Home > Ferret Talks Gaming > BTPF’s Games of 2016!

BTPF’s Games of 2016!

2016 is dead, long live 2017! And what a year it’s been for games, and by that I mean it’s been a bit of a weird one. Most of the games that I was excited for ended up shoved into 2017 and the year continued the trend that 2015 started where most of the big AAA releases elicited a general sense of indifference from me, but there’s still been some interesting stuff out there.

I’m going to take a look at my top 10 in a second, but first I want to take a look at the worst. First of all, the biggest disappointment of the year, coming in right under the wire in December, it’s The Last Guardian.

Man, I wanted to like this so much more than I did. I loved Ico and what I played of Shadow of the Colossus, so after the long wait I was really hoping that The Last Guardian would meet the same standards. But tragically, it just doesn’t. Many reviews have stated that its problem is that it’s as dated as the previous Team Ico titles, but that’s not true considering the problems I have with The Last Guardian simply weren’t there when I replayed Ico only a few months ago.

The Last Guardian has one key problem that manifests itself in multiple ways – it’s simply not an intuitive game. There’s very little signposting, and sometimes the signposting that is there is misleading – I lost track of how many times I tried to jump to what looked like an obvious ledge that was actually just a non-interactive bit of scenery. This is compounded by having to control a beast that only occasionally listens to you, and when you’re already confused if you’re doing the right thing or not, this delayed response merely adds to that frustration. The camera is also the worst, as it’s so zoomed in on the action that making sense of your surroundings is an exercise in futility.

I really tried to keep pushing. I did. I tried to accept Trico’s quirks. I tried to take my time and appreciate everything. But I just couldn’t. It frustrated and it confused and it misled. It feels weirdly rushed for a game that’s been in development for ten years.

But it wasn’t the worst. That accolade has to go to Star Fox Zero, the much-maligned new entry in Nintendo’s space-faring series.

Many have complained about the bizarre controls, and while I didn’t have nearly as much of an issue with those mechanics as others seemingly did, I often did feel like it was too busy and over-complicating things when a simpler solution seemed possible.

It didn’t help that underneath the wacky control scheme, it was just generally a bit boring. It was a less charming re-hash of Star Fox 64 that did little to nothing to make itself stand out as its own thing. And in fact, that’s literally all I can say about it. It left that little an impression, and will forever be remembered as “that game with the weird controls”.

But that’s enough negativity. It’s time for my top 10, and my list might seem quirky and off the general consensus, but it’s my list and I do what I want here.

To start with…

10. The Turing Test

On the surface, this seems like a Portal clone with little of the personality. But as I progressed through this fascinating little puzzle game, little specks of inspiration started flooding in until suddenly revelations change the dynamic of the entire game. Without spoiling anything, that title – a reference to Alan Turing’s test of an AI’s ability to appear to think like a human – becomes more and more central to the mysterious goings-on, and the story rapidly becomes a pondering of the nature of humanity.

The puzzle design is also fiendishly difficult, to the point where you seemingly have to break some of the obvious rules to get through, and I love it for that.

9. Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst

I had been waiting for Mirror’s Edge Catalyst for a very long time. I was a huge fan of the original Mirror’s Edge and eagerly craved a sequel that offered more free-running action, hopefully in a world that’s a little more open than the one that game provided. Catalyst is a solid attempt to do just that, and while it’s not perfect, it did enough right with the mechanics and the world that I felt incredibly satisfied playing through it. And it did it well enough that it gets to be in the number 9 slot.

Oh, and the end song got me REALLY into Chvrches, so it has that going for it as well.

8. Unravel

There aren’t many games capable of grabbing me on such an emotional level I need to put the controller down and take a moment to compose myself. Unravel did just that. A cute little platformer which evokes LittleBigPlanet and Limbo, Unravel is best known as that game EA revealed with a nervous developer holding up a yarn boy on stage. And while its gameplay isn’t particularly standout, it makes it onto my list purely on its ability to hit emotional beats I didn’t expect it to. It tells a tale of life and love that resonated with me, and for that I must give it praise.

7. Pony Island

This game will probably miss a lot of year-end lists for the simple fact that it came out right at the start of the year, and no one can remember that far back. But I can. And this was a surprise hit that got people talking. Ostensibly an incredibly basic endless runner, there’s a weird meta-narrative running through the whole thing that results in you taking the game apart in a race to save your soul. It’s a weird ride that keeps you guessing, but that’s what makes it such a glorious piece of work while it lasts.

