I would be scared to find out how many hours I have put into some of the games on my top ten list this year. No really, there were a lot of capital B big games that released over the course of the year. This was due to the influx of open world games, which might be daunting to some but I brought them in with open arms. On the other hand, we had some smaller, more story-focused games that made way for some of the best gaming moments of 2015. As usual, it’s worth noting that this list is my top ten games that I played this year and is not indicative of the entirety of games that released in 2015. The simple fact is there were a lot of games that came out this year and sometimes I didn’t have the time (or money) to play all of them. I’m sure that my list would be different if I was able to play all of the games that I wanted to play over the course of the year. I can’t speak for games that I haven’t played so I wouldn’t feel right putting them on my list, regardless of their critical reception. With that out of the way, let’s get to the list…
Best Game from a Previous Year: Grand Theft Auto V
I was a little late to the party when I first dug into Grand Theft Auto V back in March, but I was instantly hooked. Rockstar has developed a living and breathing Los Santos with seemingly endless activities to take part in and crimes to commit. Since I was playing the PS4 port, I also had the ability to play the game in first-person, which was a real game changer. Unlike previous games, players control three different characters; Michael, Franklin, and the crazy Trevor. Each character is great in their own regard, bringing their own unique qualities to a surprisingly fun story. I can’t believe I have gone this long without mentioning the elaborate heist missions, which were the highlight of what GTAV had to offer. Although I didn’t get too deep into the online offerings, GTA Online (a first for the series) offered some fun moments as well.
10. Lego Dimensions
I’ve been playing this game recently, which makes it my last minute addition to the list because it deserves some recognition. What makes this game different from all of the other Lego games is the fact that you can actually build the Legos, for real. It’s a toys-to-life game which means the little Lego minifigures and models that you build outside the game can be put into the game via the Lego Dimensions gamepad through NFC technology. The other plus about the game was the amount of properties that the game includes, like Scooby Doo, Dr. Who, Ghostbusters, The Simpsons, Batman, Lord of the Rings, The Lego Movie, and a lot more. This made for some crazy situations, like Homer Simpson getting excited every time he passed Batman. It’s a whole bunch of fan service that no other previous Lego game was able to offer.
9. Broken Age
What started off as a mysterious Kickstarter turned into one of Double Fine’s best games. Broken Age mixed adventure game tropes with some modern elements that didn’t make it feel out of place in 2015. The story follows two different characters, Shay and Vella, whose paths connect thanks to destiny. It was actually one of the biggest surprises of the game. The two seem to be living totally separate lives, but you quickly find out that this might not be the case. The writing is fantastic and the puzzles are clever and make you think, because this is a classic adventure game of course. The game’s art style is gorgeous as well, with every screen mimicking the look of a painting that you could find in an art museum. If you are a fan of the golden age of adventure games, then Broken Age should be on your radar if it wasn’t already.
8. Life Is Strange
Life Is Strange is one of two episodic adventure games on this list, but this one doesn’t come from Telltale, but instead, Square-Enix. This game probably provided some of the most memorable moments of the year as well. You follow Max Caulfield, a girl who finds out that she has the power to manipulate time. This power becomes one of the game’s main mechanics, allowing you to rewind time to change the decisions you make in the game, making it stand out from all of the other episodic games out there, where your choices are final. Being able to rewind time makes you really think about your decisions, giving them more weight. The game also isn’t afraid to get real and doesn’t shy away from some heavy topics like depression, suicide, and some other things that make you cringe. The game has some minor flaws here and there, but they don’t detract from Life Is Strange’s best moments.
7. Until Dawn
I’m not the kind of guy that you’ll find playing horror games, but Until Dawn had a bunch of exceptions that made me want to get my hands on it. Imagine your favorite teen slasher flick merged with a video game. That is the best way to describe the game’s presence. You play as eight different teens who get together to spend a night in one of the friend’s mansion on a haunted mountain. Things quickly start to take a turn for the worse as tensions rise and the mountains horrors rear their head. It turns into a survival fest as the hours count down until dawn. Most of the action is handled through quick time events which do a fantastic job at providing thrills and excitement. The game also revels in its horrific moments and there are plenty of them that will make you jump if you’re not expecting them. It’s a game that you can poke fun at while being scared at the same time. Also, play with a group of friends that can help you make decisions along the way. It makes for a cool experience unlike any other on this list.
