Favorite Games of 2016

Last year was excruciating in a number of ways, but it was also a good year for video games; so I might as well write something with a lot of superlatives about the best aspects of my favorite video game experiences of the year.

List items

  • Inside manages to string together narrative twists and visually astounding vignettes at an incredible pace. It's a game that is unparalleled in terms of design and artistry, and is one of the most successful attempts at a wordless narrative.

  • Well, I can't think of another game that had me, through sheer gameplay mechanics, examine my own worldview and quarrel with philosophical questions: about the benefits of being a philosophical pessimist, among other things. And yeah, Darkest Dungeon is also one of the best-designed games I have ever played.

  • To me, Stardew Valley was the most wholly unique experience of the year. It was also the most pleasant and delightful thing I have played in a while – maybe ever.

  • Dishonored 2 is a masterclass in gameplay design. Whenever I wondered if doing some specific thing was possible; the game, more often than not, said "yes" to me, sometimes to astonishing results.

  • Simply put, DOOM is the best shooter I have played and not only this year. I personally have not experienced a more gratifying "power fantasy" than the one DOOM delivers. It's the most aggressively masculine thing I have enjoyed. I even grew to love the music – unironically

  • What sets this apart from other action games – and films – of its ilk is its masterfully-told, character-driven story. This is not to say that the treasure hunt that sets the events of the story in motion isn't exciting – quite the opposite, actually.

  • Exploring the solitary and often hauntingly beautiful world of Hyper Light Drifter was one of the most memorable experiences I had last year. As if this wasn't enough, I believe that the game stands alongside Dishonored 2 and DOOM as one of the best-playing action games of the year. There's nothing more satisfying than clearing out an entire arena without getting hit, after having died there moments before. Oh, and the soundtrack (composed by Disasterpeace) is my favorite of the year.

  • Might be an odd choice, but this is my pick for the best multiplayer game of the year. Tricky Towers was a huge hit with my family and I had a ton of fun playing it with others locally and even online.

  • Firewatch delivers a mature, and at times, heart-wrenching story about two relatable – and often endearing – characters. I wish it was a less of guided experience, but I still enjoyed exploring this game's colorful version of the Shoshone National Forest. Firewatch also has the best implementation of a dialogue system.

  • The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine offers one of the least satisfying narrative arcs in the series, but it's hard to complain considering the staggering amount of high-quality content this expansion inevitably contains.