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


Jul 4, 2013
1. The Last Guardian ; One of the few games I've played in my life that I can truly call a masterpiece, but that's no surprise when two other games on that list are also made by Fumito Ueda. Such an emotional journey, I've never loved a companion in a video game as much as my cat dog bird friend. The way it is able to tell such a wonderful story almost through gameplay alone is something not many games have accomplished. This game was worth the wait.

2. Pokémon Sun/Moon ; What a perfect way to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Pocket Monsters. After feeling some serious franchise fatigue from the last few titles, I thought I was done trying to catch 'em all, but man oh man was I wrong! A completely fresh breath of air, this game completely reinvigorated my love for the series by changing everything up but still retaining the tried and true formula. Easily my favorite Pokémon game, which is saying a lot after 20 years!

3. Fire Emblem Fates ; I can't believe this series went from almost being dead 4 years ago to having this massive installment that brought essentially three games are once. This game is Fire Emblem at its best, especially the Conquest version which has inventive ways to keep you on your toes each map.

4. Kirby: Planet Robobot ; Throughout my playthrough, I constantly found myself saying "a Kirby game has no right to be this good." Planet Robobot a huge step up for Kirby, who's always had good but never impactful games I feel. The level design is crazy fun and the music is absolutely sublime.

5. Final Fantasy XV ; Admittedly I haven't progressed much in the game, but the 12 hours I've put into the game has been stupidly fun. Combat is fantastic, love Noctis and his bros, and I'm really enjoying the myriad of sidequests and hunts.

6. Overwatch ; I haven't had this much fun in a multiplayer shooter outside of Splatoon.

7. Super Mario Run ; Nintendo managed to perfectly translate the Mario experience to a touchscreen.

8. Pokémon GO ; Never quite experienced a phenomenon like this, plus it encourages me to go outside!

9. Rhythm Heaven Megamix ; Rhythm Heaven is always great, and packaging so many minigames from throughout the series including the unlocalized first entry into one game is just fantastic.

10. Picross 3D: Round 2 ; The perfect game to play on a commute.


Nov 29, 2005
1. Overwatch ; I've played a tooooon of games in my life. I'm in my early 30's. Started with Super Mario and you name a major release and I've very likely played it to completion. Overwatch may be my favorite game not just of this generation but all of them. I loved TF2 but being a console player I never got the updates. So you take that, the polish and support of Blizzard and you make it super heroes? Yeah, I put hundreds of hours into it, not just in the course of years but months. No other game has hooked me like it has. My GOTY by a goddamn country mile.

2. Street Fighter V ; I thought this would be my number 1, but Overwatch surprised the hell out of me when it came out. I'm not tournament level, but I've always loved fighting games and that means all modes. I also read every bit of info on the game, like how Capcom had a long road map for it. So the vast of majority of complaints didn't affect me. I love the new KOF, but the arcade mode against brain dead AI that lasts forever does nothing for me. I'm glad the character story fights (not story itself, it has as much as any other SF plus a free cinematic one on top) are so short, but you can't tell gamers less is more sometimes. I love what they did with Birdie, one of my least liked characters and turned him into my initial main. Rashid, though is my guy and he's an all new character (can't wait for the next 5 new guys). The main two reasons this is here is the fighting is my favorite in the whole series. 4 on it's surface was easy for casuals but the FADC system was wayyyy to hard for someone like me who wants to go from ok to decent. 5 is way easier to get into with it's systems. The other reason is the stepping up of streaming and tournaments all year. From vanilla 4 I was a stream monster and this year was stellar for tournaments. For all the complaints 5 gets, the Evo turn out was way bigger than 4 and that gives me hope that if the blogs convinced people 5 isn't for the masses that at least the tournament life will keep going.

3. Doom ; Another huge surprise. No early reviews, bleh mp beta, been in dev forever, and while the Wolfenstein game got acclaim (and it's pub not dev) it didn't really grab me. I didn't play OG Doom when it initially came out but hearing the Bombcast talk about it I get why it was so revered. I feel this is on par with SF4 and Xcom any other example of taking a classic series and successfully making a modern version. The visuals, game play loop, references, music all work super smoothly together to make an immensely satisfying FPS campaign.

4. The Last Guardian ; Big fan of Team Ico's games. I replayed them this year and they still hold up. The crazy animations even in a game as old as Ico impress and the physics of holding and swinging stuff feels good. So I was never one to feel put off by the input lag, like EDF and Treasure game frame rates I honestly feel like it's a feature. There's this dreaminess to Team Ico games and the weighty feel of the characters add to that. And speaking of weight, our (only ever) family pet is getting very long in it's age and we basically adopted my cousin's 8 year old boy. So having those things in my life after being an only child this game made me feel a lot. I'm glad this got finished and hope we get more from this team, if not they made a incredible trilogy.

5. Forza Horizon 3 ; Loved the first 2. Love Burnout Paradise and the Motorstorm series as well. So having a game that mixes some of the best from all of those and making it utterly gorgeous made for one of my favorite games this year. After grinding away for a while I thought I'd get bored but once I unlocked the top tier cars the feeling of flying over the hilly landscapes was unparalleled. Great soundtrack and holy cow at the night skies and lighting in the rain.

6. Severed ; Big SMT fan. Not a fan of first person dungeon crawlers. But the design in this game felt clever but not super obscure and the visuals kept me enticed. The story and eerie setting plus unsettling but awesome music was captivating. Then you add Punch-Out mechanics in an rpg? Such a unique but solid game and one that took great advantage of the Vita.

7. Videoball ; Love me some local mp games. Rocket League was a huge favorite and this feels a bit like a version of RL but simplified with it's own twists. Asteroids meets hockey. The feel of firing, charging and bouncing is great. The soundtrack is fire. The wall mechanic adds a lot of strategy as does the court variety. That's Videoball!

8. Inside ; Loved Limbo, especially the first 30 minutes. It's a game I've shown to most of my friends. I never completed it, though. Inside I absolutely did and the last 15 minutes had me laughing with joy. Like, hey this is fucked but all our games are and we're going full speed ahead with this crazy turn. And it works! Like Limbo, I've started to show this to people and they've all really enjoyed it. Can't wait for Playdead's next.

9. Furi ; This game combines so much I love: twin stick shooters, Hotline Miami style OST, melee with parries, bizarre/memorable bosses, crazy visuals and a unique story/setting. That the devs shouted out my favorite old school dev, Treasure , in the credits felt totally right. Proudest game I finished this year alongside Dark Souls 3 and Xcom 2. Game was really tough but rewarding.

10. Battleborn ; Yeah yeah, Overwatch killed it but tbh Overwatch kinda killed everything, haha. I love Borderlands to death and while not a PC guy, which leaves most MOBA's out I do love Awesomenauts. Battleborn feels to me like Borderlands and Awesomenauts combined. So I had a great time with it. The story mode was fairly jank but compelling enough and I loved the characters and mp. I put a ton of time into it but when Overwatch came out I've yet to go back. Still, for the fun I had it deserves to be on my list.

Honorable mentions stuff-

Kingdom Rush, IOS. My all time favorite Ipad game I started playing recently on my Iphone and holy shit this game is pretty much perfect. Especially when you have a kid around you take to places and sit around for hours haha.

Wand Wars. I think I need to make a thread for this. It's like Videoball with wizards and Towerfall graphics and a nice OST.

Games I played from this year I really liked (most of them beaten, too)-
Titanfall 2, Battlefield 1, KOF14, Dark Souls 3, Dishonored 2, Thumper, Jackbox 3, Final Fantasy 15, Risk of Rain (PS4), Overcooked, Penarium, Telltale Batman, Assault Android Cactus, Hitman, Push Me Pull You, Clustertruck, Xcom 2, Gears 4, Dead Rising 4, Watchdogs 2, Rez Infinite, Abzu, Litchspeer, Hyper Light Drifter, PacMan CE2, Last Fight, Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator, Ratchet and Clank, 100ft Robot Golf, Salt and Sanctuary, Bro Force, Capsule Force, Enter The Gungeon, Tricky Towers, Alienation, Fire Emblem Fates, Uncharted 4, Lovers In A Dangerous Space Time

Burning Justice

the superior princess
Aug 20, 2011
Unfortunately, there were a couple of 2016 games that I wanted to play before I voted... but at this point it's clear that I won't finish them in time. So I better get my vote in while I still can...

1. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End ; The well-written, relatable characters and the intriguing mystery of Henry Avery made this game stand out even among other Uncharted games, which have always been strong on the story front. On top of that, the gameplay is also a return to form after the somewhat weak Uncharted 3, with the gunplay feeling as it should and some smart changes to the stealth mechanics. The race between my #1 and #2 games was very close, but ultimately Uncharted won out.
2. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II ; Though it starts slow, as all Trails games do, this game had higher highs than any other Trails game I've played. The inner turmoil of the countries in the world of the Trails series--and the relationships between the countries--is something I'm always interested in seeing.
3. Rhythm Heaven Megamix ; Rhythm Heaven is just plain fun. Though I feel that the new story elements add nothing to the game, the games contained within Rhythm Heaven Megamix are as good as they ever were, and it is packed with content. The new challenge modes had me playing the game for a long, long time.
4. Rocket League ; I played the Xbox One version, which released in 2016. I wasn't expecting much out of this game originally, but ended up playing a ton of it. It's surprising how such a simple concept can be so addictive.
5. Pokémon Sun/Moon ; Has a better story--and a more interesting locale--than most Pokemon games.
6. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Spirit of Justice ; Still love the "murder mystery" angle of this series. I like the new Divination Seance feature, though I felt it wasn't used often enough.
7. Fire Emblem Fates ; The story is weak, but the gameplay is as good as Fire Emblem has ever been. Pretty much all of the issues I had with Awakening's gameplay were fixed in Fates, and the three campaigns kept me playing for many hours.
8. Gears of War 4 ; More Gears, which is never a bad thing. The game feels a little overly familiar at times, but the campaign and Horde are still fun.
9. Hyrule Warriors Legends ; Even though I played Hyrule Warriors on Wii U, I felt this one had enough new content to justify including it on my list. The gameplay changes they made are almost all for the better, and even though I sunk many hours into the Wii U version, I played this one probably just as long.
10. Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma ; I got into this series in 2016. Though I felt Zero Time Dilemma was significantly weaker than 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors and Virtue's Last Reward, it is still a solid game.

Games that I unfortunately couldn't finish in time...
x. Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam
x. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE
x. Dead Rising 4
x. Xanadu Next
x. Titanfall 2

EDIT: Just remembered Rocket League XB1 released in 2016. Also, added Honorable Mentions (aka games I didn't finish in time).

Andrew J.

Apr 18, 2007
1. Fire Emblem Fates ; According to my activity log, Fates is the 3DS game I have put the most time into, supplanting its predecessor Awakening, and no wonder. Fates corrects Awakening's two most glaring flaws, open and uninteresting level design and the overpowered Pair-Up mechanics, with a rebalanced system that forces players to choose between offense and defense, and thoughtful maps that require moving units thoughtfully. The Conquest campaign gets the most credit, and rightfully so, with varied objectives and punishing design that never leaves you completely comfortable when advancing on an enemy formation. Birthright, while easier, has some interesting layouts as well. In particular, Chapter 23 holds up favorably against any Conquest map you might care to name. Revelations...is honestly a little too weird, especially towards the end, but I was glad to see some experimental ideas from Intelligent Systems. The music is excellent and widely varied, with distinctly western and eastern instrumentation representing the two countries.

The removal of weapon durability in favor of tradeoffs for stronger weapons was pretty successful, though it seems the saved costs of replacement weapons has been balanced out by higher prices and more varieties of specialized weapons. While Awakening introduced buffs to an extent that had never really been present in the series before, Fates does the same for debuffs, with shurikens/daggers and Seal skills. They're powerful abilities when used against enemies at the right time, but at the same time a potentially serious hazard for the player as well. I don't know whether integrating bows and tomes into the weapon triangle was necessary, but after a little adjustment it never seemed to hurt my experience.

The stories work out all right if you view them as tragedies about the perils of excessive filial piety, but admittedly they are melodramas carried more by emotion than logic. And Fates, while correcting Awakening's major flaws, unfortunately continues or doubles down on its minor ones (thin worldbuilding, extraneous-feeling side characters, particularly the children, and a number of embarrassingly sexed-up women's costume designs.)

Finally, I want to give a shout-out to the Heirs of Fate DLC missions, several of which are designed to pressure units in your starting area to the point where it is not feasible to cautiously bait out small numbers of enemies as you advance because you must charge towards your goal so quickly. I just thought it was interesting how the game experimented with discouraging a very prevalent, very conservative playstyle.

2. Pokémon Sun/Moon ; Sun and Moon create a unique and distinct sense of place, succeeding wildly at something X and Y made a game attempt at, despite coming up short. The ever-present tropical environment, the music, the Alolan variant Pokemon (Gen I nostalgia bait that they are aside), the substitution of trials for gyms, even Kukui's quest to create a League to make the region the equal of others, all of them contribute to making the play experience feel real and interesting.

Mechanically, there's relatively little new here, the biggest addition being the long-awaited replacement of HMs with Ride Pokemon. Box sorting gets more streamlined as it does every generation, and the new Pokemon registration effects pop more than ever before. I appreciate that they now occur when obtaining a new Pokemon via evolution, hatching, or trade, not just capture as in previous games. The totem Pokemon bosses are tactically interesting fights, as they essentially come in having set up already, although most are tragically vulnerable to status effects.

There's actually a good story, too! The last time Pokemon put emphasis on story was Black and White, which tried to be this grand epic about the inherent ethical problems involved in the core conceit of the series but ended up having nothing to say. Wisely, Sun and Moon serve up a highly character-focused story, with Lillie's journey of self-improvement, settling of personal problems, and overcoming the loveable morons of Team Skull in the foreground, and Kukui's efforts at makinga League a constant background presence that eventually results in something for the player character to do after Lillie's arc is done. And make no mistake, Lillie is the protagonist, the player character a mere bodyguard. She is John Connor and you are T2 Arnie, tasked with brutally dismantling any hostile Pokemon trainer that gets in the way of her journey. Also, if you play as a girl their relationship comes off as super gay, which is always appreciated.

The Ultra Beasts are just a light dip into Lovecraft, but the mere fact that they are catchable Pokemon is enough to make it impossible for them to be as weird or as dangerous as they seemed they might have been at first. Also, the framerate tanks when there are more than two Pokemon on screen. Hopefully Stars will fix that problem. Overall, probably my favorite Pokemon game ever.

3. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Spirit of Justice ; It's true what everyone is saying, this is Apollo Justice's game more than the one with his name in the title, with more backstory on his childhood and development into a fully realized and independent attorney. Otherwise, it's another amazing Ace Attorney game, full of high drama, quirky and memorable characters, horrible pun names, great music, and wacky freakouts. The animation generally looks like it's gone up a notch in quality since Dual Destinies. The game goes relatively light on the 3D object gimmicks and the Divination Seances, having them enough to be interesting without getting irritating. Maya is back, which is great, but isn't given much to do. And I don't think it was necessary to have yet another case revolving around Ace Attorney's patented Troupe Gramarye Bullshit(TM). Overall though, it's great, up with there with the very best of the series.

4. Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma ; The developers' reach exceeded their grasp when it comes to making animations here, but after playing for a bit you adjust to the jank and it stops being distracting, leaving you with another mindbending story full of twists. There's nothing quite as shocking as some of the revelations in VLR, but the story more than makes up for it with more emotionally affecting scenes. The puzzles are easier than past games, which suits me just fine. The character arcs of the series mainstays are satisfactorily wrapped up, while leaving enough loose ends in the main plot for potential continuations.

5. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE ; This game is weird, both conceptually and in practice. An SMT/Fire Emblem crossover? Sure. It's a dungeon crawler with FE characters? Fine, we basically have the reverse with Devil Survivor anyway. It's about performing artists who use FE heroes as Personas to fight monsters trying to suck the energy from showbiz? Now that made me skeptical at first, and the game's short attempts to connect it to music and theatre's origins as religious rituals wasn't super convincing, but if you just embrace the weirdness you'll find that the story is mostly a charming tale of a group of people who grow into friendship while helping each other pursue their life goals...and fight off monsters in another dimension.

Practically, this is an SMT game, but with Fire Emblem terminology and concepts permeating everything. Say you encounter a new monster, and you don't know its weaknesses. Typical SMT-style problem, right? But you notice it's flying and caries lances, so you can (if you're familiar with Fire Emblem game mechanics) determine right away that it's weak to wind, bows, and axes. Then you attack with SMT mainstay abilities like Zandyne or Grant Tack. An SMT problem with an SMT solution that must be arrived at with Fire Emblem logic. The whole game is full of stuff like this, and if you're familiar with both series it's a real trip.

The battles are fast-paced and reward targeting weaknesses in a basic system reminiscent of Strange Journey, that gradually gets more and more added on to it at just the right rate, so that you never feel bored or overwhelmed, and by the end you're doing crazy, awesome-looking combos. There's a satisfying loop of going into the dungeon, getting new materials, going back to make new weapons to get more skills, going back in to use your new skills and getting more materials, etc., at least after your learn not to leave every time there's something new. Between the dungeon-crawling and the party member side stories it scratched that Persona itch, although to be honest the side stories have more in common with Mass Effect loyalty missions than either Supports or S-Links. It's a great Wii U swan song for anyone who's getting BotW on Switch.

6. Titanfall 2 ; Calling this game the Mario Galaxy of shooters is something of an overstatement, but I get the intent. Every level feels different and (past the first couple) fresh, with unique environments, weapons, abilities, or narrative context that always mesh well with the core movement and shooting mechanics. I found the boss fights to be somewhat tougher than the rest of the game, but over time I have come to realize that was probably due to my own stubbornness in not changing loadouts enough. (Except Viper. Viper is bullshit.) The story is thin but not actively bad, and the growing bond between Cooper and BT gets genuinely touching. This game also sets the gold standard for how game voice actors should be credited.

7. Kirby: Planet Robobot ; .The same engine and basic structure of Triple Deluxe, but with smashy robots! Hyper Mode was a satisfying experience, but there wasn't much to it, whereas the Robobot has access to several powers and unique movesets that all feel super great to use. There's a certain story development that genuinely surprised me, and the final battle is even more epic in scale that we've come to expect. I wanted the Robobot to be involved in more boss fights than it was, though.

8. Superhot ; The most innovative shooter I've played in years...is still Splatoon. But Superhot is still great, an anti-Hotline Miami with the same focus on limited weapons, positioning, and quick kills for both you and enemies, but a hyper-minimalist style and strategic time-moves-when-you-move mechanics. The game throws you into all sorts of situations where you're basically forced to do cool shit just to survive, although a couple of the late levels feel like a slog of too many enemies. The story is a serviceable cyberpunk affair with transhumanist themes, although games that criticize the player for following the critical path without offering alternatives have officially gotten old as far as I'm concerned.

9. Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse ; I was only able to put a little time into this game, but everything I've seen was great. The very solid SMT IV foundation was improved by putting work into some half-assed mechanics, namely the Smirk system, which can now be much more actively managed and has a wider array of potential effects, and the partner system, which has been overhauled to give the player more control and behave less randomly. This is another conceptually weird SMT game, beginning in the endgame of the previous title, but at least here it seems obvious that the cost-saving from reusing lots of old sprites and models can explain it easily enough.

10. Star Fox Zero ; The gamepad gyro control system takes some getting used to, but once it clicks it feels good. (You don't have to actually look down at it very much.) A stylish nostalgia-fest to Star Fox 64, I again couldn't put as much time into it as I wanted, which is a shame. The best part of these games is mastery from repetition, and hopefully I'll be able to master these cool levels later.

Honorable Mentions

x. Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past ; I just barely touched this one, just getting through the first dungeon. What I saw sure seemed full of that unmistakable Dragon Quest charm.

x. Super Mario Run ; A nice little Mario game. As usual, beating the level is pretty easy most of the time, and the challenge comes from finding all the secret items. Even pink coins are sometimes tricky to get, and the black coins are some downright evil motherfuckers. I do wish there were more unique environments and enemies, and maybe even some kind of story explanation for why Mario can't stop running now.

x. Tadpole Treble ; A charming little indie game, with basic rhythm mechanic and nice music. Chiptune Lagoon, full of 8-but Duck Hunt ducks, is a personal favorite level. I feel like the final boss needed to make it clearer what you're supposed to do, though.

Mass Effect

Apr 24, 2011
1. Ratchet & Clank ; I've played R&C games before, one on the PS2 (I forgot which one) and A Crack in Time, which I absolutely loved. But this re-imagining of the original even surpasses ACiT in my view. And it is by far one of the best looking games of this generation so far.

