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

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Nov 10, 2007

------ PART ONE OF THREE ------

Click here for Part 2
Click here for Part 3

What a year! Gaming was great in 2015!

This is the first of three installments. I’m starting with No. 10 and counting down to No. 1. This post will cover No. 10 through No. 4; the next post will cover No. 3 and No. 2; and the last post will cover my Game of the Year. The last post will also include the formatted Top 10 list, plus runners-up.

Let’s begin, shall we?


Yoshi’s Woolly World (WiiU)
Good-Feel, Nintendo

I only played Yoshi’s Woolly World in co-op. In fact, we’re still playing through it, having just arrived in the final world. Playing it from late in the evening through the wee hours of morning, once a week (or every other week), has kept the game fresh. That being said, I think the game would hold up fine in single-player, as well.

The game lives up to the name of its developer — Good-Feel — with tight and responsive controls that allow you to flutter-jump with precision while lining up an egg shot (read: yarn ball) against a moving target. And don’t let the adorable looks deceive you: If you’re going for the many collectibles hidden in each stage (including five Wonder Wools per level, each netting you a new Yoshi skin), you’ll find yourself doing some fancy maneuvering in order to survive the more hectic stages.

It’s a handcrafted world, so floors made out of cushions deform under Yoshi’s feet, walls unravel when Yoshi tugs on a loose strand, and warp pipes stitch together when he throws a yarn ball at their outline. One of my favorite touches is using a yarn ball to muzzle a Piranha Plant! Cute details abound, such as the fifth world with its cotton snow, sequin crystals and poof-ball hats for mountains.

Each level is defined by an inventive gimmick, and layered with secrets. Walls disappear to reveal hidden passages, and conspicuously empty corners contain invisible items. OCD people will suffer immensely trying to find the five Wonder Wools, five flowers and 20 Miiverse stamps in each level. But you don’t have to get them all in one go, and there are optional badges that can help you find them.

It also helps to play in co-op for a second set of eyes. Of all the Nintendo games I’ve played in co-op, this one is the most accommodating. There’s no time limit or limited number of lives, so you and your companion can relax and thoroughly explore each level. One can also turn their partner into an extra yarn ball when they’re out of ammo or want to toss them to an out-of-reach place. A bit maddening when you keep doing this to each other (maliciously or accidentally), but very useful!

Also, the game is GORGEOUS. Screens don’t do it justice.


Kirby and the Rainbow Curse (WiiU)
HAL Laboratory, Nintendo

Kirby and the Rainbow Curse makes me happy. Every time I play this game, I’ll listen to the title screen music (genre: Mario Kart 64?) and watch the attract loop that sets up the character’s motivation (namely, Kirby decides to roll around like a ball because he likes apples).

The art direction is in a class all its own. The entire game is sculpted out of clay — you can even see the fingerprints — and there’s a malleable quality to the world that is heightened by the fact you’re touching it via the GamePad’s touchscreen. You use the stylus to draw “rainbow rope” — lines on which ball-shaped Kirby can roll along and dash, traveling in the direction you draw. These lines can also temporarily block waterfalls, shield against lasers, dissolve sand and more.

Tapping Kirby will also cause him to dash forward, shattering blocks and defeating enemies. There’s a punchy quality to this that I love. Like when you go against Whispy Woods, he sprouts vines that blossom into thorny bulbs, and you must weave between them while gathering stars. Once you have sufficient starpower, you can use a super-powered version of your dash attack and rocket into Whispy’s face, forming a colossal impact crater as you tap Kirby to drill harder.

Going into this game, I worried that the eye-popping colors and richly detailed worlds would lose their appeal on the GamePad’s touchscreen, which is where you’ll be looking most of the time since you need to draw there to play. (Multiplayer allows other players controlling Waddle Dees to play on the TV.) I’m happy to report that the game also looks great on the GamePad, retaining its color and clarity.

Also, I didn’t play Canvas Curse on the DS, the only other game to feature these mechanics. I’m pleasantly surprised by how easy this game is to play once you learn that 1) the direction you draw is the direction Kirby rolls, 2) tapping Kirby makes him build momentum, and 3) you can cancel out existing lines by drawing over them. You’ll find yourself pulling off neat tricks like speeding up ramps to launch through “no rope” zones. And the levels are perfectly paced, gating progress with proper skill checks that organically teach without feeling like tutorials.

I must also praise the collectibles, most notably the figure gallery. Every game should have a model viewer, and trust me — this one delivers!


Resident Evil Revelations 2 (PS4/Xbone/PC/PS3/X360)
Capcom, Capcom

Resident Evil Revelations 2 was the biggest surprise of the year. The game looked bland in preview coverage, but the final product simply works. The episodic structure is strong and tells a legitimately intriguing tale that feels old-school Resident Evil, through and through. By the end of the game I loved all four of the main characters — especially the highly quotable Barry and his equally quotable daughter, Moira.

The setting — an island in the former Soviet Union — is a character in itself, recalling the cold desolation of RE4’s Spain, with a prison full of torture devices, a lumberyard in a dark forest, a fishing village by the sea, a Chernobyl-esque city, mining quarries and more. The final settings — and the finale, in general — are delicious in their atmosphere, and I dare not spoil them.

But note that there are two endings, and you want the good one. The good ending is straight-up the best in the series. When you reach the end of Claire’s Chapter 3, and there’s a moment where you’re reaching for her gun — make sure you switch to Moira, crawl forward and shoot. This will put you on the right path.

The story bounces back and forth between two sets of characters — Claire and Moira, stranded on the island, and Barry and Natalia, who are looking for them. Each pairing is asymmetrical in ability, with Claire and Barry handling the fighting while Moira and Natalia find supplies. This is perfect for co-op when you’re playing with less experienced players, and in single-player it provides extra variety. Moira can also stun enemies with her flashlight and attack with a crowbar, while Natalia can sense enemies through walls and throw bricks.

Resources are truly limited in this game. Enemies no longer drop ammo, and even key items take up their own slots in the inventory, forcing you to micromanage who carries what. You’re encouraged to explore your environments thoroughly, and there are actual puzzles in this game — more puzzles than RE4, RE5 and RE6 combined, which isn’t saying much, but it’s still a welcome bit of variety.

There are long stretches where you won’t run into any enemies, building suspense. And unlike RE5, the game’s score won’t give away when enemies are on the prowl. The combat is tight, with a new sidestep move that allows you to deftly dodge your enemies. Some of the foes are truly terrifying. There’s an invisible monster that can kill you in one hit, and only Natalia can see it, forcing you to switch back and forth for reference points, or in co-op, to coordinate with the person playing Natalia (“No, to your left! No, your other left!”).

The game’s pacing is the best it’s been since RE4, and like RE4, it truly feels like an adventure, with hills and valleys, and one continuous journey where by the end you feel, “I’ve come far.” And what you do with one set of characters will affect the other. For example, Claire and Moira will encounter a boss early on that they can run from or fight. If they run from it, Barry may have to deal with it later in the game; but if they fight it, Barry will gain access to new areas. The same goes for doors that Claire and Moira prop open, or traps that they disable. What you do with them will affect the people looking for them, creating shortcuts and alternate routes.

Thematically, the game references the works of Franz Kafka, and in terms of RE lore, some of the most compelling developments in recent years take place here. This is a must-play for fans. They’ll also get their money’s worth: Raid Mode is brilliant and incredibly addictive, both in single-player or local/online co-op. There is a huge volume of content here to enjoy.

GAF consensus was incredibly positive. RER2 is just a wonderful game, and I hope they make a third one.


Batman: Arkham Knight (PS4/Xbone/PC/PS3/X360)
Rocksteady Studios, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

I love the Arkham series, and Arkham Knight is my favorite. The reason is twofold: Gotham City, and the Batmobile. Let’s talk about the Batmobile first.

The Arkham games pride themselves on being “Batman simulators,” distilling the Caped Crusader to his essence. They nail Batman’s unique brand of combat, stealth and sleuthing with the Freeflow, Predator and Detective systems, respectively. They nail his movement with a mix of parkour, grappling and gliding. But what about when Batman is up against sterner stuff — unmanned drones and other heavy artillery, or a runaway car moving faster than he can fly? That’s where the final piece of the Batman puzzle comes into play: The Batmobile.

Similar in appearance to the Tumbler from the Nolan movies, and featuring two modes (Pursuit and Battle), the Batmobile is a beast. You can perch atop a gargoyle in the pouring rain and dive headfirst toward the pavement, and the Batmobile will come speeding around the corner like an excited puppy to catch you in the knick of time. It’ll shoot knockout rounds at thugs you throw in the air, swat aside rioters with a shock shield, flip a fleeing car in slow-motion with a heat-seeking rocket, and plow through the corners of buildings or even concrete pillars as you race from one end of the evacuated city to the other. The neon-saturated scenery rushes by in an indecipherable blur as you launch off ramps, race across rooftops and dive into underground tunnels, speeding up walls and across ceilings like F-Zero. It’s a power trip, plain and simple, and I love it.

Then there’s Battle Mode. GAF seemed down on it, and I’m not sure why. Since you can see where enemies are about to shoot, you can prioritize which way to dash, lending battles a balletic feeling similar to on-foot fights. Dashing sideways past a cannon round and nailing an enemy drone with a shot of your own is super-satisfying, especially the way drones *pop* like a pinata stuffed with fireworks. And gunning down rockets with your turret, shocking drones with EMP and hijacking them to fight on your side adds variety to battles. It’s good stuff — but make sure you switch Battle Mode to toggle so you don’t have to hold a button.

The Arkham games are my favorite take on Batman, balancing Nolan’s “heightened realism” with Schumacher’s flamboyance and Burton’s darkness, and plenty of ‘90s childhood nostalgia from The Animated Series. Arkham Knight captures all of this with a thoroughness and attention to detail that is frankly unbelievable at times. Despite its sprawling size, Gotham City is painstakingly detailed, inside and out. And the atmosphere! I can’t get enough of how each drop of rain is lit up by the neon signage, or the way ocean waves crash against the boardwalks. Adding life to the city are stellar performances by the entire cast, especially a character who I won’t spoil, but who is simply the best he’s ever been. People who have played the game know what I mean.

If Arkham Knight is truly the end of Rocksteady’s Batman, they went out on a hell of a high hote.


Transformers: Devastation (PS4/Xbone/PC/PS3/X360)
PlatinumGames, Activision

Let me tell you about Devastator. He’s a “Combiner” — one supersized robot made from six smaller “Constructicons” (which, you may deduce, are construction-themed). This being a game by Platinum, a.k.a. one of the greatest developers on the planet, it’s not surprising you’re punching far above your weight when just 10 minutes into the game you encounter Devastator. Remember, Platinum is the same studio that started out Bayonetta 2 with you fighting atop jets hurtling through New York City, culminating in a battle against Gomorrah scaling a skyscraper, King Kong-style. You’ve barely figured out the controls and you’re already fighting someone who would be the final boss in most other games.

So here’s Devastator, who peeks over the rooftops like Tim Allen’s neighbor behind the fence in “Home Improvement” before dropping down onto the street ready for battle. You duck and weave in and out of his far-reaching attacks, triggering the game’s equivalent of Bayonetta’s Witch Time, focusing Optimus Prime so he can unleash a flurry of attacks on Devastator’s arms and legs. The massive robot shudders with each hit, conveying the impact of your attacks without toppling him completely. And when Devastator punts Prime into the third floor of a building on the opposite end of the street, you feel the impact, too.

It’s this trading of blows and their corresponding feedback that make the high-speed combat of Transformers: Devastation so fun. The phrase “rock ‘em sock ‘em robots” is perfectly apt here. The gorgeous cel-shaded graphics and flashy effects are clean and articulate the action perfectly so that you can follow every well-telegraphed move. It’s this readability, combined with the fluidity of the controls that allows you to quickly pull off amazing moves against enemies that are almost intimidating in their size, speed, and vast reserves of health.

For example, a short ways into the fight against Devastator, you’re already turning into a truck mid-air and driving into Devastator’s chest, a combo finisher you trigger with the tap of a button. The way the truck revs its engine before launching forward is like the tension and release of a slingshot. Or perhaps you’ll leap sideways through the air firing your guns in slow-motion, Max Payne-style. The game features a loot system where you acquire and create progressively stronger weapons, and it’s perfectly viable to focus on firearms instead of melee weapons. The game is flexible enough to be both a brawler and a shooter, and to do both well.

In between battles you’ll get well-paced palate cleansers in the form of platforming, racing, turret defense and more. Past Platinum titles have been prone to excess when it comes to genre shifts, but in Devastation they find the right balance. The downtime provides contrast to the many frenetic battles to come, including an epic team-based battle at the end that is one of my all-time favorite set-pieces in a Platinum title, and thus videogames in general.

I am not a Transformers fan, although the ‘90s nostalgia — like Arkham Knight with Batman: The Animated Series — is not lost on me. It’s a charming world with a loveable cast of noble Autobots and goofy Decepticons, and the spray-on tans of Megan Fox are nowhere to be found. Be sure to pick this up, because this is Platinum quality, through and through.


Splatoon (WiiU)
Nintendo EAD, Nintendo

Splatoon is the freshest shooter in years. It’s the first new character-driven IP from Nintendo EAD since Pikmin in 2001. And you get the impression they’ve been hankering to create something new because they go all-out with Splatoon. Here they manage to breathe new life into a tired genre, and they do so with style.

This is a shooter where it’s just as productive to miss your target as it is to land a clean headshot. This is because you’re shooting ink, and the goal is to cover as much turf in your team’s color as possible. The more ink you lay down, the more you’ll hinder foes by restricting their mobility, and the more you’ll empower your team with an amazing degree of locomotion.

