I feel like this year has been a weird one for video games in my personal life. I spent a lot of the year playing 2014 games, small games that had just been re-released such as The Binding of Isaac Re-Birth and Shovel Knight, which are great but don’t really fit into the class of “Best of 2015” when they’re not actually new. New games felt like they were few and far between outside of the last few months of the year, which isn’t surprising but I think that’s why it felt like an off-year, which is when I expected the PS4 and Xbox One to be really hitting their stride. In a few ways, it feels like they did, but the quantity of great games still feels like it’s not where it should be. Anyhow, here are the best 10 games I played this year.
10. Halo 5: Guardians
In some way, it feels weird to even add this game to this list. I didn’t play Halo 5 a lot, and I have not come back to it since the first week of its release. In other ways, it feels weird that the game isn’t a lot higher considering I consider myself a big fan of the Halo series. Halo 5 ended up being a pretty fun single player game with a somewhat flawed multiplayer. I enjoyed the new twists and turns 343 took with the series, I just don’t feel much compulsion to return to a game with such a focus on microtransactions.
9. Batman Arkham Knight
Looking back on the Batman Arkham series, I tend to think Arkham Asylum was the best one of the bunch. Full of tight areas to explore Gotham and be the detective Batman is always supposed to be felt fresh, new, and exciting. Now, Arkham Knight continues in the same vein with the combat system that still holds and an even bigger Gotham City. I wanted to like it more than I probably did, as the game was marred by an overuse of the Batmobile, which made what could have been the best Batman game ever just somewhere in the middle of the pack.
Bloodborne followed in the footsteps in the Souls series, taking many of its merits and created a pretty good game at the other end. Still challenging, still engaging, but without what made me come back to Dark Souls long after I should have stopped. The best parts of Dark Souls were finding new areas to explore, fighting off enemies with grave danger in the back of your mind. Bloodborne takes some of that imagination away, and in many ways felt more frustrating to play than its predecessors.
Typically a screenshot from each game in the list accompanies the blurb below it. I can’t do that with HackNet, as it would be impossible to discern what is even going on. HackNet brings back the text adventure in a way that’s incredibly fun and engaging to play. You’re tasked with finding out what has happened to a fellow hacker, and you must use your hacking skills to conclude that narrative. Have you ever watch a movie with someone “hacking” a computer? Now you can do that too.
SOMA is all about the atmosphere and the story that takes you into a futuristic world. Robots that think they’re humans have taken over an underwater power plant, and they don’t really appreciate you mucking up their little oasis. While it’s certainly not the best playing game of 2015, the story has so much to offer that it’s hard to put down.
5. Call of Duty Black Ops III
Call of Duty: Black Ops III builds on the faster movement offered before in Advanced Warfare, which makes it an even more engaging multiplayer experience than ever before. While there is something to be said for a series not innovating enough (which is valid for Call of Duty), Black Ops III feels like a step in the right direction.
4. Until Dawn
I hope you’re sitting down while you read this. Chances are, you probably are. Okay. A game released in 2015 where its primary gameplay focus was on quick-time events was great. Yes, Until Dawn takes an interesting narrative and classic horror movie elements and marries them into a fun and engaging experience that’s just as fun as a spectator. As it turns out, “Will a group of friends survive a trip to the mountains that’s haunted by a crazed murderer?” is a movie trope that is surprisingly fun to play.
3. Super Mario Maker
Nintendo took on the task where many games such as LittleBigPlanet, Project Spark, Create etc have failed by making a game that’s focused on creation but was also fun to play. Of course, they’ve had 30 years of Super Mario Bros to fall back on, but that’s actually what makes it great. Super Mario Maker doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel but just build upon what was already great, and it’s extremely easy and fun to do.
2. Fallout 4
Fallout 4 is a game that’s iterative and mostly the same as its Bethesda made predecessors, but still manages to bring more of what I loved to the forefront to create a game that’s fun to play and interesting to think about. The new characters have a surprising amount of depth, Boston is a unique wasteland to explore, and the improvements in core gameplay have kept me coming back for more.
1. Rise of the Tomb Raider
After having loved 2013’s Tomb Raider, I expected to like the sequel about just as much. Turns out, what they added to Rise of the Tomb Raider builds on the original in such a way that clicked with me far more and surpassed my expectations. The challenge tombs are fun, the story takes you on a great adventure in an underground world, and the platforming is exciting and satisfying. An example of a game that knew where it steered wrong in the first entry (not as easy of a task as it sounds) and were able to reduce nearly all the issues to make the best game of 2015.