Zachary Davis' Year in Gaming - 2016 Edition!

As we close out another year, it's prime time to reflect on the biggest video game releases of 2016. While not one the standout years of gaming in my mind, this year is notable for the return of some major yet somewhat dormant franchises (Uncharted, Final Fantasy, and Street Fighter, among others), some brilliant new IP, and inventive new takes at old ideas. With so many AAA games on every platform, it's easy to miss some of the smaller (but no less entertaining) titles of 2016. Here are my top five picks from every month! Enjoy, and don't be afraid to try something!


January

Amplitude

A Rhythm Game by Harmonix (Playstation 4, Playstation 3)

Oxenfree

A Graphic Adventure Game by Night School Studios (Windows, MacOS, Xbox One, Playstation 4, Linux)

Darkest Dungeon

A Dungeon-Crawling Role-Playing Game by Red Hook Studios (Windows, MacOS, Playstation 4, Playstation Vita, Linux)

Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam

A Role-Playing Game by AlphaDream (Nintendo 3DS)

The Witness

A 3D Puzzle Game by Thekla, Inc. (Windows, Playstation 4, Xbox One, iOS)

The Witness was a surprise hit for me, for reasons, looking back, that I can't even fathom. Jonathan Blow certainly blew me away with Braid last generation, and Myst (which heavily inspired The Witness), is one of my favorite classic games. This puzzle game is ambitious, inventive, and gorgeous, and provides a real sense of accomplishment as you work your way through the mysteries of the island. 


February

XCOM 2

A Turn-Based Strategy Game by Firaxis Games (Windows, MacOS, Linux, Playstation 4, Xbox One)

Unravel

A 2D Platforming Game by Coldwood Interactive (Windows, Playstation 4, Xbox One)

I was looking forward to several games leading into the month of February, but thanks to EA Access, I was able to try the first two levels of Unravel before release and was immediately sold. As Yarny, you explore photorealistic levels with a myriad of mechanics unlike most platformers. This game is an artistic masterpiece, and given that it's priced as a budget title (and currently in the EA and Origin Access Vaults), it should absolutely be part of your video game collection.

Street Fighter V

A Fighting Game by Capcom/Dimps (Windows, Playstation 4, Linux)

Fire Emblem Fates

A Turn-Based Strategy Role-Playing Game by Intelligent Systems/Nintendo SPD (Nintendo 3DS)

Stardew Valley

A Simulation Role-Playing Game by ConcernedApe (Windows, MacOS, Linux, Playstation 4, Xbox One)


March

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD

An Action/Adventure Game by Tantalus/Nintendo EPD (Wii U)

With the delay of Breath of the Wild out of 2016, fans of the series were left with a Zelda-sized hole in their hearts. However, one of the last gems on the Wii U came this March in the form of a remaster to the Gamecube and Wii masterpiece, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. With a graphical update and some other fixes, I felt like I was enjoying the decade-old classic for the first time.

Salt and Sanctuary

A 2D Action Role-Playing Game by Ska Studios (Playstation 4, Windows)

Pokken Tournament

A Fighting Game by Bandai Namco Studios (Wii U)

Day of the Tentacle Remastered

A Graphic Adventure Game by Double Fine Productions (Windows, MacOS, Playstation 4, Playstation Vita, iOS, Linux)

Killer Instinct: Season 3

A Fighting Game by Iron Galaxy Studios/Microsoft Studios (Xbox One, Windows)


April

Dark Souls III

An Action Role-Playing Game by FromSoftware (Windows, Playstation 4, Xbox One)

Ratchet & Clank

A 3D Platforming-Shooter Game by Insomniac Games (Playstation 4)

I've watched the Ratchet & Clank franchise change as I've grown older, loving the series through A Crack in Time on the PS3. After that point, I felt like the games lost direction, but this enhanced remake of the original story proves that Insomniac still has the ability to do the formula justice, and completely renewed my interest in an old favorite that I had written off entirely.

The Banner Saga 2

A Tactical Role-Playing Game by Stoic (Windows, MacOS, Xbox One, Playstation 4, iOS, Android)

Star Fox Zero

A 3D Scrolling-Shooter Game by Nintendo EPD/PlatinumGames (Wii U)

Severed

An Action-Adventure Game by DrinkBox Studios (Playstation Vita, Wii U, iOS, Nintendo 3DS)


May

Uncharted 4: A Thief's End

An Action-Adventure Game by Naughty Dog (Playstation 4)

Uncharted 4 brings a conclusion worthy of the games before it, as Nathan Drake sets out for one last pulp-adventure. While not as action-heavy as previous entries in the series, A Thief's End channels everything the Playstation 4 has to offer, with a deep, engaging story with solid mechanics, coated in incredible visuals.

Doom

A First-Person Shooting Game by id Software (Windows, Playstation 4, Xbox One)

Homefront: The Revolution

A First-Person Shooting Game by Dambuster Studios (Windows, Playstation 4, Xbox One)

Valkyria Chronicles Remastered

A Tactical Role-Playing Third-Person Shooting Game by Sega (Playstation 4)

Overwatch

A First-Person Shooting Game by Blizzard Entertainment (Windows, Playstation 4, Xbox One)


June

Kirby: Planet Robobot

A 2D Platforming Game by HAL Laboratory (Nintendo 3DS)

Trials of the Blood Dragon

A Racing/Puzzle Game by RedLynx (Windows, Playstation 4, Xbox One)

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE

A Role-Playing Game by Atlus (Wii U)

Inside

A Puzzle-Platforming Game by Playdead (Xbox One, Windows, Playstation 4)

Inside, like its predecessor Limbo, is artistic, atmospheric, and, simply put, amazing. The game will keep you on your toes over the short duration it takes place in, and there is never a dull moment. At $20, this is another one that deserves a space on your hard drive. 

