Games Played Thoroughly in 2016

List items

  • Nice hand drawn art style, awful story and puzzles. Has maybe the dumbest adventure game puzzle to date in that a cockroach blocks your path.

    Potential GOTY award categories - Overall Worst Game, Best Style, Worst Puzzle of All Time.

  • On a purely technical level, AC: Syndicate is far and away the best AC to date. It plays well without all the mission annoyances that plagued previous entries and in general it's a very very good video game.

    That said? I kinda dislike it. Apart from Evie, who is usually relegated to second banana to the much more boring brother whose name I can't even be bothered to remember, the whole thing lacks any sort of real heart or charm. It's a purely by the numbers sequel, designed to fix a lot of the series' problems without actually moving it forward in any significant way. And yes, I've seen the game's "weird moment" sequence, and no, it did nothing for me. We saw all that back in the much, much worse AC III. This is just circling the drain on the series actually telling a proper story and is utterly a by-the-numbers Ubisoft sequelfest. Thank God this series is taking a break.

  • On the strong recommendation of adventure game expert Mento, I picked this up on a PSN sale and I'm mighty impressed with it. It's a smart, lengthy traditional point-and-click adventure game, with an army of interesting characters and a cool little world to explore that's directly inspired by the likes of Sierra's King's Quest and Quest for Glory games.

    I'm constantly surprised by how sharp it is. The game uses a blend of feel-good tropes and archetypes, but presents them in a fun, spirited way that feels fresh, save for its overindulgence in popular lines from other media. I do wish the creators felt confident enough to stick to their own blend of intelligent humor and creativity instead of the sometimes constant barrages of homages, but I definitely like certain aspects of it, such as one short segment that has a character traveling through the various ages of adventure gaming in full 16-bit, 8-bit, and text adventure glory.

    All that said, I'm not sure I'd have ranked it as highly as Technobabylon or Tales from the Borderlands last year. TheBUTT (as Mento has dubbed it) relies way too heavily on others' material for it to feel like its own thing, and the pacing is sometimes dreadfully slow. It's another one of those games that pokes fun of X gaming convention and then proceeds to force the player through countless renditions of said convention. In this case, that's usually "do these three tasks" over and over and over again. It's frustrating, because shortening the amount of puzzle-solving wouldn't have lessened the quality of the game and might have freed up the designers to explore more of the world and characters. Maybe that'll happen in a sequel. As it stands, Tales from the Borderlands and Technobabylon both stand as better examples of creating their own niche in the adventure gaming world - they stand on their own merits, not those of the games that came before them. As it stands, I'm really excited to see where the team behind TheBUTT goes next. I want to play a dozen more adventure games like this.

  • OK, yes, it's repetitive to a fault and the side stuff is kind of boring, but holy crap, this game got its hooks into me hard. I'm not sure how fondly I'll look back at it (by this point, I'm pretty burned out on it), but the initial ten hours or so of this game flew by. The patched driving feels pretty okay, though it's still a little slippery, and while the hand-to-hand combat is kind of bland, at least it deosn't reach Batman levels of absurdity. Plus, those engine sounds! MMM!

  • While it's still very much a Ratchet and Clank game, this is probably the most streamlined experience of the bunch. It's pretty great.

  • A silly, wonderful, pleasantly easy game. This is exactly what I want out of Dead Rising.

  • As a game, Uncharted is a stupid amount of fun. The 3rd person actiony gameplay is pretty much what you'd expect from the series, featuring a blend of Ubisoft-ish tower climbing with action sequences that feel on par with something like Max Payne 3 in terms of fun and scope of the set pieces. There aren't many variations on enemies and there's really not much of a leap forward rom 2 or 3 in terms of the way the levels are designed, but as a whole, it's a damn fine actioner.

    That said, I'm sorely disappointed in some of the cliched writing. Without spoiling things, there are two major writing tropes that the game relies upon that betray the otherwise excellent dialogue and moment to moment character actions. It's a stain on an otherwise great game, one that's made even more disappointing after the huge jumps forward in storytelling in games like Witcher 3 or Tales from the Borderlands.

  • There are two halves to WD:M. The standard-ass Walking Dead tried-and-tired group of survivors we aren't given time to care about do the game no favors, as do the villains with no motivations whatsoever other than being murdery. That half of the game is frustrating, especially given the reaction to Walking Dead S2, which you'd think Telltale would have learned from.

    But the other half, which tells a quiet, personal story about Michonne's haunted guilt about her two children's fates and not being able to be there for them is remakrably good and should have been the focus throughout. There are several ways Michonne's guilt can be played up, and a choice at the end becomes remarkably hard even when the right answer is very clear. I don't quite get why Telltale insists upon making their games so dependent on their previous tropes, but if they learn anything from WD:M, it's this - focus on the personal stories your staff are capable of telling. Screw the "being a game" part of your work. Tell me a few really good stories from only a handful of characters. Give me focus. Give me depth, not numbers and shock value moments. We've had enough of those that the surprises have worn thin.

  • What a little gem of a puzzler. There's lots to find, plenty of reason to explore, and fun overarching guesswork about the plot binds the solid puzzling together.

    I have some grievances with some of the eyesight-based puzzles - at least one has you pixel-hunting in a distant tree for a connector I would have never guessed in a million years was there - but overall, the puzzle design is really smart and relies more upon the player figuring out new ways of using puzzle tools as they're slowly fed to you throughout the game. The pacing is excellent and I've yet to hit any sort of a permanent roadblock to my progression or fun with the game. I'm looking forward to going back through with a Youtube guide so I can smack my head repeatedly as I figure out what I've missed.

