The 20 Best Videogames of 2015 (So Far)

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10. Apotheon

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Apotheon is a game of delight and wonder, an expression of unabashed love for myth. That it’s possible to turn such love into an engrossing adventure that coalesces in a way so few games do reminds me of my own love for games and of their potential as a medium of beautiful expression. Apotheon, then, is the kind of videogame we need more of.—JG

9. Sunset

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Sunset, a first-person game from Tale of Tales, exists somewhere between the grand love story of Casablanca and the softly spoken pain of Raymond Carver’s characters. It is a game of startling beauty housing quiet but immense ambition. [It’s] an all too rare kind of game that focuses on people loving and hurting in mundane but almost unbearable ways.—JG

8. Life is Strange

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Invisible walls, authority figures who have pre-determined mistrust towards you no matter what you do, no sense of personal privacy, and a never-ending to-do list… I guess I never realized all the inherent similarities between high school and videogames until I played the first three-hour episode of Life Is Strange. It reminds me of the parts of Beyond: Two Souls that I didn’t hate: a teenage girl with super-powers but also realistic life problems and serious consequences. Everybody else at school thinks Max is stuck-up and a pretentious jerk; I can tell why they’d think that, and it’s why Max seems human and flawed. She’s just a teenager, trying on different types of “coolness” for size.—MM

7. Pillars of Eternity

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A lot of videogames try to sell you on the illusion that every step you take is having some sort of effect on the world. Sleeping at this inn instead of that inn will create a ripple effect that results in imminent world destruction or something else similarly ridiculous. Instead of flat out lying to you, Pillars of Eternity takes the approach of just making an incredibly diverse, deep and rewarding world for you to explore and letting you navigate the consequences on your own.—David Jagneaux

6. Mortal Kombat X

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Mortal Kombat X is fascinating in how parts of it seemingly want to get away from the nasty elements that made the series a household name and yet the gravitational pull of legacy and expectation is too strong. Mortal Kombat X is, in the end, no matter how much it wants to persuade you otherwise, just another Kombat game. It also happens to be one of the best ones.—MM

5. The Witcher 3

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When I think of my time in Witcher 3, which is still going, I think mainly of the quest for Ciri, your adoptive daughter. I think of mages with freckles and villagers working fields after your drive away their tormenters. I think of it as a game which says that all we have is each other, as family and friends. As people, whose lives are short but brilliant. As a game that says that what makes life worth living and struggling for isn’t trying for perfection but our common imperfections. It’s aspiration by way of mundanity and I don’t know that I’ve played anything quite like it.—Ian Williams

4. Her Story

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Her Story is more character study than good old-fashioned crime yarn. The immediately familiar clichés from Law and Order and CSI are quickly overtaken by the clever writing and the personality of the game’s central performer, the mysterious woman played by Viva Seifert. As easy as it might be to dismiss Her Story as a flimsy gamification of search engines and wiki-diving, the loop the game creates, rewarding you for searching for clues in the woman’s speech with more videos, is genuinely gripping in a sad horror novella kind of way.—JG

3. Ori and the Blind Forest

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Ori and the Blind Forest is a gorgeous adventure with an aesthetic that seems vaguely indebted to a variety of world cultures and mythologies. With its focus on forest spirits and a sylvan setting it resembles a Miyazaki film, but there’s no explicit connection to Japanese mythology. It borrows the fundamental feeling of mythic storytelling to depict a basic hero’s journey, with all the loss and personal growth that entails.—GM

2. Splatoon

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Splatoon is not trying to corral unearned cool points with obscenity. Splatoon does not push us to accept its weirdness. Splatoon merely opens its suction-cupped palms to the sky and says, “Here,” and we graciously accept, parched by the years of dusty, war-torn, bone-dry purveyors of damage masquerading as games. Each waterfall was in fact an oasis. Instead, Splatoon showers us with a heavy goop that feels amniotic. We emerge, new and refreshed. We are all squids now.—JI

1. Bloodborne

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Bloodborne is a distillation of everything that worked in Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls. The combat is fast, less clunky and more risky. Yharnam is a stunning world worthy of hours of exploration, and, perhaps most pleasant of all, Bloodborne is a game that knows when to end. It’s a deeply challenging game set in a fantastically realized gothic nightmare, an adventure of the highest quality for those willing to undergo the game’s trial by fire.—JG

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