This is a list of 20 video games that I enjoyed in the year 2016. Just kidding, I fucked up and wrote stuff about 21. So…here’s a list of the 21 video games I played in the year 2016. They are not all games that released in 2016. Most of these are games I first played this year, while others are games I first completed this year. Others I played the largest chunks during this year. They all made a staying impact, and they all helped me ignore the harsh realities of this terrible, horrible year. Escapism for the win?
DON’T YOU EVER SAY FOR THE WIN
Dark Cloud II
Playstation 2, played on Playstation 4. Originally Released 2002.
I had heard about this game for a long, long time, and I can totally see why. Playing it now the graphics look a little outdated, although cell-shaded so much better preserved, and the combat feels very stiff. In a world with Action RPGs like Dark Souls, it’s hard to see how Dark Cloud II fits into the gaming landscape, or even the RPG landscape. But the game’s charm comes in its fun and addicting progression method. You don’t level up your character in Dark Cloud II–you upgrade your weapons. You upgrade your weapon by fighting enemies in dungeons, and then you take the essence of fallen enemies and feed their souls to your weapons. This makes the game very grindy, but the action component of this game insures that grind doesn’t become boring too quickly. The game is also packed with content to give the game variety outside of combat. There’s a crafting system that requires the player to take pictures of things in order to come up with recipes. There’s a city building mechanic requiring players to craft certain elements of a village, such as rivers, houses, fences, and trees, out of items found from dungeons both in chests and as drops from enemies.
Now, the dungeons can get pretty boring by their layout. The music got stale quickly. The dialogue is horribly unnatural and simple, as though handcrafted for a three year old. The game also has a strange difficulty spike and some ambiguous objectives that bloke story progression. Also, if you don’t build your weapon up the right way it will become as useful in later sections of the game as a plastic bag with a hole in it.
However I can still see myself playing this game in the coming year every now and then because the action components, the progression elements, and the strange combination of everything in between makes for a very entertaining and satisfying experience.
PC Total Conversion. Originally Released in 2010.
Brutal Doom is a vicious mod for the original Doom that adds modern FPS elements and ups the violence by five hundred. I momentarily thought about saying 666, but that was too corny, so instead of making the joke outright I will leave this anecdote about how I almost made that joke outright. Doom is an amazing video game that I play almost every year now, and this update is a great way to do so. It adds iron sights and reloading, which are both kinda silly and unneeded, but it also adds insane levels of gore, really cool kill animations, and modifies some of the sounds. I really liked the changes to the weapons the most. They made the pistol into an assault rifle, which isn’t needed, but they also made the shotgun feel more impactful, they made the chainsaw more satisfying, and through sound alone they made each progressive weapon feel more devastating than the last. Brutal Doom is a must play for any Doom fan, or FPS fan period. It’s FPS Heaven. Or hell. Because Doom. There, there’s your doom joke. Next game!
Ratchet and Clank Collection
Playstation 3. Originally Released 2012.
Ratchet and Clank has been a franchise that I’ve liked ever since it debuted on the PS2. I remember Going Commando being the only video game around that time that could occupy enough of my attention that I completed it in three sittings. The combination of platforming, shooting, and brilliant weapon design hooked me along with its progression and upgrade mechanics. I wrote a review of the first game, which I played from this collection, and I really appreciated the work developers put into upgrading the graphics and framerate. I didn’t get to dive into Going Commando like I wanted to but I’ll definitely be making up excuses to do so thanks to this convenient little package. I love the combat, and I especially love the level design. The game’s fun to play. I like fun games. Games are supposed to be fun. FUN. FUN.
PC. Originally Released 2013.
I was psyched on Even the Ocean, and when I heard about Anodyne, the team’s first game, I decided to check it out. What I got was a game I was strangely familiar with, in that I played it one time and totally forgot, that glowed with charm and intelligence as though it were made by someone who had played video games before and expected their players to have also played video games before. The game is full of humor that never becomes out of place, and it never stays passed its welcome, which can also be said of the game’s dark moments. It’s common to see something happen that would, in any other game, become a defining point in the plot of the game, or a crucial stage of character development, and in this game that moment will pass quickly–as though saying “this is how our world works. Moving on.” The game acts like The Legend of Zelda–an isometric adventure with an upgradable broom to use as a weapon, several other findable upgrades that become components of later puzzles, and dungeons. There are few things to collect, and there aren’t many places to go, making the affair simple to understand. But once you get into the dungeons you often find a difficulty that makes up for that simple overworld. It’s an interesting and unique little game with a great atmosphere, amazing music, and elements of time travel. Or maybe it’s just dimensional travel. It’s cool.
