As we welcome the new year and all its exciting prospects and hopeful game releases, I’d like to look back on some of the games that made 2015 one of my favorite and most memorable years for gaming. This list is biased, of course, so here’s a bit about me: I’m a twenty-something writer/editor who has been gaming since Sega Genesis, and I have since developed a fierce love for role-playing games and anything with a great storyline or unique playability. I also love playing games with my friends (I mean, who doesn’t?), and I’m mostly Sony and Nintendo all the way, as far as consoles go. These factors weighed heaviest on my Top 10 of 2015, but there were still some outliers that really entertained me. I didn’t get to play all the games I wanted to – nor did I even get to hit up some of the most talked-about titles like Undertale or Life is Strange – but I did discover a lot of new favorites this year.
10. Samurai Warriors 4 II
I’ll be the first to admit hack-and-slash games can get really mindless really quickly, but I have a major soft spot for Koei’s Musou games. I attribute this fondness largely due to the local co-op, but this reboot of Samurai Warriors 4 added some features that really improved the gameplay. Character switching allows players to alternate between two characters during battle, which kept me from getting bored of the same ol’ button smashing of previous games. There are also a lot more combos you can gain with experience, and combined with the new “rage mode” (aka “but what about SECOND musou?”), there was actually more strategy involved. It’s still a Dynasty/Samurai Warriors game, so you can’t take it too seriously or expect too much, but it definitely is satisfying the see your kill score go up past 1,000. This has definitely been my favorite duo couch co-op video game of the year.
9. Exploding Kittens: NSFW Edition (Card game)
Like the Kickstarter promised, Exploding Kittens is horribly hilarious. I am in love with the card designs, and find myself cracking up randomly throughout the game. There is sort of a Sword of Damocles feel to the game each time you draw a card, and I can truthfully say that sometimes I have never been more relieved to draw a card featuring a fat cat wearing itty bitty kitty bikinis. The humor is definitely the charm of this game, and while I wish dead players had more to do while those still in game tried to kill each other with their kitty arsenals, the game is fast-paced enough that the losers don’t have to wait long before a new game can start. That being said, I’m really hoping for some expansions to add more features to the game, as the card options were a little bare. Still, the concept is fun and there isn’t too much of a learning curve, so it’s accessible to the (more mature) family. If you’re a fan of The Oatmeal, I highly recommend getting this game.
8. Magicka 2
Now here’s a game you can really enjoy playing with a larger group of friends. Magicka 2 is a light-hearted little game that allows up to four players at a time run around co-op killing your generic little baddies. The fun, however, is in the extensive combo spell-casting system that lets you create any number of element amalgamations to target or defend yourself or others. The controls are a little confusing at first, and the sheer amount of combinations you can cast is definitely overwhelming and hard to remember, but that’s really the fun of it. You panic, and stupid things happen. And you have your friends running around you also doing stupid things, and suddenly everyone’s on fire. What’s not to love? I found this game completely charming and a great couch co-op for multiple players at a time. In a gaming climate where couch co-op is a seldom-seen word, I have to give this game major props for bringing groups together while still keeping the gameplay unique.