2. Overwatch ; Honestly, I wasn't really looking at this game much at all until two things happened: a couple of my friends wouldn't stop bothering me about it and then the public beta came out. Got it at launch and played it pretty much weekly for the entire year. I'm only just now taking a break from the game after the whole Holiday event. I'm not going to write a whole long thing about it because at this point you know what the game is about. And for me, it's right up my alley.

3. Gravity Rush Remastered ; One of the few games I wanted to play on the Vita, but it made its way to PS4, and I'm so glad it did. First of all, it looks so much better graphically. And the game is oozing with style from top to bottom. Not only that, but it controls better as well. The game is insanely fun and extremely refreshing. Kat's gravity powers made the world always fun to explore; it never felt like a chore. Speaking of, Kat is just absolutely adorable and one of the best video game protagonists we've gotten in a long time. I'm really glad this game got a sequel. It really deserves it.

4. Hyper Light Drifter ; Literally waited for this game since the first time they ever showed it. It was worth it.

5. Battlefield 1 ; I'm a Battlefield fan, simple as.

6. Pokemon GO ; I'm only putting this on the list because I'm a big Pokemon fan and the whole craze was a once in a lifetime thing. I doubt we'll see something like Go again for a long time. The game itself wasn't particularly amazing though.

Yeah, my list is short because I really haven't played a lot of games that released this year. I've been doing a lot of catch-up with older games. There are some games I KNOW would make it on the list if I had played them in 2016 (UC4, TLG, FH3, Gears 4, The Witness, Sun/Moon, Fire Emblem, etc.), but that's just how it goes sometimes. Don't always have the time or money for them all.
Dec 7, 2008
1. Doom ; Honestly, half of why I love this is because of how great if feels to control. One of the first things I noticed was just how much faster and smoother even your walk speed is compared to other modern FPS games, and the game's super shotgun is honesty one the most impactful feeling weapons I've ever used. The other half comes from the level design full of secrets and the great enemy variety and their distinct behaviors.

2. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided ; It certainly has its flaws (mainly the small-scale plot and the lack of more than one main hub, which kept it from my top spot) but there's still tons of reactivity and different augments to use, and Prague is dense with detail.

3. Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest ; They fixed my biggest problem with Awakening but the characters and music were worse.

4. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End ; Chapters 8 and 9 were amazing, and had the rest of the game kept up that quality and pace, this legitimately would have been one of my all-time favorite games (...but it doesn't, it drags on too long, and has some terrible end game sections that killed my interest in replaying this). It certainly *looks* incredible though.

5. Furi ; I love how this challenges you to learn the boss patterns to succeed, and that true final boss was intense.

6. Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright ; The mission design wasn't as good as Conquest's but I liked the Hoshidan cast better.

7. Ratchet and Clank ;

8. Overwatch ;

9. Dishonored 2 ; I wanted to like this more, but playing stealth required too much save scumming for me, and the load times (on PS4 at least) were too long for that. But there's some great ideas for levels here (e.g. that last section of Chapter 4!).
Apr 7, 2014
1. The Witness ; A game that expertly combines teaching a player game mechanics with exploration. Many developers attempt to do both of those things, but they usually come off as unnatural or lame. The people behind this game knew exactly what they were doing though.

2. Inside ; I thought Limbo was it. I thought there was never going back and recreating the magic of Playdead's haunting side scrolling boy, but somehow they made everything creepier, everything more meaningful, everything more thought provoking, everything more memorable. I wish the puzzles would've been tougher, but it was fantastic.

3. Odin Sphere Leifthrasir ; Vanillaware is absolutely my favorite developer at this point. The new version of Odin Sphere has just absolutely fantastic beat 'em up gameplay with their jaw dropping brand of visuals. Every new spell was a treat. Every new recipe was a treat, sometimes literally.

4. Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA X ; I have no idea what it is about these games, but every time I pick up a new one it sends my straight into an obsession with my new pack of synthesized, anime-ass singing buddies. The songs are as catchy as ever and the new structure added a different feel that I appreciated, even if others were turned off.

5. Ratchet & Clank ; The best third person shooter series of all time making its return to form on new PS4, for 40 bucks?! Uh, yeah, we in there. While the game lacked much of a coherent story and a bit of an over reliance on tired characters and their most basic interactions, I can't deny that the fun of shooting shit with silly weapons on alien worlds is more than enough for me to get on board for hopefully what is the next big wave of R&C games.

6. Severed ; A great combo of dungeon crawling and touch screen combat

7. Gravity Rush Remastered ; Eh, I played it back in 2012 and pretty much every year since then so I'm really in no position to vote for it, but whatever. It's Gravity Rush, it's fucking awesome, and everyone should play it, so I'm throwing it on the end here even though it's the best of these seven. Of all the whimsical games I've played in my day, this is by far the whimsicaliest. You get, quite literally, dropped into an intriguing world with one of the most refreshing pair of characters in recent memory: Dusty and Kat. The music, the traversal, the sprites, the adventure... oooff, so good. See you next year to put Gravity Rush 2 on my list.


Jul 27, 2013
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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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.
You skipped number three.


Batteries the CRISIS!
Nov 19, 2005
Northeast Ohio
1. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare ; Infinity Ward made a love letter to Battlestar Galactica and Wing Commander in one stroke, and I adore them for it. This is the first Call of Duty I've ever bought, and it's because they seemed to be doing things that Star Citizen is trying to achieve on a larger scale — things like zero-G combat, leaving one ship's local physics grid and leaving another's, and blending fighter combat with FPS combat. They did a great job getting all those gameplay elements to work, and combined with an exhilerating series of plot beats, I had a blast playing this campaign. The fighter combat was arcadey, but that's OK, they did it to be accessible and it was still fun. I really enjoyed getting to choose my own missions, too. I know this game didn't sell well compared with previous CoDs, but I really hope IW makes another one like this — set in space, combining fighter pew-pews with FPS pew-pews, providing even more choices for mission selection. I'll be there day one (again).

2. Doom ; I'm stunned they returned Doom to form in 2016. Everything just seems so right. I mean, this is the way a Doom game is supposed to be! Expansive, maze-like levels with keys and switches, secret areas with body armor and new weapons, and of course hordes of threatening demons. I love how fast and fluid the movement is, I love going in for a brutal melee kill, I love swapping weapons on the fly to take out different enemies of varying strengths — it all combines to make me feel like a badass, and that's what a Doom should evoke, damnit. I feel like it took balls for id Software to make a game like this today, and I'm glad they did.

3. Shantae: Half-Genie Hero ; I actually like that transformations are back, even if the pirate items from the previous game are technically more streamlined ... they just feel more like what Shantae is supposed to be. Unfortunately, this game throws away another Shantae staple, dungeons with maps and keys. Instead there are somewhat standard platforming levels, albeit loaded with secrets and able to revisited. They're fun, but not the same ... I miss those dungeons. The music hits new series heights with this game — wow do songs get stuck in my head for days. I think the art style is a slight downgrade from the previous two games but it nonetheless captures the characters' personalities and is super cute. Like Pirate's Curse, this game throws a couple extremely difficult challenges at you at the end of the game, and I wasn't happy about them, but they weren't AGONIZING like Pirate's Curse, and for that reason alone I've gotta put it ahead of the previous title. Otherwise, I found Pirate's Curse to be a better game up until the end.

4. Shantae and the Pirate's Curse ; I love the platforming gameplay, I love the dungeons filled with keys and puzzles and enemies, I love the funny script and the charm oozing from the whole product. The music is great, the plot has the best flow of the series and the pirate items give Shantae's gameplay the smoothest flow it's ever had. It's such a good game, but it's tainted in my mind by its insanely difficult final castle leading up the last boss. The challenge areas going up the tower are so maddeningly hard that it kinda ruined my whole experience with the game despite enjoying everything leading up to them. It's such a shame that the designers would do this to their own game. When I have to retry a section more than 30 times — THIRTY-THREE FUCKING RETRIES TO GLIDE PAST ALL THOSE SPIKES — and then multiple areas require that many retries from me, there's no way I can come away from the experience very happy. It's only on the merits of everything in the game leading up to that final castle that I rank Pirate's Curse this high.

5. Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA X ; I like Sega's attempt at a story mode for this rhythm game, even if it's a bit nonsensical. Still gives a sense of added purpose to what's essentially an exercise in unlocking songs by playing songs. The make-your-own-concert mode is really cool. Lots of great costumes, as is a tradition with this series. I appreciate the manageable difficulty, too, as opposed to some harder Hatsune entries.

6. Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 ; I got absolutely engrossed in this game, so that's gotta say something for it. So many costumes to buy, but then you have to manage your time throughout each girl's vacation — do you waste a slot of the day on taking photos, or do you risk playing a tough volleyball game to potentially make a ton of cash? Perhaps it's best to just do rock climbing for easy money instead. ...The game technically is a bit lazy considering much of it is recycled from previous DOAXes but the new models and the "soft engine" physics look fantastic. I just wish the damn casino games weren't so frustrating — and necessary.

7. Pokkén Tournament ; A surprisingly fun fighting game with a unique perspective-switching mechanic. And it came with a single-player story mode to boot, imagine that! It's repetitive, but hey, at least it was there at launch. It's a surreal thrill to control Pokémon in a fighting game like this ... I just wish the roster were a bit larger.

8. Street Fighter V ; The fighting itself is fun and the characters and environments look great, yes, but as a casual fighting game player, I need something to do besides a damn training mode and a weak excuse for a story mode. We eventually got one, but c'mon, the game was launched too soon, and that early launch wasn't worth it just to give it to the pro players in time for EVO or whatever. They could have had it for next season. And where the hell is the damn arcade mode?!

9. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan ; Not one of Platinum's best, but still a lot of fun when cooperating with friends. Feels like the spiritual successor to MadWorld, but with a lot more pizza munching. Level design leaves something to be desired but the bosses provide some good challenge — and some good fanservice.

10. Let It Die ; I'd rather Grasshopper Manufacture have given us another wacky single-player story-driven game, but this wacky somewhat-multiplayer microtransaction-driven game will have to do for now. Still has that signature Grasshopper combat and visceral gore, but I feel like the game is a bit too dour and humorless, especially relative to this studio's previous games.

x. Mini Mario & Friends: Amiibo Challenge ; A fun little game, if limited in scope. I liked that it gave me an opportunity to use all my Amiibos for something somewhat worthwhile, and that each character had a unique ability. It's challenging but never too difficult to figure out the puzzles, which I always appreciate.

A dishonorable mention goes to StarFox Zero — or, more specifically, to Shigeru Miyamoto for ruining what would have been the first proper StarFox in more than a decade with that absolute mess of a control scheme. Why did he not realize how confusing and frustrating that setup is? Why did he have to try to justify the stupid GamePad's existence, and why did he have to use StarFox to do it? I love the StarFox series — this game would have been high on my rankings if I could control it worth a damn. But instead of being fun, it's nothing but an exercise in frustration. What a massive disappointment. Retire already, Miyamoto, before you ruin something else.

Out 1

Apr 21, 2012
1. Inside ; A masterpiece that reminded me why I play videogames.
2. Titanfall 2 ; A fps game that gave me a choice not to kill people.
3. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End ; A surprisingly restrained summer blockbuster.
4. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
5. Doom
6. Battlefield 1
7. No Man's Sky
8. Overwatch
9. The Witcher III: Wild Hunt - Blood and Wine
10. Firewatch


relies on auto-aim
Jan 21, 2008
Southern California
1. XCOM 2 ; An early drop for the year, but what a game right out for the gate, plus workshop support, and now Long War 2 being out for free completely revamps the game to feel like it really should. An absolute incredible title.
2. Doom ; surprising for everyone, but I didn't get around until late
3. Overwatch ; TF2 replacement for playing with friends, but I feel it's just about worn it's welcome this late in the year. Still a very solid effort from Blizzard.
4. Dragon's Dogma ; it was on the list twice as a PC release I guess? Oh 1/15... Feels so long ago, but what cool systems this game has. Lovely to see this kind of stuff.
5. Superhot ; This game in VR I'd honestly something special. The should be more, and more like the base have, but man is it GOOD.
6. Darkest Dungeon ; Scratched my permanent death tactical squad itch and more DLC coming very soon

x. The Witcher III: Wild Hunt - Blood and Wine ; didn't get to
x. Furi ; only at second fight
x. Thumper ; didn't get to
x. Inside ; didn't think I wanted to post, then did, then spoiled myself. Probably will go through it anyway.
x. Devil Daggers ; actually played a tiny bit and love the idea and designs, both gameplay and artistic


Oct 7, 2008
Ithaca, NY
1. Tom Clancy's The Division ; The Division has and always will be a co-op game for me, and at this point in my life, co-op is king. Socializing, maintaining bonds, and touching base with friends through gaming is so important to me and any game that facilitates that earns my adoration. For the last two years it was Destiny, and much like Destiny, despite its flaws The Division facilitated a shit ton of hours of fun with friends. Prior to the Survival update, I think The Division would be toward the bottom of this list, but my god has Survival been a revelation. This mode is the raid they have been desperatly trying to fabricate. Incursions have been disapointing to say the least. However, the way my friends and I have beat our heads against Survival modes has been special. The intensity, the focus, the communication and the incredible feeling of finally extracting has been substantial. The Division lacks in end game, but playing the main game up to level 30 and Survival mode with a good group of friends is something distinctive and worthy of the number one spot.

2. Inside ; It was a genuinely difficult decision to place this at number two instead of one. But again, co-op is king. Despite that, Inside leaps to the top of my list even against standout single player campaigns like Titanfall 2 and Battlefield 1. I loved Limbo, but Inside absolutely floored me. I played it in a single sitting and the complete experience was profound. In addition to the fact that the character's profile reminds me of my own 1 year old son (making every death especially shocking), the art direction, lighting, atmosphere and story arch are unbelievably well executed. Everyone expects a sequel or second offering from a content creator to be better than the last, but Inside surpassed every expectation, and this game was hyped to me big time. I will never forget that final act. I felt simultaneously empowered, shocked, disturbed and excited. One of the best endings to a game in ages.

3. Ratchet & Clank ; Fuck yes. They nailed it. As someone who played a few Ratchet and Clank games back on PS2 I knew I would enjoy this game but I did not expect how perfectly distilled it was. The very proposition of basing a game on a movie based on a game was so perfect for the themes of the franchise. I haven't even replayed the game on my Pro yet, but the visuals during the first two no-pro playthroughs were incredible. It isn't about an IQ dick measuring contest, it is about continuity. Everything about this game works in unison. The graphics enhance the Pixar like narrative. The story beats feel like a movie. The gameplay is familiar but satisfying across multiple play throughs. Nothing makes me happier than having a Ratchet and Clank game on my GOTY list in 2016. This game earns it with ease and sets a benchmark of what any reboot should aspire too. This game is both a worthy addition to the franchise for die hard fans as well as a perfect introduction to the series. That is a difficult line to toe.

4. Absolute Drift: Zen Edition ; This is a game that was already available on PC but I only became exposed to through the PS4 release this year. This is one of the few games that deserve the word, "Zen" in their title. The steep learning curve of proper drifting lends itself to a wonderfully rewarding sensation of finally "getting it." When you can make your car dance with throttle inputs alone, you get to appreciate how god damn perfectly tuned this game is. It isn't a sim but it isn't a shitty arcade racer, it stands on its own and holy hell is it satisfying to perfectly combo an entire run.

5. Hitman ; This is the first game where watching it can not only equal but exceed the pleasures of playing it. Hitman is a fantastic game that I keep coming back too despite being late to the party. However, its vicarious enjoyment is off the charts. Between Idle Thumbs and Giant Bomb, this game has brought me so much joy without even holding the controller. The Giant Bomb holiday run with Vinny is legendary already. I laugh just thinking about the many different insane moments. This game lends to that social interaction and I love it for it. Please, more Hitman. Everyone benefits from it.

6. Titanfall 2 ; Didn't give a shit about Titanfall 1, didn't give a shit about Titanfall 2, but once everyone started praising its campaign I had to bite. The multiplayer isn't for me, but the campaign carries this game alone. When you see people start throwing around, "Half-Life" it is understandable to be skeptical. Yet, the single player campaign of this game is the most Half-Life experience I have had in a FPS campaigns since HL2. It surprised me, it didn't overstay its welcome and it remains memorable despite being one of a near infinite amount of military shooters you can play on consoles.

7. The Witness ; I still need to finish this game, but my time with it so far has been special. I can't remember the last time I had to make physical diagrams and notes to advance in a game. The island still feels like an infinite source of potential to me. The mystery, art direction and brilliant execution and design of the puzzles make it a must play for anyone who enjoy's having their brain challenged.

8. FIFA 17 ; Despite playing a FIFA game every year, I have never included one on my GOTY list. The reason FIFA 17 deserves recognition is the newly added Journey mode. It was a much needed shot to the offline modes of FIFA. Ultimate league is king in the FIFA world, but if you are like me and despise it, there hasn't been much in the way of innovation. As a Manchester United fan, I obviously chose to have Alex Hunter pursue a career with the Red Devils. What I didn't expect, was to actually conflate reality with gaming. There were weeekends where I expected to see Alex Hunter walk on the pitch on NBC Sports. It was a lot of fun and it is a much needed shot of adrenaline to the franchise. Now we just need co-op PvE seasons.

9. Alienation ; I feel like this game did not get nearly enough love. For the Destiny and Division players, it was the perfect diversion, just like Hell Divers the year before. The action is quick, satisfying and visually stunning. It isn't going to be a game you continue to come back to for end game content like a Destiny, but playing with friends though the man leveling up arch was incredibly fun.

10. Abzû ; It's Journey, but under water. That may seem like a reductive asssement but for me it is high praise. The moments that set this game apart from not only Journey but other games on the market were the exploration of the ocean. It is incredibly rare when you think about it. The moments where you swim into a new area and you look down into a deep dark abyss...it made me weak in the knees. The ocean is vast, scary, and yet magnificently beautiful. Abzu captures all of that. Also, +10 points for letting me swim side by side with a Giant Squid, the creature I am equally parts fascinated and terrified by.

x. Doom ; I only played the first few rooms, and it felt amazing but unfortunately I did not find the time to play through this game before the dead line. I don't doubt for a second it would be on my top 10 if I committed more time.
x. Overcooked ; Wild co-op fun but the offline only co-op features dramatically hinder my ability to enjoy this game with friends. We seldom have the option to play it in person, but when we do, we love it. All of us wouldn't bat an eye to pay for the game again just to unlock online co op.
x. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End ; I love this franchise and I think this is probably the second best game in the franchise. But, despite the new directions this game went, and the unrivaled quality of story telling and visuals, it was familiar and the combat was more of a road block than an experience enhancer.


Feb 5, 2008
1. Ratchet & Clank ; After years of random mediocre spinoffs, they finally released another real Ratchet game. It really blew me away; it was my first PS4 platinum trophy. I'm glad this series isn't dead.
2. Uncharted 4
3. Stardew Valley
4. Titanfall 2
6. Amplitude
7. Forza Horizon 3
8. Thumper
9. Rez Infinite
10. No Man's Sky


Jan 6, 2014
1. Total War: Warhammer ; Waaagh! No other game in 2016 consumed me so utterly. It is a grand improvement on previous Total Wars, with superbly balanced gameplay and an utterly enthralling campaign. I never expected to like it so much, but here we are.
2. Stardew Valley ; It is pure fun. ConcernedApe didn't resurrect a classic, he revolutionised it.
3. Stellaris ; This is, no joke, a game I've been dreaming of for years--a sci-fi (strategy) game with the ambition to include everything. Though it could have been better at launch, I have had a lot of fun with it, and am truly excited to see where Paradox takes it in 2017 and beyond.
4. XCOM 2 ; In spite of the technical issues, XCOM 2 is as tense and thrilling as ever, managing to improve on the first entry's perfection to deliver an even better game. Firaxis' and Jake Solomon's understanding of XCOM never ceases to impress me.
5. Grim Dawn ; The Diablo 2 successor I've always been waiting for. It innovates and imitates just right to deliver the best ARPG I've played since the one that started it all--D2. I was skeptical before I played it (and even refunded it months ago) before it finally clicked with me. Now I'm a true believer.
6. Tyranny ; An utterly compelling RPG, with a glimpse into a fascinating-yet-terrifying world. Obsidian knocked it out of the park again, delivering a setting that I just can't get enough of. I twirl my staff in praise.
7. Dragon's Dogma ; As much as most CRPGs try, DDDA is the closest to delivering a true D&D-like experience. It is filled with adventure, mystery, and terrifying action in a way that few other games even dare to imagine. It would be a truly legendary game if only it had some better progression balance.
8. Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 ; Some technical problems brought this game down a few rungs, but I just can't resist Dragonball. Like DBXV1 before it, it hits my nostalgia bone while also being a good game. A dangerous combination.
9. Overwatch ; I'm conflicted on this one. At times it drives me up the wall, while also giving me great happiness. More than any other game this year, it has been one of highs and lows. But its unending style and heart have ultimately won me over... Yes, I am with you.
10. Darkest Dungeon ; It is difficult to forget, and a bit of a nightmare at times, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Honorable Mentions
x. Shardlight ; I appreciate the concept more than the execution. Nonetheless, it's always fun to play another Wadjet Eye adventure.
x. Hitman ; I haven't dug into it very deep, but what I've seen I like a lot.


