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2015 Game of the Year #6: Pillars of Eternity (Tie)

This week Shacknews is counting down its top ten 2015 Games of the Year, as tabulated by both staff votes and input from our own Chatty community. At a tie with Splatoon for the #6 spot is Pillars of Eternity, the old-school RPG with a story that packs some punch.

Josh Hawkins: Guides Editor: Oh Pillars of Eternity. Such an amazing look back into the old-school feeling of role-playing games. It’s been a while since a game has really pushed me back to the roots of the RPG genre, but Obsidian has really pushed the bar up with Pillars of Eternity. The in-depth character creation, the player-driven backstory, and the fan-favorite isometric camera are all center points of this game, and it’s a gem to play.

Personally, it’s a game I couldn’t put down once I picked it up. The story is outstanding, and the well-written dialogue, and player-specific choices really bring the story to life in a way that a lot of RPGs seem to fail at accomplishing in this day and age. Thrown straight into the action, players control a “Watcher”, someone who can look into the souls of others as well as remember things from their past life. The issue with being a watcher though, is the fact that after a while you really start to lose your mind. It’s not a fun path to go down, and there were several points in the game where I really felt the air kicked out of my stomach.

Joe Tirado: As a big fan of Obsidian and being that the staff comes from Interplay and Black Isle, I was extremely excited about this game when it was first announced. Kickstarter was a perfect fit for them, and I was surprised at the positive response from fans of old school isometric RPGs. And I agree Josh, the game is deep. Kickstarting allowed the team to really flesh out races, factions, and the content, and it really shows. Most RPGs have your standard elves and dwarves, but the addition of the Aumaua, Orlans, and Godlikes really made this game stand out for me. The game world is a wonder.

JH: I think Pillars is a great example of how Kickstarter can be both a help, and a hindrance. If you look at the amount of failed projects on Kickstarter, there’s almost always something fishy to them. Something that just makes you want to stay away. With Pillars of Eternity, we had one of our favorite RPG devs coming to us for help with bringing their next story to life, and I think Pillars has more than outdone our expectations of what an isometric RPG can and should be.

To really echo what you said Joe, it’s just so deep, and versatile when it comes to the characters and stories. It’s a game where side quests don’t feel like side quests. You aren’t just sent to gather up some apples for the poor baker in the town square. I’d even go so far as to say that Pillars of Eternity is an RPG where ever encounter you have with people matters, because it can seamlessly change and transform the world around you based upon a decision as simple as helping find a young poor boy’s murdered. That’s not an easy thing to come by, and I think Obsidian really hit it out the park, and wowed us all with Pillars of Eternity.

JT: If anything, these guys could write the book on how to run a successful campaign, and then more importantly, deliver. And yes, in true Obsidian fashion, the game is so much more than just, Press A for nice guy response and Press B for evil guy response. I find myself often wanting to go back and find out what might have happened had I just done things differently..... and that really speaks to how great of a game Pillars Of Eternity is. Creating a fun game that looks cool has become almost the norm in the current climate. Obsidian created an RPG world I emotionally invested myself in, and that's why I included it on my GOTY list.

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