Mark Serrels' Top 10 Games Of 2015

Okay, this was harder than I thought. Video games were very good this year. Almost too good.

I thought I had it all sorted — my top five at least. Then I decided to have a quick look at all the video games that were released this year. I had forgotten about so many. Also: I played a lot more video games than I thought.

Ordering them was also super tough. Picking my actual favourite game of the year — the number one spot — was relatively easy. There was a clear winner, but beyond the top three or four it got a bit weird. There are a few games I've left out and I'm sort of a little uncomfortable about that.

Games like Fallout 4. I really enjoyed Fallout 4. I am still in the process of enjoying Fallout 4, but it was just a little too flat, too one-dimensional for my tastes.

The Witcher 3: a beautiful game that for most is the default game of the year. It was certainly the overwhelming favourite of the Kotaku Australia readership.

Halo 5 is another game I'm still regretting leaving off my list. But all I played of Halo 5 was its multiplayer. And even in that sub-section I just played the Arena mode over and over again. I haven't even touched the single player campaign.

I've left a couple of Australian games off the list — games that might have made it if this was a top 15 or top 20 list. Games like Pac-Man 256 and Land Sliders. Games like Armello and Hand of Fate. It's worth noting: 2015 was probably the best year for Australian video games ever.

With all that being said — time to get on with the list.


10. Expand

It's very hard for me to separate my enjoyment of Expand with the story of its creation which, after spending a lot of time writing about and discussing, I've become a little invested in. So take that as a disclaimer.

That being said, Expand is wonderful. It's delicate, beautiful, simple, complicated, dextrous, elegant. All of those things. It's familiar but unique in a number of special ways. It's a great video game and I think you should play it.


9. OlliOlli 2: Welcome To Olliwood

I have a real love of these types of games: twitch-based, score-orientated video games with quick retries and a side-order of masochism. There was no Trials game this year so in many ways OlliOlli 2 plugged that gap.

But OlliOlli isn't like Trials really, outside the fact it's played on a 2D plane on wheels. OlliOlli 2 is like a skateboard game as endless runner, with tricks and pressure and oh my god I need to restart I screwed up that bit.

My son loved this game. He called it 'Man Fall Over' which tells you a lot about how terrible I am at OlliOlli 2


8. Her Story

This is just a great, super unique, super interesting way to tell a story. Video game stories are traditionally terrible, traditionally derivative. How refreshing to engage in an interactive experience that redefines story and, more importantly, could only work in a video game space. Awesome.


7. Grow Home

I ignored Grow Home for most of the year, then finally played it when it was ported across to the PlayStation 4. What an incredible experience with one simple goal: climb as high as you can. It was the clumsy yet somehow elegant controls that made Grow Home work so tremendously well. Crazy that in a world where Assassin's Creed exists, a strange game about a robot is Ubisoft's best video game about climbing things.


6. Metamorphabet

My son was two years old for the majority of 2015 and we spent a lot of that year playing Metamorphabet. I think it's the best children's game ever made. It's beautiful, educational, fluid, playful and feels like it was built with a child's mind in... mind. If you have children and an iPad you need to get this game.


5. Everybody's Gone To The Rapture

Plenty of people do not like this video game. They don't like the pacing — literally, the protagonist walks too slowly for some — they don't like the idea of playing a 'walking simulator'.

But for me, Everybody's Gone To The Rapture was one of the bravest games of the year. When was the last time you played a video game set in a sleepy village in rural England? When was the last time armageddon didn't involved zombies, space aliens or nuclear war? When was the last time you played a video game soundtracked by a Welsh choir.

Some of the dialogue bordered on the hokey side of things. The writing didn't quite reach the weird heights of The Chinese Room's last game Dear Esther, but it was still enough to be this incredibly moving experience, punctuated by some of the most strangely spiritual moments I've ever seen in a video game.


4. Splatoon

Splatoon could have so easily just been "Mario Paintball". And I still believe, in an alternate universe, that game exists.

I love so much about Splatoon. I love that it's a new 'thing' from Nintendo. I love that Nintendo were able to make a third person shooter, but somehow still have it feel like a Nintendo game should: tactile, sticky, fun, friendly.

