Adam’s Top Five Games of 2016
Well it is that time again to breakdown all the games I have played this year and organize them into a neat little list for your reading pleasure. There was a great deal of big releases this year and some them definitely made a mark on gaming history, of course that is just my humble opinion. So without further delay here is my top five games of 2016 and here is to the new year; let’s up hope 2017 brings us some consolation, especially considering all the negative things that have happened recently. As always this list is not ranked.
Honorable Mentions: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD, Bioshock Collection, Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright, Star Fox Zero , Street Fighter V
1. Ratchet and Clank (2016)
I was never a big fan of the Ratchet and Clank series because the games never interested me. My disinterest in the series was not a result of hatred or spite, it was simply indifference. There was nothing in the series that really drew me to it, so I avoided it for many years without any second thoughts. All of that changed when I had the privilege to play Ratchet and Clank (2016) at the recommendation of a friend. The latest Ratchet and Clank entry serves as a re-imagining of the first game and it is absolutely amazing. Ratchet and Clank (2016) does a lot with very little, what I mean by this is that it delivers a satisfying experience without being bogged down by a bunch of tedious changes. For example, you progress by platforming and blasting your way through tons of enemies with a bunch of outlandish weapons. Every level in the game is loaded with collectibles that unlock tons of extra content so it will always have you coming back for more. The plot is pretty simple, but is paced beautifully with enjoyable voice acting and plenty of comedy. If you have never played Ratchet and Clank before this game is the perfect place to start.
2. Hyper Light Drifter
Perhaps the best indie game of 2016 in my opinion, Hyper Light Drifter, like Ratchet and Clank (2016) accomplishes a lot with very little. For one, the game is stylized in 16-bit, akin to that of a Super Nintendo game, proving that graphics do not need to be highly detailed to be appealing to the eye. Moreover, Hyper Light Drifter’s gameplay harkens back to classic titles like The Legend of Zelda by having you explore complex dungeons and fight menacing bosses. What made this game so attractive to me are its stylized graphics and its minimalist approach to plot as the story is told solely through visuals rather than through dialogue. Its style is complemented further by giving you the freedom to choose which areas and dungeon you want to explore. I found Hyper Light Drifter to be challenging as I died numerous times, but it’s never unfair and for every challenge completed comes a great deal of reward through the form of small golden squares that can be used to purchase weapon upgrades and new abilities.
3. Doom (2016)
Good old Doom. The first two games are unmistakable classics that shaped the foundations of the first-person shooter. Doom (2016) brings the series back to its roots with fast-paced action, hordes of demons, and plenty of gory carnage. Not only does Doom (2016) capitalize on the nostalgia of the originals it wastes no time in dropping you into the action. There is no opening cutscene and the story is mostly kept in the background to not distract you from its frantic gameplay. Controls are smooth and responsive and every kill is amplified through special kill moves called Glory Kills that reward you with extra health and armor. Levels are open-ended and loaded with secrets like in the originals, in fact, there are portions of levels from the first two Doom games hidden throughout each stage, making the nostalgia all the more satisfying. I found the multiplayer and mapmaker modes to be decent, but it is Doom’s single-payer mode that really gives it identity. If you loved the first two Dooms then playing this game is mandatory.
4. Hitman (2016)
Ridiculously long load times and the nuisance of only being able to play missions as they release are some of the few gripes I have about the most recent Hitman game. With these problems aside, I am glad to say that Hitman (2016) literally does what its promotional tagline says by placing you in locations that are worlds of assassination. Every mission is epic in scope as Agent 47 explores vast locations like the lush Italian town Sapienza or a weathered barn in Colorado. With every location you visit comes a series of options to take down your target and the game lets you exercise any approach you want. What I enjoyed about the missions in Hitman (2016) is that is does not force you to find your own approaches, you can take advantage of Opportunities that give you hints to take down your target. Sure, Opportunities may limit your freedoms, but they are optional and you can turn them off if you want to. Although not the best Hitman game, Hitman (2016) is strong in its own right by having you explore intricate environments and perform creative kills. I suggest picking up the game when its entire first season is available for retail in January.
5. Kirby: Planet Robobot
What? A 3DS game for game of year? Yes, that’s right, a 3DS Kirby game is one of my picks for game of the year. Call it bias on my part to the little puffer, but Kirby: Planet Robobot was a memorable 2016 title that does everything that Kirby does best like platforming, puzzle-solving and copying all kinds of crazy abilities. By no means a perfect game, Planet Robobot offers just enough innovation to its gameplay to keep you interested throughout the whole experience. The biggest innovation is the Robobot, a mech suit that Kirby can jump into in certain levels, that plows through enemies and obstacles alike. In addition, the suit can also copy abilities, truly making it a force to be reckoned with. Surprisingly, Robobot has a completely different style compared to other Kirby games as the bright and vibrant colors of early levels are steadily replaced with the neon lights and the dull gray tints of metallic factories. As is tradition with most Kirby games, Robobot features additional game modes like the Arena where you can fight every boss and Meta Knightmare Returns where you can play through a harder story mode with Meta Knight, giving the game plenty of replay value.