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Games of the Year, 2015

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  • #10

    Although I knew going into Just Cause 3 that it wouldn’t be a particularly heartfelt or complex story, I underestimated just how much fun this playground could be. It just feels good to move through this game world, what with your wingsuit and grappling hook, and you can liberate bases to unlock even faster modes of travel (e.g. jets). As you liberate bases you increase your arsenal, unlocking absolute gems like the fire leech rocket launcher, and slowly turn the tide against Ravello in Medici. The game also features satisfying challenges that can be completed to earn additional perks for the player’s abilities. Avalanche Studios, at least in 2015, understood what made an open-world game enjoyable.

  • #9

    Although I never got involved in the competitive multiplayer aspect of Starcraft II, I thought that it featured ingenious campaigns. I very much enjoyed Legacy of the Void, as the Protoss faction are my favorite to play. I like the characters in Starcraft II, as well as the cutscenes and production values. Starcraft II is the only RTS campaign I've played that allows you to make choices that affect your army composition as you progress through the campaign, and this absolutely affected my investment in the story.

  • #8

    It actually took quite a while for me to get around to playing Mad Max. All signs pointed to it being a relatively mediocre game. However, for my tastes, it does so MANY things right. It's one of the few games in which I've found driving enjoyable, and I was very motivated to upgrade the parts in the "Magnum Opus." I love the way that Max's actions have a permanent effect on the game world, and the way that your work to rebuild settlements has a cumulative effect on your resource collection. I liked the game's consistent tone and graphical style, and the crunch and impact of Max's punches and shotgun shells.

  • #7

    SOMA is a pretty dark and compelling game. I actually liked it much more than this team's previous release, Amnesia. There are many games that can change their players, but SOMA is the first that actually documents evidence of the phenomenon. The enemy encounters leave a lot to be desired, but the team actually addressed this by releasing a "safe mode" for the game.

  • #6

    Yes, this is a phone game. But it is THE phone game for me. The goal of a match is to earn as much gold as possible. You'll soon realize that although each run through the dungeon is very similar, you can add 5 ability cards that will change things dramatically. You start with only a few unlocked, but there are 35 in the game. Unlocking them requires you to complete certain feats as you traverse the dungeon. I found it fascinating to use my ability cards to arrange circumstances in order to unlock the rest. Easily my favorite phone game that I've ever played.

  • #5

    This game was super cool. It's a turn-based combat game where you sort of "play as the bad guys," which really just means that you collect minion groups to use in combat that are often enemies in other games - things like bats, zombies, wolves, dark elves, etc. After finding the groups you like the most, you can take abilities while progressing through the game that enhance your favorite groups. The amazing thing is that the minion groups all so distinct and change the way that the player makes tactical decisions.

  • #4

    Dying Light is a super cool open-world 1st-person co-op game by the Dead Island folks (Techland). Hop into a city in the midst of a zombie epidemic, and figure out what's going on. Find yourself some allies, craft yourself some weapons, and parkour yourself across the city. Traversal is a big part of Dying Light, and it's extremely satisfying to plan a route that keeps you out of reach of zombies. Additionally, night time is a scary time, due to specific challenging zombies that emerge after dark.

  • #3

    Steamworld Heist is what you'd get if you took XCOM: Enemy Unknown, made it 2D, simplified the out-of-combat management, and instead of human soldiers, you fought with robots. Also, instead of aliens, you fought other robots. There's a lot of robots. It's got a great loop - finding allies that fit your play style, taking them into battle to get resources and level them up, and then equipping them with gear that plays into the roles you've designed.

  • #2

    I really enjoyed this game, and feel that it has a lot to say about our relationship with media, especially now that "games are never finished." This game explores the relationship between the creators and consumers of video games. Who does a game belong to? Do developers "owe" us anything? Can we learn about creators through their games? Should we be able to make sense of everything we play? These are important questions, and the Beginner's Guide initiates a conversation.

  • #1

    I'm not sure I've ever felt quite as much that a game was "made for me." Card Hunter is a cooperative deck-building game that plays out on a D&D-like grid. Many of the levels are challenging, and will require the player to revise their current deck. The game also has a brilliant sense of humor alongside its compelling tactical component. As an added bonus, the game is free-to-play. Although you'll need to shell out cash in order to play all of the content, you can play hours and hours of the game for no cost at all.