GOTY 2016

List items

  • The Cubs are World Series champions, Donald Trump is the next president, and a farming simulator is my favorite game of the year. Indeed, as seen with Frog Fractions 2 finally getting discovered just a week ago, video games were not left unaffected by 2016’s spacetime-bending. Entirely developed by one individual, Stardew Valley had to have been my most highly concentrated—and most potentially life-ruining—time sink since World of Warcraft. However, whereas WoW at some point just felt like busywork for the sake of listening to podcasts and keeping my mind off personal relationships and my overall life both collapsing around me while at the same time exacerbating that process, Stardew Valley at least made me feel like I was working toward a goal in the meantime. That goal for me being becoming the ultimate wealthy NEET farmer of Pelican Town. This game will consume you if you let your guard down for a second and even now I’m still itching for more. What a season it’s been.

  • On the opposite end of the spectrum of story vs. gameplay as Zero Time Dilemma, Dark Souls III somehow accomplished being a better conclusion to a trilogy despite the story having always taken a backseat to gameplay. Great level design, challenging and rewarding gameplay, etc. Anything that can be said about Souls has already been said. I’m sure this isn’t the last game with this style of gameplay that From Software will release (Bloodborne 2???) but I’m glad that they chose to end the series on a high note and move on as opposed to milking the brand.

  • With this, video games (first-person shooters, at least) have reached their logical conclusion. Pack it up. Doom is how video games were always meant to be—hyperviolent, high-speed, satanic, and metal. I have no doubt that this is what would have been released in 1993 had the technology been available. My only regret is that the outcry surrounding the original Doom and other games of that period is never anywhere to be found today; it really added to the whole experience.

  • The original Steins;Gate was near perfect on its own, so I never felt that a sequel was necessary (apparently the anime movie isn’t canon?). Steins;Gate 0 is certainly not necessary, but I’m glad it exists. While 0 isn’t a true sequel, it serves as a great supplement to the original story by showing what happens in the worldlines where Okabe has given up on reaching Steins Gate as well as providing background in those worldlines for certain circumstances toward the true end of the original game that ultimately convinced him to do otherwise. It may not hit nearly as hard as its predecessor but it does have its moments and, in any case, some of the best parts of Steins;Gate were the characters and the chemistry between them so it’s nice to revisit that cast and even meet some new standout characters.

  • It’s the Pokémon game you didn’t play this year! Maybe it’s because I had barely followed any pre-release coverage of Sun and Moon but Gen VII of Pokémon far surpassed my expectations. I praised X and Y three years ago for changing up the familiar Pokémon blueprint but Sun and Moon, despite being on the same console as X and Y, practically manages to change it up even more. Maybe I’ll always just be a sucker for Pokémon but the little things like changing gyms to trials, making the “badges” into usable items, streamlining HM abilities, and eliminating grid-based movement breathed some more life into a series that shows no signs of stopping.

  • Since AM2R isn't in GB's database.

    Leave it to Nintendo to honor Metroid’s 30th anniversary by releasing a middling-at-best spin-off and hitting a decade-in-the-making fan remake with a DMCA the moment it is released. I haven’t played the original Metroid II so I’m unable to judge AM2R by how well it actually remade it but on its own it is a fantastic entry to the series and it felt good to play a “new” side-scrolling Metroid.

  • I fell in love with Superhot when I first saw it in 2014 and immediately backed the Kickstarter. While I was a bit surprised by the short length of the final product, I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it. An actually somewhat intriguing story was a welcome surprise as I wouldn’t have minded just shooting polygonal red men in different minimalist white environments. The end result of every level where your methodical campaign against those polygonal men is played back in full speed will never not be satisfying.

  • Being excited for a game (or anything) often just leads to varying degrees of disappointment. So, as was the case for me with Undertale last year, it’s always nice to forget about a game immediately after its announcement until the day it’s out. Despite all of its flaws and jank, going into Let It Die with no expectations whatsoever allowed it to really impress me. I find myself forgetting that this is even a free-to-play game as those elements haven’t been intrusive at all so far. Let It Die’s overall aesthetic and own brand of Japanese quirkiness are worthy of acknowledging, too.

  • $30 to remind myself why I’ve always been so bad at playing musical instruments. This was my first Rhythm Heaven game. More like Rhythm Hell.

  • I won’t lie, Zero Time Dilemma was underwhelming both as a finale and as a game compared to 999 and Virtue’s Last Reward. I guess I shouldn’t have expected a game that takes place chronologically second to wrap up the trilogy and blow me away. Regardless, the fact that this game even managed to get made is a sort of minor miracle and I’m grateful to finally see closure to this series. (Also, I didn’t have a #10 game I felt any more confident about putting on here and didn’t want to just make a Top Nine list.)