At any time, your Inkling can change from a kid to a squid and back again. As a kid, you spread ink with your primary, sub and special weapons. When you run out of ink, you can turn into a squid and submerge yourself in your ink to refill your weapons. You travel super-fast while swimming in your own ink, and you can jump greater distances, too. But that’s just the start.

If you ink a trail up a wall, you can swim up the wall in squid form and ambush a sniper picking off people from above. As a squid, you can slip through grates and chain-link fences. You can also lay low, rendered invisible in your own ink — so long as you don’t move and betray your location with a telltale series of ripples.

In kid form, you aim with KBM-like precision via gyro-enhanced controls; you can turn off the motion sensors if you wish and play it like a dual-analog shooter, but you might struggle against other players using gyro. The controls work beautifully, affording you pinpoint precision with simple tilts of the controller.

The squids, meanwhile, move with unfettered freedom through their own ink, skimming along like a subsurface torpedo. The sounds they make are so satisfying, like the ker-plunk when you dunk into a pool far below. It sounds like a golf ball landing in a lake!

The ink itself is conveyed with convincing viscosity, congealing around corners and gleaming in the light. If you can’t quite “splat” your opponent, you can try inking the ground at their feet to bog them down in hazardous muck. Then you can dance around your prey as they try to slip away. Ink as a projectile is also brilliant in how you can see it being shot around corners, tipping you off to danger. There’s also something pleasing about how you can see the arc of its trajectory, the ink fanning out and landing with a splash. You can see the coverage of the ink changing in real-time via a top-down map on the GamePad, and you can rocket-jump to any location simply by tapping on the touchscreen.

The game launched with a solid selection of maps but has rapidly ballooned into something several times its original size with the promised rollout of free updates — not only new maps, but entire new modes and a huge variety of weapons and gear. The game also feels lively and ever-changing by way of its central plaza, Inkopolis, where the custom avatars of other players stroll about with speech bubbles overhead, showing their Miiverse messages and drawings. It creates an inviting sense of community, especially during special events.

There are also memorable new characters like the shopkeepers, including my favorite, Crusty Sean the Tiger Prawn, purveyor of Shrimp Kicks. He sports a fried tempura jacket and wears a sneaker on each of his many feet. This same creativity extends to the story mode, with the rival race of Octarians trying to pilfer the Inklings’ power supply. Their underground lair exhibits the same level of outlandish creativity seen in the Super Mario Galaxy games.

You can ink sponge blocks to expand them into climbable platforms; shoot propellers to move elevators up and down; ink invisible pathways or create ink rails to zip along. There’s a strong sense of forward momentum as you delve deeper into the world of Octo Valley, culminating in one of the best final bosses ever, one that skill-checks everything you’ve learned in the campaign.

And then there’s the infectiously catchy music, the bright and colorful graphics, and the way all of the single-player and multiplayer offerings tie together in the same virtual space, explained by the post-apocalyptic lore. Splatoon is downright inspired — a game of strong vision and timeless gameplay — and an instant classic.


Super Mario Maker (WiiU)
Nintendo EAD, Nintendo

Super Mario Maker is my favorite 2D Mario. To my delight, the controls are the best they’ve ever been. It’s also my favorite use of the GamePad.

It’s a powerful level editor where you pick from one of four styles (the original Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, and New Super Mario Bros. U, all in lovely HD) and two of six themes (grassland, underground, underwater, airship, ghost house and castle), and proceed to create an honest-to-goodness Mario stage…

...or perhaps you’ll make a shoot-’em-up. Or a puzzler. Or a Metroidvania. Or an arcade game. Or a stealth game. Or an escort mission. Or a music level. Or a level that plays itself.

It’s easy to experiment because you’re using the touchscreen to lay down elements and your palette is streamlined in a way that minimizes clutter. You could set down a green Koopa that walks off ledges and then decide you want a red Koopa that patrols back and forth instead. To get the red Koopa, simply shake the green Koopa with the stylus. Or maybe you want a supersized Koopa — try dragging and dropping a Super Mushroom on it. Each element takes many forms, and the way you access them makes sense.

You can also rapidly iterate on your levels. Drag your stylus across the touchscreen and lay down 10 tiles of land. Now tap the “Play” button, run to the edge and jump. You’ll fall down a pit and instantly pop back into Edit Mode. Now you’ll see a string of Marios tracing the path you ran and jumped. It’s similar to the way Super Meat Boy shows each failed attempt. You can then study the trail of Marios and place platforms where needed. This allows you to perfect the flow of a Mario level, making it fun.

You can also mix and match classic elements in new ways. For example, a Chain Chomp in a Koopa Clown Car is the stuff of nightmares, lashing out from the pilot’s seat as the car stalks you across the map. All kinds of inventive combinations are possible. And once you’ve finalized your level, you can upload it for the world to play. Others can rate it, download it to keep, or comment on it to provide feedback. But you can only upload a level if you’ve beat it yourself!

You can check out my own levels here. It’s a game of infinite content and infinite potential, where the act of creation is just as fun as the act of playing.

In the next post, I will detail the third and second place winners. And then in the third post, I will detail my GOTY 2015.


Nov 10, 2007

------ PART TWO OF THREE ------

Click here for Part 1
Click here for Part 3

My countdown to No. 1 continues. Next I’ll talk about No. 3 and No. 2. Then I’ll announce my GOTY and include the formatted ballot in the third and final post.

It’s a long writeup, but I use this opportunity to articulate (for myself, and for anyone interested) what I like about each game and why it works for me.

Also, I include screens I took, to help give you a sense of the game world. Each screen is shrunk from its original resolution. I hope you enjoy!

Now without further ado...


Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (PS4/Xbone/PC/PS3/X360)
Kojima Productions, Konami

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was originally my No. 1. On further reflection it fell to No. 2, and then No. 3. But make no mistake: This game is incredible.

To be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to MGSV. I’ve always liked the story of the MGS series, but I tend to like it more on paper than I do in practice. Lumbering cutscenes can strangle a game’s pacing, and while the last console game, MGS4, made me tear up at the end (“Maybe the world would be better off without snakes”), I had to go through 45 minutes of Drebin talking about anagrams and you-know-who giving PowerPoint presentations before I got to the good stuff.

I’ve always respected series creator Hideo Kojima as an “ideas guy,” but more and more I was doubting his priorities as a game designer.

Maybe Kojima took this criticism to heart. It’d certainly explain the changes in MGSV. The cutscenes are shorter and less frequent, with the bulk of storytelling relegated to optional cassette tapes you can listen to whenever, wherever. The characters say more with facial expressions and body language than they do with words. Many moments are open to interpretation, and entire arcs are optional — you, the player, have to seek them out. It’s also entirely possible to sidetrack yourself doing side ops. Nothing is forcing you to advance the main story.

Speaking of the story — I know it’s divisive, but I liked it. There’s a melancholy, almost bittersweet quality to the characters as they search for a sense of purpose and peace. Even though we know where things are headed (this being the middle of the saga), it’s still fascinating to watch these misfits try and grasp at glimmers of happiness.

They’re advocates of peace who hypocritically create war, and cultists who worship false idols and ideals. But they have their share of noble qualities, even if they’re misguided, so I still wanted things to work out for them. I also like the slice-of-life quality that feels like a long afternoon in the dog days of summer. These are drifters who finally have something resembling a home, but they’re drifters nonetheless. I think the plot is meant to immerse you in their surreal way of life rather than shunting you from one set-piece to the next. What some found to be languid pacing instead got under my skin and drew me deeper into the world.

The game also deals with some complex themes, most notably the way language shapes culture, and how a common language (English) erodes other languages, and thus cultures — a sort of Western cultural imperialism. The game can also be seen as a critique of revenge, a meditation on mercy, and a deconstruction of the Great Man theory of history. There’s plenty to think about and discuss here, providing a rich backdrop to the gameplay.

And yes, it’s true the game’s structure is odd — “Chapter 1” could’ve been divided into three parts, and “Chapter 2” could’ve been an epilogue. Still, it works for me in its own weird way, and I like how it shows Big Boss going against his principles and falling from grace... Just not in the way we expected.

But enough about the story. The best part of MGSV is the way the gameplay can finally breathe. I feel like Kojima has evolved as a game designer with this title. The story enriches the world but doesn’t intrude on the gameplay.

With MGSV, the focus is on responsive controls and clarity of design, and a harmonious melding of systems and mechanics. This allows for emergent gameplay in a richly detailed sandbox, one anchored by strong level design and smart AI.

I was immediately impressed by the game feel, which reconciles responsive control with realistic animation. MGSV is peerless in this regard. Look at the Grand Theft Auto series, where characters are over-animated to the point of feeling clumsy. MGSV eliminates the fiddly controls and wide-turn wobbliness of other realistic third-person games, allowing you to turn in place on a dime and look natural while doing so. It’s the feel of power and precision, the way you can flow from a thunderous sprint to an imperceptible crawl. Everything feels deliberate, convincing in its friction and feedback.

Next there’s the clarity of design, which reveals itself during infiltration. Many factors determine whether guards will notice you, including stance, cover, camouflage, proximity, pacing, light and shadow. The limits of each are invisible, yet you come to intuitively understand how far you can push them, and how brazen you can be. At the same time, there is enough vagueness to create gnawing uncertainty — and therein lies the suspense.

The tension builds as you slip behind enemy lines, shooting out searchlights and silencing enemies with tranquilizers, sleeping gas and chokeholds. You can also artfully misdirect your foes by creating noises, setting up inflatable decoys, or my favorite: detonating bombs you planted on one side of base to draw guards away from your target.

And then you start to get really creative. Chopper got you down? Try strapping C4 and balloons to a Jeep as it flies overhead. Need to stop an enemy convoy? Command your horse to defecate in the middle of the road, and watch the vehicles slip ‘n’ slide. That tape recording you found of someone farting? Play it in an outhouse, and guards will avoid your location. Suppressor broken? Try throwing it in someone’s face. The classic cardboard box? Not just good for sneaking around — you can also sled down hills in it, knocking over people like bowling pins. The list goes on and on.

You can also interrogate guards for intel, knock them out and hide their bodies in dumpsters, or strap balloons to them and send them flying into the sky, where a plane waits to collect them and bring them to Mother Base. Then they’ll be brainwashed into your cult and serve in different departments, expanding the range of weapons, tools and support services available to you. Need to understand Russian so you can eavesdrop on the Soviets? Kidnap someone with the interpreter skill and they’ll translate for you. It’s incentive to take the more challenging pacifist approach. You’ll also want to pilfer any resources you find — fuel, minerals and more — so you can build more decks to hold more people.

The Mother Base meta-game creates an addictive loop of optimization where you return to the field to collect more men and more materials. And the field is vast: Africa and Afghanistan are suitably huge. Here, again, the game makes a smart decision, eschewing the living spaces of other open worlds to focus on one that benefits stealth. Distractions are few, so you can focus on your approach, scouting out bases and tracking convoys without fear of interruption. You’ll also want to consider the time of day and weather conditions, and the sidekicks you bring along, such as a wolf-hound or superhuman sniper. Each will dramatically alter the way the mission plays out.

The bases themselves are remarkably varied. One mission, you’re infiltrating a cliffside village of densely clustered structures that offer verticality and coverage at the cost of blind corners. In another mission, you’re in a lush jungle, trying to sneak into a Fallingwater-esque manor with interconnecting rooms and overlapping walkways. Each location has multiple ways in and out, and each feels wholly unique.

Ultimately, MGSV is more than the sum of its parts. There are issues like the long helicopter rides to and from the battlefield, the limited fast travel, and the arbitrary wait times of weapons development. But in the end these are minor quibbles transcended by everything the game does right. You can steamroll your foes like a force of nature or slip past them without leaving a trace. You can concoct harebrained schemes that somehow work, making you feel like a MacGyver-esque genius. Kojima still has a story to tell in MGSV — but the battlefield narrative is all yours. In that sense, I can’t think of a more fitting way to conclude a series of games.

So here’s to you, Kojima and KojiPro.


Bloodborne (PS4)
FromSoftware, Sony Computer Entertainment

Bloodborne embodies everything I love in horror.

The city of Yharnam is Gothic Victorian overload, with winding alleyways and cobblestone streets sandwiched between tall, imposing facades. The Yharnamite who happens to build coffins or carve sculptures must be well-employed here — there are chained caskets and weeping statues everywhere.

It’s the Night of the Hunt, and you’re unfortunate enough to be locked outside. Behind closed doors with red lanterns, you hear the howling laughter of residents drunk on blood cocktails. Outside, there are oily black crows — fat and flightless, and barking like dogs — and mobs eager to crucify you and light you on fire, next to the werewolves already roasting in town square. You’re a foreigner, and you’re not welcome here.

Beyond the city proper is a village of witches, cackling and shrieking as they dance in graveyards; a deep dark wood with a dilapidated windmill and no shortage of cultists and snakes; and once you reach a certain college on the shores of a quicksilver lake, things take a turn for the cosmic, revealing interstellar horrors that would make H.P. Lovecraft blush. Oh, and across an ice-cold loch, there is a castle straight out of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula,” home to homunculi, vampire aristocrats and ghastly apparitions. This place is optional, so don’t miss it!

It’s a bleak scenario, but when you’ve had your fill of the interconnected world with its pretzeling pathways and atmosphere of oppression, you can take refuge in the fog-wreathed gardens of the hub area, the Hunter’s Dream. It’s so romantic here that I half-expected Mr. Rochester from “Jane Eyre” to waltz out and woo me!

