It has been an interesting year, both for me and this blog. I never expected it to get the following it has, and hopefully you have enjoyed my content ^^
This is the final part of my video game articles of 2016; my top 5 games of 2016. Once again, here are my personal rules in deciding which are which. Believe me, this was difficult to do! This should have been up last week, but writer’s block set in. Oops.
This list was pretty hard to narrow down to just ten, and even harder to rank them. Some are so close they can virtually be called a tie. Now, these are the rules, just in case peeps don’t know them!
- This is my own personal list. Everyone has their own preference.
- It has to be games I’ve physically played. This is why stuff like Dishonored 2, Call of Duty 1512, Assassin’s Creed the 92nd, Homefront Revolution amongst other stuff isn’t in my gaming lists this year. If I haven’t played it, I’m in no position to talk about it! This is a shame, because I feel Overwatch and Final Fantasy would be rather high on my list otherwise.
- My criteria is how much I ENJOYED playing the game, not graphics or other professional opinions etc etc. Enjoyment is what matters ultimately. Of course, that kind of stuff like graphics/gameplay etc will always have some influence.
This year has been a year of remastered crap unfortunately, so it has been difficult for me to find a list of games I’ve really enjoyed. Stuff like Xcom2 and Stellaris were games I really enjoyed, but they have problems which meant I couldn’t add them to my list. Anyway, here is number 5!
Number 5: Tyranny
Ah, good old Obsidian. These guys are awesome at making RPGS! The incredible (if buggy) Fallout New Vegas, Pillars of Eternity, Baldur’s Gate, the list just goes on. So when they announced this dark RPG in which “the evil side wins”, I was immediately interested. Here is the list of features to this game, lifted from the Steam Page:
Branching, unique stories in an original setting:
The battle between good and evil has already taken place, and evil stands victorious
Choices matter – make world-altering decisions with far-reaching consequence:
As a Fatebinder in the Overlord’s army you wield a vast amount of power in the occupied lands of the Tiers. Will you use that to inspire stability and loyalty, will you be feared, or will you seek your own power?
Challenging, classic RPG combat:
Tactical real-time-with-pause combat with new party-driven mechanics and modern presentation
A rich original setting:
Not just another “hero’s journey” — Tyranny turns the archetypal RPG story on its head and allows players to explore a new take on good and evil.
Challenging combat? A rich world-building? Oh yes! Now, I don’t play these games for the combat, to be honest. I play these for the story and the worldbuilding. Now, this game had it’s faults. Unlike Pillars, the game is rather linear, not really a bad thing, but it does seem a little bit….how do I say it….a disappointing ending? I went into it, and when it was finished, I wanted a lot more. It’s a cool game, most certainly, with exceptional character customization, and the Conquest opening has exceptional replayability, where you basically decide how the game is setup, so that has a lot of skill to it. The game does lose a bit of steam around the 30 hour mark, but it has incredible immersion, just what I want in a video game. Just wish there was more of it. It’s like a delicious chocolate pudding. Great to get my teeth into, but I miss it when it’s gone, and wish there was more. Too much also bloats you.
Number 4: Pokemon Sun and Moon.
This really came as a surprise! Now, I will start by saying I love Pokemon. I got the first one Pokemon Red way back in 1999 for Christmas, and I remember playing that game for pretty much the entire Christmas Day. Good times. I’ve played every generation, and while my love of the series has waned a bit, I still play it often, mostly the vast slew of hacks which have derived from Pokemon.
I wasn’t very keen on Pokemon X and Y, and I found the third generation remakes very disappointing, so this game coming out I wasn’t that into. I played the Moon demo before it’s main release and found it very enjoyable. It looks fresh, the evil gang this time around look like gangster rappers (which was both amusing and fresh for Pokemon), the graphics are nice and the region is also fresh. Team Skull also has one of the most badass intro themes of any Pokemon game, and it’s something I loved listening to.
The games are very different to past games. Gone are the gym leaders of old, now we have Trials of the very Hawaii-esque islands. This really worked, as it matched the storyline and allowed me to delve into the game’s lore without worrying about the traditional 8 gym leader system of the last six generations. The story was very heavy and drove the entire thing, each character was beautifully crafted in a way which I really cared about them. I really enjoyed the Trials, for each one was different from the other. The gameplay was also considerably more difficult. I actually wiped twice, and would have wiped more times were I didn’t have more items to heal my team. This is a good thing, because Pokemon tends to be geared towards little kids, making the difficulty peanuts.
