Ryan F’s Favorite Games of 2016

Ryan F’s Favorite Games of 2016

2016 was the first year in maybe three that I didn’t spend nearly the whole time replaying either SkyrimXCOM, or GTA IV. I still didn’t play nearly as much new stuff as I should have, but there was still enough this year to wring out a top five  list that wasn’t literally just the five games I played this year that came out this year.
5. Superhot 

Superhot is the first game since Hotline Miami to give me that perfect rush of pure, distilled enjoyment. From the moment I turned it on and looked at its terminal-like menus I felt like I was in a trance. It only got deeper when I actually started playing and experienced the absolutely unique pause and play shooting. You’re standing still? So does time. even if that means a bullet is hovering inches from your face. Move a muscle and time goes with you, all service of murdering polygonal enemies. I’ve never played anything like it, and if going through every level like that felt cool, watching my carefully planned moves unfold in real-time replays made me feel like a god. Combine that with a mind-bending story that includes forcing your game to actually shut down, devilishly clever real-world hooks like a recruit-your-friends-tools or Killstagram.com (now Killterest) to view replays, and you’ve got one of the most unique, enthralling shooters ever.

4. The Banner Saga 2 

The original The Banner Saga felt like it was made for me, with its Norse mythology setting rendered in a classic  animation style, so it’s no surprise I’d enjoy the sequel. What was a surprise was how well The Banner Saga 2 improved upon and delivered on some of the concepts of its predecessor. Besides the setting and the look, the biggest part of the original I enjoyed was the Oregon Trail-style choices that would pop up as your viking clan caravan moved its way through breathtaking hand-drawn vistas. I was afraid that, aside from immediate reactions like losing or gaining currency or morale, there would not be ramifications for your actions across games, even with a save importing feature. Gladly, I was proven wrong. While there were a few scenes tied directly to previous choices, the bigger impact was spread out over the whole game as I felt the world and its characters, including the player characters, change in both subtle and profound ways. The best example I can give without spoiling too much is the way a new character I’d pegged from the beginning to turn out an evil traitor behaved altruistically near the end in a huge twist, explicitly because of the example set by my character through this game and the previous one. Like I said, this game is pretty much perfect for me, but I don’t that makes it any less of a beautiful, tragic story that deserves to be experienced.


3. Dishonored 2 

Like The Banner Saga 2, there’s just something about the world of Dishonored 2 that fits with me. The eerie mystery of the Void and the Outsider, the unfathomable nature of the ocean and its connection to that darker place, the violence lurking barely underneath the surface of an ostensibly royal society jives with me in a way I never would have predicted. I looked through every nook and cranny of the game trying to find every book or to listen to every conversation I could. It doesn’t hurt that every level is made with an absolutely beautiful style of art design that made the furniture in an office just as nice to see as the strange, swirling clouds of the Void and the majesty of a royal palace. But Dishonored 2 isn’t just a game about exploring, it also excels as a stealth game. The magical powers available to protagonists Corvo or Emilys are the perfect tools to let you approach every objective from whatever way you wish. But what really makes it great is how well those tools let you respond when things don’t go how you wished. In other stealth games like the Splinter Cell series if you got caught you were finished. In Dishonored 2 there are so many ways to respond to situations that I never found myself wanting to reload a previous save when I could improvise my way through a situation.

Other aspects, particularly lackluster characters with lazy-sounding voice acting and a revenge-based plot driven by some unremarkable villains, bring the experience down. Still, I know I’ll be coming back to Dishonored 2‘s Serkonos to find every path through the world I can for quite some time.


2. Hitman 

Choking is for amateurs, I killed this guy with a circumcision knife and a cannon.

What I love about Hitman is that it’s just as good a serious, well-crafted stealth game as it is a ridiculous Rube Goldberg machine/playground. When I played it seriously, Hitman rewarded my careful maneuvering of its clockwork worlds, like when I disguised myself as a scientist’s golf coach lover to lure her into a candlelit rendezvous complete with poisoned wine, with the feeling of being an absolute genius who had mastered the game. Other times, like when I went around a Japanese mountain hospital dressed as a sushi chef and knocked out every person in sight with a wrench, it was pure hilarity. Hitman is so perfectly put together and its world so adaptable that, in the same way as Dishonored 2, every screw up on my part just opened up another stylish opportunity for a kill or made me want to embrace the chaos and do whatever I could. Hitman is one of the best examples I’ve seen of what happens when you give players almost complete freedom.


DOOM’s single player mode should be taught in schools. Everyone in the world should see what happens when you make a shooter where every single element works together in harmony. For DOOM, there’s not one part of the campaign that doesn’t further an undeniable truth: you are an unstoppable killing machine made to kill Hell. The way that you regain health by doing more killing instead of waiting a beat behind cover Call of Duty-style, the way you’re never slowed down by having to reload your weapons, the way you get more ammo for them by cutting enemies with a chainsaw, the way your character speeds through the environment, even the hilariously forceful animations for pressing buttons on a console or pulling a lever, it all comes together in a way that seems to scream “Fuck Hell!” Each piece works in unison one of the most purely enjoyable shooter campaigns in years.

Despite a lackluster multiplayer mode that keeps DOOM from being the complete package, it’s impossible to give DOOM anything but the most glowing of recommendations. Hell sucks, but DOOM rules.

Dishonorable Mention: Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare

Infinite Warfare’s campaign is such a generic by-the-numbers oora military story that it managed to make me bored of space dogfighting, zero gravity combat, and Scott Bakula-lookalike protagonist.