2016 was a great year for gaming. We’ve seen the rise of VR, Nintendo entered the mobile market, and a lot of games making their way out of development hell. For me, this was a huge year for indie games, as it seems the majority of my favorite games from this year were indie titles. So, in honor of the end of 2016, here’s my favorite games from last year, as well as the most disappointing games of the year.
Top 5 of 2016
Firewatch – Firewatch went from not being on my radar at all to being my favorite game I played this year. The story had me hooked from day 1, and the visuals continued to amaze me all the way to the very end. Sure, the story of what’s really going on in the Wyoming wilderness doesn’t ever reach a satisfying resolution, but that’s not what this game is about. The real story is the relationship between Henry and Delilah, and it’s there that the game shines. The dialogue and voice acting are both top notch, and left me wanting more, in a good way.
Overwatch – Before it came out, I wasn’t really that interested in Overwatch. To me, it just looked like a Team Fortress 2 clone. I had put many hours into TF2 back in the day, but had left it behind years ago. I thought I’d never get into another class-based shooter. I’m so glad I was wrong. Overwatch is just so much fun, and the support from Blizzard continues to amaze me. Constant balance updates has made for a growing competitive scene, and they are always adding new characters, skins, and game modes. I’ll be playing this one far into 2017, for sure.
Stardew Valley – I’ve been trying to write a review of this game since it came out, but never felt like I had gotten far enough to be able to say what I wanted to. The game is the greatest of the Harvest Moon style genre, and that’s putting it up against some stiff competition. A seemingly never-ending series of side quests, events, and things to do combined with continued support and new content means I’ve got something new to do every time I come back to it. All of this coming from one person makes for one of my favorite games of this year, and one I’ll probably be playing for years to come.
Superhot – Superhot is the most innovative shooter I’ve seen in years. In all seriousness, Superhot is just so much fun. The game is basically The Matrix game that we all wanted. The time/movement mechanic isn’t just a gimmick, the entire experience is built around it. It’s such a perfectly crafted game. From beginning to end, you feel like such a badass. Super. Hot. Super. Hot.
DOOM – I was a latecomer to this one, only starting it in the past few weeks, but I can already tell this game is great. The moment Doomguy grabs the terminal that is spewing plot at him and shoves it aside, I was hooked. The game offers you exactly as much story as you want. The plot dump stuff is there for those who want to read it, or, for people like me, you can just ignore it all and just blast demons. Looks great, controls perfect. I can’t wait to play more of this one.
Darkest Dungeon – So much fun, and so hard. I put a lot of time into this one back when it was in early access, but haven’t played much since the official release, hence it being only an honorable mention.
Disappointing Games Of 2016
Pokemon Go – I bought into this one hook, line, and sinker. I was one of those guys on day 1, walking around the neighborhood throwing balls at invisible monsters, and I was addicted. However, it only took a few weeks before the cracks started to emerge, and it was only downhill from there. Developer Niantic continued time and time again to neuter their own product. Rural players had almost no Pokemon to catch, they removed features entirely rather than fix them, and refused to communicate with their player base. Fans of their previous game, Ingress, warned us of how Niantic would behave, and we should have listened. Pokemon Go had so much potential, and they wasted it all.
Clustertruck – This game should have been fun. The trailers had me sold on the concept. But, as I discussed in my review, the randomness that the physics engine added to the game just killed the whole experience for me. A game like this seems ideal for playing a single level over and over to try and find the perfect route. However, every run is at the mercy of truck physics, and it just ends up as a supremely frustrating experience.
Mighty No 9 – Oh, boy. I wanted to like this game so much. I didn’t even have huge expectations for this game to be something amazing. I just wanted to have fun. I wanted to support Keiji Inafune, as I was also frustrated at Capcom seemingly having forgotten that Mega Man exists. Then it came out, and almost immediately everything about it felt wrong. From the controls, to the level design, to the general look and feel of the game, everything ranged from mediocre to awful. This was such a huge disappointment for me.
No Man’s Sky – I never really thought this game was really that horrible or anything. For me, it was just so dull. I grew bored of exploring in this game so quickly that I just didn’t care about it anymore. I think the main problem I had with this game is how the developers, much like Niantic did with Pokemon Go, went completely silent on social media after release. Between them and Niantic, game devs have a perfect guide of what not to do when releasing a big game.
Gaming for most of my life, writing for about half. Finally decided to smash the two together to create a wonderfully gory portrait of a gaming journalist. My opinions are usually long-winded, often misinformed, but I'd like to think at least well written.