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Bleeding Cool's Game Of The Year 2015: #17 – #1

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One of my great pleasures in doing a lot of my game's writing is playing as many games as possible and handing out awards at the end of the year. Game of the Year is something I look forward to immensely, allowing me to look back on the last 12 months of games and really highlight the excellence that hit.

And 2015 had a lot of excellence. Usually I'd only do around 20 games on a list, but this year has been filled with so much quality, I've had to extend the list of 35. To make it any shorter would be to leave a ton of games I was not willing to, so hey, we gotta longer list this year. That's fine by me. I've played well over 50 to 60 games this years, so there are even games I'd call good that didn't make the cut.

Yesterday we ran the selection of games I wanted to highlight from #35-#18, but now we get to the big one. We're counting down all the way to number one, and crowning Bleeding Cool's Game of the Year. On top of that numbers #5-#2 will also receive a highlight distinction for their own excellence.

So with out further ado…:

#17. Volume


Stealth games are very hard to get right. Make them too easy and the all important tension is lost. Make them too hard, and things quickly turn to furstation. Volume dodges this problem by making stealth arcadey and accessible. Taking more than a few cues from Metal Gear Solid VR Missions, Volume is a love letter to those types of games, and a ton of fun to boot.

I'm not usually a score or time attack kind of guy. For the most part I like to just get through a game and then leisurely come back to it in my own time. Volume scratched a score attack itch I didn't know I had. The art of chasing times and perfecting runs is incredibly addictive and I very much enjoyed rushing to the top of the leaderboards. While the story could have been better packaged, the lore and fiction it tells are charming and are at least worth experiencing through the game's main 100 missions.

And after that, you can make your own levels and play other people's, a feature that gives the game life.

Read the Full Review

16. Destiny: The Taken King


While some might argue that Destiny: The Taken King is an expansion and shouldn't be included in Game of the Year lists, I'd argue its affect on the core experience might as well make it a new release (also it was sold in a box at a retail price…). Really, it's that substantial. The campaign adds a flavour of storytelling that was missing from the game's initial release, which was a delightful little space romp while it lasts. Destiny now has fun and humour throughout, which was sorely missing in the intial release.

Beyond that, the way that 'Year 2' has been revolutionised in key and important ways, breathing new life into the way you interact with the game in the long term. Bungie are on a promising path to fixing some of the fundamental problems with vanilla Destiny and I'm very excited about what the future holds off of this franchise.

Read the Full Review

15. Super Mario Maker


Super Mario is probably known as 'the' mascot in video games. His games, especially the side scrolling platformers, have captivated gamers for decades, proving to be the gold standard for the genre since…well, nearly ever.

Opening the toolbox for all of the classics to a hungry and inventive audience has proven to be a masterstroke too. Super Mario Maker has somewhat taken over YouTube and it's hard to spend much time in the gaming community before running into impossibly long level codes that people share around. It's a wonderful presentation and the level of creativity on display by it's players is staggering. This game gives the gamers a diverse and exciting ball and fans have sprinted with it. If you have a Wii U, this an absolute must.

14. Rise of the Tomb Raider


Rise of the Tomb Raider
  takes everything that made the 2013 reboot click and improves them immensely. The sequel does everything a sequel should do, bringing the characters forward by expanding on ideas presented in the first. At times the title can be quite an astonishing experience, with some staggering environmental design.

The game is down right gorgeous and has a great variety of mechanics to help you take down the challenges you face in the Siberian wilderness. While I thought the overall narrative left something to be desired, the expanse, beauty and tight moment to moment gameplay is hard not be charmed by.

Read the Full Review

13. SOMA 


While many games claim to be Sci-Fi, there are few that feel like genuine 'hard sci-fi'. That's to say, while many take place in space and deal with aliens, few make full use of the philosophical and allegorative strength of the genre.

SOMA is a Hard Sci-Fi. Dealing with questions of who we are, what technology is doing to us and organic mortality, it really is a game that asks questions that we just don't see in games often. Add a horror slant and some truly phenomenal environmental story telling and you have a winner.

Read the Full Review

12. Just Cause 3


While many will cite explosions and ridiculous physics when it comes to Just Cause 3, honestly, the game truly shines in its quieter moments. The wingsuit is an incredible mechanic that really provides the glue to the entire experience, making traversal across Medici a realxing experience.

Having said that, lets not forget the explosions either. They really make the Just Cause experience what it is, and the amount of fun that can be had with a couple explosives, a grappling hook and a robust physics engine is unlike anything else any other open world is offering.

Now if only it could sort out performance issues.

Read the Full Review

11. Halo 5: Guardians


While some might consider Halo 5: Guardians a disappointment, I personally consider it one of the best in the series. The inclusion of Warzone in multiplayer adds a new flavour to the Halo experience that wasn't there before. Add on top of that a back to basics approach to online play entirely, and you have one of the best multiplayers in franchise history.

