GAF Games of the Year 2016 - Voting Thread [Voting closed]

1. Doom ; A thoroughly entertaining and engrossing experience from beginning to end. Doom is an incredibly fun game that I will gladly go back to for years to come.
2. Final Fantasy XV ; I won't even try to deny that this game has a myriad of problems but for some reason I ended up loving it immensely. The dynamic between the lead characters was great and I enjoyed my time with them. It's too bad the female role was ignored completely.
3. Titanfall 2 ; Another FPS with a surprisingly engaging single player campaign. It also just happens to have one of the best multiplayer experiences of the year.
4. Uncharted 4 ; Nate's second adventure is still my top dog but Uncharted 4 is a fantastic send off for the character. A great example of video game storytelling done right.
5. Watch Dogs 2 ; I wasn't expecting much after the first game, but damn, WD2 is a lot of fun. There are a ton of different ways to approach each mission which keeps the game play fresh through out. I didn't expect to like the characters either but they have been great. Another nice surprise this year.
6. Dishonored 2 ; This game makes the list based on level design alone. There are some really ingenious game design concepts utilized that will unfortunately go unnoticed due to poor sales.
7. No Man's Sky ; Yeah, I know. I still loved my time with it despite it not living up to expectations. It's fun to go back to every-so-often just to play around with and discover new planets.
8. Battlefield 1 ; The multiplayer is incredibly fun. This is a game I can see myself going back to over the next few years.
9. Street Fighter V ; Hey, I liked it. This is a great Street Fighter game even if it's missing an arcade mode.
10. Forza Horizon 3 ; As always, Forza Horizon is simply the best open world racer in existence.
1. Overwatch ; Back before the year started, I was 100% sure that Uncharted 4 would be my Game of the Year. If you had told me that a multiplayer game would beat out one of my favorite franchises of all time, I would have laughed at you. But Overwatch is the real deal. I still play this game for multiple hours almost daily and with steady updates coming from Blizzard, it doesn't look like that will change anytime soon. This game is the definition of fun and I definitely recommend it to everyone.

2. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End ; This was by far my most anticipated game of the year and it did not disappoint. I thought the gunplay was much improved and the graphics and story were outstanding. It had possibly the best ending to a franchise that I've played. It would have won Game of the Year if Overwatch didn't come out and completely surprise me.

3. Dark Souls III

4. Dragon's Dogma

5. Pokémon Sun/Moon

6. Watch_Dogs 2

7. Ratchet & Clank

8. Firewatch

9. Rise of the Tomb Raider

Unfortunately, I was unable to play Dishonored 2 and The Last Guardian before the cutoff date so they are not on the list. I'm sure they would have been high up as well.
1. Overwatch ; I think I've played Overwatch almost every single month that it's been out. The last time I did that was with World of Warcraft, another Blizz shot of coke. The game is an FPS with heroes, as everyone knows, but it's this chess like element that comes with ever match that gets you and keeps you. Damn good shooting, engaging maps, and a slew of fun modes There are problems for sure. I still feel aiming is a bit to hard with certain characters on consoles. I can't hit shit with Widowmaker and I usually consider myself to be a pretty decent sniper. But it's still good and Blizz is doing a good job supporting the game. Which by the way, is wrapped up in an amazing package. The graphics, diversity and general charm of the characters is nothing short of a phenomenon. The game makes me happy, pure and simple. "Cheers luv, the game of the generation is here."
2. The Witcher 3 Blood and Wine ; One final piece of DLC to one of the greatest role-playing games ever made. CDRed ended Geralt's last quest on a high note, closing out the Witcher's world with blue skies and green pastures with the beautiful land of Toussaint. Memorable characters like Regis outshone most any character released this year and Geralt's exploits in the far away kingdom never failed to keep me entertained.
3. Doom ; Loud, fast, and violent. Doom came back in a big way this year and took a lot of people like myself by surprise. The gameplay was supremely tight and each encounter was a rush of adrenaline like no other. Flimsy story and drab Hell visuals aside, this game kicked all sorts of ass. Never reload.
4. Titanfall 2 ; Respawn came out with a single player experience that just proved 2016 was the year of shooters. They took the first game excellent mechanics and crafted a very fun set of levels around it. MP was ballin'
5. Gears of War 4 ; I think they played it too safe with Gears, but it still impressed the hell out of me. I felt like I was playing a Gears campaign made by Epic. It felt like coming home and that felt good. Shooting was tighter, there was more horror and a low key atmosphere to the game. And yeah, I loved seeing the world of Sera after the GoW 1-3 events. More games need to do this. Other than Overwatch, I keep returning to Gears MP. The shotgun isn't perfect, but the gameplay has never been faster which results in the gory Gears matches we all know and love.
6. Quantum Break ; Remedy brought another good game out. You don't hide behind cover, you jet from dude to dude and mess shit up with your time powers.There's a tv show that marginally interesting and I suppose could be seen as a clever way to tell some of the games story points. But it doesn't work that well, and you're just left with QB as a whole and oh is it worth it. The time travel story is full of fun turns and ever more fun encounters, and Jack and my personal favorite character Beth, had a good rapport with each other. It's not Alan Wake, but damned if it isn't one of the best games of the year.
7. Dark Souls 3 ; The story bits suck, but it's still a Dark Souls game which means good combat and nice exploration in detailed and rich levels. I got what was promise even if it didn't hit the high highs of the past series.
8. Forza Horizon 3 ; Australia rocks. Horizon Pulse definitely rocks. And FH3 sealed the deal that this arcade racing series is the only driving game that I'll ever need. The world is more inviting than FH2 and the campaign is more varied with off road tracks and vehicles. The showdown races were a little too few and unexciting, but the rest of this game was gold. Never felt so good to be the boss of a racing festival.
9. The Last Guardian ; I got touched by the bird thing. Ueda and is Team managed to pull it off for me and by the end there was some mist in these old crinkly eyes. Like Inside, TLG builds an unbelievably real world and then lets the player find the solutions on their own terms. No waypoints, no 'follow' button or slow walking sections, just you and your giant bird friend. Framerate was a huge bummer and some sections dragged, but I'm very glad I finally got to play this in 2016.
10. Inside ; Game is unsettling as shit and it invokes this by never conveying a word. The puzzles are finely crafted as is the entire journey. No other game here has the pacing that Inside had.
1. Battle Garegga rev.2016 ; M2's Shot Triggers line starts of with a perfect port of an absolute classic shmup with an arcade accurate mode, a "super easy" mode that's still challenging enough to a blast to casually play, a "premium" arrange mode for score hungry players looking for a new twist, a "custom" mode to allow you to dial in exactly the difficult you want, four different versions of the incredible soundtrack, and all the options you could hope as far as tate, overlays, image size, quick saves, quick reset, trophies that teach you the scoring secrets of the game, etc etc... if only every port could be this good. Absolute must-have for any shmup fans. I've been madly obsessed with it since it arrived late last month.

2. Dark Souls 3 ; A bit frustrating that this isn't my number one pick. It should have been. It's certainly quite good, often brilliant, my favorite AAA game of the year, but there are some confounding issues that leave me conflicted. My gripes are predictable: so much fan service in the form of character callbacks that the story became a bit nonsensical around the edges, bad implementation of poise, and mind-numbing drop rates on trophy related items. Still, I loved it enough to play through multiple times and I haven't had my fill. Bring on the second DLC!

3. Doom ; A brilliant return to the basics. Pardon the pun, but I played the hell out of this game. Revisited each stage multiple times, even got the Platinum. My only gripe here is that the Nightmare mode amps up the damage while simultaneously amping down the health upgrades, radically upsetting the balance of the easier modes and making survival feel far too random for my taste. Oh and that it's 70 GB and after I got the platinum I had to delete it to make room to play anything else.

4. Inside ; perfectly paced & atmospheric. Does a neat job of introducing new puzzle ideas along almost the entire length of the game without ever disrupting that pace and atmosphere, which I felt showed great restraint. Excellent sound design and lighting work. Ending of the year.

5. The Last Guardian ; Debuting as late in the year as it did, I haven't finished it yet. What I've played thus far delivers so strongly on what I was hoping for that any quibbles I may have about the camera pale. A delight.

6. Bullet Hell Monday ; the only mobile game on my list. Fantastic free-to-download shmup that I happily spent money on to unlock extra ships to play with. Nice difficulty curve served well by having lots of levels.

7. Firewatch ; I'm pretty sure played through this in a single day and it felt like reading a good slice of life novel. Some unfortunate technical hitches aside, it's my favorite "walking simulator" yet and I look forward to more from this team. Great voice acting and beautiful environmental design really went a long way for me here.

8. The Witness ; I played this in intense bursts spread across the first half of the year and saw the credits. Loved most of the puzzle styles, couldn't get it out of my head. Some of the presentation suffered a bit from overreach, but overall I was delighted more than perturbed.

9. Salt & Sanctuary ; 2-d Dark Souls done right.

10. Rez Infinite ; Only got to play this briefly at a friend's house on his PSVR, but it's one of the greatest games of all time, revisited in a way that made so much sense it sold my friend on PSVR... (which he then won in a raffle at work before he bought one but that's besides the point.)

Honorable Mentions:
X. Titanfall 2 ; did not get to spend enough time with this to properly rank it. really great so far.
X. Wild Guns Reloaded ; Really great SNES to PS4 conversion, probably would have ranked if it had all the flexibility of M2's Battle Garegga port. As it is it errs a little on the too brutal for it's own good side difficulty-wise. Fun as hell though and looks and plays great.
1. The Witness ; One of the most engaging experience s I've ever had with a game.

2. Doom ; I finally played this at the end of the year based on goty buzz, and it was a wonderful surprise. I am not normally big on fps, but the light exploration mixed with the exhilarating flow of combat really struck a chord with me.

3. Hyper Light Drifter ; The combat is so, so good once you understand the dash mechanic. Great art and music too.

4. Dark Souls III ; Bloodborne was what finally made me appreciate the souls games, and DS3 confirmed my love of the series.

5. Oxenfree ; Great atmosphere, art, and music. I really enjoyed the dialogue system.

6. Firewatch ;

7. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End ;

8. Ratchet And Clank ;

9. Inside ;

10. Abzu ;

Honorable Mention:

x. Dragon Quest Builders ;

Apologies to my yet unplayed copy of FFXV. I would alsi like to purchase and try out Forza Horizon 3, Titanfall 2, Hitman, and Obduction,among others, but ballot time is here and there are only so many hours in the day!
1. Furi ; Furi combines the "just one more try" feeling of Hotline Miami and Super Meat Boy with the dope boss fights of a Platinum game to enormous success.

2. Picross 3D: Round 2 ; A great puzzle game with tons of content. Carving the objects out is just as satisfying as solving the logic involved.

3. Dark Souls III ; It's no Bloodborne, but it's up there. It features some of the best bosses in the entire series, though, so that doesn't hurt.

4. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE ; Session attacks, in which you chain attacks from every member of your party, solve the RPG problem of not utilizing the whole party.

5. Pokemon Sun ; It's basically the Mario Galaxy of Pokemon, putting a great new spin on familiar concepts, delighting with old and new alike.

6. Odin Sphere Leifthrasir ; I grew bored of the original, so I was really surprised at the fluidity of combat and the fun of the ingredient management in this remake.

7. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Spirit of Justice ; Shockingly, Ace Attorney still manages to surprise, even when I thought I had all its twists pinned down.

8. Bravely Second ; The ability to instantly chain random encounters for an experience multiplyer is yet another feature from this series that I want to see in every RPG.

9. SteinsGate 0 ; This game does a lot to build the world of SteinsGate, even if it stumbles in some places compared to the first game.

10. Final Fantasy XV ; For a stiched-together Frankenstein monster of a game, FFXV turned out pretty good.
1. Overwatch ; a stepping stone in multiplayer games that improves an already excellent formula with a solid and refined gameplay and (the most important thing) a cast of colourful and charismatic characters that probably will achieve iconic status (if they didn't already).
2. The Witness ; challenging, clever and stunning visually, Blow outdid himself.
3. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End ; perfect way to close the series. It's the result of 10 years polishing a formula, the sense of discovery, exploration and awe in this game is unmatched.
4. The Last Guardian ; after years waiting for it, the latest game of Fumito Ueda doesn't disappoint. It's a journey full of powerful and beautiful moments, sadly what happens between those moments can be too frustrating sometimes.
5. XCOM 2 ; It's like XCOM but better, that's all you need to know.
6. Dark Souls III ; it's hard to create a new game in a well established series making it overcome the franchise fatigue and feel fresh. Somehow, Dark Souls III manages to do it.
7. Zero Time Dilemma ; even if the game has some plot holes, I think it's a great way to close the trilogy.
8. Firewatch ;
9. Hyper Light Drifter ;
10. Street Fighter V ; a mess of a game and a huge disappointment, but I would be a bit hypocrite to not add it to the list since it's my most played game this year.

Games I haven't played enough that could have made the list: Forza Horizon 3, Darkest Dungeon
Games I haven't played that could have made the list: DOOM, Inside, Dishonored 2, Pokemon Sun/Moon, Rhythm Heaven Megamix, Deus Ex Mankind Divided, ABZU, Furi, Oxenfree, Enter the Gungeon, Final Fantasy XV, Titanfall 2
Disappointments: Street Fighter V, Pokemon GO
1. Overwatch ; Wow, what a great game. I haven't had this much fun with a team based FPS title since Team Fortress 2.

2. Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth ; I didn't expect to like this title quite as much as I did. I picked this up after Pokemon Go piqued my interest in the Pokemon and Digimon franchises. The quirky storyline and dialogue made me laugh, but the digivolution de-digivolution mechanics had me hooked. I spent at least 20-30 hours solely levelling up and digivolving my digimon.

3. World of Warcraft: Legion ; This brought me back from an 11 year absence from World of Warcraft. A co-worker of mine has been playing WoW on and off for years, so I thought I'd try it out again. I wasn't let down. The level scaling and the unique class artifact weapon storylines helped keep my interest for the 3 months that I played.

4. Tom Clancy's The Division ; I really enjoyed the single-player campaign. The Dark Zone is what let me down. Within the first few months, the rampant griefing by overpowered rogue players in the Dark Zone drove me away from the game. I returned in the fall to find a better balanced game.

5. Ratchet & Clank ; It's Ratchet & Clank, what more do I need to say? Standard fare for a Ratchet & Clank game. Nothing particularly wowed me, but I enjoyed myself nevertheless.

6. Stardew Valley ; Casual, fun, relaxing and addictive. Seemingly simple, but deceptively complex.

7. Titanfall 2 ; Enjoyable single-player campaign. Fun loadouts

8. Overcooked ; Silly, chaotic fun with my girlfriend who is a non-gamer.

9. Senran Kagura: Estival Versus ; Guilty pleasure. Boobs, butts, battles and babes.

10. Pokemon Go ; I'm somewhat reticent to add this to the list, but I felt it was an important experience for me last year. First off, I walked 40km in the first week alone! A few nights a week, my girlfriend and I would go out in the evening for 5-10km walks so that I could catch Pokemon and hatch eggs (also for exercise and to see the sights). I enjoyed the conversations that would crop up at impromptu gatherings of Pokemon Go players. However the GPS tracker widget was horrible and unreliable (which appears to have been fixed). And not all my conversations were friendly (namely with some brats at a skate park).
1. Doom ; Everything that was good about the shooters of yesterday. Everything that's good in the shooters of today. It's just fun to play what else is needed?

2. Inside ; Beautiful presentation and tight gameplay. Doesn't try to do too many things but manages to create this twisted dystopian world like no game has before.

3. Overcooked ; Most fun I've had with a local co-op game ever. When you manage to create an efficient work flow nothing in games was as rewarding this year as that.

4. Overwatch ; Extremely polished multiplayer shooter. Cool characters and presentation. Free content just keeps rolling in so overall just a very impressive package they have put (and are putting) together.

5. Ori and the Blind Forest Definitive Edition ; Best platformer I have played on PC. I keep repeating this but presentation was absolutely stunning as well.

6. Dishonored 2 ; Really cool how they give you the choice at handling problems differently. Builds off from the first game in an excellent way. Best locales of this year.

7. Hitman ; The freedom they give you is exciting. I love the humor in this series too. Can't wait for Season 2.

8. Fire Emblem Fates ; Builds off from Awakening. Fire Emblem forever has a soft spot in my heart.

9. Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past ; Massive game and one I'm glad they localized. Glad I was introduced to the series.

10. Kentucky Route Zero - Act IV ; Nothing else like this out there. Can't wait for Act V.
1. Doom ; Simply put, I went into Doom with zero expectations. I've been feeling really burned out on FPS games the last several years really and all the lead up to Doom's release really didn't have it on my radar at all. Then it came out and I heard some of the positive word of mouth and once it went on sale over the summer, I decided to try it out. And boy, was it fun! That's really the most succinct thing I can say about Doom- it was just a ton of fun to play. I can recall one combat encounter where I Was just jumping from platform to platform just zooming around blasting demons while the soundtrack roared and as that wrapped up, I just thought to myself, "Damn this game is fun!" That's ultimately why I'm playing games most of the time and Doom is just a joy to play. The game just revels in how absurd everything about the setup is and that's why it works so well. Doom Guy being this silent protagonist who just brushes off all the self serious advice from Hayden just sets the tone for the whole game's sense of humor and the over the top and fast paced combat combined with the amazing metal soundtrack just glue everything together perfectly. The game looks great and runs beautifully and the campaign was just so much fun to play. Doom really reminded me a lot of Wolfenstein: The New Order in that its another old franchise brought up to modern standards and really got me interested in a genre where my interest has flagged in recent years.

2. Battlefield 1 ; I've been a fan of the BF games since 1942 and while I really enjoyed BF3, for whatever reason, BF4 didn't grab me that much and I kind of ended up disliking some of my time with the grind of BF4 with all the attachments and unlocks and just general fatigue with the whole modern combat aesthetic. So BF1 has been such a welcome return to a historical setting and one that's just not represented much in big budget "AAA" games. The gameplay feels similar to most modern BF games in a lot of ways but for me, the setting alone makes it feel sufficiently fresh. And I for one welcome the lack of a million gun attachment unlocks. The unlock system's simplicity in BF1 lets me enjoy the game for the gameplay and not have to think as much about grinding out upgrades. The audio and visuals are great as always and the one thing BF1 gets so right to me is just the beautiful and terrible chaos of war. And that's where Operations come in. I've always predominantly played Conquest in BF games but in BF1, I've mostly been playing Operations. Operations just feel like Conquest and Rush got together and had a baby. A horribly noisy, destructive baby. Nothing beats the feeling of taking a sector in Operations then charging forward out of the trenches as you hear everyone screaming and charging alongside you, as explosions and bullets fly all around. Battlefield 1 just captures that dynamic feeling of the madness of war like no other game in a setting that is just not represented very much. And the single player campaign is half decent too!

3. XCOM 2 ; I really enjoyed XCOM: Enemy Unknown and XCOM 2 basically takes a lot of the things I enjoyed about EU and amplifies everything. I really enjoyed the whole underdog and rebel aspect which the campaign is framed and that feeds into the greater opportunities to ambush alien units as the aggressor more often than not. At the onset I wasn't sure how I'd feel about the turn limits on some of the missions, but looking back I really enjoyed the tension those gave what could have otherwise been more typical grindy, overwatch spam types of missions. XCOM 2's increased squad customization made watching my custom created squadmates die horrible deaths even more agonizing and the game in general did a nice job of letting you kind of make up your own little stories and narratives that way. My only complaint with the campaign was probably the insane difficulty spike on the last mission, but it felt pretty satisfying to get through that eventually. And the mod support has been awesome in terms of giving the game some longevity. Great game and it sets up for an interesting sequel.

4. Life Is Strange ; What I want out of any game is for it basically make me feel something. That can be anything really. With Doom, it's that feeling of getting completely absorbed in the gameplay as you're blasting demons. With Battlefield 1, getting your blood up when you're charging out of a trench in an Operation as you hear countless soldiers screaming behind you, with whistles screeching and explosions pounding all around. Life is Strange was an amazing game and experience for me since it just hit on more common emotions like friendship and loss in ways most games don't even bother with. I really wasn't expecting much from the game and was honestly prepared to dislike it, but the characters grew on me and while some of the plot points felt a bit rushed especially at the end, the characters are where the game shined. There were multiple moments in the game where I was muttering "Oh shit!" but not in the "Doom guy just cocked his shotgun in perfect timing with the soundtrack as the title card appeared" sort of way but rather "Oh no, I have to talk down a suicidal friend or deal with some horribly gut wrenching alternate timeline version of a friend." The music and voice acting were all top notch and just did a fantastic job of creating the whole mysterious atmosphere surrounding the school and Arcadia Bay. Wonderful, wonderful experience.

