GOTY 2015 (Adjusted)

Adjusted GOTY lists are something I'm experimenting with. It is impossible for me, both in terms of time and monetary resources, to play every game that piques my interest in a given year. I cannot get the spread that something like Giant Bomb can, with its staff of seven people (give or take a Rorie), and so my GOTY lists tend to suffer from the limitation as a result. Usually, I play just enough new games that year to fill out a list of ten, though I'd much prefer a surplus that I could judiciously whittle down.

So instead, what I'll start doing is create GOTY lists that also cumulatively apply the subsequent year's playing history, and the year after that, and so on. As I catch up with my backlog, I should get a clearer picture of what games resonated with me most that year, irrespective of when I actually got around to playing them.

2015 was a strong year for RPGs, which made it a strong year for me also, with the likes of Bloodborne, Pillars of Eternity, The Witcher 3, and Undertale. MGSV and Yakuza 5 also, if we're talking edge cases. The only games left from this year that I'm still itching to play are two Trails games and a few scattered Indies. Won't be long before this ranked list is as complete as it's ever going to get.

My original 2015 GOTY list is here. Other Adjusted GOTY lists can be found here (2013), here (2014), here (2016), here (2017), and here (2018).

[*UP TO DATE* as of January 2021.]

List items

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: 4

    2017 rank: 4

    2018 rank: 3

    2019 rank: 3

    2020 rank: 1

    I mean, it figures the one Souls game made in 2015 would be high up on here somewhere. Bloodborne represents something more exciting than the usual dragons and mimics of the Souls brand, however; a successful transplant of the Souls formula into another setting. A fairly adjacent setting, mind, but one that still stands distinct alongside the Demon's and the Darks. The combat focus on aggression and being relentless to keep your health in check, the emphasis on its versatile shapeshifting weapons and the wonderful ludonarrative device that is "insight", as much a curse as it is a boon, might even elevate the game above the rest. Even as a high fantasy fan, I much preferred Bloodborne's dark gothic world plagued by terrors known and unknown.

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: N/A

    2017 rank: N/A

    2018 rank: N/A

    2019 rank: N/A

    2020 rank: 2

    It took a while to happen, but I finally bit the bullet on continuing the Trails series so I could catch up to the recent Cold Steel entries. I won't be playing those any time soon, but Trails in the Sky is proving to be a series I'm happy to luxuriate in for now. In addition to the first game's keen sense of worldbuilding and characterization, SC vastly improves the combat system by starting off on a higher level with more complexity - think Baldur's Gate 2 to Baldur's Gate 1 - and hitting you with a great variety of tough fights that need some prep and tactical wherewithal to overcome. The story also escalates here, introducing more of the villains behind the scenes of the first game, and just a generally more confident continuation all round. If this is the calibre of game in store for the rest of the Trails series, I clearly should've paid more attention to it way back when.

  • 2015 rank: 1

    2016 rank: 1

    2017 rank: 1

    2018 rank: 1

    2019 rank: 1

    2020 rank: 3

    (See the 2015 GOTY list for more details.) Not just a nostalgic throwback to the Infinity Engine era, Pillars of Eternity feels like a fresh new start for the CRPG genre and I can't wait to see what comes of it.

  • 2015 rank: 2

    2016 rank: 2

    2017 rank: 2

    2018 rank: 2

    2019 rank: 2

    2020 rank: 4

    (See the 2015 GOTY list for more details.) Sadly, it doesn't seem we're due for any more enhancements to Super Mario Maker's level creation studio. Everyone's kind of moved on. I am still hoping for an enhanced remake/sequel for Switch, however. No-one expected this game to be as effective as it is for cajoling out the inner-Miyamoto in all of us.

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: 3

    2017 rank: 3

    2018 rank: 4

    2019 rank: 4

    2020 rank: 5

    What I find remarkable about MGSV is that it's actually a game I enjoyed playing. That sounds like damning it with faint praise, but I struggled my way through every earlier MGS episode through some kind of single-minded dogged pursuit of whatever it was Hideo Kojima had to say about war or nanomanchines or soldiers that shoot bees out of their mouths. The amount of substance in this game is truly outstanding, and it's really quite odd that a Japanese studio managed to create the best open-world game when there are so many of the damn things being made in the west year after year. Just wish the circumstances behind its development weren't quite so strained. Art through adversity, I guess.

