As the year comes to an end, I couldn’t possibly have asked for a better way to go out than with a bunch of brand new titles to look forward to in 2017. While it can be fun to look forward to new adventures, it’s also important to appreciate what we have played over the year and pick out those games that we hold in high regard. I did end up playing a hefty bunch of bad games, but lots of fantastic games also came out this year and it is definitely a bit of a challenge to choose a favorite. Unfortunately, I have yet to play The Last Guardian or Final Fantasy XV, so I’ll refrain from mentioning any games I haven’t gotten around to. Either way, 2016 was quite the year for unexpected favorites!
Favorite Game Released Before 2016, Played in 2016: Fable II
I might be a bit late to the party, but I didn’t pick up an Xbox 360 until last year. Out of all of the games in the system’s library that I played, Fable II takes the crown. I was a huge fan of the first Fable game when I played it back in 2004, and I have since waited many years to play the sequel to quite possibly my favorite game to ever be released. Fable II takes the traditional RPG formula and makes it feel entirely real. You can work for extra cash, find a house, get married, have kids, kill anyone you meet, do terrible things, and basically anything you could think of on top of being a hero on an adventure of grand proportions. The game is beautiful, emotional, and definitely worth a try if you haven’t played it yet.
For many, this game might seem like an odd choice, but that's mostly for one small reason: it's an indie title. This game came out of nowhere with a development team that had a pedigree of only mobile games. Surprisingly, it turned out to be one of the best games to come out in 2016. It's strangely reminiscent of both Afro Samurai and the infamous dev team Suda51. The intense cel-shaded glory seen in Furi is unique in that that it seemingly forms its own genre of artistic beauty, and it never fails to blow me away. It has a cryptic and highly philosophical plotline mixed with fast-paced hack-and-slash action that can almost put Dark Souls to shame. Furi is the perfect mix of everything that we love about gaming, period.
4. Pokémon Sun & Moon
Okay, let’s face it, everyone loves Pokémon. While I don’t think that this iteration is the best in the series, it’s definitely one of the best games to have come out this year. It’s new, with tons of awesome new Pokémon to collect, mechanics that redefine the game, and a story that really changes what Pokémon is all about. The game also proves that the 3DS is still alive and kicking, providing fun content even while the system becomes more and more outdated. Pokémon Sun & Moon is fun for everyone!
3. Stardew Valley
It’s not every day that indie games come up from underground and take the world by storm, though we do have last year’s Undertale to thank for the mainstream appreciation of indie games. Stardew Valley was a game changer. It provided addictive gameplay and effectively revived the simulation genre when it was falling into a deep, dark hole. It takes nods from the Harvest Moon franchise and makes it its own, truly leaving room for some deep and emotional, yet highly engaging gameplay.
I am not a big fan of first-person shooter games, but Overwatch was a bombshell that hit me head on. I instantly fell in love with the design, the characters, the cooperative gameplay, and the world that Blizzard had snowed unto me. The constant updates, revisions, and competitive leaderboards always make the game feel fresh and welcoming to come back to. It’s refreshing to find a shooter game that doesn’t feel like the same old thing every time, and Overwatch delivers.
1. Dragon Quest Builders
Why did I choose Dragon Quest Builders and not Dragon Quest VII, I pretend to hear people ask? While Dragon Quest VII was an amazing game, it’s technically a remake and I wanted to breathe some fresh air into a game that I consider to be equally as good. Dragon Quest Builders was a dramatic shift in the genre, and it still sticks to its traditional JRPG roots. It was a surprise to think that a game about building things could come out so strong, not to mention the limitless potential that the series could provide to future installments. Whether you want to save Alefgard from darkness, or whether you want to get your creative jam on, there’s no way to go wrong here.
Honorable Mention: Star Fox Zero, Street Fighter V, Song of the Deep, Punch Club
Most of my time is dedicated to tearing apart games and movies, then telling you what I think about it. I've been a gamer since birth, practically born with a controller in my hand. I've always spoke my mind, so critique was a natural fit. Twitter: @Jsrf38