Because I’m jumping on the bandwagon, too! And before you all switch off and stop reading, no, I haven’t listed Persona 5 for all five categories.
Mostly because John wouldn’t let me.
Up until Episode Three, I do hasten to add. I adored the first game and Before the Storm was an absolutely heartrending prequel. Chloe is one of those characters who has far too much life in her for her own good, which makes the impact even worse when Before the Storm, set three years earlier, reminds us exactly what’s coming. We get to see a fragile, vulnerable side of Chloe that becomes painful to watch, in places. Sadly, my dreams of a nuanced, calculating, manipulative Rachel have been crushed by bad, plot hole ridden writing, but I’d still highly recommend it, and will be reviewing Farewell when it comes out.
Just keep your tissues ready for that after credit stinger. I’d quite like to sue Deck Nine for emotional trauma, because that was not okay.
4. Root Letter – PS4 and PS Vita
This was somewhat of a sleeper hit for me that came completely out of nowhere. Kadokawa Games have a habit of advertising on my Facebook feed, and Root Letter would not shut up and go away, so I bought it and was completely blown away by how much I enjoyed it. Something of a hybrid between a murder mystery and a visual novel, Root Letter tasks the main character to track down his old penpal, Aya Fumino. When he goes to find her, he’s met with a startling revelation – Aya Fumino apparently doesn’t exist, and everyone is seemingly afraid to speak her name.
My one gripe with it is that we could have had a really good horror plot instead of fairly standard VN fare, but what we have already is pretty damn good. Plus it’s dirt cheap now, on PS4 or Vita, so give it a whirl if it’s your kind of thing.
3. Doki Doki Literature Club – PC
The game that exploded in popularity over the course of about a week, DDLC was shocking in how innovative, clever, and downright terrifying it was for a free release on Steam. Once more a fairly standard VN set up, this game is scary in the best way – subtle. There’s no jump scares, no monsters, just quiet unease that permeates your entire experience.
I’m deliberately being vague because spoilers will ruin this game for you. Go play it. It’s free. Just sleep with the lights on, and remember, only Monika is best girl.
2. Persona 5 – PS4
Yes, yes, you can all stop looking so shocked it’s not number one.
Persona 5 was worth the goddamn wait. Delayed three times, punted on to current gen consoles with an original release window of Winter 2015 and on the PS3, I was worried this gem was never going to see the light of day. Thankfully, this behemoth (oh hi there my 106 hour save file) lived up to and surpassed all of my expectations, because it’s truly stunning. A grim and grey Shibuya lives and breathes under those neon city lights, as Akira and friends steal the hearts of fans and evildoers alike.
The gameplay system was superbly streamlined and improved in every way possible, and Confidant links were polished to perfection – there’s almost too much to do in this game, because it’s so vast and sprawling, you can always miss something, like the main cafe I found 3/4 into the game, and all the Confidants I had to abandon (sorry, Futaba).
And yes, the story falls apart in the final act, but when you’ve got such a strong cast and enticing backdrop, you make up for the lack of plot. And I never thought I’d say that.
1. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy – PS4
I was not expecting this game to be good – I’m going to come right out and say it. After Uncharted 4’s slightly below par story, the single-player DLC was almost certainly to be about Sully and Sam. So imagine my surprise when the trailer rocks up and it’s Chloe Frazer and.. Nadine Ross? Chloe hasn’t been around since Uncharted 3, and Nadine was nothing but angry muscle in U4. Oh, boy…
Then it turns out that the script is witty, builds a genuine friendship, and feels like the best Uncharted game we’ve seen in years. Chloe is built up, and Nadine is transformed from a screen filler to a character I actually cared about – the environments are stunning, and the gameplay is leagues ahead of Uncharted 4. They even managed to redeem Sam! Combined with a moving plot and realistic enemies, this was hands down the best Uncharted game I’ve ever played.
Naughty Dog, if you’re reading, I’ll gladly take a sequel.