Navster's Old Games of 2016 List

As delightful a year 2016 has been for games, the unacknowledged truth is that there were years prior to it. At least two thousand and fifteen of them by my count. Oddly enough, video games actually came out in those years. Odder still, I played some of them in 2016! Can you even imagine? Anyway, here’s a list of old games that I enjoyed this past calendar year. Enjoy, or not. I’m not your boss.

List items

  • Forza Horizon is so good it just makes me angry. Angry that I skipped out on it earlier, angry that other racing games aren’t nearly as good, and most of all angry that I’ll have to wait until the new year to play Forza Horizon 3. In any case, this 2012 Xbox 360 release was given away through Games with Gold earlier this year and gobsmacked me. Not since the superlative Burnout Paradise has a driving game so thoroughly dominated my thoughts. Set in the picturesque Rocky Mountain-dominated landscape of Colorado, the game’s map was chock full of fun events and secrets to find. With a more arcade-like take on the Forza Motorsport driving model, trying out the various production cars never ceased to be a joy. It all adds up to one of the most best experiences I’ve had this year.

  • With some of the best world design and platforming in a long while, Lara Croft’s latest expedition is one that cannot be missed. The game looks gorgeous from a graphical standpoint (and thankfully optimized on the Xbox One), but what really impressed me was just how much information is conveyed within the world. I intuitively knew what walls I could scale, where my arrows would anchor, or how to stalk enemies simply by observing the well thought out environmental cues. While the game’s story is a bit forgettable, the intricately designed tombs and set pieces more than make up for it. With so many good ideas and incredibly polished execution, Rise of the Tomb Raider is a masterwork of game design.

  • I technically saw all of Until Dawn last year thanks to the Giant Bomb East playdates but I didn’t actually play it until this year. Even with the entire game spoiled for me, I still enjoyed my playthrough tremendously. Set on a remote mountain with a group of teenagers inhabiting every cheesy horror cliche, the script nevertheless won me over thanks to its steadfast commitment to its tone and its willingness to go to some crazy places with its story. Until Dawn admittedly succeeds more in its vision rather than its execution, but there’s simply nothing like it in modern games. Here’s hoping that changes, because I need more high production cheesy horror games in my life.

  • Last year’s darling indie game, Undertale holds up even under the weight of such massive hype. The game’s brilliance is how it subtly ratchets up the weirdness as you progress, such that it eventually seems perfectly normal that you’d be going out on a date with your enemy and participating in game shows. Even a year later I’m hesitant to discuss the game too much in case I spoil the incredible ending for someone. So I’ll just leave it at this: Undertale is as good as everyone says it is and you need to play it.

  • Despite Sega mishandling the franchise since its debut, the first Valkyria Chronicles remains a true classic of the PlayStation 3 era. A turn-based strategy affair that requires direct control of your units, the game scratched my tactics itch while still delivering a decent third person action component. On the basis of gameplay alone Valkyria Chronicles is worth playing, but what makes it incredible is the wonderfully distinct art style and setting. Presented as an account of a fictionalized World War II, there’s an anime-by-way-of-Europe style to the world that it looks like it jumped out of protagonist Welkin Gunther’s sketchbook. Seriously, this is one of the best looking games I’ve ever played, full stop. For all that and more, Valkyria Chronicles is a game that I will remember fondly for years to come.