Wes Fenlon: Enraptured by Her Story
Almost everyone on staff played Her Story back when it came out, and the love was unanimous. I started playing, and was doing it right. I had my notebook out and was jotting down clues and everything. But after 20 minutes or so I stopped, remembering that many of my friends and colleagues had played the game together with a big group or a significant other. That sounded more fun than playing alone, and I figured it would be the perfect game to play with my girlfriend the next time we got together. It ended up taking half a year for us to get around to it, but we spent a good three or four hours of a short vacation totally enthralled in the mystery. We had it cracked an hour and a half in, but kept playing in an effort to dig up every single VHS clue in the database. Absolutely worth a game of the year award. Tossing theories back and forth was my favorite part, and it definitely helped us uncover some clues more quickly than I would’ve alone. Ain’t teamwork grand?
Chris Livingston: Game on
With the holiday glut of games winding down, it's time for me to recline and rewind. There were some games I missed this year, and some games I was enjoying but had to stop playing simply because there were so many new games that had to be played in a big damn hurry. During the break ahead, I've got a bunch of games lined up. I'm looking forward to finally seeing what the big deal is about Undertale, I'd love to spend more time in Metal Gear Solid 5.
I especially want to get back to playing Duskers, which I wrote about here. I enjoyed my early hours with it, piloting drones through spooky derelict ships, and it's gotten some updates since then that I'm interested in checking out. I also want to fall back into Factorio, a management game about building automated factories on a hostile planet. I also want to play a bit more of Armello, the turn-based strategy with CCG elements. Yes, it'll be nice to take a break from games so I can play some games.
Samuel Roberts: Star Wars in GTA V
This is a fun thing to see out 2015—someone had created a mod to put the Millennium Falcon into GTA V. It really looks the part, and as the video shows, putting it next to the previously-created Star Destroyer mod creates quite the scene in GTA V, even if it’s so brutally against the fiction of the game that I wouldn’t be surprised if Sonic the Hedgehog then jumped off the top of the thing onto Harry Potter, who is driving the car from Speed Racer.
Tom Marks: Cracking Belarusian Morse Code for in-game swag
I was genuinely in awe by the complexity of the recently solved Easter Egg hunt found in Battlefield 4. It’s a ridiculously dense, multi-layered puzzle of subtle hints, hidden buttons, Morse Code, and lots more added into a AAA game for the benefit of a minute portion of the playerbase. I love seeing that sort of detail packed in by a developer, especially one that has to worry about deadlines and bottom-lines (and probably other sorts of lines) more than appealing to obscure parts of their fanbase.
But my favorite part of the whole puzzle was the randomization. The logic puzzle at the beginning can’t be solved simply by looking up the correct code, as it’s subtly randomized each time. And once you do solve that, the code you are eventually given for the puzzle’s final chapter is bound to your account, guaranteeing that you have to walk through at least most of the steps yourself in order to get your prize. That’s a brilliant safeguard—not only to protect the integrity of the Easter Egg, but because the reward for all that hard work might actually be worth it. A special in-game camo, previously only available to developers, that is bright white but makes you invisible on heat sensors. It’s a difficult to get gift for only the most dedicated, and a worthy prize for how hard the challenge is.
Angus Morrison: Actual reality
The news that the final Oculus Rift hardware is shipping to developers this week caught me off-guard. Even though I’ve played with the DK1, and even though Andy keeps coming into the office flush with tales of new VR adventures he’s tried out, it still didn’t feel like something that was actually happening. Until now, 2016 has felt like some sort of distant sci-fi time in which we would go about our daily lives wearing VR headsets and spandex. This news is confirmation that VR is imminent, that the Rift is feature-complete and that my wardrobe of check shirts and denim is woefully ill-prepared for the strange new present we’re about to inhabit.
James Davenport: Taking some time
I played 80 Days on an airplane. After ten minutes, I stopped. Just figured it would be novel, playing a game about floating around the earth while actually floating around the earth. Hey-o. But near the end of the year, especially after my first with PC Gamer, I usually feel the need to unplug completely and take a break from games. Just last night, I started up episode 4 of Life is Strange, but after getting to the title screen felt a wave of exhaustion and ALT-F4’ed that bugger sooner than you could say “I hate you, dad!” Hell, I’ve had a hankering to play Rainbow Six Siege for weeks now. Problem is, I boot that sucker up and the anxiety comes rolling in to see what’s going on, asks why they weren’t invited, but welp, they’re here now, so they might as well stay for dinner.
I’m writing this from the aforementioned airplane. Shaun the Sheep (I think that’s what it’s called. He is made of clay and looks like a Shaun, so) is playing on a tiny CRT above the aisle while I listen to Beach House just A Little Too Loud through my headphones. I’m thinking A Little Too Hard about how what I’m seeing and what I’m hearing are in conversation. I decided to ask Shaun the sheep to Sad Prom. It’s been a while since I did something this pointlessly esoteric. Feels nice. 80 Days, STASIS, Undertale, and Chroma Squad are installed on my Mac (sorry!) but I think they’ll be alright sleeping through this flight.