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2016 was an odd year in gaming for me. There were some games that were absolutely gorgeous, some that had unbelievable stories, and some that were just plain ol’ fun to play. However, not many games stuck with me as experiences that I wanted to go back to. Why was replayability so lacking this year? Was it that my top game of the year was consuming so much of my gaming time? Or was I just getting old? No matter the reason behind it, that doesn’t take away from the fact that some excellent titles came out. Here are my top five, all of which I highly recommend picking up at your earliest convenience.

#5
Publisher: Team17
Developer: Ghost Town Games
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Overcooked
Simple does not mean easy, and no game has hammered that home as much as Overcooked. Cute characters and cartoony graphics mask a deviously intense game underneath. Yes, at first I was fooled. Two player co-op hinted at a light-hearted gaming experience for me and my wife. We laughed, we had fun. An hour later we weren’t talking. The soup had burned. Hamburgers needed tomatoes! Why weren’t there any clean dishes?! Cute characters and cartoony graphics had masked the deviously intense game underneath?a game that I can no longer play with anyone else. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great game. Difficulties are perfectly set and the design is spot on?but I just want to keep my friends and family.
#4
Publisher: D-Pad Studio
Developer: D-Pad Studio
Platforms: PC
Owlboy
Beautiful visuals, intriguing puzzles, and a story that you will remember for years to come solidify Owlboy‘s place in my top five games of 2016. Taking us back to a time when platfoming games reigned supreme, Owlboy is a gorgeous homage to gaming’s past. Taking nearly 10 years to create, one can feel the love put into the game’s creation in every frame of its retro-pixel artwork. Just stop and look at a single frame, at the layers of detail creating so much more depth than other games that have opted for a similar aesthetic. So, enjoy the challenge of Owlboy‘s puzzles, and try not to play it all in a one-sitting gaming marathon.

 

#3
Publisher: Night School Studio
Developer: Night School Studio
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Oxenfree
Oxenfree resonated with me in a very strong way. It not only took me back to the foggy waters of Puget Sound, but it reminded me of being a kid, of dreaming of the adventures that the future may have. After comforting you with pleasant and unassuming nostalgia, however, Oxenfree warps everything, twisting the game into a horrific supernatural thriller. It hit me hard, and left me in awe of Night School Studio’s storytelling abilities. Even the artistic choices were perfect, with the startling contrast of digital and traditional art giving me just as much anxiety as the voices that haunted the radio waves.

 

#2
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montréal
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Watch Dogs 2
Watch Dogs 2 was an immersive experience for me that I played completely wrong. Thanks to the move to the Bay Area from dreary Chicago, I found myself hopping into the game just to take a walk in Marcus Holloway’s shoes. Instead of attempting to save the general public from having their data stolen, I looked for hidden parks, nestled between buildings. Instead of taking down the gangs of Oakland, I found a vantage point to gaze out on the bay. Instead of breaking into tech companies of Silicon Valley, I took selfies on the Wharf. So, very contrary to the the tech-driven concept of the game, once you’re in it?unplug. I think you’ll enjoy it.

 

#1
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Overwatch
I liked a lot of games this year, but Overwatch was the only game that I loved. With Overwatch, Blizzard hit pure gold in the form of a well-balanced team-based shooter. I’ve lived Overwatch since getting into the beta last year, and have a night dedicated to playing its competitive mode along with some other old farts. The game has so permeated my life that I watch professional Overwatch esports matches at the gym (go EnVyUs), defend aspects of its lore with a zealous fervor on Reddit, and haven’t missed a free loot box since the game’s arcade mode was added. If you haven’t picked this title up yet, stop being stubborn, and add it to your library already.

