the most is Mirror’s Edge Catalyst. I love the original game, and have played it to death, but I was unsure of what I played of Catalyst at EGX. At the time, it was due to be released in February, but now that it’s been delayed to May I’m hopeful those extra few months of polish will do the world of good. Taking the original game’s fantastic movement and adding it into an open world with expanded lore is a recipe for greatness, so I really hope they pull it off. I’m also really excited for Mafia 3. Mafia 2 was pretty barebones as an open world game, but everything else about it was fantastic. Exploring a new criminal underworld in New Orleans sounds awesome to me, so I can’t wait to get my hands on it. Other games I’m pumped for are Street Fighter V, Dishonored 2, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Cuphead. There're so many other games coming out this year that I’m sure I’m forgetting a few as well!
2016 most anticipated photo
What to expect when you're expecting
While 2015 might have been a rathole of a year, a terrible time for all parties involved, it at least had better games than 2014. That year sucked. With the current generation of consoles finally hitting their stride (and a p...

Rift reactions photo
Rift reactions

Local man stunned to learn virtual reality requiring high end PCs is a niche luxury


To some, $600 is a lot of money
Jan 06
// Steven Hansen
Facebook-owned Oculus stopped playing coy today and announced the price and release date for its Oculus Rift "virtual reality" headset. At $600, the barrier to entry is steep, and that's if you already have a powerful persona...

Jed Whitaker's dank picks for Game of the Year 2015

Jan 06 // Jed Whitaker
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is probably my most-played game of 2015 on an "amount of days played" basis, even if it released in 2014. During the past year alone, the game has added two single-player adventures, Blackrock Mountain and League of Explorers, as well as a new expansion called The Grand Tournament, amounting to over 200 cards. The metagame has changed drastically, which kept Hearthstone feeling fresh all through 2015 and is why it deserves a spot as one of my games of the year. Well played. Her Story can arguably be boiled down to a search engine simulator mixed with FMV, but the narrative presented is so interesting and well acted that it is hard not to love. I purchased it one night during a sale and said to my boyfriend, "I've heard a lot of praise for this game. We should play it for a minute." Over three hours later, I was still playing, engrossed in the murder mystery presented on-screen via interrogation videos. Finding a new clip to watch and piecing together the mystery is exciting, even if on paper the plot almost seems like something you'd find in a Lifetime movie or soap opera. I can't stress enough what an amazing story it is and how addictive Her Story becomes once you get started. YouTube videos can't possibly do this one justice -- just buy it and see for yourself without spoiling anything. Westerado: Double Barreled is a rootin' tootin' heck of a great retro-styled western with a large dose of revenge. Each playthrough is randomly generated, but one thing stays the same: someone you love is brutally murdered, and you're out for the kind of revenge that only cold steel can provide. The style, the music, the writing, and the entire presentation are just fantastic, capturing the feel of old-timey spaghetti westerns better than any game I've ever played. That said, even if you aren't a western fan, you can still find enjoyment in the true-to-cowboy-dialect writing. Yeehaw! Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime was meant to be played with a friend or lover, and when doing so, it is damned amazing. You and your partner work together to control a colorful spacecraft searching through space for kidnapped animal buddies. Controlling the ship is done by moving your chosen character around to various stations that handle specific functions including steering, weapons, shields, and so on. It's hands down the best co-op experience of the year, and possibly the past few years. Lovers is a must-own if you've got a special someone in your life who just wants to spend time with you doing your favorite hobby. I know my boyfriend and I love it. [embed]330637:61722:0[/embed] Did you really think my list wouldn't have Splatoon? Nintendo's first shooter turned out to be the most original one in years and everything about the game is on point from the characters to the music, graphics, single-player, multiplayer, and even commercials. Splatoon launched with what seemed like a small amount of content on paper, but since then Nintendo has continually released new weapons, levels, clothing, modes, and Splatfests to make up for it, and all for the low, low price of free. I just hope the rumored Octoling campaign DLC comes true in 2016! Also, in case you missed it the first time, watch Squid Now 2 here to basically see me naked. I'm going to be honest here: I haven't even finished Yo-Kai Watch, but damn do I love it. Just look at this picture of me in my Jibanyan shirt with my Jibanyan piggy bank and try to tell me I don't love Yo-Kai Watch. What could be better than a game that combines Pokémon with cute and colorful ghosts who speak English? Not many games in 2015, that is for sure. The character designs alone make this one of my favorites of the year, and I'm sure I'll love it even more when I get around to finishing it. Speaking of games I love but haven't had the time to finish, The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes is one of them. Dare I say this is the 'gayest' Zelda game that has ever existed, and I love it all the more for it? So many of the characters are just flamboyant and utterly fabulous. Mix that in with a multiplayer version of that familiar Zelda flavor and you've got yourself a great game. Perhaps the online is sometimes laggy, and other players aren't always so good at communicating, but everyone has, at least, two friends to play with, right? I still laugh every time someone does the cheerleader emote, causing Link to pop up on my screen with pom poms. So cute, so fun, so colorful, and arguably so gay, Tri Force Heroes deserves a spot in your 3DS collection. Castle in the Darkness is the one of those games that flew under the radar for most people while being one hell of a game. If Castlevania and Cave Story had a love child, this would be it. For a game that costs $6, it is packed full of content. It took me around 16 hours just to 100 percent the campaign while unlocking two of the endings, and that is before I touched the other new game plus modes! While you're slaying hundreds of different enemies and giant bosses in this non-linear affair, you'll also be humming along to the best chiptune soundtrack I've heard in years and easily my favorite game soundtrack of 2015. Don't believe me? Then give it a listen. What is more impressive is the game was mostly developed (completely developed?) by one person, Matt Kap, and that includes the soundtrack. Even though it released in February, I've found myself thinking back to my time with Castle in the Darkness throughout 2015. It's easily my favorite single-player game of the year. Halo 5: Guardians is my second-most-played game of 2015 and my favorite multiplayer game of the year. Sure, its campaign is easily one of the worst in the series (what were they thinking having you fight the same boss so many times?), but what shines here is the online experience. 343 Industries took the base multiplayer we came to know and love from previous titles and plucked mechanics from other shooters to make the overall best multiplayer experience in the series. Aiming down sights, unlimited sprinting, clamoring up ledges, spartan charging, and ground pounding are all welcome additions. While there are microtransactions available, they only offer up cosmetics and consumables and are quickly unlockable without spending a dime, however tempting that might be. Because of their inclusion, 343 has promised that all future maps and modes will be provided free of charge. Thus far, it has kept its promise by adding multiple maps and modes since launch.  After putting over 72 hours into the multiplayer, I'm happy to report that this is easily one of the most balanced Halo games, and one that will keep me playing for many more hours to come.  That does it for my main games of the year list, but I'd like to toss out some honorable mentions: Niko: Through the Dream was the best first-person puzzle game I played in 2015. Undertale is the game I'm most likely to fall in love with if I ever play it after having bought it on release day. Rock Band 4 is my most regretful purchase of the year. The Jackbox Party Pack 2 is the best game to play with friends who can't stay off their damned phones. Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is the most innovative and stressful game of the year.  Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger, and The Terribly Cursed Emerald: A Whirlwind Heist is the best walking simulator and free experience of the year. Downwell is the best mobile / cheap game that I love that I may or may not ever beat due to difficulty. Xbox One Elite controller is the best controller on the market (sorry not sorry Steam controller). It Follows is the best movie of the year and features a video game-esque soundtrack by Disasterpeace! [embed]330637:61722:0[/embed]
Jed's dankiest games 2015 photo
Bonus: See me nearly naked, again
I've heard a lot of people say 2015 was one of the best years they can remember, gaming-wise, but I can't say I agree. AAA titles last year were mostly more of the same, and most indie titles just didn't click with me. 2015 w...

