PlayLab! Best Games of 2016

Best is of course, always a slightly subjective term as everyone has their own preferences. Therefore these are totally objectively the best games released in 2016. Or at least they are some of the games that our writers felt gave a memorable or even the best game experience in 2016.

Mikko
Editor in chief PlayLab! Magazine 2016-2017

DOOM 2016

Selection by Aleksi Vesanen

DOOM accomplishes the impossible by marrying the fast-paced, incredibly satisfying action of the original games with smart, three-dimensional level design and modern gameplay systems, taking a page from Platinum’s playbook by essentially ripping the Zandatsu mechanic straight from Metal Gear Rising.

Its narrative is equal parts playful and straight-laced, its soundtrack perfectly marries electronic influences with hellish metal riffs along with tasteful callbacks to Classic Doom, and the way it reinvents enemies and elements of the original games’ design is absolutely beautiful.

As a fan of Classic Doom, I could not be happier about the current iD Software Renaissance, and I warmly welcome this as Doom’s new direction. Rip and tear.

Developer: id Software
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Release date: May 13th, 2016
PEGI rating: 18+

 

End of the Line. Photo by Tuomas Puikkonen.

End of the Line

Selection by Jukka Särkijärvi
A vampire larp, set in an illegal rave party in an abandoned mental asylum. The only part which was not true in real life was that we had permits for the rave.

Played in March at the Lapinlahti Hospital in Helsinki, the game featured professional DJs from Sweden, simple and elegant Nordic-style mechanics, and a view from the yard that encompassed a power plant, a cemetery and a mental hospital. The rules were there to govern narrative, not to adjudicate fisticuffs, and did not interfere when the high production values, striking player costumes, and sheer attitude oozing from everything came together to create a nearly perfect illusion.

End of the Line was intense, atmospheric, and looked every bit as cool as a Vampire game is supposed to.

Date: March 7th, 2016
Producer: White Wolf Publishing, Odyssé

 

Overwatch

Selection by Siiri Paananen

Blizzard’s new title Overwatch released in May 2016 provides fresh team-based fps action. It has won many game of the year prizes and has been visible in media. In Overwatch you can find diverse heroes from around the world with unique skillsets. The game maps draw inspiration from real-world locations, such as London, Hollywood and Gibraltar with different game modes and objectives. I love playing the game due to the original heroes and the epic feeling of battle it creates. The aesthetics are amazing and I love the style of the game.

Blizzard has been doing lot of in-game events to create engaging content for Halloween and Christmas for example. There has been exciting stuff for fans as well in the form of animated shorts and short comics that help bring the backstory alive and make the characters more relatable. It will be seen what there is in store for 2017, as there has been talk about a professional Overwatch league on top of other eSports events. For me Overwatch provided new and exciting experiences for 2016.

Platform: PC, Playstation 4, Xbox One
Developer & Publisher: Blizzard
Release date: May 24, 2016
PEGI rating: 12

 

Oxenfree

Selection by Elisa Wiik

A story that lingers on your mind long after you have finished it. The game is not very long but it has a lot of replay value as you can really affect the people around you. Addition to that, it has a new game plus that alters dialogue and the ending. Female protagonist, witty dialogue, supernatural themes and clever mechanics. What’s there not to love?

Developer: Night School Studio
Publisher: Night School Studio
Platform: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Windows, OS X, Linux
Release date: 15.1.2016
PEGI rating: 12

 

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Selection by Markku Vesa

The Uncharted-series grows into a strong climax with Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. With stunning visuals, excellent gameplay and a captivating story, playing as Nathan Drake has never been this fun. It’s a great game for newcomers and series veterans alike, but those familiar with the story will be well satisfied with the conclusion and peeks into Drake’s past.

Drake responds to controls with almost immaculate precision, and the player gets to listen to excellent voice acting and well-written dialogue while rummaging around. Hunting for pirate treasure in various immersive locations kept me busy for dozens of hours, but I started over as soon as I was finished.

Naughty Dog raises the bar for the action-adventure genre with Uncharted 4, and this one’s definitely among my favourite games of all time.

Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platform: PlayStation 4
Release date: May 10, 2016
PEGI rating: 16

Pokémon Sun / Moon

Selection by Ed Morrell

Released late into a year that had been dominated by a very different Pokémon game, Sun and Moon are a spectacular return to form for the series, after the lacklustre Generation VI titles X/Y.

Although of course little has changed in the catching and battling mechanics, the game has been polished to such a great degree that progressing through it is a joyful and frictionless experience. The story is a light and funny adventure through the carefree tropical Alola region, full of cool battling that has benefited from numerous quality of life improvements.

