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GAF Games of the Year 2015 - Voting Thread [LAST DAY FOR VOTING]

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Oct 14, 2010
Beaumont, TX
That's extremely tall praise, saying it outclasses all of those titles as a Metroid-style adventure.

Well its got the best map design out of any of them, that's for sure. Calling it a Metroidvania is wrong, really. Most Metroidvanias try to make up for their map design by distracting you with RPG ELEMENTS, weapon/armor drops, easy combat, or basically just being a straight up action platformer with only a tip of the hat towards Metroid's map design. Like this is ACTUALLY a Metroid game.
Jul 29, 2010
does axiom have an owl tho?

Checkmate Ori.

Well its got the best map design out of any of them, that's for sure. Calling it a Metroidvania is wrong, really. Most Metroidvanias try to make up for their map design by distracting you with RPG ELEMENTS, weapon/armor drops, easy combat, or basically just being a straight up action platformer with only a tip of the hat towards Metroid's map design. Like this is ACTUALLY a Metroid game.

Probably the most interesting power-ups/mechanics, too imo.


Jan 1, 2011
Axiom Verge is pretty kewl. Didn't really dig the art, which kind of put a damper on the greater experience for me, and this one vocal song becomes game-killingly bad if you get stuck in that area. Repeatedly double tapping to perform a certain movement mechanic also hurts my thumb a bit. But definitely worth playing if you like Metroid. A nice subversion of typical Metroidvania traversal mechanics.
I spent long enough wandering around there to become accustomed to it
uwaaaaah *gibberish*

I find it amusing that the owl-centric Ori was Nocturnowl's top pick. :p
Personal bias.
If Uncharted 4 ends with Drake fist fighting with an ancient treasure hoarding Owl it may force my hand to finally give Naughty Dog those props I've been withholding from them.
(or you know I might just click with it this time mechanically speaking, I'm just saying Owls wont hurt its chances)

That we are. Not only that, but we both reference Gen 2!

If anyone's wondering, my screen name is the Japanese name for Xatu:

You are all enriched for knowing this.
Best gen 2 flying types, box legends can suck it.

Here's a fun game, predict your GAF GOTY 2016 list and see how wrong you are in 365 days!
Surprise Nintendo game has me by the balls
Something not Nintendo so I look more varied and people don't immediately tune out but it's ultimately similar in tone, so Yooka-Laylee
Suddenly another thing by Nintendo, possibly Zelda
Dark Souls 3, souls fatigue sets in but I still pour hours into it
Street Fighter V even though I suck at it and spend barely any time online due to fear of getting bodied
Either Starfox or Metroid Prime Federation Force turns out to be pretty awesome in spite of the lukewarm showings so far, my faith is rewarded (it's probably Starfox)
Some Indie game out of nowhere, it's almost certainly a 2D platformer/metroidvania title like Hollow Knight
A divisive title that some think is crap and others find great, let's go with Ni-Oh
Big name game that receives rave reviews that I enjoyed, just not on the level of the rest of the world seemingly, I'll slot in Horizon here.
Something by Platinum games, it either just pops up during the year or they make Nier Automata have gameplay that can match the OST this time around.

Mentions of Honour
Uncharted 4 as I begrudgingly admit that the shooting was fun for me this time
An Indie game that requires emotional resonance to "get"
Annual Handheld monster game like Monster Hunter X/or Pokemon ZZZZZZ

1-Donkey Kong Country: Kremling Katastrophe
Featuring the return of Crocodile Isle and Squitter.

Actually, just do a straight-up remake of DKC2.

And make it DARK.

Oh yes.
*heavy breathing*


Sep 26, 2010

1. Mushihimesama; Simply one of the best shoot 'em ups of all time. 1CCing Original Normal is my personal favorite gaming moment of 2015.

2. Yakuza 5; Over the years Yakuza has typically been known for playing it safe with their main formula. Every main game up to this point has predominantly featured the same type of gameplay structure mostly taking place in the same city. With Yakuza 5 Sega has finally given us a sequel that provides fully fleshed out side campaigns and enthralling new cities to explore.

The biggest addition to the title comes in the form of another story where 4 of the main 5 characters are given their own role to do in the game world that ties into the narrative. These jobs are mostly optional with only the training and a few key missions being mandatory. The taxi driving for example is some of the best lawful driving simulation you'll find in a video game. The hunting portion is so well executed that you'll forget you're even playing a Yakuza game.

The real surprising showcase is the story of a young up-and-coming pop idol star. This one story arc comes with so many facets that have their own gameplay systems. Appearing on a talk show, performing stand up comedy, handshaking with fans, street battling, live performances and game shows that intertwine optional mini-games into the narrative all work together so well to offer one of the most truly unique gaming experiences on the market. This 10+ hour section could be stripped out of the game proper and put up on PSN for $15 (and it would probably sell more than Yakuza 5 in the west tenfold).

3. Splatoon; This may have the tightest controls in a 3D platformer since Super Mario Sunshine.


As an aside; I am somehow ranked in the top 100 of Vanquish Tactical Challenge 2 and 3.


Oct 14, 2010
Beaumont, TX
1. Surprise Nintendo game has me by the balls
2. Something not Nintendo so I look more varied and people don't immediately tune out but it's ultimately similar in tone, so Yooka-Laylee
3. Suddenly another thing by Nintendo, possibly Zelda
4. Dark Souls 3, souls fatigue sets in but I still pour hours into it
5. Street Fighter V even though I suck at it and spend barely any time online due to fear of getting bodied
6. Either Starfox or Metroid Prime Federation Force turns out to be pretty awesome in spite of the lukewarm showings so far, my faith is rewarded (it's probably Starfox)
7. Some Indie game out of nowhere, it's almost certainly a 2D platformer/metroidvania title like Hollow Knight
8. A divisive title that some think is crap and others find great, let's go with Ni-Oh
9. Big name game that receives rave reviews that I enjoyed, just not on the level of the rest of the world seemingly, I'll slot in Horizon here.
10. Something by Platinum games, it either just pops up during the year or they make Nier Automata have gameplay that can match the OST this time around.

Honourable Mentions
- Uncharted 4 as I begrudgingly admit that the shooting was fun for me this time
- An Indie game that requires emotional resonance to "get"
- Annual Handheld monster game like Monster Hunter X/or Pokemon ZZZZZZ

taking a guess:

1. Pikmin 4, all but confirmed to come out this year
2. oh good, I'm not the only one who's concerned about my lists looking too similar, look how varied and excellent my taste in games are
3. actually 3D Mario
7. Predicting this to be the Iconoclasts, action platformer with a focus on charming characters, strong mechanics, and a great aesthetic. Here's the character trailer, here's a prototype for a boss, here's actual gameplay.
8. Let's go with No Man's Sky
9. the Last Guardian award

honorable mention:
1. the Abzu award


Jan 1, 2011
That Iconoclasts game is new to me, good thing you had all the trailers prepared.

I can see it now. The opening cutscene will lead off with a storm brewing. The sun is blocked out. Rain and lightning flood the sky. Suddenly, Crocodile Isle erupts from the sea! It towers over DK Island. Kaptain K. Rool and his Kremling Krew are back, and they're pissed. Good luck, Kongs.


As sweetly nostalgic as that would be I'd love to see a different take on them, give me Emperor K.Rool in his imperial palace so Retro can bust out their artistic chops, leave their own mark and then promptly have original trilogy fans say it's not bleak enough to match Rare's style of googly eyed crocs.

Of course I'm willing to accept that Retro are busy with something else
like Fucking Diddy Kong Racing


Jan 12, 2013
1. The Witcher III: The Wild Hunt;

2. Rocket League;
Rocket League was my entry into competitive multiplayer of any kind. I usually shy away from any form of multiplayer, preferring single-player and off-line experiences, but the thrill of scoring in Rocket League makes has made me reconsider my stance. Rocket League offers simple rules: race around a soccer field and score goals. There are no penalties. There are turbo packs that respawn every so often to give you a speed boost. It’s soccer in its purest form, and its simplicity allows for hours upon hours of refining practice, learning to line up and setting up shots, to control the ball, and to perform miraculous saves. The short matches and quick turn over time makes playing just one more match a second thought, even after that one more match is a string of twenty more matches. My only reminder of my aversion to online multiplayer is when my connection takes a turn and stuttering happens, but this happens rarely and I’ve been scoring often. While Rocket League is a refinement of an earlier game, Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle Cars, the lacquer finish on Rocket League makes it a superior product and one that took this year by storm.

3. Her Story;
Her Story plays with the form of narrative by conveying its story through bite sized video clips that the player cues up through a database query. Information spliced together by these fragmented clips allows the player to form more queries to dive deeper into an unsolved case. The narrative themes parallel this unconventional story telling perfectly making an even more resonating performance by sole actress Viva Steifert. Because information is siphoned out of the database through inquiry of keywords found in other clips, a unique experience is offered to each player depending on the order of the clips they see and information they find in those clips.

4. Bloodborne; Bloodborne, considered to be a part of From Software’s Souls anthology, navigates the player through an endless nightmare. While the award winning combat, hidden narrative, and attention to environmental details from other games in the anthology is still in full force, nuances to the combat, making Bloodborne a more action focused game, and the shift from medieval dark fantasy to gothic eldritch horror revitalized the now almost annualized ‘Souls games,’ yet the game does feel familiar and its influences are much more apparent than previous entries, drawing inspiration largely from H.P. Lovecraft’s works—an interest piqued my interest by the game. For an anthology that prides itself in mystery and misdirection, the changes to the established might not have been as significant as they needed to keep the player in the dark.

5. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D; I’ve started Majora’s Mask six times over the decade and a half since its initial release. I never went farther than obtaining the ocarina, essentially the tutorial segment. It was never a matter of not enjoying the game; I just became busy with other aspects of life only to venture back to the game months later, restart, and veer off course again. Majora’s Mask, originally made within an extremely short development window with recycled assets from Ocarina of Time, is an experiment on the series formulaic overlay. It primary mask mechanic is novel and allows Link to step into other’s shoes by donning masks. It also revamps the time traveling mechanic that was introduced in Ocarina of Time, making the player restart from the first day every hour or so with only keep items not resetting. The mechanic brings with it the realization that even when an issue is resolved only Link benefits from the reward. While Ocarina of Time can feel somewhat empty, Majora’s Mask is brimming with characters to interact with and watch as they at first renounce the idea of an impending moon collision and then, as time slowly crawls on, begin to accept and prepare for the end. Remake streamlines a few features and adds a more vibrant color palette that juxtaposes the doom, making life worth holding onto but also making danger more menacing. It’s a classic that’s always worth mentioning whenever released.

6. Super Mario Maker;Super Mario Maker has finally given purpose to the Wii U tablet, making an easy to use level creator program that’s at the top of its class. While I don’t have much of a creative spark, seeing what is achievable in the level creator through user-generated content can be amazing. There are some duds because you are relying on the community and from what I’ve seen it’s not the most intuitive database to find new levels, but good content is out there. Super Mario Maker was a game that I had no interest in before release and ended up expediting a Wii-U purchase after its release.

7. TIS-100; TIS-100 is a logic base puzzle game that uses a mock assembly-language to complete certain objectives with input variables, changing them and making them specific output variables. While it’s not a real assembly or programming language, I think, as someone who wants to learn programming in the New Year, that it does a great job getting you to think in a logic based language and understanding how to start looping. There is a user manual which details the vocabulary of the TIS-100 assembly language, but I would also recommend looking a non-spoiler Youtube tutorial to understand the commands before playing. TIS-100 only allows so much room in each terminal, so coding must be somewhat precise. The most gratifying thing is reading back your coding and understanding why it works and if it almost works understanding how to fix it with a simple few lines.

8. Grow Home;

9. Ori & the Blind Forest;

10. Undertale;

Fancy Clown

Dec 3, 2013
just know that its the best Metroidvania since Zero Mission, the only one that has captured its spirit of discovery, ambiance, and wonder. Aria of Sorrow, Outland, Guacamelee, various DS Vanias, Shadow Complex, Cave Story, Ori and the Blind Forest, Risky Revenge, Dust: An Elysian Tail...thanks for playing.

Idk man Guacamelee had more satisfying combat and bosses (the slick brawling was more fun than plinking away at non-reactive enemies, and the bosses so far is no contest) and challenging platforming with sweet powers.

Axiom Verge does have really cool level design, atmosphere, soundtack, and I like that there's a plethora of unlockables it seems like. But like 3 hours in Im just never excited to jump back in and play for a while. I have fun for a bit and thrn I get lost, or an annoying enemy kills me, or I don't know where to go to progress, and I'm just like eh. I'm starting to think traditional 2D metroidvanias might be something I like a lot more in theory than in actuality, since I thought Symphony or the Night was pretty mediocre outside of aesthetics, and I remember I had zero mission on GBA as a kid and I had the same feeling then that I do now with Axiom Verge. Gonna stick with it tho, since everytime I think about the game I'm like "this sounds awesome, I wanna have fun with it".

Nocturnowl had a good writeup on that game. See my post at the end of the last page; I link to Part 2 of his ballot, which has his writeup for Axiom Verge, iirc.

EDIT: Here it is

This is what I'm talkin about man. It sounds so awesome and it is awesome for me in short bursts. Maybe it's just a slow burn for me like Witcher 3, which I honestly outright disliked for the first couple hours.


Nov 27, 2005
I honestly didn't play as many games this year as I usually do, so I may not even make it to ten. It's not that I didn't spend much time playing games, it's just that the games I really liked this year I spent 80+ hours on each, plus a ton of time spent in MMO-land with WoW and SWTOR.

1. The Witcher III: Wild Hunt ; Totally delivered on the absolute bonkers goal of taking the density of the Witcher games' world and storytelling and applying it to a massive open world.
2. Rocket League ; I still play this almost every day. It feels like playing a sport. You have to use skill, strategy, improvisation, reflexes, it's great. Wow! Nice Shot!
3. Life Is Strange ; Unique story and the time mechanic is a perfect fit for the adventure/choice genre. Great character development and world building. The dialog could be corny but still worked for me.
4. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain ; I spent so much time on this game, but it's definitely a love/hate situation. Great stealth and action mechanics, but I don't like the base building and the story wasn't all there. Still, I had a ton of fun with it.
5. Ori and the Blind Forest ; Played it over a weekend. Awesome art style, Meatboy-ish platforming, and Metroid style exploration is the recipe for me.
6. Super Mario Maker ; Haven't dug into it as much I plan to, but being able to pick it up and jump into some new crazy Mario levels is great.
7. Undertale ; Really cool, inventive, funny game.
8. Star Wars: The Old Republic: Knights of the Fallen Empire ; They ditched a lot of the MMO quest hub structure in favor of delivering the story they wanted to tell, and it paid off.
9. Pac-Man 256 ; My favorite timekiller phone game of the year.
10. Rock Band 4 ; Didn't do much to make itself stand out, I'm just glad it exists.

