So as 2015 begins, I decided that I wanted to put together a blog post listing some of my favorite gaming moments of 2014. Not favorite games or any sort of ranked list, (and probably not even comprehensive), this is just a walk down memory lane of some gaming moments that really stuck with me this past year.
So in no particular order:
Playing 'The Room' and 'The Room Two' on iPad
With mind-bendingly clever puzzles, an awesome aesthetic, and really great environmental storytelling, this pair of games felt like if Guillermo Del Toro directed Myst and I really loved them.
Learning about the tears and parallel dimensions for the first time in 'Bioshock Infinite'
I knew almost nothing about Bioshock Infinite before I played it, so when I started to realize that there was dimensional tomfoolery afoot I was really excited. That moment finding the rift in the musician's apartment practically had me giggling with happiness.
Beating 'Red Dead Redemption'... Four years later.
I started 'Red Dead Redemption' shortly after it came out in May 2010 but stopped playing it about 3 hours short of its big conclusion. On a whim I put it back in my PS3 again and was treated to a really fantastic ending and a reminder of why I enjoyed the game so much in the first place.
Playing as April Ryan in 'The Longest Journey'
Okay so the game's exposition is a serious pain, the puzzles are often too obtuse, and the pacing is kind of terrible, but man did I enjoy playing as April Ryan in 'The Longest Journey.' Funny and quippy with buckets of personality and great relationships, she was someone who I enjoyed getting to know while playing through the game.
The loading screen exposition in 'Shadowrun Returns'
'Shadowrun Returns' really impressed me with how it used so much text to its advantage. Rather than use its limited engine to make cutscenes, so much of the story and world-building in Shadowrun was done with good old fashioned prose. Really stylish and well-written prose. It really captured that feeling of having a DM walk you through a tabletop game.
Which leads me too...
Playing as a tone-deaf dwarven bard, Smekling the Shrill, in D&D
It was only a one-night campaign, but man did I enjoy my night of D&D with Molly Maloney, Nicole Martinez, and Josh Mobley. My character, Smekling (drawing above by Molly) was a would-be con artist struggling to trick his hired, psychopathic mercenaries (played by Molly and Nicole) into thinking that he had money (he did not). The evening's most amazing moment was when we decided to pickpocket an entire tavern while Smekling distracted everyone with his bagpipe music.
Roleplaying our way through 'Arkham Horror'
Another fantastic group experience, playing the board game 'Arkham Horror' with Jason Latino, Molly Maloney, Jonathan Stauder, and Nicole Martinez was accentuated when we made the decision to all roleplay as our assigned characters. Molly's performance as Ashcan Pete (the kindly hobo armed only with whiskey, his shotgun, and his dog) was particularly inspired.
And speaking of horror...
Using "Feelies" to play 'Lurking Horror'
Okay, so I didn't physically have them (I played a terrific iPad version) but needing to put aside the text parser of 'Lurking Horror' to consult my ID Card or Student Handbook for answers created a crazy feeling of immersion, considering I was just playing a text-based game. The damn urchin kid in the basement still gives me the creeps.
Hanging out with (and killing) my companions in 'Dragon Age: Origins'
"Wait you killed her?!"
"Yeah! She just attacked me!"
This was the conversation I had that made me realize, to my shock, that 'Dragon Age: Origins' didn't force its party members upon you. I made it 15 hours into Dragon Age when I found out that I had killed off, abandoned, or murdered a shocking number of potential party members. (One of whom I never even met)
Needless to say, after I found that out I was much more careful in trying to recruit every possible person I met because, my god, I love these companions. Their banter and their inter-character relationships (Zevran + Wynne 4ever) made the game fun to just run around in and more than once I would turn up the volume to listen to their ambient chatter.
RIP Potential Companions. I'm sorry I murdered or abandoned you.
A great year for mobile gaming
Besides the aforementioned 'The Room' and 'The Room Two' I played a ton of great games on my iPad this year, including 'Monument Valley,' '80 Days,' and 'Device6.' All of them fascinated me because they felt tailor-made to touchscreen interfaces and did things with my device that couldn't be done on a console or computer. Definitely feels like we're in for something of a renaissance with mobile gaming.
And last but not least...
Seeing a video game I contributed to on store shelves
Walking into Gamestop and seeing video games that I helped contribute to on the shelves was more than a little surreal. I like it.
So here's to you, gaming in 2014. Can't wait to see what 2015 brings on!