Thursday, December 31, 2015

Top Five: Video Games of 2015

  • 2015 has been a year of highs and lows for me. One of the highs was definitely all of the great games that came out this year. Without wasting any more time, let's get to the list:

  • The Witcher III: Wild Hunt - Probably the best game I played all year. I found the Witcher books to be engrossing and I'm glad I had that background going into this game. Although I had some frustration with the combat, the world of the Witcher was so beautiful to explore. Everything from the countrysides and cities to lonely hovels and corpse strewn battlefields were amazing. Best of all were the quests and the well-written characters that drove them. As the game intends, I spent a lot of time in the first act taking on contracts and completing side missions while I investigated Ciri's whereabouts. Eventually though, I mainlined the main quest, if only because I had to see it through to the end. I was very happy after the ending to find that I could return to the world and resume taking on side quests and the DLC after the main quest was done. Also, I though Gwent was an amazing addition to the game. I spent many a night avoiding monsters and bandits so that I could find the next gwent player.

  • Destiny: The Taken King - I was one of those weirdos who actually liked Destiny when it was initially released. The Taken King has made it even better. The original content has been reorganized into a much more coherent series of quests. And the new content to so much more exciting. I am so happy that Bungie learned from their early mistakes and was able to reforge the game into something that I don't have to feel embarrassed to admit enjoying.

  • Shadowrun Returns - I'm not sure why it took me a couple of years to finally try Shadowrun Returns, but I'm glad I did. Returns is the tactical RPG I've been waiting for since the Gold Box games and Fallout games. Once again, great stories and great characters carry a straightforward tale of investigation and revenge into and exciting challenge. That there are two more games in the series available gives me such joy. If you miss tactical combat in your role-playing games, you have to try Shadowrun. They got it right.

  • Bloodborne - From Software played a key role in my decision to purchase a PS4. I was infatuated with Dark Souls and, to a lesser extent, Dark Souls II. Bloodborne may deviate from the Souls games, but the lineage is clear. The quick, aggressive combat was an interesting change of pace. But although it did not achieve the same high as with Dark Souls, Bloodborne was a memorable experience that had me on edge through the end of the game. It was a worthy successor to the series.

  • 80 Days - I feel a little more comfortable including 80 Days because it didn't release on Android until early 2015. I'm not sure I've seen a more impressive model of interactive fiction. Modeled after Jules Verne's Around the World In Eighty Days, this steampunk infused adventure gives the player freedom to travel all over the world, meeting people and visiting strange places. As the valet Passepartout, you must care for your master, Philias Fogg, and direct the journey. But you are given absolute freedom to explore and make connections that may or may not advance your goal. I love how the game evokes Verne's science fiction worldview while also keeping a modern eye toward those around the world who might not take kindly to the eurocentric point of view of the original work. I've been around the world a couple times now and I was much more satisfied when we lost the wager than when we won. But I could not stop there. Adventure awaits.

  • Honorable mentions go to Rocket League for its fast, fun, and completely infuriating gameplay and Tales of the Borderlands which might have breached this list if I had only finished it in time.

  • I can't wait to hear what you think are the best games of the year. Here is to a great new year!