Saturday, January 31, 2015

I am loving all these Darkest Dungeon streams.


Red Hook gave away a ton of Early Access keys to streamers yesterday, and ever since I've been pretty much glued to my computer, watching people of various skill levels either getting their asses handed to them or (much more rarely) kicking the crap out of the game.

Last night, I watched a dude whose party was built around a Jester who just sat in the back and... man, it really sold me on Jesters.


A Vestal (2nd from left, above) can heal the entire party for 1-2 health each turn - not bad!  The Jester can reduce everyone's stress - everyone in the party - every single turn.  The streamer's tactics consisted of alternating between the Jester's stress reduction and his party buff, which I never got a close enough look at.  Plus accuracy?  Plus dodge?  I don't know, but after watching that team roll for an hour with no one hitting 100 stress and getting Afflicted, I know I'm training up a Jester as soon as I can.

Can't wait.  Can't wait!  This is indeed a week(end) of torment!

Oh, also, I'm really enjoying Dying Light.  It takes a while to get up to speed (so to speak), but no, it's fabulous.

[update] 
Currently the frontrunner for a Darkest Dungeon header. 

Hear ye all, the ballad of Buttz the Jester.

If this embeds properly... this is the steam mentioned above.  This guy had logged 15 hours before starting this stream, so he has some experience with the game - but the stream represents a fresh playthrough, on a new save.

...it has a thing about autoplaying which I don't know how to shut off, so we'll just put it behind a page break.

Friday, January 30, 2015

The Games of February 2014.

Whelp, so much for January.


February offers a slew of could-be-great games that we're not quite sure about, epitomized in Ready at Dawn's absolutely gorgeous romp through alternate history 1880s.  It also, of course, contains the Steam early access release of my single most-anticipated game of the year - but let's begin with something that fits our theme.  That is, could be awesome, but we can't say for certain.


February 3rd
Apotheon, a 2D brawler.
PC, PS4
Hype-O-Meter: Worth checkin' out.

Remember a game called Nexuiz?  Think back.  You kinda' remember hearing the word, don't you?  It was an indie first-person shooter which got picked up by THQ and remastered for a triple-A audience a few  years back.

That indie team was Alientrap Games.  After Nexuiz, they changed gears to the very well-received Capsized on Steam, a fast-paced physics-based action-platformer.  With Apotheon, Alientrap is making a pure 2D platforming brawler with a very unique art style - again, a gear-switch for the company - which is free on February's PS+ lineup.

Definitely worth checkin' out.

A gothic Roguelike strategy RPG.
February 3rd - Steam early access - Hype-O-Meter: Shattered beyond repair.

Readers of this blog are aware that I am flipping out over Darkest Dungeon lately, to the point that I suspect I don't need to tell you what it is (click the link above if you don't know what it is).  I've been following the game since before its Kickstarter happened and for Christmas, the greatest gift of all was the news that it will eventually land on PS4 and Vita - the Vita being my preferred platform for all things - but its final release is probably coming in mid-to-late 2015.

And that's a long damned time.  Fortunately, the game was born as a PC title first, and to offer its backers a nosh of their promised prize before the final release, the game will come to Steam early access on February 3rd. (Here's its Steam page.)

I've not been a PC gamer in many, many, many moons - but I'll come back to KBAM for Darkest Dungeon.

Oh yes.  Can't wait.


February 10th
Evolve, a four-on-one team shooter. 
PS4, One, PC
Hype-O-Meter: Myeh.

Turtle Rock is staffed by members of the team who put the legendary Left 4 Dead together.  In Evolve, it's four player-controlled hunters taking on one player-controlled boss monster, which can level up by consuming other creatures.  Might be awesome!


February 17th.  Or 24th.  Not sure.
Resident Evil Revelations 2, a classic survival horror.
PS4, PS3, One, 360, PC
Hype-O-Meter:  Wouldn't it be nice to play a good Resident Evil again?

