My video game backlog is a black hole where games go to die.
Okay, not really, but I have a lot of old games to catch up on, and sometimes I focus on them more than the new games. So in 2013, I decided that instead of a “best games of the year” sort of list, I would discuss the best games I played that year.
Last year’s was even better, with several 2014 games making the list.
Now it’s 2015’s turn, but first…
Like in previous years, I’d like to give a couple shout-outs to games that didn’t quite make the list.
Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star, for example, was perfect for the season and contained great moments, as my review shows. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening was an unusual experience, and I’m glad I finally played this classic Zelda game. And for all my criticisms, I really did enjoy Dragon Age Inquisition.
For one reason or another, none of those games made it onto my final list. While enjoyable, they are not among the top 5. Which games made it? Well…
The Top 5 Games I Played in 2015
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team has a bad reputation because of its numerous tutorials, but it’s not a bad game at all.
In my review of Dream Team, I said it had great writing, but bad pacing, and I stand by that statement. There’s nothing wrong with the way the story, characters, and humor is written in Dream Team. They even try to liven up the tutorials.
Dream Team isn’t a perfect game, but if you enjoyed previous entries in the series, you should endure the tutorials and bad early pacing. You’ll be rewarded with fun writing and a game that deserves its spot on this list.
If the upcoming Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam has to emulate one of them, it should lean more toward Dream Team than Sticker Star.
I started Alien: Isolation in 2014 (so maybe it doesn’t fully qualify for my list), but then I had a horror meltdown and took a long, long break.
When I finally returned to it this year, I enjoyed every tense, dread-filled moment.
Unlike developers who have shied away from true survival horror (such as Capcom, which still hasn’t figured out that a third-person shooter in dark, bloody settings isn’t the natural evolution of a methodical series filled with puzzles, under-powered protagonists, and resource management), The Creative Assembly embraced it.
Yet Alien: Isolation doesn’t feel like a retro throwback to classic games. To me, it took those classic gameplay elements and put them in a modern form. And that’s awesome.
Whether I was hiding from the deadly alien, using my meager resources to defeat politely murderous robots, or reading computer logs about the last days of Sevastopol Station, Alien: Isolation was the survival horror game I was waiting for. All survival horror fans should check it out.
In 2015, I finally tried Kingdom Hearts for the first time.
This wasn’t a series I missed or overlooked before. No, I blatantly ignored it for many years. And you know what? I shouldn’t have.
Kingdom Hearts, though it still seems like a ridiculous concept on the surface, turned out to be a fun action RPG with entertaining gameplay, a good story, and one of the best… what do I even call it? A reveal? Foreshadowing?
Whatever it was (and I have a spoiler-tagged discussion about this particular aspect in my Kingdom Hearts review, if you want to know what I’m making vague allusions to), it’s one of the best I’ve seen, and I loved it.
It took me a long time to get into the Kingdom Hearts series, but I’m not turning back anytime soon. I’ve already played Re: Chain of Memories, which I enjoyed, though its combat prevented it from even getting an honorable mention. Up next, Kingdom Hearts 2!
Next year, will there be another Kingdom Hearts entry on this list?
If you’ve spoken to me at all over the past few months, chances are good I mentioned Undertale.
Undertale is an RPG about a human child who falls into an underground realm of monsters, and I really can’t say much more on the matter, because it’s a game best left as unspoiled as possible.
I will say one more thing, though. You might have heard people talking about this game in relation to morality, emotional moments, friendship, RPG genre subversions, and lots of other deep, meaningful topics. Okay, sure. That’s fine. But aside from all that, there’s one thing I want you to know: Undertale is one of the funniest games I’ve played in a long time.
With how much I love Undertale, what game could bump it to #2?
What game stood out to me the most this year?
What is the #1 game I played in 2015?
Not only did I make Tales of Symphonia the winner of my personal take on the “Best Game Ever” tournament, I also declared it “perfect” when I reviewed it.
And let’s not forget I cosplayed Martel.
I really loved Tales of Symphonia. Its story, characters, and gameplay were all top-notch. Especially its story and characters. Especially its villain.
Oh man, Symphonia’s villain (whom I’ve finally admitted is my favorite character from the game) just won’t leave me alone! He lurks in the back of my mind, waiting for me to write fanfiction about him.
Characters do that, you know.
I began Tales of Symphonia near the start of the year, and I’m still thinking about it at the end. That’s the mark of a great game! If you love JRPGs and haven’t tried this one yet, you really should.
In 2016, I intend to try its much-maligned sequel, among other Tales games, and continue hoping for a prequel. And when Tales of Symphonia comes out for the PC in February… maybe I’ll dive into it again.
There you have it, the Top 5 Games I Played in 2015.
This list has two notable omissions. First, the Witcher series. Last year, I vowed to catch up on the entire series before Wild Hunt came out. Well, I read all the books, but I didn’t even play the first game yet. Next year!
Second, Ace Attorney. Ace Attorney won a spot on my 2013 and 2014 lists, but Capcom refused to localize The Great Ace Attorney and I didn’t have one to play in time. Next year…?
What do you think of my list? Have you played Tales of Symphonia yet? And finally, what are the best games you played in 2015?---
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