I love that it's cool, that's it's fashionable. It may well be the only fashionable video game that Nintendo has ever made. Splatoon is 'cool'.

Most of all I'm glad that Splatoon was successful. I love that Nintendo took a risk and that risk paid off. I want more games like Splatoon. I want more of those risks.


3. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

We've been to one alternate universe, let's go to another one. A universe where Konami didn't get over excited about Pachinko machines and didn't send Hideo Kojima into exile. In that universe exists a version of Metal Gear Solid V that very well could be battling it out for game of the year. As it is, it's only made it to number three.

Because in a lot of ways Metal Gear Solid V is a hot mess. The story is weird, the pacing is weird. It all falls apart towards the end. It's a testament to just how good the core of Metal Gear Solid V is that it's still very, very close to being my favourite game of the year.

The sneaking, the infiltration — the dazzling array of options you have at your disposal. It's an otherworldly achievement. Kojima and his team has taken their detail orientated approach to design and applied it across an expansive open world.

Also: D-Dog.


2. Rocket League

I've written so many goddamn words about Rocket League it feels like I have nothing left to give!

Just... a few... more...

Rocket League was a welcome surprise. It came before the holiday rush — just in time to satiate the hunger pangs of gamers who were a little bit over The Witcher 3. How good was it? It's one of those ideas that seems so obvious in hindsight: football with cars. Strange to think it became one of my favourite sports games ever. In a way it's a worthy successor to games like NBA Jam. In other ways it's the consummate competitive experience.

Regardless, Rocket League is a game is see myself playing for a long time to come. I might not play online with the big boys, but my family love this game and we play it together every other weekend. So good.


1. Bloodborne

Realistically, there was no other choice. Bloodborne is just that good.

A brand new universe, dripping in depth, claustrophobic in its architecture and its atmosphere. Unforgiving in nature, brave in its design choices. Bloodborne was everything.

Bloodborne could have been Dark Souls in a new setting but it wasn't. It made dramatic changes to its combat. It removed a layer of RPG depth but replaced it with a more rapid style of fighting. It removed our crutch, the shield, and forced us to adapt accordingly.

I've been replaying Bloodborne over the break, trying to unlock the DLC in a brand new game. If anything it's reinforced just how good this video game really is. Every strike is compelling, every texture feels like it was thought about, discussed. The lore, the detail, everything about it.

I've never been more sure about a game of the year pick. Ever. That's how much I love Bloodborne.


What's your top 10. Drop it in the comments below!


Comments

    Star Wars: Battlefrontt
    Her Story
    Invisible, Inc
    The Witcher 3
    Halo 5
    Evolve
    Assassin's Creed: Syndicate
    Destiny: The Taken King

    Last edited 30/12/15 1:22 pm

      Witch order is that in? Because you have extremely average games at each end, and I can't work out witch one you made 10 and witch one you made 1....

    The Witcher 3
    Cities Skylines
    Squad

    are my picks for this year.

    Haven't played any of those. At least 3 there that I am very curious about. 1 which I have, just do not have the time for. Still playing the Nathan Drake collection. Eventually will get to bloodborne.

    OK if we are putting up our own. in no real order:

    Metal Gear Solid 3

    Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate

    Dark Souls (dex build run) ((I am stuck at Four Kings)) (((PC)))

    Year Walk Wii U

    Splatoon

    Bloodborne

    Rocket League

    Super Mario Maker

    The preview/demo of Rive from the Wii U 'Nindies at Home' campaign because holy crap.

    Everybody's Gone to the Rapture AKA Mr Sparkle.

    As for Mark's list, this is why I enjoy this time of year. Eclectic choices and brilliant from-the-heart writing about what really grabbed him/anybody who covers games is worth so much more to somebody like me than shouty youtube playthroughs or a coloured number.

    Best games I played this year (because I play older games... because I'm cheap)

    Shadow of Mordor
    Wolfenstein: The New Order
    Grey Goo
    Dishonored

    Plus the usual suspects (Hearthstone, Dota 2, CS:GO)

    I only just got into Rocket League and realised it is basically a new version of one of my favourite games of all time:
    Lucasarts Ballblazer on the Atari 800.

    https://youtu.be/_tkwWD_BWWQ?t=10m10s

    Man I loved that game.

