Aria’s Game of the Year Winners – 2015

As we turn our backs on 2015, it’s time to round up our favorite games of the year. We saw a lot of excellent video games last year, and everybody has their own list of favorites. I thought that a fun way to start off the year would be to share my favorite games of 2015 with you. So, without further ado, here are the winners in my game of the year bracket:

Game of the Year – Undertale

Nominees: Undertale, The Witcher III: Wild Hunt, Fallout 4, Splatoon, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Undertale is the most unique game I played all year. It’s not the best looking game of the year, and it’s definitely not the most popular game of the year, but it’s the one that has taken up the most of my time. Not just in game time, either – Undertale is a game that stays in your head months after you play it. The RPG elements, the deep and touching story, the beautiful old-school music, memorable characters, and the sensitive way that the game deals with serious issues all make it a title that’s truly worthy of being called the 2015 game of the year. You can check out our review here.

Best Xbox One Game – Ori and the Blind Forest

Nominees: Ori and the Blind Forest, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Forza Motorsport 6, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Shovel Knight

Ori and the Blind Forest is an unforgettable experience. It’s simple, beautiful, and runs incredibly on Xbox One. This was one of the hardest decisions to make, but in the end it boils down to figuring out what Xbox One game really caught and held my attention in 2015. The other nominees are fantastic, but none of them surprised and delighted me in the way that Ori and the Blind Forest did. For me, this game was definitely the best game of the year for Xbox One. You can check out some more detailed impressions here.

Best PlayStation 4 Game – Bloodborne

Nominees: Bloodborne, Rocket League, Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, Shovel Knight

FromSoftware delivered one of the coolest, most hardcore games I’ve ever seen last year in the form of Bloodborne. The game looks beautiful, it plays smoothly, and the difficulty is brutal. The reason I chose Bloodborne is not just because of its graphics, audio, controls, and gameplay, but because of the fantastic setting in which it envelops you. It might be difficult, but it’s well worth it. Bloodborne was the best game of the year for PlayStation 4, and if you haven’t played it yet, you need to. You can check out our review here.

 Best Wii U Game – Xenoblade Chronicles X

Nominees: Xenoblade Chronicles X, Super Mario Maker, Splatoon, Runbow, Electronic Super Joy

I was almost certain that Splatoon was going to be my favorite game of the year on Wii U. Then Xenoblade Chronicles X launched in North America, and it blew my mind. I’ve been playing this game for countless hours, and I feel like I still haven’t even scratched the surface. There’s no doubt that this is the biggest, best-looking game on Wii U. While it might not be for everybody, there’s no doubt in my mind that Xenoblade Chronicles X was the best game of the year in 2015.

Best Nintendo 3DS Game – Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate

Nominees: Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, SteamWorld Heist, Yo-Kai Watch, BOXBOY!, Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold: The Fafnir Knight

Nintendo 3DS got a huge upgrade this year with the New Nintendo 3DS XL (and, later, the New Nintendo 3DS). A lot of people didn’t feel the need to upgrade, but when I first got my hands on a New Nintendo 3DS XL, I knew that it was something I had to have. I’ve played Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate on both a normal Nintendo 3DS and a New Nintendo 3DS XL, and playing on the New Nintendo 3DS XL is an absolute delight.

I love all the other nominees in this category, and I play them all very frequently (especially Yo-Kai Watch and SteamWorld Heist). However, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is the game that shows off what the 3DS can do while delivering an extremely fun, addicting, and overall fantastic experience at the same time. In my opinion, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate was the best game of the year on Nintendo 3DS.

Best PlayStation Vita Game – Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines

Nominees: Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines, OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood, The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel, Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls, Persona 4: Dancing All Night

A lot of people say that the PlayStation Vita is dead. I wholeheartedly disagree. My PlayStation Vita is one of my favorite platforms, and it had a great year in 2015 – all of the nominees for this category can testify to that. It’s a fantastic platform, and it’s full of fantastic games – games like Oreshika: Tainted BloodlinesOreshika is one of the coolest, most unique JRPGs I’ve played in a long time – and I play a lot of JRPGs.

