Transistor is easily my game of the year. I think I said everything about it in the accompanying thread, but it has a gorgeous art style,l music that I listen occasionally outside of the game, and a tactical combat system that was fun to experiment with for the two playthroughs. The narrative is subtle and grim in a way that resonated with me. Since my last posts on it they have released the soundtrack with Red's humming, and there have been a few articles discussing the story. I liked this one (spoilers of course).
I picked up Planetary Annihilation when it was dirt cheap on the winter sale. I've been interested in it for a while but had some hesitations. Apparently a lot of people are upset with it, and I can see that for those who bought it for its price at release ($50-$90). It's not very polished, multiple planets (5+) is pretty much unplayable, and the single player is worthless. I've been having some fun with it though. I just recently played a 2v2 where I contained their team and then they went full defensive with heavy artillery to try to pick at us from their fortress. I don't know how they were expecting to win, but it was pretty fun breaking them. http://youtu.be/GWP8F6SPv-8
I can't say Alien Isolation disappointed me, but mainly because I went into it with zero expectations. Initially the visual design blew me away. I don't think I need to elaborate on that. But the alien never came across as intimidating, which was kind of the whole point. Annoying, sure, even comical at times. There was one point where I was in the dark peeking out of a vent, and the alien was 15m ahead of me behind two closed door with glass windows, among other clutter (the reveal area). It suddenly charged me and kills me. Oh, so when I'm directly behind a chest high obstruction right next to the alien I'm invisible, and if not I guess it has superman hawk vision.
The story that is there is barely passable as motivation for all the backtracking, and apparently frustrating for fans of the IP. Amanda Ripley regularly sounds incredibly emotionally distraught, and all the while playing as her I couldn't care less. Relax, nothing on this ship looks under desks. They use WarioWare microgames for security. We got dis.
As the game progresses it becomes more of a typical albeit slow paced FPS while the game drags its feet a little to the end. It was still okay. On the small scale, it has some good moments in it. On the large scale, it's forgettable. They made the alien feel so gamey. It pops down from a vent, you sneak around it while it pretends not to be following you. Eventually it pops up the vent, and then you're fine and dandy until it pops down again. I don't even need to talk about the flamethrower. The only reason the flamethrower is okay is because the stealth is more like a minor inconvenience. More like conveniencethrower, amirite?
I also played the most expensive video game demo ever, Metal Gear Solid Ground Zeroes. The gameplay is solid and decent fun. The story is bearpants. Not anything like Metal Gear Solid 2 where it feels like Kojima is trolling you. It's like they're trying to be Call of Duty while also retaining the MGS melodrama, and the MGS humor is trying desperately to squeeze in between the two. I don't get it. They're playing it so serious and yet it's so very corny. The ending cutscene:
They land on Mother Base under attack. Snake rescues Miller, and some redshirt gets shot in front of Snake. Snake then performs the most pathetic roaring revenge charge I've ever seen. He takes two steps, fires a few bullets at nothing, and runs out of ammo. Miller holds out his hand. "Snaaake!" Snake turns around to grab his hand in super slow mo. Am I supposed to laugh at this as a satirical commentary on blockbuster action movies/games, or...? PLEASE SOMEONE HELP ME
Miller suddenly throws a tantrum on Paz. Paz gets up and notifies Snake that there's another bomb... somewhere. How does she know? Did what's his face tell her? Has he not read the Evil Overlord List? Was she conscious during the operation? If so, how did she know they were bombs? How did the medic not notice the second bomb when they were digging around inside her gut? That thing was pretty big. I bet Para-Medic would have noticed. Why has this thing not gone off by now? Why does it go off immediately after she falls the exact safe distance such that Snake survives?
I think there's another cutscene after that. I was done with cutscenes. There are plenty of similar things going on in the earlier MGS games of course, but it's clear that there's always something light hearted behind it. This is so tonally deadpan serious and dark, so I treat it as such and my mind shatters with questions. The only decent answer I can come up with is "Japan." Like whatever happened to Final Fantasy.
Apart from that, it's strange to me how they changed the codec from game stopping quirky conversation time to banal gameplay hints. It strikes me as a false compromise. Unless I'm missing something, I imagine both long time fans and new players will dislike that.
This War of Mine is a simple economic simulator. The little events that can happen are neat, and I like how you can effectively make your own story, but it still just boils down to a simple economic simulator in my head. Rummage, steal, manage inventory, manage depression. Use the things you get to develop your shelter so that you can make more things so that you can develop your shelter. And as you might expect, it's not terribly accurate. I felt I saw everything I cared to see after a few hours. My interest piqued and then fell off a cliff. I suppose I liked it for what it was though.
NEO Scavenger is a pretty interesting turn based roguelike survival game. You start the game with just a medical gown, and then you're thrown into the post apocalyptic wilderness. You're likely to die within a few days of hypothermia if you don't get adequate clothing or shelter. You can only carry one thing in each hand until you find containers or packs or clothing with pockets. There's a lot of options for combat, and combat is as brutal as you would expect. Blisters, scrapes, bruises, fractured ribs, concussions, interal bleeding, it's a game about how to die rather than how to survive for me still. I'll be damned if I don't figure out what that glow is about eventually.