Welcome, all three readers of this piece, to my Best of 2015 blog.
2015 was a great year and the reason why it's taken me so long to write this blog is down to my inability to decide upon a top ten list out of all the games I played in 2015.
I never thought that I'd be able to play as many games as I did. After tallying it up, I've played near 55 games this year, balanced my social and my work life as well as celebrated festive holidays... To any of you worried about getting your life together have no fear, life is tough but eventually, you have one of those years that feels like shit, but in retrospect was actually pretty positive and keeps you positive as you go forward.
Right, before we begin, I have a confession to make. I'm a peace keeper and, as 2015 was a mighty crowded year and as I played so many games, I'm not doing a top ten instead I'm opting to do a Top 15 List as there are just too many damn good games but I can't write about 20 games, as that would make the blog too damn long.
Any-hoo, I'm going to plop my hounarable mentions here:
Rocket League (cars and football in a demolition derby arena... Who'da thunk it?)
Cities Skylines (indie companies giving you what you want when AAA publishers refuse to)
Helldivers (co-op action that was better than Evolve *shudder*)
Pillars of Eternity (everything Diablo 3 promised it would be before it was originally released)
Now that's out of the way, let's get on with the real deal.
Downwell came out from nowhere and blindsided me, both in terms of its difficulty and its quality.
Many have compared it unfavourably to an endless runner and to them I ask, why must endless runners be considered a bad thing when the level design (such as in this game) is so tight. Normally, mobile games aren't my thing, but the fact of the matter is, this game hooked me and while I wasn't playing it, I was thinking about playing it and sadly for my productivity, I could play it whenever I liked, at home, work or on the bus.
Harder than my dick and addictive as crack, Downwell makes the player its bitch and forces them to like it.
While I admit that it is a shallow experience in terms of story and depth, none can deny how much fun the game was. After picking it up for just £10 I definitely got my moneys worth and it still plays on my mind how good it feels to play this game.
Transformers: Devastation does everything right that the Michael Bay films do wrong: Devastation is tongue-in-cheek, intentionally cheesy and feels like it is a continuation of the animated universe.
With combat that sinks its claws into once you've mastered it and a colour palette more vivid than watching an Adventure Time episode on acid, Transformers: Devastation is a game that fully deserves a deeper, fleshed-out sequel.
Darker than a Souls game and bleaker than the inside of my anus, Darkest Dungeon, left a profound impact on me this year, especially given that my computer managed to run very few games this year (there's a reason why I have so many indie titles on my list, those were the only PC games I could play without busting my computer).
Darkest Dungeon is everything I wanted it to be and, though it still has room to improve, its place on my list is justified due to the fact that I sat there after I inevitably got my crew killed and just thought about what I had done, really makes this game stand out to me as an experience, not just a game.
Ori and the Blind Forest
My favourite platformer of the year, Ori really stands out to me thanks to it's playful nature but the impact of the story, without even mentioning its well-refined gameplay. To explain and elaborate upon the story would spoil the experience for you, as I went in 100% blind.
Everything from the creature designs to the shift in colour schemes throughout the game make me love it more than I will ever love my own children. Children are overrated, Ori and the Blind Forest is not.
A game about looking at a real-life woman and trying to pick apart her story to the police. And people had a go at Until Dawn for not being interactive enough.
This game is an intriguing experiment that really wormed its way into my psyche as the story progressed, making me feel dirtier than Dreamweaver on a Friday night.
The main actress, Viva Seifert, is phenomenal in this game, bringing weight and depth to a role that is written to have her literally her interacting with nobody, telling a story in bits and pieces that comes to a conclusion in a well-written and thematically appropriate way.
Props to everyone involved in this game. Well-bloody done.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
A vast open world and tonnes of missions to enjoy, MGSVTPP (because acronyms are faster to type) is exceptional at what it does. It looks great on every platform, its combat is fantastic and refined, its stealth-system is the best I've ever used and the voice acting is top-notch.
Sure, the story was butchered in more places than a Jack the Ripper victim (oh come on it was over a hundred years ago), and Konami seem hell-bent on destroying its image post-release but overall the game satisfied me during the many hours I played it, giving me many hours of fun.
And you can't ask for more than that; (well besides getting Silent Hills, but I've moved on from that *shivers in the corner*).
A game that encourages squirting thick, viscous fluids on one another until you spray them so badly the umpire forces you to stop. That's the kind of game I can get behind.
Splatoon manages to be the best, most interesting shooter of the year. It feels like a Nintendo game of old, where it is quirky and enjoyable and feels different in this age of homogeneous shoot-em-ups that want to replicate one-another in a blind attempt to grab all of the money in the pot.
This game might not have the most amount of content, but I never once thought to myself "Why am I playing this exactly?" because the vibrant colours and fun-factor kept me coming back for more... And don't get me started on the pretty paint.
That sentence made me sound like a 5-year-old child. But that's what Splatoon does to you.
Tales from the Borderlands
My joint favourite TellTale game series to date (tied with A Wolf Among Us), Tales is a bloody excellent time. It's humour makes it feel right at home in the Borderlands universe, with cameos from several characters from the main series' entries making it fit into place amongst the main titles instead of a generic spin-off.
