4) Until Dawn
I am a fairly big fan of Telltalle Games. From The Wolf Among Us to Tales From the Borderlands, I like being able to relax, enjoy a good story, and feel like I am a large part of that story. This year, Supermassive Games gave Telltale a serious run for their money with Until Dawn. It wasn't just fancier graphics. Until Dawn had a dynamite B-horror movie plot that actually outshone most B-horror movies. I played it with a group of friends the night came out; a small party just to see what the game was like. They all stayed for five hours and came over the next night to finish it. That's the magic of Until Dawn. You didn't even need to be actually playing the game to be completely engrossed in it.
3) The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
I bought The Witcher 3 strictly from all of the good things I'd heard about it. I had only played a little bit of The Witcher 2 before this, and honestly, it wasn't my cup of dwarven spirit. Buying The Witcher 3 strictly on hype turned out to be one of my best gaming decisions this year. Much has been said about this game, but what honestly blew me away were the side-quests. Literally every quest felt like it mattered and every quest caused me to have an emotional response. That is quite a feat for any RPG, and I would've thought it impossible for an RPG the size of The Witcher 3. I was happily proven wrong.
2) Fallout 4
This was tough. When I started out, the number two spot was solidly reserved for The Witcher 3, not Fallout 4. The former had raised my bar on what to expect from an RPG and the latter was, well, more Fallout. Still, I had to ask myself, "Which game did I gave more fun playing?" Fallout 4, hands down. The Witcher 3 had no boring quests, but even the boring quests in Fallout 4 were fun. The combat, the feel of the wasteland, the story, while all very familiar, felt like I was coming home. The additions to this iconic series were small in number but ended up meaning a lot. Say what you will about the settlement building, I loved it. And I loved the crafting system. Bethesda came up with a pretty slick answer for hauling all of the formerly useless crap you will unwillingly and undoubtedly end up lugging around in any Fallout or Elder Scrolls game. Why the hell did I grab this entire pool ball set? Because you needed the ceramic, obviously. I definitely think Bethesda will have to take some serious risks to keep Fallout 5 fresh, but for now, the mixture of old and new is what keeps drawing me back into the Boston wasteland.
I had very little experience with FromSoftware before Bloodborne. I had seen trailers and gameplay demos of the game, and I liked the Victorian setting and how the combat seemed to flow. I decided to give Dark Souls a try about a week before Bloodborne came out to see if it interested me. I only got as far as Quelaag (amazing chest ahead!) before Bloodborne was released. I thought I was ready. I wasn't ready. Every problem I had with Dark Souls was resolved with Bloodborne. I loved the faster combat. I loved the risk vs. reward style of health renewal. I loved the setting and the mystery behind Yharnam. I loved the sense of jolly cooperation and the feeling when I finally took down a boss. Some bosses I cruised thorough, and some bosses took me hours and hours (curse you, Rom). Still, when I pushed through the defiled chalice dungeons and plunged my blade into the Yharnam Queen to finally earn the platinum trophy, I knew it was the proudest gaming achievement I'd ever attained. Bloodborne gets my top spot for all of the blood, sweat, and tears I put into it until I was finally satisfied. Fear the old blood.
Transistor and Rogue Legacy
It's a tie. Transistor is a masterpiece. From the gameplay to the soundtrack to weapon combinations to the mystery, Transistor hooked me hard. I loved the story, right down to the sad, no-wait-happy, but-still-kind-of-sad, but-ultimately-happy ending. I haven't checked how much time I've spent on Rogue Legacy, and I don't plan to. When the trophy popped for "Spend 20 hours playing the game," I thought it was a glitch. Surely, I hadn't spent 20 hours fighting the same enemies in the same castle for 20 hours. But I had, and I went on to spend another at least another 20 on beating the game and new game+, and I still haven't finished it.
Batman: Arkham Knight
I doubt it came as a surprise to many that this made it to my list. When I heard that Arkham Knight would be Rocksteady's swan song from Batman, I was both excited and devastated. Rocksteady has revived my faith in superhero games, and Arkham Knight did not disappoint. It didn't hurt that Batman is my favorite superhero and Scarecrow happened to be my favorite villain. However, that alone wouldn't have been enough to make it on my list. Everything about Arkham Knight exceeded my expectations. The story was compelling. That combat was better than ever. The Most Wanted side-quests were varied and captivating. Was the Batmobile overused? Yes, but I never got bored of it. Was the PC release an absolute disaster? Yes, but fortunately I played it on a console. Was the DLC plan ridiculous? Absolutely. The faults are there and shouldn't be ignored, but it's the notes of brilliance that Arkham Knight hit that can make me want to glide through the Gotham night sky on any random day.
I'm not into cars and I don't follow soccer. Who knew that the combination of the two would be one of my favorite games of the year?