Top Video Games of 2015

As the year draws to a close, video game editor Ed Dutcher invites game guest contributors Sergio Zaciu and Jason Pedroza to discuss each of their top video games of 2015. Listen to the live recording above! 

 

10. BLOODBORNE (PS4) 

top video games bloodborne

A masochistic exercise in trial and error balanced with a deeply rewarding combat system, BLOODBORNE is a more than worthy successor to From Software’s Souls series. The trademark difficulty and dark, gothic art style of its predecessors are just as strong here as ever, while gameplay has been rebalanced to be far more fast and frantic. BLOODBORNE boasts 2015’s most grueling and epic boss battles, and the plague-ridden streets of Yharnam are easily the most evocative set pieces from this generation of games. While the steep learning curve will scare away the faint of heart, those brave enough to don the Hunter’s Cap will find a truly mystifying adventure awaiting them. [ED]

9. ROCKET LEAGUE (PS4, PC) 

top video games rocket league end of the year

There isn’t really any reason why “soccer with cars” is guaranteed video game gold, but then again, there’s also no reason it shouldn’t be. 2015’s ROCKET LEAGUE’s gimmick-free formula and split-screen online multiplayer has resulted in what is arguably the closest thing gamers have to a next-gen N64 throwback. Free of pretensions and a bundle of online fun, ROCKET LEAGUE is worth checking out for its meager price tag alone, and once the game is booted up, it’s hard to stop playing.  Read the full review here[SZ]

8. ORI AND THE BLIND FOREST (Xbox One, PC) 

top video games ori blind forest

The artstyle of ORI AND THE BLIND FOREST is merit alone for a mention in any conversation about games of the year. But beyond its gorgeous exterior lies a game emblematic of titles like CASTLEVANIA or SUPER METROID. Unifying the art and tight gameplay is an emotional tale that can bring tears through its prologue alone. Exploring the wonderous forest as Ori, and restoring the environment’s light and life, is a true delight and a unique experience. Even as an indie title, it stands out amongst the AAA juggernauts of the year. [JP]

7. RAINBOW SIX: SIEGE (Xbox One, PS4, PC) 

top video games rainbow 6 end of the year

In a shooter market dominated by rehashes and cookie-cutter homogeneity, it’s refreshing to see a FPS that refuses to coddle to the lowest denominator, and doubly so when such a game comes from Ubisoft, the king of gaming schlock. RAINBOW SIX: SIEGE marks a return to the tight-knit, squad-based teamwork that has for years been missing from games. A level playing field, reliance on tactics, and a refusal to compromise the playerbase with paid DLC means that SIEGE is one of the few titles out there that relies on player skill, rather than hours logged or wallet size, to secure victory. For 2015’s premiere multiplayer offering, look no further. Read the full review here[ED]

6. UNTIL DAWN (PS4) 

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Boasting better writing than the average horror film, strong mocap work, and chock-full of robust yet endearing archetypes, UNTIL DAWN’s greatest asset is arguably that it’s one of the few choice-based adventures where gamers really care for every individual on screen, despite how much of a tool each might appear to be at first glance. Well aware of its genre trappings, this 2015 horror caper is self-aware enough to turn the excitement up to 11, playing with the conventions of slasher, monster, and spiritual horror all in one neat package, making for a great communal experience.  Read the full review here[SZ]

5. THE WITCHER 3: WILD HUNT (Xbox One, PS4, PC) 

top video games the witcher 3

It would be easy to give THE WITCHER 3: WILD HUNT the title of Game of the Year. It shines with an extreme amount of polish and attention to detail which alone makes it the premier hardcore RPG of the year, offering players a dense and interesting world to explore and quests that stretch across seemingly endless horizons. This dark and mature fantasy is brimming with character and a wealth of content unlike anything out this year. Players are tasked with making complex moral choices which will shape the future for the entire land. THE WITCHER 3 sits very close to the top of my list as a phenomenally made video game experience across an adult fantasy realm. [JP]

4. METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN (Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3, PC) 

top video games mgs end

A departure in every way from Metal Gears of old, THE PHANTOM PAIN is nonetheless the greatest stealth sandbox to exist. A menagerie of tools, vast and varied environments, and insanely reactive guard AI ensure that MGSV is an unrivaled gameplay package. This is an adventure that will stretch into the hundreds of hours, and yet not a second of that time is wasted. The series’ infamously dense cutscenes and dialogue have been dropped for a more muted yet even more emotional story than anything we’ve seen from Kojima. While THE PHANTOM PAIN marks the last true Metal Gear Solid title, it also sets the bar even higher for Kojima’s future work, and leaves this writer breathless in anticipation for what’s next. Read our first look at TPP here and our follow-up here[ED]

3. LIFE IS STRANGE (Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3, PC) 

top video games life is strange end

What started off as the Coachella-hip, Tumblr.-core, Instagram-savvy Portland circle jerk that is “Episode 1 – Chrysalis,” soon became an exercise in narrative subversion, tone shift, and emotional pillaging. Cleverly manipulating audience expectations to reveal a dark, surprisingly postmodern deconstruction of the game’s original format, LIFE IS STRANGE’s five episode structure ultimately proved to be a pensive existential morality tale, casting away the facets of its execution that it was criticized for and giving the finger to all the people who didn’t have the patience to consider what it was really trying to say. LIFE IS STRANGE not only encouraged Crossfader to record an entire podcast attempting to dissect its best qualities, but it also reveled in an intimacy that most games lacked, making for a game that felt genuinely personal; a quality that ultimately makes up for the many minor flaws that most gamers would initially be turned off by.  Read the full review here[SZ]

2. RISE OF THE TOMB RAIDER (Xbox One) 

top video games rise of the tomb raider end

I looked back on my year of video games and my experience while playing RISE OF THE TOMB RAIDER stood out plainly in my memories. This is a game that grabs hold tight and doesn’t let go, like a good novel that begs to be read in a single night. But the journey of Lara Croft to discover an ancient relic is not one of glory, but one of personal vindication, something to prove that her memory of the supernatural is warranted. This personal core drives the story forward, urging players to explore, craft, and help Lara to become the hero of her story. And when bullets fly and caverns crumble, the adrenaline pumps furiously, only to slow to passionate character moments. This game is everything a sequel should be, surpassing its predecessor in every way and charting new ground for the series. I cannot wait to play through it all again. Read the full review here[JP]

1. SOMA (PS4, PC) 

top video games soma end

Never in gaming has a story been presented so deftly or intimately as in SOMA. The deep sea survival-horror veneer belies a truly magnificent science fiction story that stands tall as one of the best of the genre, film and literature included. This is the zenith of cyberpunk, the next evolutionary rung in a ladder started by BLADE RUNNER and GHOST IN THE SHELL. The haunting, existential themes concerning life, love, identity, and humanity will stick with players months after they’ve moved on to other titles. SOMA excels at painting a bleak future for mankind, while still lighting a spark of hope that drives the player forward. It’s an incredibly earnest tale of bravery and compassion at the end of the world, relying not on cheap progression systems, achievements, or rewards to compel you onward, but solely its crushing dramatic weight. SOMA is not simply a romp to scratch the itch of the common adventure gamer, but is a transcendent experience that should be felt by all. Read the full review here[ED]

Crossfader Staff

The good people of Crossfader Magazine.

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