Less a reboot for the series than a return to form, Revelations 2 harkens back to the good ol' days of Resident Evil, when you were trapped in a creepy environment with too-few bullets and some very dangerous, slow-moving enemies.  Built as an episodic release (no idea why), only the first episode comes out this month.  The next will follow in a week, and so on, until all four episodes are released along with a retail version on March 18th.

Naturally, what I'm really looking forward to is a Vita version, which will either come out in concert with the retail versions in March, or some time later.

I just hope it's good.  A triple-A survival/horror/action title on my Vita?  Awesome.


A story-driven third-person shooter/action game.
February 20th - PS4 - Hype-O-Meter: Diceroll!

Could be Yahtzee, could be a snake eyes - we won't know until the 20th and we actually lay hands on Ready at Dawn's leap to consoles.  If ideally realized, The Order could be the new yardstick for cinematic presentation in gaming, and a hell of a lot of fun to boot.  If not, it could be Beyond: Two Souls: With Guns and Werewolves in Steampunk Victorian London.

...which, honestly, already sounds a lot better than Beyond: Two Souls.


February 20th
Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, a 2D platformer from Nintendo.
Wii U
Hype-O-Meter:  Ohoh.  I think not.

The Rainbow Curse is the Wii U sequel to 2005 DS title Kirby: Canvas Curse, which saw the player guiding an endlessly-rolling pink sphere through its worlds on rainbow strings drawn with the handheld's stylus.  Similarly, Rainbow Curse permits the player to draw a rainbow-string path for Kirby with the Wii U's touchpad.

There are some who are hyped for this, no doubt, but I'm not among them.


Febuary 24th
htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary, a 2D puzzle platformer from Nippon Ichi.
Vita
Hype-O-Meter: Mayyybe.

Without a shred of irony, I'll admit I'm mildly interested in The Firefly Diary, in which a bright firefly and a dark firefly guide a mysterious, helpless and totally adorable little girl with horns up through the underworld.  This is, I'll grant, entirely based on how cute the little horned girl is.

She's supercute.

February 24th
Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart, a tactical JRPG.
Vita
Hype-O-Meter:  I've never played one of those Neptunia games, and I doubt I'll start now...

...but I must admit I'm pleased to see more strategy games on Vita.  A spinoff of the Hyperdimension Neptunia series in which video game platforms are anthropomorphized as pretty girls, Goddess Black Heart follows Noire - the personification of the PlayStation 3 - as she attempts to rescue the world of Game Shijōkai (literally "game market") from sinister forces.

This is a real thing.

* * *

And that's February!  Darkest Dungeon!  Woooo!

...is it bad of me that I paid off my preorder on The Order yesterday for like eighty bucks and could really take that game or leave it, but I'm dying to play a game that's not finished, that'll cost me twenty? 

We live in strange times. 

Darkest Dungeon, explained in four minutes.

This guy actually does a great job of covering most of the bases.  Not all, but c'mon - he's only got four minutes.



[update] Oh, and the same dude put together a 35-minute playthrough from the start of the game!  It shows the tutorial fight and everything - and, thankfully, he's only speaking for like ninety seconds of the whole vid.  Awesome.

I could seriously just chill out and watch this game all day.  Cannot wait for the 3rd.



[/update]

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Ted 2 trailer!



Ohhh come on, Ted was super funny.  Except for like, the last half-hour of it.

...I miss Mila Kunis.

Apotheon drops on PS4 on Feb 3rd for the very best price.



Free, of course, is the best price a thing can possibly have, and it's coming with February's PlayStation Plus offerings.  For that price, I'll definitely check out a lovely-looking 2D brawler that seems to have just taken the basic plot of God of War for its own.

PS4 players will also get Transistor, which is awesome, PS3 players will get Yakuza 4, which I'm assured is awesome and Thief, which I can assure you is not, but certainly worth trying out.  The Vita, finally, gets Rogue Legacy, which is awesome, and something called Kick & Fennick which...

...actually I have no idea what Kick & Fennick is, let's look into that...

Hm.  You might wanna' watch this.

Oooh Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax is getting localized!