amiibo photo
amiibo

amiibo as butt plugs, ranked


Nintendon't
Jan 06
// Brett Makedonski
This world is full of objects you could put in your butt if you are so ambitious. Look around you. Almost anything within an arm's reach, you could try to carefully wedge inside your butt. That's just the cold, hard reality o...
Dongs photo
Dongs

[NSFW] Top five floppy dongs in video games


Swish, swish, swish
Jan 05
// Laura Kate Dale
[The following NSFW feature contains pictures, descriptions, and general frank discussion of dicks. Don't want to see a 3D model of a penis? Don't scroll down or read on.] Video games are an ever-evolving artistic medium, gro...

Josh Tolentino's personal picks for Game of the Year 2015

Jan 05 // Josh Tolentino
The "Old Story, Good As New" Award Pillars of Eternity and Fate/Stay night: Unlimited Blade Works This award goes to games and anime that are in many ways old, but presented in a way that makes them seem new and fresh.  Obsidian's crowdfunded take on the long-quiescent style of the classic Infinity Engine RPGs reaffirmed that the old formula was not only still viable but pretty damn good, adding new ideas and contemporary touches that made its original setting of Aedyr feel as rich and fresh as Faerun did back in the Baldur's Gate days. Studio Ufotable managed a similar feat with its animated adaptation of Type-MOON's 2004 visual novel, and while neither anime nor the Fate property could be said to have been dormant, the twists, additions, and embellishments the renowned studio added to Kinoko Nasu's original tale put a new spin on a story most fans, myself included, had thought thoroughly explored. In fact, it's thanks to that stuff that this series feels like the definitive version of the scenario, deepening the core story of heroism with a bittersweet look at its costs. Runners-up: Wasteland 2: Director's Cut and JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders   The "I'm Having A Great Time, But..." Award Fallout 4 and JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders This award goes to games and anime that I had a blast with, but just couldn't enjoy without caveats, either in retrospect or recommendation. I've got more than a hundred hours logged with Fallout 4, which is kind of scary since I'm nowhere near finished. That's because I consider myself a big Fallout fan, and this is possibly the least Fallout-like Fallout game anyone's ever made (barring Brotherhood of Steel). The tension's never been higher between the way Fallout was as a series and the way Fallout is as a game made in the fashion Bethesda prefers. At the same time, Fallout 4 is some of the most fun I've had with any "Bethesda-style" game. I thoroughly enjoyed exploring, looting, shooting, and the way the studio's typical talent for environmental storytelling has lapsed into self-parody ("Oh, an artfully posed skeleton!"). I'm still not sure how happy I am with Fallout 4 as a representative of the series' future, but despite the changes, it's been as engaging as ever, if in a different way than before. Thankfully, though, the caveats associated with JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders can be blamed on the source material. The latest phase in David Production's take on the long-running series suffers from a meandering progression, an overlong broadcast run, and flat character arcs compared to the first two chapters, Phantom Blood and Battle Tendency. At the same time, it's packed with some of the most memorable moments in the entire saga (like a glorious twenty-second fight that takes ten full minutes), and still remains a joy to watch, start to finish.  Runners-up: Metal Gear Solid V and GATE The "Best-Yet-Least-Informative Opening" Award Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and Death Parade This award goes to title whose (otherwise awesome) early bits practically misrepresent the rest of the (still awesome) experience. The opening hour or so of Metal Gear Solid V is pure Metal Gear as we had come to know it before 2015. Lots of cinematic flair and cryptic nonsense rooted in the depths of Hideo Kojima's mind. The game that followed felt almost nothing like that first blast of familiar insanity. It felt like Peace Walker, which some didn't see as a "real" Metal Gear. That is, until The Phantom Pain seemed to reveal itself as the game Kojima had always wanted to create, freed by technology to be closer than ever to that vision. It turns out he wanted to make the ultimate version of Peace Walker. That's pretty great, since Peace Walker, and now The Phantom Pain, are as much about the stories that players make for themselves as they are about the grizzled soldiers that star in the opening credits, a fact that's not lost on the main story as well. Madhouse's Death Parade also opens strong, but tricks the viewer twice at the outset. The first is in the killer opening sequence, which, despite being superbly animated, featuring a fun song by a bunch of guys who dress like the people you beat up in Yakuza games, barely has anything to do with the show itself, seeming to sell Death Parade as some kind of party anime. The first episode baits the audience more subtly, leading them to think they might be in for a season's worth of voyeuristic glee, watching the newly-dead get judged by a purgatorial bartender over pub games. Instead, what follows is far more thoughtful and even interesting, though definitely not what folks might have signed up for initially. Runners-up: Fallout 4 and Comical Psychosomatic Medicine The "Existential Crisis" Award Invisible, Inc. and One Punch Man This award goes to the rare game or show that does what it does so well that I end up questioning my ability to critique it, and by extension, critique anything at all. Games like Invisible, Inc. and shows like One Punch Man make me not want to do reviews sometimes, because the process of reviewing often means you're aware of things that you later can't ignore in the name of having fun. In some ways this award is the opposite of the one I passed to Fallout 4 and Stardust Crusaders above. In the case of Klei's turn-based heist game and Madhouse's animated take on the popular superhero satire, playing or watching in the critical state of mind leaves me with little to hold against either, causing me to question whether I've somehow missed something or if there's something I've done wrong, because nothing can feel this perfect to play and/or watch. I'm not saying they're flawless, but they do a damned good job of making it look that way, by mastering their narrow niche and seemingly leaving nothing to chance or apathy. Runners-up: The Witcher 3 and Blood Blockade Battlefront The "Actual Best of 2015" Award Undertale and Shirobako OK, hear me out: Yes, I practically just gave a different game and series perfect marks not two paragraphs ago, to the point of stating that I had so much fun playing/watching them that I didn't even feel comfortable exerting critical thinking in their presence. So why are my "actual" favorites these two? Well, the last two were fun, and practically bulletproof in my opinion, but neither made me more excited about games -- and anime -- this year than Undertale and Shirobako. Both took structures and genres I'd taken for granted as "comfortably moribund" and refreshed them in a way that made me feel better about both games and anime in general. Undertale was a delightful, iconoclastic send-up of the JRPG tradition, making hoary old conventions classed even by their fans as "comfort food" feel fresh and impactful again. Shirobako excelled by having more life and heart than most shows that get tagged with the "slice-of-life" descriptor, crafting genuine humanity out of the trials and triumphs of a small-time anime studio.    The "Oh God Why Am I Still Playing This" Special Award Destiny: The Taken King and Star Trek Online Because oh god why am I still playing these send help please Steins;Gate and Steins;Gate 
Game of the Year Lists photo
AKA The Anime Awards
As Chris Carter likes to say, every year is a good year for games if you look hard enough. That said, 2015 seemed particularly fecund, thanks to a particularly diverse selection of things I ended up liking quite a bit. From o...

