2015 is coming to a close, and we’ve spent the last week huddled up in The Games Cabin hotly debating our top 10 games of 2015. There’s been many arguments, disagreements, and even some naughty words thrown around, but we’ve reached our conclusion on the best games 2015 had to offer, and we’re all friends again. If you click on the title of a game on the list you’ll be taken straight to our review of it, so you can check out why it’s worthy of the top 10. However, we’re a small group so we can’t cover every game, but fret not because we’ve included a short description of each game along with the list, so you’ll be able to learn a little something about it no matter what. Without further ado here is the list in descending order to keep you in suspense as you await The Games Cabin’s Game of the Year.
10: Undertale – Stefan Mancevski
Undertale is a charming, surprising game. What starts off as a turn-based RPG with a combat system reminiscent of Pokémon’s swiftly changes into a game about your choices – fight, or be merciful. The game’s focus on different mechanics for each monster type ensures you never feel the game becomes repetitive. Its simple art style, 16-bit graphics, and terrific soundtrack make for a pleasant aesthetic. A deep story that can be sad and funny, or one that can leave you feeling like the real monster, brings this game from a cute, retro-style romp to one of the most engaging experiences of 2015.
9: Dying Light – Dominic Kwaczynski
Zombie games are a dime a dozen these days. Just as I was getting sick of dismembering another re-animated corpse, Dying Light came along like a breath of air amidst the putrid smell of rotting flesh. The heavy focus on parkour traversal provided a fresh spin on the zombie formula and made running away from hordes of undead a refreshingly fun experience. Running over walls, up buildings and across rooftops all provided a sense of freedom that previous zombie-themed games have lacked. Add in a dynamic day and night cycle and a solid co-op component and developer Techland’s Dying Light is a zombie game that actually feels unique.
8: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain – Jack Palmer (@Aldermaine)
No game this year was quite as innovative in the AAA space as Metal Gear Solid V. A little like watching your daughter grow up to be a respectable mature lady, everyone’s favourite stealth-em-up went open world with the kind of grace that is usually unheard of when a game shifts genres like that. The writing is sharp, the sense of freedom is extraordinary, and the room for experimentation is liberating. Metal Gear Solid V just gives the player a sandbox, dumps a toolbox full of goodies in there, and then lets the player experience its meticulously structured gameplay systems all on their own. It’s a refreshing change of pace from the kind of hand-holding that usually accompanies these sorts of games, and that’s why it’s easily a strong candidate for Game of the Year.
Fallout 4 is big. It’s an understatement that has become standard for Bethesda games, so much so that it’s almost taken for granted. And whilst size does matter, it’s what Fallout 4 does with its scale that impresses. Fallout 4 improves on core combat, world building (in the literal sense), tone, atmosphere and graphics, but it’s the intermingling of so many minor touches that makes it an engrossing experience. It’s hard to articulate how much better the game feels than its predecessor, but it’s a broadly more satisfying experience, and one that feels boundless and expansive. Fallout 4’s ruined Boston is alive with player possibility, and the broadened customization allows players to make their mark on that world in greater ways than previously possible. More than ever before, Fallout is less about playing a role within a world, and more about sculpting the world to fit how you want it to be.
6: Bloodborne – Lloyd Hawker (@HawkXCi)
Few games in recent years have tested my patience like Bloodborne. It didn’t just test my patience, but instead it demanded it every time I picked up the controller. Like a parent spoiling their child, I gave in every-damn-time and each occasion either resulted in blank-faced disappointment, or feeling like Ash Ketchum winning a Gym badge (bloody heroic!). Either way, the game is extremely well put together, enticing the player to enter in its grim, gothic world where they will die… a lot! And that’s a good thing! The game encourages you to learn from your blinded ignorances and it heightens your sense of patience. Once you grasp the core mechanics of Bloodborne, it’s hard to leave its world behind (despite the outlandish difficulty).
5: Tales from the Borderlands – Stefan Mancevski
Tales from the Borderlands is Telltale Games at its best. Despite the game engine showing its age, and despite the poorly executed Game of Thrones, the developer showed that it still has that spark that brought us the first season of The Walking Dead. If you never cared about the Borderlands universe, Tales will drag you in and demand your attention. If you never cared for point-and-click style gameplay, you’ll gain a new appreciation for it. Brilliant storytelling that’s both funny and dramatic, combined with terrific voice acting and character development, topped off with the two best quick-time events I’ve ever played (seriously, you have to experience them), adds up to become not just the best gaming experience of 2015, but of the entire interactive storytelling genre.
I’ll be honest, London was the only part of the game I was interested in when Ubisoft predictably announced a new Assassin’s Creed game this year. Having not being the franchises biggest fan these past few instalments, I found Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate to be a major comeback for the series. It feels more finely tuned than ever before in its gorgeous Victorian-London setting. The pacing can be off at times, but with great characters (especially its protagonists Evie and Jacob Frye) and a much more versatile approach to gameplay, this year’s Assassin’s Creed more than makes up for its flaws. Syndicate isn’t just one of our favourite titles of the year, it’s arguably the best Assassin’s Creed game yet. Oh, and to answer your key question, yes! Everyone is very British and moany, though the weather rarely comes up in conversation.
3: Rocket League – Conor Hutton (@conorlhutton)
Rocket League is perhaps the most gamey game to come out this year. There is no moving story, or action packed cut-scenes. There is no lovable characters (in fact there’s no characters at all). There’s just some tiny cars, a ball about three times the size of the tiny cars, and physics. That’s it. The controls are simply forward, reverse, jump, and boost, but mastering them takes hours of dedication. What’s the objective? Well it’s just football with tiny cars, so all you have to do to win is put the ball in your opponent’s goal. Sounds simple, right? Well its bloody not! The whole prospect is difficult enough when it’s just you on the pitch, but opponents make getting the ball into the other goal next to impossible. Throw incompetent team mates into the mix and you might as well give up before you start, ok don’t actually give up, it’s worth the pain.
2: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Dominic Kwaczynski
Role-playing games have a tendency of sucking you into a vacuum, as you pour tens, if not hundreds, of hours into their rich open worlds. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will have you doing so with gleeful abandon. That is abandoning all forms of social life. The Witcher series has been around for a while now but for many, myself included, it was the third instalment that was their first dive into it the rich lore that defines the series. And it’s an experience that will make you wonder how you overlooked the series in the first place. With an engrossing narrative that’s akin to cracking open a sweeping fantasy novel, dynamic gameplay and a visually stunning world, the Witcher 3 is a triumph. What’s more is that it’s accessible to new players without compromising on the depth that has brought the series critical acclaim over the years. The Witcher 3 is a staggering achievement and it’s great to see CD Projekt RED finally getting the recognition they deserve.
Bruce Wayne’s life has never been easy, and that’s never been more true than in Rocksteady’s final entry in the successful Arkham series of games. Arkham Knight was the true next-gen experience that fans had longed for since they’d first gotten a taste of what a true open-world Batman could be with Arkham City. A colourful cast of characters helped light up the dark and gloomy events that had gripped Gotham City in Batman’s longest night. Outstanding visuals and top-class sound design all brought that world to life. It was, and still very much is, a genuinely fun game to get suckered into and really enjoy. I’m happy to declare Batman: Arkham Knight as The Games Cabin’s Game of the Year.
And that’s that. We’ve had a great year playing games, but perhaps our list is a little too short for every great release that hit store shelves this year. Not to worry, we’ll be following this up with some of the sorely overlooked games from the past 12 months. So, the big question is: What’s your Game of the Year?