The visuals and audio come together with smooth gameplay that feels familiar to JRPG fans but also adds new elements that are deep but easy to pick up. There’s nothing quite like falling in love with a new game, and no PS Vita game made me feel that way like Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines did. That’s why I think it was the best PlayStation Vita game of the year in 2015.

Best PC Game – Undertale

Nominees: Undertale, Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void, Her Story, SOMA, Kerbal Space Program

As you can tell by our review, I’m a huge fan of Undertale. If you haven’t played it yet, the clear EarthBound influence is probably the major theme that you see. Even when you read glowing reviews and look at the explosion of enthusiasm on the internet about Undertale, you still won’t get the full experience until you dive into the game itself. If you’ve been reading this article in a linear fashion, you already know that I think Undertale was the greatest game of the year in 2015. Here, though, we focus on its role as a PC game. Kerbal Space Program was the closest runner-up, but, for me, there’s just no contest – Undertale was the best game of the year on PC.

Best Mobile (iOS / Android) Game – Steven Universe: Attack the Light

Nominees: Steven Universe: Attack the Light, Fallout Shelter, The Room 3, Lara Croft Go, Alphabear

Mobile games used to be something that “hardcore” gamers didn’t really talk about. Games on iOS and Android were for “casual” gamers who didn’t really care about gaming. However, mobile games have proven that they’re here to stay, and that they have the potential to be amazing. Last year, we saw a lot of great mobile games. Though most writers have declared Lara Croft Go as the best mobile game of 2015, I’m going to have to disagree (despite how incredible Lara Croft Go is).

For me, the best mobile game that came out last year was Steven Universe: Attack the Light. Yes, it’s based on a Cartoon Network show (which, by the way, is pretty damn good), but it’s actually a pretty great turn-based tactical RPG. Most licensed games are made to be as simple and profitable as possible. With Attack the Light, Grumpyface Studios set out to make not just a licensed game, but a fantastic RPG. Though you should definitely be playing Fallout Shelter and Lara Croft Go, I think that Steven Universe: Attack the Light was the mobile game of the year for 2015.

Best Role-Playing Game – The Witcher III: Wild Hunt

Nominees: The Witcher III: Wild Hunt, Undertale, Fallout 4, Xenoblade Chronicles X, Pillars of Eternity

This one seems obvious, though the choice was harder than you might think. RPG fans got a lot of incredible games last year – the nominees for this category are just a few of the awesome offerings that were on the table for RPG gamers in 2015. Objectively, though, there is no doubt that The Witcher III: Wild Hunt was the best RPG in 2015. It has it all: a captivating story, fantastic characters, deep side quests, excellent combat, and absolutely beautiful graphics and audio. There’s no doubt in my mind that The Witcher III: Wild Hunt was the best role-playing game of the year in 2015.

Best Sports Game – Rocket League

Nominees: Rocket League, FIFA 16, Madden NFL 16, NBA 2K16, OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood

Rocket League took over many lives in 2015. It’s not a traditional sports game, and it’s definitely not what most people expect to be nominated as “Best Sports Game of 2015.” But that’s what makes it special. Rocket League is absolutely ridiculous, and it’s fantastic. Matches are colorful and intense, and it’s simply a joy to play.

Of all the nominees, only Rocket League and OlliOlli 2 made me feel like I was playing something new. Of those two, Rocket League is easily the better, more addicting game. If Rocket League is available on a platform you own, you should be playing it right now. If it’s not, just hold on for a bit – it’ll make its way over there eventually. No matter what, though, we won’t soon forget about Rocket League, the best sports game of the year in 2015.

Best Massively Multiplayer Online Game – Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward

Nominees: Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward, Onigiri, H1Z1, The Elder Scrolls Online, Destiny: The Taken King

MMOs are hard to review or give accolades because they’re not like other games. They’re a digital community that is constantly evolving and changing. Personally, I’ve spent more time with The Elder Scrolls Online and Onigiri than I have with Final Fantasy XIV, but I know that Final Fantasy XIV is the superior title. With the Heavensward expansion, Final Fantasy XIV became the best MMO currently available. It looks great, feels great, and has a pretty awesome community as well as a captivating story. That’s why I think Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward was the best MMO of the year.