GOTY 2015 photo
GOTY 2015

Mike Cosimano's personal picks for Game of the Year 2015


The People's Choice(es)
Jan 04
// Mike Cosimano
2015 was a divisive year -- tremendous in terms of media (TV like Master of None and The 100; movies like Spotlight and The Force Awakens; games like...well, keep reading) and a garbage year in terms of my life. Entertai...

How did Destructoid's most anticipated games of 2015 turn out?

Jan 04 // Steven Hansen
At the start of 2015 my most anticipated game of the year was Broken Age: Act 2. As it happens, I actually forgot this came out this year. I was really, really disappointed with it and as a result almost entirely forgot it even existed until sitting down to write this. I maintain that the first half of Broken Age was an absolute masterpiece when released in isolation from its conclusion. A humorously written point and click adventure that featured well paced and designed puzzles, a memorable cast and one of the most gripping cliff hanger endings in any video game, I was damn impressed with it. Act 2 unfortunately threw most of this promise away very quickly. The puzzles became obtuse, often deliberately unfair and just plain unimaginative. The narrative took a turn for the worse with a completely unsatisfying conclusion and many of the characters who had once felt exciting and new failed to bring anything new to the table. Considering how big a proponent I had been for the first act of the game, the second act falling so flat on its face was easily the most disappointing gaming moment of my year. In hindsight, my faith in this game was a little misplaced, it seems.  At the beginning of the year, I was most looking forward to SeaFall, a board game by Rob Daviau. After years in development, it was slated for a 2015 release. The legacy board game idea really started to catch on, and Daviau found himself working on several projects. Sadly, SeaFall was pushed back to 2016. So I didn't get to play my most anticipated game this year. However, one of the other projects that popped up was Pandemic Legacy, a collaboration with designer Matt Leacock. Unlike SeaFall, Pandemic already had its basic mechanics in place, so developing the legacy aspect was all that needed to be done. Pandemic Legacy released in October, and it is widely regarded as one of the best board games of 2015. I haven't finished it, but from what I've played, it's been pretty great and it certainly lessens the sting of not having my top choice available. My most anticipated game of 2015, The Legend of Zelda for the Wii U, was pushed back to 2016. Before you jump to judge me for believing that a Zelda game may actually be released on time, let me remind you that Nintendo announced and released an entirely new title in the series all in one fell swoop this year. In fact, Tri Force Heroes was on shelves just a few months after it was unveiled at E3 2015, proving once again that the only consistent thing about Nintendo is its capacity for unpredictability. Linkle's recent debut as a playable character in Hyrule Warriors is living proof of that.  I'd say Killing Floor 2 because it's basically all I play, but it's in Early Access and everyone's sick of hearing me talk about it. So...hmm. I wasn't sure if The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt would survive the transition to the open world style that it shot for. In a time when "open" usually translates to "lots of repetitive shite to pick up," I was concerned that CD Projekt Red would fill it with half-assed bloat. Instead, both side and main quests were compelling in an unexpected way. Sure, there was a buttload of icons on the map, but because of environmental story telling and dense mythology (the Bloody Baron quest, anyone?) I actually wanted to see every inch of the map. Well done, Poland. Bloodborne turned out about as well as I expected. With series director Hidetaka Miyazaki returning to the helm (after merely supervising Dark Souls II) the project was in good hands, and it managed to retain that classic Souls feel while forging an identity all of its own. Our staff agreed, and voted it our overall Game of 2015 -- not a bad endorsement! As the year went on, Bloodborne got even better. Multiple updates fixed woes such as long load times, and added a ton of quality of life changes, like enhanced multiplayer. Augmented by The Old Hunters DLC, there's even more of an excuse to replay it annually. Looking back, I have no regrets pegging Life is Strange as my most anticipated game of 2015. The potential I saw in that gamescom 2014 demo was realized without question, sometimes ten times over. By the end, I was invested in the lives of these characters and that's the absolute most you could ask of a game like this. That's why it stung so much to watch the finale stumble the way it did. Episode 5 wrapped things up in a way that directly contradicted the slow pace and exploratory nature of the first four chapters. It was almost like playing a different game where you already knew the people and places. That's a shame, but it didn't sully my fond memories of Max, Chloe, and Arcadia Bay. Spending time with them every few months was a joy, as I found myself looking forward to every new episode's release. When I think back on Life is Strange, I won't think of the game's climax. Instead, I'll remember Max popping in her earbuds to walk down the school hallway, her and Chloe taking a midnight swim in the pool, and Warren's relentless pursuit of just one date. Those were the type of moments that made this such a special game. Even though it fell below my admittedly grand expectations, I stand by my most anticipated game of 2015, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. The uneven story pacing and lack of location and side-quest variety were a letdown, but just about every other facet delivered. I'm not a Metal Gear guy. I'm not even all that into stealth games. But I had such a fun time improvising my way out of mistakes and poor decision making. Although Bloodborne ended up being my favorite title of the year, The Phantom Pain was the one I was most curious to get my hands on. My most anticipated game of last year, Bloodborne, turned out to be our site's pick as GOTY, so I'd say I was pretty dang pleased with my choice. I put my faith in werewolves and pitchfork wielding mobs and was not disappointed. A life lesson I'm sure we can all take to heart.  I wasn't exactly Nostradamus when it came to my runner-ups though. Evolve squandered its amazing potential and post-L4D goodwill by managing to be mediocre in every single way. Batman: Arkham Knight was a fine game sabotaged by sequel-fatigue, repetition, and detestable Riddler-racing sequences. My final pick, Star Citizen, well, the less said about how I feel about Star Citizen at the end of 2015, the better. Maybe 2016 will be the year that mankind finally takes to the stars, but I'm not getting my hopes up. I'll confess: I wrote about how No Man's Sky was my most anticipated game of 2015, mainly because I wasn't allowed to be the second person on last year's list to write about Persona 5. No Man's Sky was my second choice. Either way, that's egg on my face, since neither game came out this year. At least, we have a timeframe to go on, now. No Man's Sky hits in June 2016, and Persona 5 for a more nebulous "Summer" of the same year. In the meantime, my enthusiasm has cooled ever so slightly for No Man's Sky, now that more information has begun tempering runaway expectations. Plus, with Elite Dangerous releasing its Horizons expansion and Star Citizen promising its own take on planetary landings, Hello Games' baby is no longer the only surface-to-space action to be found.  My other most-anticipated games - the ones that came out, anyway - turned out quite well, though. Metal Gear Solid V is one of the best stealth-action games ever made, and I enjoyed Bloodborne more than any Souls title since Demon's Souls. I was also quite happy that Satellite Reign turned out to be even better than the Syndicate titles that inspired its developers. All in all, it was a good year for seeing my (game-related) hopes realized, and here's to hoping 2016 turns out similarly. As a diehard Metal Gear fan, of course I'm going to get excited when a new entry is announced. Many have tried and failed, and when it comes to creating a tight, deep gameplay experience that encourages you to play with the toys and mechanics it gives you in interesting ways -- no one other than Hideo Kojima and his gang have managed to hit that mark. Metal Gear Solid V had been on my mind for literal years. It released while I was at PAX Prime 2015, and you can imagine the six-hour bus ride home was grueling. As for how it actually turned out, it far exceeded my expectations and let me down in others. I'm not one to agree with the general populace on something like this, but let's face it - the story is a little weak. Even the harder hits like the Truth ending failed to leave me with any sense of closure, it really ended up just opening up more questions and a few plot points left untouched or unsatisfied for me. Regardless, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is hands-down one of the most satisfying and devastatingly dense games I've ever had the joy of playing, and I can rest easy knowing it was worth the wait for the gameplay. Two years ago I picked Gravity Rush 2 as my most anticipated. Then I had to write about how it hadn't actually come out (and still hasn't). Last year, I picked Persona 5 as my most anticipated game of 2015 and guess what didn't come out in 2015, yep, you guessed it, Persona 5. My runners-up didn't do much better: "Gravity Rush 2, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Kentucky Route Zero, getting decapitated, Tetsuo & Youth, baseball." Swing and miss on Gravity Rush again; Metal Gear was good; KRZ, hah!; didn't get decapitated; it was fine; Giants miss playoffs. I think there's some attraction in the idea of both of these games just based off my strong reaction to their predecessors. I also campaigned strongly for Kentucky Route Zero in the 2013 Game of the Year awards despite only one episode having been released in the multipart adventure game (three years later and only the first three episodes out of five are available). On the other hand, I parlayed my love of Invisible, Inc. in 2014 early access into one of my favorite games of 2015, so I'm not all betting on distant promise. Plus, Gravity Rush 2 and Persona 5, my last two years' of most-anticipated, are both definitely coming out in 2016. Can't wait! -- What were you looking forward to in 2015? Did it actually come out? Was it everything you ever wanted, setting your heart a flutter? Are you now planning the perfect Roadhouse theme wedding with it? Just make sure you do not tell me what you're anticipating in 2016. I will upload another post for you to do that in. Please understand. 
2015's most anticipated photo
Either pretty good or not at all
While it is currently several days into 2016, I am still writing 2015 on all my checks. Rent's past due, by the way. Speaking of 2015, it was a year wherein a lot of video games came out, many of which we were dog-whose-owner...