5. Total War: Warhammer ; I am a total sucker for Total War games. I think I've played every one at launch since Rome and honestly, I've enjoyed just about every single one, even the much maligned Empire and Rome 2. But with TW: Warhammer, I wasn't super interested in it, if only because I felt a little burned out on the Total War formula after playing so much of Total War: Attila last year. And outside of playing Space Marine years ago, I know very little about the Warhammer universe. But I ended up really enjoying TW: Warhammer, just as a Total War game and the fantasy trappings of Warhammer work great to add some extra pizzazz to the Total War formula. Total War still does something no other games do with the combination of the strategic campaign map and tactical real time battles. With Warhammer, you toss in more unique fantasy units and magic to the Total War formula and it freshens the whole presentation up quite a bit. I still probably prefer the more historical settings for TW games but Warhammer injects some welcome diversity and life into the TW franchise, that can hopefully make its way back to future historical setting TW games.

6. The Witcher III: Wild Hunt - Blood and Wine ; Honestly, I've barely touched Blood and Wine. But I totally feel comfortable putting it here simply because I have no reason to believe that its not up to the same level of quality as the rest of Wild Hunt. And TW3 is probably up there with my favorite games of all time. I really look forward to sinking some more time into the world of theWitcher and by all accounts, Blood and Wine is a nice send off for one last adventure with Geralt of Rivia.

7. Stardew Valley ; Another game that I had never heard of until people started talking about it post release, but I guess unlike Doom, I don't know that very many people even knew about Stardew Valley pre-release. If Doom is the perfect confluence of twitch based, gory demon killing action set to an amazing metal soundtrack, then Stardew Valley is probably the polar opposite of that style- it's a laid back game that exudes low key charm and whimsy. I had never really delved into games like Harvest Moon before so the novelty of Stardew Valley worked well on me. It definitely tapped into that same gameplay loop of upgrades and grinding that I often dislike in games, but the charming visuals and music just kept me coming back to plant one more crop or talk to Penny one more time or go out fishing one more day. Eventually the grind of it all wore me down a little but having not played it in months, I'm sort of itching to get back in there, especially with how well the game has been supported post release.

8. Hitman ; Hitman is a game that I really sort of suck at but dammit, if its still not super fun to just muck around in a game that loaded with systems. How most of the missions would inevitably go is that I'd act all cool and calm, trying to be the perfect silent assassin, only for things to go horribly wrong and a terrible blood bath of zaniness would ensue. As satisfying as it is to play a contract super clean, its also just a fun game to dress up as a Vampire Magician and knock people out with a propane tank.

9. Tyranny ; When I played Pillars of Eternity last year, I wanted to like it more than I did. That's not to say I disliked it at all, but the world Obsidian created never grabbed me as much as I hoped it would ( still should try to get back to Pillars and finish it) . With Tyranny, Obsidian created another world that almost immediately grabbed me and made itself far more engaging and interesting than Pillars. I haven't finished Tyranny yet, but just story wise I love the concepts at play and the prospect of being a "bad" guy in a world where the "bad" guys have won is just so refreshing and novel. If nothing else, I love that we're in an age of gaming where games like Tyranny and other Infinity Engine style RPGs can come out so relatively quickly and out of blue.

10. Oxenfree ; After playing Life is Strange, I thought Oxenfree would maybe be too much of the same "Teens with 'Tude get involved with Paranormal Hijinx" genre. And the intro bits of Oxenfree almost played out how I feared Life is Strange would. Namely, the dialogue at times felt really forced and awkward and some of the voice acting (REN) sounds like a 40 year old voice actor trying to sound like a hipster teen way too hard. But once I kind of got past that, what I enjoyed was a pretty cool and at times emotional story that hit on some similar notes as Life is Strange. Maybe delving a little more into the paranormal aspects and feeling less attached to the characters than LiS but Oxenfree was a refreshing variant of your TellTale style game. The dialogue system was nice and the New Game plus option is pretty damn cool narratively speaking. And the music is top notch at setting the tone.

Honorable Mentions

X. Inside ; This game is all about the atmosphere and definitely the ending. The game has a ton of style and the visuals and sound are as engaging as any huge budget blockbuster game. Inside is a just a engaging and dark platformer. The puzzles are fine for what they are but what made this memorable to me is just how spartan the storytelling is while still conveying so much through imagery. I don't necessarily know what they were trying to convey at times but the imagery left a mark on me, especially that ending. Yeah, the ending of Inside is kind of what makes the game. In a year where lots of games made me feel different things, Inside's ending made me feel a whole gamut of emotions all at once, for better or worse and will definitely stay as one of the more memorable game endings I've experienced in a while.

X. Firewatch ; The visuals, voice acting and atmosphere that Firewatch creates are all top notch. But being a story based game, the ending sort of fell flat for me and to some extent soured me on a lot of what came before it. The beginning of the game and the middle parts do an amazing job of creating this sense of atmosphere of being alone in the wilderness with just one person to communicate with- one person you never really see, no less. Then you have some great tension and sense of paranoia that builds and builds... to an ending that kind of made me just go "Oh. Ok." I get what the developers were going for but I just wish the game had stuck it's ending somehow differently because everything up to the last quarter or so of the game is really great.

X. Abzû ; Abzû was one of the most relaxing games I've played all year. If I want to just totally decompress and zone out after a hard day of work, just load up Abzû and swim with some awesome looking schools of fish accompanied by an amazing score. Just a really cool experience swimming through the ocean with a surprisingly neat story that like Inside, is able to convey a lot of emotion and neat moments without any words.

X. Overwatch ; I should probably try to get back to Overwatch. I played a fair amount of the Beta and got the game at launch and played it for a couple weeks but just fell off after that. I really enjoyed my time with the game though. It always felt supremely welcoming for a multiplayer shooter (probably tonally the opposite of BF1) and the character designs are just so damn enchanting.

X. Thumper ; I suck at Thumper. I am really bad at Thumper. And yet, I think Thumper is really cool. Thumper oozes style but like I said, I'm terrible at Thumper so I haven't seen that much of the game. But for as uncoordinated I am while playing Thumper, the satisfaction you get when you nail a sequence and let the crazy visuals and sound wash over you is pretty neat. I just wish I was better at Thumper.
1. The Last Guardian ; Been waiting forever, and it really delivered. The Last Guardian is the reason I'm still stickin' around with the ol' Sony Playstation. Gorgeous graphics and sound effects, sublime creature AI, an underrated soundtrack, and an unbelievably natural storyline neutralized any camera and framerate problems the game had. Thank you, Mr. Ueda, for sticking it out for so long. You showed what could be done in an interactive medium. Last Guardian will live in a wonderful place in my heart. (Did I mention the AI? I treated Turikurr like a real animal, and I was rewarded for my investment. Damn!)

2. DOOM ; As someone who grew up with the original? An absolute blast. Rocking soundtrack, and the best use of idTech, even up to now. Had to take a break sometimes because the levels and monsters were so exhausting (in a good way!) Was never too silly or too serious-- in short, everything Doom 4 needed to be. Except multiplayer, and I miss modding, but eh... I'll let it slide. Awesome.

3. Stardew Valley ; Harvest Moon for the SNES was a really nice time of my childhood, and to see one talented man's vision for what a farming game could be, executed almost to perfection... what a treat! And what a development story.

4. Dishonored 2 ; A tortured PC version and a messy, almost non-descript storyline didn't stop this game from being a ton of fun to play. One of the only games in recent memory I've replayed just so I could try a different route, a different playstyle. Features two of the most incredible levels ever seen in a first person game. Wherever Harvey Smith goes next, I'll be there. Just please use a different engine!

5. Shantae: Half-Genie Hero ; I feel this game could have better placement, but it wasn't absolutely everything it could've been. That being the case, fun characters, a cool art style, and an INCREDIBLE SOUNDTRACK from our man Jake Kaufman (where else can you spend a half hour in the level hub just jumping around in sync to the music for no other reason than it's fun as hell?) give this game some well-earned props. I get the feeling that if a sequel comes along that builds on its predecessor... like Assassin's Creed 2 did... it could be a real game of the year contender!

6. Hyper Light Drifter ; Haunting. Striking. And ended far too soon!

7. Planet Coaster ; Good to see the RCT legacy live on. Not perfect, but a great re-pull on the choke of this genre's engine.

8. Mirror's Edge: Catalyst ; Almost missed this one on the list. A dyed in the wool Mirror's Edge freak since the original's release, the sequel/reboot was a bit of a letdown. Flashes of brilliance couldn't cover the open world that strangled the game's structure, which affected its quality all the way down to how music could be used. Graphics were pretty nice, though the art style took a hit in my opinion. Story got a little better near the end as I got to know the characters better, but... man, why couldn't this game have been better? It was the series' only chance at a revival, and development didn't save it. A sad end for a franchise that could have been so much more.

9. MLB The Show 16 ; For all my anger at some of the game's mechanics, this game gave me the feeling of winning a pennant and a world series by the skin of my teeth, alongside my virtual guys. I got invested. That's worth a place on this list. It probably deserves higher.
Sadly, I didn't have time to play many new games in 2016. The vast majority of my gaming time and budget was rather spent on collecting retro games. I'll have to get caught up this year.

1. Picross e7 ; Picross is awesome. I could probably play nothing but Picross and completely fill what little game time I have available.
2. My Nintendo Picross: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess ; This is the best reward to come out of My Nintendo to date. Hopefully we'll see some more bonus puzzle packs like this in the future.
3. Star Fox Zero ; Star Fox Zero was an ambitious title that attempted to do new things around the Wii U GamePad, but couldn't quite nail the controls. I wound up giving up on the walker.
4. Pokémon Go ; This was such a time and battery waster out of morbid curiosity, making clear the machinations of the Skinner Box.
5. Miitomo ; Creating a new social network around the Mii characters sounds like an interesting idea on paper, but the question-focused implementation resulted in repetitious conversation cues that were quickly exhausted. Initially adding too many people to the friend list locked me out of the app for the first several weeks until enough requests expired to clear the queue.
6. Super Mario Run ; The New Super Mario Bros. look has been a bit done to death, and further paring down the formula doesn't quite seem like the right direction to go with the series.
7. Tank Troopers

Bought, but haven't played yet...
x. Azure Striker Gunvolt 2
x. Bravely Second: End Layer
x. Final Fantasy XV
x. The Last Guardian
x. Metroid Prime: Federation Force

x. Axiom Verge
x. Life Is Strange
x. Mighty No. 9
x. Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight
x. No Man's Sky
x. Ori and the Blind Forest Definitive Edition
x. Summer Lesson
I agree to a point... if you were a professional critic. However, most of us here on GAF are just hobbyists and we play games in our spare time. Forcing yourself to play more games than you want simply because you want to be well informed before voting seems counter productive. Your time is valuable, and you should spend it with games you want to play, not games you think you ought to play.

Now, if you enjoy the process then so be it. I'm not here to tell you you're living your life wrong, but it sounded like you were forcing yourself to play all the games that came out in 2016 so that you could be an educated voter. Maybe I misunderstood your point, in which case keep doing what you're doing. But if you are feeling that playing 50+ games per year is becoming a slog, maybe it's time to slow things down a bit.
I mean, thank you for your concern, but I wouldn't describe my actions as forcing myself to do anything. As listed at the beginning there are plenty of titles that I did not "force" myself to play, either due to lack of time or not being in the budget. For example, I own Tokyo Mirage Session and Dishonored 2 but ended up being too busy to sit down to play them, I didn't buy X-COM2 nor Civilization VI because I have the previous entries backlogged, and I didn't buy Stellaris because of the steep price. I play the games that pique my interest (and will eventually come back to the ones I just mentioned as well as the others mentioned in the first paragraph of my original post), either from initial trailers or through word of mouth, and while I do prioritize the current year's offerings towards the end of the year when I can find these games for cheap, it's more of a striving motivation to see what this medium offers. I don't think I ever mentioned any fatigue, only my desire to make an informed decision as well as be transparent to others who would like to know what I've played and what was in contention. I actually cut back on the amount of games I played/beaten from 2015 (~75 down to 52) as I continue to branch further out of the medium into books and movies as well as full-time employment.
1. Inside ; Polish, polished, mesmerizing, ambient, stylish, perfectly animated, insane amount of details and a story to keep you thinking for days. I am in awe, the story is perfectly delivered without a word.

2. The Last Guardian ; Ico and especially SOTC are 2 of my favorite games of all time, this one blends the two and got me even more invested emotionally. "Team Ico" delivered and it was well worth the wait.

3. Uncharted 4 ; a great way to end Nathan's story, I truly enjoyed the ride. Gunplay is at its best (and strangely, you don't get enough firefights in this one), voice acting is perfect, art is insane. Best looking game ever! ;) I will miss Nathan.

4. Hyper Light Drifter ; A moody, somewhat strange version of Beyond Oasis meets Zelda and Secret of Mana. Amazing soundtrack, superb gameplay. No hand holding.

5. Firewatch ; technical issues aside, it was beautifully captivating from the first minute till the very end. A story delivered unlike any other game, tremendous voice acting and plot coupled with one of my favorite soundtracks.

6. Dirt Rally ; finally!! Codies are back and gave us the best rally game IMO. Too bad the online community died in an instant.

7. Dishonored 2 ; I truly enjoyed the 1st game and this one is just as good. 1st person stealth gameplay at its best.

8. Abzû ; fantastic visuals and music, a magic sense of discovery and a great ride especially if you enjoyed Journey.

9. No Man's Sky ; addictive, I had a great time and did not fell for the enormous expectations.

10. Hitman ; Hitman done right / episodic done right.

Honorable Mentions
x. Titanfall 2 ; Sadly, I have yet to play through the campaign entirely... So far, it's really good and could probably become a part of my top 10.
x. Slain ; punishing, good looking old-school fun.
x. Ratchet & Clank ; this is how you do a remake.
x. Rive ; a bit too hard for my taste but reaally good.
x. Mighty no.9 ; this game took a lot of crap for very good reasons but, except for 1 stage, it's one of the best Mega Man.
x. Shadow Blade Reload ; a very well done Shinobi/Strider inspired ninja platformer.
1. Inside ; The game is perfection. Polished. HUDless. Tutorialess. Brillaintly realized. Haunting. Atmospheric. The best lighting I've ever seen in a game. An instant classic.

2. The Last Guardian ; Did anyone expect Team ICO to match the brilliance of their previous efforts? To be honest, I didn't - but was blown away. The most emotional game I've maybe ever played. Mysterious. Beautiful. An end to the finest trilogy in video games.

3. Overwatch ; The 'Smash Bros' of shooters. Every character is completely unique in their controls and strengths. A true team-oriented shooter. Polished to high hell. I'll be playing this for years to come. Pharah is my main, and it feels like playing Samus in true form. I will destroy you from the air. Come at me.

4. Titanfall 2 ; Fantastically polished mech action. The best single player FPS campaign in years. The time travel level is brilliant. I wasn't even into the multiplayer and I adore this game. Probably the only EA game I've enjoyed since Mirrors Edge and Dead Space.

5. Resident Evil 4 ; Holy hell, playing this took me right back to that day I skipped school, smoked two blunts, and played this game for hours on GameCube with my jaw firmly planted on the floor. Nothing will ever recreate that original experience. Playing it again in HD and back to original aiming controls (ie - not wii aiming) was a delight. I'll always make time for a re-release of this incredible experience.

6. Doom ; Awesome arcade shooter action. It's great to get single player focused FPS again. I don't think a game has modernized a classic so well since Metroid Prime

7. The Witness ; The most brilliant environmental puzzles I've ever seen. A real delight.

8. Star Fox Zero ; For lack of playing too many games this year, SF0 makes my list for it's unique approach and Sim-like action. It brought me a lot of nostalgia feeling like a re-approach to SF64. The controls take some getting used to, but when they click it becomes very satisfying.

9. Uncharted 4 ; I largely did not like UC4. It was too much of a walking/talking simulator for my liking - but holy hell did the game have 2 or 3 standout moments that may be the most beautiful, action-packed, and polished action gameplay segments of my life. The section where you are being dragged in the mud by the stampede of trucks was simply stunning. I hope ND makes a game that's 100% action next time so capitalize on these moments.
1. The Last Guardian ; Up until this one I had never played a Fumito Ueda game. I had no expectations of really enjoying this; I mean I rented it from Gamefly because there was nothing else to rent at the time. Suffice to say, The Last Guardian really snuck up on me. I could sit here and praise its graphics, sound, or the remarkable AI of Trico; but that’s been done many times over. What I will say is it’s been a long time since a game has pulled me in at the level this one did on an emotional level. Without a doubt, there are moments in this game that will stick with me; it’s by far my favorite game of 2016.
2. DOOM ; A fantastic reboot of the series. Hard hitting music, great visuals (and performs extremely well to boot), and just a really satisfying gameplay hook. I loved all the homages to the old games and can’t wait to see where the Doom Slayer goes next.
3. Fire Emblem Fates ; I played through both Birthright and Conquest and just really enjoyed my time with them. Birthrights story was slightly more coherent then Conquests (which was frankly abhorrent), but the gameplay was top notch. The map design and some of the mechanics (Conquest especially) were fantastic and arguably some of the best from the series.
4. Overwatch ; Blizzard wasn’t satisfied eating up large chunks of my life through WoW or Hearthstone and gave me the competitive shooter I never knew I wanted. It looks and runs great, and has a fantastic cast. I’m not very good--and sometimes find it frustrating—but there’s no denying the quality and I’ll probably be playing it for years to come.
5. Hyper Light Drifter ; An incredibly solid and satisfying action game. It looks, sounds, and plays great; with some really challenging moments and a mysterious story to pull you in.
6. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End ; A satisfying end to the series with amazing graphics and an intriguing story. I felt a little fatigued on the actual gameplay at times, but overall greatly enjoyed seeing how everything played out.
7. Final fantasy XV ; A game that has problems in so many departments and yet I couldn’t put it down. I really enjoyed my time with the main cast, and some truly great songs pepper the soundtrack. I need to go back and check out some of the post-game stuff, and I’m looking forward to see what they come up with for the next one!
8. Inside
; A game that just oozes with atmosphere from start to finish. I found the puzzles more enjoyable then Limbo; which led to a more enjoyable experience than its predecessor. Going into it I always heard people reference “that moment” or “that sequence” and expected to be disappointed after so much hype, but it totally lives up to it. What a crazy, fantastic twist!
9. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II ; Just an incredibly sound entry in one of my favorite series. Great music, fun characters, and some really cool moments litter this game. I should say I found the games pacing and story dropped the ball coming off of the first one. There are quite a few stretches that feel too much like “filler” for my liking; and some of the story beats don’t come together as well as I would have liked. Still highly recommended, I’m looking forward to TiTS TC and CS 3 whenever we get those!
10. Pokemon Sun/Moon
; I haven’t enjoyed a Pokemon entry this much since Gold and Silver. Catchy music, a decent story with fun characters, and so many great quality of life changes. I really like some of the new Pokemon, and the Alola forms are neat updates to old favorites. I’m at the very end and looking forward to tackling some of the post-game content over the next few months.

Honorable mentions:

x. Hitman ; I’ve only played two maps(Paris and Sapienza), but I’m loving it. The freedom on the maps is masterful, and some of the scenarios are hilariously awesome. I wish I would have had time to play the other maps before the deadline.

x. Pocket Card Jockey ; I went through a two week spell in the summer where I played nothing but this and it was great. It was also my go to game to calm my nerves before my wedding! My best man loves telling others how he remembers me playing in the dressing room hours before walking down the aisle, and how it was going to disrupt the wedding. Thanks Pocket Card Jockey!

x. Titanfall 2 ; I greatly enjoyed the campaign, Doom was probably more my style gameplay wise, but there were just fantastic moments throughout Titanfall 2’s single player. It probably would have cracked my top 10 if I would have had any time to play the Multiplayer before I had to send it back.
Let me preface this list by saying I spent most of the year playing older games from my backlog, so if I had managed to play more 2016 games my list would likely be radically different. Nevertheless I had a great time with gaming in 2016, which helped make up for the pretty miserable year otherwise.

1. Dark Souls III ; My first souls game where I got to play on day 1 and really be part of the multiplayer experience. That's probably why it's almost my favourite souls game despite all the (mostly legitimate) criticism the game gets for being a very by the numbers sequel. Overall I spent well over a hundred hours between ganking, being a sunbro and just generally causing chaos for the fun of it. My only other comment would be that the game feels the most consistent quality wise in the series since demon's souls, which is why it stands as my GOTY.

2. Overwatch ; While dark souls 3 was my GOTY for all the fun I had playing with strangers from all over the world, no game was better with friends than Overwatch. Nothing could beat the fun I had of doing ridiculous comps like 6x Lucio (rip same hero in quickplay) or going serious mode, and barely holding it together in overtime to clutch victory from the hands of that obnoxious enemy Hanzo player. Overall a fantastic game that got me back into multiplayer FPSes and will be a staple with my friends and I for years to come.

