By Jeff Neuenschwander / February 5th, 2016
To talk about our favorite tales of 2015, here’s Podcast Manager Azario Lopez.
2012: Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward
2013: BioShock Infinite
2014: Dragon Age: Inquisition
AZARIO: A good story is told through creating a world and a cast to fill it. Stories can be long or short and even told through little to no dialog at all. Video games tell stories, but which told the best? Here are the nominees for Best Story of 2015.
Who would have thought that our final time hanging out with the cast of Persona 4 would be in a rhythm game? Personal 4 Dancing all Night took our favorite cast of characters and put them in situations we thought we’d never see them in. Through the visual novel style story telling we got to read an amazing tale of friendship and perseverance all while holding on to every last moment with our friends.
Steins;Gate is a visual novel that tells the story of a genius madman who modifies a certain household item. By doing this, he might have uncovered time travel. The story is written with jokes and puns used in every day geek culture, but also takes a serious tone when things get rough.
The story is where most games in the Fatal Frame series truly shine, and Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water is no exception. This time around, the supernatural happenings occur on Mt. Hikami, which contains a forest where people go to commit suicide. The disturbing source material for the dialog between characters creates a dark mood and intensifies the games intense setting.
Dungeon Travelers 2 wasn’t noticed by its story at first; its release was more centered around the fan service that was provided during the game. However, people who played through quickly found out that there is more to this than just fan service. Saving the world from monsters and discovering the mystery of the broken seals is only half of what makes this game fun. The interaction between the huge cast of characters is so well delivered that you begin looking forward to their scene together.
The story centers around a young woman named Himiko. She is having a bit of trouble uniting her home region of Zipang from the clutches of an opposing army. She is stuck in a desperate battle when all at once a young man falls from the sky. He is referred to as a Servant of Heaven, when in truth he is from another world, a classic anime trope. The young man helps her to victory and agrees to help in the quest to conquer the world and prevent her visions of destruction from becoming reality.
AND THE WINNER IS…
Yes, our winner is indeed Steins;Gate! A game that was first released in Japan in 2009 finally made in West in 2015 and the wait was well worth it.
And with our favorite designs, we have contributor Alexander Jones.
2013: Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
2014: Shovel Knight
ALEXANDER: There is nothing quite like a game with an excellent art design, and we here at Operation Rainfall like to pay tribute to some of the more impressive offerings that were showcased in the past year. After all, games are an art form and, much like movies, have many talented artists behind them. Aesthetics in game design often comprise a lot more than raw graphical power as most of our nominees showcase. Four of the five are Wii U games, but all of them shine with a different sort of artistic beauty. Without further ado, let’s look at the nominees!
Bright tropical locales? Check! Quirky, cute character designs? Check! A plethora of weapons and clothing options? Check! Without a doubt, Splatoon deserves to be nominated. Everything about the game’s art is bursting with personality, even just in how the characters hold themselves, with their too-large feet and knock knees. The environments themselves are interesting and varied. Getting to make them look like the set of the 90s Nickelodeon show Double Dare by covering them in ink doesn’t hurt anything, either.
The setting and wild monster designs might be as far apart in style as possible as the last nominee, but it is certainly no less gorgeous. The eerie spires of the Gothic architecture completely fit in with the Lovecraftian plot and Dracula-esque locales. The attention to detail in the world and creatures is simply astonishing; nothing feels out of place or wrong for the setting. Consistency is key to any effective art, and Bloodborne has it in spades.
The yarn aesthetic touched yet another Nintendo franchise. Yoshi was a pretty perfect fit for the style as three-dimensional yarn seems like a natural progression from a storybook setting. The lighting and textures of the whole game, even when it depicts cool colors, makes everything feel “warm,” almost the same effect as can be found with Impressionist paintings. The fact that you can feel that through a TV screen is a testament to how effective the art style is. Plus, it’s absolutely adorable.
Nintendo might want to consider getting into the arts and crafts business, because they have yarn and clay pretty much cornered. Much like the previous nominee, this definitely has the “cute” factor down, but instead uses clay to get that cuteness across. Again, attention to detail is tremendous. Objects and characters even have that slightly misshapen, not-quite-perfectly-round that shaped molding clay tends to have.
- Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
Survival horror games often sink or swim when it comes to setting an atmosphere, as getting the player to feel uneasy or tense is a major part of the genre’s appeal. Thankfully, Fatal Frame delivers in this regard tremendously. Dark forests, dimly lit corridors, and characters that move fluidly and realistically add to the tension and realism, making the game all the more effective at delivering a creepy-but-fun experience.
AND THE WINNER IS…
It was a little surprising to me that this one took top prize, but honestly, I can’t blame the majority of our members for voting for this one. The creepy tone in the lighting, the architecture, the enemy designs — it has a complete package that feels real and consistent. Real life Gothic architecture from Romania and the Czech Republic were studied to make the city of Yharnam more authentic, and it shows. It might not be a town I’d like to live in given its…inhabitants, but it’s gorgeous to look at.
Axiom VergeBloodborneCloudDungeon Travelers 2: The Royal Library & the Monster Sealeiyuu senkiFatal Frame: Maiden of Black WaterHatsune Miku Project Mirai DXKirby and the Rainbow CurseMario Kart 8Metal Gear Solid V : The Phantom PainMonster Hunter 4 UltimatePersona 4: Dancing All NightPlague of ShadowsShovel KnightSplatoonSteins;GateStella GlowSuper Smash Bros. for 3DS and Wii UThe Binding of Isaac: AfterbirthUndertaleXenoblade Chronicles XYoshi's Woolly World