The Games You Overlooked in 2015 That You Should Be Playing Right Now
There were so many great games released in 2015 that you were bound to miss many of them, but as we’re all continuing to wade through the deluge of end-of-year ‘best of’ lists, there are a number of underrated games that are being frequently overlooked in favor of more high-profile releases.
The following games were each easy to overlook last year as the likes of Fallout 4, The Witcher 3, Metal Gear Solid V and Bloodborne each served to take up the majority of our time, but after greatly enjoying each of them, I thought it best to present them to you once again for your consideration.
Here are the games you overlooked in 2015, but that you should be playing right now in 2016:
Rainbow Six: Siege
Let’s face it: we all thought Rainbow Six: Siege was going to be kinda terrible. Its beta suffered from matchmaking connectivity issues, which pretty much seemed like a premature death rattle for a game firmly reliant upon the efficiency of its online component, and it featured an inconsistent framerate that wasn’t exactly helpful in a game reliant upon swift reaction times. But after it had released, we were forced to contend with the surprising revelation that not only did the game actually work, but that it was also pretty bloody great, too.
Although Siege aped the unfortunate majority of 2015’s shooters by being notably light on actual content, the fundamentals of what Ubisoft had created were engrossing enough to ensure that although the game was repetitive in nature, it never felt like a tedious grind to play. Sure, many of us would have appreciated a co-operative campaign and not just its underwhelming ‘Situations’ mode, but in terms of multiplayer Siege did so many things right that it was possible to forgive it for its shortcomings.
I maintain my stance that Rainbow Six: Siege is the best survival-horror game that isn’t actually a survival-horror game, with its booming audio design and the unpredictability of enemy attacks subjecting players to a level of intensity that the most recent Resident Evil games could only dream of achieving. Sure, SAS and Spetsnaz operatives don’t exactly look as fearsome as a shambling, blood-soaked zombie, but then again the undead haven’t got the wherewithal to place a breach charge on a ceiling and burst into the room your unsuspecting team are crouched in. It’s swings and roundabouts, really.
Siege attracted less attention than anticipated upon its release, but word-of-mouth eventually led to it gaining some traction and it now ranks among Steam’s top sellers. If you’re interested in strategy-focused shooters, then it could well wind up being one of your favorite games of 2015.
Before you stand on the edge of the Earth in order to shout “IT’S NOT A GAME!” into the abyss, humor me for a second by allowing me to argue that while the “game-y” elements of Her Story may be minimal, it still places players in the role of a detective (maybe?) solving a crime, which in my book most certainly constitutes it being labeled as a game even if functions more-or-less like a search engine. Okay? Okay.
While I didn’t fall head-over-heels in love with Her Story as many seemed to last year, I do consider it to a very worthwhile experience by virtue of its unique concept and a plot that, by the nature of how players explore it, is gradually revealed in a manner that defies any form of chronological order. Players are essentially placed in front of a police database, and are tasked with doing nothing more than watching a series of short clips that are uncovered by typing different keywords into a search box. You can type whatever you want into the box, though obviously it is preferable if you follow the trail of clues that are placed in your lap by the game, given to you by the woman who is the subject of the recorded police interviews you’re watching.
Her Story contains no characters other than this lone woman, the widow of the man whose death you’re investigating, and as such the majority of both the game’s success and failures are as a result of the actresses’ performance. While she steers clear of the hokey acting so prevalent in FMV games of old, she still often verges upon the theatricality of a London West End play, which feels at odds with the game’s premise. This made me a little less enamored with the game than seemingly the majority of others who played it, but I was still more than willing to continue uncovering its compelling story for myself, feeling like an actual detective in the process as I stumbled upon new revelations and began to piece together the puzzle of its murder most foul. For those who missed it last year, Her Story is certainly worthy of your time.
Amidst all the maiming and merciless multiplayer mauling of 2015, 80 Days stood as one of the more cerebral games you could indulge in. Though initially released on iOS and Android back in 2014, 80 Days made its Steam debut last year and promptly won me over with its intimate tale of love, friendship and everything in between on a globe-trotting adventure.
Based upon the classic Jules Verne novel Around the World in Eighty Days, the game places players in the shoes of Jean Passepartout, who accompanies his master Phileas Fogg on a journey around the world as part of an elaborate bet. 80 Days follows the same story beats of the novel it is based upon, though also grants the player a great deal of freedom in regards to how they will explore the world ahead of them, along with the relationships that will be formed between Passepartout and the characters he comes into contact with.
