Sony Computer Entertainment

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

5

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

In Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, you’re the villain. In fact, you’re every villain. You wage a war you believe in, against an enemy who stands for everything you despise, who’s wronged you in the past, and against whom vengeance must be wrought. You will become an evil brand, like Spectre or Weyland Yutani or the Umbrella Corporation, and build an enormous base of operations to be filled with soldiers fighting for your cause. Just how do villains amass armies of individuals with which to do their bidding, the kinds of individuals you kill by the dozen without a care in other games? By tranquilizing enemies on the battlefield and recruiting them instead of killing them, smartly subverting shooter-game convention as part of this game’s espionage action. For the first time in the Metal Gear Solid series, Hideo Kojima’s complicated narrative takes a backseat to gameplay, which moves effortlessly between third-person stealth action in open-world theaters of war and a deep, addictive villain simulator. You control the expansion of your base and the role each soldier plays as the territory you conquer expands, and wage war on others who might attempt the same—while taking your soldiers on missions across the world, in settings that are gorgeously detailed and full of unique, varied, addictive, blood-pumping thrills. Aston

The 25 Best Video Games of 2015

4

Bloodborne

Though always a shining example of artistry, level design, and tiny, beautiful, emergent moments of story waiting to be found out in the world, FromSoftware’s Souls series remains better known to most for its unforgiving difficulty than its accomplishments in world building. Bloodborne is an earnest, powerful attempt to change that. The essence of the series remains, with its deliberate (albeit slightly faster) approach to combat, brilliantly labyrinthine stages, and crowd-sourced help or hindrance composing the core of the experience. This time, however, the ruined, diseased world of Yharnam, the increasing psychotic delirium of its people, and the incredible fever-dream terrors around its every corner cannot be ignored. This is Lovecraft by way of old-school Cronenbergian body horror, a place that will consistently, effectively distress and disturb with just as equal measure as it will consistently and effectively kill you. Yharnam is a place where you can witness every friend and enemy desperately praying to God, and the game takes a vicious glee in pointing out that this deity is on the wrong side. The term “survival horror” will never be more accurate for another game than it is for Bloodborne. Clark

The 25 Best Video Games of 2015

3

Batman: Arkham Knight

There have been plenty of stories showing what might happen the day the Batman reaches his expiration date, be it by hanging up his cape and cowl or by his own messy death. What few stories deep-dive into, save for Batman: Arkham Knight, is the character’s mortality. The fundamentals of playing as the Batman remain steadfast throughout the game, with winged flight and fluid, hard-hitting combat now joining actual detective work for once, but being the Batman has an unexpected, harrowing urgency here. Taking down all of Gotham’s worst enemies in one night is the last gift the Batman can give to his city before he fades into nothing; all the while, the taunting, unrelenting specter of the Joker takes him through all of his sins and failures. The bravery of being the Bat, as the commercials consistently urged, isn’t in saving the day from the rogue’s gallery for the thousandth time, but in moving forward and saving the day, knowing for an absolute fact that, one way or another, failure is certain. In Arkham Knight, the Batman truly becomes a legend, simply by the sheer force of will it takes to take a superhero’s worst hits and keep pushing forward. Clark

The 25 Best Video Games of 2015

2

Until Dawn

I was devastated when, near the end of Until Dawn, I lost Sam. The refreshingly level-headed young woman provided a much-needed moral and emotional counterweight to the constant bickering and scheming by the rest of the gang blockaded in the game’s besieged mountain lodge. Yet, going back for another crack at saving her was never an option. For all of the trite, unsophisticated mechanics—a simplistic QTE here, a binary branching path there—forced by Supermassive upon their teen slasher in an obvious effort to keep fingers as busy as eyes and ears, their one crucial decision is both brave and brilliantly effective: refusing the player’s prerogative to a second attempt. Ever so often, it’s the cheapness of the reload that lowers the stakes and kills off immersion, especially in more narrative-driven games. Until Dawn works as effectively as a Scream marathon not because of its jump scares; these just punctuate the constantly rising tension produced by the awareness that a momentary lapse of concentration, a single mispress (your lapse, your mispress) can unceremoniously, and irreversibly, terminate a character you’ve grown fond of. It also serves as a reality check to horror fans blaming the body count on the mind-boggling stupidity of implausible characters. The blood on your thumbs means you’ll never be as haughty shouting advice to panicky teenagers at the screen again. Chatziioannou

The 25 Best Video Games of 2015

1

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

The biggest issue with open-world games is that they so often end up feeling empty, or populated with repetitive filler quests in order to give a sense of depth. Part of the magic in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is that it doesn’t waste an inch of its territory. That keep in the distance that’s fallen into disrepair? Chances are it’s housing a terrible secret, or, at worst, a hidden cache of treasure. That’s no mistake either. Whereas some games put the emphasis on discovering new and ever-more-powerful loot, Wild Hunt is too focused to be distracted by shiny objects. Its best content is in the narrative, and there’s arguably a greater variety of monster-hunting quests than weapons to collect. Simply put, there’s a richness to the folklore- or fairy-tale-inspired monster hunts—a house undone by tragedy and betrayal, a vengeful wrath summoned up by injustice—that compels players to scout out every inch of the game’s territory (as if the poetry of a moonlit copse or the sunset from a mountainside vistas wasn’t already enough). The beauty of the game is tempered by the ugliness of the monsters (this sometimes refers to the acts of deplorable humans), just as the fantasy setting is given a solid foundation thanks to political machinations that would make Game of Thrones proud. Wild Hunt, then, feels far more real and important than its individual parts. Whereas other titles may captivate or spellbind an audience for a few hours, this game’s mature narrative manages the singular feat of keeping players invested for nearly 100 hours. Riccio

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