Dragon Quest Heroes
Playstation 4. Originally Released 2015
There are two people in this world–people who hate musuo games, and people who love musuo games. I’m in the latter camp. Musuo games are fun and satisfying in a way that more mechanical hack and slash/beat em up games aren’t for me. Games like Devil May Cry and Bayonetta are amazing, but sometimes I want to relax with a game that isn’t so mechanically demanding. I say mechanically demanding, because these games aren’t as easy as some would lead you to believe. This fabrication makes itself evident as a lie once one has played any of these games on a harder difficulty–where enemies take far more hits, deal more damage, and the game becomes a race against the clock that demands enemy and map memorization. It becomes surprisingly involved in a way other games never manage. So quit your bitching!
Anyway, I reviewed Dragon Quest Heroes at the beginning of this year so just read that! It’s a beautiful game that introduced me to the charm of Dragon Quest and made me fall in love with the series. That’s all! Next game.
Playstation 4. Originally Released 2015.
Hey I wrote a review of this too! I can’t make an arbitrarily long list of video games I liked to play without including WWE 2k16. I just had way too much fun thinking up storylines for my universe, creating neon colored monstrosities, and I had so much fun when nothing worked out the way I imagined it should. It was also fun when cards would delete themselves, or scrambled the matches, or when rivalries put the same guys against each other infinitely. This game sucks as much as it’s great. So many issues should make me never want to play this game again, but it says something that I’ve spent so much of my time with it. It’s still a damn good wrestling game.
Enter the Gungeon
PC AND Playstation 4. Originally Released 2016.
This was a really good roguelike that suffered after a few playthroughs. It has beautiful art and animation, and the different weapons are great, but the level design makes truding through levels over and over a chore. These days games come out that look like Enter the Gungeon, being pixel based roguelikes, and none of them are quite as good. Mechanically it’s very sound, the music is great, and I love the mysteries you find through each level of the gungeon. Like a room full of coffins shaped like bullets. I still don’t know what that room is about. And I don’t care, because I don’t see myself diving back in seriously. But I may pop it up every 0nce in a while. Whatever dude.
Final Fantasy IX
Playstation. Played on Playstation 3. Originally Released 2000.
Another year, another valiant attempt at finishing my favorite Final Fantasy game. A perfect mix of 2D classics and 3D presentation stepped up in an era of dramatic and emotional storytelling. This PSX game became my favorite RPG as a child up until I abused Gameshark codes to ruin the entire experience. Since then I have made serious attempts, but none like in 2016, when I found myself constantly eager to throw myself into a giant role playing game. Before I got heavily into Dragon Quest IV, and then VII, I was heavily into IX, and the end was just within eyesight. But alas, I came to an annoying section of the game that was a difficult dungeon limiting my magic user who I expressly choose to accompany me because HIS MAGIC IS STRONG GODDAMN. I love this game’s tone, which is light hearted but often tragic, sad, yet always thoughtful. I love this game’s skill system, which requires the learning of magic and abilities through equipable weapons, armor, and accessories. I adore the game’s music, and the graphics, which hold up extremely well even in the year 2016. I love the characters: their backgrounds, their personalities, their character arcs, and their interactions. It’s so fun, but like every other RPG in the world, so goddamn long and full of variation that roadblocks appear in the form of discouraging shifts in gameplay. Oh well. Maybe in 2017 I can finish this beautiful video game.
Animal Crossing New Leaf
Nintendo 3DS. Originally Released 2012.
I didn’t see myself ever getting into this franchise. I knew what it was about, but it didn’t appeal to me. Then 2016 happened, and I thought maybe I’ll give that game a try. It seems relaxing. Then one night my girlfriend decided she needed the game, and I thought perfect I’ll buy it too. And now we play it daily. Well, she plays it daily, and I try to play it daily. I got a lot of shit to play. My life is a hole of video games. JUMP INTO THE VIDEO GAME HOLE.
This game is Animal Crossing. It’s pleasant. It’s exciting. You grow to care about the characters in your village, and that’s possibly the most interesting thing I have found with Animal Crossing New Leaf. I figured it would be a game where I would focus solely on upgrading my home or finding the best clothes for my character, but I care much more about the going ons of the friends I’ve made in my village. There are so many unique lines of dialogue that you see these characters develop in a way you don’t see in other video games, and that makes them seem more realistic even though they’re walking animal people designed to be happy and cute friends. They have birthdays. They have favorite gifts. They have slang. They become people you hang out with. As a true to life hermit it was delightful to experience this in video games. Animal Crossing New Leaf simulates a social life so that I don’t need to pretend like I ever wanted one!
