With the year 2015 drawing to a close and the year 2016 dawning upon us, it is good to look back in retrospect at the most influential video game titles of this year. I did not have a chance to play every big release this year, but the games I managed to play left a deep and lasting effect on me and proved to me that the evolution of video games looks very bright going into the new year. Anyway, without further delay, here is my top 5 games for the year of 2015 (Note: this list is not ranked).
Super Mario Maker
Super Mario Maker has a place on my list because it offers up an experience that is unique and special. It gives you the opportunity to to build, break, and play Mario levels based on themes spanning from the original 1985 installment all the way up to New Super Mario Bros. Wii U. Although the concept of Mario Maker is not original, it opened up the door for me to craft my own, personalized Mario stages which can be shared globally with an entire community of other level makers. The building options in Mario Maker are nearly limitless and even if you are not creative with stage designs like myself, Mario Maker gives you the chance to play stages from a constantly updating database, so the game has a ton of replay value. Super Mario Maker may not offer any epic graphical improvements or groundbreaking gameplay changes to the Mario franchise, but it manages to be nostalgic trip for Mario veterans and a memorable experience for newcomers, letting them engage in an unforgettable Mario game that should not be skipped.
Fallout 4 was the most anticipated game of this year and for good reasons to boot. It improved upon areas where Fallout 3 and New Vegas failed like an improved V.A.T.S. system and more fast-paced gunfights. I included Fallout 4 on my list because of its ability to reproduce features from previous Fallout games and shape them into something different, which is a department that Bethesda never falters in. For example, Fallout 4 adds a new individual story to an already gigantic lore and once again lets players explore the wastes of post-apocalyptic United States in any way they see fit. Aside from the game world, Fallout 4 also holds a place on my list because of its highly detailed graphics and its stronger emphasis on item collection than in previous installments. Fallout 4 is not a perfect game because it simplifies a lot of the complex RPG mechanics from Fallout 3 by removing individual skill points. Despite this and some other flaws Fallout 4 excels at giving players what they want by giving them a massive world to explore and granting them the ability engage in brand new activities like maintaining settlements, intricately modifying weapons and armor, and meeting more engaging companions.
Nintendo’s big summer release, Splatoon deserves a spot on my list because of its customization options and its manic 4 on 4 battles. Splatoon has the distinction of being the first original intellectual property to come out of Nintendo for a long time and it definitely shows in its quirky inkling characters and vibrant graphics. What I especially enjoyed about Splatoon was the inclusion of a hidden storyline embedded in its single player campaign similar to that of Dark Souls that involves marine life filling the urban niche left by humans following the melting of the polar ice caps. This not only made me develop a deeper appreciation for the game, but it also provided a historical context for the ink battles as being an honored tradition amongst the inklings. The ink battles in Splatoon are very refreshing because they deviate from other multiplayer shooters by letting players decimate each other by covering the most turf with colored ink. You can still blow up your enemies by using a variety of ink-splattering weapons, but the best feature by far is when you can transform into a squid to traverse the battlefield for tactical advantages. Splatoon has plenty of quirkiness and simplicity to it to have you playing online for hours on end.
Mortal Kombat X
The Mortal Kombat franchise has been getting bigger and better ever since the release of Mortal Kombat 9 back in 2011. Mortal Kombat X is no exception to this advancement and, as I see it, Mortal Kombat X is a superior title to Mortal Kombat 9 for a multitude of reasons. First off, Mortal Kombat X has a more dynamic combo system than Mortal Kombat 9 and restricts you from spamming the same combo over and over again. This is a welcome change to the Mortal Kombat franchise because it inhibits matches from becoming stale and repetitive. Moreover, Mortal Kombat X brings back the brutal X-ray attacks in full force and includes some of the goriest fatalities ever to grace the MK series. The narrative of the game may resemble an over the top comic book plot, but it is nice to see what has happened to our favorite characters since the conclusion of Mortal Kombat 9. With stunning visuals, intuitive controls, and gallons of blood, it is no surprise that Mortal Kombat X has made such a mark in the competitive fighting game scene and is revered as one of the best fighters of this year.
Bloodborne is not a direct clone of Dark Souls as most people assume, even though the two titles bear many similarities to one another, Bloodborne offers more in the way of story, gameplay, and overall design. I put Bloodborne on my list because I adore its rich Gothic design, especially in its monstrous enemies and bosses. Bloodborne’s Gothic aesthetic is complimented by its compelling plot that takes its inspiration directly from the works of H.P. Lovecraft and his ideas of mystic beings manipulating human actions. I also enjoyed that the game is an action RPG with a strong emphasis on an offensive approach to combat situations rather than a defensive so that your character can attain Blood Echoes, which act as experience points and currency, as well as other useful items. One aspect that Bloodborne shares with its sister game Dark Souls is its high difficulty that makes the game challenging, but not unfair. This challenge is greatly appreciated because the game world and the enemies inhabiting that world are always changing, ensuring that there is never a dull moment for you to endure. Bloodborne is a marvelous title that should be in the collection of every PS4 owner and one the strongest titles of 2015.
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