  • 2015 rank: 3

    2016 rank: 5

    2017 rank: 5

    2018 rank: 5

    2019 rank: 5

    2020 rank: 6

    (See the 2015 GOTY list for more details.) While it has a slow start and a lot of the surprises don't work quite as well on a second playthrough, Undertale has a special place in my heart for not only flipping JRPG conventions on their heads - not the first game to do that - but to do so with an underlying message of compassion and an emotional intelligence rarely seen in video games of its type. It also still has the best damn soundtrack of 2015, unquestioned, even out of all the additional 2015 games I've played since.

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: N/A

    2017 rank: N/A

    2018 rank: 6

    2019 rank: 6

    2020 rank: 7

    I was very impressed with the huge amount of varied content of Yakuza 5, to the extent that each character's chapter felt like a whole game, but that immense size also worked against it in a few regards. Like how many of the riffs on other games - Saejima's Big Game Hunting, in particular - wore out their welcome while trying to 100% the game. A bit of a bloat, but everything that raises Yakuza to godlike status is still hitting their marks here.

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: 6

    2017 rank: 6

    2018 rank: 7

    2019 rank: 7

    2020 rank: 8

    It's enough of an accomplishment to create a game that someone could feasibly play for hundreds of hours and still not see everything, but more so to do that with content that remains narratively and mechanically engrossing right up to the end. Chances are, if you're dropping that kind of time into a game, you're not doing so for the story. I realize the game's combat isn't everyone's phial of Enhanced Swallow, but it was enough to carry me through the game; playing it on the hardest difficulty, which forced me to tactically rely on potions and witcher Signs a lot more, definitely helped in that regard. The best part is that I still have those well-rated DLC campaigns to play if I ever feel the itch to witch again.

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: N/A

    2017 rank: 7

    2018 rank: 8

    2019 rank: 8

    2020 rank: 9

    While most of the underlying mechanics are similar to the first Xenoblade Chronicles, barring a mech or two, the feel and tone of Xenoblade X is a lot different, opting for a more overtly sci-fi take on the new open-world JRPG paradigm that Monolith perfected on their first try. While it doesn't quite stack up to its predecessor, X is just as packed with brilliant ideas from the high-concept plot down to dozens of little quality-of-life features, and presents a story and world I was actually invested enough in to pay attention to, rather than faffing off and completing side-quests for 50 hours. Even so, the inevitable open-world wandering off was made even more compelling with a new system wherein every hexagon on the open-world map had a specific goal attached to it, from fighting a tough enemy to finding a specific treasure chest to it being the destination of some side-quest you picked up back in the hub city of New Los Angeles. It was a great spin on the usual Ubisoft "icon barf" maps that kept you guessing and encouraged thorough exploration. And hell, I even liked the eccentric soundtrack: some of the best Japanese rapping in a close approximation of English since Persona 3.

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: N/A

    2017 rank: 8

    2018 rank: 9

    2019 rank: 9

    2020 rank: 10

    Zestiria felt a bit like a step down from the excellent Xillia, with a cast that wasn't quite as fun and an interconnected node-based open-world that felt pretty familiar. However, Zestiria's new combat system was fairly engrossing once I'd gotten the hang of it - automatically recharging stamina bars were far more convenient than using regular combos and items to recover the same stat - and Tales once again came up with another great conceit for its setting, in this case immortal spiritual beings that most humans couldn't see but were able to feel their presence through acts of largesse, similar to angels. Even when you have an average entry in the Tales series like this one, it's evident when playing them that very few active JRPG franchises can match Bamco's anime adventures for quality consistency.