It’s easy to wax poetic about the game’s rich imagery. The game itself is quite the poet, with evocative names like “Rom the Vacuous Spider,” “Winter Lantern,” “Garden of Eyes,” and “Moon Presence.” Characters speak in cryptic riddles, with a distant dreamlike quality. And the world itself feels like an old home — textured and time-weathered. Yet despite the lived-in nature of everything, the history of Yharnam is a nebulous thing. The lore is doled out in a breadcrumb trail of item descriptions, scenic detail and other touches that provide the corners of a jigsaw puzzle, while a healthy heaping of imagination and inferences fill in the rest. In this way, the game’s beauty and horror is amplified in equal measure by wonder and fear of the unknown.

Of more pressing concern is the wide variety of monsters lying in ambush. You must proceed with caution, looking both ways before crossing the threshold of a door, checking for traps and shambling silhouettes in the darkness. If you see the threat before it sees you, you already have an advantage. Then you feel out the threat, baiting the monster to attack and deftly sidestepping it. Learn its timing and respond in kind, with a mix of quick and heavy strikes from a shape-shifting Trick Weapon, and judiciously heal yourself with a limited stock of Blood Vials.

Bloodborne is all about artful restraint. Every attack is telegraphed by a windup animation and vulnerable during the cooldown phase. The longer the windup, the stronger the hit, the longer the cooldown. This applies to you as readily as it does to them. Your enemies are quick to punish your haste and greed, but there’s great satisfaction in reading cues and knowing when to move in and when to fall back. And there’s great satisfaction in a successful hit, pancaking fools with a fully charged heavy attack from the transformed Kirkhammer, or launching them with a 360-degree spin from the extended Hunter’s Axe.

Learn the rhythm of your enemies and you can stagger them with perfectly timed gunshots. Bullets will barely graze monsters, but a stunned one is susceptible to a brutal follow-up move called a Visceral Attack, where you plunge your hand into their chest and wrench out a pound of flesh. And when they hit you, follow up with a quick strike of your own to recover a portion of your lost health. Along with the abundance of invincibility frames during dodges — and the conspicuous lack of shields — the game encourages you to be aggressive and commit to your actions at all times.

The game also rewards your curiosity. Venture off the beaten path and you may discover a shortcut back to the start of the game. Entire areas and bosses are sequestered out of sight, waiting to be found. There are so many secrets — and secrets within secrets — that if we didn’t live in the age of the Internet, the average player would complete the campaign without seeing 60 percent of its content. And beyond the campaign, there are the chalice dungeons, home to the best bosses in the game. While the 10 premade dungeons are not nearly as handcrafted as the main game, they’re still a brilliant compression of Bloodborne’s challenges, with the same rollercoaster high when you prevail.

I must also note the game’s shared DNA with the Souls series. In addition to the firm but fair difficulty, and the emphasis on decisive action and careful observation, certain systems return, such as the online co-op and PvP combat, the markers showing how other players fell in battle, and the messages players can leave for each other, tipping players off to traps and treasure — or leading them into trouble.

Then there are the Blood Echoes you collect from fallen foes, which double as your currency and experience points. You drop these upon death, at which point you have one shot to retrieve them from where you fell — or in Bloodborne, from the enemy who stole them and now walks around with glowing eyes. It’s a risk-reward mechanic where you’re tempted to backtrack to the Hunter’s Dream and cash in your echoes, at the cost of resetting enemy spawns in the area, or to push onward in hopes of a bit more progress, at the risk of dying and failing to retrieve your echoes. Sometimes a shortcut back to safety is right around the corner, but you never know. It creates suspense, followed by a rush of relief every time you return home with your echoes intact, powering up your character, upgrading your gear and replenishing your stock of items.

Bloodborne is for the patient and observant player who is willing to learn from and laugh at their failures; who feels satisfaction overcoming challenges and seeing how the world fits together. It stays true to the mechanics-driven focus of the best Japanese-made games, with carefully calibrated encounters and masterful pacing. And it elevates the experience with exquisite art direction, atmosphere and intrigue that lingers in the mind like a dense fog. Of all the games on my list, this one has perhaps the most singular and cohesive vision.

It is a dream worth experiencing.

- All screenshots taken by yours truly
- All screenshots shrunk from original 1080p

Stay tuned for the third and final post, where I’ll discuss my GOTY 2015!


Nov 10, 2007

------ PART THREE OF THREE ------

Click here for Part 1
Click here for Part 2

This post is the third and final installment of my Top 10 countdown, and includes the formatted ballot.

I’m treating this like a tribute piece, with screens taken by myself and fellow GAF members Wanders and Chadboban. All screens are shrunk from their original resolution and help to illustrate the look and feel of the game. I hope you enjoy. :)

Now then...


Xenoblade Chronicles X (WiiU)
Monolith Soft, Nintendo

A last-minute upset, dethroning Bloodborne and MGSV!

I spent the end of 2015 and start of 2016 playing Xenoblade Chronicles X.

At first, I worried my judgment might be blinded by the honeymoon phase. After reviewing my past writings and thinking about how other games made me feel, I concluded that XCX deserves my top honor since it perfectly embodies what I value most in epic adventures — namely, the thrill of exploration and discovery. XCX creates an unforgettable experience in a world I love, transporting me like few games do.

Exploring planet Mira gives me the same feeling I had the first time I visited Columbia in BioShock Infinite, each area playing with my line of sight and revealing one breathtaking vista after another. And it’s applied to a world so vast that it makes many other open worlds feel small. The fact it's as vertical as it is horizontal, and handcrafted from top to bottom is beyond impressive. There are pathways everywhere if you're observant enough to find them, and you can traverse them with an endless sprint and high-flying jump.

Seriously, it feels so good blazing a path through the wilderness, pouncing from one rocky outcropping to the next. You linger dramatically at the apex of your jump, yet there’s no loss in momentum or precision. And when you land on a downhill slope, you somersault back into a sprint. The act of exploration is fast, fluid and FUN.

There were times I spotted a probe site (generating fuel and credit, and creating a warp point), and it would seem inaccessible. Maybe the entrance was guarded by an overwhelmingly strong enemy, or maybe it appeared too high to reach without the flying mech you receive later in the game.

But then I’d think outside the box and study the walls, noticing subtle changes in the surface of the rock that could serve as narrow footholds. I’d nimbly jump across them, and when I finally reached the top, there was a feeling of triumph. In a way, it reminded me of reaching the rooftop of Peach’s Castle without the cannon in Super Mario 64. The controls invite that kind of experimentation.

And everything you see, you can touch. You’ll often find yourself thinking, “How can I get over there?” And that’s part of the fun: The scale and complexity of each area will challenge your spatial awareness to find a way forward. It’s not so much your immediate surroundings as it is the overall lay of the land.

Standing atop a mountain, you may see ancient ruins in the foothills below, and notice a ravine snaking its way around them, forming a reference point. But it’s one thing to view it from high in the sky, and another matter entirely to keep your bearings on the ground, where you’re dwarfed by the foothills and being chased by monsters. There’s also a persistent map on the GamePad that provides intel — not enough to spoil any surprises, but enough to help you decide what you want to do next. It also allows you to fast-travel to previous landmarks with a tap of the screen. Convenient!

More often than not, you’ll still want to take the long way to your destination. There are moments in the first continent, Primordia, which recall the scene in “Jurassic Park” where Alan Grant first sees a living, breathing dinosaur. If you like dinos, Mira has plenty of them, including an alien brontosaurus with craggy shoulders and bioluminescent markings. Floppy-eared critters and hippo-like beasts lounge in the shade of these gentle giants, while giant crabs scuttle nearby and winged whales fly overhead. Further inland, ostrich-sized turkeys sprint through fields of fuchsia and gold, a scene of tranquility contrasted by the spidery monsters that dangle down from the cavernous ceiling of a stone arch, calling to mind Skull Island from Peter Jackson’s “King Kong.”

The scale is such that despite the lack of falling damage (a liberating design choice), I still felt startled when I toppled off a waterfall and fell a vertical mile into the lake below. Primorida is simply massive.

And again, that's just the FIRST continent. There are four more that are equally vast and varied, such as Sylvalum, one of the most alien places in videogames, looking straight out of an Isaac Asimov cover. It's pure dreamscape surrealism, with knotty sphere-top trees that emit a pale light, ivory sand dunes, fields of white dandelions, and ribcage-like mountains under an aurora borealis. Bizarre creatures that remind me of Salvador Dalí’s “Elephants” wander a shallow lake, while a silent automaton patrols nearby. Climb the mountains and you’ll find anvil-shaped cliffs, rock faces laced with rivulets of light, and a huge sand-worm that leaps out of its burrow, sailing over a sky-high bridge. Arriving in this haunting place after swimming across the sea is one of those moments of discovery I'll fondly remember.

Or how about watching gentle deer-like creatures, the size of giraffes, sip nectar out of giant flowers in the jungles of Noctilum. Or wandering its fields of blue grass under pastel pink skies framed by branches reaching skyward. Or the way the night skies light up with fireflies and purple pollen. Or how great apes gather under the glowing green canopy of a neon forest. Or how you can climb inside a hollow tree lined with lanterns and discover a network of rope bridges high above.

This is a game where your mind is inhaling the scenery at every turn. The world has a Seuss-ical quality to it, with sickle-like rock formations and floating landmasses that defy physics. And each expanse of impossible geometry is teeming with life, both gentle and hostile, comprising one of the most impressive bestiaries I’ve seen in games.

It’s thrilling to weave your way around skyscraper-sized monsters that can chase you across the map and off your party in one hit. The high-level enemies are intelligently placed, forming a dynamic maze that requires quick thinking and quick feet to survive. Other times you may approach them like a stealth game, squeezing past them when their backs are turned. And each creature seems to have an internal logic to it, with behavioral patterns that change with the weather and time of day, lending them a sense of weight. You’ll see them sleeping, eating, burrowing, nuzzling, frolicking in the rain... Simply magnificent.

All of this made XCX irresistible to play once I started. I wanted to keep discovering new landmarks and scenic views, planting probes, collecting loot, gathering materials, slaying tyrants, helping NPCs, building affinity, and learning more about the world of Mira, which is thought-provoking in similar fashion to the island from “Lost,” with the suggestion of something more than meets the eye. How did all of these alien races end up here? How do they all understand each other? There is a strong sense of the spiritual permeating the world, adding to its sense of wonder.

There is also a strong sense of home. When mankind’s ark-ship, the White Whale, maroons itself on Mira after being pursued by the alien forces that destroyed Earth, their safe haven becomes the habitat unit of New Los Angeles. The city offers a sense of familiarity that contrasts nicely with the exotic environs of Mira, with a residential district full of model homes, manicured lawns and backyard swimming pools, and a commercial district with cafés, boutiques, and sidewalks lined with palm trees. Out of context, you’d think it’s a game set in real-life LA, until you look up and see the 100-meter-tall walls. There’s also a tower that features an ominous countdown to… something. And while the denizens try to unwind with walks in the park or trips to the cathedral, there’s a simmering sense of anxiety about their situation.

This anxiety brings out the best and the worst in humanity. The story explores themes of racism, religion, cooperation and more, with the kind of existential conundrums offered by the best sci-fi. The writing can be smart and witty, with a huge cast of NPCs touching on things with a level of awareness you might not expect, in quests that can be sweetly touching, incredibly dark or downright hilarious. There are many missions to undertake, and while the story missions weave an exciting tale full of startling revelations, they’re only the tip of the iceberg. It’s the wealth of side missions where you’ll find the richest characterization and most memorable story arcs. There are so many threads to pursue that it can be overwhelming at times.

But there is a constant sense of progress, no matter where you go or what you do. The game is simple enough to pick up and play, but there is real depth, too, with systems and mechanics that have a Dark Souls-like obscurity to them, but the same satisfying sense of optimization.

The combat is fast, bordering on frantic — a mix of active and turn-based, with real-time control of your character’s movement, and an emphasis on positioning, melee vs. ranged, timing, teammates and more. Learn the basics and you’ll start to rapidly stack damage on your enemies. It’s addictive at this point, leaping over (or sliding under) an enemy, guns blazing, and then circle-strafing to its flank, targeting a limb and toppling it with melee attacks.

And then, once you start to truly understand your arts, overdrive, skills, classes, divisions, augments, soul voices, and more… Then you finally get your Skell license.

Skells are mechs with bipedal, vehicle and flight modes. They feature their own arts and are available in a wide variety of models, and customizable right down to the paintjob. And each party member can use one. It's like a whole new game! They move with convincing weight, their frame shuddering with each plodding step. When they leap into the air, they lift their arms and spread their fingers like they’re about to slam dunk. Go into a dash and they’ll transform into a motorcycle, drifting around corners. On water they stay in bipedal form but hover dramatically above the surface. They’re so cool!

I’m still working toward the flight module. It’s a testament to the sheer size of XCX that I could complete other JRPGs in the amount of time it takes to get to this game’s most hyped selling point. It’s also a testament to the quality of XCX that I don’t mind.

This is a game where I can endlessly sidetrack myself accepting quests, marveling at wildlife and soaking up the atmosphere — and not a single moment feels wasted, since everything contributes in one way or another to humanity surviving this hostile new world.

There have been reports of people still discovering new areas after 150+ hours of playing the game, and I can believe it. Not to mention the nooks and crannies that are constantly being discovered in even the earliest areas. To use a Dark Souls analogy, XCX is full of “Ash Lake” moments, the game rewarding your curiosity by opening up in unexpected ways.

Still, I look forward to flying. I’ve seen videos of the way you can seamlessly fly over the towering walls of New Los Angeles and into the vast wilderness of Primordia without a single loading screen, and hardly a hitch in the solid 30fps frame-rate. You can fly surprisingly high before you hit a ceiling, too. Combined with the dizzying scale, art direction and eclectic soundtrack, it’s just sublime. (Definitely download and install all four optional data packs for best performance!)

If this is what Monolith Soft and Nintendo can achieve on the WiiU — an experience that easily holds its own against the heavyweights of more powerful systems — then I can't wait to see what they will do next generation. Bring on XCX2!

