Friday, December 29, 2017

The Best Games I played in 2016

The best games I played in 2016, broken down by category/type.

Weird story driven games:


  1. The Witness. The reward for playing The Witness is a feeling of epiphany, where the game makes you comprehend things you never grasped before. Don't learn anything else before playing, and don't cheat yourself by looking up answers when you should be discovering them. 
  2. Danganronpa 1&2 (Trigger Happy Havoc). A visual novel about 15 high-school students trapped in an abandoned school and told they have to kill someone without being identified as the killer in order to escape. Each murder results in a high stakes trial that ends in either executing the true killer… or everyone else if they guess wrong. The trials are fast-paced, attacking false claims with pieces of evidence loaded in your chamber as bullets. There's more reading than gameplay, it’s like reading a manga where you take over at the most important plot points.
  3. Zero Time Dilemma. The Zero Escape series is what Christopher Nolan would create if he was writing video games. The plot only grows more complex as the series progresses, diving into game theory and quantum mechanics, and the third entry is the culmination of everything introduced up until that point. I kept detailed notes on each game as I played just to keep a handle on everything and remember all the clues. It’s by no means executed perfectly, and this is probably the weakest chapter in the series, but it never fails to be interesting. 
  4. Superhot. Two hours of gameplay designed to echo stylish close-quarters fight scenes from action movies. It’s almost a turn-based based FPS, time only moves when you do, so you can plan your actions and figure out how to engage multiple enemies at a speed that would be impossible normally. The gameplay is coupled with a story that doubles down on the weird.

Mainstream:
  1. The Witcher 3. The adventures of a card-playing monster exterminator. There are so many fantasy properties out there it can be hard to tell them apart, but The Witcher stands out as being particularly well-executed.
  2. Drawful 1&2. The crown jewel in the jackbox games, you draw ridiculous prompts (which you can also write yourself) and try to describe the drawings your friends created well enough to fool people. 
  3. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. Transhumanist demigod Adam Jensen surpasses the limits of human potential through augmentations, which he mostly uses to read people’s emails without their permission and win arguments with criminals
  4. Doom. Over the top arcade action that’s everything people who hate video games think of when they think of video games. But it’s the best executed version of the style it’s going for.
  5. Star Fox Zero. The extra vehicles don’t really add to the experience, the motion controls would be better in VR, but it gives me everything I want out of an on-rails shooter and the free range levels are the best they’ve ever been.


Tabletop:


  1. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle. Essentially a co-op Dominion, it’s a series of 7 progressively more intense co-op challenges based around the Harry Potter books. Nowhere near the complexity or variety of Dominion, but it has a nice RPG like progression over the games.
  2. Time Stories. You should split the cost between a group of friends and plan on reusing the set, but it’s a fun little choose your own adventure type story (usually a mystery), where you decide how to explore the world and gather clues.
  3. Mythos Tales. Blatantly stealing its design from Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, it’s a choose-your-own-adventure style co-op where you solve supernatural mysteries in Arkham by picking leads to investigate on a time limit, collecting evidence to unlock other leads, and trying to minimize the creeping insanity from confronting nameless horrors. It’s fun exploring Lovecraft’s world, although the mysteries aren’t as polished as they could be.


Misc:


  1. Escapade’s Bach escape room in Auckland New Zealand. I’ve done a lot of escape rooms by now, the bread and butter of them tends to be guessing passwords based on clues hidden around the room. This one stood out by having a few clever physics puzzles, and being a two-person experience rather than designed for a giant group where you inevitably miss out on doing some puzzles.

I made the same list for 2015, archived here: http://newheiser.blogspot.com/…/the-best-games-i-played-in-…

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