I was rather disappointed with the game year 2016. Last year we had the likes of Life is Strange, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Until Dawn and Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, each better in my books than anything put out in 2016. There was certainly much hype around but little substance as the year was plagued with severe lack of innovation. It felt like all we got were just sequels after sequels, most of which I think didn't live up to their predecessors despite of fat promises. On a more positive note, there was an ever-increasing number of Japanese games published on Steam, offering fresh alternatives to the Western front.
Favorite Game Released Before 2016, Played in 2016: Rise of the Tomb Raider
Initially I was a bit disappointed with Rise of the Tomb Raider. Instead of an intense, visceral and raw game the Tomb Raider reboot was we got a slick and almost over-produced grand action adventure. Still, here I find myself playing it through again for an umpteenth time. Since I did a 100% playthrough on my first go, I can't settle for anything less so once again I'm going for the perfection, so much I enjoy exploring every nook and cranny of the game's gorgeous open world. The story maybe meh and the recent 20th anniversary DLC was crap but who cares, the core game holds life for many adventures still.
5. Xanadu Next
They say good things come for those who wait. Xanadu Next was originally published in Japan in 2005 so it took a whopping eleven years for an official translated version to arrive. Despite of its age, Xanadu Next is my surprise pick for the RPG of the year. The game is a prime example how graphics don't always make or break a game. Sometimes all you need is a punctual and smart gameplay designed on player's terms, making the whole experience of dungeon crawling gripping and most importantly, fun.
4. Tom Clancy's The Division
The first thing you'll notice about Tom Clancy's The Division is the eerie ambience of the wintery New York standing still. The feelings of isolation and anticipation are palpable, creating a tense and plausible background for a robust military shooter. The realistic gameplay and the versatile customization, both inside and outside the agent, warrants a credible and welcome action. Even though the Division is an online game, don't worry if you a bit of a solitary soul. While the team play helps in tackling more difficult encounters and fighting in the dark zone, a solo player can achieve much on his/her own with careful play and tactical planning, giving a whole unique gameplay experience in its own right.
3. Resident Evil 0 HD
The fact I chose Resident Evil 0 HD here goes on to show how great the Gamecube original of the game was and how well it has stood the test of time. I have been playing the Gamecube version on a regular basis through the years so it was with much delight I greeted the HD remaster. The gameplay mechanics might appear ancient to some but to me they are an essential part of the game's ageless appeal, as much as the ham voice acting is. Rebecca and Billy sound fine but everyone else is hilariously bad! Those gorgeous graphics rendered in high definition only polish the fact Resident Evil 0 is my personal favorite in the whole series. Even though The Wesker Mode doesn't add to the core game per se, it's lots of fun and Rebecca with red eyes in a black uniform is too sexy!
The best narrative experience of the year does it with only modest graphics. The deep script with a casual and informal dialogue is delivered with a believable voice acting from a stellar cast, creating the most credible interpretation of real, common people talking. When you have played Oxenfree through its mysteries for the first time you may be left with a feeling wanting for something more. So you'd better do it, play the game through again. And again. And again. The game demands multiple playthroughs and eventually it opens up like the proverbial onion. The director's cut which came alongside the PS4 version and as an update for PC and Xbox One adds a whole new dimension to the very ending. If you played the game accordingly, it closes the loop the many players were initially left a bit baffled about.
World of Warcraft, Starcraft II, Diablo III, Hearthstone... each an absolute best in their respective genres. So what happened when Blizzard turned its aim at team-based multiplayer first-person shooter? It was a bull's eye, what else? No one does it better than Blizzard when it comes to genre hybrids. Overwatch offers fun and frantic action for every kind of shooter fan from deep thinkers to trigger-happy gunslingers. In a typical Blizzard fashion the game is polished down to the every minute detail, even if it was just a tiny bolt on a battle armor. Whether you play Overwatch on PC and consoles, it's a technically flawless and smooth experience. Thanks to the superb gameplay, me and more so, my brother, have been playing Overwatch since the day one. You're bound to find a hero to fill the role of your liking from the colorful character gallery, were it only for the looks or the abilities suited to your preferred playing style or most likely, both!
Honorable Mention: Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor, Quantum Break, Mirror's Edge Catalyst, The Technomancer
Video game nerd & artist. I've been playing computer and video games since the early 80's so I dare say I have some perspective to them. When I'm not playing, I'm usually at my art board.