In the meantime, I’ll continue to look up into the night sky and wonder if a place like Mira actually exists out there among the stars. That’s the kind of wonder this game inspires. And that’s why Xenoblade Chronicles X is my Game of the Year 2015.

Click here for a fan-made trailer showing a variety of locations.

And click here for more screenshots I took.

And here are pics from a few of my favorite places, courtesy of Chadboban:


1. Xenoblade Chronicles X ; Peerless exploration with a rewarding sense of progress in possibly the largest handcrafted world I’ve ever seen, where every vista inspires wonder, and every memory fills me with warm tingly feelings.
2. Bloodborne ; A game that is punishing but fair, mastering the mentality of “just one more try,” in an intriguing dreamlike scenario that peels back in layers to reveal haunting beauty and greater horrors.
3. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain ; The new gold standard for responsive controls and overall feel in a realistic third-person title, with flexible mission design, enemy AI and toolkits that encourage creativity.
4. Super Mario Maker ; A robust level editor with a streamlined interface that makes creation fun, allowing for rapid iteration and the combination of classic elements in new ways, and the means to share your creations and feedback with the world online.
5. Splatoon ; The most refreshing multiplayer shooter in years, inking turf and using shapeshifting kid-to-squid powers to outmaneuver foes with a liberating degree of locomotion. Online is great, and so is single-player, with inspired platforming reminiscent of Super Mario Galaxy.
6. Transformers: Devastation ; Over-the-top action in trademark Platinum style, deftly blending brawler and shooter elements in varied and well-paced scenarios, with tight controls, a lovely cel-shaded aesthetic evocative of the original cartoon, and a rocking soundtrack.
7. Batman: Arkham Knight ; The ultimate Batman simulator and definitive Arkham game, with the most detailed, intricate and complete realization of Gotham yet, and a tricked-out Batmobile that truly feels like a force of nature.
8. Resident Evil Revelations 2 ; Strong episodic structure, likable characters, plenty of intrigue, and a smart balance of combat, resource management, puzzle-solving and pathfinding. Also, Raid Mode is incredibly addictive. Great value!
9. Kirby and the Rainbow Curse ; Inspired clay-animated art direction and catchy music wrapped around a surprisingly intuitive control scheme and inventive mechanics.
10. Yoshi’s Woolly World ; Adorably tactile and gorgeous to behold, with super-solid platforming and abundant secrets to uncover. The spiritual successor to Yoshi’s Island, minus annoying Baby Mario, plus the handmade charm of Yoshi’s Story. Plays wonderfully in co-op.

x. Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin ; Every bit deserving of the Souls name, with masterfully constructed challenges and versatile gameplay. But last year was its year — this year is the remaster.

x. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D ; The definitive edition of my 2000 GOTY, a true classic and a Top 10 GOAT. But a remake rather than something new.

x. Tembo The Badass Elephant ; An action-packed 2D platformer that captures the flow of vintage Sonic and chaos of modern-day Donkey Kong Country with a hilarious premise and cartoon aesthetic.


Game of the Year 2014
Game of the Year 2013


- All screenshots shrunk from original 720p
- First 10 screenshots by myself
- Next two screenshots by Wanders
- Next three screenshots by myself
- Next five screenshots by Chadboban
- One more screenshot by myself

Jul 29, 2010
Amazing posts, Neiteio! You definitely convinced me to give XCX a try. Might be a good game to pick up for Summer. Sounds like I'll need ample time to dig into it!

I've been playing Witcher 3 lately (another game that never ends), and while a lot of the gameplay is pretty sketchy, sometimes magical things can happen.


May 9, 2011
Didn't play many new games this year, but here goes:

1. Splatoon ; This game captivated me the minute it was announced back at E3 2014, it kept me excited with every new trailer, and the Testfire killed any doubts I had. In a genre filled with similar games, it's nice to see something completely stand out, and Splatoon succeeded in every possible way, ending in what was the best game of the year.

2. Super Mario Maker ; We've been waiting for years for this to happen, now it's here, and Nintendo completely outdid themselves with it. An incredibly feature-filled level editor with a fantastic interface with numerous ways of sharing levels.

3. Undertale
4. The Legend of Legacy
5. The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D
Jun 6, 2013
1. Life is Strange ; A year ago I never would have guessed that Life is Strange would have found itself at the top of my list but the story, the cast, the setting, the music, the gameplay mechanics, everything about the game is just wonderfully realized and fits together perfectly to form a brilliant experience that kept me invested from the very beginning to the very end.

2. Fallout 4 ; The Wasteland has never been so enjoyable to explore and the weapons have never been so fun to use. That combined with the intriguing story, the wonderful roster of companions and the crafting and resource management of both your equipment and the town building make for a game that's incredibly easy to dump copious amounts of time into.

3. Tales from the Borderlands ; Even though I was already a fan of both Telltale and Borderlands I was surprised just how much I loved this game. Telltale knocked it out of the park with the brilliant cast of characters and the fantastic balance of humor and seriousness that stays true to what Borderlands is. In my opinion, it's the best game Telltale has ever made.

4. Rise of the Tomb Raider ; RotR is an exceptional game. It takes everything that was great about the first game and improves upon it in every way. The combat, the exploration, the tombs, everything just feels more polished and more refined which results in the game being incredibly fun to play. The evolution of Lara has a character also allows the story to improve on its predecessor as well.

5. Ori and the Blind Forest ; What a stunning, absolutely beautiful game. The art, the music, the characters, the world, the story, every little bit of Ori oozes pure beauty. It's also no slouch in the gameplay department either with exceptional controls and really great level design. Ori is both fantastic to play and fantastic to look at. Moon Studios did a phenomenal job.

6. Assassin's Creed Syndicate ; I was in the minority of people that loved Unity so having a follow up that improved upon it in a lot of ways was almost a dream come true. Jacob and Evie are a fantastic duo and exploring Syndicate's recreation of London was enjoyable enough to sap dozens of hours from me. The Blackbox Assassination missions continue to be some of the best designed missions in gaming.

7. Massive Chalice ; I wasn't even particularly excited for Massive Chalice when it fell into my lap as a GWG but I was really blown away by the amount of fun I had with the game. The combat is simple yet extremely addicting and managing your bloodlines and lineages really adds some cool strategy and depth to the game that elevates the experience.

8. Halo 5: Guardians ; If I had put any time into the campaign then it's possible this would be higher. Regardless, now that I've finally managed to find control settings that work for me the multiplayer has been a blast. All the weapons look, sound and feel great and 343 has put together an almost perfect balance of speed and tactical combat.

9. Undertale ; This wasn't a game I was particularly in love with but the charm and humor combined with the absolutely phenomenal soundtrack have Undertale finding its way on to my list. Probably the most unique game I've played this year as well, Undertale's approach to gameplay and story is really interesting and refreshing.

10. Final Fantasy Type-0 HD ; This is a game that, I think, is greater than the sum of its parts. It manages to take a lot of elements that are perfectly adequate and puts them together to create a really enjoyable experience. The combat shines the most though, allowing you to choose how you want to play through different combinations of characters from the sizable, varied cast.

Honorable Mentions
x. Her Story ; It's hard to put into words how I felt about Her Story. It's one of the most intriguing and innovative games I've ever played but at the same time it feels like it was hard to find a clear focus while playing through it. I enjoyed my time with it though and the job Viva Seifert is practically flawless.
x. Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China ;
1. The Witcher III: Wild Hunt ; Very few games have captured the sense of adventure you can find in this title. It is the ultimate "Pick up a sword and go!" game where the world is yours to discover and change, for better or worse. CD Projekt RED had great ambitions for this game, but perhaps even greater accomplishments. It excels in every single area you can think of: gameplay, music, graphics, pacing, content, and drunk dialing. It took me a hundred hours to complete the main story, and there was not a single stretch where I was bored or disinterested in what was going on around me. I firmly believe it to be one of the greatest games of all time.

2. Super Mario Maker ; I cannot think of a more perfect way to celebrate thirty years of Mario than this game. This title allows us to share what we love about Mario through our levels. Whether it's insane platforming, clever puzzles, or straight up goofiness, we all get to express our own ideas about what Mario games should be like. It is by far the best use of the GamePad and making levels is so stupidly easy that I wonder how so many other developers messed it up before. The game also gives you a tremendous appreciation for the folks who actually make Mario games. There are so many factors and small changes that can completely alter a level, and the fact that Nintendo has pumped out dozens of levels of incredible Mario levels throughout their history shows how singular they really are.

3. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain ; If we were ranking stories, this game would be at #100. Fortunately, playing MGSV is so good that you forgot all about wolbachia. Almost. This game is perhaps one of the most ambitious leaps I've seen a franchise take in a long time. It is a true sandbox in regards to how you can complete an objective. There is no wrong way, and the game does not guide you to pick one particular style. The amount of diverse tools at your disposal allows you to experiment in creative ways, and this is extremely satisfying when mixed with Kojima's intense attention to detail. It is an unexpected swan song for Kojima-led MGS games, but also something that will remember for a long time.

4. Undertale ; Though this game takes less than ten hours to beat, it felt more grandiose and more satisfying than many games that take fifty. It manages to proudly showcase its inspirations, while also delivering completely new experiences that I haven't seen in any game. The battle system alone is a marvel, mixing in a clever conversation system with diverse SHMUP-inspired segments (seriously, why hasn't this been used before? It's so genius and simple that I can't believe more developers didn't try it). The game completely twists your assumptions and predictions in bewildering ways, and I could not way to see what happened at each turn. The game is never content and constantly tries to top itself in terms of creativity. Undertale is really a unique experience that surpasses its gimmicks to deliver something special. And there are no words for how amazing the soundtrack is.

5. Splatoon ; The freshest game this year is also one of Nintendo's most original creations perhaps ever. For years, people have wanted to see Nintendo tackle and online shooter, and they have delivered in ways that have surpassed my expectations. The core gameplay mechanics are so simple, yet offer an absurd amount of depth when it comes to loadouts and how you can play. The short matches also dial up the intensity. Never have I thought I would be so invested in stopping a bunch of kids wearing a mish mash of random clothing articles like football helmets and tweed vests from carrying a shachihoko bazooka into the goal. Though it certainly lacked features at launch, Nintendo has delivered a staggering amount of updates in such a short time, including exciting game modes that completely challenge everything you think you know about the game. I cannot wait to see what else Nintendo does with this franchise.

6. Xenoblade Chronicles X ; I have poured dozens of hours into this game, yet still have very little idea about many of the game's systems and features. But it doesn't matter, since playing this game is such a blast even if you kind of have no idea what's going on. This game really captures the feeling of being in an unknown and hostile world. You never know what you will find or what monstrous creature you will run into. The combat system is an interesting fusion of a typical JRPG battle and something you would find in an MMO, and the game completely mixed it up once you get a skell, your fast-paced anime mech that completely changes how you take on the world of Mira. The story and characters are also enjoyable, and I started to like a thirteen year old tech genius and a potato far more than I expected. ONE TWO THREE FOUR

7. Dragon Ball XenoVerse ; This game is a guilty pleasure, pure and simple. I certainly understand many of its blatant flaws, but then again I had so much fun with this game that I don't even care. There have been dozens of Dragon Ball games, so it's difficult to make one that stands above the rest. Well they did it with a simple idea, full character customization. Wanna make a guy that looks like Majin Buu battle follow up a Destructo Disc with a Galick Gun? You can do that. Wanna team up with other players to battle Frieza on an exploding Namek? Possible. It captures everything you like about DBZ while also allowing you to change it in your own ways. The battle system is streamlined, yet still rewarding. I anxiously await to see what Namco has in store for this franchise.

8. Rocket League ; Soccer is so boring. How can you improve it? ROCKET. POWERED. CARS. Why hasn't FIFA thought of this yet? Rocket League is a difficult game to explain why it's fun. It's soccer with cars. That's it. I don't like soccer, so I didn't think this game would appeal to me. Thankfully, I was wrong. Each match is a roller coaster of emotions, and your heart will stop in place when you get a wide open shot at a goal. Rocket League takes a simple idea, polishes it to perfection and everything works wonderfully.

9. Life is Strange ; Adventure games live or die according to their story and characters. Life is Strange manages to excel in all these areas, giving us an unpredictable and emotional story filled with instantly memorable characters. As for the gameplay, the time travel mechanic is used in clever puzzles with solutions that aren't immediately apparent. Like most adventure games these days, there is an array of branching dialogue trees. While other games force you to pick a side and wait to see the consequences, Life is Strange allows you to see both sides of a coin, and pick which one you think is best. Even so, there aren't easy answers and your decisions do come up frequently throughout the game. The game offers a good mix of unconventional gameplay mechanics with everything you expect in a story-focused adventure game, and the result is a must-play title.

10. Nintendo Badge Arcade ; Yes, this IS a game! One I manage to turn on almost every day. Only Nintendo could give a crane game such personality. The Arcade Bunny that oversees everything is one of the more charismatic and funny Nintendo characters. I love to see what wacky thing that poor pink bunny will say next. The actual crane gameplay is actually well-designed, with multiple ways to accomplish each board. They are built to be able to grab all badges in five turns, but depending on the board you can easily nab them all if you are clever (or lucky). The badge feature for the 3DS home screen is one of the best cosmetic updates for the system, and I really hope this title returns for the NX.


Jun 23, 2010
Didn't play many new games this year, but here goes:

1. Splatoon
2. Super Mario Maker
3. Undertale
4. Legend of Legacy
5. The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D
Plsase read the first post in this thread and update ur list before the coming saturday.


May 16, 2007
1. Witcher 3 ; There's really not much else to say that hasn't been said already. W3 is a generational game that will be talked about for years to come.

