I’ve gone on record numerous times on the podcast saying that I believe 2015 is one of the best year’s in the history of video games. There were so many incredible games that came out this year that It was tough to make a list. So instead of picking the “best game” of 2015, I thought I’d share with you a few of my favorite games from the year.
Life Is Strange Season One.
Episodic gaming has made sort of a reemergence in the video game industry in the past couple of years. While TellTale games has been the front runner in this category of games, a new challenger entered the ring in late January. Life Is Strange is an episodic graphic adventure video game developed by Dontnod Entertainment and published by Square Enix. Dontnod is a French developer who brought us 2013’s Remember Me. While that game had some interesting ideas, overall, it was a mediocre offering. Their sophomore entry is a different story.
The game’s plot focuses on Maxine Caulfield, a photography student who discovers that she has the ability to rewind time at any moment, leading her every choice to enact the butterfly effect. After having foreseen an approaching storm, Max must take on the responsibility to prevent it from destroying her town. The player’s actions will adjust the narrative as it unfolds, and reshape it once allowed to travel back in time.
The game does an incredible job encapsulating what it means to be a teenager. From the music she listens to, to the way she talks, I saw a little bit of my weird, teenage self in Max. Hannah Telle does an exceptional job voicing Max. It’s Ashly Burch though that steals the show as Max’s best friend, Chloe. The relationship between the renegade, punk-rock listening, blue haired, Chloe, and the shy, sheltered, artisitc Max is what makes the story shine. The game has great performances by the rest of the cast as well, and your choices matter and will change the outcome of the game. Neat stuff. Great work DontNod. Also, there’s this.
Why do we play video games? Is it to escape the real world and become something we’re not? A father searching for his son in a post-apocalyptic future, A plumber trying to save his princess, so-on-and-so-forth. While that’s true, I also play video games to challenge myself, and that’s exactly what Bloodborne did more than any other game this year … challenged me.
The “Souls” games have always been known for their difficulty. Heck, it took me about 10 hours to get out of the first area when I played Dark Souls for the first time. FromSoftware took everything they learned from the original Dark Souls and along with game director Hidetaka Miyazaki created one of the most beautifully haunting games of 2015.
Bloodborne is a third person, action role-playing game. The game follows the player character, (the Hunter), through the fictional Gothic city of Yharnam, whose inhabitants have been afflicted with an abnormal blood-borne disease. Upon mysteriously awakening in Yharnam during the night of “The Hunt”, the Hunter seeks out something known only as “Paleblood” for reasons unknown. The Hunter begins to unravel Yharnam’s intriguing mysteries while hunting down its many terrifying beasts. Eventually, the Hunter’s objective is to locate and terminate the source of the plague, and escape the nightmare to return to the ‘real world.’
As stated earlier, Bloodborne is an incredibly challenging game. But, it’s also a fair one. Bloodborne will push against you, but if you put in the time, learn the intricacies and patterns of the enemies, the game will step aside. I’ve had the highest of highs and the lowest of lows this year with Bloodborne. I’d try to beat a boss 25-30 times, and think to myself “this is it boys, time to give up.” Then, I’d continue to try, and try, and finally … you’d beat that boss. I think beating a few of the bosses in Bloodborne was one of the highlights of gaming in 2015 for me. The game also has a fantastic DLC expansion, called The Old Hunters which will make you cry like a little girl. It’s a great gosh-darn game. PREY SLAUGHTERED
Video games can be special. Undertale is an incredibly special game. Made almost in its entirety by one guy (Developer, Publisher, Artist, Writer, Composer) Toby Fox, Undertale is a role playing game that’s in-line with games like EarthBound. In Undertale, the player controls a human child as they navigate the fictional Underground: a large, secluded region underneath the surface of the Earth. The inhabitants of the Underground are called “monsters”, a diverse and intelligent group who have been banished from the surface following a war with humanity. The child interacts with many monsters on their quest to return to the surface, with the player making decisions on whether to kill or befriend them. These choices affect the outcome of the game to a large degree, with the dialogue and story outcome changing based on their decisions.
One of the most incredible things about Undertale is that you can play the entire game without ever killing anyone. That’s right, you can play the whole game without harming a single enemy in the game. Instead of choosing to “fight”, you can “talk” or “console” or “give a compliment” (among other things). It all adds up to a video game experiences unlike any other.
