Alright, with the year nearly over, I've played all the big games I'm gonna get through in 2015 so it's time for the age-old tradition: making lists of the best and worst games of 2015. As I've already touched on in some of my other Game of the Year articles, there are a ton of games I didn't get around to this year. I'm only one guy and for the most part I know the kinds of games I'm going to enjoy so this list is specifically catered to the games that I had the most fun with this year. Without further ado...
#10. Batman Arkham Knight
People were playing and beating Arkham Knight a little bit ahead of me. It came out around the time I moved so I was a week or two behind everyone who was playing it at launch. Maybe those early reactions about people frustrated by the Batmobile reconfigured my expectations but I didn’t have an overly negative response to the vehicle gameplay. It certainly didn’t feel right for Batman, but it was still fun. And I think I’d rank the game’s main story as the best of the series.
That said, if I never have to get another Riddler trophy, it will be too soon.
#9. Lara Croft Go
By and large, I think the contempt a lot of console and PC players feel for mobile phone games is somewhat warranted. An overwhelming majority of the games on the App Store or Google Play are very basic experiences or clones of clones of clones of somebody’s else idea trying to cash in on the hot game/idea of the moment.
But when a game like Lara Croft Go comes along and rises above that, I try to reward that. The spiritual follow-up to Hitman Go, this game is an incredibly beautiful puzzle game. It does a great job introducing it’s different elements and combining them in fun and engaging ways. I hope it follows the path of Hitman Go and comes to PlayStation as well. I’d gladly buy and play through it again.
#8. A Tie Between LEGO Jurassic World and LEGO Dimensions
In 2015, I found a Player 2 to share my gaming experiences with in the form of my girlfriend Catherine. In trying to identify the right game for us to play together, I landed on LEGO Jurassic World. A fan of the LEGO games since the first Star Wars game, it felt like the right blend of gameplay and fun. We played through the entirety of the game together and it even became the basis for one of my favorite series to write about: Co-op with Catherine, where I document our experiences playing together.
Catherine and I shared a lot of nerdy interests. Chief among them is our mutual love of Doctor Who so imagine her excitement when I showed her the LEGO Dimensions trailer featuring the Doctor. It immediately shot to the top of her must have list. We’ve had a harder time getting through the main story of Dimensions but playing the opening moments of the Doctor Who Level Pack and watching Cat’s glee as the LEGO-version of the show’s theme song played might be my favorite single moment in gaming this year.
#7. Ori and the Blind Forest
In addition to being my pick for best Art Direction in 2015, Ori and the Blind Forest was an incredibly enjoyable Metroidvania game this year. Brutally difficult at times like the genre’s predecessors, finally progressing through a section (the Ginso Tree, for example) felt incredibly rewarding. Somewhat lacking in story for my taste (the opening moments certainly tug at the heartstrings but in that same formulaic shortcut Disney has perfected over the years of losing a loved one), the gameplay more than made up for the game’s narrative shortcomings.
Playing through this game around the same time I played through Castlevania: Symphony of the Night for the Kinda Funny Book Club, I found myself appreciating just how Ori was building upon the legacy of its fore-bearers.
#6. Rocket League
I’ll be the first to admit that I probably wouldn’t have picked up Rocket League if it hadn’t been a PlayStation Plus game. I really haven’t been overly invested in sports games since the NBA Jam/NFL Blitz era of more arcade-y sports games or the WWF (yes F) wrestling games. I tried to play NBA 2K14 when I first got my PlayStation 4 and was desperate for some games to play on it but it was far more complicated mechanically than anticipated and I didn’t have the interest or patience to learn it. FIFA 14 fared a little better and benefitted from my enjoyment of the World Cup last year but even there I felt like I was barely scratching the surface on the game.
Fast forward to Rocket League and I immediately appreciated how accessible it was. A prime example of the easy-to-learn, difficult-to-master gameplay, Rocket League is probably the best sports game I’ve ever played. Jumping into a game against other players or the AI Bots can be immediately exhilarating and exacerbating in equal measure. It doesn't get much better than the excitement of boosting through the air over your opponent to score the winning goal at the last second of the match.
As a side note, Rocket League was the spark that triggered the eventual creation of this website. My friend Alex over at Irrational Passions put out a call for guest writers for their Monthly Passions series and I offered to write my review of Rocket League. The rest is history…
So there you have the beginning of my top ten games of 2015. Stay tuned for #5 through #1.