TFP's Top 15 Games of 2015

Because why not, right? I had my 10 games all lined up, submitted to the GOTY list on the site, then went "You know what? I can fit a few more on here." Because who's going to stop me? Plus there's this whole thing with the year being 2015 and I'm including 15 games. Which honestly I didn't think about when adding the 5 games and only thought about when I was writing the title. Anyway. Without further ado.

List items

  • Number 15

    I wrote a review for this earlier this year, and a lot of my opinions still stand. It's unequivocally the best valued collection of classic video games, possibly of all time, and with a few standout hits, it's hard not to recommend. Assorted 360 emulation issues and completely esoteric C64 games aside.

  • Number 14

    There's something incredibly calming about riding a radically quick growing flower bud, Slim Pickens-in-Dr. Strangelove-style right into a floating island to enable the main flower to grow even taller. I don't really know either, but I had fun regardless.

  • Number 13

    Full disclosure: I'm not very far in Just Cause 3. It also doesn't run particularly well on my computer, even with everything turned down low, and that's kind of a bummer. Regardless of my distance in the story or computer related bottlenecks: Just Cause 3's blend of destruction and mayhem is something that's just rarely seen these days, and I'm glad it's still kicking. People in the face. After they've been caught with a grappling hook.

  • Number 12

    Cyberpunk and Hong Kong go together like chocolate and peanut butter. The Shadowrun universe's particular blend of mysticism and technology make an even better combination. A rough, buggy start might've marred my first impressions of it, but with an appreciated revamp to stats and cyberware, an excellent world with excellent characters in interesting situations, it's well worth a shot now.

  • Number 11

    Never has a digital board game exuded as much character or been as simply fun to play with a group of friends as Armello. It's a heady game of backstabs and betrayals, of plots and plans, of "Leave me alone I'm a mostly invisible rat with two health and I just need to get past you please."

    But really: play this one with friends. Not quite as much fun by yourself.

  • Number 10

    Breaking into the top 10 proper lies Contradiction, easily the most charming and funniest game released this year. With interesting characters, out/standing/ acting, and a plot that seemingly goes all over the place, yet actually manages to constantly follow its own logic, Contradiction is a veritable gem.

    I hope they make a sequel.

  • Number 9

    Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate's innovations on the formula show why when it comes to fighting big monsters, Monster Hunter is still the king. The verticality in the hunting areas and the new Felyne systems add a lot of depth to the overall game, but they're accessible enough that they're easy to pick up for new players. The new monster designs are among the best they've ever been, with some personal appreciation to the new, banner, Magalu family. That fight with the Shagaru Magala in the story? Magical.

  • Number 8

    Look. Dancing All Night is the cotton candy of video games released this year. I'll admit that. It's fluffy, it's probably entirely unnecessary, and it's literally just sugar. On the other hand: cotton candy is really, really good. (Especially this new discovery for me of maple cotton candy, but that's beside the point.)

    The remixes are fantastic (with a particular shout-out to Norihiko Hibino's Heaven remix being the best song in a video game this year), the rhythm gameplay is fun enough (although All Night mode can die in a burning hellscape), and the story fits for what the game is, a lightweight, now the adventure continues kind of anthology entry.

    Plus it's proven that my favorite character is the most powerful human being in this universe, having survived being specifically singled out for murder attempts from two different members of the Shinto pantheon. Just saying.

  • Number 7

    I do a lot of stuff with the Unreal Engine. One of my favorite things about it is the fact that anywhere in the level you're creating, you can right click the ground, click "Play from here", and then go. It's just about the most useful thing for anyone working on a game, being able to test new segments and ideas at the drop of a hat. The fact that, not only is all the hard work of programming things like physics and enemy behavior, creating all the art assets, and menus (Seriously: making menus suck. Thank a UI designer the next time you see one) are all done automatically, and you can instead focus on creating levels in the universe of one of the best series of all time? It's sort of mind-blowing.

  • Number 6

    Oh, Life is Strange. If only you could've stuck the landing, you would've placed higher. It's like taking a plane flight that went perfectly, right up until you're about 20 feet above the ground at your destination and then the plane just suddenly drops out of the sky and skitters across the runway.

    Barring that tail end landing mishap, Life is Strange is what choice-based episodic gaming should be. It's one of two games I can think of that had choices that directly led into later situations, making it feel like there was impact to what you did. That all culminated in one of the better "Alright, we've let you have your fun, now we need to pull you into the ending" moments in video games, with the section of episode 5 that started about 45 minutes in and ended about 10 minutes from the end. Up until the point they went "Yeah that Deus Ex: Human Revolution ending was alright, just do that." I couldn't think of a better episodic game.

  • Number 5

    Assassin's Creed is good again! It's even great again! I'm honestly surprised!

    After the hot dumpster fire that was "Assassin's Creed Unity" (and I mean, I'm one of the 12 people in the world that likes Assassin's Creed 3, go look at my GOTY list from 2012. That's how you know it was bad) I was almost ready to write off the rest of the series. But with a game that runs well, has the best implementation of "Batman-style" combat I can think of, and has memorable events involving memorable characters that I can remember what they were a week later, it's downright shocking that the team at Ubisoft Quebec have managed to put out an Assassin's Creed game that sits in the upper echelon of "These are the best ones."

