Sony Computer Entertainment

The 25 Best Video Games of 2015
The 25 Best Video Games of 2015

15

Tales from the Borderlands

The stark contrast between the Borderlands FPS titles and Telltale Games's adventure-game magnum opus is encapsulated by the music in its opening credits. Where Borderlands uses down-and-dirty soul to remind you that you're the bad guy and to go out and get as much swag as you can, Tales from the Borderlands's opening needle drops evolve over its five episodes from money-making R&B to spacey, soulful laments to the loss of friends, and the need for us to become better people so as to get them back. It's almost miraculous what Telltale does with Gearbox's aggressively cynical cash cow. The greed and homicidal mirth at the series's core shifts into unerring positivity and lightness across 10 hours, delivering just the right amount of biting sarcasm, madcap physical comedy, and high-speed treasure-hunting adventure along the way. It's helped, more than anything, by Telltale doing what they do best: crafting characters worth caring about, and who actually grow even more endearing or compelling with time. The worst scumbag in Tales from the Borderlands gets an affecting moment of vulnerability. The sweetest, most unerringly wonderful character in the game finds themselves in the deepest peril of all. Having such total control over both situations is an absolute joy. It's just about as perfect as a game narrative can get. Clark

The 25 Best Video Games of 2015

14

Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture

Like the best science fiction, Everybody's Gone to the Rapture balances on the edge of the tangible human experience. At the outermost bounds of known reality, spacemen surely are prone to ponder the intermingling of physical and spiritual existence, but here, we're just walking around English villages and countryside. Graphically, the game world is stunning (second only to the unbelievable fidelity of last year's The Vanishing of Ethan Carter), but its mundanity is palpable compared to the fantastical, extra-dimensional worlds common in sci-fi. This game captivates, then, by collapsing the plainness of our world and the vastness of worlds beyond our space-time reality into one. Here, too, there's no one around except ghosts and memories in the form of glowing spirals and orbs of floating and swooping (and sometimes talking) light; there's very little to do other than contemplate the nature of their, and one's own, existence. The overall lack of things to do other than walk, look, and listen is actually quite refreshing. After all, when the night sky looks as deep and starry as this, and the time-lapse into day entrances with its thousands of shifting shadows from nearby trees, and the convincing voices of spirits lead us on, there doesn't need to be much more than looking and listening. Chinworth

The 25 Best Video Games of 2015

13

Tearaway Unfolded

Early on in Tearaway Unfolded, players are tasked with using the in-game collaging tools to design a butterfly. It's a small and simple action, but it speaks to the way in which Media Molecule urges users to engage in a more creative and immersive way than usual—to play, so to speak, with the way in which they play. In a nod to the so-called “butterfly effect,” this imaginative choice continues to have ramifications throughout the game, as any butterfly encountered down the road will look similar to the one players designed. Those who take the time to teach a mushroom how to dance will notice fellow festive fungi later on. The meta storytelling consistently emphasizes that this is as much the player's journey as Atoi's—the equivalent, then, of a bedtime story told to oneself. Given all these small and intimate touches, Tearaway Unfolded isn't just a reinvention of its Vita version, it's a constant celebration of invention itself, and one of the few games where players will be proud enough of their progress to actually want to show off what they've done using the in-game camera. Riccio

The 25 Best Video Games of 2015

12

Super Mario Maker

Ever since Super Mario Bros. captured the hearts and minds of gamers worldwide, fans have wanted to devise their own Mario levels. And they have: From simple sketches on graph paper all the way through to complicated rom hacks, making Mario levels has been a popular but untapped market. Until now. The sublime Super Mario Maker's major achievement isn't just that it offers incredibly robust tools with which to creatively design fun and engaging levels across multiple generations of Mario games that can be played and shared across the world instantly, but that those tools are offered in such a fun, user-friendly package. The inaccessibility that encumbers LittleBigPlanet and similarly esoteric video games with a strong emphasis on user-generated content is gloriously absent here: Super Mario Maker is an uncomplicated tool that can be used to make both simple and infinitely complex creations without hours of tutorials. More than that, it's a celebration of the fandom that Nintendo has cultivated from its popular series about an unlikely plumber who battles living mushrooms and oversized lizards to rescue Princess Peach. Aston

The 25 Best Video Games of 2015

11

Off-Peak

What a joy to play video games in a time when a single mind can take hold of the game-creation tools becoming freely available to gamers and—dare I say—author the hour-long weirdness and beauty that is Off-Peak. Cosmo D's first-person exploration might be called creepy, Lynchian, or surreal, but it's spatial above all else. Everything runs together. We're tasked with a simple collectathon at its outset, but soon the pure discovery of the game's magnificent train station is driving our exploration. Something funny is going on though, and our unimpeded exploration gets us in a bit of trouble; we're reprimanded not with a restart, but with an inventive use of perspective and teleportation. The transition back to the station's main hall feels like a dream, and so does the massive whale model hanging under the colorful, powdery nebulae painted on the ceiling we find ourselves gazing up at. With space at the heart of the quest, exploration, and narrative, it's only fitting that the best game soundtrack of the last five years is spatial as well. The thickly layered and rich synths, horns, and woodwinds hypnotize as they transition between tracks as we move between spaces. Chinworth

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