GameReviewPad’s Favorite Games of 2015

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GameReviewPad’s Favorite Games of 2015

The following selections represent GameReviewPad contributor’s favorite games of 2015.


The #1 Favorite Game of 2015 for each contributor:

Fallout 4 (PC) selected by Oliver Prevost
Fallout4BoxArt
Fallout 4 took a game that I couldn’t even fathom being any better and blew me out of the water with it. While The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt may have won game of the year at The Game Awards by being the flashier title, the fact that Fallout 4 has no level cap and every single piece of scrap is worth collecting, means I could spend a lifetime searching the wastes for secrets and rebuilding all of the many settlements in post apocalyptic Boston and never have to stop or look back. Nothing is more enjoyable than seeing a bustling town that was built by your own two digital hands, or dropping off a load of scrap and weapons freshly harvested from the wastelands irradiated bounty. Thanks to the numerous improvements to load times, UI, and navigation and the fact that you’re leveling doesn’t slow to a crawl at level 35, I don’t think I’ll be done playing Fallout 4 till I’ve acquired every single skill in the new tree and seen every juicy secret Bethesda’s world has to offer.

 

Super Mario Maker (Wii U) selected by Louis Hughes

SuperMarioMakerWiiUBoxArtThis may be a shock that I consider this my favorite game of 2015, mostly because I had no interest in this game when it was announced back at E3 2014. My mind changed for the game when it was the final game in the Nintendo World Championship 2015. Seeing how those crazy levels were made by the Nintendo Treehouse staff reminded me of sketching my own Mario levels from childhood. But I was still worried as to how the gameplay would be for creating levels, since I found Little Big Planet’s design to be cumbersome and frustrating. My fears were put to rest because the Wii U gamepad makes creating levels a breeze. With the new added update for special levels designed by people in the gaming community, and new sprites for the mystery mushroom, Super Mario Maker had me go in my closet, dust off my sketchbook, to create Mario levels from my younger self.

 

The Legend of Zelda: Majoras’ Mask 3D (3DS) selected by Sean Kromrey
TheLegendofZeldaMajorasMask3DOne of the primary examples that classics can still shine the modern age, The Legend of Zelda: Majoras’ Mask 3D is easily the best game of the year for me. It is updating one of the best Legend of Zelda games and fixing almost every problem the original had, while also updating certain aspects graphically and technically. Thematically, the game has been praised enough, but often this game is overlooked as the twin born second next to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. This 3D remaster proves that it completely differentiates itself from the mold even in this day and age, and helps to remind everyone why they fell in love with the Legend of Zelda in the first place. Is everything fixed? Not really, as the goron mechanics are still a pain to control in such narrow passages. Despite some nitpicks, this 3D remake adds in some new bells and whistles, as well as some needed changes in order to make a more cohesive experience, especially with the addition of a more manageable Bomber’s Notebook. It is the fantastical adventure, beautiful world, interesting people, ferocious monsters, insane dungeons, and of course a guy in a green onesie who thinks he is a fairy. Ah forget that last point, but there is no game this year that entranced me more than Majoras’ Mask 3D.

 

Fallout 4 (PS4) selected by Jeremy Kratka
Fallout4PS4BoxArtFallout 4 takes top billing this year, as Bethesda shows how sequels are really supposed to be made. Literally all of my complaints from Fallout 3 were addressed like the over reliance on VATS and the brown, colorless features of the wasteland. Fallout 4 takes everything great from Fallout 3  that was fun and improves it. The addition of settlements and building your own towns allows a nice fresh breath of creativity into a fantastic game. The open world and Bethesda’s skill of allowing players to wander and create their own story really makes this game shine. Having grown up in Massachusetts and knowing the Boston area fairly well, it was really interesting to see the post-apocalyptic re-imagining of the greater Boston area.

