This site has been, effectively, in operation since mid 2014, at that time I did not feel that it would be good for me to do a game of the year post. I was still trying to get some of the kinks in the site’s format worked out, and you could say that I am still trying to do that; But since I have played enough games released in 2015, I figured that I would take a crack at giving you a list of my favourites.
The rules for this post will be that the game needs to have been officially released in 2015; beta’s and ports don’t count as official releases, which also means that early access games that had an official release this year are fair game. I also need to have played it. If I have not played a game then I can not consider it for this post or any award that goes with it. That last little detail will leave some glaring omissions in my list, which is disappointing as there are plenty of games that came out in 2015 that I have not yet had the opportunity to play, apart from a tiny little video for the site. So without further adieu I give you my top games of 2015 list.
- Heroes of the Storm
Back in 2004 when World of Warcraft hit the market, and started to make profits in the hundreds of millions of dollars, companies everywhere joined the gold rush with their own products. It didn’t, exactly, work and now the Free to Play section of steam seems to be a MMORPG graveyard. The new gold rush is the MOBA market, and Blizzard finds themselves with their role reversed with their own product; trying to chase after the gold rush that was started by League of Legends.
Fortunately Blizzard seem to have the foresight to not release a half baked product and have to close it down, like Electronic Arts did with Dawngate. Heroes of the Storm take the traditional MOBA formula of lanes, creep, jungle, and distills it down to its most simple form, then adds a few unique features. This is a MOBA with a high level of polish and characters that you are already familiar with, if you have played Blizzard’s previous games.
- Kerbal Space Program
A game that has been in early access for most of my time playing it has finally been released. This is a game that is not exactly pretty, but is still oozing with character and style. Tasked with running a space program on a fictional planet you are required to manage everything there is to this program, and you will quickly discover all of the very real challenges with space flight.
Because the physics are close enough to the real thing, getting to space can be a real challenge and I have found myself sending dozens of little Kerbels to their deaths, either by overshooting a launch or through a rough landing resulting in an explosion. Keep playing this and you may learn a thing or two while being entertained the entire time.
- Rocket League
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Psyonix seems to have applied this lesson quite literally. Rocket League, a game where you play soccer with cars, is the follow up to Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars, a video game where you play soccer with cars.
I am not sure how well this game would have done if it were not given away as part of the Playstation+ Free games; but it was, and that gave the game a player base in the hundreds of thousands. You can now sit down and play matches of this game for fun very easily and this game now has a very active competitive multiplayer following. This is a game that is easy to learn and difficult to master, and keeps me coming back for the occasional match months after it was released.
- Batman Arkham Knight
The final game in the Rocksteady Batman “Trilogy”. This game would have found itself higher on my list if it were not for the PC version being a complete train wreck and unplayable for many, and the only solution offered by the publisher is to just upgrade your PC to have 12gb of ram.
Those issues aside, I found the narrative, of Batman struggling with his inner demons, so engrossing that I was able to, mostly, overlook the other issues that I had with this title. The stellar voice acting of Mark Hamill is just a bonus to this outstanding CONSOLE game.
- Metal Gear Solid 5
I went into Metal Gear Solid 5 (MGS5) not fully knowing what to expect, and also with a little bit of a sour taste in my mouth after paying $40 for Ground Zeroes which was, essentially, a demo. Ground Zeroes played better than any Metal Gear game to date and featured incredible visuals, but I still decided to go into MGS5 expecting the worst. I am glad to say that MGS5 has almost completely blown me away. This is the game that finally delivers the promises of Metal Gear Solid 3.
Featuring large open areas for you to explore and exploit against your enemies, the diversity in gameplay mechanics, allows you to complete missions in a variety of creative ways depending on your equipment load out. These features have given me dozens of hours of entertainment and this may speak to my dark sense of humour but I find the act of kidnapping people to staff up your base hilarious. My only complaint with this game would be the way that microtransactions have been implemented into this game post launch. Putting microtransactions into a $80CAD product is horrible and I will take no part of them.
