What a year. So many ups. So many, many more downs. Honestly this year was pretty traumatizing for me. But you know what, I played a lot of awesome games this year over the course of doing these monthly updates! So, as a celebration, I’ve decided to round off 2016 with a list of the top ten games I featured in my monthly updates~!
The main two rules I’m going by for this list is as follows:
- The games have to have been featured in my Emerald Monthly Updates over the course of this year. The ‘Other Quick Updates’ section doesn’t count.
- The games have to have been games I hadn’t played before 2016. So, yeah, no Castlevania: Symphony of the Night here, that’d be too easy.
Also, something to keep in mind, the games don’t necessarily have to have released in the year of 2016, all that’s required is that I just have to have played it in 2016. So, without further ado, my very first top ten list.
TOP TEN GAMES I PLAYED IN 2016!
Number 10: Fallout 4
I have this weird…thing that happens to me nowadays. Whenever I sit down to try and play Fallout 3 or New Vegas, I find that I can’t go back to them so easily anymore now that Fallout 4 has been released. As much as Fallout 4 has its flaws, and as much as I had far more fun with New Vegas than I ever did 4, I feel it’s rendered most of the previous Fallout games a bit redundant. Maybe I’m the only one that feels such, but dammit Fallout 4 was a solid game and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Number 9: Recettear – An Item Shop’s Tale
Recettear is one of the most unique games I’ve ever played. One third shop management simulator, one third Link to the Past-style dungeon crawler, and one third visual novel, but all the elements tend to feed into each other and intertwine into this cute tale of constantly being frustrated with that one cheapo pigtailed girl that sometimes won’t even take a 30 percent discount and be happy with it you’re just a shitty kid you don’t know anything about fantasy economics dammit get outta here and go get your mom.
Number 8: Dark Souls II
As much as fans love to dump on Dark Souls II, and as much as I understand that dumpage when put in comparison to the other Souls games, I still have to give it up for Dark Souls II for sapping hundreds of hours from me and still providing me with an awesome, ball bustingly fun experience. The higher framerate stability and convenience features (especially in the menu) are dearly welcome, and by god the way this game wows you when you come into a new area, and for that moment when you walk into the sunlight of Majula out of the dank caverns you traversed, or feast your eyes on the Aerie for the first time, or even the first melancholic steps towards Drangleic Castle…this game probably had the most amount of breathtaking moments I played in all of 2016.
Number 7: Nights Into Dreams
This game…gets me. This game understands how I flow. It’s like how I would imagine controlling an ebbing rollercoaster to feel if you could choose to move anywhere you wished in a moment’s notice. It’s swimming through air, and I love swimming. I don’t need much more than this, the simple act of picking up the controller and playing half an hour of this game immediately sends me into a good mood. The bosses aren’t good for the most part, unfortunately, otherwise this would be higher on the list, but with that exception, it’s the type of game that honestly makes me feel like a kid again, a game from a simpler time that feels familiar despite not having played it before this year. Nights Into Dreams gives me the same sort of feeling that Yoshi’s Island gives me, just this unending, inexplicable happiness from start to finish.
Number 6: Fire Emblem: Awakening
Ah, my very first Fire Emblem game. I absolutely ate this up when I got my hands on it, and after beating it for the first time, I was determined to fill out My Unit’s support logs with multiple playthroughs. Not since Pokemon Y have I dumped such egregious amounts of time into my handheld, and history is repeating itself as I type this in Conquest as well. I love all the characters, I love how quick it can be, I love the strategics (although I will admit, Awakening was very easy after figuring out what was going on), and I love the unlimited ships I can make with my units, most all of which are just the most adorable things.
For the record, my Awakening waifu is Cordelia, if for no other reason than the interactions she had with Donnel.
Number 5: Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep Final Mix
Playing Birth By Sleep was like playing the spawn of a Kingdom Hearts game and a Dark Souls game. I love this game mostly for its challenging gameplay, with exchanges and timing being key. While the story itself was fine, I couldn’t really get over the dry voice acting (particularly with Aqua and Terra, good lord, it’s like the voice director wanted no convincing emotions there) which is particularly bad because I could tell that, Aqua especially, if voiced properly, would have absolutely bought me in. But yeah, the gameplay is awesome.
Number 4: Princess Remedy in a World of Hurt
If you’ve been in Idaho for the past half a year now, you may have seen a man in a green scarf wielding a megaphone and shouting “EVERYONE GO PLAY PRINCESS REMEDY! IT’S FREE AND ONLY A COUPLE OF HOURS LONG! THERE IS NO EXCUSE TO NOT PLAY THIS GAME!!!”
That was me.
Hyperbolic fictional anecdotes aside, even if Princess Remedy costed 5 dollars and was 4 hours long, I still would have probably loved this game. It reminds me a lot of Undertale in its quirky lovable dialogue, humor, and throwback-ness, and it’s simple enough that I’m convinced even my grandmother could totally play this and have a good time. You’re a princess that goes around healing people and beating away whatever ails them. Simple! And yet it’s so charming. It’s literally for free on Steam, you could probably run it on a Windows 98, and at maximum one normal run through will take the length of the theatrical version of a Lord of the Rings film.
Not even the extended editions!
Please, everyone give this a chance and play it if you have a couple of hours to spare.
Number 3: Nuclear Throne
Nuclear Throne is my favorite roguelike of all time.
And maybe that’s not saying a lot coming from me, because I don’t tend to enjoy roguelikes particularly. I get really butthurt when I lose everything after investing so much time and effort on a run in a roguelike, and I’ll never want to play that game again because I’m a salty fish.
