by Sam Desatoff
Being an adult is an absolute paradox in regards to gaming. Unlike in my childhood I now have a job and (some) disposable income with which to buy new games. Also unlike in my childhood, however, I have precisely zero free time to play new games. 2015 was a crazy year for me. A promotion at work meant longer hours at work while at the same time trying to graduate college. Throw in family life and you’ve got a delicate balance that leaves precious little time for extracurricular activity. I did manage to play a few video games, though, and if you’d like to read up on my favorites of the year you can click here.
But for every game I got to play, there are a dozen or so I didn’t. It was hard to watch each new release knowing that I had to choose my games and manage my time carefully. Below are five games that released in 2015 that I wish I had the time to play. Some of them I plan on playing in 2016. Others I may never get to. Whatever games I choose to revisit, there is no denying that too many good games is a good problem to have. It’s a testament to the state of the medium that we are forced to choose thus. So without further ado, here are the games I most regret not playing in 2015.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Metal Gear Solid is one of the most important franchises from my adolescence. For me, it solidified that story in a game can be just as gripping as any film or book. With cutscenes that rivaled television shows or movies in both scope and length, Metal Gear Solid delivered intrigue and action at a time when I was just honing my tastes in entertainment. The first Metal Gear Solid gripped me in such a way that I actually went online and purchased the first Metal Gear and unpacked my old NES just to experience the series’ roots. Obviously, storytelling in games came a long way from 1987 to 1998, but my fascination with the series was already solidified. I have played every core game in the series since, save the most recent. I feel deeply invested in these characters, and the fact that I didn’t pick up The Phantom Pain immediately upon release was rather surprising to me. Part of me wonders if the Konami/Kojima fiasco played a part in this. Regardless, this is a game I will be picking up in 2016; I’m not about to miss Hideo Kojima’s magnum opus, even if his name isn’t on the box.
Rise of the Tomb Raider
The 2013 reboot of Tomb Raider (which I reviewed here) reinvented the franchise for an audience more accustomed to gritty violence rather than the arguably campy adventures the series had become known for. The reboot was a success and suddenly Crystal Dynamics had a blockbuster game on its hands. Not surprisingly, work on a sequel began shortly after release. What was surprising, however, was the announcement that Rise of the Tomb Raider would be exclusive to the Xbox One, a system I currently do not own. Microsoft’s console exclusivity deal is suspected to last about a year, but the Windows version is rumored to release early in 2016, so I might get to this one sooner rather than later.
Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC
If one genre could define my childhood, its the JRPG. Ask me on any given day and I’ll tell you my favorite game is Final Fantasy VII, or Chrono Trigger, or Final Fantasy VI, or… Unfortunately, the genre has fallen out of vogue as development budgets have ballooned and the turn-based combat popularized by games like Earthbound and Legend of Dragoon have become more a niche mechanic. This doesn’t mean that RPGs don’t anymore. On the contrary, they are just as plentiful now as they were during the days of the SNES; they’re just more common on handheld systems like Nintendo’s 3DS and Sony’s PlayStation Vita. One of this year’s more anticipated RPG releases was the next chapter in the excellent Legend of Heroes series: Trails in the Sky SC. That “SC” on the end stands for “Second Chapter,” and the reason I haven’t played it yet is because I haven’t yet finished the original Trails in the Sky.
RPGs are often massive games with fifty-plus hour stories that require a huge time investment. As I stated before, I simply don’t have a lot of time to play games these days. In an effort to play as many new games as I can, I must unfortunately cut other games short or ignore them all together. The result is the unfortunate sidelining of my favorite genre. I played roughly the first half of Trails in the Sky in 2014, but never returned to it which is a shame because it is fantastic. Next year, in an effort to recapture my love of the genre that for me defined games for so long, one of my resolutions is to play at least two JRPGs. I plan for them to be both Trails in the Sky titles. I’m not sure where that leaves the next game in the series, though. Ugh.
The Order: 1886
Upon its announcement, The Order was poised to become a hallmark of the PS4’s library. The alternate history setting was very intriguing, the unique weapons were interesting, and the presentation stood to be cinematic. Unfortunately, upon release, the game was panned for being too short with hand-holding gameplay and was quickly overshadowed by the release of Bloodborne the very next month. I confess that I let the naysayers dictate my decision to skip this one. I would like to play this one for myself, and it is now inexpensive enough that I can pick it up without feeling shorted.
A Bunch of Indies
The industry’s independent scene is flourishing. Each year, a huge number of indie titles are released, and 2015 was no different. It can be difficult to cut a swath through the chaff, but there are a large number of gems to find. Axiom Verge is a love letter to Metroid made entirely by one person. Undertale took the indie RPG scene by storm earlier this year. Soma, the follow-up from the team behind Amnesia: The Dark Descent, continued to prove that horror doesn’t require a triple-A development studio. There is a lot on offer from the indie scene, and it’s a shame that the gems are often overshadowed by the sheer number of releases each year. I regret not playing some the standouts, but I am sure that 2016 will see its share of new indie darlings.