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GOTY 2016

These lists are something I've enjoyed doing year after year (granted I missed some here; but did them external to Giant Bomb - Sorry!!! They were on Facebook). It's a way to reflect upon a year measured in games. Some have been good, others have been great. That's the thing about 2016, I'd argue that it is - to me - the best year for video games since 1998. I found myself going through experiences which I can easily consider among my favourites of all time, not just for the year. We, as an industry, seemed to have found our stride. This is something to be celebrated, and I am extremely excited for what the future brings. For now? Let's celebrate the best of the year!!!

This list is comprised of the games I've played this year. I didn't touch games like Battlefield 1, Watch Dogs 2, Dark Souls 3, and several other big releases this year. This is purely based on what I played and adored from 2016 =)

Thank you for checking this out <3

Special mentions go to: Uncharted 4; XCOM 2; Pony Island; Regency Solitaire; Devil Daggers; Hyper Light Drifter; Pokemon Sun; and Jackbox Party Pack 3. All exceptional games, but the list here represents what I personally enjoyed in a powerful way. Also, though not a game, special props go to Beam! What a great new service.

List items

  • Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that Owlboy would be my GOTY before having played it. I don't enjoy throwbacks, I don't particularly love dual joystick shooters, and I wasn't even previously aware of its lengthy development.

    For me, Owlboy came out of the aether, and brought me to a place I never thought I'd feel again. I felt like a 6-year old playing all the games I look upon with nostalgia now. It was an emotional experience, and though there were faults, I can say that Owlboy was the most important experience I had this year.

  • 2016's Doom reminded me of when Saints Row 3 came out. Right up to release, people were tepid with regards to its marketing and expectations. As people started getting their hands on it, heads slowly turned towards one another as we collectively realized "... Wait... This might be incredible."

    Doom is unarguably one of the best shooters to have come out in within the past decade. It successfully maintains the speed, intensity, and feel of the original; while managing to feel thoroughly modern. The wizards at id deserve every accolade they've received, from ai programmers and artists, to musicians and producers. Doom is a success through-and-through, and if it weren't for Owlboy, this would easily be my #1.

  • I never would have expected two shooters to show up on my personal top 10 list. I am not a big shooter guy, but Titanfall 2's campaign alone did more for me than a lot of other games have ever done. I get flashbacks to how I felt playing through Half Life 2 at launch when I played through Titanfall 2's campaign. It felt new, significant, and most importantly, great. It felt amazing, from movement and combat, to tone and execution. Titanfall 2 is a force to be reckoned with, and gives me utter faith in Respawn as a studio. I'm on board with Titanfall from here on out.

  • The Witness is, perhaps, the most well designed puzzle game I have ever encountered. The game is defined by the puzzles you are completing. Yes, there is something beautiful surrounding them; but, ultimately, you're here to challenge your mind. I had a pen and paper out, was taking & analyzing screenshots, photoshopping potential solutions, and really challenging myself with these puzzles - and, you know what? It was incredibly satisfying. The Witness is a must-play for anyone who enjoys cerebral puzzles.

  • There is something to be said about a game which conveys a compelling story with very few characters. Firewatch has, essentially, two characters (with others in the periphery). These two are well-realized, believable, and act in ways consistent with their writing. There is also a lot to be said about the stunning art, great sound direction, music, and moments. It is a very dense game, packed with details you could very easily miss. As an experience as a whole, Firewatch can feel slight; but it packs a powerful punch. It actually had me researching similar positions in my home country of Canada! Maybe I'll try it some summer =)

  • Hitman is not a series I was previously committed to. My first experience was with the original back in 2000, and I just didn't "get it" back then. As I watched more and more content about 2016's Hitman, I decided to take the plunge and try it out for myself. My god. What a well designed game. It encourages creativity when reaching the solutions to its multi-layered, labyrinthine murder puzzles. It's brilliant, and I cannot think of a single flaw. I believe this to be something we can go back to for years and say "this is an amazing game." I cannot wait to see what is next for Hitman, and if they continue doing elusive targets!

  • Sometimes atmosphere is key. Sometimes you lose yourself in a game's environment to the degree where you cannot escape until you see it through. Inside was one of those games for me. I played it all in one sitting, and found myself engrossed until the credits rolled. Granted, I felt the last screen was a bit crappy; but everything preceding it was of such a quality that - at times - my mouth was left agape. The last 20-or-so minutes of this game has some feats of programming which I feel are ridiculously impressive, and am confident in saying this game is worth your time.

  • I'm not a Blizzard guy, but Overwatch pulled me in in a powerful way. I love its characters, their lore, the colorful artstyle, the amazing voice acting, the MOBA-influenced gameplay, and much more. Unfortunately, as the year progressed, I fell off of Overwatch; but I still believe that it was one of the most important games that came out this year.

  • Superhot is a unique combination of style and substance. Its visuals are very true to itself, and you'd be hard pressed to find something that is as cool as Superhot. Playing through it has moments of frustration; but when you pull everything off that you intended to do, you feel like a total badass. Isn't that what gaming is about, after all?

  • I liked Civilization V; but I loved Civilization IV. IV is what I played for years and years and years and years, and loved for just as long. Sid Meier's latest journey into the Civ franchise rekindles my love of Civ IV in a very powerful way. It is polished in a way that I have not experienced for a Civ launch ever. I love Civ VI, and intend to play it for years to come.