I’ve never felt that way truly in Nuclear Throne. It’s too fast. It doesn’t let me feel salty because as soon as I die, I have about three seconds where I go “Aaaaughghg dammit!”, and then I hit the retry button – one second later, I’m already back in, running and gunning in some of the most fun, adrenaline-fueled gameplay I’ve ever experienced in a roguelike, or in any game in general. It also doesn’t require nearly the amount of investment that a full run of, say, FTL: Faster Than Light takes, or Crypt of the NecroDancer takes, or Darkest Dungeon takes – I can pop in Nuclear Throne at any time I have a spare 5~20 minutes and be satisfied with my fix. Those others? An hour at least, on a good run. A few if you’re unlucky.
It’s just fun. It’s fast. It’s like Hotline Miami, except a roguelike, and everyone can take a couple more hits. And to boot, everyone I’ve introduced it to loves it. So, yeah, highly highly HIGHLY recommend.
Number 2: INSIDE
Ah yes, the obvious one. You can consider this my number one pick in the nonexistent Top 10 Games of 2016 I have because I’m too poor to afford all the latest games and systems, so I can’t really justify a real Top 10 of 2016 list since I haven’t played games like Doom or Dishonored 2 or a lot of others.
But this game…hooo boy, this game.
What do I like about INSIDE? I like how it doesn’t spell everything out (or anything out) about its story. I like how it’s speculative and very intentionally leaves interpretation open-ended. I loved the ending sequence, where my jaw had dropped despite people hyping it up beforehand.
I like its dreary atmosphere, actually, the atmosphere reminds me a lot of Silent Hill 2, this sort of feeling of multiple steamy moist towels piled onto me over time as I lay motionless, an almost suffocatingly dark feeling that becomes more and more mysterious as the game goes on.
I like how its puzzles made me think, but didn’t bust my mind so hard that it ruined the pacing and flow. I like how I can show this game to my friends and watch them experience the same things I experienced, and the catharsis that comes with it. INSIDE truly is a relationship-building experience, and that’s not not a line I ever expected myself to say. I like how simple it is controls-wise, to the point where, again, I feel confident that my grandmother could play this game. You could play this game with an NES controller, and I’m coming to realize I really appreciate minimalist control schemes.
I love this game.
But there’s one game I played for the first time this year that got me more, that was a bit more…personally important to me. It’s an obvious one. You probably already know what it is. Let’s let it rock.
Number 1: Undertale
Chances are that if you’re reading my content, you’re already familiar with the absolute massive phenomenon Undertale was early this year and late last year. Chances are, you already know all there is to know, and you know why this is number one for me.
Instead of doing my usual thing where I tell you why I like this game so much…I’m going to tell you a little personal story.
I had heard inklings about Undertale last last year, but I wrote it off as what looked to be a bit of an Earthbound clone and nothing more. Except I didn’t actually think that, I was being a manipulative little shit because I thought my girlfriend at the time didn’t like anything I liked for the sole reason that I liked it. The attitude I had was petty and pathetic, but whether by coincidence or by truth, she actually got into it first before me and after I had told her I wrote it off. And she loved it, and she told me I should play it.
Of course I wanted to play it, I was hyped, I just didn’t tell her that because I was afraid she wouldn’t give it a chance if I said I wanted to. I was very, very petty back then, and I’m not proud of how I operated back then.
I streamed my gameplay through Skype while my girlfriend watched, and we had a pretty good time, but at a certain point that I won’t spoil, I got stuck, kept dying, and ragequit. It was near the end, too, but I wanted nothing to do with it between the mocking I was receiving from her, and the hard time I was having. And I realize now that it was in jest, but at the time I had a rather thin skin.
Not a week into the new year of 2016, two rather trying events occurred in my life one after the other. One of which was that my girlfriend, of two and a half years at the time, and I, split up. It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to go through, and for a while I had no idea where to even go from there.
Around mid to late January, I picked Undertale back up and restarted it from the beginning, determined to complete a pacifist run. I got through the part I was stuck in, went through the game, and…one part in particular really got me. For those who don’t want to be spoiled because it’s near the end of the game, don’t click this link. For those who have played, well…click the link, and you know exactly what part I’m talking about.
I’ll try to dance around it for those who haven’t seen it and wish to experience it for themselves. But suffice it to say, at that point in my life, I felt extremely alone. I felt awful about myself, about the world around me, and I sunk into a hard depression and worthlessness. And…something about the solidarity, something about…having people that backed me up, that encouraged me, a group to come out one after the other after the other to urge me forward with such a powerful positivity…and the comeback music to back it up…that was the start of the waterworks for me, personally. It’s everything I needed, everything I so desperately wanted at that time in my life. As much as I loved the game up until now, that was the moment where I latched on. Hard. And the rest of it played out in a way I could so violently relate to, the crying continued throughout, and I latched on even harder. I felt so much for everyone involved. I felt so much for him. Because I got it. It hit so close to home for me.
That’s why this is My Favorite Game I Played In 2016. It’s not necessarily that it’s the best game, although there probably is an argument to be made there. It’s not necessarily that it’s got the best soundtrack I’ve heard in a video game in a long, long time. It’s purely because I’ve never been so emotionally attached to a video game, ever. And for that to be achieved, the game must have been doing something correctly.
It may be an obvious pick, but Undertale is my number one.
The closer I get to 2017, the more I realize how trying this year was on me personally. But I’m glad I decided to do this review thing for the full year I have. It’s been a consistent thing I’ve been able to work on, something to ground me and keep me fresh in my writings.
I think I’d be happy to do this again next year.
Well, everyone? Happy New Year, let’s see what 2017 has in store.
And for me and those around you, stay determined.