My Top 5 furry games of 2015
It's time for the Ursa Majors again, and while I like to encourage each to put in their own nominations for the popular furry award, I have decided to share the ones I feel should be looked into as the best entries for the year in the game category and go over briefly why they should be there. Because, without a Pokémon game here, it's going to be a very interesting year.
Everyone else is putting up lists, and if anything it may help furries connect with games they may have not had a chance to play. For other games you can see the recommended list here. I guess I felt like a rebel this year, because four of the five games on my list are not on that one.
So without further ado, here are the five games I am nominating for the Ursa Majors this year, in no particular order. In order to qualify, I feel it should incorporate at least one main character that is anthropomorphic, or cover in some way a world that contains intellectual animals in some degree. You may laugh that I have to define that, but lets not forget what won in 2012 over Dust: An Elysian Tail.
Read Only Memories
My black horse candidate, as it were, this interactive narrative cyberpunk game takes place in the city of Neo San Francisco. It sets up the conflicts of the city into three major factions. The technological elite who create products to enhance life of humanity mostly with robotic Relationship and Organization Managers, the animal human hybrids, and those of a social movement called the "Human Revolution" who are protesting the advances in genetic modification and technologies.
While this game takes place in a future San Francisco it obviously takes cues from present day struggles and gives them different forms. The hybrids have been seen as stand ins for the GLBT community. The technology faction as the Silicon Valley elite, with ROMs being stand ins for smart phones. You can easily start to see that the inspirations for the conflicts are based on the premise of present ones from there.
The game has had some criticism from the public who dislike social progressive positive games and been given a label of "SJW". However, I think this more because "Feminist Frequency" decided to make a curator page and recommend it on Steam than anything the game did. Which is really too bad, because I don’t think the game pushes progressive ideals with as much blunt force as has been stated. I mean, it takes place in future San Francisco, which is already one of the most socially progressive cities in the United States. You should kind of know what you're getting into.
There is also a note of gender fluidity in the characters in the game, though the game isn't too in your face about these facts. The characters are more defined by their personality and hobbies than lingering on what the basis of their gender identity is. The game does allow you to choose your character's pronouns or even create your own! I can certainly appreciate the effort by the developer to incorporate such a customization into the lexicon of the text heavy game, even if I as a cisgender wouldn't be needing it myself.
Heck, think of all the fun you can have trying to find the most silly replacements for the pronouns to make the sentences hilarious to read. Hours of fun right there! Me? I would go with rufus/xavir/sass/porila, just to give myself a reading challenge and I'm a bit "old school house" with my pronouns. Certainly reading them over and over would really wear me down.
This game does have a lot to offer in the visual narrative gaming department with point and click elements, with interesting and engaging characters. The game does seem to focus a lot on the sentient ROM, named Turing, and the conflicts of the technological elite rather than the hybrids, which would of more interest to a furry player.
As a warning, it is a bit reading heavy, so if you don't like reading and are looking more for an action game, you may want to look elsewhere.
dʒrægɛn: A game about a Dragon
I did a longer review of this game which can be found here.
This one is on the list because I had found the game charming enough to play through the whole thing. I also have it on the list because not a lot of people have played this. It has many things furries would enjoy; tongue in cheek humor, an artful aesthetic, and dragons.
Despite the game being on the shorter side, I enjoyed it enough that I took the time to do a completionist run of it. Some of the puzzles can get pretty head scratching and two in particular took me some good minutes. The rest of the game is not too tough on the difficulty curve. If you're not going for full completion you'd probably get through not problem.
But I found the journey fun, and knowing I'd be one of the very few to take it, in an era where most games have a mountain of people who have shared that experience, kind of gave me that old feeling of discovering something truly on my own.
Among all the intelligent and longer form titles this year, Duck Game is simple. Duck Game is clean. There's no large back story, no inquisitive complexity; it's just Duck Game.
