I played a number of things in 2016, not necessarily that came out in 2016 but here’s my top five from the year chronologically:
The Witness: I’ve seen this left off a lot of best of 2016 lists but should be in all of them. Expertly crafted and absolutely gorgeous. There was an early review that had called this Metroidvania-esque and that completely works. Instead of collecting weapons or items to open doors, you collect the knowledge you need to overcome the puzzle you may have passed earlier as you didn’t have that experience. For puzzle lovers, this game is required playing.
DOOM This one caught me completely off-guard. Sure it’s more DOOM, shoot demons in face, rinse, repeat but it is done so well. Pays homage to it’s heritage without feeling 'hey look, it’s that thing you remember! ‘member?’ Moves beautifully, the finishing moves are immensely satisfying even after performing your hundredth, and is just fun overall. Was not on my radar, but should’ve been.
Inside What is there to say about Inside? Stunning. Immaculate. A joy to play and experience. Not going to give anything away about it other than to say you owe it to yourself to give this one a go. The developer’s previous game was Limbo. If you enjoyed that, play this. Even if you didn’t play or enjoy that, try this. My only regret about this game is that I can’t play it again and have the same sense of discovery.
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst I am one of the Mirror’s Edge faithful (no pun intended) and played the first game a lot. Wasn’t terribly good at it and never cracked the best times on the leaderboards but the experience of freerunning the rooftops of Glass in first-person is bliss to me. That Catalyst made the city of Glass open world was perfection. Exploring the city, finding the best routes, and just running because I could was everything I wanted. I enjoyed the game so much I played and finished it on both PC and PS4. And the soundtrack… Instant purchase for me. I have listened to it in it’s entirety more than times than I care to count. Solar Fields is my jam musically and this soundtrack gives me 5+ hours of bliss. The only complaint I can level about the game is the story which was a bit uneven. Better than the first game’s story, but that isn’t saying much. Here’s hoping they’ll do a third and not take 8-9 years to do it.
Dishonored 2 The absolute pinnacle of first-person stealth. Nothing, save Looking Glass’ Thief, comes close. Even Thief might begin to take a back seat as how good Dishonored 2 is. Played through with no powers, mostly flesh and steel, and clean hands. Planning to run the same on PS4 as time allows. Then maybe I’ll go through again killing everything. That the game can give me that experience but also cater to the ‘kill everything in sight’ crowd as well makes this a master class in game design. Bethesda in general and Arkane in specific are putting on a clinic. Can not wait for Prey in 2017.
Honorable mentions or “Other worthy games I played in 2016”: Uncharted 4, Destiny: Rise of Iron, Overwatch, The Division, Her Story, The Talos Principle, Life Is Strange, SOMA, Dying Light: The Following, The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human, The Solus Project, Rise of the Tomb Raider Definitive Edition, and Song of the Deep.
Can we do an Awful List? Fortunately, I only played a few stinkers this year. Mighty No. 9 was a huge disappointment. Clandestine had a great idea with asynchronous stealth play but the execution is horrible.