On PS3 and Vita.  The trailer they put together to announce the localization is... awful.  All the trailer needed was this:



That's right.  Anime schoolgirl basketball super combos.

Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax basically pulls characters from a variety of popular games, mangas and animes, and throws them all into a batshit-crazy fighting game, together.  If we end up getting Selvaria Bles as a DLC character, I'll have to seriously consider it.


Anyway, here's a better trailer which actually shows off the characters and the crazy crap they can pull - but it's like, in Japanese.

This Olli Olli 2 trailer is exceedingly sexy.



Olli Olli: it grows on you.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Smallest Snake sneaks splendidly. Such stealth!

I'll admit, I kinda' wish I had the Satsuki Nendo - but that's neither here nor there. 

I've got Mako (awesome!), I've got Ryuko (awesome!) and I've got Link (woo!).  But there's another Good Smile Nendoroid that was just crying out for purchase.  

Where is he... I'm sure... I mean, he must be around here somewhere... but all I see is this inconspicuous carboard box...


Oh yes.  Yes, this is a thing.


Boosh!

                   (Bad ass.  Get it?)                                                       (This is Snake, do you read me Otacon?)









Bangbangbang!  Oh wait, the SOCOM is silenced.  Um... thupthupthup!   Take that, Revolver Ocelot!


Classic heroic chic.   I'm not going to put that head on him, though.  Obviously.  Not when I can have a totally adorable tiny Solid Snake smoking a tiny adorable cigarette!



Also I found a Catbug plush a few weeks ago.  That had to happen, obviously.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Can't blog.

Dying Light.  You see the bind I'm in.

Also, yet again, this week there are some crazy deals on the PSN store (Bulletstorm for $5, Doom 3 for $10!)- unless you're a Vita gamer, in which case nothing for you.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

You haven't heard of Severed from Drinkbox Studios? Let's fix that.

Yes, this is entirely a reaction to Gio's comment on yesterday's post. 
I suspect there are many who aren't really familiar with...


Before we begin, I'd just like to have a patriotic moment in which I bring your attention to the number of awesome indie game developers which happen to be Canadian.

  • Klei: Shank 2, Mark of the Ninja, Don't Starve, Invisible Inc
  • Capybara Games: Superbrothers: Sword & Sorcery EP, Critter Crunch, Super Time Force, Below
  • Freebird Games: To The Moon
  • Cellar Door Games: Rogue Legacy
  • Tribute Games: Mercenary Kings
  • Frima: Nun Attack, Chariot
  • Queasy Games: Everyday Shooter
  • Metanet: N, N+
  • Polytron: Fez
  • Red Hook: Darkest Dungeon (which will prove awesome, I suspect)...
...and, of course, Drinkbox Studios.

To appreciate Severed, you must first know what Guacamelee is.
Toronto's Drinkbox Studio formed in 2008, when a studio called Pseudo Interactive (who made the Full Auto combat driving games) shuttered its doors.  With just a handful of members and a penchant for snagging grant money (Ontario Media Development, the Canadian Media Fund, et cetera), they started small with 2011's Tales From Space: About A Blob, which, with a metascore of around 76, was more critically-acclaimed than anything Pseudo Interactive had ever put out - but just the beginning for Drinkbox.

Less than a year later, they followed About A Blob up with Mutant Blobs Attack!!!


Mutant Blobs Attack fared better, critically, than its predecessor - it's a relatively simple platformer in which the player controls a sentient blob that grows ever larger as it eats items in the game world - but it was more a game on the cusp of brilliance than actually brilliant.
"If they keep this up, one can expect them to start making flat-out great games - but they're not quite there, yet. They're just pleasantly, comfortably close."
-from the Mutant Blobs Attack!!! review-
Then, in 2013, Drinkbox released the game that, currently, defines the studio.


