2015 was another incredible year for video games. A big trend this year were massive open world games. So, I ended up not even starting several games or finishing them like Bloodborne, Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. As always my yearly list requirements are I had to finish each game I selected by December 31st. I also didn’t include remasters like The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D and compilations like Rare Replay because their older games. Without further ado here are my top 10 games of 2015 along with some honorable mentions.
Her Story is an excellent game, and it deserves all the praise it’s gotten for the writing, Viva Seifer’s fantastic performance and the way it keeps you engaged. I only played a few minutes each day, but with each play session, I couldn’t wait to discover what new search term would lead me closer to solving the story. Like Gone Home, Her Story doesn’t feel like a game and is more of an experience. So in that respect, I consider Her Story more akin to watching a great mystery drama rather than a deep video game and that’s why it doesn’t make my top 10.
Onechanbara Z2: Chaos
This game is so ridiculous, and I’m embarrassed by how much I enjoy it. Onechanbara Z2: Chaos is a huge jump in quality from the previous XBOX 360 entry, Onenchanabara: Bikini Samurai Squad, which I liked, but many critics thought was god awful. Yes, it’s repetitive, and the plot is garbage, but the gameplay is fun and being able to switch between four characters keeps combat interesting. Each character plays differently like Saaya, who is slow but powerful and uses a massive blade to annihilate her enemies. While Saki favors speed over power and the other two characters Aya and Kagura use dual blades.
I also liked the strategy of healing your characters by rotating between them and it’s a neat touch that you wipe the blood off your weapons to keep your attack damage high. The Super Saiyan style transformations are also visually impressive and help make some of the tougher bosses more manageable. Finally, a special shoutout to the soundtrack which like Metal Gear Rising Revengence is equally great and terrible. Give this game a shot if you’re a fan of Devil May Cry. I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised how much you enjoy it.
Mad Max got lost in all the open world games released this year. Which is a shame because Mad Max is an excellent movie tie-in and does justice to the film franchise. The busy work of collecting scrap and clearing enemy bases can get tedious, but it’s incredibly satisfying once you’re powerful enough to make your mark in the open world. I also loved the desert setting and had fun just driving around aimlessly while blowing up enemy cars with the thunderpoon or ripping convoys apart by using the harpoon. If you just do just the story, you’ll be frustrated, but if you take the time to do the side missions, you’ll find Mad Max much more enjoyable.
Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash
I’m surprised with all the hate out there for this game. I agree it’s disappointing that there is no career mode or more bonus modes like past Mario sports games, but the gameplay is still rock solid. The controls feel great, and this game is gorgeous. This game made my Thanksgiving Break, and I got nearly a dozen hours of enjoyment from it. If you want a fun tennis game to play by yourself, online or with friends I have no trouble recommending Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash. If you want more than that, then you’ll be disappointed and be better off just renting it.
Yoshi Wooly World
This game feels so joyful that you can’t help but smile when you play it. While I’ve started to get fatigued from all the Nintendo platforms on Wii U and 3DS, Yoshi Wooly World is still an enjoyable romp while it lasts. Also, even though it feels incredibly easy at first, later levels can get downright challenging. Expect to play almost all the levels twice to get all the sunflowers if you want to play the post game content. While Yoshi Wooly World has a lot to like it didn’t really wow me and I just got what I was expecting from a Yoshi Island sequel. There are a few new ideas like new transformations for Yoshi, but not much else you haven’t seen before, so it doesn’t make my top 10.
My Top 10 Games Of 2015
10. Mortal Kombat X
A bit of a downgrade from MK 9, but still an incredibly solid fighter that takes some creative risks. I like the emphasis on new fighters instead of catering to the original roster. New characters like Cowboy Erron Black, half-insect girl D’Vorah girl and the blind ninja Kenshi, in particular, are some of my favorite fighters. The story isn’t what I expected either and I liked how Johnny Cage, Sonya Blade, and Jax interact with their children. The way Netherrealm found a way to bring back everyone who died from the last game was quite clever too.
However, the story mode isn’t as satisfying as MK9 and the tower mode challenges aren’t very interesting this time, so I prefer MK9 over this one. There is still tons to unlock in the crypt, but not much compelling content for the solo player unless you want to play online a lot. Still, I can’t wait to see how MK11 turns out and what other new surprises Netherealm has.
9. Dying Light
A surprise hit for me and many others. I never played Dead Island, but after experiencing Dying Light, I can see the appeal of killing zombies in an open world environment. Although I had more fun doing parkour all over the world and running away from zombies then killing them. As for the story, I found it interesting enough that I saw the game through to the end. What I didn’t care for was much of the side quests that just felt like busywork to me. However, Dying Light grabbed me with its parkour gameplay mechanics and has made me even more excited for Mirror’s Edge Catalyst.
