Welcome back! I am going to go over the top 10 games of 2015 this time. Of course, this is super, maybe ultra subjective, but it's been a great year for gaming so far. It's weird, because it seemed like there have been less "hits." In hindsight, that's not true at all. The games this year have been more nuanced, complex, fun, engaging and beautiful experiences. I'm sure my list will be a lot different than most around. Gaming took on a different role for me this year, and my list will reflect that. You might even get some stories about my life in this post.
Let's get this list going!
This game has been in early access for a while. I've played it a lot, but since it's finally out I can add it to my top 10 list. This and a few other games have been waiting around in the dark corners of early access, just waiting to jump on to my list. Broforce envelopes every action movie game I've wanted to play since I was a kid. It's a game that playfully wraps itself around the 16-bit aesthetic, and that's OK, it works. Especially because it's all well done. It doesn't feel like it's 16-bit art, just for being "retro." Which is refreshing in this era of rampant and not quite well executed (possibly re-heated) nostalgia.
Every playable character represents the extreme action focused versions of their on screen personas. Rambo, The Terminator, Blade, Mr. T, MacGuyver, Ridley, Conan , Ash, Judge Dredd are a part of the exciting cast. It's got way more than guns blazing, run and gun action. The level of destruction in the game adds a smidge of puzzle elements because sometimes it's not useful to just light everything up. I've blown myself up more times because I went in guns blazing. A game that makes you think before you shoot? Worth it.
Either way I could go on for a while, but it's a game worthy of a top 10 list.
Protip: Play with friends!
9: Not A Hero
Have you played Rolling Thunder? Elevator Action? If not, it's no big deal! If you have, you'll be right at home with Not a Hero. Broforce and Not A Hero don't have a lot in common, but there's a lineage of retro game goodness at their cores. Not a Hero is an action game with some mild puzzle and timing elements as key gameplay points. It's not run and gun due to the cover system being crucial for survival. Rolling Thunder and Elevator Action clearly informed that design decision.
It's a blast and not a duck, shoot, move, duck, shoot, move affair. As a bonus, it's got a great sense of humor. Worth a buy.
8: Captain Forever Remix
This is a remix and generally improved version of Captain Forever. Which was already a pretty darn great game. So it's *kind* of been out before, but let me go over it quickly. You are a small spaceship in a galaxy full of silly, fun and funny characters straight out of a child's imagination (that's part of the story). The catch is that you need to build your ship as you go. You can attach pieces of other ships to yours to make it bigger, badder and better. It's a fun concept with some really catchy music and gameplay too keep you trying again and again. I kept on smiling through this game.
7: Tembo the Bad Ass Elephant
I'm going to keep this short. This is the Sonic game I've wanted for a long, long time. It's got an elephant coming out of retirement to save the world and that's all you need to know story wise. It's got a great grip on the balance between speed, platforming and action. It's worth your money and more.
6: Lovers in a Dangerous Space Time
I've honestly been in love with this game for the last two years. It's a space roguelike with a cute aesthetic about two people trying to save a variety of space animals in a ship that definitely requires more than two people to control it. That's the where the fun and challenge lies! You might need to adjust the shields, while controlling one gun. Maybe you'll need someone to steer while you shoot. There's a lot of fun in communicating with your gaming partner about who's going to tackle what needs to happen at any moment. Lovers in a Dangerous Space Time is a shining example of cooperative multiplayer. Something that's been missing from a lot of games lately. Go find a friend and play it!
This is the murderous local multiplayer cousin of hide and seek. Each one of your characters is running around a field trying to find each other so you can kill each other. Hide, seek, kill. Simple enough right? Maybe! There's also some special abilities to mix things up for each play through. It's got tremendously impressive art and music combined with a sense of style that's unmatched among most other games this year. It's a rare, exciting and beautiful game.
4: The Beginner's Guide
I don't want to say much, because it could be a spoiler. This experience is affecting and something you'll want to talk about after you play it. That's all.
This is one of the best pickup and play roguelikes in a while. You are a young man who decides to jump down a well to find treasure and adventure with your gunboots. Gunboots, the ultimate accessory. It's mostly shmup, enough of a platformer and the rest is all good. Really. It's something to play over and over again. It's challenging in a way that you *know* you can do better the next time. It doesn't hurt that this game has a perfect start/restart cycle. I personally am playing it on Steam, but you have the option for iOS. For three dollars, you shouldn't even think about waiting to buy this game.
2: Nuclear Throne
This another one of my games of the year that was lurking in the early access shadows. I shouldn't have to say much about this game, but you can tell there's a theme of roguelikes this year. It's a fast paced, gorgeous game with some deep mechanics to keep you coming back. The art direction is gorgeous. The music is memorable and something I would probably buy on vinyl. Buy this game and keep on playing it, you'll find so much hidden in the world that you'll want to get better to find more and more. Worth every penny.
Protip: Chicken is the best character
1: Hotline Miami 2
This game. Man, this game. Hotline Miami set the standard for puzzle/action games for me. This iteration ups the ante by adding larger spaces, more characters and a set of challenges that Jacket didn't have to deal with. Drawn beautifully, animated well and it's sonically one of the most important video game soundtracks in the last decade. The synergy (yes, really) between the gameplay and music keep you deep in the death/restart cycle. You'll make plenty of mistakes, but you won't feel like you should give up. The story has been greatly expanded from Jacket's tale, but it felt like it was necessary for this series to grow in new critically emotional directions. The depth of the characters can range from shallow to pretty moving, but that's Ok. It's also given me the opportunity to experience the most satisfying ending of any game I've played. Overall, it's a perfect package that deserves to be honored.
The Other Categories:
The game that's still top 10 in my heart: Metal Gear Solid V
Games I really wanted to get to play, but didn't have time: The Taken King, Tearaway: Unfolded, Bloodborne and Halo 5
System of the year: The Alienware Alpha. It proves that Steam, a great form factor, ease and decent PC specs can provide one of the best console experiences at a perfect price point.
Developer of the year: Valve. Steam really knocked it out of the park this year with Big Picture Mode. It's my most used console interface right now.
Mobile Game: Pac Man 256
That's it! Thanks for reading everyone.