Evan Griffin’s Top 10 Video Games of 2016
Oh Suda-senpai, you know how to make us smile. I wasn’t sure what I was in for with Let It Die when I found it available to download completely free on my PlayStation 4 months after my demo of it at PAX East this year, but it’s a delightful evolution of the gameplay of No More Heroes with influence of the two hottest crazes currently in the games industry: Dark Souls Difficulty, and Candy Crush! It seems odd that the game features a Pay-To-Win option in something that seems like it should be a sprawling RPG, but the roguelike gameplay makes it seem justified as you attempt to climb the Tower of Barbs in search for fame and glory, and approval of Uncle Death.
I’m not usually one to get enjoyment out of a first person shooter anymore after the exorbitant amount of time I spent playing Halo in high school, but man, the addition to the mechs in the combat of the Titanfall franchise is a good enough hook to get me… hooked. Parkour, zip-line and wall running aside when discussing the innovations throughout Titanfall’s combat, the gameplay is consistent and constantly refreshing, plus it finally incorporates a campaign so we can sink our teeth further into the plot of this man-mech arms race!
If you want to talk about heart and soul and pure emotion poured intensely into a game, then look no further. That Dragon, Cancer comes as close as the gaming industry has gotten to this date to bringing poetry and prose to life in an immersive way. The project, about the childhood and loss of a young boy diagnosed of cancer less than a year into his life, was preciously worked on by his family. There had previously been discussion on its credibility as a part of the industry, but in consideration of the Telltale story based series at our disposal, this kind of artistic expression is long overdue in the medium.
From the creators of Limbo, we get a similar experience: a boy lost in a forest and as you move right the game gives you chilling atmosphere as trees parallax scroll in the background and you maneuver your way through platforming puzzles. However, the game’s style feels unique to itself with an aura filled more with anxiety and tension than the dread found throughout Limbo, but the quality of the puzzle design remains consistently excellent.
Nathan Drake’s last stand is the highest bar in Naughty Dog’s pedigree of immersion and design yet. With The Last of Us’ Neil Druckmann in the director’s chair, A Thief’s End brings the world of Uncharted to a new breath of life before its departure, and that’s not just in the rendering of its environments and interactive chase cutscenes, but in getting some truly phenomenal performances out of the game’s cast, making Nathan, Elena, Sullivan and now Sam Drake, emote and express themselves in a way that fans of Uncharted would never have thought could be improved upon in only a few years.
An indie title that puts players in the shoes of a point of view actionnaire, and dials time down to thousandths of seconds, making a Bruce Lee style action sequence into a real time puzzle game. While it’s not very long, it is one of the most innovative titles of 2016, and I’m sure will only be made better with a port to Virtual Reality support on Oculus Rift.
While Jonathan Blow’s latest creative achievement was hit and miss with audiences, I found myself wholly engrossed by the puzzles throughout The Witness and the mysterious ruins and hits that laid throughout, and the obsession lasted for almost a straight week. If I kept going I may have been declared insane. Very few games make you feel dirty for even considering looking up a walkthrough on how to solve a certain puzzle that you’ve hit a snag on, but The Witness made that worse in the natural progression of it’s puzzle building technique. Progression in the game, in both large and small steps feels like something to be earned as it all is seamlessly looped together.
This game. Is not easy.
Doom is one of the master class examples in game design within the last couple of years. From the intuitive armor and weapons upgrade systems that dynamically changes based on your play style, to the slow evolution of difficulty in the campaigns difficulty, Doom is gleefully frustrating. The game is equally enjoyable when you casually blow through low powered demons as it is when you’re forced to use every bullet you can scrap just to clear through a room, and while the power ups assist, you feel yourself become more skilled at eliminating the demons as the game progresses in a rewarding fashion.
The Game Bakers wanted to make a game that was as challenging as traditional arcade brawlers, and they truly outdid themselves in the process. In creating a hellish blend of “boss rush” combat and bullet hell, the short but sweet campaign throughout Furi boasts an electric, anime fantasy aesthetic that players battle through with the most enjoyable, and addictive kind of agony that feels reminiscent of early Ninja Gaiden entries.
Very rarely do you see a form of commercial media that expresses honest emotion as this final partnership between Sony Entertainment and Fumito Ueda. The Last Guardian presents much more than a companion based series of escape room puzzles, but conveys an almost entirely non-verbal bond between the boy and Trico. Its classical form of showing instead of telling (save for narration here and there) and displays an achievement in artistry for video games that I haven’t seen in a very long time. While this decade has games that people enjoyed, they’ll be forgotten in time. The work of Ueda, however, is the kind that has lasting power on it’s audience.
On The Backlog: Overwatch, Battlefield 1, Deus Ex Mankind Divided, Abzu, Paper Mario Color Splash, Final Fantasy XV