 

The “Tied to the Rails of the Hype Train” Award
No Man’s Sky
With 18-quintillion procedurally generated, planet-sized planets, No Man’s Sky is the winner of the hype train award. Sony’s marketing budget bolstered the public’s anticipation for the seemingly impossible game, letting their imaginations run wild. The hype was so effective that the entire way that games can be advertised on Steam was updated to keep from such an occurrence from ever happening again. While the game definitely had its issues, it still makes a great way to wind down after a long day?especially for those who had realistic expectations from the start.
The “I Wish I Could Do That” Award
Overwatch Fan Art Creators
Making me green with envy this year are all of the talented people that create Overwatch fan art. Delivering a consistent stream of excellent imagery, the fan community for Overwatch is unparalleled in commitment and talent. My personal favorites from the year? MonoriRogue’s casual fan art and Jon Westwood’s art of the four classes. What’s even better is some of the fan creations have made their way into the game, showing just how much Blizzard appreciates its audience. For instance, Gremlin D.Va?a widely loved take on the competitive gamer that has her munching Doritos and pounding Mountain Dew?can be seen in both her Legendary Emote and her Halloween Victory Pose.
The “There Goes the Remainder of My Free Time” Award
eSports
I’ve always loved competitive gaming?I used to be a competitive gamer (Counter-Strike 1.5). But until 2016, I spent relatively little time watching tournaments. Unfortunately, my obsession with Overwatch means that the recipient of the “There Goes the Remainder of My Free-Time” Award is none other than eSports. The industry that could has taken on a life of its own over the past few years, and now I find myself not only watching matches, but checking my phone for scores and roster changes throughout the week. Now, I’m anxiously awaiting the time when I can go to a sports bar, sit down, and watch Overwatch League with a cold pint.
EGM’s Best of 2016 Coverage
We’re taking a look at the best games of 2016 all week, from Christmas day through December 30th. Check back every day for our Top 25 Games of 2016, as well as our personal lists for the games we loved most this year. Check here for everything that’s been posted so far.

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About Matt Buchholtz

view all posts

Matt learned how to play video games from his grandma, who bravely adventured with him through the “terrifying” halls of Shadowgate. He plays a lot of Dungeons & Dragons on a podcast with comedians. Find him on Twitter @mattisgrounded

EGM’s Best of 2016: Matt Buchholtz’s Editor Awards

Matt gives his thoughts on the year in gaming that was 2016

By Matt Buchholtz | 12/28/2016 12:00 PM PT

Features

2016 was an odd year in gaming for me. There were some games that were absolutely gorgeous, some that had unbelievable stories, and some that were just plain ol’ fun to play. However, not many games stuck with me as experiences that I wanted to go back to. Why was replayability so lacking this year? Was it that my top game of the year was consuming so much of my gaming time? Or was I just getting old? No matter the reason behind it, that doesn’t take away from the fact that some excellent titles came out. Here are my top five, all of which I highly recommend picking up at your earliest convenience.

#5
Publisher: Team17
Developer: Ghost Town Games
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Overcooked
Simple does not mean easy, and no game has hammered that home as much as Overcooked. Cute characters and cartoony graphics mask a deviously intense game underneath. Yes, at first I was fooled. Two player co-op hinted at a light-hearted gaming experience for me and my wife. We laughed, we had fun. An hour later we weren’t talking. The soup had burned. Hamburgers needed tomatoes! Why weren’t there any clean dishes?! Cute characters and cartoony graphics had masked the deviously intense game underneath?a game that I can no longer play with anyone else. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great game. Difficulties are perfectly set and the design is spot on?but I just want to keep my friends and family.
#4
Publisher: D-Pad Studio
Developer: D-Pad Studio
Platforms: PC
Owlboy
Beautiful visuals, intriguing puzzles, and a story that you will remember for years to come solidify Owlboy‘s place in my top five games of 2016. Taking us back to a time when platfoming games reigned supreme, Owlboy is a gorgeous homage to gaming’s past. Taking nearly 10 years to create, one can feel the love put into the game’s creation in every frame of its retro-pixel artwork. Just stop and look at a single frame, at the layers of detail creating so much more depth than other games that have opted for a similar aesthetic. So, enjoy the challenge of Owlboy‘s puzzles, and try not to play it all in a one-sitting gaming marathon.

