It’s always fun to take a look back at the year and remember the games I played. I had a lot of fun in 2015. Some experiences were familiar, some were completely new, some closed the door (maybe) on beloved franchises, and some left me excited and hopeful for future games.
10) Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin
Dark Souls 2, while flawed, was my favorite game from 2014. The PS4/XB1 release managed to take a great game and make it better. But it wasn’t the addition of the previously released DLC that made this release noteworthy (though it was a nice addition), it was the remixing of enemies and items. The result wound up being a bit like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time‘s Master Quest release, but the difference here is that THIS is the way Dark Souls 2 SHOULD be played. The level designs and the stories they tell have always been a huge part of the Souls series, and the remixing done in Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin made Lordran feel cohesive in a way that it hadn’t previously. Combine that with 60 fps and faster load times and you have the definitive version of the game.
9) Xenoblade Chronicles X
This is a weird one for me. I personally have only clocked in about an hour with this game, but I’ve watched my wife play far more. I have to say, I really enjoy watching her play it. Running across the game’s beautiful world at a full sprint is a sight to behold, and is unlike anything I’ve seen in a game of this type before. I’ve played some lengthy games in 2015 (Dragon Age: Inquisition, The Witcher 3, Bloodborne (Twice), and Metal Gear Solid V) and I just didn’t have time to get into another MASSIVE game; but watching it in motion as my wife plays has almost been just as good. It isn’t without its flaws. The side quests can be pretty lame (gather 5 random doohickeys from monsters, mine 3 space ores, etc), but it’s difficult to get caught up on that when traversing the world is so fun and cool to look at.
8) Yoshi’s Woolly World
Yoshi’s Woolly World fixes all of the problems I had with Kirby’s Epic Yarn, which tended to be more style over substance. Woolly World is the complete package. It is adorable AND a blast to play.
7) The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The Witcher 3 is far from perfect. The movement is clunky. The skill progression is dull and cumbersome. Roach (your horse) likes to come to a complete stop for no reason whatsoever while going full speed down an empty road. I can keep going, but the point is that these are things that keep the game from being top three for me. The Witcher 3 has an amazing world and some amazing stories. It is one of those rare games where choices feel real and personal, not a gameplay mechanic there to be min/maxed for profit and power.
6) Destiny: The Taken King
Oh, Destiny… It was one of my biggest disappointments of 2104, and certainly the most disappointing game I’ve ever give an 8/10 to. I had fun while I was playing it, but as I got further and further from it, I could only see it for its wasted potential. The Taken King changed that. I won’t say it fixed everything that was wrong with Destiny, but they’ve pointed it in the right direction and I will keep coming back to it until Destiny 2 drops.
5) Crypt of the Necrodancer
A rhythm-based roguelike dungeon-crawl is a combination that sounds like it should be a complete mess, but it really works here. Put on a pair of good headphones and tap the arrow keys to the beat. It’s a great game to get lost in. And that soundtrack.
4) Axiom Verge
Metroidvanias are one of my favorite genres, and Super Metroid is one of my favorite games of all-time. Naturally, Axiom Verge was going to have my attention. The look of the game is extremely reminiscent of the original Metroid and Super Metroid, but Axiom Verge brings a lot of its own ideas to the table and definitely has its own identity. It was refreshing to play a game in the genre that seemed to really understand what made Super Metroid great without feeling like I was playing a retread. Axiom Verge hangs with the greats of the genre and is a game I will replay in the future.
3) Mario Maker
I find I don’t have a lot to say about Mario Maker. It is simultaneously the best and worst game. It is full of potential, but lives and dies with what people create and share. The addition of a World Builder and Slopes would have put this game at #1—there is still time, Nintendo…
2) Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
I wasn’t going to play The Phantom Pain at all, but that is a blog for another time. What I will say is that I’m glad I did play it. The open world that Hideo Kojima and his team crafted is unparalleled, and the gameplay is fantastic. Without getting too far into it, I will say that it isn’t a great Metal Gear game and that it might even weaken the franchise as whole. But despite that, it IS an amazing accomplishment, and I enjoyed the sheer act of playing it more than any other Metal Gear game that came before it. There are things I definitely didn’t like… but I’ll get to those when Sean gets caught up… Stay tuned to Codec Logs
1) Bloodborne & The Old Hunters Expansion
Bloodborne is the best game I’ve played since the first Dark Souls. It shares a lot spiritually with the Souls series, but it manages to shake up the formula in some really wonderful ways. The combat is fast, aggressive, and dynamic and the world is vastly different from anything in Demon’s Souls or Dark Souls. I played through it twice in 2015 and I will definitely come back to it again in the future.