Apr 3, 2016
1.The Witcher III: Wild Hunt - Blood and Wine ; I feel bad for othes games in my GOTY list for this, but even as DLC I can't take it as anything else but a new full game.
And it's the absolute best I got to play last year. Even with DLC, CDPR never lost sight of what's important. Making a great game.
2. XCOM 2 ; Not even the plethora of technical problems at launch and well beyond could ruin this for me. Very exciting to meet all those new enemy types, so many "holy shit" moments on Iron Man run. Added turn limits for missions made me play with more variety of tactics, instead of just camping with snipers.
3. Deus Ex: Mankind Devided ; While I wasn't as impressed as I was with Human Revolution, I think this sequel improved on many fronts. To me the game told a self-contained story, but left something even bigger hanging in the air. Please let the franchise continue.
4. Firewatch ; Not sure if any game has ever felt as real to me. Voice acting and writing were so frigging good, very mature storytelling. The game made excellent job in making me feel the emotions Henry went through.
5. Inside ; Confusing but satisfying. It left me thinking and the atmosphere was great through the game. Also the quality of animations for such a small game were amazing.
6. Tom Clancy's The Division ; Took a few sick days to play this with two of my friends and it was worth it. Played from morning till the night. The game was a bit rough around the edges, but the developers have been hard at work improving the game while listening to player feedback.
7. Mafia III ; While not as good as I hoped, still very memorable experience. Gunplay, driving and melee finishers are all satisfying. But what truly shines in this game are the characters and storytelling. Also showing the racism of the time period without any sugar coating was both bold and important.
8. Batman: The Telltale Series ; Some nice twists to Batman stories, also stars my favorite Catwoman after Michelle Pfeiffer.
9. Hitman ; Glorious return of Agent 47. I think the episodic nature worked in it's favor. I haven't finished the game yet, if I did I would be more comfortable to maybe rank it higher on my list.
10. Clash Royale ; I'm surprised myself to see a mobile game on my GOTY list. The game fits perfectly on the platform and has nice amount of depth despite being "just" a F2P mobile game.

Honorable mentions:
Dishonored 2 and Doom, with my very limited time with these titles I can't put them on my list. While I feel that they probably should be. Also played Overwatch on beta and free weekends a lot. So I can appreciate it, while not really my kind of game. Also with more time and energy, I could have played titles like Tyranny, Oxenfree and Civ 6. What a great year for games once again.


Mar 30, 2009
I didn't play much more than ten new games this year, so this is more of ranking of the games I played rather than a list of ten great games.

1. Xanadu Next ; People always talked about Xanadu Next being a mix of Ys and Diablo, but it's really more Vagrant Story than anything else, I feel. It the two share a similar visual style and a similar overall premise, with some common gameplay elements. Xanadu Next comes out on top mechanically, though. All the game's systems work especially well with each other. Powering up guardians, learning skills from weapons, finding new magic - all these elements lead to combat that feels addicting and rewarding. You continually learn new techniques to expand your repertoire, keeping combat fresh throughout. Gameplay never gets especially complex or deep, rather, Xanadu Next relishes its relative combat simplicity.

One thing I really appreciated about Xanadu Next was its storytelling style. The game does not beat the player over the head with exposition and explanations. In fact, much of the game's narrative is not told through dialogue, but instead through Tablets/Memoirs you find throughout the game. Getting parts of Xanadu's story from both a dry history perspective and parts from a personal character perspective is a bit fascinating. Not only was I having so much fun exploring the world and fighting monsters. I wanted to find more pieces of the story to put them together in my head. Xanadu Next is a treat - a well-crafted package that blends addictive combat, fun progression systems, pleasant exploration, great music & atmosphere along with a compelling story that doesn't get in the way. The whole experience is simply delightfully satisfying.

2. Shin Megami Tensei 4: Apocalypse ; Shin Megami Tensei IV was my personal GOTY back in 2013, but I there were a number of niggling issues that, while they didn't dramatically affect my enjoyment of that game, were things that brought down the quality of an excellent title. The developers obviously heard some of the criticisms and took them to heart, because Apocalypse basically addresses each one of them. Monsters don't chase you endlessly, the world map is easier to navigate with widened roads, some Apps were added to streamline enemy encounters, the Smirk system was tweaked for the better, the Ally system was expanded for the better, the game really make so many small but significantly quality-of-life improvements that really strengthen Atlus's offering here. The fusion and battle systems are as good as ever, which are mainly what pushes Apocalypse to this spot in the list, although it may be a bit on the easy side. I also feel that the world map might have been ”over-streamlined" as there is much less room to just wander and explore like in the original SMT IV.

I wasn't a huge fan on SMT IV's story or character elements. They were good enough to carry the game, but nothing that stood out from most of the medium. Apocalypse doesn't get much better here, sadly. I do give it props that companion characters weren't just relegated to Law/Neutral/Chaos ciphers again, giving them a modicum of flexibility, but on average they still aren't very compelling. I did like the character of Hallelujah (despite the silly name) as he kind a felt like his reactions to events in the game mimicked my own. I also think the English voice acting was, for the most part, pretty great.

Heh, I guess I feel like I criticized Apocalypse a fair amount, but the combat is really what makes these games for me. I feel like no other turn-based systems allow for as much player agency and flexibility that SMT does, and that's something I value greatly.

3. Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest ; If I had to pick one series as my ‘favorite' overall video game series, it would probably have to be Fire Emblem. However, Awakening really left a sour taste for me. The pair-up system felt poorly balanced, easily abused, and really no fun at all to play. The maps were mostly lifeless open-fields. The world map felt cluttered and crowded and extraneous. The supports were cookie-cutter, the characters were walking clichés, the story was nothing. I was afraid Fire Emblem might have ”lost me".

Turns out, not completely. The Conquest version of Fates completely turned around my outlook for this series, at least for now. Before the NA release, I had heard from importers that some of the maps were some of the best the series' had to offer. I was skeptical this might just be exaggeration, but now I have to agree – Conquest has several phenomenal maps. From enemy/reinforcement placement, to objective variety, to map gimmicks, to size variety – I was honestly surprised what was offered here. Further, the pair-up system has been tweaked significantly, to the point that making the decision whether or not to pair up actually holds some strategy now. I guess they weren't exactly bluffing when they said Conquest was more for series' veterans looking for a little bit more of a challenge. To be quite honest, the change in weapon durability is a wash for me. I never minded the old system, but adding some stat modifiers to balance out infinite-use weapons works. I don't prefer one or the other.

Unfortunately, the narrative and characters are pretty much universally awful. While Fire Emblem is not a bastion of great writing, I felt that the Tellius games had some semblance of coherence and intrigue, but now there's nothing. Oh well.

4. Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past ; Not long ago I had minimal experience with Dragon Quest, having only played DQ8 on the PlayStation 2. When DQ7 (and DQ8) were announced late in 2015, I decided to finally catch up with this series, and DQ7 was the last stop on the marathon.

Dragon Quest VII was a bit different than I expected. Instead of focusing on a singular overarching central narrative, DQ7 instead features a vignette-style approach to its story elements. Rather than intimate character focus being given to the playable party, the game instead places more emphasis on the game's many NPCs. That's not to say the playable characters don't have their own sympathies and personalities, more that DQ7's story isn't really about them. It's about the normal, everyday people met along the way. And honestly, I thought that was really cool. Dragon Quest VII is a leisurely adventure full of memorable vignettes and locations. While it is very much a classic turn-based RPG, the style and tone of the game's narrative is something not often seen within the genre. That alone gives it a lot of points for me.

I'm always been fond of class systems, and DQ7 is no different. While the game is not especially difficult, there was a time or two I had to reconfigure my party set-up in order to take on certain boss monsters. I don't think this game excels in its direct combat, but it certainly works well enough.

5. Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate ; I'm not especially acquainted with rogue-likes. I've played a handful, but not enough to feel that I have a good grasp on what the genre has to offer. Shiren is of course at the top of known rogue-like quantities, and I felt I had to give this release a chance. And I liked it quite a bit.

First of all, this might be a little shallow, but I absolutely adore the sprite-style this game uses. I'm not smart enough to describe it properly or describe why it's so great, but this is certainly one of the best-looking games on Vita. It feels nostalgic in a way. Sprites are cool. More games need sprites.

Anyway, Shiren seems like it encapsulates all the good, and sometimes vexing, elements of the rogue-like genre. The level of randomness keeps things interesting, as you'll be retreading through floors more than a few times to gather items and upgrade your equipment. It can also be the source of frustration: you never know when you'll stumble onto a Monster Room, full of baddies and traps and you have no choice but to halt your progress and retreat lest you get killed. Sometimes you'll have lucky streaks where you find all the right items you were looking for, and at other times you just gotta roll with the punches - it's all part of the package.

The loot that Shiren finds is never certain either, and with limited inventory space, delegating what to leave, what to take, how to to organize your loot is something the player constantly has to manage. Shiren has to manage both his health as well as his hunger, so keeping healing items and food items in the inventory is critical. There are also dozens of various scrolls & charms that Shiren can collect which can significantly impact his time in the tower. Several dungeons also have a day/night system, in which nocturnal enemies are impervious to Shiren's katana. He has to use special magical abilities instead to vanquish the more dangerous nighttime creatures. These abilities encompass various types and magical attacks as well as protective buffs. There are so many small but significant factors embedded in Shiren's gameplay mechanics, which makes it somewhat tricky to mention everything. It's impressive how well the many elements synergize to create a rich, cohesive game.

All in all, Shiren is an exceptional and mechanically dense roguelike filled with many small pieces that fit together especially well. The synergy between the many various gameplay elements is remarkable and makes a very compelling package.

6. Stranger of Sword City ; The first thing you no doubt notice upon starting up Sword City is its wonderful art-style, illustrated by Yoko Tsukamoto. Artistically, it's one of the best styles I've come across, and it certainly heightened my interest in this game. While games like this don't have much in the way of animation or cutscenes, fantastic character art and other pieces throughout help greatly in its presentation. Despite some semi-interesting ideas, the story elements don't amount to too much, and mostly offer some base motivation and structure behind the rest of the game.

SoSC has the things one can expect from first person dungeon crawlers. After the opening sequences and creating a party, you set out to various labyrinthine dungeons in order to tackle the numerous monsters in the world. Each dungeon is navigated step-by-step on a grid, and your mini-map fills out as you explore the paths and rooms within. Map designs are quite adequate, with enough tricks and traps to keep the player on their toes. Warp points are scattered throughout, scarce enough to feel truly valuable when you find one, but not too much to be frustrating. The heart of combat lies in a typical class and race system, where the player constructs a party of warriors, mages, and clerics of various races. As is common with the genre, there is a fair amount of flexibility in how the party can be configured, but you always want to be sure to include a mix of heavy hitters and supporting characters. Proper party set up and preparation is key to finding success, just like in most games of this style. It's a tried-and-true system and works as well as ever.

Stranger of Sword City's most bizarre gameplay mechanic, however, is how character death is handled. In short, the penalty for character death is extremely high, almost humorously so. Any given character can have up to 3 'Life Points', and when they fall in battle, they lose one of these points. If all life points are removed, the character is gone for good. In order to regain life points, you either have to pay an exorbitant amount of cash, or have the character sit-out of the party for a number of battles. In a type of game where party coordination is key, the last thing you want to do is remove one of your characters for any amount of time - especially late in game. Additionally, the time needed to recoup is simply an annoyance; nobody wants to churn through a few dozen battles before getting your cleric back, for example. I ultimately decided to just load the most previous save whenever a character fell, as taking a second attempt against a boss or what-have-you turned out to be less of a hassle than dealing with the systems in place.

7. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided ; Deus Ex: Human Revolution was my introduction to the franchise, and I ultimately ended up really enjoying my time with it. I had to give Mankind Divided a shot. The level design was great! There were so many paths you could take to tackle most of the objective in the game. It was clear that this was a focus during developments. This alone is quite an accomplishment, and is what the game does best. I also generally had fun exploring Prague and just seeing were I could go, what I could sneak through, etc.

But, I wasn't especially enthralled by the setting, characters, story, or combat. It certainly wasn't poor, but it never really clicked together fully for me. It certainly didn't help that the game kinda just ends abruptly, building for a sequel.

8. Final Fantasy XV ; FF15 is a weird game. I haven't finished it yet, but I've put more hours into it than I care to admit. I generally like open world structures – they give me an opportunity to decide what I want to do and where I want to go. It's fun to just explore and see what's out there. Going into dangerous places and tackling enemies way above my level is always a thrill – that type of non-linear difficulty is something I appreciate. As weird as it seemed in the marketing phase, I kinda dug the ”Route 66" vibe to everything too, including the various southern style accents and some twangy music tracks. While it may not have fit the story or ”Final Fantasy" or whatnot, it felt unique enough to be interesting. The quest system isn't...good at all though.

I think some of the bros' interactions feel believable. However the story is nothing, and apparently it just craters in the latter half of the game I have yet to get to. I still probably will ultimately prefer this to Final Fantasy 13, because I like the flexibility the open world offers. In a nutshell, the parts of FF15 I do enjoy are similar to the reasons I adore FF12, but FF12 does all of that better.

9. Bravely Second: End Layer ; I wanted to really like Bravely Second. I felt that Bravely Default had placed a good foundation that if a sequel could shore up some of the infamous issues, it could be a solid title. While BS does improve on a few things and I think it's an okay follow-up, there are many missed opportunities that could have made this game much more than what it is.

I liked the characters, and I felt the cast was stronger this time around. Tiz works a lot better as a stoic party character than the main protagonist. Overall the interactions between the main 4 were enjoyable and often humorous. The narrative the characters find themselves in is nothing special though. Actually, even though I only played the game back in October, I don't recall much about what happens in the story. It failed to grasp my attention and memory, I suppose.

One thing that really bugged me about Bravely Default is the dungeon design. It was basically a walking simulator. Follow the path and collect the chests. Bravely Second didn't do much to address this. There was one new dungeon with some invisible walls that was kinda neat, but that's about it.

10. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE ; TMS#FE feels more like PS2-era console SMT games than I expected (never mind the fact that it is the first one since then...). It looks a lot like Persona, the dungeons remind me of Digital Devil Saga, and weapon fusing system felt a little like Nocturne and Magatama. The dungeon and loot system were the strongest parts of the game, certainly better than the more recent Persona games. I found TMS#FE's combat to be a prime example of style-over-substance, though.

The Session system was extremely disappointing. There's no preparation, no execution required. It literally happens right in front of you, every battle, with basically no input. You don't have to think about it, you don't have to plan anything. It just happens, and it sucks. Maybe more frustrating than that is that by the end of the game, the sessions start to significantly extend battle times. Every single attack can easily lead into a 6-session chain that takes ~15 seconds to proceed. I found myself checking Twitter or whatever as I waited. It's flashy, but that's all it is.

Also, the party characters have no subtlety or depth at all. Once you are introduced to any of them, ten seconds later, you literally already know everything about that character and everything they will amount to. The most interesting part of the story was the short but neat reimagining of Fire Emblem Shadow Dragon.


Nov 20, 2014
Time to sneak another ballet in just under the wire. Almost forgot to compile this list before going to bed (oops!)

1. Hyper Light Drifter; The tightest, most cohesive and enjoyable game I played in 2016. The atmosphere and music alone along with the art style would put this high on my list. Add in that fun, fast and challenging combat, Zelda-ish world layout, and a mysterious story told entirely through worldess cutscenes and environmental story-telling that really elevates this game into one I will remember for years to come. The monumental effort by Heart Machine to update the game to 60Hz only solidified this game in my #1 spot. Also the soundtrack is easily one of the best of 2016.

2. The Witness; I love The Witness. The art, the atmosphere, but especially the puzzles. It's rare a game so thoroughly rewards critical thinking in such a natural way through gameplay. Every section felt amazing to complete, and it's even more amazing that it was well paced despite taking more than 30 hours to get all 11 lasers and most of the environmental puzzles. The only real knock I have against it is just the story, which was a little too "up its own ass" and didn't feel well integrated into the rest of the game.

3. Doom; The Campaign was way, way better than it had any right to be. Even though it got a little rinse and repeat towards the end, an incredibly enjoyable ride that deserves to be lauded (and hopefully repeated in a kick-ass sequel). The MP was whatever, but I wouldn't mind the id guys also revisiting that for the sequel as well.

4. Battlefield 1; Might not be my favorite BF MP game to date, but a really solid effort that brings a fresh feeling to the series it hasn't had since the original. Will continue to play it throughout 2017 and possibly longer if we keep getting good content updates and balance patches.

5. No Man's Sky; Despite all of the controversy around the release of this game, the backlash after release, and the seeming litany of missing features and half-fulfilled promises, I still quite enjoyed No Man's Sky. Not a perfect game by a LOOOOOONG shot, but it ticked enough of the right boxes for me that I was able to get several hundred hours of enjoyment out of it. Still waiting on someone to do this concept just right, hopefully Astroneer succeeds where Hello Games stumbled.

6. Audioshield; My favorite VR game so far. Just fits the VR paradigm so well, and something I almost always fire up whenever I don the headset. Also a great workout on the highest difficulty.

7. Thumper; I've never taken much to rhythm games, but there's something so rewarding and almost primal about getting into a flow-state in this game. Haven't finished it yet, but really looking forward to hammering out the last few chapters. And I do mean hammering.

8. Inside; A beautifully put together game, and atmospheric as hell, just like its spiritual predecessor Limbo. But the actual puzzles weren't all that compelling until those last chapters, and that last part didn't last as long as I felt it could have.

9. Titanfall 2; Great campaign (though maybe a little shy of the hyperbole that it seems to get 'round these parts). Coming off of loving the MP in 1, just really couldn't get into the changes and lackluster maps in 2.

10. Uncharted 4; Visually gorgeous, and fun in places throughout much of the lengthy campaign, but some of the combat encounters either felt too much like rehashes or just rubbed me the wrong way. The pacing was all over the place with some of the flashbacks which kinda dragged down the story for me. Also the MP has strayed so far from the perfection that was U2 MP that I just can't be bothered even trying to get into it anymore.

Honorable Mentions
x. Abzû; Underwater Journey. Visually stunning and fairly well paced (though WAAAAY too many chain "puzzles"), but I don't think it will leave a lasting impression on me the same way Journey did.
x. Firewatch; An enjoyable one of "those" games. Felt like there could have been more there, and some of the story beats didn't really feel earned all that well. The art style alone was almost enough for it to make my list however.
x. Hitman; Plan to get into it in 2017, picked it up late last year and just haven't dug deep enough for it to make my list. Have enjoyed many hours of GB Hitman entertainment however :D
x. Overwatch; I don't know what it is about Blizzard games, but something makes me bounce off them hard after I've had my fill. I put about 30-40 hours into Overwatch, and I was completely done with the game. Could be the drip feed blind boxes, or the small player count compared to what I had become accustomed to in TF2. Whatever it is, I acknowledge the game's quality, but it's just not for me.
x. Planet Coaster; I really want to give this game more time than I did, but it's the type of game I have to be in the mood for, and it released during a super busy time of the year.

Wall of Shame
x. The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine; Didn't get to it in 2016, still desperately want to upgrade my system so I can crank the settings and really bask in the visual splendor of Toussaint. The Witcher deserves nothing less.


