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Graham's Favorite Games of 2015

by Byte's Editorial Staff It's the end of 2015, which means it's time to select the best games of the year. To celebrate, members of Byte's editorial board picked their favorite games to highlight. The games below are the favorites of Graham Taylor, one of Byte's Co-News Editors.

5. Hotline Miami 2

“You really enjoy hurting other people, don’t you?” The follow up to 2012’s Hotline Miami, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number had a lot to live up to. And for the most part, Wrong Number got a lot of things right. The sequel expanded on not just the story of the Hotline universe, but also the characters and setting. In one way or another, each cast member’s story intertwines with everyone else's. The soundtrack is also great, and each song feels hand-crafted for each level and is honestly one of the most enjoyable parts of the entire experience. From a gameplay point of view, not too much has changed, except with the addition of different abilities, new weapons, and bigger levels. However, lengthy stages lead to situations with many bullets being fired at the player from offscreen. That being said, when a level is done well, it is done incredibly well, allowing players to power through on both careful planning and quick thinking, and providing a visceral challenge. Despite some shortcomings, Hotline Miami 2 is a fantastic piece of neon-filtered, synth-popped ultraviolence.

4. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

“Such a lust for revenge!” Metal Gear Solid V has a lot of problems as a Metal Gear Solid game. But as just a game, it is one of the best I’ve played this year. The open world is alive and well made, and provides a variety of ways to tackle each mission. True to the series, you can go through the whole game silent and undetected, but this time around, you are given access to not only buddies, but also an entire private army to use at your disposal. So for players who prefer to go for the loud approach, there are many, many ways to go loud. However, long time fans of the series will be sorely disappointed plot wise. It simply isn’t there when compared to is story-dense predecessors. There’s too little, too thinly spread, and on top of that, it cuts off right in the middle of the plot, leaving it all the more unsatisfying. So go into Metal Gear Solid V for it’s excellent gameplay and open world, just don’t expect much from the plot. Otherwise, you will be the one feeling the phantom pain.

3. Until Dawn

“Well, it's definitely creepy down here.”
Source: Gamepinion
Until Dawn is, simply put, a love letter to slasher flicks in the form of a game. Drawing from all different genres of horror, Until Dawn sets up our cast of unfortunate teenagers in a cabin in the a Canadian wilderness during a blizzard. Of course some things start to go wrong, and our group suddenly finds themselves fending for their lives against, ghosts, psychopaths, monsters, and more in a style reminiscent of Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls. And while it’s nice seeing the story tackle all of these style, unfortunately the story isn’t long enough to completely flesh out each of these scenes. However, as the story goes on and the and the plot gets more focused, this problem fades away. Besides the minor issues with the genre-juggling the story is solid enough. The characters are well written with just the right amount of camp, and there are enough twists and turns to keep players interested in the eight hour romp. This and the fact that any of the characters can die make for a tense, terrific time.

2. Bloodborne

“A night of curses, a night to remember!” From From Software, the studio behind the Souls series, Bloodborne takes that series’s established style and runs in another direction with it. Enemy encounters are brutal and difficult, and death comes quickly and often, and Bloodborne’s gameplay emphasizes speedy movements, aggressive attacks, and taking risks. Not only is the combat by itself satisfying, but the plethora of different enemies and bosses is the icing on the cake. The designs and art direction for both enemies and the world is phenomenal. Yharnam is a dark, disturbing, and yet oddly beautiful place. To make things better, the creatures that dwell within this world only help to amplify the already grotesque tone, and the presentation only furthers these unsettling feeling. Few things convey an actual sense of dread in me, but Bloodborne was able to do it more than once. The atmosphere it creates on top of the gameplay makes this an easy addition to the list.

1. Undertale

“You’re filled with determination!”
Source: Destructoid
Play it once. Then play it again. And again. That’s all there is to say about it. Well, I guess I can say a bit more. Undertale is simply put, a charming, well written game. The story is great, the characters are fantastic, and the writing is incredible. Between the off beat humor and the surprisingly dark drama, each scene had me wanting more. Add that to a solid gameplay combination of turn-based RPGs and bullet-hell shoot em’ ups, and you have my favorite game of 2015. Not to mention, the soundtrack is beyond perfect; each area has a memorable tune and each boss has an incredible theme. I could go on for a few more paragraphs about my love for Undertale, but I instead just urge you to play it for yourself. You’re gonna have to trust me one this, but try going into this game as blindly as you can. Don’t look up any plot points or anything if you can avoid it, because it will only improve your experience. There isn’t much more to say, other than if you play it, you are going to have a good time.