Hey I made it to ten!

Honorable Mentions
x. Contradiction - Spot The Liar! ; Honorable mention because I didn't play it, but watching the Giant Beast guys play it was one of the more entertaining gaming moments I've had this year.

I'm upset that I haven't played SOMA or Cradle. I also haven't gotten around to lots of the shorter games that have been talked about like Her Story, The Beginners Guide, or Cibele. I also want to go back to Fallout 4 after bouncing off of it pretty quickly the first time, I just wasn't ready for another 80+ hour journey. This year I'll be better about not sinking all my time into a few games, jk Street Figher V GOTY.


Aug 2, 2013
I'm typing up my list now but I feel inadequate next to some of the posts here :p

Have to finish up Axiom Verge in the next couple of days before I finalise it.


Jan 12, 2009
1. The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky ; Amazing game with a fantastic world full of characters that I love, and the stories they all tell are all really fun and engaging, and help bring the world to life like no other game series does. While i'm at work thinking about this game (which I do quite often), I sometimes think about how the stories for all of the minor NPCs are going to play out, something I don't ever do usually. What is usually throw-away garbage in most other games is actually compelling content here that I always make sure I see, because for some reason they all managed to get their hooks into me. The soundtrack is outstanding, and always used to the fullest effect in the places where it matters. The storyline ends up becoming really engaging and got me to not only care about the events that happen, but the characters and how they react to those things too. The cast of main characters is even pretty large, but they're each distinct, and the relationships that form between all of them over the course of the game end up being really satisfying to experience. Even the gameplay loop is just right for me, and it's so good that I bought both a PS3 and Vita copy so I can play during my breaks/lunch at work, and transfer the progress to my PS3 when I get home. I love this game so much, and am anticipating the next game something fierce! (I didn't play TitS yet, but i'll fix that after. If anything, i'm more excited to play those two games now having played this one).

2. Xenoblade Chronicles X ; This is another amazing game, with a massive open world. I didn't expect to be compelled by a world so huge, but Planet Mira is a really engaging world to interact with and explore. The gameplay systems are rich and diverse, and go REALLY deep, something that I love! The battle system is more fast-paced now, and the soul-voice system is really cool.

3. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate ; A friend and I played through most of the co-op stuff together, just the two of us. We sat in a basement over the course of about 8 months for a total of almost 200 hours just fucking playing this game every Saturday. It's Monster Hunter at its best, and I can't wait to see more from the series, hopefully soon!

4. The Witcher III: Wild Hunt ; Another huge world I didn't expect to be engaged with, I loved exploring this world, seeing the tales people tell, and just getting lost in side-quests that were well-written and varied in a way that made the world feel really fleshed out and fun to be in.

5. Splatoon ; So fresh, so stylish, I was a sucker for this game the minute it debuted. I love the music, the multiplayer is quick/fun/easy to get into, and even the single player and the mechanics it explores in a Mario Galaxy-esque manner are just really awesome.

6. Tales of Zestiria ; I don't know if it was the fact that I was finally just happy to be away from Xillia or what, but this game and the cast of characters were really fun to play with, and see their group dynamic. The combat was really fun, and while I think the world was too big for what was put in it, it was definitely a Tales game through and through, and that's a plus in my book. Also dat Go Shiina music.

7. Stella Glow ; Kind of a dark horse for me, I had zero expectations for this game and it wasn't on my radar. I ended up buying it after liking the demo, and I found myself hopelessly glued to my 3DS for the entire duration I played. I kept saying "One more battle," "One more social event," "One more story mission." I got glued to it. Though it's not a terribly difficult game, it's just an enjoyable experience that I liked from start to finish. Also the Mitsuda OST was delightful!

8. Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls ; You know, I didn't like this when I played it on my Vita, but moving to my Vita TV for my playthrough of this exponentially improved my experience, mostly because of the controls. I really liked Komaru as a character, and her relationship with Toko throughout the game ended up becoming really charming by the end. The gameplay wasn't too hard at all, but the story stuff throughout the game was just great. I also liked the villains in this game, as each of their backstories was definitely despair-inducing, and gave motivation to their actions. It's also probably the most brutal i've seen a Danganronpa game be thus far, with the mass-murder only being the tip of the iceberg in this case.

9. Super Mario Maker ; I played it, I loved it, I traded levels with friends, and we all just enjoyed our time with it. I still go back and do the challenge stages for the costumes, make levels, and do random queues here and there, and it's always fun to go back to.

10. Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward ; I got a solid 3 months out of it, and it's all I could've asked for really. Loved what I played, and loved the music. The story was even better than I expected, and I can't wait to go back later this year and catch up on all of that!


May 17, 2013
Just finished The Talos Principle, just barely outside of my Top 10. Loved the game but it dragged a bit towards the end going for those last 10 or so red sigils. The last three mechanics they introduced were the weakest but the first three were good enough to still build an entire game around.


Aug 16, 2006
1. Bloodborne ; From Software really are at the top of their game. No other company has the know-how, the talent or the vision necessary to achieve the kind of games that From have been making for the last 6 years. The artistry on display throughout every corner of Yharnam is what sets Bloodborne apart from the developer’s earlier works. The world is densely littered with grotesque statues, crested with gothic tracery and stained with spilt guts and decay. This civilization, torn between cosmic heresy and industrial progress, offers sights that are both MAJESTIC and disgusting. While the art is Bloodborne’s biggest achievement, the new combat system is why I really fell in love with the game. The more offensive play style makes every encounter feel visceral and intimate. It really feels like you get to know your opponent, wether you’re exchanging blows with a towering beast like Ludwig, or performing a ballet of dashes and gunfire against a skilled hunter like Maria.

2. Rocket League ; Rocket League is the best football simulation ever made. Heck, it might be the best sports game ever made. Wether it’s the haptic feedback from carefully angling a shot, the importance of keeping your eye on the ball at all times, or the psychological burden of carrying the team; Almost every facet of the game of soccer is represented in an extremely compelling way and then dialed up to 11. Like many of the greatest arcade sports games, Rocket League really nails the essence of it’s chosen sport. Visually, the game is a treat. A striking color palette, sharp-looking car models and futuristic stadium backdrops make Rocket League very easy on the eye. Bloodborne might be the better package overall but nothing kept me coming back like Rocket League this year.

3. Kerbal Space Program ; I have not played Kerbal Space Program for more than a couple of minutes but that doesn’t take away from the entertainment, bewilderment and utter joy I’ve gotten from watching several people stream the game. Kerbal captures the imagination, the complexity of space flight and the majesty of the universe more profoundly than it’s playful veneer would ever suggest.

4. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain ; Possibly the best, most flawed game ever made.

5. Until Dawn ; David Cage done right: Great characters, shockingly competent story and engaging to the very end. Easily the best surprise of the year.

6. Axiom Verge

7. Splatoon

8. Super Mario Maker

9. Ori and the Blind Forest

10. Fast Racing Neo


Feb 14, 2005
Kyoto, Japan
Here's a fun game, predict your GAF GOTY 2016 list and see how wrong you are in 365 days!

1. Street Fighter V
2. Uncharted 4
3. 3D Mario(its happening ok)
4. Dark Souls 3
5. Mass Effect
6. Deus Ex
7. XCOM 2
8. Nier Automata
9. Gears 4
10. Hitman

Ballot wiped.

I spent long enough wandering around there to become accustomed to it

Personal bias.
If Uncharted 4 ends with Drake fist fighting with an ancient treasure hoarding Owl it may force my hand to finally give Naughty Dog those props I've been withholding from them.
(or you know I might just click with it this time mechanically speaking, I'm just saying Owls wont hurt its chances)

Best gen 2 flying types, box legends can suck it.

1. Surprise Nintendo game has me by the balls
2. Something not Nintendo so I look more varied and people don't immediately tune out but it's ultimately similar in tone, so Yooka-Laylee
3. Suddenly another thing by Nintendo, possibly Zelda
4. Dark Souls 3, souls fatigue sets in but I still pour hours into it
5. Street Fighter V even though I suck at it and spend barely any time online due to fear of getting bodied
6. Either Starfox or Metroid Prime Federation Force turns out to be pretty awesome in spite of the lukewarm showings so far, my faith is rewarded (it's probably Starfox)
7. Some Indie game out of nowhere, it's almost certainly a 2D platformer/metroidvania title like Hollow Knight
8. A divisive title that some think is crap and others find great, let's go with Ni-Oh
9. Big name game that receives rave reviews that I enjoyed, just not on the level of the rest of the world seemingly, I'll slot in Horizon here.
10. Something by Platinum games, it either just pops up during the year or they make Nier Automata have gameplay that can match the OST this time around.

Honourable Mentions
- Uncharted 4 as I begrudgingly admit that the shooting was fun for me this time
- An Indie game that requires emotional resonance to "get"
- Annual Handheld monster game like Monster Hunter X/or Pokemon ZZZZZZ

*heavy breathing*

Ballot wiped.

taking a guess:

1. Pikmin 4, all but confirmed to come out this year
2. oh good, I'm not the only one who's concerned about my lists looking too similar, look how varied and excellent my taste in games are
3. actually 3D Mario
7. Predicting this to be the Iconoclasts, action platformer with a focus on charming characters, strong mechanics, and a great aesthetic.
8. Let's go with No Man's Sky
9. the Last Guardian award

honorable mention:
1. the Abzu award

Ballot wiped with gap, disqualified.

1. Pokemon gen 6 game
2. Zero Time Dilemma
3. Fire Emblem Fates
4. Illusory Revelations #FE
5. Persona 5
6. Final Fantasy XV
7. Ace Attorney 6
8. DanganRonpa V3
9. Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness
10. The Legend of Zelda NX/Wii U

I expect one of these to get delayed and for some indie game that none of us have heard of as of now to replace its spot. I also expect one of these to totally disappoint on a massive level and for whatever flavor of the year rhythm game to replace it. Also, I'm way more excited for Zelda NX than most of these games, but realistically I totally expect it to disappoint me given my distaste for open worlds and the fact that I've only really loved two games in the whole series. On the other end of the spectrum, I'm not too excited for Illusory Revelations just because it's not something I can get hyped for, but if it retains the quality of Devil Survivor 2 and is as good as the Japanese impressions that I've read are then I'll probably like it more than Persona 5. Putting Zero Time Dilemma up this high is also a huge gamble on my part since both previous games in the series were in the latter half of my top 10 in their respective years, but if the game really returns to the darker tone of 999, has VLR's gameplay, and is as promising as VLR's cliffhanger ending makes it seem then it's probably a 10/10 game for me.

Ballot wiped.

Is this gonna mess up the parsing?

Yes. Stop doing this.


Apr 16, 2015
1. Bloodborne ; words can't describe how good this game is: the ost, the gameplay, the bosses, the world. It all comes together to make my best game so far this gen.

2. Undertale ; it has been a long time since I experienced a game this good when it comes to dialogues, story and characters. If it wasn't for (bloodborne boss name spoiler)
lady maria
Undertale would have been my goty but
lady maria
fight was so good so sorry Undertale you have to be 2nd.

3. MGS:V The Phantom Pain ; Even tho the story wasn't that good, the gameplay was more than enough for me to spend over 80 hours into the game.

4. Ori and the Blind Forest ; the ost and the art is just outstanding, the platforming is fun and the characters are just lovable.

5. Final Fantasy : Type 0 HD ; enjoyed the gameplay and the story a lot. Wish there was a bit more polishing for some stuff in the game but the game was enjoyable overall.

6. The Witcher 3 ; the story and the world is just mind blowing, the gameplay on the other hand was a chore to play with.

7. Soma ; the world and the story is just soo good. I'm yet to finish the game but the pace so far is just great and the atmospheric horror is really well made.

8. Fallout 4 ; for the first time ever in a Bethesda game I can say the gameplay is actually fun , unfortunately they fucked what made their games so special in the past and instead of putting over 400 hours like I did in Skyrim I didn't even reach the 60 hours mark before finishing the main story and leaving the game for good.

9. Transformers Devastation ; the story was shit and the art was boring and repetitive most of the time but the gameplay is just good that I can't remember one moment in the game where I was bored.

10. Dark Souls 2 Scholar of the First Sin ; even if the game had its problems and it wasn't fresh since I played vanilla+dlc when it was released it still enjoyable for the gameplay alone.
Jun 9, 2011

I didn't play Bloodborne this year. You can skip my post now.

More important to me, let's get the shame out of the way now - despite being a cheerleader for the "CRPG renaissance", I didn't find time to finish Pillars of Eternity this year either. I'm enjoying it, but I simply haven't played enough to judge it properly. Also on my wall of shame for not getting to them this year: Mario Maker, Atelier Shallie, Undertale, and Splatoon, to name a few.

But it is what it is, so without further ado...

Best Game That I Played for Some Reason with No Intention of Enjoying:

Until Dawn

I don't think much of David Cage. His attitude and the output from his company have left a bad taste in my mouth for what feels like an eternity now, although in retrospect I realize now Heavy Rain was hilarious if you actively tried to fail every single QTE. Still, I always aim to have an open mind for a choose your own adventure game to catch and hold my interest, and thankfully along came Until Dawn. A well-crafted and delightfully self-aware satire of teen slasher flicks and PG-13 supernatural horror tropes, UD keeps your interest with just enough agency and control to make situations work (holding the DS4 still to simulate trying to be quiet and not get spotted by the killer sounds so silly but becomes hilarious within seconds). Proof a game like this can work with decent writing and characters and not trying too hard to be something it's not.

Best Disc Art:

I'm trying to figure if this is even up for debate.

Most Inscrutable Disappointment of the Year:

Tearaway Unfolded

A bizarre example of how making a technically superior remaster with a ton of new content can still go wrong barely deviating from the source material, Tearaway Unfolded is actually a very enjoyable 1/3 of a game trapped behind soporific, lumbering bloat. For all the claims that the original Vita version was a gimmicky mess, the root hardware inspiration behind this title proves crucial to making the connection so central to Tearaway's narrative and gameplay actually work. The DS4 never feels at place in this rework of the original, but that's hardly the main problem.