    Last edited 30/12/15 2:21 pm

    Bought a ps3 for demon souls, bought a ps4 for Bloodborne.

    Jumped back on to it to get ready for dark souls 3

    Am i wrong in being happy that fo4 isnt getting mentioned much lately?

      I guess we can expect another video from Roosterteeth shitting on everybody who didn't put it in their top 10.

        I will say this, I've just started playing MGSV today, got it cheap for 48 (unwanted xmas gift on a buy/sell page) and holy crap, the level of detail in it has blown me away. That's pretty much the sort of detail I was hoping for tbh from fo4.

        Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm a Kojima led Fallout game... :O

          What detail did you mean?

          Graphically I found MGS V fantastic, but I found its open world huge & empty & the camps very samey.
          I couldn't find a good reason for it being open world.

          Fallout 4 on the other hand I found densely packed with interesting & varying details.

        So you dont like when Rooster teeth give their opinion on someone elses opinion, but you are fine with giving your opinion on their opinion.
        K.

    10. Bloodborne
    9. Captain Toad's Treasure Tracker
    8. Kirby and the Rainbow Paintbrush
    7. Batman: Arkham Knight
    6. World of Warships
    5. The Room Three
    4. Yoshi's Woolly World
    3. Mortal Kombat X
    2. Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void
    1. Xenoblade Chronicles X

    Kinda sad that nobody else is mentioning most of these games. Didn't get around to playing Witcher 3 this year, that'll be a job for next year. I've explained in the past why I don't really rate Bloodborne so I won't go into detail there.

    It's also a pity games like Super Smash Bros and Bayonetta 2 released late 2014, because I've spent a large chunk of 2015 playing them.

    Leo's Fortune deserves a nod, even though it was originally released last year on mobile (which is why it's not on my list) it was released this year on consoles and PC.

    Last edited 30/12/15 4:11 pm

      Interesting collection. I haven't gotten to the Room 3 yet, although I really adored the first (halfway through the second).

      You're not the only one with a bit of love for MKX, though ...

        I haven't yet finished The Room 3, but from what I've played so far it is amazing. The first had levels based around one object. The second had levels based around one room each. This third entry is a whole bunch of interconnected rooms and it is fantastic. It's like crossing The Room with Myst.

          The whole trilogy of The Room games is amazing. Criminally underappreciated IMO. This last one is a diamond.

        I've always been an MK fan, and MKX is easily the best entry in the series for quite some time, so yeah. It's cool that they continue to add content too.

        You need to do yourself a favour and play all of The Room games, they are fantastic.

          I found X fine, no issues except the story just kind of ignores what was set up in 9. I just enjoyed 9 overall for being a return to form with both story & gameplay.
          X just came across as more of the same to me :-/

            The gameplay I think is just overall tighter than 9.

              Ahhh, ok, more refined. Kewl.

                The three different variations of the characters add a surprising amount of depth too.

                  Yeah, I remember them doing that before. I prefer one type with all the moves available, but that's just me.

                  Wasn't keen when street fighter had you pick a single Super either.

      Xenoblade is amazing, buy a Wii-U amazing.
      I haven't played mortal kombat since the Sega Megadrive days, might give it a look!

    Bloodborne reminded me that occasionally the planets align and magic happens. GOTY. So good...

    Bloodborne is also my GOTY. The gameplay, design, lore, music... Everything is perfect.
    As you stated, it could've been a reskinned Dark Souls, and because it is not its all the better for it.
    After playing Bloodborne I played Dark Souls 2: SotFS and am now playing through Dark Souls: PtDE. While I love the RPG elements in DS games, the combat becomes highly methodical, as opposed to the reactionary combat in Bloodborne.

      Your face will shit when you find out what they have done to dark souls 3. Gonna be sweeet

        I hope I don't find out then.

    Didnt play a lot of games this year. But rocket league is my goty followed by the beginners guide. Witcher 3 was ok but i didnt put more than 15hrs in.

