After the 2015 Video Game Awards, which saw accolades given out to some of the biggest name releases of 2015, including Rocket League, Super Mario Maker, Splatoon and The Witcher III: Wild Hunt, I have decided on, and would like to announce my picks for the best video games of 2015, and my thoughts and opinions on my picks. Following on from a great year of gaming in 2014, which saw the eighth generation of gaming come into full swing, 2015 offered even more in the way of excellent gaming experiences, and even more promise for the future of the industry, as well as a multitude of possible different directions in which gaming can be taken in 2016 and beyond.
Personally, 2015 for me as a blogger has been an extremely interesting year wrought with experiences I could never have imagined beforehand; most notably in the various different conferences I’ve been to, and having had the opportunity to work firsthand with some huge names in gaming, as well as expanding upon what ideas and subject matters for articles I established back in 2014 when I started out. But I will be implementing even more in 2016, and have recently spent a lot of time contemplating these many new ideas, which is why I have been much less active in writing articles this month, which I would like to take this opportunity to apologize for, and to assure readers that I’m not thinking about quitting any time soon. There will be an article coming later on in the month detailing these many new features I have planned, as well as a follow-up to my very first article entitled Video Gaming: The Next Level Part 2, as well as a special thanks article acknowledging the many people I have worked with throughout 2015. But for now, here is my pick for the best video games of 2015.
Best RPG of 2015
Legitimately challenging as well as insanely addictive, Rogue Legacy presented to me an RPG experience unlike any other I had ever encountered prior, complete with intense gameplay and the requirement of players having to think on their feet and to be prepared for anything unexpected. It holds a very special place in my gaming repertoire, and will do so for years to come, since not only was it the subject of my first YouTube playthrough, but it was without a doubt the first indie game I played in 2015 that had as much of a profound impact on me as it did. Though it may have been first released much earlier than this, it still said to me how serious Sony were about doing their best to keep on top of what competition they have, and thanks to games like this, they have since gone on to sell over 30 million PlayStation 4 consoles, finishing the year well out in front of both Microsoft and Nintendo.
Best Racing Game of 2015
Upon release by Milky Tea Studios this year, Coffin Dodgers to me, despite what fault I found with it whilst reviewing it, was like a breath of fresh air amongst a genre which is by in large saturated with generic racing game series’ such as Need for Speed, Forza, Driver, Gran Turismo and Driveclub. It is a kart racing game hearkening back to such classics as Street Racer and Diddy Kong Racing, but also having a particularly dark and crude sense of humour attached to it. The game also gives me hope for development within my home city of Liverpool, among a good couple of other games I played this year, and makes me think that with enough dedication, more of a push can be had on raising the profile of the city as being an even more prominent source of excellent gaming experiences, following such classic series as Wipeout and Lemmings.
Best Retro Game Reviewed in 2015
After putting many hours into this game when I was a kid, and after putting even more hours into it throughout 2015 out a deep sense of nostalgia, Worms Armageddon not only stands out as being the best retro game I’ve revisited this year, but also the best game in the series to date. The original Worms game presented another of many wonderfully weird ideas for a video game that had been see within the industry prior, but also offered a very different and unique experiences to players, but Worms Armageddon took that experience to new heights, offering infinitely more variety, as well a greater multitude of different weapons and item with which to defeat what opposition was put in front of players.
Best Arcade Game of 2015
Speaking of retro gaming, the ideas and machinations behind some of the best games of the arcade era have not been either forgotten or made completely obsolete. Many indie games in particular have presented players of generations old and new with either experiences introducing younger player to how video games played out back in the earlier generations of the industry, or to older players looking for a wonderful sense of nostalgia as well as a new challenge. To me, no other game of the kind has done this better this year than Ultratron developed by Puppy Games; the team behind the hugely successful Titan Attacks. Reminiscent of the classic game Smash! TV, Ultratron, like Titan Attacks before it, offered a different twist on the old-style shoot ‘em up game, presenting players with a, RPG feel in the form of upgrades and additional abilities to acquire, accommodating for both set of gamers to bring an experience truly unique to anything else experiences within 2015.
