Frankie's Top 5 Games of 2016
2016 has probably been my favorite year in gaming since 2011. In addition to all of the great “traditional” controller-and-TV games I played over the course of the year, the advent of PSVR gave me a brand new outlet with which to experience games. I even dabbled with a few mobile games in 2016 — thanks a lot Hitman: Go Definitive Edition! I feel that, although I may have finished fewer games this year than I have in years prior, the games I stuck with in 2016 really resonated with me. Narrowing this list down wasn’t easy, and there are a handful of games that — on any given day — could have easily claimed a spot here had I been in a different mood or state of mind. So, without further ado, I present to you fine folks a handful of my favorite games of 2016!
Not since 2014’s Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare have I found myself this enamored with a more multiplayer focused game. Encapsulating the humor of Borderlands and mixing it with an enjoyable character progression system that lets players spec their favorite characters to their style of play really help this game stand above all others in its class this year. With nearly 80 hours invested in the title across both PS4 and Xbox One, as well as a streaming series dedicated to the game that I host weekly(ish) — check out The Solus Chronicles on our YouTube Channel — Battleborn looks to be one of only two games released this year that I will play much more of as we roll into 2017.
The first Titanfall was a bittersweet experience for me. I enjoyed my time with the game but, between sporadic server issues and the lack of a single player campaign, I didn’t play it much outside of its launch month. Fast forward to the fall of 2016, and things have changed considerably. Titanfall 2 dropped with easily (in my humble opinion) the most enjoyable campaign of the year and, when paired with the fast and addicting multiplayer of the first title (sans the connection issues), I just couldn't get enough (and still can't) of developer Respawn's mech-piloting action epic. It was clear early on that Respawn had a recipe for success on their hands. Much like the aforementioned Battleborn, Titanfall 2 is a title that I feel like I’ll be returning to often in 2017 on both PS4 and Xbox One (join the Short Pause Pilots network today!!).
Jazzpunk: Director’s Cut
Growing up, Ren & Stimpy was one of my favorite cartoons. Jazzpunk feels like what would happen if the creators of that fine program decided to make an adventure game. Stepping into the shoes of Pollyblank and experiencing the absolutely absurd world around him yielded one of the most enjoyable experiences of the year for me (and a hot 5/5 review as well). The developers embraced the outlandish, rather than just tip-toeing around it, and the payoff is something incredible that fans of ridiculous games need to experience.
The Banner Saga
This was one of the first games I reviewed this year. I don’t typically find much enjoyment in turn-based strategy games, but every so often a game comes along in a genre I don't often play and makes a strong case for me to give other games of its ilk a chance. Developer Stoic’s Viking-RPG is one of those games. Combat is pretty intimidating at first, but once you learn the strengths of each character in your party, battles become a fun chess-like game of knowing when to play to a character's strengths versus when to use them to set up another party member for the team's victory. The complex battle system, gorgeous hand-drawn art style, and powerful storytelling kept this game on my mind throughout the year. In fact, it’s the only game in which I constantly go back to my review and ask myself why I didn’t give it a 5/5. I can’t wait to finally dig into The Banner Saga 2 at some point (shameful backlog game), and I look forward to seeing the trilogy through to the bitter end.
I came into this game expecting nothing more than a fun game with a simple gimmick – time moves when you move. However, not only is the mechanic used in a smart and addicting way, the story is also strong and pretty "out there." More first-person puzzle-solving game than run-and-gun shooter, Superhot is great at delivering that “holy crap, that was cool!” feeling upon completing a difficult level. Watching your replays back in real time leads to several “woah, I did that?!” moments as you watch yourself punch a guy in the face, catch his gun in the air, shoot another guy coming around the corner, and throw your gun at just the right moment to catch the last guy in the face and knock him out. Trust me, it’s an exhilarating game well worth your time and money.
Honorable Mention - Shantae: Half-Genie Hero
As of this writing, I’m not completely finished with Shantae: Half-Genie Hero just yet (I'm roughly 75% of the way through according to the game). That said, while this is my first time playing a Shantae game, I can honestly say I’m blown away at how great it is. I know Bender has always spoken highly of prior entries, so I had a certain level of expectation coming in, but everything has been a pleasant surprise in terms of how fleshed out it is. The writing is humorous and the level design invokes Rayman-like elements that really resonate well with me. It’s the first metroidvania game I’ve really gotten into in a long time, and it's a game that could have been a contender for the main list had I finished it prior to this write-up.
I’m pretty happy with the games that I had the time to see through to the end this year. There are still some glaring titles I've yet to finish in my backlog like Dark Souls 3, Ratchet & Clank and Doom, but that just means I've already got some great games to play in 2017. There were also a handful of other games that I loved that could have easily made this list like Quantum Break and Day of the Tentacle Remastered, but – alas – I had to pare this list down to five . 2016 was a fantastic year for games, and I’m extremely excited to see what 2017 holds in store for us!