Jan 1, 2015
I played a lot of great games in 2016. I really enjoyed all of the games on this list, and there were tough cuts for me to make. There's also a lot of diversity on this list when it comes to genre and size, which says a good thing about the state the industry is in. And without further ado, here are my 'Top 10 Games of 2016'

A lot of times an honorable mention goes to a game that got cut from the list at the last minute. That's not true in this case. The Last Guardian is not a de facto number 11 on this list. It is a game that I really love but have yet to put enough time into to make a final decision on. I'm about 5 hours into the game, and it is everything I could want it to be. I love both of Ueda's previous games, and what I've seen of The Last Guardian stands with both of them. But because this is a game that I feel a personal connection to, I'm trying to only play it when I have a large chunk of uninterrupted time to do so. I don't want to rush through this game and have a lesser experience because of that. I also want to get away from the fact that this game even exists. I want to have conversations about The Last Guardian focused solely on its artistic merit. I don't want them to be focused around whether or not the game was "worth the wait", and I honestly don't want them to be focused on the technical aspects of the game either. Shadow of the Colossus is a masterpiece despite being a slideshow at points, and The Last Guardian is at the very least competent on a technical level. An honorable mention could not be more honorable than this one is, and I would not be surprised if it ends up being my number one or number 2 game of 2016 when all is said and done.

I played through both Banner Saga games this year and really enjoyed them. The music is evocative, the setting is awesome, the story is depressing, the characters are enjoyable, the choices are brutal, the presentation is beautiful, and the combat is fun. If a game hits all of those boxes, it's typically going to be a pretty great game. The Banner Saga 2 shows some clear improvements over its predecessor, and the main one comes in the form of the battles. The first game sort of threw you into battles for the sake of having you fight. Almost all of the battles in The Banner Saga 2 are contextualized within the narrative. Not only those this make the stakes higher, but it also allows for the environments surrounding the battlefield to be more realized. The game's biggest flaw is that it's the second game in a trilogy. The Banner Saga 2 ends in a way that makes me want to see what happens next, but the ending isn't very satisfying. The two caravans are equally interesting, and I especially liked Rook's character development in the game, but the story doesn't stick the landing. I'm hoping that the final entry can do so.

The most surprising thing about Titanfall 2 isn't that it's a great game but that the singleplayer is actually the best part. Each level in the Titanfall 2 campaign is amazing in its own unique way. They each introduce either new mechanics or new level design philosophies, but none of them feel like cheap gimmicks. Everything there works well with the core Titanfall mechanics that were already so fantastic. It's the type of fps campaign that I would like to see more of from the big names like Call of Duty and Battlefield. The multiplayer is also a lot of fun. It is not as good as the multiplayer in the original game, and this mainly comes down to map design. However, the movement and shooting both still feel really good and that goes a long way towards making up for the game's shortcomings in other areas. I also have to give some respect to any developer willing to support their game after launch free of charge. Titanfall 2 got off to a slow start sales wise, but I hope that good word of mouth can help carry the game. It's definitely not perfect, but there's a lot to like here.

Furi is a game I hadn't heard of until it launched. It landed on PlayStation Plus, and I figured I would download it and give it a shot. I'm glad I did because it's a really awesome game. In short, it's a boss rush game where I found most of the boss fights to be really good. When that's the one thing you're focused on you've kind of got to nail it, and I think The Game Bakers did in this case. Apart from the basic combat being a mechanically satisfying mix of character-action and bullet-hell, the bosses all have different concepts behind them. This may mean that if you like one style of play better you aren't going to like a couple of the bosses, but as somebody who enjoys both genres I found satisfaction with each fight. The game also does a good job of being difficult without being too punishing. If you get the parry mechanic down (which isn't too hard), you get a lot of chances to refill your health during fights. I also think the way the health bars work in increments is really smart. It allows you to not get entirely fucked over if you can keep reaching new phases, but it also doesn't allow you to brute force your way through every section. Furi is a stylish game that I had fun playing through multiple times.

I'm still trying to figure out what it is about Bound that resonates with me so much. I can empathize with a lot of its main themes, but none of them relate to me personally. I don't know, maybe I just like pretty things with nice music. If that's the case, then I absolutely get why I would like Bound so much. The visuals are surreal, the music is relaxing, and the character animations are some of the best I've ever seen. Bound is a game that kept me engaged for the entirety of its short run time, and I felt completely satisfied when it was finished. It's by no means the most complex game mechanically in the world, and it doesn't have any sort of revolutionary narrative. I just simply enjoyed dancing through this surrealist world and learning more about this girl's troubled family life. If the typical 'art game' is something that appeals to you personally, than I definitely suggest that you give Bound a shot. I have issues with a lot of popular games in that genre, but I think Bound absolutely nails what it is going for.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown welcomed a lot of new people into the long-running series (including myself), and XCOM 2 told a lot of those people to fuck off. This game is brutally difficult in a way that I never thought its predecessor was. The mission timers are the biggest reason for this, not allowing the turtling strategy that myself and plenty of others exploited in Enemy Unknown. It also made me use a lot of different soldiers because my main guys kept getting injured. Thankfully, the improved skill trees helped differentiate them a little more. To stop beating around the bush and cut to the chase; I got a game over at one point during XCOM 2... on normal difficulty. I played a hundred hours of Enemy Unknown on multiple difficulties and never got anywhere close to losing. Some may call XCOM 2 a cruel mistress, but losing my colonels is the only way I can feel anything anymore.

Videogame endings are notoriously horrible. And franchise endings? First of all, I'm not sure that those even exist, and if they did I'm sure they wouldn't be very good. Uncharted 4 is an achievement in this regard. Naughty Dog did what other developers are afraid or not allowed to do and called it quits on the 'Face of PlayStation'. And they sent Nathan Drake out with a bang. The action is much improved from the previous games, and I found the pacing to be a nice break from the norm. The personal stories of Nate and his friends and family, the typical narrative of trying to beat Rafe to the treasure, and the background tale of Henry Avery and the lost colony of Libertalia are all super well told and engaging. And while this has become a given by now, the visual design and performances in this Naughty Dog game are pretty damn good. I don't want Naughty Dog to ever make another game starring Nathan Drake, and I'm a bit nervous about The Lost Legacy. Uncharted 4 was the send-off this series and this character deserved after nine years of mass murder.

Overwatch was nowhere on my radar when the year started. I've never been a big Blizzard fan or a big Team Fortress fan. But I decided to try one of the open betas that ran, and I was super impressed. I immediately got what all the talk was about. A lot has been made about how different the characters personalities are, and I think that's great. However, I'm super impressed at what they have done on a mechanical level. They put out a game with over twenty characters, and all of them are fun to play (except Symmetra. Fuck Symmerta). What makes them fun is that everything works the way you think it should work. The example I like to use for this is Reinhardt's charge. That's sort of a weird thing to include in a shooter. It has to pull the camera out in to third person for one player, make another player feel like they're caught and being pushed, and make all of this look reasonable to the other players in the game. The fact that they managed to pull this off in a first person shooter is kind of remarkable. A lot of comparisons to Team Fortress have been made and rightfully so, but those games don't have anything nearly as crazy as that. But everything from the visual design to the audio design makes a chaotic match readable from a first person perspective. That's something that deserves more recognition it probably gets.

Hitman has absolutely no right to be as good as it is. A franchise that was on the ropes in terms of both quality and sales mixed with a business model that was both irregular and changed at the last second was a recipe for disaster. However, the developers at IO Interactive somehow managed to pull it off. Not only is Hitman a great game, but it makes a case for an entire model of distribution better than any other game has. Using the episodic model to continuously release complex levels with a ton of built-in replayability is such a good idea that it's surprising nobody thought about it sooner. In any other Hitman game I would have played through each level once than put it on the shelf. But in this game I'm trying to go for level 20 mastery on each one. It helps that most of the levels are incredibly well designed with a bunch of fun and absolutely absurd ways to kill targets. The always stressful elusive targets are another stroke of genius, showing Agent 47 just doing his regular job without all the global conspiracy stuff surrounding it. The all or nothing approach to them has led to some of my most triumphant and my most devastating moments playing a game this year.

DOOM is not a game I expected to be so high on this list or on this list at all at the start of the year. I figured that even if it turned out to be a good game that it wouldn't be one that spoke to me personally. Boy was I wrong. A lot of people are calling DOOM a great revival of the old Id games, and they're not entirely wrong. However, what DOOM does that's new to the genre is what really puts it ahead for me. The combat system that rewards not only movement but being in the middle of the battle brings new life to a genre that has been stale for a while now. The glory kills and gore nests do a great job at naturally putting the player in this situation. The aspects of which enemies to focus on and on which ones to use which weapons are fantastic too. It really is one of the most rewarding combat loops I've ever experienced in a game, and it's what makes DOOM great. It's not the only good thing about DOOM though. The story has a self-awareness that I can't help but smile at, specifically the "Testament of the Doomslayer" tablets that you find. DOOM is one of the best first person shooter campaigns ever made, and I have no idea how Id plans on topping it in the inevitable sequel. As the saying goes 'Rip and Tear'

The Witness is the best game of 2016. This is everything that modern puzzle games should strive to be. Taking a mechanic that's not only simple but is also a completely original concept and expanding it create an entire island worth of puzzles is remarkable. Learning new ways to interact with the puzzles as you go feels like learning a new language. The concepts are simple at first, but they are expanded upon and layered over each other in ways that really cause you to think. I'll put it this way; The Witness is the only game that made me cut out paper tetris pieces this year. But one of the great things about The Witness is that the difficulty never made me frustrated because of the open world design. The fact that I could give up and go to another part of the island was a big part of what kept me going through that game and not giving up when I got stuck. And that's not even mentioning the "+ puzzles" which make you look at the world in a whole other way. Oh, and that's another thing. The world is gorgeous. The Witness is an incredible game from top to bottom. It's not just the game of the year, but it's also the game of the generation so far.

Final List
1. The Witness ; The best puzzle game of the last decade
2. DOOM ; A unique take on first person shooters
3. Hitman ; The best case for episodic games
4. Overwatch ; A case study in player awareness
5. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End ; A fantastic send-off for Nathan Drake
6. XCOM 2 ; "Fuck you" the game
7. Bound ; An engrossing experience from start to finish
8. Furi ; A boss rush game with great boss fights
9. Titanfall 2 ; A varied singleplayer campaign and decent multiplayer
10. The Banner Saga 2 ; A great mid-point in what shaping up to be a fantastic trilogy
x. The Last Guardian ; Probably the second best game of the year.


Neo Member
Aug 16, 2013
1. The House in Fata Morgana ; One of the most poignant stories I have experienced in any medium, a true roller coaster of emotions that gripped me from beginning to end. The characters are very compelling and fleshed out, and the tale is well plotted and paced. I quite liked how the plot had a clear sense of where it was going and what it was trying to accomplish, resulting in a tightly-woven tale. The House in Fata Morgana also features very nicely drawn art in a style fitting the tone of the story, as well as excellent music which emphasizes the various emotions present in the story very well. Indeed, I consider the soundtrack of The House in Fata Morgana to be my OST of the year. This combination of great writing, illustration, and sound work in concert to create a game of shockingly high quality, that defies the stereotype of low-quality video game stories, and for that, The House in Fata Morgana is a game that I will remember for a very long time.

2. Fire Emblem Fates ; Speaking of the stereotype of poor video game stories, Fire Emblem Fates features the worst story that I have had the displeasure of experiencing in quite a while. From the ho-hum Birthright route, to the infuriatingly stupid Conquest route, to the bizarre Revelations route, it is truly remarkable that Intelligent Systems have somehow managed to write something worse than the disappointing Awakening.
Fortunately, the strategy gameplay of the Conquest route is everything that I had hoped for in a new Fire Emblem game, and the varied maps, objectives, and units are a breath of fresh air after Awakening. In particular, the Conquest route, with its various maps providing different challenges, as well as the need to carefully position units and manage experience, provide hard yet fair difficulty that forces you to think, not grind.
The rest of the package of Fire Emblem Fates is decent, with art and character designs that are pleasant enough as well as music that fits well with the gameplay. All is forgiven though, as the gameplay is such a well balanced and thought-out experience.
In fact, given that the strategy gameplay is so good, I consider Conquest to be not only one of the best Fire Emblem games, but also one of the best strategy games I have ever played.

3. Overwatch ; Never really thought I would be playing an FPS again, but Overwatch has drawn me in with its characters and gameplay in a way that I didn't think possible.

Honorable Mentions:
x. Stellaris ; Paradox's first try at the 4X genre is something that I put a great deal of time into, but I feel that the gameplay just doesn't hold up against Europa Universalis IV or Crusader Kings II. Admittedly, this comparison is a bit unfair due to the hefty post-launch support those games have received, but as it stands, Stellaris just doesn't have the content or gameplay that I sort of expect from a Paradox game. In particular, it has neither the breadth or depth of mechanics present in EU4, nor does it have the dizzying array of traits, events, and other roleplaying features of CK2. Nevertheless, Paradox's 4X game was enjoyable enough to warrant a spot on my list, and I hope that they can flesh out the gameplay in the coming years.

x. Hearts of Iron IV ; The other Paradox-developed game that I played this year has much of the same problems as Stellaris in that content is lacking, and the gameplay could be improved. In HOI4's case, the AI is not very good at all, which leads to a lack of challenge. Still something that I thought deserved some mention though.


Sep 4, 2007
1. Final Fantasy XV; After 10 years Finally got the open world JRPG I've been waiting for. Thoroughly enjoyed questing in the open world with the bros.
2. The Last Guardian; Lived up to my anticipation, breathtaking animations and setpieces combined with familiar Ueda motifs
3. DOOM; Such a joy to play. A throwback with modern twists and awesome strafing mechanics.
4. Titanfall 2; Kind of like The Last Guardian but with bad ass shooting and movement.
5. Uncharted 4; My favorite game I'm the series, amazing swan song and apology for 3.
6. Ratchet and Clank; First console game that achieves "Toy Story Graphics". Incredible entry in an underserved genre.
7. Battlefield 1
8. Street Fighter V
9. Pokémon Go
10. Paper Mario: Color Splash; Great dialog ie and a fun adventure, even if combat is kind of boring.


Aug 21, 2014
1. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End ; One last ride with Nathan Drake, how could it not be number one? This one has pretty much been set since before the game even came out if I'm honest. Just as Uncharted 2 and 3 were some of my top ten games of all time, this game too stands up above the competition and is in my top 5 games of all time. The game just delivers in so many ways, but special mention has to go to its phenomenal graphics. Naughty Dog delivers just as it always does.

2. Final Fantasy XV ; Oh boy, do I have a lot to say about Final Fantasy 15, I'll try to avoid spoilers but I suppose you should be warned just in case. I had no real expectations going into this game, I didn't even buy it myself, my brother did. I went into it being told online that it was in many respects a disaster. Full disclosure now, Final Fantasy 15 is one of my favorite games of all time and overtakes Kingdom Hearts BBs as my favorite Rpg of all time. It is also an impossible game. This game shouldn't exist. The idea that after ten years lying in development hell FF versus 13 would not only come out but stand on it's own as a masterpiece is quite frankly a ridiculous though. And yet here we are...

I suppose I'll begin with the main story. Playing the slowly for weeks after launch meant I could read a lot of reactions before getting through the game myself. Which means I played through most of the latter half of the game waiting for everything to fall apart. And it just kind of never did... Chapter 13 just managed to land so many great moments and the uncomfortable (but pretty easy) early part served to add to the latter payoffs well. I will agree the story did at times feel like it was missing a detail or two, yet in spite of this I really liked it and was left thinking about it for days after completing it in a way i haven't since, well since I played Danganronpa 1 and 2 this summer but it's been a great year. There's a quote in the accolades trailer I very much agree with, "My favorite Rpgs are the one that give me moments that I remember forever, FFXv has plenty of them"

The story was held together not just by it's plot, by it's sequence of events, but by it's characters. Noctis was an amazing protagonist and honestly right now I can't think of a protagonist I prefer in any game. The bros were all extremely well developed characters I came to love almost as much. And then there is Ardyn. Having watched Kingsglaive and Played as far as Chapter 13 I thought there was no way they would have a good justification for Ardyns actions. I thought they must just hand wave one or two things away. And they in one scene they managed to explain everything. Ardyn was an excellent villain, clearly crazy and evil and yet also strangely sympathetic. What further elevated these characters was the voice acting, Noctis and Ardyn in particular had truly standout performances. Then we come to the ending, holy shit. I said earlier that this game had a moments that I would remember forever, and none of them stand out more in my mind than the ending. The ending really packed an emotional punch, playing well off the game's strongest point, it's characters.

But a lot of Rpgs have good stories, what sets this one apart? Well, the gameplay. Final Fantasy games have always felt short for me before in this regard, turn based combat just isn't engaging most of the time. I'll explain my thoughts on this when I end up putting a turn based rpg as my fourth favorite game of the year. Then on the other end of the spectrum you have western rpgs, games like Skyrim And The Witcher. I'm not going to mince words here, the combat in those games is shit. It's just not fun to play. Maybe I should play Dragons Dogma, I hear that's better. But for now, we have Final Fantasy 15, a game with combat that brilliantly threads the line between overly simplistic and incredibly fun and engaging. Sure you can just chug potions if you want to, but I have never seen anyone explain how that's anymore true in Final Fantasy 15 than in any other rpg bar Dark Souls. And it's incredibly satisfying to flip and warp around enemies taking them, out while stylishly dodging their attacks.

Of course I can't ignore this games breathtaking graphics and world either. A large open world that looks beautiful isn't really rare anymore but that doesn't mean it still isn't worthy of commendation. Also deserving of special mention is the music, which both stood up on it's own and at the same greatly enhanced so many of the key scenes.

I've seen it thrown around a lot that Final Fantasy 15 is a flawed masterpiece (or complete trash depending on who you listen to) and it's true. FFXV had flaws, the side quests could be better for example. But then I think about the excellent side content present, the optional dungeons were hugely enjoyable. And even the more filler quests were an opportunity to enjoy more of the combat system. Every time I look back of FFXV, I think of the amazing combat, soundtrack, character, world and graphics and the great story. And i start to wonder, is this game more flawed than any other game I wold call a masterpiece? No, Final Fantasy 15 is as much of a masterpiece as any other game I would rank among my favorite. In the end all I can say is that Final Fantasy XV walked tall.

3. Planet Coaster ; The latest in a trail of indie developers showing big publishers how it is done. I adored Roller Coaster tycoon 3 and so it's true successor was always going to rank highly. From the developer of Rct no less. Frontier really knocked it out of the park on this one.

4. Darkest Dungeon ; I don't like turn based combat for the most part. Darkest Dungeon is the exception. My problem with turn based combat is so many random encounters just boil down to mash attack until it's over, then walking three steps forward and doing it again. It works great for bosses but not the random easy encounter. Darkest Dungeon solved this by making encounters more sparse and making every one of them actually hard to deal with, besides maybe one easy fight a dungeon. darkest Dungeon has a ton of flaws and the Darkest Dungeon itself can go fuck itself. But I still sunk a hundred hours into it, so it did something very, very right.

5. Tom Clancy's The Division ; The top four games on this list are all in my top ten of all time, this game is quite the falling off from there. Yet my love of third person shooters and open world garbage means I still really enjoyed my time with the division.

6. Ratchet and Clank ; This was not a great Ratchet and Clank game. It was pretty but fell short compared to the others in so many ways. It fails to make it into my top 3 Ratchet and Clank games, but R&C on a bad day is still pretty great.

7. Clash Royale ; A multiplayer mobile game with actually really solid gameplay that manged to be fun and not super unfair most of the time. That said, as I write this, elite barbarians are bullshit ad it's insane supercell haven't fixed them yet.


Jun 2, 2012
1. World of Warcraft: Legion ; Blizzard has once again cast it's hooks deep in me with Legion. Stacks of amazing games sit idle so I can log on and adventure in Azeroth time and time again. The difficulty scaling, Mythic system, Artifact weapons - so many great enhancements. Just one more World Quest for a little more Artifact Power before I log off...
2. Pokémon Go ; This was a great combination of name recognition, nostalgia and the popularization of ARG games that got people out and about. A legitimate phenomenon. Personally, it meant even more to me. I spent 2-3 months of last year away from home for family medical reasons (related: Fuck Cancer), with no practical console or PC gaming available. This game landed at just the perfect time for me to be both a distraction and a wonderful, cute and fun mobile game. Pokémon Go got me out in the sunshine and green grass and fresh air at a time when I otherwise would not have forced myself to go enjoy the world around me.
3. Batman Arkham VR ; Wow! I had the opportunity to play this game when my friend purchased a PSVR and invited me over. We played a few great titles, but this Batman experience is the one I will remember clearly for years. The traversal and investigation was fun and novel, if a tad wonky, the overall length was just right for me, the story was entertaining... but the ending of this with the immersion, the confusion - it just cemented its place in my deepest treasured gaming memories. So cool.
4. Overcooked ; Cooperative Cooking Fun plus Chaos plus Yelling plus Fire. Multiple times, my wife and I have had to pause the game to try to stop laughing, catch our breath, wipe our tears and regain our composure. We've gotten to where it is challenging for us to earn more stars to unlock further levels, so it keeps us playing/re-playing. It also keeps us laughing, when we aren't yelling at each other.
5. Firewatch ; I really like the aesthetics and the story beats. I was unprepared for how the game begins describing background, and it was fantastic. I'm looking forward to finishing this one, especially knowing it's fairly short.
6. Hitman ; I have not played a previous Hitman series game, but heard enough about this game to want to jump in. I like the mechanics, the puzzle-like problem-solving approach, and I love that it requires more than just a shootout to progress through chapters.
7. Gears of War 4 ; I love that it requires a shootout to progress through chapters. It's the More Gears I wanted.
8. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End ; Naughty Dog Seal of Quality.
9. Super Mario Run ; A lot of the coverage for this game seemed to go from super excited pre-launch right to disappointed, but I had the opposite arc. I was skeptical of some garbage 'virtual button' nonsense ruining what could have been a good Mario mobile game, and instead I think what Nintendo pulled off is a simple control hiding some complexity that is very well done and enjoyable. I'm in no rush and taking my time with it, I have all my pink coins and just a few purple so far.
10. Invisible, Inc. ; I've only just started and was on the edge of my seat waiting for those enemy turns. This is one that might have been quite a bit higher if I had played it more.