This game is a four player party brawler game along the same idea as Super Smash Bros., if you turn up the percent starting damage to 300% with loads of items on high frequency. A one hit kill central. Essentially it is chaos unleashed, and is always good for a quick round of getting quacked up.
Sometimes after a long day of thinking, writing and problem solving, the best video game is the one that is just quick and mindless fun. And i's hard to stay mad when your friend who just beat you can only taunt you with sporadic quacks.
I did a long form review of this game back in its Early Access stages here.
This video game/board game hybrid has turned a lot of heads. Created by a small, independent studio in Australia, this game about four animal clans fighting to fill the spot of a corrupt and dying lion king has been given many Indie awards and is a highlight of how to do a crowdfunding campaign. Interestingly enough, it is the only game on my list that made it to the Ursa Major's recommended list.
The game is fun to play with friends and should honestly be a staple of furry online gaming. Games can get very intense and strategic, and if you get friends, instead of strangers, you can start to make deals with your fellow players to bring down the leader. The art and world are beautiful and the gameplay is complex yet easy to grasp as you play.
Its greatest strength is providing a quicker strategy experience than most hex based strategy games. One of its greatest flaws may be that the single player experience and even the multiplayer with strangers does come down to mostly an endeavor in luck, where the draw of the card and the roll of the dice determine more of the outcome than the social interaction between players, which could happen more if the players had better communication channels.
If you asked me what game would have taken the gaming award in the Ursa Majors back in September I would have said Armello. In fact if you asked me in September of 2014 which game I thought it would have been, again it would have been Armello. I mean just look at it. It's the game any furry fantasy fan would dream of!
Then Undertale released and proceeded to stamp upon that prediction with spiked boots, before lighting it on fire and kicking it down the mountainside. And the strange part is, I'm not even mad about it.
You've probably already heard a lot of praise to this game, so I will keep mine brief. All I will say is that it has won acclaim from many more well known, and cynical, game reviewers (okay, that may be a redundant phrase) such as TotalBiscuit and Yahtzee. The most negative thing I've heard about the game was from the PennyArcade guys, and they mostly admitted that it was probably because they were getting old more than anything the game did.
However, the impact it has made on the furry community has also been clear. There has been a lot of love shown toward some of the monsters in the game: from Torriel, colloquially known as "goat mom", to the dinosaur-creature scientist Alpys. All the characters you interact with are alive. They have to be for the game's underlying mechanic to work.
The game's mechanics combine JRPG elements with a bullet-hell combat engagement. But that dry statement isn't what makes Undertale special. No, what makes Undertale stand out is that it very much highlights a simple question as your human character wanders the world of monsters: What makes us human?
The answer to that, no matter the behaviors you exploit, is narrowed down into one simple word. The interesting thing is that that one word takes on very different meanings depending on the context of your playstyle. It is a game that will make you question everything you knew about video games and their relationship with the player.
It has generated a lot of fanfare and conversation around games, particularly around their ability to generate empathy. Which is refreshing after a whole era of people saying they can only generate sociopathy.
And that is why I think Undertale is going to easily upset my Armello prediction and win the Ursa Major in the gaming category for 2015.
Here's to 2016
Anthropomorphic games had a lot to offer in 2015. In a category where finding five contenders can be surprisingly difficult, this year there were many contenders who all had good qualities. This was in spite of having no real hard hitting anthro titles from Nintendo, which usually has at least has one to contribute.
That being said, please feel free to leave your comments on any of the games you felt are worth a nomination in 2015 below. Especially if I did not mention them here! I, and others, may even get to find a game I missed a chance to enjoy. Also I expect at least one Five Nights at Freddy's fan to flame me and curse my family's name for excluding them from this list.
For 2016 we have some games on the horizon that look good. Nintendo has the Pokémon Tekken game and Star Fox Zero coming out next year. But, like 2015, there is surely to be some surprising furry games ready to capture player's imaginations once again.