2016 is almost over, and it’s been a rough one to be sure. But on the bright side, at least we got some awesome games out of it.
Sure, we can talk about all the big names that came out this year, like Final Fantasy XV or Pokemon Sun and Moon. We could also talk about the mega hits like Overwatch, and the mega disappointments like No Man’s Sky. But I’d like to get a little more personal than that. I want to talk about the games that really captured my attention this year. Not necessarily the big names, mind you, just the ones I happened to stumble upon and ended up really enjoying. Some of these you may have heard of, others maybe not. Some may not be your cup or tea and some may be right up your alley. But they all came out this year, and they’re all worth checking out if you haven’t already.
That being said, here’s the Geek Girl’s favorite games of 2016:
Oxenfree (PS4, XBone, Windows, Mac, Linux)
Part coming-of-age teenage drama, part ghost story. Oxenfree is not usually the type of game I go for, but it ended up being one of my most pleasant surprises of the year. You take on the role of Alex, a teenage girl who goes on holiday with her friends, only to discover that there’s sinister supernatural forces at work. It’s standard point-and-click adventure fair, mixed in with branching dialogue options, a surprisingly heartfelt story, and an interesting method to solving puzzles involving a old-timey radio. Combine that with a unique art style and slick soundtrack, and you’ve got a game that’s stylish, unique and more than a little creepy. Even months after playing, I still get unnerved by the sound of radio static…
Darkest Dungeon (PS4, Vita, Windows, Mac, Linux)
When you enter this dungeon, only two things await you: death or insanity. Darkest Dungeon takes dungeon crawling to a whole new level, as you desperately try to keep the members of your party both alive and in their right minds. As your party explores their ancestral ruins, they must not only contend with demons, bandits and Eldritch abominations, but also the stress of combat and the horrors of the dungeon itself. And if your characters take on too much stress, they run the risk of going mad, and becoming a danger not just to themselves, but to the rest of your party. This game is merciless, and infuriated me just as much as it satisfied my itch for rougelike dungeon crawling.
Stardew Valley (PS4, XBone, Windows, Mac, Linux)
Stardew Valley is one of the best Harvest Moon game I’ve ever played, even though it has nothing to do with Harvest Moon. But it follows the same tried-and-true formula: Grow crops, raise animals, befriend neighbors, explore the town, rinse and repeat indefinitely. The plot is virtually identical as well. You have inherited your grandpa’s old farm and are not tasked with bringing it back to its former glory. But it’s simple gameplay, heartfelt characters, and 8-bit charm got me hooked and kept me coming back day after day. Really, all I can say is if you like Harvest Moon, there’s no excuse to not have played this game by now.
Salt & Sanctuary (PS4, Vita, Windows)
There’s only one way to describe this game: 2D Dark Souls. And that’s not because it shares a similar dark and morose atmosphere with fearsome and dreadful enemies, and it’s not because you spend most of the game running around collecting souls…I mean, salt…in order to upgrade your character. This game perfectly captures, in a 2D side-scrolling platformer, the single most defining characteristic of the Souls series: it’s HARD. But it’s hard in that special way that only makes you more determined to run back in and give it another go. And both me and my husband did – many, many, many times over.
Enter the Gungeon (PS4, Windows, Mac, Linux)
Who knew bullets could be so adorable? “Bullet hell” and “dungeon crawler” aren’t normally two genres that work together in my mind, but Enter the Gungeon proved me wrong. It requires all the fast-paced, lighting-quick reflexes you need for bullet hell, while encouraging you to comb every inch of the procedural-generated dungeon for bigger and better guns, all presented in a quirky, humorous, and charming manner. Too bad I still can’t make it past the first dungeon proper, but hey. Maybe that can be a resolution for 2017?