Friday, March 4, 2016

Game of the Year: My Five Favorites of 2015

Making a Game of the Year list is harder than it seems, and not only because it can be tough to come up with a precise ranking.

To finally narrow this one down, for example, I had to choose what to do about Don't Starve. You see, Don't Starve was released on Wii U last year, and it quickly became one of my favorite things I'd played in a long time. The problem is: it was originally released on PC three years ago, and PC is one of the platforms I cover on this blog (albeit just marginally), meaning that, for all intents and purposes, Don't Starve is a 2013 game.

I had a similar conundrum last year, when I was debating whether or not to consider the excellent Guacamelee for inclusion on my Top 5 - and in that case I didn't even own the original platform that got the game one year earlier.

After some back and forth, I decided to do the same thing I did last year and leave Don't Starve out of contention. I'm making a point of heartily recommending it, though, because it truly is excellent. Think of it as an honorary sixth member, because it is certainly up to it. You can read my original review here.

So, without further ado, here are my five favorite games that were originally released in 2015.

5. Undertale
Played on PC

An RPG that's as touching as it's quirky, Undertale took the gaming world by storm as the latest indie darling last year. And it certainly deserved it, too, as it offers a tremendously engaging role-playing adventure that's filled with surprises and some honest-to-goodness innovations to the turn-based formula. To top it off, the game features a wonderful chiptune soundtrack, which, let's face it, is pretty much obligatory for great 16-bit RPGs.


4. Xenoblade Chronicles X
Played on Wii U

Yes, this is the main reason why this list took so long to publish. That's what happens when one of the most intriguing titles of the year releases in December and turns out to be almost indescribably massive. I'll work on a full-fledged review soon enough, but suffice it to say that Xenoblade X is an RPG with a mammoth open world filled with intriguing locales, extremely cool monster design, and combat mechanics that are complicated, but very rewarding once you master them.


3. Super Mario Maker
Played on Wii U

This is such a great killer app for the Wii U that I'm led to believe that, had it been a launch title, the console's fortunes (and the reception for the Wii U Gamepad) would have been immensely shifted. It offers a way to make your dream Mario levels in incredibly streamlined fashion, with borderline perfect building tools, along with a massive online repository for you to share your creations and enjoy those from others.


2. The Witcher 3
Played on Playstation 4

Geralt of Rivia's third adventure lets you roam an open world with roots firmly planted on fantasy, but with a healthy pinch of horror to go with it. The Witcher 3's greatest strenght is in how engaging its world is, allowing you to lose hours upon hours exploring its every corner and taking on excellently designed quests. It also helps that the game looks the part, too - it's one of the most graphically stunning titles I've ever had the pleasure to play.

1. Splatoon
Played on Wii U

I was never remotely interested in online multiplayer shooters. I guess I'm still not, in general. But that's because online shooters, in general, aren't Splatoon. Nintendo's new IP is an extremely colorful affair, and it plays like literally nothing else. It is to other online shooters what Mario Kart is to multiplayer racers, with that oh-so-elusive Nintendo touch making all the difference. It's easy to understand, but hard (and extremely rewarding) to master. It offers a plethora of weapon types, loads of equipment, and great stages to make a mess in. There's also an excellent single-player campaign that mixes shooting, platforming, and ridiculously over-the-top boss battles. Add all of this together and it becomes clear why no other 2015 game made me have as much wide-eyed fun.

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