Chris Carter's personal picks for Game of the Year 2015

Jan 03 // Chris Carter
Bloodborne What an amazing year for Souls fans. In addition to announcement of Dark Souls III coupled with a solid release date, we also got the fantastic Scholar of the First Sin, and of course, Bloodborne. Sony and From Software were absolutely genius with their timing of the latter. It was released earlier this year, leaving plenty of time to develop The Old Hunters DLC, just in time for our Game of the Year voting process. With a more twitchy action-based combat system in tow, Bloodborne felt significantly different from its predecessors, but was still a Souls game at heart. If the series is to truly end with Dark Souls III, it will end without one bad game under its belt. Yo-Kai Watch I've developed a full-on addiction to this franchise. I watch the TV show, I've acquired a few pieces of merchandise, and I love the first game. Yo-Kai Watch managed to make its way into my heart for one simple reason -- Level-5 put so much effort into this series that it truly shows. Whether it's the endearing references to the basically-but-not-technically Japan setting and hilarious cast, I'm usually smiling when I'm experiencing something Yo-Kai related. Heroes of the Storm When Blizzard first started talking about a "casual MOBA" years back, I never really took the prospect seriously. I was a devoted vanilla DOTA fan (and years later, League of Legends enthusiast), and the concept really didn't resonate with me. Until I played it, of course. The fact that the roster is made up of classic Warcraft, Diablo, and StarCraft heroes and villains is only the icing on the cake, because as a whole, the game works. I love that I can boot it up for just a bit, play a game that's only 15-20 minutes, and move on, instead of dedicating hours upon hours for it to truly get anywhere. The team-based XP system is brilliant as well. Fellow players are still able to keep up with everyone without getting left in the dust because they didn't last-hit every creep throughout a match. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Expectations were through the roof with Kojima's last project with Konami, but man did he and his team deliver. With open-world gameplay that absolutely smashes so many of its competitors, Phantom Pain was one of the most engaging games I've played in years. It also helped that it looked gorgeous, as every bullet, explosion, and setpiece was beautifully designed and orchestrated. While Metal Gear Online and the sum of its other, seedier microtransaction parts leave much to be desired, the campaign has earned a rightful place among the best work from Kojima's long, storied career. Ori and the Blind Forest I don't think I'll ever get tired of Metroidvanias, and Ori and the Blind Forest is a perfect example of why the formula still works. The platforming is spot-on, the environments are engaging and vivid, and the minimalist story is so well done that it hurts. Clocking in at 12 hours or less, there isn't any fat on Ori -- you need every bit of that game for the package to work. Shortly after completing it the first time, I went back and did another run. I can safely say that it will become part of my annual replay routine. Xenoblade Chronicles X Ah, Xenoblade. I still remember the very moment I knew how polarizing the game was going to be. I had cleared out an afternoon to do a story quest, only to find out that it needed a sidequest as a prerequisite. Having no idea how the flow of things operated, I thought it would be a mere diversion, and I would be able to power through the main questline. Oh how wrong I was, and six hours later, I still wasn't ready to continue the campaign. But you know what? That entire six-hour block was a joyous session. I found a heap of hidden areas, fought gigantic looming world bosses, unearthed a ton of useful loot, and just generally had a blast roaming around the sprawling maps. It's so easy to get lost in Xenoblade Chronicles X, and although it can be a bit too old-school for its own good, the journey is its own reward. Resident Evil: Revelations 2 I usually have one oddball pick every year, and this is it. It sounds like a cop-out to say recent Resident Evil games are better with friends, but damn it, they are. Even Resident Evil 6, despite its general garbage multi-campaign approach, had redeeming qualities with its "Mercenaries" component. My wife and I were hooked from start to finish, and the asymmetrical co-op characters really worked for us. The episodic format was a bit jarring, but ultimately fine, and I liked that some sections had multiple outcomes or endings, among the hundreds of other extras and goodies packed in. I must admit, though, most of my enjoyment is derived from the game's raid mode, which is probably my favorite incarnation of the game-type to date. I've spent more time playing it than practically any other game released this year.
GOTY 2015 photo
Another rad year
As I've said in the past, every year is a great year for gaming if you look hard enough. I see "this year sucked" so many times around the web and just can't relate, because while there may be disappointing releases on a cons...