3. Ultimate Chicken Horse ; No other game had me laugh as hard, or swear so much as ultimate chicken horse. The fine line between building a course of traps too difficult for your opponents to finish, but still possible for you to get through is both tense and exhilarating. However, the game shines most towards the end of the match, when you've made an obstacle course so absurd that it causes one hilarious death after another, to the point where you care more about finding new ways to screw your friends over than actually trying to win. A must play if you have the opportunity for some good old-fashioned local multiplayer (and it has online too!).

4. Zero Escape: Time Dilemma ; So as part of my backlog this year I played both 999 and VLR. To say that this quickly became my most hyped game to release this year would be a massive understatement. Unfortunately, ZTD wasn't quite the finale I'd hoped for, but for all its warts (and extremely low budget production values) I still had a blast going through the game. The puzzles were engaging but never felt too hard, and while the conclusion was a little lacking, the moment to moment story was a wild ride. I think 999 and VLR will hold up much better as classics, but I still thoroughly enjoyed my time with ZTD.

5. The Jackbox Party Pack 3 ; Another local multiplayer hit, this game is easily the best of the jackbox party packs. Quiplash 2 was a blast, and being able to make custom categories to make fun of the stupidity of 2016 made it even better. Trivia murder party is marriage of two of my favourite things, trivia and mini games, and the crazy range of topics help put everyone on a little more even footing. T-KO had me literally rolling on the floor laughing at one point, and Fakin it is both a great ice-breaker and a ton of fun with a bit of alcohol involved. Overall I have no idea how Jackbox games is going to top their latest entry, but if it's as good as JBPP3 I'm there day one.

6. The Witness ; A game that would probably be much higher in my list if I had more time to get farther into it, the first few hours I've played of The Witness have been special enough that I can't wait to play more. The simplicity of the "draw-a-line" concept expanded into so many unique puzzles is simply genius, and the moment you first find that "OH SHIT YOU CAN DO THAT!?!" is one of the best of 2016. I'm sure I haven't seen anything yet, but the Witness is on the top of my list for games to finish in 2017 (when I stop working 70 hour weeks lol).

7. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End ; A fantastic conclusion to the Uncharted series, that I just wish would've tweaked a few things to take more advantages of its strengths. Easily the best gunplay of the series, and the more involved platforming sections like the clock tower show glimmers of hope for my dream Naughty Dog game with awesome puzzles and platforming in addition to story. Overall it's a satisfying end to Nate's story and I'm really excited for the U4 dlc.

8. Overcooked ; This list is starting to feel really heavy multiplayer wise, but Overcooked was yet another local multiplayer game that I had an absolute ball with friends and family. The hilarity of setting the entire kitchen on fire because you fell off the truck you were standing on is only matched by the sense of accomplishment when you and your friends get in a groove and start churning out orders like pros. Best of all its simple enough that almost anyone can play which makes it for a really fun game to play with people who don't usually play games!

9. Enter the Gungeon ; Another game I wish I had more time to spend on, Enter the Gungeon is probably my favorite rogue-lite since FTL. The game has an awesome sense of rewarding skill thanks to the well-implemented dodge mechanic, and the constant gun management and randomness lets each run feel quite unique. My only wish would be that the first floor was a little quicker to clear, since getting a run started can take a while. Overall a really fun game and I can't wait to get back into it with the expansion!

10. Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc ; Man what a wild ride, I've yet to start the second one simply because if I start I might neglect everything while I get sucked into the thrills, chills and kills once again. As a re-release I feel bad voting for it as a 2016 goty, but it was a really cool story with some fun if non-sensical twists. It definitely lived up to the hype and I'm anticipating when I'll have a good stretch of time to devote to the two sequels!

That about wraps up my 2016 list, I'd just like to give shoutouts to the games that had a good shot of entering my list if I had time to play them:

The Last Guardian - cause I played Ico and SotC this year and the latter is now one of my all time favourite games

Dishonored 2 - I just started the first one on PS4 and I'm really enjoying it.

Deus Ex Mankind Divided - I played through the original Deus Ex and holy crap if they can capture half of what that game did in the Adam Jensen games, I really need to get to playing them.

Xcom 2 - getting this with the humble monthly for January could not be more epic. Now I just need to find time to get my ass handed to me over and over again by missing 99% shots hahahaha (it hurts but it feels so good :( )

Doom/Titanfall 2 - I don't typically play FPS much outside of Overwatch, but the sheer acclaim these campaigns got makes me think I should make an exception.

Pony Island - I've been a little spoiled on it, but I think that just got me more hyped to play it. The premise is awesome.

INSIDE - Limbo was awesome, so I definitely need to see what Playdead have come up with now that's received such widespread acclaim.

Persona 5 - if only it had released in English this year...

AM2R - technically not on my list for other reasons, this was the absolute highlight of 2016 gaming for me and I reeeeeallly hope Nintendo makes a new 2d metroid soon or pulls a Sega and gets some fans to make something awesome. (And I'll wish for a million dollars too while we're asking for impossible dreams)

Overall a great 2016 with plenty I have to look forward to, both in catching up to last year and in terms of games for 2017!
Didn't play much at all this year...

1. Overwatch ; Fantastic gameplay and expertly designed characters. Not much more you could ask for in this genre.
2. Pocket Card Jockey ; Other than Overwatch, I spent more time playing this game than any other released this year. Playing fast-paced solitaire to race your horse, with leveling and breeding mechanics thrown in makes this game really addictive. The best dialogue comes from the horse, of course. Yeah.
3. Pokémon Go ; If I'm honest with myself, this is one of the games I'll remember most of all from this year. It's not often you find yourself in the middle of a legitimate cultural phenomenon that reaches far beyond the typical gaming community, but there you have it. Seeing other people playing the game, and connecting over it, is a really great experience. It promotes a togetherness that was all too lacking this year in other arenas.
4. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Spirit of Justice ; I love these games, and this was more of it. Not much else to say, other than be thankful this series is so damn consistent.
5. Event[0] ; This game gives a better sense of place than most games, and puts you in a really fun adversarial role to an AI that feels more realistic than most characters you see in AAA games. Poking at the edges of it is really fun and also leads to some truly surprising moments.
6. The Jackbox Party Pack 3 ; A total blast in social settings. Using cell phones as controllers works brilliantly.
7. Oxenfree ; I love the dialogue and art of this, but it's a little slow in my opinion. I would probably have loved it more if I was in a different frame of mind... that said, I did enjoy it even if I felt like it could've been more engaging on an input level.
8. Pony Island ; To say much would ruin the experience of playing this game. It's a game that attacks you pretty aggressively with its aesthetics. It's bold, weird, and memorable.
9. Sonicomi ; I actually got this because I was thought the idea of playing as a gravure photographer could have some really awesome mechanics... maybe like a Pokémon Snap but with some strategy to it. What this game really is, though, is a visual novel with a pretty simple dress-up and shoot rings mini-game every now and then. Super Sonico herself is voiced by cosplayer Jessica Nigri, who does her best english version of a super-naive anime girl with a huge rack. The game doesn't judge your photography in any really interesting way, which is the biggest shortcoming of the game to me. It just does a percentage judge of your outfits and then sees if you can hit some randomly generated ring patterns. A lot of potential that makes a great game in my head, but it probably too ambitious for what is essentially a high-budget VN.
1. Inside ; A haunting, deliberate, and thrilling experience from start to finish, Inside is a mastercraft in gameplay and artistic vision. There is not a second, frame, or animation in this game there without a reason, and the amount of polish on display is simply unrivaled. Playdead are the masters of creating beautiful, unnerving, and tightly packaged games, and Inside is no exception. It is a game that challenges you to think about it, again and again, long after you have completed it. An easy pick for my personal Game of the Year.

2. Forza Horizon 3 ; Playground Games once again proves that they are the best racing developers on the planet right now with their 3rd entry in the Forza Horizon series. A huge, diverse, and fun open world littered with things to do is made even better by the incredible roster of cars and the freedom to chose how you want to play. Forza Horizon 3 really is a joyful game to play, and captures perfectly the spirit of racing in video games.

3. Battlefield 1 ; As a longtime Battlefield fan, I was truly surprised with how much Battlefield 1 captured my attention this year. It brought back a gameplay loop that was more simplified and grounded than recent Battlefield games, and from that the overall experience benefitted greatly. Stripping away much of the excess customization and weaponry present in the modern BF games allows BF1 to focus more on the moment-to-moment gameplay, the utilization of the tools at your disposal, and smart movement around the map. I'm impressed with DICE and EA's decision to take Battlefield back in time again, and am pleased that the game was made better for it.

4. DOOM ; A game that (literally) pulls no punches, DOOM is the perfect realization of a fast and frenetic first person shooter. Though I've never played a DOOM game before, I was instantly drawn to this year's reboot due to the resounding positive consensus that formed around its gameplay. There are moments in DOOM's campaign that are almost impossible to keep up with, where the speed of the game and your thoughts outpace your ability to input those controls. Yet somehow, you find a way to stay alive that last critical second to clear a room, and you find yourself gearing up for another round. That visceral combat loop became addictive over the course of the game's campaign, and solidified DOOM as one of the most exciting games of the year.

5. SUPERHOT ; In a year of incredible first person shooters, SUPERHOT sets itself apart from the pack with an incredibly unique and novel hook. It really is the most innovative shooter I've played in years, and what a surprise it was to find such an intriguing narrative wrapped up in the game's short campaign. There is a cadence to playing SUPERHOT that is unlike anything else, and the developers perfectly realized their vision for this game – an impressive feat.

x. Firewatch ; Short-lived and somewhat unfulfilling, Firewatch was a game I knew relatively little about going into it. What I found was a compelling story told through magnificent voice acting that stumbled its way to the finish line. Despite this, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it and felt invested in the characters and world Campo Santo created.

x. Gears of War 4 ; Though ultimately a fairly derivative entry in the series, Gears 4 really is a great realization of what a Gears game should be. A fun, co-op campaign, extensive Horde mode, and deep/rewarding/rage-inducing MP experience are all here in this game, and I have to give Coalition credit for finding their footing so nicely with their first entry in the Gears franchise. Here's hoping they take a few risks and mix it up for the next entry.

x. Ark: Survival Evolved ; I would be remiss to not mention the much-maligned, very broken, yet extremely fun survival game on my list this year. I sunk a significant amount of time into this game with a buddy this year as we learned the vague, poorly explained, and surprisingly deep systems, built up and destroyed bases, and ventured into the wild with little more than shoddy weapons and clothing we made for ourselves. It's a game I'll likely never return to, but one that has given me countless memories - both hilarious and painful - and for that I have to mention it on my list this year.

x. Rocket League ; Though most of the world already knew how great Rocket League was, it wasn't until early this year that I got to try the game out on Xbox One. I'm not sure there is a better example out there of the "easy to learn, difficult to master" gameplay that eludes so many games, but it is present and incredible in Rocket League. Jump-out-of-chair-first-pumping joy meets might-chuck-the-controller rage in a perfect balance in Rocket League.

x. Oxenfree ; Short, sweet, and generally unnerving, Oxenfree is a masterful realization of a teen horror story. Underpinned by one of the best and most natural dialogue systems I've experienced in a game, Oxenfree endears you to its world and characters in spite of its short run time. Beautiful art style, impeccable voice acting, and a well-crafted narrative all work together to make Oxenfree a memorable experience.
TEN. Oxenfree
Oxenfree is a game about teens, ghosts and dialog trees. Oxenfree is also an adventure game with light horror elements and the horror stuff is pretty well done. It has some moments where it really messes with your head to the point where I was wondering if most of what I was doing was even happening at all. Oxenfree being a modern adventure game however means not so many puzzles, a lot of dialog and wondering around. Oxenfree does a really interesting thing where you can walk and talk at the same time (this is crazy for adventure games trust me) while having full on conversations with your friends. Another interesting thing this game does is that you can interrupt your friends at any given time. Which is good so I can tell Ren to stop being a god damn creep.

NINE. Thumper

Thumper is fast and violent, but not in the doom way. It's own type of game ”rhythm violence" and I'd guess I'd call it that because if music could sound like violence, that sound would be the Thumper soundtrack. I'm not the biggest fan of rhythm games personally, it's usually the tone I don't like (because it's anime.) But the tone and art style of Thumper is more like hell, which is something I have a real soft spot for. I haven't really gotten that far in Thumper yet but what I have played has been fast and violent and that's really all I need out of a video game.

EIGHT. Battlefield 1

Battlefield 1 is a Battlefield game, it's got guns, its arcadey, it has rush and conquest, it has big maps and it's really pretty (probably the best looking game of the year graphics wise.) One thing that makes this Battlefield really stand out however is the operations mode. Operations mode is like a mini campaign that stretches out 2-3 maps and turns them into all out battles. It creates this feeling I haven't gotten out of battlefield in a really long time where the game actually feels like a war at points. Battlefield 1 is still a really enjoyable multiplayer shooter even when I'm dying of mustard gas.

SEVEN. Titanfall 2

Titanfall 2 is a dead multiplayer game and that's a fucking shame because the games movement mechanics feel so good that it makes it really hard to play more slower multiplayer shooters of the past couple years. I personally thought the titans In Titanfall 1 felt really tacked on and I actually preferred to play Pilot vs Pilot over the actual game itself. In this game however the added battery mechanic where you have to rip batteries out of enemy titans to get your hp back made the titan fights way more interesting in this game rather than the regen health system in Titanfall 1.

Titanfall 2 has one really shocking part of it and it's that the single player is really good. I didn't want a single player campaign out of this game because usually the single player campaigns for multiplayer shooters are usually pretty crap. But good use of dialog options so you can bound with BT in interesting ways and with the help of some well designed set pieces, Titanfall 2 becomes one of the more enjoyable shooters of the year. Just wish it had more than 2k players on PC.

SIX. The Witness

I'm too stupid to play this game. My brain turns off whenever I see the tetris puzzles and I just can't solve them for the life of me. I don't know if I actually have the power to finish this game which is a shame because The Witness is probably the smartest game of the year and maybe one of the smartest puzzle games ever. Jonathan Blow took 1 line puzzle idea and stretches it out for 500 puzzles and manages it to not feel stale. He creates a beautiful island that makes you think anything on it can be a puzzle. Playing this game can sometimes be like smashing my head against a wall. Jonathan Blow made a whole language and I don't know a word of it. The fact that I'm willingly to admit how stupid I am when it comes to this game and I can still sing it's praise shows how good The Witness really is.


I wasn't 100% sold on inside when I first saw the trailer for it back in 2014. The Limbo gimmick has been done to death years ago and just making that again felt stale. The only way Inside could make good on this if it was better than Limbo in every single way, and that's exactly what it does. Inside feels 100% perfect in every way, every moment of those 3 hours felt like it was exactly what it needed to be and nothing felt out of place or limb in comparison to everything else. Limbo had a big problem where it was really trial and errory at times but Inside doesn't have this problem at all. All of Insides puzzles feel really telegraphed on what will kill you and what won't while not feeling too easy. This game deserves to be on this list for art style alone because god damn this game looks amazing. Every single frame of this game looks incredible, this is one of those games where you can take a picture of any set piece and make it your desktop background. Inside really feels like a project that everyday of those 6 or so years they spent making this thing really felt like making sure it was 100% perfect, and it really is.

FOUR. Hitman

Hitman is a single player game with an always online requirement with a server structure that works when it feels like it and when that server goes down you can't make any progress towards being a master assassin. Despite all those horrible things Hitman is still on this list and it 100% deserves it despite its horrible downsides. Sapienza and Paris are genius maps that id honestly say these are the two best maps in the whole series. Both of these maps have so many interesting things going on I played these maps at least 15 times each and was still finding new ways of going about the mission. The rest of the maps are still up there in terms of quality and I would rank them with the Blood money maps. What Hitman does however to separate itself from the rest of the series is the escalation missions. Escalation missions give you a different target and add increasingly hard conditions and they don't feel tacked on. In Fact they add way more variety out of the maps than I thought I would be getting out of these 6 maps and does reuse space really well In a way I didn't knew I wanted.

Hitman had a real dark time back in 2012, after absolution I didn't think Hitman would ever be good again. But for the first time I'm positive about the future of this series.

THREE. Mafia 3

Mafia 3 is the most heavily flawed game on this list and it still manages to be number 3. It's flaws are massive being on the most generic games I've played in years to the point where I was really questioning why I was playing this game. Parts of this game stretch on for 6 hours with little to no narrative happening. Thankfully the act of shooting Italian racist mobsters felt amazing. Out of all the open world crime games I've played Mafia 3 probably has the best gameplay but that's not why this game is on this list.

What Mafia 3 does really well is one thing and that's writing. I played this game for 23 hours and the entire time I was playing it I thought the narrative would take a huge shit in its pants and ruin itself. But it never did, and that was the biggest shock about this game to me was when I got my ending and Lincoln Clay became the mob boss that he fought against and his influence stretched the out the entire South East of America. I realized what a horrible monster Lincoln Clay became. All of this is really surprising to me, I can't really think of a triple A game with a narrative as good as mafia 3's is or character as well written in the triple A space that's written as well as Lincoln is. Mafia 3 could have been really terrible, I still honestly don't know how we got the finished product but I'm glad the people at Hangar 13 knew what they were doing.

TWO. Firewatch

It's hard to get people to care about two not real people falling in love, it's even harder to do that when you don't even know what one of them looks like. Firewatch does both of these things, and it does it better than any game I can think of. Firewatch doesn't just stop there. Firewatch ends up being about escapism and running away from your problems (and we need that in 2016.) The story of how Henry is a huge asshole to his wife and runs away to the forest to live by himself while his wife's brain slowly rots away makes me both hate Henry and think he's one of the best video game characters ever. Firewatch also ends up being the scariest game of the year while only using sound effects and your own paranoia. Animal noises freaked me out, I got scared of my own footsteps numerous times throughout this game. You feel completely on edge to the point where you start ignoring facts about the game's own world and creating more scary thoughts of what's actually going on in your own head.

A lot of people don't like the ending to Firewatch and I could be super snobby and say ”they don't get it" but that's what I really think. I can think of maybe a handful of games that have a narrative ending as good as Firewatch's is. It makes you feel hollow and empty like Henry's soul is and any game that makes you feel like a horrible monster without being a psychopathic murderer should be rewarded because that's exactly what Firewatch does.


This isn't the reality I thought we'd live in. To say that ID software, the people that haven't put out anything of note since the 90s put out the best game of 2016 is not only shocking but it's putting ID's success lightly. DOOM had to fill the shoes of the greatest game ever made, had to stand on it's own, be a good modernization of a game so dear to people's hearts that even adding mouse look to the original game would make some shy away and also be welcoming enough to people who have never played doom before. DOOM does all of this and it does it way better than any thought it would. DOOM has old fps design tropes like projectile avoidance and maze like level design. But also brings in new ideas like upgrade trees that don't totally ruin the game and melee take down animations. The glory kill system is the smartest thing I've seen added to a FPS game in the longest time. The idea that you run at demons and kill them to get your health back is so smart I'm blown away it took us this long to actually come up with that idea.

The biggest shock to me about all of this is that DOOM actually somehow has good minimalistic writing. If you believe in the multiverse theory there's a reality where DOOM has borderlands writing (which is a reality we almost lived in.) But somehow DOOM makes a character out of guy whose only character is a guy who wants to shoot demons and makes that funny and entertaining without him saying a single word is amazing. The doom slayer is a better character than 95% of video game characters that appear in games released in 2016. DOOM could have just stopped there with the writing but it's background and lore is hilariously dumb. UAC scientist have hand books telling them if they come in close contact with a demon to lie die and accept it so their bodies can be examined later. People offer their hearts so they can summon Barons of Hell. People literally tried to turn themselves into Revenants!

DOOM is in my opinion the best FPS game ever made. Yes, better than half life, wolfenstein, halo, quake, call of duty and even doom.

and now for the bot

1. Doom ; Best FPS ever made, you get to kill the demon with his own foot.
2. Firewatch ; Henry is a horrible asshole and the ending is great.
3. Mafia III ; The most bland open world with the best story.
4. Hitman ; Some of the best maps in the whole series.
5. Inside ; Spending 6 years to make a perfect 3 hours was totally worth it.
6. The Witness ; I'm too stupid to play this game but it's genius anyway.
7. Titanfall 2 ; Pretty good multiplayer and BT is my best friend
8. Battlefield 1 ; Getting killed by muster gas has never been this fun.
9. Thumper ; The music in this game sounds like banging on drums IN HELL.
10. Oxenfree ; I don't hate any of these teens and there's ghosts.
1. Doom ; Rip and tear until it is done. This phrase stuck with me throughout 2016. Doom is nothing short of a masterpiece. What's old is new again, and iD modernized a classic while maintaining its identity. New Doom is essentially a rhythm game- shoot demon, glory kill, repeat. Standing still means death. Doom knows it exactly what it is and plays to all of those strengths. Congrats to Bethesda for again resurrecting a classic FPS franchise. Bring back Heretic/Hexen next.