Honorable Mentions
x. That Dragon, Cancer ; I really debated placing this as my number one, but felt I really couldn't place this among other games sequentially. This is a masterful, power peice of emotional artistry. For bonus tears, watch The Game Awards acceptance speech right after completing the game. I was a wreck.
x. Batman: The Telltale Series ; only a few chapters into the first episode and I like the tone Telltale is striking.
x. Titanfall 2 ; I'm not much of a competitive multiplayer fan, and barely touched the first Titanfall. I started Titanfall 2 into the campaign and it just felt "right". I didn't want to put it down, I think mostly due to the feel of the traversal and the weapons.
x. The Witness ; Makes me feel dumb followed by making me feel very smart. I are like to be is smart.
x. Darkest Dungeon ; even the heartiest, bravest adventurers should fear me leading them through these corridors. Hey Barkeep... keep 'em coming to the Tavern, I'll definitly need more hires.
x. Battlefield 1 ; Much like Titanfall 2, it just feels good to play.
x. Dragon Quest Builders ; The controls and the blueprints were a bit offputting, but my personal nostalgia at the overworld music alone was enough to keep me in the world for a bit.
x. Stardew Valley ; I need more time to really 'dig in'. Get it?
x. Abzû ; Beautiful underwater scenery, much like Journey or Flower. I just felt drawn through the environment. But, unlike those titles, I had some difficulty with the Z axis and getting very turned around.
x. Mini Metro ; A great, addictive mobile subway building game.
x. Doom ; This game seems fantastic at what it is. I feel like I'm too old for it, those twitch reflexes that were barely there years ago have since fizzled. Also, get off my lawn.
x. Overwatch ; other people might have this Blizzard title near the top of their list. For me, despite a gorgeous game with solid controls, I just didn't get into the gameplay and leave it here in mentions.

Games I have not yet played that I think might have made my list or mentions:
Quadrilateral Cowboy
Watch_Dogs 2
Forza Horizon 3


Jun 7, 2004
1. The Last Guardian ; This was really an easy choice. Of all the games i've completed this generation, this was the one that I really couldn't stop thinking about. It really feels like the game Ueda had been building to with ICO and SotC.
2. Dragon Quest Builders ; This is the biggest surprise i've had all generation. I was just going to try it out because it was DQ and it seemed to have more a of a structured campaign. But I ended up getting addicted to it, which I didn't expect.
3. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End
4. Odin Sphere Leifthrasir
5. Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth
6. Senran Kagura Estival Versus
7. Ratchet & Clank
8. Nights of Azure
9. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
10. DOOM


Oct 5, 2013
1. The Last Guardian ; There is something special and distinct about this one. The key relationship between the boy and the creature, the dangers they face and the environment they're pitted against.
2. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End ; As far as I'm concerned this one delivered in spades. It didn't throw away and re-invent the old formula, just expanded and tweaked that which already worked so well. It was a lot more fluid this time, offering more freedom in the encounters, I was a bit wary of where it would go with the story but they brought the whole thing to a satisfying conclusion.
3. Mordheim: City of the Damned ; I love squad based tactical turn based strategy games and this is a really fine example. It lets you build up your own squad and there's a whole resource management meta game running alongside. I like the laid back way you progress through the game, taking on missions to acquire resources, in preparation for the more challenging story missions.
4. Total War: Warhammer ; My last experience of gaming on Windows was playing Shogun Total War. It was the one kind of game I really missed when moving to consoles. Then over the last few years, after an explosion in Linux games, these have started coming over. I dared to dream that Total War Warhammer would make it over and thanks to Feral Interactive it came true. The game I dreamed of since Shadow of the Horned Rat is finally a reality. And it's pretty good. It's not perfect, none of the Total War games are, but it's wonderful to see Warhammer Fantasy Battle brought to life in this way. And I've not even played as the Wood Elves yet.
5. Valkyria Chronicles Remastered ; One of my favourite games on the PS3 given new life.
6. Invisible, Inc. ; I opened a thread on GAF about heist games and this was one of the more popular suggestions, another turn based tactical game with a lot to enjoy. The only real downside is its length, the story seems to finish just as you're getting started.
7. 7 Days to Die ; I played the early access game on PC and put 200 hours into it. There's a lot to dislike about it, but at the same time I thoroughly enjoy the gameplay loop. Gathering resources, then creating and defending a base against ravening hoards of zombies.
8. Dragon Quest Builders; Dragon Quest has always been a bit under my radar so this is the first time I've really put any time into the franchise and enjoyed it quite a bit. More than I've ever enjoyed Minecraft!
9. Ratchet & Clank ; A nicely put together remake of the original that keeps a lot of the fun and charm.
10. The Tomorrow Children ; Lovely visuals and fun gameplay, though it felt like you cycle through towns too quickly.

Honorable Mentions
x. No Man's Sky ; There is a great game in here somewhere, just waiting to get out, and I don't think they fell as short of their ambition as a lot of the noise suggested. Some of what they did achieve is amazing, other parts annoying. A few more years and it may yet get there.
x. Tricky Towers ; A brilliant alternate take on tetris.
x. Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth ; Enjoyed this one, but haven't played it enough to place it on the main list.


Jul 22, 2015
1. Mirror's Edge Catalyst ; Yes this game is fantastic, you guys are all wrong and if we're not getting a sequel I will be very mad at the internet!

2. The Witcher III: Wild Hunt - Blood and Wine ; A fantastic expansion for one of the best WRPGs of the last decade or so. It's kinda crazy how they managed to keep such a high level of quality throughout everything Witcher 3.

3. Rise of the Tomb Raider ; Despite its flaws I'll probably never get sick of playing as Lara, climbing stuff, exploring places, solving puzzles, shooting things. It's all still there and it's great.

4. Adrift ; Space Walking has always been a dream of mine and this game gets you as close to experiencing that as nothing else so far. Also reading up a little on the backstory about how this game came to be let me appreciate it even more.

5. Dreamfall Chapters Book Five ; A great conclusion to an underappreciated adventure game series.

6. Superhot ; Loved the browser game from a couple of years ago this just evolves it into an allaround great game with a weridass story o top of it.

7. Inside ; I can't quite follow the extreme praise this game gets and somehow Limbo still fells like more coherent to me but all in all Inside is still a masterfully crafted videogame

8. Abzu ; Couldn't quite recapture that Journey feel for me but a great and relaxing game nonetheless.

9. Oxenfree ; Super interesting indie title story telling and dialogue wise.

10. Uncharted 4 ; Sigh yeah I guess this game is kinda alright? Was still expecting a lot more from it after The Last of Us, this just feels like a step back in every aspect besides graphics. But boy those graphics!

Honorable Mentions
11. Hyper Light Drifter ;
12. Call of Duty Infinite Ware ;
13. Doom ;
14. Ori Definitive Edition ; All of these games seem great from what I've played so far and they could've easily made my list but I couldn't finish them in time so that's basically what I'm playing first in 2017


Sep 16, 2013
1. Uncharted 4: A Thiefs End ; I felt this was a year of plenty of very good games but few Great games. When it comes to the former Uncharted 4 shined with its strong pacing and unrivalled presentation. A fitting send off to one of the past decades best series.
2. Titanfall 2 ; The gap between games 1, 2 and 3 were very close. If the original Titanfall had released with all this I think it would be considered a modern classic. A fantastic campaign with moments of transcendence and a multiplayer that keeps me going back.
3. DOOM ; DOOM is fun. Killing demons is fun. Shooting demons is fun. Punching demons is fun. FUN.
4. The Last Guardian ; In contrast I didn't enjoy The Last Guardian very much. It's full of minor annoyances and archaic design ideas. But it's also wholly unique, the sort of game design you see so much nowadays in indie develop but on a level only big budget development can create.
5. Battlefield 1 ; Honestly this game should not be as good as it is. Upon first hearing the idea I felt it would be an awful representation of one of the most awful periods in human history. Instead we got a surprisingly respectful and varied campaign with a multiplayer component on a scale unmatched in modern FPS games.
6. The Witness ; The Witness is game of beauty, clever design and wonder. I loved the first few hours of wandering the island and exploring the 'levels' that take new ideas into pretty simple puzzle designs. Unfortunately I couldn't handle some of the latter puzzles and found those more obtuse and irritating.
7. Ratchet and Clank ; A remake of a childhood classic that is able to incorporate all the evolutions of the series with the timeless design of the original. While some of the humour falls flat, the game is paced well enough to never outstay it's welcome.
8. Zero Time Dilemma ; Yes it's the weakest of the trilogy. Yes it's badly directed and yes some of the characters seem to have degraded. However I still enjoyed the puzzles and wtf plot enough to not leave utterly disappointed.
9. Watchdogs 2 ; I'm only halfway through W2 but I have to admire how it's improved upon the very disappointing original in every way incorporating a sense of fun that the concept clearly needed.
10. Dark Souls 3 ; I really don't get the love for DS3. It is a step up on 2 but pales in comparison to Dark Souls and Bloodborne. Still the fact I dragged my way through the whole game says something.

Honorable Mentions
x. Final Fantasy XV ; Would probably end up on my list but I am only one chapter 3 so I don't want to comment. I love the series and this feels a lot more worthwhile that FF13 despite the myriad of apparent issues
x. Rise of the Tomb Raider ; An enjoyable romp that I won't put on the list because it was originally release last year. It's like uncharted but without the charm and with more useless things to pick up.


Apr 12, 2013
1. The Witness ; A game that manages to teach you a whole new language without ever speaking to you.
2. Hyper Light Drifter ; Tight action game with exceptional atmosphere.
3. Paper Mario: Color Splash ; Underappreciated, quirky action adventure, with superb script, nice scenario, but disastrous battle system.
4. Pony Island ; Meta experience which doesn't overstay its welcome..
5. Assault Android Cactus ; Frenetic shooter with great controls, surprisingly nice characters and story, but little stage and enemy variety.
6. The Room Two ; A great sequel which keeps up everything good about the first game and improves on it.


Aug 15, 2010
Ah, I wanted to use pictures I'd taken in-game myself (except for the 3DS games because that ordeal is a mess) but I left it too late. Oh well, here's my list.

1. The Last Guardian ; Over seven years since its initial announcement, I didn't think The Last Guardian would live up to Fumito Ueda's other masterpieces and yet it may be my favourite of the three. The Last Guardian certainly has its flaws, the camera is a struggle to use, the controls can be clumsy at times and the constant button prompts are absurdly out of place and jarring, but it does so many things right it makes those flaws look like complete non-issues. Like ICO and Shadow of the Colossus, Ueda and his team do a tremendous job of building a world that communicates just enough to understand it and make the story relatable, while leaving plenty of questions open to fan speculation and theories. The puzzles aren't difficult but they are well thought out and fun to figure out. But what sets The Last Guardian apart from its spiritual predecessors is Trico, a bizarre looking creature that is impressively relatable and lovable purely through her animation, AI and the journey you go on together. On top of that, the sense of scale when Trico is jumping between towers, running along bridges and smashing apart enemies, all while you're hanging on for dear life, makes it the most awe inspiring game I've played in a long time.

2. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End ; A fantastic way to end Nathan Drake's adventures. The graphics are comfortably the best available on the PS4. The story is more mature than the previous entries but it works perfectly and makes for an incredible journey from beginning to end. But what really sets Uncharted 4 apart from the first three isn't just the mature story and the graphical upgrade, it's all the other new features they brought to the table. They introduced large levels that gave you multiple paths to traverse them, vehicles to drive around even larger environments, new equipment to help traverse the environment and new stealth mechanics that give you a lot more options in combat. Uncharted 4 is the complete package, giving returning fans a fresh, new and interesting Nathan Drake adventure, while also offering an incredible game for new fans.

3. The Witness ; Playing through The Witness, it's not hard to see why it took close to eight years to develop, because the love and care that's been put into it is obvious. Thinking back on the game after finishing it, it's really impressive just how well everything comes together. The way the island has been laid out, the introduction of new puzzle mechanics, the learning curve that takes place throughout both the different areas and the game as a whole and, in particular, the placement of environmental puzzles. It's the kind of incredibly smart and tightly designed game that just doesn't get made these days because AAA games have 100+ people working on them and the vast majority of indie games just don't have the budget to pull it off.

4. Dragon Quest Builders ; When I first heard of this game, I thought it was a joke. A Dragon Quest Minecraft clone, really? Then I stopped paying attention to it right up until the western localisation hit and I watched a couple of streams of it. I was sold. Dragon Quest Builders is the Minecraft game I never knew I wanted, offering the typical building mechanics mixed with, well, Dragon Quest. There's quests, characters, Toriyama's art style and a story. And it all works incredibly well.

5. Pokémon Sun/Moon ; As someone who only dipped his toes back into Pokemon in June last year and then waded out into the deep end, I've played a lot of Pokemon recently and Sun/Moon may be my favourite. Why? Because for the first time since the 90s, Pokemon feels like a fresh experience. The previous Pokemon regions had their differences but none of them stands out like Alola does. It has its own character and this is reflected through the design of the game, NPCs, Alolan variants of classic Pokemon, visual style and the fantastic soundtrack. On top of that, gone are the Pokemon Gyms that were long played out and the HMs that were a constant frustration, both replaced with far more fun alternatives. And then there's the story, which was never going to be a Dragon Quest, let alone a Trails, but it does go far more out of its way than previous games to tell a pretty cool story and develop some fun and interesting characters. The only major issue I have is in the online functionality. To go from the brilliant PSS to the god awful Festival Plaza is an enormous step backwards and a jarring one at that, it actively discourages me from doing anything online. But it's not enough to significantly detract from everything else in the game, which made it so thoroughly enjoyable.

6. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney − Spirit of Justice ; After the disappointment that was Dual Destinies, Spirit of Justice is a welcome return to form. They finally brought Maya back, adding her back into the new expanded group of characters. The setup of Phoenix in Khura'in and Apollo in Japanifornia works really well and they come together incredibly. And the cases are almost all really strong, with some really fun scenarios, stakes and one of the best final cases in the series. The only disappointing bits about the game are Maya being reduced to the damsel in distress at one point once again and that Athena once again drew the short straw, with the only weak case out of the six available. Still, it made for a fantastic entry in the series.

7. Ratchet & Clank ; 13 years since the original and six since the last full AAA release, it was the perfect time for a remake (even if they probably stumbled into it thanks to the movie) and Insomniac knocked it out of the park. My favourite remakes are the ones that don't just update the mechanics, fix the issues with the original or throw on a prettier coat of paint, they re-approach the entire game, providing a fresh look at it that we can't get from just replaying the original and ideally, should feel fresh even to series veterans. And that's what Ratchet & Clank does. Yes it has a very pretty coat of paint (one of the prettiest this gen), updates the mechanics and fixes issues the original had, but it also provides a game that feels both familiar and new. You may recognise a planet but then find that it's very different to what you remember and that's what makes Ratchet & Clank a fantastic remake to me.

8. Alone With You ; There's something about being trapped in a doomed space colony and exploring the dilapidated facilities within it, while trying to figure out what happened in them that I absolutely loved. And then each night, you have conversations with holographic simulations of the heads of those facilities. It's a really cool, unique world and scenario that drew me in and has stuck with me for months since I played it.

9. Bound ; What makes Bound a really cool and unique game is its incredible art design, animation and soundtrack but what makes it a really good game is its level design. It's not immediately noticeable but Bound was designed with speed running in mind, offering shortcuts and alternate paths you'd never notice on a first run to help cut run times down and it wasn't until I figured this out that it really hooked me.

10. World of Final Fantasy ; My number 10 slot was difficult to pick but after much humming and ha-ing, I eventually settled on World of Final Fantasy. Why? Because while the writing and story may come off like something straight out of Kingdom Hearts (sans Disney), it's a really fun and charming game. The battle system is both a throw back and yet has its own unique twist, with the stacking system. The Pokemon-style monster catching and evolving is really addicting. The cameos from old Final Fantasy characters are great, especially the short scenarios you can watch. And the mish-mash of FF locations works surprisingly well.

Honourable Mentions
x. Oxenfree ; What you get from (former) Telltale employees who are free to use a half decent engine and a good art style. Great game. Loved the online features.
x. ABZU ; A really good game but a bit too derivative of Journey for my liking. Love all the oceanlife and the soundtrack though.
x. Inside ; I think the acclaim made me set my expectations too high. A very good game but not as amazing as I'd heard.
x. Final Fantasy XV ; A really fun game but the storytelling is a complete disaster.
x. Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIII ; I have fond memories of RTK8 and 10, so when I heard 13 was another RPG-style RTK, I had to get it. If it weren't for some serious AI issues (particularly the ones giving you orders), it probably would've made my top ten.


Oct 27, 2015
1. Final Fantasy XV; After 10 years Finally got the open world JRPG I've been waiting for. Thoroughly enjoyed questing in the open world with the bros.
2. The Last Guardian; Lived up to my anticipation, breathtaking animations and setpieces combined with familiar Ueda motifs
3. DOOM; Such a joy to play. A throwback with modern twists and awesome strafing mechanics.
4. Titanfall 2; Kind of like The Last Guardian but with bad ass shooting and movement.
5. Uncharted 4; My favorite game I'm the series, amazing swan song and apology for 3.
6. Ratchet and Clank; First console game that achieves "Toy Story Graphics". Incredible entry in an underserved genre.
7. Battlefield 1
8. Street Fighter V
9. Pokémon Go
10. Paper Mario: Color Splash; Great dialog ie and a fun adventure, even if combat is kind of boring.
Looks like there is a "space" missing beween the game titel and the semicolon:



Not Wario
Oct 22, 2006
1. The Last Guardian ; They actually did it. I cannot believe it.

For this to not only see the light of day but to hit such a homerun in a way that only Ueda's titles do is a straight up miracle. I expected something interesting. Something obviously flawed and hamstrung by troubled development and tech incapable of matching vision. What I actually got was the best game of the generation and an all time masterpiece.

I've always preferred SotC to Ico, so even when this game didn't seem like it could be cancelled at any moment, I was skeptical it would have the same impact Shadow had on me. While, yes, it does owe more to Ico than Shadow, it succeeds in a lot of places where Ico did not. Its combat- Ico's number one flaw in my book- reverses the roles, which, strangely enough, led to me feeling far more invested in the short bouts that occurred between Trico and the guards. By making the player the escort NPC, the tedium of Ico's combat is removed, and concern for Trico/helplessness really kicks in hard. TLG's puzzles, too, feel more inventive than its grandfather's. That one water puzzle- you know the one- the "catapult", even the very final "puzzle" of the game; they're all brilliant. Plenty has been said about the feelings this game evokes, but not enough praise has been given to its more standout gameplay moments. I can somewhat understand as I know plenty have had issues with these due to Trico's "willful" AI blurring the lines between correct solution with Trico's help and wrong idea altogether, but I only experienced this once in my 12 hour playthrough, so it didn't hurt my experience at all. Lastly, the level design also stands out as a clear upgrade over Team Ico's prior works. The way the journey weaves around the Nest, even doubling back on old haunts from new perspectives, really gives it a firm sense of place and cohesion. By the end of the game, I felt like I knew it, and reaching those endgame moments, staring down on all the places you've already traversed, brings such a tangible feeling of progression.

Of course, it's impossible to comment on the game without commenting on Trico. There is absolutely no debate at all in my mind- Trico is the best companion I've ever walked alongside in any game. We all knew what they were shooting for from that first trailer; there's no surprise here, just as pure a bond of friendship and love as any game could ever hope to achieve. It makes the game what it is, and I don't see anyone surpassing this in a long time.

