Dec 27, 2016
Harry Harrison’s Top 10 Games of 2016
To date, Harry has now only written two reviews for Saving Content, but he plays lots of games we are otherwise already covering. Though, he’s also playing games that aren’t on many people’s radar, which makes his list one to look for as it may present games to you that maybe you hadn’t heard of before.
I didn’t think I’d be saying this, but Pokémon Sun and Moon feel a lot like the Pokémon games of my childhood, and in a few ways are much better than the nostalgic memories that come with that baggage. I bought Pokémon Moon for my other half. I watched her play an hour or so of it, this being her first Pokémon game, and her first game with a plot (She’s an Animal Crossing kinda gal). I very quickly knew I also wanted to play it, so promptly picked up a 2DS that came with Pokémon Sun and practically played it non-stop for two days. 37 hours in and I’ve finished the story and am half way through catching the numerous Ultra Beasts. I think it’s pretty safe to say Pokémon Sun gets an honourable mention from me for averting what I expected it to be and turning out to be as engaging as Pokémon Red was for me 17 years ago.
And now, the list…
10 – The Witness
There’s no doubt about it, Jonathan Blow is a little bit of a genius. Who cares that he doesn’t churn out title after title, year after year, what he does release has been consistent game-changing. The Witness has been no exception.
There’s something about being taught how to play a game without a conventional tutorial and pages upon pages of information to read through that is so deeply satisfying. After leaving the first introductory area of The Witness I think ever player is bound to feel a sense of accomplishment that they’ve figured it out, and not once did the game feel the need to hold your hand or tell you the answer. And then there’s the + puzzles… For the sake of transparency, I’ve yet to actually finish The Witness. I’m closing in on the final area, or so I’m told.
9 – Battlefield 1
For all intents and purposes Battlefield 1 is my first Battlefield game. I remember renting Bad Company and that same weekend my Xbox breaking, but after that every other Battlefield game didn’t make it onto my radar somehow. I’ve played a fair bit of the Multiplayer, but that isn’t at all why Battlefield 1 is on my top ten. No. It’s the heartfelt single player campaign. It obviously primarily serves as a tutorial for the Multiplayer, but they have done an amazing job with the writing and acting. If you haven’t checked it out I highly recommend doing so. The EA Access edition of the game is only the Campaign, so if you haven’t bought in for the whole game for some reason, do that first if you’re unsure.
8 – Dark Souls III
Dark Souls 3 was my first dive into the Souls games. It’s no secret that they’re a series of games that are renowned for being punishing, and I’m a guy that likes colourful little casual stories about cars ending up on the moon, so what am I doing torturing myself in the Kingdom of Lothric? The thoroughly tuned character controller and combat mechanics make dying repeatedly almost expected. Not only that, but I’ve found it’s a game that hugely benefits from the advantages of the Steam Controller’s extra fast turning and extra customisable buttons. If you’re thinking about buying the controllerI recommend picking both up. I ended up disabling the Multiplayer element to the game as I honestly had no idea how it worked, but I still had a fantastic time slashing through the story and being obliterated by the bosses over and over.
7 – Mini Metro
At first I gave Mini Metro a shot through EA Access, I liked it. That same week it released on iOS and I just knew it was a game for the medium. I primarily play it on a plus sized iPhone 7, but even on that drastically smaller size screen it works brilliantly. With its natural translation to touch controls, uncluttered interface and time-pausing function I’d go so far as to say Mini Metro is exactly what mobile gaming is supposed to be. Engaging, clean, and at your own pace.
6 – Firewatch
A few very smart and creative individuals joined forces to form a games studio titled Campo Santo. Their first game together, Firewatch, is proof-pudding of what is possible when everyone on the team really knows their craft and works to each-others strengths. Firewatch is 100% plot, so I won’t go in to the story at all here, but if you can block out an afternoon to sit down and enjoy the game in one sitting I recommend you do just that. If you’re anything like me, you won’t be able to make to the end without shedding some tears though.
5 – DOOM
I didn’t play previous DOOMs. Not a single one. I remember trying the original DOOM game but falling back to the classic puzzle games instead. I honestly did not think I would enjoy DOOM 2016 until, again Mr. Saving Content (aka Scott Ellison II) here turned me onto it. The pure speed and unadulterated action on offer here is often overwhelming. In fact, I could only bring myself to play it in ~1 hour chunks.
I’ve yet to try the Multiplayer component, or even really the SnapMap creation tools, but DOOM’s single player stands confidently on it’s own as one hell of a wild ride.
4 – INSIDE
I wanted to love Limbo when that released. Alas, I found it far too similar to the very early build of Feist I had played prior and shrugged it off as “Another silhouetted game”. After reading interviews with Playdead before INSIDE’s release I just knew I had to give it a go. The look and feel of INSIDE is unparalleled. It’s dark dystopian world is expertly executed, like Samorost 3,
without conventional language. One hell of a smart platformer that does an excellent job of growing the genre.
3 – Obduction
I tried Myst once. I didn’t much care for it. Mr. Saving Content himself turned me on to Obduction just after its launch. I bought in for no other reason than it looked very pretty and vastly deep in its execution. Oh how right that first impression turned out to be. Turns out 2016 is the year I discovered I absolutely love puzzle games, especially narrative driven puzzles games. I am personally really looking forward to replaying Obduction in it’s newly supported VR mode in a year or so when I’ve managed to forget most of the solutions.
2 – Planet Coaster
The majority of the games in my top ten this year are quite finite in their length. I’m glad a game as happy as Planet Coaster is not among them. On more than one occasion I’ve played Planet Coaster for hours with my headphones on and the lights dimmed, only to be told later than I was just creepily smiling at my computer screen in silence. For more on my feelings of Planet Coaster, see my review here, but if you’re looking for that one game you can play forever. This is likely it.
1 – Samorost 3
One of my earliest video gaming memories is playing Putt-Putt Goes to the Moon. In the years that followed I played more point and click adventure games in similar veins, but as soon as I discovered 3D video games I not once looked back. One of my top ten of last year turned me on to the kind of experience a point-and-click can provide, and I have Kentucky Route Zero to thank for that. Samorost 3 however grabbed me deeply and never let go. After the first introduction I was hooked by the enchanting audio mix, the fantastic story telling with no actual telling of the story and the seriously smart puzzle design. Truly pleasurable game design from start to finish.