Over the course of 2015, a number of games went under the radar and ended up being overlooked by the gaming community. Here are our choices of the best.
With the development and marketing budgets of top tier games ever growing, 2015 has seen the release of a number of juggernauts. Gaming has become a huge media business, and it’s no surprise to see some of these colossal games going on to smash sales estimates and gain huge fan acclaim.
Alongside behemoths such as Fallout 4, which managed to earn $100 million in digital sales in just three days, there have been a number of other games that have had a huge impact on those that played them, without the sales figures and popularity that they possibly deserve. These games may not have had the pull of the likes of Metal Gear Solid 5 or Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, but they have proved to be some of the most enjoyable or memorable games of the year. Here are Game Rant’s picks of the five best underrated and lesser known games of 2015.
When it comes to horror-themed video games, it’s not just major franchises such as Resident Evil and Silent Hill that provide the effective scares that gamers crave. Instead, the independent scene has seen a wealth of new indie horror games bubble to the surface over recent years, often providing chills that their AAA counterparts have been unable to provide. This year saw plenty of indie horrors hit the market, and one of the best of the bunch was undoubtedly SOMA.
Created by famed Amnesia: The Dark Descent developer Frictional Games, SOMA continued the studio’s determination to provide as tense a gameplay experience as possible. Throwing the player into the terrifying underwater facility of PATHOS-II, the title builds upon the scares of Frictional’s most famous release. On top of that, SOMA also holds an emotional impact, with a plot that asks questions about the player’s most important decisions.
Crypt of the NecroDancer
When Crypt of the NecroDancer initially appeared in its early access form, the game proved to be a darling of the indie scene. Combining rhythm-based gameplay with roguelike elements, many gamers were intrigued to see what the final version of the game would look like. However, when the game did release in its full form in April 2015, it seemed as though some of the buzz surrounding the title had died down.
Those who did take the time to check out Crypt of the NecroDancer, however, were met with one of the most fun and addictive games to be released this year. The strange combination of The Legend of Zelda and Dance Dance Revolution worked perfectly, matched up with an extremely catchy chiptune soundtrack that remained stuck in the head of the player for days at a time. The only thing missing was a mobile release, which would have been perfect for the gameplay on offer.
SOMA was not the only indie horror standout to be released this year, nor the only game to have reason to feel a little under appreciated. STASIS, from development team The Brotherhood, also deserved to be on the must-play list for any horror fans. However, STASIS and SOMA set about creating the sense of terror in very different ways, with the former attempting to build an overwhelming feeling of unease on a seemingly abandoned space ship through the use of old-fashioned adventure game mechanics.
STASIS placed the player on board the Groomlake, a ship owned by the Weyland Yutani-esque Cayne Corporation. Waking up from cryogenic sleep to find himself alone, and his family gone, the main character must answer the questions surrounding exactly what happened aboard the derelict craft, solving puzzles and avoiding the terrors that lie aboard the ship. Similar in feel to the likes of Sanitarium, STASIS delivered a high-tension, atmospheric experience that sticks with the player for a long time.
Her Story was one of the most unique gaming experiences of the year, and possibly in the history of recent gaming. Created by Silent Hill: Shattered Memories and Silent Hill: Origins writer Sam Barlow, the game could not be further from the style of the survival horror series. Instead, Her Story grabs the player’s attention through an intriguing mystery that just begs to be solved.
This is not the kind of gritty detective work that gamers may be used to after titles such as LA Noire and Heavy Rain, however. Instead, Her Story – which revolves around a woman whose husband has gone missing – delivers a very different kind of gameplay. Unearthing new information through watching interview clips with the woman in question, Her Story paints a delightfully ambiguous narrative where the player’s judgement is put to extreme tests.
Rise of the Tomb Raider
It was not just the independent titles that managed to drop off the radar dramatically this year. While the likes of Mad Max have not debuted to the grand fanfare that their publishers hoped, perhaps the most shocking example of a AAA title that failed to live up to sales expectations was Rise of the Tomb Raider. The title received glowing reviews upon release, but so far the sales have been extremely underwhelming, in spite of publisher Square Enix’s claims to the contrary.
There are a number of factors that may explain exactly why Rise of the Tomb Raider failed to pique the gaming community’s interest and stick around long enough for other gamers to take a chance on the title. While the Xbox One timed exclusivity deal made sure that a large proportion of the game’s prospective player base was shut out, unfortunately the deciding factor may have been that the game was released on the same day as the all-devouring Fallout 4. The silver lining for Square Enix is that the game will see release on PS4 in the future, and perhaps with a strong enough push the game will reach a larger audience. Until then, however, Rise of the Tomb Raider remains a strange anomaly in this year’s releases.
What do you make of our list? Are there any other underrated or under appreciated games of 2015 that you feel deserve a mention? Let us know in the comments below.