Guacamelee
 - a 2D platform/brawler Metroidvania - is incredible.  We are lucky if, once per year, a game comes along that seizes us and keeps us coming back the way games did when we were kids, and Guacamelee is an exceptional piece of work from tip to tail.  I probably played through it a dozen times, throughout 2013 and into 2014.
"The entire game looks like concept art in motion. It taps directly in to a gamer's desire to explore, to sniff out secrets, to gain strength and be rewarded for our efforts and climb ever-higher. Everything about Guacamelee is lovely. It is, in every moment, a pleasure - one of the most purely fun games I played in the past year - and the best PSN game of 2013."
-best of 2013 - PSN game-
With Guacamelee, which went so far beyond anything they had done in the past, Drinkbox had its first bona fide crossover hit.  After its release on PS3 and Vita, it would be ported to Windows, Mac, Linux, PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360 and Xbox One within the year - and everyone was salivating at the thought of Guacamelee 2: Juan's Jueturn. 

Drinkbox, though, decided on something else.  In the same way Klei abandoned 2D action-platformers when they moved from (the phenomenal) Mark of the Ninja to Don't Starve, Drinkbox struck out in an entirely new direction for their fourth game.

It would be a touch-controlled RPG.  Like, touchscreen gesture-based.  For smartphones and stuff.

Swipe at the arms to chop them off!

It would be absolutely nothing like Guacamelee, and when I saw its first trailer I literally said
"I know this is very Entitled-Gamer of me, but between Drinkbox and Klei, I'm getting tired of wonderful 2D action-platformer developers dropping one of my favourite genres and moving on.  I want Guacamelee 2 and a spirtual sequel to Mark of the Ninja or Shank, damnit."
-April 13, 2014-
I'm not alone, of course, and Drinkbox knows this.  Their FAQ for Severed ends thusly:

Actually, the entire Severed website is worth checking out.
It's gorgeous.

And, y'know, they have a point.  And when I first saw Severed's trailer, I also said
"Okay, okay. I love you, Drinkbox. I'll check it out... if it ever comes to Vita."
-April 13, 2014-
Well, it's coming to Vita, and I'm getting used to the idea. More and more, I'm liking the sound of it

The heroine.

You play as the nameless heroine, who lost her arm and perhaps her memory in an unexplained attack.  Wielding nothing but determination and a living sword with a great reptilian eye in the guard, you set out to "knit together pieces of her story from the past and the future.  Our heroine will embark on a journey through a surreal non-linear world using a gesture based combat mechanic to defeat enemies in this first person adventure. Unlock new abilities, discover secrets of the land, and grow in power as you master both offensive and defensive techniques. Let Severed be your mystery to unravel."

And the game is... beautiful and twisted.  It is, to my Canadian eye, a very Canadian game.  It doesn't blatantly use Native-style art, but it keeps some of the traits - the boldness of the lines, the psychedelic mix of colours, the romance of beauty in nature - while still feeling purely Drinkbox.

Here is Severed's first trailer, shown last summer before they'd locked down a platform.



I wish I could find a .gif of the trailer's final image - the close-up of her face, once she's donned her monstrous, living armor.  The way her eyes (or are they the defeated creature's?) tremble and glisten with all that hideous power, barely contained and desperate to erupt from its cage.

The heroine (later).

Now, if you're anything like me, your first question upon viewing that trailer (even though it answers that question right there in the video) is what is that music?!  It's Yamantaka//Sonic Titan, a Canadian experimental music collective which worked on the music for Klei's Mark of the Ninja.  Specifically, the song used here is Crystal Fortress Over The Sea of Trees from their 2011 album YT//ST.

And immediately - even with the looming sigh of touch controls hanging over it - there's a lot to love about Severed, just from that trailer.

A female hero, which we don't see nearly enough of in video gaming - though indies in general have certainly been doing their part, lately.

Gorgeous, surreal environments.  Like Guacamelee, Severed doesn't look like any other game.  You can't describe its environments using clichés because when you see it, none come to mind - it looks only like itself - totally unique, totally Drinkbox.


An enigmatic story - distant and secretive like we find in Dark Souls, Resonance of Fate or Transistor - one that refuses to reveal too much, or perhaps anything at all.  Severed looks to retain its mystery, and make one of its principal pleasures for the gamer the act of exploring it.