Playstation 4. Originally Released 2016.
We all know the story of Doom. IT WAS SUPPOSED TO SUCK BUT THEN CAME OUT AND ROCKED EVERYONE’S BALLS OFF the multiplayer was dumb and everyone thought why did they only advertise this game’s multiplayer that’s fucking stupid as hell but none of that matters because I couldn’t beat the fucking game thanks to a 20 GB UPDATE AINT THE FUTURE AMAZING IT COMPLETELY WIPED MY FUCKING PROGRESS. I will go back to this game and beat it and it’ll become one of my favorite games of the year. The last time I tried to play it I realized I would have to start all over again and then all of my patience leaked from my eyeballs in a thick blood. I then had to go to the doctor. She told me to stop playing DOOM until a later date. So I said fine whatever see ya.
Let it Die
Playstation 4. Originally Released 2016.
Let it Die capped off a year of extremely solid releases and did so coming out of nowhere. It was just announced at PSX like “oh here’s this game it’s free-to-play and available now!”
Now I don’t blame anyone for recoiling at the term “free-to-play” due to its history of money sucking tactics that affect gameplay poorly, however Let it Die is a shining example of how to do this style effectively. Of course I can’t really say that because I haven’t progressed to the point where the payment model makes sense, but don’t worry I’m going to talk about it anyway. Let it Die presents a fun gameplay style within a world that doesn’t take itself very seriously. Everything is fun in that wacky Suda 51 way. You become hooked by the gameplay, and the progression, and you only want to pay in order to keep characters alive, which is by no means required. The game’s a roguelike that plays similar to Dark Souls, and it’s far better than that game that was supposed to be a roguelike that played like Dark Souls. That game fucking sucked. This game has suplexes, torture racks, and hurricanranas. This game’s fucking awesome!
Even the Ocean
PC. Originally Released 2016.
Even the Ocean is a small, independently produced video game that makes me happy to be playing video games in 2016. The characters, the story, the music, the art, the mechanics–everything presented in this game is right up my alley. There are some novel moments here, where characters actually let down their guard and tell you about themselves in a way that makes them feel like real people. THAT’S CALLED CHARACTERIZATION. C. H. A. R. A. C. T. E. R. F. U. C. T. I. T. Z. You thought I was going to spell characterization letter by letter and then I modified that as I went and began misspelling curse words. It’s okay. I would have thought that to.
But I’m me.
The actual game is simple. You travel to power plants and repair them. The repairing of power plants ends up being a tight little puzzle platformer with adventure game elements. Lots of wall jumping, and looking for items that serve as keys and allow the player to progress to the next bit of the level. The interesting component here is the light and dark mechanic. You don’t have health in this game. You have a meter that tells you how much dark, or how much light, your protagonist possesses. You must keep it balanced, as too much of either thing leads to death. So platforming it set up with this in mind–obstacles that require dark or light, and obstacles that produce dark or light. The game constantly introduces, nearly every level, new elements to progress this idea into a more complicated puzzle. AND, the game has a neat mechanic where if you have lots of dark you jump higher and drop faster, whereas a lot of light makes you jump farther but not as high. I can’t wait to get farther in this game to see what lies beyond to further complicate these mechanics, and I can’t wait to see how the story progresses.
Final Fantasy XV
Playstation 4. Originally Released 2016.
As I previously mentioned, I was not expecting to love Final Fantasy XV as much as I did. I didn’t even care about playing it. Once I had heard about it’s quality upon release, and once I had watched every streamer in the goddamn world stream this fucking game, I had to get it. So I did, and I really enjoyed what time I have spent traversing the giant open world with my bros. The characters are a joy to be around. The world is fun to explore. The combat is fun, unique, and interesting. Playing through this game makes me think of the RPG genre as a whole, and how this game makes sense at the end of decades of technical progression. I see this game and I think this is what developers from the 80s wanted to make when they designed Final Fantasy, or even Dragon Quest, but obviously they couldn’t make this game because lol 8 bits.
FFXV is a game not to be thought without knowledge of its rocky and long-winded development which shows itself through the smattering of ideas presented within the game, but it seems largely successful at combining these ideas for a quality, enjoyable video game experience. Plus the food looks really good. Probably the best video game food graphics around.
Also best chocobo.
