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Is it the shoes?

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Best of 2015

This list certainly didn't turn out how I would've expected at the start of the year or even six months ago. First off, no Fallout and no Metal Gear. A franchise I'd never played before took the #1 spot. A dancing game is in the top 3. A Pokémon game is in the top 10. And a short, yet deeply personal story that resonated with me found its way onto the list as well.

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Shout out to both Life Is Strange and Until Dawn. Two games which I had no interest in whatsoever, but highly enjoyed watching multiple people play through. I feel like if I would've played them on my own, they would've ended up on the list here, but I didn't. I must've been too busy dancin'.

Anyway, this was undoubtedly a great year for games. Here's my personal Top 10:

List items

  • I'd never played a Witcher game before this, but it was easily my #1. No doubt about it. It consumed me for about two months and I loved every bit of it. The quests and storytelling in this game are on a different level than everything else. My GOTY last year was Dragon Age Inquisition, but it pales in comparison to The Witcher 3.

  • I've always loved Assassin's Creed. Yeah, even the first one. Even when it got pretty bad (Rev, 3, Unity), I kept playing. But, Syndicate has legitimately put the franchise back on track. The characters (primarily Evie) are great. The story is excellent. The main villain is the best in years, if not ever. The grappling hook item changes the flow, but doesn't make traversal too trivial. And, the reintroduction of Juno (in an amazing flash-forward sequence that takes players to World War I) successfully brings back the overarching story that has been all but lost since the end of 3. Even the current day stuff is well done. I'm excited about this series again.

  • Theatrhythm has been one of my favorite games over the last few years. So, when they announced a Persona 4 rhythm game, I was pretty hyped. And it delivered. The story mode, which is canon, is crazy but in a good way. It may go a bit long in spots, but that's fine. The real star is obviously the music. The remixes they've done to the original soundtrack are amazing. And the game ramps up the challenge in a successfully gradual way that led me to becoming quite good at the game without feeling like I was "grinding." Even after I got the platinum trophy, I kept going back to play more songs and even buy more DLC.

  • Mortal Kombat is one of my favorite franchises of all time. MK9 excellently retold the story of MK1-3 with a bunch of twists, so I knew MKX's story was going to be interesting because a) they had to introduce a bunch of new characters, and b) they had to figure out how to include or ignore the old timeline of MK4-Deception. So, first off, I love Cassie Cage. The other "kombat kids" each have their moments, but Cassie is obviously the star. The story felt significantly shorter than MK9, and I miss having that challenge tower, but I still found myself playing the various modes and daily/weekly challenges well past the point of unlocking everything in the krypt. Also, the reinvention of Brutalities added a layer of risk/reward that I thoroughly enjoyed. Side note: the comics are excellent and really fill in a lot of gaps in the story that, if they were in the game, would've bumped this up even higher on the list.

  • I haven't finished it yet but everything about it is my kinda game. I highly enjoyed the reboot and it feels like they took all the criticisms to heart with the sequel. I still think it was ridiculous to put the game same day as Fallout, but that isn't important here. I just wish more people had a chance to play this game.

  • Super Mario Maker turned out to be everything we could've hoped for a year and a half ago at E3. I haven't played it in a while and I really should get back on it now that they've implemented the website. Unfortunately, I'm not very creative myself when it comes to building levels, so it doesn't quite get into the Top 5 for me.

  • When it was announced at PAX East 2015 that Rock Band was coming back, I was psyched. But, I can't deny that the game feels bare bones. Also, spending many hours finding and redownloading all my DLC was not fun. You know what is still fun though. Fuckin' Rock Band. Sure, I wish there was more to it this time around, but I'm still enjoying the hell out of it.

  • Cibele came out of nowhere and resonated with me in multiple ways. No, I'm not a 19 year-old woman in college playing MMOs in an online relationship over Skype. But, there was a time where I was a 20 year-old dude in college playing EverQuest in an online relationship over in-game text/AIM/phone. Although my relative experiences were 15 years ago, the interactive desktop storytelling elements brought up some vivid memories that I had long forgotten. And, while some may complain that the "gameplay" is bordering on non-existent, it's perfect. People who've been deep into MMOs like that know that it's often not about playing the actual game, but the interactions with the other people. So, the monotonous clicking of monsters on the raids in Cibele excellently conveys how sometimes MMOs are more of a medium for interacting with other people and that the gameplay (especially when grinding levels) often takes a back seat. I love that a game like this can even exist and it definitely deserves a spot on my top 10 list.

  • As someone who's read all the books, when Telltale announced a Game of Thrones series, my hopes were high. The series didn't get a ton of attention this year though. Part of that is likely due to how long it took for the entire story to get out there (almost a full year). I enjoyed the twists and turns of the tragic tale of House Forrester, but by the end of the game it was apparent (at least in my version) that a few of the main characters had zero affect on the story whatsoever, which was disappointing. I also feel like they left too many things unanswered for a sequel that will happen...when? Who can say? Side note: If I had one wish, it would be that Beskha finds her way into the books and/or show. She's great.

  • I am unapologetically addicted to Picross. I've played through all six Picross e games that Jupiter has released on the eShop, so I was excited when Pokémon Picross was announced. Not because it had Pokémon (I've only ever played one Pokémon game, X) or simply because it was more Picross. I was happy because it was the first time they had made a game out of it. Giving each Pokémon different skills and power-ups really changes how you play the game. There's a strategy to it that isn't there in regular picross. The free-to-play aspect can be a bit frustrating, but if you are okay with playing in short bursts, it's totally fine. Or, if you want to think about it as a full 3DS game, you can pay $30 and bypass all the free-to-play cooldown timers. I hope Jupiter gets to do this with more Nintendo franchises soon.