Many people spend hours discussing what was the “best game” of 2016 or 2015 or whatever year happens to be the topic at the time. It could even be a very small article listing the “Top 5 JRPGs of the ’90s,” and there will still be comments flooding on Reddit or Facebook about the game that they enjoyed. We here at The Game Fanatics are planning on doing something like that later (it is fun, after all!), but we would like to take a moment to discuss something more personal.
Long ago, we played some games. They might not have been good or unique, or they might have been masterpieces of game design. Regardless, these were the games that stuck with us, the ones that we just had to play again for the second, third, or tenth time. They may be dated or cliche or out-of-the-blue. Yet, these were the worlds we wanted to revisit. These were the stories we wanted to experience anew. These are the games that we came back to in 2016.
Ben Runnings – Half-Life 2
This past year, I replayed Half-Life 2 and both episodes. It must have been my fifteenth time through the main game and it remains one of my favorites of all time. While gaming has come pretty far in the 10+ years since Half-Life 2 has come out, the way it presents the world, pacing, weapons, and diverse scenarios is unrivaled still. Hour to hour, Half-Life 2 and its episodes take you on a journey that more closely resembles the Uncharted series rather than a typical FPS.
In the last month, I’ve played through Battlefield 1, Titanfall 2, and CoD: Infinite Warfare, and while those are all good games, they still have some things they could learn from a decade-old game. It might feel a bit outdated in some respects, but Half-Life 2’s design and storytelling are still fantastic to behold.
Tyler Chancey – Darksiders 2
Darksiders 2 got its hooks back into me this past year. It’s always curious when you look at the franchise as a whole. Aesthetically, it’s a lot of nonsense grimdark wrapped up in a big story about the apocalypse where you play as one of the Horsemen that is just one step away from looking like a Warhammer 40,000 knock-off. But gameplay wise it is totally derivative. Loot and RPG system from Diablo, Legend of Zelda dungeon design, open-world full of side missions and collectibles, God of War hack and slash combat, the list goes on. It is the textbook definition of a completely unoriginal experience, and yet I am always fascinated by how its individual parts make up something oddly unique. It’s a constant reminder of the old adage, “good artists borrow, great artists steal.”
Cameron Irby – Metal Gear Rising: Revengence
When it comes to games, I’m a bit haphazard. I bought Metal Gear Rising back in the Winter of 2014, back when Steam Flash Sales were still a thing. Young in the ways of PC gaming, I picked this game up but quickly forgot about it. I didn’t actually play it until August of 2015, and I burned through it in a single day. I’m still trying to remember exactly why I decided that I would play it again this very month. Perhaps it was because I needed something bombastic and ridiculous. Maybe I wanted to shout RULES OF NATURE at the top of my lungs while flipping a giant mech and slicing it in half. Yeah, it was probably that.
In all seriousness, I wanted to re-live a simple game that made me laugh and smile, one that I enjoyed a lot. Maybe I’ll make it a yearly tradition. Though the soundtrack is most definitely staying in my rotation for a little while longer!
Jason Carmona – The Bioshock Collection
Probably the one game I really enjoyed replaying again this year was the Bioshock Collection via PS4. I had thoroughly played the first-person trilogy on Xbox 360, but the smoother frame rate and extra attention to background details made returning to Rapture and Columbia not only an easy voyage to partake, but a highly anticipated one as well. Also, for the price, it’s a well-packed bundle worth every penny, packing ALL the accompanying paid single-player DLC ever offered! If you missed the Bioshock franchise during the previous console race, you owe it to yourself, and to gaming, to give this collection a try.
Eva Escribano – The Banner Saga
I played it when it came out. I have never been a fan of turn-based games but I got hooked by the looks of this little indie jewel. It turns out to be a very absorbing game with an amazing narrative, and all scrapped together by only 3 developers. It’s a rather short one, so I’d say its primed for replaying every now and then, picking different decisions to see how the story unfolds. The second installment was slated for April of this year, so I thought it only fitting to get into it again – and not only once but twice! I still love the way all events converge in the end with the battle against the Bellower. And the great confrontation at the gates of Einartoft. Plus it’s always a pleasure to have the music of Austin Wintory accompanying my adventurers.
Those are just a few of the games we here at the Game Fanatics replayed in 2016. Which of these did you revisit? What are your favorite games to play again and again? Let us know in the comments below!