It's bright and beautiful, it's twisted and grotesque.  It's a game that's "dark," but not traditionally so.  It's not excessively violent or lurid or dripping in gore.  It lacks the trappings of what we usually consider dark or mature in games in favour of meaningfully dark and mature emotions - the lost family, the abandoned/mutilated hero and the terrible strength she takes for herself on her quest.



Fantastic, otherworldly music.  Yamantaka//Sonic Titan's sound is.... alien, modern and a little tribal, but it soars so high and so deep, emotionally - its spirit matches the game's romance, and its violence hammers home the terror of the heroine's trials and the thrill of her strength.

Who wants to bet me this is the combat tutorial?
C'maaan - any takers?

At PSX in December, it was announced that the game will appear first on the PlayStation Vita, with a release window of Spring 2015.  This is its gameplay trailer.



And really, what turned me off Severed in the first place was, just as Drinkbox pointed out, that it's not a sequel to Guacamelee.  If one simply removes that (admittedly, entitled) argument from the equation, what we're left with is this:

There is a game in which you lose your arm - it goes running off - and you explore a gorgeous, romantic, unreal world in a first-person perspective and grow in power with a little eye-for-an-eye action, chopping body parts off boss monsters and wearing them like armor-trophies. That, alone, sound like a pretty cool game to me.  Oh, and it's made by Drinkbox, one of the most talented indie studios in the world, whose games just get progressively better?  Well... yeah.

Sign me up.

(But dude, it's got frickin' touch controls.) 

Don't care anymore.  Sign me up.

Severed.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Hype List - 2015.


2015 is upon us, and it looks to prove itself a banner year in gaming - not just because super hot-looking games like Superhot are coming to a console near you, but because some of the biggest games that were supposed to come out in 2013 or 2014 have been pushed to this calendar.  This effect was pronounced to the point of comedy fodder.


And it will be awesome.  Here we are!  Twenty fifteen, and the water's fine.  The format remains identical to last year's list - and I'll probably update this sometime in late June or mid July.  Maybe.  

The number of cool-looking games bound for a platform near you, in 2015, is sizable.  Huge.  Ridiculous - and there are a few big, triple-A titles that I just can't bring myself to care about - so let's make this an honest hype list.  Let's cut away the chaff.  Let's ignore the games that I just can't bring myself to care about like the next Assassin's Creed or the next Call of Duty.

Let's narrow it down to oh... let's say a hundred games.  Keep it light. And while quite a few of that hundred are big triple-A titles, if I'm being honest, the one game I can't stop thinking about getting to play is...
 
Darkest Dungeon - PC, OSX, Linux, PS4, Vita - Q3-Q4 2015
Developer : Red Hook Studios

#1 on my hype list is Canadian studio Red Hook's Darkest Dungeon.  It's a 2D Roguelike dungeon crawler with permadeath, tactical, position-based combat and a rich home base to tend to the needs of your tragic heroes, but that's not the interesting part.  Red Hook's hook for the title is the concept that, if actual people went down into RPG dungeons and battled the evil that lurks in those dark corners, it would royally screw them up, and their potential to succeed would rest upon their ability to manage their scarred psyches  The game oozes a Lovecraftian tone, in which witnessing the brutal attacks of a particularly grotesque grotesque against a comrade panics your Crusader - "this is folly!" he cries, "all hope is lost!" - which, naturally, brings down the rest of your party.  Thankfully, the pious Vestal is a woman of faith, and when her resolve is similarly tested she discovers a forgotten inner strength that steels her resolve, strengthens her and inspires her comrades to fight on.

It's stylish as hell, it's mature in a meaningful way, it's tactical, it's procedurally generated, and it's driven an exclusively-console gamer to make their first-ever Steam purchase an early-access pass.  I can't get my hands on Darkest Dungeon soon enough.
 
