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.
Happy New Year, I hope that your 2016 is a wonderful bright happy year.
I thought that today would be an opportune time for me to look back at the games I finished playing in 2015 and talk about the ones I enjoyed the most. Fortunately I have been keeping a list throughout the year so it is easy to ensure I don’t forget anything.
10) Human Resource Machine
First up we have Human Resource Machine, a game that shows me how much fun I can have with programming. I bought it on a whim as I wanted something to play for the channel and Jarenth’s review had me intrigued, and I spent far more time on the game than I had ever expected. It has a slick, funny presentation that introduces and plays with fairly basic programming concepts that I had seen before, but never had to deal with at such a low level. The optional objectives really helped give legs to my experience, as they kept me coming back to the problems of trying to work out how to shorten my response or speed up its execution time.
You can watch my initial run in Human Ransource Machine.
9) Mark of the Ninja
Mark of the Ninja delivers a stealth power fantasy experience. It lets you become a master of the shadows, able to strike at will at foes powerless to stop you or ignore them as you desire. It manages this through an interface that delivers exactly the information you need (and little you don’t) and an arsenal of interesting tools to adjust the rules to match your play style. This game brought me such an evil sense of delight, especially in the times where I managed to get one guard to take out his buddies. I only wish that Klei had produced more Mark.
You can watch my playthrough of this game in Ran of the Ninja.
Ah Transistor: great soundtrack, great art, interesting mix of real time and turn based play. I enjoyed wandering through the world it presents, trying to understand how things worked and why the system existed. The power system was especially cool as you had both a narrative justification for experimentation and a mechanical reward as you found cool and broken combinations that fit well with your play style.
You can watch my playthrough of this game in Ransistor.
7) Brothers – A Tale of Two Sons
Brothers – A Tale of Two Sons was a game I went into expecting to have a good time. It has a well established reputation as a 3D indie game that holds up aesthetically because of good art design, and its essential gimmick of a single player cooperative game has not been picked up and run into the ground by other games. It lasts just long enough to be satisfying without overstaying its welcome, and it is a wonderful journey through a troubled fairytale land. The ending strikes very close to painful events in my past which probably amplified the resonance I felt with this game.
You can watch my playthrough in Brothers – A Tale of Two Rans.
6) Broken Age
We finally saw the Double Fine Adventure draw to a close with the release of Broken Age Act Two, and I played the game (as intended) as a complete product without the distinct break in the middle. The latter part of the game has some very difficult puzzles clearly geared around the player taking notes, a decision stemming from listening to old school fans rather than aiming for an accessible modern game. I really dug the art, humor and music, and at the very least it is worth checking out the documentary about the game’s creation.
5) Sunless Sea
This game has an intriguing setting and a soundtrack to match. I happily binged on this game, zailing across the depths building up my legacies and exploring the stories found in the various islands of the ‘Neath. It is a fairly difficult and long game, and the use of permadeath for your captains means that one particularly bad mistake can and will set you back significantly. But if you can muscle past the discouragement this can bring, you have a rewarding experience ahead.
Sunless Sea also marks the first time I decided to make videos about a game that were not Let’s Plays. Ranneko’s Zailing Tips were made as quick looks to help newcomers find out about some easily missed aspects of the game, and to help those who were struggling. I found them very rewarding to produce and was pretty pleased when Failbetter found and tweeted about them.
I am pretty keen to return to this one once the Zubmarine DLC comes out.
4) Shadowrun: Hong Kong
Shadowrun is one of favourite game settings. I love the mix of technology, fantasy and dystopia that it represents and I am always pleased to play around in it when the opportunity arises. I liked Dragonfall so much it managed to gain two entries in 2014’s top 5 list. It is interesting that it took Harebrained Schemes three games to explore the process of a SINner becoming a runner. It didn’t like it quite as much as Dragonfall, but I find it hard to say why. I really liked the diversity of your crew as well as the retooled, less combat focused matrix, but I didn’t quite explore the hub with the same intensity as I did in Dragonfall. I guess I just didn’t feel the same protective relationship there, probably because I was low down in a hierarchy beneath the mob boss who controls the area. I am again pretty keen to get back to this game in the promised post-campaign DLC coming out next year.
3) Crypt of the NecroDancer
This was one of the core games of my daily challenge challenge. It takes the basic dungeon crawling roguelike concept and then sets everything to music. It was interesting tracking a game through early access while I was regularly playing. I could see the effects of each patch as new parts were added, tweaked and adjusted. Crypt of the NecroDancer taught me two things: a good adventurer has a good shovel, and I have a terrible sense of rhythm. Without a good sense of rhythm you can only get so far and thanks to the leaderboards I was able to see my friends quickly outstrip me.
Spelunky was the other game at the core of my daily challenge challenge. It combines the procedural generation and difficulty of roguelikes with platforming. It is unrelentingly and unapologetically hard but it couples that with a tight control scheme and simple enemies whose movements are fairly easily read. There is nothing in the game is hard to understand, but Spelunky never lets up the pressure, which means minor enemies can lure you into making critical mistakes. Of Spelunky and Crypt of the NecroDancer I spent significantly more time in Spelunky; I was better at it and enjoyed it more, and these two facts are no doubt somewhat related. Even now when I am undecided on what to play I will often fire it up for a quick game or three, it’s like a nice comfortable blanket. One that will throttle you if you aren’t careful.
1) Massive Chalice
If you want to predispose me to liking a game, show me its development process. I am passionately interested in how games are made and how projects are managed. I loved the open development process that Double Fine used with Massive Chalice. During most of the development cycle they had biweekly team streams where they discussed design, art, programming, animation, project decisions and challenges. They did not just talk about these things: they also showed viewers project documents, art and development tools. They did this even what they had to show looked janky or obviously only half finished. They also put out a more retrospective documentary Massive Knowledge after the game was released which is worth checking out.
I was keen to get in and play when the backer beta came out and I continued to track it through iterations as the Cadence and the heroes changed and adapted, features were refined and introduced. And what I found was a rewarding tactical combat game and a strategic layer where your heroes and time were important resources. XCOM is definitely the obvious comparison but the combat is subtly different due to the heavy reliance on melee, the lack of overwatch and the importance of managing line of sight. I have played through Massive Chalice slowly, and quickly, and I created a huge number of tips videos. I loved the time I spent on this game, I only wish that they were making more of it or that it had an active mod community.
So that’s the list, I know that there are a number of fairly notable release that aren’t on there. Probably because I either have not played them, or I haven’t finished them yet and want to go back… sometime in the future. For a game to go on my list I have to have decided I was done, either because I reached a natural stopping point, or because I was
What were some of your favourite games that you played in 2015? Let me know in the comments below.