2. Metal Gear Solid V ; Although this game was ultimately a disappointment from a diehard MGS perspective, the gameplay is so outstanding that no other game competes this year. Add in the, unfortunately few, great MGS-style moments and you still get an incredible game.

3. Life is Strange ; LiS is a game that really can't be talked about without actually experiencing it. From the fantastic soundtrack to the solid writing, this is a game everyone should play, even non-gamers.

4. Rise of the Tomb Raider ; I am an extremely big fan of the TR remake and this game is, without a doubt, superior in nearly every way to the original. An exhilarating ride from start to finish.

5. Fallout 4 ; Although there's no denying that FO4 is a step back to FO3 and NV in many aspects, the game is still incredibly addicting and well-crafted. By the time you know it, you've sunk 100 hours into a game in the blink of an eye.

6. Xenoblade Chronicles X ; This game may lack some of the charm of its predecessor, there's no denying that Monolith has created one of the best open world games we have seen. Sadly, the music is a bit...odd at times, but it doesn't damper an overall incredible RPG.

7. Bloodborne ; It's a Souls game in spirit, but so much more in essence. What else is there to say here than it's a finely crafted game by From that is a must-play for any Souls fan.

8. Until Dawn ; LOVED this game and really took me by surprise. Short but oh-so-sweet. Perfect example of a game not overstaying its welcome. Fun plot.

9. Halo 5 ; BEST GUNPLAY IN THE SERIES. Decent SP, coupled with the best Halo MP.

10. Splatoon ; Nintendo's best new IP. This game would be higher with a more modern multiplayer interface. Wanted team chat and easier way to play with friends. Add that into the sequel and you have a top 3 MP contender.


May 17, 2013
Man I think I jumped the gun in not including Talos Principle in my Top 10, but I don't know what to remove. Been playing the DLC and the puzzles are incredible. Some stars, including in the main game, are just dumb though. Some are so incredibly obscure and honestly don't see how they are possible without a walkthrough. The DLC is almost taking as long as the main game! Especially with the "message board."


Oct 19, 2004
Los Angeles, CA
Cheesemeister, Timetokill, I'd appreciate it if you could check the above ballot to make sure it will work with the parser.

And for anyone who wants the three parts linked in one place:

Click here for Part 1
Click here for Part 2
Click here for Part 3
Great job on your list, dude. I went over it and it looks good, but I'll make sure we run it through the parser next time Cheese is available and let you know if anything needs to be fixed.
Dec 10, 2008
1. Xenoblade Chronicles X ; I was a little worried before this game released due to some of the feedback the import version received, but not once did I consider not buying and playing it. This was supposed to be the return to the Xeno games of old that I'd been hoping for ever since Monolith was bought out by Nintendo. In some ways it was, and in others it wasn't. Aesthetically, there's no question that it calls to mind games like Xenogears and Xenosaga. Exploring Mira in a Skell feels like the game Xenogears always wanted to be. I also was not disappointed by the world and character designs unlike some. And while the story may not have been as detailed and in-depth as I would have liked, whatever the game lacked in that regard it more than made up for in gameplay. I've spent over 170 hours on the game so far and I still want more. Some may criticize me for calling this one of the best games of all time when the game was only recently released, but all I can say is that I've had as much fun playing this game as I have ever had playing a game.

2. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain ; Say what you want about the way the story was told. It had some interesting concepts behind it, and it gave me what I've waited on from MGS for over 10 years now: a spiritual and fitting sequel to Metal Gear Solid 2. Oh, yeah, and the game's a ton of fun to play too.

3. Bloodborne ; I still haven't finished this one. I hope to eventually, but even if I don't, I had a lot of fun exploring it's dark, twisted world. I wish the online parts could have been handled better, and I'm not too fond of how easy it is to lose progress due to not being able to pick up on an enemy's weakness and exploit it on your first encounter with it, but it's still an amazing game with a beautifully realized art design.

I'm ending my list here, because I haven't really spent enough time with any other games this year to feel comfortable adding them. I've got one honorable mention though:

x. Splatoon ; Really inventive, original and fun game. Probably should be on the list at number four, but I haven't played it enough.


Oct 1, 2011
1. Bloodborne ; Played and platinumed all of the Miyazaki's Soul's games now, the latest being BB including it's DLC. I love them all for different reasons, but BB holds a very special place in my heart. From just gets it. Gameplay, art, music, world building, world design, enemy design, etc, BB excels in all of them and delivers a memorable experience. Yes, it is not build varied like DeS and DkS, there are less NPCs, varied locations and play styles, but it's very focused on what it wants to be and is consistent at it. That's why it's so special. It's a game, and a series (Souls) that puts From in my mind the the greatest developer atm.

2. Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition ; I played this game to oblivion on PS3, and played it more than 8 times on PS4. Nothing much to say here except that it's probably has the most in-depth combat of any game ever. And despite the cheesy story, meh level design and backtacking, I love its characters and can't wait for DMC5 if it follows this game. Always have total result stuck in my head.

Oh yeah, and Vergil is the coolest character ever. Capcom knows how to make the most stylish of gamplay, that's for sure.

3. Ultra Street Fighter 4 (PS4) ; Stopped playing SF4 when Marvel 3 came out, but now that the latter is dead and V is on it's way, I picked it up on PS4. Rekindled my love for the game, and Cody's boot.

4. DragonBall XenoVerse ; My first DB game despite being a huge fan of the franchise. It was fun, but I was not fond of it's mission structure much, and the gameplay was decent at best. It was fun to retread the story of DBZ though.

These are the only games I played in 2015 that I can confidently write about. MGSV, and Dark Souls 2: SotFS are my disappointments of the year.


May 28, 2012
Neiteio your posts are great and all but

Woolly has two Ls, not one. don't sweat it tho. your last post should pass the parser

and it's amusing to me that almost everyone used the wrong title for Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold. even the spreadsheet uses the incorrect title, has it at EO Untold 2. the change is subtle but there.

I mean, EO2U shows up like that on Atlus' own site, Amazon, GameFAQs, most media :p
Jun 10, 2004
1. Dying Light ; Best first person traversal since Mirrors Edge. Dead Island perfected.
2. Fallout 4 ; Mostly half-baked quests, but still awesome.
3. Mad Max ; Loved everything about it.
4. Batman: Arkham Knight ; First Batman game I've enjoyed. Amazing visuals and atmosphere.
5. Just Cause 3 ; Worst story/characters/writing ever, but the explosions made up for it.
6. Rocket League ; Incredibly addictive.
7. Wolfenstein: The Old Blood ; Not as great as New Order but still very enjoyable.


Feb 1, 2013
1. Rocket League ; the game i played the most. besides the ugly presentation, the game is perfect.

2. Downwell ; besides some of the roguelike elements, which i think is a cheap way to further replay-ability, the game is also perfect.

3. Splatoon ; Nintendo enters the shooter genre with a game unlike any other. the constant updates and overall control makes this one of the most rewarding games of the year. the lack of single player content and weird online decisions bring it down.

4. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain ; unlike most openworld games, this one actually feels good to play. unlike most games which give you the choice on how to complete missions, experimenting is always fun here. it's also good lucking and runs well. story is whatever and the actual openworld is so empty i might've been better if it wasn't a full open world. riding from one location to another is cool but not that cool. better if it was a bunch of Ground Zeroes.

5. Super Mario Maker ; someone finally succeeded a level design game where it's actually as fun to make levels as it is to play them. also there is a constant stream of content and improvements. too bad about lack of verticality and weird online sharing.

6. Bloodborne ; plays better than any of the Souls game. great art and atmosphere. From's level design and enemy encounters are starting to get predictable though, and the online is the worst in the series.

7. Undertale ; like the Mother series, but with better gameplay and a worse story. it tries hard to surprise and succeeds most of the time. the actual story and plot is whatever, but the lighthearted characters are fun and way it incorporates your choices is unlike anything else.

8. Transformers: Devastation ; smart mix of shooting and close combat. Platinum again nails the feel of the game. good amount of guns and enemies. sadly the budget neuters it a bit, as there is a lack of scope and variety of levels. also the level up system and RPG elements just bring the game down as they are a distraction from the combat. i don't want to waste time in the menus of character action games worrying about how much damage i'm doing. the focus attack or whatever bring the combat down as you are forced to do the same move again and again.

9. Nuclear Throne ; pretty fun

10. The Witcher III: Wild Hunt; the movement controls and combat feel bad. the game is not fun to play. Gerald is a terrible protagonist and i don't like playing as him. he has no reaction to anything. good thing the quests are smartly designed and amount of detail in the world is groundbreaking. no quest feels like filler, as there is always some story or twist going on, even if it ultimately doesn't add to much in the end. also each quest revolves around stuff where the game fails- its stiff movement and combat. having the part where you really play the game be a turnoff is not good. also the menus suck and loot is terrible. so it's kinda like the anti-MGS5. but since feel of game is most important, that one is wins.


Nov 10, 2007
Amazing posts, Neiteio! You definitely convinced me to give XCX a try. Might be a good game to pick up for Summer. Sounds like I'll need ample time to dig into it!

I've been playing Witcher 3 lately (another game that never ends), and while a lot of the gameplay is pretty sketchy, sometimes magical things can happen.
Haha, amazing :D

And yeah, XCX is a good summer game, but you can also enjoy it like 20 minutes at a time. Very flexible setup where it's fun however you approach it.

Great job on your list, dude. I went over it and it looks good, but I'll make sure we run it through the parser next time Cheese is available and let you know if anything needs to be fixed.
Thanks. :)

Neiteio your posts are great and all but

Woolly has two Ls, not one. don't sweat it tho. your last post should pass the parser
Good catch! I went back and fixed it in the writeup and ballot.


Aug 2, 2013
Alright, it took a little time to get all these games finished and everything written up, but my ballot is ready to go!

First off, I want to give a shout out to four games I haven't been able to get around to (that I did want to play):

Life is Strange
Transformers Devastation
Dragon Quest Heroes

Sadly gaming takes a lot of time, and I can only play so much. I will be grabbing the LiS physical edition, and the others I will grab on sale at some stage, but sadly I haven't played them in time to make my list.

So, without further ado, my top 10 games of 2015.

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate

I really have not played this game as much as I should have, which is why it only just manages to sneak its way onto my list.

From what I have played, this game is fantastic. The monsters are well crafted, and their animations look fluid and natural, it really is amazing what Capcom have crafted with this series in that regard.

Movement and combat is weighty and thought out. When you attack you have to be prepared to follow through, and occasionally (read: often) suffer the consequences of poorly timed attacks. But the feeling of taking down a powerful momster is second to none, and it’s that feeling that gets this game on my list as one of the top games this year.

Axiom Verge

I only played this one recently, and I really enjoyed it. As a metroidvania, it obviously pulls heavily from certain titles, but this game is as close to Super Metroid as you can get.
The level design, the progression, the way items are hidden, it’s all taken straight out of Metroid’s book.

At the same time though, it plays with your expectations a little in just how you interact with the world.
For instance, when I came across small passageways, I assumed they were for when I got a morphball style powerup, but instead, you get a remote controlled drone you can send to navigate in areas too small for you to reach yourself which I found really neat.

The actual collectables though are so much better than Super Metroid! Instead of tons of boring missile expansions, you collect a massive amount of weapons, then health upgrades, damage upgrades and range upgrades (those last two affecting all weapons), so finding hidden items was much more exciting most of the time.

The story as well was intriguing, it was just light enough to not take you away from the gameplay for too long, but it had enough to keep you interested and wanting to figure out how it all plays out.

Only issue would be just how obtuse some of the collectables are to find, I didn’t 100% the game myself, but if you want to, I would not recommend doing it blind.

Overall a damn good Metroid game.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Let’s just say, I have very mixed feelings about this game, but because this is a thread about the best games of the year, let’s just focus on the positives.

Basically, this is possibly the best playing game ever created. Moving Venom Snake around the world just feels fantastic, his animations are spot on, his weight is spot on, aiming is spot on. It all just works how you want it to. You don’t think about how you’re playing a game, you just move the control sticks, you press buttons, and it works.

The enemy AI as well is really great. It takes that it’s a game and uses it to its advantage. The enemies can be really dumb at times, and they can be really smart at times, and that’s fantastic! You learn what you can do, and you learn what you can’t do, and then you use those mechanics to figure out the best way to tackle your current situation. You can learn how the enemy responds, and predict what will happen so you can alter the outcome. It really is just well put together.

The story sucks, the missions are repetitive, and the open world is trash, but hey, you can’t win everything.

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker

This was a super charming game, and I’m so glad Nintendo make a full game based on the levels from 3D World.

The art style really shines in the small and simple playground levels. It just looks so damn cute and charming, and the enemies are really well animated and fit really well, and best of all, no Bowser, we got a brand new Nintendo villain that I hope returns one day in a sequel to torment little Captain Toad yet again

Some of the levels had really genius designs too, and I enjoyed my time in every one of them, simple puzzles that don’t trick you to much are just really relaxing to playthrough, and this is a great game to just unwind in.

Rocket League

Now this is a video game! Take soccer, but make the players cars, and then make them rocket powered cars. Glorious. This is what I want from games!

The game is so simple, yet it is so deep at the same time, and I am yet to really master the controls. Despite that, I still have such a blast playing it that I don’t even care. This is a game I could boot up for a game or two each day and never get bored. It’s just fun.

Yoshi’s Woolly World

Finally a worthy successor to Yoshi’s Island! If you could condense pure joy into the form of a video game, the outcome would look something like this.

The yarn art style was used to fantastic results, and everything in the game is just so full of character and charm, some of the enemies just made me smile when I first saw them.
They used all kinds of objects to fill the worlds, flowing lava in the background is actually an orange scarf, and snow covered hills are actually white beanies. The crab enemies being made out of a purse made me squeal with delight.