BoxBoxBoy!

A Platforming Game by HAL Laboratory (Nintendo 3DS)


July

Pokémon GO

An Augmented Reality Game by Niantic (iOS, Android)

Song of the Deep

A Metroidvania Game by Insomniac (Playstation 4, Xbox One, Windows)

When Gamestop announced that they would begin publishing games, I was a little uneasy. But GameTrust's first title, developed by Insomniac, is a gem. Metroidvania's are my favorite genre of video game, and Song of the Deep provides that kind of gameplay with fresh visuals and soundscapes extremely well. 

Videoball

A Sports Game by Action Button Entertainment (Playstation 4, Xbox One, Windows)

Monster Hunter Generations

An Action Role-Playing Game by Capcom (Nintendo 3DS)

I Am Setsuna

A Role-Playing Game by Tokyo RPG Factory (Playstation 4, Playstation Vita, Windows)


August

Overcooked

A Simulation Game by Ghost Town Games (Windows, Playstation 4, Xbox One)

No Man's Sky

A Survival Game by Hello Games (Playstation 4, Windows)

Metroid Prime: Federation Force

A First-Person Shooting Game by Next Level Games (Nintendo 3DS)

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

An Action Role-Playing Stealth Game by Eidos Montreal (Windows, Playstation 4, Xbox One, Linux)

World of Warcraft: Legion

A Massively-Multiplayer Role-Playing Game by Blizzard Entertainment (Windows, MacOS)

"People still play this game?" Yes. Yes they do. And for good reason. Every major expansion brings new things to the World of Warcraft client, but Legion feels like one of the most complete right of the box since Wrath of the Lich King. 12 years later, Blizzard still knows how to stay on top of the MMO food chain.


September

Earthlock: Festival of Magic

A Role-Playing Game by Snowcastle Games (Xbox One, Windows, MacOS, Linux)

ReCore

An Action-Adventure Platforming Game by Armature Studio/Comcept (Windows, Xbox One)

Pac-Man Championship Edition 2

An Arcade Game by Bandai Namco Studios (Playstation 4, Xbox One, Windows)

Destiny: Rise of Iron

A First-Person Shooting Game by Bungie (Playstation 4, Xbox One)

Forza Horizon 3

A Racing Game by Playground Games (Xbox One, Windows)

I'm not one of those culty "car guys" on the Gaming Podcast, but for the second time in three years, a racing game is one of my top games of the year. For the second time in three years, that game has been a Forza Horizon game. Playground continues to innovate and give their game a quality many developers forget about; they make their games fun. And oh boy, Horizon 3 is the definition of fun. 


October

Paper Mario: Color Splash

A Role-Playing Game by Intelligent Systems (Wii U)

Gears of War 4

A Third-Person Shooting Game by The Coalition (Xbox One, Windows)

Battlefield 1

A First-Person Shooting Game by EA DICE (Windows, Playstation 4, Xbox One)

Civilization VI

A Real-Time Strategy Game by Firaxis Games (Windows, MacOS)

Titanfall 2

A First-Person Shooting Game by Respawn Entertainment (Windows, Playstation 4, Xbox One)

October was without a doubt the biggest month for video games in 2016, and it was difficult to nail down this particular pick of the month. The original Titanfall stood out as an early system-seller for the Xbox One, but fell flat in a few areas that Titanfall 2 has improved upon tenfold. The multiplayer suite feels tighter than the previous game, and the freshly-added campaign is the the best in class this year. If you're looking for a sleeper hit, this is your game.


November

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare

A First-Person Shooting Game by Infinity Ward (Windows, Playstation 4, Xbox One)

Dishonored 2

An Action-Adventure Stealth Game by Arkane Studios (Windows, Playstation 4, Xbox One)

Watch Dogs 2

An Action-Adventure Game by Ubisoft Montreal (Playstation 4, Xbox One, Windows)

Pokémon Sun and Moon

A Role-Playing Game by Game Freak (Nintendo 3DS)

Final Fantasy XV

A Role-Playing Game by Square Enix (Playstation 4, Xbox One)

I have been playing Final Fantasy games for nearly 2 decades, through good and bad, across multiple platforms. Final Fantasy XV began life as Final Fantasy Versus XIII a decade ago, which alone is reason to be skeptical. But Final Fantasy XV is a fresh, modern game that oozes the best of the Final Fantasy legacy. I am consistently blown away by a game I went into with high expectations.


December

Dead Rising 4

A Survival Horror Game by Capcom Vancouver (Windows, Xbox One)

The Last Guardian

An Action-Adventure Game by genDESIGN/SIE Japan Studio (Playstation 4)

Super Mario Run

A 2D Platforming Game by Nintendo EPD (iOS)

It's no secret that I've enjoyed Super Mario Run. I've played a ton of Nintendo's flagship mobile game. While the gameplay is a bit derivative of the New Super Mario Bros. games and other auto-runners, everything comes together to create one of the best experiences I've had with a mobile game.

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero

A 2D Platforming Game by WayForward Technologies (Windows, Playstation 4, Playstation Vita, Xbox One, Wii U)

The Walking Dead: Season 3

A Graphic Adventure Game by Telltale Games (Windows, MacOS, Playstation 4, Xbox One, iOS, Android)