Unpause – For Gamers By Gamers

The Best Games of 2016

You’ve been waiting for it. So here we have the end of year roundup! Look back at the 20 amazing games from 2016 (in no particular order). Or get pumped for all the upcoming games of 2017. Here’s Unpause wishing you Happy New Year!

 

Inside by  Playdead

Playdead’s latest is the achievement that justifies all of that effort. Dense with detail, creative in narrative, and absolutely perfect in sound design and movement, it is a shocking achievement on every level. It’s a simple story, told in minimalist detail and chiaroscuro colors, of a boy breaking into a strange post-industrial facility, but it becomes something infinitely more shocking and memorable than its humble beginnings would have you imagine. Inside is the pinnacle of its form.

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC

 

Overcooked by Ghost Town Games, Team17

Overcooked is a chaotic couch co-op cooking game for one to four players. Working as a team, you and your fellow chefs must prepare. Cook and serve up a variety of tasty orders before the baying customers storm out in a huff. Overcooked is the best party game of the year. It’s a one-to-four-player kitchen-management game where you and your companions must divide up. There are a number of jobs in an environment that is always changing. The game comes down to communication, and even when levels end in failure and screaming. Everyone will want to get right back in to try again to get a three-star rating.

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC

 

Pokémon Sun/Moon by The Pokémon Company, Game Freak

In many ways, Pokémon Sun and Moon feel like the games that fans wanted Pokémon X and Y to be. The most significant changes are the variety of small additions that have been made, improving the user interface and the feeling of a living world. You now see your trainer standing behind your Pokémon in battle. Texts will tell you if a move is effective or not. Now, you can press a single button to throw a Poké Ball. There are so many improvements made to the series in this installment that it’s hard to imagine going back. 2016 was the Pokémon franchise’s 20th anniversary. Consider Pokémon Sun and Moon the tasty, tummy-filling celebratory cake.

Platforms: 3DS

 

The Witness by Thekla

The Witness is the sense of discovery, distilled. It’s the modern-day Myst, dropping you into a serene, breathtakingly beautiful space. Then letting you explore its inner workings at your own pace. Without any direct guidance, it slowly, surely, and wordlessly teaches you the mechanics of its incredibly clever puzzles. Never rehashing the basis of a brainteaser and only building atop your ever-evolving understanding with each new challenge. When you first awake on this strange, deserted island, you know nothing; by the end. Your newfound knowledge and shifted perspective will have you seeing the world. Both in-game and in real life – with new eyes, constantly trying to decrypt your next solution. That devotion to expanding the player’s mind, whether through ingenious puzzles or quiet introspection, makes The Witness truly special.

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC

 

Watch Dogs 2 by Ubisoft

What a lovely hipster-flavoured surprise this open-world San Francisco turned out to be. We can joke about how painfully cool Watch Dogs 2‘s Marcus Holloway and his hacker chums are. But this is actually a stack of characters who are worth spending some quality time with. Add in all the hacking fun that Mr Aiden Pearce never actually got to have in the first one. Watch Dogs 2 is a technicolour playground just waiting for you to tinker with it. Whether you want to follow the entertaining main campaign, take part in some drone racing or just wander around taking selfies with the infamous Bushman of Pier 39. The sheer choice on offer is a refreshing change of tone from the grim original. Toss aside the lethal weapon option and go for Marcus‘ stun gun and you might even feel like you’re doing some good in the world.

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC

 

The Last Guardian by Fumito Ueda

Blending the puzzle-solving exploration of Ico with the fantastic beasts of Shadow of the Colossus. The Last Guardian is the closing out the trilogy of Sony Japan’s beautiful, experimental games was long in the works. But it managed to emerge from development hell with its vision intact. Your monstrous friend Trico might be as stubborn as a new puppy when you try to get him to help you solve the game’s puzzles. Which are crafted with deceptively simple pieces but that only makes him feel more real in the end. A beautiful, emotional journey.