The original game is a slow burn, and starts with some barely entertaining levels until an hour or two in when things pick up and the many different mechanics at play start to be utilized together. The same happens here, except for a game with 50% new content, about 45% is wasted extending the slowest part of the game. You're left with a game frontloaded with such terrible pacing issues that by the time you reach the part where things get interesting, you feel vastly less invested than you did in the Vita version. And then, suddenly, it's over.

You're left with a greater package than the original which feels like the lesser exercise. I'm left more appreciative of the flawed but unarguably less boring original by comparison, and probably as confused as the other 5 people who bought the game. A poster child for the importance of pacing.

Best Worst Metagame to Play as an Electrical Designer with OCD:

Packrat Simulator 2015
Fallout 4

I didn't expect the only part of the worldbuilding in this title to make a whole lot of sense to be gathering junk and building shit out of it, but here we are. Finally an excuse to dumpster dive until you're encumbered in a Fallout game aside from littering in front of asshole NPCs or trading 7000 empty bottles for 5 bottlecaps. I spent more time than I care to admit putting together my little shithole shantytown, with turrets on top of everything it would let me. About all I didn't manage to do was put Conan O'Brien in a harness on top of a truck with a flamethrowing guitar. But as soon as I started needing a 50KW generator to light up 6 incandescent light bulbs, the illusion sort of wore off.

That's why I stuck to obsessively laying out 30 rows of taters and melons next to my water purification business instead.

The Other 8:

8. Lara Croft GO ; I'm pleased to say that there was a great new Tomb Raider game released this year, and I thoroughly enjoyed having some semblance of puzzles again as I played on my Microsoft... Windows tablet. Lara Croft GO is a slowly escalating romp with some foresight and planning required and its spirit is in the right place. Possibly the best $2 I've spent on a game that wasn't 5+ years old.

7. Stretchmo ; I unapologetically like puzzle games. I especially like really basic 3D puzzle games, which is probably why Captain Todd was near the top of my list last year. Stretchmo is a game about pulling out the edges of shapes 1 or 2 times to make platforms for climbing them. That's pretty much it. Of course, you can probably imagine the places something like that can go - which is good news, because you can make your own puzzles too.

The game starts slow with 100 basic puzzles, many of which become real head scratchers, but the real fun starts in the subsequent courses (unlockable special course as well) where rideable enemies arrive and special tiles become more frequent. There's a lot of variety on tap, from abstract shapes to familiar NES pixel art designs, to pixel art critters that take working from every side to solve. My go-to pick up and put down game this year.

6. Heroes of the Storm ; I don't care for MOBAs, nor am I good at them. I'm also a pitiful scrub in online competitive play. This probably says all that needs to be said about the kind of person who enjoys HotS, a MOBA with a future as bright as a back alley in Detroit.

There's little I can really say to encapsulate why I enjoy the game beyond the fact that its objective focus and shared experience makes for a very different kind of flow than other MOBAs. For me, as neither a Blizzard nor MOBA fanboy, the game brings back happier times of Vanilla WoW Battlegrounds, and I think that's all I need.

With a couple of thousand games under my belt and participating since early Alpha, the weaknesses are obvious and plentiful to me, and I'm not going to defend the gold grind or the pricing for cosmetics, but the always present possibility of swinging a game 180 degrees and the beauty of squeaking out last minute heroics in team fights has kept me coming back to the game for more than a year now, and that's gotta count for something.

5. Transformers: Devastation ; What, a Platinum title not at the top of my list? Transformers: Devastation was actually the second best surprise for me this year. Not since the NES probably have I been more pleased to jump into a budget license title. I went in expecting a slightly crappy lark and instead got a slightly incredible Bayonetta-lite. Chock full of customizable weapons and stats, different combos for different weapons, multiple difficulties, a predictably insane challenge mode, and a few really incredible music tracks, what's great in this package more than makes up for a half-baked loot/synthesis system and some easily abused moves that can render some encounters trivial.

4. Xenoblade Chronicles X ; UH UH YEEAUH




I kinda didn't expect to enjoy this game after the import impressions and hearing snippets of the soundtrack, but here we are. The plotline and characters (especially the aliens) vary from the mundane to the ridiculous (see squid woman booty above), but really I went in expecting a single-player pseudo-MMO with mechs, and by god that's what I got. The game world lacks a sense of authenticity but it more than makes up for it as a varied and complex amusement park, and I found the combat engaging and addictive.

Biggest surprise? Lin somehow isn't the worst character.

3. The Witcher III: Wild Hunt ; Not really sure what else needs to be said that hasn't already, so I'm going to force myself to be brief. The Witcher's third entry is an incredibly realized open world game that is the poster child for an experience being more than the sum of it's parts, and TW3 is a game where the gestalt creates a believable world I actually cared to be a filthy content tourist in. TW3 stands to me as proof that an open world game can be paced properly and filled with places and moments that make exploring feel organic and even addictive.

I will use this as a soapbox to bring up a subject that's come up a few times this year, which is the game's combat being so bad it deserves to be removed from the game, something modders actually accomplished by way of making every encounter be Gwent.

Completely removing the combat from this is silly. It's contextually relevant, and even if it doesn't often enough punish straight up mashing vs certain encounters, it nearly always rewards putting some effort into it, mostly in terms of planning and understanding the enemy types - you know, the kind of stuff you might expect in an action RPG. I'm not the biggest fan of many of the game's encounters, but I think it's somewhat disingenuous for any action game fan to not be just as heavily critical of this kind of mashing-isn't-always-punished-but-effort-is-rewarded philosophy considering the reality is it's common in many (certainly not all) more popular action games, albeit usually they have better designed combat. Its real failure to me is that it just doesn't feel that great in most encounters.

2. Yoshi's Woolly World ; I consider Yoshi's Island to be one of my top 10 games of all time. I went into this not sure what to expect other than a lot of (imo) mildly unappealing fuzziness, but while not anywhere near as good as YI, this is certainly the best Yoshi game since.

The game starts off somewhat slow with mostly tutorial level stages - a trend the entire industry could stand to abandon as quickly as possible - but rapidly begins to introduce creative new concepts nearly every stage. The variety and cleverness never really subsides, and trying to 100% every stage is - appropriately enough - an exercise in patience and creativity.

Truly hooks you with some hilariously obnoxious stuff if you're a completionist, and honestly even if you aren't, you should try to be when playing this.

1. Yakuza 5 ; First SMT4 and now Yakuza 5, I seem to be having good luck with my first entries into long-running series I've shamefully neglected.

In many ways, Yakuza 5 feels like an extremely Japanese budget GTA clone with an even heavier focus on mini-games, but upon closer inspection it differs from Rockstar's flagship outings in several significant ways - the binding thread is an actual plotline rather than just a bunch of stuff happening, the characters are better realized archetypes and less sarcastic caricatures, the dialog and humor don't feel generated by an algorithm fed nothing but SNL routines, Family Guy jokes, and Buzzfeed ads, and every different element packed into this package actually controls like it was designed by a human being who's touched a controller before.

At its heart a self-aware gaming smorgasbord, a mix of pop culture gaming references, satire, and legitimate emulation, I knew I'd come to the right place the instant my poor dude in hiding turned taxi driver gets into some dirty street racing and I'm welcomed with fucking eurobeat a la Initial-D. Did I mention you get the option to change this music to DAAAYYYTOOONNNAAAA?

Yakuza 5 above all else feels like a concentrated dose of SEGA. There's something so identifiable about the arcadey flavor and gamey perspective in this title. Superficially, Yakuza 5 might appear to be some mid-budget AAA open world wanna-be, but in practice it's a game that's only about what it wants to be about and only includes what it thinks it needs to include, with doing things instead of wandering being the biggest portion of your play time. The game's pacing, variety, and energy are addictive, and in a broader sense give the impression of imagining the real world as a game. As cheesy as that sounds, that cheese is embraced, and the game avoids taking itself too seriously or trying too hard. This is less a game about mini-games as filler, but gameplay variety as central worldbuilding, and it just works. I simply can't wait to dig into the rest of the series now.

Amongst everything I played this year, this simply felt like the brightest surprise for me. It's quite hard to pick this above some of the other games I enjoyed this year when trying to dig into specifics, and there are some weak spots and plots that drag, but when all was said and done, Yakuza 5 just felt like a subtle distillation of all the elements I loved this year, from combat to content tourism, small stories to wacky setpieces, planning to free-form randomness, mini-games to unusual mechanics, and so it's the cherry on top of my 2015.


Neo Member
Jan 31, 2011
1. Bloodborne
2. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
3. Until Dawn
4. Life Is Strange
5. The Witcher III: Wild Hunt


Dec 10, 2013
1. Bloodborne; Simply stunning art direction, atmosphere and the most satisfying combat in any game i've played.

2. Until Dawn ; Did not expect much from this game and was blown away by it. That game kept me on the edge of my seat until the credits rolled. Bring on the sequel.


Jul 27, 2009
1. Fallout 4 ; It finally happened, Bethesda made a game that fixed all the longstanding problems I've had with their games. The gun play is fun, the world is pretty, the loot system is no longer a drag. Not just that, but FO4 finds balance of what to do in loot-heavy games: You want that desk fan because you need screws, or that oven mitt because you need cloth for beds at your settlement. You want every gun, because because best case it has some useful component, second best case you can give it to a settler, worst case you can sell it. In short, everything has value.

2. Bloodborne ; Loved this game, loved the art design, loved the differences from the Souls franchise. But oddly have no desire to replay it, which is why it's #2.

3. The Talos Principle ; On par with Portal.

4. Xeodrifter ; A fun, intentionally small-scale take the the Metroid formula, with some new ideas and a lot of charm. I got this free through PS+, but would easily buy a sequel.


Apr 26, 2007
Also I'm not sure how different this would really be from your "most anticipated" list that shinobi already did.
There is no reason for them to be considered the same. Someone might be say really excited for that new DOA game for some obvious reasons, but might also be aware that it is very unlikely to be one of the best games that year.

I am mainly using DOA for reference because it might be a good example of a guilty pleasure for some.


Oct 19, 2004
Los Angeles, CA
There is no reason for them to be considered the same. Someone might be say really excited for that new DOA game for some obvious reasons, but might also be aware that it is very unlikely to be one of the best games that year.

I am mainly using DOA for reference because it might be a good example of a guilty pleasure for some.

Well, I guess it depends on how you use the GOTY ballots -- if you use them as "your favorite games of the year" then it's not likely to be much different from your "most anticipated" list because you would anticipate games you expect to be favorites.

But yes I suppose if you are trying to be "objective" in these things then it would probably have some differences.


Apr 28, 2013
1. Bloodborne ; Having been there since the US release of Demon's Souls, I've experienced the growth of the Souls series with each iteration. Even if the mechanics were similar between one another, the experience was different because of the setting, or the story, or the focus in some other aspect. Sometimes a change between games was an evolution, or sometimes it was a step back in some aspect. Bloodborne, for me, is the Souls series in its highest form. A culmination of years of refinement. One in which every piece of the puzzle just fell into place. Miyazaki thought of a story, of a lore. He made it his own and he rethought the souls mechanics into a new beast. Health regen on hitting enemies, insight, no shields, sidestepping. All of these mechanics and more support and reflect the world Bloodborne lives in. Every aspect of the game is interweaved with one another in such a way that even the smallest details, be it from a description of a weapon, or the way a boss growls, or the runes that are written on a stone, or even similar features appearing on seemingly unrelated characters, all have a reason for existing and being. It's a "show, don't tell" approach that has always distinguished this series from the rest, but now more refined than ever. Bloodborne is a true complete package of a game and one of gaming's greatest achievements. Without a doubt, 2015's game of the year.

2. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain ; It literally pains (no pun intended) me to see such a game cut short due to whatever internal problems KojiPro had during its development. But even so, MGS5 boasts the best gameplay the series, let alone the action genre, has ever seen. With so much freedom in tackling objectives and having rock solid gameplay mechanics, this game has become the one to beat in coming years in the action department on so many levels. On every other aspect, the game remains top notch. I was definitely disappointed with the story in this one, and having expected one up to standards with the MGS pedigree certainly didn't help matters. But for everything else, this one is a masterpiece.

3. Xenoblade Chronicles X ; A robust and complex JRPG in every sense of the word. The gameplay has so much depth in everything, the world is one of the most varied, imaginative and expansive in years, the music is one of this year's best and all of it is wrapped under a story that, while seemingly barren at first, has some great twists and is complemented extremely well by a lot of good sidequests (some of which are even more interesting than the main story itself). A memorable game.

4. Rocket League ; It's core mechanics are superb and feel so fresh. The matches are always thrilling and fast paced. One of a kind experience.

5. N++ ; One of my favorite platformers all time, N++ takes everything that made the series great and expands upon it greatly with content through the roof. The multiplayer, against all odds, is one of the best couch multiplayer experience in years. Highly recommended.

6. Destiny: The Taken King ; Expanded on everything and hooked me all over again. The game mechanics were always great, it just needed that refinement that TTK brought. Game is still a ways to go to fulfilling its initial promise, but its a start.

7. Star Wars Battlefront ; The ultimate Star Wars fan service. Awesome game, what else is there to say!

8. Helldivers ; Great concept of a co-op game. Refreshing take on the top down shooter genre. Good (and frantic!) times with friends.

9. Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition ; Even though it's a remaster and I've already played it when it came out on PS3, this version adds so much with just the new characters. This iteration of Vergil might be his best, making this game the king of character action games as far as core mechanics go. Just spending time experimenting with the system is a blast and makes me dream even more about the potential in a possible DMC5 (please Capcom!).

10. Resident Evil HD Remaster ; Again, it may be a remaster, but it was my first time playing Resident Evil. Amazing game that holds up so good after so many years since it was first released. I won't put it up higher on this 2015 list because it's a remaster, but it's way up there in my favorite all time horror games now.

Honorable Mentions
x. Hotline Miami 2 ; It's definitely disappointing when comparing it to the first one, but it's still a good game. I just expected so much more out of one of my favorite indie games. Music is one this year's best, though.

x. Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 ; First in the series I've ever bought. Good multiplayer modes and 4 player splitscreen for zombie mode is god tier couch multiplayer (which is pretty much the sole reason of why I bought it). Single player is forgettable though.