A highly enjoyable game for both newcomers and old veterans to the series.

Platform: Nintendo 3DS.
Developer: Game Freak.
Publisher: Nintendo.
Release date: November 2016.
PEGI rating: 7+

 

AM2R – Another Metroid 2 Remake

Selection by Jussi Rissanen

AM2R is a long and dedicated fan project of Milton Guasti, alias (DoctorM64), which he developed for around 10 years. The game is unofficial, remake of Nintendo Game Boy’s game Metroid II: Return of Samus (1991). Spiced and enhanced from top to bottom, with new graphics, gameplay, music, AI, map, areas and minibosses. To the point where the game feels more of a stand-alone rather than a remake of an old Game Boy game. It is the 2D Metroid game, fans have been waiting for nearly 15 years.

AM2R hits the sore spot on many old school Metroidvania fans, it hits all the marks which made the genre favorites such as Super Metroid so popular. The amount of polishing in the visual quality is amazing and various visual effects makes it even a notch better than the 16-bit counterpart. AM2R also introduces many new puzzle mechanics and cool new “minigames”, which are new in the 2D Metroid games. Boss battles are challenging and one of the best in the genre, if not the best so far. On top of that there’s the soundtrack which tributes and respects the old classic tracks with its similar style.

All in all I can happily say AM2R is among the best Metroid games I’ve played right behind the original Super Metroid. Sadly though the buzz around AM2R comes mainly from Nintendo’s DMCA takedown in September 2016 shortly after the game’s first full release. Luckily though you can still get it from the Internet and I recommend you do, because if Nintendo doesn’t care or respect the Metroid franchise no more in its 30th anniversary. It is rightfully so that the fan community does it and is allowed to do it!

Platform: Microsoft Windows
Developer: Milton Guasti
Publisher: Milton Guasti
Release date: 6.8.2016

 

A Story About My Uncle

Selection by Ville Susi

By the year 2016 I had reached the rock bottom of my player identity as I had completely lost interest in digital games that had typically satisfied me and all the time I cared to reserve for game related activities was spend in game the studying of game research, design and production. However 2016 was also the year when I started the work to reclaim and redefine that same identity. Eventually I half-forcefully threw myself back into the immersion of digital gaming with such games as Vietcong 2, Far Cry Primal and Turok which offered me some unfamiliar perspectives in experiencing first person games, which I had longed for so long. But in the end it was A Story About My Uncle which became the most important piece of art in this process of finding the love for digital gaming yet again.

ASAMU lies in the brilliant cross-section of three meaningful elements: refreshingly fabled level design, a world that melts all cynicism with both it’s story and it’s mood, and, perhaps most importantly, completely fresh new first person mechanics which brought the genre not one but two new simple yet genius ways of being fully immersed in the action and the adventure. All of this without the core of the action having to rely on violence, which has so crucially started to bore me as a design solution and an ongoing design value.

The world of ASAMU consists of scarce light sources and islands and rocks hovering in the wide dark atmosphere. The player can only travel in between them with his special suit which brings along the magical mechanics. The right mouse button has to be held down to charge the energy for a super powered jump that is launched when releasing the button, aiming you either extremely high, extremely far, or both. The left mouse button instantly launches an electric rope made out of light that clings into certain walls and ceilings pulling the player instantly towards them. Together these two inspiring mechanics elevate the game to a greatness that elicits such excitement that only the extreme sense of freedom and true adventure can. It also remarkably resembles the rare dreams in which I have suddenly learned the skill of flying. Now that’s no small achievement from a video game. ASAMU returned my faith to PC gaming, and indie gaming in particular and started the process of rebuilding my player identity.

Developer: Gone North Games
Publisher: Coffee Stain Studios
Platform: PC
Release date: 28th of May, 2014
PEGI rating: 7

 

Dark Souls III

Selection by Juho Sipola

The third and presumably the final part of the Dark Souls-series ends the trilogy on beautiful and familiar notes. This time the series has been injected with a little bit of fluid from Bloodborne, the developer’s preceding game, as the pace of action has been amped up a notch and every weapon now has a specific ability associated with it. There are plenty of monstrous foes to fell and gorgeous views to behold, and the game manages to keep the balance between challenging and fair quite steady.

Dark Souls III has some fantastic nods and references to the past titles that add an extra layer of flavour to the package, and thus I’d kind of recommend playing the previous entries before diving into the final part. While I feel that some of the places in the game weren’t comparatively as great as the others (mostly the areas that are related to goats, for some reason), DS3 was definitely the most enjoyable title from 2016 to me.

Developer: FromSoftware
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Platform: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows
Release date: 12.4.2016
PEGI rating: 16