Its the end of the year and that can only mean one thing, awards. Gamers everywhere are looking back at 2016 and celebrating their favourite titles. I thought about doing some kind of top ten, but I feel that plenty of other people have already beaten me to it. so I present to you the “Alternative” Game Awards for 2016, lets hope it makes things a bit more interesting.
Lets start off simple. A sound track can hugely improve a gaming experience and I strongly believe that a good soundtrack is a sure sign that a developer really put love and time into their game. In my mind, this category has only one winner. Risk of Rain has one of the best soundtracks in gaming. I know its original release was a long time ago, but it re-released this year on PS4 and I had to mention it, not doing so would have been criminal. Chris Christodoulou produced a mesmerising score that is part electronica, part rock and its frickin’ awesome.
This is another game re-released this year, but who cares? These are the “Alternative” game awards. Darkest Dungeon has some of the strongest art direction I have ever seen. I’m a sucker for all things Lovecraftian and so for me, Darkest Dungeon is absolute bliss. The dark, grimy, 2D comic-book style is truly something to behold. But what really pulls everything together is, of course the narrator. Wayne June nails every single line and I applaud him for it. His delivery is absolutely perfect and elevates the entire experience.
The “Get Your Mates Over” Award
This one, without doubt goes to Tricky. This game has everything a great couch game needs. It’s easy to learn, you can screw your friends about and it’s endlessly replayable. It’s light wholesome fun, perfect for families but competitive enough that you can also easily spend hours screaming at you mates. The game is essentially competitive Tetris, with helpful and harmful spells to help you along your way. It may not seem like your thing, but get a few friends together and give it a go, you might just change your mind.
Game That Most Surpassed My Expectations
When I started Furi my expectations were low in the sense that I had absolutely no idea what to expect. The developers, The Game Bakers, are relative unknowns, especially within the hack and slash genre. However, Furi is exceptional. The game consists of a series of boss fights (each with multiple stages) and each one feels handcrafted and perfectly balanced. The gameplay is fluid controls beautifully. It also all looks absolutely gorgeous.
It’s not a particularly controversial choice but this one has to go to Overwatch, Blizzard’s slick new shooter. The core gameplay is just so undeniably fun. As someone who has never really enjoyed traditional multiplayer shooters such as Battlefield or Call of Duty. Overwatch, with its unique heroes, MOBA inspired elements and lighthearted aesthetic has been a breath of fresh air for me. It may have been light on content at launch, but in its current state there’s no denying that Overwatch deserves its place here.
Most Disappointing Game 2016
Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 is not a bad game. I’m sure there are a lot of people who really enjoy it. The problem for me is (and this is a bit petty) that Xenoverse 2 is not as good as Budokai Tenkaichi 3. I love BT3 and with every new Dragon Ball release I cross my fingers and hope for something on a similar level. I know Xenoverse is a very different game but still, I need a new Dragon Ball game and personally, Xenoverse just isn’t good enough. It’s too repetitive and lacks imagination.
Best Game 2016
This is the big one. 2016 didn’t see a huge number of big releases but there was no shortage of high quality games, and this year the one I enjoyed the most has to be Dark Souls 3. I have long been a fan of the series and I was not disappointed by the final entry in the Souls trilogy. Its ranking alongside its stablemates is still hotly debated but Dark Souls 3 is a fantastic game no matter what you compare it to. Everything that makes Souls great is here, the storytelling, the combat and the hauntingly beautiful world. A few too many gimmicky bosses don’t hurt the game too much overall, but is worth mentioning. But that’s really my only criticism, Dark Souls 3 is absolutely the best of 2016.
I hope you enjoyed 2016 as much as I did. There were some truly special games this year, both indie and AAA. Fingers crossed 2017 delivers more of the same. Happy New Year!