2015 was a tremendous year in video games. We had AAA blockbusters, indie darlings, and games from all genres and categories reach great heights in quality.
Exceptionalist that I am, some games were undoubtedly better than others. Of all of 2015’s great games, these five stood out the most to me.
These five games, for one reason or another, proved to be the cream of the crop. They may not quite be the same games you’ll see dominate other people’s lists, but they are the games that had the most impact on me.
Without further ado, my top five favorite video games of 2015.
5: Rocket League
Rocket League is the kind of game that shows the genius in simplicity. It’s very easy to sum up Rocket League as being “Soccer with cars…in the future.” Because that’s exactly what it is. And it’s glorious.
That simplicity is turned into something special by how well executed Rocket League is. You won’t find too many multiplayer games in recent years that are half as addictive.
Make your car, learn the basics in about two minutes, and hit the playing field. Whether you’re on blue team or orange, it’s all about defying gravity and making that goal.
Rocket League is the kind of game that will have you repeatedly declaring “just one more game” after every match, with play sessions going from their planned few minutes into hours-long sessions.
Bloodborne may not be the most original game out there, as it’s basically just Dark Souls with some gameplay tweaks and a new setting and lore. But it is a testament to how well crafted the Dark Souls formula is.
The tight gameplay, intense but fair difficulty, dark atmosphere, everything that made the Dark Souls games great is in full force in Bloodborne. But Bloodborne also has a faster pace and combat, giving it its own identity.
Simply put, if you love Dark Souls, you’ll probably love Bloodborne as well. But if, for some reason, you don’t love Dark Souls, you may still like Bloodborne due to the relatively streamlined changes it brings to the table.
Bloodborne may not have the sense of newness as its Dark Souls predecessors, but it is yet another example of Hidetaka Miyazaki’s mastery of the craft.
Nintendo often gets flak for “never making anything new.” Though it’s true that Nintendo relies heavily on their established franchises, it is very much unfair to claim those franchises don’t bring new ideas to the table (after all, the ideas are more important than the IP).
With that said, Nintendo seemingly gave their naysayers a collective slap in the face when they announced Splatoon, which is both a new idea and a new IP. Best of all, the end result is one of the freshest video games of recent years.
While just about every developer under the sun has rehashed the shooter genre to the point that referring to them as monotonous would be an understatement, Nintendo seemed dead-set against creating their own addition to the genre.
Let’s all be glad Nintendo decided now was the time for them to finally make a shooter. Not only does Splatoon bring a new franchise to Nintendo’s belt, but also breathes new life to multiplayer shooters.
Splatoon is the shooter where no one does any actual shooting. A game where ink replaces blood and bullets, kids with 90s attitude replace brooding space marines, and matches are inexplicably refereed by a cat.
Odd that Nintendo’s first foray into a genre they previously wouldn’t touch ended up being one of the most “Nintendo” games ever.
2: Super Mario Maker
For years, level-creation games have been used as a vicarious device for us to pretend to create Mario levels (a good chunk of LittleBigPlanet’s user base made countless recreations of 1-1, after all). So what better possible level-creation game could there be than one that lets you make literal Mario levels?
Internet hipsters love to cry foul whenever any praise is thrown in the direction of a Mario title, as if such praise is founded solely in some blind fanboyism that the series somehow magically concocts. But what really makes Mario so consistently praised is how it can take seemingly any video game foundation, and create an exemplary title out of it.
Super Mario Maker is another testament to this. It takes the idea of the “make your own game” genre and makes it more accessible than it has ever been before, while not sacrificing an ounce of its depth.
It’s true that there were some notable limitations in level creation at Mario Maker’s launch, but most (like checkpoints) have been addressed in updates. Though some (such as mandatory boss fights) are still a must for future improvements. But even with the limitations, Super Mario Maker is a game that can bring out the best in player creativity.
After all, the Mario series has a special place in the hearts of gamers that is uniquely its own. Mario played a vital role in influencing countless gamers through the years. What better series is there to inspire them to make games of their own?
1 (Game of the Year): Undertale
Undertale is something special. An RPG in which every decision has an effect on future events in the story, humorous characters turn into tragic figures, every monster provides a unique challenge, and you don’t have to hurt anybody.
To think that Undertale was – more or less – the product of a single creator is astounding. Gameplay, story, visuals, and the glorious soundtrack were all the efforts of creator Toby Fox. The end result is a labor of love that is ultimately one of the best games of recent years.
Undertale is a game that succeeds where so many other indie titles stumble. It’s able to weave a beautiful story into its engaging gameplay without ever feeling out of place. I can’t help but feel like Undertale is everything that so many people have bragged up so many other indie titles to be, but ultimately weren’t.
I’m usually far more critical of “indie darlings” than most, so it’s a testament to how good Undertale is that it has won me over so strongly. It probably helps that it draws inspiration from a number of my favorite RPGS like EarthBound and Super Mario RPG. But what makes it earn the title of my Game of the Year is how well it lives up to those all-time greats.
Undertale is the best indie game I’ve played, one of my favorite RPGs, and undoubtedly my 2015 Game of the Year.