Best Games of 2016 so far…

It is July of 2016 already and half a year has passed since ‘that’ night when you drank too much and made a resolution the very next day: never to repeat. In this short/long passage to time tons of games have come, but only a few shall stay embedded in our fickle memories.  I present you with a handy checklist of this year’s best games, so you don’t have to remember them and can apply your brains to more nefarious things (you couldn’t stick to that new year’s resolution, could you?).

Dark Souls 3

(PC/PS4/XBOX-ONE)

Oh! a weak undead (you died!)

An undead doge (you died!)

What a magnificent dragon, let me take a screenshot (you died!)

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Docile creature ahead / Liar ahead!

That, right there is pretty much an average gamer’s foray into a Soulsborne game and Dark Souls 3 doesn’t disappoint. With its emblematic and tightly choreographed combat loop alongside dozens of challenging demons to slay,  this new entry continues to have that seductive quality wherein the fact that a boss battle awaits round the corner is the headlining motivation. Come for the challenge, whine about the difficulty yet stay for the sense of discovery.

Overwatch

(PC/PS4/XBOX-ONE)

A multiplayer-only game is usually a hard sell in times like these when stories in video games are a major draw for most players. Yet Overwatch has a certain draw to it: whether it be in its quirky cast of characters or the objective-based match format or the synergy of its many classes; Overwatch knows how to put the ‘fun’ back into shooters. Though one can pinpoint its many inspirations and spot the parallel it draws from popular mediums, still the final product feels quite unique, a video game unmatched in style and scope.

Uncharted 4 A Thief’s End

(PS4 Exclusive)

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She knows

Fanboys call it a masterpiece, I call it “the game that came after The Last of Us”. I can explain. The changing of directors at the helm of Uncharted 4 and the resulting seriousness of the game itself, shows just how much the influence of TLOU has rubbed off on Uncharted 4. The gameplay largely remains the same with a few neat little physics-ey inclusions like grappling, sliding and driving. But the tonal shifts are what makes this feel like a new IP altogether. Don’t get me wrong, the spectacle of the previous games is still in there, with much funnier and emergent banter, yet one shall feels – much like Elena herself does in the game – that all will not be well, the peace between the characters is just temporary, the spectacle just a vessel to deliver the next serious cutscene. Nonetheless it is a game that every person with a PS4 must play, for it is unlike anything else out there.

Street Fighter V

(PC/PS4)

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Laura, one of the four characters new to the Street Fighter universe, was introduced in SFV

I know, I know, there is tons wrong with SFV, like the lack of single-player content, its DLC practices and the rushed nature of the game to make it tournament-ready.  But at the heart of it all is a game which is extremely fun to play, immensely complex yet tons more approachable than its predecessor. Like fine wine, SFV will only get better with time, with newer characters, stages, modes and more. Here’s hoping the audience sticks around for long to witness all of it; for a fighting game lives and dies by its players.

Salt and Sanctuary

(PC/PS4)

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The corpses of other players who were killed by the boss that follows are a sad sight.

Salt & Sanctuary is an ‘indie’ game that genuinely deserves the indie label. It is easy to call S&S a 2D Souls-clone, it is also a bit insulting to call it that. Because for whatever S&S adds-in for inspiration it equally backs it all up with a style and ideas that are undeniably original. The duo at Ska Studios have thought this game through, its not a half-hearted attempt at creating a complex game. It is a passion project that shines through with ingenuity in its connected world, metroidvania-esque exploration and sweet sweet combat. Now available on PS4 and PC, S&S deserves a chance from players of all intensities.

Firewatch

(PC/PS4)

When it comes to game naming conventions, the word ‘watch’ seems to be the new ‘chronicles’ (AC: Chronicles, Valkyria Chronicles, Xenoblade Chronicles, Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles). 2016 already has had two of such watch namesakes, both pretty good games. Firewatch’s plot unfolds through interactions with a non-playable character over a walkie-talkie that you never actually meet in person. Such is the kind of confidence that exudes from every part of this experience. Conversations and dialogues (with a few choices) that leads to an altogether novel and at the same time personal character development.

Doom

(PC/PS4/XBOX-ONE)

In 2016, a standard military fare of guns like AK-47s and AWPs add nothing interesting to a game. Moreover in a medium replete with shooters, its disheartening to find most games resorting to such tried and tested load-outs. The recent Doom – a game that is unabashedly about good gameplay – seems to epitomize how to do guns in games. It prioritizes movement, shooting and interaction over its story and premise. The guns and their respective upgrades always feel game-changing, the glory-kills never get old and the chainsaw is incorporated in a genius manner. Its a game that comes quite easily recommended to almost anyone with the means to run it,and it has something for everyone. Except kids, Please don’t play Doom, kids. Just don’t!

XCOM 2

(PC, September 2016 for PS4/XBOX-ONE)

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Best of luck making sense of all of this

Make something exclusive and it instantly becomes much more desirable! XCOM 2 – initially a PC exclusive – experienced this aplenty. This exclusivity did hurt its initial player count, but console players need not wait long, since come September XCOM 2 will be released on consoles. Though the novelty of the original was something quite special, this sequel has its charms. The management sim-esque meta-game is better than ever, the battle tactics have much more strategic depth and the randomness of objectives lends it a long life. Strategy games are not dead and XCOM 2 stands proud to prove it.

Ah, Ah, Ahhh! Before you go into the comments section to point out some of the games I missed, hear me out. Since I am ‘exactly’ a super-human and nor is anyone at PsychoStore in possession of a time manipulator, therefore we haven’t had time to try all of 2016’s releases. Thus this list is only a representation of the game we managed to play amongst ourselves and doesn’t mean nothing else worth playing came out in 2016.  Which is why I encourage you to speak (/vote) your mind below.

Monish Khemani

A lover and devourer of all things complex: RPGs, fighting games, puzzles, skill trees, combo setups, time-limits, roguelikes, languages and alternative music. Tell me if you like something and tell me if you don't.

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