Reflecting on My Best of 2016 Lists - 2017 Game of the Year

My week-plus of Game of the Year content began yesterday with a look back at what I didn’t like in 2016, so today I’ll dive into all the games I did like that year.

Last year marked the first time I expanded my “Best of…” list outside of the standard “These are my favorite games that came out this year.” I played enough non-2016 games worthy of recognition and I also revisited some games I’d enjoyed in the past and wanted to recognize them all so I divided them into three lists. So let’s see how they held up.

Up first, here were the Top 10 Games I Revisited in 2016.

10.   Dark Cloud 2
9.    Lara Croft GO
8.    XCOM Enemy Unknown Plus
7.    Fallout 4
6.    LEGO Dimensions
5.    Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past
4.    Final Fantasy Record Keeper
3.    Dark Cloud
2.    Journey
1.     Final Fantasy VII

A lot of fun scattered around this list. I love the Dark Cloud games but always seem to get too burnt out playing them to get too far into Dark Cloud 2. I fully expected to see Deus Ex GO follow the path of Hitman GO and Lara Croft GO and come to PlayStation (maybe at PSX again) but it seems like perhaps it won’t be ported after all.

Sadly, Year Two of LEGO Dimensions would be its last, after long-rumored troubles finally resulted in an official announcement that the game wouldn’t be back for a Year Three. On the personal side, life in my small studio apartment was increasingly cramped so I barely revisited the game this year. I have a few of the early Year Two sets but fell off the wagon as even those sets remained unopened with nobody to play with. I’ll try to pick up the packs I’m missing in the new year just to have the complete set. Maybe I’ll play through all of the Year Two stuff in 2018.

I finally wound up stepping away from my daily check-ins with Final Fantasy Record Keeper too. I never really found myself progressing through the game anymore so it was just a chore as much as anything else. I still had way more fun with that game than I thought I would.

Final Fantasy VII stood atop the list as I had managed to play through it again and even earn the Platinum. I was just talking with some friends recently about how all of these re-releases need the same 3x-speed approach the FF7 port included. And fortunately, both of Square Enix’s re-releases this year followed suit, with Final Fantasy XII and IX including similar optional “buffs.” FF7 isn’t my favorite in the series, but it’s one of the ones I still enjoy replaying every now and then and hopefully, I get to play the remastered version before I’m dead.

Moving on to my most convoluted list: “The Top 10 Non-2016 Games That I Didn’t Get Around to Playing Until 2016.”

10.   Bloodborne
9.    Actual Sunlight/three fourths home: extended edition
8.    Volume/Hitman GO Definitive Edition
7.    Persona 4 Dancing All Night
6.    Gears of War Ultimate Edition
5.    Oceanhorn: Monster of the Uncharted Sea
4.    Gone Home
3.    Bastion
2.    Wolfenstein: The New Order
1.     Life is Strange

So my first thought looking at this was “damn, I was a little cheater squeezing twelve games onto a 10-game list. But those two ties were so similar that I don’t fault “Past Trevor” for ranking them that way.

Bloodborne sitting there at 10 makes sense too. For as much as I despised the experience of playing it for 24 hours on my Extra Life 2016 stream, I can appreciate the positives of its design, even as I disagree with its “git gud” philosophy.

Other than that, I find it a little amusing that Gone Home, Bastion, Wolfenstein, and Life is Strange all had follow-up efforts released this year that may or may not appear on some of the 2017 lists with Tacoma, Pyre, Wolfenstein II, and Life is Strange: Before the Storm, respectively. As I covered in Sunday’s post, I didn’t actually get to Before the Storm this year so perhaps it will appear on this list in 2018…

So finally we had The Big List, my top games of 2016.

I did a Senior Superlative-style thing for my Honorable Mentions last year for the games I wanted to recognize but that didn’t make the top ten:

Most Improved: Watch_Dogs 2
Best Game Trapped in an Outdated Engine: Batman: The Telltale Series
Best VR Experience: Job Simulator
Best Game on the Go: Severed
Best “Fall” Shooter: Titanfall 2
Best “Political” Game: Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
Best Xbox Exclusive: Quantum Break

Man. 2016 had some pretty solid games too. I had a ton of fun with the San Francisco-based Watch_Dogs follow-up. Telltale clearly found a hit with the Batman IP since they fast-tracked the second season for this year. Unfortunately, my PS VR has been gathering dust most of the year just because I haven’t been the best at keeping my apartment clean in general. Hopefully, I get back to some of those experiences next year. Going hands-on with Guacamelee 2 at PSX has me excited for Drinkbox Studios’ next effort. Titanfall remains my favorite shooter from last Fall, having just sung its praises to a couple friends recently. Square Enix’s decision to put the Deus Ex franchise on ice while they focus on making Marvel games is one of the sad business decisions of 2017. And the fact that I only booted up my Xbox One a few times this year is a bit indicative that they really need more offerings like Quantum Break.

Alright, last but not least, The Big List itself.

10.   Brut@l and Oxenfree
9.    Final Fantasy XV
8.    Stories: The Path of Destinies
7.    Headlander
6.    Ratchet & Clank
5.    Stardew Valley
4.    Dishonored 2
3.    Doom
2.    Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
1.     The Witness

Another tie to kick things off. Brut@l will always hold a special place in my heart because I have the world’s first Platinum in it and I’ve bought Oxenfree at least three times at this point, having replayed it again on PlayStation 4 and grabbing it when it came to Switch this year.

Despite my issues with Final Fantasy XV, I put a ton of hours into it and 80% of them were filled with fun gameplay or driving around to classic Final Fantasy music at least. Stories and Headlander were a couple of my oddballs on the list but a ton of fun (I even went back and played through the other 17 or so endings I needed - out of 24 - for the Platinum trophy in Stories this year).

Ratchet & Clank was a phenomenal platformer, Stardew Valley found new life this year for a lot of people when it came to the Nintendo Switch, and Dishonored 2 had some phenomenal level design in its tragically underplayed package.

Doom played a huge role in getting me back into the first-person shooter genre last year and, if I didn’t have so many other things to play, I might have picked it up for the Nintendo Switch or considered putting some time into Doom VFR.

If there was any controversy in my list (apart from not playing a lot of people’s Game of the Year last year, Overwatch), it was that I wound up being more enamoured by the freshness of The Witness than Naughty Dog’s admittedly best outing Uncharted 4. I stand by my decision though. And while I will probably remember the characters of Uncharted far more fondly than the puzzles on the island, it was the payoff to a larger series, while The Witness stood out as a singular entity and “The Challenge” that took me a full week of attempting to finally complete still stands as one of my proudest gaming accomplishments.

So there we have my look back at my “Best of 2016” lists. Forty games when all was said and done. Yeah. 2016 was pretty cool. Was 2017 better? Stay tuned the rest of the week to find out.

I’ll be back tomorrow with some of my Best Gaming Moments of 2017.