The music as well adds to the feeling of joy that permeates from the game, as it is full of great little melodies and tunes and the instruments used are all to invoke those happy feelings.

The platforming gameplay itself is also fantastic, and it’s one of the best collectathon style sidescrollers I have played. Collectables are scattered all over the stages, and you are forced to thoroughly search them as you progress, with difficulty coming from making to each checkpoint with collectables in tow.
The special unlockable levels (from collecting all flowers in a world) are also utterly fantastic, adding an extra level of challenge onto the game. Only problem I had was the lackluster boss fights.

Just a beautiful, charming game all around, and I hope this is the start of a new trend for Yoshi platformers.


This is a game that takes the Souls formula, strips out the excessive RPG elements, and finely tunes the combat into what is essentially a character action game. Looking at this as a part of the Souls series is a great way to dislike the game, as it is simply a new IP in the same genre.

Bloodborne is an action game, and it is a damn good action game.

Every enemy in the game (and most importantly, bosses), are designed around your moveset much more than From Software’s latest titles, because rather than having the option of a shield, or a greatsword, or ranged magic, everyone is in the same boat, you fight up close and personal, and avoid damage by dodging attacks. And it works wonderfully. The gameplay is finely tuned to perfection, and the different weapons are all great and satisfying to use, and offer up different playstyles.
The combat is fun, and it makes you feel powerful when you master it. Parries and visceral attacks are a fantastic power trip, and are so very satisfying to pull off.
The boss fights are well designed, and never feel cheap. It is satisfying to learn their movesets and their tells and then finally overcome them and slaughter your prey.

But, even more importantly, is the design of the world we have here. Bloodborne is possibly the best designed world in any game I have played. It is creepy and mysterious, full of incredible art where nothing feels out of place. Most notable though, is the progression through the game as the horror elements reveal themselves, and you learn more and more about just what kind of a place you are exploring. The setting of Bloodborne is a memorable one and very unique among games of the sort.

Overall, Bloodborne was just a joy to play from start to finish, and it absolutely nailed the action combat and overall world feel.


When I played this back in May, I didn’t think it’d be topped in my GotY list, and I’m honestly still kind of surprised that it only made it to third place in the end, because boy did I have a lot of fun with this game.

Nintendo really just nailed the gameplay feel here. This is a game that just feels fun to play.

Shoot, it creates ink, hold a button to turn into a squid and you can zoom through your ink, you move faster, you can jump further, but that’s not even the end of it.
Shoot ink on walls and you can swim straight up, don’t move in your ink and the enemy can’t see you, and you ammo refills itself!

All the mechanics just slow together so nicely, and that’s not even mentioning the satisfying plop when you land in your ink from a nice height.

Oh, and the main turf war mode is won by covering the stage in more ink than the other team.

The map design itself is also really great, and the stages are a ton of fun to play on. It’s rare when a map feels inbalanced, or that the enemy can trap and camp your team. It’s always feels possible to make a come back. That’s the cool thing about the turf war, avoiding the action and doing your own thing can be your best option.

Let’s also not forget though that this game has style! The art and world that was crafted here is so fresh and fun, the inklings look cool, and you can dress them up how you like.
The Inkopolis hub is full of awesome characters, and the shopkeepers are all based on aquatic life with their own charms. Plus Callie and Marie make for fantastic mascots.
Oh, and the soundtrack is really unique and cool too which adds to the overall feeling of the game, really pumps you up during battles.

The single player mode is also not to be underestimated. It throws a bunch of situations at you that can really prepare you for the online, and the final boss uses everything you’ve learnt to create one of the greatest encounters this year.

The content rollout also kept the game fresh, by the time I’d finished the single player and had gotten used to the gameplay, a couple of maps had already been added, and then they kept on coming from there. I seriously need to go back and play the new maps now, as I’ve just been way too busy with other games to return.

Overall everything just works together so well to create this fresh and fun new series from Nintendo, that looks to be well on its way to joining the big guns as a mainstay for them.

Xenoblade Chronicles X

If my 100% survey rate save file with 152 hours clocked doesn’t say I like this game, then I don’t think this post will, but I’ll try anyway.

It’s weird in that I was initially pretty lukewarm to this, but that’s just because it had some pretty drastic changes from its predecessor. Most notably of which, is the lesser focus on the main story, which is made up for by the much more fleshed out side quests, of which there are many.
I’ve previously compared the game to a slice of life anime in this aspect, as you can treat each quest chain as its own little character arc, learning about the individual character or alien race in question, and their own struggles and the problems they face, and some of these quests get dark. As I got used to this aspect, I really grew to love it, I wanted to continue these quests, I wanted to meet more characters, I wanted to learn everything I could about this world of Mira.
I wanted to explore it all and see everything there was to see.
And oh boy did I do that.

The actual world exploration that makes the bulk of the game is incredible, with the five massive continents to just lose yourself in. Noctilum (the jungle continent) was by far my favourite of the bunch, and just writing this I want to boot the game back up and just spend some more time there, flying about the waterfalls, landing on the treetops, and rising to the highest peaks.

Another thing to note is that while the OST can be a bit of a mixed bag (most notably, the New LA themes and standard combat track), the overworld themes are amazing, and help you want to spend time out exploring the world.

If there was more content to the game I’d still be playing it, after that 150 hours spent, I was not sick of it, which says a lot of the quality. This is an open world done right, it doesn’t just feel like a hub of objectives, it’s a living breathing world you want to just wander around in.

Once you get your Skell, the whole dynamic changes.
Suddenly, you’re not treading carefully around the powerful native creatures, and watching around every corner. You can just fly. You can go wherever you want. You feel so free.

I think that’s the feeling I like about this game so much. It’s not like exploration in say, Souls, where you have to be super cautious, in this game you just don’t have to worry. You want to check out that place over there crawling with dangerous enemies? Go for it. Worst case scenario and you get killed, you respawn about 30 seconds away and carry on. No drama.

The world and exploration is pretty much all I’ve written here, but I am okay with that, because that really is the reason why I played this game for so long, and it is what makes it stand out.


You can take a skeleton to…………. the bone zone
I’m not even sorry.
Anyway, moving on…

This is a game that just resonated with me from the very beginning, and as much as I want to write paragraphs upon paragraphs gushing about how much I love it, the strengths of the game come from not knowing what it actually entails, and I will try to restrain myself.
So here are my mostly spoiler free thoughts!

I first heard about this game here on NeoGAF, I think I saw it mentioned here and there with glowing praise, so I ventured into the OT and it seemed like something I’d enjoy. I saw it was only on Steam so not being a PC person, just left it alone for the time being, but as I saw it mentioned more and more, I just couldn’t hold back my curiosity any longer, so I asked about the likelihood of a console port, I was told it was very slim, so I looked into it more, and hey, it has a Mac version I can play on my laptop, and it’s only $10, and thus it became the first computer game I have bought it many years (since like, WoW, I think).
And hey, money well spent.

The game plays off of JRPGs, especially ones from around the SNES era (and especially Earthbound), but it does so in a way that really plays with your expectations in unique ways, but that is as far as I’ll go with that train of thought.

Next up, the music. The OST for Undertale is fucking incredible. Like, truly some of the best in the entire medium.
It has memorable melodies, and tunes that just bring emotional impact and have weight to them. It makes boss battles feel epic, it makes the locations atmospheric, it helps deliver humour, it makes you connect with the characters, and it brings out the intended emotions.
It’s just glorious work all around.

The humour as well is something that makes the game unique. A lot of it is abstract humour like you’d find on some British comedies, and if that’s the kind of stuff you like you’ll enjoy this game for sure.
The cast of characters all have their own quirks that become really endearing, and you just grow to love them by the end, and the multiple endings really play with this.

The combat system is also a lot of fun, it has bullet hell elements which is a really unique spin on what is essentially a turn based RPG system, which can get really hectic in the later fights, and it also has SMT style negotiation of sorts, which can lead to some interesting outcomes.

The game also doesn’t overstay its welcome, clocking less than 10 hours for your first playthrough. Only problem with the pacing for me was that the lava area seemed to drag a bit, but I hate lava areas in pretty much any game I play.
It’s short and sweet, which is something I’ve really come to enjoy in games these days, which you wouldn’t know from some other games in my list here.
Overall it’s just a really unique game that just worked with me, and it’s going to be in my all time favourites list.

Play it, I promise you you’re not gonna have a bad time.

Phew, what a good year this was.

1. Undertale ; A charming RPG with great characters and music.
2. Xenoblade Chronicles X ; An open world I want to lose myself in forever.
3. Splatoon ; A fresh new Nintendo IP that is a blast to play.
4. Bloodborne ; Action Souls meets lovecraftian horror.
5. Yoshi’s Woolly World ; Cute, charming and adorable platformer.
6. Rocket League ; Just pure condensed game fun.
7. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker ; An enjoyable cute little romp.
8. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain ; Possibly the most polished core gameplay ever.
9. Axiom Verge ; Super Metroid with a twist.
10. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate ; A joy to play and a thrill to slay.


Dec 26, 2008
2015 was an excellent year for games. Going back to the last couple years I've tried doing this, I never was actually able to put together a full list of 10 games that I put enough time into and enjoyed enough. This year there were games I liked a good bit and have to leave off. While I feel my Top 2 choices are right where they need to be, I have to admit I did struggle to come up with the order for the rest of them. All of them are fantastic games so I will attempt to explain what made these games so endearing to me.

1. The Witcher 3 ; 115 hours to finish up the main story and all the side quests I ran into. With most good RPG's (at least of recent memory), I feel the writing has always been picking one of either a good main quest line or consistently interesting side quests. With the Witcher 3, I feel they did both incredibly well, and that's what the game truly special for me. As someone who did not read the books, I feel the game was very successful in making me care about newcomers to the game series such as Ciri and Yennefer. Yes, the main story has some lulls (not unlike the middle episodes of longer season of Television), but it all comes together quite nicely in the final act. I don't want to do much spoilers here, but Ciri and Geralt's moments towards the end of the game convinced me how well CDP is able to pull of genuine relationships between characters. The Bloody Baron questline earlier in the game is another big example of CDP being able to make the player care about a character that should just be revolting, but develops a proper arc.

I played Witcher 1 and 2, enjoyed both game a lot. With the Witcher 3, I feel it was a rare feat where a sequel not only held true with classic sequel promise of "bigger and better", but also backed that up with quality in terms of better quests and writing. You never know when a simple monster hunting mission will turn into something more. And this series always does such a fantastic job of presenting choices as grey, not black or white. You're not always satsfied with how a quest is resolved, and to me, that made the moments they presented felt less "trying to win a video game" and far more genuine.

Have to say I'm also very excited to see what they do with Cyberpunk after all they were able to accomplish with The Witcher 3.

2. Life Is Strange ; On some level, I suppose I'm pleasantly surprised a big publisher even picked up a game like 'Life is Strange'. You take on the role of a high school girl dealing with many of the issues a high schooler would have to face, especially in the social media era. It would be so tempting for someone at SquareEnix to have said something along the lines of "well the time travel concept sounds neat, but I think it would sell better to our Audience if Max and Chloe were boys". But instead, Dontnod was presumably allowed to proceed with their original vision of these characters unhindered, and what we got was a hell of a game. Truthfully, the gender of a protagonist doesn't sway good or bad writing, but as 2015 became a year that we perhaps saw more strong female protagonists across all entertainment, I think it was fantastic to see Life is Strange be successful at telling its story and giving more proof that gamers as a whole love to see good well written protagonists, female or male.

Specifically with the game, while time travel is a neat concept, truthfully the real star of the story is Max and Chloe's relationship. Much of LiS is a game about dealing with high school as the awkward kid, high school drama in general, and trying to rekindle old friendships after coming back to a place where you used to live. As someone who has experienced all those things in my life (as I'm sure many others have as well), it certainly made the story very relatable.

Without going into specifics, Episode 2's ending had some of the best examples of how well choice can be implemented in a video game. While the events there don't dramatically alter the rest of the game, there's just enough of a reminder in the remaining episodes to make you feel proud (or guilty) at what happened, and that continued to make that scene so powerful to me even in later episodes.

Perhaps the greatest triumph of the game for me is through the course of these 5 episodes, it made me care enough about the characters and made me share in Max's emotions. Ultimately, choice (regardless of what consequence they truly have to the narrative) is what keeps these types of games so engaging to me. Not every decision radically alters the story, but each moment I make a decision allows me to inject a bit of my personality into the story. As a result, Max doesn't feel like a character I'm passively observing in a book, TV show, or movie, but rather she's an extension of myself, and I am an active participant in this world . This is truly what makes video games as a medium so special to me.

As a bonus, this ended up being my favorite song of the series


3. MGS V ; I didn't really come to the Phantom Pain for the story, and as a result, the more decisive aspect of that game turned out not to bother me as much. I don't quite know why that is. Story is what propelled me through MGS 1-4 and I viewed their lengthy cutscenes as satisfying rewards for getting through a tough encounter. But I suppose after MGS4, I had my fill of MGS storyline for this lifetime and wasn't looking for a whole lot more. Don't get me wrong, I still love the Kojima brand of humor, and it still finds its way into this game. Play a tape of someone using the toilet to get guards to leave you alone? Who else but Hideo Kojima coming up with this stuff?

And so what kept coming back to MGS V was how strong the gameplay is. To me, it is probably the best playing game on my list and undoubtedly the best playing game of the series. With so many possibilities to avoid killing from tanq guns, setting up decoy inflatable soliders, and the aforementioned tapes, the game is stealth paradise. Amusingly, the weapon variety for lethal weapons can at times make you feel a tad jealous for not picking the deadlier route. Companions that you bring along also helped to mix up the traditional MGS formula in a good way. And while I appreciate the game doesn't necessarily outright punish you for using lethal weapons, I do appreciate the huge reward to keeping soldiers alive. Fultoning isn't new to MGS V, but I'm so glad they brought it back. The addiction of bringing back new soliders to Mother Base to research better weapons, get better tech, is basically another game onto itself. I will also say it was nice that certain of these soldiers had good combat skills and provided an alternate protagonist to play as during missions, lest you didn't always want to be the legendary solid snake.

