It’s officially half way through the year, so what better time to reflect on what great games we’ve had out so far?
The first half of 2015 has seem some cracking games hit our consoles, and the second half of the year looks set to be even better, with Fallout 4, a new Assassin’s Creed, Halo 5, Need for Speed, a reboot of Hitman. . . the list goes on. With so much to look forward to, we look back on the top 10 games of 2015 so far.
Being a retro-style indie title made single-handedly by one man, we didn’t expect much from Axiom Verge. An hour into playing though, having been totally absorbed into Tom Happ’s eerie yet beautiful pixelated world, we realised it was something quite special. In our review of the game back in April, we deemed it “the best Metroidvania-style title since Castlevania: Symphony of the Night” and that’s no easy feat.
Everything from audio to enemy design is so perfectly implemented that any fan of side-scrolling adventures simply has to give Axiom Verge a go. It’s an impressive game by any means, but considering it was built by one man in his spare time, well, it’s just incredible. Tom Happ, we salute you.
2Mortal Kombat X
Following up 2011’s excellent Mortal Kombat was no easy task for Netherrealm Studios, but with a fantastic story mode, a myriad of gameplay enhancements and a roster introducing a whole host of interesting new characters, Mortal Kombat X is more than a worthy successor.
Continuing the story from where Mortal Kombat left off, it then jumps 20 years into the future, allowing a new generation of fighters to enter the fray alongside some series favourites. With some fantastic direction and razor-sharp focus the story mode is fun from beginning to end, and gives you a nice taste of each characters’ play style. Of course, it wouldn’t be Mortal Kombat without a plethora of ways to humiliate your opponent upon their defeat, and it doesn’t disappoint in this area either. Featuring some of the most grotesque fatalities in the series to date, along with many amusing brutalities, this is one beat-em-up that is not to be missed.
As the first true racing simulator game to come to this generation of consoles, Project CARS was highly anticipated – even more so thanks to the numerous delays it faced during production. It was worth the wait though, with impeccable visuals and a massive library of cars and tracks, Slightly Mad Studios’ offering has firmly secured itself a place alongside the top-tier racing games.
Project CARS sets itself apart from the rest by offering players massive customisation options that affect handling and gameplay, allowing petrolheads to tinker around under the hood to get the best ride possible. Thanks to its success at launch, fans will be pleased to hear that a sequel is already underway.
Dying Light set itself out to be the spiritual successor to Dead Island – taking the game in a serious direction rather than the comedy route that long awaited Dead Island 2 seems to be taking. Comprising a massive and sprawling world infested by zombies of various types and varying degrees of nastiness, Dying Light is a mammoth game with upwards of 40 hours gameplay.
Impressive visuals, genuinely scary moments and tense yet rewarding fights mean that Dying Light is one of the best open world action games we’ve seen on the current generation to date… and it’s got zombies. What’s not to like?
5Ori and the Blind Forest
Released exclusively for Xbox One and PC back in March, Ori and the Blind Forest was instantly heralded as one of the greatest indie games ever released.
This metroidvania-like side scrolling adventure sets itself apart from the rest with its gorgeous fairytale like visuals, and its gut-wrenching emotional cut scenes. Whilst we found the control scheme let the game down a little, it didn’t detract from the overall experience of a beautifully-crafted game.
6Batman: Arkham Knight
Being the first Batman game to be released with the might of PlayStation 4 and Xbox One behind it, the stakes were high for Rocksteady to deliver a worthy follow up to the exceptional Arkham City. Luckily, Arkham Knight hits all the right spots to make it the best Batman game yet.
Whilst it’s a shame that the one thing that truly sets it apart from its last gen predecessors is also perhaps the most disappointing aspect of it – the Batmobile – it’s still a fitting end to the supposed trilogy that surprises and entertains in equal measure. With a whole host of missions to complete and goons to beat up, Arkham Knight offers a stunning recreation of Gotham City for you to make your personal playground.
7The Witcher 3
Based on a series of fantasy novels by the Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, CD Projekt RED’s The Witcher games are renowned for their expansive open worlds and first-rate storytelling. Knowing this, we eagerly awaited the release of the third entry into the series, Wild Hunt, and suffice to say, it did not disappoint.
The world of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is vast. Almost dauntingly so. What really stands out though is that despite its size, it’s densely populated with things to see and do. Each area has been painstakingly crafted to be unique, unlike some other cookie-cutter RPG worlds out there, and the benefit is that it gives the impression of a real, living world that doesn’t just revolve around you. Playing as Geralt of Rivia, a monster hunter with the training and modifications to tackle even the most fearsome of beasts, The Witcher 3 offers upwards of fifty hours of immersive questing as you seek to track down your adopted daughter Ciri and deal with the eponymous Wild Hunt.
Look out for our full review of The Witcher 3 coming soon.
8Life is Strange
Dontnod Entertainment’s Life is Strange might feel a little like playing out your own MTV reality show at times, but the depth of emotion and realism this game goes into is far beyond anything we’ve ever played before.
Because of its story-driven adventure “point and click” style, it’s often compared to Telltale Games’ creations, yet the immersion, believability and sympathetic character design blows the likes of The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones out of the water. Whilst not everyone may be able to relate to a high school girl as the main character, the twists and turns throughout the story means that you’re gripped from start to finish. We’re certain the last two instalments will ensure Life is Strange remains one of the top 10 games of 2015.
9The Order: 1886
A game that vastly divided the gaming community, The Order: 1886 was hit with a lot of negative press when it was released back in February. Honestly, we still don’t know why. It came under a lot of fire for being short: sure, at around seven hours to completion, it certainly isn’t the longest game ever made but boy, what seven hours they were!
The Order remains to be probably the best graphical example of just what power this generation of consoles has to offer. The recreation of Victorian London was simply immense, and the only thing the game was guilty of was making us want more. We desperately hope Ready at Dawn will announce a sequel soon.
With its soul crushing difficulty and oppressive atmosphere, Bloodborne is a harrowing game that certainly isn’t for all. For those that are brave and persist with their adventure through the horrific Yharnam however, it’s possibly one of the most rewarding games they’ll ever play.
With a combat system that proposes attack as the best means of defence, Bloodborne takes the Demon’s Souls mould and twists it, creating a unique experience that keeps players on their toes and forces them to break old habits. Survive long enough in this intricately interconnected world and you’ll discover environments that ooze character, and bosses that will truly test your resolve, all alongside a mysterious story that will have you captivated until the credits roll.