The most surprising games of 2015

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So if the most disappointing category is a list of games that should have been better, the most surprising category is the opposite. These are games that were better than they should have been. Just as disappointing is about falling short of expectations, these surprising games exceeded expectations and, in some cases, were among the best games of the year.

After the jump, the ten most surprising games of 2015.


10. Victor Vran

Now this is how you copy Diablo! A controller friendly action RPG that’s not the least bit compromised for it. On the contrary, the unique control scheme for each weapon type is part of Victor Vran’s charm. Well done, Haemimont!

Review here.


9. Age of Decadence

Indie games can have great writing, even if they’re just RPGs. What’s more, combat should be optional if you really want to put the RP back into the G.

Review here.


8. Hatred

For all the, uh, hatred towards its inane hyperviolent marketing, this turned out to be a slightly clumsy but perfectly cromulent, richly moody, and satisfyingly M-rated action game.


7. Splatoon

A serious shooter with unique gameplay, kiddie graphics, and a motion control gimmick on an unlikely system? And it’s not awful? Nintendo should not do Mario games more often!


6. Metal Gear Solid V

A Kojima game finally mixes the right amount of gameplay and Kojima nonsense.

Read the review here.


5. Skylanders Superchargers

I am annually amazed at how Activision’s long running franchise and its yearly flood of plastic toys manage to carefully cannily toe the line dividing actual sequels from cynical cash grabs. Disney Infinity’s horrible 3.0 iteration just makes them look that much better.

Last year’s amazement here.


4. Sid Meier’s Starships

If I wasn’t so busy scraping the Beyond Earth off my shoe, I would have noticed sooner that Firaxis hasn’t completely abandoned Sid Meier’s trademark capacity to weave simple but interesting systems into an accessible whole. This is the Sid Meier I remember from Pirates!


3. Need for Speed

This isn’t just for graphics whores desperate to inch closer to photorealism, although they’ll certainly thrill to what this Need for Speed reboot offers. Neither is it just another of Electronic Arts’ embarrassing attempts to pander to car culture, this time with godawful found footage cutscenes. There’s a good driving game in here, closer to the superb Most Wanted than the turgid Rivals.


2. Heroes of the Storm

It took Blizzard to convince me that MOBAs don’t have to suck.

Disclaimer here.


1. Total War: Attila

It’s touch and go with Creative Assembly. Every few years, they seem to flatline. But then someone in the company produces a defibrillator and something like Shogun happens, or Shogun II, or, uh, well some people liked Medieval, I guess? But this year, who knew they’d come gasping back to life with a game about a dying Roman Empire and the scavenger nations that fed on its carcass? Attila not only backpedals from the mistakes of Rome II, but it offers a unique campaign structure, refined gameplay, and DLC that’s actually good. Welcome back, Creative Assembly. We’d like to keep you under observation for a few years, but the prognosis looks good so far.

The most disappointing games of 2015
The most overrated games of 2015
The top ten games of 2015
The Quarterly Awards for Various Other Stuff
The most overlooked games of 2015