Game of the Year is always a tricky list to create because everyone likes different things. One person's (or more like 10 people's) forgettable indie curio is another person's BEST GAME EVER ZOMG. Well, we can celebrate the less obvious games too. So here are up to three games each that didn't make it onto the Game of the Year 2015 list, personally gushed over by members of the GamesRadar+ team. You might even find yourself a new BEST GAME EVER ZOMG. Stranger things have happened.
Adventures of Pip
The Adventures of Pip might appear to be an unlikely contender for a "best of 2015" list; a retro 2D platformer? Aren't those a dime a dozen nowadays? But Pip is different. The game features a mechanic where the hero "evolves" into higher-resolution forms, and this is implemented wonderfully, making the game as challenging as it is cute. I couldn't stop myself from exploring all the alternate routes and hidden puzzles, and the atmosphere is jaunty and joyful. Playing it, you feel that the developers cared about creating a fun experience, and they succeeded. Put simply: This game has heart.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is, by and large, a "walking simulator." That is to say it requires minimal input from players and instead emphasizes narrative. Don't let that deter you though, because Ethan Carter has a fantastic tale to tell, complete with engaging characters, intriguing mysteries, and twists to keep you guessing. There are puzzles to tease your brain, and hidden clues to help flesh out the beautiful world you explore. The game may have first appeared on PC in 2014, but a reworked version is now available on PS4, and it's not to be missed.
Mortal Kombat X
The 2011 version of Mortal Kombat (also referred to as Mortal Kombat 9) brought the long-in-the-tooth and aging MK franchise back to its roots with 2D combat, brutal Fatalities, and a trimmed cast of characters. But where MK9 felt like a retread of the good old days, Mortal Kombat X feels like the series' first major step forward in years. New characters, interactive arenas, and smoother combat with more back and forth make Mortal Kombat X one of the tightest and best fighters in years. The beautifully rendered, extra-gross Fatalities are just icing on the cake.
King's Quest - A Knight to Remember
I was a console kid growing up and deeply attached my N64, so King's Quest in its original incarnation inevitably passed me by. Thus, when series co-creator Roberta Williams christened The Odd Gentlemen as the new stewards of King's Quest at last year's Game Awards, I knew I had to experience this piece of video game history, at least in reboot form. I wasn't disappointed - a cute and clever tale about a boy who would be king (and all the horrible puns it takes to get there), A Knight to Remember is smart, challenging, and genuinely heartfelt, the kind of game you play when you want to make a bad day good again. Let's call it a bit of bottled happiness.
Though 2015 has been a good year for Mad Max in general, it's been less kind to Mad Max the video game. Released on the same day as Metal Gear Solid 5, it was immediately overshadowed as Kojima's behemoth blocked out the sun, and it failed to stand up to Fury Road's cinematic splendor. And yet, that doesn't mean it deserves to drift into nothing like so much wasteland dust, because there's a lot of fun to be had here if you don't expect a masterpiece. The car controls are smooth and satisfying, the desert full of little quirks to discover (fun fact: your car is not lightning-proof), and the potential for hilarious vehicular mishaps makes it worth coming back to when you're thirsting for ridiculous action. It may not ride eternal, shiny and chrome, but at least the ride it takes you on is good and thrilling.
Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime
Don't let the self-indulgent name fool you - Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is a legitimately tough, legitimately entertaining co-op adventure that rewards you for working as a team, and will punish you dearly for falling short. Playing as one of two aliens controlling a single spaceship and all its various functions (conveniently located all over the inside of the ship, forcing you sprint from one to the other), quick reaction time can mean the difference between rescuing a planet's worth of stranded comrades and complete destruction. You're all but doomed on your own, but when you and your partner start working together like a perfectly tuned machine, it feels like there's nothing you can't do. The world may not be entirely deprived of great couch co-ops these days, but it never hurts to have a few more, and Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime shows how to do it right.
Undertale is my true personal GOTY (which you can read about here), but OlliOlli 2 is a close second. Chasing high scores in this 2D skater can make hours melt away in what feels like an instant, where flips, grinds, painless retries, and triumphant successes all flow together into one continuous stream of enjoyment. The original OlliOlli was already a masterpiece, but the sequel's addition of the manual (and, if you're feeling bold, multiplier-boosting revert manuals) adds a new dimension to the pursuit of more points, effectively turning every single level into a lengthy, gloriously satisfying combo opportunity. Busting out tricks by flicking the analog stick is ingenious, the movie set level themes are a delight, and the entire soundtrack is, in a word, transcendent.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 3
Judging by the sneers of my peers, It seems like it's no longer cool to like Call of Duty, but darn it if Black Ops 3 isn't the best shooter I've played all year. I should also mention that I've only played the multiplayer, and I've easily gotten my money's worth. The breakneck pacing of the gunplay is the closest thing modern gaming has to twitch-heavy FPS classics like Unreal Tournament and Quake 3 Arena, and the inclusion of distinct Specialist characters adds some much-needed flavor to the mix. Where Advance Warfare's boost-jumping and hovering didn't do much for me, the Vanquish-esque powerslides and nimble wall-running in BO3 feel wonderfully fluid. And oh yeah - Jeff Goldblum is a force of nature in Zombies mode.
I was extremely late to the party on this one - not just because I played this July release in December, but because I'd never actually delved into the N series before, one of the O.G.'s of hardcore 2D platforming. I remember not being a fan of their initially cryptic jump physics and floaty inertia, but now that I've actually gotten to know N++, I'm in love with its tightly tuned handling and staggering number of tenacity-demanding levels. I'd put it up there with the all-time indie greats like Super Meat Boy and Dustforce. It also helps that, like OlliOlli 2, it has some of the best ambient music ever; I'm particularly fond of this little ditty.
On the next page: more recommendations from Maxwell, Ludwig, and Connor!