The best games of 2015 you didn't play

Jan 02 // Patrick Hancock
Else Heart.Break()Available from: Steam, GOG, HumblePrice: $24.99 Alright, so this game is difficult to explain. At its core, it's a lot like an adventure game. You click to move, interact with people using branching trees of dialogue, and have an inventory. However, the player gets an item early on that allows them to hack in to just about anything in the game's world. This means that the player can change the code that operates various objects. Allow me to give you an early example: the player is tasked with changing the code of a cup of coffee. Instead of making the coffee make a person more awake, it's possible to change it so it makes them faster, more charismatic, and even smellier. This game slowly teaches the player how computer science language works, and that is absolutely brilliant. The fact all of this is integrated into the overarching plot just makes it that much more enjoyable.  BaronyAvailable from: Developer's website, Steam, DesuraPrice: $6.99 Please, don't look at the screenshots of Barony and assume it's a Minecraft knockoff. Yes, everything is cubes, but this is more NetHack than anything else. Okay, I've never played NetHack, but that's what everyone else keeps saying, so I'm trusting them. It's a very difficult first-person roguelike with online co-op. Players choose from a number of classes and go through various floors in order to, well, I'm not too sure.  Barony is incredibly difficult, and I've never made it too far, even with my buddies helping me out. But that being said, each romp I've taken through its worlds has been incredibly entertaining, with the random elements constantly keeping us on our toes. Just make sure you know how to find your IP and potentially open ports if you're planning to play online. 3x0ngAvailable from: Developer's websitePrice: FREE Developer David O'Toole has a history of making games I enjoy. 2x0ng and The Testament of the White Cypress both caught and held my attention in the past, and this year it's his newest game in the "x0ng" series, 3x0ng.  This time, the game is head-to-head, as players attempt to throw a "squareball" at an opponent's goal. The problem is, there's a lot of colorful bricks in the way. The end result is part Breakout, part Pong, and part soccer. Things get intense very quickly, even against the CPU. This is definitely a game that needs to be added to your local multiplayer library. TowerClimbAvailable from: SteamPrice: $14.99 Think of this as reverse Spelunky. The object is simple enough: climb out of the tower by going up. In reality, it's really freaking difficult. What I love about TowerClimb is how it demands patience and dedication from the player. Many Spelunky players zoom through the levels incredibly smoothly; not possible in TowerClimb. Moving up is a slow process, one that takes careful planning and no lapses in focus. While it may come off as boring at first, those who take time to appreciate what TowerClimb is teaching will come away with a sense of pride. There are many great mechanics at play here, all intermingling so well together that many players may not even notice. Plus, it has multiplayer and you can jump off of other players' heads to reach new heights! ClandestineAvailable from: SteamPrice: $24.99 I've written about Clandestine plenty in my review, but I'll reiterate a few points here. While it's far from perfect, I haven't experienced such a great story-driven cooperative game in a very long time. Laughing at the cutscenes is a great juxtaposition to intensely planning out our next mission and makes me appreciate each moment throughout the game. It's true asymmetric gameplay -- the two players cooperating are doing completely different things, but both aiming to achieve the same objective. It forced us to think in different ways and more importantly, forced us to actually cooperate in a way that we haven't since Left 4 Dead. Telepath Tactics + HighlandsTelepath Tactics available from: Developer's website, Steam, GOGHighlands available from: SteamPrice: Both are $14.99 So, these are pretty different games, but I've lumped them together because they are both very difficult strategy RPGs. Seriously, I can't beat either one of them. Really, I got through a few levels before my ass was devilishly handed to me on a silver platter by the AI. Telepath Tactics is probably the closest thing to a Fire Emblem game available on PC, but it still introduces its own mechanics that make it stand out from the crowd. And yes, it does have a "casual" difficulty setting for anyone worried about never finishing it. Highland has more going on than just its beautiful art style. It's also an interesting take on the strategy RPG genre. It focuses on using the land as its own resource. The enemy will continually spawn on territories it owns, while players will continuously generate resources off their territory. Both of these games challenge players to be at the top of their game, and both are great additions to the genre. Infinifactory + TIS - 100Infinifactory available from: Steam, GOGTIS-100 available from: Steam, GOGPrice: $24.99 (Infinifactory), $6.99 (TIS-100) These are lumped together because they are both puzzle games by the same developer, Zachtronics, and they are both way too smart for me. These are the same people who made Spacechem, which is another brilliant puzzle game. Infinifactory tasks players to get blocks from point A to point B. Simple, right? Thing is, the blocks need to be arranged in a specific fashion, and oftentimes players need to use the 3D space and conveyor belts available to them in creative ways. It challenges spatial reasoning in ways that make me feel real dumb, and I love that. TIS-100 is an entirely different beast. This teaching players to understand programming logic by forcing them to learn an entirely unique programming language. It also tasks players from getting things from point A to point B, except this time it employs things like integers. Players must order, multiply, and change data using the coding functions that the game permits. Just be warned: you must read the manual. It lists the functions and how they work, which is required to actually complete a level. The Curse of IssyosAvailable from: Developer's websitePrice: FREE  Ben has written about this game before, and now that it's out, I'm reminding you to go get it! It's old-school cool, and reminds me a lot of games like Castlevania or Ninja Gaiden. The difference is, I can actually do well at The Curse of Issyos. It's definitely difficult, but not unbearably so. It does a great job, as many games do, of introducing enemies and obstacles to the player in ways that are harmless at first, only to really test their skills later on. I love anything to do with Greek mythology, so naturally I adored Issyos. It's not terribly long, but there's a lot to love here, including a secret that can change the ending. It's an old-school idea blended with more modern techniques that really shine, just like the sweet armor powerup! Little PartyAvailable from: Itch.ioPrice: Pay what you want This little game had a big impact on me. There's not much to it: you play as a mom in a cabin in the woods while your daughter is throwing some sort of party. All players can do is move and interact, so it's a bit like an adventure game. I found myself making a lot of assumptions about where things were going, only to find out that, damn, it's not easy being a mother. The aesthetic is beautiful and the music is a key component to the story, and delightfully so. It's not very long, so please, go be a mom and make some guacamole for your daughter and her friends. It's worth it. As always, just because a game is "free" or "pay what you want," don't forget you can always donate to the developer if you enjoy their work! Good things deserve to be supported.
Flew under the radar photo
You monster
2015 was a fantastic year for video games. There were so many great games vying for an opportunity to occupy your time. Personally, my backlog increased more than ever due to the influx of "games I just gotta play." There are...

