2016 has already been an outstanding year for video games despite, still having more all the fall games still yet to come. For a year that had a surprisingly heavy first half due to multiple titles delayed out of 2015, deciding the game of the year when December 31st rolls around will be no easy task. With a holiday season just around the corner that’s packed with plenty of heavy hitters, it’s the perfect time to take a look at what games we’ve already played that will most likely still be on our minds when deciding the best game of the year.
1) Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is a masterclass in storytelling. When Naughty Dog’s highly anticipated final act in Nathan Drake’s story finally launched after two tantalizing delays, it was difficult to scroll through your PSN friends list without seeing nearly everyone playing it. With slick gameplay, jaw-dropping graphics and an epilogue that will no doubt stay in the minds of fans for a long time after the credits roll, Uncharted 4 delivered the ending that fans of the series deserved. What was easily one of 2016’s most anticipated games quickly became one of the games we will all still be talking about when this year closes.
From our review: “Across the board, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is a graphical powerhouse, showcasing a level of realism and beauty to rival any video game on the market. Whether it’s the dense jungle, or a crowded city street, everything looks gorgeous and alive. More than just looking nice though, the game also delivers on every other front. Despite its couple of minor flaws, Uncharted 4 is polished and a blast to play. With dozens of nods to Naughty Dog and Uncharted’s past, A Thief’s End feels like much more than just any other game. It’s the end of a series, a lovingly crafted message to fans, and an excellent send off for Nate, Elena, and Sully.”
Fans have trouble choosing what exactly is the best part of Overwatch: The attention to detail in the varied roster of character models and their cosmetic items? The fact that every map is intricately designed for its respective game mode? The sheer flawlessness with which the game runs when it comes to performance and graphics? While all of these are well executed, the true success of Overwatch comes with its broad appeal to every audience and each type of player. Whether you’re a true FPS fan or you simply like to hang out back and heal your team’s offensive players, there is a vital spot in Overwatch for you. Blizzard’s continual updates and content releases seem to promise that Overwatch will still be at the top of many of our lists come December.
From our review: “Despite the flaws, Overwatch is a must pick up for any FPS or Blizzard fan. The charming imbalance found within Overwatch is classic Blizzard, and it’s doubtful that it’ll ever be truly balanced. But then again, what game has ever been actually balanced? With that in mind, it’s exciting to see the future potential that the game holds, and I’m hopeful that each addition of a new hero will be rightfully placed in the game(no micro-transactions, please) and fit in well with the current aesthetic.”
While Uncharted 4 showed off the power of a Triple-A developer working their magic with storytelling, Inside proves that a smaller and much shorter game can do it just as well. Riding off the critical acclaim of Limbo, indie developer Playdead managed to create a game that tops its predecessor in both gameplay and in story. Though it ultimately ends with more questions than answers, Inside leaves you invested in its world as you control its mysterious main character through a series of well-designed environments and outstanding puzzles that are on par with some of the best puzzle games of all time.
From our review: “Unsettling, yet somehow charming, Inside is wholly unique. Though the spiritual successor to Limbo, it improves on Playdead’s last game in just about every way. Simply put, Inside belongs in the select group of titles that both have a clear vision of what they want to be, and execute that vision to near perfection.”
4) The Witness
The Witness kicked off the year in January as players all around the world joined together to collectively solve the plethora of puzzles scattered around the island environment brought to life by creator Jonathon Blow. Throwing everything out the window from the modern gaming era by containing no dialogue, no music and no real tutorial, The Witness challenged players in ways no game has in recent memory, leading to some of the greatest epiphanies and “aha!” moments of the year. Describing the appeal of The Witness to someone who hasn’t played it may prove difficult, but put simply, The Witness invades your thoughts even when you’re not actively playing, which is the sure sign of a special game.
From our review: “There’s no doubt that The Witness is an outstanding game, unparalleled in today’s industry. The difficulty is punishing. But overcoming it is satisfying and well worth the patience and head scratching it takes to get through. Both clever and beautiful, the world is interesting to explore and the mysteries more than enticing enough to sink yourself into. Thekla Inc. blends modern gaming with the best of puzzle-gaming’s legacy.”
5) Ratchet and Clank
Ratchet and Clank’s re-imagining on the PS4 is one of the best games of the year for so many reasons, but the most prominent is that its gameplay is just pure fun. Playing like an animated movie, Ratchet tears up the beautiful scenery throughout the galaxy with a large arsenal of weapons ranging from the Pixelizer, turning enemies into 2D sprites, to the Sheepinator, transforming anyone in your way into a ball of wool. Ratchet brings together a mixture of great comedy, platforming, and combat for an experience that many weren’t expecting to be as great as it surprisingly turned out to be.
From our review: “Ratchet and Clank is more than a remake; it’s a re-imagining of the original title from the PlayStation 2. And it does a phenomenal job retaining a great sense of humor, tapping into nostalgia and looking absolutely superb while doing it. Whether you’re a newcomer to the series or have been following the Lombax since he went commando, you likely will have trouble putting the controller down until you reach the end of your first of many, many playthroughs.”