Wow. What a year. 2015 has been amazing, emotional year. It's given us great, touching experiences like Life is Strange and The Beginner's Guide, but in it we've also seen bombastic AAA titles like Rise of the Tomb Raider, The Witcher 3, Just Cause 3, and Batman: Arkham Knight. It's simply a wonderful time to be a gamer and to be able to partake in all the amazing titles so many incredible peoples have created. Which made this year's list uncommonly difficult to trim down. But I think if you were only able to play 5 games this year, it would be these.
Favorite Game Released Before 2015, Played in 2015: inFamous 2
When I played the first inFamous, I wasn’t impressed. It was ugly, repetitive, and the morality system was ill-conceived. inFamous 2 had the high order of trying to fix all that. And boy did they. Not only is inFamous 2 better looking, but the shooting, melee combat, and overall transversal mechanics are greatly enhanced. The feeling of shooting up the side of a building or whacking an enemy with the Amp is increadibly satisfying. Like Uncharted 2 and Assassin’s Creed 2 before it, inFamous 2 took the solid but largely unfun core and made a spectacular game around it.
5. The Beginner's Guide
The Beginner’s Guide is an incredibly unique experience. It’s simple and there’s little to no traditional gameplay. But the story that The Beginner’s Guide tells is deeply personal. It’s quite unlike anything else I’ve played this year. Possibly ever. There’s no beginning, middle, and end to The Beginner’s Guide and there’s really only one character. It’s the story of a developer named Coda. But Coda is completely absent from the game, instead you hear about Coda through little games he made and his friend Davey. It’s heartfelt, it’s raw, and it’s dangerously real. To say more would be to say too much. Play it and then go listen to John Fisco and me talk about it for an hour.
4. Ori and the Blind Forest
Ori and the Blind Forest is the lovechild of Super Metroid and Rayman Legends. That’s all I have or need to say about that.
3. Rise of the Tomb Raider
I wasn’t and still am not the biggest fan of the Tomb Raider reboot in 2013. It’s well made game for sure but it deviated sharply from what I enjoyed about earlier games. A similar thing happened to another of my favorite franchises: James Bond. I wasn’t a fan of Casino Royale. I know it’s crazy but the brutal, gritty tone didn’t sit well with me. I love a cheesy, goofy Bond and the same goes for Ms. Croft. But I’m happy to say that Rise of the Tomb Raider is no Quantum of Solace (thank god). Rise of the Tomb Raider is to the reboot what Skyfall is to Casino Royale. It’s combines the grittiness with some silliness and the combat with some actual tomb raiding and puzzles (go figure). It’s pure spectacle and enjoyment and the result is a sublime experience that is as mechanically perfect as you can get.
2. Life is Strange
Where to start. There’s nothing I can say about Life is Strange that I haven’t already said in my hour and a half long discussion with Allen Kesinger. Life is Strange is the first game since Season One of The Walking Dead to really capture the magic that game had. Few games can create characters like Chloe Price. But the most powerful thing I can say about Life is Strange is that I’ve never played a game where I chose the “bad” ending on purpose. And not for an achievement or to see what happened. I did it for someone I genuinely cared about. I did it because of Chloe. I can’t say anything like that about any other game.
1. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Haha. I mean, seriously, could it be anything else? Fanboyism aside, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is the most complete and polished single player experience of the year. It’s game that is massive yet has every item, down to the smallest, lovingly crafted. There are no bad parts to The Witcher 3, the combat is great, the stories are fun and the world is beautiful in every sense of the word, not just graphically. It’s the kind of game that, no matter what kind of games you generally play, you should give The Witcher 3 a shot. It’s simply magnificent.
Honorable Mentions: Batman: Arkham Knight, Rebel Galaxy, Mad Max, Just Cause 3, Lara Croft GO
Jonathan is the host of the DarkCast, DarkCast Interviews, and Gamers Read. He loves books, video games, and superheroes. If he had to pick favorites, they would be Welcome to the Monkey House, Mass Effect, and Superman respectively.