  • 2015 rank: 4

    2016 rank: 7

    2017 rank: 9

    2018 rank: 10

    2019 rank: 10

    2020 rank: 11

    (See the 2015 GOTY list for more details.) Life is Strange isn't just a fantastic adventure game with a surprising amount of emotional depth considering that we're dealing with a bunch of liberal art college teens, but manages something I didn't think was possible: it convinced me that the episodic adventure game format has some legs to it. Thanks to Giant Bomb East's eventful playthrough, and of course my own, it's going to be a hard game to forget.

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: N/A

    2017 rank: 10

    2018 rank: 11

    2019 rank: 11

    2020 rank: 12

    It's a testament to the above games that Ori isn't higher up, because it's one of the most attractive of the many 2D spacewhippers out there. Even when it isn't dazzling you with its visuals, though, it's drawing you into platforming nirvana with its incredibly fluid controls and challenging platforming. Spacewhippers tend to feature a balance of combat and platforming, rarely emphasizing either, but Ori is definitely doubling-down on the latter with its level design. The imminent sequel is now one of my most anticipated games.

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: N/A

    2017 rank: N/A

    2018 rank: N/A

    2019 rank: N/A

    2020 rank: 13

    Though originally released much earlier on PSP, the 2015 Steam edition is where I discovered my love for this slapstick Falcom one-off. Gurumin feels like the Dreamcast game Falcom always intended to make, with a very Sega sensibility and a wonderfully strange synth soundtrack that is largely unlike Falcom's usual bombastic tunes. The platforming can be a bit much at times, but the overall quality level is very high.

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: N/A

    2017 rank: N/A

    2018 rank: 12

    2019 rank: 12

    2020 rank: 14

    The follow-up to the Tomb Raider reboot is more of the same, but polished to a fine sheen and boosted with survival mechanics that didn't feel like they got in the way too often. I also liked the wintry setting more, and I thought the plot was a little stronger. What raises it more in my estimations was a post-game chapter set in Lara's mansion that re-established the character in a smart and nostalgic way, full of little bits of fan service for long-time fans.

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: N/A

    2017 rank: 11

    2018 rank: 13

    2019 rank: 13

    2020 rank: 15

    Image & Form's hardscrabble universe of steam-powered robots getting by has yet to put a foot wrong, with Heist producing a spacebound chapter full of tactical combat and booty raiding. It somehow translates the XCOM experience of strategically using cover and keeping the team together into a 2D platformer where you have to do all your own aiming, and masterfully maintains a perfect difficulty curve throughout.

  • 2015 rank: 6

    2016 rank: 8

    2017 rank: 12

    2018 rank: 14

    2019 rank: 14

    2020 rank: 16

    (See the 2015 GOTY list for more details.) I still concur with Vinny that TheBUTT is one of the greatest traditional point-and-click adventure games ever made, without necessitating a "since they came back" proviso. Adventure games have had a hard time climbing back from the hellish dimension that was FMV to what they once were, but this game proves that the genre's genuinely back to full strength and still improving.

  • 2015 rank: 5

    2016 rank: 9

    2017 rank: 13

    2018 rank: 15

    2019 rank: 15

    2020 rank: 17

    (See the 2015 GOTY list for more details.) Though that isn't to say that FMV can't also improve by leaps and bounds too. If 2015 signified anything, it was that no matter how hoary or outmoded a genre may be perceived by the larger games industry, there are talented folk out there who know how to make it work. Her Story, along with Contradiction, proved that FMV adventure games could actually excel with the right amount of charm or a particularly clever narrative delivery device, and especially when they have both.

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: N/A

    2017 rank: 14

    2018 rank: 16

    2019 rank: 16

    2020 rank: 18

    I'll happily play a Picross game without any bells and whistles, as it's a chill puzzle format with a perennial appeal. However, when it has a couple of strong aces in its hand, as Paint It Back does, that's when I really sit up and notice. I was prepared to bury Paint It Back somewhere in the 40s or 50s of this list, but its wonderful sense of surreal humor and adherence to what I call "Wario rules" - no irritating mistake buzzer, but you make your own bed if you screw up - elevates above any other I've played in recent memory.