8. The Order: 1866
I feel bad for the developers of the Order: 1866, who many critics slammed for its short length and uninspired game design. I disagree. I enjoyed the fact that it focused on telling a linear story, and it was refreshing that it wasn’t another open world game. It helps too that the game looks fantastic with some of the best graphics, sound and voice acting ever. I did find the Steampunk setting depressing, but it was still fun to navigate. Still, I liked the gameplay and thought the gunplay did a great job emulating Uncharted. Hopefully, Ready at Dawn can use this as a template for a stronger sequel.
I liked Splatoon, but I didn’t love it and found more enjoyment in the Super Mario Sunshine style, single player, than the multiplayer. Don’t get me wrong the multiplayer is fun and creative with the focus on spraying ink instead of shooting your enemies. I also love how colorful this game is and was surprised how challenging it is. Really, the final boss is one for the best bosses time capsule and just left me in awe after beating it. Keep creating new IPs Nintendo like Splatoon and more people may just buy an NX.
6. Call of Duty: Black Ops 3
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 is one of my favorite Call of Duty games, so I was excited for this one. While the campaign and story aren’t as memorable as Black Ops 2, I still had fun. I like the new abilities like cloaking, disabling machines and power charges. Also, I enjoyed the time traveling aspect of missions which take place in the past, present and future. What I didn’t like was the game is a little too futuristic with terminator robots and bullet sponge enemies that take too long to kill. Which makes playing solo frustrating sometimes. Luckily you can lower the difficulty anytime to make things more manageable. However, I am excited to replay the campaign with zombies and thought that it was a cool bonus for Treyarch to add. Not the best Call of Duty game, but entertaining nonetheless.
5. Persona 4 Dancing All Night
I love rhythm games and Persona 4 so Persona 4: Dancing All Night sounded like a winner to me. While the game isn’t perfect, Altus came up with a clever way to expand the Persona 4 storyline. Basically, the Midnight Channel Gang helps Rise jumpstart her music career again by acting as her dance crew. The gameplay is fun, and it’s surprisingly long for a rhythm game with a story mode running close to ten hours. P4DAN has a few problems, though. One, lots of the songs are remixes and second the story mode to gameplay ratio isn’t well balanced.
Seriously, you might read text conversations for nearly an hour before you get into a dance routine that only lasts three minutes. Luckily the pacing gets a little better in the second half, and free play mode lets you play all the songs at your leisure. However, it makes you wonder if Altus would have nixed the story there might have been double the content and fewer remixes. Still, if you’re a Persona 4 fan you should definitely check out P4DAN
4. Kirby and the Rainbow Curse
Like the Order: 1866, I don’t understand the hate for this game. I loved Kirby: Canvas Curse on DS, so I couldn’t wait to play this game. Kirby Canvas Curse is another great Nintendo game and something I really enjoyed playing when I needed a break from all the giant gritty open world games released last year. The soundtrack is fantastic too with some of the best music ever to grace a Kirby game. I can understand the frustration of having to look at the Wii U gamepad all the time, but it didn’t bother me. KATRC is my favorite Wii U game from 2015, and I hope Nintendo doesn’t make us wait another ten years for a sequel.
3. Resident Evil: Revelations 2
After Resident Evil 6 made fans and critics questions the iconic series identity it’s nice to see Capcom return to its survival horror roots. I enjoyed the dual character setup and how Capcom balanced the gameplay between Barry and Claire. Speaking of Claire, it’s good to see her back in action after being MIA in the series since Resident Evil: Code Veronica. The episodic style was a little weird since Capcom released each one so quick and they easily could have charged full price for the amount of content here. I didn’t dwell too much into the raid mode, but I see why people love it. The best thing I can say about Resident Evil: Revelations 2 is it makes me more excited for Resident Evil 7 and that Capcom is learning from their past mistakes.
The biggest underdog of 2015 that slipped past most people’s radar and the best $5 I’ve spent in a long time. Boxboy looks rather simplistic like an old Game Boy title, but it has surprising depth. The main campaign is long with over 20 worlds, and each one offers a new way to use the box gameplay dynamics cleverly. Not to mentions, there are all the crowns to collect, unlockable stages, challenges and more. Boxboy is an innovative effort by Hal Laboratory makers of the Kirby games and a tantalizing tease of what Nintendo has in store for mobile gaming.
1.Batman: Arkham Knight
A divisive choice that garners a love and hate relationship with critics and fans. I didn’t get a chance to dive into Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt or even start Metal Gear V: The Phantom Pain so besides Mad Max, and Dying Light Arkham Knight was the open world game I spent the most time with last year. Even after finishing it I still have lots to do like the most wanted missions, challenge modes, and other extra content to keep me busy for another 20 hours. The Batmobile portions didn’t bother me much, although I agree there’s way too much in the beginning. The menu bar for tracking side quests is the best I’ve seen in an open world game and makes alternating between the story and diversions a breeze. Rocksteady’s created a great send off for Batman Fans, and I hope they put as much care into their next IP as they did the Arkham trilogy.
There you have it my favorite games of 2015. Here’s hoping for an even better 2016.