With pitch-perfect voice-acting and comedic timing that rivals South Park: The Stick of Truth, TFTB is just truly incredible at what it does, creating scenes of dramatic heft as well as incredible hilarity.
Also, just so you know, this game features one of the best QTE's in history, tied with Deadpool's 'bitch-slap.' Seriously, I was in hysterics the whole time I was playing it and that truly is a testament to the writing team.
Fuck me (please do), this game was glorious.
I finished this game and told myself that I will never pick it up again. That doesn't mean it's a bad game, on the contrary, I want to remember the emotions it made me feel as opposed to replaying it to death.
The game deals with identity and reality-misconception in a way that no other video game has ever done before it, using its sci-fi-horror themes to maturely deal with its metaphorical topics and hidden meanings.
The story of SOMA is probably the most interesting of this year, especially to me as I love the idea of A.I becoming sentient (that isn't exactly what happens here in this game but you get the gist).
The developers at Frictional Games have outdone themselves this time and I truly want to commend them for this intriguing and beautifully realised sci-fi experience.
Xenoblade Chronicles X
More vast and open than my ex, Xenoblade Chronicles X is one of the finest games of the year. It has so much depth, I don't think I will ever uncover everything in the game, with its sprawling paths and endless mountains.
While I had minor annoyances here and there (fuck those higher level dick-bags constantly steamrolling my weak party), I have enjoyed and am still enjoying my time with Xenoblade.
Who needs a social life when you can play a game focused on probing?
The Witcher 3
I had issues with The Witcher 3, honestly I think I had more issues with it than hindsight is letting me remember, but damn is it a good game.
It really impressed me, thanks to its engaging secondary quests and its breathtaking scope, where the wilds of Velen fwlt brimming with life, the crowds of Novigrad created an excellent hustle and bustle, all the while the seas around Skellige swelled in incredible fashion.
This game is something that, towards the end of the PS4 life-cycle, I will pop in again and play the whole way through, loving every moment of it; plot inconsistencies and all.
Oh, and Triss, Geralt and Yennefer are damn fine looking. That is all.
Best damn adventure game of the year, beating Life is Strange and Tales From the Borderlands.
I love horror films, I love adventure games, I love branching storylines, so imagine how impressed I was when Supermassive Games managed to wrap all three of those things up in a nice little bow for gamers like myself to enjoy.
The cast are perfect and the dialogue is deliciously hammy, with a nice slice of cheesy horror tropes thrown in there to make a great sandwich game.
I lost track of what I was saying there for a second because now I really want a sandwich.
The Beginner's Guide
Fantastic look at a creators mind. As a creator of content myself I simply adored this little game, something that sets Davey Wredon's name in stone as one of the best video game writers working today.
He pulls you in one direction and you think the plot is heading in one direction, before he pulls the rug out from underneath you in a manner similar to that of Fight Club: The true story was in front of your face the whole time and you don't connect the dots until the end.
This thing hurts you. It pummels you into the corner and then proceeds to laugh at you as you cry. But for every defeat comes a sweaty-palmed, heart-racing victory, a victory that causes you to physically scream into a pillow with joy so as not to wake your respective partner who is in bed. This game has everything from crow-headed dogs to dog-headed ravens and a bunch of other bosses that vary from the "simple-but deadly" (Cleric, Gascoigne, Micolash) to the "Oh go f**** your f***** motherf***** dad you piece of c****** clitting piece of spilt lemonade."
Sure, the Chalice Dungeons are a drag but everything else in Bloodborne is as perfect as it could possibly be.
FromSoftware didn't just raise the standard for future Souls games, it raised the bar for every game this coming year.
I couldn't just leave this game out could I? It feels like a cop-out by having this game in my list, but you know what, fuck it, it's my list I do what I want.
Undertale is a game I admire, not just because it captures the tone of old SNES games, not just because its characters are charming or the coding of the game is fantastic, not just because the story has multiple paths increasing replay-factor, not just because the music is phenomenal and is some of the best of the year... But it's mainly because this whole game was built almost entirely by one man.
Normally when people say the phrase "You do better" when I criticise a game, I normally list the number of reasons why it wouldn't work. Well, Undertale seems to be the product of what happens if a man, not really experienced in games design (Toby Fox is primarily a musician), decided that he would "Do better" and as such, has delivered a compelling experience that will definitely be replayed by myself some years down the line.
Well done Mr. Fox.
So that's that. List done.
Oh by the way, are you pissed that Undertale is at Number 1 or that Until Dawn is higher than The Witcher, Metal Gear Solid V or Xenoblade Chronicles X?
Guess what, this list of 15 Games is in no particular order. Lovely ain't I?
Honestly, the 15 games here could all be rearranged to make a new list of your choosing as they're all brilliant. I just listed my personal favourites of the year without having to give them a level of "goodness" with arbitrary rankings. Like I said: It's my list and I do what I want. Screw conformism.
Thanks for reading folks.