10. Life is Strange
Life is Strange is a teenage game. It is messy, painfully earnest, and goes in all directions at once. While it has a ton of issues — mainly in how it deals with some of its secondary characters — Dontnod Entertainment outdoes any other game in the genre that came out this year. It tackles a lot of very heavy subject matter, and while it does not succeed all of the time, it is certainly daring.
9. Fallout 4
By Bethesda’s standards, Fallout 4 is exactly what you would expect. Still, no other studios make games like Bethesda does, and thus Fallout 4 has the most interesting open world to explore this year. It is a pure sequel —with only incremental additions— but Bethesda's games are so unique in their genre that Fallout 4 is absolutely something to see.
8. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
I do not care much about the Metal Gear series. Of course, it is still the franchise primarily responsible for bringing the “author” into videogames . Still, I can say that I think Hideo Kojima is far from a great writer, and is too prone to use slow motion everywhere, to stand on his own as a director. That being said, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain brings innovation to open-world and stealth gameplay on a scale you would not expect that kind of experimentation to take place. Big budget games are more and more scared to try something new these days, but because of his status, Kojima had the opportunity to bring all his crazy ideas to The Phantom Pain. Some are awful and some are amazing, making this latest installment of Metal Gear the most innovative big budget game of 2015.
essay: "The Picture of Big Boss" |
Snakebird teaches everyone a lesson. To puzzle game designers: it shows that you can have the bare-minimum as far as content goes as long as everything is meaningful. To players: it teaches you that your brain is capable of working in crazy ways that you never thought possible before. And to quitters: maybe you were not as smart as you thought prior.
6. Plug & Play
I am not going to state that Plug & Play is made for everybody (no game is, anyway), but I might say that everyone should experience it at least once ... granted they are an adult. Plug & Play is the weirdest kind of absurdist humor you can find made into a game. That it succeeds in having some sort of metaphorical gameplay and a meaningful point to make only adds to the experience.
You have to give it to From Software , they know how to make sequels. Sure, Bloodborne is not an actual follow-up to any of the Dark Souls games, but it is similar enough to be considered part of the same series. Still, like the Souls sequels themselves, From Software changes just enough here to make Bloodborne feel like something different. The art direction and the gameplay design is absolutely top-notch, enforcing the thematic elements of the game without sacrificing actual gameplay. Bloodborne is simply in a league of its own, and it is far from surprising to see the From Software’s games getting more and more popular with the mainstream audience.
4. Super Mario Maker
Look, most of what will come out of Super Mario Maker is going to be complete trash. As such, you should probably make some really good levels because the Course World looks like a barren apocalyptic land straight out of Mad Max — except populated by a bunch of auto-playing levels. Still, that the tools are there and that they are oh so easy to use is simply amazing. Infinite Mario is a crazy proposition, one that is worth seeing. Let’s cut down the crap, shall we?
3. Everybody's Gone to the Rapture
The Chinese Room are the creators of the so-called “Walking Simulator” and as such it should not be surprising that Everybody’s Gone to Rapture is all about walking. For all the strange criticism about how slow the movement speed feels in this game, I feel it is actually on point. It is a game about wandering and not about going as fast as possible in pursuit of the next story beat. Empty space is not something a lot of game developers use, and it is used to wonderful success here.
2. Her Story
I think one of the strongest successes of Her Story is that the gameplay will be immediately understandable to anybody that ever used Google. As such, Her Story might be the game I can share with the most people this year. It is an absorbing experience that is extremely easy to get into, and that unveils its story organically through player input.
1. The Beginner's Guide
I had an emotional reaction to The Beginner’s Guide that no other game this year could top. Conceptually, it might not be as interesting as Her Story is, but the way it uses level design to inform a single character is enough to make you look at other games differently. It is a potent examination of the author myth in all its beautiful and sometimes awful ramifications. For this, The Beginner’s Guide is my game of the year.
- The Beginner's Guide
- Her Story
- Everybody's Gone to the Rapture
- Super Mario Maker
- Plug & Play
- Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
- Fallout 4
- Life is Strange
Visit our 'canon' page to see the best games of yesteryear.
Please consider donating to Castle Couch. All of our content is handmade with real love — we couldn't do it without you.