Honestly though, what makes Halo 5 stick for me is the game's narrative. While many talked down the campaign, I found it be a very smart and daring progression of the franchise. 343 are showing they are willing to take Halo to new and exciting places. I think they are doing great work and I can't wait to see where they go next.

10. Guitar Hero Live

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I'm as surprised as you are that I am putting Guitar Hero so high on a Game of the Year list. Especially one with this much quality throughout. However, what FreeStyleGames has done to this franchise is somewhat of a revolution and it totally holds it own against its peers.

The revised control system is one of the best enhancements in instrument based rhythm games since it really started to become big in the early 2000s. The addition of the rather interesting and surprisingly fair GH TV also adds to the game and it's something I've loved picking up semi-regularly. If you have any love for either Guitar Hero or Rock Band, you could do much worse than Guitar Hero Live.

Read the Full Review

9. Until Dawn


While the game flew in under radar, I'd adored what I played of Until Dawn at trade shows before. It's just great to see that the entire game lives up to that promise through its entire run though. Until Dawn brings slasher horror to AAA gaming, and it is a match made in heaven.

It's has some of the best examples of choice in gaming and also follows a story that is genuinely enthralling. It's silly, but it twists and turns in significant ways that will keep you more than satisfied over the 6-8 hours it plays out. If you love American horror, this game is made just for you. `And even if you don't, I'd encourage you to jump in and try anyways.

Read the Full Review

8. Tales From The Borderlands


Tales from the Borderlands
is one of Telltale's best series. That's the best praise I could give it, especially as some one on the record for adoring Telltale's output. Don't let the Borderlands tag throw you off. Even if you aren't a fan of the franchise or the lore, you absolutely should still play this.

It proves Telltale can use pacing and comedy very well, crafting a heartfelt romp that you really should try. The journey it takes you on throughout its five episodes is something not to be missed, featuring a handful of the best characters from any video game this year. Really, no matter if you are a fan of Telltale, Borderlands or neither, Tales from the Borderlands is just so full of love, comedy and heart that it is hard to imagine a world where you don't have a great time.

7. Fallout 4


What can be said about Fallout 4 that hasn't been yet (and experienced by a huge portion of you judging by sales). While the game certainly has draw backs in some of its buggy execution, it's exactly what you'd expect from a Fallout game. It's an exceptional open world RPG that really benefits players going deep into this world, and if you are a fan of Bethesda's previous outputs, you'll be in love.

It's as huge as you'd expect and there is a world of secrets to explore, featuring a pretty entertaining central narrative that reaches a rather bold conclusion, and more side quests than you'll ever find. Not all of the game's lofty ambitions are satisfied, but the game have so many that a great number are executed brilliantly. If you want to dive deep into a game, Fallout 4 will allow you to do that.

Read the Full Review

6. Life is Strange

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Life is Strange has been a grower. While I liked the game plenty during its playthrough, it really becames better as it went along. Even in the time since its recent conclusion, the game has lingered in my mind with the positive qualities really coming to the foreront of my mind.

Another game that hinges on your choices, you take control of Max, tackling growing up, but the nitty gritty awfulness that comes with being on the cusp of adulthood. It deals with things that you'd rarely see in any game, such as sucide and burgeoning femininity, let alone one published by Square Enix, but it is really a beautiful ride across the game's five episodes. If you want to try a time traveling sci-fi game that feels different, and deals with youthful nostalgia on top of some gravely mature issues, you should give it a shot. It really has arrested my mind for the last few weeks.

And here we begin the 'Game Highlights'  which really stand for the true excellence and are the cream of the crop of this really great year.

Starting off with:

  • 5. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt


The Witcher 3 is really an astonishing piece of technology before anything else. The world is huge, the level of detail in it matches titles with much smaller environments and the amount of interlocking systems is just mind boggling. In terms of a purely software point of view, it's nearly unmatched, which is even more impressive considering the relatively modest budget and developer size.

And that isn't even to talk about the increidble artistic value of the game. The art design is magnificent and at times, if you take a moment to take in the sights, its vistas can look like a watercolour painting. Add on top of that truly worth while narrative threads sprinkled throughout and you have an absolute winner. What CD Projekt Red have accomplished with the Witcher 3 is astounding, and despite quite a few niggles and not being entirely caught by my experience, it's difficult to deny the game's robust quality.
4. Rocket League


In a year so wrought with quality, the idea of having a 'football game, but with cars' in the top 5 is kind of astonishing. But Rocket League is really that good. The game is somewhat of a phenomenon, thanks to being free to PlayStation Plus members in July, staying a staple for many played since.

Rocket League mixes difficulty, tension and sheer fun into a potent cocktail that is somewhat irresistible. It is a great game to have a few mindless matches of while also being a substantial multiplayer game that can play host to tactical team play. Rocket League will continue to get play in the new year, and thanks to the fantastic support by Psyonix, I expect it to be with us for years to come.

