It was a long time getting here, but after careful deliberation, a lot of cursing, and Gagan’s lazy ass taking forever to put stuff up, here are our top 10 games of 2015.

10.Rise of the Tomb Raider

The 2013 Tomb Raider reboot offered a lot of promise, but ultimately missed the mark due to a lot of game elements suffering from shoddy execution. The sequel builds on the strengths of that reboot, while also correcting some of its lesser elements. Improvements include a larger focus on the “predator” style combat encounters, a robust selection of upgradable skills to make Lara Croft a killing machine that suits your playstyle, and a whopping two more tombs than the previous game. Hey, not all improvements are created equal.

9. Until Dawn

It's easy to assume that a celebration of horror movie cheese is one of the major driving forces in why Until Dawn was well-received - and well, that’s true. But Supermassive Games was also able to put a unique spin on a style of game that has made David Cage famous. Having a string of smaller choices where the ripple effect determines whether characters will die or not gives Until Dawn a different perspective. You’re not just a a character, or even a group of characters, in a story: you’re the director, and that makes Until Dawn something unique.

8. Undertale

Much has been said on the Internet about how special a game Undertale is, and while our group had more divisive opinions, ultimately it was too creative an experience to leave off the list completely. The game successfully achieves the fine act of telling its story through its mechanics, and it also offers a unique combat system that truly shines during the game's inventive battle scenarios. What makes the game a must play from this year, though, are the many ways it subverts your expectations. Plenty of games were good this year, but only Undertale was consistently surprising.

7. Super Mario Maker

It’s a level maker for basically the greatest 2D platformer franchise ever. Does anything else need to be said? It’s an accessible level maker in a sea of alternatives that require more homework on the user’s part, the mechanics are timeless, and oh yeah, added bonus, it’s an endless supply of Mario levels. Also, our very own Brian Margheim makes a lot of Mario Maker levels, a few of which were shown on Game Grumps, and those levels are superb. No bias, obviously.

6. Ori and the Blind Forest

The Metroid-like games offered in the indie space can feel like a dime a dozen, but every now and then, we get a game like Ori and the Blind Forest. The game’s superb production values instantly grab your attention and set a mood, the world design feels natural and only enhances the strengths of the game's base mechanics, and did I mention how rad that soundtrack is? Because it is straight up rad. Though it commits a deadly sin among Metroid-like games where it doesn’t let you go back to specific areas, Ori nails things that even the people who make Metroid games don’t consistently do well.

5. Splatoon

Nintendo’s first big new IP in what feels like forever also happens to be the most unique game on this list. The company gets plenty of (well-deserved) criticism for sticking to the same tried and true franchises, and as such, they should also get praised when they finally go on to do something new. In comes an online multiplayer third-person shooter that happens to be missing the most basic features that Halo 2 had in 2004, but in typical Nintendo fashion, Splatoon is appropriately deceptive. At first glance, the mechanics seem fairly simple, but learning to properly shoot and move around the battlefield in squid form in rhythm is an exceptional gameplay loop that is quintessential Nintendo.

The controls are snug and whoever did the audio work behind every splash, sploosh, and spray of ink in this game is a God as far Gagan is concerned. Nintendo’s typical brand of top-notch level design, a host of unlockable and well-balanced gear, strong post launch support, and Squid Jump made Splatoon an easy choice for our top 5. Next time don’t release the game early access style Nintendo. Sincerely, Gagan.

4. Bloodborne

Bloodborne has the distinct honor of being the one game on this list that everyone - all the site's staff, as well as the posters on our forums - was enthralled with for what felt like a month. A brutally satisfying action RPG in the vein of From Software’s Souls series, Bloodborne is marked by having the intricate labyrinthine level design that was sorely missing in Dark Souls 2, and the added bonus of a very H.P. Lovecraft mythos. It isn’t just about the striking aesthetic, but the many ways Bloodborne translates Lovecraft tropes into actual game mechanics, such as with the insight system. There is an attention to detail that comes from the Miyazaki Souls offerings, and Bloodborne is a brave new direction for a style of game that was looking to become a bit too routine.

