Game(s) of the Year 2015 / by Jefferson Geiger

Since last summer I got a PS4 and finally entered the current console generation, it’s now possible for me to do a Game of the Year list. You may find that the list is a little irregular because I didn’t play a lot of games that actually came out in 2015, however, I find it to be pretty complete. A couple of the games below I wrote about for Haywire Magazine, too. They try to get as many critics to write about as many games as possible, which makes them a bit more unique than other sites. So, without further ado...

My Top 5 Games Of The Year

5. Grow Home

Grow Home is probably the cutest and most charming robot game I’ve ever played. B.U.D.’s bleeps and bloops going along perfectly with the game’s geometric art style. Scampering like a spider over rocks and vines on the hunt for animals and vegetables to scan doesn’t sound like a heroic quest yet I couldn’t stop playing. It is easy to slip and fall off the makeshift tower but the game doesn’t punish you for plummeting to the sea—sometimes that provides the best views in the game. Though the end became repetitive and a bit difficult, I’d recommend it to almost everyone. It’s a pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

4. Gravity Ghost

Blizzard’s entry into the MOBA world does with the genre what Hearthstone did with trading card games: they made it more accessible. Unlike in DOTA2 and League of Legends, there’s no gold to gather and worrying about what to buy at shops. By making experience points shared, no one person feels like they’re pulling the team down. Instead, Heroes of the Storm focuses on team dynamics and capturing objectives. This takes a lot of pressure off the player and makes the game less toxic and disheartening. For me personally, however, I feel like Blizzard stripped away too much and there’s not enough character customization. I’ll be sticking with LoL since that’s what my friends play and it inhabits a comfortable goldilocks zone between the two others.

1. Rocket League

What is there to say about Rocket League that hasn’t already been said? The soccer-with-cars game implanted itself in almost every PSN user over the summer. And it’s easy to see why. For one, games don’t last longer than five minutes unless they go into overtime. Second, the controls are easy to learn but tough to master. There’s a ball, a goal, a boost ability, and you just drive. This allows almost anyone to play one game a day or twenty. The adrenaline rush from scoring a tie breaking goal in the last second or coming back from behind to win is unlike any other. It’s a game’s game, distilled to it’s purest form.

Honorable Mentions

3. Broken Age Part 2

The only reason this is under “Honorable Mentions,” is because it’s half a game and the first half came out in 2014. Though Double Fine found a good exit point for the first act, when I booted up part two it’s clear that there was never supposed to be an intermission. I struggled to remember year old clues and items so instead I started over from scratch. Nevertheless, this is an expertly crafted adventure game created by some of the genre’s forefathers. The puzzles were just the right difficulty to hold my attention but I never went crawling to the internet. Sometimes I was happy to be stuck at a screen for awhile because it meant listening to Peter McConnell’s music while looking at the wonderful hand-painted art. They did a fantastic job giving the point-and-click a modern breath of fresh air. I’m glad I Kickstarted the game and was able to be a part of something this great.

2. Batman: Arkham Knight

Oh Batman, I haven’t felt so conflicted about a game in a long time. I want to love you. You’re one of the first games I’ve played designed for the PS4 and it shows. Chinatown’s neon, the rain washing down a gutter, the subtle details on Batman’s suit changing over time are all astoundingly breathtaking. I would glide over Gotham to sit on a perch to soak it all in because I could. Your combat system still had that flow we know and love.

However, I want to hate you. I foresaw your major plot twist the instant the Arkham Knight was introduced. You want me to collect 243 Riddler trophies just so I can fight him and see the true ending? Sorry, not going to happen. I didn’t mind the new Batmobile as much as everyone else, but why did you use it for boss fights? Every time I encountered a hiccup I wondered why I wasn’t playing Arkham Asylum.

You have issues, but you’re listed under the “Honorable Mentions” banner not because of your faults, but because I didn’t start and finish the game until 2016. Also at one point you ate about 30% of my save in a game-breaking bug. Not cool Batman, not cool.

1. Hearthstone

If it wasn’t released in 2014, this would my actual pick for Game of the Year. I’ve played just about every day and rarely let a daily quest slip by unbeaten. 2015 saw the release of two single-player adventures and a new expansion that drastically changed the meta. Blizzard also released the Tavern Brawl mode which lets the game designers come up with wild and fun weekly game types. It really speaks to the studio’s talent when the last game I played for this long and this frequently was World of Warcraft. I still have some reservations about the introduction of Standard and Wild modes, but will I still be playing it a year from now? You bet.

All screenshots are taken from their official sites.