Despite being terrible for plenty of reasons, 2016 was a relatively decent year for games, and if it weren’t for numerous delays and other issues, it could have even been one of the greatest. This is my list for the top 10 video games released in North America in 2016.
(Disclaimer: These are the top 10 games released in 2016 I played, if you don’t see a particular game on this list, it means I either haven’t played it, wasn’t interested, or both, and remember, this is just my personal opinion)
#10 Dark Souls 3
Bloodborne was my favorite game of 2015, and made me decide to try Dark Souls 3. Having not played Dark Souls before, I expected an experience closer to Bloodborne, however, what I got was a bit different. Not realizing Bloodborne has some different combat elements than Dark Souls, the game felt a bit more difficult to adjust to than what I expected. That being said, I still had plenty of fun with the game, but after beating it I didn’t feel the need to go back to it or play the DLC. A big factor in this may have been the bosses, which I didn’t like nearly as much as the bosses in Bloodborne, as well as the previously mentioned difference in combat. For me, there were a lot of times Dark Souls 3 didn’t feel fast enough, which was sometimes because of my armor, but not always. It’s still a well designed game, I just didn’t really get what I wanted or expected from it.
This game was a big surprise and nowhere near my radar at first. I’m not a big fan of first person shooters, and like plenty of others, I expected another bad and generic shooter reboot. Once more news started popping up about this game post-release, talking about how it actually turned out to be an enjoyable experience, I decided to try it out for myself. This is probably the best first person shooter I’ve played since 2012’s The Darkness 2, which similarly is one of the few I like. This game is crazy, from the ultra violence of killing demons with your bare hands, to the massive weapons, to the awesome soundtrack. The snapmap mode was a great addition too, and reminded me of the forge mode I spent so much time with in Halo 3 some time ago. My problem with it was that the single player campaign felt like such a short experience and needed to be longer, with more variation. I just hope it’ll get some single player DLC in the future, if not a full sequel.
#8 Monster Hunter Generations
I hadn’t even played a Monster Hunter game until 2015 when Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate came out. I got hooked right away, and when I heard Monster Hunter Generations (known as Monster Hunter Cross in Japan) was coming to the west I was pleasantly surprised. The newly introduced styles make the activity of hunting giant monsters both easier and more fun, being able to mix different styles and weapons to see which combination works best. Monster Hunter Generations also introduced some new monsters, as new games do, including deviant monsters, which are surviving monsters of previous battles which have a slightly different appearance and have learned some new tricks. I actually felt the game was relatively easy, until I fought the Redhelm Arzuros, one of the first deviant monsters available. This was the first time I felt legitimately challenged in this game, and defeating the deviant monsters is no easy task. Just like the game before it, there is plenty of free extra content to enjoy. My one concern is the next Monster Hunter game after the updated Double Cross may not feel as enjoyable if they take out styles, but that’s also a game that may not happen for awhile.
#7 World of Final Fantasy
This is Final Fantasy returning to it’s classic turn based formula, while at the same time also trying to take a stab at the monster collecting genre. To prevent clutter during battle, a new mechanic called stacking was created for the player characters to fight alongside their monsters, known as mirages. There are also summons called Champions, which are chibi forms of Final Fantasy characters which are summoned temporarily. The story of the game isn’t great, but I found a revelation near the end of the game about the main characters to be rather interesting and unexpected. At times, the game could be pretty boring, as much as using the fast forward function helps in battles, sometimes I felt it was not fast enough. Part of the last dungeon is also really annoying, an area that looks like an M.C. Escher paintings, the one with the stairs, and you can go all around it but it has no map and sometimes it’s hard to tell which parts you’re allowed to walk on. As someone who was introduced to Final Fantasy through Kingdom Hearts and other spinoffs (Crisis Core, Advent Children, & Dissidia specifically), and having only played the beginning parts of a few Final Fantasy games and most of VII, this game has provided a great reintroduction to the series for me, and makes me want to go back and play the few I still have some interest in.
#6 Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth
I’ve been a big fan of Digimon for almost two decades, and after a drought of localized Digimon games, the last being the below average Digimon World Championship, Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth was finally released in the west. Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth was almost everything I wanted it to be for a new Digimon game, with similar battling to Digimon World: Dawn and Dusk, a decent amount of Digimon, and even a world which felt like the near perfect combination Summer Wars and Digimon: The Movie. But no game is without flaws, and Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth has quite a few. The story was never something I cared about much, and while it wasn’t the worst, the pacing was a bit sluggish. This was most noticeable when some side missions were shoehorned into the main story.
The other problems I had with the game were with digivolutions. Some of the digivolution lines stayed intact, while others were all over the place. This wouldn’t have been so bad if it wasn’t for the fact that Digimon you haven’t seen or obtained will show up as who’s that Pokémon style silhouettes, so you would have to find out what they were yourself. Not the worst since you could just dedigivolve them and level them up again if you were unsatisfied, which is an easy task when having experience boosting Digimon and items, but tedious in the earlier parts of the game. The one other problem I had was that you can collect these medals throughout the game that have pictures of different Digimon on them, but many of those Digimon didn’t even make it into the game as usable characters. I’d be okay with this if it wasn’t for the fact that some of the Digimon on these medals were the ones missing from certain digivolution lines. Maybe i was just a little miffed about how my favorite Digimon, Lopmon, didn’t have it’s true champion form, Wendigomon, but Wendigomon still had a medal. But at least we still got Kerpymon Vice, and in addition to that, they gave us free DLC with more awesome Digimon to fight and obtain. Hopefully the game after Digimon World: Next Order, will be a sequel of sorts to Cyber Sleuth, and I’ll be looking forward to both.
