Games, Talk, and Whatever Else

Old Games of 2016

Game of the Year 2016 – Charlie Hunter

2016 has been over for a little while now, but I just now got around to writing all of my thoughts of video games in 2016.  So I am posting all of my thoughts in five installments.  This first one is a list of my favorite games that I played in 2016 that didn’t come out in 2016: the old games.

Old Games I Played in 2016

I played a lot of games in 2016 that didn’t come out in 2016.  These range all over the place, and there’s really no reason to compare or rank them.  These are just my five favorite of that bunch with a loose ordering.

5. Her Story

Image result for her story Image result for her story

Her Story has a very interesting premise: using a keyword search in an in-game video database, discover 5-30 second video clips of several days of police interviews investigating a missing person case.  It was an incredibly unique experience.  The search mechanic creates a feeling of discovery that wouldn’t have been there if the story just played out in a predetermined order.  It was a compelling mystery that my wife and I had fun playing through, but the indefinite ending makes for kind of an awkward conclusion.

4. Adventures of Mana

Image result for adventures of mana Image result for adventures of mana

Adventures of Mana is a remake of the Gameboy game Final Fantasy Adventure.  It plays like a mash-up of the Zelda and Final Fantasy games of the time (early 90s).  The gameplay is simple, but it smooshes together two games that I love. The version I played (Vita) was pretty buggy, and you can tell it was designed with phones in mind.  It really made me want to play its sequel, Adventures of Mana, an SNES gem that I have never played.

3. Shadow Complex

Image result for shadow complex remastered ps4 Image result for shadow complex remastered ps4

Shadow Complex is a modern Metroid-style game that released in 2009 and kind of kickstarted a revitalization of the genre. It is a modern/near future military version of the classic formula.  One of the coolest things about it is how well it handles combating enemies outside of the movement plane.  Enemies pop up all over the background, but aiming my gun at them always felt intuitive, which can be really tricky when you’re operating in a mix of 2D and 3D.  Other than that, it’s a pretty traditional one of those games. I just really like this kind of game, so there.

2. Rise of the Tomb Raider

Image result for rise of the tomb raider Image result for rise of the tomb raider bow

Rise of the Tomb Raider improves on the excellent 2013 Tomb Raider reboot in both its movement and combat mechanics and its light open world trappings.  It kind of outdoes Uncharted in a lot of its mechanical aspects and environment gameplay.  The bow is really fun to use, and they make it very easy to swap through alternative types of arrows (the poison gas cloud arrows were great!) It’s also a collector’s dreamland, the map is littered with stuff to get (upgrades, experience, money to spend at a secret shop.)  Although, I much prefered the Lost inspired story of the 2013 game, the story in Rise of the Tomb Raider is still engaging.

1. Life is Strange

Image result for life is strange Image result for life is strange

Life is Strange is an adventure game that takes place in a Pacific northwest art school, and throws in some supernatural time travel.  Max (the player character) and her best friend (but it’s complicated) Chloe are trying to track down a girl who went missing.   It’s in the same vein as David Cage’s games (Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls), where your choices form the story, like who you choose to spend time with and what you say to people.  That description sounds like a TellTale game, but it never really feels like that.  There are more mechanics involved, like investigating the environments to open up more options and, of course, using your time powers to trick all the jerks.  The game’s real focus is Max’s and Chloe’s relationship and it hits with great emotional weight.  It can be so heavy at times that each episode has a section where Max can just sit and reflect and exhale, and it always felt like a nice (and needed) moment.

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