It was another stellar year for downloadable content and games. From great indie games, to inspired DLC content, to original games from established studios, there was a lot to love this year. What lies below is a list of my favorite downloadable games and content from the year that was. As much as I love playing video games, I’m a one man show over here so I obviously can’t get around to everything. What I’m trying to say is that this was a great year for downloadable titles and DLC, so don’t be surprised if some of your top picks are not present below. I just couldn’t get to everything. Let me know your top picks in the comments section though.
Let us see what did make the list though!
And the winners are…
After playing through and loving Supergiant’s first game Bastion, I knew I’d be following whatever they were coming up with next. That game released this year and is known as Transistor. Another gorgeous isometric action game, Transistor’s big hook is with it’s combat which can be played in real time or through pause and plan attacking. While paused, you can plan out your attacks and then when ready, your character will execute them very quickly. Chaining moves together can result in extra damage and abilities can be swapped into passive roles which change what they do making combat much deeper than it appears at first. With another compelling soundtrack, fantastic voice work from Logan Cunningham, and a very cool world to run around in, Transistor is a must play.
inFAMOUS: First Light
Dropping Delsin Rowe in this standalone DLC, First Light gave players a chance to experience Abigail “Fetch” Walker’s background story and also use her Neon based powers. I really enjoyed Fetch from Second Son’s campaign and I was looking forward to seeing her character fleshed out a bit more with back story that was only hinted at in the core retail game. Another interesting aspect was the addition of these arenas where you could fight waves of enemies and compete with friends on a leaderboard for top overall score. First Light was more inFAMOUS and for me, I’ll always take that.
Growing up with the classic NES games like Mega Man, Shovel Knight instantly appealed to me with it’s 8 themed Knights and a protagonist out to stop them. What I didn’t expect was just how much care and attention was made not only honoring Mega Man, but other NES classics as well. At it’s core, Shovel Knight is a classic, old-school 2D platformer that eases players in and gradually ramps up the difficulty as you progress along the story. As you’d expect, the gameplay is rock solid, features inspired 8 bit graphics, and a toe tapping soundtrack that is just perfect for listening to outside of the game as well. Shovel Knight really is a must play.
Child of Light
Ubisoft really nailed the download scene this year in my opinion and Child of Light is a major reason why. The first game to fully utilize the impressive UbiArt Framework engine outside of the Rayman franchise, Child of Light can easily be described as a watercolor painting brought to life. Child of Light relies heavily on a a sort of turn based combat system where a meter based on character speed dictates when a certain attack can happen. It appears simplistic at first but opens up a lot of tactical ways to play as certain attack can interrupt enemies for one turn and so forth. Featuring gorgeous visuals, a heart felt score by Coeur de Pirate, and compelling RPG gameplay, Child of Light is a treat for all ages.
Watch_Dogs: Bad Blood
While Watch_Dogs may have left a lot of people feeling a bit cold, Bad Blood did a lot in my eyes to redeem the mistakes the core game made. Most notably, brooding anti-hero and player character, Aiden Pearce is nowhere to be found here. Instead, he’s replaced by the quirky, sarcastic, and straight talking Raymond “T-Bone” Kenney. The mission structure itself was reworked, featuring more open ended and unique missions than some of the more standard fair shooter corridors of the main game. After getting pulled back into a conspiracy while trying to leave town, T-Bone soon unearths information that puts people he cares for in danger. The story line surprised me in a good way and manages to take some interesting twists and turns. Not only that, co-op “Street Sweep” missions are introduced into the game letting you and a friend hack your way to victory.
BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea Part 2
With all these new fangled consoles these days, I almost forgot that the last bit of DLC for BioShock Infinite also released earlier this year. Part 2 represented the most radical change to the established franchise formula yet as it put you squarely in the shoes of Elizabeth instead of Booker or another capable gunman. The big twist with Part 2 is that Elizabeth isn’t good with guns, so this DLC focused more on stealth and traps. Quite frankly, it’s a brilliant piece of DLC and a perfect end to a great title. The content is paced perfectly, is a ton of fun, and is very heavy on story. It’s completely worth a look and is easily one of my favorite downloadable titles this year.
Super T.I.M.E. Force
Who would have thought that combining humor, time traveling, and cloning could make for such an awesome game. Capybara sure did. Developed out of a three day game jam back in 2011, Super T.I.M.E. Force can best be described as a Contra style game meets time traveling. Essentially, when your character dies in battle, you can rewind time and play as another character all while your previous ghost fights along side you until their timeline ends. You can also voluntarily end your run so you can switch characters which will also continue to run your previous character on their time line. Yes, it’s a wacky concept but it’s one that’s filled with Capy humor, awesome stylized visuals, and solid gameplay. It’s a unique experience, that’s for sure.
Tales from the Borderlands Episode 1: Zer0 Sum
A recent addition to this list, Tales from the Borderlands is a major departure from what fans normally expect from this franchise. And that’s a great thing. Telltale Games has been on fire lately releasing games from established franchises like The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and a bunch of other titles. While Tales is not a first person shooter built on mounds of loot, it still manages to not only capture that look and feel but absolutely nails the tone and humor the series is known for. Instead of a first person shooter/action game, Tales is a game you’d expect coming from Telltale in that it’s firmly an adventure style game. You have very limited control over your character, instead choosing how the story progresses through dialogue. Even with that major difference, the game is very much rooted in Borderlands traditions of crass behavior, violence, and humor. A wonderful first episode.