I’m not usually a fan of more artistic games, Journey especially, but when I saw the first trailer for Abzu, I was awestruck by the beauty of it, and felt compelled to check it out. This game came out at the perfect time too, when I was in between other game releases and needed a calm and easygoing game to help me relax in between sessions of Monster Hunter Generations. This game is absurdly short, but there is enough content in it to give it at least some replay value. There are shark statues you can meditate on and use to observe fish and other sea creatures from afar and I only found two or three of them out of the 12 that are in the game, and there are plenty of sea creatures you may not have noticed during your first playthrough. This game also has a gorgeous soundtrack and sometimes it’s nice to go back just to sit in the water and listen to it. Abzu is one of the most relaxing game experiences I’ve had in a long time.
#4 Zero Time Dilemma
I had never even heard of the Zero Escape series until last year, when a friend recommended 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors. I ended up loving it and just had to play the sequel, Virtue’s Last Reward, which I ended up loving even more. So naturally, I had to play Zero Time Dilemma, to see how it compared to the other two games, and to see how the series concluded. While not being quite as good as the previous entries, it still has plenty of the interesting puzzles and thought provoking dialogue the Zero Escape series in known for. I can’t say much else due to spoilers, but this game is best for those who have played the other Zero Escape games, not a good introduction to the series, but a decent conclusion.
#3 Final Fantasy XV
When Final Fantasy XV was first announced and looked like it played similar to Kingdom Hearts, I thought it would be the perfect time for me to try a modern Final Fantasy game. As the months went on, however, I became more skeptical, and when the Platinum Demo was released, I was disappointed and expected that I would not play Final Fantasy XV in the future. Luckily, I got to try the full game before getting it, always a good method if you’re unsure, and ended up really enjoying it. This game might not have the best story, but I feel that the four main characters are relatable, the world is fun to explore, even with the immersion breaking Cup Noodles product placement, and the combat is enjoyable. Sometimes the combat can be a bit frustrating when fighting multiple enemies in certain areas, when it’s difficult to see everything going on.Sure, the game has a lot of missing elements, but plenty of people are still having fun with it, and I know I’ll keep going back to it for more as it continues to be updated.
#2 Dishonored 2
This game deserved so much better. There was so much information about it leading up to the release, and it seemed like there was plenty of hype, yet because of it’s release date being between some other, much bigger games, it didn’t get the sales it should have. This game has some of the funniest occurrences I’ve ever seen happen , including: enemies attacking and/or each other by accident, enemies falling off ledges just from being surprised, enemies killing themselves by walking too close to safely contained fire, the list goes on. The two characters you can play as each have their own set of powers, and they are all fun to use. It’s such an enjoyable experience to be seen by a group of enemies then stop time and dispose of them all, as if nothing happened. The recently added New Game Plus mode makes it so players can have access to all powers no matter which character they play as on their second playthrough, which provides even more replayability to this great yet underappreciated game.
Honorable Mentions: (I enjoyed all of these games, but they just didn’t make the list for one reason or another) Ratchet & Clank, Pocket Card Jockey, One Piece: Burning Blood, Salt & Sanctuary, Furi, Yokai Watch 2, Kirby Planetrobobot, Psycho-pass Madantory Happiness
#1: Pokémon Sun
Pokémon Sun was the first time in awhile that a Pokémon game managed to feel appropriately challenging, which could be due to a few different factors. A rule I used is my team must be comprised of only newly introduced Pokemon, counting the Alolan forms of older Pokémon, with an exception if I happen to run into a shiny Pokémon . Other than my Shiny Lumineon, who I found at random, all Pokémon on my team were introduced in the current generation. Seventh generation Pokémon also seem to be slower than those previously introduced. I also did not use any legendaries caught in the main game.
This is Shine, the true king of the ocean.
Gyms have been replaced with Trials, which still always involve Pokémon battles with Pokémon of a specific type, but additionally can have other mini-game challenges. I even lost against a few of the trial captains and totem Pokémon the first time I battled them.
Totem Pokémon are large, uncatchable, stat boosted Pokémon that have to be fought in some trials. Totem Pokémon, and any wild Pokémon, excluding legendaries, can call for help and another wild Pokémon will assist them in battle, causing a new way to chain for shiny Pokémon, EV train, or find Pokémon with hidden abilities.
A long awaited improvement is that the HM mechanic has been taken out, using ride Pokémon for those tasks instead. The players are now awarded Z crystals instead of badges and HM uses. Z crystals provide super attacks called Z moves Pokémon can use as long as they have an attack of the same type as the Z crystal equipped. Only one Z move can be used per battle, and can help the player get out of a tight spot, or destroy them when an opponent uses one unexpectedly.
The story is enjoyable, although a big issue is the length of some cutscenes. It takes the player around 20 minutes to get their starter Pokémon, but the game seems to start moving faster as it progresses. Unfortunately, the unskippable cutscenes always seemed to slow things down. The end of the game is the worst offender of this: after beating the champion, the game doesn’t save until after a couple of cutscenes, an unexpected Pokémon battle, and the credits. If the player doesn’t realize this and exits the game beforehand, they have to battle the champion all over again.
Pokémon Sun/Moon has plenty of other new features and improvements, such as the Poké Pelago, Pokémon Refresh, the Battle Tree, and a certain long awaited feature with the elite four, which can get you to keep going back to the game to the game for more.
Despite it’s problems, Pokémon Sun is the most fun I’ve had in a Pokémon game since Pokémon SoulSilver, and if GameFreak can continue with improvements like this, Pokémon will surely be able to maintain it’s popularity for years to come.