2016 has been a bit of a funny year. There’s been a lot of surprises for everyone. But really games are the most important thing. This year I’ve changed the rules, because everything about 2016 has been unpredictable. I’m going to be allowing remasters in this list this time, as long as the remaster was the first time I played the game. How does that make you feel? Is this what justice feels like…? I also contributed to Rice Digital’s Annual Gaming & Anime Awards, which are a bit like this one but different. Read it here!
Game of January
Gone Home: Console Edition
I know this was a pretty old one, but I somehow didn’t end up playing it until it released on PS4 this year, and I think it was even one of the PlayStation Plus free games. Don’t get me wrong, I love blasting brains out of people as much as the next murderer, but I’ve always had a real soft spot for slower placed adventure games and exploration games. Some people like to say Gone Home isn’t a game at all or that it’s a “walking simulator”, though that doesn’t seem at all fair to me. It’s not a hard game at all, but you still need to explore a house and figure out how to navigate it while searching it for items that piece together the game’s narrative. It’s simple, but really great. It’s also pretty short, and is probably best played in one stormy sitting, as I did. The Fullbright Company did a great job at turning a large family home into a video game environment. The Director’s Commentary option in this is also great, but wait until you’ve beaten it once (obviously).
I Don’t Get It… Maybe I Could Get It…? Award
Yeahhhhhh, so I didn’t really get into this one. I like puzzle games a lot. I also like games where you walk around exploring a lot. I just don’t know how this hasn’t clicked with me any time I’ve tried it yet. And I keep trying. The environment is quite nice to look at, and I’ll also admit most of the puzzles seem pretty cool. Maybe the time cost for walking between puzzles when you get stuck doesn’t sit very well with me? Maybe the combination of those two things I don’t like don’t make an ultimate game for me, but actually detract from one another? Maybe I need to play this with someone that actually likes it. Maybe I’ll give it a try on PC sometime (instead of PS4). There’s a lot of maybes. I want to like it, but I just kind of don’t get it I think?
Game of February
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4
I actually reviewed this one so take a look. I used to be a pretty big Naruto fan, but dropped off around the Ninja War, which is where this one picks up the story. It’s actually a pretty nice way of presenting the end of Naruto, and alongside the game’s Adventure mode that nostalgically revisists key events from all of Naruto, makes a great package for current and past fans. It just oozes love and respect for the series, and is a really fun and fairly simple 3D fighter.
I Shouldn’t Have Bought It At Full Price Award
Street Fighter V
Street Fighter V was a pretty disappointing release for me, though it is of course a very well designed and great fighting game. Everyone pretty much already knows that the package on release very lacklustre, missing most key features, and with dodgy online. I wanted to try to get into Street Fighter V properly so I pre-ordered it, but by the time they fixed the server issues a week or two into release I’d already ended up giving up on it. Unfortunately I just don’t pick this one up as often as I did Ultra Street Fighter IV. The way a game is packaged and the way it presents itself in its launch window is still super important, folks!
Game of March
I didn’t put as much time into this as I would have liked (but will continue to play it next year, I’m sure), but Pokkén is a super fun and great game! The idea of a Pokémon fighting game left many uneasy as to how legit it would be. I still don’t know, as I am not legit myself, but I have a lot of fun shooting at people as Chandelure, and that’s good enough for me.
Most Conflicted About Your Existence Award
Hyrule Warriors Legends
I got pretty deep into the original Hyrule Warriors on Wii U, so was expecting the same of this. Unfortunately, while very good, it’s kind of ended up ruining both versions of the game for me. The Wii U one is still being supported with some of the additional content from Legends, but still lacks some of the great quality of life improvements. Unfortunately the Wii U version looks and plays a heck of a lot better than Legends! This means I would rather play both versions to one another — so ultimately… neither?? Ooops!
Game of April
Dark Souls III
Yo! It’s the Dark Souls of sequels! I didn’t even play the second one, but this felt like a great follow-up to the original Dark Souls (which I actually only finished this year), and also benefitted a lot from Bloodborne‘s improvements too. Bloodborne still might be the tighter experience, but Dark Souls III is a really incredible experience that presents the tone and themes unique to the Dark Souls world in a solid package. Also, use the online features, okay?? It’s not that hard a game at all when you play online with friends. Don’t miss out on a fantastic game by being stubborn or whatever okay???