2. Overwatch ; Blizzard did it again. Enough said.

3. Titanfall 2 ; Effect and Cause is in my top 5 of shooter levels, alongside classics like All Ghillied Up and Minerva's Den. Worth the price of admission for the SP alone, though the MP kept me coming back. While I liked the original game's MP more, I'm willing to sacrifice a bit to have Titanfall on my preferred platform.

4. Ratchet & Clank ; Hey developers, primarily Square Enix! This is how you do a remake. Ratchet stays faithful to its predecessor while softening Ratchet's initially angsty personality up a bit and being a best-of for weapons from the franchise. Did I mention it looks absolutely fantastic? Ratchet is the closest we've come to that ”you can play a CGI movie!!!" promise from the PS2 days.

5. Tom Clancy's The Division ; I don't think my thoughts have varied on a game so much in a relatively short time period. I picked up The Division at launch, really enjoyed the 1-30 leveling, and fell off once it became clear Massive had no idea what they were doing with endgame content. I would argue that they still don't, but that's OK since they introduced an absolutely fantastic replayable mode in Survival. The main problem I have with the various survival games that have popped up over the past few years is that none of them have actually managed to get the gameplay right, instead focusing on all the other stuff. The polish is heavily lacking, and there's something to be said about the polish an AAA budget brings. The Division already has great gameplay, so all Massive had to do was nail the survival elements and they did. Survival or something similar needs to be a main focus in the franchise going forward. The loot and stuff can still be there, but there is no reason Survival should be relegated to a side mode in future games.

6. Fire Emblem Fates ; FE Fates is a tricky beast to criticize. Conquest has decent map design but incredibly poor characterization and storytelling. Birthright eschews closer to the template set by Awakening, for better and for worse.

7. Rigs: Mechanized Combat League ; I'm using RIGS as a stand-in for all of the VR content I played this year. While 2016 was by no means the year of VR we were promised, there were a number of cool experiences justifying my PSVR purchase. RIGS earns the spot on my list for actually putting some depth behind that initial wow factor. With a full SP league/tournament system, plenty of unlocks, and a criminally underpopulated MP, RIGS is the game that kept me coming back to VR after the novelty factor wore off. Good on Guerilla Cambridge for again providing a niche platform with a game that is far too good for it, and RIP to their brilliance on those niche platforms.

8. Alienation ; Housemarque is pretty good at making top-down shooters. Adding a Destiny type loop and difficulties with drop in/out coop is freaking genius. I hope Housemarque keeps delivering these great experiences.

9. Amplitude ; While Doom is a rhythm game in FPS form, there was an actual rhythm game that unfortunately was overlooked and turned out to be pretty great. I really liked the synesthesia type campaign, which actually had some decent tracks. Unfortunately due to Kickstarter budget limitations, the rest of the soundtrack is a bit of a letdown. What I would give for a proper follow-up with bigger artists.

Honorable Mentions

x. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare ; In a year of excellent FPS, Call of Duty manages to stay near the pack with the best campaign in the series since Black Ops. Unfortunately, the MP is so abominable that it actively drags the rest of the package down.
”But what about Doom? Shouldn't that complaint apply to that game?"
At least Doom's MP reaches mediocrity. Infinite Warfare's is absolutely atrocious. I played an hour of it and I want that hour back. The maps feel like they were designed for boots on the ground but then had a couple of walls stuck in to use the movement system, which is a poor copy of Black Ops 3's. The movement doesn't matter much in the SP because the level design is decent and the best parts of that game take place in space.

x. Final Fantasy XV ; The open world and hunts are brilliant, but the linear back half of FFXV fails to live up to the standard the rest of the game upholds.
1. Hyper Light Drifter ; Beautiful, stylish, and great combat.

2. Devil Daggers ; A good run In Devil Daggers is the best 80 seconds of video games this year.

3. Pony Island ; It was a banner year for the devil and fake hacking in video games and this combines what's great about both of them.

4. Lovely Planet Arcade ; I wanted to love the original Lovely Planet, but some decisions near the end of the game pushed me away. This simplified version has some of the same issues, but it's kept me going back despite them.

5. Reigns ; Reigns is a simple chose your own adventure presented with a Tinder interface, but constanly surprises with unique scenarios like making deals with the devil that impact future games or being trapped in your own dungeon as the kingdom collapses without you.

6. Knights ; A very well designed puzzle game themed around the chess piece. Surprisingly not available on mobile.

7. Enter The Gungeon

8. Zenge ; I'm not really sure what was going on with the art or if there was a story it was telling, but solving the puzzles was relaxing.

9. Deus Ex GO ; The weakest of the Go series is still worth playing.
1. Tyranny ; Obsidians latest effort is a worthwhile experience, regardless if it's up to par with Pillars or not. And it's aptly fitting considering the political development in America and other places.
2. Baldur's Gate: Siege of Dragonspear ; It's almost 20 years since the original Baldur's Gate was released, yet this expansion comes along as if it was just yesterday. Beamdog understands what made the original series tick all those years ago and delivers an expierence that blends in seamlessly.
Honorable Mentions
x. Final Fantasy Brave Exvius ; While I spent some time with Brave Exvius, this is more of a vote cast due to its similarities with Brave Frontier, which I just got into this year (but can't vote for). I spent much more time with the latter, but the games are very similar. I am spending more time with this now, as I feel this is a bit more nuanced, and it offers a much better presentation (with better music and overall visuals). My descent into the the gacha madness.

x. Dragon Quest VII Fragments of the Forgotten Past ; A very solid RPG with lots of content, and a feeling of expanse. Slightly suffers from a very slow start, but it is rewarding in its own right. Unfortunately, I did not spend as much time with the game as I would have liked, but I still feel it deserves a mention.

10. Pokkén Tournament ; Definitely the most interesting take on the franchise, even moreso than Pokémon Conquest. While the concept is a lot more sensible (in terms of the franchise overall) than Conquest, the implementation is definitely pretty wild. The diverse actions that the Pokémon display is a great treat. Pikachu Mishima is really wild. While this is not the roster I would have chosen, I can definitely appreciate it, and respect the diversity. Some of the selection is really crazy, and really helps the game stand out. Not the biggest fan of the Tekken/3D fighter formula, but I can't resist a Pokémon game, no matter what craziness it brings.

9. Zero Time Dilemma ; I liked this game. It was always gonna be fun seeing the returning cast, and their interactions with the new characters. The puzzles are much better than before, so this was a good direction to head towards. And ultimately, it did offer a conclusion. However, this is far and away the weakest of the franchise. It is a serious step down, with really contrived plot elements, and generally unsatisfying resolutions. It throws away what I was looking forward to at the end of Virtue's Last Reward, and tries something different. It slightly weakens the overall series in retrospect, but it is still a solid game on its own. While I am a bit sad that this is how Mr. Uchikoshi chose to take things, it was still enjoyable for what it was.

8. Hatsune Miku Project Diva X ; I've loved every single Hatsune Miku game I've played, and this is no exception. The characters are always great, the sim aspects are fun, and the music is generally great as well. However, this was definitely the weakest of the games that made it over to the US. The song selection is extremely limited, and while I generally like all of them, besides Lost One's Weeping and Holy Lance Explosion Boy, none are really my favorites. All the past games had some of my favorites, along with generally better selections (largely due to more offerings overall). The medleys are really fun though, and add some great variety. The greater story focus is fine, but it shouldn't have undercut song count to this degree. Still, all of the songs are at least fun to play through, and Lost One's Weeping and Holy Lance Explosion Boy are among the top of the top for me. A great game, but probably not the one you want to start the franchise with.

7. Mario & Luigi Paper Jam ; Another solid entry into the Mario & Luigi series. This was definitely moreso Mario & Luigi over Paper Mario. While there were slight elements and the main characters of course, the game is set largely in the Mario & Luigi universe and plays mostly in said style. Still, it was great to see all the interactions between the 2 universes, particularly the silent Paper Mario and the gibberish of Mario and Luigi. Lots of fanservice overall, but the Mario & Luigi series is generally a solid foundation. It can serve as an intro into the series for Paper Mario buffs, but this is definitely more for Mario & Luigi fans.

6. Pokémon Go ; I can wholeheartedly say that the core game itself is pretty weak. The exploitative nature of the game is not something I like, the mechanics are not that strong, I wish we got more Pokémon by now, and there are still so many technical issues (the recent update even made my Pokémon Go Plus worthless for now). However, when the game caught on, it was the greatest thing ever. Never in my life, not even as a child with the original games, have I experienced this level of phenomena. The socialization aspect was incredible. Seeing everyone everywhere doing what I'm doing brought about a feeling of elation I cannot express. I actually went out in 100 degree weather just to join in with everyone else sweating their heads off. It was incredible. And even ignoring everyone else playing, this is still something I've always wanted. Pokémon in the real world. It is incredible. While the phenomena provided an experience I will never forget, and likely never experience again, I still play to this day, simply because it's Pokémon in the real world. So overall, the game itself is weak, but the environment (during its height), and the general concept is something I love. I spent more money on this than anything else, and I have no regrets.

5. Kirby Planet Robobot ; Mecha Kirby is not something I knew I wanted, but I could not get enough of this. While this is your standard Kirby formula, the various concepts and the execution really helped to set this apart. The plane shifting mechanic since Triple Deluxe has been perfected with this, and it was great experiencing it once again. I feel that the franchise has been completely revitalized since Return to Dreamland, with each new game offering something fresh. This stands at the top though, and benefits greatly from it. Rather than feeling more like bigger powers, the Robobot Armor definitely feels like something completely different, for the better. The music continues to be wonderful, though there are some amazing standouts in this. One of the best scores among Kirby games, I'd have to say. This game also has some incredible fanservice, which is an absolute delight for fans of the franchise. While not as imaginative as some of the non-core Kirby games, this game definitely brings a sense of discovery alongside the familiar. While it remains to be seen how the years treat my love for this, as of now, this is definitely my favorite Kirby game yet.

4. Bravely Second End Layer ; I absolutely loved the original Bravely Default. While a lot of people were completely turned off by the latter half of the game, I still loved going through it. Bravely Second does things slightly differently, and it stands out on its own right. It was great to see all of the old faces and the new characters are also great. I absolutely love Magnolia and Yew and their relationship in general. The game certainly felt lighter overall, in terms of stakes, impact, and the tone in general. The game never felt as serious as the original, but it was generally more "fun". Some of the new classes (alongside their Asterisk Holders) are amazing, and a real treat (pun intended) for the standard RPG fare. The game was a bit more contrived though, with more obvious twists and characters, but it was still great experiencing it as a whole. Music is definitely weaker, with fewer standouts. While the soundtrack is solid overall, nothing can even remotely compare to the Special Attacks from Bravely Default. It doesn't falter as much as the original, (outside of the music) and it sticks the landing, but the vault itself wasn't quite as high. Still a really great game overall, but lacking some of that oomph that really propelled Bravely Default.

3. The Legend of Heroes Trails of Cold Steel II ; This continues to bring the immense scope established by the original game and makes me absolutely love the world in here. Despite the previous game being a year old (in the US), I have this feeling of nostalgia for the world and its characters, so when we see returning characters and concepts, I get emotional. Every time Rean boarded Valimar, I got insanely pumped. When the characters reunited, I felt a sense of comfort (particularly in the case of Machias), as well as excitement in some cases (like with Sara). The music really brought out the best of those types of moments. The world still feels massive, despite being more familiar, and I get completely lost in some of the Imperial Chronicles and other lore. While this is absolutely not newcomer friendly, it is still one of the most engaging RPGs, simply due to the sheer breadth of Erebonia in general.

2. Fire Emblem Fates ; Let's get it out of the way. This game's plot is absolute garbage in most cases. While I thought Birthright was simply okay, Revelations, and Conquest in particular were some of the worst written things ever. Corrin's motivation in the latter was just so mind-boggling. Like, how would anyone seriously believe in what Corrin was doing. It was so frustrating. However, I still felt that this game's characters, music, and most of all, gameplay, are really amazing. While the maps of Birthright are weaker, there are still interesting mechanics that help it stand out a bit more than Awakening's. However, Conquest and Revelation's maps/objectives were wonderful. There was so much diversity, challenge, and strategy found throughout the games, I sunk countless hours hooked. Some of the chapters of Revelation are a bit longer, but I actually liked the maps there than Conquest. It was a nice balance between the two. A lot of people are not as fond as the cast, but I loved basically everyone. I didn't really feel any lowpoint in terms of characters, and it was a nice solid foundation overall. The royal families are definitely the best overall main cast (though Corrin is always the weakest), and they're an absolute blast (particularly Leo). The returning characters also gave me such huge grins. The music is phenomenal, with some of the strongest songs, and good vocals. I also really loved My Castle. I'm sad we didn't get face touching, but My Room was still fun for the Live2D and interactions in general. The game looks better, sounds better, and plays better than all the other games before. While the extremely weak story/handling of Corrin keep it from being my favorite in the franchise, it is still a great game on its own right.

1. Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon ; Looking at some of the other games on my list and my avatar, this should probably come as no surprise. However, I can say with complete confidence: this is Pokémon at its highest. This is the most fun and excitement I have ever felt with a Pokémon game, likely ever. I loved going through every town, I loved hearing the music, I absolutely loved the characters. Previously, Pokémon Black and Pokémon White was my favorite, due to a number of factors, but the Pokémon, plot, and characters really helped it stand out. Now, I feel Pokémon Black and Pokémon White are not even close to how great this was. There were certainly flaws, particularly that it felt too familiar in terms of Pokémon selection, and some of the latter Island Challenges were a bit weaker, but I felt like it was the breath of fresh air, I thought I could live without. Alola is such an amazing region, feeling more vibrant and lively than any other prior. The music really helped to set it apart from other regions, and other RPGs in general. I initially didn't take to it as much as I have now, but with more time, I came to absolutely love the soundtrack. The compisition help me get completely lose in the world of Alola. I get lost in the vibes and atmosphere of the region, which is heightened by minor things like Pokémon noises throughout (outside of battle). I've stated how I love the characters, but I cannot understate just how great everyone is. Lillie feels more like a protagonist, and her development is completely new for Pokémon, and she definitely stacks up to more traditional RPGs. Some of the other characters are also the best of what they are. Guzma, Kukui, Lusamine, and Team Skull in general, are far and away the best in the series in their respective roles. Hau, Gladion, the Captains, and the Kahunas are also really fun. While Lillie gets the most development, every character is fleshed out to some degree, and it really sets things apart from the rest of the franchise. While the human characters are wonderful, the new Pokémon are definitely far and away my favorite new generation in total. While the selection is a bit more sparse, I feel this is definitely a case of quality over quantity. Tsareena, Primarina, Comfey, the Tapu, Minior, Ribombee, Mimikyu, Alolan forms, and so on. I have never loved so many Pokémon all at once. The Island Challenges definitely add some great variety to the standard formula in most cases. While not mindblowing experiences, these do shake things up, so the situations feel more unique. The game has a lot more humor too, with some interesting subject matter, crazy Pokédex entries, and some dumb moments that really got me good in some instances. Of course the core formula remains as solid as ever, with what you'd come to expect from Pokémon games. The quality of life enhancements really do make battles, breeding, and raising Pokémon much more intuitive. The SOS system, while far from perfect overall, is the best way to raise Pokémon. It is an interesting mechanic, which is frustrating when trying to catch specific Pokémon, but amazing in EV training. With some tweaks, it could be a great feature overall. There are certainly some other things I feel could stand for some improvements, with the Festival Plaza in general being a notable blemish. Still, with everything combined, this is, by far, my favorite Pokémon game ever.

1. Overwatch ; This is Blizzard's first new series since Starcraft in 1998 and their first First Person Shooter game. Let that sink in. Anyways Overwatch is the first competitive fps game that I've latched onto since TF2. The diverse cast of character all feel unique and great to play as and against. With 25 character games never feel stale as there is always some unique character composition or way of playing each character that keeps the game feeling fresh. (That is unless you play in the competitive meta)

Blizzard has done a fantastic job of keeping the game fresh with new updates every few months be it maps, character or special events. Whenever the game started to feel a little stale a new update would arrive and I would be right back to playing for several hours a day. Ana has become my go to character for most game types and she is the most interesting character to play. It's too bad she is getting nerfed at the time I am typing this (not that it isn't undeserved).

The maps in Overwatch are pretty average with a few duds. None have stood out with the exception of the two newest maps, Eichenwalde and Oasis. Eichenwalde does a fantastic job emulating the storming of a castle scenario while Oasis adds interesting hazards such as cars, jump pads and death holes in the middle of the point. I have to say the weakest map by far is Anubis. Matches are either over immediately or stalled until the end.

Overwatch has become a phenomenon with its diverse cast of characters that all each have their own unique personality as well as all playing differently. The fan community is a joy to be a part of with plenty of fanart and... yeah... shipping. But it's all good fun! I can see this game going strong for years long after its initial launch with Blizzards constant updates and community support.

2. Doom ; I haven't played a single player FPS experience like this in a long time. Doom recaptures what shooters did great in the 90s and created a modern take on it that feels fantastic to play. Levels are intricate with branching paths and worthwhile secret to explore. The game actively encourages backtracking and exploration with the challenge point system without ever making it feel necessary. The gunplay feels great with weapons that feel, look and sound fantastic.

At first I thought I would dislike the glory kill system but it not only works well within the context of the self aware narrative iD creates but is a great way to keep the gameplay momentum going. Whenever you get low on health rather than backtracking for some obscure health pack that you passed by previously you can kill an enemy in a brutal fashion to restore health. Everything works together to create a tight, fast paced shooter that doesn't have the modern day overly scripted campaign.

3. Dark Souls III ; It's the third Dark Souls. Not much else to say, it's fantastic. There is no other game series that has combat system that is this satisfying. A step up from DSII is that the environment layout now makes physical sense (swamp to lava castle in the sky is still the most bizarre level transition ever). While the sense of exploration doesn't ever feel like it reaches the highs of Dark Souls I think Dark Souls III is a more consistent experience with the Cathedral of the Deep and the Boreal Valley being the standouts.

One disappointing aspect of Dark Souls III is the multiplayer. The combat is the best it has been but the unfair invasion system really dampens and desire to PVP. Invaders are at a constant disadvantage, usually only being placed against three opponents. While estus chugging isn't as bad as blood vials were in Bloodborne it still feels unfair. The one thing Dark Souls I did right in PVP was the healing options for invaders. Overall Dark Souls III is a great single player/co-op experience but Dark Souls II is still the best Souls PVP game.

4. The Last Guardian ; This isn't so much a game as it is an experience. Tricio feels like a real living being with the mannerisms and reactions of an animal. I've seen many comments lambasting Tricio's AI but as someone who has dabbled in AI development myself I have to say Tricio's AI is incredible. It's very hard to convey realistic actions of a computer programmed NPC and Team Ico nailed it. Sure, Tricio may not do what the player wants to do straight away but that would remove the feeling that Tricio is a creature with its own thought processes. I would argue that if Tricio did exactly what the player wanted straight away he would feel extremely robotic and that is what I would consider bad AI.

The game itself is wonderful. The dilapidated ruins are a sight to behold and create an environmental narrative that supports the story with little dialogue required. The puzzles are challenging but never too obtuse though there were a few times (maybe one or two) where I wasn't sure where to go. Out of all the games I played this year I believe this game is the one that will stay with me on an emotional level.

5. Pokémon Sun/Moon ; After some thought this may be one of the best Pokemon games I've played. At least in the top three. The game has a much needed breath of fresh air with the change from gyms to island trials. Each trial has it's own gimmick that makes it a unique experience rather than just being a standard battle against a specific type. The fire, grass and ghost trials are the standouts being humours to frightening. The pokemon designs this generation are top notch with few duds. The Alohan variants of Kanto pokemon not only hit the nostalgia factor but work well within the island setting of Sun/Moon. Despite the islands being a good change of pace compared to previous pokemon games, many of them are quite bland with few memorable landmarks.

6. XCOM 2 ; I think I played maybe half an hour of the first XCOM reboot but XCOM 2 really sunk its hooks into me. This game balances base management and combat brilliantly. The threat of impending doom (Avatar Project) not only keeps the tension high but also pressures you to maintain a balance between combat upgrades and intelligence reports to prevent the Project from completing. The turn based combat itself was slow to start but once abilities start to unlock and classes start becoming more distinct from one another strategy unit placement becomes crucial for success. I'll admit once my units got to the higher levels I started restarting whenever I'd mess up a turn. The fog of war can be brutally punishing and some deaths felt cheap but in the end whenever a turn ended badly the only one to blame was myself for advancing too far forward. I'll definitely be checking out the first game after I finish XCOM 2.

