It’s that time of year! Family in town, freezing weather and endless debate over which game was the proverbial “best” Game of the Year. Well here at The Game Corner, we don’t play by the rules so no game will be called “best” here (that and ranking is a lot of thought and work just for 2% of people to think “‘meh’ I guess I can see that”). Regardless, these ten titles are in the top tier of gaming of the past 12 months and all others fall short. So here it is, our list of the 10 best games of 2016 (well, kinda).
I have a confession to make…I’m not perfect. Sometimes its time, sometimes it’s money and sometimes a game just isn’t for my taste. So I split the list of 10 into two lists of 5 (Those I haven’t completed/played and those I have). Now then, here’s the top 5 games I haven’t completed:
Dark Souls III
If not for Bloodborne, I wouldn’t have any frame of reference as to what From Software’s biggest franchise was all about. Like Bloodborne, the Dark Souls franchise can be summed up fairly easy in a few words: dying…a lot of dying. The Dark Souls series is known for its difficulty and trial-and-error approach to handling many enemies within the game. Dark Souls III is no exception to this trend as it contains all to familiar difficult bosses and enemies that upon defeat, truly make you feel like you have triumphed over them and earned the victory. Beyond the combat, Dark Souls III really shines when it comes to how deep its world is, providing hours of exploration within the hauntingly gorgeous environments in order to find new areas and collect countless items to help you on your journey.
I’ve never been overly into online competitive FPS games. To be honest, my favorite memories the genre came when I could sit on the same couch as my friends as we competed (and screen cheated). However, Battlefield 1 really caught my eye upon it’s announcement as a cool twist. Where its rival Call of Duty took the battle to space in a distant future setting, Battlefield decided to create a gorgeous and in-depth game looking back to World War 1. From my limited experience with the game, I can honestly say that online play felt like more than just a simple battle, it felt like a real war. The World War 1 weapons and detail in design give the game an incredible charm that not only looks great, but also makes you think much more careful about your decisions in battle as opposed to running in guns-a-blazing.
Alternatively, we have DOOM. With a run-and-gun wild approach to it’s single-player campaign it oozes energy and adrenaline at all times. DOOM is perhaps my most unfamiliar of the 5 games on this half of the list and regardless I cannot deny all that the game does right to deserve a spot. If you want action and to gruesomely destroy everything in your path in the most gory way possible, you have come to the right place. The multiplayer, however seems to be a bit lacking in comparison to its fantastic single-player, as it sort of just blends in as another online shooter. In the end, this iteration of DOOM really does the series proud in highlighting what they’ve always done best.
The Last Guardian
It pains me that this title is still on this half of the list. Shadow of the Colossus easily sits in my 5 favorite games of all time and its younger brother Ico was a truly encapsulating journey filled with heartfelt moments. Needless to say the wait for The Last Guardian has been a long and tough one (but not nearly as tough as another game to be mentioned). The Last Guardian sits on this side of the list simply because it is the most recent, sneaking into 2016 at the last minute, and I simply haven’t had the time to play it all the way through between finishing other games and trying to have a life. I’m putting The Last Guardian on here out of pure trust that the game has an incredibly touching (and most likely tear-inducing) ending in store for me. The gameplay is the perfect blend of assets of from Shadow of the Colossus and Ico and your partner Trico runs the gamut of human emotions (which is impressive for a cat, bird, dog, thing). While Trico is the game’s greatest strength, it also proves to be its greatest weakness as my only gripe with the game is how often Trico would simply not do what I want him to do and me confusion over whether I wasn’t calling Trico right or if the game didn’t allow Trico to go certain places.
If it pained me to put The Last Guardian on this half of the list, I can only feel shame for having to include Inside as well. Inside is a tragically beautiful game, filled with dark levels and an even darker theme. The gameplay of the mind-control puzzle platformer is incredibly clever and well executed to fit with the theming of the game as a whole. Developer Playdead is no stranger to all things dark and eerie with their other hit Limbo, and all creepy settings and sound design is present in Inside. The most incredible facet of Inside is its vagueness. As odd as that sounds, it’s true. Inside never tells you what to do or how to do things or why things are happening at all. There is no text or dialogue and the game shines in it’s attention to detail through telling a Story only with visuals and carefully constructing genius clues throughout the game to give you a hint as to the over-arching plot. Repeated playthroughs will absolutely be necessary to uncover more and more about the story and message of this thought-provoking game.
So those are 5 I haven’t completed, but now on to those I have. (hint: I’m gonna do that thing where I don’t number em but you know anyway I put them in order of my favorite.)
I know I said I wasn’t into online competitive shooter games, but I had my eye on Overwatch for quite awhile. The game grabbed my with its beautifully colorful art-style that contrasted so well to the 50 Shades of Grey/Brown seen in most FPS games. However, what truly drew me in were the characters, not just the fact that there were actual distinguishable characters to pick from for once, but that each Character carried with them their own personality, style and flare that they would bring into every battle. Hand-in-hand with the great character designs is Overwatch’s gameplay, which really appealed to my love for class based games as each character belonged to a different group that served different roles. However, just because D.VA and Reinhardt both serve as tanks doesn’t mean they function the same. The decisions of what characters work well in certain situations and when combined with other heroes is where Overwatch excels in its combat. My only problem with the game was its lack of a story mode…and Mei…I hate Mei.
