It was a great year for gaming. It seems like more than almost any other year in recent memory there were amazing games from beginning to end. From exciting sequels like Tomb Raider, Fallout and Halo to brand new originals like Bloodborne, Splatoon and Life is Strange. 2015 really knocked it out of the park with the amount of quality games. And choosing our top 3 wasn’t easy! But we managed to somehow do it, so we’re happy to present our picks for GAME OF THE YEAR 2015!
3. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
I’m not always the biggest RPG guy. A few have really grabbed my attention over the years. Final Fantasy XII, Lost Odyssey and Skyrim come to mind. And after playing a few hours of The Witcher 2 and coming away unimpressed, Wild Hunt was a bit of a tough sell for me. But I am so glad that I gave it a shot because it now joins those other RPGs as one of my favorites. Developer CD Projekt Red has created such an amazing and richly detailed world that I wanted to explore every inch of it. Interesting and complex characters populate this massive world alongside wonderfully designed (and hideous) creatures. And the story shines by defying convention by not just being “save the world” and telling a more personal tale. Fun combat and endless quests also helped to make this a game that would keep me busy for months on end.
2. Rise of the Tomb Raider
Having been a huge fan of the 2013 reboot of the Tomb Raider series, my expectations were pretty high for this follow up. And somehow Crystal Dynamics has managed to improve on that last game in every single way. The world is much larger and filled with things to do. The tombs are bigger and more interesting, and there are more of them. Combat has been scaled back, putting a bigger focus on traversal and exploration. And the story (while not revolutionary) is interesting and well told. All of these improvements add up to an impressive return to form for Lara and the best Tomb Raider game since TR2.
1. Life is Strange
If there is one thing that many of my favorite games from the last several years have in common, it’s amazing characters. And Life is Strange has some of the best characters I’ve seen in games in years. The story of Max and Chloe is filled with twists and turns and subject matter that very few games have ever dared to tackle. The end of nearly every episode had me questioning my decisions and wondering if I’d made a huge mistake, but by the end everything came together so wonderfully that I wouldn’t want go back and change a thing. Few games have had such an emotional effect on me. While it might not be perfect in many regards, what Life is Strange does right it does SO right that it’s my favorite game of this generation and one that I’ll be talking about for years.
3. Batman: Arkham Knight
This final chapter in the Arkham series is a return to form in my opinion. While I enjoyed Arkham City well enough, I often felt underwhelmed and weighed down by how much it tried to throw at me. The bold direction in narrative, the incredible visuals and the wildly diverse gameplay presented in this conclusion make THIS the best Batman game I have ever played. Severe praise goes to Rocksteady for delivering one of the greatest Dark Knight storylines I’ve ever witnessed as well.
Maybe the biggest game Nintendo has released in years, Splatoon showed that once in a blue moon the big “N” can give us something totally fresh. With extremely easy to grasp gameplay, amazing art and sound design, and that “it” factor that Nintendo franchises have, Splatoon was almost my number one pick for game of the year.
Splatoon is a perfect ‘Dad’ game too. In addition to it being super kid friendly (the whole thing looks like a Nickelodeon cartoon) it is a great quick-session game. While you certainly could pour hours into it (and I did), you can easily put 10-15 minutes in and bow out. I in no way can stress enough how much I love Nintendo’s newest franchise.
1. Life is Strange
Every once in a while a game is released that stays with you. You think about it well after it’s over, obsess over the soundtrack, quote the characters and if you’re me, draw a poster of it. Life is Strange is as fantastic, strange and imperfect as its leading ladies. The five episode journey of Max and Chloe is the kind of experience that is hard to define but impossible to forget.
Life is Strange takes its unique setting, cast of unforgettable characters, incredible art design and pitch perfect score to weave one of the most unforgettable games I’ve ever played. Sure the graphics may sometimes be a little rough in spots, the gameplay may not be totally original, and there was a little over-indulgence with the profanity. But Life is Strange is so much more than the sum of its parts. It’s my favorite game of 2015.