    Bloodborne is a perfect game. People get worked up over using the word perfect to describe anything but something that fires on all cylinders like Bloodborne deserves to be called perfect, I dont care that the chalice dungeons are shit or that there isn't a handful more npcs, its a game I would play if I had little time left on earth.

      Uh, sorry, if it were a perfect game you'd be able to travel to and from any discovered lantern like bonfires in DS.
      It is super annoying having to go to the hunter's dream EVERY DAMN TIME.

      Nonetheless, great game.
      Not perfect

        Good point but uh sorry sweetie you're wrong something lore implications something miyazaki is cool

    Playing on PC my top 5 were as follows:
    1. witcher 3
    2. Dying Light
    3. GTAV
    4. MGSV:TPP
    5. Fallout 4

    I've been playing Bloodborne for the past two weeks, almost solid. I can't stop. It's incredible. I platinumed it this afternoon, and am moving onto the DLC next. Going to mosey about, level some weapons and whatnot first. amazing game. GOTY for me without hesitation.

    1. Undertale
    2. Hotline Miami 2
    3. Super Mario Maker
    4. Uhhh...
    5. Man, I really should have played more games this year.

      I'd be putting Hotline Miami 2 on my list too, however, I didn't get around to jagging it via an OS account. (I don't PC game anymore, for the record). I absolutely loved the first one. Instant classic. ­čśÇ

        I really enjoyed it.
        Some people didn't like the level design, or hated how the story ended but I thought it was pretty boss.

        And the music was fuckin' sweet!

    5. Fallout 4
    4. Assassin's Creed Syndicate
    3. Until Dawn
    2. Tales From The Borderlands
    1. The Witcher 3

    Bloodborne just hurts my brain and squeezes my heart, for some reason.

    Fallout 4 was disappointing, but enjoyable.

    Assassin's Creed Syndicate is the best in the series since, oh... Number 2?

    Until Dawn surprised me. What a great experience!

    Tales From The Borderlands may have made me smile more than any piece of media all year.

    ... And pretty much everything y'all say about Bloodborne is how I feel about Witcher 3. What a perfect piece of entertainment. Well-honed, abundant and effortlessly cathartic. Just riding through the countryside makes me feel at peace. Utter brilliance.

    I didn't play too many 2015 games. In fact, I didn't play THAT many games this year (well, maybe not in my wife's mind!). However, I enjoyed these titles immensely....

    The Witcher remains my hands down GOTY. One of the best in the last decade tbh.

    5. Wolfenstein: The Old Blood
    4. Soma
    3. Bloodborne
    2. Fallout 4
    1. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

    This was much harder than I thought it would be. In the end, I came up with:

    1. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
    2. Bloodborne
    3. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
    4. Fallout 4
    5. Rainbow Six Siege
    6. Batman: Arkham Knight
    7. Rocket League
    8. Assassin's Creed: Syndicate
    9. Until Dawn
    10. Dying Light

    The Witcher and Bloodborne, for me, were by far the games that had the least flaws in my opinion. Hence them being #1 and 2 I suppose, but I think that reflects more on the other games than anything else. MGS V and Fallout in particular were so close to being absolutely amazing, but disappointed in other aspects (namely story/plot and recycled missions for MGS V, story and limited choice for Fallout).

    The real surprises were RB6, Syndicate and Until Dawn.

    I get that Siege doesn't have a lot of content, still has network issues and is pretty bad to play with randoms. But for my situation, playing with four real life friends with headsets, it's by far the most fun I've had in a multiplayer shooter in a long time.

    I suppose Syndicate shouldn't be surprising in that it keeps to the regular Assassin's Creed schedule of "ambitious but crap entry followed up by less ambitious but decent polished/perfected one". However, I did rather enjoy it. Much better protagonists/villain, more focused story and gameplay.

    Until Dawn really surprised me. What I thought would be terrible and cheesy actually ended up being great fun and cheesy. It did a good job of both sticking to, but also subverting, teen horror movie tropes.

    Looking forward to 2016!

    Bloodborne is easily my top too. I'm amazed that more people don't realize it's superiority over Witcher.

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