GOTY (for real this time)

Deception IV: The Nightmare Princess
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This game owns. You play as a witch who murders stupid people who wander into your elaborate death traps. Kind of like the old board game, Mouse Trap, only you get to spend more time actually playing the game instead of taking forever to assemble the pieces.

The Nightmare Princess is technically an expansion pack to Deception IV: Blood Ties. This means you get a bunch of new levels and weapons to play with, in addition to a (very) simple level editor. I’ve spent literally three weeks now finding new and exciting ways to murder guys sporting pompadour haircuts and barely dressed anime girls with a golden bidet, a rocking horse, a banana peel, a swing set, and a giant boulder that shoots electricity.

Undertale
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In a year where “The Scene” has taken a backseat to abusive cliques, cissexist thinkpieces, and the constant, looming spectre of an SPLC-recognized hate group, it’s good to just actually play a game, you know?

And Undertale is a hell of a game. It’s clever. It’s funny. It’s genuinely sad and heartbreaking at times. The characters are immediately endearing. Battles are fun and innovative. And while I don’t think it’s this cultural touchstone that the internet is trying to make it, I still really enjoyed Undertale. I’m glad I played it, if nothing else. Plus it won a GameFAQs poll and pissed off a bunch of douchebags, so I’m totally okay with Undertale’s existence.

Shadowrun: Hong Kong
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I love dystopian cyberpunk. Everyone has their own power fantasy; mine is being a kick-ass bitch with robot parts doing cool things in a shitty futuristic city with blinking lights everywhere. It’s an itch that Shadowrun scratches so well. And it scratches another itch: if your game lets me play as an elf, I will at least give it a shot. If the game is good, then being an elf is a wonderful bonus.

My current character is an Elf Decker that’s good at handling remote-controlled robots, but can also clean house with a shotgun if that doesn’t work out. Unlike other Western RPGs (‘sup Elder Scrolls), the combat isn’t complete shit, either, so I’m able to actually have fun with this character, as opposed to groaning every time the battle music starts playing, waiting to get back into the exploration side of things.

Life is Strange
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A time travelling lesbian stumbles around and fumblefucks her way from one bad situation to another. It’s a great story about love, loss, doing the right thing and doing the “right” thing. An incredibly well-written story with some of the best acting games have ever had.

I could go on forever about how much I loved everything about the game. About how much I found myself relating to the characters, despite not being a “real” teenage girl myself. The episodic release actually helped a game for once, as Life Is Strange managed to take up nine of the most agonizing, yet also pleasant months of my year.

Metal Gear Solid V The Phantom Pain Tactical Espionage Operations
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MGSV is stupid as hell. Also, at time, very profound. Scenes are awkward and stilted. Also well-delivered and incredibly dramatic. Missions are fun and exciting. Also repetitive and surrounded by a bloated, mostly useless overworld. Characters have depth, motive, and a reason to be around. Also incredibly sexist in its depiction of women, and it couldn’t even be honest enough with itself to own it (don’t want to spoil it, but Quiet’s battle bikini has without a doubt the most intelligence-insulting justification for its existence).

That is Metal Gear. Simultaneously existing on two extremes: the best thing ever, and the dumbest fucking bullshit I’ve ever seen.

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate
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Monster Hunter is great. It’s not even remotely user-friendly. It’s frustrating as hell. Hunts against large monster can sometimes take way too fucking long. And that’s why it’s great: you finally kill that big son of a bitch and use its tail to make yourself a new sword. That satisfying feeling of conquering giants by using your brains as well as your brawn. Although I would strongly recommend playing with friends; online randos can take the fun right out of the game.

Resident Evil Revelations 2
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Now admittedly, Revelations 2 was not the best game released this year. The single-player campaign was dull. There were plot holes all over the place, which is kind of amazing, given that Resident Evil doesn’t have a particularly complicated plot to begin with. The episodic release schedule was completely nonsensical. In comparison to everything else on this list, it’s pretty bad.

But then there’s the Raid Mode, which is awesome and can get hella addicting. And also the fact that I have a weakness for Resident Evil, including the entries that are bad or racist.

Dragon Ball Xenoverse
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If nothing else, Dragon Ball gets a GOTY nod solely due to someone at Namco-Bandai having a similar upbringing to mine, growing up roleplaying DBZ characters on MSN groups and chatrooms, then making a game about it fifteen years later.

This game is a chance for me to relive those memories, only without all the horrible acts of child abuse that occurred in-between. The fact that the game is actually, like, good doesn’t hurt, either.

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I was originally going to say that Undertale was my favorite “Indie” game of the year. Then I played this. Now I think Read Only Memories is the best Indie game of the year. Although I’m not sure if it’s because I like the writing and personality more, or, like I said with Shadowrun, I’m a sucker for a cyberpunk dystopia.

Either way, it’s absolutely amazing, and I love it.

Halocine.Systems
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Halocine.Systems is a unique beast. Unlike all of the games I’ve posted about here, there’s no real “goal” to the game. There are no objectives or enemies. The game only ends when you walk out the door (or select “quit” from the menu). Halocline.Systems is very much about relaxation, and taking your time to enjoy the moment. Here, look at some cool visuals and listen to some nice music! There are some secrets to find (I’ve already found most of them), but the experience is very much, “sit back and relax.”

And again, cyberpunk aesthetics.

Play this game right fucking now, thank you.

Honorable Mentions:

Downwell and The Legend of Zelda Tri-Force Heroes: These games were pretty good, but I haven’t played enough of them to really form an opinion other than “these games were pretty good.”

The Legend of Zelda Majora’s Mask 3D, Gunstar Heroes 3D, and Mega Man Legacy Collection: These games all owned, but they’re all re-releases of older games, and I’m being beyond pedantic in only including new games on my 2015 list.

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