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: 10

    2017 rank: 15

    2018 rank: 17

    2019 rank: 17

    2020 rank: 19

    I genuinely don't understand where my love for this game comes from. It sounds like a joke game from Penn and Teller, the insipid sibling of their trollish Desert Bus: your only goal is to clean a facility filled with blood, guts, trash and other detritus from top to bottom as spotlessly as you can and then clock out once you're satisfied. Some of these stages require hours upon hours of work to reach that point. And yet I can, and have done several times, happily dedicate an afternoon to menial thankless virtual janitorial work. It's soothing and rewarding in ways I can't readily elucidate. A lot of modern game design is built around triggering the "good job" receptacle of the brain though, so maybe the psychology behind why this could... nope, it's still weird. And yes, I have been playing it solo this whole time.

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: 11

    2017 rank: 16

    2018 rank: 18

    2019 rank: 18

    2020 rank: 20

    It's a fair question to ask why anyone would play Final Fantasy for the story, given how increasingly unhinged their stories have become in modern times. In a sense, Final Fantasy VIII broke the mold for what they could get away with, and we've seen a procession of unusual twists and turns ever since. I mention this because Type-0 isn't all that significant from a gameplay perspective - it's a whole lot of running through identical rooms with far more playable characters than you need - but the plot is pure Final Fantasy pablum in the best and weirdest way and I can never hate this series for pulling the rug out from under me again and again. I didn't think I'd like FFXIII-3 either, but it turns out all you have to do is rev up the insanity and I'm all in. (All right, so Type-0 has a lot of curious ideas beyond the story too, and I do think it's one of the more mechanically imaginative RPGs in a while. At least, to my limited experience; maybe every Vita RPG is like this these days.)

  • 2015 rank: 7

    2016 rank: 12

    2017 rank: 17

    2018 rank: 19

    2019 rank: 19

    2020 rank: 21

    (See the 2015 GOTY list for more details.) Technobabylon appeared during a very exciting year for adventure games. We had the once reviled FMVs making an impressive comeback with games like Her Story above, the episodic format finding a champion in Life is Strange, and the very traditional The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 taking up the torch from the old guard of Sierra and LucasFilm games. Technobabylon doesn't really stack up in comparison, but is otherwise a great sci-fi yarn with a likeable setting and selection of protagonists and a brilliant structure of set-piece instances that mercifully limit the playing field to several screens at a time. I just hope it isn't too prescient: a world almost destroyed by nuclear war limping slowly towards the humanist utopia that continues to elude us.

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: N/A

    2017 rank: 18

    2018 rank: 20

    2019 rank: 20

    2020 rank: 22

    In some ways, ROM can stick too closely to the retro games it was inspired by - Hideo Kojima's Snatcher in particular - creating an adventure game that has little in the way of puzzles or dialogue choices, but at the same time it's a really good modern interpretation of that type of decidedly Japanese railroaded adventure game, with some memorable characters, a thrilling cyberpunk noir story, and a fantastic soundtrack. It made me oddly nostalgic for a sub-genre I have very little experience with.

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: 13

    2017 rank: 19

    2018 rank: 21

    2019 rank: 21

    2020 rank: 23

    Dependent on your tolerance for free-to-play hooks, like a finite limit on how long you can play at any one time and a very unbalanced currency-based progression unlocking system, Pokemon Picross is either the best Picross game ever made or the best Picross game ever made that is impossible to play because of its ample F2P horseshit. I've opted to rank it here as I would with the game's $30 price plan - which effectively removes anything F2P-related from the game. Not only is the game packed with puzzles, but introduces power-ups that alleviate some of the difficulty and an achievement system that forces you to try different strategies. It's an impressive product, though I wish they had just sold it with a fixed price in the first place.

  • 2015 rank: 8

    2016 rank: 14

    2017 rank: 20

    2018 rank: 22

    2019 rank: 22

    2020 rank: 24

    (See the 2015 GOTY list for more details.) Grow Home was cute, peaceful and rewarding in various measures, a game built around nurturing a plant to grow taller and reaping the benefits of your ever higher vantage point. The game had a superbly chill vibe to its no-rush progress and the hunt for those melodic crystals. Like the best part of the open-world experience - sweeping up the collectibles - isolated and extracted to become the whole game.

