Andi Clare is the host of Invasion Angle, a bi-monthly pro wrestling podcast, and does those ‘Let’s Play’ things that are all the rage. You can find her stuff on her youtube channel, read some of her wrestling writing here or follow her on twitter. Also her top ten list last year was the most read one on the site and she will never stop laughing at that. Ever.
I’m a really big fan of horror games but honestly, nothing that got very popular lit my world on fire for a real long time and, if I’m being honest I didn’t expect much out of P.T. at first. I like Silent Hill sure, but I’ve been steadily cooling off on Kojima’s work, especially after Ground Zeroes, and the genre of first person horror hasn’t hit me super hard, Outlast and Amnesia being two specific examples of the style just not working for me, as well as two things that I heard this compared to. So, I was pleasantly surprised when I played this and had the shit scared out of me.
There were moments in P.T. that were just brilliant, but I honestly mostly just loved the little things. The scratched tally marks all over the walls of the room you wake up in, the quiet echo of the radio host saying different things than his first statement, hell even just the garbage everywhere. Atmosphere makes or breaks horror in my eyes and they got it so right with P.T. that I’m incredibly hopeful they keep it up with Silent Hills itself.
7. Jet Set Radio
Ok before people go; “Hey that didn’t come out in 2014, stop cheating little Ms. Cheater.” Let the record show that I don’t care, I played it this year and that’s good enough for me. Anyway, Jet Set Radio’s one of those games that I’m honestly surprised I didn’t play sooner. This game is basically head to toe everything I want out of a game. It’s got a style that just clicks with me, even though the gameplay’s dated I still have a hell of a good time and I think I’m on something like my third playthrough of it now even though I’ve had it less than a month. Long story short it’s just fun and god damn that’s really welcome lately. I don’t really have anything poignant or even that in depth to say about Jet Set Radio, it’s simple, it’s a game that I can just pick up and play whenever I want and have a good time. Also it let’s me murder helicopters with graffiti and I’m way into that.
6. Dominique Pamplemousse
When I first saw footage of Dominique Pamplemousse I was in, just 100% completely in. Dominique Pamplemousse is a noir mystery, point and click adventure game where all the animation is stop motion/claymation and oh yeah, it’s a musical. Just on the surface I was charmed enough to check it out and I am so ridiculously happy I did. You see, I’d be pretty happy with just getting a really funny, charming adventure game with some honestly really catchy tunes, but on top of that there’s a recurring theme of people assuming Dominique’s gender, while Dominique makes it pretty clear that they’re not male or female, and as someone who’s dealt with a lot of gender related issues, it was pretty refreshing to see a game protagonist dealing with similar stuff. It’s just one of those little things that really endeared me to the game and I really can’t recommend it enough if you need something fun to do some night, just be careful the songs are kind of earworms, in fact I’ve been humming Prudence’s Tango the entire time I wrote this.
One of my favorite things from when I was a kid was being told ghost stories, and while Chyrza isn’t a story about ghosts it’s impossible for me to seperate the two. Chyrza just drops you into a world and just wants you to explore and listen. It’s not a very long game so I don’t want to go into specifics about the story but it’s a horror game that is less about outright scaring you (like P.T. for example) and more about just creating a sense of dread and unease and it does it so well that when I played it I forgot I was in a crowded airport and instead I was just sort of terrified in a way that I’m having trouble wording.
4. Dragon Age: Inquisition
I think DA:I might be the only AAA release of the year that didn’t turn out to be a huge let down for me. I mean, even then I have a lot of complicated feelings on a lot of it but I don’t exactly think this list is the right platform for me to delve into those thoughts, maybe just ask me about it sometime (not a shallow way to get you to follow me on twitter what are you even talking about). That being said I’d be lying if I didn’t say I love this game, I think it actually made me understand why people like huge games like Skyrim even if they haven’t scratched an itch for me in the past.
I think it’s because in games like those huge Bethesda I never felt like I really had a goal of any kind other than “walk around and maybe something weird will happen” and on top of that I never really cared about any of the characters in those games, it’s completely the opposite situation here where I always felt like I had something I was working towards and there are really only a couple companion characters I didn’t care for. I think I have upwards of 150 hours in it and if I’m being honest that’s probably going to double in 2015.
Monsterhearts is a pen and paper RPG described as being about “the messy lives of teenage monsters” and it’s probably the most straightforward description of a tabletop game I’ve ever read. It’s a game that let’s you take the garbage that is being an awkward kid in high school and make it into something else, maybe not exactly positive, but it can sure as hell help you cope with it. I doubt that I’m ever going to claim that a Dungeons and Dragons campaign is therapeutic, but I can sure as hell claim that at the very least Monsterhearts made me realize that high school is dumb and that it shouldn’t be this thing that is still affecting me so much. Not to mention the fact that the game is known for being very queer friendly which is just icing on the cake in my book.
Oh and there are werewolves, I have to mention the werewolves.
2. Fantasy Life
2014 for me was a ball of stress wrapped up in depression, self hatred and identity crises. I’m only mentioning that so I can put into context the state of mind I was in when I picked up Fantasy Life. I can’t say that it’s some cure-all for the shittiness in your life but I can say that it came along at a point when I really needed it. Fantasy Life is a game that is unabashedly happy, cute and just plain positive, it’s hard for me to think times in this game where I wasn’t smiling while playing it.
There’s this hopefulness that pervades almost everything about Fantasy Life, things aren’t great in a lot of the places you go to and at least personally I never got the impression that everything was perfect after completing the chapter that took place there, but I felt like I made things better at least. It just felt good doing things, it felt good helping people and it especially felt good when I was able to do it without hurting anything, the non-violence in Fantasy Life is so refreshing and it never feels like you’re missing too much when you skip fighting things. So yeah, Fantasy Life reached out and pulled me out of a really dark pit in a way I didn’t expect, and I can’t express how happy I am that it did.
Eidolon [Eidol-John — ed.] is a game that I wish I hadn’t seen any footage of whatsoever before I bought it because I feel like discovering what Eidolon actually was would make it stand out even more to me. On the surface Eidolon just looks like a really relaxing exploration game with some pretty basic survival elements, and while it is that the real magic for me comes from the deeper mystery of the game. You see, the closest thing there is to a goal in Eidolon is to collect these floating fragments that give you either a new tool, a map, or part of the story, and once you start piecing together that story things really start to shine for me. Eidolon’s world is melancholy, at least I felt that way, it’s all overgrown, the remnants of humanity are just empty buildings, abandoned cars and the notes you find from the people that used to live there.
You’re not given any guidance aside from the ability to spawn a guiding light to a note related to one you’ve already found and even then it’s mostly just pointing you in that direction, your maps are unreliable and mostly just exist to give you a general idea of the areas geography. I love it, I love everything about this game. I feel like I haven’t even scratched the surface of it honestly, Ice Water Games continue to add more story fragments after release with the last update adding another 60 or so. I can’t even delve into the story because I don’t want to spoil a thing about it other than it isn’t at all what I expected, but it’s still one of the most interesting worlds I’ve ever delved into in a game. Here’s hoping I’m someday able to say I’ve found everything in it.