I'm the last person to talk to about strategy games. I've had little to no experience with them, and most that I have started I've either never really enjoyed or played half of, then completely forgotten about them. However, when I reviewed the remastered version of Valkyria Chronicles, all that changed. The lush world, the timeless art style and the warm-hearted characters provided me with a fantastic base to get started. Oh, and don't get me started about the combat! Valkyria Chronicles: Remastered doesn't feel like an 8 year old game, and plays like a dream, just as unique and fun as it did 10 years ago. It might just be a remaster, but if you missed this game on the PS3, I urge you to pick up the PS4 version.
There's one word I can think of that fully encompasses my feelings towards Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth — fun. I've loved every second I've spent with my Digital Monsters. The collector in me was bursting at the seams, collecting all of my favourite Digimon and Digivolving them to create the most powerful team. This game is almost everything I wanted as a kid. What really surprised me is just how much the game's story gripped me, and just how much time I spent running around sleuthing about cyber space. It's also got some of the funkiest music you'll hear. There hasn't been a good Digimon game for years, but Cyber Sleuth has made the wait worth it.
What a way to celebrate your 20th birthday! Pokémon Sun and Moon might be the best entries in the series since Gold and Silver, and that's saying something. The games feel like a breath of fresh air for a series that's relied on the same staples for the past two decades. That's not to say Sun and Moon are completely original, because everyone knows they're not, but taking out gyms and replacing them with trials, making the character models more proportionately realistic, and giving the main characters a burst of personality makes you feel like a little kid again. I can't help but love every new Pokémon game, but Sun and Moon might have a special place in my heart for a few years to come. Also, Team Skull is the best thing about this game.
Yes, it's been 10 years since we saw Noctis in the very first Versus XIII trailer. Yes, this game's gone through development hell and back. Yes, this game has so many flaws, but regardless of all that, I love Final Fantasy XV. I've been so skeptical of the game for the past few years — every time I saw a trailer I was excited, yet every time I picked up the demo I was frustrated and deflated. Now that I've finally got the game, I can safely say Final Fantasy XV has exceeded my expectations. It's been a long time since I've fallen in love with a group of characters like Noctis and the gang, and while I've got a few problems with the way the narrative is delivered and some of the characters, I can't put my PS4 controller down. That's reason enough to make FFXV my favourite new release this year.
That Dragon, Cancer deserves a spot in my list, but I can't score it against the rest of the year's releases. Numinous Games have delivered a truly heartbreaking game that teaches you about love, loss and grief. It's raw and powerful. It's more like a piece of art than a game, but the interactivity it poses immerses you in the experience even more. The creators wanted you to understand how they felt while their son was going through his treatment, and they wanted you to feel every emotion as though it cut into your own skin like a knife. It's an extremely difficult game to play, but one that everyone should take the time to experience.
You didn't actually think you'd get away with me not mentioning Xenogears? In fact, Xenogears is the best game I played throughout the whole year. That's right, I said it. It's been a long time since a game has had a profound effect on me like Xenogears did, but 6 months after I finished the game, I can't stop thinking about it. With a mesmerizing and ambitious story, Xenogears gets away with a lot of mistakes, and definitely shows its age, but this is truly one of the best games I've ever played.
Oh Star Ocean, I could just about forgive The Last Hope because it was an extremely fun game to play. But I'm not sure I could forgive Integrity and Faithlessness. When it was revealed back in 2015, I was beyond excited to see a new Star Ocean game, but the game suffers from a bland story, bland characters, and hectic and glitchy battles that show a lack of care for this once-great series. What hurts more about Integrity and Faithlessness is that I wanted to like the game so much, but after ploughing through two-thirds of the game, I gave up. There was nothing interesting or fun to keep me playing any longer. RIP Star Ocean, you were good while you lasted.