I don't know about y'all, but in late December, the year 2016 didn't feel very memorable. There were very few games I could even remember playing, so I scrapped the idea of a "Top" list of games and moved on. However, as I reviewed my post on the "Beaten in 2016" thread, I couldn't help but reconsider this notion. Pretty much all of the nine games on my list were awesome, and I was somehow able to finish them, despite my severe lack of time. So, here is my end of year list, but re-written with a new angle - Top Four Games of 2016 I Didn't Blog About (Well, Mostly).
As dumb as it sounds, I spent too much time trying to decide whether or not to write an ordered list, but in the end, I thought it best to be impartial...or, that's my excuse, anyway.
Dying Light: The Following - Enhanced Edition
This game was sold to me as, "zombies with parkour," which actually interested me very little. I think I pictured movement similar to Assassin's Creed III
(which I really dislike) or maybe Mirror's Edge
(which I like), but with walking dead people. But, at the insistence of a friend, I gave it a try and immediately loved it. Props to developer, Techland, for including a demo on Steam, as this seems to rarely happen on PC anymore. This demo was instrumental to me plunking down the cash for this title.
I think I would describe Dying Light
as having near complete freedom of movement with a game engine that actually fully supports it (very important), while also having a protagonist that isn't a total dingbat or scumbag (missing from Far Cry 3/4
, in my opinion). Running, jumping, and climbing all feel very natural, and within the first hour, I was plotting my way across roofs of shanties and cars to avoid tight packs of zombies. But what really sold me was the day/night cycle. In the protection of daylight, you at least have a fighting chance, but when the sun sets, even advanced weaponry doesn't guarantee survival against the creatures roaming around at night.
A weapon creation and upgrade system, similar to that of Dead Island
, is present in Dying Light
, but one doesn't need to be at a crafting bench to work, which is pretty nice. However, you still have to search pretty much everywhere to get parts for the upgrades, which is amusing in a European platformer-kind of way. Maybe if we could eventually build a electrified, flaming, bleeding, poisoned, machete covered in barbed-wire in the Banjo
games on the Nintendo 64, getting those dang jiggies would have been less of a chore.
Starpoint Gemini 2
Though Starpoint Gemini 2
was a game I had, but didn't play for about a year, it was something of a surprise when I finally started it. I was expecting a space sim with more focus on combat, but in the end it plays less like a space sim and more like a strange combination of Diablo
, an Elder Scrolls
game, and Star Trek
. I know that might seem a little strange, so let me be a bit more specific with my description. Take the grindy and class-based ability-combat from the Diablo
games and combine that with the highly tactical and large ship-based scenes in many episodes of Star Trek
. Now pour said mixture into a large, open world with the fast travel-like services featured in Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
). Finally, sprinkle some space sim elements to keep the fringes happy, and you have Starpoint Gemini 2. Starpoint Gemini 2
takes place in what appears to be a solar system with a binary star at the center. Movement in real time scales very nicely, so as you get closer to planets and other large objects, they smoothly get larger and gain additional detail. This is great for the space sim nut in me, as there are few games that present spacial scale on this level with real time movement, that also has a copious amount of stuff to look at and play with. I wouldn't call space in SP2
crowded, but there will nearly always be something that isn't background close to you, be it ships, asteroids, space stations, or other interesting objects.
There is a story, but it is pretty forgettable, and in my opinion, serves only to get you into fights to level up. Normally, this kind of thing would turn me off (I like me some cohesive stories, I do), but instead I spent more than sixty hours tooling around, most of which was grinding to upgrade my ship(s). The combat system is where it's at in this game. It all boils down to your ability to maneuver your ship to maximize the damage your weapons do and mitigate damage to your shields and ship, all within a 3D space. You get skills based on the class you start off with, which are generally buffs to offense or defense, and there are a ton of items that do everything from instantly transporting you across space, to improving moment speed, or even rapidly refill your ships shield or hull strength. Combine all of this and it becomes one tasty shake. Nothing feels more satisfying than rolling into a combat situation, setting auto-fire, and just lighting up your enemies with your turreted weapons, Star Trek
In the end, playing Starpoint Gemini 2
was one of my more memorable experiences from 2016, and one I will return to soon to play the expansion content.
I sometimes wonder how well Transistor
would have done if not for the success of Bastion
(Supergiant's previous game and multi-million selling blockbuster). This isn't a dig against Transistor
in any way, but rather a question of recognition. It was proven that Stephen King, one of the best selling authors in history, sold almost nothing disguised as Richard Bachman, at least until someone figured it out the pseudonym.Transistor
didn't grab me immediately, in fact one my say that I wasn't really having a ton of fun with it. Looking back, I cannot account to why this was, though I think it was the hype. I tried to avoid it and ignore the numerous previews, reviews, and breakdowns that flooded the Internet, but even waiting almost two years to play didn't help to alleviate this feeling. As I booted it up, I could almost feel my expectations growing and reaching a crescendo when the recognizable voice of Logan Cunningham (the narrator from Bastion
) began speaking. I think I spent about an hour being a little bored, but thankfully that didn't last long.
I won't blab about the story in Transistor
, as it is super easy to spoil some great surprises. Suffice to say that I found it more than adequate, and by the end was fully satisfied. I felt full, as if I had eaten an entire Stouffer's lasagna myself (which sometimes happens). But what I wasn't full on was the amazing art style, which felt very noir-ish to me, yet had a strong, cyberpunk edge, smashed together by someone with a eye for light and dark contrast. This art style is so interesting, that I was very happy to add the Transistor
art to my background rotation on my Macbook.
The story is all well and good, but the real meat and potatoes of this game is the awesome combat system. As you game, you get a number of techniques (called, Functions), to aid you in battle. Most are different kinds of attacks, but some allow for life leaching from opponents, cloaking, and some even cause enemies to fight for you. Add to this three separate abilities tied to each of the Functions (Active, Upgrade, and Passive), and this game is a real winner, and worth the purchase based exclusively on that. I played it for about fifteen hours, and since the story length is only about six hours (as reported on website, HowLongToBeat
), I spent an additional nine hours monkeying around with different combinations of Functions. The story is great, but the Functions are where it's at.
Pick this game up, trust me, you won't regret it.
Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny
So I already blogged about Ultima V
, but dang, it is an impressive game! After I spent the 50+ hours adventuring across Britannia (and my writing hand was no longer sore), I thought about jumping right back on the bandwagon and give the NES copy a try, then immediately regretted looking it up. When did NES games become so expensive? I ended up updating my "To Buy" list after this revelation, and was mildly in shock at the price increases across the board. Forget NES games, when did old video games
become so expensive!? Since I haven't actively collected in a very long time (paying off debt), I sometimes end up feeling like Rip Van Winkle or something. Lunar - Eternal Blue Complete
for PSX is like forty dollars more than the last time I looked, which sucks but doesn't really surprise me, and I'm not even going to mention Warrior of Centy
but only say that it is coming off
the list. Apparently, I need to pay attention to prices more often.
I'm not going to bang on too much about the game, considering that I played it quite extensively earlier in 2016, so I thought I'd boot it up for a second. When I originally played it, I did so across a variety of DOS and Windows platforms, from my old 386 laptop to my main gaming computer running DOSbox. I ended up finishing it while at work on my old Dell Pentium laptop, so I booted it and had a go. I managed to forget most of the controls, but remembered enough to finish the game again, so that I could favor you all with the final screen (before the actual ending). I also rested for the evening, and smiled as Iolo, the bard, serenaded the party to sleep with his lute. Goodbye, 2016.
Thanks for reading, everyone!