Figuring out the best game of 2015 is a pretty subjective task, leading to complaints about something that didn't make the list. There are many games that have become permanent fixtures due to their creativity or sheer scale. There were great games across platforms, but what were the best of 2015?
This list was compiled using Metacritic scores, reviews from sites like Polygon and "Best Of" lists from the Guardian and the New Yorker.
This may be the greatest game ever, maybe. "Undertale" was a great old school role-playing game (RPG) that garnered a widely devoted fan base. The fandom was so strong, "Undertale" steamrolled the competition in GameFAQs' "Best. Game. Ever" poll. "Undertale" defeated "Pokemon Red/Blue," "Super Mario World" and "Zelda: Ocarina of Time."
"'Undertale' combines charming characters, smart writing, and a unique combat system to make one of this fall's biggest surprises," Austin Walker wrote in his Giant Bomb review. "Undertale may not be the prettiest game at the ball, but it is a fantastic, unique take on a classic genre that defies all expectations," Game Informer's review read.
"Life Is Strange" (PS3, PS4, PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
The episodic interactive drama isn't quite the sure-fire hit as a few of the other titles on the list, but the creative storytelling of "Life Is Strange" makes up for uneven episodes. Eurogamer's review notes there are some clunky elements — OK graphics, odd dialogue choices, some "teen angst" -- but the storytelling more than made up for that. "Despite its many flaws, I can't help but think of it as one of the best interactive story games of this generation," Aoife Wilson wrote. On Steam, there were 29,775 positive reviews and just 971 negative reviews.
"Splatoon" (Wii U)
The Wii U, quietly, had some of the best exclusives of 2015. In the age of multiplayer shooters, "Splatoon" ditches gritty realism for bright rhythmic fun. "Nintendo’s take on the third-person shooter is refreshingly original, with lots of impressive tools, skillful mobility, and creative maps to play with," IGN's review read.
"Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain" (PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One, PC)
It turns out "Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain" would be game designer Hideo Kojima's last title with Konami. There was as much discussion regarding Kojima's employment and Konami's treatment of its employees as the game itself. "Metal Gear V" is a massive game that marks yet another high point in Kojima's career.
"The Witcher 3" (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
Talk about a coming-out party. "The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt" gave players everything they wanted in an open-world game. Beautiful scenery, great characters and incredible quests. Many open worlds feature plenty of side quests, but "The Witcher 3" gave those events new life that never seemed like it was filler. "This is one of the best role-playing games ever crafted, a titan among giants and the standard-setter for all such games going forward," Gamespot's review read.
"Fallout 4" (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
"Fallout 4" is a tricky game to place, but it's hard to argue about its significance. The game is a huge commercial and critical success, but there were a few hiccups along the way. Some fans are disappointed about the overall experience with the thought that "Fallout 4" felt a bit flat. It was huge, but hollow despite the addition of a crafting system and settlement construction. There were bugs and glitches, but there was also a game that modders loved tinkering with. "'Fallout 4' feels like wandering through a giant, haunted city, and I want to know every secret it has," Polygon's review read.
FromSoftware's "Dark Souls" franchise is known for its crushing difficulty, so it's no surprise "Bloodborne" was a challenging game. What has put "Bloodborne" atop many year-end lists is the incredible gameplay and rich story found within all those battles and tough bosses. "The most rewarding game experience I've had this year," Kotaku's Patrick Keplek wrote.
"Her Story" (PC, Mobile)
Can you uncover the truth? "Her Story" is a unique game experience because critical thinking is the only skill required. One woman is interviewed regarding a murder, but the taped sessions are in no particular order. The story unravels differently for each player, which only adds to further speculation about what really happened. "'Her Story' has all the drama and intrigue of the best TV crime shows, but plays to the interactive strengths of the medium in a daring, imaginative way, trusting you to make sense of the scattered jigsaw pieces at your own pace," PC Gamer said in its review.
"Super Mario Marker" (Wii U)
Nintendo put Mario in the hands of the players. "Super Mario Maker" lets individuals create levels they could have only dreamed of in past games. This leads to imaginative levels filled with engaging puzzles. Other creators have decided "Super Mario Maker" was best used as a tool to torture and frustrate players.
"Until Dawn" (PS4)
If you loved "Cabin in the Woods," you'll likely enjoy "Until Dawn." The game plays around with horror conventions to usurp player expectations. "Until Dawn succeeds in being a thoughtful use of familiar mechanics, a great achievement in player-driven narrative, and a horror game you shouldn't miss," Gamespot wrote in its review.