Jan 22, 2015
1. Metal Gear Solid V The Phantom Pain ; Other than the usual "good gameplay", this game is GOTY because it tries something new. Without spoiling it, ill just say that its a cool way to end a series. MGS4 was the actual end of the series as a story and canon, but V ends it as a game.
Also I don't care what anyone says, the story was good. Some of the best moments of the series were in V. It also had great performances for many characters. Snake, Kaz, Huey, Skull Face, and others that I won't name b/c spoilers.

2. Bloodborne ; Awesome gameplay, world, story, atmosphere. Felt like a horror game at times.


May 9, 2006
Gothenburg, Sweden

10. Super Mario Maker ; This game is almost like cheating. You take three of the best games of all time (and a fourth OK one), add a couple of new twists and make a bunch of new levels. Then, you make a fantastically intuitive level editor for said games and unleash it unto the public, spawning an endless supply of new Mario levels. A lot of them are awful grabage, but some of them are absolutely brilliant. But where Super Mario Maker shines is in its social aspects. Watching Dan Ryckerts and Patrick Klepeks faux rivalry online for the past couple of months, with one designing diabolical challenges for the other, has been some of the most entertaining stuff I’ve ever seen and would have put this game on the list even if I didn’t play it for myself.

9. Pillars of Eternity ; An old school 90’s RPG in 2015, from the makers of Icewind Dale and Planescape: Torment. Pillars of Eternity is rich with lore, characters and complex systems. Perhaps too complex sometimes, as I never got a hang of the finer details. Still, quite a good RPG with a nice emphasis on player choice and open-endedness.

8. Rocket League ; It took a game of rocket powered radio controlled cars to finally capture that adrenaline pumping, blood rushing sensation of fighting for control over a ball on a football field. This game just nails that feeling of coordination and connection with the ball that makes you feel like you are an active part of the game, not just some spectator controlling aspects of the simulation.

7. The Witcher III: Wild Hunt ; One of the best realized and most gorgeous looking open worlds of 2015. The Witcher III is dense and filled with interesting quest lines (The Bloody Baron bit being a highlight).

6. Her Story ; A neat and interesting little FMV adventure. Having the narration laid out for the player to explore at their own leisure and with no real end is a brilliant concept that works really well. Viva Seifert does a fantastic job playing the games only character. The story is a schlocky murder mystery with a twist that doesn’t hold any water, but the sense of discovery and satisfaction of piecing the mystery together makes up for any of the short comings of the actual details of the plot.

5. Fallout 4 ; This is the least ambitious, hyper ambitious game ever. Here’s why: I have been wracking my brain trying to figure out what Betheseda’s internal pitch for this game was and I can’t come up with anything. It’s like going in, they had no idea what would motivate another Fallout game. Because this is just another Fallout. Nothing major elevates it above the previous game, nothing makes it stand on its own. And you know what? I DON’T CARE! I love this game so much and I can’t really say why. Maybe it just clicked with me, maybe I’m just hardwired to love the Betheseda formula (aside from the Elder Scrolls games). Admittedly, the first few hours almost turned me off with how shockingly similar it was to Fallout 3, but once I turned off all quest markers and started exploring the wasteland on my own, I was hooked.

4. Life is Strange ; Any one of my top four games could have been at the number one spot, really. Life is Strange was one of the best experiences with any kind of media I’ve had all year and it’s made even better by doing things that we seldom see in video games – having two female leads living out their normal teenage lives (well…) in a normal small town. Okay, so there’s this whole time travel aspect of the game, but that is by far the weakest part and it doesn’t detract from the fact that as a player you get to experiences this very real friendship between Max and Chloe. I hope that other developers will take note and realize that you don’t have to play it big and explody to make an impact. Normal life is pretty darn strange by itself.

3. The Beginner's Guide ; I did not expect to be emotionally struck by this game, but it hit me hard. A personal tale, straddling the autobiographical and the fantastical, The Beginner’s Guide utilizes the medium of video games to tell a unique story that is deeply affecting and provoking.

2. Sunless Sea ; If Welcome to Night Vale was a game, this would be it. Borrowing heavily from the weirdness of HP Lovecraft, Sunless Sea creates a world filled to the brim with madness, mystery and the macabre. Brilliantly written vignettes paint a lovingly detailed picture, despite only ever hinting at the secrets, horrors and mysteries held within. The gameplay compliments the writing perfectly, making Secrets a form of currency and Fear a stat to be staved off, while generating a huge map for the player to explore. Oh, and the soundtrack is brilliant, adding to the otherworldly atmosphere.

1. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain ; Beautiful in its gameplay fluidity, vast and varying in its encounter design, MGSV finally realizes the true potential of Kojimas stealth action vision. Having the story take the back seat is just what the series needed, and what’s on the table still remains interesting, thought provoking and filled with fourth wall-breaking meta commentary. There is one huge caveat though, and that is the oversexualized depiction of Quiet. I don’t know why we tolerate this kind of crap in 2015, but I guess I’m part of the problem by putting it on top of my list.

Honorable mentions

x. Invisible, Inc ; Absolutely loved this one. Captures the high tension of a stealth mission. Could've used more variety.
x. Axiom Verge ; a gorgeous homage to Metroid that lacks a soul of its own
x. Crypt of the NecroDancer ; I'm terrible at this game, but man is that music good.
x. TIS-100 ; This one was a strong contender for the list. This game makes me feel stupid on a way I haven't felt since last time I studied math. The satisfaction of completing a puzzle and the many options for you to try out different solutions is just fantastic though.


Jul 5, 2006
Quebec City, Canada
I usually wait one year and buy games for 10 bucks on PC, or I haven't had time to play this year's releases. However some of them deserve to be mentioned. (Guess which console I have)

1. Splatoon ; I can't remember the last time I had this much fun playing multiplayer. Everything is so colorful and fun, lots of content, the game design is just top notch.
2. Xenoblade Chronicles X ; I love exploring in games and the open-world map is just great. Most of the characters are interesting in their own way. Except you Tatsu.
3. Super Mario Maker ; Customizing stuff is always fun, and here you can customize whole levels. What's not to like? Surprisingly, I love playing other people's levels more than creating.


Aug 6, 2009
1. The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky Second Chapter ; Trails in the Sky Second Chapter is the most well written RPG I’ve played since Persona 4. I don’t say that lightly. Persona 4 is my favorite game of all time and that is purely on the back of the writing. What Trails in the Sky has done with its world building is something I’ve never experienced in a game. The world of Zemuria feels so incredibly well realized that I almost felt like I could visit there myself. The political machinations of all the individual countries never ceased to interest me. You then add to that an absolutely fascinating ancient history told through the ruins you explore and Trails in the Sky has truly created a world I want to visit again, and again and again. What makes SC rise from great to truly being something special is that it then tells a fantastic story in that world. The cast of characters are all well rounded and each are given tons of moments to strut their stuff. Scherazard and Olivier’s interactions in particular always stand out to me as moments I won’t forget. This is a cast that has been through shit together already and have grown from it and now we get to see them progress even more through a new adventure. It’s rare that we see characters truly grow over the course of multiple games, but Trails in the Sky SC absolutely accomplishes that and creates some genuine people who I cared to see their adventure through. I really can’t give it any more praise than that. Trails SC was a truly special experience for me and I hope Falcom can continue to deliver that and XSEED will continue to be able to support the series in the west.
2. Splatoon ; When Splatoon was announced, I could not understand the instant fervor around it that gripped the Nintendo fandom. After years of trying and failing to find a competitive shooter that fit me, I had given up on really caring about the genre in general. On its face, nothing about Splatoon seemed all that interesting. Then I got my hands on it and everything changed. Splatoon is something that you can only appreciate as a complete package. Everything about Splatoon is fresh, fun and friendly. Shooting the opponent is useful, but it isn't the main goal. It's amazing how all these little things add up to create an environment where I can actually enjoy playing a competitive shooter without feeling the constant worry about my performance hurting the team. Because I can actually relax while playing it, I can also perform better an actually have fun. As strange as it is to rate the lack of feature as a net positive, the lack of voice chat also really helps me let go and just enjoy the game. The core game itself is also completely fresh and interesting. There is some pure joy out of inking the ground and fighting for territory that's extremely difficult for me to put into words. Small things about the presentation really add up as well. The ink feels incredibly different from your typical laser gun or bullet and that really helps accentuate the entire fresh feeling of freshness the game has. The fashion element also adds a fantastic element of character customization that is typically limited to load outs and gun skins in most shooters. You add to that Nintendo's amazing post release support and you have not only a multiplayer shooter I can enjoy, a miracle of itself, but also one that keeps me coming back again and again.
3. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate ; I’m not sure how much I have to say about MH4U other than it’s more, better Monster Hunter. The new monsters and weapons are all fantastic additions. There vertical environments and jumping attacks actually add the new variety to the combat that Capcom tried and failed to do with the underwater segments in Tri. MH4U is an incredible experience. I don’t need to say more.
4. Tales from the Borderlands ; When Tales from the Borderlands was announced, I could not have cared less. Borderlands 2’s writing was so abysmal that it burned and salted any joy I had ever felt for Borderlands world. It took a ton of convincing to get me to even look at Tales from the Borderlands, but I’m so glad I did. What TellTale has managed to create here is nothing sort of astounding. They’ve taken the broken pieces of the Borderlands narrative and on top of that have painted a magnificent picture of a world filled with interesting stories and characters. Tales from the Borderlands has an extremely lovable cast of characters and the story they run with is full of interesting moments, twists and surprises. The game is also genuinely funny. I haven’t laughed this much at a game and some time. I honestly cannot believe a game with Borderlands in the title got this many genuine laughs out of me. This game has singlehandedly reinvigorated my interest in the Borderlands world and I hope we’ll get a followup worthy of being in the same world with these characters. Oh, and it’s also a requirement that I mention the episode intros. Their use of licensed music in those are incredible.
5. The Witcher III: Wild Hunt ; The Witcher 1 and 2 always felt extremely ambitious for their scope. They managed to suggest a larger world using clever tricks to hide their smaller scale and budget. The Witcher III fulfills the promise of their ambition. The scope and scale of the world is something I never expected to see in a Witcher game. More than the scale and beauty of the world, what makes the game something special is the writing. Even the most meager of side quests that just wants you to fetch a couple items has some sort of narrative hook. Every little moment feels crafted. When you find a random treasure chest in the world, it is often accompanied by little bits of visual storytelling hinting to how it arrived. It’s all these little things that add up to make Wild Hunt feel like an unbelievable experience. In addition, you also have all of CDPRojekt’s trademark post-release support. Not only is the game constantly getting better, but Hearts of Stone is one of the best and most complete pieces of DLC I’ve seen. I don’t feel ripped off for it not being in the game, but I also completely feel it was worth the cost. If it is finally time to say goodbye to Witcher Geralt, I’m glad this is the adventure we send him off on. I’m also incredibly excited to see what the future brings for the franchise.
6. Life is Strange ; Life is Strange is an experience that took me completely by surprise. At first, the game seems like a simple twist on your typical high school soap opera. In a lot of ways, that’s exactly what it is, but it’s shocking at how good it is at being that. It’s a game that managed to make me care about the cast in a way I didn’t expect. It made me genuinely emotional on more than a few occasions. The game really manages to sell its world not only through the writing, but the visual design and music choices as well. Arcadia Bay Feels like a living, breathing place. It’s also a game that’s quite clever at using the time manipulating mechanics that it sets forth. I think the greatest praise I can lay on it is even with a cliched and obvious ending, I had become so attached to the cast that I completely bought into it. The end of that game made me an emotional wreck, and that’s something I haven’t gotten from a game in quite a while. It wasn’t the moment in the game that hit me the most, but it might be one of the ones I remember the longest.
7. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain ; The Phantom Pain is perhaps the best flawed experience I’ve ever had. There is a ton to rightful despise about the game. A whole chunk of the game, the FOB invasions, are absolutely worthless on PC due to unpoliced cheating and it isn’t even fun if it did work. The resource system can feel more limiting than being fun progression system. The game is filled with crappy micro transactions. Most damningly, the game’s story isn’t a piece of the MGS timeline that I needed to see filled in. Still, Kojima has created one of the best playing stealth games I’ve ever encountered. The open maps may limit the sort of crafted feeling you’d get in previous MGS games, but in its place you have a bevy of systems all cooperating to make sure you rarely see the same situation twice. It’s a game that rewards adaptability, and gives the player the tools to actually be adaptable. The cascading fail system feels like the perfect balance between instant failure when spotted and the ability to just kill everything if you need to (the greatest fault with Dishonored’s stealth that practically ruined the game for me). You aren’t going to instantly die when shot at, but you can’t take on a huge army on your own either. It feels like one of the few stealth games that truly relies on stealth being the primary mode of attack while not being super punishing to the player. That’s a line that is so hard to tread and the feeling it gave me playing it is why I came back again and again for 70 hours+ when most MGS titles could barely hold me for 20 or 30.
8. Bloodborne ; Bloodborne is in a lot of ways the giant leap forward I’ve wanted in a Souls game. The new combat system feels still familiar, but also gave me a world of new depth to explore. The world is absolutely fascinating as well. Where the game sort of falls apart is that it feels like a new First Gen Souls game. Most of the bosses are far too easy and gone are the features that would keep me coming back for subsequent playthroughs. The covenant system is stripped bare, the variety of builds is minimal, and the crafting system is relegated to a simple single branch of upgrades. Still the core of Bloodborne is perhaps the most sound Souls has ever been. A second generation of this game that builds expected features back in could be one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had.
9. Kerbal Space Program ; Admission: I did not play all that much Kerbal in 2015. This is more my chance to finally recognize this game for the joy it’s given me over the year or two I have played it. Kerbal is such a wonderful thing. It’s cartoony exterior belies the incredible depth. No other game has really made me appreciate the shear impossibility of making it to space. No other game has also let me reenact the engineering history of The Space Race. Every time I pick Kerbal up, I learn something new about not only the mechanics, but actual real world space travel. It’s both a wonderful game, and a cool teaching tool. Very few games have accomplished near that feat.
10. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel ; The fact this is so much lower on my list than Trails in the Sky might lead some to think I believe this is a step back for the franchise. That’s not really the case. Cold Steel is a step forward in nearly every aspect. The presentation is smoother, the battle system tweaks are interesting and adds a much needed skip function and the world they create is absolutely as interesting as Sky SC. Trails of Cold Steel had a much harder job to accomplish. Whereas Trails in the Sky SC had a premade cast and story I cared about, Cold Steel has to create all that from scratch and slowly build to the point SC started off at. Admittedly, I haven’t gotten far enough into the game to be sure it stuck the landing, but from the significant portion I’ve played, I’m already sold on the cast and world and can’t wait to see where Falcom takes it.


