The best of 2016
By Bryan McDowall -
2016 was a pretty rough year for many. Despite that, games, films and TV saw some fantastic releases. Here are my top picks; the best of 2016.
As 2017 is now firmly upon us, many celebrities will breathe a sigh of relief and leave their homes for the first time in months. I’m looking forward to 2017 myself, and optimistic that it’ll be a great year with some fantastic new releases.
Before that though, it’s time to look back at the best of 2016.
Dark Souls 3
As mentioned in my 10 best games of 2016, Dark Souls 3 was my top pick of the year. An incredibly detailed action role-playing game, set in a beautiful fantasy landscape, and host to many memorable characters and beasts.
Though I typically prefer science fiction over fantasy, there’s something about the lore in this game that really manages to capture my imagination.
Honourable mentions: Uncharted 4, Rise of the Tomb Raider, DOOM, Overwatch, Dishonoured 2
Best indie game
The spiritual successor to Limbo, this title builds on the same dark atmosphere present in the developer’s first release.
Evolving from the silhouetted art style, INSIDE features rich art direction and an incredibly immersive narrative, despite a fixed, scrolling camera. As you progress through the puzzle platform, the environment reveals more information about the world around you.
Honourable mentions: Hyper Light Drifter, The Final Station, The Flame in the Flood, Firewatch, OXENFREE
Best game soundtrack
No Man’s Sky
Featuring music from 65daysofstatic, the No Man’s Sky soundtrack was released a few days before the game itself. It’s an incredible, emotive collection of music, which loans itself to the genre of space exploration.
The soundtrack itself stood out to me, despite having never played the game - and despite the game itself receiving some fierce criticism on release.
Honourable mentions: DOOM, The Flame in the Flood, Hyper Light Drifter, I Am Setsuna, Uncharted 4
Kubo and the Two Strings / 君の名は。 (Your name.)
I couldn’t decide. Both of these films tell beautiful stories and are technically magnificent in their own way.
Kubo and the Two Strings features some of the most complex stop motion animation I’ve ever witnessed. Despite this, it also has a gripping story and endearing characters.
Your name. is the latest work of Makoto Shinkai, and this full-length animated feature lives up to the merits of his previous releases. It’s nothing short of an animated masterpiece, presenting a story which could only be comfortably set in Japan, but easily enjoyed by people across the world.
Honourable mentions: Swiss Army Man, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Zootropolis (Zootopia), The Lobster, The Girl With All The Gifts
Mob Psycho 100
Another fantastic, ridiculously over the top series from the creator of One Punch Man. Mob Psycho 100 is a short series featuring more over-the-top fantasy battles and slapstick humour.
I fell in love with the characters too, and their counter-intuitive reactions to bizarre situations. The animation is very fluid, and even the opening sequence is fantastic in its own right.
Honourable mentions: Re:Zero, Yuri!!! on Ice, New Game!
Best TV show
This series is a real treat. Based loosely on the Westworld film from 1973 by Michael Crichton, this HBO series is a modern adaptation which expands greatly on the original premise.
There is a great deal of focus on treatment of synthetic humanoids and touching on the question of what it means to be sentient or alive. The show regularly subverted my expectations, proving humans to be more predictable and often less humane than their robotic counterparts.
Honourable mentions: Stranger Things, Luke Cage, Black Mirror, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detection Agency
Most anticipated game of 2017
Mass Effect: Andromeda
I really loved the original Mass Effect trilogy, ending be damned. Adopting the role of Shepard was a fantastic ride, and the relationships I forged within the universe were the driving force behind my progression through the story.
I’m trying to keep much of Andromeda’s story a mystery - I’d like to go in not knowing a lot about it. From the little gameplay footage I’ve seen so far, it looks to build on the same game mechanics from previous titles, though ultimately, it’s the characters that will make or break the experience for me.
My most anticipated game of last year was Persona 5 - and due to a slipped release date, I still have that to look forward to also!
Also looking forward to: Red Dead Redemption 2, Persona 5, Nier: Automata, Prey For the Gods, Sea of Solitude
So those are my top pics of 2016. This year, as always, I’m resolving to be more productive and physically active than ever!
Here’s hoping 2017 is a good one; let’s do our best to make sure it is.