4. Fallout 4 ; I haven't fully finished Fallout 4 and I can fully admit it is a game with faults. I may wish for more out of Bethesda, though I suppose I didn't necessarily expect it based on their most recent games. If the Witcher 3 was about consistently good writing, the modern Bethesda game (and least from Oblivion onwards) is more about well made moments. There was a recent article on one of the gaming sites describing that Fallout 4 is better at telling a story through its world than the actual writing itself. To me, that sums up Bethesda in a nutshell. And the thing is, while the Witcher 3's style of storytelling is more impressive to me, there is a charm to Fallout 4 I still cannot deny. Yes, the game is perhaps too iterative from its predecessors and I completely understand the formula is getting too stale for some. But the game still is able to pull me in with its sense of exploration. Hearing a classic jingle while 'X area discovered' brings about so much satisfaction. Like I'm an adventurer from a far away land trying to uncover the madness that made this world what it is, and seeing what it has since become. For me, it's a feeling I only really get from Bethesda games.

And while I agree with dialog system is too simplistic for its own good, I will say I absolutely love the fact the protagonist has a voice for the first time really in their games. It adds a sense of presence to my created character. In prior games, it was so easy to spend some time in the character creator and essentially never actually see your character again, especially if you mostly stuck to First Person mode. For me that was a loss of immersion, as that makes it so easy to just feel like a disembodied entity in the game, clicking conversation choices that are never actually spoken. And there are definitely issues with Fallout 4's dialog system, but I do like it when I see a camera cut to my character actually saying the line of dialog. To me at least, it makes it feel so much more like my character is present and an active part of the world versus just being a voiceless husk that only exists to move me to the next NPC conversation to click on some more choices.

5. Arkham Knight ; Overall enjoyed Arkham Knight a lot more than I thought I would. I probably should qualify that by stating I really liked Asylum and City, and I certainly was looking forward to playing Knight quite a bit (to the point I didn't want to wait for the PC version to get fixed so I got it refunded and played it on console). And while I was certain Knight would be a good game, I was skeptical if the series truly had enough in the tank (forgive the pun) to deliver another game that matched the overall quality of it's predecessors.

While Arkham Asylum's atmosphere and setting are perhaps the best of the series, I do like that Arkham Knight polished and improved upon the open world setting that Arkham City started. It isn't the massive open world that certain RPG's can claim, and certainly not all content in here is quality, but there's plenty to do and much of it is fun thanks to how well Knight's combat has been refined IMO. Watchtowers and Checkpoints for example feel reminiscent of Far Cry's outposts and share their addictive qualities of "let me just clear one more".

As far as the main story, opinions certainly will vary widely on it, but it was another thing I wound up liking a lot more more than I thought I would. Not sure where I'd rank it among the whole series, but I probably liked it more than City.

The Batmobile appears the most controversial aspect of the game. I personally disliked it quite a bit in the beginning, particularly because it felt like it handled so poorly. But then I read somewhere that you shouldn't touch the right stick to adjust the camera while in pursuit mode (i.e. let the camera adjust itself) and the handling controls instantly became so much better. I went from sheer frustration in trying to do the "Gotham on Fire" and chase APC missions to actually having a lot of fun completing them, because I was no longer fighting the batmobile to get it to do what I wanted. I still think some of the acrobatic controls (i.e. doing loops to avoid obstacle or driving sideways through pipes) were a bit wonky, though thankfully most of that seems relegated to Riddler side content I'm more than happy to ignore.

I'm glad I learned that trick with the Batmobile controls, as I'm certain the game as a whole would've been a good deal less enjoyable for me if it remained such a struggle to control the thing. While I still spent most of my traversal in the city by gliding, I'm glad I was able to enjoy using the Batmobile as well.

6. Rise of The Tomb Raider ; Save for The Witcher 3, I'm not sure there's another game on this list that had me in so much awe at the spectacle quite like Tomb Raider did. Every Tomb explored so carefully crafted, each underground cave with so much detail, that sometimes I admit I would just have Lara stand there while I took it all in.

But I don't want to imply Tomb Raider is only about its looks. The game isn't necessarily about challenging platforming, but similar to the Uncharted series, CD does a very good job at making traversal engaging by making you feel like you're exploring a completely foreign world. And continuing the trend from 2013's Tomb Raider, there are very few other games out there where I enjoy using the bow as much as I do in this series.

I love Lara's character and IMO they do an excellent job writing for her and making me see the world through her eyes, even though I can't really say there was anyone else in the story that particularly stood out to me. This was a problem with the 2013 game for me as well, and I hope when they make their next game it's something they do a better job at addressing. For the most part, the game does a good job of balancing combat with exploration. The tombs to raid may not be terribly long, but I did like the puzzles the game presented. I also love the world they crafted and this is easily one of the most beautiful games of 2015.

7. Assassin's Creed Syndicate ; This marks another game in my list I did not finish but feel fairly confident I put enough time into it (25-30 hours) to make a call of whether it belongs here.

I can't say AC Syndicate is the first good AC game in years, as I liked Black Flag quite a bit. But the thing is with Black Flag, what I liked about that game had little to do with the classic AC formula and more to do with how great the ship aspect of that game was. In other words, the success of that game didn't necessairly set a blueprint for other AC games to follow (unless the series morphed into a pirate simulation game series). If games like AC3 and Unity were supposed to show us how the Assassin's Creed formula from ACII can still work post Brotherhood, then I don't think it's until AC Syndicate came out that Ubisoft was finally able to prove the formula can still work, albeit with some changes. Some of it is paying attention to the competition. Climbing up a building is just tedious, so they brought in Arkham's grappling hook to make it faster. The other parts is knowing when to trim the fat. Unity's map was overly cluttered with activities whereas Syndicate's looks signficantly cleaner while maintaining a lot of the breadth of open world content the series has been known for.

I will also say the dual protagonist system works far better than I had ever expected it to. I don't think I would have minded if the game just focused on Evie because I typically play as her when I have the option, but at the same time, I like how having 2 of them makes me approach the game a bit differently with each. With Evie I do like to stay in stealth as much as I can. But with Jacob, I don't mind roughing up some goons who get in my way. Obviously both styles could still be possible with a single protagonist, but I do like the idea of trying to play to the strengths and personality of the character you're currently playing as.

8. Tales from the Borderlands ; Tales from the Borderlands feels like a good season of light hearted TV; often funny but the writing is strong enough to deliver serious moments when it needs to. I don't think you really need to be up on Borderlands lore to enjoy it, but as someone who has played a lot of those other games, it does feel Tales does a good job of being faithful to the Borderlands setting while also being able to tell a fun story for a series that hasn't really been known for its storytelling. As much as I did enjoy some of the humor in the dialog of Borderlands 2, Tales just feels like someone finally figured out how to write good and funny dialog for a Borderlands game without overloading it with pop culture/gaming references. And that's easier to pull of when there's good chemistry between the main characters. Laura Bailey is probably one of my favorite voice actresses in the gaming industry right now, and her chemistry with Troy Baker (from what I understand they are good friends outside the voice actor world) really shows between Fiona and Rhys.

It feels like when Tales of the Borderlands was first announced, there was so much skepticism on why Telltale was even making their style of game for Borderlands. While Borderlands 1 and 2 were undoubtedly games far more about their loot and guns than a story, I did appreciate that Gearbox created such a bizarre world with everything from Psychos and Skags to an evil CEO running an equally evil company, that I had to imagine somebody would be able to cook up a good story worth telling in that world. Glad Telltale pulled it off. Really hope we hear something official about a Season 2 sooner rather than later.

And I think the intro to Episode 4, with "To the Top" by Twin Shadows is one of the best ways to kick off an episodic game.


9. Until Dawn ; It may seem odd to list this game in my personal list when I'm not much of a fan of the Horror genre. I played Until Dawn because the interactive storytelling piqued my curiosity, it got a ton of good buzz when it came out, and I figured horror or not, I could power through a short 7-8 hour game. Until Dawn is littered with jump scares (many of which are fake but got me nonetheless). I'm not sure if the game was scary in the way other games of 'Survival Horror' that can feel downright uncomfortable, but it certainly did feel very tense once the story got going. I suppose it does help though knowing the game is hyper-aware of horror genre tropes and isn't necessarily taking itself super seriously.

But truth be told, even as someone not a fan of Horror, Until Dawn is still easy to appreciate as a form of interactive storytelling. Characters that seemed absolutely repulsive on their initial introduction wound up growing on me as the story progressed. Not because those characters had changed their personality, but perhaps just getting to know them better over the course of the game I wound up appreciating them as they were. It is a game that makes you wonder about the true impact of each choice made, and perhaps the less you know behind the scenes makes it feel that much more magical to see how you the player are shaping the narrative. Having said that, it was also quite fun to watch other playthroughs (such as Giant Bomb East's Playdate series) and getting some idea of how different choices shaked the story in different ways.

10. Rocket League ; I'm not much of a multiplayer game, so I perhaps surprised myself to see this sneak into my list. Even as I put much more time into a game like MK X, Rocket League impressed me because not only because it was a game that followed the old mantra of 'easy to learn, hard to master', but even as a complete beginner, I can still find ways to be productive. As terrible a player as I certainly am, it's not uncommon for me to score a timely goal or 2 for my team (unranked matches of courses). And the effect that happens with the ball exploding when a player scores a goal is so much more satisfying than getting a kill in an FPS for example. Rocket League continues to be my feel good game of the year. It's perfect for pick up and play, and has seemingly unlocked the magic formula of even the worst multiplayer gamer (me) can still score goals and have a good time.

Honorable Mentions
x. Mortal Kombat X ; I'm not good at fighters and quickly lose interest in them, though MK X did manage to keep my interest for a good 15 hours. I still love that Netherrealm puts some actual production value into their story modes. Yes, they can be a bit silly, but that doesn't make them any less fun
Apr 1, 2013
Kent, England
Not sure if I've voted in this, and I'm on mobile so it's a nuisance to check. I probably haven't played 10 new games in 2015 which I really liked as I spent a fair chunk of time catching up on my backlog, but I should be able to list about five.


Sep 26, 2013
Fake Europe
Oh 6 days remaining till voting ends. Need to figure out my list soon then. Having lot of trouble deciding which 10 games to vote for. Part of me wants to drop remakes/ports off entirely but then again those games were so good that I feel like I should include them.


Jan 1, 2011
That's a strong set of writeups that seem to have flooded in as of late, some great stuff in the last 100 posts or so.
Also dig the spiffy banners Benzychenz post has.

Cheesemeister, Timetokill, I'd appreciate it if you could check the above ballot to make sure it will work with the parser.

And for anyone who wants the three parts linked in one place:

Click here for Part 1
Click here for Part 2
Click here for Part 3
Xenoblade X was a swerve I didn't see coming.
I'm not nearly as high on X as I was with the original game but you got across what is easily my favourite thing about it and that's just how grand the exploration aspect of it is.
Now I feel the need to boot it up again and inch ever closer to that flight module.

I've been playing Witcher 3 lately (another game that never ends), and while a lot of the gameplay is pretty sketchy, sometimes magical things can happen.
Presumably the result of downing too many witcher potions.

As an aside though I'm not going to go and change my list I'm running through transformers right now and this is indeed more Platinum goodness.
As someone with barely any nostalgia/connection to the franchise in question I'm surprised how much being able to bunch the crap outta things as Bumblebee please me, I didn't watch much of the show as a kid but Bumblebee was always my boy and now years later I've been rewarded.


Apr 9, 2014
Great posts Neiteio.

I'm not surprised to see Xenoblade so high

I personally didn't like it even though the first game is one of my favorite games of all time.
Mar 17, 2014
As Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare, Grand Theft Auto V and Rocket League took up most of my game time in 2015, I haven’t been able to fit ten games onto my Game of the Year list, therefore only Top 3 will do. However I’m certain that, except for being longer, the list would have stayed the same, with The Witcher 3 (which I plan to play this year) in the top five. But without further ado:
1. Undertale ; The first time I heard of Undertale was in a thread here on GAF, saying that it was the highest ranked game on Metacritic. My immediate reaction was “Well that’s only cause it has so few reviews, wait a week or two and it’ll soon be below 90.”. Silly me.

Then this December more threads showed up on how fabulous this game was. Slowly my interest in the game was starting to grow. I listened a bit on a few tracks from the soundtrack, was amazed and after a question in the Steam Sale thread if my laptop could run it I said “Screw it” and bought it from the games webpage, including the OST. Little did I know that I had bought my Game of the Year who has since then taken a place in my top 3 of all time, joining the brilliant Persona 4 Golden and The Last of Us.

(Worth noting that I hadn’t followed any community discussions online or heard of Homestuck, or what the game is called, before)
As I, more or less, hadn’t heard of the game before I started to play I didn’t know what to expect more than a good game. But all I can say is that it captured me from the very beginning with its witty humour, wonderful art style and lovable character. In many ways it reminded me of Persona 4 Golden, my all-time favourite game, as the story is mostly a “light-hearted romp” and the game places you in a world you would like to stay in for the rest of your life. An indescribably fantastic soundtrack, with tracks you don’t want to stop, and a combat which grew on me the more I played is other things linking them both together. So it wasn’t that hard to like the game.

Furthermore it is a most delicate story combining all the element of the game into something special. My first playthrough of the game happened to result in the “normal ending”, but one of the key points making it my GOTY 2015 is how the writing is made to follow your every mode, even throughout your next playthrough.

