With the collective and definitive Invisible Gamer’s Top 10 already out there, I felt like throwing up my personal list of the top titles from 2015. Like I mentioned in our podcast earlier this month, 2015 turned out to be one of my personal favorites in all of gaming. There was just an astonishing variety of quality games, ranging from known sequels to surprise hits, big budget titles to tiny indies to something in between. It may have not started out strong, but now that 2015 is over, I can only hope 2016 can keep up! Anyways, let’s get on with the list.
10. The Legend of Zelda: Triforce Heroes
I’m in the minority here. Triforce Heroes didn’t go over well with a lot of people, our own review at Invisible Gamer wasn’t glowing. But despite its numerous flaws including a poor implemented solo mode and spotty internet connection, when Triforce Heroes clicks for me, it clicks hard. Some of the most fun I had this year was playing this game with both friends and strangers, cooperating (and sometimes not) to solve the game’s myriad of challenges. Even without voice chat, I loved playing with strangers, spamming pom poms when we succeeded and tapping “NO!” like crazy when someone brought us down. It didn’t matter to me if we all weren’t on the same page because there was something really fun about just trying to make your team work.
Here’s a game that suffers from being the first great game of the year. I almost didn’t even include it on my list because of how long it’s been since I played it. But make no mistake, Bloodborne was a fantastic experience that sped up the formula of the Souls games, forced you to get up close, gave you some awesome transforming weapons and ultimately gave you one of the most rewarding challenges of the year.
8. The Beginner’s Guide
The Beginner’s Guide is a game by Davey Wreden, the same guy behind The Stanley Parable. Suffice to say, like his previous game, The Beginner’s Guide is much more about the experience of player and if I really explain why it effected me so much, I’d spoil it. It’s a game that tackles the relationship between creators and their fans and what art becomes when it’s made public. It was a fascinating experience and I implore you to check it out.
Undertale went from being an unknown title to being possibly the most talked about game of 2015. I mean seriously, who hasn’t heard of it? Thankfully, all that buzz isn’t because of some ridiculous gimmick, YouTube farming, or meme-heavy visuals. It has the buzz because it completely turns a genre on it’s head. Not only does it tear apart the JRPG genre by turning battles into WarioWare-styled minigames or conversational pieces, but it also breaks the fourth wall in jaw-dropping and surprising ways. It starts out with a few bumps, but by the time I experienced my first “real” ending, I was buying everything Undertale was selling.
6. Rocket League
When you hear of a mediocre game that came out nearly 7 years earlier and get the impression that it’s basically the same game, it’s hard not to be blown away when it’s actually one of the best games of the year. That’s Rocket League. Super Acrobatic Rocket Powered Battle Cars came out on the PS3 in 2008 and wasn’t great. Rocket League kept the idea but refined and polished every aspect of the gameplay to become something very special. Rocket League is soccer with cars and it’s damn near perfect.
5. Life is Strange
Speaking of surprises, Life is Strange certainly shattered my expectations early on. With a graphical style that left me unimpressed, and dialogue that, by itself, ranged from believable to cringe-worthy, I never would have thought Life is Strange would make me feel so strongly about it after the first episode concluded. The second episode had me pacing my room back and forth, completely distraught with my decisions. The third episode ending had my jaw dropped. The fourth had me furious and itching for the conclusion. And the final episode left me in tears. By the time it was over, I grew to care about these characters and their home and regardless of how I played the game, I was sad to say goodbye to them.
4. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
The Phantom Pain is really hard for me to express how I feel about it. On one hand, it feels like an incomplete mess when you look at how the story and cutscenes are presented. The story, the characters and the cutscenes are what I’ve come to love about the series for the last two decades and MGSV just doesn’t live up to what the rest of the franchise has built. Then you have the other hand. The other hand is that despite a lackluster plot, The Phantom Pain not only plays better than any other Metal Gear, but I’m convinced it’s the best playing stealth-action game ever made. The movement is fluid, the stealth is rewarding, the shooting is tuned, and the amount of unique, crazy scenarios that can play out are limitless. So despite my disappointment in one area, The Phantom Pain more than makes up for it.
3. Yakuza 5
I’m biased. I love Yakuza. Before I even played it I knew it would make my top 10. Read my review and you’ll see why Yakuza 5 is so high on my list.
There’s something about a game that I can keep playing for months and possibly years on end. In 2015, Splatoon is that game. Since its release in May, I’ve come back to it over and over again, only to fall more in love it. Seriously, Splatoon oozes with style and yes, I’m going to say it, it’s one of the most “FRESH” experiences I had in 2015. I never thought I’d be playing an online multiplayer game for dozens of hours where my main goal is to splat paint across as much of the level as I could. But Nintendo did just that. On top of creating a fantastic game, they rolled out DLC so routinely that every time I picked it back up, it felt “FRESH” once again. Bravo! Yet another surprise in 2015.
1. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
When I look back on the rest of this list, I realize why The Witcher 3 is my favorite game of 2015. It basically encompasses all of what I loved about the other games on my list. While I don’t think the main story is the greatest, the side stories here are absolutely amazing. Nearly every quest you take on leads to some interesting tale, making it worth exploring and taking on side jobs not just for experience points, but to actually enjoy the quest. The gameplay is deep with plenty of systems working together and rewarding players for studying their enemies and exploiting their weaknesses. The characters are memorable. The music is fantastic. The added free DLC was a nice gesture and the expansion (which I haven’t played) looks just as good as the main game. In a time where I’ve grown bored of how stale open-world games feel, The Witcher drew me back in in a way that I haven’t felt since Vice City. It’s a weird comparison but it boils down to this; I loved inhabiting Vice City, regardless of story or plot points. I feel the same way about The Witcher, I don’t feel the need to plow through the story or focus on certain gamey objectives, I just love being Geralt in this world.
So there you have it! My favorite games of 2015 have been cemented into the digital stone of the internet. Like I’ve said so many times, it was a hell of a year. Before writing this I’ve been able to catch up with some games I missed like SOMA and Tales from the Borderlands, both of which may have actually broke into my top 10 but they just didn’t make the cutoff. Seriously though, go play Tales from the Borderlands. Talk about a shocker. I hope you enjoyed my list and I’d love to hear what was on yours. Feel free to tell me how crazy or how right I am in all the usual places.