Stephen’s Top 10 Games of 2016

Published On December 28, 2016 | By Stephen Johnston | Blogs, Lists

Time as always is an enemy to the adult gamer. There’s been so many great games all demanding your attention, yet never enough time for all. For this reason, I tend to choose a single player experience over time sinking multiplayer, but in 2016 there were some exceptions.

10 – Devil Daggers

When I think about the games of 2016 that gave me pure nostalgic joy, Sorath’s Devil Daggers hit the spot more than any other. Most games that dwell on all things yesteryear only briefly manage to grab my attention before I’ve had enough and move on. Devil Daggers was short, sweet and full of 90s FPS Quake-like dread. The object of the game was simple but so addictive – stay alive for as long as possible. If there’s an award for ‘one more turn 2016’, it’s for this.

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09 – Fire Emblem Birthright

It struck me ten hours in that I really liked this game. This was actually the first tactical role-playing game I’ve ever really played as I’d always just shrug them off after seeing or hearing about them, they just looked dull to me. FEB’s story and its characters are a total joy, and the game although later challenging wasn’t too overwhelming for someone of my experience. I was able to scream ‘I get it!’ and slowly nod to people (well, just Sean) knowingly like an 80s movie victory scene.

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08 – Pokémon Go

“Oh it’s not a game!” I hear some people cry but of course it is. It has all the elements right there – levelling up, collecting and as simple as they are; skill based mechanics. I was part of a private facebook group where we’d share our levelling up and gym beating triumphs. I’d constantly be swiping at my phone to catch the little blighters during the day at work and evenings as I’d go out running. Yeah, now it’s currently hit that ‘are you still playing that’ part of my gaming conversations, but for that very short blip of time, it took over my life.

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07 – DOOM

I think it’s really crazy that we’re all talking about DOOM again and not just about how good it used to be. DOOM got all contemporary on us while we weren’t watching, or weren’t interested. Developers id decided not to lean too heavy on the nostalgic side, and instead bring us a DOOM so brutally thrilling in its design that you can’t help but laugh while you mow down waves of demons with that bloody brilliant weapon switching mechanic.

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06 – The Witness

Who knew an island full of puzzles could be so mesmerising? OK, Myst but I never played it, sorry. I cannot remember the last game that had me get out a pen and paper to make notes. Seriously, I was cutting out little squares and spreading them across the floor like a TV detective. It’s a game that makes you feel like an absolute genius for one puzzle to then kicking you hard in the face as you stumble on the next. I’m really scared to go back in fear of forgetting how to solve anything.

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05 – Titanfall 2

Yet another FPS! Having not played the first one I understand it didn’t have a campaign mode, which is crazy when I think about just how good this is. It’s a solid campaign with gripping set pieces and great characters. There’s totally a Half Life vibe going on in that mechanics are just thrown in and out before you get chance to get tired of them. The relationship between Jack Cooper and the titan BT-7274 was so emotionally engaging. Not since Lee and Clementine in the Telltale’s Walking Dead series have I experienced such a sincere connection. I’m tempted to say I want a movie. Sorry, I know, I know.

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04 – Overwatch

I wasn’t really aware what exactly this was when it was released, I was getting confused with Battleborn as they were released about the same time and had similar sounding names, so I passed on it. Then that word of mouth thing happened and suddenly I felt pressured to ‘get it’ in both senses of the term.

Playing on your own doesn’t really work or at least helps reveal its full potential. It’s when you team up friends and employ tactics does the game get to really shine. One thing I really love is that Overwatch doesn’t publicly punish you for doing badly as there are no leaderboards. This is, I guess, to encourage players to help their team reach their goal rather than go on killing sprees. I can’t imagine not playing this through 2017.

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03 – Inside

You know what, I never managed to complete LIMBO. I liked it but just not enough to get through it. There was a point where the puzzles were outweighing the story and it was the story I wanted more of. Playdead nailed it for me with Inside. Sure, the story’s ambiguous, but it really kept me intrigued. With the puzzles I always felt like you’re still part of the world, harmonising with the environment as the mechanics tie in and help build the narrative perfectly . The ending totally flawed me. Honestly, I’m still thinking about it.

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02 – Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

A fitting final chapter for Nathan Drake. At the time I thought it surely wouldn’t appear so highly on my end of year list as it was such a fleeting experience. That’s the thing with the Uncharted games, I tend to get through them in a handful of sittings as they’re too good to wait on. When I think back I reflect as though it was a bloody good film and it hurts to think that we won’t ever get another Nathan Drake centric story. I suppose we all know all the best things leave you craving more.

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01 – Street Fighter V

Was there any doubt at all Street Fighter V wouldn’t top my list? I have put more hours into this than any game this year, probably more hours than with my wife (joke). The game launched with some issues. Hell, ten months later some of those issues still remain. Promises were made and promises were broken. I along with many others felt constantly let down with the lack of communication from Capcom. So why on Earth is this my number 1?

For one, I knew what I was getting into. I knew on release there’d be a slim roster of characters. I knew that main features like the story and VS mode would be added later. The core game itself is brilliant, especially when playing locally and that’s really all that mattered to me. I’d not been as invested in SF since Street Fighter 2 back in 1991. In 2016 this game got me interested in watching e-sports and actually taking part in competitions (as bad as I was). I realised when I attended EGX this year that Street Fighter V is my football.

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5 honourable mentions!

Stardew Valley, Battlefield 1, Mario Run, Punch club, Pac-man 256.