Pokemon Sun (and Moon, but I played Sun)
Nintendo 3DS. Originally Released 2016.
I was done with Pokemon. This year, especially. I had played so much Pokemon–hours and hours of Heart Gold, Platinum, and hours still of Alpha Saphire. I didn’t finish either game because goddamn I was sick to death of this JRPG franchise. Every game was the same, just with a different coat of paint, and nothing appealed me about Sun except for the fact that it was new. Of course, then the night of the game’s release arrived, and I found myself digitally purchasing the game so that I could play it alongside my friends. That’s how new releases work–they’re infections! But this was one of those few glorious times where it worked out. Pokemon Sun and Moon, as a Role Playing Game, are the best entries of the series by far. The selection of Pokemon may not be as fresh and unique as other entries, the game may have been easy even for Pokemon standards, and the catch rate of the legendaries may have made catching them significantly less impactful, but goddamnit this game actually bothered to give you characters that mattered and a story that was interesting and satisfying to follow. Gamefreak crafted a world in which everything made actual sense. They completely altered the progression, gutted the crippling HM system, and crafted an experience that was aimed at fun rather than tradition. Pokemon Sun was a gem that made me glad to be the fickle consumer whore video game obsessed junkie that I am. I greatly look forward to seeing what happens to the franchise next.
Also the game introduced my two favorite pokemon ever. Incineroar, who is a heel, and Toucannon, who is a FUCKING GUN. And look at the expression in his EYE.
PC. Originally Released 2016.
Superhot! was a video game that released with an air of excitement and mystery. The gameplay defines this experience–it’s a first person shooter where time moves when the player moves. You can draw your plan while still, but any flaw in motion leads to death. It’s one shot one kill. The AI will surround you but they can never outsmart you. As an agent of death, you can take weapons from the hands of your enemy, kill said enemy, throw the weapon at the next guy causing him to drop their weapon, use said weapon to kill the guy coming up behind you, and then punch the last guy to death. It’s a puzzle game that rewards you by making you feel like an action star badass like no other video game in existence. It’s also presented in this funny and modern narrative that delivers its levels through a computer interface that becomes relatable to anyone being they are (most likely) playing Superhot! through a goddamn computer YOU FOLLOW ME?!? SUPER! HOT! SUPER! HOT! SUPER! HOT! SUPER! HOT!
PC. Originally Released 2016.
There has never been a beta more successful at selling the product. Most of the time I engage with multiplayer betas under the pretense that I already have interest in purchasing the game. When Overwatch had its first public beta I missed it. Then I missed the second, and by then I had heard so much fucking hype surrounding this game that I just HAD to give it a go. So I downloaded the last beta and immediately felt what everybody had been so excited about. It’s a team based multiplayer game structured around different classes meant to interact in interesting and varied ways. Each character/class/hero plays, moves, and most importantly feels completely different than the last almost as though it were a fighting game, and learning a hero can as difficult as to require many attempts and games, or as simple as putting on a pair of shoes. I immediately got Junkrat, as the demoman from Team Fortress 2 was my main. And yes–this game is essentially Team Fortress 2 with higher production values and more characters to choose from. But everything about how the game is designed is smart enough to warrant this game’s existence. Also I just like it better. It’s funner, the classes work together in more interesting ways, and games last shorter which creates a higher frequency for fun multiplayer rather than shutout after shutout.
Also the game hasn’t evolved into a gross money grabbing hat simulator with microtransactions BUT with the way crates and seasonal events work it can potentially become that in the future and that’s mostly due to the fact that this game is strong enough to last FOR YEARS. I may have neglected to play this game as much as I should have, but for what it’s worth, I loved every second of it–even when I was losing. The way in which the game has evolved since its release, with its constant content updates and seasonal events (all of which have been free), proove that Blizzard is willing to make this beast last for a long time.
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
Nintendo Gamecube. Played HD version on Nintendo WiiU. Originally Released 2002. HD Version Released 2013.
This year I finally beat The Legend of Zelda Wind Waker, and although I wouldn’t consider it my favorite Zelda game, it was definitely a wonderful experience that differentiated itself from the series and from the genre by being a bright, colorful experience full of expression and pleasant times. You’re a boy on a journey sailing the ocean. It’s fucking great. The dungeons aren’t the best, I hate the last few bosses, and the items you get aren’t revolutionary in the slightest, but I had a rioting good time with my Linku and his lion boat.
Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen
Nintendo Entertainment System. Played Nintendo DS remake. Originally Released 1990. Remake Released 2008.