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: 15

    2017 rank: 21

    2018 rank: 23

    2019 rank: 23

    2020 rank: 25

    I'm as surprised as you are that there's a Musou game on this list. Dragon Quest Heroes is probably the key that allowed me to finally "get" this genre, but it needed a few trappings from the Dragon Quest universe for that model to finally click. RPG leveling, quests, boss fights and the whimsical appeal of the pun-laden monster designs helped close the rift between me and Omega Force's divisive cottage industry of crowd-control brawlers.

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: 16

    2017 rank: 22

    2019 rank: 24

    2019 rank: 24

    2020 rank: 26

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: 16

    2017 rank: 23

    2018 rank: 25

    2019 rank: 25

    2020 rank: 27

    It's an odd thing. At one time, Bethesda was the only developer making expansive open-world RPGs that offered a main plotline of missions but in no way forced the player to pursue any of them, happily setting them loose in enormous worlds of possibilities they created. These days, it seems that every CRPG is like that. Fallout 4 is a fine if somewhat overfamiliar sequel in the post-apocalyptic RPG series, one I'll admit to playing for many hours, but nothing it adds to the formula - settlement building, in particular - did much for me. It deserves a spot on this list for its overall quality and for the amount of playtime I got out of it, but it did feel like a whole lot of coasting on laurels.

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: 17

    2017 rank: 24

    2018 rank: 26

    2019 rank: 26

    2020 rank: 28

    There's plenty I admire about Arkham Knight, the third and final game in Rocksteady's trilogy of increasingly bleak licensed Batman games. I admire that it raises the stakes both narratively - after Joker's shocking death, it's clear that particular barrier no longer mattered - and mechanically, with enemies becoming far smarter and stronger than they had been in previous games. If you relied on one trick too much in the stealth-based predator mode, the enemies would start anticipating it, creating some particularly clever games of bat and mouse. I didn't even mind the Batmobile, a contentious point with many, because it meant the series could try a whole new set of challenges and ideas for set-pieces. Ditto the Riddler trophies, which have always been my favorite part of these games (if no-one else's). Setting levels on a high-tech blimp or an underground disused mall was fun too. Yet, the whole "raised stakes" thing meant there were times when the game could be really rough to play, and I thought about quitting several times. Consider this Advanced-Level Batman before you go in, and you should do fine.

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: N/A

    2017 rank: 25

    2018 rank: 27

    2019 rank: 27

    2020 rank: 29

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: N/A

    2017 rank: N/A

    2018 rank: 28

    2019 rank: 28

    2020 rank: 30

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: 18

    2017 rank: 26

    2018 rank: 29

    2019 rank: 29

    2020 rank: 31

    Axiom Verge is one in a long string of pixel art-based 2D "SpaceWhipper" platformers to come from the Indie market, the genre clearly meaning a great deal to a great number of developers working in that space, and in that respect it's hard to see Axiom Verge as particularly significant. It's certainly a great game; the controls are fluid, there's more than a few options for weapons and the boss fights are varied and impactful. Being able to inflict glitching, or remove it from the environment, made for an interesting meta statement on game design that the Dot Hack series did years before. The game sticks to the Super Metroid model a little too obstinately for its own good at times; there's no clear indications on maps where items are kept, a concession that newer games of this type have made in the recent past, though it will at least tell you if you've completed the map/found all the items with a couple of indicators. Still, if you're looking for a particularly old-school variant of this genre combined with a thoughtful sci-fi narrative framework, Axiom Verge shines brightly even in a populous Indie market.

