2016 IN REVIEW | KBD's Top Ten Best Video Games of 2016
Despite the major shit-show known as 2016, video games had many bright spots throughout the year. New IPs, sequels, spin-offs, and even a successful Kickstarter or two have helped the gaming realm shine far brighter than it has in the last couple years. In fact, publishers and developers have done such a tremendous job with their properties this year, that it seemed fitting that we honor the best that our consoles and PCs had to offer. And thus, for the first time since 2013, I felt confident enough to present a legit list of the finest video games 2016 delivered to players all across the globe.
NOTE: The views and opinions shared in this piece reflect those of Evan Bourgault, and not those of ElectricSistaHood in its entirety.
10: Small Radios Big Televisions
On the surface, FIRE FACE's Small Radios Big Televisions doesn't look all that special. You search through abandoned factories, seek out green crystals, and move your way towards the next factory. However, it's the cassette tapes that transport you to mystical areas that keep you wondering what you're truly experiencing, especially when you have to magnetize them. The deeper you go, the more you ponder not just about the true nature of this game, but also your real-life surroundings. If [adult swim games] has yet to impress you with its massive brain power, Small Radios Big Televisions will surely do the job. Oh, and prepare for the trippiest ending since FEZ.
9: The King of Fighters XIV
While Capcom stumbled with its means of releasing Street Fighter V, SNK and Atlus showed the gaming world how to truly honor a great fighter. Fifty combatants (including characters from Fatal Fury and Psycho Soldier), a bunch of great stages, beautiful graphics, and a cool story mode had more to offer than just about any fighting game right off the bat. While its tutorial can be rather tricky at times, it's when you dive into the heart of battle -- via offline, online, or against CPU -- when the true muscles flex in The King of Fighters XIV. Simply put: SNK's latest chapter was the place for real players to square off.
8: Gal*Gun: Double Peace
The English trailer declared, "You asked for it!" as PQUBE Games helped to finally bring Inti Creates' Gal*Gun series to the Western Hemisphere with its Double Peace sequel. What could've been just a lame excuse for non-stop fan-service and anime-inspired ecchi-ness galore wound up being one of the funniest and most fun rail shooters since The House of the Dead: Overkill. (However, instead of armies of zombies to kill, you're shooting love-crazed students with pheromones.) With plenty of replay value thanks to its multiple endings and very humorous script, the unapologetic Gal*Gun: Double Peace was sheer proof that you shouldn't judge a book by its perverted cover.
7: BATMAN - The Telltale Series
After last year's GOTY pick Tales From the Borderlands, Telltale Games decided to take a trip to Gotham City. What followed was one of the best Batman stories to date, with enough twists and turns in Bruce Wayne's life to make even the Joker feel bad for the guy. Troy Baker's performance as the Dark Knight was up there with Kevin Conroy's, and with a great cast of characters and some fine detective skills, BATMAN - The Telltale Series made fans new and old of the DC hero drop their jaws in shock & awe. Here's hoping we don't have to wait too long to see what's in store next for Telltale's adaptation.
Time moves when you move, which means you can find ways to kill your enemies in a very Sherlock Holmes-like fashion. A first-person puzzler disguised as a shooter, SUPERHOT was one of the most stylistic gaming experiences the indie realm delivered in 2016. The longer you play, the more the game starts to mess with your well-being, going so far as to switch the man-Vs-machine mentality with man-becoming-machine. A game where even messing up leads to discovering something new and fun, SUPERHOT helped those wanting to live out their John Wick or The Raid fantasies in a killer virtual setting.
5: Senran Kagura: Estival Versus
Like an extended beach episode of your favorite anime comedy, Senran Kagura: Estival Versus took the shinobi of various academies to the bluest of shores for some fun and exciting Dynasty Warriors-styled hack-and-slashing. With its long campaign and side-missions, Tamsoft's action brawler brought in some hilarious banter and surprisingly deep back stories about the students of Hanzō, Hebijo, and the rest of the gang. However, it was its multiplayer elements that made Senran Kagura's PS4 debut one of the very best console-exclusives, with its battles and straight-up silly modes being chaotically exhilarating in every way. Grab some friends and embrace these shinobi with all your might (well, at least until Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash hopefully hits our shores next year).
Throw away those stupid adult coloring books! Bethesda and id Software have brought back the true stress-reliever of our childhoods, beefed up and more violent than ever before. DOOM had your silent protagonist killing more demons than Hell could dish out, with some of the goriest and crowd-pleasing first-person shooter elements anyone could ask for. The spawns of the underworld are no match for your guns, chainsaws, and even your own boot, as the era of blood and guts in gaming has returned back to where it once reigned supreme. DOOM wasn't just the best throwback of the year; it was also a reminder of why we love first-person shooters in the first place.
I usually dislike online multiplayer-only video games, but Blizzard broke the mold with its newest IP Overwatch. When you've got a great bunch of friends to play with, Overwatch quickly becomes a frantic party, one that never takes itself too seriously and always leaving you at the edge of your seat wanting more. With a good chunk of mission types and characters with more personality than your average Pixar flick, Blizzard's newest gaming beast shows no signs of slowing down in the slightest. With more to come throughout the next year or so, Overwatch plans to stay put at the top of the online multiplayer pack for quite some time.
2: Shantae: Half-Genie Hero
WayForward knocked it out of the ballpark with its fourth adventure featuring our favorite belly-dancing genie. Funded via Kickstarter, Shantae: Half-Genie Hero was the side-scrolling platformer we deserved this generation. Featuring a great foray of transformations, hilarious dialogue, and some of the best cartoon visuals we've ever seen presented in a game, the purple-haired heroine of Sequin Land magically poofed out of thin air this year's brightest and most memorable adventure. Making Mighty No. 9 cry like an anime fan on prom night, Shantae: Half-Genie Hero finally placed WayForward's creation on the same pedestal as Simon Belmont and Samus Aran. If there was ever a truer Kickstarter success story, this was it.
1: VA-11 HALL-A: A Cyberpunk Bartender Action
Take note, Japanese visual novel creators: this is how you step up the genre! Sukeban Games' VA-11 HALL-A placed us in the role of Jill, a bartender in a Blade Runner-like world. The colorful characters that come and go wish to tell their story, but to hear it, you'll have to make the drink they desire most (even if it's not the one they asked for specifically). What follows is one of the deepest, most emotional stories told through the realm of pixels, bringing forth the same level of character development one could expect from either a Miyazaki or Hosoda film. Even if you've never played a visual novel in your life, VA-11 HALL-A deserves your upmost attention. Grab a stool at the bar and order a Bad Touch, as you bear witness to the true gaming pinnacle of 2016!
Any favorites we missed? Disagree with our picks? Comment below, and be a part of the discussion!