It’s time to close the book on 2016’s gaming history. A big year for game releases is behind us, with several massive franchises popping up throughout the year… and a lot of pleasant little surprises too. We had some games that had been over a decade in waiting, and others that we only found out about weeks before their arrival. Games of all genres graced our consoles and computers, with sequels, expansions, reboots, and brand new titles all coming out this past year.
What amazed me this year was how few games were quite what I was expecting. Several games I expected to love I wasn’t terribly fond of, while others that I was concerned about I ended up being blown away by. Picking the games for this year’s list had a few obvious spots, but there are about 7 games fighting for those last couple slots, none of which are clear picks.
So without any further delay… let’s jump into the Best Games of 2016!
A Final Fantasy for Fans and First-timers
This is the line you’re greeted with immediately upon starting Final Fantasy 15. It’s a good line, and it says a lot. It tells you, right as you start, that you don’t need any previous experience to appreciate this. It tells you that the game wasn’t just designed as a love letter to past fans, like some recent SquareEnix ventures have been.
And it tells you that long time fans are going to be in for a surprise, since they are not this game’s primary audience. The question, of course, becomes: Will this be a pleasant surprise?
Square Enix has decided to release another nostalgia trip. World of Final Fantasy is a strange JRPG focused around a pair of partially amnesiac siblings, Lann and Reynn. The two of them wake up one day and go about their normal business, but are surprised to find that there’s nobody else in their town. No one except a strange silver haired woman who calls herself Enna Kros.
Enna tells them that they were once great ‘Mirage Keepers’ who commanded an army of monsters known as mirages. She then sends them to a world called Grymoire and tells them that, if they wish to remember their family, they must reclaim their lost mirages. Finally, she points out that Lann has a creepy fox thing on his head that he has somehow completely failed to notice all day, who turns out to be their first mirage, Tama.
I have made no secret of my love for the first episode, as it were, of the Trails of Cold Steel saga. Having spent over 100 hours streaming the game, my only criticism pertaining to it was that the ending battle was poorly orchestrated and not given sufficient tutorials. The game ended up ranking very high in my Shadow’s Sixty list, but that was all before playing its second chapter…
The sequel picks up a month after the events at the end of the first game, and gives you the opportunity to revisit the lands of Erebonia to see the aftermath of the first game’s events, and to explore the real underlying story that led us to the crazy cliffhanger that we were stuck with. But did it live up to the first game’s amazing quality, or did it falter?
There will be some spoilers for the first game within. Read at your own risk if you have not played the first game.
SquareEnix unveiled ‘Project Setsuna’ at E3 2015 under development studio ‘Tokyo RPG Factory’. They stated that they’d formed this studio to focus on producing games that would bring back the glory days of the JRPG. They brought together a team of people passionate about the genre and worked to bring this dream to a reality. I Am Setsuna was the result of that.
In I Am Setsuna, you play as a member of a reclusive masked tribe of wandering mercenaries named Endir. After completing his training (the game’s tutorial mission), he’s approached by a mysterious young man who hires him for a peculiar task. Every decade or so, monsters begin to become more and more ferocious and a young lady from a remote village is chosen to sacrifice herself to placate the monsters and keep the lands safe again. It is that time again, and Endir’s job? Kill the sacrifice before she departs from her home village on the pilgrimage.