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: N/A

    2017 rank: 27

    2018 rank: 30

    2019 rank: 30

    2020 rank: 32

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: 19

    2017 rank: 28

    2018 rank: 31

    2019 rank: 31

    2020 rank: 33

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: N/A

    2017 rank: N/A

    2018 rank: N/A

    2019 rank: 32

    2020 rank: 34

  • 2015 rank: 9

    2016 rank: 20

    2017 rank: 29

    2018 rank: 32

    2019 rank: 33

    2020 rank: 35

    (See the 2015 GOTY list for more details.) I still hold a lot of affection for this goofy vice-presidential RPG, taking equal inspiration from Suikoden and EarthBound for a surreal take on a certain concept of America where an entire constituency comes together to assist their oblivious second-in-command in saving the country from alien coffee chains, rampaging boy scouts, a hostile not-so-Secret Service and the Commander-in-Chief's sentient evil chair. It can be a bit repetitive, but it's like Zeboyd's own brand of Indie JRPG parodies in that it can mock the silly conventions while simultaneously adhering to the tenets of a successful 16-bit JRPG, giving each of its many playable characters their own distinct feel in combat.

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: N/A

    2017 rank: 30

    2018 rank: 33

    2019 rank: 34

    2020 rank: 36

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: N/A

    2017 rank: N/A

    2018 rank: N/A

    2019 rank: 35

    2020 rank: 37

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: N/A

    2017 rank: N/A

    2018 rank: N/A

    2019 rank: N/A

    2020 rank: 38

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: 21

    2017 rank: 31

    2018 rank: 34

    2019 rank: 36

    2020 rank: 39

    Oops, almost forgot about Broken Age. I guess we all did, huh? From the project that launched Kickstarter as a platform for crowdsourced game production to a sort of mostly OK adventure game. "Sort of mostly OK" might as well be Double Fine's motto. Broken Age suffered from a delayed second half (hence why it's on this list instead of the 2014 one, which I'd originally placed Part One) which unfortunately relied on a lot of recursion and visiting areas from Part One, just as the other character. Makes you wonder why it took so long, really. Overall, though, Broken Age is an occasionally humorous, occasionally exciting, entirely too cute adventure game with a wonderful fairytale book art style and some great voiceover work. However, as an adventure game it's merely satisfactory, not quite relaunching the genre but settling somewhere in the middle of what other, more imaginative adventure game developers were doing. Certainly don't regret backing it, but not the spectacular rebirth of the LucasFilm graphic adventure golden era folk were anticipating from the pitch.

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: N/A

    2017 rank: N/A

    2018 rank: N/A

    2019 rank: 37

    2020 rank: 40

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: N/A

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    2018 rank: N/A

    2019 rank: N/A

    2020 rank: 41

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: 22

    2017 rank: 32

    2018 rank: 35

    2019 rank: 38

    2020 rank: 42

    I'm unlikely to ever play the original Vita game, so I'm ranking the 2015 remastered edition for PS4 instead. Gravity Rush has a delightful European sensibility to it, given that it was inspired by the works of French comic book author Moebius, and the gravity manipulation gimmick is as exhilarating as it is vertiginous. The game doesn't do quite enough with the tools it has available - a lot of fights boil down to dive-kicking weak points over and over, and there's only a handful of "activities" you can do between story missions - but there's something to idly floating around collecting gems and choosing your own idea of what constitutes "up" and "down". A sequel that dedicates itself more to exploring the possibilities of both the mechanics and the intriguing setting alike would be amazing.

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: 23

    2017 rank: 33

    2018 rank: 36

    2019 rank: 39

    2020 rank: 43

    Oceanhorn's fairly flagrant in terms of where it gets its inspiration from, but what the Indie market often supposes is "this major mainstream game was great but no-one seemed eager to follow up on it, so why not us?". A lot of the time, a project that like that is unfeasible for a small group, which is why Oceanhorn takes the basic template of Wind Waker but presents it in this pseudo-isometric style that's presumably far easier for a smaller studio to put together. The resulting package ends up being quite a bit of fun, with some neat novel ideas of its own - leveling up is done almost entirely through unlocking achievements, for instance. Sure, it's just Wind Waker, but it's not like Nintendo's going to make another one of those any time soon.