Most Boring Cutscenes Award
Yeah I get it, Aidan Gillen is a very nice man and actor (though he’s not in Quantum Break enough actually), with his skills at acting and his incomprehensible accent. Quantum Break did a fairly unique thing where it had “TV Episodes” between the game’s main chapters. The problem? These were way too long, and not very good. They were shot like quite high budget fan films, mostly had mediocre acting, and focused around the most unlikable characters who were impossible to care about and had little bearing on actual events. Apparently these would have different scenes depending on what you did in the game, but I wasn’t going to watch them twice to check (though I did end up playing the game through twice).
Game of May
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Uncharted 4 was just very, very well made. It still felt like an Uncharted game, but moved it into the next generation of consoles. The things Uncharted 4 felt massively refined from the original series, and felt like they probably couldn’t have been done on older hardware. To this day I still think it’s probably one of the best games in terms of showcasing what this gaming generation is about. It also kind of made Rise of the Tomb Raider looks sort of bad, which only just did the same things with slight tweaks. Uncharted 4 is almost a complete rebuilding of what it means to be an Uncharted game, and one that stays true to that original vision. The grappling hook feels like a very natural addition to the game mechanically, and the way stealth works changed pretty much every encounter in the game. It just flows, so well. It’s almost sickening how well put together it is.
Surprisingly Really, Really Good in Most Every Aspect, But Wasn’t As Good as Uncharted 4 Award
I was never crazy into DOOM, though it does have a pretty significant spot in my gaming history. I didn’t really expect much from the 2016 sequel, simply titled DOOM, but thought I’d check it out anyway. My goodness, what a well put together game. I don’t always get on so well with modern day FPSes — they kind of bore me — but DOOM certainly didn’t. It knows what it is and what players want from a DOOM experience, and puts all of its systems together to deliver it. The story is very barebones, but not lacking in style or characters. The shooting is fast paced and encourages staying mobile at all times. It’s slick, fast-paced, and visceral. The chainsaw, glory kills, and of course the shotgun have so much impact. It’s beautiful in its horrific ugliness. It’s a great game, and needs a mention on my list.
Somehow Still Haven’t Played it Award (Not Even in the Beta or Any Free Weekends)
Someone buy it for me already, Christ.
Game of June
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Eyes of Heaven
There’s a lot about Eyes of Heaven that isn’t perfect. But it’s a lot of fun for a JoJo fan (which I am). The story is a little dry at times, but has a lot of fan-service elements as all of the characters from the different parts of JoJo travel to their different timelines and universe. Each character also feels very unique. Somehow I managed to put 40 hours+ into this one. I also reviewed this one.
Got My Ass Beat the Most Award
Guilty Gear Xrd -Revelator-
Possibly my most played fighting game of 2016, I had a tremendous amount of fun playing Revelator against friends, coworkers, and even complete strangers at events. I mainly play as Faust, because I only have enough brain power to sort of learn one character at a time. While most of the time I did end up getting destroyed, I had some great times hitting my head against people, trying to bamboozle them, and occasionally taking some rounds. Looking forward to Tekken 7 next year!
Game of July
Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIII
I enjoyed Nobunaga’s Ambition: Sphere of Influence a lot this year (and enjoyed the somewhat sequel Ascension quite a bit this year too), so thought I’d probably get on okay with Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIII. I was surprised by just how much I did enjoy it! It’s kind of the same set-up as Nobunaga’s Ambition, but with Chinese history instead. What I particularly liked about this one is the Hero Mode that gives you a series of missions that takes you through the history of the period while also teaching you specific lessons about how to play the game. It’s a feature I’d love to see incorporated into a Nobunaga’s Ambition sequel some time. I reviewed this game too, and you can read it here.
The HOW MUCH? Award
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 1&2 Remaster
I always wanted to check these games out. I love spiders, webs, and even the shield man. But the price of the bad boys, for older games, always stopped me from getting the original releases. But when they brought it out on this gen I thought oh okay that could be cool to get that at a decent price. But it was a full price release. And I have no idea if they’re even any good, apparently they’re a bit janky. Even on sale they’re quite expensive. X-Men Legends was okay I guess?
Game of August
Attack on Titan
Wow. Before this came out I was pretty confident that Omega Force would be the ones to finally get an Attack on Titan game that feels right. But I didn’t expect it to be quite this good. Sort of a bizarre cross between Warriors games, Spider-Man games, and rhythm games, this is an almost perfect Attack on Titan game. This is how it should be made. And here it is.
