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Top 12 games of 2015: inc. Fallout 4, The Witcher 3 and more

by James Brookfield. Published Thu 31 Dec 2015 11:00

The end is nigh, on another year as opposed to the world... 2015 has been a great time for gaming.

Granted most of the big titles have been remastered from the previous generation however there have also been some new games launched as well as further editions to already established franchises.

To celebrate this, here is our list of top 12 video games of the 2015. Why 12? 12 months in a year, 12 days of Christmas, it's only appropriate. There are two rules that this list adheres to; the games presented are not ranked in a specific order and no remastered titles will feature.

Splatoon

Superficially, Splatoon is a title that players never expected Nintendo to developed, as it is a third-person shooter. However, in true Nintendo fashion, the company are able to reassign the experience and excitement of the genre on to a game that has no deaths, violence or even bullets. Weaponary is, of course, a large aspect of Splatoon however they are in the form of items such as paint shooters and roller brushes.

Rather than eliminate opponents, players are instead tasked with covering the map in paint which acts as both ammo and a means of traversal. The solo campaign is solid but it is the multiplayer mode where Nintendo again deliver a fresh take on the genre. Splatoon’s shortcomings (online lobbies and exclusion of voice chat) can be forgiven owing to the game's graphical presentation, strong gameplay mechanics, soundtrack and a great sense of fun.

Everybody has Gone to the Rapture

Considered as a spiritual successor to Dear Esther, Everybody's Gone to the Rapture is a first-person adventure game developed by The Chinese Room and SCE Santa Monica Studio.

The game takes place in a fictional village called Yaughton, located in Shropshire. Resultantly the developers recreate an accurate depiction of the English countryside including minute details. Yaughton’s residents have mysteriously disappeared leaving the player to interact with floating lights in order to reveal aspects of the story and unravel the mystery.

As the player is the only character present the atmosphere is; slow, sombre and quiet which in turn creates a very personal and solo experience.

OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood

Developed and published by Roll7 OlliOlli2 is more than just a skateboarding simulator as the game is able to combine excitement of skateboarding the mechanics of a side-scrolling platformer.

Emphasis is not on performing tricks but instead landing in order to maintain momentum to traverse through and complete each level. Though it may appear simplistic, OlliOlli2 is a very challenging, technical game that is superbly crafted and highly addictive.

Her Story

Written and directed by Sam Barlow, Her Story is an interactive live action video game wherein players use a database of fictional police video interview clips to solve the case of a missing man. The interviews conducted feature the same woman who introduces herself as Hannah Smith, played by Viva Seifert, the wife of the missing man.

As the game presents a non-linear narrative, each clip accessed is not in the same order during each play through meaning the player must piece together evidence in a coherent fashion in order to reach a conclusion. Generally Her Story creates an atmospheric and fascinating crime thriller and an achievement within a genre containing a weak gaming history.

Rise of the Tomb Raider

Rise of the Tomb Raider continues Crystal Dynamics’ Lara Croft reboot which began with Tomb Raider 2013. Many praised the reboot for its gameplay, visuals and more human approach to the reimagining of Lara Croft as a character. Rise of the Tomb raider takes the same blueprints and improves upon them in almost every way.

The gameplay is stronger (adding new elements such as weapon crafting, hunting and a skill tree), visuals are stunning and the implement of a dynamic weather system inserts an element for both the player and NPCS to deal with. The only downside is the titular Tombs are present, previously omitted in the reboot, but completely optional.

Life is Strange

Developed by Dontnod Entertainment and published by Square Enix, Life is Strange is a fine example of how episodic gaming, a genre that has received vested interested, can work well due to each episode improving on both story and experience. The game's plot focuses on Max Caulfield, a photography student who discovers that she has the ability to rewind time, resulting in her every choice enacting the butterfly effect.

Time manipulation is not a novelty to rectify mistakes, its chief reason is to alter the unfolding narrative and reshape accordingly. Through Max, players witness an accurate representation of female, teenage anxiety as well as an earnest and mature exploration of mental health, an issue within gaming that has not really being focused on until recently.

Though the game has negative points such as; lip synching issues and tonal inconsistencies, positives include; an engrossing story of friendship, challenging puzzles, detective work and an overall enjoyable experience.

