This is not a list of the best games that came out in 2016. Because I now have a full-time job and live in Japan with a handful of gaming machines, it’s a list of the games I most enjoyed playing this year. Got it? Good! Here we go!
I didn’t quite appreciate this on PS2, especially as a follow-up to the original. While I did buy the soundtrack long ago on a trip to Japan, I gave it a meh 7.5 score when I reviewed it in Game Informer magazine. Playing it again – and completing it multiple times – I see how it was designed to facilitate freestyle gameplay and on-the-fly changeups of lyrics. Kinda cool, even if it makes the songs less catchy as a result. The competitive HORSE-esque component is interesting if poorly implemented.
I beat this on PC years ago, but got the bug again in 2016 and started to cross off the trophy list on both PS4 and Vita. Still a wonderful “murder simulator” that I highly recommend. Also did a similar thing with Hotline Miami 2, but the first one is better in my opinion. Superior soundtrack, too.
I love a good rhythm game. Amplitude doesn’t quite live up to the phenomenal and under-appreciated PS2 original, but it plays tight and sounds great. I enjoyed the varying difficulty levels and competing with the leaderboards.
This is a game I played a bunch in 2015. Nonetheless, Destiny got a lot of action from me in 2016, and may be my most-played co-op multiplayer title of all time. I never did get the latest (year-2) expansion, though, and have since deleted the game from my hard-drive to make room for other titles.
One of my favorite games ever, it’s this far down this list because – like Destiny – most of my play was in 2015. Also, I’m not too thrilled with the late-game story direction. But don’t let that dissuade you; Fallout 4 is one of the most compelling, addictive games of all time! It’s so addictive, in fact, that I didn’t bring it to Japan with me for fear that I’d play it too much!
A charming puzzle game released this year by the man behind Braid, I completed The Witness pretty thoroughly. Deceptively simple at first, the eventual variety and the explorability of the world make this very unique. The only downer is the after-finishing content is borderline impossible, souring me on my overall feelings after dozens of fruitless attempts to run the randomly-generated gauntlet. Woulda loved to nab my first Platinum trophy off this game…
Maybe my most-played Vita game in my short time with the portable console. I’m a sucker for good pinball – either digitally or in real life – and this definitely qualifies. While the default tables are quality, I picked up my favorite table ever, Medieval Madness, via DLC. I may grab more, too; there’s definitely no shortage. It’s just a shame that, when my 8-month-old, $70 Vita memory card shit the bed, I lost all my data.
I dabbled with this on Steam long ago, but it wasn’t until it became free on Vita via PS+ in December that I committed to it. A clever gravity mechanic, finely balanced difficulty, intuitive control, and an open map makes this a wonderful game. The replay factor is quite high, too. I beat it a bunch of times to attempt to get lower death-count trophies.
I’m a big fan of the Metal Gear Solid series – having beaten 1-4, Peace Walker, Twin Snakes, Ground Zeroes, and Acid 2. But I’ve been slow to pick up the latest installment, in part because I was skeptical of an open-world version of a game with such a tight narrative (and disappointed in Ground Zeroes for being a pricy prologue). But it’s been pretty darn great so far. Sure, the world can be repetitive and the online aspects are annoying, but the gameplay loop here is one of the best: Infiltrate a hostile zone; balloon-blast tranquilized enemies back to your base; develop new weapons and items; level-up your buddies; watch Kojima throw crazy crap at you, story-wise. I’m about 45% complete, and probably 2/3 through the main game. I’d say this is worth a play, and it’s got me pretty firmly in its cybernetic grip.
My favorite puzzle-game series of all time delivers yet again! A $30 digital-only puzzler may sounds steep, but it took me over 80 hours to master the 300 puzzles on offer here, and I loved almost every minute. For the uninitiated, Picross is about crafting an image (or in the 3D versions, an object) using deductive reasoning. Remove some spaces, fill in others, and before you know it there’s a thing there! Maybe it’s a bicycle or a dung beetle! The fact that there’s a purpose makes a huge difference, and it’s challenging without demanding forehead-sweating concentration. I may prefer the 2D Picross version’s simplicity over spinning around a cube in 3D (I replayed Picross DS in 2016, too, for about 20 hours of gameplay), but for coming out in 2016 and being such a superb game in such a beloved series, Picross 3D Round 2 takes my top spot on this list!