Platforms: PS4

 

Superhot by Superhot Team

It’s been a banner year for inventive, mold-breaking shooters, and Superhot led the charge in early 2016. On its face, Superhot‘s hook is a simple concept: time only moves when you move. This one tweak to the core shooter formula turns a normally twitch-action genre, into a methodical puzzle game. Only here, the puzzle pieces are guns, and you put the puzzle together by carving out the most efficient path through each level. Taking out every mook in sight. It’s the interactive realization of slo-mo-heavy flicks like The Matrix done right. Where you piece your actions together over a handful of tense, stressful minutes. Then watch everything play out in real-time seconds in the instant replay like you’re the world’s greatest action hero. Its tight design is tied together by its striking minimalist presentation. Its Cronenberg-inspired narrative, which drags you further down a bizarre sci-fi rabbit hole and lets you go before overstaying its welcome. This isn’t just the mind-control talking; Superhot really is the most innovative shooter in years.

Platforms: Xbox One, PC, Linux, Mac

 

Dark Souls 3 by FromSoftware

Unforgiving. Brutal. Sadistic. All apt words to describe Dark Souls 3, but here’s three more: completely worth it. Ruined cities and marshy forests surround you as you make your way deeper into the fiendishly challenging world of Dark Souls. Despite the fact the narrative takes a back seat. If you take the time to look around you can piece together what went on before the world became a monstrous hive of activity. Each enemy is distinct from the one that came before both in looks and attacks. So combat never feels repetitive (an impressive feat for a game based solely on bashing blades into your foe). Dark Souls 3 might be hard, but it’s fair. Diligence and perseverance are rewarded not with respite from the ceaseless sense of danger, but with the satisfaction that you overcame a boss at long last, and not through button-mashing either. Master the dodge and roll, time your strikes, and don’t let your guard down. Follow these steps and sooner or later you’re going to ‘git gud’ and realise why Dark Souls 3 easily makes it into our top games of 2016.

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC

 

Oxenfree by Night School Studio

Breaking free of the stilted line-by-line dialogue progression that riddles so many games. Oxenfree maintains witty, lively banter among its teenaged characters for its duration. A lighthearted, jokey beginning quickly leads into a dark sci-fi horror plot, and as relations between the characters grow more tense, so too does the dialogue escalate in its intensity. Multiple endings (including a new, post-launch option to continue the story) mean that your choices matter, so think before you speak.

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Linux, Mac

 

Final Fantasy XV by Square Enix

It’s fair to say that Final Fantasy XV is, at the best of times, a wee bit wonky. The story is practically unintelligible unless you’ve see companion movie Kingsglaive. Noctis and his three companions are chatting with gods, fighting magical robots, and renting horse-sized chickens. But they’re also doing what friends do – comforting each other in a time of great uncertainty, expressing affection in ways big and small. Coming in the form of sharing meals, posing for selfies, and always, always having each others’ backs. Final Fantasy XV is drenched in the stunning spectacle of fast combat and gorgeous visuals (even the toast looks amazing). But at its center is a very human heart. It’s not unusual for the characters in a party-based RPG to be pals, but rarely has a game made that friendship feel so authentic. They give the quiet moments the attention they deserve. Bonds are formed in battle, sure, but they’re also formed on the open road, sitting in companionable silence as the miles fly by.

Platforms: Ps4, Xbox One

 

Battlefield 1 by DICE, Electronic Arts (EA)

While other FPS games turned to increasingly futuristic settings and gameplay. Battlefield developer DICE looked to the past for inspiration on this year’s entry. The result, ironically enough, is one of the freshest feeling shooters in years. The campaign, while short, is drop-dead gorgeous, with some heartfelt drama interspersed with bombastic set pieces like zeppelins hovering over London. Then you enter the fray of multiplayer and find a finely-tuned experience that feels immediately familiar. Things move a bit slower due to the limited technology of the time period. But that slower pace also makes the experience digestible and keeps it from feeling overwhelming. There’s a plethora of unlocks to keep you coming back, and the 32v32 scale is unrivaled by any of its competition. There’s nothing quite like a Battlefield game, and with its WWI setting, that’s doubly true for Battlefield 1.

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC

 

Overwatch by Blizzard Entertainment

There is much to love and praise about Overwatch that you could say about any well-crafted shooter. You get well-executed gunplay, unique character classes, exciting maps, and a variety of game modes. But two things make Overwatch special. First are the unexpected moments. And that’s the second part of Overwatch‘s magic. The brilliance of Blizzard‘s games has long been centering its work around fans. The immediate surge of support from the Overwatch community is a testament to how deeply the game resonates with players of all kinds. As a result, most of the people play by the first rule of improv: always say yes. Yes to the unexpected moments, to the teamwork, to the hilarity, to the joy. That’s why Overwatch is a happiness machine disguised as a multiplayer game. It’s all about the yes.

