It has been a good year for some genres, we've been spoilt for choice when it comes to RPGs and shooters, perhaps not so much in the fields of fighting and sports. but nevertheless, we here at Senshudo bring the year to a close as a satisfied (yet still hungry) bunch of gamers. So without further ado, here are our picks.
Game of the Year
Winner: Fallout 4
Fallout 4 took what players found great about previous games in the series and simply made it better. For the first time ever, players were actually placed in the modern day setting, with a very in-depth character creation (including female characters), engaging quests and an incredible pre-war cinematic. Aside from the typical quests, locations, and vaults, Fallout 4 also had the ability to develop settlements. Settlement building is extremely simple; collect items in the wasteland to use for parts and then make them into power generators and defence turrets. Once settlers begin to move in, stands can be set up to sell commodities such as food and weapons. Story-wise, Fallout 4 had multiple endings with each having catastrophic results. What a game. – Callum Polak
Runner-Up: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, likely to be the last in its franchise, is one of the best Metal Gear Solid games to-date. With a story spanning more than 70+ hours players are provided with more control and choice than almost any game ever. Supported by a strong cast, soundtrack and more gadgets than I can fit in a paragraph. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is Game Of The Year worthy not just because of its vast gameplay it offers but also for its cast, soundtrack and the sheer amount of replay-ability it offers. - Stewart
The surprise hit of the year, Undertale’s NES-era evoking, 8bit soundtrack manages to somehow span every genre imaginable. From Saturday morning cartoon jazz to beautiful, piano-driven orchestral pieces, it has it all. This is even more impressive when you consider that the composer, Toby Fox, was also the writer, artist and lead game designer. This (quite literal) one-man band has managed to compose a score which perfectly underpins every scene in the game, painting a much more vivid picture than the deliberately old-school graphics ever could. – Ben Burns
Runner-Up: The Witcher 3
Far too few times this year has a soundtrack truly made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. But Witcher 3, with its pounding drums, melodic string arrangements, dream-like woodwind and those vocals… oh God those vocals. The vocalist, whoever she may be, has this incredibly masculine voice which absolutely nails the atmosphere when you’re battling horrific monsters from Nordic folklore. For me, personally, this was the soundtrack of the year and I’ll be using it for D&D sessions for many years to come. – Ben Burns
Most of us were surprised by Undertale this year as it appeared as if out of nowhere, and became a huge hit almost immediately. Inspired by, and designed to look like games from the Earthbound series, some found the aesthetic initially off-putting. However those who jumped in were rewarded with clever battle mechanics, an engaging story and some of the brightest, most interesting and likeable characters we’ve seen in a game for a while. The soundtrack is also worth a mention, as it truly is something special. It perfectly captures the spirit of each area and character as well as the player themselves.
The biggest surprise in Undertale, and what in my mind makes it stand out even further, is it’s morality system. The game not only tracks who in the world you choose to save and who you choose to kill, something we are familiar with from Telltale Games or Life is Strange, but it remembers it too. The game actively messes with players minds, reminding them from save to save of their moral choices, something that leads to a much deeper experience as well as giving meaning to replaying the game for it’s various satisfying endings. – Pip
Runner-Up: Rocket League
Rocket League really was one of the biggest surprise hits of the year. Psyonix are a comparative unknown in the world of gaming but a release straight as a PS+ free title definitely seems to have given them the leg up on their Steam release. While the servers definitely creaked at the start, the team jumped to the rescue working their collective butts off to get things running smooth again. You really can't go wrong with Rocket League for an unarguably fun 5-10 minute gaming session on your own or with a bunch of friends.
Also, if someone can teach me how to do the rocket boost into the air to score really extravagant goals, that'd be great. – Sam
Winner: Fallout 4
There really is too much to say about Fallout 4. It's possibly the most expansive, fully fleshed out experience any of us have seen so far with hours of wandering in tow. There have been huge overhauls since New Vegas making the game more customisable an experience than ever before. My first run through was done as a reasonable facsimile of Hulk Hogan where I set out to be a racist douchebag who was only interested in furthering himself.