  • For the buck and change I paid for it on PSN, this is a pretty great Angry Birds-ish game. There are lots of stages, it's pleasantly difficult without being frustrating, and the game affords you lots of chances to gain bonus strikes, a nice extra touch.

    If you catch this one on sale, it's well worth the price.

  • XCCOM 2 is a great game. There's simply very little else out there that compares when it comes to turn-based gameplay. But that said, not a goddamn thing was learned from the criticisms aimed at the first game, particularly the rigid structure of tech progression necessary to stave off the alien progression. If you're not developing your base in the very specific right ways or focusing your research entirely on the plot points, you're going to wind up screwing yourself, just like the first game. And when a game of XCOM 2 runs you dozens of hours, that's asking a bit much from the player, particularly without the Civilization 5 model of auto-saves at clearly defined progression points someone could fall back on.

    If there's a third XCOM and there's this level of player restriction to what is otherwise an awesome game, I'm going to be sorely disappointed. Taking over territories and advancing tech trees should be a fun affair, not a manic sweat-fest of wondering if I can take the time to research badly needed body armor and wind up shooting myself in the foot. All that needs to be done is have the aliens and humans fight for territory. That's literally it. Give us the overarching tech progression and the good tactical combat, and leave out the frustratingly obtuse shit that ruins the late game.

  • Once I got past the initial first hour or so and the Division really opened up, I started to have a ton of fun with it. It's a repetitive game, to be sure, but like Destiny, the core gameplay is so damn good that it's easy to forgive it. And unlike that other shoot-and-looter, this game's systems actually make a lick of sense. As of this writing (late September), it's a big contender for my GOTY simply based off gameplay alone.

    That said, the story is both boring and too straight-laced. The whole game could use a big old dose of crazy.

  • Hm. What a weird miss for me.

    There are aspects I like about Doom. Combat is, by and large, fun. I really like punching demons in their demony faces. And... well, that's about it, really.

    Aesthetically, Doom is the least interesting Doom game since 2. It suffers from the same problem as Fallout 4, in that it looks and feels exactly like everything was created with a very limited map generator, with limited assets that never allow the creators to really create anything that doesn't feel regurgitated once you've seen said set pieces.

    I'm also not really a fan of the gameplay, which basically amounts to platforming, clear a room full of bad guys, get a small tidbit of plot by earpiece, rinse, wash, repeat.

    It's not a bad game by any means. It's just a boring one if you've played corridor shooters of its sort before. It's very much one of those. It does what it does well, but I want more from FPS in 2016 than what Doom as to offer. It doesn't need to be flashy or big. Just give me something to hook me other than this mediocrity.

  • Now here's a weird, pleasant surprise, glitches and gamebreaking bugs aside.

    I'm not a huge fan of Batman. I love the crap out of The Dark Knight as a film, and I really enjoyed Arkham City and Arkham Origins. But beyond that, I don't have any real particular attachment to the character as a whole. I've seen the Batman origin story played out a hundred times and by now, it's kind of boring.

    Make no mistake - Batman: The Telltale Series is a terrible Batman story. it just is. It's not fun playing as Batmna, the combat is a typical Telltale yawnfest, and you'll see exactly the same villains you expect to see.

    But as a Bruce Wayne story? Batman: TTS kills it. I mean it. Absolutely knocks it out of the friggin' park and then some.

    This is a fascinating story about the man behind the mask, and what's even better is that Telltale's been given a lot of leeway with the origin story to make it just different enough to keep me hooked. This is a world where not everything is as it seems. One of the best surprises in the game is when I kept trying to sink into the quagmire of, "Oh, this character and this one will itneract like this, and it'll be the same old, same old." Sure, the changes aren't huge, but they're big enough to keep me really hooked on the whole thing.

    And by focusing in on Bruce Wayne rather than Batman, Telltale's able to do what they do best - tell a story with their creaky, fugly engine. And it is creakier and fuglier than normal, by the way - this is still Telltale. But the story they tell here is well worth the initial eye-rolling "oh, it's ANOTHER Batman/Telltale game."

  • I don't hate Dangerous Golf. I just wish that some very obvious problems had been fixed before it was shipped out the door, or that the designers had taken some time to figure out what made Crash Mode in Burnout so much fun. Being forced to sit through another timed level or having to sink a ball into thirty holes isn't what made those games fun, and while I rrespect trying to vary up the gameplay, it just makes for tedium.

    The levels should have been more varied. There are invisible lips to edges that shouldn't be there. The controls lack precision. It's very hard to track what chaos you're causing without specific numbers flashing up over the objects you're destroying.

    It's a great idea for a game that, unfortunately, just never pans out quite the way it should. It's yet another indie game that shows a startling disconnect between what sounds like fun on paper and what comes out in the final wash. Being able to be honest with yourself when asking, "Is this fun?" should be an essential in game making. And while Dangerous Golf should be fun, it misses par by just this much.

    Sank that obligatory golf pun in. Shooter!

  • Admittedly, I've only played about twenty matches of Overwatch, but that's enough to know whether you like this game or not. I love it. I suck at shooters, so I'm usually a bit depressed playing multiplayer focused games like this. But with someone like Torbjorn, who throws down useful shield boosts for his team and a turret, I feel like I'm contributing to a team, not hindering them.

    And I've even had an absurd number of plays of the game and two - TWO! - MVP votes. From real people. That's batshit crazy!

  • I'm terrible at Hitman. I adore Hitman.

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ArbitraryWater

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I dunno man, a cockroach blocking your path sounds EXACTLY like something that would be in a Broken Sword game.

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sparky_buzzsaw

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@arbitrarywater: That's a really good point. It has a certain dumb charm to it in a way, but it's a wildly frustrating game. During its latter half, I just wanted to see it through and abandoned my "no tips" policy because holy crap, the puzzles were just painful.