GOTY 2015

Best games I played not released in 2015

1. Dark Souls

Dark Souls is a game that defines a genre, it’s a genre that I didn’t think I’d like, but oh boy I was wrong. The Souls games may be known for their difficulty, but the thing that sets Dark Souls apart for me is its world and it’s mystery. The lack of a map makes exploration so much more exciting, as you never know what’s around the next corner – you never feel safe. The world is built so that everything is connected in a really satisfying way, I would open a door and be back in a place were I’d seen the other side of the door from before and the whole map would just click into place in my mind. I’ve never felt so connected to and so disconnected from a world at the same time.

2. Grand Theft Auto V

R* fixed up the bad driving from GTAIV to the point where GTAV had probably the best driving all year – and it’s not just the cars, it’s boats, planes, helicopters, motorbikes. Then they gave it a story that has you doing all sorts of crazy crap on your way to the top (and simultaneously your way to the bottom).

3. South Park: The Stick of Truth

This is probably the best TV show video game since The Simpsons: Hit & Run. Its a solid RPG with a funny South Park story.

Honourable mentions

Game of the Year 2015

1. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

For GOTY I had originally planned to do categories similar to Giant Bomb’s GOTY awards. However, The Witcher 3 pretty much won all of them (Best Looking, Best Story, Best Moment, Best New Character). This is the first western RPG that has ever pulled me in and made me actually want to play it. The world is absolutely gorgeous, and feels alive in a way that most video game worlds don’t. It also takes you to some places that you would never expect, at one point Geralt is chasing an elven mage through portals between worlds and you go to some astonishingly creative new worlds. The writing is fantastic and well acted – I found myself not just listening to everything that people had to say, but also being emotionally invested in their stories. Even without having played the previous entries in the series the game does a fantastic job of introducing the player to past events, not by explicitly re-stating what happened in past games, but by alluding to what may have happened through the effects and outcomes of past events. It all serves to make the characters feel more alive, like real people with real personal history, which just got me more invested in the story and made me really feel for the characters when things go bad for them. I am really keen to play more WRPGs now, and I will no doubt be playing through The Witcher 3 again when all the story DLC has been released. There is still so much I want to do in that world.

2. Persona 4: Dancing All Night

This is the only game I have ever Platinumed and continued to play. This is just a damn good rhythm game full of remixes from one of my favourite games of all time. I’m still surprised by just how much time I’ve put into P4D. I have a draw to master it, I want to keep perfecting all the songs – and that’s not something that happens often.

3. METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN

If I was going to have categories, this game would take ‘Most Disappointing’ easily. I was so ready for this to be the greatest of all time, and it really looked like it was going to be. The E3 2014 trailer for MGSV is fucking incredible, in fact – that trailer is better than any game this year.

We’ll make diamonds from their ashes, take them into battle with us. A shining light to our brothers in arms. Even in death… …We are Diamond Dogs.

The game is still great. It’s just not the game I wanted. It has such a weird structure, and just falls apart at the end (I did not like twist at all). Despite all this, I had a lot of fun playing it, and it’s still easily one of the best games of the year, it’s just so hard to talk about without feeling disappointed for what could have been.

I won’t scatter your sorrow to the heartless sea. I will always be with you.

4. Bloodborne

The sequel that Dark Souls deserved. Bloodborne has some of the best visual design in any game, though it is a bit one-note. The world that they craft lives up to Dark Souls in a way that Dark Souls 2 didn’t – it feels lived in, real, and mysterious. The changes to combat are a great way to make the game feel quicker, more active, while still retaining the same Dark Souls style. But the thing that really makes Bloodborne: the weapons. The trick weapons are such a cool idea – the Kirkhammer, Ludwig’s Holy Blade, and Saw Cleaver are just so damn cool!

Honourable mentions