2016 was a great year for games and just like most years I rushed to play most of the heavy hitters weeks before 2017 came roaring in. 2017 is off to a great start though since this is the earliest I’ve ever finished this list and I didn’t play as many bad games as I did last year which was a huge relief.
Severed wasn’t exactly what I wanted next from the creators of Guacamelee, which I adored, but I’m glad they know what’s best for me because this game is great. The tight gameplay, abstract storytelling, and style the game oozes is just the right mixture to have me hooked and hook me it did. I did nothing but play through Severed for hours until I got 100% in it. I’m pretty sure I’m only the third person on the planet with a Vita but the game is on mobile now so you don’t really have an excuse to miss it.
Best Moment: The dragon boss.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Uncharted 4 is both the best Uncharted and the second best. It might not live up to the action movie adrenaline train that was Uncharted 2, but the story this game tells is easily the best in the series and miles ahead of any of the previous games. After the third game’s middling finale, I really wanted to return to the series but only if Naughty Dog could deliver some proper closure and they really nailed it here. You really start to see a deeper side of the core trio as the game goes on as you’re roped into Sam Drake’s treasure hunt. It did start to drag a bit towards the end, but that’s a minor nitpick in what was a phenomenal goodbye to the series.
Best Moment: Walking through the pirate village.
Ultimate Chicken Horse
Whenever I hung out with my friends last year we almost always ended up playing Ultimate Chicken Horse at some point during the night. To me, this is the ultimate local multiplayer game in that it offers a fun gimmick and eventually leads to gratuitous shouting and swearing. Friendships were both gained and lost during many nights of playing this beautiful game and if it’s not part of your game night then you need to remedy that situation immediately.
Best Moment: Dancing.
Final Fantasy XV
I’m only 10 hours into FFXV and it’s already got its hooks burrowed deeply in me. For something I expected to be completely mediocre, I’m amazed at how genuine it all feels with its interesting “road-trip” vibe in an Americana setting seen through the lens of Japanese developers. It took me awhile to get a feel for the combat but once I did I actually started to have a surprising amount of fun and I’m just enjoying how chill it is to play which makes for a great stress reliever after playing something like DOOM.
Best Moment: Just chilling with my bros while driving, man.
I don’t think Blizzard gets enough appreciation as a developer from most of the gaming community. Each time they dip their toes for the first time into a genre they completely knock it out of the ballpark and I thought for sure a shooter would finally be their downfall, a team based hero shooter at that too. Thankfully I was once again proven wrong with Overwatch easily being one of the best multiplayer shooters I’ve played in years with a diverse cast of characters, solid map design, smart reward system, even smarter post-game stats briefing, and probably the closest anyone has gotten to a balanced hero shooter. I’ve dumped hours into this game whether it was from the beta, at a friend’s house, or on my own and I look forward to dumping more.
Best Moment: The loot box animation.
DOOM shouldn’t have happened but I’m glad it did. The years in development, and likely multiple scrapped concepts all culminated in what’s one of the best shooter campaigns in years and the revival of a game that was thought to be impossible to bring back. The speed of DOOM, the sound of DOOM, the look of DOOM is everything I wanted from a modern shooter and I just want more of it in my life.
Best Moment: The shotgun cock.
For months up to its release Hitman had been plagued with doubts over its quality due to the poor reception of Absolution, its departure from the series formula, and the reveal that the game would be episodic. I was right there in that crowd until the beta dropped and after playing through the two tutorial missions I sat there thinking “Holy shit, Hitman’s back.” After the first episode dropped I was surprised at the complete return to form IO pulled off after years of doubt whether they were still able to deliver on a good Hitman game. The episodic nature of the game also helped it, instead of hindering it as I soon realized later in the year once more episodes released. IO has also managed to fix every issue I initially had with the game and each new episode has been a blast to play through. Those elusive targets though, let me tell you about elusive targets dawg. The month long wait between episodes is to prepare you for these difficult missions that require a complete understanding of how the map functions since the only help you’re given is a brief bio on the target. It’s your job to figure out where they’ll start, or possibly end up at some point, and how to take them out without dying yourself since you’ve only got a single shot at these timed targets. Some of these missions have been some of the most tense and rewarding moments I’ve had in the series and I’m always checking to see when the next drops. Hitman is not only the biggest surprise of the year for me, but easily one of the best in the series that no fan should miss out on.
Best Moment: Becoming Helmut Kruger.