The 20 Best Videogames of 2015 (So Far)

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Somehow we are already halfway through a year again. We grow more introspective than usual every July, so let’s look back on the recent past and toast the best games of the last six months. I’ve sorted through all the game reviews we published between January and June, and narrowed the field down to the 20 games below. If you disagree, or feel we overlooked a legitimate contender, feel free to leave a note below.

20. MLB 15: The Show

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It’s not just the almost overwhelming commitment to recreating the sport that makes MLB The Show the best on-going sports series. It’s also the endless expanse that opens up before you when you start yet another season, the trance-like rhythm you fall into game after game after game that can’t be matched by the shorter season of football or faster action of basketball. It’s the role-playing progression of the Road to the Show mode, where you level your handmade player up to the Majors. And yes, it is Sony’s fastidiousness in turning this game into a videogame, with all the details in both play and presentation necessary to make it feel as real as a videogame currently can. MLB 15 is one more year of greatness in a hall of fame career.—Garrett Martin

19. Wolfenstein: The Old Blood

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The Old Blood, which sacrifices Wolfenstein: The New Order’s ambitious, emotionally-charged story for pure pulp, serves as a testament to just how strong the gunplay of The New Order is when divorced from great writing. That’s not to say that The Old Blood is poorly written so much as it has a purposely schlocky grindhouse mentality to it, returning to the series’ roots. It’s a fun, kooky adventure that doesn’t take itself too seriously (unlike its older sibling), and knows how to make the first-person shooter feel refreshing and fun again.—Javy Gwaltney

18. Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell

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Gat Out of Hell is just plain, hammy entertainment. It doesn’t aspire to teach you a great moral lesson—outside of “don’t fuck with Ouija boards,” which is pretty sage advice—and it’s not trying to wow you with 60 FPS photorealism. Gat out of Hell, like its predecessors, is that essential reminder we need from time to time that, yes, sometimes it’s okay for videogames to be dumb fun and little else.—JG

17. Heroes of the Storm

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Heroes of the Storm charms the player into collecting tons of heroes through relatively short, accessible matches; this allows the game to showcase a lot of different types of characters in rapid succession, with just enough of that get-a-new-thing dopamine rush to keep you hooked in. The characters themselves, much like in Smash Brothers, are not vastly different from one another; the game is easy to learn but hard to master, and the characters are just dissimilar enough to motivate a player into continually climbing the collection ladder. In other words, the game manages to satisfy the spirit of an action figure (or Barbie) collector, all under the guise of being a Very Serious Competitive Game.—Maddy Myers

16. Titan Souls

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Titan Souls is an example of a game that successfully uses nostalgia as a jumping off point and not as a central reason to exist. The name and art style might make it seem too familiar, but if you can play through that you’ll see it quickly establishes its own identity. It’s still a bit of a novelty, but at least it fully commits to that novelty, much like you’ll probably commit yourself to defeating every titan once this game sinks its hooks into you.—GM

15. Gravity Ghost

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Gravity Ghost pulls apart the typical challenge-reward cycle for a physics-based puzzle game, flinging itself mightily toward finding that space between science and love. The quest to bind together stories of science and love isn’t always an easy one to take on, but ultimately Gravity Ghost gets the job done.—Bryant Francis

14. The Escapists

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The Escapists manages to replicate almost perfectly the pleasure of watching films like Escape From Alcatraz and The Shawshank Redemption. Much like those films, The Escapists is a slow burn that builds to a fantastic finale in which the protagonist finally gets one over on the brutal security guards and wardens that have harassed them throughout. And this game really tries to draw that picture for you, with guards frequently demanding that you call them your king, brutally breaking up any fight with violence, and generally fulfilling the image of the dark-hearted prison guard from media history.—Cameron Kunzelman

13. Axiom Verge

Nostalgia is addictive, but Axiom Verge’s confidence sees it through the challenge of invoking Metroid better than just about anyone who’s tried before it. It copies more than aesthetic and ambiguous notions about variety, and the specificity is what matters.—Suriel Vazquez

12. Kirby and the Rainbow Curse

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Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is meant to be played with style. To trudge through each level, your movement dictated by an impatient ever-forward swiping of your magic paintbrush, is to completely miss the point (and hundreds of shiny baubles hidden off the main path). On the very first stage, you can draw a line and send Kirby toward the goal. Or: Draw a curving line upward, sending Kirby up off the screen. You’ll find a sky filled with stars, the game’s currency and arbiter of special attacks, granted after collecting one hundred. Go high enough and the world goes black-and-white, the story conceit providing player a challenge along with simple animus.—Jon Irwin

11. Massive Chalice

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Massive Chalice, at is finest, feels like an indrawn breath, a nervous stillness punctured by the monstrous sounds of the Cadence lingering at the edge of the battlefield. As you scout ahead with your cloaked Hunters, you reach that point where your breath starts to hold, and as you lunge in with a phalanx of Caberjacks and Alchemists, giant logs and explosive flasks become the deafening shout punctuating your successful short-term strategy. It’s boisterously thrilling—even if sometimes, it’s a thrill to be felt over and over again.—BF

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