When is no advertising the best advertising?

Jan 01 // Jonathan Holmes
[Art by Nibroc-Rock] By shying away from trumpeting the merits of his game, Toby has unintentionally sent a message to Undertale's potential audience about himself and his work that has apparently resonated. If Toby had taken a more vocal tact in trying to communicate exactly what it's like to play his game through words, screenshots, or videos, it's not likely that his potential audience would have felt the same optimism about the game, or gotten as accurate an idea about how strange and mysterious it feels. By not trying to convince us that his game is worthwhile, he sent the message that this is a game by and for people who want something that you have to play to understand, and that personally learning about the game from someone who has not been paid to talk to you about it is the best way to learn about it. It was a similar situation with Minecraft and Five Nights at Freddy's, before they became too big to remain out of sight from the mainstream world. Compare that to game like Rise of the Tomb Raider, which reviewed well and looks to have had an ample marketing budget. If rumored sales numbers are an indication, consumers just weren't hungry enough for Lara Croft's biggest and arguably best adventure to prioritize it over all the games they had to choose from in the last few months of 2015. The fact that a game like Undertale may have turned more of a profit than the latest title in the Tomb Raider series is pretty amazing, and says a lot about how much marketing matters compared to how inherently marketable a game may be. Strangely enough, one of Toby Fox's favorite games is one of the earliest examples of how a game can sometimes sell better when we aren't being told by a multi-million dollar publishing company that it is "special." When EarthBound was first released in the United States in 1994, it was accompanied by an expensive ad campaign, featuring scratch and sniff stickers and the unconventional, anti-braggart catch phrase "Because this game stinks." Nintendo's attempt to sell the game as a scrappy, rebellious underdog backfired, and the series lay in dormant outside of Japan for years in the wake of its failure. Flash forward to 2016 and EarthBound is more popular in the West than ever, despite Nintendo's relative abandonment of the franchise. We have legions of creative, genuine, passionate fans who have spent years sharing personal stories of what EarthBound means to them to thank for that. Regardless of how "conventionally marketable" a game might be, passion and trust are still contagious. Oxytocin is still something we can spread around. It's just that with some games, multi-million dollar ad campaigns may not be the best way to try to do that.  We all know, but don't always understand, that special feeling that can drive us to fully commit to spending our time and money on an unknown game. We may think we know where that feeling comes from (nostalgia, attractive scenarios and characters, suspension of disbelief, ego-stroking, and of course, good marketing), but like Malcolm Galdwell spells out in Blink, our knowledge of what we're going to like and why we're going to like it is often totally off. Assertive advertising campaigns regularly try to prey on that uncertainty by telling us what we like and why we should like it, but for many of us respond to a less ego-driven message. Though some of us may struggle to understand our own tastes, I'd like to think that most adults know that we can't always accurately predict how much we'll enjoy a game based on how its marketed, and instead choose follow a more independent and accurate internal compass. That said, I'm a notorious optimist when it comes to people, and I'm completely prepared to be told that I'm wrong. Do you think a nationwide ad campaign for Undertale would have caused it to sell even better, or do you think that would it have destroyed the game's underdog status, causing the people who currently love the game to eventually ignore it? Would games like The Wonderful 101 and Shadows of the Damned have sold better if they were marketed as unassuming little indie darlings? Is there a way to sell your game as both a "#1 best-made AAA product" and a "special little snowflake" at the same time? 
Undertale photo
The art of talking without talking
[Art by Momoppi] Earlier this year, I booked Undertale creator Toby Fox for an appearance on Sup Holmes. Shortly before the show was set to air, he asked if it was OK if he canceled because he "hates answering interview quest...

Dtoid Designs photo
Dtoid Designs

Dtoid Designs: Mario at the Movies Challenge Winners


Get some popcorn & check these out!
Dec 31
// CJ Andriessen
Before the big ball drops tonight and we close out December and 2015, I must reveal the winners of this month's Dtoid Designs contest. For December, I issued a challenge to see what kinds of wonderful levels you could make ba...

