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Andrew Barker's Awards

5) Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance
As a fan of Disgaea, and knowing each new entry is much like the last, I had high hopes for Disgaea 5. Fortunately, they were met. While Alliance of Vengeance features essentially the same gameplay as its predecessors, its new features and fine-tuning streamlines the notoriously grind-focused gameplay. And, as always, the main characters and story are filled with laugh out loud moments. If you like Disgaea, then buying Disgaea 5 is a no-brainer, but if you've never been a fan, then it's unlikely to change your mind.

4) Grim Fandango Remastered
The original Grim Fandango passed me by, but as a fan of point-and-click adventures, it was a game I had always wanted to play. This year my wish was granted with Grim Fandango Remastered. I enjoyed it so much I barely did anything else over the few days it took me to play through. Manny Calavera is one of the best adventure game protagonists, and the script is continually witty and hilarious. A few puzzles had me scratching my head for a little too long, but overall Grim Fandango deserves its reputation as a classic.

3) The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D
Majora's Mask was never one of my favourite Zelda games, but I did enjoy playing it again with improved visuals on 3DS. The unusual "down the rabbit hole"-style story and unsettling themes and characters make it a memorable entry, and a great variety of puzzles, equipment and masks support terrifically original side-quests. The back-tracking and jumbled level design are still annoying, but Majora's Mask 3D is a great game that should not be missed.

2) Tales of Zestiria
Returning to the series' roots, Tales of Zestiria is a JRPG of magic, knights, princesses and dragons — a refreshing change of pace from the bland sci-fi of Xillia. With fast-paced combat in the style of Graces F, Zestiria delivers one of the most enjoyable combat mechanics in the series yet: Armatization, where you can fuse characters together to create a single powerful being. The story rarely rises above competent, but a terrific cast of characters with fun lines and bright personalities brings the game alive.

1) The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt creates a rich world that all western RPGs aspire to but rarely manage to achieve; a world so detailed that it truly feels alive. Wild Hunt features a massive semi-open world with hundreds of locations to explore, quests to take on, characters to interact with and original stories and ideas to keep you hooked. The gritty combat system makes you feel like a real Witcher, and the story remains thrilling from beginning to end. Wild Hunt isn't just the best game of 2015, it's one of the best games of all time.

Honorable Mention

Ar nosurge Plus: Ode to an Unborn Star
I didn't play Ar nosurge when it was first released on PS3, but I'm glad I didn't miss my chance when it arrived on Vita in its "Plus" form this year. Ar nosurge tells a captivating sci-fi story with an interesting cast of characters, unique battle system and a lovely musical score. So why didn't it make my Top 5 list? The gameplay is mediocre and playing its untranslated predecessor, Ciel nosurge, is practically a requirement to understand the story. Still, the game deserves a mention for its original concept and because I thoroughly enjoyed it anyway.

Best DLC/Expansion

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt — Hearts of Stone
Arguably even better than the base game, Hearts of Stone is an exceptional expansion to an already outstanding game. This expansion gives protagonist Geralt some chances to open up and show a softer, goofier side. While the overall content is just as dark as Wild Hunt, Hearts of Stone provides a few lighter moments along with new monsters to fight, new quests to conquer and a few interesting new characters. I rarely buy expansions or DLC, but Hearts of Stone is money well spent.