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Spencer’s Top Games of 2016

There are few things in the world I am as passionate about as video games, so I try to play as many great games as I can each year. I’m lucky enough to be in a position that lets me write about my passion, which just makes me want to play more games. So here are the games I loved in 2016:

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

My love for the Uncharted franchise is no secret. Few other series can so perfectly emulate the adventurous over-the-top action of a pulp serial while also having such fantastic and engaging characters. I had high expectations for the final installment of the series, but it still managed to blow me away. The visuals, the action, the gameplay, and most of all, the story, all culminated to give Nathan Drake the sendoff he truly deserves, crafting one of my all-time favorite games.

Best moment: All of it. Libertalia, Nate and Elena’s relationship, and Crash Bandicoot.

Final Fantasy XV

Like Uncharted, it’s pretty clear that I have a long and loving history with Final Fantasy. Like many others, I had been waiting for this game since it was known as “Versus XIII”, and I truly believe that it was worth the wait. While XV’s gorgeous visuals and addictive gameplay are a joy to experience, the core group of characters serve as the heart of Final Fantasy XV. I won’t forget Noctis, Ignis, Prompto, and Gladio anytime soon, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Best moment: Driving around the country with the “chocobros”, listening to classic songs from past Final Fantasy titles.

Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past

Sometimes you just want to play a game that excels in the most basic ways, while still providing a stellar experience. When that feeling arises, Dragon Quest is always there. The 3DS remake of Dragon Quest has the charming visuals, beloved gameplay, and whimsical music the series is known for, alongside a robust class system, and a cast of characters that will warm even the coldest of hearts.

Best moment: Seeing the changes you made in the past affect the future for the better. Visiting villages that wouldn’t exist without you was genuinely touching.

Yo-Kai Watch 2

Yo-Kai Watch 2 does everything a sequel should. Both versions of the game improve the original’s gameplay, world, and music, while adding even more creative Yo-Kai, a basic but intriguing story, and a fun multiplayer mode. If Yo-Kai Watch 1 gave the catch-em-all genre new life, Yo-Kai Watch 2 made it even more refreshing.

Best moment: Spending far too long trying to get every single Yo-Kai, while loving every second of it.

Overwatch

I’m not much of one for multiplayer shooters, but Overwatch took me in a way that only Team Fortress 2 did before it. Every character is full of personality and charm, while also being vastly different in terms of gameplay. There’s just enough lore presented through dialogue and levels to keep me interested without any heavy exposition, and gameplay that’s accessible enough for anyone to try. Overwatch is a special game, and one that I’ll enjoy playing for years to come.

Best moment: Passing the controller between my brother and I each round, excitedly yelling at the screen.

VA-11 HALL-A

Prior to playing it for review, VA-11 HALL-A somehow managed to slip under my radar. I’m glad I got to play it though, because it makes most hidden gems look like rocks. While the stunning pixel visuals grabbed my attention, it was the seedy, yet somehow optimistic atmosphere and characters that kept me invested. Making drinks is easy but fun, and the satisfaction of making a drink just right, and getting more dialogue from a customer because of it, is as satisfying as it gets. While it’s not a particularly complicated game, it’s one worth experiencing for anyone looking for a great narrative experience.

Best moment: Nailing the creation of the perfect drink while listening to patrons rant about their lives.

Dragon Quest Builders

As I said about Dragon Quest VII, Dragon Quest has a set style, gameplay, and atmosphere that keeps fans coming back. Builders flips the established gameplay onto its head, using a more action-based building system, rather than the classic turn-based roaming. This works wonderfully because of how it compliments the very core of the Dragon Quest series, rather than altering it. Thanks to the characters, music, and world (not to mention the genuinely interesting spin on the original game’s story), Builders still feels like a real Dragon Quest game, rather than an experimental spin-off.

Best moment: Looking upon my enormous fortress of a settlement, built by me from the ground-up.

The Last Guardian
Without spoiling much, The Last Guardian is an emotional trip for anyone who even remotely likes animals. Though the gameplay is somewhat clunky, the connection between the creature, Trico, and the boy you play as is entirely worth it. Solving puzzles or platforming with Trico make for a real sense of teamwork, but the simpler moments, like petting him, calming him down, or healing his wounds, are the most moving part of the game. Not to mention Trico moves and acts like a real dog, so any dog owners will find their heartstrings being pulled at fairly often.

Best moment: Petting Trico while feeling my heart melt.

What were your favorite games of 2016? Leave a comment below!

Spencer’s Top Games of 2016
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