2016 was a phenomenal year in gaming. Many new intellectual properties were introduced to the public, garnering massive critical acclaim for innovative gameplay and unique stories. Other existing IPs released new entries in their respective franchises, which not only furthered the continuing mythos of each franchise, but allowed new ideas into the series as well.
With this list, we’re going to be doing something a little different. There were many video games out this year, and I unfortunately can only play so much (my backlog is ASTOUNDING). Therefore, I’ve selected three from this year’s crop as the games that really stood out this year.
And before anyone says anything, no, I have not played Overwatch. Therefore, Overwatch is not on this list. It’s know it’s on everyone and their grandmother’s top lists, but not this one. We cool? No one’s going to get mad here? Awesome.
These three games are the games that truly stood out for me in 2016.
3. The Last Guardian
For a decade now, this game was the one everyone would joke about never coming out. Its status of release reached near Half-Life 3 levels, and some feared it may have never seen the light of day. But finally in December, we saw the release of Team Ico’s (Shadow of the Colossus) next project.
The game is a simply beautiful one showcasing, at its core, the relationship between a boy and his pet... even if that pet happens to be a cross between a chicken, another bird, and a Chihuahua. The story never goes for slam-bang action throughout, rather opting for slow, more intimate moments. The background scenery is stunning, and the animations on the creature, Trico, are some of the best animation I’ve seen in years.
The gameplay itself is similar to how Shadow of the Colossus is played, in that it is a mix of puzzles and platforming. However, the introduction of Trico into the gameplay is when things really become intriguing. With most support characters in games, you call them over and they heed right away.
With Trico, it may take a few tries to coerce it into doing the right task, similar to how one might behave with an actual pet.
But at its heart, this game is about the relationship between a young boy and his pet, which is pulled off so well that you feel the emotional connection throughout the entire game. It is truly an emotional experience.
2. DOOM (2016)
By all purposes, there’s no way this game should have worked. In films, rebooting or remaking a film is difficult to begin with, but rebooting/remaking a classic game? Not just that, but rebooting or remaking the game that’s basically responsible for bringing first-person shooters into modern-day gaming?
There’s no way that the DOOM reboot should have succeeded.
Yet, it does. This is, hands down, the most entertaining first-person shooter I’ve played in years. What makes this game so much fun is what it boils down to: shoot stuff first, and keep on shooting until every monster is pulverized. As the eponymous DOOMGuy, it’s either kill or be killed, as you have to take down every monster you see in sight (this is especially seen when using “Glory Kills” to take them down in brutal fashion).
The game’s hard-hitting gameplay, accompanied by a heavy metal instrumental soundtrack, provides the biggest adrenaline rush in gaming this year.
1. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Nathan Drake and the Uncharted franchise has been a staple of gaming for the better part of ten years now. With Uncharted 4, the final adventure starring Nathan Drake, we get to see the character in a much more vulnerable light. We see the internal conflict Drake goes through in wanting to help his long-lost brother Sam find the lost pirate city of Libertalia (their White Whale, so to speak), or to remain safe for the sake of his love, Elena.
Because of this, this is a much more personal battle for Drake, as he’s fighting not only to save his brother, but also against his own personal demons. Drake, while still trading his usual one-liners, knows that he’s got one more hunt left in him and is conflicted over wanting to fully leave the life behind, or stay with the adventure (it should be noted that Nolan North, Troy Baker, Emily Rose, and the rest of the cast give career high performances here).
It’s a beautifully well-told story from writers Neil Druckmann (who also co-directed) and Josh Scherr. Druckmann seems to have carried over the personal drama he learned from The Last of Us and mixes it seamlessly with the breathtaking action of Uncharted.
And breathtaking might be an understatement, as this is truly the most exciting game I’ve played all year. From new ideas such as stealth kills or using a rope to swing from one area to the next (which is WAY more fun than expected) to heart-pounding set pieces that the franchise is known for — all of the action in this game is the best action since the train sequence in Uncharted 2 — the game has everything one could hope for in a video game.
What were some of your favorite games of 2016? Sound off in the comments below!