Every year, tons of video games are released into the wild for fans to enjoy. They come in all different forms, from indie adventure games to blockbuster, AAA action games. But no matter what the genre, or size of the development team, these games are made to add joy to the lives of everyone who pops them into their preferred platform. Yet, even though you get so many unique experiences, there are always a few that stand out from the crowd. Those are the games that earn that coveted Game of The Year crown.
GOTY is a reward given to a very select few titles that manage to showcase the talents of its respective studio, as well as provide an engaging experience that is either entirely new or on a scope never seen before. Although we are just a little over halfway through 2015, a few contenders for the GOTY title have already managed to show their faces. Of course, none of these titles are guaranteed the prize, but they each managed to step things up a notch in a way that just isn’t seen anywhere else this year.
Dying Light was one of the first AAA titles to grace the latest generation of consoles at the very beginning of 2015. With this new game, Techland got the chance to take the foundation of Dead Island and build one of the best action games of the year on top of it. A city under the threat of a chemical zombie infestation, a tyrannical enemy, and a mission to save innocents provided a backdrop to the biggest star Dying Light had to offer: the gameplay.
The smooth, responsive first-person parkour and combat helped to create a heart-pounding, immersive experience for players stepping out into the dangerous city of Harran. The developers managed to offer a sense of unparalleled freedom through their traversal system, while still keeping that feeling of impending doom behind every action. And let us not forget that Dying Light was one of the first games to actually push the hardware of the newest gaming machines.
While many initially didn’t know what to expect from this zombie action-survival game leading up to its release, there is no doubt that it has proven itself to be a GOTY contender that can stand with the best of them. Let’s just hope it can survive the night long enough to receive an award.
Ori and the Blind Forest
If there is one game on this list that was an instant GOTY contender, that award would have to go to Ori and the Blind Forest. Here is an indie game that went down the difficult path of delivering a game that not only had a deep meaningful story, but also some tight, truly fun gameplay. Moon Studios managed to provide both in spades as they painted one of the prettiest pictures in 2015 thus far.
Watching the gripping narrative unfold while partaking in the smooth, strategic platforming in Ori and the Blind Forest is a feeling that is unmatched by many of 2015’s releases. The sheer beauty of the whole affair is enough to warrant this game some attention, so there is no doubt that being a complete package in every sense of the word earns this game a spot as a GOTY contender.
Every year you get at least one shooter vying for the spot of GOTY, but never has one been so adorable. Nintendo’s Splatoon has managed to inject fun, levity, strategy, and color into a genre that is normally filled with sand and blood. Filled with characters who can be a “kid now” or a “squid now” at the press of a button, Splatoon has proven to be one of this year’s most pleasant surprises.
It has a solid single player campaign, but it’s the insane multiplayer that really pushes this game above and beyond. Painting an entire arena to corner your opponents and treat them to a squelching death is super fun, and strategically using your team’s paint to stealthily move around is something that never gets old. On top of all the fun, the developers have made sure to constantly provide free, sizable updates to expand on the base game.
Maybe they’ll opt for an orange and blue reward over gold, you never know.
Batman: Arkham Knight
Every Batman Arkham game has become a contender for GOTY, and for good reason. It’s a series that proved to the world that not all licensed games need to be bad. In fact, they can even be better than everything else. Batman: Arkham Knight is no different. This final entry to the series’ grim take on the caped crusader’s legend hits all of the right notes.
Finally giving into the darkness that had been steadily creeping up throughout each entry in the franchise, Arkham Knight provides a world of fear, despair, isolation, and death. It is as dark as Batman has ever been, and it is a thing of absolute beauty. It manages to tie up all of the loose ends of previous titles, and leaves fans hungering for more. On top of that, it has the most responsive, fluid combat in the entire series, and even provided fans the opportunity to get around in deadly style with the Batmobile.
It is the culmination of years of fan-service combined with top-notch gameplay and delivery, and that is exactly why it’s a GOTY contender.
When From Software announced that they were making a brand new game, fans were ecstatic. Here was the studio that had created one of the most grueling, yet rewarding, video game experiences in recent history, and they were about to bring something new to the table. When Bloodborne was revealed, many were intrigued. A game that takes the difficulty and strategy of the Souls series, but speeds it up while adding new mechanics was just what the doctor ordered. It was the perfect prescription for those looking for something great on their shiny new PS4.
With its deep story, difficult (yet fair) combat, stunning imagery, and terrifying bosses, Bloodborne managed to exist as something truly unique, yet familiar at the same time. It may look like a Souls game, but this is very much its own experience that has spawned a vast community around its torturous adventures. It is definitely a game that has hacked, slashed, and fired its way to being a GOTY contender. If it wins, there is one thing that is certain; the crown will be bathed in blood. Laundry day’s going to suck.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
It took a few years, but the long awaited sequel to The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings released earlier this year and blew everyone’s minds. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt brings a whole new level of scope to action RPGs. It’s not just the size of the world that is impressive on this GOTY contender, it’s everything found within it. Each one of the maps in Wild Hunt‘s world could be its own game with the amount of distractions and sightseeing that can be done. Then there’s the gameplay.
Challenging combat that encourages players to study their opposition, weapon and armor crafting, alchemy, spells, hunting, and a surprising amount of decision making all combine to create one of the most immersive gaming experiences of the year thus far.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is definitely a top contender for GOTY in 2015. And, if Geralt feels things may not be leaning his way, he can always cast Axii for that sure win.
Honorable GOTY Contender Mentions
Of course, there are still some games that need a bit more time before they can worm their way into that upper echelon of definite GOTY contenders. Rocket League has been out only a short while but has already mesmerized gamers with its easy to learn, yet difficult to master, over-the-top action. Time will tell if it stands the test of time as one of 2015’s premier breakout hits. Then you have Her Story which has been turning heads with its gripping narrative and refreshing delivery.
Episodic games such as Life is Strange and Tales from the Borderlands can certainly earn their place among the elites as long as their stories hold out, so they are definitely ones worth watching out for in this GOTY race. With more months to come, and the huge holiday season looming ahead, this list is bound to grow as we get closer to crowning 2015’s best game.
What do you feel about these selections? Was one of your favorites left off? Make a case for your GOTY contender in the comments below.