I’m going to start out being completely honest. I did not play many games that came out this year, but I do have a clear pick for game of the year. Things like Stardew Valley and Dark Souls III didn’t catch my interest enough to continue past the first little while. I bought games that turned out to be complete flops, but for some ungodly reason I still enjoy. There are games that I had never even heard of that I ended up loving. Though I say I didn’t play many games this year, I can certainly fill out a list of five (well, four plus one update) that I enjoyed more than others, and I daresay I thought were better.
5) Animal Crossing: New Leaf – Welcome Amiibo
(Nintendo – 2013 Release / 2016 Update)
The reason that this doesn’t chart higher is because, at the behest of everyone else, it’s an update. In my defense, it’s a massive one that got me playing a game I absolutely adore again, got me involved with the Animal Crossing community, and challenged my design skills. No, really: do you know how hard it is to landscape? New Leaf gets absolutely intense sometimes, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I feel like I’ve already said enough about Animal Crossing in general to give my 5th pick merit, but if you want to know, read this article about its upcoming mobile game.
At the risk of sounding like every other Game of the Year list, I feel like I almost have to put Overwatch in my top five. Aside from being a genuinely fun game when played with friends, it’s a solidly made first person shooter. The characters are varied, diverse, and just fun. Blizzard did a great job making their characters feel fully realized. In-game interactions between characters don’t feel forced or awkward, and the fact that Blizzard has taken some cues from the community about the characters is pretty nice. I mean, in what other game did a child soldier get typecast as a Doritos and Mountain Dew-chugging gremlin and get acknowledgement from its devs? Specific example, sure, but it gets the point across.
3) Darkest Dungeon
(Red Hook Studios)
I had a tough time with these last three. I think they’re all great. They all deserve my spot on this list, but there’s one that caused me a good bit of frustration than others. Up third for game of the year is Darkest Dungeon, a rogue-like side-scrolling dungeon crawler with interesting mechanics. There’s a clear risk/reward system they implemented with the brightness of your torch and the chance to get rarer items. Gameplay is straightforward. It’s interesting. Overall I love the experience: crawling through a Victorian-era dungeon with various D&D archetypes in tow? Nice. Love it.
(The Game Bakers)
Furi was actually the one on this list that gave me the most frustration. I’d say it would’ve taken game of the year but that’s a bold claim, since I’m still frustrated with it. It got to the point of not being fun on its normal difficulty. After reflecting briefly, I have more frustrations with this game than I did back in July. Checkpoints are few and far between, but combat feels so good. Satisfying, beyond belief. I appreciate the music as much as I would a separate album. (I mean, I should, I own it.) It’s not game of the year material because I feel like despite all these great things about it, it’s not at all beginner-friendly. There’s a high skill floor involved in even getting past the first two bosses, let alone the rest of them. Furi rewards good players that succeed at all it throws out, but doesn’t really do anything for players that try their hardest and keep hitting their head against the wall. Since I fall into the second group, it doesn’t take that coveted #1 slot. I still love it to death, though.
I wish there was another game I enjoyed this year as much as I love DOOM. If you’ve been following my posts at all, anything with a killer soundtrack is something I truly enjoy, and there are so many places where DOOM’s soundtrack, moments, and overall style just get me. Like so many others, the first five minutes had me completely enthralled: the thin, feminine, robotic voice announcing dangerous levels of demonic presence, a dude who woke up and started punching his way through hell, Mick Gordon’s incredible theme playing through my headphones, and cocking up a shotgun in time to the final notes of the sequence? Sold. I’m ready for whatever else this game gives to me. I want it all. Best game. Game of the year. Ten out of ten.
Below, I have a few games that almost eked it out into my list. Honorable mentions, if you will. Games I still really enjoyed but didn’t feel beat out the others. I’ve only said a couple of things about each of the three, as I don’t want to make this a terribly long list.
Islands is a wonderful game. It’s drenched in aesthetic and surrealism, with a smattering of whimsy. I don’t see many games like it. I think about it often. It’s short, and I’d definitely play through it again.
Since we’re talking surreal games with a nice aesthetic, Quadrilateral Cowboy is another one of those. It’s fun and requires a bit of thinking. It’s enjoyable bringing a big ol’ computer into a neon ’80s bank so you can rob it or steal information. Makes me chuckle a bit thinking about it.
(Daniel Mullins Games)
A short puzzle game. Satan is a computer. Sounds like an album I like to listen to. It was oddly charming– the code segments and platforming segments transitioned well into one another. Liked fighting Jesus towards the end of it. That was an experience. It almost felt nostalgic, too, for a place I’d never been.
And there you have it: my game of the year list. Looking back, I didn’t quite realize that some games I’d played came out in 2016 until I looked it up. I feel like I’ve been playing Overwatch for at least 3 years at this point. DOOM feels like a fond memory. Maybe it was just the year itself that felt long as hell, but we had some nice releases come out of it. I am looking forward to a bunch of games coming out this year, though. It’s gonna be a trip.