Also, we had way too much fun renaming all the boss fights, and the additional bosses found in The Old Hunter’s DLC were absolutely fierce, providing one some of our most gratifying and triumphant experiences of 2015.

3. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Hear me now, believe me later, but Metal Gear Solid V is easily the best playing game of this year. A level of mechanical depth and variety no game truly matched in 2015, and certainly not at the scale Metal Gear was working on. Superb mission designs with outposts that offer multiple points of infiltration, and a host of solutions to completing your tasks mean that, simply put, The Phantom Pain is as good of a game as the player is creative. The game's variety of options and AI reactions beg the player to not just go a bit batshit, but outright see how much they can break the rules.

Frankly, it could have been our Game of the Year, because realistically, how stupid the story ended up being wasn’t that big of a deal. Gagan would argue the story to Metal Gear Solid has always been stupid, but the additions Konami has made after the game’s launch have hurt the game. The addition of insurance, a string of end game items that more or less amount to paying microtransactions, and the crippling of the game’s in game economy if the player chooses not to deal with the online all left a sour taste in our mouth. On the other hand, the game has D-Dog, a dog with an eye patch, and that’s awesome.

2. Rocket League.

If you had told our group that “car-soccer” was going to be one of our most played and celebrated games of 2015 a lot of us would have laughed at you, but here we are. The true game of the year as far as Gagan is concerned is a superb gaming experience. The car handling makes moving around the field a joy, and the excellent game feel and feedback every time your car hits the ball is infectious and stimulating all at once. And every goal you score, regardless of how lucky you got, is a testament to how much of a badass you are at the game.

The game thrives on a very simple set of mechanics and concepts, and executes them at a high level. What truly makes the game special is the aerial mechanics that separate the average players (Ben and Gagan) from the good to great players (people who beat Ben and Gagan), and that gives the game the level of nuance and depth that makes a multiplayer game great. The game provided us with some of our more thrilling moments and our best laugh out loud moments of the year as well.

Honestly, writing that makes me think Rocket League got robbed.

1. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

It'd be easy to say The Witcher 3 got this for simply being as long as it is. After all, it's undeniable that we tend to reward single player more than multiplayer as a group, and not having Konami’s nonsense attached to it could be seen as a big reason for having The Witcher 3 at the top of the list. But saying any of that that would be doing a great disservice to everything The Witcher 3 did better than any other game this year. The Witcher offered an expansive, immersive, and one of the most engrossing game worlds a triple-A RPG has had in ages. From the fields of Velen to the bustling city of Novigrad, and to that beautiful view in the mountains of Skellige, The Witcher 3 is easily an instant classic if just the sheer beauty and scope of its game world is considered.

But that's not all. As far as actual interactivity concerned, being in that world and exploring it was a superb gameplay experience of its own. Being able to participate in side quests that told stories about a host of memorable characters ranging from charming, funny, grotesque, complex, and of course whores, made for an experience that was engaging start to finish in a way a lot of games this year simply weren’t.

The Witcher 3 is a sequel that finally made good on all the promise that was shown in the previous 2 games, with a more polished experience on a much grander scale, to boot. Throw in the fact that CD Projekt Red not only offered some of the best post-launch support this year, but then proceeded to add a DLC expansion that more than justified the price of admission, and introduced entirely new characters that were rich and compelling in their own right, adding to a game that already had exceptional characters, in an industry where bad DLC exists a dime a dozen?

All that makes it easy to say The Witcher 3 more than earned our Game of the Year award. 

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#1 AngelsandDemons 2016-03-13 14:21
An eclectic list indeed...I still haven't made it through half of these because of game length or not owning the system.MGS5 is taking forever and sometimes you just have to take a break from ALL that desert....still don't get the huge appeal of Rocket League though. Sure, it's fun but I didn't find myself needing to play it again after a couple of matches.

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