Game of the Year 2016

I think this may have been the year when my taste seemed to diverge the most from the popular opinion, with the possible exception of 2014 which everybody thought was poor, but where I found a great number of enjoyable indie titles.

When everybody else talked about the shooters of the year, I thought it was an amazing year for strategy games, especially for the RTS genre which had been pretty silent for a few years. There were also a great deal of interesting RPG's I wish I had gotten around to play.

That said, I still can't think of a year where all games I list come with a great deal of reservations. They were either strictly iterative on previous incarnations or came with issues that are hard to ignore, but as a whole still stuck out as my most enjoyable experiences of the year.

List items

  • In some ways, I guess the strict iterative nature of this compared to Evochron Mercenary could be disappointing, but unlike Elite: Dangerous, every single aspect of this is better than in the predecessor, and Evochron Mercenary was already an amazing game.

  • The ugly art-style and lack of actual 8-bitness aside, this is a neat RTS very much in the vein of the first Command & Conquer. No convoluted upgrade trees or unit abilities, just easy to grasp fun with music by Frank Klepacki.

  • I haven't played it since they apparently overhauled the pollution mechanics among plenty of other things.

    Even though it may have been a bit of a by the numbers space 4X game, it hit all the notes I want these kinds of games to hit. I though the research progression went a little too fast (thought this may have been tweaked in later patches). The atmosphere, voice acting, writing and the species variety were all top notch.

  • I thought this was a little hit an miss. The music was a contender for best of the year, but a lot of the mechanics felt a bit underdeveloped and shallow. I think this could be absolutely amazing in a year or so with a few expansions, and as rough as that political system was, I really hope more games will take and expand on it.

  • In the great pantheon of Civilization games I prefer most of the other ones. As a strategy game in its own right, it's a great game.

    It feels a bit more like a complete package than Civ 5 did at launch, and I hope future expansions will help it get a place in the upper ranks of the series.

  • After its long time in early access and the full release that kinda went under the radar, this is a neat if somewhat by-the-numbers arena shooter that is struggling to find its player base.

  • It's a 1993 Amiga game, and I'm really fond of games of that platform and era. Had it been released back then it would probably have been pretty highly regarded, and I enjoyed it.

  • Was very buggy at launch. I need to return to it and see if it's been patched up. I had a fun time with it when it worked, but had plenty of issues.

  • There's a neat RTS single player campaign in here, along with two additional modes - a procedurally generated take on Emperor: Battle For Dune's planetary domination mode and a tactical mode in confined areas with a limited set of units. The voice acting has gotten a little better since the previous Meridian: New World, though it's still a little hit and miss. Would probably be higher on the list if I had gotten around to playing more of it and if I hadn't encountered so many technical problems, for example the cutscenes don't work for me in-game, I have to dig them up in the install folder and watch them in VLC instead, which is a little frustrating.

    It's also lacking any kind of multiplayer mode, which I personally don't mind that much since I mostly play RTS games in skirmishes against AI anyway, but it's fun to play matches against friends every now and then.

  • I don't think either Invaders or Hordes quite capitalized on what Armies did really well, both going a bit much for the Blizzard model adding unnecessarily complicated systems with unit caps and upgrades. Frank Klepacki's music was still fantastic, and both entries was still fun to play.