We have finally left another year behind, and of course that means everyone is writing their inaugural Game of the Year posts. This won’t be any different. I played a lot of games in 2016, though most of them were 2015 games, because I finally was able to upgrade to a PS4 and catch up on all the big AAA titles that I had missed over the past couple of years. So I feel like while I did play a lot of games, most of them weren’t new. I wish I had dedicated more time to play more smaller games, and that’s definitely something I want to do more of in 2017. So consider that my 2017 videogame resolution.
But here are the games from 2016 that made an impression on me, as short as this list may be.
Game of the Year: Mystic Messenger
Mystic Messenger isn’t so much a videogame as it is a way of life. The wildly popular Korean dating sim was released in North America in later summer, and it was pretty much all I played from September to the beginning of November. I’m actually still playing it now, since they released a Christmas DLC over the holidays. It quickly became very dear to my heart and might be one of my favourite games I’ve ever played. It’s a game that I feel really understands how relationships in a digital age work, and it really capitalizes on that by using chats, texts, selfies, and even fully voiced phone calls to talk to your new anime friends. But what I really love is how layered most of the characters are. At no point did anyone’s route wind up going the way I thought it would. You learn something new about every romanceable character through their route, and even learn things about other characters as well, and it’s a hugely replayable and multifaceted game. It’s also purely ridiculous and entertaining while at the same time tackling a lot of heavy subjects. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it even made me incredibly scared at times. Mystic Messenger entangled itself in my life in a way that few games have.
Best Episodic Game: The Lion’s Song
This is a pretty late contender since I didn’t get to chance to play any of it until the holiday break, but it’s definitely good enough to earn it. I’m never quite sure how to account for episodic games sometimes, as technically this one started in 2016 and only the first two of five episodes are out. But it started in 2016 and I’m the editor and I can do what I want. The Lion’s Song is set in early 20th century Austria (some episodes definitely take place in different decades), and each episode follows a different character. The first episode is about Wilma, who is a young and talented composer who is struggling to finish an important composition in time for an upcoming concert that could make or break her career, and the second is about a painter named Franz who is struggling with finding inspiration and quelling his own self doubt. Inspiration and creativity is a huge part of each episode, so most of the gameplay revolves around that. In the first episode, the goal is to find different sources of inspiration throughout the small cabin in the mountains that Wilma is working in, and it can be anything from a scrap piece of paper to a phone call. It was a game I really needed to play after a tough year creatively for myself, and a great example of a game that creates really poignant meaning while being fairly simple. The music is, naturally, also really great. I can’t wait for episode three to come out this year, as it will be about a female mathematician and her struggles trying to make a name for herself in a male dominated field.
Best RPG: Final Fantasy XV
When Final Fantasy XV was announced, I was pretty against it. Unlike every other Final Fantasy game I think ever, this has no female party members. This was one of the things that always drew me to the series when I was younger, so I was disappointed. But the more I saw of the game the more I wanted to play it, and I eventually caved. It’s not strictly true that there are no female party members (one joins you for a bit at one point), and while I’m still kind of disappointed in that aspect, Final Fantasy XV is easily the best Final Fantasy game I’ve played in over a decade. The game also happens to have been in development for that long, and it shows: it is gorgeous, and everything from the character’s clothing to the food they eat is animated with a detail that you still don’t often see even in this generation of games. I was playing it the other day and made my boys a lobster bisque because I’m classy like that, and it was so realistic looking that even that weird soup scum that always coats the sides of the bowl were there. I know that not everyone agrees with me, but I also find it extremely thematically consistent, and even the things that seem silly (like the selfies, and the cooking, and the roadtripping) all serve a purpose to immerse the player in the game. It has definitely has some narrative issues, but there is a lot about it gameplay-wise that I’d like to see more RPGs do in the future. If FFXV sets the standard of what a large scale RPG can do, then I definitely want to keep playing my favourite genre.
Best Nintendo Game: Style Savvy: Fashion Forward
I have wanted to play Style Savvy since forever, but unfortunately until this year they only released in Japan and Europe (I’m not sure if this is meant to be a dig on North Americans not being very stylish). I love any game that will let me dress up my characters as dolls, no matter the genre, so a game dedicated to basically dressing up an entire town is extremely my jam. Naturally readers, I am very good at it. At least, as long as you didn’t ask me for a punk look. Then I can’t help you. I wish it had way more space for making your own designs, but I still plan on picking it up again to unlock the winter colours and see if I can get any new patterns. Also to see if you can kiss the landlord, but maybe that’s a different game.
Best random game I played on Steam: Regeria Hope
So sometimes I peruse the free-to play tag on Steam to see if I can find anything good, and there actually is a lot of great stuff in there. My favourite that I played this year has got to be Regeria Hope, which is basically a female Ace Attorney game. Like, if that’s what you’ve always wanted, this is the game for you. It’s also pretty weird. So I had a lot of fun playing this, and would definitely recommend it for people who are fans of this kind of lawyer game.
What were your favourite games in 2016? Do you also have any videogame resolutions for the new year?
//All screenshots and promotional images courtesy of the developers.