- Massive Chalice
The company that brought you the Kickstarter game to start a trend, brings you another game funded through kickstarter. For full disclosure, I did fund this game through kickstarter, but just like Jim Sterling, I believe that this makes me overly critical of a game instead of turning a blind eye to its faults.
If you were a fan of XCOM Enemy Unknown then you may want to give this game a chance. This is a turn based tactical strategy game in a hard fantasy setting with Double Fine’s sense of humour. You are tasked with managing bloodlines of kings and queens, setting up husbands and wives with the intention of using their children to fight an oncoming demon invasion. Seriously.
- Prison Architect
A game where the player is tasked with the management of a for profit prison. You will be in charge construction, scheduling, and either trying to rehabilitate prisoners or keeping them locked up in some of the worst conditions you can construct.
Taking inspiration from Dwarf Fortress, you do not have direct control over the majority of the units that are inside of your building. Instead each character inside your prison has its own independent Artificial Intelligence and will behave based on the rules that you set for the prison. This game is easy to get into and offers enough depth to keep me coming back time and again.
Bloodborne is the first, real, experience that I have had with any of the games in the Soul’s Series and I am afraid that this game may have spoiled the rest of the series before I had the chance to play them. The action is fast paced and timing with all of your attacks is critical to win. This game has some of the best monster design, that I have ever seen, in a video game. They always amaze me with some of the creatures that I am tasked with defeating.
Bloodborne is a very challenging game, and the challenge is part of what makes this game so fun. At no point is Bloodborne unfair, every single death can be traced back to a very simple mistake. Similar to Spelunky, where the rules to the game are not clearly defined at the beginning, once you understand them you will be able to exploit them to achieve your goals.
- Cities Skylines
I told myself that I was not ready for another City Simulator, the pain of SimCity was too fresh in my mind, and the Cities XL games are kind of bad. I was getting ready to dismiss Cities Skylines completely, and I am glad that I didn’t. This is a game that was only $40 CAD, and what do you get for that $40 price point? You get a game that delivers on every single promise that SimCity couldn’t. Every single person, literally, can have their activity tracked. They have houses or apartments inside of your city, they have a job that they go to and from, they go to stores, they have their own patterns that affect all sort of systems inside of your city, unlike in SimCity where people just drive to the first available house. So unlike that game, where the idea layout was just one long street, you can actually build a functional city.
This game actually allows you to build mass transit systems that are not total garbage. You can design rail systems, subway systems, bus routes, and all sorts of others. This game is getting continuous, free, updates. The game shipped without the ability to build tunnels, you could only build overpasses and bridges, but tunnels were added in for free. The expansion pack added lots of new features like new city specializations, bicycle lanes for your streets, and giving the people of your city the ability to use bikes, and the day/night cycle. Whatever the developers don’t add directly may get added by the fans through the incredible mod support for the game through Steam Workshop. If you are a fan of City Simulators, and you have not played this game, then you really need to check this game out right now.
- The Witcher 3
I did not play any of the previous games in the Witcher series, despite having owned them, essentially, since they were released. I purchased the third game and figured I would try it out to see what all of the talk was about, and I have been completely blown away. I have never played a role playing game quite like this before. I have since started to read the novels by Andrzej Sapkowski and I am fully intending to go back and finish the other games.
I could drone on about how the visuals are the best I have ever seen to date, or how the score is incredible, how the gameplay mechanics are fun and engaging and challenging on a level similar to Bloodborne. But the thing that deserves the most praise is the writing. I have yet to find a quest line in this game that is boring. Every single quest has me engaged and wanting to see it through to the very end because it will usually lead into another, equally, engaging quest. Most, if not all, of the characters in this game are multidimensional character; not just the cardboard cutouts that populate most other RPGs. The writing is what really brings this world to life and keeps me coming back to see everything that this game has to offer, the fact that every other aspect of this game is impressive in its own right is the cherry on top. This game is the total package.