 

#3
Publisher: Night School Studio
Developer: Night School Studio
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Oxenfree
Oxenfree resonated with me in a very strong way. It not only took me back to the foggy waters of Puget Sound, but it reminded me of being a kid, of dreaming of the adventures that the future may have. After comforting you with pleasant and unassuming nostalgia, however, Oxenfree warps everything, twisting the game into a horrific supernatural thriller. It hit me hard, and left me in awe of Night School Studio’s storytelling abilities. Even the artistic choices were perfect, with the startling contrast of digital and traditional art giving me just as much anxiety as the voices that haunted the radio waves.

 

#2
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montréal
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Watch Dogs 2
Watch Dogs 2 was an immersive experience for me that I played completely wrong. Thanks to the move to the Bay Area from dreary Chicago, I found myself hopping into the game just to take a walk in Marcus Holloway’s shoes. Instead of attempting to save the general public from having their data stolen, I looked for hidden parks, nestled between buildings. Instead of taking down the gangs of Oakland, I found a vantage point to gaze out on the bay. Instead of breaking into tech companies of Silicon Valley, I took selfies on the Wharf. So, very contrary to the the tech-driven concept of the game, once you’re in it?unplug. I think you’ll enjoy it.

 

#1
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Overwatch
I liked a lot of games this year, but Overwatch was the only game that I loved. With Overwatch, Blizzard hit pure gold in the form of a well-balanced team-based shooter. I’ve lived Overwatch since getting into the beta last year, and have a night dedicated to playing its competitive mode along with some other old farts. The game has so permeated my life that I watch professional Overwatch esports matches at the gym (go EnVyUs), defend aspects of its lore with a zealous fervor on Reddit, and haven’t missed a free loot box since the game’s arcade mode was added. If you haven’t picked this title up yet, stop being stubborn, and add it to your library already.

 

The “Tied to the Rails of the Hype Train” Award
No Man’s Sky
With 18-quintillion procedurally generated, planet-sized planets, No Man’s Sky is the winner of the hype train award. Sony’s marketing budget bolstered the public’s anticipation for the seemingly impossible game, letting their imaginations run wild. The hype was so effective that the entire way that games can be advertised on Steam was updated to keep from such an occurrence from ever happening again. While the game definitely had its issues, it still makes a great way to wind down after a long day?especially for those who had realistic expectations from the start.
The “I Wish I Could Do That” Award
Overwatch Fan Art Creators
Making me green with envy this year are all of the talented people that create Overwatch fan art. Delivering a consistent stream of excellent imagery, the fan community for Overwatch is unparalleled in commitment and talent. My personal favorites from the year? MonoriRogue’s casual fan art and Jon Westwood’s art of the four classes. What’s even better is some of the fan creations have made their way into the game, showing just how much Blizzard appreciates its audience. For instance, Gremlin D.Va?a widely loved take on the competitive gamer that has her munching Doritos and pounding Mountain Dew?can be seen in both her Legendary Emote and her Halloween Victory Pose.
The “There Goes the Remainder of My Free Time” Award
eSports
I’ve always loved competitive gaming?I used to be a competitive gamer (Counter-Strike 1.5). But until 2016, I spent relatively little time watching tournaments. Unfortunately, my obsession with Overwatch means that the recipient of the “There Goes the Remainder of My Free-Time” Award is none other than eSports. The industry that could has taken on a life of its own over the past few years, and now I find myself not only watching matches, but checking my phone for scores and roster changes throughout the week. Now, I’m anxiously awaiting the time when I can go to a sports bar, sit down, and watch Overwatch League with a cold pint.
EGM’s Best of 2016 Coverage
We’re taking a look at the best games of 2016 all week, from Christmas day through December 30th. Check back every day for our Top 25 Games of 2016, as well as our personal lists for the games we loved most this year. Check here for everything that’s been posted so far.
0   POINTS
0   POINTS



About Matt Buchholtz

view all posts

Matt learned how to play video games from his grandma, who bravely adventured with him through the “terrifying” halls of Shadowgate. He plays a lot of Dungeons & Dragons on a podcast with comedians. Find him on Twitter @mattisgrounded