2015 in Preview: Devs Can Remember It For You Wholesale

2015 in Preview: Devs Can Remember It For You Wholesale

When it comes to 2015, what was old is new again. Some of the best games coming this year are the best games of yesteryear.

As we march forward in console generations, certain games get lost in the shuffle. When was the last time we saw a Suikoden or Breath of Fire game? What was the last Baldur's Gate-style title you played? How about the last Tactics game? Even Telltale Games has left the LucasArts-style adventure game behind.

As developers get used to certain platforms and business models or chase more mainstream audiences, certain genres fall by the wayside. Players have to retreat into old platforms and nostalgia to play certain styles of games. A lack of new content in those genres leaves people starving for more.

This began to change during the last console generation, when Double Fine launched its first successful Kickstarter in 2012. Double Fine traded on the fact that LucasArts-style adventure was a wide open market because major publishers didn't see enough profitability in the genre to sustain development. They were correct and raised over $3.45 million to make the game that eventually became Broken Age. This - and the later addition of Steam Early Access - opened the floodgates for developers, allowing them to mine their favorite classic genres for new titles. You don't need a huge audience, merely one that's willing to pay for the game's development.

Many of these projects have started to release in the past year, not only PC, but also on the new indie-friendly platforms from Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. Here's a few of the nostalgia-twinged titles coming in 2015.

Pillars of Eternity

For Fans in Search of More Baldur's Gate
Release Date: 2015 on PC, Mac, and Linux

This is one of the projects that directly followed Double Fine's successful Kickstarter. Originally named Project Eternity, Pillars of Eternity is the spiritual successor to a number of the old Infinity Engine PC RPGs: Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale, and Planescape: Torment. Developer Obsidian Entertainment was formed by those who contributed heavily to the latter two games in that list, so this represents a perfect storm when it comes to bringing back an older style of play.

Unlike those earlier games, Obsidian has crafted their own new world and when they're done, they'll own everything. That means the studio is throwing everything into this passion project: tons of races, classes, quests, regions to explore, and extensive lore. It's shaping up to be something special, like InXile Entertainment's Wasteland 2.

Torment: Tides of Numenera

For Fans in Search of More Planescape Torment
Release Date: 2015 on PC, Mac, and Linux

Speaking of InXile, after the successful launch of Wasteland 2, the studio is working on Torment: Tides of Numenera, a spiritual successor to Torment: Planescape. Despite the name, the games have no connection to one another except the developers working on them. Instead of inhabiting the AD&D Planescape universe, it will instead take place in Numenera, an all-new universe created by Planescape supplement writer Monte Cook.

Like Planescape, players will wander through worlds where ancient civilizations have died and left behind their withered husks. One human finds a way to reincarnate across dozens of bodies to live forever; the problem is that the player character is an unfortunate side effect of the process. Unlike Pillars, Torment is going to be a far more story-driven affair.

Axiom Verge

For Fans in Search of More Metroid
Release Date: 2015 on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita

Nintendo seems to be content just sitting on the Metroid franchise for the time being, so other developers are stepping into the breach to help fans out. Developer Thomas Happ is combining the best of Metroid and an Alien-style visual motif to make something new, seen through the lens of something old. If you want to know more about Axiom Verge, Bob recently did a full-fledged preview of the game.

Mighty No. 9

For Fans in Search of More Mega Man
Release Date: April 2015 on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U, PlayStation Vita, 3DS, Mac, and Linux

Game designer Keiji Inafune was trying to keep Mega Man in rotation during his time at Capcom, but it seemed like an uphill battle for one man. Eventually, once Inafune and Capcom parted ways, one of the first things he did was create Mega Man with the serial numbers filed off. Another Kickstarted title, Mighty No. 9 also benefits from the effort of Mega Man Zero and ZX developer Inti Creates. Some fans were saddened when the 2D concept art gave way to 3D for the playable version, but otherwise, MN9 looks to be the Mega Man game we've been waiting for.

Citizens of Earth

For Fans in Search of More Earthbound
Release Date: January 20, 2015 on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, and 3DS

If you're looking for some Earthbound/Mother action, you'll probably be happy with this Atlus-published RPG. The game places you in the shoes of the Vice President of Earth, as he returns home for rest and recuperate. Unfortunately, the world gets invaded by an unknown force; now it's up to the VP to recruit the townspeople to fight evil. Pull your team from 40 playable characters, including the Barista, Sasquatch, and the Weatherlady, and go on a quirky RPG adventure.

Chaos Reborn

For Fans in Search of More Chaos
Release Date: May 2015 on PC, Mac, and Linux

Strategy game designer Julian Gollop is well-known as the designer of X-COM: UFO Defense and Rebelstar, but this is a throwback to an earlier title he developed. The strategy is still strong in Chaos Reborn, which shares the same bright color palette of the original game drawn in full 3D.

While many strategy games require a few hours of time, Chaos Reborn is intended to be quick strategy; short, tactical games with high replayability. Up to six players can get into this wizard battle, but the game also features a single-player mode if you have no friends or enemies. You can pick Chaos Reborn up on Steam Early Access or Humble Bundle right now, but the full release is coming later this year.

Below

For Fans in Search of More Legend of Zelda
Release Date: 2015 on PC and Xbox One

This may be confusing for some readers, as we still get new Legend of Zelda games, but I'm talking about something different here. That top-down style, the feeling of exploration and danger that the original Legend of Zelda brought to the table? That's all here in Capy's latest title. And if you're missing that sense of challenge, Below features hard, precise combat and permanent death. Yeah, I know I just caught some people's interest with that.

Cities: Skylines

For Fans in Search of More SimCity
Release Date: Q1 2015 on PC, Mac, and Linux

EA's SimCity was a pretty big disappointment wasn't it? Ever since SimCity 2000, no other game has quite captured that feeling that the original game gave players. Cities: Skylines is the latest game from the team behind the Cities in Motion games, which were decent, but not great. This time, the team is aiming to gives players everything EA promised with the last SimCity title. So far, it looks like they're going to deliver when Cities: Skylines launches this year. Fingers crossed.

Mike Williams

Reviews Editor

M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.

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