6. Song of the Deep

Not many people discussed Insomniac’s departure from major publishers and Gamestop’s first venture into publishing. And it’s a shame, because this is such a wonderful game that deserves more attention. An undersea Metroidvania starring a young girl searching for her father, the art design, dreamy narration and fluid gameplay made this a thoroughly enjoyable experience. If Ecco the Dolphin was less trippy and more forgiving, the result would be this game, and for that alone it’s here.

Expect a Ferret’s First on this very soon, by the way.

5. Oxenfree

You’ve heard this story before. Some teens venture to an island, get drunk, gossip and open some kind of weird dimensional rift with a portable radio. Wait, hang on.

Oxenfree is a fascinating horror mystery adventure involving radio ghosts that also has a strong emotional centre. The cast are not stereotypical horror movie teens, they’re real characters with real motivations and stories, and the fantastic writing, acting and pacing bring it all together in a neat package. On top of that, the sound design is probably some of the best this year, with crackling radio broadcasts, haunting music and the right level of spooky noise to make a memorable experience.

4. Doom (2016)

 

Before it came out, I had absolutely no interest in Doom on the basis that I didn’t play much of the original in my formative years, and as a result the series holds no nostalgic value to me. But when people started talking about it, I realised I needed to play it.

You see, I love a game that decides to throw out all pretence to just be big and dumb and fun and embrace that wholeheartedly. And Doom does exactly this. In an age where much of the market, particularly the FPS genre, is po-faced and serious, Doom is a delightful breath of fresh air that literally takes your well-crafted sci-fi lore and shoves it across the room because it’s getting in the way of slaughtering demons. And the part of me that loves big dumb action movies that embrace their own cheesiness absolutely adored Doom. A genuine surprise for me.

3. Ratchet & Clank (2016)

The Ratchet & Clank reboot/remake/movie tie-in is a weird beast that everyone seemed to struggle to classify. For me, it was a celebration of the entire Ratchet & Clank franchise, bringing back memorable locations from the original PS2 game and tossing in gameplay elements and weapons from everywhere else in the series to make an unabashed celebration of Insomniac’s long running series.

It does suffer a little by having its entire storyline tied to the apparently not-very-good movie adaptation, but it more than makes up for that by being one of the most enjoyable games in the series to date. I haven’t had this much fun with a Ratchet game since Tools of Destruction, and coming back to that joy has been one of my highlights of the year.

2. Rise of the Tomb Raider

“Wait, this game came out in 2015, you can’t count this”

Yeah, but it got released on the majority of its systems this year, and seemingly got more attention on those systems, so I’m counting it, just for the hell of it. My list, my rules!

Rise of the Tomb Raider has taken all the good stuff from 2013’s reboot title and made it feel more expansive, more satisfying and more, well…Tomb Raider. Lara herself feels more assured and much like the classic character we know and love, the world is much more interesting to explore and figure your way through, and the gameplay mechanics are much more enjoyable to play around with. And so we can keep this specifically on 2016’s content for the game, that Croft Manor chapter had me laughing for hours over a single referential letter, and for that alone it gets this high place on my list.

1. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

This should be absolutely no surprise to anybody. I cancelled a scheduled Let’s Play in favour of covering this game instead, so I must have enjoyed it, right? Anyone watching the Let’s Play will also be hugely aware of how much I love the game.

Here is why Uncharted 4 is so great. It features a ton of amazing set pieces including a chase through King’s Bay by Jeep and a battle across the wrecks of pirate ships. Combat has been vastly improved, with stealth options being even better than previous titles, and the ability to punch a man from the air from a grappling hook is one of the most enjoyable moves the series has ever introduced.

But it’s that narrative, a combination of series celebration and a genuine emotional journey, that makes Uncharted 4 stand out so much in my mind. This is a game where I felt satisfied by the ending but also felt sad because I was leaving characters behind. It’s one of very few games I’ve played with a mature, realistic relationship at the centre of it. Drake’s character is fleshed out, making him flawed but still relatable. The pirate backdrop is swashbuckling cheese of just the right kind for the series. Essentially, it does everything 100% right. And after Uncharted 3’s mess of a story, this was a welcome return.

So there you have it. Uncharted 4 is my game of the year, along with nine others I thought were pretty good. My choices might seem a little strange, but be aware that I haven’t played everything, and I could very easily have missed out on some even better games. I’ve heard good things about Firewatch and Stardew Valley, for instance, but never got around to playing them.

Let me know what you thought down below and let me know what your favourites were this year!

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Categories: Ferret Talks Gaming
  1. January 5, 2017 at 3:36 pm

    Nice list! Many of these titles I just got a hold of, but I’m excited to play UC4, Ratchet, and Doom. I’m sad that Last Guardian hasn’t lived up to the hype. Hopefully the next game comes out quicker than it did…

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