2016: A (Gaming) Year in Review Part 3

So part 3 of our series looking back at 2016 from a gaming perspective (you can read part 1 and part 2 by clicking on them).

The year had built up a head of steam and quality titles were being released regularly, but now we’ve hit the summer games drought (why is this still a thing?) – the dreaded time of year when very little is released and we all have to look into our backlog for something to play (yet always end up playing something else).

2016 was no different. July and August saw us with a thin release schedule and some of what did come out…

…well they were brought out because they were shit and wanted to capitalise on gamers desperation for new titles. Luckily we didn’t fall for it; mostly speaking.

July

‘Banner Saga 2’ was a viking inspired turn-based strategy mobile title that was created by former members of Bioware. It was ludicrously well received on iOS and Android and soon made the leap to PC then home consoles – where, again, it was ludicrously well received!

Despite the sequel being delayed from 2015 it was once again really well received both from players and critics. The game takes its cues from Final Fantasy Tactics and Fire Emblem; the player makes a party of warriors with complementary skills in order to fend off the dastardly evil you face.

Ghostbusters is the exact opposite of Banner Sage. It was shit. A top-down shooter based on a terrible movie and priced at way too high a price point (£29.99) the game was destined to fail. There really is no place in gaming for titles such as this.

i-am-setsuna-localized-titlecard‘I am Setsuna’ finishes our July sandwich and it finishes it with aplomb! It was a brilliant game AND it saw a VITA release too! BLOODY HELL!

The game is very much a JRPG; a demon has arisen and as a sacrifice (because that’s how they are dealt with) has been chosen, a young girl called Setsuna – along with Endir (a mercenary), Aeterna (a traveller) and a soldier named Nidr, the journey to the sacrifice site begins.

‘I am Setsuna’ won critics over with its sombre narrative that was supported by a fantastic score as well as its adherence to the tradition JRPG structures and systems. While it may not be to everybody’s taste, the game is one of real quality!

Game of the month: I am Setsuna

August

INSIDE_Xbox_One_cover_art.png‘Deus Ex: Mankind Divided’ was another of the years big name flops (well it underperformed at the very least)  despite getting quite good reviews; in fact, Human Revolution out sold it in its first week. ‘Mankind Divided’ slumped to being the third best-selling game in August – which is atrocious in a month starved of quality releases.

‘Inside’ was quite simply a fantastic title from Playdead and easily the best game of August. A spiritual successor to their critically acclaimed ‘Limbo’ and it was a title that did not disappoint (you can read my review here). It is exactly what you’d expect it to be; a stylised side-scrolling platformer/puzzle title that is light on narrative but deep in allusions.

The game is beautifully designed though, the world that Playdead have created is more fleshed out than 99% of other gaming worlds (despite being on a 2D plain) and the story that you will create during YOUR journey will remain with you long after you see the credits. It is seldom that we see a game that could be described as “perfect” and inside is one such title

At last we got our HD Remaster of the “Greatest game of all time” with ‘Resident Evil 4 HD’. This may not be the definitive way to play ‘Resident Evil 4’; but it is the most convenient and it is an excellent remaster! Relive Leon Kennedy’s adventure in continental Europe and remember the plot twists that you’ve probably forgotten about – it’s on offer at the moment so you’ve no excuses for not playing it.

Game of the month: Inside

September

Forza Horizon 3 Vertical Key ArtSeptember was chock full of titles being released as the Winter season kicked into gear – if I was to cover all the games released this post would never go live – so here are the biggest/most important games of the month.

The ‘Bioshock Collection’ kick started the month with well executed HD remasters of Bioshock and its two less interesting sequels. The good news here is if you owned these games on steam you got the tarted up version free of charge; console owners enjoyed a budget price of £29.99 for the collection (although the box was shit).

Less successful was ‘Batman: A Telltale series’; well from a technical perspective anyway. This game was hampered by terrible performance on consoles and borderline unplayable on some PC setups – not even Troy Baker was safe from criticism as his performance of Batman in the game. It sold well and by all accounts it is a good series if not quite living up to the standards of Telltale’s other franchises.

‘ReCore’ was another hyped failure! Poor reviews cost this game early traction and it never really recovered – most of the criticism was of the actual mission structure, which consisted of fetch quests and not much else. A real shame because it looked promising and some ideas it had were incredibly interesting.

‘Destiny: Rise of Iron’ saw the franchise overtake ‘The Division’ on being the console gamers MMO-like of choice in their systems. By all accounts this was excellent, but I have long since gotten bored with the shitty gameplay loop of ‘Destiny’ and have zero desire to go back.

‘FIFA 17’ also got released. It went on to become the best-selling game of the year. Again. That is all.

‘Forza Horizon 3’ won many new fans with its incredible graphics and even better gameplay. Set in Australia (which I called by the way) afforded the designers to use a huge variety of landscapes and vehicles not seen in the series until now. A truly great racing game.

Game of the month: Forza Horizon 3

Quarter 3: TL:DR

With the traditional summer game drought September kicked 2016 into top gear and saw a range of titles being released to satisfy everyone! That momentum would be carried through to the end of the year. While some titles undoubtedly disappointed and underperformed there is more than enough quality here for anybody.

Game of the quarter: Inside – because it was truly unique, incredibly well designed and was an absolute joy to behold. A game that stays in the memory and rewards multiple playthroughs. A stone wall classic!

INSIDE_shot_20.png

What was your game of the quarter?

Tell me in the comments/twitter/facebook

 

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