'Tis the season to make lists, so once again we decided to give our wonderful contributors a chance to step outside their roles as critics and just straight-up enthuse about their favourite games of the year. Feel free to offer your own lists and calm disagreements in the comments!
Those sneaky so-and-so's at Codemasters dropped a bomb earlier this year with the launch of Dirt Rally. It arrived with no forewarning or fanfare, but has proven to be a real success story for Steam's Early Access platform, and an excellent rally game to boot. I've spent many hours racing competitively against fellow Gameplanet forum members in online league events, and have no doubt that I will continue to enjoy this game for quite some time. This is without a doubt the best rally driving sim in many years.
I'm not entirely sure how this happened, but this has turned out to be the game I've spent the most time on this year – I just can't stop playing it! The concept is simple yet so very enjoyable, and while it's easy to pick up and play, there is also a vast amount of time and skill required to becoming a better player. I foresee many more hours to come being spent smacking balls with my rear spoiler (on my car that is – get your mind out of the gutter).
I don't believe I've ever had such a strong emotional reaction to playing a video game. The story being told was so simple, yet somehow it had an impact on me that lasted for days afterward. Its artistic visuals were gorgeous and its orchestral score one of my new favourites, but more than that, it was an incredibly challenging game. On more than one occasion I was banging on the desk in frustration as I retried a checkpoint for the hundredth time, but this only made the ending all that much sweeter when I finally got there. And for the first time in years, I sat down and completed a second play-through within the week... because it was just that good.
This game played it pretty safe for sure, but it built on the solid platform of the first reboot with vastly improved puzzle tombs and a refinement of all the successes of its predecessor to be such a solid AAA title – just a fun gaming experience. In fact, my main concern about it is that its defined the new Tomb Raider concept so successfully that they'll now run the franchise into the ground Assassin's Creed-style with overly-frequent releases and a lack of innovation. DON'T DO THIS CRYSTAL DYNAMICS.
Yes, I know what's wrong with Destiny. All of us well know the problems. And yet here we are all still playing it anyway, largely due to The Taken King, which came along with not only a whole lot of excellent new content, but more importantly a whole lot of usability fixes to the basic game, just as the Stockholm Sydrome effect we all had from Destiny year one was starting to reach its limits. Must. Improve. Light Level. For No. Reason.
The seamless integration of story and emergent game play contained within a massive dynamic world puts CDPR’s third Witcher game in to a class of its own. Not only does it put to shame the recent works of both BioWare and Bethesda, it pushed the boundaries of what an open world RPG can be. Game of the Year by a mile… and currently my Game of the Decade.
Any other year this would have topped my list. Complex characters and beautiful presentation all wrapped up in a classic approach to the RPG genre made this a delight to play from start to finish. Easily the best written RPG since Planescape: Torment.
This game has grown on me the more I play it. Its almost perfect skewering and adoration of cheesy horror add a level of enjoyment far beyond the actual quality of the game. Its schlocky execution and replayability have only increased my enjoyment of the game.
It’s striking that out of all of the major 2015 releases, Telltale’s Tales from the Borderlands was by far the most enjoyable game I played this year. Chock full of witty references and hilarious exchanges, Tales from the Borderlands is by and large one of the best Telltale adventures yet, and does the unique, wacky universe of Borderlands justice in almost every single way.
Truly grand-scale horror adventures are hard to come by these days, but Techland’s Dying Light stands as one of the best. Combining an excellent parkour system and the brutal combat of Dead Island, Dying Light is quite simply a horror fan’s dream. In saying that, I’m really excited for the game’s The Following expansion in February, and I can’t wait to dive back into land of the undead.
If there's a better value purchase on the current releases shelf, I can't think of one. More fun than you could shake a kazooie at, should such a thing actually be possible.
One of the best games I've ever played finally gets a follow-up it deserves. Reincarnation is a return to the roots of the bash'em, smash'em, slaughter-'em-if-you-can-'em-up series that really has no peers, and the team at Stainless really nailed this one.
Punching people in the face is one thing, but punching them in the face and then ripping their bowels out through their mouth (in x-ray vision, no less) is something else entirely. Only Ed Boon et al can deliver when it comes to this kind of over-the-top madness, and deliver they did.