Gone Home's Steve Gaynor Shares His Top 10 Games Of 2015

by Game Informer Editorial on Jan 01, 2016 at 10:00 AM

On the lead up to Game Informer's Game of the Year awards of 2015, we've invited a number of the video game industry's influential figures to share their favorite games of the year.

Best known for his work on Gone Home, Steve Gaynor is a writer and game designer at The Fullbright Company. His next project is 2016's Tacoma, a science-fiction tale of discovery set on a derelict space station. Gaynor's first foot in the video game industry came as a fan, making his own levels for F.E.A.R. His work caught the eye of TimeGate Studios, and he was hired as a level designer to work on F.E.A.R.'s Perseus Mandate expansion. Gaynor then joined 2K Marin as a designer for BioShock 2 and its Minerva's Den expansion. He joined Ken Levine at Irrational Games for BioShock Infinite, but let for the project was completed to create Fullbright Company with Karla Zimonja and Johnnemann Nordhagen in 2012.

Here's Gaynor's selections and thoughts on the best games of 2015:

10. SOMA
The follow-up to Amnesia: The Dark Descent is slower-paced, more cerebral, and more ambitious than its predecessor. It’s also a hell of an interesting ride through thematic territory that explores consciousness, individuality, and the nature of the self. Also there are mutant robot monsters.

9. Life is Strange
The warmth and love in Life Is Strange’s depiction of the Pacific Northwest just makes my heart all aflutter. Playing this game makes me want to drive out to the coast for sunset, then eat at a run-down diner while I look out at the water.

8. Cibele
Nina Freeman is one of the designers at Fullbright, and her independent work like Cibele and how do you Do It? demonstrate exactly why. Cibele is an autobiographical game about Nina growing up and falling in love in an online game. That games can provide such a personal view into an individual’s lived experience is simply inspiring.

7. System Shock: Enhanced Edition
System Shock is one of the foundational games for everything I’ve worked on in my career, and now it’s finally available again via digital download! It’s wonderful to be able to replay this classic with modern amenities like mouselook, and a screen resolution higher than 800x600.

6. The Beginner’s Guide
While The Stanley Parable was “meta” in service of a humorous look at how we play video games, the next game from its creator is a meta exploration of the act of game DEVELOPMENT—and through it, the very urge to create. A fascinating look inside a game developer’s mind, via his medium.

5. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
The evolution of the Metal Gear series has been ongoing for over 30 years now, and MGSV wraps this mindboggling timeline all the way back around, forming a complete loop. The kitschy ‘80s soundtrack of MGSV is what would’ve been on the radio in the real world when the original Metal Gear was released. Wrap your head around THAT.

4. Her Story
Speaking of games that I respect for their simplicity, Her Story presents its story in a completely non-linear, player-driven manner, all through a brilliantly intuitive search interface and a huge pile of short video clips to dig through. A true reimagining of what “FMV Game” can mean.

3. Rocket League
I absolutely love and respect the restraint this game displays. Just a simple set of rules, a football pitch, and a few cars rocketing around all crazy—and the balance comes out perfect. A true example of “less is more.”

2. Fallout 4
I’ve been a fan of the Fallout series since the original was released in 1997, and being able to explore that world with the richness that Bethesda brings to it is an utter joy.

1. Bloodborne
Such a smart evolution of the Souls formula, making its signature combat faster & more accessible while remaining extremely challenging. The first Souls game I’ve actually finished…with a little help from my livestream’s chat audience. ;)