With six months of 2015 already circling the drain, it’s hard to believe we’re already halfway through the year. We’ve seen some ups. We’ve seen some downs. But we think it’s safe to say that this year has been filled with some really solid titles for every kind of gamer. Instead of waiting all the way until the end of 2015 to celebrate some of these great games, let the staff of Invisible Gamer give you some of their picks for the best games of 2015…so far!
I will, most likely, never play Bloodborne again. This isn’t a condemnation of the game; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. By the time I saw the final credits roll, I had given Bloodborne everything I could give, including a broken controller as a necessary sacrifice to defeat an early boss. Bloodborne had me screaming at the top of my lungs in anger, but I screamed almost as loud in triumph, as well, both from overcoming a particularly tricky fight or just reaching a new lamp with thousands of Blood Echoes in tow. Now, when I see the game case in my collection, I’m reminded of my accomplishment all over again.
But aside from its hair-pulling difficulty, Bloodborne secretly tells an incredibly unique story — or, rather, it allows you to make up the story yourself. Miyazaki’s masterpiece has been knocked for relying too heavily on item descriptions and other cryptic hints to progress its narrative, but the truth is, some of its best story elements are there for you to interpret yourself: not to reach the correct answer, but to reach your own. The confidence to do this in a world where everything needs to be spoon-fed to the player is borderline insane, but it was well worth the risk. — Gabe Gurwin
Admittedly, after the maddeningly boring Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. released earlier this spring, I had my expectations in check for Nintendo’s next crack at a new franchise. My worries were completely unwarranted. Splatoon is not only the most unique take on the multiplayer shooter in the last decade, it’s everything Code Name S.T.E.A.M. isn’t: a unique new IP with the classic Nintendo charm and character the company had recently only utilized in games with “Mario” in the title.
And then there’s … something else. Splatoon is a meme factory. I’ve spent almost as much time running around Inkopolis looking at weird Metal Gear mash-up fan art as I have playing the actual game, and the game’s Miiverse integration allows for images to appear as graffiti during matches. It might not change the game in any fundamental way, but it sure does make me smile. Stay fresh, you crazy squid kids. — Gabe Gurwin
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
I’ve been playing The Witcher 3 since it came out and I’ll probably be playing it as 2015 comes to a close. I’m okay with that. Where other open-world games seem to go for quantity over quality, Witcher 3 tries its hardest to make ever encounter meaningful. More than that, it makes the entire world meaningful in a way that has me reading every note, book, bestiary entry and scrap of paper I can find. There’s been some games with expansive, fully-realized worlds, but none of them have ever made me want to soak up every little thing like this game does.
Sure, there’s some awkward hitches here and there, and I’m still not 100% sold on the combat, but The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is special not because of this or that, one feature over the other, but it’s the sum of its parts that makes it stand above the rest of 2015’s games. I want to see more of the story, I want to fight new monsters and exploit their unique weaknesses, I want to hunt for buried treasure and walk through the mountains. And The Witcher 3 allows me to do all of this by tying it into a fantastic world where nearly every corner has a new story to be told. — Austin Clark
I’m playing this game right now on my iPhone — though it’s also on PC — and I can’t stop thinking about it. Who knows if we’ll remember it by the time the year ends but I want to give it some shine here because, wow. If you’re someone who plays video games to see new stories and experience new ways of having those stories told then you need to play Her Story.
It’s a very simple game made by Sam Barlow, one of the main forces behind Silent Hill: Shattered Memories (one criminally underlooked Wii game,) and it’s about a girl being interviewed by the police: that’s it. The entire game plays out through short FMV clips that you can sort through by keyword. The more you dig, the more you find out about this girl and why she’s being interviewed by the police. I find it fascinating that the entire story rests on one woman’s performance, and me simply clicking and searching for new tapes of her. I’m absolutely captivated. — Austin Clark
Most games explore the physical stress that people undergo during awful situations, but not many look at the mental side. Darkest Dungeon creates a creepy turn-based roguelike and adds in the challenge of trying to keep your characters sane. I spent more time cheering on my characters to survive one more round, to not lose it completely, and spent a lot of time hoping that the latest wave of cultists would simply make my party more resilient rather than despondent.
The game is in Steam Early Access, but it sure doesn’t feel that way. In the hours I’ve played so far, the game feels polished and mechanically refined. While the game’s brutal nature means I haven’t actually progressed that far, it certainly is a wild ride. — Amy Elyse Brighter
DiRT Rally is perhaps the most visceral game I’ve ever played. I’ve played my fair share of racing games in my time, and nothing has ever come close to the knife-edge intensity of Codemaster’s most recent rally sim. Every race contains the tension and excitement of a Dark Souls boss battle; one wrong move and the whole run can be ruined. The feeling of just barely making it past corner after corner and flying through the finish line is just superb.
