Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Best of 2015: Games!

Right, onwards with the review of the year. For all we watch about a movie a week, and for all I've managed to read quite a bit, this year has probably been dominated by gaming; both electronically and around a table. The former has become a main source of relaxation; and a lot more solo-oriented than previous years, whilst the latter has has largely been driven by the kids, now Robert is old enough to get into something a little more complex than Mousetrap. By my count I've played 14 video games this year, and 18 boardgames (some several times and one a lot) so I feel thats a pretty varied run. Lets break it down a bit.

On the video games front, co-op has really taken a hit. Z and I dropped Guild Wars 2 earlier in the year, due mainly, I think, to my frustration with the story missions, and we've not managed to find a co-op experience to replace it. My more regular co-op partner has, much as I have, been beaten around by the "real life" stick this year, which has made getting together harder, although we did get a lot of time in the refreshingly old-school Divinty: Original Sin and the boisterous Borderlands: The Pre-Sequal. But mostly, it seems, I've been out there on my own, a lone survivor against the odds.

I've got to admit that I've struggled with the more thinky games on my list like Offworld Trading Company and Endless Legend, where a slightly befuddled attention span has found me wanting. Even replaying the wonderful remaster of Homeworld left me playing direct solutions rather than the tactical options the game offers. So found more pleasure in old-school shooter Wolfenstein: The New Order or something like Mad Max, which offered reliable, and if I'm honest, untaxing entertainment. I'm playing the hell out of Fallout 4 at the moment (like a lot of other people) but it's simple, escapist stuff.

The exception here is The Talos Principle, a philosophically minded first person puzzle game that had me grabbed like little else this year. I loved this game, and it's expansion, and lived and breathed it for a few weeks until I'd finished it. I remember doodling puzzle solutions in meetings, and on one notable occasion dreaming one. It's a fantastic game, and totally my video game of the year.

Over on the tabletop side we've been dominated by playing though the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords with Ewan. After instigating a gaming night we played a scenario a week, which was a good pace for it, and a good time was had by all. After a short break, we've even moved onto the next box set, Skull and Shackles. The only downside is that Ewan and  I haven't played as much one-on-one, such as X-Wing or Armada, and my Warhammer 40k habit it pretty much restricted to painting at the moment.

However, we have managed to play a lot more with the full four of us. Robert now has a good understanding of games like the phenomenally good Sushi Go! or Quirkle, and pretty much anyone can play the spammy but fun Terror in Meeple City. With a bit of help he can keep up with a lot of other games to, with Taekonoko, King of Tokyo/New York and even Smash Up hitting the table over the year. The fully co-op Thunderbirds game was also a cautious success, but we need  to give it another go now we understand how challenging it can get.

Finally a mention for some of the more complex games I've seen for the first time this year, notably the dwarf-placement extravaganza that is Caverna, and train-robbing PvP game Colt Express. Both I need to play more of. But thats about it for this quick run down, and my top 5s are:

Video Games:
1.  The Talos Principle
2.  Tales from the Borderlands
3.  Fallout 4
4.  Homeworld Remastered
5.  Divinity: Original Sin

BoardGames:
1.  Sushi Go
2.  Pathfinder Adventure Card Game
3.  Colt Express
4.  Terror in Meeple City
5.  Quirkle