Best of 2015 – Day One: Story, Soundtrack, Voice Acting

Over the next ten days, Hardcore Gamer will be revealing its Best of 2015 Awards leading up to our Game of the Year. Today we present you with the Best of Story, Original Soundtrack, Licensed Soundtrack and Voice Acting.

Best Story: Tales from the Borderlands

Tales from the Borderlands Episode 4: Escape Plan Bravo

While 2015 was one of the best narrative years we’ve had in quite some time, it was a title that was all but written off before launch that stands above the pack. Not only is Tales from the Borderlands a dramatic tale full of characters that immediately inspire you to fall in love with them, but it’s the single funniest game the industry has seen since South Park: The Stick of Truth. This year’s game that everyone should just give a shot, no questions asked, found a way to subvert our expectations at every turn. Perhaps this is a function of seemingly everything being fair game at all times (including the final episode’s immensely satisfying twists and turns). Whether or not you’re a fan of Telltale’s gameplay style, you owe it to yourself to give their best narrative experience to date a chance.

LifeisStrange-NOM HerStory-NOM Ciri-NOM ShadowrunHongKong-NOM
Life is Strange Her Story The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Shadowrun: Hong Kong

Best Original Soundtrack: Ori and the Blind Forest

Ori and the Blind Forest Artwork

Even if you never played Ori and the Blind Forest, it’s immediately apparent that the game features some of the most attractive art design ever before seen in a 2D title. But, if that’s all it had to offer, the game would have ultimately been a failure. Alongside compelling, challenging gameplay, a unique story and a lovely world is a soundtrack which ties everything together. This enchanting (and sometimes even haunting) score was composed by Gareth Coker perfectly encapsulates the many moods players will experience on their journey through Ori and the Blind Forest. There orchestral soundtrack gets whimsical in more playful moments, turns somber when needed and generally elevates this Metroidvania to an immensely memorable game for those who play it.

Ciri-NOM MasterSpy-NOM Bloodborne-NOM CryptoftheNecrodancer-NOM
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Master Spy Bloodborne Crypt of the NecroDancer

Best Licensed Soundtrack: Tales from the Borderlands

When it comes to music in games, we have to admit that oftentimes we prefer pre-existing music (commonly known as “licensed music”) over original orchestrated soundtracks. While there are incredible achievements in OSTs, it’s hard to top the emotion that a standalone band or artist puts into their work. While the hard-edged indie rock soundtrack is about the only thing Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5 got right and Metal Gear Solid V cleverly used 80s music as its background, two visual novels ended up accomplishing the most natural use of licensed music: Tales from the Borderlands and Life is Strange. While both are deserving of the win, Tales from the Borderlands featured a practically perfect use of music. It only used several songs, but each perfectly set the tone of the episode, whether it was The Rapture’s poppy “Pieces of the People we Love” or James Blake’s haunting “Retrograde.” Somebody at Telltale has fantastic taste in music and we can only hope they curate the studio’s soundtracks in the future.

LifeisStrange-NOM TonyHawkProSkater5-NOM MetalGearSolidV-NOM GuitarHeroLive-NOM
Life is Strange Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Guitar Hero Live

Best Voice Acting: Tales from the Borderlands

Tales from the Borderlands Episode 3: Catch a Ride
We could go on and on about how Troy Baker is one of the best (Read: only) voice actors native to the video game industry. His performance of Rhys and Laura Bailey’s fantastic performance as Fiona make Tales from the Borderlands the awesome narrative experience as it is, this much is clear. Yet it’s the downright perfect performances from Ashley Johnson, who plays the impossible-not-to-love Gortys and Raison Varner’s monotonous, yet hysterical portrayal of Loader Bot that make Tales from the Borderlands the fantastic example of outstanding voice acting that it is. This game would be nothing without these characters and the actors that Telltale cast to act out its vision could not have worked out any better. Plus, let’s be real here, is Gortys not the best video game character you’ve ever seen?

LifeisStrange-NOM BatmanArkhamKnight-NOM UntilDawn-NOM XenobladeChroniclesX-NOM
Life is Strange Batman: Arkham Knight Until Dawn Xenoblade Chronicles X

Continue to Day 2 →