2015 recap: The ten most popular posts on Destructoid this year

Dec 31 // Brett Makedonski
Ten most popular posts 10. Here are all the names Fallout 4's Codsworth can say Admit it: You clicked on this because you wanted to see if Codsworth can say bumbledick or shitsandwich or fuckface (he can say the latter). Just because Codsworth can say it doesn't mean you can say it, though! We'll wash your mouth out with soap and we're not bluffing this time. 9. The Last of Us multiplayer DLC is not okay Darren has thoughts. Opinions, man. Takes that are hot. He doesn't like the free-to-play multiplayer elements in The Last of Us -- a game that is absolutely not free-to-play. Over the course of, like, a million words, he explains his beef. I don't know if most agreed with him, but a whole lot of people wanted to see what he had to say. 8. E3 2015 press conference schedule They call him SEO Steven* for a reason. I don't have the hard statistics to back it up, but I'd wager that the old Google machine looked kindly upon this post. *No one calls him SEO Steven; they call him Arch Deluxe Steven on account of the crazy high arches in his feet. They're weird. They freak me out. 7. Where to find companions in Fallout 4 Word on the street is you need some friends. Loser. 6. Bethesda doesn't mind if you don't like Fallout 4's graphics Fallout 4 doesn't look great. It's not terrible, but it's not wowing anyone who's used to gaming on a PC, PS4, or Xbox One. Bethesda's perfectly fine with that. Let's face it: If you're playing Fallout for the graphics, you're playing Fallout for the wrong reasons. 5. Some jerk ruined Pixels' perfect zero Rotten Tomatoes score Adam Sandler's summer movie Pixels didn't fare all that well. For a while, it had a zero percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. I don't know much about movies and percentages, but that seems bad. Until some jagoff ruined all of that. Also, I'm pretty sure that I gave Darren the headline for this article, so he owes me a beer the next time I see him. Do me a favor and hold him to that. I'll take my beer in the form of a bottle of vodka. 4. Here are all the amiibo waves and figures we know about I can confidently say that amiibo are bad and Chris is a bad man for writing about them. Some would say that I'm also a bad man for writing about them, to which I'd threaten to sue my defamers for slander. 3. Nintendo's cracking down on speedrunning and ROM hacking videos Speaking of lawsuits, a little copyright talk brought all the attorneys to the yard. And they're like "Actually the purpose of copyright law..." That's not as catchy and I can definitely see why the other song was about milkshakes instead. 2. Man hate-buys Rosalina & Luma amiibo in bulk so fans can't have them Okay, you're right: I am a bad man for writing about amiibo. Almost as bad of a man as the Internet troll who bought a bunch of Rosalina & Luma amiibo so that other people couldn't have them. (In reality, he was probably just flipping them for megabucks.) 1. Bungie gets salty defending Destiny's expansion price Understandably, it didn't go well when Bungie asked Destiny players to re-buy content they'd already bought to get full access to the upcoming expansion. One of the biggest games on the market gouging its user base in this unthinkable manner was bound to be one of the most popular stories of the year. Five most popular reviews 5. Bloodborne Chris Carter does everything around here -- including the top five trafficking reviews of 2015. 4. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Chris, did you ever know that you're my hero? 3. Fallout 4 And everything I would like to be? 2. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain I can fly higher than an eagle. 1. Dying Light For you are the wind beneath my wings. Also, how the hell did Dying Light, with a modest score of seven, end up beating those other titans? I don't understand the Internet, like, ever. This shit more or less makes no sense. Staff picks for five enjoyable posts (in no particular order) 5. 'Is that a Game Boy?' Navigating simple questions as a socially awkward adult Here's a little inside baseball: Darren wasn't even sure he should post this quick editorial he wrote. It wasn't really video game-related. Instead, it was more "How do I describe the nuances of gaming to a naive audience-"related. I'm glad he did because it tackles such an innocent, basic, yet all too familiar scenario: That awkwardness when trying to figure out when explaining becomes over-explaining. It's one that's tough to elegantly deal with no matter how many times you run into it. 4. Experience Points .25: Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars I love Ben's Experience Points series. Too often, I realize that it has been a long time since I've had anything too nice to say about video games. The magic isn't the same when you deal with covering the industry every single day. Ben's Experience Points pieces come from a place of pure affection and appreciation, though -- an attitude that makes them a joy to read and helps recapture the feeling that got many of us into this gig in the first place. We went with his Super Mario RPG entry because, gosh, that game is so good. 3. Cell games: I tried to build a pacifist utopia but the Internet ate me up Agar.io is a game about being a cell and trying to grow. This is done either by devouring smaller player-controlled cells or by gobbling up an abundance of tiny non-player-controlled cells. Really, it's kind of the very essence of online multiplayer -- everyone out for themselves, hoping to eventually be the biggest dog in the yard. Steven found himself trying to subvert that. He wanted to play as a pacifist, seeing how big he could grow just from eating those insignificant small cells. What transpired was a mutualistic relationship with a fellow player, an unlikely friendship in a game meant to show as little human personality as possible. It's the kind of story that conjures memories of an unknown buddy helping you through the emotional highs and lows of Journey. 2. True Life: One man's descent into deliriumiibo This was the most therapeutic piece that I can remember writing in a long time. Having recently fallen victim to the amiibo craze, I kept stepping back and wondering what the hell I was doing before continuing right along my troubled path. It was a lighthearted reprieve where I could laugh about this sudden obsession while in the back of my mind thinking "Fuuuuck, I'm really doing this, aren't I?" 1. Nintendo announced a new Metroid so we gave Zack a haircut This bucks the editorial trend set by the other four posts, but that's okay because this is one of my favorite things that happened all year. Nintendo (kind of) announced a new Metroid title at E3 -- Metroid Prime: Federation Force -- so, we shaved the iconic alien into the back of Zack's head. Poorly, might I add. Zack, you're gonna go far, kid. -- We wrote a lot of good stuff in 2015. Only five got listed in this round-up, but there was far more that we were proud of. If you'd like, check out the Destructoid Originals tag to rediscover some of it. Now, onto 2016, the ten-year anniversary of your favorite Robot.
Popular posts of 2015 photo
So fetch
Even though the tradition is exactly two years running at this point, I look forward to closing up the calendar year by writing about the most popular posts on Destructoid. It's no secret that we, Internet people as we are, h...

New Year photo
New Year

What are your New Year gaming resolutions for 2016?


If you say 4K or 1080p, I'll cut you
Dec 29
// Zack Furniss
Just three more days (for me, I don't know about you weirdos outside of California) and 2015 is over. Any New Year's Resolutions you have that are related to gaming? I personally want to start playing Rocksmith at least ...

Cell games: I tried to build a pacifist utopia but the Internet ate me up

Dec 27 // Steven Hansen
And so I'm not quite sure how I ended up back on Agar.io, a free game you can play in your browser. You are a cell, a circular blob, and there are other cells floating about controlled by other real-life people. Ostensibly the goal is to get as big as possible because larger cells can devour smaller ones and self-preservation, I'm told, is a natural human instinct despite how frequently I eat food that is clearly past its expiration date (I cut the mold off, I'm not stupid). There are, however, even smaller blobs littered around Agar.io's grid that are stationary and not controlled by other people. Eating them will make you bigger. So, an experiment. What if I got big through non-violence? Could I eat my way to the top in peace and then, plump on vegan balls, force my philosophy onto the others? Would I be able to do that by example, or would that require force, undercutting my moral high ground? I pondered these questions as I casually jetted around with the extra speed being small affords. When you start out it's easy to avoid the lumbering behemoths and you're not a substantial meal, so while I occasionally hightailed it away from folks with names like "idecidewholives," things were pretty uneventful for a while. The big boys squabbled between thmselves for rank and I was able to find plenty of balls to gobble in the southern section of the grid. I even placed on the leaderboard (10th) and that's when things started getting dicey. Once you become a big player on the board, the folks atop you are looking for an easy meal to plump their girth. At one frightening point I had reached the left most edge of the map and a slightly-bigger-than-me "usa" was coming up my rear. But as I fled north I was running straight into "GREAT KOREA," then just below me on the leaderboard. I had a choice: devour the weaker "GREAT KOREA" unfortunately blocking my escape, or get et up by "usa." I had a moment of weakness. If I offed "GREAT KOREA," I could double right back and absorb the trailing "usa," too. Instead I took a hard right and lost half my gut to a fixed spike ball. Now smaller and faster, I made a full escape, and went back to consuming the non-living resources. At some point I have to address the radical militant group in the room and, look, I realize that naming myself "howcanijoinISIS?" is probably not the best idea when trying to run on a platform of peace and nonviolence, but the latter notion came to me after I had already started my campaign and chose my name. I thought it was funny. Especially in an election year, "ISIS" oft repeated is a "Bloody Mary" boogeyman uttered in your bathroom mirror to scare your youngest, most gullible cousins until it starts to sound like a nonsense word. Coca-cola coca-cola coca-cola coca-cola coca-cola. Ok. Here's when things got surprising. I continued to build myself back up through non-violence until I hit a score of something like 906 and the counter stopped ticking. I might have been too big to notice, but eating up little pips didn't increase the ticker and didn't seem to be affecting me growth. I was bumped out of the top 10, seemingly unable to get back there without devouring others. I wandered aimlessly thinking my experiment a wash. And then I ran into two similar-sized cells. They were both a little smaller and as we converged accidentally from three different points, I pumped the brakes to show I wouldn't eat them. As a show of friendship I ejected a little orb of mass in their direction and then headed away. Then, they both did the same. One of them, a blue ball called "JakeFromSt.Farm," started following me. You can call it an alliance, but I think "Jake" noticed I was a friendly green orb spinning my wheels on this earth and copied my example. We kept enough distance for his safety, occasionally blasting mass each others' way not dissimilar from Journey's delightful chirp. I was not aggressive towards any smaller balls we passed and neither was "Jake." We were just palling around the petri dish. Jake about caught up to me in size so he must have realized I was stagnant, at which point something even more surprising happened: Jake split in two and sent half of his mass rocketing towards me. I couldn't avoid eating it. He gave up half of his body for the cause. I had an honest-to-goodness acolyte on the path towards Agar.io non-violence. I placed as high as 7th on the leaderboard. I knew I could grow stronger yet if I could convince more players to join the cause. Suddenly I didn't have to be a stagnant, say, Switzerland, but I could maybe one day roam the board, followers in tow, turgid. A global power. I could be the USA of Agar.io except my $670 billion in "defense" would, truly, be working towards everyone's defense because I will have done it through non-violence. A world not even Big Boss himself could envision; he, instead, choosing nuke-as-deterrent instead of leading by example. It was a nice hope. I lost Jake in a taut dogfight (or dogflee?) and part of myself, too. I was erased from the global leaderboard. Not too long after I would be wholly absorbed, chased by "doge," a circle with the shiba meme painted in the middle, right down the gullet of a giant red circle called "hola." War. War never changes.
Asshole internet photo
I don't know Split from Atom
The Internet. It's a place where cats reign, where strangers will give you DIY tips for making fucking machines [as in machines to sex; I am not being overly enthusiastic about the general idea of machines], where Silicon Val...