7. Hitman ; Having only really played Blood Money in the Hitman series Hitman 2016 is a great step forward. While I'm nowhere near as creative as others scoring creative kills the game is still great to play in the rigid structure the developers intended. I found myself trying for Silent Assassin but then getting distracted by all the creative challenges there were built into the game for eliminating targets. I've only played the main story missions and haven't done any elusive target missions or go back to attempt some of the challenges so it still feels like there is plenty of content for me to explore.

8. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE ; Japanese idols and Fire Emblem crossover. Sounds bizarre and frankly the plot very much is but it works in its own quirky way. The combat is what shines in TMS and is one of my favorites from Atlus games. The SP power move animations are fantastic and dangerously cute. The music is catchy and I love the way it's used with the power moves. The main criticism I have is that combat animations can't be skipped and it gets quite tedious after a while.

9. World of Warcraft: Legion ; Legion is probably the best expansion Blizzard has released for WoW since Wrath of the Lich King. I remember I enjoyed Draenor enough two years ago to put it on my GOTY list but soured on it as the content patches were few and far between. I've unsubscribed from WoW a few months after Legion (due to time constraints) but I've still been following the game and Blizzard has done a much better job with content patches so far. I'm sure this expansion will be remembered fondly as one of the better ones.

10. Fire Emblem Fates ; Fire Emblem's tactical RPG gameplay is some of the best I've played. The improvements to pairing make the game feel more strategic with unit placement and not nearly as overpowered. I played up to chapter in 20 in each of the three campaigns. The story was bad in all three but the characters are so endearing you can't help but like them. I doubt I'll look back on this game as fondly as I do Awakening or Path of Radiance but it's a solid entry in the series.

Honorable Mentions

x. Aikatsu! Photo on Stage!! ; This has taken over my mobile gaming time replacing LLSIF. The game play systems are very much similar to other Japanese Gacha games but it seems easier to obtain the rare cards compared to others I've played. Aikatsu music is typical J-pop but I love most of the songs (especially Mona's). This would be in my top 10 but it's not in the spreadsheet so I doubt it would be parsed thus I'm putting it in Honorable Mentions.
x. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End ; This is mainly here to note that I played it and I didn't think it was good enough for my top 10.
x. Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA X ; I love the Project Diva series but this entry in the series is not nearly as compelling as previous entries. The new story mode without stat tracking was a mistake and songs don't have unique music videos but rather dances on a selected stage which takes away a unique aspect of each song. The tracklist is decent enough but the gameplay systems are so flawed I found myself playing this a great deal less than previous Project Diva games. At least 2017 has bless us with Future Tone.
x. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II ; I rushed through the first Cold Steel game in November and immediately started the second game. I don't know if it's burnout from playing long JRPGs back to back but I don't find the second game as compelling as the first (and definitely not as compelling as Trails in the Sky). After a certain point I was bored of the gameplay (which is the main reason I was playing CSII) and I strongly dislike the story. I should have played SC instead.
1. Overwatch ; My 2017 Rocket League. Consistently alternate between loving and hating it but I always come back.
2. Oxenfree ; I really enjoy they leaned into the supernatural elements. In the beginning I expected not to like many characters and in the end I felt the opposite.
3. Titanfall 2 ; Amazing movement and fun to play. Wish it was twice as long because I enjoyed it so much.
4. Firewatch ; The writing was great and I loved the character interaction. There's specific aspects which are incredibly relatable. If that's not applicable, I can see how others could get less from it.
5. Uncharted 4 ; Not my favorite game of the series but my 2nd favorite. The journey is always interesting but I wasn't as enthused about the ending as most.
6. Quadrilateral Cowboy ; The heists alone are worth the admission. They're genuinely worth playing and I look forward to more.
7. Forza Horizon 3 ; Horizon is my favorite racing series and 3 was more of it.
8. Virginia ; Incredibly abstract and intriguing. It manages to convey emotions and a world without ever saying a single word.
9. The Witness ; Ultimately I never finished the puzzles but becoming better at a game by becoming smarter at the game is always something I appreciate.
10. Doom ; I was torn between Doom and Inside. If Doom was half as long and only the 2nd half then it would probably be in my top 3. It's too long, too similar arena after arena but it was fun for a while.

Honorable Mentions
x. Ratchet & Clank ;
x. Inside ;
x. SuperHot ;
There are a lot of games I haven't have gotten to or barely started so this may change in the future. But for now, below are my current top 10 games I've played in 2016.

1. Overwatch ; My game of the year and arguably my most played MP game in a long time. Fun team play with a fun cast of characters. Each character feels unique and I can't get enough.

2. Final Fantasy XV ; Like most road trips, it isn't perfect. But what a great journey and experience it was overall. They made great use of the photos taken throughout the game. Usually I tire of travelling across areas in games, but in this one I enjoyed almost every moment of the car and chocobo rides. I always looked forward to the camps to see the glorious food cooked up by Ignis as well as any interactions between Noctis and a fellow brother. There were some emotional moments that were very well done.

3. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End ; If this really is the end of Nate's adventures, this was a nice ending.

4. Final Fantasy Brave Exvius ; My most played game this year

5. Dead or Alive Xtreme 3

6. Dark Souls III

7. Valkyria Chronicles Remastered

8. Civilization 6

9. Fire Emblem Fates

10. The Division
1. Hitman; A masterstroke of stealth game design that also encourages "going with the flow". Did you mess up? No problem! See what nonsense you can get away with and change disguises as 12 guards are about to come around the corner. A "live" and episodic game that truly uses those aspects to it's advantages.
2. DOOM ; Rip and tear, until it is done.
3. Overwatch ; A-mei-zing!
4. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided ; Though the main story thread was underwhelming, making the optional quests and exploration so rewarding was almost worth it. I'm very interested in another entry if they change things up a bit.
5. Oxenfree ; Interesting dialog and story with a unique art style, it kept me intrigued up until the end.
6. Superhot ; Short and sweet. Amazing style, cheeky story and a unique set of base mechanics that are expanded on in interesting way
7. Gears of War 4 ; A solid entry in the series, been having a blast with horde and multiplayer since launch.
8. Xcom 2 ; Improvement over the first game in almost every way. The timers added a harrowing constraint to already tense situations, and the increased customization options and mod support allowed me to connect to the blank slate characters I cherished.
9. The Witcher 3 Blood and Wine ; Geralt's story comes to a satisfying conclusion, the icing on the cake of an already pristine game.
10. ReCore ; A great half of a game, I wonder if they'll ever release the rest.

Honorable Mentions
x. Soma ; Excellent storytelling wrapped around some forced gameplay and a few solid choices kept me enthralled until the end.
x. Ori and the Blind Forest ; Games rarely stop me in my tracks with their beauty these days, but Ori made my jaw drop. Amazing art style with classic metroid structure made it necessary for me to 100% the game.
x. Homeworld Deserts of Kharak ; A worthy follow up to the Homeworld games of old, even if it's not set in space.
It's that time again! As I spend more time with multiplayer games I find it especially hard to weigh them against single-player ones. As always, don't pay much attention to the order. Here are some great games:


Titanfall 2 (PC)
Respawn Entertainment, Electronic Arts
This doesn't top DOOM, but it's very, very good. Master difficulty is tough without feeling like you have to resort to corner-creeping, and you'll spend a lot of time approaching enemies via blistering wallruns or sliding attacks. Titan combat is pretty good and, like in multiplayer, it can be a ton of fun to pop out of your own and hop on the enemy for extra damage. There's no shortage of clever scenarios, and the campaign spends enough time focusing on the awesome pilot movement mechanics to do them justice. Multiplayer has been at least as good as the original: while I don't like the maps as much, I prefer just about everything else. Campaign played on Master difficulty.​


Uncharted 4 (Playstation 4)
Naughty Dog, Sony Computer Entertainment

Probably the best in the series. The combat is an overall step up: the melee moves aren't quite as good as in 3 and I don't know if there are any arenas that beat the very best ones in 3, but it's overall far more consistent, the animation is back up to UC2's level, and the new rope stuff is a blast. The gorgeous visuals and charming cutscenes, the stuff the series is probably most known for, is at its strongest in this game and there's an especially great ending. Even the lightweight puzzles seemed a bit more thought out than in the past, albiet no more challenging. I actually didn't finish it on Crushing like planned, lol. I switched to Hard a bit over halfway through the game as I felt like the crazy-cautious play I was doing was harming the pace of the game too much. Hard in this game felt like Uncharted 3's Crushing, at least, so I was having a lot of fun with it.​


The Last Guardian (Playstation 4)
SIE Japan Studio, GenDESIGN, Sony Interactive Entertainment

Of Ueda's three games, Shadow of the Colossus might be my favorite, with this in second and Ico in third. All three are really good regardless of all the dumb "are games art" takes of the 2000s, but SotC is probably the most involved mechanically where this is the strongest aesthetically and has the best puzzles. Trico himself is incredibly impressive from an animation and AI standpoint, and you can't help but be really distraught whenever he's harmed. It all builds up to a great ending, too.​


Street Fighter V (PC)
Capcom, DIMPS

Launch kind of sucked with the limited online functionality, but once lobbies got going I started putting a lot of time into this game. The most I've put into a fighting game in a long time. I love the high-damage focus after all that time spent with SF4. I love the new moves given to the classic cast. I love the new characters (okay mostly Laura). I love the bombastic-ass backgrounds. I love the crush counter sound effect and reeling animation. I'll be playing this for a while yet.​


id Software, Bethesda Softworks

What a huge step up from Rage. This is the first FPS that has a chance of dethroning Serious Sam 3. Things get pretty rough in Nightmare mode, and because it's the first id Software game with manually-placed checkpoints, there's actually a good chunk of tension in the game's massive battles. Battle arenas are very much monster boxes, but like in Sam 3 this isn't a problem at all given how great the encounters are. The cast of monsters is well-modeled and wonderfully animated, with a lot of distinct movement styles and behaviors for each type. Much of the ammo is distributed programmatically (I suspect), between the Glory Kill drops and the arena ammo pickups, and you're generally making full use of your arsenal. I'd say that the monsters and weapons don't play off of each other quite as perfectly as in Sam 3, but you're definitely saving certain weapons for certain situations and you'll make use of them all. The action doesn't get quite as hectic as the heights of Sam 3, either, but it's still very intense and very fitting of the Doom name. And then the boss battles. Doom fucking kills it when it comes to boss battles. These are, hands-down, the best boss battles in a first person shooter campaign, and they get better as the game progresses (even if they're mostly seen later in the campaign). These are what I want to see more of in the genre: fast 1v1 fights against huge bosses with tons of mechanically and visually distinct, learnable, and awesome-looking attack patterns. I've can't think of another FPS campaign that comes close in this area. Throw in nice-looking hellscapes, solid secrets, a well-paced character upgrade system, and a soundtrack that ties into the game's action masterfully, and you have what I'm thinking is one of the very best games in the genre.​


Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate (Playstation Vita)
Chunsoft, Aksys Games

This does such a good job of taking the complexities of classic roguelikes and actually making something elegant and aesthetically appealing out of them. You have tons of items and enemies, all with legitimately interesting and often goofy interactions, and all well-distributed throughout the game's main story dungeons. You're in total control of the passage of time, too, letting you blast through any mindless stuff without worrying that you'll miss a crucial decision. As you hit key milestones the game shifts in structure a little bit: the risks still get higher, but the traveled parts of the road itself become a little more interesting and interconnected on the way there. Unfortunately the game's persistent elements (driven by items that let you exit the dungeon without losing your inventory) become a pretty huge focus by the end, but it's not a big enough problem to drag the game down from greatness. And the gigantic amount of optional dungeons (many of which sound larger and more difficult than the main story) seem awesome. Some don't let you take items into them, either, I think. This has me really curious as to whether the persistent elements are a big part of the older games in the series. I might have to check out the original (as in the first Shiren, not the DQ spinoff) soon.​


Dark Souls III (PC)
FromSoftware, Bandai Namco Entertainment

While it's definitely less fresh than the other Souls games, it builds on the high points in such a way that I wouldn't be surprised if I considered this the best in the series given a little bit of distance and the complete set of expansions. Easily the most consistent of the games in terms of enemy layouts, boss battles, and aesthetics. The only thing to really hold against it is that the world isn't as elegantly interconnected as in Dark Souls (making shortcuts a little less meaningful), but that's not a huge deal compared to the upside of having practically no weak areas or boss battles (save maybe the Deacons lol). Holding off on the DLC until it's all out, but I'm sure it'll be great.​


Hitman Season 1 (PC)
IO Interactive, Square Enix

I'm so, so happy that IO managed to top Blood Money. There aren't a ton of missions in Hitman, but they're all huge, dense, and ultimately the best and most consistent in the series. They're built in a way that the devs could get plenty out of them, and this has allowed them to fill the game with legitimately fun optional goals and side-missions. I think that focusing on a single difficulty level has worked to the game's benefit, too, as it's pretty rare that you can cheese out a combat-heavy success now. Oh, and the Elusive Targets! These rule and I'm ticked that I missed so many of them before realizing what this mode even was, lol. Season 2 should rule.​


Chronos (PC: Oculus Rift)
Gunfire Games

This is a wonderful game. My expectations were tempered, thinking the praise might be due to the understandable thirst VR enthusiasts have for polished content, but I was blown away. To be crude, the game is something like a more focused version of Souls mixed with classic Biohazard. It's a series of fairly spaced out bonfire-ish checkpoints scattered through interconnected spaces, and you connect these spaces with sometimes clever shortcuts as you progress. The camera is a series of fixed perspectives (think old Biohazard but you can turn your head and lean around), which means zero chance of motion discomfort and some strikingly positioned scenes. The combat is fairly Souls-ish (lock-on, block, roll, iframes), but you have no stamina meter, you get brief and satisfying damage boosts for dodging and parrying, health items are even sparser (imagine an Estus flask that maxes out super low and having that be your only option), and enemies chase you down much further. The tense stretches of tough combat (on Heroic difficulty) are dotted with scene-setting exploration and vaguely Biohazard-ish light puzzles, some of which are pretty damn clever. All of this would combine to make for an incredibly refreshing and super-engaging game, but then you top it off with all of the immersion benefits of VR (the sense of real-life scale when watching your character fight an enemy in close proximity to the camera is nuts). The only bad that I can really say about it is that the art design isn't on the level of the games that probably inspired it (though it's still clean and nice) and that it ends a bit abruptly. Currently the best VR game I've played, easily. Some former Darksiders guys made this, and I never would have guessed they had it in them.​


Firaxis Games, 2K Games

XCOM 2 is insane. It's so tough while being so polished. Floors are now destructible, leading to a ton of awesome possibilities. The player is now forced to be aggressive, greatly diminishing the prevailing creep-and-overwatch strategies of its predecessor. And that aggression is going to cause a lot of mortifying losses when playing on Iron Man, which is always and forever the way to go with a game that is so flexible when it comes to letting the player lose. It's extremely gorgeous given its genre, with detailed and sleek city, armor, and alien designs, all while delivering procedurally-generated maps that generally hold up to the static maps from before. Despite the fresh start and how big of a shift it is from Enemy Within, it doesn't feel like a step back at all. This is pretty much a perfect sequel to a wonderful game.​

Honorable Mentions (some other noteworthy games in no meaningful order):

Overwatch (PC)
Blizzard Entertainment
This managed to suck me in despite being pretty turned off by a lot of the pre-release media. The cast is everything. I mean, they're great and memorable characters and all, but it goes beyond that: having such a big cast with extremely distinct abilities tied to their extremely distinct aesthetics makes everything so much more compelling. I also generally like the maps, and I love how fast the matches are.​

Furi (PC)
The Game Bakers
Surprisingly good! A boss rush game that uses a very well-realized mix of twin stick shooting and fast dodge-and-parry melee. It's tied together with a nice structure: you get three lives per battle, and battles usually consist of 4 or 5 drastically different phases (some dodging bullets, some melee, some both, some in wide arenas with cover, some on 2D fields, etc etc). Die and the phase restarts, run out of lives and the battle restarts. The battles aren't the longest (damage dealt and taken are high), but you'll still feel plenty of tension when approaching the last phases of these fights. While the ultra purple neon faux-80s look is pretty overplayed these days, Furi does a good job of using its highlights without pummeling you with it. You can definitely pick up on some rough edges in the game's presentation, but the devs mostly avoid tripping over what I assume was a limited budget. Neat character designs, great music, a very cool "true ending", and apparently an excellent Hard mode.​

Thumper (Playstation VR)
A rhythm-themed game with really harrowing and intense aesthetics (especially in VR). Most of the stages are actually kinda tame difficulty-wise, but anybody with a pulse will find themselves dying an awful lot while trying to perform risky optional actions in order to make the whole experience look and sound way cooler and get higher rankings. The way the retry structure works in the normal game is pretty flaccid, but the developers later introduced "Play+" mode, which is exactly what I wanted from them: a single life to clear a stage (some of which can get surprisingly long).​

Star Fox Zero (Wii U)
Nintendo, PlatinumGames
After playing the original, 64, and this back-to-back, I'd say that this easily smokes the other two. It's busier, faster, prettier, more complex, more difficult, and more varied than 64. There's definitely a learning curve with the gyro controls and screen-swapping (hitting that select button is better than looking down at the gamepad imo), but they're learnable and plenty reliable. Having decoupled aiming with a wide range allows for neat situations like pinpoint strafing over ground targets, tightly aiming to the side while keeping distance, and even some dope pseudo-FPS boss battles. The stage branches and general flexibility of the game are pretty neat, moreso than in 64, and Arcade mode (unlocked after beating any single path) is better-structured than SF and SF64. I'd still like one more higher difficulty level, though.​

Raiden V (Xbox One)
MOSS, Microsoft Studios
A new STG that carries on in the Raiden tradition of being among the coolest-looking games in the genre, this time accompanied with a lot of silly dialogue flying around as you play, branching stages, some wacky new weapon variants, and an extra-weird online "cheer" system. This doesn't strike me as being as rough as Raiden IV, but I definitely start sweating halfway through. I especially like the playfield-expanding zoomed out bits.​

Obduction (PC: Oculus Rift)
Cyan, Inc.
It's really nice to play a modern and gorgeous Myst game in VR. I think some of the swap-related puzzles could drag a bit, especially that damn maze, and my general inability to navigate was painful from time to time, but those are minor complaints. I dug the new take on the segmented-worlds idea, and hey, the hammy acting wasn't too bad!​

Mirror’s Edge Catalyst (PC)
EA DICE, Electronic Arts
Looking purely at the story missions, I'd say this is pretty true to the original while even being a clear improvement. Better melee combat, prettier world, and cutscenes that aren't laughable (though still not particularly good). The controversial decision on DICE's end is that these story missions are stitched together in a free-roaming world. I'd say that, ultimately, this is an improvement. It makes for a more natural integration of worthwhile stuff like the original game's trial missions, and while the story missions all take place in the game's best and exclusive areas, there's a lot of fun to be had in learning the layout of the city. Some may tell you that Runner's Vision is needed to get around, but I disagree: I almost always enjoyed the change-up in pace when I had to slow down and figure out how to get to a certain part of town. It's not perfect, as the city could use more landmarks, less choke points, and less arbitrary grapple points (seriously these things are nonsense), but I definitely wouldn't throw all this away.​

SuperHyperCube (Playstation VR)
Kokoromi, Polytron
A solid action-puzzle game. A novel concept but not a gimmick: this is a game about rotating increasingly-complex clusters through increasingly-complex holes, and it uses VR really well to allow the player to make sense of what's in front of them in a way and at a speed that they wouldn't be able to on a monitor. The minimal visuals are no Rez, but everything is clean and reflective and there's really nice ambient audio going on.​

SUPERHOT VR (PC: Oculus Rift)
2016 brought us VR controllers in the form of the HTC Vive wands and Oculus Touch. These are undoubtedly the biggest step forward in gaming input devices I've seen, and you'd be seeing more titles in this post this year if they weren't in Early Access lol. Like its traditional monitor prequel (?), SUPERHOT VR isn't a challenging game, but more of a sandbox in which you come up with action movie scenarios. While the almost turn-based nature of the game means that the VR controls don't make the biggest impact mechanically, they let you perform and exist through far, far, far cooler actions than the keyboard and mouse ever could. And that's the whole point of SUPERHOT, isn't it? It's like the Rez of action movie scene storyboards. This is the probably the best introduction to VR controllers that I can think of.​

Wild Guns Reloaded (Playstation 4)
I wish I could have put more time into this, but from what I've played it seems like a wonderfully brutal enhancement to an already-great Super Famicom title. Killer music, massive bosses, and a surprising amount of complexity between jumping, walking, dodging, using the lasso, and scoring.​


And as always, there was stuff I couldn't put enough time into. I wish I could talk about Guilty Gear Xrd -Revelator, The King of Fighters XIV, Rigs, and Let it Die, for example. I also wish I could talk about Space Pirate Trainer and some of the other games bubbling up in the VR space, but they're all still Early Access! Maybe next year. And as perfect as Rez Area X was, I couldn't justify bringing up a game I had played so many times prior to this year.

