The 10 best games of 2016

Screen capture from Dark Souls 3, featuring two knights in armour doing battle.

It’s been a great year for gaming! I’ve been reflecting a lot on my favourite media of the past year, so here are my 10 best games of 2016.

Following my 2016 retrospective podcast, I’ve created this accompanying post to list out my absolute favourite titles of the last year.

10. Firewatch

The prettiest walking simulator I’ve ever played. With art direction from acclaimed graphic designer Olly Moss (@ollymoss), the environment was an absolute pleasure to spend time in.

Firewatch Homepage | Buy Firewatch on Steam / PlayStation 4 / Xbox One

9. BLUE REVOLVER

Character artwork from Blue Revolver.

This manic, scrolling shooter is the collaborative product of 6 talented indie developers. With challenging gameplay familiar in arcade shooters and artwork reminiscent of Japanese doujinshi, this bullet hell is a product of love; and great fun!

BLUE REVOLVER Homepage | Buy BLUE REVOLVER on Steam

8. The Flame in the Flood

A resource based exploration and crafting game, set in a flooded, post-societal America. The Molasses Flood’s first outing was crafted by a team of industry veterans, and it looks great and plays really well. Whilst the main story doesn’t take long to complete, there is an ‘endless’ mode for added challenge. The soundtrack by Chuck Ragan is really catchy, and frequently makes an appearance in my playlists.

The Flame in the Flood Homepage | Buy The Flame in the Flood on Steam / Xbox One

7. DOOM

Screen capture from DOOM.

The latest outing sees id Software returning to their roots, to produce an honest to the original remake for 2016. Battle the relentless legions of Hell as the Doom Slayer. With incredible strength and an arsenal to match, you are unstoppable. As with my previous choice, DOOM also features a fantastic soundtrack, which helped immerse me in the carnage.

DOOM Homepage | Buy DOOM on Amazon UK / Steam

6. Rise of the Tomb Raider

Lara Croft in Rise of the Tomb Raider.

Lara Croft returned to PC and PS4 this year, much more confident in her role as the courageous tomb raider we know and love. Rise of the Tomb Raider sees Lara journey to some of the most beautiful locations yet. The spectacle of this game was undoubtedly a huge draw for me, but I got lost in the adventure.

Rise of the Tomb Raider Homepage | Buy Rise of the Tomb Raider on Amazon UK / Steam

5. The Final Station

Screen capture from The Final Station.

This one came out of nowhere, but had a lasting impact. Part resource management, part platform shooter, The Final Station navigates its way through a decaying society as story unfolds through visual queues and narrative environment. The artwork is gorgeous despite its minimalism.

The Final Station Homepage | Buy The Final Station on Steam

4. Hyper Light Drifter

Screen capture from Hyper Light Drifter.

A very personal project, led by Alex Preston, this title has received a lot of interest since it was successfully crowd funded in October 2013; and rightly so! This gorgeous homage to the classic, top-down, hack n’ slash, RPG genre: think classic Zelda. The environments, colours and character sprites are visually stunning, and the soundtrack by Disasterpeace (@Disasterpeace) completes the experience.

Hyper Light Drifter Homepage | Buy Hyper Light Drifter on Steam / PlayStation 4 / Xbox One

3. INSIDE

Screen capture from INSIDE.

By PlayDead, this game is the spiritual successor to the team’s previous title, Limbo. Also a puzzle platformer, it shares a similar eerie atmosphere to its predecessor, though the environments are more detailed and the lighting and dynamic effects have been developed significantly. This game compelled me to play to completion in a single play through, and I wasn’t disappointed.

INSIDE Homepage | Buy INSIDE on Steam / PlayStation 4 / Xbox One

2. Uncharted 4

Screen capture from Uncharted 4.

Whilst I enjoyed Uncharted 3, it didn’t have a lasting impact – and I haven’t played the older titles in the series. Uncharted 4 is a masterpiece in story telling and narrative gameplay. Whilst many will feel it shares more in common with a feature film than a game, I can’t imagine being as invested in any motion picture in same way.

Naughty Dog really surprised me with what is supposedly the last adventure for Nathan Drake. This game is so much more than just a pretty face. I was thoroughly impressed.

Uncharted 4 Homepage | Buy Uncharted 4 on Amazon UK

1. Dark Souls 3

Screen from "Dark Souls 3" by FromSoftware.

This will come as no surprise, but Dark Souls 3 has really held my attention for the majority of the year. An action role-playing game by From Software and directed by Hidetaka Miyazaki, this will be the last in the Dark Souls series.

When I started playing this, back in April, I really struggled to make progress. But I stuck with it. There’s no arguing, this game can present a challenge even to seasoned gamers.

For me, the challenge was definitely part of the appeal. It made every new location, every battle victory, every snippet of information I could gather… Something I had earned, rather than something I was entitled to.

Featuring truly epic level designs, a deep lore (which is only uncovered through hard work – or community analysis), challenging gameplay and an incredible score, Dark Souls 3 is beyond a doubt my favourite release of 2016. With one piece of DLC still in development, I’m sure I’ll still be playing it next year too.

Dark Souls 3 Homepage | Buy Dark Souls 3 on Amazon UK / Steam

Honourable mentions:

Overwatch, Dishonoured 2The Last GuardianOxenfreeThe Witness, Event[0] – by all accounts are fantastic games, which I wish I’d had a chance to play (or play more of). Alas, with limited time, these will carry over to the 2017 back-burner, alongside all the great new games due for release.

Have I missed something incredible? How closely does this list match up with your own favourites? Let me know in the comments.