I got a lot of games in 2015. Only a relatively few I actually played in depth. That being said, here’s a somewhat unconventional list (I’m not listing “best”):

Note: I’m using the time I got them, not the time they were actually released.

Most Played: Payday 2

Payday 2 is an interesting study in how a relative few changes can make a game far more accessible than its predecessor. Consider that while I barely played the original, Payday The Heist, the sequel is second only to Command: Modern Air Naval Operations as my most played game.

I think it’s this: Accessibility. The easiest heist in Payday is still long, and has a low overall completion rate. The easiest heist in Payday 2 is effectively impossible to lose on lower difficulties. Because of this, I can go for an easy “relaxation” mission, or push myself with a hard one.

Now to stop buying all that DLC….

Most Disappointing: Invisible, Inc.

Invisible Inc. isn’t a bad game. The production values are very good, and the mechanics are clearly quite deliberate. Applying an XCOM-style turn-based grid game to stealth gameplay is unconventional, but they clearly figured out how to make it work. So I didn’t and don’t want to rip the game apart.

But it has one problem that just, for me at least, bulldozed the entire experience-the level design. All the levels are procedurally generated. This did several things. The first is ruin the immersion-even with the game’s story being the most generic cyberpunk imaginable and the character design a mishmash of eras, seeing an obvious videogame level that looks like it was a graphically-touched up stage from XCOM-the 1990s XCOM-, breaks it.

The second is to go against its own genre. Stealth is hugely dependent on level design, and this throws it aside. In my short time playing it, I could get near-impossible missions where the objectives were scattered, and easy ones where they were close together. So this choice made me sour on the game.

Game I Want To Play More Often: Black Closet

Black Closet is a Ren’Py-engined mystery game where you control the leader of a student council in a boarding school, and must solve cases of varying-intensity. While the setting isn’t the first I’d pick, the mechanics-of questioning, searching, and interrogating, are excellent. (It’s really easy to imagine an intelligence service game with very similar mechanics).

So, why have I only gotten as far as deliberately going to the bad ending? I think it’s because it’s a game you need to be in a certain mindset to play in, and because I’m busy so often, that mindset is too infrequent. I have to think and record rolls, not just stumble through with my M308.

That the game is designed to be hard doesn’t help either. But I want to play it more, I just have to be in the mood.

Greatest Accomplishment: One Way Heroics

I beat a roguelike. Repeat-I beat a roguelike. For anyone who understands the genre, little more needs to be said about that.

CMANO Accomplishments:
I released fourteen scenarios to the community pack. In spite of my slump, this was still a good number, even if a lot of the scenarios were small and basic. These range from the futuristic “War of the Thirty-Fives” to the right-after-WWII “Phoenix of Indochina”, where I find a use for Japanese WWII aircraft beyond repeats of The Final Countdown.

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