• Everybody's Gone to the Rapture

Games of 2015: Snake, Splatter Guns and Space Exploration

Games Team | 25 Nov 2015

From a sprawling, mega-budget wasteland to an intimate peek-behind-the-curtains of indie development, videogames covered it all this year. As such, we chalked up the top ten titles that kept our games team indoors and out of what little sunlight there was in 2015.

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture

1. Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture 

(The Chinese Room)

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture merits its place on this list for the sheer quality of its visuals alone. Yet it wasn't just the technical quality that impressed so much as the developers’ ability to create a distinctly post-apocalyptic aesthetic without resorting to the scorched earth cliché so common to the genre. On top of that there was a magnificent soundtrack and flashes of top-notch writing. The final result is an original and moving example of how to tell stories through the medium of games. However, it seems likely that these kinds of titles will always have their detractors – those who say they’re not even games at all. They are missing out. [Liam Patrick Hainey]

Bloodborne

2. Bloodborne 

(From Software)

In a surprisingly quiet year for Sony’s first party studios, From Software’s Bloodborne was one of only a handful of exclusive titles on PlayStation 4 to distinguish itself. Much more than a gothic horror reworking of the studio’s Dark Souls games, Bloodborne retained the series’ infamous level of challenge but upped the ante with faster-paced, more aggressive combat and a bestiary of truly horrific foes. More impressive still was the cursed city of Yarnham, its dense atmosphere, sprawling districts and lofty spires ingeniously woven together in a masterclass of level design. Combine that with the game’s superlative plot – a twisted, H.P. Lovecraft-influenced tale of madness and betrayal – and you’ve got one of the most memorable games in recent memory. [Jodi Mullen]

The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt

3. The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt

(CD Projekt RED)

There are few games that have caught people’s attention as much as Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt. It captivated gamers and critics alike upon release, on account of its satisfying design, sensational writing and awe-inspiring visuals. Controlling Geralt, you explore the Northern Kingdoms searching for your lover while earning additional coin slaying monsters. Putting an equal emphasis on fighting and dialogue, you’re given the freedom to decide how to proceed with each individual mission; settle quests peacefully or use brute strength, scold your target or let them go, the choice is entirely yours. Better yet, every decision you make influences the world and your future interactions within it. In the realm of open world gaming you can hardly ask for more. [Jack Yarwood]

Fallout 4

4. Fallout 4

(Bethesda)

Fallout 4 is Bethesda’s biggest game to date, and quite simply an utter joy to experience. Giving the protagonist a voice really drives home the story this time around whilst all of the objects in the world mean something because of the new crafting system. Meanwhile, the new base building actually turned our self-professed Minecraft hater into someone who spent two hours gleefully building the perfect gatehouse, while there are so many rich stories to find by simply exploring the wasteland. Even if Fallout 4 did a bait and switch halfway through, turning into a moss-growing simulator, we’d wager that you’d still be satisfied with your time spent in the Commonwealth. On your way, citizen… [Tom Hillman]

Kerbal Space Program

5. Kerbal Space Program

(Squad)

Fun, silly, and yet surprisingly deep, Kerbal Space Program has the makings of a classic and promises to be a benchmark for sandbox gaming in years to come. Its detailed spaceship construction makes the creation of probes, space-planes and enormous space-stations engaging and exciting. The game’s excellent and detailed physics engine brings the world to life, and makes launching ships into orbit or to distant planets so rewarding you can almost imagine you’ve really just put a man on the moon (or Kerbal on the Mun). Furthermore, Squad’s welcoming approach to modding the game has nurtured a lively community around it, one which ensures creative new content for the game will continue to emerge. [Stewart McIver]

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Elite: Dangerous

6. Elite: Dangerous

(Frontier Developments)

Elite: Dangerous stands as one of the most ambitious games ever developed, completely in keeping with a series that stretches back 30 years. The technological heft of those three decades has helped produce a game that players back in 1984 could only have dreamt about. Vast, uncompromising, complex and intensely detailed, it’s not a title for the faint-hearted. Plough in 50 hours and you’ll just be getting your thrusters warmed up, be you pirate, trader or bounty hunter. Niche it may be, but Frontier Development’s numbers add up to a whole lot of players populating their dense universe and for these plucky adventurers, Elite: Dangerous isn’t so much a game as a way of life. [Darren Carle]

The Beginner's Guide

7. The Beginner’s Guide

(Everything Unlimited Ltd.)

In his breakout hit The Stanley Parable, Davey Wreden deployed voice-over narration to break the fourth wall and make some clever but fairly tame jokes about free will. Here he uses it to implicate the player in the violation of another person’s privacy before chastising them for being so wilfully strung along, an act of provocation that could come across as manipulative and smug if it wasn't handled with such sincerity. Initially presented as a tour of a fictional game designer’s secret unfinished works, The Beginner's Guide soon morphs into an uncomfortably personal tale about inner demons and seeking validation. A brave and unique experience, it’ll have you feeling infuriated, guilty, sympathetic, sometimes even scared, but most of all, utterly captivated. [Andrew Gordon]

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

8. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

(Kojima Productions)

Expectations for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain were sky high after 2014 prologue Ground Zeroes and Hideo Kojima’s swansong for Konami surpassed them all. Perhaps one of the most immersive titles of the year in terms of pure gameplay, MGS:V’s open world stealth hijinks schooled other studios in how sneaking and sandbox games should be made. Though a bit thinner in terms of plot than earlier MGS games, The Phantom Pain retained all of the series’ trademark quirky humour. From airlifting shrieking enemy soldiers out of the combat zone by hot air balloon to calling down an attack helicopter blaring Europe’s The Final Countdown from its speakers, few games are as fun or silly as Metal Gear Solid V. [Jodi Mullen]

Rocket League

9. Rocket League

(Psyonix)

If there was a separate list for ‘surprise hits of the year’ then Rocket League would no doubt sit proudly at the top. Rocket League is the successor to the little-known Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket Powered Battle Cars and while many will mourn the loss of that beautifully inelegant title, it’s not just the name that’s been streamlined. Rocket League found success thanks, in no small part, to its extraordinary simplicity. You and your teammates take control of a rocket-powered car and must attempt to force the ball into the opposing goal. There are no weapons or power-ups – just simple, elegant chaos. Falling squarely into the ‘easy to learn, hard to master’ sweet spot, Rocket League’s frantic and exciting multiplayer makes it more than worthy of its paltry 15 quid investment. [Liam Patrick Hainey]

Splatoon

10. Splatoon

(Nintendo)

Only Nintendo could create a shooter that doesn’t care if you can’t shoot straight. In fact, Splatoon practically encourages wanton aiming as every splash of neon paint counts towards your team’s score. In a genre where map domination can seem a little abstract, Nintendo repainted the rule book and made the signs clear for all to see. For the more advanced player, there’s layers of tactics to scrape under; figuring out your loadout, map points and special weapons will all help you in the battle. Yet at the same time, gleefully lobbing gallons of paint around will often win the day. For a company often criticised for sticking to what they know, Splatoon is an embarrassingly confident leap into new territories for Nintendo. [Darren Carle]