"Rocket League" (PS4, PC, Xbox One)
Combine cars, soccer and a complete disregard for physics and you'll have something that resembles "Rocket League." The small-budget game is just so much fun to play. Gamers and nongamers alike can grab a controller and just have a blast watching a car flip in the air to hit a ball and score an impossible goal. "It's easy to pick up, nearly impossible to put down, and tuned to perfection," Polygon wrote.
"Tales From The Borderlands" (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
The "Borderlands" series is a fun action franchise, but Telltale Games did a pretty unique thing by expanding the universe to create a compelling story. Telltale removed the best aspect of "Borderlands" — the frenetic action — for episodic narrative content to create one of the best games of the year. "What at first may resemble a licensed cash-in for a popular shooter has turned into Telltale's finest work to date," Eurogamer said in its review.
"Rise Of The Tomb Raider" (Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS4, PC)
Lara Croft is doing quite well for herself in the current console cycle. The "Tomb Raider" reboot was well-received and "Rise of the Tomb Raider" furthers the adventures of a young Croft as she becomes a legendary action hero. The Xbox exclusivity may dampen some of the excitement surrounding the game, but that shouldn't exclude "Rise of the Tomb Raider" from year-end lists. "'Rise of the Tomb Raider' raises the bar set by Lara’s last outing with a rollicking adventure story, strong villains, gorgeous vistas, and smart puzzles — go off the main path to find the best stuff in dastardly optional tombs," IGN's review read.
"Kerbal Space Program" (PC, PS4, Xbox One, Wii U)
It's weird to think "Kerbal Space Program" was released in 2015. The game has long been playable in its beta form, but it finally got an official release earlier this year. Players are in control of their own space program and it's up to them to create new spacecraft and explore space. Players are free to create whatever they like, but it has to be able to actually fly. "The entire process — from failure, to revision, to hope, to euphoric completion — cemented for me why Kerbal Space Program is one of the best games on PC," PC Gamer's Phil Savage wrote.
"You Must Build A Boat" (Mobile)
The game's title gives away most of what to expect from "You Must Build A Boat." Into the said creation of a seaworthy vessel, players must recruit crew and complete "Match 3" puzzles to clear obstacles as they explore dungeons. For those who love playing games on the go, but are tired of simple puzzle clones, this game is a great adventure.
"Xenoblade Chronices X" (Wii U)
Another Wii U exclusive is among the best games of 2015. Another game that features a large, open world full of wonderful adventures, "Xenoblade Chronicles X" is considered by many to be the best RPG of the year. "The tumultuous alien world is an artistically breathtaking landscape full of hostile foes to fight, terrain to explore, and a near-endless supply of quests to complete," IGN's Jose Otero wrote in his review.
"Everybody's Gone To The Rapture" (PS4)
Players are left to puzzle out what exactly happened in Yaughton Valley. Everyone has disappeared, and it's up to the unidentified player to explore the town for clues. The game moves a bit slowly, but it rewards a player's commitment to the story. "Playing 'Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture' gave me the sensation of hearing a Gregorian chant or of watching sunlight bend through stained glass, the ecstasy of mystery," Kotaku's Chris Sullentrop wrote.
"Ori And The Blind Forest" (Xbox One, PC)
A game that's as beautiful to look at as it is to play. "Ori and the Blind Forest" is a different kind of platform game that follows Ori's quest to restore the forest. Players can develop new skills required to overcome complex challenges. "'Ori and the Blind Forest' is a rare realization of fantastic design and production values in a space where I wasn't expecting to find it," Arthur Geis wrote in his review for Polygon.
Here's a fun platformer that has players traveling downward, clearing obstacles and avoiding enemies. It's simple, but well-balanced. "The magic is in the game’s feel — both twitchy and smooth, painted in a striking palette of black, white, and red," the New Yorker wrote on its year-end list.
"Pillars Of Eternity" (PC)
Obsidian Entertainment has a track record of making great sequels to beloved titles, whether it's Obsidian "Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords" or "Fallout New Vegas." "Pillars of Eternity" is a new property from Obsidian that promises to take gamers back to the glory days of classic RPGs. The developer put pressure on itself, raising $4 million on Kickstarter by promising a spiritual successor to "Baldur's Gate" and "Planescape: Torment." "This is a great RPG, and it’s one worth your time, even if you don’t know what a Bhaalspawn is," Jason Shreier wrote for Kotaku.