In compiling this list of the “Best PC Games” of 2015, I realized that I clearly enjoy two kinds of games on this platform. I enjoy massive deep-dives that soak up hundreds of hours, and I enjoy games that you can play in about a half hour. Everything in the middle is in the realm of the console, the altar of gaming staged from the couch zone. The time sinks and the blips of gaming are reserved for a very uncomfortable office chair, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Buckle up and get ready to read the most mind-blowing and definitive list of the best games released on the personal computer platform during the year 2015.
10. Cities: Skylines
After the Grand Tragedy that was SimCity, the world yearned for a city building game that did not give them a massive amount of “the sadness.” Some retreated to the hellish waters of SimCity 4. Others wandered into the wastes, never to be heard from again. But lo, the siren song of building a weird little city was heard by a fair few, and the Cities: Skylines developers hollered back from the borderlands that they would definitely make something that was playable and fun. And everything was good in the world. City building games are fun!
9. Aviary Attorney
This game of bird lawyering barely snuck into the calendar year, but it is such a perfect encapsulation of a particular kind of humor that I’m honestly shocked that more people aren’t talking about it in a near-constant state of shock and surprise. It’s a classic game of detection where you collect clues about a court case and then argue about them in court, and the confidence of tone that surrounds protagonists Jayjay Falcon and Sparrowson is so unique that I kind of want to cry right now. It’s that affecting. In any case, this is a game that I haven’t even finished yet because I want to savor it, so I’m slowly creeping through it case-by-case. I mean, animal-people. Come on!
8. Dr Langeskov, The Tiger, and the Terribly Cursed Emerald
Crows Crows Crows, the development team behind this game, are going to be delivering some really special stuff in the coming years. I enjoyed lead developer William Pugh’s The Stanley Parable for what it was, and I gushed about [sometime Paste contributor] Jack de Quidt’s Castles in the Sky for Paste when it was released a couple years ago. While I now know the latter well enough to tweet back and forth with him, I sort of slept on Langeskov until very late in the year, and I’m worse for it. I’ve had such little time to reflect on this game, where you’re trapped “backstage” in a game during a labor strike that leaves you pulling the levers and pressing the buttons to help someone else experience a really excellent game experience. I don’t even want to attempt an “it’s a game about X” statement, because at the heart, it’s a game that’s about a game that’s about a tiger that protects an emerald.
7. Rad Road Rally
Ethan Redd is a developer who I got to know by reputation before I got to know him personally, and it was through the amazing GIFs of electricity-infused 1990s early-3D game aesthetics. It’s word salad, but Redd seems to necessitate word salad in order to talk about the specific time and place that he’s able to evoke with his games. It didn’t seem like many people talked about Rad Road Rally this year, and it’s a shame. The game hits all of the notes for those with strong nostalgia for both Hotwheels and the “rollinnnnng staaaaart” of Daytona USA for the Sega Saturn. Play the game! Drive the tiny cars! Do that yell from “Rolling Start” the whole time, like I did, and just be like “Aaaaauuuaaa-aaaaaaa!” It’s the only way to play most games.
6. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The Witcher 3 is a masterpiece of its genre and medium, and I cannot fathom leaving it off any “best of” list for a platform it was released on. I’ve been following the life of Geralt the Witcher for a fair few years now, and The Witcher 3 is a beautiful iteration on a fairly well-worn story concept. This guy wanders around a fantasy world and does things, and that world is so finely crafted from the shape of the land down to the speech of the people that populate it that every moment of the embarrassing number of hours I spent playing felt well-spent and emotionally rewarding. Also, Geralt stares at a goofy cat for a full minute. Also, trolls.