Best Shooter – Splatoon

Nominees: Splatoon, Call of Duty: Black Ops III, Star Wars Battlefront, Halo 5: Guardians, Destiny: The Taken King

Trying to figure out which game was the best shooter of 2015 was a difficult task. I dove back into the nominees and tried to figure it out, and I came back with one conclusion: Splatoon is the most daring, unique, and all-around fun shooter that I played in 2015. Nobody expected it. A new IP from Nintendo that’s an online shooter? There’s no way that could work! However, it did, and it worked very well. The mechanics are solid, the gameplay is smooth, and it’s just a blast to play. Despite the harsh competition, the beautiful, unique feeling of Splatoon makes it the best shooter of 2015. You can check out our review here.

Best Multiplayer – Call of Duty: Black Ops III

Nominees: Call of Duty: Black Ops III, Splatoon, Halo 5: Guardians, Star Wars Battlefront, Destiny: The Taken King

There were a lot of awesome multiplayer experiences in 2015. All of the nominees are absolutely fantastic. Splatoon‘s matchmaking is quick and effective, Halo 5‘s warzone mode is an absolutely blast, Battlefront makes Star Wars fantasies come true, and Destiny‘s The Taken King expansion took its multiplayer to a whole new level. When I broke everything down, though, I couldn’t help but think that Call of Duty: Black Ops III provided the all-around best multiplayer experience of 2015.

Whether you’re playing co-op campaign (or the nightmare campaign), the classic multiplayer mode(s), or the zombies mode, the multiplayer experience is amazing – it was the best multiplayer experience of 2015. You can check out our review here.

Best Racing Game – Forza Motorsport 6

Nominees: Forza Motorsport 6, Need for Speed, Project CARS, FAST Racing NEO, F1 2015

Racing games weren’t really on my radar this year, but a few definitely caught my eye. Out of all of them, Forza Motorsport 6 was the best racing game I played in 2015. First off, the graphics are mind-blowing. Add that to the realistic cars, the incredible audio, and the intuitive gameplay, and you’ve got the best racing game of the year.

Best Action/Adventure Game – Rise of the Tomb Raider

Nominees: Rise of the Tomb Raider, Just Cause 3, Batman: Arkham Knight, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, Mad Max

There were a lot of great action/adventure games in 2015. Just Cause made a return, the Batman Arkham series brought its fantastic finale to the world (check out our review here), Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate showed us a deliciously dark London (our review is here), and the Mad Max video game was awesome. And, of course, Rise of the Tomb Raider took the awesome 2013 reboot and made the series even better.

Rise of the Tomb Raider was my favorite action/adventure game of 2015 because everything about it just felt right. Playing as Lara is a fantastic experience, and the graphics and audio make it even better. All of the nominees were great, but, in my opinion, Rise of the Tomb Raider was the best action/adventure game of the year in 2015.

Best Rhythm Game – Guitar Hero Live

Nominees: Guitar Hero Live, Rock Band 4, Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai DX, Persona 4: Dancing All Night

It’s been a long time since we’ve seen a Guitar Hero game, but last year we finally got another one, and it was by far the best rhythm game of 2015. The newly designed guitar controller, the unique first-person career mode, and the ridiculously addicting GHTV all come together to create a package that combines great music with fun gameplay. There are a lot of great rhythm games that came out in 2015 (I was almost certain that I’d be picking either Persona 4: Dancing All Night or Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai DX for this category), but Guitar Hero Live is the only one that I can’t stop playing. You can check out our review here.

