Obligatory GOTY List: 2016 Version (Free Update Coming Soon)

2016 was a weird year, huh? But at least the games were good! And so here's a list of ten of my favorite of the good games, but a few other lists for good measure.

These Games Continue to be Fantastic

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This year I replayed Dear Esther after it's re-release on the PS4 and it continues to be a game I love but also have a hard time recommending. So I'm a recovering alcoholic and certain movies, books, and TV shows really hit a nerve for me that wouldn't have, I imagine, had I not developed that addiction. The movie Shame for example. Though it's about sex addiction, it covers the nature of addiction so well that it unnerved me. I loved the movie and yet never, ever want to see it again. I hadn't had that experience with a game until Dear Esther. I can't say for certain that that was the developer's intention, but my interpretation of the story is from the perspective of an addict. I won't spoil it though honestly I don't know if I could because the game's narrative is just open enough that there can be multiple interpretations. Which I love in all forms of media. So, you see, this game is like a game made specifically for my sensibilities. But, like the movie Shame, I don't know if I could recommend it to most people. But I know I love it.

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No analysis needed for Race the Sun or 140. They are just a ton of fun.

I Probably Would Have Liked These If...

I bought Superhot thinking that my 10-ish year old laptop could probably play it. I mean it could play Dark Souls 2, so why not Superhot? Well, it couldn't. Which is a huge bummer because it looks awesome.

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Both Dishonored 2 and Final Fantasy 15 look like games I would love. Especially Dishonred 2 because I adored the first game. But, you know, sometimes money is tight and purchasing games get pushed to the back burner. And, well, that's what happened here. Maybe they'll make a different list next year.

Most Disappointing Game

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It's the game everyone loves to hate! I don't hate this game and, in fact, at the beginning of my experience with this game I liked it quite a lot. Like seemingly everyone else, I was pretty excited at the concept of this game. But when I heard it was a survival game my excitement went down considerably. I had never played a survival game to be fair but everything I knew and had seen of the survival genre made me think I would hate it. But, I bought it because the concept seemed so intriguing and I really, really wanted to know what was at the center of the galaxy. Again, at the beginning, it was kind of neat. Building up your ship, exploring planets, seeing the boundaries of the game's systems. It was all very interesting. Then the game hits a flow. An extremely formulaic flow. An extremely, completely unchanging, mind numbingly formulaic flow. Every now and again I have the thought "why am I spending so much time with games when there is no real, tangible carrot at the end of the stick?" but usually fight against that thought with "this is my leisure time and leisure time doesn't need to produce a concrete end product", "the experience itself is worth the time investment", etc. etc. But there was nothing I could come up with that could fight that thought when I played this game. After about 10-15 hours of doing the exact same thing with what seemed like no end in sight, I looked up the ending of the game to satiate my curiosity of what was actually at the center of the galaxy. I won't spoil it, but I don't think it's hyperbole for me to say that it might be the worst ending to a game that I've ever seen. I would have rather had seen a black background with white text saying 'congratulations'. They wouldn't have even needed to spell 'congratulations' correctly. If you felt, like I did, that the game's flow amounted to a never ending Sisyphean torture wait till you see the ending. It paints the entire game as a Sisyphean torture. Actually that's what they should have called it; Sisyphean torture.

The Number 11 Game

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This game looks awesome, I love the puzzle design, I really appreciate the sound design as it makes the whole experience really peaceful. It's just a nice experience. Until the puzzles start to get really hard and the part of my brain that wants to 100% everything gets really frustrated. I really like this game, but the spike in difficulty for me personally kind of soured the whole experience. That, and the obnoxious and pretentious quotes and videos. I don't really like using the word 'pretentious' because it feels like a word often used to stifle art that is non-standard. But I can't think of another word that better fits my response to those little narrative bits. Still a great game though and immensely creative.

Game of the Year: 2016

10: Ratchet and Clank

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9: Abzu

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8: Rise of the Tomb Raider (PS4)

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7: Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

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6: Uncharted 4

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5: Hitman

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4: Dark Souls 3

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3: That Dragon, Cancer

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2 Stardew Valley

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1: Doom

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Before I bought Doom I had heard it described as the Mad Max: Fury Road of video games and I can't think of a better comparison. Fury Road had a story with good characters and a satisfying arc with a fitting conclusion. But the action and style always came first. Doom has a story, a dumb-fun story but a story nonetheless, with memorable characters (they even make Doom guy memorable). But all that stuff is beside the point. It's just fun. You feel awesome playing this game. It looks awesome, the music is awesome, the mechanics are awesome, and it's all just fucking awesome. It's pure, simple fun through and through. If I ever want to feel awesome and tap into my lizard brain for some mindless action this is going to be my go-to game. I mentioned that while playing No Man's Sky the thought "why am I doing this?" crept into my mind and that, at times, that happens with other games? That never, ever, remotely came close to entering my mind while playing this game. I was too busy circle strafing and shooting the crap out of everything.

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