While enjoying the various games of the year, both big and small, it’s hard to not to keep tabs on which games stand out the most and which you will remember when it comes to put together your personal game of the year list come December. However, the year is long, and it’s easy to forget some of those games that made such a big impression by the very end. To help, we’ve compiled a list of our top ten favorite games of 2015 so far. With half of a year ahead of us, there are still tons of contenders to knock games off of this list, but for now, these are the ten games that we’ve played that left the best impressions.
10) Tales From The Borderlands
While most people stick just to the fun antics of the cooperative run and gun gameplay of Borderlands and glaze over the universe in which it takes place, I personally love the various settings and storylines of the series. It’s goofiness and tendency to be a parody of popular post-apocalyptic tropes keeps it charming and interesting with all of the light-hearted humor. Tales from the Borderlands caught everyone by surprise by making the story driven Borderlands experience I’d hope for come together beautifully. Telltale brought their A-game with this one, and I feel it’s their best work since season 1 of The Walking Dead. That could just be my inner Borderlands fan talking.
Great writing and hilariously characters that are both lovable and hateable (a Borderlands staple) supports this narrative adventure that dives into all levels of life within the established universe. While it actually started in late 2014, I’d like to think we will be able to finish this series by the end of this year. If only Telltale would just focus on one thing that I want them to focus on.
9) Hand of Fate
Screenshots really don’t do justice for what this small but engaging indie game has to offer. Hand of Fate is a mish-mash of small aspects of various genres that work surprisingly cohesively together. A strategic card game mixed with a text adventure, mixed with a rogue-like RPG, mixed with a third person action game. Each set of mechanics works in spurts as you attempt to conquer the dungeon that the fortune teller has prepared for you. What on paper should be a trainwreck comes together to form a product greater than the sum of its parts. Because of it’s varied gameplay types, the game never feels like it dwells too long on one thing. It’s impressive to believe a small team managed to make everything meld so well.
Out of all of the games on this list, this one is the most likely to be swept under the rug. While it hardly can contend with this year’s blockbusters and indie darlings, it deserves to be noted for its accomplishments and is definitely worth a try if you’ve got a night to spare for it.
8) Titan Souls
If a game has memorable and challenging fights, it is almost guaranteed to be on my radar. Titan Souls is grueling, addictive, and incredibly rewarding. The game takes cues from personal favorite Shadow of the Colossus and fuses themes and structure with a boiled down Souls experience to bring you 24 uniquely designed and challenging boss battles. The challenge is you die in one shot, and in most cases so does your hulking monstrosity of an opponent. The “one more try” mentality comes in at full force with this one, keeping me trying and trying again to take down each titan.
While this game does that portion of atmosphere and boss battles fantastically, a totally fair criticism is that that is all it does well. The reason being that is exactly all it does. Beyond challenging yourself to win faster, or more efficiently, challenges that are encouraged by the games difficult achievements, there is very little substance to Titan Souls. For many, this is justification to look it over, but for me, I’m comfortable going back again and again for more.
7) Cities: Skylines
On the topic of titans, the fall of SimCity left a void open in the gaming world, and a market full of frustrated and hungry simulation fans. In swooped Colossal Order with Cities: Skylines, and in a massive success, took over the city builder simulation genre. Unrelated to the less than steller Cities series before it, this game found its place at the perfect time, just as EA closed Maxis, and delivered the best city builder in years.
Stylish, easy to use, and free of gimmicks to weigh it down, Cities: Skylines proved that it was what the dying genre needed. An audience still exists, and this incredibly fun title is proof that it will live on. And in good hands as well.
6) Life is Strange
Another standout in the narrative genre comes not from Telltale, but from the underappreciated Remember Me developer Dontnod. Confidently taking inspiration from the success of Telltale’s groundwork for the genre, Life is Strange pushes narrative bounds by telling the story of a quiet girl who’s sudden premonitions get her into a lot of trouble. The premeire episode was shaky, but promising, but ever since the quality level at play has increased in to what will likely be the best game in the genre this year, if not a total sleeper hit. That is, when episodes manage to come out.