  • 2015 rank: 10

    2016 rank: 24

    2017 rank: 34

    2018 rank: 37

    2019 rank: 40

    2020 rank: 44

    (See the 2015 GOTY list for more details.) Boxboy! was the perfect length for its concept: an ambulatory box that can create clones of itself to traverse pits and reach higher ledges. While short, the game explores every possible permutation of this idea, and adds an extra layer of challenge with a series of collectibles that can only be acquired through stringent efficiency of the player's abilities. I'm grateful a major first-party developer like HAL Laboratory, usually off creating all manner of delightful Kirby games, had the notion to try their own take on a small-scale Indie platformer. Makes you wonder what other tiny games big developers could be making between their AAA projects.

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: N/A

    2017 rank: N/A

    2018 rank: N/A

    2019 rank: 41

    2020 rank: 45

  • 2015 rank: 11

    2016 rank: 25

    2017 rank: 35

    2018 rank: 38

    2019 rank: 42

    2020 rank: 46

    Titan Souls fell short of my top ten last year, but that doesn't mean I don't consider it a worthwhile game. While the Souls comparison is nominally overt, the game actually feels more like a stripped-down Shadow of the Colossus. There is nothing between its challenging puzzle boss fights besides some quiet and picturesque landscapes, the goal always being to seek out the next large foe to slay. With a single arrow that you can telepathically recall (the recall often being deadlier than the original shot) and a simple evade roll, the game helpfully minimizes your options so your focus can be on figuring out the single trick behind each boss. It's a slight thing, but imaginative and oddly beautiful too.

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: N/A

    2017 rank: N/A

    2018 rank: 39

    2019 rank: 43

    2020 rank: 47

  • 2015 rank: N/A

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    2018 rank: N/A

    2019 rank: N/A

    2020 rank: 48

    (The 2XL version.)

  • 2015 rank: 12

    2016 rank: 26

    2017 rank: 36

    2018 rank: 40

    2019 rank: 44

    2020 rank: 49

    Adding to my point earlier about Axiom Verge, Castle in the Darkness is another pixel-based exploration platformer with more than a few callbacks to when the genre was briefly popular in the mid-90s. While not particularly remarkable in terms of mechanics or presentation, Castle in the Darkness is a solid example of this particular genre.

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: N/A

    2017 rank: N/A

    2018 rank: 41

    2019 rank: 45

    2020 rank: 50

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: N/A

    2017 rank: N/A

    2018 rank: 42

    2019 rank: 46

    2020 rank: 51

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: 27

    2017 rank: 37

    2018 rank: 43

    2019 rank: 47

    2020 rank: 52

  • 2015 rank: 13

    2016 rank: 28

    2017 rank: 38

    2018 rank: 44

    2019 rank: 48

    2020 rank: 53

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: N/A

    2017 rank: N/A

    2018 rank: 45

    2019 rank: 49

    2020 rank: 54

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: 29

    2017 rank: 39

    2018 rank: 46

    2019 rank: 50

    2020 rank: 55

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: N/A

    2017 rank: 40

    2018 rank: 47

    2019 rank: 51

    2020 rank: 56

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: N/A

    2017 rank: 41

    2018 rank: 48

    2019 rank: 52

    2020 rank: 57

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: N/A

    2017 rank: N/A

    2018 rank: N/A

    2019 rank: N/A

    2020 rank: 58

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: 30

    2017 rank: 42

    2018 rank: 49

    2019 rank: 53

    2020 rank: 59

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: N/A

    2017 rank: 43

    2018 rank: 50

    2019 rank: 54

    2020 rank: 60

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: N/A

    2017 rank: 44

    2018 rank: 51

    2019 rank: 55

    2020 rank: 61

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: N/A

    2017 rank: N/A

    2018 rank: N/A

    2019 rank: 56

    2020 rank: 62

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: 31

    2017 rank: 45

    2018 rank: 52

    2019 rank: 57

    2020 rank: 63

  • 2015 rank: N/A

    2016 rank: 32

    2017 rank: 46

    2018 rank: 53

    2019 rank: 58

    2020 rank: 64