Best Video Game Soundtrack of 2015
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
Nintendo have had a fairly successful 2015 with the Wii U managing to narrowly outsell the Xbox One by just short of one million units, and having won both the best family game with Super Mario Maker and the best multiplayer game with their new IP, Splatoon. But they also got off to an excellent start when they released Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker. Born from the mini game featured in Super Mario 3D World, Treasure Tracker built upon the core concept, making it an excellent game in its own right, as well as one of the better games on the Wii U. However, it’s soundtrack, in my opinion, made for the best of 2015, featuring catchy backdrop music for levels such as Trick Track Hall and the boss fight with Wingo, as well as some of the more tranquil music found in levels such as Clear Pipe Puzzleplex. I’ve always been fond of video game soundtracks, and much of a crucial role they play in establishing the atmosphere of a video game, and Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker’s soundtrack does this flawlessly, just like many other Nintendo soundtracks before it.
Best Shooter of 2015
Tower of Guns
In another genre filled with many generic army-based games, such as Call of Duty, Battlefield and Medal of Honour, but also having many classic games attached to it, such as BioShock, Borderlands and Halo: Combat Evolved, Tower of Guns was a particularly nice discovery for me, having come on PlayStation Plus earlier this year. A never-ending symphony of first-person shooting mayhem, it offered me personally a shooting experience unlike anything I had ever seen before; even after playing some of the best games in the genre over a course of almost 20 years. I thought that developers had long exhausted the concept of a first-person shooter, like most other games to be released in the genre throughout the course of the eighth generation before this point simply followed the same tropes that every other game in the genre had firmly established. But after playing Tower of Guns, I stood corrected.
Best Indie game of 2015
Having mainly focused on console gaming for the majority of my adult life, one genre that I had neglected to dabble in throughout recent years was the real-time strategy genre, with such hits passing me by as Civilization V and Starcraft II among many others. But after seeing Kaiju Panic showcased at Play Manchester 2015, then going on to playing it this year, I have decided to dabble much more in the genre next year, as part of a new feature on the blog yet to be announced. Its my favourite indie game for a number of reasons; among them being its gloriously diverse mythology, as well as its extremely interesting take on the genre, including such features as side quests and even an endless mode now attached to it, further enhancing the overall experience upon what had initially been presented to players. It is the best example set this year of how indie developers are always contemplating new ideas for new gaming experiences, and to defy the conventions of mainstream gaming.
Game of the Year 2015
Batman: Arkham Knight
Finally, my pick for the best video game of 2015 goes to Batman: Arkham Knight. Highly anticipated since it’s unveiling back in 2014, development was put back in the hands of Rocksteady Studios who created Batman: Arkham Asylum and its sequel Batman: Arkham City before the follow-up game, Batman: Arkham Origins was developed by Warner Bros. Games Montreal, and the result was a Batman experience unlike any other that had been seen in the entire Franchise’s history; be that through comics, films, TV series’ or video games. With Gotham City under lockdown by Dr. Jonathan Crane, AKA The Scarecrow, with the assistance of the mysterious Arkham Knight and his deadly militia, its up to Batman, as well as Commissioner Gordon and his daughter Barbara Gordon, to find out what Scarecrow’s plan is and bring him to justice, along with the many other villains running free within the streets of Gotham, including Two-Face, Harley Quinn, The Penguin, Deathstroke and The Riddler. Batman, after having been exposed to the latest strain of Scarecrows infamous fear gas, is also forced to content with apparitions and nightmarish hallucinations of his old adversary, The Joker.
Arkham Asylum and Arkham City intricately portrayed Batman’s relationship with the clown prince of crime, but Arkham Knight did it on a subconscious level, exploring the idea the Batman misses his arch nemesis to an extent, and how he feels partly responsible for his death, whilst killing inherently goes against his nature, as well as the idea of how one would inevitably struggle to cope without the other. But aside from there being significant improvement from the perspective of the story, there was also most definitely massive improvements in the way of gameplay, incorporating new features such as enhanced combat, more intricate puzzles, more collectibles, and most notably, the inclusion of the Batmobile and vehicular combat, giving the game more of an edge than any of the other Arkham games had before it. Arkham Asylum, Arkham City and Arkham Origins established new standards for licensed games, and built upon the designated gameplay formula to varying degrees of success, but Arkham Knight most definitely perfected it.