With the countdown to 2017 looming, I thought it was apt to do a countdown of my own and sound off some of the best games that came out this year. It's going to be a 'Top 8' this time as it has been a remarkably busy year for me, with my dissertation, grad film, graduation and first real job in industry. When you line it all up like that, it certainly sounds impressive anyway!
Without further ado, here's the list!
Of all the games I've played this year, this one caused the most shouting - and with good reason. Overcooked is basically Gordan Ramsey Simulator 2016 as you and up to four friends are put in charge of a very heated restaurant. You will shove one another and bark out orders and it can be absolute chaos if someone tries to do too many things (like me). But when it all goes right and your teamwork pays off, it can be remarkably rewarding.
Fresh shooting game when time and bullets only move when you do. Genius. The game's mechanics turn the game into more of a violent game of chess, which I dig. While I don't need much of an excuse for shooting a bunch of dudes in slow-mo, I really appreciated the game's story which does a good job of propelling you through the brief campaign. Simply put, “it's the most innovative shooter I've played in years” (play the game to get the reference!).
6: Battlefield 1
Bullets, mustard gas and trenches, Battlefield 1 spits on the people who thought that a WW1 setting could never make for a compelling shooter. Online play consists of up to 64 people playing simultaneously and, when games go well, you really do feel like you're in the middle of a merciless conflict. Above all else, the game's tone is praiseworthy, treating WW1 with a lot of respect that I did not expect from a game series that inspires the ironic MLG community. A lot better than I was expecting this one to be, and that’s always a nice surprise.
Who knew that a game about being a fire warden for a national park could make for such a cerebral character study? While you are in this truly beautiful environment, you will feel very alone at times and your only means of contact is to another woman on a walkie-talkie. This dynamic makes for a psychological treat. While the ending doesn't quite hit the mark it wants to, the journey is expertly written and almost feels like a moving graphic novel at times. It will keep you second guessing yourself at every turn and I love that.
4: The Witcher 3:Blood & Wine
The base game of Witcher 3 is a very tough act to follow, but without even breaking a sweat, the developers pushed out what is possibly the biggest piece of DLC for any game ever. Vampires and banquets go hand in hand, creating a spectacular and surprisingly humorous, adventure. Special credit is due to CDPR for ending the entire 100+ hour game in a way that is wholly satisfying and sure to please anyone who has even spent a few moments in Geralt's boots.
Every time I think of this one, I like it more and more. It plays out as a minimalist adventure, starting you off as a little boy running through the woods. He can jump and grab and that’s about it. However, it's the way that the dystopian world makes you feel so desperately vulnerable - everything is threatening and you are constantly being hunted by someone or something. It's a minimalist and incredibly fluid puzzle platformer that ties every action back to the game's world and tone. It's rare to see a game do that so consistently.
Doom can be summed up in one word: visceral. Everything, from dismembering hell spawn to pulling the trigger on the super shotgun just feels so damn good. While I gave kudos to Super Hot for being an innovative shooter, Doom is just straight up old-school. Your health doesn't regenerate and it smartly encourages you to keep moving and keep killing to maintain your resources so you are ready for the next bloody encounter. You can tell this game was made with high regard for the 90's and, call me nostalgic, but sometimes I want to go down a polished, blood-soaked version of memory lane.
Undoubtedly the game I played the most this year, Blizzard's hero based shooter just works on every conceivable level. Multiple heroes with unique play styles, a healthy pool of maps and really responsive gameplay constantly inspires you to be your best. This is the gold standard of online shooters. I have played this dozens of times with friends and strangers and we are all inclined to work together to achieve a common goal. More often than not you'll find yourself screaming down a microphone because your team landed a nail biting victory. With even more free content coming in 2017, it's going to be a game that just keeps on giving.