Chasing GOTY 2015: Soma, Dying Light

Man, in a year like 2015 even picking the runners-up to Game of the Year is tough! Still, a blog's gotta do what a blog's gotta do. After pouring over the release list and replaying a whole bunch of stuff from throughout the year, I've chosen two of the best of the rest. One's a spectacular title that probably flew under everyone's radar, and one from aaaaaall the way back in January you might have forgotten to check out.

First and foremost, we absolutely need to discuss Soma. Well, we're actually gonna talk around Soma. The less you know going in, the better the experience. This game tops our Chasing GOTY feature almost exclusively due to its story. Soma begins with a quote from famed cyberpunk author Philip K. Dick (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (ie. Blade Runner), We Can Remember It For You Wholesale (ie. Total Recall), A Scanner Darkly, The Minority Report, etc). That should speak volumes about the developer's intent right there. And, while I admit the whole 'What does it mean to be human' cyberpunk theme is my favorite fictional foil of all time, Soma's author has constructed what I feel to be one of the greatest stories ever told in the science fiction genre. In any medium, not just video games. From the setting, to the characters, to the very pacing of the narrative, Soma's story nails nearly everything it tries to accomplish (and, man, does it try to accomplish a lot!). Although a linear experience, there are a few choices to be made. While none of these alter the game's outcome, they will drastically favor your own personal experience The Mrs. & I argued about what's 'right' in this game for weeks!



So what exactly is Soma, other than an amazing story? Well, Soma is predominately a 1st-person adventure game with several sequences dedicated to sneaking around, or running from, creepy critters. This is the long awaited next title from the horror game masters over at Frictional Games (Amnesia: The Dark Descent, Penumbra). While reusing a number of game mechanics from their masterpiece, Amnesia, Soma's horror sections don't consistently deliver the raw terror of that previous title. There were only two out of the half-dozen or so 'hide from the monster' segments that truely got to me. The game also isn't the best at telegraphing when to run and when to hide. I believe that 'competent' is probably the most appropriate term to use in describing these sequences. It's no great loss. Every scare Soma might miss with its gameplay, it more than makes up for with one of the most unique yet unimaginably soul-crushing settings of all time. The sheer horror of your situation is a thousand times bleaker than any monster in a darkened hallway.

The adventure side, however, shines pretty brightly. Puzzles are logical yet varied. Anyone involved in programming or computer maintenance is going to simply adore a couple. Inventory management in non-existent and the solutions that require manipulating Soma's delightfully interactive environment are extremely satisfying ("You mean this thing wasn't working because it came unplugged?! Lulz.").

While I'd love to say that this is a no-brainer for everyone to play, I (sadly) know a great number of scaredy-gamers that wouldn't make it thought the horror themed sections. Still, it is worth checking out, even if you have to do it with a group of friends or via YouTube. Just try to find a Let's Play that doesn't involve some moron cracking jokes or cheesily shrieking the whole time, okay?

Next we come to Dying Light, the 1st-person zombie apocalypse action-adventure follow up to Dead Island. Yeah, yeah, another zombie game, right? Well, yes. Everything that made Dead Island a cult classic is back: The stellar graphics, huge environments, wacky weapon mods, and gruesomely visceral melee combat. Moreover, it pushes every single one of these check-boxes to new heights (and with less bugs!) before going on to put a rather different spin on things.

Dying Light pulls off one of the big no-nos in gaming: 1st person parkour. And comes pretty darn close to nailing it. As opposed to Dead Island, Dying Light is all about speed and environmental navigation rather than slashing your way through hordes of zombies. While the post-process effects may be sensory overload for some folks, there's no doubt that when a player finds their groove, leaping from rooftop to lamppost to bus roof to the patio balcony railing of the high-rise across the street, it delivers a thrilling sense of motion and 'flow' quite like a good racing game or platformer.

While the main plot doesn't quite hold much interest in spite of an interesting set-up and some fairly good voice acting (A HUGE departure from Dead Island ;)), some of the more humorous side quests give it boost (Help this dude get back his fishing gear from all the people he sold it to before the zombie apocalypse). Then again, if you're playing a zombie game for plot, you really need to rethink your entertainment choices.

Dying Light perfects what more and more games are failing at: Making the moment-to-moment act of actually playing a game enjoyable. In an age full of sloppy, unresponsive 3rd-person action titles and FPSs so linear they might just as well be on rails (You know that dude named Follow who's always yelling at you? I HATE him!), Dying Light makes every sprint, every clamber, every breathtaking leap, and every swing of an electrified, razor blade covered baseball bat pure joy.

A fun video game. What will they think of next...

6 comments :

  1. I personally believe that to maintain the standard of a blog all the hacks mentioned above are important. All points discussed were worth reading and I’ll surely work with them all one by one.

    SEO Training in Chennai

    ReplyDelete

  2. First is to thank you for all this informative posts you give us for free; i bet all of us are happy.
    Such a great idea of yours! You have been a big help for me. Thanks a lot. more post for interesting topic. Great!

    SAP training in Chennai

    ReplyDelete
  3. Somebody necessarily help to make severely posts I might state. This is the first time I frequented your website page and to this point? I surprised with the research you made to create this particular post extraordinary. Well done admin..

    Digital marketing company in Chennai

    ReplyDelete


  4. Great and useful article. Creating content regularly is very tough. Your points are motivated me to move on.


    SEO Company in Chennai

    ReplyDelete
  5. Being new to the blogging world I feel like there is still so much to learn. Your tips helped to clarify a few things for me as well as giving..

    Web Designing Training in Chennai Adyar

    ReplyDelete
  6. Very Nice Blog I like the way you explained these things. I’ve been looking for ways to improve my website and overall rankings.I hope your future article will help me further.Take SEO Training in Chennai to mould yourself.

    ReplyDelete