The PC space is a perfect place for some good ol’ fashioned indie innovation. Undertale, a small little indie game on the PC, was a game that blew me away. I was not expecting myself to get so attached to it. It has the look and feel of an 80’s era RPG but has gameplay elements that make it new and refreshing. You play as a nondescript kid on a zany adventure, meeting some different and hilarious characters on the way. It’s hard to put humor in a video game but Undertale was a game that really made me laugh out loud at certain points. You can also go through the entire game without hurting a soul thanks to the game’s unique battle system, with each battle being different from the next. Undertale’s ending goes places that I wasn’t expecting, topping off the neat little experience with a bang.
5. Tales from the Borderlands
Here we have the other episodic adventure game, this time from Telltale games. Up to this point I have never played a Borderlands game but Tales from the Borderlands actually made me care about the series’ lore and the story it has to tell. You play as two characters, Rhys and Fiona, who with the help from their friends go on an adventure around the harsh world of Pandora on the search for a legendary treasure. If you have ever played a Telltale game, then you should already know what you’re getting from this game. This game however has some fantastic writing that makes it one of the funniest games of the year. Rhys and Fiona are always getting themselves into trouble in hilarious ways. If you have gotten tired of the Telltale formula, don’t let that stop you from playing Tales from the Borderlands. The Walking Dead games that they put out are their best, but Tales from the Borderlands follows closely in their footsteps of greatness.
4. Rocket League
I’m going to be honest with you, I really wasn’t expecting Rocket League to be as good as it is. It was released as a free PS Plus game so I decided to give it a fair shake. What I got was one of my top games of the year. The game’s premise is that of a pipe dream. It’s soccer, but with rocket powered cars! Sound fun right? Yes, it’s as great as it sounds, and the fact that it is so simple to play makes it that much better. Within no time I found myself getting better and perfecting my skills. Let me tell you, nothing was more rewarding than score a goal. I soon took my skills to multiplayer which was a ton of fun. I might not play Rocket League as much as I did when it first came out, but it was still one of the best multiplayer games of the year. Also, it was a free game! I got my money’s worth, for sure.
3. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
This was my first time playing a Metal Gear game but I got the sense from others that the series has come a long way. Metal Gear Solid V is a massive game, with a huge sandbox for players to tackle missions in a plethora of different ways. As Big Boss, you manage Mother Base and you can recruit people to your team to deepen the ranks of the Diamond Dogs. You then put these people into different divisions to advance and improve your base. You can also put people into research and development which churns out new gadgets and weapons that you can take to the field. The game’s story might not rival some of the series’ previous entries but it is still epic in scale. When all’s said and done, it’s MGSV’s gameplay that makes the game so special. The game just feels good to play and I loved hearing how other people completed missions their own way.
2. Fallout 4
I can’t say I’m that surprised when I see Fallout 4 so high on my list. This was probably my most anticipated game of the year when it was first announced back at E3 this year. The game takes the best parts of the previous Fallout games and adds in a ton of new things to make it stand out as my favorite Fallout game. The story this time around is similar to the story of Fallout 3, but instead of searching for your father you are searching for your son in a post-apocalyptic Boston. Bethesda has created a fully realized city with Boston and I spent countless hours just walking around and stumbling upon unique buildings and settlements. Junk that you find around the world also plays a vital role because now they can be used to craft everything from weapon mods to armor mods. You also have the ability to build your own settlements, which is something completely new for the series. The game has it’s issues with bugs and other jank, but that’s now why I come to a Fallout game. I come for the exploration and the world, and Bethesda delivered.
1. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
If you think about it, this was a year of firsts for me. Just like Metal Gear Solid V was my first Metal Gear game, The Witcher 3 was my first Witcher game. Boy am I glad I took the dive because much to my surprise, The Witcher 3 actually surpassed Fallout 4 as my game of the year. You play as Geralt, a Witcher who roams around taking down monsters harassing villages, usually for a nice reward. The game’s story is basically a game of cat and mouse as you try to find Ciri, Geralt’s old friend, who is being pursued by the evil and ruthless Wild Hunt. It’s CD Projekt Red’s non-linear storytelling that really shines however. The game’s world is massive, spanning a whopping three open-world maps. Each map, with the exception of the introductory area, is massive and full of people to meet, ruins to explore, and monsters to kill. The combat has a little bit of a learning curve to it, but one you start to get the hang of it, it is super satisfying. The game punishes you for rushing into battle unprepared, requiring you to step back and really think about your actions. Each victory felt like an accomplishment, which is something I didn’t feel in a game like Fallout 4. The game also wraps up with a super satisfying ending due to the choices that I made in the story. The characters are super likable (The Red Baron is one of the best and most dynamic characters in the game) and the monsters you have to fight can be horrific. The Witcher 3 might seem daunting to some, but it is a game that you have to play if you haven’t already.