Life is Strange is important not only for proving that the genre works out of Telltales’ hands, but also for its aforementioned border pushing. Dontnod is a team that isn’t afraid to make an out there experience, and if Life is Strange blows up, Dontnod could find themselves with plenty of admiration.
5) Batman: Arkham Knight
Despite it’s bucket full of issues and constant badgering by critics, Rocksteady’s Batman is still Rocksteady’s Batman at its core. While it doesn’t come close to Asylum or City, Knight still has what we all love about the action series. Combat is at its finest, and some aspects of that batmobile are in fact fun.
While not having spent too much time with Batman so far, the pieces are still there to make it worth playing. The controversy has not made me afraid to go back to it when I’m ready.
4) Dying Light
Placing a Techland game above a Batman game feels wrong somehow, but Dying Light delivers in folds. The team behind the somewhat enjoyable mess that was Dead Island out did themselves with the spiritual successor. Although largely the same, the parkour aspects and running work marvelously, and everything is improved upon where the developer failed with Dead Island. Despite being yet another open world game, and with a zombie theme no less, Dying Light has surprisingly just enough spin to keep old tropes interesting.
If Dying Light is any indication of Techland’s development is a studio, then we will have to stop making jokes about them. It’s always great to be pleasantly surprised.
3) Darkest Dungeon
Much like its central mechanic, Darkest Dungeon made me question my own sanity. This tough as nails turn-based roguelite RPG clicked with me instantly. Juggling character skills and sanity against horrific monstrosities while you delve into dungeons in search for treasure just feels so right. Addiction set in as I spent hours diving in, barely making it out alive, only to power myself up and go right back. The game started to invade my mind like the horrors encountered by the characters themselves.
Utilizing very simple positioning and skill systems, Darkest Dungeon manages to be incredibly robust and deep, and amazingly easy to learn despite the difficulty. While only a constantly evolving beta is available, there is no doubt in my mind after 30 hours that even in it’s unfinished state most games will have to fight to top this one when it finally launches later this year.
2) Rocket League
There is no greater feeling in video games this year than scoring a goal in Psyonik’s car based soccer game Rocket League. This sequel to a small PSN game with a ridiculous name has taken the world by storm, overloading the games servers and cementing its spot as an official esport just weeks after its release on PS4 and PC. Skeptics may see Rocket League’s popularity as odd, but what this game offers is the purest fun this year. Easy to play, incredibly hard to master, learning Rocket League‘s physics and using them with your team of friends is so rewarding and enjoyable.
A toss up between Darkest Dungeon and Rocket League for number 2 on this list is fair. Rocket League‘s share of my headspace is undeniable, though, which might have allowed it to pull ahead. Losing is fun, winning is even better, and pulling off ridiculous saves and shots is one of the highlights of this year in gaming. Those weary might not want to try it out for the hefty $20 asking price on Steam, but the game is free on Playstation Plus for the time being, so PS4 owners have no excuse to not at least try.
1) The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
How foolish I was to fear diving into the Witcher series. On the outside, it makes sense with the reported difficulty, deep lore, and less than ideal gameplay would scare any newcomer off, but The Witcher 3 knows exactly that, and is incredibly inviting to series newbies. After 100 hours with The Witcher 3, I still have plenty more to see, and it is already possibly one of my favorite video games of all time. When I’m not at home playing I’m browsing fan art or delving into the series’ literature. Wild Hunt, however, nails story, characters, and look in a way no game has for me in a great while. I’m captivated by it’s world.
There are endless reasons why The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is the game to top this year, but I’ve got a nice review to cover a good deal of it. At this point, once I finish, I’ll be diving deep into the history of the Witcher just long enough for the game’s meaty expansions.
What were your favorite games of the year so far? Leave a comment below with your top 10 list or a comment on ours!