Games of the Year, 2016

List items

  • #10

    Firewatch, in many ways, is an extraordinary exploration of isolation. Henry, your protagonist, sees very few other people, and often the only sounds you hear are his footsteps on the terrain. You spend much of your time conversing with a woman named Delilah, your supervisor, and you (as well as Henry) come to appreciate her ramblings in the midst of such loneliness.

  • #9

    Ubisoft really made themselves a charmer here. Marcus is a fantastic protagonist, both scrappy and funny in equal measure. I enjoyed the hacking and infiltration aspects of the game, and found the Black Mirror-esque themes to be really resonant with modern society. The title isn't without issues though. There are many lethal weapon choices, though these do not mesh with the protagonist's personality AT ALL. Additionally, the use of the remote-controlled car is sometimes deceptively limiting.

  • #8

    System Crash pulled me in and didn't let me go until I'd completed its campaign. It dodges the pitfalls of other collectible card games by simply letting you purchase the cards you desire rather than opening booster packs. Although you do receive cards after a match, those cards can be sold and the proceeds put towards something else. I enjoyed the cyberpunk mood and wrapping, and System Crash allows for many different types of decks and approaches. I actually had to go back to the drawing board after a couple of matches to create something unique to deal with a certain opponent's strategy. Unfortunately, the story of this title wasn't very compelling to me - it was somewhat rote.

  • #7

    I didn't expect to like Event[0] as much as I did. It's a short game about conversing with an AI on a spaceship, but it weaves a tale of intrigue quite well. What happened on this ship? Did anyone else live here? The AI has some tasks for you, but is anyone influencing the AI? If so, does that make its argument less valid? There are a lot of juicy choices to make here, and your interactions with the AI influence the outcome of the story.

  • #6

    Killing Time at Lightspeed does an absolutely incredible job at evoking certain emotions from the player. If you've ever contemplated the ways in which we drift away from others when moving cities, changing jobs, or entering new stages of our lives, this title will resonate with you.

  • #5

    Deadbolt is game above all else about sweating on your keyboard. I kid. Deadbolt is a difficult stealth-action game where you die very quickly, but also learn very quickly, and respawn very quickly to give it another attempt. You'll get an understanding of how to traverse the maps well, which weapons are best for which enemies, and which enemies can be dealt with most easily with melee. The story was vague and nonsensical, but I was always excited about popping caps in some zombies, vampires, or demons with my dual pistols, "Death & Taxes."

  • #4

    To be honest, it took Crate entertainment a bit to iron out the kinks with this one. When I first played it, I actually ran the game in window mode, as it was easier to close the game when it crashed and didn't require a hard restart. However, through patches the game became something very special. Grim Dawn offers more customization than any other ARPG I've seen. First of all, your character will have two separate classes to choose skills from. In addition, you'll gain devotion points to gain additional abilities from constellations. You'll also find components to put in your armor and weapons and create relics to support your build. Finally, you can buy augments from faction vendors to further support your build. While I maintain that the game should make it more difficult to miss devotion shrines, I always felt that I was creating something wholly my own in Grim Dawn.

  • #3

    I've played a few games that purported to be "surveillance" games, but none hold a candle to Orwell. You play a human operator working with an AI entitled "Orwell," with which you can create profiles of persons of interest and track user devices such as phones, websites, computers, etc. The game presents some difficult choices, making users privy to the limitations of AI as well as aware of the information they willingly give online every day.

  • #2

    I mentioned earlier that I love games that allow you to manipulate time, and Superhot is simply the king in this realm. Time only moves when you do. I loved the simple aesthetic and the ability to create scenes like those from my favorite action movies. Superhot requires attention to enemy location and composition, and environmental awareness of potential cover and weapons. In some ways, Superhot is a puzzle game with a tremendous number of solutions. It's a pretty quick ride, but man, what fun!

  • #1

    If you follow games media, you hear every day about some new garbage that a AAA game is now subjecting players to. At the time of this writing, the new controversy is loot boxes. Pony Island is, in many ways, a game about giving power back to the player. A rather simple game on the surface, you soon realize that the developer plans to subject you to any number of gaming irritants. How about you grind for a while to conquer this obstacle? I think you'll need to wait for DLC for the story to be concluded. However, in Pony Island, you can dive into the game's code to circumvent these frustrations. Pony Island is the cathartic power fantasy for the modern gamer, tired to death of the machinations of companies like EA.