Fire Emblem Fates
I, like many that have contributed to the series success, entered into the series at Awakening. The casual Normal Mode allowed me to go through the game to experience the story and get a feel for the mechanics, which prepared me a lot better for the Hard Mode playthroughs. Fates seemed like such an organic transition after Awakening that built upon everything that made its predecessor so charming and addicting. I have to just put Fates in this spot, as I feel that Conquest, Birthright and Revelation should all be experienced in some fashion as each bring their own elements to the table for three different playthroughs. Fates shined with its story and characters and much like with Awakening you can grow attached to these characters as you find yourself cautiously weighing decisions to ensure your favorite characters survive or befriend/marry others. If Awakening was Nintendo’s attempt to keep the Fire Emblem franchise alive, Fates shockingly cemented the series’ place as one of Nintendo’s top IPs.
Final Fantasy XV
The wait is over. I remember coming home from school in 6th grade back in 2006 to watch the E3 trailer for Final Fantasy Versus Xiii. I had no idea what was going on, but I loved every second of it. I remember skipping out on XIII because I figured I wanted to play Versus XIII and since there was a trailer it would be out fairly soon after. What a silly naive soul I was back then. Ten years passed and here we are, Finally Fantasy Versus XIII became Final Fantasy XV and was finally in my hands. It didn’t feel real to boot the game up to be honest. But I digress. Final Fantasy XV is stunning, its landscapes are lush and vast, its visuals are photorealistic at times, and the character and enemy designs are outstanding. One thing I really appreciated was a much simpler narrative, which was a stark contrast to XIII’s Fal’Cie/L’Cie BS, allowing for a much more enjoyable adventure. The cast of friends took some getting used to at first, but as the story progress I feel they may be some of Square’s best party members in terms of how they interact with one another. Many complain that the game puts you in linear situations but I actually enjoyed it, there is a massive open world to explore and when I want to explore it, I will. But when I want to progress the story or have a specific goal in mind, I tend to try and not stray from the path I lay out for myself anyway. All-in-all I think XV is a great entry worth of the FF name, while still not quite pushing past some of its stellar predecessors. The game begins with a screen that reads “A Final Fantasy for fans and first-timers” and that is exactly what XV is.
Pokémon Sun and Moon
Sun and Moon are a lot more than just the 7th generation of the Pokémon main series games. Sun and Moon are in every aspect a love letter to all Pokémon fans that have loved the franchise since it debuted 20 years ago. Sun and Moon is also proof that great developers take the time to listen to the concerns and desires of their fans and ensure that they can address them as best they can. When I think of complaints for past games, I feel Sun and Moon hit the nail on the head tending to them.
No more HMs? Pokéride system. Confusing stats? Allowed IVs to be raised and added some low-key brilliant menu features in the Box “Judge” option and the battle menu keeping track of stat buffs/decreases. Mix up the formula? Boom! No more gyms and new “Alolan” variants of old favorites. A more interesting and plot heavy story? Without a doubt Sun and Moon’s story is my favorite in the series simply because for the first time in any Pokémon game I actually cared about someone not a Gym Leader/Evil Team/Elite Four member. Lillie is a fantastic companion that I genuinely cared for by the end of the story as I constantly saw her character develop and blossom along with her very special Pokémon she carries around. (That and I’ve got an incredibly half-baked theory about how Sun and Moons story is like Kill la Kill…just think about it.)
I loved Pokémon Sun and Moon and will no doubt be playing them well into next year, however the fact that players will not be able their Pokémon from previous this year leaves me having to list this gem as my second favorite.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Take notes other developers and writers, THIS is how you cap off a series. Uncharted, plain and simple, is this generations’ Indiana Jones and while I’m not quite as well-versed on Indy, I can confidently say that Uncharted’s writing and characters are some of the most charming and charismatic of any game or movie. Nathan Drake does it all. He puts the punchlines exactly where you need em, he grits his teeth and gets serious when the mood is right, and most importantly he exudes a genuine love and passion for adventure that if said by someone else, may just come off as a geek rambling, but from him it inspires you to push onward and seek out the stuff of legends. Uncharted 4 nails everything that has made the series so great this far and it’s story keeps you engaged from beginning to end. Not to mention the game’s stunning visuals on the PS4 as colors truly pop out in the unique environments you visit. I’ve even tried to be critical of Uncharted at times, thinking “other games do shooting/stealth better and the climbing and puzzle solving is pretty simple”. But when I take control of Nathan Drake in search of the infamous pirate Henry Avery’s hidden treasure, I am having fun. Pure unadulterated fun. And that is what makes gaming so powerful as a means of escapism.
So there it is, The Game Corner’s Top 10 Games of 2016! All of these games are great in their own way and if possible I strongly recommend picking up a copy if you haven’t already. If I left one you liked off, let me know in the comments! Otherwise, Here’s Lookin at You 2017!