Jan 24, 2014
Frankfurt, Germany
Ha, what bothers you about Bloodborne's fanbase? They're part of the Souls community, and in my experience the Souls community is generally friendly. We bond over getting our asses served to us repeatedly by the game. :)

Most posts/threads on GAF kind of spoiled it for me. I guess in the meantime all that stuff gained meme-status but anyway another big point was simply that I couldn't finish it. I don't own a PS4 yet and only played it at a friend's house.

Also, finally finished Demon's Souls on the 31st of December last year. Felt good!


Jul 16, 2009
1. Witcher 3 wild hunt ; Best game i played this gen and definitely top 3 of all time.

2. Mortal Kombat x ; my first serious MK since PSX era and what a fucking game, spent tons of hour playing it offline with friends.

3. Transformers Devastation ; Transformer game with Bayonetta combat, enough said.

4. Batman Arkham knight ; while fairly a disappointing game compared to the previous entries, i really enjoyed most of the game quite a lot.

5. GTA 5 PC ; i the definitive edition indeed, i didnt play any other version and this version definitely delivered performance wise, highly recommended.

6. Rocket League
; Didnt see that game coming at all, had blast playing it with friends online.

7. Starcraft Legacy of the void
; The end of an era, best competitive game right now and the hardest game to probably master. I will keep playing this game forever until blizzard release new rts.

8. Hotline Miami 2
; i didnt even like the first one but this one i fucking loved with all my heart.

9. Tales of the borderland ;
very fun adventure and characters that would make this game higher if not for the shitty engine and bad clunky animations.

10. Bloodborne
; stripped down Soul game, while it was extremely disappointing design wise the bosses were fucking amazing, if the game was running 60 fps it would probably been top 5 game but it ran like shit.

DLC of the year :
W3 hearts of stone.

OST of the year :

Character of the year:
Geralt of Rivia.

Most disappointing game:
MGS 5 followed by JC3.


Oct 19, 2005
1. Rise of the Tomb Raider ; Without a doubt this is the best game of 2015. Too bad more people didn't get a chance to play it, but in all areas it just hits a home run. I can always tell when people or sites list their top games of 2015 as to whether they have played this game objectively or not. If they did then it's generally on it.

2. Tales from the Borderlands ; Biggest surprise for me in 2015 was how much I looked forward to and loved every episode of this game. Very few games get a laugh out of me, but I found myself cracking a smile several times during this one.

3. Fallout 4 ; I could list dozens of odd quirks or bugs I encountered during this game, but I kind of expected that going in. I think I enjoyed the game more than some because I didn't focus on beating the main campaign. The most fun with Fallout is stumbling into side quests like the Silver Shroud, and just exploring. The main quest line was a little weak towards the end, so that's what it's not my number one.

4. Halo 5: Guardians ; Graphically I though the game was stellar, and the shooting feels as tight as ever. I like the direction they are taking with the series.

5. Ori and the Blind Forest ; I think this game just missed its market, on a Nintendo or Sony platform it would have reaped a lot more praise. Glad to see games like this come to the Xbox as a nice change of pace.

6. Pillars of Eternity ; The one successful Kickstarter game for me that I'm so happy to have contributed towards. The developer just knows has to craft a great isometric RPG. Felt like I travelled back in time to when we were getting Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale, and Planescape Torment style games. Good memories and times.

7. Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void ; Blizzard always makes some of my favorite games, and this one is no exception. Just love that Blizzard polish and feel. This one for me is the best out of the three.

8.) Madden NFL 16 ; I usually get Madden annually, but I just thought this year was the best in awhile. Loved the modes and it just played really tight.

9.) Forza 6 ; It's not quite as high on my racing game list as Horizon 2 was, but this is still a stellar racing title. I always end up just playing this one at my friends because he has a crazy setup for it.

10. Batman: Arkham Knight ; Still need to go and finish this one, but I have really enjoyed the game so far. A little too much Bat Mobile though, and that's my only complaint.


Mar 3, 2009
Strange how making this list made me realize how much I actually overvalued 2015. I actually had a lot of fun playing games last year but this list only has 4 great games which made my picks a lot easier. The rest of top 10 are good games and nothing more and if I finish some games until next Saturday it will probably make me change my top 10. Now I wish I dedicated more time to Witcher III and Metal Gear Solid V so this list could be a lot different since I can't finish them until next week.

1. Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege ; In an era of immediate rewarding gameplay, level up musics during gameplay, killstreaks just by showing up and other features that destroy the ability of having an even playing field, Rainbow Six Siege managed to be released without having anything of that and that's why it's the best shooter of this generation only with BF4 as a worthy competitor. The tension of every match is incredible even when you don't fire a bullet. Spending 5 minutes without firing a bullet shouldn't be fun but it is. Less is more, I only hope greedy Ubisoft doesn't destroy the gameplay with the new operators that cost so much renown. We are screwed right?

2. MLB 15: The Show ; There is no other sports franchise that is even near what MLB The Show does to keep me interested every year even when franchise mode is still lacking compared to NBA 2K's association mode. The attention to detail, the ability to change settings to allow me to play the way I want, the dynamic difficulty that always keep it interesting, the unbelievable tension of the late innings, the furious rage of being unable to hit one game after getting 12 runs the game before, the rage of being unable to get an out with an elite closer, the euphoria of scoring a walk off home run, losing your ability to play because I actually lost my composure. Can't wait for this year game.

3. Rocket League ; What a surprise. Just like Rainbow Six Siege a game that manages to keep a playing level field where skill matters (even more in Rocket League than Siege). I can actually stop playing for 1 month and when I come back, the only thing that still matters is my skill. And it's so good and simple to play this game. Keep failing those aerials, but will keep trying just like Ronaldo's attempts at a bicycle kick goal.

4. Bloodborne ; It's strange to include a game I actually haven't finished despite playing it for almost 15 hours especially because I didn't enjoy any Souls game but the art design and quicker combat draw me into this mess and I actually love it because of the gameplay design that is above everything else. In this game my deaths are my 100% my fault either lack of skill or stupid decision making, not the camera, not the game being cheap, difficulty spikes or bugs. Level design always make me to surprise and the game feels a whole because of that. Just a shame I keep dying.

5. Helldivers ; There are 2 types of people in this planed, those that love spreading managed democracy and those that don't. Fortunately I do and I had tons of fun playing it with friends and randoms while being surprise that friendly fire wasn't a problem at all.

6. Project CARS ; The game haven't met most of my expectations especially online (just copy iRacing system, it's that simple...) but the motorsport is actually there. AI actually drive against each other, make mistakes and races feel alive instead of dull F1 processions to the end. Still the abundance of tracks doesn't make up for the lack of cars (if only they made every DLC free....).

7. Need for Speed ; Almost near the end of the game so I believe I saw everything the game has to offer which is a baffling always-online requirement (why? is there an actual reason?), a worse autolog integration that keeps getting worse since Hot Pursuit implemented it, a nice upgrading system, good driving mechanics and varied events to keep things fresh. Let's not talk about the story and FMV...

8. Tales From The Borderlands ; The game started really well but the payoff failed to meet the expectations (still miles better than Life is Strange chapter 4-5 self destruction), still the writing and the story told by 2 characters was really well done.

9. Star Wars Battlefront ; I agree with every criticism about this game. It's empty, it doesn't have support systems that give them legs to make it interesting for the next couple of years, it lacks content, supremacy is a very poor conquest variation, but still I find the actual gameplay a lot of fun to play a couple of quick matches.

10. Madden NFL 16 ; While reading my last year GOTY post, I noticed I gave Madden 15 a honorable mention and it wasn't higher because of commentary and WR/DB interaction, and one of those was greatly improved. Now you can actually use 95% of the offensive playbook and throw deep passes in single coverage without the fear of the DB becoming superhuman and getting a silly INT. It opened up the gameplay to a point where only NCAA Football 11 pre-patches is better to me of the last 2 gens. Franchise mode is still really poor and Jim Nantz and Phil Simms are still... Jim Nantz and Phil Simms.

Honorable Mentions

x. F1 2015 ; The perfect example of a first annual sports game in a new generation. Content is simply not there to the point where they created a new mode that is basically a different difficulty level and forcing you to play with some settings. However the driving is better than ever before, just a shame the rest of the game can't keep up with it.

x. NBA 2K16 ; Unlike Madden, my problems with NBA 2K16 remain exactly the same I wrote in last year GOTY. Input lag and slow animations. Also the AI decision making needs to be revamped, so many dumb decisions that even Vinny Del Negro looks bright in comparison.


Jul 26, 2011
didn't play much in 2015 and I left out a couple games, but there have been a number of nice little time-wasters nonetheless

1. Life is Strange ; what a pleasant surprise that game was. I loved the characters, the setting and mood, the music, the mystery plot - it's just an altogether great package
2. Pillars of Eternity ; BG2 is probably still my favorite game, and PoE got close at times at reaching for the crown. A number of issues (writing, quest design, encounter design, gameplay mechanics) are holding it back, but I'm confident that Obsidian learns from these mistakes and will deliver a masterpiece with the sequel
3. Tales From The Borderlands ; easily the best work from Telltale yet, makes better use of the Borderland world than the main games. The writing and humor is top-notch, seriously if you haven't played it yet go to check it out now
4. Ori and the Blind Forest ; a good Metroidvania and a stunningly beautiful game
5. Splatoon
6. Game of Thrones
7. Grow Home
8. Broken Age: Act 2 ; I forgot I played this last year. Unfortunately a bit of a disappointment after the promising and whimsy first act
9. Undertale


Aug 6, 2008
Dominican Republic

1. The Witcher III: Wild Hunt ; I’ve done much internal debate as to whenever the Witcher 3 or Bloodborne would be my personal pick for GOTY 2015, They may both be “Action RPGs”, but they couldn’t be more polar opposites, One focus on story and characters and the other purely on gameplay and mechanics, Playing the Witcher right after finishing Bloodborne made the combat feel bad to me, even with the alternative move mechanic it still doesn’t feel very solid to me, yet the core aspect I enjoyed of the Witcher was not its combat but virtually everything else about its presentation, the story, the characters and their own stories, the level of agency the game gives you, the world building, it all let me to be immerse in the world like so few games let me, I love this game, I spent more than 100 hours with it, I even went as far as Platinum it, If the Witcher 3 had the combat mechanics of Bloodborne it would be my game of the decade easily.

2. Bloodborne ; I have played all “Souls” games, I knew what I was in for, To me Bloodborne has the best combat mechanics of any game I’ve ever played and I hope other developers look at it and copy it, Bloodborne is the only other game in 2015 that consumed a +100 hours of my time, I when ahead and Platinum it, which let me to see the worse side of it (I’m talking about the Chalice Dungeons) I would have preferred that the resources spend on them would have been poured into the main game instead, especially after seeing some of the Bosses that are exclusive to said dungeons.

3. htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary ; This game made me depressed in a good way, that is to say, the story it presented made me feel depressed and that is something so few games can do, make me feel a complex emotion, the artwork is amazing but controls can be a bit frustrating at times, nevertheless I would recommend it to everyone to play it, just be warned that there are some disturbing imagery in this one.

4. Tales from the Borderlands ; I think this is the first “comedy” game I have truly enjoyed and the first one that I find consistently good from beginning to end, easily the best game produced by Telltale since the Walking Dead season 1, to the point I’m sad that it looks to be one of the worse sellers for Telltale, what does that tells them other than instead of focusing on good and witty writing and actual enjoyable characters they can just halfassed with a popular license like minecraft or Game of Thrones and will make much more money, depressing to think about.

5. Life Is Strange ; I enjoyed 4 out 5 episodes of this game, as a matter of fact this one was my potential GOTY for most of 2015, then I played the last episode and it was terrible, it felt like padding, it didn’t resolve threads I wanted resolved and the explanations it did give felt unsatisfactory to me, nevertheless I cannot deny how much fun I had with the game and speculating with the community between episodes.

6. Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin ; Fun fact Dark Soul II for PS3 was actually the very first game I ever pre-ordered digitally, it was also the first 60 dollar game that ever game me buyer’s remorse, not that it was bad, but it wasn’t as much fun as I thought it would be, did ended up beating it and was curious to play the DLC so when this updated version was recently on sale I when ahead and bought it, and oh boy after Bloodborne this game feels a lot worse than I remember, slow and sluggish and sometimes unresponsive, not unlike how I felt about The Witcher combat, now of course my brain eventually adapts to its rhythm and I have poured some 12 hours so far, which I have enjoyed most of otherwise I wouldn’t be putting it on this list, it does serves as a lesson however, before this year I wouldn’t have believe that playing other games could have such an effect on my enjoyment of contemporary games,

7. Race the Sun ; Super simple, super addictive, many, many hours spent on it, controls are tight and responsive, challenge is reasonable (except for Apocalypse mode, but that’s the point of that), not much more to say really.

8. TowerFall Ascension ; this game makes want to buy an extra controller, I have two controllers and a Vita so 3 of us can play, now I’m seriously considering buying two more, only reason I haven’t is because there really are not any more 4 player co-op games I would like to play, so it would be like spending 120 dollars just for one game, which I cannot justify.

9. Resident Evil: Revelations 2 ; played this one with a friend beginning to end, I feel don’t get enough co-op games these days, I’m glad that Resident Evil appears to be heading back to its roots, with games like this and the recent remasters, perhaps Capcom will make a more traditional AAA Resident Evil again.

10. The Beginner's Guide ; ok this is kinda cheating as I didn’t actually play this one, but I saw a complete let’s play so I feel I can judge it, it is very interesting, especially for those interesting in making games, and it is only 90 minutes long so it doesn’t require much of you, can’t say anything more without spoiling it.


May 31, 2009
Unlike the last couple of years, I won’t have a 5000 word behemoth of a post today. 2015 was a terrible year for me, and one of the weaker years in video games for me. I really just don’t have that much to say about these games, so here we go.

1. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain ; Metal Gear Solid V is the best playing third person shooter of all time. When you take control of Venom Snake in this game, it feels exactly like it should: you have just taken control of the ultimate bad ass. The world’s greatest soldier. Kojima, through the incredible Fox Engine, has finally been able to perfect the gameplay aspect of his Metal Gear franchise, an aspect that was a bit iffy in the previous 4 games. In doing so, somehow, he’s managed to leapfrog over every other dev that has been cranking out third person shooters for the last 10+ years. I’ll say it again: Metal Gear Solid V is the gold standard for third person action control and feel. It just feels awesome to play.

The rest of the game is mostly what you’d expect from a Metal Gear game. The unique charm and humor of Kojima shines through. The impeccable art direction of Yoji Shinkawa is on full display, from character design to the colorful beauty that is Mother Base. MGSV is the most beautiful game of this generation so far. The game also has the best licensed soundtrack in a game since GTA Vice City. I will always associate Aha's Take on Me with Big Boss from now on. It also features some PHENOMENAL original vocal tracks, probably the best in the series besides MGS3.

Unfortunately, as fantastic as this game looks and plays, MGSV is also undoubtedly my most disappointing game of the year. This just goes to show that as great as the game ended up being, my expectations were just that high. The behind the scenes drama at Konami obviously resulted in a rushed, incomplete game, and that’s a terrible shame. The lack of story and dialogue in this game is a major disappointment, especially as this will be the final game in the Metal Gear Solid saga. While I loved the final twist (It’s as “Kojima” as it gets), the ending did not deliver on the promise of bridging the saga from MGSV to Metal Gear 1.

But this is a game of the year post, so I won’t dwell on the negatives. Metal Gear Solid V, despite its flaws and lack of competition in the year 2015, still shines bright. Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear swan song is a modern classic, and the best game released in 2015.

2. Bloodborne ; Hidetaka Miyazaki returned to the Souls series for the first time since 2011’s game of the generation, Dark Souls, and he did not disappoint. Well, kinda. Bloodborne is exactly what you’d expect from a new Souls game, besides the fact that the word “Souls” does not appear in the title. Just like the other Souls games, the art direction here is impeccable, and Bloodborne’s gothic, Castlevania-y aesthetic is the prettiest look yet. The gameplay, while definitely changed up from the traditional sword and shield style of the Souls games, still retains that perfect, heavy feel from the games. Miyazaki proves that his baby is still the master of melee combat in modern video games. The boss battles, the gameplay, the weapons, the difficulty, the mood and atmosphere… it all delivers. Bloodborne is truly the complete package.

My only gripe with the game is the fact that these games are becoming so common. I had just finished Dark Souls II only two months before Bloodborne was released, and honestly, I was exhausted. I had to wait a few months before digging in. Now that I’ve completed Bloodborne, I honestly am not ready for Dark Souls III yet. This is not on Bloodborne; I’m certain that I will return to this classic in 5 years and it’ll be great fun. But sandwiching the game between two Souls games like this has resulted in some Souls burnout for me. It’s also unfortunate that some elements of the game have actually regressed from the perfection of Dark Souls. Why do I have to warp back to Hunter's Dream to manage my character or warp to another lamp? Dark Souls let you do that all from any bonfire. Why do I need to grind for blood vials? Why are the load times so long, even post patch? These are all small problems that add up, and worst of all, problems that could be avoided and WERE avoided in the better Souls game from 2011!

Despite those gripes, Bloodborne is a fantastic game, and along with Metal Gear Solid V, the only two games on PS4 that I consider MUST OWN titles. Lets hope Dark Souls III is even better.

3. Splatoon ; Talk about coming out of nowhere. Splatoon is the first new IP from Nintendo since Pikmin that truly feels like an awesome new addition to the Nintendo family. The art direction, the slick gameplay, the style, the music, the character design… Pure. Nintendo. Goodness. Amazingly, I barely played any multiplayer Splatoon, but I was totally taken in by the presentation and the single player content. The game is just so beautiful and so fun to play, and that final boss was honestly one of my favorite final boss battles EVER.

Splatoon is a wonderful game from top to bottom, and easily the best Nintendo game of 2015. I’m so happy that they were able to deliver so well with a new IP, and I hope the EAD teams continue to make more with this level of polish and love imbued into it.

4. Yoshi’s Wooly World ; I didn’t expect much from Wooly World. Immediately, it brought to mind two concepts: The good, not great, Kirby’s Epic Yarn, and the middling Yoshi titles post Yoshi’s Island. While I’ve had fun with all of these Yoshi games, none of them have come even close to the greatness of Yoshi’s Island. Would Wooly World buck the trend?

Well, no. Yoshi’s Island is a classic. But there is no doubt that Wooly’s World comes closest out of any Yoshi game of recapturing that magic. Wooly World is the logical evolution of the Epic Yarn look, going all in on the wooly aesthetic. The results are absolutely gorgeous and one of the best looking 2D platformers I’ve ever played. Unlike Kirby, which was a ton of charm but little in the actual gameplay department, Wooly World does not suffer in that regard. Underneath the cute aesthetic is a solid 2D platformer. No two levels are alike. New concepts are introduced in almost every stage from the beginning to the end of this 6 world, 48 stage adventure. The game NEVER feels stale, which is a problem I’ve even come across while playing the New Super Mario Bros games. I finished the game wanting more.

While the true, top tier successor to Yoshi’s Island remains a pie in the sky fantasy, Yoshi’s Wooly World certainly comes close, delivering on a great experience with a striking but adorable art direction. If Nintendo can continue to produce Yoshi platformers of this quality and polish, I’d be there for every game.

Games not good enough for the list: Mario Maker (super overrated level builder and a bunch of levels made by amateurs that I have no interest in. If I wanted to play fan made levels, Super Mario World hacks have been a thing since forever, and they are far better and more interesting than anything Mario Maker offers. I have no interest in building my own levels, or playing random peoples levels. But I admit I can see the appeal. It’s a great fucking tool and probably the best level making tool in the history of video games. I’d just rather have a real 2D Mario in the style of Mario world made by the experts.)

Games I unfortunately missed this year due to time: Witcher 3, Undertale and lots more. Those two are at the top of my “play when I have time/money” list.

Games I disqualified:
Majora’s Mask 3D (Majora’s Mask is the greatest game of all time. If I had to add it to this list, MM3D would be #1 on the list and it wouldn’t even be close. The game hasn’t aged a day. However, I personally don’t add remasters to these lists because that would be boring and things always get weird when they are included.)

Overall this year sucked ass, especially compared to the incredible 2014 and 2013. It’s probably better than 2012, but that ain’t saying much. So much disappointment and so many games that didn’t hook me at all this year. Even the game of the year had so much negativity behind it and in front of it that I can hardly look back to my experience with it and smile knowing what Kojima and team had to go through making it and coming out of its release.

Fuck 2015.

Dance Inferno

Unconfirmed Member
Dec 30, 2008
2015 turned out to be a great gaming year for me. I had been wanting to build a gaming PC for years and finally did so at the end of 2014. As a result I really got to put it through its paces this year, and it didn’t hurt that there was a solid lineup of games year-round. Unlike 2014, when I hardly played anything due to various life events, this year saw me play and enjoy a wide range of games. I played more than ten games this year but I stuck by a personal rule of only putting a game on this list if it deserved it, hence why my list is only nine games long. I’ve been looking forward to writing this list for a while, so without further ado, here we go!

(Click on each game’s photo for a trailer!)

IX. Call of Duty: Black Ops III (Treyarch, PC)

It’s been a minute since I really enjoyed a CoD campaign, which is the main reason I’ve played CoD historically. Ghosts’ campaign was forgettable and I never bothered with Advanced Warfare, but BO3 packs an incredibly fun and surprisingly open-ended campaign for a series that has become the posterchild for linear corridor shooters. The ability to choose different ability loadouts changes the nature of the combat, as you can turn robotic enemies to your side or use your robotic implants to unleash devastating AOE attacks. It actually adds a level of personalization and replayability that didn’t exist in previous CoD campaigns. The plot is also surprisingly interesting and takes you to well-crafted exotic locales, a particular highlight being zipping through Singapore’s supertrees. The ability to play a female lead is also a welcome addition and is another in a long list of good decisions by Treyarch. Apparently the game’s MP is fun too, but I wouldn’t know since I never bothered with it past the beta. Overall a fun action shooter that won’t win any Oscars but scratches the bombastic FPS itch with aplomb.

VIII. Resident Evil HD Remaster (Capcom, PC)

The OG survival horror game. I’m not generally a fan of remasters, and as a result I usually avoid anything with “HD” in the title, but you would be damn crazy not to play this gem. I remember the first time I played through the GameCube version in my dorm room many moons ago, cringing at every zombie moan and screaming every time a Crimson Head roared back to life. Who could forget solving puzzles while being pursued unrelentingly by Lisa Trevor? Or rushing through Neptune’s tank hoping you can make it to the other side before you become fish food? Nothing has changed in the remaster, but the original was so damn solid that an HD coat of paint with some texture touch-ups is all it really needs to blow you away. Sure, some areas are rougher than others, but the game is still unparalleled in creating tension and forcing you to make uncomfortable decisions. Are you going to risk using the door with the wobbly knob one more time? Or will you take the long run upstairs through the lobby and risk zombies crashing through one of the many doors you will pass along the way?

As exciting as all that is, the release of RE0 this month (which I never played) and RE2make next year (which I cannot wait for) ensure that we will not be short of quality old-school survival horror for the foreseeable future. You can thank REmaster for that.

VII. WildStar: Reloaded (Carbine Studios, PC)

WildStar is the MMO for people sick of MMOs. Ever since I spent two years logging onto World of Warcraft on a daily basis, I’ve gotten pretty burnt out on the genre. WildStar relaunched this year as a free-to-play title and I’m really glad I gave it a shot, since it makes a large number of very intelligent design decisions that elevate the MMO formula from mundane to exciting. Combat, for instance, revolves around a unique “telegraph” mechanic. Every action you have, from attacks to heals, affects an area on the ground. This could be a cone in front of your character, a circle around your character, or any combination of shapes and sizes. This shape essentially “telegraphs” where your attack will land; any enemy that stands within this area when you activate your ability will be hit. While most MMOs have you standing in place boringly pressing various buttons, WildStar forces you to jump and roll around as you try to avoid enemy telegraphs while ensuring that they remain within your telegraphs. It’s a very dynamic system that is helped by the ability to lock the camera to the mouse, which allows you to essentially play the game like a third-person shooter. It’s a very action- and movement-heavy game, and the ability to control it like a TPS is a dream come true.

The art design in the game is very surreal and very Pixar-like. Most of the zones you enter give off an alien sci-fi vibe with a healthy splash of color. Rolling green fields are punctuated with purple plants and orange clouds streaking through the sky. Everything is exaggerated with a cartoonish quality: mountain peaks curve sideways, tree trunks sprout in gravity-defying directions, and the countryside has a constant flow of peaks and valleys. Even characters’ animations have an exaggerated cartoonish quality. It’s hard to explain but take a look at the trailer for this game and it’s plain to see that this game is a joy to look at.

WildStar also employs quite possibly the most important MMO innovation I’ve ever seen: the objective pointer. When you’re tracking a quest, just press the F key and a big arrow shows up on screen pointing in the direction of your objective, with text underneath telling you its distance from your character. It sounds like a minor thing, but I literally cannot overstate how big of a momentum changer it is. No longer do you have to constantly bring up your map to figure out where you’re supposed to go; just hit that F button and continue zooming through the beautiful countryside on your hoverboard. The whole game is full of this type seamless and fluid gameplay, and my only regret is that I wasn’t able to spend more time with it.

VI. Heroes of the Storm (Blizzard Entertainment, PC)

I like the concept of MOBAs, but I’ve always thought the item building, last hitting, and gold farming mechanics were unnecessarily complicated. Enter HotS, which strips these away and replaces them with shared team XP and level-gated talents. This creates a much friendlier difficulty curve and a significantly more team- and objective-oriented game. No longer can you roam alone, ganking the enemy team and becoming nigh invincible. Instead, you must work as a team to tackle objectives and maintain map control. I’ve had some pretty epic games, the most intense being a come-from-behind win with our core at 1%.

I’ve discussed this game at length with my brother, who is a diehard League of Legends player. He’s quite good at LoL, much better than me, and he cannot stand HotS. His philosophy on these games is that he should be punished if he’s playing badly and rewarded if he’s playing well. HotS doesn’t have this player-level feedback system because your XP is tied to your team and there is very little you can do to carry a bad team. When my brother is on fire in LoL he’s one-shotting enemies and taking towers and just generally sowing destruction in his wake, and he doesn’t like that you can’t do that in HotS. My counterpoint is that if you’re on the receiving end of this punishment there is absolutely zero fun to be had. HotS is a game that tries to blunt the impact a single player can have in favor of forcing more coordinated team and objective play, which is something that I much prefer. I don’t have hundreds of hours to spend on perfecting my last-hitting skills, but give me an interesting team comp on an objective-based map and I’ll happily spend hours playing through various strategies and helping my team achieve its goals.

Not everything is great with this game though. For one, the gold cost to acquire heroes is pretty steep, and even with the daily quests it can be a grind to acquire a decent roster. The game’s matchmaking back when I was playing was also pretty hit-or-miss, sometimes pairing a team with no supports against a well-balanced team with a healer. Those games were never fun. However, its issues are easily forgiven when you realize that you are laying the smackdown on Illidan as Jaina, while Nova is going head-to-head with Zeratul next to you. If you’re a Blizzard fan and are looking for a new multiplayer game, look no further.

At least, until Overwatch comes out.

V. Tales from the Borderlands (Telltale Games, PC)


The two big choose-your-own-adventure games this year are Tales from the Borderlands and Life is Strange, and they take rather different approaches to the genre. Life is Strange plays more like a traditional game, with a character you can move around within the environment. You can speak to people and inspect objects and generally muck around as much as you want before triggering the next “story” section. Tales from the Borderlands is a much more scripted experience, with the game throwing hours of story and dialogue at you and occasionally giving you a few minutes of freedom to walk around and do stuff. There are pros and cons to each approach: the former gives you more agency and makes you feel like you’re inhabiting an actual environment, while the latter is much better at pacing and doesn’t have any downtime where you’re walking around lost trying to figure out what to do next.