Undertale (PC) selected by Andre Calvert
UndertaleI’m generally a very cynical person when it comes to anything in life that gets extremely high praise and my approach to Undertale was no different. I decided to take the dive into this game with a skeptical eye to see what all the fuss was about and I was blown away by the quality. I’m not comfortable saying this is the ‘best game ever,’ but I can certainly say it is at the very least one in my top five games of the last fifteen years. The Undertale fandom may be annoying with all of their Tumblr stuff, but after playing the game I understand their attachment to the game. Toby Fox put together a very solid ensemble of memorable characters, great soundtrack, in conjunction with a very immersive world that changes your experience depending on your decisions.

There are many variants of endings you can get depending on your decisions throughout the game. I personally plan on playing the game at least two more times to experience the stuff that I missed. This is a very difficult game to discuss without spoiling, but I highly recommend playing the game ‘blind’ for the first time, and without a pre-plan of action. This is not a game you can experience through ‘Let’s Plays’ or Twitch streams, and legitimately claim you’ve had the experience. This is a RPG with a unique battle system, where you decide whether to kill monsters or spare them, with each encounter featuring a different mini ‘bullet hell’ game. Although the game starts a little slow and I do have a philosophical difference of opinion in regards to an approach in the game, I still consider Undertale a masterpiece.

Rise of the Tomb Raider (Xbox One) selected by Christopher Joseph
RiseoftheTombRaiderBoxArtThis was my most anticipated title for all of 2015. I loved the first one, and I was looking forward to seeing if Crystal Dynamics could actually produce an even better game this time around. To my pleasant surprise, they did just that; not only were the best elements from the first game vastly improved, the weaker ones were as well, making for a very impressive game. I could go on and on about how amazing this game is, but I’m afraid that would mean nonstop writing. Without a doubt, Rise Of The Tomb Raider is my game of the year for 2015, and should be played by anyone who considers themselves a gamer.

 


Other selections by Oliver Prevost:

2. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (PC)
TheWitcher3WildHuntBoxArt
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a masterfully executed ARPG, with a level of scope and grandeur matched only by The Elder Scrolls. What puts The Witcher 3 ahead of its Bethesdian competitor however, is its combat. Deep, challenging, and quite satisfying, your effectiveness in combat is based heavily on your skill with the mechanics. Only once you’ve severely out-leveled your opponent does a battle become trivial and as a result the fights are always epic, and triumph is always a bolstering sweetness. The game also heavily rewards the player for knowing their opponent, and combined with the engaging storytelling and all around badass-ery, the game really makes the player feel like an infamous monster hunter. With a menagerie of ways to upgrade your character and well crafted and interesting missions, The Witcher 3 is a thrill ride all the way to the bitter end.
3. Rocket League (PC)
RocketLeagueBox
Rocket League is in my top three not only because it is one of the games I played the most during 2015, but its also a shining example of one the main things I love about video games. In the world of video games anything is possible, and sometimes the best ideas are often the simplest. What Rocket League has managed to accomplish by essentially being 3D Pong, is akin to the likes of League of Legends and Starcraft. Games that are intricate, yet accessible enough to be playable by all, but mastered by only a select few are what make the competitive and professional scenes what they are. Fun and easy enough for the masses of bronze and silver players to enjoy playing with their friends, but also skill based enough for them to enjoy watching the challengers, and masters battle it out. Traditionally, the games that fit this market tend to be extremely complicated and very in-depth. League of Legends doesn’t take too much knowledge to understand, but to the untrained eye it can be rather confusing. Rocket League was able to achieve the same vast array of skill levels, but with a system that is so simple it can be shown to anyone and they can immediately understand whats going on. That is the kind of game that not only sells millions but stays relevant for years to come.
Honorable Mentions:
Bloodborne (PS4)
Crypt of the NecroDancer (PC)

