- The Division
2016 is a year in which I’ve put the world’s troubles behind me and delved into countless virtual worlds, made hundreds of perfect headshots and beaten no less than 83 games so I’d be remiss to omit any game that I spent close to 70 hours playing. In this instance that game is The Division, a near future shooter set in an all too close to reality apocalyptic New York. The finely tuned mix of shooter, Diablo style loot system and small scale MMO ensured the hours just slip away. There was also just enough story beats throughout to keep me captivated, the “detective vision” like Echoes eerily depicted atrocities that had previously taken place that you as the player could do little about. Sure the endgame needed a lot of work and The Dark Zone proved to not quite offer the all consuming risk reward everyone hoped for but Massive Entertainment have created a compelling world that I will continue to visit into the new year.
- Jackbox Party Pack 3
Jackbox Party Pack 2 was a little bit lacklustre and really didn’t deliver much in terms of new party experiences to enjoy. The third pack brings back that fun with a selection of games that up the ante and shows incremental improvement over the previous years. For those who don’t know the Jackbox Games iterate on the success found with You Don’t Know Jack quiz show game, removing the need for a controller instead allowing players to use their web browser on their phone to take part. It’s hard to pick a stand out game, Murder Trivia Party adds a new level of interactivity building a plot around almost Saw like mechanics where a group of players try to escape a mansion. What follows is a series of trivial question punctuated by tests of memory or luck. Tee K.O is another highlight, players design T-Shirts which face off against each other in a knockout tournament, the real killer feature is you can buy the t shirt’s from Jackbox afterwards.
- Layers of Fear
Anyone who has ever done anything remotely creative will understand that twinge you feel when it’s time to finally let your creation out into the big wide world. Layers of Fear perfectly encaptures the feeling I felt as I reviewed it earlier this year. Sending a review to an editor for approval can be a nerve wracking experience, did I do the game justice? Were my words thought provoking? Did I intelligently convey my thoughts and opinions? Who am I to assess the work of another? Slowly but surely self doubt becomes anxiety which eventually gives way self doubt and loathing. Layers of Fear revels in tapping into and exploring this insecurity over the course of its first person narrative driven experience.
Due to the indie explosion we are seeing more and more games every year, trying new things and this year was no different. Virginia sets its stall out pretty early as you move from scene to scene briskly without a single word of dialogue, instead the game revels in using gestures, visual cues and the occasional piece of text. The game uses a series of jarring hard cuts to transport the player from scene to scene and whilst this can be offputting it’s ends up working to the game’s advantage in keep the story focussed and never giving the player a second to breath. Compared to something like Firewatch which stretches a 2 hour story across a 4 hour game, Virginia’s brevity leaves an impact that so many games struggle to come close to.
Overwatch is simply put an incredible wonderfully crafted team based shooter. It takes the best parts from team based shooters such as Team Fortress; different characters with roles that actually work together a team, a unique bright art style, great map design and a robust loot system. Overwatch is a game that people will be coming back to for years to come and with good reason.
To find out my top 5 then listen to our GOTY 2016 here: