A funny thing happened the other day. I had a nicely compiled list of "best of" items for 2015 in an Excel sheet. Problem is, I made that Excel sheet back in November and only planned to adjust it a bit just prior to writing up my article, the thing you're reading right now. Well, it disappeared. I don't know where it went.

So, this is what I'm going to do. I'm going to half-ass the hell out of this. I'm going to simply make a list of games I enjoyed throughout the year based on their release month. That is literally the only order you will see here until the end where I give my grand "game of the year" paragraph wherein I tell you that The Witcher 3 was really damn good.

The list includes games I played, games I did not play but derived enjoyment from for one reason or another, and maybe even some games I have heard were good and want to play. Also, there are some non-games included. You know what? Let's just do this. I'm still really frustrated about losing all of my work and notes that I had for this.

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January
  • Resident Evil HD Remaster - Of all the platforms I owned Resident Evil on, it took until 2015 and the re-release of the Remaster for me to actually beat it. I owned it on the PS1 and the DS. I think I also owned the original Remake on the Gamecube. I never once beat it. I beat every other Resident Evil game out there (the good ones at least), so this was long overdue. I did so this year and I felt like I finally accomplished something. I even did a full let's play of it.
  • Dying Light - Incredible game that managed to blend parkour with zombies and a fun combat system.
  • Life is Strange - Technically, only Episode 1 came out in January but I'm listing it all here. I've only played two chapters. I know, I suck. However, in those two chapters I have found far more enjoyment than I have in the last six Telltale Adventure game releases. The story is amazing. I love the characters. I love the gameplay. I even love the visual style that feels entirely unique to this game. I promise I'll finish the video let's play series I started for that some day.


February
  • Resident Evil: Revelations 2 - Like Life is Strange, this was an episodic game where the first episode came out in February but I'm including it all right here. I'm not going to lie here: I didn't much care for the first Resident Evil: Revelations game. I'm not really sure why, but it just didn't captivate me. This one? This one entertained me from beginning to end. This game felt like the closest return to classic Resident Evil in years. Plus who could ever say no to Barry Burton.


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March
  • Helldivers - My friends and I found some enjoyment out of this co-op twin stick shooter that was free on PSN for the month.
  • Cities: Skylines - This is the best modern city building game out there. If you were disappointed by SimCity (and really, who wasn't?), you should go get this game immediately. It's still being updated and there are tons of mods available thanks to strong Steam Workshop integration.
  • Bloodborne - A faster paced Souls game that I immediately fell in love with. I love the environments and visuals (despite a frame pacing issue that still shows up from time to time). I loved the boss fights, as hard as they may be, and I loved the flow of the game. I would be thrilled if future Souls games retained the fast-paced combat from Bloodborne. This is not only one of the best games out there for the PS4, but it's one of the best games of 2015 period.


April
  • Grand Theft Auto V (PC) - Or more specifically, Grand Theft Auto Online. My friends and I play at least once a week together in private lobbies and we usually have a blast.
  • Crypt of the Necrodancer - A rhythm game met a rogue-like dungeon crawler and had a beautiful child called Crypt of the Necrodancer. Challenging, captivating, and includes one of the best soundtracks of the year.


May
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - It's a pretty good RPG. You've probably never heard of it.
  • Splatoon - I don't own this game. I don't own a WiiU. However, this is one of those WiiU games that nearly everyone has been praising. It's one of the very few WiiU titles that really makes me wish I owned the system.


June
  • Apparently June sucked


July
  • Rocket League - This is another one that was free on PSN for the month. This one literally took the world by surprise. I heard a few positive things about it prior to its release and I kind of forced my friends to download and play it with me on the PS4. It was a wild, damn fun time. I still fire it up from time to time for a match or two. Sometimes it's against bots, sometimes it's against humans. No matter who I'm going against there is one constant: This game is so much damn fun. For God's sake, you're playing soccer with a giant ball and rocket powered cars. It's soooo good.


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August
  • Everybody's Gone to the Rapture - I don't see this game getting enough love. The game is gorgeous and positively oozes atmosphere at every turn. I'd go so far as to say it's one of the most beautiful games I played in all of 2015. Of course, most people will overlook this game or scoff at it because it's "just another one of those damn walking simulators!" Well, I guess that's kind of true? You are still a participant in a story. You are still trying to unravel a mystery on your journey. The entire trip is almost haunting as you see what seem to be echos of the past. The Chinese Room absolutely nailed the entire atmosphere of the game and Jessica Curry crushed it with the original soundtrack work. I'm just happy that there is a possibility (it's a rumor as of the time of this posting) that this game is coming to the PC soon. The more people that get to experience this game, the better.
  • Until Dawn - This is another game that I do not yet own, so why is it on this list? I have seen the game completed three different times from three different people and the story outcome was different each time. Even after all of those viewings, guess what? I still want to play this game for myself. In my book, that's a really impressive feat to accomplish.


September
  • Super Mario Maker - Yet another WiiU title when I have no WiiU. Much like with Until Dawn, I have derived literally hours of entertainment from this game already. How? By watching so many different people create levels or play user-made levels. Many of the people I watch on Twitch have, at some point or another, spent a good deal of time playing through user created levels. I have watched the crew at Giant Bomb torture each over with user created levels. I have seen friendly feuds arise and charities benefit because of this game and people like Patrick Klepek and Dan Ryckert.
  • Undertale - I got to this one kind of late in 2015. There was so much hype surrounding this game when it first came out in September that it honestly kind of pushed me away from playing it. Eventually, enough people suggested that I play it that I went ahead and did just that. It's difficult to explain just what makes this game so good. Is it the way the game completely redefines what you traditionally see in an RPG? Maybe. Is it the clever way in which all of your actions can alter the ending? Perhaps. At the very least, it's a game that I feel as though everyone should experience at least once. If you want to see me fumble my way through a true pacifist run, look no further than right here (all six parts are still being made public as of the time of this writing).
  • SOMA - This is a horror game done right. Never before has a horror game really made me question what it means to be human. Hell, never before has a horror game actually made me question anything. I said it before in my review of the game, but SOMA managed to be a better BioShock than BioShock was. If you need more proof, check out my SOMA let's play.


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October
  • The Beginner's Guide - Creator and narrator Davey Wreden's follow-up to The Stanley Parable. It was short, but I greatly enjoyed the story from beginning to end, and also quite enjoyed how it managed to make some question whether or not the story was actually fictional. It is yet another game that I played through in one sitting.
  • Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection - Should this one count? Screw it, it's my list and I'm going to count it. See, I never got to experience the Uncharted games. I played a bit of the first one on the PS3 and I tried out the multiplayer for Uncharted 3 briefly. Outside of watching various let's plays of the series, I never got to fully experience it for myself. That changed when The Nathan Drake Collection came out. It looks great, it plays great, and it made me super excited for Uncharted 4 in 2016.


November
  • See June


December
  • Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege - I initially disliked this game when the first alpha rolled around. I even skipped playing the beta that I had access to. Cue the release and damn, I'm glad I was wrong about this one. Sure, it's not a traditional "Rainbow Six" game that long-time fans (myself included) really wanted, but for what it is, it's really good. I'm a huge fan of the T-Hunt mode and the PvP is, much to my surprise, extremely fun. Ubisoft did a tremendous job with this game.


Now, it's time for some special categories here. Again, I'm really just winging this as I write this.

The Game that was Almost the "Biggest Improvement of 2015"
  • Destiny - No joke, The Taken King was great, at least when it first came out. It added in actual story to a game that only had story if you went to a website to read it. The missions were fun. It raised the level cap. It added in a new area to explore. Bungie even did a couple of periodic content updates, including a racing league that was fun. It was pretty sweet! And then Bungie did what they did for Year One. They kept recycling the same content over and over every single week. The Taken King only added in one raid that people have beaten to death hundreds of times over by now. Bungie has even been slow in re-releasing Year One weapons and gear for Year Two. That racing I mentioned just a few sentences ago? It only had two tracks, so even that was a letdown to some degree.

    The well has run dry thanks mostly to Bungie force-feeding their users the "new" content that initially shipped with The Taken King back in September. For four months, the same content, pulled exclusively from The Taken King, gets recycled every week or every day. What was once fresh and exciting is just tedium. God forbid Bungie actually makes one of their numerous Year One Strikes a weekly Nightfall activity in Year Two.


Best Hardware of 2015
Look, I didn't use much in the way of new hardware in 2015. Here is literally all of the "new" hardware I now own courtesy of 2015 that I like.
  • G502 Proteus Core - I needed a mouse to replace my deteriorating MX518. Apparently, the G502 is the new hotness. It's a pretty good mouse even if I do sometimes accidentally bump the sensitively switches more often than I care to admit. And yes, this technically came out in 2014 but I only got it for Christmas 2015, so it's on this list. You can make your own list if you so desire.
  • Steam Link - Valve is still busy updating this, so it's difficult to get a clear picture on just how awesome this device is still. Long story made short: Steam Link allows you to stream games from your gaming PC to your TV. I can now sit back in my bed and stream my entire Steam library with minimal effort to my TV. The quality and latency are a bit hit or miss, depending on what week it is and what Valve decided to tinker with, but for the most part it's worked great.
  • Steam Controller - Again, same as the Steam Link, this device is ever changing thanks to a steady stream of updates, fixes, and functionality changes from Valve. For the most part, this device has been incredible. Games I never really imagined playing with a controller can be played with ease thanks to how this device places the power of a controller, a mouse, and a keyboard into the palms of your hands. There have even been times where I wished the DualShock 4 controller I use on the PS4 was instead the Steam Controller. It takes some getting used to, and if you are someone that likes to write things off after just an hour or even just after a day of use, you're going to absolutely hate the Steam Controller. If you keep with it and spend time with it, learning just how versatile it is, you're going to absolutely love it. I just wish it was a bit more comfortable to hold over long periods of time.


Finally, (A Bit) More Diversity
  • More Women in Games - I'm not going to lie: I like playing as strong female characters in video games. Why? Because I'm so sick and tired of playing what feels to be the same generic white dude in every game to come out. In 2015 we saw a decent uptick in the number of games that had playable female roles, including Life is Strange, Assassin's Creed Syndicate (and Liberation), Halo 5, Fallout 4 (though admittedly you could play as a female in Fallout 3 and New Vegas as well), and even Call of Duty: Black Ops 3. Hell, Black Ops 3 even has an added campaign mode that centers around the female playable character. EA Sports took things a step further by featuring a couple of prominent female stars on the covers of both FIFA 16 and the upcoming EA Sports UFC game.

    Fans of equality shouldn't go celebrating too hard just yet. Women, all non-males, and non-white people still have a very long road ahead of them before they are as universally accepted as "Generic Dudebro 682" is with the general gaming population.


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A Very Special Mention
In July 2015, the world lost Satoru Iwata. The man who served as the President for Nintendo starting in 2002 is the same man that gave the world the Nintendo DS and the Wii, some of the best selling hardware of all time. He helped bring to life games like Pokemon Gold, Pokemon Silver, NES Open tournament Golf (still one of my favorite NES games) and Balloon Fight. He worked on games such as the Kirby franchise and EarthBound. Without him, we may not have had Super Smash Bros. as we know it for the Nintendo 64, as Iwata co-developed that with Masahiro Sakurai.

This is, without a doubt not a "good" thing that happened in 2015, so why is it here? Because of how Iwata and his untimely passing managed to unite all of us, if only for a day. For just that briefest bit of time, people of all sorts of beliefs and backgrounds that shared only a love of videogames came together in mourning of a beloved icon and a legend in the gaming industry. Iwata will be forever missed, but he certainly won't be forgotten.



2015 also saw the rise and almost immediate fall of paid user-created mods. 2015 saw the announcements of Final Fantasy VII Remake (FINALLY!), Shenmue 3, and Psychonauts 2 among others. In 2015, China finally ended their 14-year ban on the sale of game consoles. I played some Early Access games and betas here and there. One that I remember particularly enjoying was Layers of Fear, which is due for a full release in 2016.

I suppose that takes care of everything. I'm not really sure if anything else awesome happened in 2015 as far as the gaming industry is concerned. I guess Kojima leaving to form his own studio is kind of neat. For the most part, the games that were released became largely overshadowed by the promise of what's to come in years ahead.

Oh, and what was my top-most "game of the year" for 2015? I guess it's probably The Witcher 3. The game just has so much content that I never really felt as though I was able to do it justice with a prompt review. CD Projekt RED did an amazing job with the game. It looks gorgeous on every platform with the performance nod going to the PC (if you have the hardware for it). The stories are engaging. The combat, while vastly improved from the previous games, still ends up being the game's weakest gameplay component. Even with that, The Witcher 3 is a really enjoyable game.

If I had to pick four more for my "top 5" they would easily be Undertale, Bloodborne, SOMA, and Life is Strange. I assign no numerical order to them because it's just too difficult to do. These are the games that entertained me the most in 2015. They sometimes made me frustrated. They sometimes made me laugh, or feel sad, or simply made me think. They were all great in their own ways and usually for entirely different reasons and all deserving of more than just a passing glance from anyone and everyone that plays games.

Maybe 2015 wasn't completely terrible after all was said and done.