See you all next year.

For the tally:
1. XCOM 2 ; As horrifying as ever but far tougher, more varied, and aesthetically accomplished. This is a perfect sequel to a wonderful game.
2. Chronos ; Coming out of nowhere, Chronos is probably the best game to take this much inspiration from Souls. The vaguely Biohazard-style puzzles and the difficult combat more than make up for the simple character customization, and the obvious immersive qualities of VR fit wonderfully with the Souls-style combination of difficult encounters and a stoic tone.
3. Hitman ; I love Blood Money, and I never thought it would be topped. Hitman's maps are stupid-complicated and the developers have managed to make them a joy to repeatedly run through.
4. Dark Souls III ;
5. Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate ;
6. DOOM ;
7. Street Fighter V ;
8. The Last Guardian ;
9. Uncharted 4 ;
10. Titanfall 2 ;
X. Overwatch ;
X. Furi ;
X. Thumper ;
X. Star Fox Zero ;
X. Raiden V ;
X. Obduction ;
X. Mirror's Edge Catalyst ;
X. Super HyperCube
X. Wild Guns Reloaded


listen to the mad man
Hi all. There were several requests in thread and PM to keep the thread open so that people can discuss ballots that they saw and liked.

Here's what's going to happen:
- When the deadline is up, the thread will be locked.
- The results thread will go up whenever Cheesemeister/timetokill get it up (normally very soon after voting closes).

- A little while later, I will unlock this thread, move it to Gaming Community, rename the title, add a bit to the OP that makes it clear voting is closed, and bump it for any conversation people want to have in here. When I do this, I'll reply in the results thread with a link.
- If people post a bunch of late ballots, I'll lock the thread
- If people discuss results, I'll lock the thread
- If not, this can be a space for people to discuss other ballots they liked and games they learned about.
1. Dragon Quest Builders ; This is THE Minecraft knock off for those of us who weren't pulled in initially, doubly so if we're DQ fans. Neat that it's even kind of an alternate DQII, following that "what if" situation.

2. Doom ; A throwback to just running around and shooting, fast paced action that's a relief from the cover based shooters we normally get anymore.

3. Salt and Sanctuary ; Being basically 2D Dark Souls meant it scratched both that itch and a Metroidvania itch, nevermind that it's the kind of spin that makes it feel fresh and exciting again.

4. Dark Souls III ; It's more Dark Souls! May not like it as much as the prior games (though it's probably the better game than II) but it's still one of the best games to be played this year.

5. Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight ; Another Metroidvania game that's Dark Souls esque. It also had a really nice faux-retro look to it and some damn nice animation.

6. Inside ; Limbo was a bit of a disappointment for me, I guess I expected a similar high to Braid. This is probably closer to hitting that in a way, but more developer experience and one of the most, uhh, memorable finales I've seen lately makes this worthy of the list versus something I'd most likely forget I even played that year.

7. The Witcher III: Wild Hunt - Blood and Wine ; Witcher 3 should've probably done better for me last year, so this makes up for it. But damn, this is a hell of a lot of content for the price and even with it not beaten yet I got my moneys worth out of it.

8. Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past ; Ok, I played this when it was contemporary, but it's been a long time and this is an extreme enough remake unlike, say, Skyrim. I actually think I'm liking this less than most other DQ games but it's still an interesting format for the narratives and is kind of the extreme culmination of 8-bit and 16-bit RPG design with how many towns and land masses there are to adventure through.

9. Final Fantasy XV ; I probably could have put this higher, but at Chapter 8 I'm getting the distinct impression I've basically seen most of the open content and what comes next will be a rail road to the endgame. Still, I feel like this is a very good basis to build off of, if not the next FF then perhaps taking the SaGa approach and making a new open world JRPG series from this design.

10. 7th Dragon III Code: VFD ; Finally a 7th Dragon game in the US! Albeit more dungeon crawler and less DQ-like, but it still made for a pretty fun JRPG romp.

Honorable Mentions

x. Shantae: Half-Genie Hero ; Its definitely one of the better Kickstarter returns for me, albeit one of the safest. Still!

x. Overwatch ; I'm not really as into this as some people, but I think I'll nevertheless play this more than most shooters for their competitive MP, especially with how this is designed for that compared to TF2.

x. Monster Hunter Generations ; Uhh, it's more Monster Hunter. Nice to see some older locales for the first time on my end though.

x. Xanadu Next ; A really neat action RPG from Falcom. Didn't feel strongly enough to put it in my top 10, but it deserves a mention.

x. Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma ; Uhhh, it was a disappointing finale, but I half expected that and it still had some really great moments.

EDIT: My first version was basically a quick and dirty "get my list in with enough comments to merit being counted" post. I thought I'd go adding in more commentary so here we are.
1. Crypt of the Necrodancer ; I've been playing this game non-stop this whole year. Each character makes runs feel unique. Games like this have definitely made me come to realize how awesome rogue like games can be. Music is so catchy that I find myself humming to the beat.

2. Final Fantasy XV ; I was not disappointed with this game despite some of the shortcomings. The world and lore inside the game can be so engrossing at times that I found myself wandering through the world just enjoying the scenery. The soundtrack to the game is also one of my favorites of the year.

3. Dark Souls III ; Although this game presents nothing new to the series the polish demands that it be on my game of the year list. I'll never have to much from the Souls series.

4. Downwell ; I bought the game day 1 on PS4 and believe this was one of the best bang for my bucks this whole year.

5. Titanfall 2 ; Movement is fun and fluid in this FPS. The story was good and actually made me enjoy having a robot friend.

6. BlazBlue: Central Fiction ;

7. Ratchet & Clank ;

8. Mystery Chronicle: One Way Heroics ; A great rogue like side-scroller. Although, the rpg element isn't too deep this has been a great game to have handy on my Vita this year.
1. Dishonored 2 ; Easily the best level design in gaming, with massively improved controls and stealth gameplay. I loved the first game, and this sequel is all I could've asked for and more. A Crack in the Slab and Clockwork Mansion deserve a spot on every list of all-time best video game levels. It also provided one of my most memorable experiences this year when I sat down with my brother for over an hour to solve the Jindosh Riddle. He gave up halfway through but I finally got it. I loved how the game let you solve something just by thinking it through, something I don't see in a lot of games anymore that aren't puzzle games. It's a shame it was marred by technical issues and released in such a busy period, because it's amazing. Being able to play as a woman is great too, but it's a shame Arkane didn't manage to make either of the protagonists as compelling and interesting as Daud, as a weaker cast is my only real complaint about this game compared to the first one.
2. HITMAN ; I'll admit I only bought it when the full season was available at half price, but either way this game proves the episodic model works when the devs put in the effort and Hitman is just such a perfect fit for it because of its emphasis on repetition and open level design. Absolution is the only other game in the series I've played and while I actually liked it, after playing this one I can definitely see what long-time Hitman fans felt was missing from it. While I'm not sure I'm fully on board yet with the Elusive Targets, the way they bring the community together and make you feel like real hitman in a way the regular missions don't is certainly something praiseworthy. The amount of content you get for sixty dollars is staggering too, with the main missions which are already pretty long, but then you get the escalations and the contracts and you have a game which is pretty much endlessly replayable. Biggest surprise of the year for me. The only real black marks against this game are the online-only features and some problems with the context-sensitive controls, but other than that it's incredible.
3. The Witcher III: Wild Hunt - Blood and Wine ; While I'm nominating the DLC here, I'm going to talk about the base game first. As a salty Bloodborne fan(boy), I went in expecting (and hell, wanting) this game to be bad. I thought I was right at first, as White Orchard isn't exactly the most riveting intro a game can have, and Velen seems like more of the same at first, but the Bloody Baron quest line sold me on the game, and couldn't stop playing for like a week after that. As someone whose first RPG was Runescape, I've always been baffled by what people call "quests" in RPGs. In Runescape, that was stuff you did when you needed some quick cash or some materials or were playing a mini-game. Quests were stuff with actual writing, varied objectives, cool boss battles and sometimes even new gameplay types (I still have nightmares from that stealth section in Kennith's Concerns). The first time I played console RPG I thought maybe I had learned English wrong or they used the word "quest" differently in England because I was out collecting twenty bear asses and killing stuff for no reason at all. Needless to say, I was disappointed. Witcher 3 reminds me of playing Runescape because of the care put into the side quests and the fact that the game isn't afraid to get silly and light-hearted, unlike the grimdark, edgy vibe I got from Witcher 2. While I do have some problems with the actual gameplay and combat behind these quests, and Roach is only saved from being the worst horse in existence by the Equine Phantoms quest, I still came away with a great experience. The Witcher 3 is great in that it manages to provide both quality and quantity. Okay so now I'll actually talk about the DLC. I'll just start off by saying that it may be the best looking game I've ever played. Toussaint looks amazing on Ultra at 1080p and 60 fps, only dropping frames in the Land of a Thousand Fables, which was a disappointment but oh well. Despite being a DLC, it still manages to have more quality content than most RPGs out there. Particular highlights were the Equine Phantoms and Warble of a Smitten Knight quests, as well as that quest with the bickering ghost couple and the bank quest, the noble with on a safari who had a crippled daughter too. It also managed to make Gwent even better with the Skellige faction, and make some hilarious digs at people who complain that a game is ruined on just about every update and the concept of DLC (
De La Croix was murdered for being too greedy
). While I wish we had seen more of Detlaff, especially after that awesomely tense and awkward scene at Orianna's soirée, what we got of him was still great to watch and play and Regis's obvious internal conflict about him was also excellently done in his self-doubting denial of the obvious. That final conversation with Regis was surprisingly realistic and actually felt like two old friends talking, as games often fail at having good and believable dialogue.
Geralt's smile at the camera
was a really effective fourth-wall breaking moment and great goodbye to him and the rest of the cast. CDPR definitely have my attention now and while I'm not excited for Cyberpunk as nothing has really been shown yet, I'll be there to play it, maybe not day one but I'll be there.
4. Ratchet & Clank ; The first Ratchet and Clank back in the PS2 days was what got me into gaming as a hobby, but this game completely flew under my radar for some reason. In many ways it reminds me of just how good those PS2 games were and doesn't come looking good out of the comparison on certain areas, but it's still an amazing game that I played through 3 times in like 2 days. The gameplay is excellent, the game is probably the best-looking console game out there, and while the humor is hit and miss it was more hit than miss to me. At 40 dollars this was a steal at release and is more than worth anyone's money now that it's cheaper. They truly don't make these kinds of games anymore.
5. Dark Souls III ; It really was a strong year when this game was my favorite game of the year when it released and now sits in fifth place, as well as the fact that after Bloodborne something so similar couldn't really compare. I kinda blame Ashes of Ariandel for souring my opinion on this one, as I found it to be lackluster except for Corvian Settlement and Sister Friede, and even that fight wore out its welcome. However it still gave me a memory I probably won't forget for a long while when I got stuck for three hours on Pontiff Sulyvahn. I honestly had never had so much trouble on a Souls boss before and finally getting that kill after dying so many times is one of the greatest moments in gaming I've ever experienced. The gameplay itself was as great as always, and other than Pontiff there were some fun bosses like the Princes, Soul of Cinder and Nameless King. I may not have liked it as much as Bloodborne, but it's still Souls so it'll always have a place in my GOTY list and hopefully the second DLC will make me regret putting it in fifth place.
6. Mafia III ; So the backlash against this game was huge, which I can't agree with as for me the bugs were hilarious rather than game-breaking or annoying and while the game was really repetitive in its mission design I didn't mind as I actually found it really fun to play, unlike games like GTA where the game may be more polished and the world more detailed but the core gameplay is terrible. In my opinion Mafia III has the best controls and gunplay (hate that word) in an open world game, and even gives some dedicated shooters a run for their money. The capo missions were always entertaining and memorable, and the game would probably be higher on this list if it maintained that mission design throughout the whole game. As for the story, I liked how it didn't shy away from portraying the racism of the era, which is something people now seem to be trying to forget, downplay, or even celebrate it. It's not even that Lincoln is racially abused every cutscene or anything, because that's not the case, but just how casual, normal and accepted it is among mixed company that really hits hard. The fact that cops are faster to act on white neighborhoods and will chase you if they look at you wrong there only reinforces this and makes the setting that much more authentic. In terms of characters and dialogue I found them all really well written and the cutscenes were excellently acted. Gordon Greene was robbed honestly. His performance as Father James was really amazing and as much as I liked Uncharted 4, Nolan North's performance doesn't hold a candle to it. Alex Hernandez and Lane Compton were also great, hell all actors were really good. The scene at the end when
Lincoln has a drink with Sal Marcano
was really powerful, and it just felt right in a way; at the end, for Sal it was really nothing personal. In the ending I got Lincoln skipped town and Vito got the city, which for me was the most fitting ending as Vito was the most experienced monster and I always felt Lincoln really only wanted his revenge and then to get away from it all. It also proved Father James right and he really deserved a happy ending. Really looking forward to a DLC with better structure, as open world bloat is the only real problem with this game. The huge backlash it got kinda saddens me because, while it's for understandable reasons, it only gives more fuel to the GG crowd to say that all "SJW" games are terrible.
7. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End ; Uncharted 2 and 3 are among my favorite PS3 titles and while I never played Jak & Daxter, I did play Crash back then on my cousin's PS1 and really enjoyed it, so I've always been a fan of Naughty Dog. They took a really different approach to Uncharted 4 compared to the previous entries, an approach which took them to great success with The Last of Us, and while it doesn't work as well in this game, as despite its real world setting it's way less grounded than TLoU so asking me to take Drake seriously as a character when he is a super powered monkey man who is immune to bullets and fall damage and weather and dehydration and a bunch of other stuff (to be fair, Joel's recovery in TLoU was also pretty ridiculous), is a pretty tough sell, Uncharted 4 manages it. The strength with Naughty Dog's games has never really been in their actual stories but more in their writing, dialogue and character, all of which Uncharted 4 nails. It has by far the best developed villain in the series, and while his motive at the end was in my opinion rather poorly explained, I can chalk that up to him clearly being driven to the brink by all the stuff he's been through. Drake's home felt like somewhere real people lived with all the dirty clothes and the smudged TVs, Elena and Drake's dialogue and banter in the house and throughout the island was great, and watching them finally find a way to pursue their dreams legally was really satisfying and heartwarming after 4 games, even if Drake had kinda always been looking for trouble before.
Also that Crash Easter egg was amazing
. In the gameplay side the freedom given in the combat bowls and Drake's mobility made for a much more dynamic experience, even if it somewhat broke at higher difficulties due to the ridiculously accurate enemies and high damage values. Uncharted 2 and 3 were paced much better and had much more variety in the type of encounters, but Uncharted 4 plays so well I can't really complain too much. Animations are top notch, and as someone who loves driving manual I really liked how Drake actually shifted gears while driving. Some games either have no animation at all or the character's hand doesn't even align with the gear shift, which doesn't move, so it was a nice touch. All in all, despite its flaws and a multiplayer I couldn't really get into, I still liked it a lot. I will, however, be forever disappointed with Naughty Dog because Savage Starlight still isn't a thing.
8. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided ; As a huge fan of Human Revolution, I was really hyped for this game, and i really enjoyed my play through. The gameplay improvements are subtle but they make it hard to go back to HR, while the side quests are the best in gaming next to Witcher 3, and with much more interesting gameplay to boot. It's a shame the cast of characters is so forgettable, as HR's cast was really good, even Adam and Sarif were better in the last game. Prague is one of the best hub worlds out there, but by the third visit it felt kinda played out; the game really needed one more hub. The main story also felt incomplete. Still really enjoyed it and hope it gets another sequel, as it needs it.
9. Watch Dogs 2 ; So I played the first game for half an hour at a friend's house and was bored out of my mind. When I saw the trailers for this game I actually got excited. Never saw all the "hipster", "douchy" stuff GAF was blabbering about and found the tone really fun, which is really what's needed in a story about hackers. The game doesn't take itself very seriously, the world feels alive and looks great, the hacking gameplay is great, the on foot gameplay less so but still serviceable, the soundtrack is really good and it's just fun to play. The cast of characters was also really good and Marcus was a great protagonist. In many ways it felt like it took inspiration from GTA but I feel this game does pretty much everything much better. My only wish is that cars didn't handle so weird.
10. DOOM ; DOOM was just fun. Really the only word I can use to describe it. Great gunplay (that word again), your mobility combined with the arenas makes for really dynamic gameplay that only gets stale toward the end, which is telling as the game keeps throwing you into arenas every 5 minutes, so it's a testament to how strong and fun the mechanics are. Glory kills looked dumb at first but they add a great sense of flow to the combat, especially once you get the runs to do them faster and from farther away. The game also looks amazing and runs great, the old schools DOOM levels and collectibles were really fun, the level design was excellent and the soundtrack was awesome. While the story segments were lackluster, the self-aware lore is actually pretty funny ("demonic presence at unsafe levels" still cracks me up) and most of the time the game just lets you get on with the action, which is all I really wanted. Rip and tear, until it is done.

Honorable Mentions:

x. Salt and Sanctuary ; While is doesn't quite manage to capture that Souls magic, it comes close, and playing it with friends is some of the most fun I've had this year.
x. Hyper Light Drifter ; This would probably be on the list if I'd played it longer, as it's really good. Controls are responsive, combat is difficult but satisfaying, and the atmosphere is top notch. The support it has received post launch is pretty great too, the fact that it got a 60 fps patch for a pixel art game is honestly insane, and makes me consider double dipping on this because the devs really deserve it. It's a game everyone should give a try.
x. Furi ; Easily the best boss fights of the year, amazing soundtrack, great atmosphere, punishing but fair difficulty, meaningful difficulty choices as Furier mode gives new moves to bosses and an actually pretty decent story make it an awesome experience. Just really satisfying.
x. Stardew Valley ; This one I haven't played a lot, but it's probably for my own good. I played what I thought had been at most half an hour and that ended up being 3 hours and noped right out. So addictive.

An unlisted honorable mention goes to the Nioh Beta and Alpha. I'm preordering the game because of them and it's the first game I've preordered since like Uncharted 3. The gameplay is excellent and each time a demo released I dropped any game I was playing for Nioh. Team Ninja should be commended for actually listening to player feedback while staying true to their vision, and for releasing a demo which is such a rarity these days. This game's gonna be amazing, I just know it, and if it sucks, well I still got great memories from the demos.
1. Stardew Valley; I'm not sold on a game after seeing its trailer for the first time very often, but this was one of those cases. I could tell exactly what ConcernedApe was going for and I had an itch that desperately needed scratched for that sort of game. Almost eighty hours later, I just started my third in-game year and it is still surprising me.

2. DOOM; Arguably last year's biggest surprise was that DOOM was actually a pretty good game. I expected it to be on my most disappointing of 2016 list after the underwhelming E3 reveal, but id is making me eat crow. I still have my complaints, but it's better than pretty much any other shooter this year.

3. Trackmania Turbo; I'm a sucker for Trackmania. Sue me.

4. Grim Dawn; (Full disclosure: I backed this on Kickstarter) It's still not Diablo II, but it's still miles better than Diablo III. I remember hearing about this years ago and worrying that it was going to quietly die, but Crate refused to let that happen and put out a delightfully dark ARPG romp. Here's to them.

5. Shenzhen I/O; I really need to rethink my career and degree when I find embedded system design and development more interesting than just writing code.

6. Titanfall 2; Yes, I saw it. Titanfall 2 was second only to DOOM for best shooter this year and it won best parkour by a wide margin.

7. Unravel; Martin Sahlin melted my heart when he introduced us to Yarny and his whimsical journey. It may not be something that I normally play, but I loved it to pieces.

8. The Witness; I've been on the internet long enough to remember Notpron and how I got stuck in the minus levels after years of bashing my head against it. A lot of the puzzles in the Witness flexed the same muscles.

9. Owlboy; It's not the deepest 2D game out there, but damn if it's not a gorgeous journey all the same.

10. 8-Bit Armies; Ignoring the anachronistic title, 8-Bit Armies (and Hordes and Invaders) is a nostalgic throwback that bucks the MOBA trend and takes its players back to a time when RTS meant more than controlling one unit on a single map. If the idea of playing a new C&C style RTS developed by Westwood alumni isn't enough to get you excited, maybe a new soundtrack by Frank Klepacki is. Seriously people, this is criminally undersold.

x. Devil Daggers; Did you ever wonder how Geometry Wars would play in first person? No? Welcome to your worst nightmare.

