The first few months of this year didn’t seem to exist, as far as video games were concerned. No relevant triple A releases, no worthwhile indie games, nothing. Between January and August, one of the only two new releases I purchased was The Culling, an early-access mess of a game that revamped every piece of in-game weaponry with new nerfs and buffs bi-weekly, to the point where you never knew what weapon would have what impact. Hence why I dropped it. What started out as a very tense Hunger Games-style multiplayer madhouse dissolved into overly long, drawn-out matches of poke the bad guy with a spear forty times until one of you gets bored and dies. Such a shame.
The other new release was Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst, a fine if unremarkable game. Terribly short but notably sweet, it’s nothing more than a faint whisper in my memory at this point.
From there I snagged Deus Ex: Mankind Divided in early September, the best half-complete product I ever bought. If acts 2 and 3 of the story had been included and the overall narrative delivery hadn’t been so utterly pedestrian, this would’ve been my game of the year easily. Ah well, maybe the trilogy’s finale will feel like a complete product when it comes out in three to four years.
Two disappointments and one neutral release in and finally the holiday heavy-hitters started to make their arrivals, kicking off with Titanfall 2. I still haven’t touched a second of the campaign, instead soaking up every last multiplayer match the dying community will afford me in the time it has left. Given the positive word of mouth circulating around the story component however, I’ll give this one the benefit of the doubt and say it’s a great purchase overall. We’re one for four now, those of you keeping tally at home.
Next up came Hitman, the surprise show-stealer of 2016. Featuring insanely creative and aesthetically inventive levels, a refined and revamped mechanics set for Agent 47 and an overall sense of bold direction no other game this year had, the DRM-laden episodic caper from Square Enix comes out on top. Two for five.
And lastly, at the twilight of 2016, after the horrendous PC launch had subsided and my unwavering love for Dishonored grew to a fever pitch, I picked up Dishonored 2. Having just gotten past the infamous clockwork mansion, I can attest to the game’s merits. It’s wonderfully inventive in its level design and gameplay structure. But its story is weak and contrived, its launch was terrible and because of these things I can’t grant it nearly the amount of praise I heaped upon the original.
So where does that leave us? Nowhere, frankly. This year was a bust for games as I don’t see myself actively pitching any of the aforementioned titles to anyone simply because they’re “that good,” though Hitman comes close. Hell, I didn’t even mention Unravel, a cute little platformer I bought solely because the lead developer put on a good show at last year’s E3. I’ve played one level and it’s nothing to write home about, though it’s serviceable and deserves a mention on here for being heartfelt—something these soulless sequels and corporate cash-grabs could learn from. Notice how all of the major releases above have a literal or proverbial “2” at the end of their titles?
I almost forgot the worst game of 2016. The absolute worst port in the history of PC gaming, as far as my firsthand experiences are concerned. It stuttered more than a nervous high-schooler with a lisp, screen-tore like an iPhone made of wet paper and shit the bed so frequently that its myriad of disabilities almost distracted me from the piss-poor narrative and lacking runtime lurking beneath the surface. The studio’s fallen since the heydays of Max Payne and Alan Wake.