Surprises in games are always more than welcome in this new modern age of the predictable 5 act story that is video games en-masse. And while there isn’t much different between Inside and it’s predecessor Limbo in terms of gameplay, Inside gives a masterclass on visual storytelling and creative design built to unnerve and creep, while keeping you captivated and intent on reaching its brilliant climax. It’s not the most difficult game, nor the longest, nor the most technically impressive, but its short form storytelling does everything right in keeping you invested until the very end.
9. Hyper Light Drifter
Hyper Light had a rocky start. Bound to 30fps, a ton of bugs that hindered progress…hell, when I first played through it, I ended up hitting a glitch that respawned me in a boss room with 1 pip of health and no recourse but to start the game over or do it perfectly. Thankfully, time passed, patches were released, the game was raised to 60 fps and I was able to notice the little visual touches that denoted secret areas or hidden strategies. The game is difficult, but it’s the right kind of difficult, fair but punishing, save for a few particularly poor checkpoints. But the visual style is beautiful, the Disasterpiece soundtrack is hauntingly catchy, and even when the game becomes frustrating, you still brush yourself for that “one more run” feeling. It took a little while, but HLD turned into something that really ended up being pretty sublime.
8. Final Fantasy XV
This game took way too long to make, and it’s fraught with issues, and it spends a lot of time wasting the players time, but hey, it still came out pretty well and ended up being pretty fun. The story had a rustle scalpel taken to it, large chunks lazily and sloppily removed, and the most fun I had with the game was hanging out with my boy band bro just taking requests from the hunters guild to fight dangerous animals in the frontier. If you consider FF15 to be all about one big bachelor party road trip rather than the fates of the crystals and the cities and emancipation of the small towns and Kingsglaive and WHATEVER…. it’s a much better game, because when it sticks to that; When it’s a game about just hanging out with people you care about, it’s pretty god damn amazing. It just…doesn’t do it enough, and it gets bogged down by the pomp and circumstance that Final Fantasy always has and can usually wrangle properly. Still, I enjoyed the game a lot, and I’ll probably replay it when it’s complete version hits the PC in 2018.
7. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
Dues Ex new trilogy two is a very interesting game because it ends up getting a lot of things wrong. It still plays really nicely, just like the first game, it’s still easy to break, just like the first game, but a lot of its storytelling and narrative contradict each other as bits of dialogue compete to be more interesting than the actual plotlines they’re setting up. But what makes Mankind Divided actually really interesting are the little bits of storytelling the game does visually; The quiet moments that really take you by surprise when the game isn’t leading you by the hand and you’re doing your actual detective work. The REAL revelations this game has are jarring and amazing and mindblowing, but if you don’t search for them, you’ll never see it. All I’m saying is when you get to the Tai Yung Medical Storage Facility, look around real hard in infrared and have the entire meaning of the racism, and the mechanical apartheid and the vigilante justice you’re doing be turned completely on its head. Those revelations made MD so much more fun and meaningful than anything actually said in the plotline.
6. SteamWorld Heist
So I went to japan for the first time earlier this year. That entails a 24-hour flight, and you better have some entertaining things on a 24 flight. SWHeist was that game, keeping me entertained for hours upon hours with the perfect escalation of difficulty that kept me from getting frustrated but always kept me on my toes. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like a complete structural departure for the last Steamworld game, but their mixture of worms and final fantasy tactics turned out to be so fun, I ended up playing through it again on the ride home. If you have a 3DS, you need this game.
5. Titanfall 2
Titanfall 2 is dope. It’s hard to come up with more than that to describe that game because honestly, it’s a series of super tight, super entertaining moment to moment scenarios, each one being its own little thrill ride. There’s nothing super amazing or thought provoking about the narrative, they aren’t doing anything new or crazy with the world, but the rhythm of the game, it’s general tempo, is fun and exciting and surprising and just…super tight. It’s almost like a platinum games campaign where you can see all the major beats coming, but the undercurrent of it all is super engaging to the point where you don’t want to stop playing, and you’re a little sad when it’s all over. The multiplayer is cool too, definitely the best of the twitch shooters this year, but this game’s bread and butter is it’s single player campaign, which is just….really really dope.
4. World of Final Fantasy
This game hit me sideways. Forget all the FF nostalgia, forget the fact that this game is just Pokemon with FF mascots and monsters, I fell in love with this big dumb anime story. There is something about a story that starts off super chipper and a little annoying and gets increasingly dire the longer you stick with it until the game, in bold letters, tells you that “IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT!”. Fun to play, fun to watch, fun to mix and match all sorts of magic abilities to create combinations that make you feel smart for coming up with them, WOFF really stood out far more than I ever thought it would. It was definitely the surprise of the year.
This game rules. This game rules way more than it has any right to. I never thought a remake of doom could be this entertaining at its core but man, they do everything right here. The shooting feels awesome, the enemies are fun to fight against, they made actual lore surrounding the idiotic concept of the doom guy that both makes sense and is hilarious. The narrative is actually wonderful, which is an insane thing to say about a DOOM game! The bosses are a little weak, but in a game about combat scenarios, bosses seem more like a bookmarked requirement than the meat of the game. Everything about its package is super entertaining to the point where replaying areas doesn’t get old. Doom ended up being a joy to play which was the last thing I was expecting, and now all I’m doing is wondering when they’re going to announce Doom 2. The multiplayer doesn’t matter. We don’t go to Doom for multiplayer.
I won’t lie, I was a pretty staunch naysayer of the episodic nature of the new hitman. But at the same time, I hated all of the old hitman games because they weren’t fun to play and were mired with pedantic systems that never made any sense. But a pricing error got me to try this game out and man, am I glad I did. This game is fun because it makes sense. The systems within are smart and serve as a bullet point for what stealth in a game should be, to the point where it made doing stealth in other games that came out this year seem incredibly poor by comparison. The game makes you want to learn the ins and outs of each stage so you can murder any hapless target the game gives you if you should choose to stray beyond the story mode, and unlocking more weapons and gadgets to make you more mobile and hostile keeps you coming back and trying different methods to sneak around and silently assassinate the powers that be. This is the best hitman game ever, this may be in the top 5 stealth games ever, and it’s certainly the best single player game of the year.
I have 250 hours in overwatch. That doesn’t happen. Usually, with games, I play through them once and that’s it. I have 250 hours in overwatch. I look forward to getting home from work, going to the gym, making dinner, perhaps a drink, knocking out an episode of a show, then playing 5 hours of overwatch. It helps that I have a pretty common crew to play with but you guys, I have 250 hours in overwatch. That game came out in may. That wasn’t all that long ago. Overwatch is the most accessible multiplayer shooter ever. It is the easiest shooter to wrap your
head around. It makes you feel good by obfuscating how poorly you’re doing and focuses on what you did well. Watching pro matches is actually informative. The loot system…sucks, it’s ass, but despite it being so terrible, despite the carrot being so diseased and browned and unappetising, the stick pleasant and inviting, less of a stick and more of a saucy riding crop. I have 250 hours in overwatch. I have 250 hours in overwatch, and I will go home today, and play another 5 hours. Game of the year. Perhaps, game of the generation.