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC

 

That Dragon, Cancer by Numinous Games

A difficult game to experience, That Dragon, Cancer challenges in ways you might not expect. It is a deeply personal piece of work. Asking you to play as an observer to a heart-breaking period of a family’s life. The story follows the wrenching and brave biographical work of Ryan and Amy Green. That presents interactive vignettes from the course of their son Joel‘s battle with cancer. The Greens warmth welcomes you in, however, avoiding the very real issue of this feeling like a troubling voyeuristic exercise. It is a plight they want to share; the inexplicable, discordant cadence of grief and hope. Through its jarring allegories and harrowing memories, you get the feeling of parents trying to make sense of the insensible.

Platforms: PC, Mac, iOS, Ouya

 

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End by Naughty Dog

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End marks the end of Nathan’s Drake story as we currently know it. Could he be back? Sure, maybe in some capacity. But the game does a wonderful job when it comes time to put a nice bow on his tale. It’s also one of the most beautiful games ever released.From the tremendous environments to the incredible character work to the globetrotting story. The design of the game is second to none, setting a new bar for interactive experiences.In every way the game feels like the perfect send-off to a beloved character. Uncharted 4 is the best game of this generation, proving once again that Naughty Dog is filled with master storytellers and brilliant designers.

Platforms: PS4

 

Firewatch by Campo Santo Games

Equal parts Gone Home and Telltale’s Walking Dead, the debut title from Campo Santo was another step forward for the narrative-driven, solitary-exploration genre. Poking your way through a mostly uninhabited national park, your only companion a voice on the radio, is an entrancing experience. The places are so pretty and the plot is so immediately arresting that in no time at all you’re deep in Firewatch‘s thrall. The profound sadness that pervades the whole experience, the isolation, the reasons you went out into the forest in the first place. It’s an experience not to be missed.

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC

 

Doom by id Software, Bethesda Softworks

Doom is a paean to a type of game that doesn’t get made anymore: A love letter to grindhouse mayhem, the blend of science fiction. A heavy-metal album cover pastiche that made the original Doom feel so singular and entertaining in 1993. Like the original, the revival is also deeper than it appears. With a vein of intelligence running deep through its design and its quietly campy wit. It’s a quintessentially modern first-person shooter that manages to capture the intense, fast-paced energy of the original in a way that exceeded just about everyone’s expectations.

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC

 

Titanfall 2 by Respawn Entertainment, Electronic Arts (EA)

https://youtu.be/EXwdWuSuiYA

Respawn Entertainment has managed to produce one of the most original and entertaining first-person shooter campaigns in years. An episodic romp through a series of creative obstacle courses including a time-travelling superweapon bunker. With a giant factory building pre-fabricated houses. Titanfall 2’s campaign is powerfully rhythmic and supremely fun. You are a pilot, marooned on an enemy planet, equipped with a supersuit that lets you run on walls, powerslide across entire rooms, and call a giant mecha buddy to help you in a pinch. Part buddy cop comedy, part acrobatic platforming showcase and part giant robot brawler. Titanfall 2 relentlessly dazzles the player with its confident design.

Platforms: Ps4, Xbox One, PC

 

Dishonored 2 by Arkane Studios, Bethesda Softworks

The tropical world of Karnaca is collapsing into ruin at the hands of a usurping witch and a corrupt duke. Disaster happens quickly in a situation like that, but victory requires patience. The patience to watch, and plan, and act with a full awareness of everything you’re capable of. As the usurped empress or her aging warrior father, you must retake the throne and set right what once went wrong—or just let it all burn. Arkane Studios have crafted, in Dishonored 2, one of the most rewarding game spaces ever made. Every inch of Karnaca hums with story and possibility, places where you can watch or intervene, sneak or kill, help or hurt.

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC

 

Pokémon Go by Niantic Inc.

Finally, right? The Pokémon game series was dying for a title that actually let you venture outside and find its bizarre array of fighting monsters out there in the real-life world. While Pokémon Go didn’t have most of the gameplay bells and whistles of the main game series, It was infinitely more popular when it launched this year, sending millions of would-be Pokémon masters out into the world. A perfect blend of a winning franchise and unique technology has created a worldwide obsession.

Platforms: iOS, Android

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