As ever, my gaming time was at a premium this year, but even so I managed to plough through a fair portion of my gaming backlog, finally finding time to play games like Journey and Uncharted 2.
Despite buying a PS4 in September, I still didn’t play that many games released in 2016, yet the new games I did manage to play left a lasting impression. And there are dozens of 2016 releases that I can’t wait to play through in the coming year, among them the newly rebooted DOOM – which Sir Gaulian has been raving about in his best of list.
The Best Games of 2016 That I Actually Played
The Last Guardian
It was worth the wait. I’m currently halfway through The Last Guardian, and it has reawakened feelings I experienced when playing through the sublime ICO and Shadow of the Colossus: namely, an uncanny sense of isolation and wonder, combined with a strong emotional bond with my companion. And speaking of the companion in this game, Trico is simply amazing to behold – at times I have genuinely believed he’s a real creature that’s somehow become trapped in my PS4.
No Man’s Sky
It’s not for everyone, and Hello Games didn’t quite deliver on the rash promises they made in the lead up to No Man’s Sky‘s release, but I’ve immensely enjoying pottering around the universe they created. There’s sheer joy to be had in simply roaming the galaxy and stumbling across its many weird and wonderful creatures. And those 70s sci-fi inspired planetscapes are genuinely poster-worthy. Plus, with the latest expansion, you can now build your own space shed for intergalactic pottering.
Despite being fairly broken at launch, Pokemon Go was phenomenally popular, and with good reason: the urge to catch ’em all in the actual real world is overwhelmingly strong. I gave up on gym battling fairly early on, but I still play the game regularly in the hope of completing my Pokedex. And thanks to frequent updates, the game is now actually stable and full of great features. Most importantly, it got me back into mobile gaming – speaking of which…
Super Mario Run
Much has been written about the game’s divisive £8 price point – there’s a good summary here – but to me this game has been incredible value for money. Unlike the initially broken Pokemon Go, Super Mario Run has the extreme polish that you’d expect of a fully fledged Nintendo game – and Toad Rally is utterly compelling. It turns out that competing against your friends for coins and Toads is exactly the ingredient that Mario needed all along. I wrote off 2D platformers earlier this year, but Super Mario Run is the game that made me fall in love with them again.
Technically this came out in December 2015, but I’m including it here because I didn’t play it in time for last year’s list – and because it’s bloody fantastic. The universe of SteamWorld Dig is reimagined in space as a side-on, turn-based shooter – like a 2D XCOM with steam-powered robots. The design is incredible and there’s a warm sense of humour percolating through the game – I can’t wait to see what Image & Form come out with next.
BUBBLING UNDER: Deus Ex GO, Valkyria Chronicles Remastered, Really Bad Chess.
The Best Games of 2016 That I Would Have Played If I’d Had The Time
Fire Emblem: Fates
I’m gutted that I missed out on the lovely special edition of this game – I’ve been coveting Sir Gaulian’s copy. I adored Fire Emblem: Awakening, and I’m fresh from a playthrough of the GBA game Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, so I’m itching to throw myself into Fire Emblem: Fates. The general word seems to be that it doesn’t quite hit the highs of Awakening, but I haven’t played a bad Fire Emblem game yet.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE
Again, I wish I’d been quick enough to nab the special edition of this game. And rather than going down in price, the base game is now selling for more than its RRP in many places, reflecting the limited number of retail copies, no doubt. Still, I can’t wait to play through this unique crossover between Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem – next year I’ll be watching online game shops like a hawk, ready to swoop in when the price is right.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice
I was disappointed that Capcom didn’t bother localizing the intriguing Sherlock Holmes Ace Attorney spin-off, but at least we have this game, the sixth in the main series. The fifth was a huge return to form, and Spirit of Justice seems to have kept up the series’ standards, judging by the good reviews. I can’t wait to see what Maya has been up to all these years.
I spent a good portion of this year playing through the wonderfully odd and obtuse Deadly Premonition, so what a coincidence it was when another game inspired by Twin Peaks was released at the same time I was exploring a different version of murder in small-town America. The idea of a story with no dialogue is hugely intriguing – and the fact that this game is only a couple of hours long means that there’s a good chance I might actually find the time to play it in 2017.
BUBBLING UNDER: Uncharted 4, INSIDE, Dishonored 2, XCOM 2, The Witness, Monster Hunter Generations, Firewatch, DOOM, Titanfall 2, That Dragon, Cancer, Hitman, Duskers.
[As written by Lucius Merriweather on the cusp of 2017.]