It’s also worth noting that this is perhaps the most full-featured Early Access debut of all time: the physics and damage modeling are polished to a mirror sheen while the already-decent selection of cars and tracks will be further added upon as time goes by. The game is certainly not for everybody, but for the hardcore racing sim player, there’s nothing quite like it. — Jonah Ort
Dying Light kind of came out of nowhere. It helps when a game comes out in January. Techland’s parkour-style zombie survival game surprised me with its addictive open-world gameplay and crafting and leveling system. But other open-world games, even ones with zombies, have those aspects. Most notably, the way Dying Light played was just so fun. The game has an emphasis on melee weapons and swift movement, and it’s executed near perfectly. The focus on evading foes and running quickly through the fictional city of Harran ended up being the perfect way of separating Dying Light from other games in the genre.
That being said, Dying Light isn’t totally alien as a zombie open-world game. The story is a bit underwhelming, but that doesn’t really matter. Dying Light is one of the most fun open-world games I’ve played in a while, and that’s why it’s one of my favorite games of the year…so far. — Tristan Ettleman
Batman: Arkham Knight
In the weeks leading up to the release of Batman: Arkham Knight, I played through all the console-based game Arkham games for the first time since their respective releases. I wanted to get a sense of where the series began, where it might have misfired, and most importantly what Rocksteady could possibly do to improve upon its predecessors. As it turns out, the developer hasn’t done anything remarkably different with its so-called final contribution to the Batman universe. You’ve still got a city (but few civilians) to save, a rogue’s gallery of monologuing misfits to apprehend, and a panoply of gadgets to aid in your quest to strike fear in the hearts of ne-er-do-wells. You do get to drive the Batmobile for the first time in the series, though it feels like the developer was oddly fixated on its new tank/car hybrid, and it’s utilized far too much during the game’s central storyline to keep it feeling fresh throughout. All that said, this is one gorgeous game, and I challenge anyone not to be wowed by what Rocksteady’s accomplished with its next-gen engine.
While Arkham Knight feels mostly familiar — and as such it just can’t help but be a minor disappointment — it does accomplish something that very few semi-annualized franchises manage to pull off. That is, it brings together all of the disparate elements and stray plot threads of its predecessors (yes, even the criminally underappreciated Arkham Origins, which still has the best story in the series), and weaves into them a sense of finality that its characters deserve. The predictable plot may leave some players underwhelmed (I loved it), but there’s no denying that its central players have been given proper arcs over the course of four games. Most impressive of all of these is The Joker, who even in death manages to make us wretch as often as he makes us squeal with delight. — Michael Burns
Xenoblade Chronicles 3D
Thank goodness for the New 3DS port of Xenoblade Chronicles, because in spite of its grandeur, this is a game that I truly feel is best suited to an on-the-go lifestyle. There’s so much to do — from exploring the far reaches of the map while completing more than 400 side quests, to slaying 150+ unique monsters, to finding rare weapons and gear, to discovering the truth behind the Mechon invasion and the secrets of the legendary Monado sword — that the very thought of having to accomplish all of this in front of a TV makes me anxious. I’ve played Xenoblade Chronicles 3D in bed. On the roof. On the train. At the park. I’ve also played on the couch, grinding my party’s levels while my wife and I catch up on old TV seasons on Netflix. You get my drift. Xenoblade Chronicles is a game that’s perfectly suited to short-burst play sessions, and now that I can play it anywhere, there’s nothing stopping me from squeezing every last drop out of it.
And while I still haven’t completed the main storyline some 60 hours later, I’m still loving it as much as when I first started playing. Even scrunched down to the New 3DS’s 400-pixel resolution top screen, Xenoblade’s massive world is breathtaking. I’ve played a lot of amazing handheld games, but I wasn’t prepared for the first time I stepped out on Gaur Plains. Few game worlds are as large or full of things to do as as Xenoblade’s, and having access to one of this scale on a device that goes everywhere with me? It boggles the mind. — Michael Burns
The Order: 1886
Just kidding. — Everybody
2015 has been a pretty great year so far for video games. There have been a ton of fantastic titles released in a wide spread of genres, allowing players of all types to dig in and quench their thirst for entertainment. If the second half of the year turns out as good as the first, we’re in for hell of a time! Invisible Gamer has shared some of their favorites so far; how about leaving us some of your personal favorites of 2015 in the comments below?