1. Furi ; A game that has a very focused and simple vision that is executed on masterfully. Wonderful artstyle, music that is just audio porn, a short simple narrative that is carried greatly by its Voice, and incredibly demanding and strong action gameplay all combine into an audiovisual boss gauntlet that I'll never forget. Excellence is not an art, it's pure habit.

2. The Witness ; Johnathan Blow spent years on this game and it shows. There's so much thought behind the progression of puzzles and your knowledge and how you learn the "mechanics" and how everything in the island ties itself together. It's therapeutic and zen. Jonathan Blow remains one of the absolute best puzzle game designers. He just understands how to tinker with the player's brain.

3. Dishonored 2 ; Arkane Studios knocks it out of the park again with absolutely wonderful stealth game level design and world building. There are some misteps in the story but otherwise it is a beautifully made game with some of the best adventuring/sleuthing levels ever made.

4. XCOM 2 ; No other series makes its quiet moments as worrying and nerve wracking as its times when it's throwing you head first into the fire with nothing but your trousers. XCOM 2, like its prequel, shows just how good turn based strategy games still are and how they can make you care for even the newest squaddies on your team. Flipping the perspective and making you the rag-tag resistance in a hostile world rather than 'UFO defense' was a really greatly appreciated flipping of the formula. The macro game took a light hit but I liked the focus on smaller squads and 'stealth' a lot.

5. Blood and Wine ; While not as strong narratively as Hearts of Stone (though to be fair, very little can be), Blood and Wine is a wonderfully crafted end to Geralt's adventures. Regis is a fun and endearing companion and the not-so-Fairy-Tale-land theme of Toussaint is intriguing and enjoyable to take in as a sunsetting to Geralt's time across the series. All topped off with some more consistently master class music from CD Project Red. Good bye, Geralt. Hopefully we see you sooner than later.

6. HITMAN ; After a bumpy time with Absolution, Io Interactive show they've still got it in them to make their own unique brand of stealth that is sorely absent amongst the gaming landscape. While I wish their was just more interactions and toys to mess with in their sandbox playgrounds, what they've shown with maps like Paris, Sapienza, and Colorado is a wonderful sign of things to come. Bring on Season 2.

7. DOOM ; An amazingly solid shooter campaign with a surprisingly fun story helmed by Optimus- Satan- Samuel Hayden. I didn't quite get the same craze over the game as others but I can understand why some latched on way stronger than I did. It overstays its welcome a bit and I feel like it could have used more levels like the Foundry (big open sandbox-like levels) but it remained butter smooth to play and implemented a fun loop of chainsaw, weapons, and glory kills. I'll be happy for more DOOM SLAYING in the future.

8. Dark Souls 3 ; A fairly solid conclusion to the Dark Souls games. Felt a bit too 'been there, done that', especially after 4 other games, but it has its own highs that make it stand out amongst the series. Hopefully the final DLC knocks it out of the park.

9. Uncharted 4 ; I never got invested in Nathan's relationship with his brother. It was well done and they really put effort into making their time on screen and in game believable and close but something about them trying to pull this out after 3 other games just didn't pull me in as much. The themes are well realized but I felt they could have taken different choices. Raif was a super fun villain though but I felt like Raif and Nate's Brother could have been combined to just be Nate's Brother. Otherwise, it's a really nice and heartfelt conclusion to Nathan Drake and Uncharted.

10. Overwatch ; Blizzard knows how to polish a game and there's a lot of polish here to respect. It's not quite my absolute favorite type of multiplayer shooter but it's still super high quality and fun regardless.

x. Darkest Dungeon ; I would like this game a loooot more if it wasn't for that grind. Got up to the door of the darkest dungeon and saw how much more there was to go because of the griiiiind and just haven't gone back to it yet.
This was a packed year. There was a lot of great games!

1. DOOM ; As someone who doesn't like FPS games, much less play them, this game was a wondrous ride from beginning to end that I was always pumped to get back to. Doom focuses on its incredibly fast-paced gameplay above all else, and everything serves to reinforce that, from the simple yet self-aware story to the health and ammo mechanics, all wrapped up in face-melting music. While it delights in the mindless joy of killing demons, the developers managed to make room for an interesting foil between the Doom Marine and the giant robot helper on the other end of the com - and it's the little details like this that elevate Doom from an already terrific game to one of the best games of the year.

2. Hitman ; Having never played Hitman before, I had no idea what to expect. Several hours and the end credits later, and I still didn't! The plethora of options here is what makes this game really shine. Short-circuiting microphones, deadly massages, runway strutting, bad sushi... the list goes on and on, and it's all got that touch of whimsy that makes it feel juuuuuust right. At least that's the feeling I got when in the final mission I had to kill a man on the operating table and ended up just grabbing his replacement heart, throwing it in the trash and walking out the front door. So efficient.

3. Inside ; Inside had a truly striking atmosphere, with a narrative that had me constantly questioning what was happening, and the boy's role in that story. Interlaced with interesting puzzles and plenty of danger, and one of the craziest ending sequences I've ever seen in a game, this was an experience unlike any other.

4. Hyper Light Drifter ; A solemn, mysterious journey with plenty of bloodshed and thrilling combat is what drives HLD. The visuals and the music really work together to create a very memorable mission to save the world. And to play soccer!

5. Kirby: Planet Robobot ; Kirby games are always fairly consistent, but this is the first Kirby game that I feel is on par with Super Star. Fast action, new abilities, and plenty of charm bring this title to life. The mechs make for a glorious addition to the gameplay as well, feeling both different and distinctively Kirby. It's quite an accomplishment as it blends in so seamlessly with the rest of what makes a Kirby game work. Extra modes and playable Meta Knight help round out the package.

6. Life Is Strange ; A time-travelling story about choices, friendships, regrets, and murder. Watching Max's choices unfold and come back as a blessing or an obstacle added a lot of tension, especially as some of those choices had real bite. I'd also like to quickly praise the escalation that happens in the story as well as the gameplay. What begins as basic rewinding to solve simple puzzles and switch dialogue choices eventually blows wide open to temporal chaos as you constantly throw Hail Mary after Hail Mary to try and save your best friend. But this game asks: What exactly will you give up for what you want?

7. The Witness ; A puzzle game that stands with the best of them. No frills here - just puzzle after puzzle, with mechanics taught almost effortlessly, provided you are willing to sit and think a bit when stumped. Logic dictates the world of The Witness, even as you scramble around like a madman looking for more puzzles and tracking cables. I'm still playing this game, otherwise I might end up rating it higher. I'm sure I'll be kicking myself for rating it this low when I finish.

8. Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth ; Turn-based RPG goodness mixed with charm, an invitation to experiment, and plenty of number-crunching for those who desire it. As a fan of the original anime but having never played a Digimon game, I wasn't sure what to expect, but the fluidity of digivolution and the ability to juggle and customize movesets kept me incredibly engaged. It loses points due to a very slow start and a bad translation job, but on the plus side I got to create an army of poop monsters to follow me around. And in the end, isn't that all we really need?

9. Fire Emblem Fates ; This strategy RPG series came back with a vengeance in the past couple of years, and it's easy to see why. Fates offers up three full-size campaigns, dozens of characters, various difficulty settings, reclassing, fun and challenging DLC, and more matchmaking than you can shake a steel sword at. And feet! It ranks lower on this list due to a poor story, some weak characterization, and a protagonist dumber than a rock. But if you haven't tried it, don't let that stop you! Pick your team, grab a waifu, and head out!

10. King's Quest ; A criminally underappreciated adventure game that's both a comeback and a love letter to the old Sierra adventure games and King Graham of Daventry. This tale spans Graham's life since first arriving in Daventry, told through the framing device of an aged Graham recounting his stories to his granddaughter, Gwendolyn. King's Quest follows Graham as he makes choices that will shape his life, and the player will play a part in what paths Graham goes down. Christopher Lloyd and Wallace Shawn lend their voices, and elevate an already great script full of puns, easter eggs, and winks at the games of King's Quests past. A few remixes of Girl in the Tower caught me off guard and brought out a real emotional reaction in me, as well as some later story developments. Unfortunately the later chapters of this episodic game noticeably suffer from budget cuts, and it shows, and the second chapter is a noticeably low point in the game as well, but the overall package of this game is too good to ignore. The final chapter in particular, and possibly the final chapter in King's Quest overall, is every bit the tearful finale you'd hope it'd be.

x. Virginia ; An excellent game that presented a unique experience. It couldn't quite make my Top 10, but I definitely think it deserves recognition.

1. The Silver Case ; I don’t think a title has ever appealed to my current taste in video games as much as The Silver Case. The PS1 is and probably will be forever my most loved console, so I was ecstatic to find there was a never been localized remake of an old ps1 game by the famous developer, Suda51. As I recently got into First Person Dungeon RPGs, the feel of the 1st person adventure screen reminded my of the slow to moderately paced dungeon crawling sequences that I been into for a while. The extremely apparent budget by the amount of assets but being well utilized in interesting ways reminded me of such games like Drakengard 3. The sound design is absolutely astounding. From the click and clacks of an old keyboard from the cool “voices” from the Parade, they make the game extremely satisfying to play. The movement of windows and the different dynamic backgrounds in every chapter makes it the most visually interesting visual novel/adventure game I’ve played yet. The story is extremely special to me resonating from cop shows from the 90s and is built on what I think is the most resonating themes in video games. As of writing this, The Silver Case remake has 5000~ owners on steam and seems extremely underappreciated, so if it sounds appealing to you, please play The Silver Case.

2. Hitman ; One of the best stealth games I’ve ever had the chance of playing. The amount of different fun ways in different dumb costumes. While people moaned how changing the format of the game to be episodic, it turned out really well done. Hitman has multiple semiopenworldish areas usually and have multiple ways of killing the targets. The way Hitman releases episodes, each level being an episode, players can replay each released levels while waiting for the next map to be released. While some of the production value is somewhat lacking like not a lot of unique voices, a lot of it is well written and straight up fun. The overall feel of the game is amazing. The sniper scope animation is quick and responsive, putting away weapon and items is snappy, and interactable objects just feel good to do stealthily. The elusive targets are a bit anti consumer forcing you to buy the game right away to have a chance to kill them, but it makes the base game a tutorial. By having only one shot to kill the target, you have to plan out extensively how to kill them and get away with it. While it's more of a puzzle game than a true stealth game, Hitman 2016 is immensely enjoyable.

3. Digimon Cyber Sleuth ; Digimon is ingrained in my childhood. I would be lying if I said I didn’t have nostalgia goggles for Cyber Sleuth. Cyber Sleuth is probably the first Digimon game geared towards adults, atleast in the US. With the incredible OST by Masafumi Takada and incredible models textured to fit the artstyle of Suzuhito Yasuda, the presentation is astronomical. While not a return to form with the virtual Tamagotchi like pets, it is an wonderful surprise of an RPG. After so long of Pokemon being so dominant in collectable monster RPGs, it was refreshing to have a good Digimon game. While the amount of digimon didn’t compare to the amount of Pokemon in the latest game at that point, it was the greatest hits of Digimon which is great since there are a ton of trash Digimon designs. The story mixed a bit of the old and a bit of the new. The Digimon Royal Knights came back from Digimon Frontier and Data Squad along with King Drasil. Eaters is a really cool concept which makes them a perfect antagonist. It’s the second best Digimon game I’ve played right next to Digimon World 1.

4. Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight ; While people joke about how many games is like Dark Souls, this game is actually kinda similar to it. Its challenging yet fair difficulty Its a fun 2D metrovania following Kaho a priestess using a leaf to fight. The sprite animation is amazing with a varied OST. Each boss battle I’ve beat is different and unique from each other from the mechanics and tone. All the levels are tightly design around each other while hiding secrets and being fun to go run back to previous locations.

5. VA-11 HALL-A ; While incredibly unfocused and not very interesting gameplay-wise, the game got heart. The base idea of working around a bar in a futuristic dystopia is incredibly appealing. While some events you hear around might affect you, others really don’t and it kinda feels more real. Many other games try to emulate an older games in looks; this one aims to emulate a more unique style of PC-98 games and definitely succeeds. The music by Michael Kelly, known as garoad, is superb and the jukebox mechanic makes incidental music add to the overall experience in a weird yet familiar way.
6. Guilty Gear Xrd -Revelator- ; The original Xrd showed off new tech in 3D video games and looked amazing, but some mechanics had me confused like no teching throws and Blitz shield. They even upgraded their tech to have dynamicish lighting while still looking 2D.
7. Odin Sphere ; One of the more interesting remasters in which most of the gameplay got improved. It has a really cool storybook like setup with multiple viewpoints.
8. Hitman GO: Definitive Edition ; While I don’t really play most mobile ports, Hitman GO works incredibly well The turnish based puzzles and mechanics based on the old Hitman games added layers of stuff to try.
9. Let it Die ; A free to play Action RPG dungeoncrawler roguelite type game. The entire game is oozing with creepy yet cool style.
10. Street Fighter V ; It has busted backwords ass online updates and multiplayer, but the core game is good. They somewhat took stuff like fatal counters and burst like mechanics from anime games and put it in there. Still don’t got Sean now tho so its still not my favorite Street Fighter but you should definitely look into it if you dig fighting games even at a casual level.
1. Overwatch ; There was never really any other choice for my number one game of the year, although I didn't realize it most of the time I was playing. Something about the gameplay and controls feels so natural and innate, like those hours of group play every week have always been there, that it's easy for it to just settle into the background. But the thing is: it was always there. Addictive when it's going good and infuriating when it's not, it's the game that kept me so busy learning new characters that I accidentally shelved more than one single player game to be finished at a later date. "No time to play this week," I sometimes thought, but somehow there was always enough time for another round (or four) of Overwatch.

Whether it's selecting that character you already know you dominate as or the feeling that comes with realizing you're really good at someone you never bothered with before -- figuring out how to play Mercy was a revelation that amplified how much fun I have with the game about tenfold -- the gunplay manages to feel comforting and familiar while still offering something fresh from so much variety even hundreds of hours in.

2. Pokemon Sun/Moon ; There was a time when I thought this might overtake Overwatch as my game of the year. And by "a time," I mean the first week of release when I spent a large portion of my holiday time playing Pokemon with family in between every other activity we did together. Go for lunch, then play Pokemon. Watch football, then play Pokemon. Go to the movies, come back, and play Pokemon. (A few rounds of Overwatch, then play Pokemon.)

For a series with incredibly long legs, so much of it felt, if not entirely fresh, then at least refreshing this time. The willingness to switch up some of their approach to storytelling structure felt rewarding and as much as people complain about the game dragging too slow at the beginning I barely even noticed. I was too busy running through every patch of grass trying to catch every local Pokemon in a given area -- eager to watch the cool new Pokedex fill out further -- before I bothered to progress enough to hit the next chunk of dialogue.

The first time I've invested enough to go hunting hard for Shinies. The first time I'm attempting breeding on any large scale. The first time I really get interested in the battling scene? Only 2017 will tell.

3. Dark Souls III ; When I think about how many hours I've put into this year's Dark Souls -- and still intend to, since I'm going to get that Platinum, damn it -- I can't help but think that it's unfairly suffering from franchise fatigue in my assessment of the year looking back. I love this game and enjoyed so much of the time I sunk into it. There are even aspects of it that I think rival the first Dark Souls, but at the end of the day it's still another 100+ hours of Souls, just like last year. And the year before that.

But having said that: I'm not really complaining. If another Soulsborne game comes out within the next twelve months or so, I'm going to give it another 100 or more hours of my life, no hesitation. And if it's even half as good as this year's offering, I will do so gladly, loving every moment.

4. Oxenfree ; This is one of those games that hit so close to everything I love in story focused gaming that I immediately messaged all my like-minded friends to insist they give it a try. Not just because I wanted to share a wonderful experience, but because I was dying to talk it through. I wanted to compare how their experiences differed from my own, and what new twists and wrinkles they may have uncovered. Night School Studio have succeeded in advancing the Telltale idea of how to go about narrative gameplay into something much more dynamic.

Even as the game works to make you more aware of the patterns -- the gaminess of it, to a degree -- it feels so much more natural and organic than a dialogue system has any right to be. The fact that you and your friends can casually talk over one another, trail off naturally, and essentially just sound like real teenagers who sometimes bicker and often snark makes the characters feel so much more real and immediately alive.

Also Clarissa is fantastic and anyone who disagrees is probably a bad person.

5. Dishonored 2 ; This game completely snuck onto my list in the last few weeks. While I enjoyed the first Dishonored to a degree, I didn't love it nearly as much as everyone else seemed to; I wasn't expecting this sequel to have a huge impact. Maybe it only worked on me so well because I let my guard down, but whatever the reason I've really loved my experience with it.

The stealth mechanics are largely the same at a fundamental level, but abilities have been expanded to allow for more interesting approaches to take when attempting a non-violent run. In the first game, so many of the abilities worked best when violently murdering, and it made it feel as though playing as pacifist was the "wrong" way to enjoy the game to the fullest, even though the narrative punishes you if you stray too far. It felt frequently stifling. Here, I'm free to link several targets together in a domino chain to be knocked asleep with one well timed chokehold. It really feels fantastic to take out an entire square in just one moment.

The same fantastic level design remains, with most locations feeling even more expansive than I remember the first game being. The options feel far more varied. The fact that there are dual protagonists also offers added depth to the morality system. You can be both an Empress trying to win back the respect of her people through non-violent action and an avenging father out for blood. (Or you can reverse it and pick the far less interesting variations of both, but hey: it really is up to you.)

6. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE ; This isn't the game a lot of people expected. Instead of a darker look at Fire Emblem with a mix of MegaTen's demons thrown in, we got Persona's younger and louder cousin, but somehow it's exactly what I didn't know I needed. Like most of the best JRPGs, it borrows from familiar combat systems with just enough tweaks to feel both comfortingly familiar yet refreshingly new. Stringing together the right attacks to take out a new batch of enemies is so satisfying, every time. As our peppy group of teens react with excitement after a success, I'm right there with them.

The narrative is fun, with mostly consistent writing quality, and the use of the Wii U gamepad as a chatting device where your friends can send personalized emojis that match their temperaments completely is probably the best use of the pad for any game on the system. Playing this game makes me happy, almost constantly, and not only when it's singing pop songs at me.

7. Tyranny ; I know that not everyone loves Tyranny. Some people were disappointed because they feel the combat isn't as deep as it is in Pillars of Eternity (they're right) and they complain that the game is really short (it is), but I love the world so much that these drawbacks honestly start to feel like opportunities instead, a welcome chance to jump back in more easily for repeat play throughs to experiment with every option and outcome. The grey scale of morality and range of characters is fantastic. Simple as it is, I enjoy the relationship dynamics and how your companions can both adore and fear you. Something about that feels perfect for casting yourself in the role of a villain that isn't only over the top and cartoonish.

I loved making disrespectful grunts cower in fear while still sensing enough danger that I felt compelled to remain respectful (nearly subservient) with Tunon. The way the dynamics shift made it so easy to become lost inside the reality of the world. Obsidian are always known for their writing ability and how their worlds can feel so fully realized and real, but I somehow still always come away impressed.

8. Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse ; If this had come out in another year, at another time, its position on my list probably would be very different. Instead it landed during the busiest time in my work schedule, shortly before Pokemon would usurp its place in my 3DS. Still, even with my short time with it so far the game is already living up to its... what? Parentage? Sibling? Half-brother? Anyway: the point is that I've enjoyed my time with it enough to be excited for the insane number of hours I know I'm going to be syncing into it in 2017.

9. Hitman ; A game of endless opportunities that is only as fun as you can make it in the given moment, this would almost certainly be higher up the list if it wasn't for the Colorado map. The good news: it's somehow even more fun to watch other people play it than it is to experience myself. Even better news: the maps really do become more fun every time you play them (except Colorado, ahem), learning and perfecting. Best news: they have a second season to learn and perfect themselves, expanding on this episodic formula they've established. I'm so excited to see where they go from here.

10. Stardew Valley ; I admit that when I first saw Stardew, I couldn't help but think it seemed like a pale imitation of Harvest Moon, retreading old ground for those blinded by nostalgia or people who simply never played the originator. As someone who has already run dozens of farms in her day, I was unimpressed with what little I saw.

But then I actually gave it a chance.

I know it's easy to point to the breadth and variety of tasks at your disposal as what makes the game unique, but it's the attention to detail that I really enjoy. The sound as you chop down trees and the noise as the items zip in to be collected as you walk past is so incredibly satisfying. Every noise and animations seems perfectly attuned to extract the greatest amount of joy out of even simple actions. The minor nuances to the characters and their behavior patterns as they move about town takes time and attention to learn and the sprawling cast, at first unwieldy, has enough personality that they honestly become pretty endearing.

