It’s part two of our romp through the best games of 2015, and after yesterday’s concentration of offbeat indie hits, here are … well, a few more. We did warn you this was a highly subjective list.
20. Galak Z (PC/PS4)
The aesthetic is borrowed from 1980s Saturday morning cartoons, the kind where a boyish Japanese hero space pilot takes down the hulking alien monster while successfully negotiating a field of asteroids. Yet, behind the bluster, this is a game about learning how to deal with disaster when, for example, you’re quaking in some forsaken space cave, shields depleted, wondering how on earth you can make it home to the mothership in one piece. Designed by Jake Kazdal, who worked alongside Tetsuya Mizuguchi on the seminal shooter Rez, it’s a good-looking game too. But the real beauty lies in the disasters into which you’re thrusted even if, for some players, their demands will be a little too stratospheric.
19. N++ (PS4)
The arcade rhythms of N++ are almost instinctively familiar. This is a game in which you repeat the same actions, time and again, in a quest to master spatial reasoning. Your character, a diminutive ninja, lives for just 90 seconds. In that time, you must attempt to traverse five deadly rooms. It’s not the most novel or affecting premise, and yet, N++ feels freshly essential (as well as bulky: there are around two thousand challenge rooms to tackle). As with all the very best twitch classics, the journey from beginner to master is told not via new abilities for your avatar, but rather in your hands and muscle memory. You leave an expert – albeit one in a uselessly particular dimension.
18. Tales from Borderlands (multiple formats)
Like Traveller’s Tales with the Lego titles, Telltale provides a factory production line capable of taking any gaming, movie or television franchise and turning it into something smart, entertaining and often hilarious. Though Game of Thrones and Minecraft: Story Mode also shined this year, it’s this spin off from the Gearbox RPG shooters that we really enjoyed, thanks to its excellent characters, genuinely funny script and expert understanding of a narrative universe where tragedy and belly laughs are only ever a laser blast apart.
17. Invisible Inc (PC/Mac/PS4)
A title pun worthy of the purest stealth game this year, Invisible Inc. also boasts greater beauty and urgency than any turn-based strategy title has a right to. You have 72 hours to save your spy agency by infiltrating 2074’s megacorps, siphoning power and funds with the odds firmly stacked against you, even with a vital rewind function. Its recent expansion doubled the length of a campaign already worth revisiting due to its extensive customisation and character selection; who you bring along will radically alter your playstyle.
16. Super Mario Maker (Wii U)
At one time or another, we’ve all secretly thought: ‘Hey, that Shigeru Miyamoto is a complete hack; I could do better.’ Well now we have a chance. Super Mario Maker is a deceptively powerful creation tool, allowing just about anyone to construct their own platforming levels and share them with the world. Although it’s deep and complex, Nintendo knows how to design an interface that works, so making stuff is as much fun as playing. Of course, we all immediately realise that Miyamoto is in fact a genius, but maybe that’s the point.
- The Guardian Games ‘Review of the Year’ is taking place at the Guardian’s Scott Room on Thursday evening, 7-8.30pm. Featuring Keith Stuart, writers Simon Parkin and Cara Ellison and game developer Mike Bithell, we’ll look back at 2015, with mince pies and a giant (free!) Xmas tombola with amazing prizes! Tickets available here.
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