I finished the “true pacifist” route today, which is clearly the way to go. I don’t want to spoil anything for the people who hasn’t played it, but it was an extraordinary experience with many emotions.

I don’t have much else to say about the game, but I would recommend it to everyone. The game constantly tops itself in every possible way. Fantastic game.

2. Rocket League ;

3. Her Story ;

Comments about the latter two will arrive shortly.


Nov 10, 2007
Just curious Neiteio, did you play the Witcher 3?
Game feel is very important to me (responsive controls, strong feedback, etc), and I can't get into W3 based on what I've seen.

I appreciate the high level of detail (I watched an hour-long documentary focusing on this aspect of W3 — like how the ice thaws realistically along trails, and the way so many assets are unique), and I appreciate the work that went into every quest. But it doesn't look fun to actually play.

But I don't want to be negative. Just answering your question. I'm happy for you if you liked it. :)

The main game I want to LttP is Rocket League. Everything I've seen and read there looks on point.
Jun 2, 2013
Bremen, Germany
Has anybody else here concerns about very short lists or lists with only 1 game on it?

Of course it's possible that you only played one game from 2015 that you liked, but then go out into the voting thread and post one vote for that one game? I wouldn't feel well informed enough about games of 2015 to do that.
It's more likely that very short lists are trying to boost the game they are rooting for by denying other games they also liked but don't really care for their points.

Has this been talked about? (I wouldn't know how to search for it in this thread)


Aug 6, 2008
Dominican Republic
Game feel is very important to me (responsive controls, strong feedback, etc), and I can't get into W3 based on what I've seen.

I appreciate the high level of detail (I watched an hour-long documentary focusing on this aspect of W3 — like how the ice thaws realistically along trails, and the way so many assets are unique), and I appreciate the work that went into every quest. But it doesn't look fun to actually play.

But I don't want to be negative. Just answering your question. I'm happy for you if you liked it. :)

The main game I want to LttP is Rocket League. Everything I've seen and read there looks on point.
Fair enough, I didn't buy Fallout 4 for similar reasons and like I said in my GOTY post, after Bloodborne the combat of the Witcher did felt bad to me, the reason it still manages to be my GOTY is because of everything else (presentation, story, characters, quest design, the feeling of agency) is so good that even thought its main gameplay mechanic is not too great the total sum of the experience was the best I had this year.


Oct 23, 2011
Has anybody else here concerns about very short lists or lists with only 1 game on it?

Of course it's possible that you only played one game from 2015 that you liked, but then go out into the voting thread and post one vote for that one game? I wouldn't feel well informed enough about games of 2015 to do that.
It's more likely that very short lists are trying to boost the game they are rooting for by denying other games they also liked but don't really care for their points.

Has this been talked about? (I wouldn't know how to search for it in this thread)
Have you seen all the GOTY threads that have been ruined because of Bloodborne not winning and the fans being insufferable about it? it even became a gaf meme.

What you're saying isn't surprising.
Sep 4, 2015
It's more likely that very short lists are trying to boost the game they are rooting for by denying other games they also liked but don't really care for their points.
It is practically impossible to pinpoint whether that is the case or not so it is best to just let it be.

Personally, I think it mostly falls into the other categories of that being the only game they found worthy, only played a few games, etc...


Jan 19, 2012
Has anybody else here concerns about very short lists or lists with only 1 game on it?

Of course it's possible that you only played one game from 2015 that you liked, but then go out into the voting thread and post one vote for that one game? I wouldn't feel well informed enough about games of 2015 to do that.
It's more likely that very short lists are trying to boost the game they are rooting for by denying other games they also liked but don't really care for their points.

Has this been talked about? (I wouldn't know how to search for it in this thread)
While I see your meaning, I don't think there's any effective method to police this. If you can't post one game, then you'll post one game and some "filler" titles with just as much effort placed into them. It's a devil you gotta live with. At least Cheese has a set precaution against having a single "It is good." comment posts being counted, but that's about as far as one could go as far as I see it.


Aug 6, 2008
Dominican Republic
Has anybody else here concerns about very short lists or lists with only 1 game on it?

Of course it's possible that you only played one game from 2015 that you liked, but then go out into the voting thread and post one vote for that one game? I wouldn't feel well informed enough about games of 2015 to do that.
It's more likely that very short lists are trying to boost the game they are rooting for by denying other games they also liked but don't really care for their points.

Has this been talked about? (I wouldn't know how to search for it in this thread)
wouldn't worry too much, each member only gets one vote anyways so if people don't wanna mention other games I think is fine. plus I think is more likely than not that some people played only one good game last year or only one game they consider GOTY material, I for example, noticed while making my list that I had only completed 11 games last year (granted I don't bother to finish games that I don't like)


Nov 10, 2007
Fair enough, I didn't buy Fallout 4 for similar reasons and like I said in my GOTY post, after Bloodborne the combat of the Witcher did felt bad to me, the reason it still manages to be my GOTY is because of everything else (presentation, story, characters, quest design, the feeling of agency) is so good that even thought its main gameplay mechanic is not too great the total sum of the experience was the best I had this year.
Totally understand. I may still dive into W3 for those reasons. I'm sure there's a lot I'd appreciate, even if the combat and general movement cap its potential compared to other games that prioritize mechanics.


Jun 30, 2007
Columbus, Ohio
Never submitted one of these before, so please let me know if any formatting is wonky. I think it should be okay.

1. Pillars of Eternity ; Everything I would expect from an Obsidian RPG and then some. Great writing, fun combat with a host of interesting abilities to use and some of my favorite environments in a long time. I can't wait for more.
2. The Witcher III: Wild Hunt ; I was genuinely surprised by how much I loved this game after being lukewarm on Witcher 2. I haven't had many moments better this year than slowly wandering the countryside wearing a good pair of headphones.
3. Life is Strange ; One of the more affecting games I've experienced in some time. Also one of my favorite licensed soundtracks in years.
4. Invisible, Inc. ; Great look, great mechanics and great support. Klei continues to make the best stealth games around.
5. Ori and the Blind Forest ; I don't know that I've ever enjoyed looking at a game as much as Ori. It's so colorful and vibrant, and the animations are amazing. I don't normally care for platforming but I loved it here. The escape sequences just frustrating enough to be intensely rewarding when finally conquered.
6. Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition ; An improved version of my game of 2014. And for free! I love you, Larian.
7. Satellite Reign
8. Shadowrun: Hong Kong
9. Cities: Skylines


BioShock Infinite is like playing some homeless guy's vivid imagination
Aug 11, 2010
I wonder what the divide between Witcher 3 and Bloodborne is. Anyone have a guess as to which title is leading?


Apr 26, 2007
I for example, noticed while making my list that I had only completed 11 games last year (granted I don't bother to finish games that I don't like)
That's pretty good. I am going to have a bunch of games on my list that I didn't even finish because holy shit this year is full of overly long tedious games that are not worth finishing.
Jun 2, 2013
Bremen, Germany
Have you seen all the GOTY threads that have been ruined because of Bloodborne not winning and the fans being insufferable about it? it even became a gaf meme.

What you're saying isn't surprising.
I've seen that, but it's not only Bloodborne here and it's also not only only-1-game lists, it's also lists that are only 2-3 games long, statistically they can skew the ballot.

It is practically impossible to pinpoint whether that is the case or not so it is best to just let it be.

Personally, I think it mostly falls into the other categories of that being the only game they found worthy, only played a few games, etc...
That's totally fine with me. If *I* were to do that, I would throw in a sentence about how 2015 was mostly about getting rid of my backlog but I still wanted to give a shout-out for this one amazing game from 15 that I played and loved so much.

The maybe better (but more complicated) way would be to have an additional list where all games a person has played from that year are listed as well as what consoles they own, that would help games that were only on systems like the Wii U but even Xbox One exclusives. It again would skew the stats in Bloodborne's favor, but it would still be interesting.


Nov 10, 2007
I wonder what the divide between Witcher 3 and Bloodborne is. Anyone have a guess as to which title is leading?
If I had to guess, I'd say Witcher 3 is winning so far, which I suppose isn't entirely surprising given it's a multiplat. Although last year, Bayonetta 2 was GOTY, and that's a niche title on a system with limited install base, so... Who knows!

I suspect MGSV will rank surprisingly high. It's not No. 1 on many lists, but quite a few ballots place it in the top five. The points will add up.


Neo Member
Aug 9, 2012
1. The Witcher III: Wild Hunt ; An incredible experience all around, combining an unbelievably varied and exciting open world with the most mature storytelling in an RPG, ever. Game of the generation so far? Probably.

2. Tales from the Borderlands ; A complete surprise. Funniest game since Portal 2, yet with the storytelling chops to hit you in all the right places when it needs to. Telltale's best game.

3. Fallout 4 ; Yes, mechanically it is nearly identical to Fallout 3 and New Vegas. And yes, it comes not only with the standard Bethesda problems, but also a completely undercooked and frustrating building simulator. However, the storytelling is vastly improved and the world is an absolute joy to explore. I have lost more hours than I care to admit to Fallout 4.

4. Until Dawn ; Another big surprise. A well-written horror gem in the subversive mold of Cabin in the Woods and Scream that is far more enjoyable to play than any David Cage game. Sign me up for a sequel.

5. Life is Strange ; I was absolutely hooked for the first 3 and half episodes. Unfortunately, the story lost some steam throughout the course of its conclusion, but not enough to send it spiraling too far down the list.

6. Her Story ; The incredible lead performance made this the most immersive experience I played this year. I still have my notepad full of key terms, speculation, and relationship diagrams that I used in unraveling the mystery at the core of this adventure.

7. Undertale ; A good game, with innovative mechanics, lovable characters, and an interesting premise. Don't think I connected with it as much as others seem to have done, however.

That's it for games I feel are worthy of getting ranked this year. Wish I had time to finish more games, as I seem to have missed a fair few good ones.


Knows the Score
Jun 7, 2004
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.
The Man In The High Castle was first published in 1962.


May 17, 2012
1. Bloodborne ; I voted for this because the first page of every list thread was littered with pre emptive trolling about how Soulsborne fans were a bunch of whiny bitches that cry every time this game doesn't win x 1000 compared to people who legit cried that it didn't win. And it is an awesome game even if it does have a very noticeable frame pacing issue that I could totally notice from watching videos of this game (fuck that thread). It was a very challenging experience especially as I have gotten older, my skills are diminishing but meeting that challenge was very rewarding. It is a game that doesn't just push you along for the ride with some no players left behind bullhit. It actively forces you to get better or fuck off and go play something else.

2. Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance ; It is Disgaea. It doesn't stray far from the formula that the previous games set but it does an absolute perfect job of refining that formula into one of the best experiences I had all year in a game. It has game systems on top of game systems on top of game systems and at some point becomes a management game where you are trying to grind as efficiently as possible. It is also the only time in my life I have bought a Season's pass. I have no idea how long I actually played this, my game time is almost 300 hours but a lot of it was idling listening to the soundtrack while I did something else. The music is great, especially with the dlc. So quit being a Jabroni and super buy this game. Plip.

3. Galactic Civilizations III ; My trend of loving refinement and game systems continues with this game. The race customization and ship building is top notch. Being able to make a decent GWAR race or Galactic Empire is a beautiful thing. Really like changes to the tech trees in this iteration, I feel they offer much finer grain control over what to specialize in. I feel like most everything is refined and brought up to modern standards. GCII was one of my favorites over the years and I was more than happy for an overall great update with a few problems that I am sure will get resolved over time. It is just a great game that have kept on my hard drive since release and play every so often and lose a night.

4. Cities: Skylines ; This is the game that SimCity 4 should have been. It becomes a traffic sim more than anything once your city gets too big but otherwise a great game.

5. Transformers: Devastation ; I am a huge G1 Transformers fan and I love Platinum so this was a no brainer for me. This is the Transformers game I have been waiting for since I was a kid and other than not staying true to the funky soundtrack of the cartoon the game was great beginning to end. The music was still good but when you strive to get everything else looking so much like the cartoon and you don't complete the package it is a bit of a disappointment. That aside the game plays amazingly so you can't really fault it too much.

6. Xenoblade Chronicles X ; I am also a Xenogears and Xenosaga fan, I play through the saga games once a year (even 2) . I did not like Xenoblade as much as everyone else. I really loved my time with this game. It has a bunch of strange flaws but it was an enjoyable console RPG in a year with not much else. I also really ended up liking the Soundtrack which is controversial.

7. Tropico 5 ; The Island City Builder is back for another round and this is probably my favorite iteration of it yet. I can't remember if it is new but I like having a Dynasty that carries on through your games. It can be a bit easy once you get going.

8. Final Fantasy VII ; Got the PS4 version since they are never letting me play my PSOne Classic version on PS4. I love the cheats and the speedups on a classic game that I replay often. I had a better time playing through this recently than I probably will the remake.

Mr. Sam

Nov 9, 2007
London, England
I'll not find time to play any more games this 'year' and I risk missing the deadline. It's time. Here are the four games I played and enjoyed enough to vote for without having an attack of conscience:

1. Splatoon ; Whenever Nintendo takes a genre and distills it down to its purest, most fun form, it's always an absolute pleasure to play. Its take on the third person shooter is no exception.

2. Super Mario Maker ; Finally, a game-maker that doesn't make me bang my head against the screen trying to make something playable. A joy to play, sometimes, a joy to make, always.

3. Undertale ; The game that helped me understand what all the fuss was about with Earthbound. I still doubt I'd like it much - it couldn't possibly be as charming or as funny - but it's good to have empathy.

4. Halo 5: Guardians ; The greatest apology letter in history. Halo, unbroken, with welcome accouterments. You're forgiven, 343i. Now, if we could just get a better campaign next time...
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