If this is the final game in this world or even Ueda's final title period, then he can be proud with leaving now. I am relieved and, more to the point, just so, so happy with how this game turned out. I will treasure the experience I had here forever.

2. The Witness ; I was positive this was going to be my GotY, even back in January when I first finished it. And, had it not been, for Team Ico pulling through in the strongest way possible, it would have been. The way this game teaches the player- and the ways it chooses not to- is incredibly impressive. Games of all genres could stand to look at how it communicates. While TLG had some really satisfying individual moments, I don't think any other game I've played has as many euphoric Eureka moments this did, which is kind of measure of a puzzle game's quality in my eyes. Sure, the story beats don't mesh as well as Braid's, some of the mechanics weren't that strong, and the game itself is probably a bit too long, but it's an incredible experience none the less.

3. Titanfall 2 ; In a year when FFXV arrived and TLG arrived and delivered, THIS was the single biggest surprise to me. I'm not a fan of MW and especially the influence it's had on console shooters, an influence that's finally beginning to die if this year's two big FPS home runs- Doom and Overwatch- are any indication. So Respawn isn't exactly a dev I follow and I completely ignored Titanfall 2 on launch.

Then the praise came. I saw people calling it one of the best FPS campaigns ever; there were even comparisons to SMG and Platinum Games of all things- holy grails of design in my book. I couldn't believe it. There's no way this thing could be any of the things people were saying it was, but I bit anyways and, man, I'm glad I did. This is hands down the best FPS campaign I've played since HL2:Ep.2. Sorry, Doom- any other year you'd have it- but this is an all time genre great. The absolute best level design I've ever seen in a shooter, perfect pacing, constant variety including an absolutely brilliant one off level, and a surprisingly, well formed bond with a robot are easily enough for me to overlook the fact that the waves of grunts really aren't any more varied, intelligent, or inherently engaging to fight than CoD's.

The MP too, despite carrying over MW's loadout over map control for weapons approach, super fast TTK, snowballing kill reward, and ADS, managed to hook me with its positive traits: insane mobility, map design that actually leverages it, and decidedly different Titan encounters- pilots may drop in the blink of an eye, but Titan fights, with their emphasis on varied player abilities/stats, higher health bars with no regen, and cooldown importance almost feel like Moba battles ported to an FPS. Eliminating killstreak rewards and offering weapons that are nearly if not just as effective when shot from hip also help offset the issues I have with this model of FPS.

Respawn is now fully on my radar. I just wish this game had been a bigger financial success.

4. Inside ; A journey where I had absolutely no idea what to expect next, mechanically or narratively. I'm not sure what is is exactly about this game that stuck with me, but I find myself randomly thinking about it even half a year later. The atmosphere is just so thick and well maintained, the mechanical progression and variety compelling enough to keep the game not only interesting but enjoyable despite the lack of difficulty in the puzzles, and story is truly mind blowing. I still have no idea what's really going on in the back half of the game, but I was mesmerized by it nonetheless.

5. Hyper Light Drifter ; Probably the single most fun game to just control and play moment to moment this year. (TF2 is pretty close, though) I loved ALBW's super responsive controls and quick combat, but this thing takes it up a notch, offering some blisteringly fast combat encounters and a real sense of difficulty, something ALBW lacked. While I think puzzles are Zelda's strongest attribute and people are misguided when they point to titles like this or Dark Souls as ideal futures for the series, this is definitely a pretty great vision of what Zelda could have looked like had its 2D incarnations pursued that future. Fantastic visuals and soundtrack too.

6. Doom ; Total confidence in every direction- a story that knows what it is and revels in it, level design that takes a deliberate step back to older ways and nails it, a perfect match of a soundtrack, and even great boss battles, something other FPSes have rightfully become leery of recently. They just absolutely killed it. If this is the FPS that dictates the near future of SP FPS (even if I'd prefer Titanfall's level design and inventiveness) I'm all onboard.
7. World of Warcraft: Legion ; After WoD's decidedly poor misfire- dungeon and raid quality aside- Legion was exactly what Blizzard needed. Tons of content, a premise to pull back series vets with new lore touching on old characters without trampling history like WoD, content, an expansion that actually leverages all of the old world real estate and history outside its own new continent, (Do we have Destiny to thank for showing them the way on this, I wonder?) and, yeah, more content.

It's a shame, then, that even as Blizz seemingly finally overcomes the #1 long standing issue the playerbase has had- rate of content delivery- old and new problems alike are evident. For all its value as a means of giving players everyday progression, the artifact system put a real damper on alts at launch. This has been mostly rectified recently, but it's still a bit of a misfire they need to consider if they carry this system forward in any way. Class balance, while not truly bad in its gap between the top and the bottom, continues to pose problems, magnified even more so by the level of investment created by the artifact system. Class design may have even taken a step back, in aggregate. While some playstyles offered great new ways to play that perfectly captured the fantasy- Shadow priests in particular- others have simply fallen apart at the seams. (Sorry warlocks!)

All that said, the game is a blast. These things are too time consuming for me to stick with long term anymore, but I still enjoy the launch of each new xpack for at least some time. And, given that the harder to rectify issue that is the content pipeline is actually looking good right now, I'm more confident they can address this xpack's issues before it concludes than in prior ones. Systems and balance can be tweaked post launch, but there's only so much you can do about rate of content creation. In the end, I hope Legion is a sign of things to come, and not an expansion that's benefitted disproportionately from the lack of development put into WoD.

8. Dark Souls 3 ; The Souls series has been the most consistently great thing on non-Nintendo consoles this past generation and this one is no different. While the Dark Souls universe has definitely started to wear a bit thin and needs the break it'll be getting with this final one in the bag, the gameplay formula has not, despite a new title hitting pretty much every year these past 3 years. While I prefer Bloodborne's more quick paced combat, fewer but more complex weapons, and emphasis on aggression over passivity, DS3's slight speed boost and enhanced weapon movesets were enough to keep the game from feeling like a downgrade. Finally, while the game brings little new to the table, it does have some of the downright best battles and levels of the series to date: Sullyvanh, the Abyss Watchers, Nameless King, and Lothric are just amazing fights and could have even worked in the faster paced environment of Bloodborne; and the Boreal Valley is absolutely beautiful. Working through it and the following Irithyll Dungeon- which is even more engaging in a completely different, terrifying way- are two of the finest moments in the entire Souls series.

Lordran has earned its rest, but it's clear From have still got what it takes to keep the series great entry after entry. Longer breaks between titles and more variation- think Demon Souls > Dark Souls > Bloodborne rather than iterating as DaS has done- will be the key to keeping one of modern gaming's best fixtures going strong in the future. Definitely looking forward to seeing what they do next.

9. XCom 2 ; I enjoyed but never got around to really sinking my teeth into Firaxis' first revival. I'd have probably been just as positive on that entry and maybe a little less impressed with this one had I spent the same time with both as there's not too much to set this one apart from the original here, but that's not how things played out in any case. This game is everything everyone says it is, and I don't have too much to add to that, so I'll just leave it at this.

10. Uncharted 4 ; I've been pretty down on this series in the past. I think it and developer Naughty Dog are fairly overrated too. And a lot of my issues with the series- autopilot navigation/platforming, braindead puzzles, overemphasis on storytelling over engaging mechanics and gameplay, bullet sponge enemies- are still present in this one. Some of them are even more egregious- walking sections, I'm looking at you. I turned a corner on Naughty Dog with TLoU, though, which I thought was pretty fantastic in just about every way and, while Uncharted 4 still has more of the flaws of its predecessors than the achievements of TLoU, the stealth-combat sandbox encounters of TLoU have been perfectly transitioned into platforming-combat sandbox encounters that really leverage verticality in a way few shooters do. (well, in any other year- Titanfall 2 and Doom are pretty fantastic at this too) The most thrilling jumps aren't the ones the game ushers you into its cinematic moments; they're the leaps of faith you take in the heat of combat or the grappling hook swings you use to get the better of an enemy. I truly enjoyed the encounter design in this game and it easily carried the less engaging sections for me.

Oh, and I guess it's worth mentioning that all those things the series is known for- beautiful visuals, set piece moments, and narrative- they're here too, and, set pieces aside perhaps, they're the best they've ever been in this series. I didn't think I was that attached to these guys going in, but that final sequence really drove home what an enjoyable, fleshed out crew of characters ND have gifted us with this past half decade or so.


As terrible as the year was in other regards, 2016 was pretty fantastic for gaming. A banner year for FPSes of all kinds, the resurrection of the Myst like in stunning fashion with 2 great titles, and long awaited "vaporware" finally arriving that, stunningly, actually met and even exceeded expectations in some departments. Any of my top 6 could have been a strong GotY in any other year yet here they're part of a crowd. Nintendo's absence is the only real glaring weakness of the year, as they've traditionally been the strongest developer in the years they are active. The rest of the industry definitely picked up the slack at least.

Honorable Can't-Mentions

There are a few titles I wish I'd had time to finish before making this list, but, here we are, 3 hours before the deadline, so I'll just name them instead, as each stood a decent chance of ending up on the list: Dishonored 2, Fire Emblem: Conquest, Pokemon Sun, Hitman, and Owlboy. I also want to give Furi, Bound, Offworld Trading Company, and Stephen's Sausage Roll a try, but haven't begun them at all so I can't comment on whether or not they'd deserve it.
Sep 8, 2009

1. Trillion: God of Destruction ; The most engrossed I've been in a game since childhood, and responsible for more waterworks than basically every other game I've played put together. Deleting the last of Trillion's 1,000,000,000,000 HP = my most cathartic moment in memory.
2. Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight ; RIP Fennel.
3. Pocket Mirror ; An extensive labour of love, with presentation / production values far beyond every freeware RPGM horror game I've played. I was constantly impressed by the effort and detail that went into the maps, videos and art, as well as the sheer amount of content.


Master of the Google Search
Feb 22, 2007
1. Hitman ; An amazing sandbox to play in and a return to form to Blood Money
2. Fire Emblem Fates ; Handheld Strategy at its finest. Plus it was 3 games in one!
3. Divinity: Original Sin ; messing with other players dialogue choices will never not be hilarious
4. The Witness ; challenging puzzle that will make you view the world in puzzle terms (like Tetris)
5. Shantae: Half-Genie Hero ; probably the first Kickstarter that was more than worth the donation
6. Stardew Valley ; out harvest mooning Harvest Moon. Either of them.
7. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Spirit of Justice ; this series might just be a guilty pleasure at this point
8. Pokemon Sun/Moon ; probably the best Pokemon games since Platinum
9. Overcooked ; great couch co-operative
10. Picross 3D: Round 2 ; is there any better puzzle game then Picross

Honorable Mentions
x. Shantae and the Pirate's Curse ; the weaker of the two Shantaes
x. Valkyria Chronicles Remastered ;
X. Day of the Tentacle: Remastered Edition ;


Feb 21, 2014
1. XCOM 2; My most played game of 2016. There was no other game that came close to XCOM 2 in terms thrills and excitement which I experienced during the two ironman playthroughs. Rarely I see a game in which both the art direction and game design are this good. I don't think I will ever forget my first encounter with the berserker in this game.
2. Total War: Warhammer; The completely unique races add so much to the Total War formula. Thanks to the DLC updates, the game just keeps getting better.
3. Forza Horizon 3; I don't really play racing games but this game was just too enjoyable to pass. I don't understand how the game can look so good on Xbox One.
4. Doom; I am yet to complete Doom but it takes me back to the days when the singleplayer shooters where not overtly scripted roller coaster rides.
5. Darkest Dungeon; Not as great as XCOM 2 but it has the same qualities plus amazing art direction and story.
6. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided; I think this was a big improvement from Human Revolution, and closer to the original Deus Ex. Mechanical apartheid was a bit silly concept and the story could have been more believable.
7. Final Fantasy XV; I have not played most of the FF games, but I liked how the combat and party mechanics worked in this game. Interesting open world as well.
8. Tyranny; Another game I have not completed yet, but I really enjoyed the first 30% of the game.


Aug 6, 2009
1. The Last Guardian ; Over seven years since its initial announcement, I didn't think The Last Guardian would live up to Fumito Ueda's other masterpieces and yet it may be my favourite of the three.
1. The Last Guardian ; I've always preferred SotC to Ico, so even when this game didn't seem like it could be cancelled at any moment, I was skeptical it would have the same impact Shadow had on me..
This is exactly where I came from, and why it blew me away so much. I never expected anything less than a great game, of course, but being someone who prefers Shadow of the Colossus to ICO, and also someone who isn't into puzzle games at all (with a few exceptions, I'm crazy about Professor Layton, for example), I was sure it wouldn't be anywhere near as good as SotC, and I was ok with it. It seemed unique enough for it not to feel like a step back even if it was an inferior game overall, just a different experience.

Needless to say that it completely smashed my expectations, and is one of the best games I've ever played. My favorite Fumito Ueda game, and something I don't stop thinking about for a single day. I feel an incredible urge to replay it, but everything is still so fresh (because I don't stop thinking about it) that I continue to postpone my second playthrough, just so it can have as much of an impact on me as it did on my first playthrough.

Just rewatching the ending on Youtube is enough to move me to tears, no matter how many times I do it. Hell, just thinking back on the ending in the shower has me teared up. It's unlike anything else I've experienced in fiction before. Ueda is a genius.
Aug 3, 2013
1. Stardew Valley; Charming graphics, beautiful music, and deep/varied gameplay come together perfectly to form 2016's most lovable time sink. It doesn't matter who you are or what important tasks you might have coming up in your real life, you'll always have to play ONE MORE day in Pelican Town to see if your Barn has finished, or if your corn crop finally grew, or which treasure the blacksmith will unearth from your Magma Geode. A new classic that carries the torch of its' predecessor Harvest Moon.
2. Overwatch; the game that got me into team-based shooters. The difference with Overwatch is the huge cast of colorful characters, each with perfectly balanced movesets.
3. Kirby: Planet Robobot; A welcome shakeup to the longstanding Kirby franchise. The robobot mechanic was a fun and novel way to build something new off of the series' trademark copy abilities.
4. Titanfall 2; My favorite solo first person shooter yet. Excellent mobility, gunplay, and the awesome titan mechs combine for excellent gamefeel in both the online and the surprisingly deep campaign.
5. Super Mario Run; Nintendo somehow manages to capture the feeling of 2D Mario on an iOS title. Bonus points for the ultra-hardcore black coins challenge and for not breaking the experience with F2P garbage.
6. Shantae: 1/2 Genie Hero; Another quality installment of the Shantae series. The game delivers the series' trademarks of witty dialogue, impressive boss battles, and the joy of building your moveset with fun new abilities.
7. Inside; Mysterious and harrowing 2D survival platfromer. The suspense and atmosphere really enhance the clever puzzles and simple control scheme.
8. Ratchet and Clank; Gorgeous remake with enough new elements to warrant a new playthrough.
9. Pokémon Go; First game that sold me on the idea of AR gaming. A little bare on the combat side, but it's still really fun in a fresh new way.
10. Miitomo; Interesting little social app that is fun to check in on from time to time.


Not Wario
Oct 22, 2006
This is exactly where I came from, and why it blew me away so much. I never expected anything less than a great game, of course, but being someone who prefers Shadow of the Colossus to ICO, and also someone who isn't into puzzle games at all (with a few exceptions, I'm crazy about Professor Layton, for example), I was sure it wouldn't be anywhere near as good as SotC, and I was ok with it. It seemed unique enough for it not to feel like a step back even if it was an inferior game overall, just a different experience.

Needless to say that it completely smashed my expectations, and is one of the best games I've ever played. My favorite Fumito Ueda game, and something I don't stop thinking about for a single day. I feel an incredible urge to replay it, but everything is still so fresh (because I don't stop thinking about it) that I continue to postpone my second playthrough, just so it can have as much of an impact on me as it did on my first playthrough.

Just rewatching the ending on Youtube is enough to move me to tears, no matter how many times I do it. Hell, just thinking back on the ending in the shower has me teared up. It's unlike anything else I've experienced in fiction before. Ueda is a genius.
Yeah, and I still don't know where I sit on it vs Shadow specifically, but it doesn't really matter. It's close enough that it's a personal top 10 of all time. I want to revisit it too, but I'll probably hold off till I get a PS4 pro and the game is less fresh in my mind.


Jun 12, 2015
Im on If those Guys who Always buys games the year after, after I have followed this thread for the past weeks I know Im in for a ride 2017 with Doom and overwatch. Although I had to give in on the hype and bite a 2016 game

1. Street fighter V; The gameplay is there, the art style, the lore, the Community, ongoing updates, its all there. Such a great cast of characters. For its genre its a masterpeiece, even without the arcade mode

2. Super Mario run; wow was I positively surprised. It even Felt like a revolution of the 2D Mario games, could have had better F2P hooking mechanics thou.


Aug 21, 2013
Orlando, FL
Unfortunately I got stuck working some unreal overtime this week, so I did not get a chance to do the graphical and full-blown write-up post I had intended. Still, my top 10 was already selected, and I wanted to contribute to the final tally, so here we go:

1. The Witness ; (10.0) - Though not my personal favorite, for me The Witness is undeniably 2016's Game of the Year. Brilliant gameplay design and a fantastic visual aesthetic contributed to one of the most rewarding experiences I've experienced in a video game. Ever. Period. Anything you could find wrong with this game is a nitpick. If any game from 2016 deserves a 10, it is The Witness.
2. Final Fantasy XV ; (9.4)
3. Dark Souls III ; (9.0)
4. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End ; (8.8)
5. Battlefield 1 ; (8.8)
6. Pokémon Sun/Moon ; (8.6)
7. Overwatch ; (8.6)
8. World of Warcraft: Legion ; (8.4)
9. Doom ; (8.4)
10. The Last Guardian ; (7.8)
x. No Man's Sky ; (7.8)


Sep 27, 2009
d.c. baby!
What an incredible year for gaming! A difficult year on my end, in many ways. But I had some of the best gaming experiences I’ve had in several years – I took the time to really appreciate some Japanese games I missed out on, and spent a lot of time lost in digital reverie. Gotta secure that ballot before the polls close, nearly missed it this year!

1.The Last Guardian; In a lot of ways, I am so grateful to have had the joy to experience the beauty of this game. I can’t believe Ueda and Team Ico came together after nearly ten years to deliver something so enthralling and endearing. Ueda’s games all arrived in very strange times in my life – and this would be no different. I played the entirety of the journey after turning 30 years old, with my younger brother looking on much like when we were kids. We marveled at every swaying blade of grass, every hilarious missed jump, our inability to progress at certain points and waiting for Trico to respond to certain commands. And you know, for all the sub-par performance issues we endured on a regular PS4, the game itself was masterful. There was such an unshakable bond between the boy and creature, that in some ways the mystery of the story told unwrapped itself at a slow burn of a pace. The puzzles felt refreshing, like something out of an old Core Tomb Raider game – even the controls, that may have felt archaic to some, made me a bit wistful. After 18 hours, I put the controller down and felt heavy. There were moments in the game that felt frustrating, some that might have even felt a bit mundane – but uncovering the language to interact with such a creature, and having the time to just get lost in the world full of color and splendor made me happy.

2. Hitman; You ever play a game and feel like you’re part of something incredible as it unfolds? I consider Blood Money in my top five greatest games ever. Part of the appeal always rested in the complexities of the interaction of each level. And I can’t believe that the IO Interactive have faithfully recreated the best bits of the franchise in sprawling open sandbox levels. This is proof that an episodic format can work, with enough care and dedication. There are so many avenues of approach, so many choices of how to get the job done, so many disguises to uncover and so much to get immersed in. I might even argue that Sapienza is the best level of any videogame I’ve played this year – the level is massive, but what’s so special about it is the complexity and density of the player’s experience. Setting opportunity hints off and allowing yourself the time to really discover how to proceed is unlike any other game. In a lot of ways, it’s not the game I spent the most time with this year, but the one that I spent the most time thinking about. And I know that with contract objectives, assassination targets and challenges, I’ll have a game to play for many years to come.

3. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided; After Human Revolution, I was so eager to see what the future would hold for Adam Jensen. And god damn, Mankind Divided took the issues of augmented violence and espionage to another level. Prague in itself, is such an achievement of gameplay design. The hub structure is unmatched – I got major Vampire Bloodlines: The Masquerade vibes as I tried to break into every room and hack every email. The side missions all feel significant enough to drive Jensen’s adventure in mysterious directions – the spoiler theories on the game blew my mind. It felt like we were being ushered along in a trilogy absolutely, but the new tech upgrades proved to be fun to experiment with, while the core gameplay of stealthily knocking out guards never ceased to entertain me. I think Marchenko as an augmented terrorist was well written, and the final mission had a sense of urgency that I actually really enjoyed. The reboot titles offer a great hybrid of action and stealth, and it’s one of the few franchises where character upgrades actually make me feel like my Jensen is getting stronger and can approach environments differently. That’s something I really love.