Overall, I’m greatly enjoying my experience with Pokemon Sun and Moon. It’s probably the best version out yet, and it’s charm is frankly endearing.
Number 3: Witcher 3: Blood and Wine.
I don’t know if I’ve made it clear in past blogs, but I despise the current trend of DLC. I just view those who cut out content which should already be in the main game (which is generally a high price of 60$ already), and selling it again as overpriced DLC is just a vile business practice. Obviously it’s all about the money, and you don’t have to buy the DLC, but it really leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.
CD Projekt Red though have gone in the other direction. Witcher 3 won my 2015 game of the year award for its exceptional depth, story and world-building, and the DLC for this game was just phenomenal. Not only did they release 16 free DLC with the game (some of it being quite chunky) which in the hands of another company would have charged us another 20-30$ no doubt, but their two paid DLC’s were exceptional in size and quality. Heart and Stone was a well priced DLC which added 10 hours of new content, which is completely acceptable. Blood and Wine added about 30 hours of quests and content for a tidy sum of £15-20. Many AAA games give you worse playability for double the price.
I love Witcher 3 in almost all of it’s entirety (except it’s rather clunky and shit combat and movement mechanics…) and Blood and Wine gives you another large land to explore, a large amount of quests and content. It requires you to be Level 34 to start on your main playthrough (I’m still loitering around the 20s in my game….noob!) but you can simply choose the BAW start to begin the quest already at Level 34 in a separate playthrough if you’d like. It is perhaps one of the best DLC of all time, and was so worth my money that I would have been tempted to buy it all over again. It’s an excellent game in it’s own right.
Number 2: Planet Coaster
Safe to say, I fucking LOVE rollercoaster games. Parkitect was in my Top 10 spot as well. Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 was probably my favourite even now (helped by the excellent OpenRCT2 engine to make it even more playable) but Frontier made the still formidable Rollercoaster Tycoon 3. Than they announced Planet Coaster, and it finally launched in November. I was playing with the Alpha and Beta versions of the game throughout 2016, and greatly enjoyed them.
The first thing I’d like to say about this game is it just oozes charm. It just looks so happy! The intro, the theme music, the park itself and all the little quirks just strikes me as an extremely happy game. Now, I will say something about Planet Coaster. If you want a theme park management monster, this is not the game for you. The management is a little broken, in the best of words. It’s incredibly easy to make money in the game, and the challenge isn’t really there. However….if you play a theme-park builder just to go God-Level and delve into creativity to your hearts content…this is hell yeah! The game for you!
The game’s creative building options blow everything else out of the water, and there is so much to do! I was a little nervous about their capability to update the game and keep it ahead of the pack, but so far the devs have been very good with patching it, fixing issues and adding new content. They actually listen to the fanbase! This is probably the most fun I’ve had with a game in the past year, and easily deserves my No.2 spot. It is pricey, but a game which keeps on giving.
Number 1: Stardew Valley.
I never expected this to take the number 1 spot, but it really blew me away. From the very beginning, it just drew me in with it’s exceptional charm, music score, all built by the same developer. In just two weeks of me getting the game, I put in about 60 hours!
It’s easily the best Indie game of 2016 for sure I found. The story begins when your grandpa dies, and gives you the keys to his old farm. What in the beginning is a farming simulator and a spiritual successor to the old Harvest Moon, but this is so much more then that! Now, in the beginning it’s a micromanagement grind because you’re limited by energy, but there is so much to do in this little gem!
There is a sizable village with a lot of NPC’s you befriend, each one with their own working schedules, quests, ideals and personalities, you can fish, you can mine, you can even delve into mines and fight monsters! The fact that the entire game is open to you from the beginning is a huge strength. The farming is excellent, but it can be a grind. Don’t want to farm? Don’t have to, just go into one of the countless other things to do. There are plenty of events to enjoy throughout the game, and for such a little gem, it really has a lot of gameplay, and nothing I found draining or boring.
This game….it just oozes charm and gives off the impression that the dev adores his own creation, which it really shows. For a game which costs no more than a tenner, it is quite astonishing how much depth the game has. There is even considerable mod support, just another boon for Stardew Valley. It may not look like much, but it easily took the Number 1 spot of 2016.
It was a little bit late, but that was the end of my 2016 games marathon. Hopefully, 2017 brings even better games to the fray. There were some excellent games last year which missed the cut like Superhot, Stellaris and Civ VI, but I’m overall very happy with my Top 10. I will be returning soon hopefully with a new article, in which I’ll discuss my writing journey to the present day.