Galak-Z - PS4, Vita, PC - 2015
Developer: 17-Bit

#2 is 17-Bit's Galak-Z, a 2D sci-fi action Roguelike which sees the player dancing through procedurally-generated asteroid fields and space caves, avoiding incoming fire with fore and aft thrusters, gliding about on Newtonian physics in zero G.  It's got the styling of a 70s space-opera anime and the enemy AI of Halo or Far Cry.  I have a friend who was hyped for Watch Dogs 'cause he believed it promised new-gen emergent gameplay.  He was looking in the wrong place.

Two indie Roguelikes top my list.  No wonder so many folks are heading in that direction.

Dying Light - PS4, One, PC - January 27th
Developer: Techland

#3 With Dead Island and Dead Island: Riptide, developer Techland have cemented themselves as the masters of first-person brawling.  Each time a Dead Island game dropped, it wound up somewhere in the top-five gameplay experiences of that year - there has never been another first-person game in which melee combat is so profoundly visceral and immersive.  Now, Techland have broken with (Dead Island) publisher Deep Silver to finance and control the IP rights on Dying Light - and it looks to be the realization of the earnest little developer's dreams  specifically, a child born of a creepy tryst between Dead Island and Mirrors Edge.  They've said, with Dying Light, they want to establish themselves as a triple-A studio (the Dead Island games, in terms of presentation and polish were always pretty B-list), and if Techland can combine their trademark brilliant gameplay with top-tier presentation?  

Dying Light is a heavy GotY contender, for yours truly. 
 
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 5 - PS3, PS4 - 2015
Developer: Atlus

#4 Atlus's Persona - one of several Shin Megami Tensei spin-offs - has the distinction of being both the most-successful thing to come out of Atlus's stable and the series that taught me I could love a JRPG. Now, SMT scholars will tell you Persona is a blunter (easier) instrument than the core franchise, even as they acknowledge its excellence, but there's a flip side to that - its tactical combat is easy and rewarding enough that an action-centric gamer like me can enjoy an emotionally mature JRPG epic with a huge emphasis on its characters. 

So thank you for that, Atlus. 
 
Bloodborne – PS4 – March 24th
Developer: From Software

#5 Famed King’s Field, Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls director Hidetaka Miyazaki didn’t helm 2014’s Dark Souls II – he was hard at work on Bloodborne, the PS4-exclusive spiritual successor to those towering games. Bloodborne’s atmosphere is just as looming, its evil world just as romantic as Miyazaki’s previous titles, but the combat seems a touch more focused.  We’ve never seen a single spell used in the gameplay videos we’ve seen thus far, with heroes relying on (kind of awesome!) transforming melee weaponry, low-range shotguns and dodging – lots of dodging. 

The undisputed king of action RPGs returns, and going on precedence it’s gonna’ be one of the best games of the year.
 
No Man’s Sky – PS4, PC – 2015
Developer: Hello Games

#6 No Man’s Sky is an excellent example of hype above all things.  What do you actually do in No Man’s Sky?  We’re not sure.  You might be able to eke out a living just exploring space and discovering new planets and species.  You might need to ally yourself with the local interstellar government and hunt down bounties, you might pirate unsuspecting ships, you might be a space miner – the fact is, we don’t know.  All we know is the game is ambitious to the point of insanity – an entire galaxy with countless stars and systems to explore, no two planets alike, no two types of grass the same, no two avian species identical – because it’s entirely procedurally generated. 

We, gamers, want to believe No Man’s Sky is the answer to our sci-fi gaming dreams, despite very little evidence to support the idea that it’s fun to play – and I do too.  I want to believe.  I choose hope.  And hype.  If it's the game we see in our minds every time a trailer drops, it might... change everything. 
 
Uncharted 4: A Thief's End – PS4  2015
Developer: Naughty Dog

#7 There has never been a bad Uncharted game.  There’s been Uncharted 2 and other Uncharted games that weren’t quite as amazing, but the series and its developer still lead the industry on cutting-edge graphics, smooth gameplay and compelling narratives in modern gaming.  These are games that set standards, and in many cases (see: cutscene presentation, in-engine graphics) they remain unrivaled years after their last release. 