Score attack! Mario, Metal Gear, Witcher, and more games better than Star Wars

Dec 21 // Steven Hansen
Now, at year's end, Destructoid's Brett Makedonski rekindled this bonfire in my head with an innocuous tweet, "How does Rotten Tomatoes work? If something's a 6/10 or better, does that review count as 100% fresh for the aggregation?" I replied, "yeah." And then, [embed]328101:61584:0[/embed] What Brett gets at seems like a no-brainer concern for anyone who works in video games. What happens when the average games gets across-the-board 7s and then comes up as a perfect? Well, thankfully movie reviewing is a bit less insular than video game reviewing and there's a bit more disagreement. There are more people giving negative reviews -- even to almost universally praised things. And that's okay! Let's look at 2015's common Game of the Year award candidates and, via Metacritic, see what their RottenTomatoes "freshness" might look like (the percent of reviews that are positive, versus the average score). The closest thing to a negative review among the 874 total are two instances of 5/10. The lowest Metacritic score here is an 81 (Splatoon) while the highest is 93 (Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Undertale) for an average of 88. For a more direct comparison, Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Metacritic score (they do movies, too) is 81. RottenTomatoes, which also displays an average rating, albeit less prominently, has the film at 83. I don't think anyone who worked on the project is going to miss his Xmas bonus. This isn't to rail on Metacritic, a common target for its reductionism, for game developer bonuses contingent on its averages, for failing to include individual writer names on its listings. Nor is it to kick the tires on the "do review scores matter" question, crossing up hypothetical opponents and swishing a "read the words" as if it were a mic drop. What these trends point to is a blind spot in game reviewing and the lack of diverse opinion. There are reasons for this, but first, note that the above comparison is, admittedly, not one-to-one. There are publications rating games not on Metacritic, there are game and movie publications that don't score reviews, movie aggregate sites have a wider pool to cull from because of the prominence of movie reviews as newspaper/magazine staples. But the Metacritic sample size is still a large representation of major outlets writing about games. Okay, so, why? Oh, man, so many reasons, most of which overlap in various ways. First let's try this out: You can be smart about games, but absolutely terrible at actually playing Bloodborne, for instance. And that's not me projecting -- I'm the best Souls player on staff. It does get to a good point, though, which is how game reviews are assigned. Familiarity with the French New Wave canon may inform your thoughts on the new CGI Samey Explosions, but lot of styles and techniques work across eras, genres, etc. This knowledge is more cumulative. Games? Content, style, presentation, physical means of interaction vary so wildly. Someone joked they need a community college course on Xenoblade Chronicles X. Twitch shooters and Devil May Cry-style action games require additional physical skill and execution. Sure, knowing about RPGs and progression systems helps a critic working on a sports or action game when those genres started adopting those systems regularly, but god damn, some people just can't do a Dark Souls. And so there are often experts. There's "the Dark Souls woman," or the "the JRPG guy," or the "the MOBA person." And that's not all bad. Sometimes the expert or genre fan has broader context or deeper insights. However, the setup is fated towards homogeneity. Especially when coupled with -- I'd be remiss not to mention this -- the tendency of major video game writing publications towards hiring middle-class-and-up white dudes. Similar types of people with similar experiences all reviewing the same stuff. And there are reasons for this, too: members from that group are most likely, especially in this economy, to be able to work unpaid internships or for the bum rates that writing gets these days, period, while having financial security or backup otherwise. Sometimes it's just a Rolodex problem, as Jenn Frank noted.  It is much more sane to write a review of a 100-minute movie for $50 than a 100-hour game for $50. With its shorter history, gaming media exists more so in the current era of devalued writing that has felled everyone from, well, all the game sites that have closed down recently, to the best film (The Dissolve) and sports/pop culture outlets (Grantland). I think this translates -- to the sincere dismay of everyone involved -- to a lot more "good enough" writing than we'd all like, especially when most of the people who are writing about games are underpaid, hustling freelance, or both. This is a general publishing woe perhaps exacerbated by games writing's shorter canon and fewer agreements on how even to talk about games (aside from the established, book report-y "is it fun?" style). Demanding more rigor from overtaxed, underfunded writers and editors working in a devalued, fraught industry within a generally struggling economy, well, damn, it's tough. A doable step, though, is actively hiring from a wider pool of applicants than your typical just-graduated-22-year-old-Nick. I think here at Destructoid we do a good job simply encouraging our reviewers to be as straightforward and honest as possible without kowtowing behind cookie cutter review formulations and tasteless writing that goes down without a fuss, but serves no one (I'm cautiously optimistic that fans of the genre will enjoy this return to the series roots). Average starts at 5, and all that. Some of the biggest holiday releases (Fallout 4, Halo 5, Rise of the Tomb Raider) came in under 8. But it's almost more disheartening for the state of gaming as a whole that folks across the net will point to an incredibly good score like a 7/10 as rabble rousing, as trolling for hits, and that collectively -- as in the Chart Chart Binks above -- it's rare to even end up on the "negative" side of the spectrum. Someone has to dislike something.
Fun with graph photo
Yes, they all reviewed better
There are exactly 100 professional reviews culled on the Bloodborne Metacritic page. Of that 100, 99 are "positive" and 1 is "mixed," a lowly 7/10, which I'd suggest is still positive. Oh, so nobody dislikes this game? When I...


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