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Top 10 Games of 2016

List items

  • Final Fantasy XV has an incredible amount of heart and ambition. It's jam-packed with things to do and tiny details that go a long way. For every UI annoyance or wonky camera angle or underdeveloped plot thread, FFXV hooked me in with another fascinating landscape or quietly blew me away with a small little scene between its four lead characters. Some of its sidequests are downright amazing in their scope and scale. The combat system is one of my series favourites. Despite its opaque narrative, it was the best game I played this year.

  • This should be telling: I played all three of Fates' campaigns and am already considering revisiting them. I'd love to do a Classic run through Conquest in particular, the most difficult version by far and the only one I didn't have the stomach to ironman the first time through. No matter which version you end up playing, Fire Emblem Fates upholds and improves upon its namesake's best-in-the-biz strategy role-playing.

  • Overcooked doesn't just happen to support co-op; the act of cooperation is the very core of the game, and talking out the many curveballs it hands you through its campaign is key. My fianc√© and I tore through it and went back to mop up high scores for every level. This game makes you feel like you're in your own Hell's Kitchen ep in the best possible way.

  • Respawn makes its first-person traversal stuff feel sharp and empowering from the get-go. Dunking on your enemies with effortless wallruns and power slides never gets old, and your big-ass robot has a distinct and equally satisfying feel all its own. The sheer speed and fluidity of it all made it one of the best action games I've played in a while.

  • The pre-release buzz was wrong: Doom was fast as hell, loud as hell, dumb as hell and fun as hell. It still is! Even the stuff that totally shouldn't work in a Doom reboot -- character upgrades, tiny Doom guy doll collectibles, even the odd story sequence -- are ideally proportioned and handled with just the right amount of goofiness.

  • I always felt kind of intimidated by Picross 3D, but it looks a lot more complicated when you don't have your hands on it. That's what ten minutes with Round 2's eShop demo taught me. Starting with a big slab of blocks and numbers and chiseling out a cute little sculpture was never not charming and addictive. It's a great excuse to make some tea, plunk down and puzzle out.

  • Just about every second of this game is a good time. It never stretches any one sequence out too long or gets too difficult. The core action and platforming controls like a dream. It looks fantastic. I will never get sick of that homing blade gun that reminds me a little of the Ripper from Unreal Tournament. Clank remains adorable.

  • I felt I didn't want another Uncharted, but A Thief's End's strong showing drew me in early. It's lenghty campaign gives you plenty of conspicuous ledges to climb, dudes to shoot and a superbly acted story to get caught up in. Nobody does VO and motion capture quite like Naughty Dog. I was surprised how much I enjoyed the online, where new tools like the grapple hook get a little more time to shine.

  • This is a Suda 51 game, so it goes without saying that it's styyyyyle is a big reason I'm such a fan. The faux-console splash screen when you boot it up makes me feel all funny inside. Uncle Death is the best. There's an inventive and accomplished roguelike under all that insanity, and the more I mess with Let it Die the more I dig it.

  • Firewatch sags a bit in the middle and has too many repetitious hikes, but it also offers the kind of compelling character study you rarely see in games. I wanted to persist in its world, to consider other paths the characters and surrounding mystery could have taken. One of the better "story games" of the past while for me.