Tis the season for lists, lists and more lists, and if you’re anything like myself you’ll love a good list counting down some of the cultural highlights of the year that was, be it film, music, or in this instance video games.
It’s been an odd old year you may agree, but that shouldn’t stop us looking forward at what lies ahead. Nor should it stop you from looking back with myself at some of my favourite ways of distracting myself from the existential anguish of everyday life. So let’s get going!
Oh and disclaimer, some of the games I’ve not played this year include Dark Souls III, Overwatch or Dishonored 2. I’m terrible I know.
Number 10: Layers of Fear
A game definitely influenced by titles such as Amnesia and of course the sadly short-lived P.T. Demo, I was impressed by the way painterly psychedelic imagery fit so well into the psychological horror genre and found it to be an engrossing experience overall.
Number 9: No Man’s Sky
Ooh controversial! Ok, I know the reputation this game has garnered, but I still honestly like this game. It looks stunning, the music is breathtaking and those moments of flying through space and taking in everything in front of you still had me hooked, so for those still breathtaking moments it makes the top ten.
Number 8: Unravel
Unravel is a charming little game and one that shows there’s still life in the Platformer genre without copying what’s come before. Inventive levels, great sound design and the game gave me one of my favourite video game characters of the year in Yarny.
Number 7: I Am Setsuna
I Am Setsuna is a fantastic JRPG from studio Square Enix, something I’ve not been able to say for a while! It is shorter than your typical RPG of this type, but this allows the game to focus on its tight story, gorgeous world and incredible original score. This is definitely one to check out if you missed it earlier this year.
Number 6: Inside
Inside is an interesting one. On my initial play I was utterly captivated by its bleak visuals and minimalistic approach which opened the game up for individual interpretation. I did however find the last section of the game a bit too meta for my tastes (another way of saying the game went batshit doo-lally). However, this game just won’t escape my thoughts, its left a great impression on me, and I’ve since read all the different theories and gone back and explored the game. This is definitely one of those games that I’ll love more and more as time goes on, but for now it sits comfortably halfway through the top ten.
Number 5: Day of the Tentacle: Remastered
I’m MAYBE cheating a little bit here, but Doublefine did such a great job of remastering this game and bringing it up to date that it needed to be on this list. Possibly the funniest game I’ve ever played, the remaster built on what made the first game so brilliant by bringing the sound and visuals to the 21st Century. Best thing I can say about it, it looks like I remember it looking all those years ago.
Number 4: Firewatch
There wasn’t a narrative in video games this year that I was more engrossed with than with Firewatch. The writing and the characters were beautiful, matching the visual design of the game and original score. I’m already hyped for what the studio has in store next.
Number 3: Hyperlight Drifter
The world of Hyperlight Drifter is one I just can’t forget. The level of world-building, exploration and fun gameplay made this game one of the standout moments of the year for me. Rooting the game personal influences led to a beautiful yet melancholic gaming experience that I urge everyone to experience.
Number 2: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Getting to the end of this game I realised a few things. Not only was I in the capable hands of a studio that has delivered quality gaming for over 20 years, I realised I was coming to the end of a journey with characters that I’d been enjoying for 9 years. Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune was the first game I got for my PS3 and at the time I didn’t think there was a game better suited to my own tastes. Over four games you learnt more about these characters, saw their vulnerable sides, laughed at their quips, and each time a new game was released it was always like catching up with old friends again.
Uncharted 4 is a very definite goodbye from these characters and doesn’t hold back on providing players with something new but also something very very nostalgic, and as sad as this may seem, it was very hard for me not to feel emotional about that. The game’s mechanics are incredible, it looks stunning and the pacing is great, but its that emotional pull that really hooked me with this game.
And, the number one spot goes to…
Mighty No. 9
Ok I’m just kidding, take that look off your face.
Number 1: The Last Guardian
Due to the lengthy development process of this game a lot of people were skeptical as to whether or not this game would deliver, but for me Team Ico have created an incredible experience about the enduring bond between two characters trapped in the bowels of a ruined kingdom who through their ever growing friendship build a trust with one another that aids them in their escape through this place.
Although it does have its flaws I can look beyond these and enjoy what is undoubtedly the studio’s most emotionally powerful game through its incredible detail of character, inventive set of puzzles, unique world and character design and heartfelt message, that message being that the relationships we forge in life are worth more than words and beauty can be found anywhere and in any dark circumstance. For this prescient message and the bond I felt for these characters this game definitely ranks as my favourite of the year.
And with that, I wish you all a very happy new year and all the best for the future. Be sure to let us know your favourite games of the year in the comments section and be sure to stick with Respawning for what will be a great 2017.