First time through the story, I hit around the 90 hour mark without really trying to see everything. Once you take the huge stack of mods out there into account, this is guaranteed to keep you going for an incredibly long time. On that note, switching all of the in-game paintings to Bob Ross classics is basically a must - Sam
Runner-Up: Pillars of Eternity
To me, Pillars of Eternity embodies everything that an RPG should be; deep, sprawling and full of wondrous magic and unimaginable treasures. PoE was the first game that truly felt this way for me since Neverwinter Nights 2 back in 2006. The city of Defiance Bay is without an equal in this genre and is easily the most compelling setting I’ve ever had the pleasure of exploring. My only regret is that I wish I could experience it for the first time all over again. – Ben Burns
Winner: Star Wars Battlefront
Star Wars Battlefront is one of the most playful and imaginative shooters of this year, fuelled by a sense of adventure and fun above all else. From action packed hero battles to fighting the Empire in their walker assault on Hoth, it gives you one of the best Star Wars experiences to-date, DICE has taken its expertise from the Battlefield franchise and developed the Star Wars game we’ve all been waiting for. With no detail spared it makes Star Wars Battlefront on of the best looking games of the generation. - Stewart
Unlike your traditional shooter games, Splatoon’s focus isn’t on killing the other team’s members but instead covering the ground in your team’s colour of ink. While swamping the ground with colours, players are able to “splat” the other team’s players to hinder their coverage progress. Compared to every other shooter title released this year, Splatoon was very unconventional as players must get used to the mechanics and art style beforehand. The multiplayer is very tight, it’s fast-paced with each round lasting three minutes meaning that it’s not quite long enough to be annoying which allows anyone to accidentally spend a little too long playing. The fast multiplayer matches also extend to the level and item progression too. Where games such as Battlefront and Black Ops 3 require hours to unlock new weapons and characters, Splatoon rewards players with coins which can quickly be used to unlock better weapons and clothing, each with their additional upgrades which are revealed during play. For the first Nintendo game that released in the past few years that does not contain characters seen before, Splatoon was a complete breath of fresh air, especially to the shooter genre.
Bright inks, unique mechanics and loveable little squids; what’s not to like? – Callum
Winner: Until Dawn
Out of all the Horror games that were released this year Until Dawn stood out the most for me. Not only because of the thrilling story that is told, but also for the way game demonstrates the butterfly effect beautifully. This is showcased throughout all the decisions you make as you progress through the game, providing more insight into the relationships between characters and the different way the story is told with every decision you make. The game's deliberate B-movie style also lends a lot of weight to the atmosphere and makes you feel like you're part of an old VHS movie you found in a bargain bin. - Stewart
I’ve always maintained that horror should be unfair on the protagonist and very few games take that more literally than Soma. To say much more would be to ruin the surprise, but this game is oh so much more than your classic horror jaunt through a scary abandoned something-or-other. With its philosophical edge, Soma asks questions about the nature of reality, existence and what makes us human beings, all while forcing you to flee for your life from those who tried (and failed) to answer those questions before you. – Ben Burns
Best Fighting Game
Winner: Mortal Kombat X
Wow, fighting games were weak this year. Mortal Kombat X won it this year for us because, well, it really didn't have any competition. Don't get me wrong, it was a solid affair, decent campaign but with a really shaky Steam release where nothing more than a few characters and standard Versus mode worked for a day or two. Ultimately, this was simply an updated MK9 with the addition of a few new 'youth' characters to change it up a little. It only really got as long as it took to complete the campaign (maybe 6 hours) and a little messing around with the online and a wander through the 'Krypt' before I got bored.
What happened to the fighter genre this year? Admittedly the new Street Fighter beta is floating around for some at the moment, but even that is getting some major negative feedback at the moment. Has the world moved on from Down, Down-Forward, Forward+Punch? I don't think we're quite done with the genre yet but a lot of franchises are starting to lose their shine and are in need of new challengers (see what I did there?). Injustice had a decent stab at it last year but even that felt fairly short-lived and unbalanced. Time will tell if 2016 is the year of the fighter resurgence I suppose. - Sam
Winner: Her Story
Her Story’s narrative was one of those that really gripped me and refused to let go. While I played through many journeys and adventures this year, my hours spent with Her Story, a good friend (thankfully a psychology buff) and a whiteboard were some of my favourite this year. The story is told through broken up police interview tapes that players must discover through careful keyword searches, although most information given is vague or potentially a lie. The aim is not to be the hero and solve the case, but simply to understand. Did the woman sat in front of you commit murder? If so, why?
This unorthodox method of delivery allows for each player’s experience to be different and lead them to different conclusions. The story is never fully explained and nothing is ever admitted outright, so players are encouraged to track information across the video database and formulate their own theories, this adds to the experience massively. Her Story is an experience to well and truly lose yourself in, and to continue thinking about after exiting the game. – Pip
Runner Up: King’s Quest
The King’s Quest reboot has seen two episodes of point-and-click goodness this year, and through both the writing is very well done. The narrative is delivered by an old king who is telling his granddaughter stories from his past. Balancing a story about current day and a story from the past is no mean feat, but King’s Quest achieves this almost effortlessly, especially in its second episode. Both episodes are packed with wit, charm and enough puns to slay a dragon, but the second also balances the grim reality of life and death decisions that are called for in difficult situations. The main character agonises over the player’s decisions in both times, making for gripping storytelling and characters you can really empathise with. Coupled with the fantastic voice acting and special way the narrative is delivered (especially when a player fails a particular action) King’s Quest is not your average point-and-click adventure, and I cannot wait for the completion of the story in 2016. – Pip
Best Sports/Racing Game
Winner: Rocket League
2015 mostly saw more recycled football (or soccer) games; FIFA 16 was as good as it could be, PES 2016 was slightly better than the other PES games, Forza 6 was another updated racing game, but what really made 2015 special for sports and racing games was Rocket League.