4. Mafia III; The story of Lincoln Clay – full of blood and revenge was one of my favorite narratives in a long time. Hangar 13’s recreation of New Orleans in the ‘60’s is a sight to behold. The sense of atmosphere, the jazz and rocking soundtrack and the roar of the muscle cars give the game so much identity. The linear set piece missions that drive the story forward are really incredible, and the character interactions between Lincoln and his makeshift mob family are well scripted. The gameplay loop of taking over territories to unlock these story missions left a lot to be desired for some, but I will say that the TPS shooting mechanics and combat never left me feeling like it was a chore. After several patches on PC, utilizing a reshade for AA, and some awesome developer updates for new outfits and racing options, I can say it was one of my favorite open world titles. The collectibles and delivery side missions are pointless, but the tight gunplay and heavy sim driving settings really felt great to experience and I’m really excited to see what the team has in store for DLC story missions. Their cinematography and the character of Lincoln Clay was so necessary, and refreshing.

5. The Witcher 3: Blood And Wine; For me, The Witcher 3 will go down as my game of the generation (maybe until RDR2 rolls around someday!). I would’ve put this at the top, but I wanted to give some of the other games a good shout too. I love Geralt, and his tales in Toussaint are full of danger and vampires. The colors in the game – magnificent! 200ish hours in, and I still feel like I’m just really starting to appreciate the game world. CD Projekt Red are a god-tier developer, and as a devout fan of everything Witcher, the game has surpassed all my expectations in the best possible ways. Having a home to decorate and come back to in between quests really felt like a beautiful addition! The new armor sets were really dreamy! I could go on for days, about how much I time I spent just riding with Roach and listening to the beautiful soundtrack. It’s my go-to game, and whenever I’m ready to put another game down I find myself venturing back to this gorgeously designed RPG.

6. DOOM; This is the best feeling I’ve ever had playing a first person shooter. Mick Gordon’s metal comes blaring, demons get ripped to shreds, guns switched on the fly in some frenetic explosive madness! I can’t even begin to express how much of an adrenaline rush the game gives, and every gun has a beautiful upgrade that feels significant and fun to experiment with. The levels were designed by the best- with many secrets to uncover as you rip and tear everything in sight. I can’t get over how smooth the game plays, how much joy there is in playing with a Kb/m and just getting lost in what feels like the best re-imagining of a classic franchise. Bravo id software, y’all made magic happen!

7. Dark Souls III; I’m an avid Souls fanatic, and have heartily enjoyed the Souls/Borne experiences that FROM have released. What was once fresh, and brutally difficult now feels solid and understandable. And yet still, Miyazaki and the crew create something incredible. The boss fights this go around all felt memorable in their own ways – and the return to some notable locations provided some beautiful PvP duel arenas. I think mixing some the faster paced aggression of Bloodborne with the defensive capabilities of the Souls series struck a balance that I really enjoyed the most. I’m always tempted to get started on a new game plus run, and with NIOH on the horizon, it could be good practice to mentally prepare to die. I only play these games in isolation, and they are so mentally extenuating. But the reward for completing another Souls game is unmatched – a bit of pride, a ton of relief.

8. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End; Naughty Dog continues to impress me with their visual design and willingness to craft a story at their own tempo. I loved UC4 – mostly because the studio wasn’t afraid to create open spaces to slow down the action and allow for exploration and appreciation of their levels. The shooting mechanics felt very refined and the addition of really viable stealth options made for an entertaining rollercoaster ride. I really enjoyed seeing Drake get older, and settle down with Elena before embarking on one last thrill ride. It’s a game that I honestly can’t wait to play again in a couple of years, when the memories of the set pieces have faded. The ending was sublime and the team deserves credit for crafting a grand adventure, that really hit themes of growing older and brotherhood.

9. Final Fantasy XV; Yes, the story was a bit of a mess. And yet, the feeling of being on a wild road trip with four brothers left me very appreciative. I loved customizing the Regalia and setting a quest destination for Ignis to drive to, while listening of older FF soundtracks. Action combat in JRPGs make me happy, and I really enjoyed the fast paced link strikes with Noctis and the crew, as well as figuring out how to summon the grandest of Gods for assistance. The dungeon designs also felt very intricate, and I really enjoyed some of the hidden boss fights. It’s mash up of so many game mechanics, but the game has a lot of heart. Sure, Lunafreya’s character could have been given more purpose and Chapter 13 almost made me quit the game, but it’s a title I was very happy to see through.

10. Abzȗ; Serenity. I spent many nights enjoying the peaceful meandering on the ocean floor. The aquatic life that you get to swim with made for a breathtaking adventure – and unlocking every little secret was a very relaxing experience. Matt Nava and Austin Wintory feel like a perfect match on the titles they’ve collaborated on, and the game offers such a wonderful mix of deep sea exploration and a sense of awe in diving. I loved it to pieces!

Honorable Mentions:
x. EA Sports UFC 2; The sports game I played most this year! Incredible roster, the striking game felt much improved, and the online net code made for some tense fights. Loved it!

x. Forza Horizon 3; The best open world driving game ever. Sailing through the forests and deserts of the Outback with your favorite ride is the best!

Rainbow Six: Siege should continuously get a shout for being one of the best multiplayer games ever. Forgetting something I know it!


Feb 20, 2013
Welcome to my top 10 list, I where post dumb and/or obscure pictures in reference to the games and have a mixed bag of writing quality because I spent too long writing this while also postponing it until the last minute. All images are from google searches, and I apologize for any grammatical errors or run on sentences.

1. The Witness ; I don't even know where to start with The Witness. I've played a lot of games that claim to be non-linear or focus on exploration, but I think The Witness is kind of the only one to really nail it, and doing it as a first person puzzle game makes it all the more appealing to me. The puzzle genre has maybe become my favorite over the past few years, but when I play puzzle games I typically find myself taking a lot of frequent breaks or having to stop playing every few hours. The Witness is the only puzzle game where I've had to stop playing because I was literally mentally exhausted, and it's a game that allows you to do that consistently thanks to its non-linear design: When you get stuck on something or come across a thing you don't recognize, you just go to a different area instead of beating your head against the wall. I probably had 2 or 3 areas I was working on at any one time most of the game, and because of that I never got burnt out and I also rarely felt stuck. While I wouldn't liken it to a Metroidvania, The Witness does abide surprisingly close sometimes to the "Abilikey" structure, but in this case abilities or key cards used to access new areas are replaced with merely knowledge. That design plays into a refreshing freedom I've never felt before in game, one that you would expect from other games but it never really happens.

The world and art direction are painstakingly constructed in The Witness, and a lot of times the lines are blurred at where those end and the puzzle beings. Everywhere you look you notice something peculiar or something out of the corner of your eye, and gradually a mystery and atmosphere builds up not from a narrative or quest log, but a world constructed out of pure gameplay and masterclass design (and the understated sound design which is also phenomenal). Everything feels like it has a purpose even when it doesn't, and the game takes you continually down a rabbit hole of profound discovery, revelation, and self-improvement that is truly something special. I still can't believe some of the puzzles I was able to solve at the end of the game, which were not only highly creative in design but would've been impossible for me to comprehend at the beginning of the game. At the end of the day The Witness is a gameplay first, second, and third game, and that gameplay, a.k.a. the "line puzzles", are incredibly varied. There's a staggering amount of different puzzle mechanics that you have to juggle, and learning and mastering them is a delightful process that I miss dearly.

If I didn't correctly display my personal affection and borderline hyperbole for this game, I apologize. Let me be clear: No games I played this year came close to The Witness in terms of taking the number one spot. Not this year (which was one of the best for games imo), and probably not from the last two years if I were to pit it against those. I think the game is a masterpiece and one of the greatest games I've ever played. There are a good few things I could mark against it, like a handful out of the hundreds of puzzles not quite hitting the mark, or the game not telling you can speed up the movement of the line or that there's sprint button. In the end the real disappointment though is that a second playthrough of The Witness will never come close to being as impactful as the first one, because I don't think I'll ever forget the mind-blowing discoveries I came across, the island layout, how the all the puzzle mechanics work, etc.. In that sense it's not only one of the best games I've played, but one of the most memorable, and subsequently the one I'd most want to wipe from my memory so I could experience it fresh.

2. Hitman ; I've spent more time with Hitman season 1 than over half my top 10 combined, clocking in at around 160 or so hours since I got it about 3 months ago. In fact, if I were to count the number of times I've played each main mission in the campaign, I think I may have technically beaten this game over 10 times. So it shouldn't come as a shock that I think Hitman practically redefines replay value, and that's partially because it's so heavily designed around it.

The first time you play through any level in Hitman is kind of magical. Every object you pass by, every text prompt you see on those objects, every conversation you hear, and every bald dude you see becomes a tantalizing opportunity. Even if things don't go smoothly with whatever one of those you end up picking to deal the final assassination, now you have a swirl of ideas stored in your brain. Then as you keep playing, you start to execute these things more and more flawlessly in your head. Soon that magic from exploring a new map and getting a taste for all there is to do somewhat vanishes, but it turns into a rush of excitement because of how well you just pulled off that hit that's been rolling around in your head for the past 2 hours and itching to get out. This Groundhog Day loop is so ridiculously fun that I basically played these levels over and over until there were no new challenges or assassinations to complete. At that point Hitman's other tasty reward comes into fruition: the map design.

I've never felt so rewarded for learning the ins and outs of a contained level, environments who's designs are so intricate and complex while still staying memorable and grounded in reality. When I do a contract or elusive target in those mastered levels, I can formulate a plan so clear in my head that its almost embarrassing. Seriously, at this point I probably know Hitman's maps better than I know any real world location that isn't my house. Hitman is a true sandbox game in every sense, conjuring up so much creativity from me and other players that its downright staggering. I'm typically a person who hates entirely self-imposed challenge in games, and yet I have a ton of fun doing Hitman roulette, trying to SA escalations, or stubbornly sticking to some insane assassination plans. I need another hit, man.

3. Quadrilateral Cowboy ; I remember listening to Portal developer commentary years back and taking note of how much trouble they would go through to tailor make everything for the player. They'd rigorously test the level and focus on where players would look, what habits they would develop, and then implement new design based off that learning. Quadrilateral Cowboy feels very much centered around that line of thinking, being a game that is ground down to the bone to keep things varied, keep the player informed with an invisible hand, and remove every ounce of fluff or things that simply aren't as fun. There's so much stuff in this game that's only used once or a couple of times, like the pneumatic tube codes or realizing you can shut alarms off with a hidden keypad that has you typing in a randomly generated pass code.

Quadrilateral Cowboy is secretly the best immersive sim release this year, and one that heavily leans into the immersion and interactivity despite its rough and blocky yet charming aesthetic. The fact that the gameplay always takes place in a simulator is one thing, and then there's the fact you can open up a unique, handrawn Thief-like map for every level, or the fact you can pick up and toss almost every object in the game. The levels are short and relatively linear, but have a surprising amount of choice in them. I honestly feel a burning passion for Quadrilateral Cowboy, so much so that I played through it almost 3 times, listened to all the developer commentary, tried and failed at modding, and even data mined a little bit and played Brendon's unfinished maps. Basically stuff that I never do, but my love for Quad Cow made these things an exception. There's just so much detail, charm, lean level design and cool mechanics in this game. There's a plethora of more stuff I'd love to gush about, like its simple and understated but perfectly executed narrative, but I'm a dummy and started writing this list too late.

4. SteamWorld Heist ; A big problem I have with a lot of turn based strategy games is that they tend to run on too long. I remember the last 5 or 6 hours of XCOM:EU felt way too mindless and easy, and I remember getting burnt out on Fire Emblem after 20 hours and wishing I hadn't done the sidequests. SteamWorld Heist on the other hand manages to not only let you change difficulty per mission so it doesn't get stale, the game never runs out of steam. That's not just because of a shorter campaign length, but because it keeps introducing characters that play more different and unlock more depth the more you level up and use them. It's a slim yet varied character cast, and I had a blast playing with all of them.

Not only was Heist a satisfying challenge on Veteran difficulty, but its also one that highly relies on skill and understanding the mechanics. Most guns only have a damage spread with a couple points apart at most, and gameplay has you manually aiming in an interesting artillery-esque fashion ala Worms instead of crossing your fingers on a chessboard. Heist manages to eclipse a lot of games in the genre effortlessly, all the while being completely unique and just a true joy to play.

5. Doom ; I'd never played any of the Doom games before this, and honestly I thought from watching gameplay it looked uninteresting and in some ways I still do. Doom is a game that's meant to be played and not seen, because until I got my hands on a mouse and keyboard and booted it up, I never quite understood the appeal. Since playing Doom I've gone back and played the originals, which are great and all, but are obviously still very different and didn't quench my thirst for what I got out of this game. I soon realized that nothing will, at least not until a sequel or something of similar caliber is made. A lot of that is thanks to Doom's brilliant give and take systems. If you need health that you lost from fighting enemies, you play more aggressively and take it back from them, or you hastily disconnect yourself from the combat to grab a health pack. If you need more ammo, you take out your chainsaw and kill an enemy, which consequently takes ammo itself. Health, ammo, armor, everything feels almost freshly symbiotic despite these things being ancient FPS pickups.

That symbiosis feeds into Doom's greatest strength, a strength which manages to preserve against an overly long campaign, and that is the combat. Simply put, it's probably the best FPS combat I've played. The movement, the shooting, the enemy variety and pacing is sublime and unmatched. The great level design also plays a role,
as when you're taking a break to get secrets or keycards you'll find yourself constantly finding shortcuts or small new ways to traverse the map. Every time I had a doubt about putting it up this high on the list, I would just remind myself that there hasn't really been anything better in years when it comes to raw single player FPS gameplay, as well as ripping and tearing.

6. Hyper Light Drifter ; Hyper Light Drifter was maybe the trickiest game to place on this list, so I think it's only natural that I describe it in a list (but not a numbered list so I don't fuck up the parser). HLD has:
-A phenomenal soundtrack by Disasterpeace that is sometimes melodic and catchy, sometimes ambient and nostalgic, but also beautifully melancholic.
-Quick yet contemplative combat, requiring dexterity but also timed swings and strategical placement of the Drifter and his dashes.
-A difficulty level that produces satisfying challenge but refrains from trial and error and too much repetition.
-A handcrafted world with gorgeous pixel art and wonderful wordless world-building, wow.
-Excellent boss design, some of the better stuff I've seen in the indie space.
-Rewarding exploration and secrets thanks to great map design and choice in how you approach most of the areas and progress through the game.

Overall HLD is a game I adore from almost every aspect, looking past initial performance issues I had on my laptop and a significant amount of buggy terrain which had me contemplating putting it in a lower spot. In the end I'm looking forward to jumping into the game again sometime now that the 60fps patch is out, because HLD is fantastic.

7. Thumper ; There's a couple things Thumper did that almost no game has ever done for me. Typically I don't dig deep enough into a game's mechanics to the point where I decide to make maybe the most extensive guide for it on the internet, nor do I end up fighting for 1st place on the leaderboards. It did those things because Thumper is a game that has a such a well composed difficulty curve, and a graceful and gradual introduction to its mechanics, that it was able to push me pass what I thought was my personal limits. It also does those things without having to resort to a lot of practice and turning the game into a chore.

Although Thumper is a rhythm game, it doesn't play like most well-known rhythm games like Guitar Hero or DDR. You aren't playing along to songs, you're playing Satan Says, a hardcore psychedelic game of call and response. As one of the developers put it in a GDC talk: "This isn't Rhythm Heaven, it's Rhythm Hell". While being incredibly flashy, absurdly fast paced and foreboding, at its core Thumper is a simple and pure arcade experience, one that gets your blood boiling in a good way. Also Thumper is one of the most polished and well optimized games I've ever played, with no bugs and immaculate performance on PC. I wish it got more recognition for that.

8. Inside ; I've experienced a healthy amount of moments that I'd call jaw dropping in games, but Inside might be one of the only games as a whole where I'd use that description. From start to finish, Inside completely absolved me in its art, animation, sound design, and almost everything else in the game. Without trying to create an oxymoron, I'd say what strikes me most about Inside is how consistently unpredictable it is. I never knew what was coming up 12 steps in front of me, everything that happens is unexpected.

While not overly challenging, Inside's puzzles are varied, interesting, and grounded within the strange context of the world. What impresses me the most is despite being more focused on artistry and a cinematic look and feel than a lot of other games, Inside is still a heart an old school platformer. It's still a side-scroller on a 2D plane where you move right, with less complex controls than Mario Bros. There's no substantial goal or story, no prequels or sequels. It's not a coincidence that considering out of all the games on this list, this is the first one I'd show to someone who's not into the hobby to impress them and hopefully get them interested. I can't speak for the developers, but Inside seems like such an strong execution on Playdead's vision, and what a vision it is.

9. OneShot ; A latecomer on the list as I only just finished OneShot a few days ago, but man what a game. OneShot pushes the boundaries of what I typically think of when it comes to RPGMaker games, and despite having towns with lots of charming NPCs to mingle with, it isn't an RPG. OneShot is kind of a point and click adventure game at its core, but with some crazy twists and 4th wall breaking that make its genre a bit more nebulous, and instantly remind me of something like Undertale or Pony Island . Despite that comparison, the original OneShot actually released earlier than those games, and I think OneShot's meta gameplay is in some ways more interesting than a lot of the stuff in those them.

While simple, the point and click/put items into your inventory gameplay actually makes sense and you aren't pixel hunting or using a shoe to make a phone call. That's one third of the game; another would be the narrative and conversing with the NPCs and the main character. The narrative is surprisingly dark and I found myself enveloped in it, as well as caring for the characters who have a lot of charm. The final third is the meta, 4th wall stuff, which is really neat and plays into a incredibly impressive ending sequence. I don't have to much to gripe about when it comes to OneShot, it was a total late surprise for me and I like it a whole lot.

10. Stephen's Sausage Roll ; Stephen's Sausage Roll (SSR) is probably the hardest puzzle game I've fully completed. The first world in particularly is laughably uncompromising, and it almost feels like a tutorial world for the game is missing. Once you poke and prod enough and make some decent progress though, things really start to click. I don't mean just solutions, I mean in ways you can interact with game. Like The Witness, SSR is a puzzle not designed around mental exercises, but rather around clever tutorialization, discovery, and how you perceive the game world.

Despite what it looks like, SSR's levels are very different from each other and almost every one of them has the potential to either hint you at something new you can do or outright teach it to you. If you come across something accidentally weird or interesting, you can be damn sure it will be used in a solution later on. This kind of design makes the game continually surprising, rewarding, and makes a tough puzzle game not only swallow-able, but merciful (after the first world or two) considering how far Stephen could've taken the mechanics and the complexity. Granted there is a lot of fumbling around before you can come to any realizations that can be a turn off at times, but that doesn't prevent SSR from being an excellent puzzle game with superb design.

Honorable Mentions
x. Blackbox ; My mobile game of the year, Blackbox utilizes and designs around its hardware more so than almost any game I've ever played. Living up to its name, Blackbox truly requires you to think out of the box to understand its puzzles, and makes you do some hilariously ridiculous things to solve them. It's frankly some of the most clever stuff I've seen programmed on iOS.

x. Superhot ; Superhot doesn't evolve or provide much variety over its short campaign, but what it does do is provide a core mechanic that is so unbelievably satisfying that I can't leave out of this list. Superhot's design empowers you to do actions that aren't possible in typically FPS games, and simultaneously makes you feel like a badass and a giddy kid again. Wrap it up in great presentation and visual style, and you have a game that fully embodies "cool".

x. Abzu ; A pure meditative joy, Abzu enraptured me with its breathtaking visuals, slick movement, and sweeping yet poignant soundtrack.

x. Enter the Gungeon ; As time goes by rougelites/likes have to do more and more to impress me, and while Enter the Gungeon isn't brimming with innovation, it is brimming with polish, engaging gameplay, item variety, and good boss design. The few things that it does add to the sub-genre are hard to live without in other games, like being able to teleport to certain rooms you've cleared, or disappearing items forcing you to make decisions immediately and not grind out the floor. Although it may not have the depth or level variety of something like Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, Gungeon provided me with an early-year addiction. I consider it well worth my time, about 80 hours of it to be precise.

x. Dishonored 2 ; An expertly designed stealth/superhero game that constantly varies up its fantastic level design and provides satisfying player progression when it comes to gameplay. Dishonored 2 improves on nearly every aspect of the first game, including a load of new satisfying non-lethal options whether you're in combat or out of it. While the game's level design is the star, I think the best thing Dishonored 2 actually does is provide the most enjoyable and fluid transition between stealth and non-stealth gameplay when you decide to just roll with the punches, a feat that isn't nailed by a lot of stealth action games. I'm writing more here because I'm a tad conflicted; if it weren't for the disappointing performance and the fact I tend to enjoy and appreciate these types of games much more after replays (which I haven't done yet), who knows where this great game might have ended up.