The No Thank You Award
No Man’s Sky
Oh boy, this game caused a bit of a controversy, didn’t it? I’m not all about drama and controversies (oh, okay, I totally am, but I’m not getting into it). I just couldn’t get on board with… wait for it… the GAMEPLAY LOOP (eugh I am the worst) of this game. It pretty much boiled down to landing on RNG planets to collect resources to land on the next one with increasing things you had to get and just that over and over. Not for me.
Game of September
Oh boy, I already wrote a pretty chunky preview of this one. This is just Persona at its best. Peak Persona, if you will. This might have been delayed for years, but they must have spent every minute polishing this, as it’s pretty much a perfect refinement of what it wants to be. Look forward to the western release in 2017!
The I Still Love This Series Award
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice
Another one I reviewed! I guess I did more reviews this year, huh? I really loved this latest entry in the Ace Attorney series, which has always been very special to me. A return to form after the somewhat forgettable Dual Destinies, it’s a terrific story with a game that’s built around one central principle — revolution. It pulled it off extremely well in my opinion, proving it’s a series that still may have plenty more to offer!
Game of October
Superdimension Neptune VS Sega Hard Girls
I was surprised at how much I liked this one. All of the Neptunia games are usually pretty okay, but I really loved all of the fun nods to the history of Sega in this one. As someone who grew up with Sega consoles, there was a lot I enjoyed about the nods to old classics. I still gave up once it got too hard, though (fairly early on).
The Really Nice Gesture Award
Skyrim SE & Darksiders Warmastered
Whoa. They gave me these for free on Steam because I owned the originals. That’s super generous, especially in a world where re-releases and remasters are hungry to reap extra earnings from older titles. It’s really appreciated that they’d just throw these at me for owning the originals, which I guess is a pretty nice thing about PC gaming maybe? I never got on with Skyrim to be honest, I found it a bit bland, but it’s still nice they did this and I’ll be more likely to revisit it now. Darksiders was, I thought, a pretty overlooked gem with some great art design and dungeons that feel very Zelda-esque. Check it out if you skipped it the first time around.
Game of November
Watch Dogs 2
I actually kind of enjoyed the first Watch Dogs, but I only paid £10 for it so there’s that. But, the story was pretty lame, and it had a lot of cringey moments. Watch Dogs 2 sort of embraces the cringe and rolls with it, turning it into a pretty genuine feeling experience with a fun and dorky tone — much appreciated after the overly dour tone of the first game. The choices and options the first game promised but didn’t deliver on are actually present in this one too. Not only does it feel like you can legitimately complete objectives a lot of different ways, but it’s frequently adaptable as you play. You can play the game with as much lethality as you want, but aiming for a non-lethal approach fits the tone the best, I think.
Should Have Played it Earlier Award
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
Everyone always told me I should check this out, and after love/hating Final Fantasy XV I finally buckled, picking up the base game and the expansion in the Steam Christmas sale. Everyone always put forward some good reasons as to why I would enjoy it, but I’m still somewhat surprised at how much I do. It’s structured excellently even for players that prefer solo play, the classes mostly feel pretty unique to play as, and you can train up stuff you’re lower level in more easily once you have a higher level in something else. The quality of life options are here in spades, and it’s clearly been tweaked and refined to match what players want.
Really Good New Entry in a Series
Pokemon Sun & Moon
It’s very good. But the SOS system sucks, sorry.
Game of December
The Last Guardian, I Guess
Well, I haven’t had time to play this much. But, as expected from the creators of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, I’m really loving the tone and vibes of the game. Not much else came out this month, either.
Movie That’s Better Than The Game Award
Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV
Shots fired. No, really, I thought this was actually a pretty cool film, though the ending did go on a bit. But I enjoyed Spirits Within too so there you go.
Games I wanted to play but haven’t had the chance to yet 🙁
Even I’m not perfect. Here’s some of the games I couldn’t include in this list that I really wanted to check out. Sad face for me.
- Dishonored 2
- Titanfall 2
- I Am Setsuna
- Ratchet & Clank
- The Silver Case
- Monster Hunter Generations (sobbing)
- Let It Die
Game of the Year
WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT. It’s not out yet over here, so this choice makes me extra cool.