Rocket League

Serving as a sequel to, the mostly unknown, Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars, Rocket League is vehicle-based football game that has become a commercial and critical success. The reason for this is due to; detailed visuals, fine in-game mechanics, addictiveness and fun.

Multiplayer is the most popular, competitive feature of the game. Each DLC pack released has only increased the game’s enjoyment with references and influences from other franchises.

Westerado: Double Barrelled

Many games have tried to capture the tone of the western genre and where many have failed, Westerado: Double Barrelled has succeeded. Inspired by retro, top down games Westerado is a 16 Bit adventure wherein player must avenge the death of their family by hunting down and taking revenge on a mysterious desperado.

As already mentioned the graphics are both a homage to and great example of 16 Bit graphics. Though purposely blocky the visuals are bright, colourful and do diminish the quality. A positive aspect is the ability to heal by using Cowboy hats and or the hats of killed enemies, creating a nice reference to tropes of the genre.

The focus of Westerado is shoot outs however conversation trees are also a big factor into traversing and surviving the world.

Bloodborne

Viewed as an evolution of the Souls series, Bloodborne is an action role-playing game developed by FromSoftware. Although both titles are developed by the same company, Bloodborne is often compared to the Souls series due to aesthetic and gameplay reasons. The most overt relationship between the two if the difficulty setting which, is at times, frustratingly difficult. However once players familiarise themselves with the patterns of the numerous enemies Bloodborne becomes a little less harder.

Simultaneously, the high difficult setting is the reason players continue with Bloodborne as defeating enemies or progressing through Yharnam, the game’s setting, creates a sense of achievement. Overall tone is one dark, archaic and horrific which is evident via the game’s atmosphere, detailed environments, visuals, environmental and character designs. The action is fast-paced gameplay and the lore is engrossing.

Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain

Many critics noted Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain may not be one of the best Metal Gear games but it is one of the more superior stealth games in recent years. This is due to Kojima combining the core elements of the long-running franchise with new, fresh ideas. For example, Phantom Pain introduced a massive, open world environment for fans to employ the standard espionage tactics. Within the open-world environment gameplay is not dismissed but instead improved as a variety of mechanics and interconnected systems results in a sense of freedom when approaching objectives.

Missions are also more flexible as each can be chosen in a non-linear method when players do not wish to pursue the main story. Furthermore the ability to upgrade and build upon Mother Base, another new feature, is rewarding and structured. While the story is the main target of criticism many acknowledged an emotional power and exploration of mature themes.

Unfortunately Metal Gear Solid V will become synonymous with the bitter fallout between Hideo Kojima and Konami, resulting in the former leaving the latter to form a new production company.

Fallout 4

Released seven years after Fallout 3, Besthesda’s fourth instalment in their post-apocalyptic role-playing series improves on the flaws of the previous but also repeats some. Fallout 4’s graphics, gameplay mechanics and tone are an improvement and the same sense of satirical humour is more prevalent.

However, new features, such as the ability to creates homes and towns, feel more like an ill thought-out add on rather than an essential part of the game. At times it does not work entirely and can be omitted without a second thought. On the other hand, the reason Fallout 4 deserves a place on this list is because Bethesda again delivers a game for the established fans rather than aiming to win over a larger audience.

Though this could be deemed as poor judgement, it does means the essence of the game is polished, solid and enjoyable. Furthermore the size of the map its inhabitants help increase the players immersion.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Developed by CD Projekt RED The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is the third instalment of the franchise based on the series of fantasy novels written by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. Players once again assume the role of Geralt, a monster hunter who sets out on a long journey through the Northern Kingdoms.

The game’s scale is epic as the developers stated it is 30 times larger than the previous game. One would assume many locations and environments are empty however Wild Hunt is boats numerous side missions, each compelling and purposeful. Players could easily spend 40 to 50 hours minimum during one playthrough.

This is due to a focused main story and extra quests that do not appear merely as add-ons to distract attention. The Witcher 3: Wild hunt has, deservedly, received many accolades in 2015.

That concludes a review of the top 12 video games of the year. 2016 appears to be a continuation of great video games and Purple Revolver will discuss the, already, anticipated titles upcoming year.

Honourable mentions: Tales from the Borderlines, Until Dawn, Shovel Knight, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, Ori and the Blind Forest, The Legend of Zelda: Triforce Heroes and Mario Maker.



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