This year felt way longer than it ought to have. I played a few games. I shan't be too negative, other than point out that I wasted at least 60 hours playing Fallout 4 that I won't get back.
As the old saying goes "if at first you don't succeed, play New Vegas instead". The winners(?) are
Overwatch for making me feel good about myself
Check out how rad I am with Reinhardt. No seriously.
But Reinhardt isn't my main. Lucio is. Check out someone who is not me playing Lucio
Wallrunning with Lucio is a lot of fun, because you can get places with that guy. Few joys in this world come close to flanking around the opposing team’s deathball in ways you didn’t think possible, and then booping their tank off a ledge with Lucio’s dubstep gun. Now if I could just get that “Floor is Lava” achievement…
The Witness for invoking the spirit of Phoenix Wright
Did you ever play Phoenix Wright or any of the Ace Attorney games? Oftentimes I had trouble figuring out the logic in those games, but more than once I’d go to bed, and then wake up the next day and go “Aha!” and then that would (sometimes) be the answer. I got a lot of that with The Witness, so much so that I'd rush to turn on the computer to check whether or not I was right (I wasn't). Favorite puzzles? Probably these ones, because it made me feel smart, even though the solution is RIGHT IN YOUR FACE.
Brigador, Furi and DOOM for drowning out my coworkers
It’s a little unfair or petty to say synth and electronica are out of fashion; it’s more that I’m fatigued with it. That said, Makeup & Vanity Set's efforts with Brigador are something worth listening to if you’re big on Carpenter-esque vibes.
Standout tracks for me are “March” and “Fatal Flaw”.
Meanwhile, the Game Bakers got Carpenter Brut to curate the soundtrack to their game Furi, which resulted in something worth plugging in your earholes.
I listened to far too much of “Make This Right” by French music person The Toxic Avenger.
Finally, my dream of an industrial NIN revival is finally making a comeback with Mick Gordon’s OST for DOOM.
Listen to Rip & Tear, listen to BFG Division, listen to Cyberdemon, listen to Mastermind, and stare your coworkers dead in the eye every time those tracks play. Then go and have lunch.
[In all seriousness, I want to point out something about both Furi and Doom that I don’t think gets enough mention. Both games have coherent soundtracks, and both games also split up their songs into individual phrases or segments depending on what sort of action is going on. You hear this happening with every boss fight in Furi, where each stage of the boss fight is a phrase or a new part of a particular track that builds up to a crescendo, and you hear it in Doom which dynamically changes depending on what you are ripping and tearing. I have no idea how difficult it is to program for this sort of thing, but I imagine it’s pretty fucking hard.]
Diablo 3 for being an effective time killer but not that entertaining
AKA the "podcast game" category previously occupied by things like The Binding of Isaac. D3 has made a bunch of improvements since I last played well over a year ago. Completing challenges with a seasonal hero will give you daft cosmetic rewards like wings, pets or portraits; greater rifts are far easier to access now (there used to be some sort of blasted test you had to pass to get better greater rift keystones – now you just complete any regular rift and use keystones to open a greater rift, the difficulty of which you can increase the more you do), and some new cube recipes have been thrown in to further break the game and drive theory crafters nuts (in that you can now burn unique weapons, armor and accessories and equip up to three of those unique effects to any character). Do not play this game.
Dying Light: The Following for actually being entertaining
Wanna know how great Dying Light is? I hit this zombie runner so hard right in the goddamn head that they ragdolled back into a chair and sat down damn near perfectly.
Wanna know how great The Following DLC for Dying Light is? The developers put pictures of their cats on the walls in houses.
I got a huge chunk of enjoyment out of Techland’s creation. The parkour from the main game is a lot of fun, but the Following DLC has the decency to stick in a decent plot (whereas the main game most certainly does not) which goes in a really messed up direction. Dying Light is not high art, it doesn’t break any new ground, but the whole thing is perfectly playable, the multiplayer component is competent and not all that broken, and I spent 60 hours on it without any regrets.
Witcher 3: Blood and Wine for being goooooooooooooooorgeous
There’s a lot to say about the Blood and Wine expansion, but I’ll just let Geralt’s face do it instead.
Superhot for breaking the fourth wall properly
Go forth and play Superhot then report back here.
Hacknet for making me recreate part of that one scene from The Matrix
So there’s a brief bit of a scene early on in The Matrix, where Keanu Reeves character is listening to Dissolved Girl by Massive Attack when he’s contacted by Trinity...
That short moment where Neo is half asleep, staring bleary eyed, listening to that song, scanning for some shred of info is what happened to me while playing Hacknet at about 2 AM during a Moscow summer. It nails the “Hollywood hacker” feel, and doesn’t require you to learn anything hard (at most it’s just typing about 10 different short commands). Complete the game and you are rewarded with… well, you just have to find out for yourself.
I am pumped that the Dimensions DLC (which was meant to drop in December) is coming in Spring.
Hitman for being the actual game of the year
I was a late comer to Blood Money (probably one of the best games of all time), fell in with that game real hard, and then got majorly bummed with what the then-team at IO Interactive were doing with follow up Absolution. When I heard about Hitman 2016, the news of which dropped around PAX in 2015 when next to NO ONE was paying ANY ATTENTION.
I was so surprised at what I saw, and how little traction that the game was getting, that I wrote in a forum post back then
Gone is the complete and utter toss about some gritty back story to Agent 47 or the ludicrous indulgence in grindhouse aesthetic that plagued the last one (among many other things) and instead have seemingly brought it back to Blood Money's style of "here's a sandbox murder puzzle, figure it out!" They give like five seconds of time to the instinct mechanic before immediately screaming "IT'S TOTALLY OPTIONAL".
In hindsight, given all that happened to IO after Absolution like the mea culpa letter from the developers, it's not a surprise to me that they wanted to manage expectations and keep it all low-key. Yet I’m glad to know that, about 16 months later, I wasn’t wrong in my initial hunch.
I mean, holy crap, they did it. They managed to not only make a worthy sequel to Blood Money, in that they kept the sense of humor and improved the gameplay loop, but they also managed to make it have a lasting, year-long appeal, which came in regular big drops in the forms of maps, and small drips in the form of elusive targets. Those who decided to “hold back” and “wait for the full release” missed the point. Hitman was the slow burn phenomenon of 2016 that never quite disappeared from the headlines, your youtube subs, or your twitter feed for longer than a week. It was both fun to play, and the ultimate water cooler (or forum) discussion game where you would compare strategies with other people - almost all of whom approach the game in their own sociopathic manner.
I do have knocks against it, which have been repeated elsewhere by the likes of Superbunnyhop…
...But one that isn’t mentioned enough is where’s my damn sniper rifle suitcase?
Last but not least, the Thing of This Year you’ve been waiting for…
Dark Souls 3 for perpetuating the nightmare that is Namco Bandai’s username censorship system
Here just a few examples I encountered
And here’s Seigmeyer and Havel enjoying some jolly cooperation.
Happy New Year!