I don’t ever play enough games that come out in the calendar year to make a real top 10 (see: my haha I bought these and didn’t play them list at the bottom), so instead I like to put together lists of things that I played and liked. With that in mind, here are 10 games that I played and enjoyed in 2015, that came out in 2015. If this were games I played through in 2015 that came out in any year, the list would be different.
Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea – My love of the Atelier games is well known, and any entry that is better than Atelier Iris 3 (that is all of them) is bound to get on my “enjoyed games” list. Shallie is the last in the last game in the Dusk setting and ends on a hopeful note, which is good because I just spent three games trying to save a dying world. Like Atelier Escha and Logy it features two mostly the same but different in parts paths for you to play through, this time two young ladies named Shallie who wind up working together to figure out why all the water in the world is drying up (it starts out smaller than this, of course). The gameplay is the same, you complete tasks in a given period and toss a bunch of stuff together in a pot to do alchemy. If mixing a bunch of stuff together to try and get different/the best results sounds enjoyable, Atelier games are probably for you. The time management aspect has eased up greatly since the Arland series so if you hate that, it’s not present the same way.
Bloodborne – I haven’t finished this, because I am stuck on a boss, because I am bad at crowd control, and then I got distracted by other things like my cats. I stopped playing Demon’s Souls when I got stuck in an area and never went back (the Tower of Latria) because I felt like the game was just screwing with me, but Bloodborne is different. Things can be tough but they are generally manageable and if you are patient, you can work through them eventually (in a past life I beat Shadow Tower so I am a case study in patience with games). Beating the bosses is very satisfying.
Like all (and I mean all) From Software games, you’re navigating a world they don’t really bother telling you much about and I found Bloodborne the most compelling. You’re dumped in a mostly ruined city where people are turning into werewolves, mostly, but other stuff is going on too. There’s a school full of current-slimes-former-people and just not really any information on why that happened. It’s normal, you’re the hunter (which is of course not as straight forward as it seems), just go with it.
Cat Goes Fishing – This is a game about a cat that goes fishing, on a boat. Sometimes he also catches hats. You sell the fish you catch and get new rods and boats that go further out so you can catch new and different fish. It’s a very simple, relaxing game that I enjoy playing when I need to chill out for a bit. I haven’t caught a shark yet, but I will.
Citizens of Earth – Made by a group of people who clearly love Earthbound, Citizens of Earth embraces the feel of the Mother series but doesn’t attempt to do a 1:1 copy which is probably why it succeeds. With a whacky story (you are the Vice President of the United States and have to figure out what is going on with some aliens), the Earthboundiness comes out in the battle system where you have unconventional attacks and text. Besides that, the game is really more of a party recruitment title and a standard JRPG but done very well. If you are looking for something off kilter but doesn’t go off into the whack whacky lands, this is for you.
Crypt of the Necrodancer – This is a rhythm roguelike where you dance around levels and die a lot and cry and then you beat an area and you drink until you passout in celebration. Or at least this is my experience with the game. It’s more fun than it sounds. It is in fact, a whole lot of fun and features a rad soundtrack. If you enjoy rhythm games and also dying a lot in games (it’s a theme for me!), you will enjoy necrodancing. Everyone is making roguelikes now (when they’re not making metroidvanias anyway), so you should support the ones that are executed well with actual unique gameplay.
It’s easier to show than explain the gameplay, so please enjoy the following:
True story: I was in Japan when this game came out and asked my husband to buy it for me so I wouldn’t miss the launch discount. It was definitely worth all of the money he paid.
Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC – I waited so long for this game. I waited so long for this game. I have many thoughts about it which will go in its own post but this is the co-LeoGOTY and an extremely JRPG story in a good way.
Just to get one thing out of the way: Although Trails SC is so JRPG it hurts, the battle system is not turn-based in the traditional way. What I mean is, it’s tactical combat where you can run out of movement points and not execute an action in a turn. You must also wait for magic to be cast. All the Trails games feature this style of combat.
You must play FC (First Chapter/Second Chapter, FC/SC) before this one, but if you like JRPGs you should really play both. You must be willing to devote a big chunk of time to the game, as it is very long and cutting out the sidequesting won’t save much time.
Persona 4: Dancing All Night – I am not a Persona 4 maniac (I still like 3 better), but I am a huge fan of rhythm games (Nintendo if you are reading this please make Elite Beat Agents 2 I will buy 100 copies). I refuse to engage in Hatsune Miku so it’s been a while since I had one to play. While I’d rather have another Ouendan/Elite Beat Agents, Dancing All Night scratches the itch pretty well and includes a visual novel type story if you are into the whole Persona4verse. Since there’s an idol on the comeback trail it actually makes as much sense as it possibly could when you consider that the objective is dancing away evil.
Pillars of Eternity – I backed this Kickstarter at a rather high level due to being a complete nerd in desperate need of cloth maps. If you are a fan of any of the games the people who work at Obsidian created before they were at Obsidian (Black Isle Studios and Troika) then you will absolutely be a fan of Pillars of Eternity. A strong story in a fleshed-out world with very hard combat that takes a while to learn. This is not a “pc revival” like Divinity: Original Sin (which featured a combat system way more JRPG than CRPG), it’s a direct successor to the Infinity Engine games.
Shadowrun: Hong Kong – More of Harebrained’s Shadowrun is a good thing, though it is not as good as Dragonfall: Director’s Cut. It’s always weird when a game is set somewhere like Hong Kong because it falls into certain cultural trappings, but I thought they were fine and it’s Shadowrun so it’s all weird anyway. The big thing in Hong Kong is that they overhauled the Matrix and it is so much better than it was previously that I wish they could go back and
Tales of Zestiria – Much like Atelier games, Tales games are an autobuy for me. If you want to read a lot of words about my thoughts on Zestiria, I have a whole post about them for you! The long and short of it is that it has the best battle system since Graces F and none of the Graces F garbage story and horrible voice acting. It’s very charming with none of the rargh dark edgy story you find all over these days. Not everything in the game is flowers and sunshine even on the good guy’s side but it never gets up its own butt about it which I greatly appreciated.
Games I didn’t play in 2015 but meant to and oh well that’s life:
Age of Decadence, Amnesia: Memories, Code: Realize, Danganronpa: Ultra Despair Girls, Dragon Fin Soup, Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel, Legend of Legacy, Lost Dimension, Norn9, Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines, Stella Glow, Story of Seasons, Undertale, Xenoblade Chronicles X
I didn’t play and don’t intend to:
Fallout 4, any multi-player focused FPS games