TftB does a phenomenal job at putting you in the middle of a fast-paced, high stakes heist movie; it’s basically Ocean’s Eleven the video game. The game is incredibly well written, with a breakneck pace and consistently hilarious dialogue. No other game made me laugh out loud as consistently as this game. Gortys in particular is hilarious, and cute as a button to boot. The Ocean’s Eleven comparison also extends to the acting crew, which is headlined by Patrick Warburton (!!), Troy Baker, Laura Bailey, Ashley Johnson, and I guess Nolan North has a few words here and there (seriously, his character feels phoned in). The great writing combined with the phenomenal voice acting (Vasquez and Gortys = <3) makes this one of the top three stories of the year, and it makes the wait for Borderlands 3 even more excruciating.

Unfortunately, Telltale’s engine really grates on my nerves and controller support on PC is abysmal. At least 50% of the controller button prompts on PC are incorrect (I played with an XB1 controller), which leads to a lot of missed inputs. “RT” could mean “RB” or sometimes “A”. Hell, sometimes I’ll hit all three and nothing will happen, which is annoying when it means you miss certain scenes or dialogue choices. Character animations are pretty wooden and stilted, and the parts where you actually get to move your character struggle with an incredibly limiting camera and awkward controls.

Overall a great story worth experiencing, and one of the few games I would recommend as an introduction to gaming. I enjoyed it more than some of the games higher up in this list, but its technical issues mar an otherwise great experience and result in a lower placement.

IV. Rise of the Tomb Raider (Crystal Dynamics, Xbox 360)

The only non-PC game on this list, and it’s a last-gen system no less! Tomb Raider 2013 was one of the best games of that year and indeed one of my favorite games of last generation. I knew I was going to get my hands on RotTR sooner or later, and the only question was whether I could wait for the PC version. As it turned out, I couldn’t.

Sure, the graphics aren’t mind-blowing given that I’m playing on old hardware. But you know what? It looks great for an 11-year old system, once again establishing Nixxes as a god-tier porting studio. And at the end of the day graphics hardly matter when the game is so deliciously addictive. I’m not one for collectathons but Crystal Dynamics does them right. A sprinkle of secret tombs, a handful of documents you can collect while traipsing through the main quest, a few relics that require some searching, and treasure maps that mark collectables on your map. You’re never going to be frustrated searching for these items, and that’s what makes the process almost therapeutic. When I’m trying to decompress I will turn on RotTR and spend an hour just hunting for trinkets and doodads. It’s surprisingly meditative and relaxing.

What’s funny is, as good and addictive as this aspect is, it is simply a side mode to the main campaign, which is incredibly fun and feels like a continuation of TR2013. Lara is more confident, has more moves at her disposal, and goes to some truly breathtaking zones. The combat is as tight as ever and there is actually more of a focus on exploration and puzzle solving this time around. The bow returns and with it some new attachments that open up new stealth and combat tactics. Poison arrows might be a tad overpowered but hey, I’ll take all the help I can get! We also get new craftable explosives a la The Last of Us, where an unassuming bottle can be picked up and turned into a molotov, or a radio can be jerry rigged into a proximity mine. Lara Croft felt powerful in TR2013 due to her weapons, but in RotTR Lara as an individual feels capable and resourceful. Back her into a corner and she’ll find some way to pounce. In a word, Lara feels dangerous, and she makes you feel dangerous with her.

I’ve never been one for Metroidvania games because I’m generally not a fan of backtracking, which is pretty much a requirement in these types of games. CD’s Tomb Raider and Rocksteady’s Batman games are the notable exceptions. I’m having a blast exploring this vast world CD has created and testing out all the cool little toys they’ve put at my disposal. I used to call myself an Uncharted fanboy, but after the disappointment that was Uncharted 3 I think Tomb Raider is slowly becoming my favorite pulp action series.

III. Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin (FROM Software, PC)

This I did not expect. There I was, happily enjoying REmaster and HotS, when SotFS releases for PC. Now I’m not really what you’d call a Souls fan; I played Dark Souls 1 and made it to Lost Izalith, but that’s as much as I was able to muster. I could see the appeal but I wasn’t willing to put myself through the ringer once I realized the game’s second half was simply punishment for punishment’s sake. My time is valuable and I’m only willing to play a game so long as I’m getting enjoyment out of it.

DS2 does not have this issue. The game, for all the shit it gets, plays better and feels fairer than the original. The first time I fought the Pursuer I got my ass handed to me and wondered how on earth I was supposed to beat him. By the 8th time he showed up I was double-handing no-shielding dodge-rolling all over his dumb face. The dragon at Heide seemed like an insurmountable threat until I learned how to perfectly time the sprint from the stairs to his platform. Spiders wrecked me until I realized I could render them helpless with a torch. Over and over again I would approach an area wondering how I was supposed to beat it, but I ultimately emerged on the other side victorious and more satisfied than ever. It was a feeling that kept building throughout the game, and at no point did I feel a dip in quality that approached Lost Izalith or Blighttown levels. Unlike DS1, every level and challenge feels fair, especially in some of its most difficult areas. Earthen Peak for many was a slog, but I played very carefully, walking slowly with my shield up most of the time, and was able to make it through in only a handful of tries. The graphics are also surprisingly good on PC, with a great lighting engine and surprisingly great performance at max settings. More than any other game this year, SotFS impressed me with its technical optimization.

Thankfully the game also plays well, and it gives you the freedom to build your character however you want. There were several points where I cleared a section with my melee fighter and told myself I wanted to come back and experiment with a sorcerer. The combat feels meaty, as you’d expect from a Souls game, and the customization only increases its replayability. The thing that really sent it over the top for me though was the jolly cooperation. My sleep schedule took a serious hit once I joined the Heirs of the Sun and spent hours upon hours just doing boss runs with random, fleeting teammates that I would never see again. Whenever I needed help there were good natured spirits to summon, and whenever I was bored I put down my sign to aid the needy and helpless. Bosses that once seemed intimidating became laughingstocks as the friendly spirits and I rushed them with bared steel and spells at the ready. The game really got away from me for a month or so, and when I finally stopped playing 37 hours in I understood why this series is loved by so many. I still wouldn’t call myself a Souls fan, but I’m definitely keeping an eye on future entries.

II. Fallout 4 (Bethesda Softworks, PC)

Fallout 4 hasn’t crashed on me once in the 24 hours I’ve put into it so far. Considering this is a Bethesda game, it’s safe to say the most reasonable explanation for this strange occurrence is that Todd Howard sacrificed his first-born child at the altar of Cthulhu for a stable game engine. Skyrim had an engaging world but was a technical shitshow, and that was my biggest fear with Fallout 4. My second biggest fear was that, as an FPS, the gunplay would be as shit-tier as Fallout 3. The fact that neither of my fears was realized, and that Bethesda still has some of the best open-world chops in the industry, has resulted in perhaps my favorite Bethesda game to date.

Now before I start praising the game (and I will), let me just say straight up that Bethesda’s writing is still a joke. We’re talking high school creative lit here. The fact that Preston Garvey appointed me the leader of the Minutemen not 45 seconds after I met him is nothing short of chuckle-worthy. It’s also incredibly convenient that the bombs waited for the nice Vault-Tec representative to give my family a spot in his vault before they started dropping. How considerate. Finally, before people start praising the whole synth/Institute plot line, let’s not forget that this is no original idea. It’s a theme that was explored in depth by Battlestar Galactica, so I’m not ready to award Bethesda the Good Writing Trophy just yet. To be clear, Fallout 4 is #2 on my list in spite of the writing, not due to it.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about how vibrant this world is. Not just in terms of quests and activities available to you, but in terms of the color palette. I was afraid that the Commonwealth was just going to be a drab series of greys and browns, which was my issue with Fallout 3. To my surprise, the game splashes a considerable amount of color through the world, and not once does it feel out of place. Unlike most other post-apocalyptic games, this actually feels like a blown-out husk of a city I want to explore. Thankfully the gameplay feels great too. Bethesda must have hired some FPS designers because the gunplay in this game feels chunky and satisfying. Laser rifles no longer feel like they’re shooting red piss and sniper rifles have satisfying impact and recoil. In fact, few things felt as good this year as landing a headshot with a scoped-in rifle and receiving a 2x stealth damage multiplier. The companions are also uniformly fun to travel with. The standout to me is Strong, a super mutant whose goal in life is to “drink from the milk of human kindness” yet speaks in grunts and runs around beside you brandishing a sledgehammer and clobbering enemies into a mist of entrails and chunks of cranium. Contrast this with Nick Valentine, an android that dresses like Dick Tracy and speaks like a 1920s gangster. There’s a lot of creativity here and way too many companions for a single playthrough, which injects replay value and ensures that everyone will find a character they gravitate to.

Not everything in Fallout 4 is a runaway hit though. The settlement building is a nice idea but is pretty tedious and isn’t really worth doing after the first settlement. Encumbrance is a dumb idea whose time has passed, and thankfully due to a mod I no longer have to deal with it. The radiant quests are silly and a total waste of time, just like they were in Skyrim. I like the idea of increasing playtime but throwaway fedex questing is not the way to do it. Some of the encounters in the game are obnoxiously hard and required some console commands to get through (the band of legendary super mutants at the Revere Satellite Array can go fuck themselves). However, the game is still a joy to play and is one of the easiest games to sink hours and hours into, wandering from town to town and cleaning up quests along the way. The redesigned quest tracking, attachment crafting, and combat system all add up to a very playable game that has the potential to dangerously suck up entire weekends at a time.

Dance Inferno

Unconfirmed Member
Dec 30, 2008
Before I get into my game of the year, let’s go through some ancillary awards and my disappointments of the year. As you’ve seen we had some great games this year, but I also had a few pretty big flops that I’d like to talk about.

Most Anticipated 2016 Game: Overwatch (Blizzard Entertainment, PC)

I’m one of the lucky few who got into the Overwatch beta last year and man am I excited for this one. I’m not generally a fan of multiplayer shooters because they’re usually dominated by people who, unlike me, have hundreds of hours to sink into a game. Overwatch gets around this by creating different characters that cater to different playstyles. Not a fan of offense? Choose Mercy and heal your team. Not great at pinpoint aiming? Grab Winston and pummel enemies with your fists. Like protecting your teammates? Pick Reinhardt and use your shield to keep your squishies protected. Want to defend one particular area? Get Torbjorn and build an automated turret that will help you defend. Like high power, low fire rate weapons? McCree and his six shooter are your ticket. There is literally a character for every person and every mood. All you need to do is grab your mouse and have some fun.

Best 2014 Game: Wolfenstein: The New Order (MachineGames, PC)

Probably the best feeling FPS on the market right now. Who needs ADS when dual wielding is this fun?? The plot is surprisingly good for what is essentially a mindless shooting gallery and it did the whole “what if the Nazis won the war?” thing years before The Man in the High Castle was ever a thing. This game is so old school, from the non-regenerating health to the armor pickups and the ability to carry a bazillion weapons at the same time. I didn’t know how much I missed skyscraper-sized FPS bosses until I fought the London Monitor. Sprinting back and forth from cover to cover, avoiding his massive rockets and lasers, and finding openings to attack was exhilarating. Also, you can never have enough shooter levels set on the moon. Here’s hoping we see more from MachineGames in the future.

Runner-up Disappointment of the Year: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (Konami, PC)

As a huge MGS fan who has played and replayed the previous games multiple times, there were several things I was expecting from MGSV, including a long, quirky plot and tightly designed levels. After 9 hours of play I realized that I wasn’t going to get any of those. This was not an MGS game anymore, but rather a GTA-lite stealth game. Multiple people have told me that 9 hours is not long enough to really get a feel for MGSV, but honestly I just no longer have the time to put more than 10 hours into a game I’m not enjoying for the off-chance that it might “click” with me later. From what I can tell most missions drop you into an open area and give you an objective that you have to work towards. This involves horse travel, sneaking, infiltrating, and exfiltrating, usually through a number of guard posts on the way. I’m happy to do this every now and then, but having to commit 30-60 minutes in every mission just to get to the actual site of my objective is a hassle. Combine that with the fact that the game is incredibly light on plot and that Big Boss doesn’t even talk 90% of the time, and I’m left with the complete antithesis of what MGS stands for. I was never into GTA, I was never into Saints Row, and I’m sure not into MGSV.

That’s not even the worst part though. You see the screenshot I chose for this game? I didn’t pick it randomly. For as much as I respect Kojima the game designer, the man has the most childish, immature, and embarrassing treatment of women in any video game I’ve played. There is no good reason to have a mute, half naked woman in your game other than to sexualize and gawk at her. This should not be acceptable in this day and age, and it’s the kind of thing that makes me embarrassed to call myself a gamer. In fact, it’s the type of thing that would have earned MGSV a berth on my “Disappointment of the Year” list even if I had actually enjoyed the game itself. Someone should really sit Kojima down and give him a crash course on acceptable treatment of women in media. There is no defensible argument anyone can make for this kind of crass fanservice, and it’s really a shame that MGS’s strong female characters (The Boss, Meryl Silverbugh, Sniper Wolf) are replaced with the cliche that is Quiet.

Biggest Disappointment of the Year: Life is Strange (Dontnod, PC)

MGSV was a disappointment because, as a long-time MGS fan, it did not give me what I wanted or expected from the series. However that’s not really the game’s fault, since it executed what it wanted to execute well; it’s a great sandbox game, but that just wasn’t what I was looking for. The tragedy of Life is Strange is that it sets up a very interesting story, likeable characters, and fun gameplay over the first three episodes, but then proceeds to make several questionable decisions in episode 4, followed by completely shitting the bed in episode 5. It’s impossible for me to talk about my disappointment sans spoilers, so only read on if you’ve finished the game.

Episode 3’s ending was magnificent. Up until that point the game seemed to be showing you everything that was wrong with Chloe’s life, from an awful stepfather to a missing best friend, and for a moment you thought you could fix it by bringing her biological father back from the dead. Seeing Chloe in a wheelchair, paralyzed, was a powerful moment that seemed to set up an interesting choice: let Chloe have a full family but an empty life, or a broken family and a fuller life? I was very excited to see how the game would handle this choice, but to my dismay the whole situation was relegated to a 30-minute linear experience where you are not allowed to make any meaningful decisions. Just like that, you are forced to kill Chloe’s dad all over again and return things to the way they were in episode 2. It just felt like a total waste of an interesting scenario with a lack of any impactful decision-making.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the plot pretty much completely falls apart at the end of episode 4. Max and Chloe have stumbled on the dark room and eventually Rachel’s buried body. This is where you pull out your phone and call the damn cops. You have Nathan and Jefferson dead to rights. You literally have all the proof you could ever hope to find to incriminate these two and put them away for life. True, you don’t know that Jefferson is involved at this point, but once a police investigation is launched and the dark room’s creation is linked to Jefferson (since he petitioned Sean Prescott to build it), he’s as good as gone. Instead, these two girls decide to go confront this millionaire killer by themselves, resulting in a torrent of abductions, murder, and near-death experiences. I’m willing to entertain a certain amount of suspension of disbelief, but this goes beyond the pale. Pretty much every single event in episode 5 is unnecessary, and the fact that at no point are you ever able to just pick up the phone and call the cops makes the entire experience feel forced and stilted.

