Monday, January 2, 2017

Year in Review: 2016

Hey all,

I'm going to do a quick list of games I liked / didn't like this year.
I may go into more depth later, but I just wanted to write something quick this week. I left some quick notes for each game.

These are in no special order.

Games that were good:
  • Final Fantasy XV 
    • Exploration is fun, driving is interesting when characters have something to say. Exploration can get too restrictive, however, where the car cannot go offroad. There are lots of things to find in the world that don't pertain to the main quest. Chapter 13 changes up the gameplay in a bad way, doesn't make sense. Pulls a reverse Final Fantasy 13, in that the game starts open, and then closes up and becomes a hallway. Combat is fun once you gain the ability to air dodge. The ending made me cry, and I kept playing after the credits rolled.
  • Dragon Quest Builders
    • Minecraft with a goal. The game changes up locations just as you become bored. The core loop is fantastic, and there are many things to build that serve a purpose. I felt like I was really embarking on a quest.
  • Shantae: 1/2 Genie Hero
    • This one surprised me with its tight controls, solid variety, and its ability to compel me to explore places I've already been to with new powers. The story was never meant to be great. Some of the levels are truly unforgettable, so much variety without breaking the game's mechanics!
  • Let It Die
    • I never thought a free to play title would be on my top list of games for the year, but here we are. Suda51 tried his hand at a Dark Souls game, and it has all of the punk stylings that you would expect. The game also has many subversive elements to poke fun at games, and the fact that you are playing one. Subversive doesn't mean good, however, the rest is left to the games looting system, weird items, and solid combat. The game does have rough spots, however, with controls taking some getting used to, and you start to notice patterns in some levels. I personally enjoyed this game, but it may not be your cup of tea.
  • Super Mario Run
    • It's a solid runner, it has all of the polish that you would expect from Nintendo. Toad Rally is addictive, and the levels have replayability thanks to the coin system. It's $10 to get the full game, but it's worth the price if you like simple experiences.
  • Doom 
    • Holy crap, THIS is the Doom we remember! Intense combat, metal music, blood everywhere, and tight controls! This is one of my favorite games ever, not just recently!
  • Dishonored 2
    • CHOICE MATTERS! Go stealthy, be aggressive, it's up to you! It feels like Arkane Studios took lessons from the first Dishonored and applied some of them to the second game. Though far from perfect, Dishonored 2 has some creative levels, neat powers that are all useful, and two characters to play, each with their own powers. Controls are smooth, levels have multiple angles to approach a particular problem, and have sub-objectives that affect the mission in some way. The biggest gripe I have with the game is how much that writing is on the wall about "going stealthy is the ideal way to play", the designers should never tell the player that, let them figure it out.
  • Hyper Light Drifter
    • Beautiful aesthetic, mysterious world, tight controls, and solid combat that allows you to approach however you'd like. This game was a surprise for me, and was a total joy to play. This game allows you to tackle the areas in pretty much any way you wish, making your journey feel truly your own.
  • Dark Souls 3
    • Tight controls, mysterious world, freely available to explore, rewarding alternate paths, many side areas to explore, it's a Souls game, and the best one, in my opinion.
Games that were mediocre:
  • Uncharted 4
    • I have always been a fan of Naughty Dog up until everything after Jak and Daxter. It's yet another Naughty Dog game to me, in that the gameplay is in service of the story, and the gameplay is not really that good. Repetitive combat sprinkled with high spectacle, climbing got an overhaul from previous titles but still doesn't gather interest. Choice is not really a thing in these sorts of titles. The movie bit isn't that great, either. Comparing this game to a film will show how weak the story really is.
Games that sucked:
  • The Last Guardian
    • This one hurts, I wanted to like this game. The game is contingent on an AI partner being good at following directions, but the AI partner doesn't like to follow directions. It gets better by the end of the game (or it felt like it, idk, maybe I was punch drunk by then?), but even when the AI follows directions, you quickly realize that the game is just playing itself. The controls are really loose and slippery, it's hard to put into words. There always feels like a 0.3 second delay with each input. I must have lost 2 hours of my life to trying to tell the AI to do something over and over again. The story will make you feel a certain way. The puzzles are along the lines of the designer saying "Guess what I'm thinking?", whose solutions may feel arbitrary. Sometimes you'll have the solution to a puzzle, but the AI partner won't perform the action to complete said puzzle, so you'll try another solution, which won't work, then go back to the original solution, which will work! It's incredibly frustrating. The art direction is absolutely beautiful!
  • No Man's Sky
    • Holy crap, this is a lesson in how to piss off a bunch of people. The game is just a survival game in space, repetitive as chores, and slow as molasses. I feel like I can't add more to the conversation that hasn't already been said. On a positive note: the character I made is a space pirate with a crap ton of gold!
  • Star Fox Zero 
    • It's Star Fox 64 with crappy controls. Here's a lesson: Miyamoto wanted to make a game that was cool to look at, what he didn't realize was that Star Fox was already cool to look at. As a result of Miyamoto's interference, we got a game where you constantly have to switch between looking at the TV screen and the Wii U tablet to get all the information that the game has to offer. The reticle on the TV screen does not hit what it's aiming at. To barrel roll (insert meme here) or perform maneuvers, the player has to flick the right analog stick, which has VERY mixed results. The game overall plays slower as a result of the terrible controls, enemies rarely try to actually dodge your attacks, and boss attacks are slow.
  • Mighty No. 9
    • ...Do I really need to go into this one? Read the full angry review I made.
Overall, 2016 was a good year for gaming, here's to 2017! Didn't like my choices? That's fine, games are subjective, like all art.


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