80 Days is fundamentally a game that hinges upon companionship, whether that be with Phileas Fogg or the citizens of the countries you visit, with these bonds allowing for multiple twists and turns within your adventure, shaped by some of the most sharp-witted and intelligent dialogue you’ll find in a video game (I realize that this isn’t a particularly grandiose statement given the typical state of video game dialogue, but trust me, it’s good). While the plethora of text boxes aren’t going to be to everyone’s taste due to the steadily declining attention spans of gamers, for those who are willing to embark on a journey that requires the imagination of a book but features the interactivity of a video game, I strongly urge you to check out 80 Days.
Having not actually played Syndicate, the game which Satellite Reign serves as a spiritual successor to, I can’t tell you just how closely the game resembles the 1993 DOS classic. Though, considering it was an RTS game released in the early nineties, I’m going to take a stab at guessing that it probably hasn’t aged very well, and add that Satellite Reign is very much a game of this era – it even has an open-world, which as we all know was pretty much made mandatory in 2015.
Satellite Reign operates much like XCOM in terms of its gameplay, allowing for your band of soldiers to hug walls, and your team to be mixed up and replaced whenever a more highly skilled potential player-character presents themselves. However, it is in the way that it handles the structuring of its missions that it forges its own identity, with players able to confront objectives in any way they see fit, and in more-or-less any order. Satellite Reign grants a level of freedom to the player that is rare for an RTS, and does so without it being detrimental to the game itself. Enforcing a GTA-esque Wanted Level system, wherein a proportionate amount of enemy forces are called in depending upon the severity of the “crime” you have committed, Satellite Reign’s dystopian, cyberpunk vision of the future may feature a particularly dumb authoritarian police force (much like GTA, running around for a bit and hiding behind a wall will cause police to simply give up on you), but it’s all beneficial to the game itself.
I had a tremendous amount of fun choosing the best way in which to tackle missions, with Satellite Reign allowing for stealthy runs along with the more typical guns-a-blazin’ strategy, and even makes plenty of room for tactics that fall somewhere in between; on multiple occasions I placed a few members of my squad within my enemies’ field of vision, in order to cause a distraction whilst I guided the remaining squad member to the objective, evading detection in the process. There were few greater feelings in gaming in 2015 than successfully completing a mission in Satellite Reign, with it perfectly combining a high level of challenge with a great sense of reward to make for one of the most enjoyable strategy games of the year.
Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime
Ironically, Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime could well lead to you sleeping on the sofa if you choose to play it with your significant other, as unlike other “couples friendly” games such as Minecraft, Super Mario 3D World and anything in the Lego series, Lovers… swiftly increasing difficulty curve means that play sessions often devolve into shouting matches between you and your co-op partner.
Lovers… is dependent upon communication between you and the individual you choose to play it with which, given the title of the game, is clearly intended to be someone you’re romantically involved with. If you’re not knuckled down in a relationship, though, it’s perfectly acceptable to bring a friend along for the ride. You loner.
The game sees you and your partner controlling a spacecraft hurtling through the universe, with it having a numerous amount of bells and whistles attached to it that can only be interacted with individually. The ship’s movement, shield, weaponry and other such features can only be controlled by one player at a time, meaning that you need to remain in constant communication with your partner in order to ensure that all bases are covered. Are you accidentally floating into a horde of space monsters? Then one player is going to have to guide you out of that mess, while the other desperately tries to blast them away. Hurtling your way through an asteroid field? You’re going to need your partner to carefully maneuver your ship through your ship through the perilous environment, while you man your shields in order to prevent you from withstanding any damage.
As Lovers… progresses you’ll frequently find yourself becoming overwhelmed by the hostile world around you, and as you set about your goal – to collect the caged crowds of rabbits littered throughout each stage – you and your partner will screw up multiple times, lending to equal moments of frustration and hilarity. It’s unlike any co-op game you’ve likely played before, and if you’re on the lookout for a new local co-operative multiplayer experience that features a greater degree of challenge than you’re typically used to from such games, you should certainly consider Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime. Just don’t blame me when your girl/boyfriend doesn’t want to speak to you anymore.