With 2015 all wrapped up, the staff of GamingIlluminaughty.com decided to come together and make our picks for 2015’s Game of the Year. Even though 2015 had several games release broken, disappointing, or both, there was still plenty of great games that released, all worthy of being considered Game of the Year.
Ace Of All Trades — Mad Max
2015 was full of fun and compelling games, and I can honestly say I enjoyed a lot of titles. Of my top 10 games of 2015, the final four were all in contention for the top spot, but I had to give it to Mad Max. Mad Max was a sleeper title developed by Avalanche Studios and published by Warner Bros. Interactive. The moment I had the opportunity to purchase this game for PC at $20 I knew I would be getting a great deal. The combat system and being able to take down opponents with your harpoon were a lot of fun. Destroying enemy camps while destroying enemies’ gas supply was very fun and satisfying.
I could continue to go on about how great and fun this game was. The customization of your character and increased power in your different cars will just bring out the inner savage in you. The game looked great graphically, and I did appreciate the open world environment. Something about driving around in the wasteland and then all of a sudden a magnetic lighting storm hits and you’re forced to find shelter quickly makes you appreciate the environment much more. I like the character development and learning more as the story progress. I feel this was a great pick for my Game of the Year!
Blvck — The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is the Game of the Year by a landslide in my opinion. From jaw-dropping graphics to the amazing combat system, this game excelled in many areas. A key feature of The Witcher 3 that makes it stand out from other games is its narrative. Without playing any of the previous titles, I was able to learn about past events, relationships, and lore from exploring the different choices of the dialog tree. This also leads to a completely different experience for all players. Whether expanding the conversation tree and continuing to talk to an NPC for some time or choosing to save someone or let them die, you are always impacting the future of the game even if you don’t know it. If I wanted to know more about the past games I could do so willingly or skip the back story and proceed with the game, but this may lead to me not learning a simpler way of completing a quest or learning knowledge that gives me more insight about the task at hand.
What makes this game one of the best open world games as well is the fact that there was never a dull moment of gameplay. Whether you’re traveling the world for fun or looking for ingredients and items, you will always find an objective that keeps your attention. Even for a brief moment you can stop thieves on your way to a main quest, help out a merchant in distress, or solve a murder. The variety of different ways to interact with NPCs and the environment in this game provide the player with a sense of limitless fun. While some tasks may seem tedious, they all build up to a climatic ending that never has failed to please me. In short, The Witcher 3 is the definition of a sandbox open world game and the best of 2015.
JG — Dying Light
2015 was a rather disappointing year in gaming, mainly because of microtransactions leaving a bad taste in my mouth. However, there were still some pretty solid games to come out. Admittedly, I didn’t play that many AAA games this year (like The Witcher 3 and Fallout 4) and also didn’t bother with a lot of indie games that my colleagues tried out. While that does sway my decision making in GOTY 2015, due to my gaming interests I still would’ve chosen Dying Light.
This game was a huge sleeper this year, and those are typically the games that I gravitate to. I don’t like games that are overly hyped up, so naturally I tend to look for the underdogs that rise up. Dying Light felt like what Dead Island should’ve been. It had all of the elements of a standard zombie survival game, and added a lot more to the table, including co-op, a multitude of weapons, parkour, a heart-pounding night element that changed AI behavior, a great story, good graphics, and an RPG system. While it started off slow (at least on the PC version) because of optimization issues, once they fixed the kinks Dying Light became a very fun game that I couldn’t wait to run through because I was so engaged. Techland did a great job, and they are continuing to support this game as we speak by bringing upon an expansion soon. They also have mods that the community has produced with some very dope concepts.
Overall, this game was amazing, and was pretty much a no-brainer to me for my choice. We will see what’s in store for 2016, but I hope that Techland is around for a long time producing other games.
Malaiko — Life is Strange
Life is Strange may not be a AAA title, and it may not be a high budget ultra-realistic game like most games on the market, but Life is Strange is a game that chooses to put emphasis on character development, a thought-provoking story, and most important of all the complexity of human relationships and emotions. It’s about time we as gamers stop indulging these big name companies who keep pumping out the same garbage year in and year out and instead support these indie developers who actually do something to push the video game medium forward and strive to do something different. While it’s a single-player experience, believe me when I tell you that that will be more than enough to keep you on the edge of your seat.
What starts out as a simple story of your everyday teenage girl named Max who reunites with her longtime best friend Chloe quickly takes a dark turn as you guide these two characters through an incredible journey that thoroughly explores complex themes such as heartbreak, betrayal, lies, friendship, love, and loyalty. The game presents you with a multitude of decision-making scenarios and those decisions influence the way the story plays out. It’s interesting to see how the dynamic between characters and the story as a whole changes depending on what choices you have previously made. Even the smallest of choices can come back to bite you in the ass later on in the story and I love games that manage to make me feel like my decisions actually impact the story I’m playing. The game also has multiple endings that vary depending on your decisions, something that provides the game with a good amount of replayability. Life is Strange is definitely my Game of the Year.
Austin Manchester — Bloodborne
Back in March, I gambled with $60 and won big. I had never played a From Software game before and had heard about their intense difficulties, so frustrating that they could make any gamer say “fuck it” and give up. But I ignored all that and bought Bloodborne. Bloodborne is obviously not for everyone and I think very few would consider it the Game of the Year for 2015. However, after over 80 hours of playing (and many more to come), I can’t think of a game that I loved more from 2015 than Bloodborne.
First off, what drew me to Bloodborne was the setting and character designs. I absolutely love the Victorian era-inspired city of Yharnam and the beasts that inhabit it. The Lovecraftian influence over the game is evident as many monsters appear straight out of the pages of H.P. Lovecraft’s fiction — the giant Cthulhu creatures are hard to miss. But what makes a video game fun is its gameplay and Bloodborne’s quick and aggressive combat system make the game extremely fun and addicting. I know — some people say you must be a masochist to enjoy these types of games, but that’s not the case with Bloodborne. Sure, those first few hours are brutal (and I started to regret my purchase), but once I got over the steep learning curve, Bloodborne became like a drug to me, with each encounter with enemies and the exhilarating boss fights injecting adrenaline through my bloodstream, forcing me to play more.
Bloodborne is my favorite game since the Mass Effect trilogy, and there’s no coincidence that Bloodborne is the only game I’ve bought substantial DLC for since that trilogy. Many people won’t feel the same, but Bloodborne is definitely my pick for 2015’s Game of the Year.
Mista Moshi — The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
In a time where video games have become landmines for consumers’ wallets, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was a true gift to the gamer. Running a game for the first time in today’s gaming industry is such a nerve-racking experience. So many things can go wrong and they usually do. The Witcher 3 gave us the gift of an optimized experience. The gameplay was well crafted and the environment was on the verge of being cinematic. This was a very ambitious title, but CD Projekt Red delivered beautifully. The game cost $60 and the developers go even further by offering the player free DLC. In a year where many games launched broken, or lacked any form of creativity, The Witcher 3 served as a reminder to the gamer that “Yes, there are still good games to be made.”
SiggyGuns — Rocket League
Can you name the one game in 2015 that had everyone on social media go on and on about its awesomeness? While many triple A titles spend good money on advertising, 2015 saw a small game on PC and PS4 blow up to be one of the most talked about games of the year. Rocket League, the guilty pleasure that had everyone buzzing, is my 2015 Game of the Year. The game is simple and above all it was a lot of fun. Mentioning Rocket League among titles like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Fallout 4 no doubt seems strange, but when I look back at 2015, the one true game I can say I enjoyed the most was Rocket League and I dare anyone who played it to say it wasn’t the most fun they had all year. Why should we always choose the most visually stunning game as Game of the Year when back in the day fun factor was what mattered most?
Rocket League is soccer meets demolition derby where you use your rocket-powered vehicles to hit the ball into your opponent’s goal. While Rocket League is no doubt addictive and fun, the visuals in the game are actually surprisingly very crisp. Even though many of us PS4 peeps bragged that we had this game all to ourselves, it was announced that Xbox One will get a release in February 2016. Maybe it’ll be 2016’s Game of the Year for Xbox owners.
The Black Hokage – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
In a day and age where people always complain that games lack content, it baffles me how so many skipped over The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Easily the most gorgeous game of the year, it’s also one of the most content heavy. The moment you take control of Geralt and enter the open world you’ll be taken back. Once you get past the vast open world, then comes the dialog trees. I enjoy any fully voice acted game that allows me to pick and choose what I say. You have to be civilized in the real world, so these types of games give me a chance to be straight savage in conversation. Outside of that, I enjoyed the combat, the characters and the big monsters you get to fight.
Describing this game in a paragraph or two is difficult, especially because I haven’t finished it. I accidentally spilled water in my last PC and lost my game save data, so I had to build a new PC and start over. Then a bunch of other games came out that I needed to review and it just got put on the back burner. That being said, I’m not stupid. I’ve put 40 hours into the game so far, and that’s enough to know that no other game can hold a candle to this one in 2015. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to finish The Witcher 3.
Austin is in his final year at the University of Florida studying English. He enjoys binge watching on Shark Tank, winning the Mortal Kombat, and occasionally stepping in for Batman when necessary.