Nier: Automata – Glorious Esoterica

A few years back, one of the most unique games I’ve ever played came out… a strange gem called ‘Nier’. Nier was not a great game, but it had such charm that it was hard not to love it. It featured gameplay ideas from a wide variety of genres, numerous endings, awkward mechanics, and an amazing soundtrack. Somehow this mix of disparate ideas, awkward implementation, and amazing music created one of the most interesting and memorable RPGs I’ve played, even if the game was nowhere near perfect. And as interesting as it was… it did not sell well.

Given that, you can imagine my surprise when SquareEnix announced a sequel coming, developed in conjunction with Platinum Games, a developer notable for great, unique action games – surprise, and excitement. When thinking about the strange and wonderful ideas the Nier team had to begin with, and matching those up with the polish Platinum is known for… it really felt like the chance for Nier to shine how it deserved. The big question: Did it live up to these escalated expectations or did it disappoint?

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Shadow’s Six – Best Games of 2016

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!

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Rise of the Tomb Raider – Creating a Legacy

When Crystal Dynamics rebooted Tomb Raider a few years back, there was some fear and skepticism on whether this new origin story for such an iconic character would possibly work. And while I absolutely loved the game, there was some fear in my mind about how they could follow it up.

After all, a lot of the success of the 2013 Tomb Raider rode on the character development of the ‘new’ Lara Croft. A sequel would surely build on that, but you can’t recapture that ‘new’ feeling you get in an origin story. So I stepped into Rise of the Tomb Raider excited, but with a bit of worry about whether it would live up to the very high expectations set by 2013’s Tomb Raider.

Tomb Raider’s story picks up a year after the end of the first, with Lara trying to understand what she saw in her first encounter with the supernatural. She is drawn to her father’s research – the research that led to him being ridiculed and his subsequent death – about an ancient Prophet who managed to overcome death. This research leads her to Syria, which is where the game’s story begins.

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Final Fantasy XV – A New King

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?

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World of Final Fantasy – Stacked

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.

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