Between humongous games like Fallout 4 and mobile gems like Lara Croft GO, it’s been a great year for gaming.
I usually shy away from creating “best” lists for recent titles, because it’s easy to get overly excited about that-game-you-just-played and think it’s the best thing ever. New things always seem shiny, but shiny doesn’t last. Then you start regretting that you ever recommended that game that was just a fad, or that didn’t quite withstand the test of time.
Still, I found a few games this year particularly engaging for a variety of reasons, and they deserve some recognition even though they’re still new! These are five of my favorites and why I found them so interesting.
5. Life is Strange
What’s remarkable to me about Life is Strange is that it’s a teenage drama that I actually like. Normally, I shy away from teen movies and shows, because I prefer other themes as I get older. But Life is Strange features a believable, introverted teen protagonist with the incredible ability to rewind time. It’s just what I wanted from developer Dontnod Entertainment after their game Remember Me. Though I’m still playing through it, so far they have done a fantastic job of incorporating the game mechanic into a compelling story that tackles big themes — like bullying, violence, and suicide — with unforgettable characters.
4. Her Story
Her Story is an engaging experiment in storytelling through video games. Your only interaction with the game is through an old-fashioned computer screen, as you use keywords to search for snippets of police interviews. Unraveling the story as you go, you try to solve a murder case. I wrote more about it here and highly recommend the two- or three-hour game if you have a free evening!
3. Gears of War Ultimate Edition
I played Gears of War before, but I never loved it like I did this year. When the Ultimate Edition was released on Xbox One, I played co-op with my boyfriend and just fell in love with this series. The co-op experience is perfected in these games, and cover-based shooting never felt so good. I went on to the play the other two games and part of Judgment (not digging Judgment that much, to be honest), and I can tell you that there is now forever a special place in my heart for the Gears. I’ll be replaying these for a long time to come.
SOMA is such an amazing game. It’s memorable and creepy and smart. In it, you explore a run-down underwater lab, filled with robots and other machines that think they’re real humans. I won’t give everything away, but it’s a great exploration of what makes us people and the future of the human consciousness.
1. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
I’ve enjoyed The Witcher worldbuilding and storytelling for awhile now, but Wild Hunt takes it to a whole new level. The fact that it’s open world is nice, but that’s not even what I like most about it. I just think the storytelling and accessibility of the game this time around are better than ever. Whether I was fighting monsters, picking flowers, meeting royalty, or catching up with old friends like Triss, I loved stepping into Geralt’s boots again for this epic conclusion to his story.