I sadly didn't play nearly as many new games in 2016 as I wanted but it's been an incredibly fun year to watch. From the launch of the Sony's PS4 Pro, to the announcements of Microsoft's Project Scorpio and Nintendo's Switch, to the rise of VR, 2016 has been an awesome year (video game-wise). But I think the best part is how it has set the stage for 2017, which could be the best year in gaming since 2007.
Favorite Game Released Before 2016, Played in 2016: Disney Infinity 2.0
I received Disney Infinity 2.0 as a gift last year and was a little put off at first. I'd always thought of the toys-to-life market as a cash grab. I was not prepared for how much I would fall in love with the stupid little figurines. I went from being in total opposition to owning all the Star Wars and Marvel figures in about 6 months. Which means I'm quite conflicted about Dinsey shutting down the franchise. While I'm glad I can't spend any more money on them, I also REALLY NEED Chirrut Imwe and K-2SO figures.
Unravel is a special game. It’s not complicated, challenging, or taxing. It is beautiful, there’s no getting around that. It actually reminds me a lot of Prince of Persia 2008 because if you examine any one part of the game, it unravels (sorry, I couldn’t resist). But Unravel is an exemplar of “more than the sum of its parts.” It provides an experience that is delightful and unlike any other platformer. It’s the kind of game you curl up on the couch for, with some hot cocoa and a loved one. It’s possibly the perfect feel-good game.
4. Ratchet and Clank
Ratchet and Clank is nothing new. It’s a remake of a game from 2002 with cherry-picked mechanics and enhancements from the sequels. But it’s just so good! It’s bright and colorful, it’s funny, and the weapons continue to be first class and imaginative. But I think the stand out element of Ratchet and Clank is how it interacts with the movie and vice versa. It’s possibly the best movie-tie game yet. And the movie is definitely the best movie based on a game to date. Which, sadly, says nothing.
3. Quantum Break
Much like Max Payne evoked good noir with a graphic novel aesthetic, Quantum Break provides a fun time travel tale wrapped up in TV tropes. What Quantum Break does is successfully relay its story over multiple layers. The first is delivered through cutscenes and scripted events. The second, through the TV show. And the final layer, the best, is delivered through emails and office memos that actually matter. And those emails gave us Time Knife. God, I want more Time Knife.
Continuing the tradition started by The Walking Dead in 2012 and The Novelist, Valiant Hearts, and Life is Strange in subsequent years, Firewatch is a game that makes you think about life, about the choices you’ve made, and how they affect those around you. It’s mechanically sound and quite polished but those facts are irrelevant to Firewatch's greatness. Firewatch’s poignancy is it’s true strength and it delivers like no other this year. I daren't say anything else about Firewatch for fear of spoiling it. Just go play it.
1. Dishonored 2
Dishonored 2 is a playground. A bloody, murderous playground. A glorious, bloody, murderous playground. Or a game where no one is killed. With fantastic new powers, two phenomenon levels, and a bunch of other great ones, it gives you a set of tools and says “have fun.” And what fun it is. Dishonored 2 improves on everything from the original, smoothing out the wrinkles and making a game that everyone should try. Make no mistake, the true heir to the Deus Ex throne has a arrived, and she will not be usurped.
Honorable Mention: Forza Horizon 3, No Man’s Sky, Superhot, Technomancer, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Jonathan is the host of the DarkCast, DarkCast Interviews, and Gamers Read. He loves books, video games, and superheroes. If he had to pick favorites, they would be Welcome to the Monkey House, Mass Effect, and Superman respectively.