I’m notoriously bad at video games. My short attention span usually results in me playing games targeted toward a younger crowd. Games like Neko Atsume — a game with rounded edges and pastel colors, AKA the best type of game.
However, this year, I expanded my video game horizons and tried a horror game, Until Dawn. There were no soft squishy shapes here (unless you count guts pouring out of orifices). This game was for the brave.
Each representing a different extreme, these games both earned a spot on my Game of the Year list.
Best Narrative-Driven Horror Game: Until Dawn
I played this game with Kelsey. Thanks to her need to document everything, I have some quotes that I may have said (screamed) during gameplay:
Sarah: OH MY GOD IS THIS CABIN IN AFRICA?! I feel like I’m in As I Lay Dying taking Mama’s body back!
Sarah: I think that last jump scare hurt my body.
Kelsey: Take all those bullets and put them in your giant pockets!
Sarah: There’s no button for that.
Until Dawn is a choose-your-own-adventure horror game that hinges on the idea of the butterfly effect. Each of your actions influences what may occur later in the game. For example, if you’re not very nice to nature, and hit a squirrel with a snowball, you might be due for some payback.
The plot is highly narrative-driven. I love games that feel more like watching a film than playing a game. In fact, I’d get so into the story that I’d forget I was in control of what was happening and suddenly have to react and then eff it all up.
The plot sounds like your typical teen horror movie:
Seven friends are celebrating their annual winter getaway at the Blackwood Pines lodge, owned by their mutual friends, Josh Washington and his twin sisters, Hannah and Beth.
Five of them prank Hannah, who flees into the forest in humiliation. When Beth discovers her, the two are hunted by a creature who corners them into a cliff, where they fall and are presumed dead.
A year later, the seven are invited by Josh to attend another getaway at the Blackwood Pines.
The goal of the game is to gather clues to figure out what may have happened to Hannah and Beth. It’s definitely not what you think. This game totally threw me and surprised me at every turn. Each area of the game is thrilling to explore — I especially liked the sanatorium.
At one point while playing, I was seated on a floor cushion and still managed to tumble to the floor in fear when confronted with a jump scare in the game. This thing is truly terrifying.
The game forces you to make quick decisions based on your morals, your fears, and your attachment to each character. You are also challenged to quick-time events — these were such a pain for me. When I’m in a constant state of suspense and fear, reacting quickly isn’t my forte. But neither is keeping everyone alive. When the game ended, I barely had any of the characters left.
Right now, Until Dawn is exclusively available for PS4. Until Dawn: Bloodrush was also recently announced, but it is neither a sequel nor DLC for Until Dawn. Instead,
We’re incredibly excited to be developing for Playstation VR as this allows us to bring games to the Playstation 4 with a level of immersion and a presence never before experienced by players.
As a descent into madness, Until Dawn: Rush of Blood takes you on a terrifying ride of thrills and scares in a fast-paced arcade-style shooter.
Prepare for Until Dawn: Rush of Blood, the (last?) Ride of Your Life!
And don’t just take my word for it — Until Dawn won Best Horror Game at the Global Game Awards this year.
Best Bi-Lingual Cat-Themed Game: Neko Atsume
Neko Atsume is kitty-collecting game for iPhone and Android. Players fill their garden/apartment space with toys, food, and other gizmos that will attract neighboring cats. When the cats come to visit, you can photograph them, name them, and look at their stats.
If the cats really like what you put out, they’ll visit multiple times and eventually reward you with gifts. Most of the time, though, the gifts are things that any typical cat would bring you — like a dead bug, or a hair tie.
Yutaka Takaski, a fellow cat lover and the game’s developer, wanted to create a game that even children (and Sarah) could enjoy without a significant investment of skill or time.
Originally, the game was all in Japanese. For non-Japanese speaking players, this added challenge became a part of the game. Reddit threads popped up, along with websites offering guides to the game and translations.
Recently, a new update came out that let you choose whether to play the game in Japanese or in English. Players can switch between languages without having to start from scratch.
Read all of Nerdy but Flirty’s GOTY 2015 articles here.