  • Number 4

    I don't like multiplayer games all that much. I think the last one I played a significant amount of was a pretty large amount Team Fortess 2 back before it went free to play. I play some Dota here and there but mostly I just like watching my friends play. That Nintendo of all people managed to make a team based, multiplayer shooter with legs that have lasted as long as they have is absolutely confounding on the surface. But pick up that gamepad just once and you'll see why.

    Splatoon is the best multiplayer experience in video games right now. Bar none. And I'm not sure if I can put my finger on exactly why. Maybe it's the sound design, with all the ink-based weapons making some real satisfying gloopy noises when you fire them. Maybe it's the speed, the fast paced freneticism of trying to reach an objective, or just get up to where the other team has a huge swath of color for you to override. Maybe it's the style, the long lost, distant cousin of Jet Set Radio. Maybe it's all of the above. Point is: I tend not to stick with multiplayer games, and the fact that I've played Splatoon for six months now should testify to its quality.

  • Number 3

    There was no game this year with quite the atmosphere that Her Story had, although I'll admit I maybe helped it along with some exterior factors as well. Playing in the wee hours of the morning, drinking a hot cup of tea, all the lights out in my room except for the one monitor, making paper notes in an old notebook with a pencil that I could barely see just made everything feel right.

    The way the mystery unfolded was among the most interesting ways for a game mystery to unfold. I remember seeing some complaints that someone put in an errant word and thought they found something before they were supposed to, but that seemed to be the whole point. I remember the moment, where I believe the word I typed in was something like "love", and I got 4 somewhat standard videos, and one that was where the pieces began to untangle. It's moments like these that are incredibly hard to do in mystery games, but when they work, they just work.

    Her Story just works.

  • Number 2

    A few months ago, I saw a tweet about a talk from someone saying "Games should focus more on expressing joy."

    To which my response is "I don't know about that."

    Instead, what playing MGSV really showed me, is that I want more games that can express melancholy in effective ways. I want more games that aren't afraid to forgo pleasantries. I want more games with a mood of despair and confusion at the events taking place.

    The list of games that do this, and do this incredibly well are few. Silent Hill 2, 3, and Shattered Memories are the biggest examples I can think of. Forgotten Memories, a game that I wish I could've played this year, but saw a few videos from seems to nail it as well. Nier fits in. And really that's about it.

    Metal Gear Solid V is definitely among their ranks.

    You know, maybe melancholy isn't the right word. There's certainly a lot of bombast in certain areas. At the same time, I don't really know what else to call it though, when I think about things like Episode 0. Episode 20. Episode 43. Episode 45. When I think about the outstanding, oner-heavy cinematography. Individual moments, like the one in the medical platform. Just Keifer Sutherland's response to being asked "What's wrong?" with just a half-cocked, confused smile. Episode 31 being, by far, the best looking video game moment this year. Even with all the post-launch insanity, these moments lead me to calling The Phantom Pain easily my favorite Metal Gear game.

    It's the end of an era, what with Kojima going it alone now. To say I'm excited for what his next project is would be an understatement. But his last Metal Gear, the last Metal Gear, as far as I'm concerned, is as perfect a swan song for the series as it could be.

  • Number 1

    The Yakuza series is very near to my heart, because there's really nothing like Yakuza. Intensely Japanese, overwhelmingly dense, incredibly intelligent, and showing absolutely no signs of stopping.

    While Yakuza 4 was paced sort of like a TV show, slowly simmering through its mystery until it hits its crescendo and doesn't stop until it ends. Yakuza 5 is more like episodes of a miniseries. Each part with each playable character has its intro, hits its own personal climax, which then leads into the climactic final showdown.

    The beat-em-up combat is better than ever, with new climax heat moves and special abilities for the characters. In addition, the four new locations are each as equally dense as the series' hometown of Kamurocho. One of the best sensations, which this series manages to pull off in spades, and this particular game excels at pushing quickly, is the moment where characters can name off a location and you just instantly know where it is. My sense of direction in almost any other game is terrible, just ask people who watched me play Resident Evil 4. But I can navigate the back alleys of Kamurocho like they're the back of my hand, and that speaks to the outstanding world design.

    While, truth be told, I prefer the slower pacing of Yakuza 4 to the comparatively white knuckle of Yakuza 5, the plot itself is quite possibly the best of the year. Dense stories of betrayal and crime are Yakuza's stock-in-trade, and Yakuza 5's show business focused tale is no different. The Yakuza team's ability to weave these intricate webs of conspiracy and crime in ways that make total sense is absolutely uncanny.

    The fact that this technically 3 year old game can stand toe to toe graphically and mechanically with games released years later and on next generation hardware is downright mind-blowing, and with one of the best overall soundtracks of the year, there's no shortage of things to compliment Yakuza 5 with.

    And because of all of that, it's my game of the year.

    Thanks for reading!