And boy, do they put you through the ringer in that final episode. You have to work your way through the dark room, like, 6 times or something. You find yourself in the classroom 2-3 times. There’s an extended, badly executed, incredibly painful, trial-and-error stealth section that does not fit into this game at all. The fight scene with David and Jefferson is a dumb rewind-fest. The entire section where you walk through the dorm over and over again, then the diner, then the statues of Max and Chloe is just tedious. And what’s the deal with how some timelines resulted in Jefferson being arrested and some didn’t? In what universe does texting David and entering the photo contest result in Jefferson’s arrest, but texting David and tearing up the photo doesn’t result in his arrest? They didn’t even bother giving you a damn explanation for that brain fart. It was at this point that I realized that there is nothing, literally nothing, in this episode that requires you to make a choice. You are literally just playing through a scripted, linear 3-hour movie whose only decision comes at the very end. That would be fine if the plot in the final episode was good, but it was just so completely stilted and schizophrenic that it was painful trying to get to the end of it.

I really wanted to like this game. Very few games explore the relationship between two best friends, and female best friends at that. Everything that MGSV did wrong with its treatment of Quiet, LiS did right in its treatment of Chloe and Max. Between this and Tales from the Borderlands, I think I prefer the more exploratory and “gamey” nature of this game, since you feel like you’re inhabiting a real place and are not just getting pulled through a story on rails. However, it’s undeniable that Telltale’s execution of its brand of choose-your-own-adventure was much better than Dontnod’s execution of this game. The first three episodes were fantastic and set up a very real, very touching experience. It’s just unfortunate that the wheels came flying off at tornado speed in the final episode.



Here we are! If you’ve read this far, give yourself a pat on the back! Maybe pour out a glass of whiskey to toast the end of a fantastic year of gaming. And now, without further ado, my official Game of the Year 2015 is....


I. The Witcher III: Wild Hunt (CD Projekt Red, PC)

This one wasn’t even close. Halfway through my first playthrough, which was just main quests with some side quests and a Signs build, I knew that this was my GOTY. Halfway through my second playthrough, which was a completionist run on Death March with an Alchemy build, I knew this game would be one of the best games of the generation. Today, having completed everything in the vanilla game, working my way through Hearts of Stone, and preparing for New Game + in anticipation of Blood and Wine, The Witcher III has secured a berth on my best-of-all-time list.

Naughty Dog can’t touch The Witcher III’s writing. It’s one thing to write a tight, 8 hour plot. It’s entirely another thing to write a consistently intelligent, engaging, and emotional 100+ hour open-world RPG with dialogue choices that revolve around a character whose job is literally to travel the countryside killing monsters for money. The game could have so easily focused on creating an action-packed monster-hunting Michael Bay plot, but instead it occupies itself with telling personal, human stories. Who could forget the Bloody Baron quest, or the Towerful of Mice? Some of the shortest side-quests show incredible writing prowess, such as the home invader who scraped soot off a saucepan to use as ink for his dying letter. Quest after quest shows an incredible attention to detail and engaging writing that keeps you constantly hooked and never bored. Dialogue is weighty and emotional, characters feel varied and have their own personalities, the language is era appropriate, and the universe feels incredibly cohesive as a result. It’s incredible to think that the best written game in years has actually come from a relatively small Polish studio. CD Projekt Red really put their heart and soul into this game, and it shows. Hell, their writing prowess is not limited to the game, but extends to one of the most memorable trailers of the past few years.

Let’s take the characters, for instance, who all feel real and vulnerable in their own ways. Ciri, Vesemir, Yennefer, Triss, Dandelion, Zoltan, Dijkstra, Bloody Baron, Avallac’h, Ge’els, Roche, Lambert, Eskel, Letho, Eredin, Imlerith, Crach, Hjalmar, Cerys, Keira, Phillipa, Shani, Skjall, Ermion, Olgierd von Everec, Gaunter O’Dimm, King Radovid, Emperor Emhyr var Emreis, the list goes on for days. If you’ve played the game, every single one of these names evokes memories of conversation and adventure; fears and motivations; happiness, anger, horror, and sorrow. All of these characters feel honest, raw, and come with their own set of internal motivations, not to mention being impeccably voiced. Every single name conjures up at least one, if not multiple, searing mental images. Can anyone forget the moment the Bloody Baron sits you down and tells you, with sorrow in his eyes and voice, the truth about how his alcoholism broke up his family, shattering every single perception you had of him? Or when Yennefer takes you to a mountaintop to break the djinn’s spell that has magically bound the two of you for years, and then sits you down and asks if you still love her? How about Skjall, the young Skelliger whose soul you forcefully and painfully raise from the dead and force to retell the story of how he sacrificed his honor for Ciri and was subsequently shunned and exiled by his own fellow villagers. For God’s sake, Vlodimir von Everec, a character created solely for a single quest in the Hearts of Stone expansion, is quite possibly the most entertaining and relatable video game character in all of 2015. I could have, with good conscience, given Hearts of Stone its own spot on this list, but for sake of avoiding duplication I’m folding it into The Witcher 3 as a whole. CDPR’s writing staff should get a damn raise, and maybe a few chests of gold just to be safe.

Bethesda can’t touch The Witcher III’s open world. The size and complexity of the world is unparalleled, presenting you with some truly incredible vistas. The city design is exquisite, with Novigrad feeling more real and lived-in than any Fallout city. In fact, the series of quests that occur within Novigrad are some of the best in the game, because few other games explore life within a large city. What other game allows you to get involved with an underground gang war, help a friend renovate a bar, join a band of political rebels planning a royal assassination attempt, help smuggle a persecuted population out of the city that has victimized them, and track down a diehard religious zealot slash serial killer? I’ve discussed this already, but the quest variety in this game is incredible and goes a long way towards being able to sink in 100+ hours without getting bored. Then you have the isles of Skellige, which I think I can say are unanimously every person’s favorite zone in the game. The serene island life and the soothing music and vocals combine to instill a feeling of being “home”. Seriously, listen to this track and tell me you can’t picture yourself sitting by a fire in the wooden seaside shack you call home. I could go on and on about Skellige, but just take a quick look through any Witcher 3 thread and you’ll find people singing its praises.

BioWare can’t touch The Witcher III’s world building. There have been a ton of high fantasy games over the years, but they’re generally some form of Tolkien-esque universe with trolls, elves, and dwarves. The Witcher’s universe is so different, so low fantasy and gritty, that it feels incredibly refreshing and unique as a result. You don’t play a Chosen One whose destiny is to save the world, but rather a mutated human who was bred and trained to hunt monsters; you’re essentially playing a professional hitman in a fantasy universe. The world isn’t filled with mages and sorceresses tossing magic around like candy for your enjoyment, but rather they are feared and persecuted. Mages hide their abilities and stay away from the Church of the Eternal Fire, which asks citizens to inform on their neighbors and burns suspected mages at the stake in a manner reminiscent of the Spanish Inquisition. You’re not just facing down evil monsters and cackling villains, but the ugliness of human nature and the fears of an impoverished, war torn country. You’re not fighting orcs and goblins and trolls and other tried-and-true monsters, but leshens and dopplers and alghouls and other unique creations. The universe in which Geralt exists has an exacting internal consistency unlike anything else to come before. True, a lot of it is due to the books on which the game is based, but it truly is unique in gaming and makes for a very refreshing experience.

The biggest general criticism of the game is its gameplay, or combat in particular, which on my first playthrough I would have agreed is clumsy and messy. However, playing the game on Death March really forces you to play the game in a more tactical blow-by-blow manner, and this is where the game really shines. Pop a Tawny Owl potion when you’re running low on mana, toss down a Moon Dust bomb to prevent a foglet from vanishing, use an Axii sign to stun an over-aggressive chimera. The combat system is built around so many skills and items that you don’t bother using when playing on Normal or Easy, which really hurts the experience. I remember reading an article that stated Death March is the only way to play the game, and I remember scoffing and thinking, “What a fanboy. The combat sucks, get over it.” However after playing the game on the hardest difficulty I have to agree: there are so many systems and items built into the combat, and it’s only when using these that the game’s full potential comes to the fore. Synergizing blade oils with Alchemy skills that provide bonuses when using said oils helped me get through some difficult encounters. Using bombs to disrupt obnoxiously fast enemies is a lifesaver. Popping a Blizzard potion is sometimes the only way to actually land a hit on a werewolf that out-levels you. None of these strategies are necessary on Normal, which is why most people will just button mash and tell you the combat sucks. Start thinking about the full arsenal at your disposal though, and the complexity of the combat starts to shine through. If The Witcher 3 defaulted to its highest difficulty setting, the way Bloodborne and Dark Souls do, then I truly believe people would be singing a different tune. The abundance of quests means that you will eventually over-level the game, but Hearts of Stone rebalances the difficulty and provides for some truly challenging encounters. The first boss in HoS, for example, required the use of more potions, bombs, and signs than any other single boss in the vanilla game. The more potions you use, the higher Geralt’s toxicity level becomes, and by the end of this fight Geralt’s eyes were bloodshoot, and pulsing purple veins had taken over his face. Not only does the combat ask a lot of you the player, but you can see its debilitating effects on Geralt as well.

I also have to say that while I’m generally not one for mini-games, Gwent is so good that if it were its own game it would likely find its way onto most people’s top ten lists by itself. In The Witcher 3, that type of quality is relegated to an optional side mode that you don’t even need to spend any time with if you don’t want to.

Let’s talk crafting for a bit. Many games have crafting systems where you collect items like pieces of wood, bits of cloth, and hunks of steel, and use them to craft weapons and armor and other equipment. All of these crafting systems are usually trash that require way too much of a time investment for way too little of a reward. Enter The Witcher 3, which actually creates a logical, digestible, and fun crafting system that I couldn’t get enough of. It does this by making some very intelligent decisions. If it takes me an hour or two to gather the plants and monster ears required to craft a potion or bomb or blade oil, chances are I won’t be able to gather those ingredients very often. CDPR knows this, and instead of making you gather those things every time you want to create a new batch, it only makes you gather them once, when you create the potion or bomb for the first time. To refill your potions, bombs, and oils you simply use alcohol, of which you will naturally find hundreds of bottles as you go through your adventures. This shows incredible foresight and resulted in an alchemy system that I actually became invested in and used often. The equipment crafting is equally worthwhile, with each item in your inventory telling you exactly what base ingredients it can be dismantled into. This reduces the guesswork required when you need to find one more iron ingot for a sword and you’re not sure which of the 200+ items in your bag can be dismantled into one. Even finding the blueprints for Mastercrafted Witcher gear requires a treasure hunt that can be a fun quest in and of itself. The whole thing just reeks of quality. For someone who avoids crafting like the plague, I spent a lot more time in crafting menus than I care to admit.

Earlier this year I was thinking back to my childhood and how there were games that I would spend 60, 70, 80 hours playing. Back then I had access to very few games so I spent a lot of time with the ones I had. I remember wondering to myself whether there would ever be a new game that I could sink that many hours into as an adult. These days I have such little free time and such an overabundance of games to play, many of which I can download in minutes, that dedicating an extended amount of time to a single game has become a rare occurrence. It really takes something special, a game so polished in every capacity that it makes me ignore new releases and instead focus on completing every little quest, every side mission, every Witcher contract out there. After 150+ hours, I can safely say that The Witcher 3 is that game. I tip my hat to you, CDPR, and I await the imminent approach of Cyberpunk 2077 with bated breath.


Well, that’s that! Hope you enjoyed the list! I had a lot of fun playing and critiquing all these games and I hope you had fun reading my ramblings. Happy 2016 everyone!


Past lists:

For the parser:

1. The Witcher III: Wild Hunt ; Great writing and world-building.
2. Fallout 4 ; Colorful wasteland, good shooter mechanics.
3. Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin ; Better than Dark Souls 1.
4. Rise of the Tomb Raider ; Continuation of what made TR2013 great.
5. Tales from the Borderlands ; Great story and voice acting.
6. Heroes of the Storm ; MOBA that strips out unnecessary complexity.
7. WildStar: Reloaded ; The MMO for people sick of MMOs.
8. Resident Evil HD Remaster ; A remaster of one of the best survival horror games.
9. Call of Duty: Black Ops III ; Fun, bombastic campaign.


Feb 10, 2011
1. Bloodborne ; A game that took me a few tries to keep at. Fantastic atmosphere and gameplay.
2. Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain ; Best gameplay of the year
3. Cities: Skylines ; Most fun Ive had with a city builder in some time


Neo Member
Jun 4, 2012
1. Life is Strange ; Life is Strange made me experience things that I never have in other video games. My most intense gaming moments in 2015 didn't involve running from a monster or shooting down a giant robot: they involved
talking a girl down from suicide
(Ep. 2) and
choosing the fate of my best friend
(Ep. 5).
2. Crypt of the Necrodancer ; I had a similar idea for a game back when I was in high school. When I heard that someone was actually making the game, I knew instantly that I would love it. The music is incredible, the gameplay is incredible. I still jump in for a run regularly!
3. Ori and the Blind Forest ; This game is absolutely beautiful. I hadn't played a Metroidvania in a while and this game reinvigorated my taste for them. The fantastic movement made up for the lacking combat. The only frustration was being prevented from returned to dungeons after clearing them.
4. Rocket League ; I first heard of Rocket League from the Beastcast. It seemed like this game surprised the gaming world just as much as it surprised me. When I finally got my hands on the game, I somehow managed to sink many hours into a game about soccer and cars. Clearly they did something right!
5. Axiom Verge ; This game surprised me every step of the way. I feel that I've played enough Metroidvania to know the standard items you'll can expect to find along the way (high jump, crawling, more powerful weapons) but Axiom Verge managed to play on the expectations and give me something similar, yet different at the same time.
6. Soma ; Fantastic story and atmosphere. A few of the monster encounters were tedious and some crashes made me lose progress but overall Soma was an excellent experience.
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