Top Five Games of the Year… So Far

Top Five of the Year So Far. Yay for good games!

As ever trailing and clinging on to the coat tails of Dr. Mark Kermode (I WUVS JOO!), he has done his top and bottom five films of the year so far. And in my typical style, this is my homage to the great man himself. So shall we get on with it then? Yes? Good. Top Five Games of the Year… So Far.

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Well, it’s been a rollercoaster year for me so far and as such, I’ve had more than ample spare time on my hands. Still, in my annual homage to Mark Kermode, it’s time to do my Top Five Games of the Year… so far.

And it’s been a reasonably good year. There are some games that didn’t make it into my top five so far, such as Dillon’s Rolling Western for the 3DS – a charming, whimsical blend of tower defence, RPG and bonkers action that suggests great things to come from the digital foundries within Nintendo. Fez hasn’t made it in either, and shockingly neither has Dragon’s Dogma, although all three games there should be played on the merit that they’re bloody good games.

So, here’s the top five.

5. Resident Evil: Revelations (Nintendo 3DS)
There’s something lovely about a Resident Evil that remains true to its roots whilst pushing the envelope, and Revelations is it. Not only is it a gorgeous game, paced wonderfully with some fantastic setpieces and an addictive, unprecedented Raid Mode unlock that will keep you hooked and doubles up as an online mode, but it’s funny. And it knows it. Although admittedly not in the Resident Evil 4 sense of clown shoes and oh smell this flower squirt squirt. Revelations plays it straight, but with tongue firmly embedded in cheek. You can see it struggling to contain its mirth at how silly it all is, and you just go along with it chuckling and amused by it all. It’s a great example of the Resident Evil series balancing old and new just enough, and it just works. It’s a seriously good game.

4. The Walking Dead Episode 1 (PC, PSN)
If the TV show disappointed you, then this game version based upon the graphic novels will perhaps be up your street a little more. It’s lovely to see a licensed title that actually holds up to close scrutiny, but moreso when it’s a game involving zombies – traditionally not the easiest of things to handle. The human element, the choices you make, it all works and you feel attuned and in tune with it. Telltale Games have been notoriously unreliable when it comes to quality output over the last couple of years, but if this game is any indication of where they are headed, then we should all be pleased they have found their groove. Although the delay in getting Episode 2 out onto the market was a bit sad. Worth the wait though!

3. Vessel (PC Steam)
In one of those rare moments of indie glory, Vessel is a gloriously charming, narratively spartan platform puzzler from IndiePub. It starts slow and often feels obtuse for the sake of it, but after a little while the full force of it hits you – the steampunk stylings, the gloriously retro feel of it, the puzzles and the physics involved in it. Everything blends together and soon you just feel at home, swinging about, climbing, jumping and racing against the Fluros to get to that door before they can shut it off, or manipulating them to make sure a door stays open. It’s a strange game more akin to things like chess, thinking several steps ahead, but that just makes you feel ten feet tall when you crack a room. Highly recommended!

2. Binary Domain (PC, X-Box 360, PS3)
As much as I have ragged on the Gears of War template, it takes a game like Binary Domain to come along and immediately remind me why people do copy its basics – because they work. Of course, foundations are nothing if the build on top don’t work, and Binary Domain thankfully draws us into a world of cyborgs and robots and lies and intrigue. It reminds you a little bit of Blade Runner, and that’s no bad thing if we’re being honest about it. Sure, it’s got niggles like the voice commands and a few technical hiccups, but the game wounds you with charm, humour and by being a taught, tight action game as well. The multiplayer is rubbish, but you don’t buy a game like Binary Domain for online multiplayer. You buy it to enjoy its story and experience. And it’s worth every penny. And it flopped sales-wise. *headdesk*

1. Project Zero 2: Crimson Butterfly (Nintendo Wii)
This is no surprise, but I will keep banging on about this game until people buy it. And love it. And experience all its nuances and glory. It’s old-school survival horror ported to the Wii nearly ten years from its initial release, but it still looks utterly gorgeous, still oozes atmosphere from every pore and orifice it can find and some that it probably wasn’t aware it had. It’s a charming, traditionally Japanese kind of horror game, with two scantily-clad young women taking the lead in a haunted village, having accidentally stumbled through a dimensional gateway into it. But it’s so much more – the little side stories of each tormented spirit, the beautiful moments of utter calm before things go badly wrong. It still invokes emotion, still works. And that a re-release of a game nearly a decade old can take the top spot in this list is in equal measure wonderful and terrifying, because it means that the industry is worse now than it was then. Oh balls. That’s not good at all, is it?

Anyway, I don’t know if people will agree or disagree with these choices. If you have stumbled here and want to leave your choices (maybe I just haven’t had the chance to play them yet?) then feel free, there’s no charge and I won’t bite your hand off. Hell, with this much free time, you might even be doing me a favour!

Next – the bottom five of the year. Which, terrifyingly enough, is easier than my top five this year. That’s kind of bad, right?

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