Well, let's see... as always, I played a lot last year. And some of the games I played were pretty damn good. Plus, gradually I am playing more and more indie games, and those sometimes are extremely good.
I'd say, Stanley Parable, Rogue Legacy, Dust: Elysian Tale, Arkham Origin, Remember Me, Papers Please - all great, solid games, which I enjoyed greatly. However, after some consideration, I will pick two games which were the greatest for me. Forgot to add - I am PC gamer.
Yes, this is pretty much obvious. The game gives us the FPS gameplay with usual Bioshock elements. But the main thing is that the game pretty much just grabs you and never lets go until you are done. I mean, we all know what we thought about when we heard 'Bioshock', right? Underwater, creepy sisters, pretty depressing atmosphere... But in this game, the flying city feels like some sort of fucking magical place, that just jumps at you. Bright, colorful, cheery, with songs and happiness and I have no fucking idea what else. You are baptized from everything you remembered about the franchise and filled anew. Yes, that was an obvious reference there. Anyways, I spent a lot of time on peaceful levels, just walking around looking at stuff.
Oh, and then the setting gradually gets darker and heavier starting from racism and finishing with parallel worlds, time travel and existence - or lack - of choice. And if you red best speculations about what the ending means, you know that... well, no, fuck it, too many spoilers that would be, and those of you who know - yes, you know. It's heavy, it's gripping, it's still colorful even at the bottom of depression!
And, of course, we had great characters there. Good villain, naturally, but mainly I am very obviously talking about Elizabeth and Lutece twins. Elizabeth is... well, for the lack of better description, she feels alive. At first she gives that 'Little Mermaid' feel, when you look at her being locked in that tower/prison. And do you remember her dancing, when she finally got out? Even a cold bastard like me felt happy for her. But then she develops other sides of her character, she faces the reality of her world, and she faces the reality of all the worlds and... Well, you really care about that character, which makes the final parts of the game all the more heavy.
And, naturally, Lutece twins who are like a personalised Schrödinger's cat experiment. Imagine if the concept of the multiverse came alive to poke fun just at you personally. Yep, that's exactly what we have here. And they are great and you just have to like them. And I never really figured them out - do they really want to repent and help, or was it just another experiment to see it the coin toss would finally get different result?
I think the main problem for this game is that, while you get constant talks about a choice, you, as a player, got none. The game is extremely linear, with no replay value. Also all the time-travel and parallel universe stuff an feel quite used these days. Still, it is a grand setting, so I give this game personal second place.
So, that's one game, and it is a second place on my list. Another game that not only suddenly got me, but became this year favorite was...
You know what? I was never a fan of Lara Croft. Never. Never felt the appeal, never was a fan of those games, oh and the movies, like oh so many 'game movies' were bad. So, I almost let this game go. I mean, meh, another Tomb Raider game? Not really interested... But then I tried it out, and holy fucking hell, I am converted now.
Now, the gameplay is solid enough. You have the action elements, which are a must for a game like that these days, you got a sort of achievement system with searching for stuff, which is okay and not bothersome like many such systems can be, you have a sort of rpg system, which I feel was added just for the heck of it. But again, it didn't take anything away from the game, so I didn't really care. The very core of it was pretty old-school shoot-em-up gameplay. I mean, yes, this girl kills a LOT of people along the way, but hell, that's exactly what we are supposed to get. Fast shooting, lots of enemies. You do not ask for more in a shooter.
Main point of this whole game was, naturally as every single person knows, new Lara. Restart of the franchise promised us vulnerable character we could love and worry about. And... I am glad to say, that they pretty much failed at that. Let me explain. Yes, this Lara is hit hard both physically and mentally. We get to see her at the lowest, we get to see her bloodied, we get to see her despair. Does it make us feel for her? Yes, of course. Does it make her vulnerable? Well, in a way, yes, because we see very clearly that she can be hurt. But seeing her overcome any and all of those challenges, do we see her as vulnerable? Fuck no, she's the strongest female character this year, and probably able to go in a firefight against commander Shepard. And it's not like a game makes a weak girl into a tough one - no, seeing all the things thrown at her from the start, you clearly see that she's already got it in her, she just never had the chance to show it yet.
So yes, as you might have guessed, this restart was a huge hit for me. Square Enix done good, and I praise them for it. And let me tell you, it was extremely welcoming sight since recently where were quite a few franchise restarts that made worse characters than originals. Hell, go look at DmC if you want a clear example. No, this game did it right, and, after starting the game with no expectations whatsoever, I finished it with a feeling that I saw a masterpiece.
Oh, and to get some sense of reality back. Admit it, guys, we didn't have a female character image change during the game that much since we played FAKK2. ))