I was going to skip doing this this year, but then I felt sort of sad about not reminising about what I’d played, so even if this post is long overdue, here it is! (Unfortunately I have no idea if I’ll be back to regular blogging any time soon. My free time is rather strained due to multiple hobbies, work, trying to study, and real life obligations. But I haven’t forgotten about this site! And I still hope to come back at least semi-permanently).

I didn’t really get much done in 2014. It was a busy year for me and I only managed to finish 11 games. So far my momentum in 2015 has been better, so hopefully I get more games finished this year!

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The Game that Lived Up to the Hype
Bravely Default (3DS)

I don’t know if it was just the people I follow on twitter or the sites I read, but I recall there was quite a lot of hype surrounding this title. I tried to keep it in check, but once we finally got it in English, I was pretty excited, so much so that I played it immediately (and I rarely play games the year they are released as you can tell by these write ups). Now it seems that most people either loved this game or ended up disappointed. I thankfully fall into the former group. That is not to say I think it’s anywhere near perfect. I completely understand why people were so frustrated with the game’s “second part”. And I too felt like that second part did drag on a bit too much, but overall I found the game brought me everything I wanted: a fun job system, tough boss fights, engaging story, varied characters, a lovely world, a solid OST, and good twists and loose ends allowing for theory forming and a sequel. So when I had finally finished it, I had thoroughly enjoyed the ride. I am now eagerly awaiting Bravely Second. Also thumbs up to Nintendo and SquareEnix for that lovely and affordable Limited Edition.

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The Game that Surprised me the Most
Hatoful Boyfriend (steam)

I’m a big otoge fan and I had heard a lot of interesting stuff about Hatoful Boyfriend. Still going in, I wasn’t quite sure how I would feel about this game. Additionally, the fact that the human versions of the birds only pop up during the introduction and afterwards you are staring at a picture of a bird did make me feel a bit odd at first, but after a while I got into it. But where the game really took me by surprise was the core locked route called Bad Boy Love. I call it a route, but really it’s more like horror VN during this portion. And boy did it blow me away; revelations were dropped, world and characters fleshed out, and it gave me just the sort of ending I love. Although I do believe the fact that an otoge was hiding a non-romantic route was probably what surprised me the most. The regular romance routes are also awesome too. I personally loved Ryouta’s route the most.

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The 8-bit Game that I Should have Played Much Sooner
The Legend of Zelda (NES/VC)

I have a lot of catching up to do unfortunately. In 2014 I decided to try the original Legend of Zelda. Playing it made me wish I had tried it sooner! I can totally see why it was such a ground-breaking and beloved game when it first released. The world is big and filled with secrets. You can spend a good portion just fooling around on the overworld. And once you do get to the dungeons, there are puzzles, items, and boss fights waiting. In short, it’s just a very fun game to play. The challenge is just the right amount of toughness too (well excluding the Ganon fight which was pretty rough). And I swear all these NES games keep surprising me with just how good their OST can be. Now I have the more controversial Zelda II to play. I am genuinely curious how I’ll find it.

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The Game with the Most Addictive Gameplay
Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift (NDS)

I love this game so much, but I do think the original FFTA had the better story and cast. However FFTA2 makes up for that by fine tuning the gameplay and making it downright addicting! Something about the bazaar system just made me so addicted to trying to get new loot to get new weapons and armour with new abilities for different jobs. The bite-sized missions also helped. While the story and cast were weaker, I definitely did enjoy the increased amount of cameos and unique characters you could recruit. The expanded amount of side missions also fleshed out the unique characters and world a lot more over FFTA, which for a lore/world building fanatic like me was quite the treat. So SquareEnix when shall we see FFTA3~? ;D

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The Game with the Most Unique Storytelling Approach
Dear Esther (steam)

The ‘explore and slowly discover the backstory’ approach isn’t really all the unique to video games, but Dear Esther put a slightly different spin on the formula. For one, you don’t actually go searching for items or characters to talk to, instead you explore a deserted island and seemingly at random points the game cuts in with some narration. Add in touches of surrealism and at times seemingly unrelated and contradictory recollections by the narrator, and you have quite a unique experience with Dear Esther. The fact that the backstory is pretty vague and expects you to form your own idea of what really is going on added quite a lot to the experience as well.

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The Most Frustrating Game
Organ Trail: Director’s Cut (steam)

This game wasn’t so much as difficult as hard to control. I just could not get used to the aiming system used for the action parts of the game. This was all fine and dandy because I found ways to avoid having to do the action parts as much as possible (like going scavenging when the zombie activity was the lowest and running from the zombies), but then the end game portion consisted of nothing but an action part and where running could only do you so much good. I failed this part miserably about twice on easy before I somehow managed to make it through. And each time you fail, you start from the very beginning. I think you can see why I got so frustrated with this one. Outside that though, the luck based play of the travel aspect of the game does have potential to be hair-ripping worthy on higher difficulties too.

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The Game with the Strangest Premise
Critter Crunch (steam)

This was a tough choice since Breath of Death VII also had a pretty strange premise with you playing as an undead skeleton in a post-apocalyptic world trying to find the secrets of the old civilization. Yet the tone being entirely comical, and a good portion of the charm relying on gaming and 90s references. Buuuuut, I think playing as a weird creature eating other creatures by turning them into gems and then puking the partially processed gems to your little baby creature is just a tad stranger (and sillier). Although the cute aesthetic coupled with the discovery channel like introductions to each stage brought it all together and it was quite a fun and charming match-3 game.

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The Gaming Series that Ended too Soon
Blackwell Epiphany (steam)

It may just be me (because I got into this series fairly recently), but I felt ending the Blackwell games at Epiphany was a tad too premature. There were story threads that got swept under the rug and in general lots of unused world building that could have sustain the series for another game or two. Granted, given the ending, we could still see a sequel, but it won’t be the same given the way it ended. That said, if we can get a sequel, I’ll take it because I want to learn more about how a spirit becomes a guide (and the alluded to training of a spirit to become a guide), who that organization was that drained spirit energy and how they became aware of spirit guides, etc.

Other Games:

  • The Walking Dead: 400 Days (steam) – This is suppose to be more of a snack between Season 1 and Season 2 and it definitely felt that way. There were moments of the emotional drama that made season 1 so good seeping through, but in the end, each scenario is too short to really make you care about what happens to these characters.
  • Mario Kart 8 (Wii U) – I’ve only finished 50 CC and played a few online matches (terribly at that), but it’s an enjoyable game. I think I need to learn to use the gamepad because I’ve been finding the remote quite unresponsive at times. I like the aspect of unlocking kart parts (on top of the staple of unlocking characters). Unlocking things is addictive in general, so this just adds to that aspect. Truthfully though, I need to get back to it because I haven’t even been playing it all that much.
  • Breath of Death VII (steam) – As mentioned above, this one had a pretty silly premise. Although truthfully I did find the jokes and puns to be mostly miss for me. What stood out about this game instead was the music, which was surprisingly quite nice; and the twist on the turn-based formula. The longer you battle, the stronger your foes become. This forces you to really pull out all your stops to finish off the enemies and bosses as quickly as possible. Interested in the developer’s other game Call of Cthulhu too (which I do have on steam as well, so maybe I’ll play that this year).

-SW

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