Our Top Picks of 2016

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2016 was an excellent year for gaming. The long-anticipated The Last Guardian finally arrived after many years of “will-they-won’t-they” sentiment. People around the globe, including non-gamers, found themselves getting off the couch, talking to total strangers and lurking in weird places thanks to Pokémon Go. And after a less-than-ideal following for Starcraft 2, Blizzard once again became the golden boy with the release of Overwatch. Wow yeah, that was only last year. What did people do before then?

So with such a buffet of tasty gaming plates that we sampled through the year, here are our top picks for 2016.

DI:
Inside
Inside
I only just learnt that was up for nomination for Game of the Year. But deep inside, I already felt this was something special. Playdead’s execution of this minimalistic but stylish game was near perfect. From its dystopian atmosphere pregnant with tension to the way that the puzzles unfolded (I had so many “ohhh” moments), everything just seemed so spot-on. Want a game that has you immersed without a drop of dialogue? Inside, in my opinion, is your man.

Overcooked
So I wanted to include a couch co-op because that, for me, is a unique way in which gamers bond. The elbow-jostling, yelling of directions that make no sense in any other context (“Stop putting food on the floor!”) and sense of defeat only to do it all again…it’s all there in Overcooked. I’ll keep it short as Laura’s also picked it for her top 3, but for me, Overcooked brought about that perfect balance of tension and laughter that makes a couch co-op experience memorable.

Dead by Daylight
Dead by Daylight
This horror 4v1 in which one person plays a killer and four people play survivors was riddled with problems when it first came out. Most noticeable was the awful matchmaking system which had you having to sit there pressing and re-pressing the ready button just so you could stay in queue. However, that didn’t stop me and a bunch of friends from loving on this game. There’s something so satisfying about juking a clueless killer and getting those generators going if you play a survivor. Or if you’re more of the murdering type, surveying the landscape as four near-death people crawl around at your feet. I can’t remember the number of times I’ve had such incredibly good scares (mostly thanks to the Michael Meyers character that now features as one of the killers) and from the screams that come through my headset, I know I’m not alone. I’m happy to say that the developers have solved that maddening matchmaking system now and so this game’s become a great one to squeeze in one last adrenaline rush before bedtime.

LAURA:
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Uncharted 4
The Uncharted series of games, developed by Sony’s faithful pup Naughty Dog, are marked by nail biting action, scenic locations and perplexing puzzles. Their high production values manifest in dazzling graphics and award winning voice acting. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, is a grand and fitting finale to the lofty series. With Nathan being an Indiana Jones-esque figure, I was ecstatic to see him breaking from the stereotype and keeping one love interest throughout all the games. In Uncharted 4, we’re given a peek into Nathan and Elena’s happy home life, seeing them play games together and enjoying the simple pleasures. Their idyllic, peaceful life can’t last of course, and Nathan is soon drawn into another adrenaline fueled adventure through the exotic and visually stunning locations that exemplify the series. There’s plenty of exhilarating gun fire, fist fights, car chases and of course climbing and leaping from crumbling buildings. The game delves deeper into Nathan’s background, exploring his childhood and formative relationships, while managing to tie up the game and the series in a touching and satisfying bow. It’s a memorable send off for our dashing hero.

Doom
Doom
With the original Doom a legendary icon of video game industry, the 2016 reboot had legions of nostalgic fans to please. It had to strike the right balance to capture the old school FPS feel while introducing modern controls for comfortable gameplay and updated visuals. The fans have spoken and I wholeheartedly agree – it did a phenomenal job! Both the environments and the enemies are visually stunning. The fiends from hell are lovingly crafted monstrosities. I love that the brutality of the original wasn’t dampened down. There’s something very cathartic and satisfying about the ‘glory kills’ where you finish an enemy in grotesque style – for example by ripping his arm off and hitting him with it. The controls are beautiful smooth, and thanks to great optimization, framerate stays consistently high even when there are enemies coming from all sides. This makes you feel insanely agile and powerful when you’re leaping around a map to avoid enemy fire, destroying hellish demons to the epic tones of the original metal soundtrack. It’s mindless, stress relieving fun at its finest!

Overcooked
Overcooked
There is a shortage of really great, couch co-op games and the cooking management game Overcooked came out of nowhere to fill this niche. The first game from Ghost Town Games, a two person development studio, Overcooked is one of those games you just can’t seem to stop playing. The fun is in working together and finding the optimal method of sharing duties. It’s not too difficult to pass a level but often I’d feel like my team mate and I could be just a little more efficient. We’d try again and get the thrill of being cogs in a well oiled machine, often adjusting even as the room changed around us. The level designs are really clever and innovative which keeps the game feeling novel and fresh throughout. It teaches you one step at a time so each level feels like the right difficulty to be challenging but not impossible. The game starts and ends you in the same level so you finish the game feeling empowered by how far you’ve come as a team. It’s a fantastic game for testing your communication and teamwork with a partner, friends or family!

So there you have it. The list is concise and with only top threes, we admittedly had to leave a few really good ones by the wayside. But we hope this has inspired you to add a few more to that Steam wishlist in anticipation of the next big sale.

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