An RPG is only as good as the cast of characters that you’ll encounter along your journey. Undertale has some of the best characters of the year. From brothers SANS and PAPYRUS (who speak in their respective fonts) to a robot who just wants to be a star. (Mettaton, we love you!). There’s so many great characters that you’ll meet along the way. What really makes Undertale great is the story and its writing, which is on the one hand hilarious enough to suck you in from the start, and is also, by the end, rather heartfelt as well.
Undertale truly is one of the best games I’ve ever played and I want everyone else to experience it. That being said, HERE is a link that you can go download the game. All you have to do is choose your platform (Windows or Mac) and click download. It’s simple and will run on almost any computer. Play this game. It’s truly special.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Sometimes a game is so epic that it needs to be 100+ hours in order to complete. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is one of those games. Wild Hunt is a third person, action role-playing video game set in an open world environment, and developed by the incredible CD Projekt RED (located in Poland). They player takes control of protagonist Geralt of Rivia, a monster hunter known as a Witcher, who sets out on a long journey through the Northern Kingdoms. In the game, players battle against the world’s many dangers using swords and magic, while interacting with non-player characters and completing side quests and main missions to progress through the story.
You’re probably saying to yourself, “Andrew, I haven’t played the first two Witcher games, can I play this one?” The answer to that question is yes. Through a five minute video, the game does a fantastic job getting players up to speed with what happens in the first two games of the series. Sure, there might be a few characters that you won’t know their “whole” story, but for the most part, Wild Hunt can be played as a stand-alone game.
And you should play it! It’s incredibly fun. You’ll find yourself spending dozens of hours off the beaten path doing side quests. Good news, some of the side quests are better than the main story missions. The game is so deep with lore and characters and incredible writing, that you won’t get bored. I will say that it takes a couple of hours for the game to get going. Stick with it, and as soon as it opens up, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is one of the most incredibly polished, ambitious games I’ve ever played. Full of fantastic characters, visuals, music, and an incredibly beautiful/epic story, Wild Hunt will have your blood pumping during some of its action scenes, and it will have the tears flowing at some of its more somber moments.
There’s a fine balance to the games combat. On the harder difficulty settings, you’ll have to balance what swords you’re using as well as what magic you have equipped and what oils you’ll coat your sword with. It can get pretty deep. However, I played the game on the easiest difficulty setting. (Which still presents a challenge). This is a great way to get through the game and see the story in its entirety. Not only did CD Projekt RED make an incredible game, but they supported it too. For months after the games initial release, Projekt RED continued to give owners of the game free content. Missions, weapons, armor, and more. The games first big expansion just came out (Hearts of Stone) and it’s fantastic. Now’s the perfect time to dive into Wild Hunt with the holiday season coming up.
Super Mario Maker
I’ve been playing video games since I was about three. Even before then, I remember watching my cousins play games like Contra and Punch-Out in my grandma’s basement. One of the first games I ever remember beating was the absolutely incredible Super Mario 3 for the original Nintendo. Ever since then, I’ve played (and beaten) every Mario game that has been released. Games like Super Mario World, Mario 64, Mario Galaxy are absolutely incredible. There’s only one problem with all of those games … they come to an end.
That’s not the case with Super Mario Maker. Nintendo has crafted a tool that will let users continuously make Mario levels for the rest of their lives. That’s right, imagine if, after you completed World 8 in the original Mario Brothers, the game didn’t end. There were another 100+ world’s, 1000+ levels for you to play. That’s what Super Mario Maker brings to the table. The tools are incredibly simple to use, and making levels is such a rewarding experience. Crafting a good Mario level is tough. Finding a good balance between skill and design is key. If you don’t want to make levels, don’t worry. You can go online and play the tens of thousands of levels that other players have already created.
There’s really not too much more to say about Super Mario Maker. It’s an incredible game and if you own a Wii U, you NEED to own this game.
This article is already close to 2000 words. While I’d love to write about every game that I played this year, I’d have to publish a novel. That being said, here’s a paragraph (or two) of some more of my favorite games of 2015.