3. Bloodborne


Having not been a 'Souls' guy, my engagement in Bloodborne shocked me. In Bloodborne the appeal of those game's tight mechanics and firm challenge finally clicked for me by imbuing a sense of ferocity and speed that revolutionise the style. It really is rewarding gameplay and is some of the best examples of 'flow' I've ever experienced in an action adventure game.

Add that compelling play on top of one of the most fascinatingly designed worlds and lores this year with beautifully grotesque creature design and you have an absolute winner. Even if you are not a fan of Dark Souls or its ilk, I fully encourage you to give it a go. It is a masterwork of its genre.

Read the Full Review

2. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain


I've always been forthright in admitting that I didn't grow up around Metal Gear as a series. I've gone back and dabbled in the series in my adult life, but I don't have any real sense of love for the franchise. That's why I'm so impressed that I can put Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain right near the top of this year's best games.

Perhaps it's my lack of love for what the franchise is that I am able to love Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, and I recognise that. While not technically a stealth game or really bearing that much in common with the mainline series (with the exception of Peace Walker), what is there to be judged is just phenomenal. The level of variety, worthwhile missions, emergent gameplay and just how good it feels to run MotherBase is incredible. It's a deeply complex game full of ideas both story and gameplay wise making it just an intoxicating gaming experience.

What stops the game from taking top spot is that with the addition of some intrusive online and micro-transactions, the game is actually in somewhat worse shape than it was at launch. That's a little sad, but Metal Gear Solid still remains one of the premiere gaming experiences of 2015, if not the century thus far.

Read the Full Review

And now we get to Game of the Year. In a year as strong as this one, it was a difficult choice. Very difficult indeed, but one title stands above all the others for me. While the others are fantastic examples of art and technology that could have had a decent shout at higher places in any other year of lesser quality, I have significant quibbles with most of them. One title has remained in my mind as one of the peaks of its genre, with little to no criticism of the work that was actually presented in its final form. A game that hasn't failed to bring a smile to my since while thinking about it since it was released way back at the beginning of the year.

Without further ado, Bleeding Cool's Game of the Year for 2015 is…

1. Ori And The Blind Forest


'Metroidvania' as it has come to be known, is a flagging genre, and if we are honest with ourselves, one that is built on older design sensibilities.

Ori and the Blind Forest brings the genre back to life in ways I wouldn't have guessed it could sitting down to the play the game. A game revitalising a genre is incredibly rare, and only comes every five or ten years. Ori achieves that and does it on its own terms as well, not copying other platformers in the genre, but instead creating a distinct experience that becomes its own.

The game is one of the most beautiful I've seen in a long time to boot, showing just an astonishing art design that is gorgeous to look at. I could grab a screenshot at any moment of this game and happily display it as it's own art on my wall. It also tells a beautifully subtle story not using a lot of dialogue to over explain the emotion or plot on screen, something so few games every do. It's light, but deftly executed, and showcases an opening that will really tug on your heart strings. This is to say nothing of Gareth Coker's score which puts him on the map in a big, big way.

While it stars a cutesy little creature and a colourful world, don't let that be mistaken for the level of difficulty. This game really does have a genuine bite to it, displaying absurdly compelling level design that is exhilarating and challenging all at the same time. This is an incredibly hard balance to achieve, and Moon Studios, who lest we forget are doing this all in their debut title, nail it.

It's ambitions may not be as lofty as many on other games on this list, but it so excellently executes on its own, that I think it is easy to call the most 'artistically successful title' of the year. That's why Ori and the Blind Forest is so good, will remain a classic of mine and is Bleeding Cool's Game of the Year.

So the complete list of games on Bleeding Cool's Game of the Year Selection list reads like this:

35. Evolve
34. Project Cars
33. Cities: Skylines
32. Mad Max
31. Mortal Kombat X
30. Assassin's Creed: Syndicate
29. Pro Evolution Soccer 2016
28. Disney Infinity 3.0
27. Game of Thrones
26. Dying Light
25. Star Wars: Battlefront
24. Splatoon
23. Batman: Arkham Knight
22. Undertale
21. Rainbow Six: Siege
20. Her Story
19. The Beginner's guide
18. Everybody's Gone To The Rapture
17. Volume
16. The Taken King
15. Super Mario Maker
14. Rise of the Tomb Raider
13. Just Cause 3
12. SOMA
11.Halo 5
10. Guitar Hero Live
9. Until Dawn
8. Tales from the Borderlands
7. Fallout 4
6. Life is Strange
5. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
4. Rocket League
3. Bloodborne
2. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
1. Ori and the Blind Forest

Oh, we aren't done yet though. We are still going to be giving away a few specific awards too, making sure that games that excelled in the specific areas get that recognition too. Look forward to it real soon!

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Patrick DaneAbout Patrick Dane

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