This year has seen the best line up of games for the Xbox One since it’s release with some must have exclusives as well as incredible third party games. We had the conclusion to the Rocksteady’s monolithic Arkham series with Batman Arkham Knight, a shockingly good open world zombie survival game with Dying Light, Rise of the Tomb Raider but the tombs back in Tomb Raider and finally the beautiful but intense platformer that was Ori and the Blind Forest.
While not all games were exclusive to the Xbox One, every player had something to keep coming back to the console for, with each providing an incredibly different but always memorable experience.
Batman Arkham Knight
Batman Arkham Knight was a welcome return to form for the franchise, after the middling Arkham Origins. The finale to the Arkham franchise delivers on almost every level, its stunning to look at, feels incredible to play and confirms the bar set of superhero games set by it’s previous entries.
Whether your a huge Batman fan or not this was one game this year you needed to own, from it’s incredibly refined free-flow combat system to the excellent twists in the games narrative, it provided an experience on every level. Rocketry’s swan song to this series hits so many highs, you can overlook it’s flaws and was truly the game we all deserved AND the one we needed.
In a time when we needed games, Dying Light ran, jumped, slid and pushed a few zombies out of the way in order to reach us. The spiritual successor to Dead Island sets a new standard for first person traversal in videogames and did so in an environment that not only beckoned to be explored but could be down right scary in doing so.
While the defining feature of Dying Light was by far it’s parkour system it also delivered varied and exciting combat as well as an extravagant crafting system that gives you a reason to go off the beaten path. Dying Light was a game that arrived at the perfect time and provided an experience that while feeling familiar was new in so many ways.
Rise of the Tomb Raider
If Tomb Raider in 2013 brought the franchise back into the spotlight, then Rise of the Tomb Raider is the reason it should stay there. The game fleshes out Lara’s character and puts her back on the pedestal of explorers where she belonged along side Indiana Jones and Nathan Drake. From the well crafted story, interesting characters and the mysterious magical elements, Tomb Raider delivers well on it’s narrative.
The biggest praise for Rise of the Tomb Raider comes from it’s much improved gameplay. Whether that’s building your own Lara with multiple skill trees or the superbly crafted Catacombs which provide an incredible balance of puzzle solving, combat and exploration that make you feel like a real explorer. Rise of the Tomb Raider deserves it’s time in the limelight and makes the game a must have for any Xbox One owner.
Ori and the Blind Forest
Ori and the Blind Forest was an experience. It ticked all the boxes that makes games of the genre amazing, and then some. On the surface Ori and the Blind Forest, is downright gorgeous with vibrant colors and amazing artistic design, this 2D platformer is beautiful. Drawing clear inspiration from Studio Ghibli and the works of Hayao Miyazaki the game stands apart from so many retro style platformers that are a dime a dozen these days, the art alone is a reason to love Ori and the Blind Forest.
Underneath this aesthetic though it is a tightly controlled and brutal paltformer drawing from metroidvania design philosophy. It pushes you further into it’s vast world only to drag you back and explore the caverns you couldn’t reach before, adding a deeper layer to every environment. The highlight of the gameplay comes in the adrenaline pumping temple escape sequences, the ultimate set piece of Ori and the Blind Forest, which push your platforming skills to the max and give you a feeling of accomplishment like no other.
Between incredible art design, fantastic gameplay and a genuinely heart warming story filled with vibrant characters. Ori and the Blind Forest is what so many other games aren’t, the complete package.