With the clock winding down on 2016 it is time for me to look back at the games I finished playing in 2016 and talk about the ones I enjoyed the most. The only requirement for a game to enter this list is that I finished it in 2016, either by reaching the end or deciding I never want to play it again. As a result you won’t really see any multiplayer focused titles here, because they are generally unable to be finished and I am reluctant to admit I have stopped playing them. I actually construct this list as I finish games during the year, so if you want to see what is happening with it at any time, just check it out over here.
Ah Xenonauts, what can I say? It cleaves a little too strongly to the material that inspired it. I think some of the surprises I enjoyed the most were the places where it varied. Humans going all in on better guns and aliens that saw how powerful reapers (totally not Chrysalids) were as a tool for terror and potential world destruction, plus air combat that was actually pretty satisfying once you spent the time learning how to do it. I think the biggest weakness was that I had no real guidance on how quickly to expand and going too fast is an easy way to kill yourself. The only reason I could recover was by using mods to completely change the economic aspect of the game.
9) 80 Days
I installed this game when I was going through android apps I have bought in humble bundles and it completely absorbed my free time for the next couple of days. It has very limited visuals and a lot of text, but it builds an incredible steampunk world to explore as you guide your somewhat bumbling boss around the world to try to ensure he wins his remarkably silly bet. This is a game I am still tempted to go back to to try to find other equally strange routes around the world. I know that there are hints towards other Jules Verne’s stories hidden in the game though this game is obviously only using them as inspiration that than sticking closely to the source fiction.
8) The Beginners Guide
I played this near the start of the year and I almost wish that it had managed to work its way out of the top 10 because it is almost built to make talking about it difficult. In fact rather than demonstrating my own inability I would rather link to Campster’s marvellous piece about it. I have no qualms recommending people play it if only so they can go find some of the really interesting discussion about it afterwards.
7) Gravity Ghost
Sometimes all I want is a game that will let me unwind and Gravity Ghost hit exactly the right spot. Not particularly challenging and surprisingly cute and silly for a game about death and coming to terms with loss. The main character is voiced by Ashley Burch and she does a great job of providing just the right level of whimsy for the youthful protagonist.
Doublefine’s latest offering is a strange fairly short metroidvania about a future of immortal robots living in space after some kind of… incident back on earth. I had a lot of fun playing the head of the last human flying around and stealing the bodies of my enemies. I never found the combat too challenging and as a result never found cause to explore much of the upgrade system but I really dug the large amount of content that was there just to flesh out the world in silly ways. Every civilian robot model has its own dance moves and there is a surprisingly large amount of new dialog throughout the station after you win the game.
5) Her Story
Another great game from 2015 that I only got to this year, Her Story is a game about interpreting fragments of information and trying to determine context and it is happy to withhold some of that context from you right until you unlock some key pieces of information. I really appreciated the freedom this game gives the player to explore at their own pace and in their own way. It works incredibly well if you have something to write notes on and as you draw links between pieces of dialog. One interesting way to reexperience Her Story is to start again and search for BLANK tags and remove after watching.
4) Dishonored 1 DLC – Knife of Dunwall & Witches of Brigmore
With the encroaching release of Dishonored 2 I realised I had never gone back and played through the DLC for the first title despite having bought it years ago and hearing a lot of people whose opinions I trust saying that they were in some ways better than the original. There are more non-lethal tools available and Daud makes for a very different protagonist that Corvo in Dishonored 1. It is nice playing a character that reacts and converses with NPCs and events around them rather than accepting everything with stony silence unless actively engaged in a conversation tree.
3) Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
Sure the story is a little fractured and not much is actually wrapped up in this title, the developers are clearly anticipating a relatively quick release of a third prequel but I had a lot of fun slowly making my way through the levels and story of Deus Ex, trying to hack every computer, read every email and never be spotted by anyone I wasn’t in the process of punching out. I really enjoyed the System Rift DLC which let me chat with Pritchard again and I am looking forward to dipping in again once the third and final DLC releases sometime in 2017.
2) Tales from the Borderlands
It was really good to see Telltale games tackle another comedic series after making it big with their much more serious Walking Dead and other licensed titles. I was a little skeptical of the Borderlands universe being able to handle characters who aren’t expected to gun down hundreds of enemies, grabbing loot and wading their way through to a vault but it turns out it can. Not only is this a really fun romp with engaging characters doing stupid and amazing things but it shows that the Borderlands Universe has space for stories that aren’t just about clicking on bad guys and seeing numbers pop up. I can only hope they do more with this.
1) XCOM 2
The first AAA title I have bought in a few years it barely ran on the system I had at the time, fortunately turn based tactical combat doesn’t require particularly high frame rates and Firaxis did a great job taking the XCOM universe in a new direction. It is always interesting to see developers choose to explore what happens if the good guys don’t win the first time around and a lot of the tactical scenarios in XCOM make more sense if you aren’t working for global powers and the turn timers force you to do something other than slowly advance across the map. Additionally it is incredibly mod friendly with very in depth tools available to expand upon and change the game. Now that all the DLC has been release you can expect to see a Let’s Play of XCOM 2 with all the DLC and a few select mods sometime in 2017.
What were your top 10 games that you played this year? Were any of these on it? Please let us know in the comments below.
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