Hello. It’s that time again, or for the first time here on bearvsman.com, where we decide what games meant the most to us, and which games we believe to be the best of the whole year. 2015 gave us many, many great games. These are the ones I thought were the best.
10. Her Story
Her Story seemingly came out of nowhere. A game about the careful dissection of video clips to re-align a story from the perspective of a singular interviewer as told to them. Something that felt so fresh and new, and an FMV game you aren’t forced to make fun of. Her Story was well written, well acted, and the mystery was fun to solve and also discuss with those I knew who played through it.
Her Story, while not necessarily having the best game play, or mechanics given the nature of it, did so many things well that it needed to make my list. I would love to see something in this style done again, as I found the whole thing to be incredibly engaging.
9. Rocket League
If 2015 had a theme, it seemed to be, “Games that kinda came out of nowhere.” Rocket League falls into this category hard. A game that launched for free on Playstation Plus, to be honest I didn’t really expect much from it. I thought it might be fun for a bit, but ultimately just end up being a free game that sits in the library. But boy was I wrong.
Rocket League had tight grips in me for a full on month. Playing a dozen or more matches almost every day. It just has so much great feeling to it, the rush of getting that last second goal, or the tight defensive block out of nowhere. It’s the best sports game I have ever played. Maybe for me that’s not such a big deal, however Rocket League is just such a good, fun time.
8. Until Dawn
Another one of these, “Out of nowhere” games, Until Dawn I bought on a whim after hearing a tiny bit of buzz about it. The premise sounded neat to me: A horror game that is more based on one those shitty teen slasher flicks than actually trying to be scary, with a bunch of really solid motion capture that looks really good. I was pretty into the idea.
When I got my hands on it, something clicked. I beat it in two long sessions. The format of the hour and a half or so chapters, presented in a mini-series style. The game having some really great acting, and getting me engaged with the characters in a meaningful way. Just like one of those movies, there were characters that I hated, and some that I were rooting for. The game play was a little slow to get through. Kind of like a movie, there was a lot of slow walking exposition stuff going on here. However I think this is a stylistic choice that I can’t fault. I liked a lot of specific moments, and the nice thing about this game is with the extensive branching paths system, that experience is almost one-of-a-kind to me.
7. Ori and the Blind Forest
I was harsh on Ori and the Blind Forest when I finished it. I gave it a little bit of a negative review back in March. I thought it was a little bit too hard for its own good. But I think about that game fondly now, and more often than not, I remember enjoying a lot of those moments of frustration. For me it speaks to the quality of the game because in most other situations I would have moved on after getting as mad as I did at Ori.
Ori looked beautiful. Ori felt great to play. Ori had some amazing moving moments, and character interaction that made me feel stuff. A little game that I dumped a decent amount of hours into and eventually beat. It rubbed me the wrong way after I beat it, but after the dust settled, I really ended up loving this game.
6. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
I didn’t beat Metal Gear Solid V. There, I said it. I didn’t even finish the first arc. I watched a YouTube video that spoiled the whole game for me. Me. The guy who hates any spoiler for anything ever because I almost always want to experience things for myself. But MGSV is one of the best games this year.
To get this out of the way, I think the story hugely detracts from the quality of the package. Not that it isn’t good, but I feel as though it’s handled poorly, to the point of dis-service to the game as well as the series. Now, the game itself is wonderful. It feels so tight as an action game, the stealth works well, and the mechanics that are introduced are some of the best stuff in the series. I will revisit this at some point. But I played enough to know MGSV needs to be on this list.
I have a weird history with games in the Souls series. I like them. I like the action, and the difficulty level of them. I’ve never beaten one, which remains to this day. I usually don’t make it very far in them progression wise. But then Bloodborne came out.
From the word Go, Bloodborne really did it for me. One of my favorite things about the Souls series is how with each entry, many things are relatively the same: the basic gameflow, the combat, the look and feel, these all have very similar qualities to each game in the series. But they take a little wrench, and adjust some numbers just a little bit. Bloodborne probably had the most drastic tweaks, but they were small. They changed the speed of the combat to be a little bit faster. The removal of the shield, something I was against at first, became welcome to me. The simplification of the systems for leveling, and weapon upgrading worked for me as well. I thought that From Software and Sony nailed this game.
I remember reading a tweet that said that Downwell was out. I remember this game; it was one of those games I played at PAX East this year. I thought it was fine, because I played it on a phone. Then it came out on Steam and I got hooked.
A procedurally generated dungeon falling game, the single button action feels really solid. It plays so well, and is one of those games that you start and say, “I’ve got time for a Downwell run” and then a few hours later someone has to pull you out of your hole, literally. I’m ashamed to admit I’ve never gotten to the bottom, but man I’m bad at video games so I’m doing my best, okay?
Back to the games that came out of nowhere, Undertale was the king of these. A weird little RPG that took the internet by storm. Undertale starts really slowly, to its detriment, but it exponentially gets more and more interesting as you play through it, and has a level of charm unmatched by anything this year.
Undertale was an amazing experience. It was great on so many fronts; the music, the battle system, the characters, and how all of the different endings intertwine with each other. It’s a great game. Despite what I said in my review, I think I’m going to go back to it at some point and see some more of the available endings that are in there.
2. The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt
The Witcher 3 is everything you heard about it from every gaming outlet this year: It has amazing characters and quests, with a beautiful and rich environment. Geralt runs like a stupid idiot, I can’t pick up this chest’s contents without picking up or igniting this candle. The combat is engaging and the monster design is so well done.
The Witcher 3 is big. If you aren’t looking for a big game, don’t pick it up. You could probably play this game for 300 hours and still find new things in it. I probably rushed through, playing it for about 45 hours. Its just a dense package. A really great, dense package that is phenomenal.
The Runners Up
I’ve said my piece about Lifeline. Maybe it’s not even a game. But it was something that I had fun with. If you’re into some interactive story telling on a mobile device, you should definitely pick this up. There were moments in that kept me on the edge of my seat and I highly recommend it.
B. Grow Home
I’ve also talked about Grow Home a bit and it’s still a good game that I enjoyed my time with overall. It was a little too clunky to make the list, but if you’ve not played it and had any fun with 3D platformers in the past you should absolutely play it.
C. Titan Souls
I was pretty into Titan Souls when it came out. I still feel like it should be on this list. Just a fun game. I suppose the reason it didn’t make the cut was that I almost forgot about it as I was putting this list together, which to me says something about it. But an absolutely great game that anybody who likes a challenge should look up.
1. Heroes of the Storm
We joked about it. We said something like, “Wouldn’t it be funny if Heroes of the Storm ends up being my favorite game of the year?” Time went on, and now I’m here, writing this list. And I put Heroes of the Storm at the top of it.
I never thought I would play a MOBA. I never thought I would like a MOBA. And I certainly never thought I would love a MOBA, but HOTS is here, and I love it. HOTS fixes the things that I hate about DOTA2, last hits, solo experience, item shops. It leaves you with an intense MOBA experience, with interesting map objectives that change up game play just enough. I can good at playing characters on certain maps, and different maps are almost like different modes. They add characters at a decent clip, and I like the vast majority of them.
There we have it. Ryan’s Top 10 Games of 2015. It was a really great year for games.