Our first look at gameplay from 2014’s PSX shows Uncharted has learned a lot of valuable lessons from The Last of Us  namely how to make third-person fisticuffs more stylish and involving for the player while maintaining its pulpy, real-world-ish weight and impact, and if nothing else we can rest assured it will be gorgeous.

[update] Pushed to 2016.  Oh well. [/update]
 
The Banner Saga - PS4, Vita - 2015
Developer: Stoic

#8 Stoic's The Banner Saga, an early standout of the Kickstarter generation of games, should nicely fill the brutally-difficult-strategy-game void on my Vita that’s remained in the absence of an XCOM: Enemy Within port. When The Banner Saga dropped on PCs in 2014, it earned a lot of critical praise and several best strategy game nods – and I’m definitely in the market for some uncompromising, turn-based low fantasy.
 
Mirror's Edge 2 – PS4, One, PC – 2015?  Maybe?  We have no idea.
Developer: D.I.C.E.

#9 2008’s Mirror’s Edge – a pure first-person platformer with a lovely atmospheric soundtrack and bright, minimal, modern art direction – remains unique, more than a half-decade since its release on last-gen consoles.  To this day, I hold that Mirror’s Edge represents the type of leap (heh) the platforming genre hadn’t seen since Super Mario went 64, and an instant classic.  Fans have been clamoring for a sequel ever since, and EA have finally admitted they’re giving it to us.

Praise be.  Let's hope it actually comes out this year. 
 
Severed – Vita – Spring 2015
Developer: Drinkbox Studios

#10 Drinkbox, who cut their teeth on cute, fun platformers before establishing themselves with one of the better action-platformers of the past decade in the shape of Guacamelee, pull a Klei with Severed – striking out in a completely new direction for the studio.  A first-person gesture-controlled dungeon crawler with a morbid but vibrantly colourful and beautiful aesthetic, Severed casts the player as a young woman who survives an attack on her clan and the loss of her arm.  She sets out to put things right, exploring, chopping parts off fanciful, bold enemy designs and grafting them on to herself to gain their strength – growing ever more powerful and grotesque.  Oh, and what we've heard of the soundtrack thus far is incredible

It’s Drinkbox.  Count me in.
 
Hyper Light Drifter – PC, OSX, Linux, PS4, Vita, Wii U, One – "Early" 2015
Developer: Heart Machine

#11 Perhaps the most prominent Kickstarted game in recent memory, Hyper Light Drifter’s gorgeously animated, expressive pixel art and lush presentation – combined with the promise of deep, fast-paced action and a ton of exploration – put the game at the top of many most-anticipated indie lists.  Heart Machine have taken a lot of time fine-tuning the game’s zippy, supremely challenging combat, and press reaction to the gameplay at recent events has been uniformly positive – now we just need to see if they can finish the game.

They're hiring. 
 
Batman: Arkham Knight – PS4, One, PC – June 2, 2015
Developer: Rocksteady

#12 Go ahead and forget the forgettable Arkham Origins from Warner Bros’ Montreal studio.  Rocksteady is back – the Batman-obsessed crew that gave us Arkham Asylum and Arkham City – and I’ll be more than a bit surprised if they turn in anything less than another definitive Batman adventure.  Dangle from tightropes in your dashing cape, soar across a gothic metropolis on leathery wings, take down thugs with vicious crowd-controlling precision and cruise for trouble in the Batmobile.

God yes.
 
Salt and Sanctuary – PS4, Vita – 2015
Developer: Ska Studios

#13 Imagine Dark Souls in 2D on your Vita. 

You’re welcome.

 Not A Hero – PC, PS4, Vita – 2015
Developer: Roll7

#14 The crew behind the mechanically ultra-sharp skateboarder Olli Olli turn their attention to fast-paced, stylish pixellated shooting in Not A Hero.  Given its pedigree, expect simple but deep mechanics, tight controls and absolutely uncompromising challenge.