Other selections by Louis Hughes:
2. Splatoon (Wii U)
SplatoonBoxArtSplatoon is another game that made its debut at E3 2014. Am I sensing a trend? After watching the first trailer my thought was Call of Duty with Super Soakers, but when gameplay footage was shown during E3, my mind changed to laser tag with Super Soakers. What got a lot of people’s attention is the fact that it’s a new IP from Nintendo. Did I mention it’s a third person shooter, but kid friendly and really colorful? Nintendo did all they could to make sure this game was a hit before release (wish they did this promotion for Wonderful 101 and Fatal Frame) by releasing a beta just a month before release.After playing the beta, I was hooked, and this was coming from a person who was done with gritty shooting games. The only question was if the game would be a hit. To everyone’s surprise (including me), the game sold well. There was debate that you paid full price for an incomplete game that would be fulfilled with free updates to add more content. Some thought this wasn’t right, as the modes should’ve been there day one, but got a pass since the content was free, and with the inclusion of SplatFest (having one team against another; Autobots vs Decepticons), Splatoon has become a welcomed addition to the Nintendo family.
3. Xenoblade Chronicles X (Wii U)
XenobladeChroniclesXWiiU_On my trailer impression of this game, I stated how after playing Xenoblade Chronicles breathed new life in JRPGs for me. Now that I managed to get some play time in for the game I can say the wait was well worth it, from a decent story, to all the side quests to make you forget about the main story. Giving me the ability to create my character and dive into the story adds more of a personal touch for me to see how the story unfolds. The scale of this game is beyond impressive, and just like the previous game, I hardly notice any loading except for fast travel and some draw ins. If there is one thing about my Wii U library that is lacking, its strong single-player games. So I am proud to own this one game that will last me a good while, though I know finishing this game will be impossible.
Honorable Mention:
Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water (Wii U)

Other selections by Sean Kromrey:

2. Yoshi’s Woolly World (Wii U)
YoshisWoollyWorldBoxArtWho says yarn games are out of style? Yoshi’s Woolly World proves that it can be pleasantly mesmerizing with its bright visuals and create a game on par with Super Mario World 2. Everyone was worried about how this new Yoshi game would hold up, and doubly worried about if it is going to be a clone of Kirby’s Epic Yarn. This was washed away by how inventive Nintendo was with their design scheme and the amount of collectibles. Each collectible takes patience, and at times cooperation, which makes this both an actually challenging experience at times and a great game to play with friends. It takes the core mechanics of Yoshi’s Island from the SNES and innovates it with the yarn mechanics, making for a visually captivating and truly enjoyable ride. It could be called hand-holding with the lack of a life mechanic, or being able to complete different collectible sections in multiple playthroughs of a stage, but this game was not meant to have you pull your hair out. It can be hard in some sections and a tad bit like Yoshi’s Island in some stages with the placement of enemies and obstacles, so this game does have some variety in its difficulty. Sometimes the best and most entertaining platformer can impress more than the most complex RPG, shooter or adventure game.

3. Stray Cat Crossing (PC)
StrayCatCrossingPCThis special little game came out of nowhere this year and easily swept me off my feet. Stray Cat Crossing is one of those indie games with a surrealistic design that draws you into this mystifying world. It is an experience that wraps you around its narrative as you try to grasp at each new idea the world throws out at you. When you reach the conclusion to the tale, there is this bittersweet feeling. You have to say goodbye, but you don’t really want to and that is a mark of a fantastically done story and world. It feels like Alice in Wonderland done with an actual focus in its narrative. The puzzles are simple enough to get through this game in about four hours, but the actual focus is on the house, the creatures that inhabit it, and why you are there. If you like surreal experiences in games like I, then Stray Cat Crossing is a must have in your collection.

Honorable Mentions:
Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain (PS4)
Lost Dimension (PS3)
Danganronpa: Another Episode Ultra Despair Girls (Vita)
Rocket League (PS4)


Other selections by Jeremy Kratka:

2. Splatoon (Wii U)
SplatoonBoxArtSplatoon also makes my top three, as it does something no other multiplayer games, to me, have done in a long time. Now, I may have said this on the Splatoon episode of the Gamereviewpad Podcast, but multiplayer shooters have bored me for years; dame old guns, same old settings, and same old (rather young) kids screaming insults into the microphone nearly deafening you. Splatoon makes all that fresh. The colorfulness of the game, the daring to be something different, and the just amount of support Nintendo has given to this new IP has just been amazing. I highly recommended it in my review, but if you have not played it yet and own a Wii U then please go out and buy it.

3. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (PS4)
MetalGearSolidVBoxArtLastly, on my top three is Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. We’ve all read the horrible news that is coming out about Konami, but that aside, Metal Gear Solid V came out fantastic. The mix of stealth and the open world made the game really fun to play and talk about with friends, as you get to hear how different of an infiltration they had. Again, these three were hard enough to come up with let alone make a final decision.

 

Honorable Mentions:
Super Mario Maker (Wii U)
Rocket League (PS4)
Life is Strange (PS4)
Gryphon Knight Epic (PC)
Xenoblade Chronicles X (Wii U)


Other selections by Andre Calvert:

2. Ori and the Blind Forest (PC)
OriandtheBlindForestPCOri and the Blind Forest is a game that I recently picked up and couldn’t stop playing. What makes this one of my favorite games of 2015 is the gorgeous art direction with a very fun platforming experience. Although the game does have ‘metroidvania’ aspects, it is the platforming that sets this game apart. I take no shame in admitting that I died at least six hundred times (yes, there is a death counter), because the game has a high level of difficulty, but it is also a very rewarding experience once finishing certain segments of the game. I was always left with the impression that all the deaths were my fault instead of the game itself, which means the controls very tight. Ori and the Blind Forest keeps it fresh by giving you new platforming abilities every so often, so you will always feel like you are progressing and want to try your new platforming ability. The customization of the game is in the ability tree, which gives the player some survivability options. Last but not least, the soundtrack and cinematics are also very good! After playing, I honestly regret not playing this earlier in the year. A ‘definitive edition’ is announced for 2016, and I’ll almost certainly be jumping on that.

3. Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes (PC)
KeepTalkingandNobodyExplodesKeep Talking and Nobody Explodes is a very unique multiplayer experience, where only one player actually needs to own the game. Have you ever wanted to feel the tension of having to diffuse a ticking time bomb in a matter of three to five minutes? This is the game for you! Buy one copy of the game, then play the game with a friend, either in person or over a voice chat, then you can experience the tension! The other person (who doesn’t have to own the game) can access the bomb manual for free, and act as the ‘bomb expert.’ This is the ultimate game about communication, having to devise a quick system to solve the bomb puzzles quickly. For example. there is one bomb module that has symbols, where every pair of players will have their own different way of describing them. The great thing about this game is that every bomb is randomly generated, giving this game infinite replay value. The only minor downside is that there are a limited number of types of modules to solve, but that still doesn’t take away from the experience. And one last piece of advice, you probably shouldn’t play this on a plane.

Honorable Mentions:
StarCraft 2: Legacy of the Void (PC)
Rampage Knights (PC)
Her Story (PC)
Crypt of the NecroDancer (PC)
Victor Vran (PC)


Other selections by Christopher Joseph:

2. Rocket League (PS4)
RocketLeagueBoxThe runner up on my list comes in the form of Rocket League; an ambitious indie game from the good folks at Psyonix. On paper, the concept of fusing arena battle cars with the sport of soccer sounds flawed, but somehow these two foreign elements worked quite well. I thoroughly enjoyed Rocket League. I put countless hours, playing through the different online modes with my buddies, and I would not take any of them back. I’m glad to see this game achieve mainstream success because it certainly deserves it. Here’s to the inevitable sequel; hopefully it’s every bit as fun and ambitious as it’s predecessor.

3. Splatoon (Wii U)
SplatoonBoxArt2015 was not exactly the best year in gaming, but there were a decent selection of titles that definitely brought the heat. After looking back on the games I played, three games especially impressed me. Number three on my list is Splatoon. This was a new IP from Nintendo, and I could not wait to get my hands on it upon it’s reveal at E3. When I finally got to play the full game in the summer, the game definitely did not disappoint. Although the campaign was short lived, it had some of the most creative level designs I have played in a very long time. The soundtrack was great, the gameplay was fast and fun, the controls were smooth as butter, and the final boss fight was incredible. The icing on the cake was the multiplayer; It’s extremely fun and packs tons of content, with more being constantly added for the low price of free ninety-nine. Overall, Splatoon was a great game and I hope to see a sequel in the future.

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