Best Fighting Game – Mortal Kombat X

Nominees: Mortal Kombat X, Dragon Ball Xenoverse, WWE 2K16, J-Stars Victory Vs. +, Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax

Mortal Kombat X is an amazing fighting game. NetherRealm has crafted an excellent combat experience that’s a blast to play. The fatalities are brutal, and the entire game looks and plays great. The base game is great, but when you take into account the DLC for Mortal Kombat X, you’ve got a package that’s hard to beat. No fighting game in 2015 came close to being more engrossing and addicting as Mortal Kombat X.

Best Horror Game – SOMA

Nominees: SOMA, Until Dawn, Resident Evil: Revelations 2, Bloodborne, Sylvio

There’s no combat in SOMA. There is only suspense. Frictional Games, the twisted minds behind the Amnesia series, brought their horrific imaginations underwater last year with the brilliant SOMA. There’s not a whole lot I can say about the story without spoiling it for you, but you can rest assured that SOMA is one of the developer’s best works. I haven’t played anything like it, and it was definitely the best horror game of 2015.

Best Visual Novel / Graphic Adventure – Life is Strange

Nominees: Life is Strange, Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series, Tales from the Borderlands: A Telltale Games Series, Steins;Gate, Corpse Party: Blood Drive

Life is Strange hit me hard in a lot of ways. Throughout my time with the five episodes of Life is Strange, I laughed, cried, and, most importantly, fell in love with the game. The game takes a lot of extremely personal and intense subjects and brings them together in a world that’s believable and completely engrossing. For days, I lived in the world of Life is Strange, and it was a great experience. The game also boasts a fantastic soundtrack and score, and the hand-drawn visuals blend with excellent voice acting to create what is undoubtedly the greatest visual novel / graphic adventure of the year.

Comeback of the Year – Guitar Hero Live

Nominees: Guitar Hero Live, Rock Band 4, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege, Halo 5: Guardians

There were a lot of franchises that made a comeback last year, and some did better than others (cough, cough, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5). The best by far, though, was the glorious return of Guitar Hero. The controller redesign along with the addition of GHTV changed Guitar Hero from “that game that gave rise to Rock Band” to the best rhythm game around. Again, you can read our review here.

Best Re-Release or Remaster – Rare Replay

Nominees: Rare Replay, Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition, Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin (Current-Gen Consoles), Borderlands: The Handsome Collection

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: We’ve come to a point in gaming when we’re constantly bombarded with re-releases and remastered versions of games that we’ve already played. At first, it was pretty annoying. Even now, it can get annoying. But the truth is that there are a lot of gems among the re-releases and remasters. We saw quite a few in 2015, but the best by far was Rare Replay. 

This collection took a huge collection of iconic video games from a beloved developer and packed them all together into a bundle that’s accessible both to newcomers and Rare fanatics. From the old-school ZX Spectrum games to the Banjo-Kazooie series to the Viva Piñata series, most of Rare’s greatest hits are here in their full glory – including the original, uncensored N64 version of Conker’s Bad Fur Day. There’s no doubt in my mind that Rare Replay was the best re-release / remaster collection that was released in 2015. You can check out our review here.

Best Downloadable Content – Destiny: The Taken King

Nominees: Destiny: The Taken King, Splatoon DLC (Various), Dragon Age Inquisition: Trespasser, Shovel Knight: Plague of Shadows

Destiny was a hit as soon as it launched, but there were issues with the game – a lot of issues. Almost everyone was playing it, but not everyone knew why they were online. Everything changed with Destiny: The Taken King. In fact, more people played Destiny: The Taken King on launch day than on the original launch date of Destiny. A revamped quest system, new gear, an actual story, and more multiplayer options are just a few of the reasons that The Taken King completely transformed Destiny from a good game into a great one – and that’s why it was the best DLC in 2015.

There were some incredible games in 2015, and there are even more coming in 2016. Just to name a few, we’ve got DOOM, Persona 5, Far Cry Primal, No Man’s Sky, Zelda Wii U, Final Fantasy XV (hopefully), and Yooka-Laylee to look forward to.

What were your favorite games of 2015? What games are you most looking forward to in 2016? Let us know in the comments, and keep checking back with Load the Game for the latest in gaming news, reviews, and previews.