Hellraid – PS4, One – 2015
Developer: Techland

#15 Dead Island devs Techland have more in the works than just Dying Light.  Hellraid, a dark-fantasy co-op open-world action-RPG, should maintain their exceptional first-person brawling in a creepy kingdom of ambulatory skeletons, demons, monsters and dank crypts ripe for cleansing.

Hell yes.
 
Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number – PC, Linux, OSX, PS4, PS3, Vita – Q1 2015
Developer: Dennaton Games

#16 Back for a bit more of the old ultraviolence, crossover hit Hotline Miami returns with its spectacular music, blink-and-you’ll-miss-action, murder-simulator-as-puzzle levels and gobsmacking levels of violence, gore and shock, made somehow more vivid through its detailed, meaningfully-ugly pixel art. 

This is easily the indie with the biggest built-in audience of 2015.

The Order: 1886 – PS4 – February 20th
Developer: Ready at Dawn

#17 Ready at Dawn, the crew that pushed the PlayStation Portable way beyond its comfort zone with the gorgeous, fun, well-designed, emotionally moving God of War: Chains of Olympus and God of War: Ghost of Sparta, leapfrogs the PS3 and Vita to land on the PS4 with The Order: 1886.  The media, critics and humble bloggers still arent quite sure what to make of The Order, even with its release less than a month away  the story centers around centuries-old knights battling half-breed lycanthropes in alternate-history 1880s steampunk London  it could be one of the best games of 2015, or it could be a tired, confined shooter thats all sizzle and very little steak, with way-too-many quicktime events. 

There’s a lot going against the game – not the least of which is the fact that Ready at Dawn more or less established themselves with brawler-platformers they have zero experience with shooters, zero experience with photorealism, zero experience with console gaming, unless you’re prepared to count their (not great) Wii port of Okami.  But here’s the thing – God of War: Ghost of Sparta and Chains of Olympus were gorgeous, fun, well-designed and emotionally moving games, and one thing all comers agree on is that The Order is gorgeous.

One down.  Three to go.

[update]  It's excellent. [/update]
 
Olli Olli 2: Welcome to Olliwood – PS4, Vita – 2015
Developer: Roll7

#18 The crew behind the mechanically ultra-sharp skateboarder Olli Olli return with... more Olli Olli – which, I’ll admit, I appreciated more than enjoyed at first blush.  A year later, Olli Olli has proven itself a lovely portable game – easy to slip in to for a few minutes of grind-bustin’, high-flying action, and rewarding for long sessions in search of perfection. 

Yeah, I’m down for more of that.

 Inner City Kids - Vita - "Early" 2015
Developer: Jamo Games

#19 If Darkest Dungeon and The Banner Saga don’t end up replacing XCOM in my heart, Inner City Kids may have what the doctor orders for turn-based strategy RPGs. A lovely pixel-art game about some urban youth throwin' down with alien invaders, it boasts a deep customization system for your characters and... that’s pretty much all we know about it. I’ll likely wait for reviews of Inner City Kids – but if it’s the game it is in my head, it’ll be awesome.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain - PS3, PS4, 360, One, PC - 2015
Developer: Kojima Productions

#20 After a hiatus – and a youth largely spent adoring Metal Gear Solid and its sequel – I returned to gaming in earnest about the time Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater came out.  In the years between it, 4 and V, I've played a comparatively infinite number of games more than I had in my entire youth, and I'll be honest - Metal Gear does not cause the stir in my soul it once did.  My affection for the series is, these days, entirely nostalgic, and couldn’t bring me to put more than a few runs into Ground Zeroes last year. 

But that’s not how Metal Gear games are meant to be played.  They’re designed for an obscene amount of replay and experimentation, on the part of the player – an exceptional value for a triple-A, third-person action title, which usually ensures a tight campaign with little replay potential beyond harder difficulty levels. Given Kojima’s style, given the series’ very nature, MGS V will very likely prove one of the best games of 2015 – if one can let themselves get absorbed in it.

 * * *

 So there's my top twenty.  But there's more, my friend.  Much more.  

(How many more?)

Seventy seven more.  After the break below.