When people say a game is a labor of love, it feels like this is the kind of thing they mean, where every single pitch and pixel feels carefully thought out and considered. There feels like there was so much joy in the game's creation that it can't help but infect and impact the player too.

Games That Might Have Made the List (If I Had More Time)

x. Watch Dogs 2 ; I'm not saying that this game would have turned out to be genius, but I do know that when I watched my cousin messing around with the selfie mode I became immediately convinced that I had to own it -- and that it might secretly be game of the year material.

x. Yo Kai Watch 2 ; I really enjoyed the first game and this seems to have evolved the formula and removed some of the sources of frustration.

x. Final Fantasy XV ; Honestly, who knows. I really enjoyed the demo, which caught me entirely by surprise. Maybe I'll wait until it gets its Realm Reborn treatment.

x. Fire Emblem Fates ; I don't have a good excuse for why I didn't finish these yet.

x. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided ; I bought this on sale and I think I might really like it, all that kind of dubious "augs lives matter" shit aside.

The 2009 Game I Played Most in 2016:

x. Fallen London ; Fallen London began its life as a browser game almost eight years ago, but I only really discovered it this year. Sure, I was aware of its existence previously because I've played and enjoyed Sunless Sea, but this text based predecessor only really came to my attention as something worth investing a lot of time into when another friend expressed her interest. Suddenly what appeared to be such a solitary game turned into a co-op experience that has lasted all year long. We explore the world and its lore together, trying different major questlines and pooling our knowledge. When major events come around that offer up prizes, we share the rewards and strategize.

Much in the same way that having a friend to play with has enhanced my experience of Fallen London itself, the game has made me view Sunless Sea in an almost entirely different light. While it was always a game I enjoyed and respected for its mechanics and storytelling approach, I now find myself invested in every scrap of meaning and lore I can glean from every minor encounter. There were definitely times this year when, if I wasn't playing one of these games then I was certainly busy with the other.

There's a lot to keep you busy. The amount of content here is honestly almost overwhelming, but the often repetitive gameplay loops required to advance through certain quests can be a bit of an obvious grind. It's clear where they have added filler to extend the game's life as new content is added -- and perhaps, a cynic could suggest, have created incentive to spend money for more turns to advance more quickly -- but with new updates and special events arriving almost every month, there are always shorter and different alternatives to these more consistent grinds. In the last year, my little Londoner got into sometimes deadly knife fights, joined a revolution, slept around (a lot), intervened when a playwright became overly invested in feeding audiences to a Cthulhu beast, pursued a body swapping serial killer, robbed (or sometimes flirted with) the demons of Hell themselves, and solved a murder mystery on a train.

And that's only a fraction of it.
Well, it's the same old story...It was a tough year. When I did have time for gaming, I played very few new games this year because I was playing old games, like Xenoblade Chronicles on the 3DS, which I fell in love with and consider to be a JRPG masterpiece, and Xenoblade Chronicles X on the WiiU, which I liked, but quite a bit less. Lovable characters and a wonderful story beats annoying characters and shoehorning multiplayer features into a single player JRPG, it turns out. I also enjoyed more Divinity: Original Sin in 2016, because hey, why not? But the big bad non-2016 game that stole months away from new game releases was X-Com: Enemy Within.

I played through X-Com: Enemy Unknown quite a few times back in 2011-2012, but now I finally sat down to play Enemy Within. And I mean REALLY play it, on Classic difficulty, Ironman mode. That means hard difficulty and no ability to load an old save, you just have ONE autosave file. So every decision you make, you have to live with. When your best soldier dies in a tragic battle, you've got to suck it up, pick up the pieces and lead your broken squad out of that hell hole. I must have had maybe 20 failed attempts before I beat the game, and I even got to see the game over screen. I guess most people have never seen it, since they would just load their game if things were going badly, but it's pretty cool. The councilman calls and tells you X-com has been a failure and they are abandoning the project. The camera slowly pulls back as he talks to reveal that his bodyguards are actually thin men, and a sectoid is mind controlling him as he speaks to you. Nice touch. And I guess this is kind of the TRUE ending, given where X-Com 2 starts.

Anyway, when I finally beat the game on Classic Ironman, I found it so exhilarating that I started a new game and did it all again! You might think only a madman could enjoy putting themselves in a situation where their progress can get wiped over and over like that, but if you've never tried it, think about it this way. In X-Com, the fantasy is that you are the commander of earth's forces, fighting to save humanity against an overwhelming alien threat. But how often do you really feel like that when you can just load your problems away? When every single decision has consequences because you can't load, that's exactly how you feel! When your squad is wiped or you lose control of a country, you truly feel that despair. But When your sniper makes a clutch shot that turns the tide of battle, you jump out of your seat and celebrate, because there was a lot on the line and you actually really needed him to do that. I find it really hard to get a game to make me feel anything these days, so I'm impressed with the rewarding challenge Firaxis has provided.

Simply put, classic ironman makes a TURN BASED STRATEGY GAME into an ADRENALINE PUMPING THRILL RIDE.

Sorry to talk so much about an old game but it was one of the most enjoyable gaming experiences not just of the year but my life. Now lets take a look at some 2016 games. And number 1 with a bullet it's...

1. DARK SOULS III ; [PS4] What can I say? I'm a soul man. And Dark Souls III, despite some major problems, is an absolutely worthy entry in this most glorious series and easily the best game of the year. Crucially, It's got the fluid, responsive combat controls and animations that all the Miyazaki directed soulsborne games have. That wonderful combat is further enhanced by weapon arts, special weapon abilities that increase each weapon's moveset. There are badass boss fights that are a ton of fun - I particularly enjoyed the Curse-Rotted Greatwood, Sister Friede and the Nameless King. And there are wonderful areas to explore, some of my favourites being the Undead Settlement, Irithyll of Boreal Valley and uh...Anor Londo.

"By the gods...Fear it, Laurence." "My name's Darryl." "uhhh, sorry. Wrong game."

Yeah, you heard right. While Demon's Souls, Dark Souls and Bloodborne feel like they have a cohesive artistic vision where all the little pieces fit together purposefully, Dark Souls III takes a more fanservicey approach to content, just checking boxes next to a list of things that have been cool in previous souls games. Anor Londo is an obvious one but just look at Irithyll Dungeon. With it's gloomy cells and creepy wandering guards, it's very clearly trying to imitate the gothic terror of the legendary Tower of Latria from Demon's Souls. And what's up with that endgame solar eclipse? Well, the Blood Moon in Bloodborne was super cool, so why not do something like that again? People call it a "Greatest Hits of Dark Souls Compilation" and I think that's works as both a compliment and an insult depending what you love most about the souls games. For me, all the content is great. I stopped being a lore whore after ds2, so I no longer memorize the implied, unwritten life story of every boss the way I used to. Hell, I barely even read item descriptions anymore - I just don't need everything to tie together in a meaningful way these days. All I need is for the killing to be good.

Oak and iron, guard me well, or else I'm dead and doomed to...Wait, I'm already dead and this is already hell!

So, how is the killing?'s good and it's bad. Like I said, that great foundation of Dark Souls combat, with its meaty feeling weapons and awesome build variety is there. And that alone makes things fun when you're fighting monsters and bosses. But there is so much wrong with the invasion mechanics laid on top of those fundamentals that I'm left shaking my head in disbelief. There is some kind of error in the game's code that causes auto-summon covenants to not work properly for some people. Including me. What I mean by that is, if I use a red eye orb item to invade, usually it will work right away and I'll begin to enter another player's game the instant I activate it. Sometimes it might take a couple of minutes. In a rare worst case scenario I might wait up to half an hour. But if I use an auto-summon covenant like Farron's watchdogs or the Blue Sentinels, I can go multiple days before I get summoned once. To get summoned twice on the same day is an extremely rare occurance.I've been told the error is related to having an older PSN account and you can get around this weird problem by creating a new account. But I'm not going to abandon the account all my platinums and friends and PSN+ games are on. And it seems From aren't interested in fixing their code after all this time. So I guess that means I can only invade as a red. Great.

While I've spent a decent amount of time playing as a darkwraith before, I've never "identified" as a red in the past. I guess I just don't want to be the bad guy. Lucky for me, the once mighty reds, powerful invaders who kept terror and excitement alive in previous souls games even after you mastered fighting the enemies and bosses, are kind of a pathetic joke now. I don't so much feel guilty about being a villain as I feel like a shiny red piñata that everybody gathers around and clubs until soul candy drops out. When you're an invader, The host has about 30% more health than you, and roughly double the amount of estus. No big deal. He can turn all the monsters against you with the seed of giants. Ain't no thang. But while still doing that, he can summon as many as 3 allies and make 1v4 situations possible. Huh? Why wouldn't From think it's insane to have all the monsters and 4 opponents against you? True, when the summoner has a 4 man team, that does make it possible for a 2nd invader to join, so that a red can sometimes just be double teamed instead of quadruple teamed, but while those 2 reds have no idea what each other are thinking, the host can use voice chat to coordinate strategy and share intel with his friends. That's just so ridiculous. By the way, when you kill the host's phantoms, since you can't backstab him for running away in this game like you could in DS1, he just can just easily summon them back in again. With their estus restocked. This is all while blues can be auto-summoned in as well. It's as if From has a rule where they have to add 3 new pvp advantages to all hosts every time a player names his character after Guts. Yeah, that many.

So after all that crying about DS3, do I hate it? NO! I still love it. This is the most fun I've had in a game since before Dark Souls 1 pvp became 97% hackers. I relish every precious parry and backstab, basking serenely in my opponent's blood as it washes over me like a farmer standing in the first rainfall after a long drought. I've seen so many amazing things playing this game, stylish builds, great examples of teamwork, creative cosplays, funny deaths, sweet victories against all odds, you name it. I'm just frustrated, because it could have easily been so much greater even than it already is. And...because I think it might be all downhill from here. With visionary director Miyazaki stepping back, I could totally see souls losing its way. Hell, I'm kinda already feeling the diminishing returns in this game. It may well be that without the father of souls to lead the way, the things that make the series unique are gradually going to erode until we're left with just another video game. But whether that happens or not, even if souls really does lose its soul... It's been a wonderful journey, getting to this point.

Wait, what am I saying? We're not done with this game! It still has one more DLC release coming. Miyazaki-Sama, please! I'm begging you! Don't leave us like this! Stop making prestigious anime films where little girls go on an adventure all the time and rebalance the pvp in souls! And would it kill you to bring back the "well, what is it!" gesture?

2. Rhythm Heaven Megamix ; [3DS] I often refer to the original Warioware on GBA as a "desert island game." It's a masterpiece of minigame goodness just bubbling over with replayability. If you were trapped on a desert island, you could go back to it for years and still get a buzz out of all the microgames it has to offer. Well this latest treasure trove of rhythm games also gets the prestigious title of desert island game. It's a delight from start to finish with fun games exploding out of it. There were multiple fake endings where credits rolled, and I was thinking "Oh no! It's over!" and the game was like "Pysche! Here's a ton more games!" Whether it's luchador interviews, translating first contact with aliens, Nascar photography or all kinds of other ridiculous premises, the game is endless fun. Never change, Nintendo. Or quickly change, and then quickly change back.

3. Danganronpa 2 ; [PC] When I played this on Vita this year, I was just up to my usual tricks again of playing older games instead of new releases, but it just so happens I accidentally played an old Vita game that came out on pc in 2016. Lucky! I initially felt a little disappointed. It appeared that everything that had happened in the first game had been mostly cast aside in order to retell the same story in a slightly different setting. But as the cast continued to shrink, they really grew on me so I kept playing long enough to find that this was not a rehash at all and there were some large revelations for the Danganronpa universe that take it beyond just being a crazy awesome high school murder simulator. Right now I'm pretty hype for an english release of Danganronpa 3 and won't wait around before playing it the way I did with this great game.

Saizo...He's the ninja we deserve

4. Fire Emblem Fates ; [3DS] After investing a lot of time in this one I feel like I'm not very far at all, or I might have put it higher on the list. I'm still playing matchmaker with the Hoshido side, figuring out who should marry who. But the combat is great. The music is a real standout. And in case you didn't know, ninjas are awesome. Ultimately this is gonna be 3 Fire Emblem games in 1 so how could that possibly turn out badly?


5. Doom ; [PS4] Generally, I don't like shooters anymore. Somehow they always seem boring and samey to me. But when I was a kid, I played and loved every shooter...especially Doom. Well Doom is back! But...It can't actually be any good, can it? I mean, Doom? In this day and age? The very thought! Take it from a guy who made his own total conversion Doom 2 wad where I changed the cacodemon into a flying Michael Jordan who threw basketballs at you: this game is both authentically Doomy and extremely good. It can only be an accident that the tone is this perfect. The game is constantly making me snicker one minute with silly jokes about how over the top the whole "space marine vs hell" premise of Doom is, then somehow the next minute it has me headbanging to metal while I rip out a demon's heart and shove it down his throat. It shouldn't be possible to ridicule Doom, then turn around and revel in and glorify Doom like that, but this game walks the fine line where it can pull both off perfectly. This reboot is great and you should definitely play it. And remember, I don't even like shooters!

When I look at Barry Goodman, I feel like Atlus should be paying me royalties for my likeness

6. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE ; [Wii U] I was always going to get this game day one because it fuses Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem, and no amount of censorship or middling reviews or J-pop silliness was gonna stop me. Well, luckily it actually turned out to be a delight. Beautiful art and characters with very expressive animations populate a colourful, charming world. combat is an excellent variation of the Persona style of SMT game - it has enough fire emblem elements and other new ideas thrown in to be one of the better recent jrpg combat systems. Nice touch that they actually found a use for the Wii U gamepad too, the characters use it like a social networking app. It's also really cool to see beloved Fire Emblem characters like Tharya and Chrom reimagined as Personas. Kinda makes me wish it was more popular, I'd love to see Nephenee or Saizo as a persona in a sequel.

7. Phoenix Wright: Spirit of Justice ; [3DS] I liked this game, but I really loved Dual Destinies, so be warned to not put too much stock in my opinion if you are among the many who hated DD. Getting to see Maya again was a real high point. As for low points, I didn't really like the seance video stuff, it seemed too hard for my old brain and I ended up looking up answers on the internet for those parts. So maybe this is the Phoenix Wright game for you if you want them to have more challenging puzzles? I've always loved the series for the characters and story myself, the puzzles are secondary.

8. Kirby Planet Robobot ; [3DS] I played this as a palate cleanser to change things up after about a year of epic jrpg goodness with Xenoblade 3D. They've actually gotten really good at making Kirby games. Incredibly easy, yes, so simple a small child could beat it, but not boring because all the variety and imagination in the gameplay and environments.

9. X-Com 2 ; [PC] Man, with all the time I spent playing X-com: Enemy Within on ironman mode this year, I must have really played a lot of X-Com 2, right? You'd think that, wouldn't ya. I did pick up the game around launch. But it looks - and runs - like ass on my computer so I dropped it. I've recently got to play it a bit more on a friend's beefier PC, and I can tell it's great...but somehow it doesn't excite me the way Enemy Within does. I'm guessing I'll probably be having a blast playing through it on Ironman in 2021.

Maybe I should have chosen World of Final Fantasy

10. Final Fantasy XV ; [PS4] I've only spent 20 or so hours with the game, and I honestly feel like it's probably good. The four bros are actually surprisingly bearable, which I never would have guessed after recent FF characters like Hope and Snow. Playing it does kind of make me realize that what I really want is to drive around in a car with Reyn, Riki and Dunban though.

Well, it's been a hell of a year, that's for sure. Thanks everyone for all the work put into this thread, I feel like these Neogaf GotY threads are such a great read and really help me notice important games I need to consider checking out. I just barely finished this before the deadline! Maybe I should try to avoid this madness next time and just start writing my Persona 5 GotY 2017 post now.

My 2015 Neogaf GotY Voting Thread Post
Exciting to have the results in a couple of hours!

How does the process where lists are disqualified due to unsatisfactory comments work, btw? Filtering all lists below a comment word count threshold and reviewing them manually?
1. The Last Guardian ; Has a sense of scale like no other game. A tremendous journey I will never forget. Beautiful, bold, powerful. Sublime storytelling, too. A triumph.

3. Uncharted 4 ; Sometimes it's just great to play a game made by developers at the peak of their craft. No, it's not as affecting as The Last of Us. But it's more fun and joyous. I've finished it twice and still want to go back for more.

5. Abzu ; The most gorgeous game of the year with the best soundtrack of the year. Austin Wintory is gaming's secret weapon right now.
1. The Last Guardian ; Trico is the video game character that has felt the most alive to me. This, coupled with its beautiful music, sceneries, and with the Boy's relationship to Trico, makes it an incredibly emotional experience that I'm sure to remember for the rest of my life. This game is a modern classic in storytelling and, more importantly, lets the gameplay be the title's core voice. The Last Guardian is an accomplishment, a landmark in gaming and my 2016 Game of the Year.

3. Dark Souls 3 ; Stellar game that brings the Dark Souls series full circle. A game that honors its predecessors and refines the formula to a tee.

5. Uncharted 4 ; A technical marvel and a joy to play, it ends the story for Nathan Drake in an emotional and personal journey. It has a different style than previous Uncharted titles so it felt a bit off and I have some criticisms about the pacing and setpieces, but it still defines what a 'cinematic action' game should be: awesome.

10. Abzu ; I love the setting of this game. It looks and sounds like a dream and the way the game changes scenery and beasts with every chapter is really refreshing. It has some awe inspiring sequences and, in my opinion, trumps 'Journey' in every way. A memorable experience.

Given the similarities of our tastes, it looks like I really need to get The Last Guardian at some point. I skipped buying it at full price, just because I don't want to support titles that don't have supersampling on the Pro, eventhough they're rendered at a higher resolution on 4K displays.
1. Overwatch ; This game has taken over my life. Blizzard polish and 23+ heroes, all with a unique feel.
2. Inside ; Suspenseful and horrific - ever since that teaser at the MS conference years ago I've been anticipating this game, and it lived up to the promise of that amazing, creepy-ass trailer.
3. The Last Guardian ; Trico <3 Wherever this game was rough around the edges, it made up for it in heart.
4. Dark Souls 3 ; A solid entry in my favorite series.
5. Doom ; This is the game I had hoped Quake 1 would be... it's been a long wait!
6. Overcooked ; A co-op game that really rewards cooperation.Going from 1 star to 3 on each level feels great.
7. XCom 2 ; Playing as the insurgency was a great twist.
8. The Witness ; Beautiful puzzle game with so many fantastic "ah-ha!" moments. Great at subverting expectations in clever ways.
9. Uncharted 4 ; Fantastic set pieces. And the tech behind this game is amazing.
10. X-Wing VR Mission ; I giggled like a child when I first jumped into hyperspace. This game has done more to sell me on VR than anything to date.
5 hours to go? Time to post my ballot then. Been very busy and didn't have time to finish up some games I've wanted to that probably would have made it to top 10 but what can you do. It was a good year for games but I really should have spent more time on bunch of games instead of couple.

1. DOOM ; RIP AND TEAR. Generally I dislike FPS games. They tend to be boring and especially in current games you are squishy as hell. Luckily in DOOM you can take way more hits and you need to be moving constantly. Fantastic encounters and frantic gameplay mixed with one of the heaviest OSTs I've heard. Awesome game all around.

2. The Last Guardian ; This game would be number one if it had less jank. Beautiful art direction, engaging story and fun gameplay even if very simple. A game that will be remembered for a long time.

3. Dark Souls 3 ; Third time's the charm. Final entry in the Dark Souls series and From made sure it was the best entry in the series. No more feeling rushed or incomplete and speeding up the gameplay makes this a must if you enjoyed earlier games.

4. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided ; HR was my first entry into DE and I loved it. MD basically takes everything from HR and improves it by a wide margin. It ended bit abruptly but the gameplay is more than enough to make this a improvement over the already great HR.

5. Zero Escape : Zero Time Dilemma ; Conclusion to Zero Escape series is still managing to be mindblowing even if it isn't nearly as good as the other two in the series.

6. Street Fighter V ; Rushed launch, still incomplete and stuff not working properly. Still my most played game by a wide margin. Gameplay is simple but great and addicting. If you are looking to get into FGs this is a great spot to start.

7. Guilty Gear Xrd: Revelator ; Much more complete package compared to SFV but the gameplay isn't as fun to me. Still a great game to play especially if you like SP content. Soundtrack is also fantastic buttrock.

8. Furi ; Probably most infuriating game I've played ever. Very punishing and unbalanced in terms of boss phases where some bosses were too easy outside of a single phase. Still the gameplay itself being very simple is fantastic and the soundtrack is sublime.

9. Downwell ; Best mobile game of last year now on the system it was always meant to be. PSVita is made for this game and it is even better now than it was last year.

x. Resident Evil 5 ; This game was fantastic back in '09 and it is fantastic even today. Best co-op game I've ever played.