Ori and the Blind Forest: Man, I loved Ori and the Blind Forest. There are so many so-called “Metroid-vania” games out these days, and I think Ori was the best one of the year. Ori is a single-player-only platform adventure video game designed by Moon Studios, an independent developer, and published by Microsoft Studios. Players assume control of Ori, a white guardian spirit, who has the ability to wall jump and shoot Spirit Flames. In order to progress forward in the game, players are tasked to move between platforms and solve puzzles. Accompanying Ori is Sein, who is the light and eyes of the forest’s Spirit Tree. Every Screen of this game oozes beauty. It’s probably the best looking game of 2015. (it’s also the background on my Xbox One). BUY (Steam)
Rise of the Tomb Raider: When Crystal Dynamics rebooted the Tomb Raider franchise in 2013, I was presently surprised. They brought us a new, more mature Lara Croft and wove her into an incredible action game. Rise of the Tomb Raider is the follow up to that game. An Rise of the Tomb Raider is a brilliant game. For more on Rise of the Tomb Raider, you can read my full review HERE. BUY (Xbox One)
Guitar Hero: Live: 2015 brought with it the revitalization of the rhythm-game genre. Both Rock Band 4 and Guitar Hero: Live came out this year. While RB4 was just more Rock Band but on the current generation of consoles, Guitar Hero: Live decided to change things up for the franchise … and it worked. Equipped with a brand new controller (say goodbye to the 5 colored buttons, and say hello to a new 3×2 set of buttons). The guitar changes the way you play. Being an “Expert” Guitar Hero player, it was great getting the new guitar and sucking again. It took a while before I was able to get back up to the ‘advanced’ level of difficulty. Also included in GH: Live is the games LIVE mode. This is an always on 24/7 channel where you can hop in and play whatever song is on at that time. Unlike RB, you won’t buy any future songs for Guitar Hero. All the songs will be added to this mode for free. It’s pretty neat, and theres music for every one. BUY GH: Live
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain: What do you get when take Kiefer Sutherland (24), a man with a burnt off face (Skullface), a Dog with an eye-patch, and Daryl Hall & John Oates’ “Maneater” blaring in the background as you infiltrate enemy bases. Well, you get Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. The final entry in the long running franchise, MGSV brings to a close the story of Big Boss. An incredibly emergent game, MGSV lets the player tackle missions in any way that they see fit. The game has an eclectic cast of characters, and it just a ton of fun. Unfortunately, the whole situation with director Hideo Kojima was a shame. Konami essentially forced him out of the company because MGSV was getting too big. That being said, its shows. MGSV definitely could’ve used a “final act.” All that being said, The Phantom Pain is an incredible game and one that you should play. Also play the rest of the franchise, it’s great. Thanks for everything Hideo Kojima. BUY (Steam)
Here’s even more Games you should check out. Rapid Fire Round.
Fallout 4: The latest game from Bethesda, Fallout 4 is huge. You’ll get lost just doing side missions for hours. There are a few bugs in the game and the boring story / lame structure building mechanic don’t add anything new.
SOMA: a science fiction survival horror video game developed by Frictional Games. Incredibly tense and asks Important questions. Also has a real gut-punch of an ending.
Her Story: Players use a Police database of video clips to solve the case of a missing man. Did she kill him? Find out. Great Stuff.
Downwell: A vertically scrolling shooter roguelike platformer video game. Get it on your phone. It’s tough. Super Fun.
Sage Solitaire: The game I’ve played most on iOS this year. Incredible.
Until Dawn: One of the surprises of the year, Until Dawn is a survival-horror video game. The main actress is Hayden Panettiere from Heroes. The guy from Mr. Robot is in it too. Fun, campy, and full of jump scares, I’m so incredibly happy this game finally came out. Play it. Make sure Josh dies. He’s a bum.
Splatoon: The game centers around characters known as “Inklings”—beings that can transform between humanoid and squid forms, and hide or swim through colored ink sprayed on surfaces using gun or brush-based weaponry. Splatoon features several game modes, including 4-on-4 online multiplayer and a single player campaign. It’s a multiplayer shooter … on the Wii U … that’s a ton of fun! ARE YOU A KID OR ARE YOU A SQUID?!
Rocket League: It’s Soccer with Cars. I showed it to a roommate in Ohio and he said “this is fucking sweet.” It’s fucking sweet.
Batman: Arkham Knight: Great performances by Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill in the conclusion to the Arkham Trilogy. Here’s my full review.
Tales from the Borderlands: Set in the Borderlands universe, this is one of Telltale’s best. Funny and charming. Also features Joe from Family Guy. If you’re a fan of Telltale or episodic adventure games, check this one out.
There you have it. A few of my favorite video games of the year. I’m sure there are more that I missed but it’s 1:37 am and I’m tired. What are some of your favorite games of the year? Let us know!