Always, always I wish I had more time to play games than I do, and one of the casualties of being an MMO gamer is that it severely cuts down on any attention I can give to non-MMO titles. That isn’t to say that I avoided them all this year! Sitting down this past week, I easily came up with 10 titles that I greatly enjoyed at some point in 2016.
Seeing as how we’re staring down the barrel of 2017 right now, let’s send out 2016 in style with a few great lists!
(1) Tales from the Borderlands
Hilarious, touching, strange, and absolutely gripping, I think Tales from the Borderlands is my all-time favorite Telltale title to date. It even has a robot that I liked more than Rogue One’s K-2SO. Seriously, Loaderbot is the bomb. And those intro music videos for each episode? Classic. My only complaint is that this all ended.
While it wasn’t perfect (particularly in its awkward resolution), Firewatch as an experience was mesmerizing and one of the most immersive titles of the year. Playing a summer as Henry, a middle-aged man fleeing his sick wife to become a fire ranger in Wyoming turned into a gripping tale of two damaged people talking over the radio.
(3) Life is Strange
Adventure games had a great year, apparently, and Life is Strange was such a wonderful discovery. The five-episode series of a high school girl who found out that she had the limited ability to rewind time took us through a slowly unfolding disaster, a relationship between two previous friends, and layers of mystery worthy of Twin Peaks. I am not satisfied with the ending or the explanation of the time mechanic (why did she get it in the first place if it was so wrong to use?), but boy was it a great ride.
(4) Clash Royale
I was never a big Clash of Clans player, but Clash Royale hooked me with its RTS-meets-PvP angle. Simple, quick, and colorful, the game allowed players to throw units at each other in order to knock down an opponent’s towers and unseat the king. I ended up playing a lot of this while riding my exercise bike over the year.
(5) Dungeon Warfare
This mobile title never got much promotion, but boy did I love it. It’s like a top-down Dungeon Keeper-slash-tower defense game with a high pixelated body count and lots of interesting towers. One neat move was letting players choose specific handicaps in order to gain more XP per map.
(6) Knights of Pen and Paper 2
Not a 2016 release, but I found myself coming back to this lighthearted tabletop D&D simulator a couple of times over the year (especially while I was on a cruise). The humor and RPG elements keep this an engaging ride, even though it’s kind of cheesy and repetitious in spots.
(7) Stardew Valley
I kind of wish I had put in more time with this odd farming/life simulator, but what I did play I really enjoyed. The retro look, the farming focus, and the huge amount of activities is perfect for a time sink. My greatest request? A tablet version. I’d play the heck out of that.
(8) Crazy Kings
Another somewhat oldie that got me coming back, I’ve had a great time working my way through this tower defense game that uses a card mechanic for its upgrades. It get a few minutes of my time every day, and the art style is quite appealing.
Mini-Civilization, Polytopia stripped down Civilization games to their core and turned them into a fast-paced mobile title. It’s so slick and well-done that it really does shame the competitors.
(10) Star Control 2
I didn’t get through a ton of retro games this year, but I did manage to enjoy a few of them including the Quest for Glory and King’s Quest games. However, I think finally digging into Star Control 2’s space RPG was my highlight. So weird, so huge, so satisfying. I can’t wait to finish it up and see how it ends.