Mar 5, 2013
1. Overwatch ; I had no idea what Overwatch was before I tried the beta nor did I feel a PVP only game would be my number 1 pick for GOTY ever but here we are. Overwatch was everything I didn't know I wanted in an arena shooter and more. The support from Blizzard has been exceptional since launch and I will be playing this for years to come.

2. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End ; One of my favourite series ever and this final entry delivered in almost every way. Yes there were pacing issues but the overall experience and ending was the perfect way to say goodbye to the crew. An unforgettable series that will live long in the memory

3. Battlefield 1 ; Best Battlefield game since BFBC2 with the perfect setting. The game feels and plays like a dream and it's just overall a really fun time especially in Operations mode.

4. Ratchet & Clank ; Playing a pixar movie simply put. Lovely visuals aside, the game was just extremely fun the whole way through. Brilliant weapons and level design, I just wish it lasted longer.

5. The Last Guardian ; I just finished playing this and boy what a ride. Possibly my favourite of the three (keep going back and forth on that one) and there's nothing like a Ueda game. An emotional roller coaster ride that culminates with an engaging last chapter and engrossing ending, I can't believe it made it.

6. Firewatch ; I didn't know what to expect from this. I was purely interested in Firewatch because it came from the team that made the Walking Dead Season 1 and I really enjoyed Henrys story. The writing was exceptional and really made me care about the characters. I'm looking forward to the next game Campo Santo make!

7. Final Fantasy XV ; This is lower on my list purely due to the fact that I haven't played enough of it but yet I already know it deserves a place here. The combat can be messy but I like the overall direction of the game so far.

8. Street Fighter V ; I love Street Fighter. SF2 was the first game I ever bought with my own money actually. I love the gameplay of this entry but it's just a shame that everything surrounding this game dragged it down. The focus on the hardcore really hurt the title and I wish they did more to accomodate for the legions of casual fight fans. Hopefully Capcom learn from this but that's not very likely sadly.

9. Tom Clancy's The Division ; Loved it when I first got it but then the shine slowly went away after reaching the cap. Game has so much potential to be great and I respect the devs for trying to change the game with 1.4 which made me come back for a while. I still get the itch to play it from time to time and I still enjoy it when I do but there's always something that keeps me from staying.


Jun 29, 2008

1. The Witness ; First game I beat 2016, and it turned out to the best (of a very good year for games). A brilliant puzzle game that felt influenced by multiple great genres, but not being a copycat of any. Someone called it a puzzle Metroidvania, which explains a lot of the draw it had. But it also felt influenced by the best old point&click adventures, those that presented you with a set objective, but divided it up in several smaller tasks that you could solve in the way you wanted. Just as that, The Witness allows you to move between the map sections when you get stuck at one place, and come back later with more energy to the already ongoing sections. That it also could play like very enjoyable walking simulator added even more value, and with it lasting 30h for me until I beat it, and that only was with a 55% completion rate, makes it an easy pick for the top spot.

2. XCOM2 ; Almost quit the game over that weird initial difficulty spike in the beginning of the game, but I persevered, and got rewarded for it. That I actually got used to the mission timer speaks volumes (for myself at least) in how good this game actually was. I might have wanted an even less linear building path for the ship, but you rarely get everything in a game.

3. Firewatch ; Gets the third spot, with me being one of those that really liked the ending, and the map/compass/radio combo was this years best interface in a game.

4. Headlander ; An all around enjoyable scifi Metroidvania that deserves a bigger audience, being one of the more underrated games of the year. I'm a huge fan of Double Fine, so there really wasn't any chance of me not buying this, but I didn't expect them to get the game together this good. The headswapping mechanic feels like a natural part of the game controls very quickly and the 70's scifi enviroments works throughout the whole game. The Defend the Rogue Eye segment is one my favorites in games since Portals 1's credits.

5. The Witcher III: Blood & Wine ; It gets knocked down a notch on the list for the mixed quality of the sidemissions, that felt so completely separated from the events of the main quest, and because those quests lacked the heights of The Witcher contracts and treasure hunts. And for the tease that the twin clifs on the map turned out to be. But it's without doubt still the best expansion I have played, and it lasted me somewhere around 40h.

6. Overwatch ; The first online shooter I have liked since Team Fortress 2.

7. Civilization 6 ; Didn't put it higher on the list, because I haven't had time to play it that much, but I've liked what I've played of it so far.

8. Day of the Tentacle: Remastered ; Everything you could have asked for from a remake; remastered graphics, original graphics, improved sound, DRM free options available. Still one of the bests of the genre.

9. Offworld Trading Company ; The game to point to when people claim that there isn't enough interesting things happening with the strategy genre. With a great OST by Christopher Tin as an added bonus.

10. Reigns ; One of the more enjoyable mobile games of this year. It might feel a bit to random, but with replayability being a foundation of the game, and it being so quick, it doesn't take away the fun from the game.

Honorable Mentions
x. Tricky Towers ; This years best vs game.
x. Inside ; Worth playing because of a couple of sequences, but I didn't care for the premise or the ending, and that the worst parts of the game are the ones that's being repeated several times taints the enjoyment of playing it.
x. Pac Man Championship Edition 2 ; The 3D train sequences gets old really fast, but otherwise a pretty great game, that improves on several things from the previous game.
x. No Man's Sky ; Bought because I want to see where they take it, so I have deliberately not played it too much.
x. Pony Island ; An interesting experiment, but not really that fun to play.
x. Oxenfree ; Awesome graphics, and an interesting story. But it's pretty much Audiologs - the game, where you have to stop and pause because the dialogues go on that long that you would interupt them if you continued in a normal pace.


Apr 15, 2007
1. The Last Guardian ; A true masterpiece and a huge achievement that delivered everything I wanted from it.
2. Final Fantasy XV ; The game looks and sound great, runs well and it made me enthusiastic again about Final Fantasy.
3. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End ; Super polished as expected and a superb ending to Drake's story.
4. Eagle Flight ; A wonderful VR experience that conveys the feeling of being a majestic bird really well.
5. Watch Dogs 2 ; A big improvement on the formula of the first game with surprisingly likeable characters.
6. Rigs: Mechanized Combat League ; Feels like the first big VR game, nice production values.
7. Overcooked ; Couch co-op doesn't get better than this, the kitchens are really well designed.
8. Inside ; The game is almost perfect at what it tries to achieve.
9. Wayward Sky ; A charming little adventure that is a great proof of concept for the genre in VR.
10. Headmaster ; Superb humor and imaginative levels get so much of a very basic gameplay idea.


Jul 17, 2013

1. Stardew Valley ; Where to begin with Stardew Valley. Is it the idea of maintaining a thriving and successful farm? Is it the countless hours spent fighting in the caves looking for minerals? Could it be the many attempts at wooing a partner, learning what they like and dislike along the way? Is it the fishing, animal raising, crafting, cooking or exploration?

The truth is that all of these things are what make Stardew Valley the game that it is. And that game completely took over my life.

Stardew Valley is a game I would have easily overlooked had it not been for GAF and Giant Bomb covering the game and being excited about it. I was never a Harvest Moon player, so I was not looking for a game like it. And really had you asked me before this year, I would have said I wasn't looking for a game about farming. And I would have been dead wrong.

What really makes Stardew Valley shine is how lovingly crafted it is. From the soundtrack to the art to the presentation, everything about the way the game looks and sounds is just pleasant and warm. I want to play Stardew Valley when I am happy. I want to play Stardew Valley when I am upset about something, or having a bad day. I can always know that a world full of friends and a simpler set of challenges awaits. The game can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. You want to focus on farming and just farming? Go for it! You want to be the warrior who makes all their money in the caves? Dig down deep and get that treasure. The game never feels like it is forcing you into any one playstyle or way of thinking.

The game's various aspects all work together really well. Farming can net you ingredients to cooking dishes that you can learn from TV that can in turn help you in the caves. Searching in the caves can find you rare minerals for the special someone you want to win over in town. All the systems in the game integrate with one another to make it feel even more rewarding when you are maximizing your time and seeing all the world has to offer. And nothing quite beats the sight of a fully fleshed out farm on harvest day.

The seasons in the game are a great supplement to the rest of the game, as they all feel distinctly different in the mood and vibe they bring as well as the physical effects they have on what you can do. Waking up on the first day of winter and seeing your entire year's farm under the snow is bittersweet, but the promise that spring is around the corner and with it a new beginning always keeps the game exciting and kept me looking forward to what was next.

Stardew Valley is an excellent game in every aspect that a game can be excellent. The gameplay is exceptional and varied. The soundtrack supplements it especially well. The art is fantastic. And the core loop of the game is one that still keeps me coming back to it after nearly a hundred hours in. It is one of the easiest Game of the Year decisions I will ever have to make.

2. The Witness ; No game has made me feel stupid quite like The Witness, and I love it so much for that.

The Witness is one of the rare games that was shrouded in mystery even up until its release. Sure, we knew the general idea was "line puzzles", but we really had no idea what Johnathan Blow had in store for us. It turned out to be one of the most clever and captivating puzzle games of all-time.

The first thing I have to commend The Witness for is its absolutely astonishingly good environmental storytelling. The level of emotion and feeling that can be evoked from a game that has no dialogue and really no music to speak of is at times breathtaking. Seeing a town in ruins or people frozen in stone conveys a message that is stronger than a hundred lines of dialogue. And the way that those same environments aid the gameplay is similarly awesome.

The puzzles and the way the game teaches you are some of the most interesting mechanics I've worked with in a game before. The game never straight up tells you how to do anything. It simply gives you the right visual cues to help you figure it out yourself. As such, it always feels like you are learning an accomplishing something. Even the "tutorial" puzzles feel good because they are not explicitly tutorialized. They are just designed in a way that eases you into the ideas and concepts at play. And trust me, they are necessary because the game has no shortage of challenging and brain-breaking riddles.

Games rarely give me the sense of accomplishment I felt when I solved a single puzzle in The Witness, let alone finished the game. Even games like Portal that had clever puzzles always felt like they were designed to be figured out relatively quick. Johnathan Blow on the other hand was ruthless in his choices of puzzles. There are still puzzles in the game I haven't solved, and I don't know if I ever will. Another thing I love about the game is that the same puzzles that cause me trouble will be way easier to someone else. Everyone has a different experience with the world of the game.

Simply put, The Witness is one of the best puzzle games ever made. And I like puzzle games.

3. Superhot ; It's the most innovative shooter I've played in years.

Now that that's out of the way, Superhot is a wonderful concept with a surprisingly great execution. I can still remember playing the first demo of Superhot way back when and hoping that it actually would become a full game. I was skeptical that it could work in a long-term setting, but the final product delivers on that promise. Well... kinda.

The motif that surrounds the core game of Superhot is fun. The story is presented in ways I never expected and it strikes a tone that I really enjoyed. The weird files and folders present outside of the main game serve as both distractions and weird hints at a much deeper lore and world outside of "just killing red guys". The fake chat room is a wonderfully strange thing and I'm happy it exists.

But in reality, Superhot lives and dies by its gameplay and level design, and both of those are completely fantastic. The time mechanic is still as clever as it was a few years ago, and the encounters built around its use are always smart and creative. The different weapons and mechanics are introduced at a steady enough pace to keep things interesting and keep you wanting more. The levels are designed to perfection, and I find myself having replayed the game's campaign three times over simply because I want to keep experiencing the core gameplay loop. The variety of strategies you can approach each encounter with ensures no two encounters will happen the same, even on the same levels.

I do wish the game were longer, but as is Superhot is a must-see experience. A tightly packed burst of creative "puzzle shooting"... and some really strange chat logs.

4. Hitman ; This year's Hitman feels like the perfect execution of a vision that has been attempted for so long with the series. It really feels like the game IO Interactive has always wanted to make. And that game is chaos. A wonderful, beautiful, complex, interesting, flawed, sometimes frustrating, often amazing mess of chaos.

When I first heard that this version of Hitman would be an always-online title, I was of course worried like most people. It seemed like a strange decision and confidence was not exactly high after Absolution. The idea of temporary targets felt like a nightmare. The idea of having to only get one map at a time felt restrictive and even exploitative. It turns out that all of these ideas made for a better game. Elusive Targets are some of the most fun I've had in a game all year. The pure tension that comes from having one single shot at a kill is thrilling in a way so few games can be. The stakes are real, and it definitely feels like it. The map rollout plan has worked wonders for most, as it allows people to scour through maps and learn all their tricks and intricacies together as a community before moving on to the next month's maps and challenges.

Of course, none of this would matter if the core gameplay was not as great as it is. As I said earlier, the game is chaos in every way, but it's made to be. Hitman is at its best when your plans fail. When you wanted to poison the target, but end up having to scale the side of a building and take out a guy from halfway across a room with a letter opener. When you had a perfect idea of luring a target into a trap, but then have to change to a pursuit when an unrelated kill causes them to change course. The amount of interactivity in the environments allows the settings and missions to evolve as they go to such a ridiculous degree that I'm stunned the game is not more broken than it is. There are so many moving parts that all work together in so many weird ways. Hitman is the delivers on the promise of being an assassination sandbox, and I am already salivating at the idea of Season 2.

5. Overwatch ; Overwatch is so very often compared to Team Fortress 2. It was nailed pre-release as "Blizzard does TF2". I hate TF2. I've tried so many times to get into it. I felt for so long like I was missing something, but the game always felt not fun to me for reasons I can't really quantify. I am also not a big fan of games that heavily rely on the performance of a team (see: DOTA). In spite of all this, I love Overwatch.

Overwatch snuck up on me, as I was never expecting to play it, let alone love it so much. I decided to sign up for the beta just out of curiosity, and I got in. I played and was immediately drawn in by the spectacular character designs and the interesting interplay of the powers and styles of the heroes. The strategies that would evolve from a certain team layout had me interested in trying any combo I could think of. The game really nails everything it goes for in spades.

The characters feel unique in both design and play style. It feels like a distinctly different game when you play as Tracer when compared to Roadhog or Junkrat. The game's art style helps this, as every character has a visual flair all their own, whether it's the hacking motif of Sombra, or the pure style and freshness of Lucio.

Blizzard has done a great job of keeping me engaged with the game all year, as the constant addition of events and new characters and stages has made the game something that lives in my library and never leaves. I may not play Overwatch every day, or every week, but I know I will continue to go back to it every so often for the foreseeable future.

6. Doom ; Doom is the best shooter campaign I've played all year. It's a nonstop, in your face barrage of violence and gore. A horrific symphony. And every part of the game comes together to make it so great. The hard hitting soundtrack is a perfect supplement to the superbly designed combat arenas and the best in class gunplay that keeps you wanting more. Well, most of the time, but I'll get to that in a second.

The thing that makes Doom so great is just how well it executes on what is at its core a mind-numbingly simple concept. There are demons. You kill demons. That's the long and short of it. Sure, there's a story in the game and tons of codex entries that are great in their own right, but the game never pretends to be anything deep or meaningful. This is a game about killing demons and being a badass with big guns, and is succeeds with flying colors. Though as great as the campaign is, I do think it went on a bit too long. By the time it was over, I was pretty ready to be done with it, no matter how good it was.

The multiplayer of Doom is not good. That's all I will say about it. It's immediately clear it wasn't developed by iD internally, as it misses pretty much everything that makes the campaign great.

7. Titanfall 2 ; The original Titanfall was in my top 5 for GOTY back in 2014 and is one of my favorite FPS titles in the last few years, so I expected that this one would be no different. But it was different in a lot of key ways. And while some of those differences are what pushed it down this list, others are what keep me playing it even today.

Let's get this out of the way up front, no the multiplayer is not as good, but the campaign is fantastic in a way I never expected. The individual levels of the campaign all feel different and interesting, and while the end goal is always to shoot the enemies and get to the end, every level gives you different means to get to that end. Whether it's a time traveling gauntlet, moving walls in a manufacturing facility, or a boss fight on top of an airship, the campaign in Titanfall 2 is constantly changing up the environments and mechanics to keep you on your toes. And while the main player character is a generic and lifeless marine, the rigid but clever personality of BT shines through and gives enough moments of character to keep you interested in the journey the two of them go on. I was fully expecting the campaign in Titanfall to feel tacked on as it has in similar "military FPS" games in the past. But it turned out to be the main reason I recommend the game to people.

As for the multiplayer component, I still enjoy it a lot and I do like some of the changes they've made, but it does fall short of the first game. I like that the loadouts and customization options are greatly expanded and they give the game a sense of progression longevity the first one did not have. I think the rodeo change is smart and creates tactically different fights from the first game. One thing I do not like however is the map design. There are great maps in this game (Looking at you, Eden), but the consistency is just not there the way it was in the original. That hurts a lot of the MP experience for me. And it's the main point that holds this game lower on my list.

8. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End ; When I finished Uncharted 4 back in May, I was sure that it would end up in my top 3 without a doubt. But it didn't. The reasons for that are variable, but mostly that other games just stuck with me longer and more came out after it that impressed me. But none of that changes the fact that I think Uncharted 4 is the best game in the entire series bar none. I love Uncharted 2, but this game is better in every material way.

The story and writing are at their best here, as the game maintains the feel of pulpy action while adding in more human elements and doing those smaller moments justice in a way that great games like Uncharted 2 and 3 never did. One of the scenes I remember most from a game this year is not the Jeep chase or the final showdown with Rafe, but the scene of Nate and Elena just sitting in their house and joking around, or the scene of the two of them discovering the pirate captain bodies and relating it to their own lives. If this is indeed the final story of Nathan Drake, then it was given a proper sense of scale on both a physical and personal level to feel justified in being the end for that character.

The gunplay here is as good as it's ever been, and the more open combat arenas combined with an increased emphasis on stealth makes the encounters feel more varied and alive than they ever have in an Uncharted title. It's still relatively basic, but it is fun enough that I never felt like I was drudging through the combat to get to the next story beat. They went hand-in-hand. And they combined to make Uncharted 4 a very impressive title.

9. Inside ; I did not like Limbo that much. It was "neat", but it never captured me in the way that it seemed to capture so many others. I felt it was minimal to a fault. The game never felt compelling to me. So when I saw the first bits of Inside at E3 2014, I immediately saw the opportunity for more varied environmental storytelling, and boy did Playdead ever deliver on that promise. A game with no dialogue or even text tells a story more compelling and interesting than tons of games with bigger budgets and louder characters. I remember almost every part of my short time with Inside, from the varied puzzle mechanics it presented me to the twisted and gross situations and environments it put me in. The various mechanics of the puzzles stayed around long enough to see the full breadth of their reach, but never long enough to feel tiring or repetitive. The art is spectacular and the game constantly gives it the attention it deserves without having to necessarily shine a spotlight on it.

It loses points for me on two fronts. On one hand, I did find the game a little too easy. I don't think a single puzzle took me more than three or four tries. That's not an inherent negative, and I do think it helps the game's flow and pacing, but I think for me personally I wanted a bit more challenge. I also was not a fan of the ending, which while I can see the merits of and understand why people love it, I am just not a fan of that type of storytelling as an end.

10. Forza Horizon 3 ; I have a checkered history with the Forza series. All the mainline entries are games that I like and can appreciate on a technical level and I am constantly amazed at what Turn10 can get out of the Xbox hardware, but they've never been that fun to play. They've always felt mechanical and dry, even with the Top Gear presentation they've tried to implement. The games never had a soul. And that's where Horizon shines so brightly. Horizon is fun and colorful and loud in all the ways that main series Forza Motorsport is not. The style and variance of the environments keeps the experience interesting throughout. The sounds are absolutely impeccable, from the immersive environmental noises of the cars to the pitch perfect DJs and soundtracks that accompany the racing. I've enjoyed all the Horizon games, but this is the best the series has ever been. I may have preferred the structure of FH1 more, but in every other way Forza Horizon 3 delivers on the promise of arcade racing with technical polish better than any title has before. It lands down on my list in main part because of the frustrations I experienced with the PC release as compared to the relatively perfect XB1 version.