This was the year I sunk into Dragon Quest. I beat and reviewed Dragon Quest Heroes, I bought both Dragon Quest VII AND Dragon Quest Builders on launch, AND I popped Dragon Quest 8 into my PS2, sunk about five hours into it, and forgot it existed. Again. Dragon Quest is a charming, addictive series of JRPGs that has successfully bridged accross multiple genres to deliver its own unique flavor of medieval dungeons and dragons fantasy mixed with the artistry of Dragonball. It’s a really good time capable of delivering nicely written stories that don’t take themselves too seriously, and in the JRPG market I admire that! Dragon Quest IV (which I also reviewed) was an absolute blast. It taught me how to appreciate grinding for what it can become–a rewarding sense that your work has payed off in the form of finally defeating a tough boss. It was just the right length, and possessed the right amount of great characters with their own unique stories. I loved the structure of this game in how each chapter feels like its own game, and then the last chapter finally introduces the protagonist and you play the real game just when the world opens up. It’s not the most unique JRPG in the world–it IS a Dragon Quest game after all–but it takes those tropes and succeeds where so many others have failed.
Dark Souls III
Playstation 4. Originally Released 2016.
I really like the Souls games. They’ve been my favorite games for a while now. Dark Souls 3 is what I would consider the best Souls experience released by the development team From Software. It’s smooth. It’s diverse. It’s fun. Everything looks great. The enemy designs are awesome. The story is fucking stupid but that doesn’t matter because the combat is so good, and the PvP and COOP are both stellar and they work far better than any game before it. Dark Souls 3 is a beast of a RPG.
Hyper Light Drifter
PC. Originally Released 2016.
Hyper Light Drifter is a celebration of what video games are: an intoxicating combination of visual art, music, story, and fluid, satisfying interaction. Playing Hyper Light feels smooth enough to create fault whenever the player fails. Many flashbacks occurred to my youth playing great action games like Ninja Gaiden, Mega Man, and Castlevania, in that push and pull that occurs playing through a difficult section. That satisfaction when I succeed. That determination when I fail, but made some tangible progress that may aid me for my next attempt. The bosses are amazing. The enemies are fun to fight. The world is fun to explore and look at. The story is compelling and communicated through environment and symbolic messaging. It also has my favorite art style of any game released this year (2016). Everyone should play Hyper Light Drifter.
Before we get to number one I’ll list several games I didn’t include on this list and will not dive into. Maybe some of these will land on my full top 10 list later. Maybe some will get blogs, or reviews. Maybe shuttup. Here’s an unordered list within an ordered list. THIS IS A BIG DEAL TAKE THIS SERIOUSLY.
Dragon Quest VII, Picross 3D 2, Crash Bandicoot 2, Dragon’s Crown, 10000000, Final Fantasy V, Final Fantasy IV, Xenoblade Chronicles, Odin Sphere Leifthrasir, Grim Dawn, Titan Quest, Neverwinter Nights, Salt and Sanctuary, Stardew Valley, Xenoblade Chronicles, Darkest Dungeon, Shadowrun Returns.
Wow that’s a lot of games! And a few of those have released in this year even. WOW! Anyway here’s my favorite game as of now that I played in the year 2016.
wait for it
Playstation 4. Originally Released 2016.
I did not highly anticipate Titanfall 2. I knew it was coming out, and I was interested in how it would end up, but once it released the waves of praise forced me to check it out. The campaign provides an experience unrivaled by any FPS game to have released in years by showcasing new and interesting ideas that never overstay their welcome. And then you jump into the multiplayer, which provides a great and addictive progression, and the ability to provide moments not possible in most multiplayer FPS titles. Quite simply, this is the best multiplayer experience I had all year, and it may be the best FPS campaign I have played since Half Life 2. Titanfall 2 was my favorite gaming experience in the year 2016.
DID YOU NOTICE THAT I COULD HAVE MADE DRAGON QUEST IV NUMBER FOUR ON MY LIST, DARK SOULS 3 NUMBER THREE, TITANFALL 2 NUMBER TWO, AND HYPER LIGHT DRIFTER NUMBER ONE WOULDN’T THOSE NUMBERS BE IRONIC IS THAT IRONY
NO IT’S NOT FUCKING IRONY.
SO STOP YELLING TO MYSELF I’VE GOTTA GET SOME MORE COFFEE AND WRITE FICTION INSTEAD OF WRITING ABOUT STUPID FUCKING VIDEO GAMES OKAY MERRY BOXING DAY YOU HEATHENS.
i hate searching google for screenshots