In 2008, Rocket League’s developer Psyonix released “Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle Cars” or just “Battle Cars,” which never really got a strong player-base. Seven years later, Rocket League which is essentially a remake of Battle Cars, drove onto PS Plus for free which kick started the game. With the teamplay capabilities, last ditch saves, and crazy goals, Rocket League is incredibly simple but there are techniques like drifting and boosting through the air to learn which bring in an extra dimension of gameplay.
Rocket League is very rewarding for teams of players because it flows like your typical football match; there’s defensive and offensive gameplay tactics that have to be thought about and communicated in order to be successful. Unlike most sports and racing games games today, Rocket League has a high potential to become a well-received eSport mainly due to its requirement for teamplay. Oh also, and the fact that it’s one of the most fun and exciting games I have ever seen and played. – Callum
Runner-Up: Football Manager 2016
Football Manager seems to be somewhat divisive these days, with many harking back to the glory days of yore when it was all about transfers and matches. But I personally love the new found depth and complexity of this year’s iteration. Should I play that injured star player for just a few more minutes and risk him being out for months? Should I bow to the will of this crappy defender because I don’t want him to cause a rift in the dressing room? These tough calls are what make this game so compelling for footy anoraks across the globe. – Ben Burns
Best Family-Friendly Game
Winner: Mario Maker
Despite not having co-op play capabilities, we voted Super Mario Maker as best family friendly game of 2015 because it reaches out to all family members. With three decades of Mario in one single game, the adult family members can relive their favorite Mario setting and the kids can play with the DS models. Whether you want a classic 1985 Super Mario Bros. styled level with an underground theme or the newer Super Mario Bros. U style, you can have it. The game focuses on being appropriate for all generations of Mario lovers. With the extremely simple drag and drop user interface, the only thing a player needs to know is how to breathe. Drag a block from the block menu and place it where you want it- it’s really that simple. When a level is complete, players have the option to save it and upload it. This way all family members and friends are able to play any level from the online collection of limitless supply.
Also, having the main controls utilising the Wii U’s gamepad, it is easy to allow other family members to change and tweak somebody else’s level. It really has that ‘pass-and-play with the family’ element to it. – Callum
I picked up Tearaway so that my girlfriend's 7-year-old brother would have something to play on my PS4 when he comes to visit us. I ended up playing through the whole thing myself and he still hasn't touched it yet. Those of you who have played the 'Little Big Planet' games will know what I'm talking about when I say that this game appeals to literally everyone. The hardcore platformer in you gets excited, the little kid who wants to blow wind with the track-pad loves it and the kitty-cuddling cute monster just wants to squeeze every model and texture until they suffocate. Add to all of that some of the most gorgeous textures and level design I've seen in years and you get a truly solid game that challenges and entertains kids of all ages, even those of us who aren't really kids anymore.... oh God! I'm nearly 30. - Ben Burns
As a game that focused almost entirely on multiplayer, Splatoon has managed to pit the pieces together to make a fun and bright multiplayer game for anyone. With regular updates, Splatoon always has something new for players to look forward to. With the constant release of new weapons and clothing there is always something to make sure that the game will “stay fresh.” Upon release, ‘turf war’ was the only game mode that was available. Not long later ranked battles and ‘tower control’ came into the mix giving the strong player base even more options to play. Every now and again is an event called “Splatfest” where it brings the whole playerbase into two teams to compete against each other rewarding players with “Super Sea Snails” that can be redeemed for items of clothing.
So what’s great about the multiplayer? Well apart from the consistent updates, the fact that there are 4v4 matches means that they are easy to find and then very-fast-paced. Having a three minute time limit ensures that each match stays at that fast-pace that keeps people playing. These continual free updates and events are just something that no other multiplayer game this year has achieved and this is why Splatoon deserves Senshudo’s Multiplayer Game of 2015 award. – Callum
Runner-Up: Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide
I called it! I had the chance to play this at this year’s Eurogamer and I said that this would end up being a surprise. Despite it's somewhat buggy launch, Vermintide has ended up being the surprise hit this winter and this is due in no small part to its excellent level design, putting the player in the rat run (no pun intended) that is Ubersreik and forcing you to batter off wave after wave of Skaven assailants with some of the most fun weapons ever to be put in the hands of a mighty warrior such as myself! From hammer to sword, crossbow to pistol, every weapon has a weight to it that makes the constant horde mode so gorily compelling. – Ben Burns