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So, we invite you to share your year-end lists in the comments; each of our writers will be doing the same. The unseasonably early arrival of the pumpkin spice latte, the wrong film winning the Oscar for Best Picture, the Kansas City Chiefs collapsing in their first game in the playoffs: I can think of few other things in life as reliable as the monthly drip of video game remasters, remakes, and reboots.
At times, the industry seems hobbled by nostalgia, overwhelmed with creators so doggedly focused on re-creating objects we loved, they lose track of why we loved them. Take for example one of my favorite games ofthe farm life role-playing game Harvest Moon. Over two decades, its publisher has spread the series like a thin, tasteless paste across more than 25 entries. But more than its reverence to Harvest MoonI will remember Stardew Valley for its original touches: the quirky small-town characters, the flirtations with magical realism, and the sincere appreciation of a simple life well lived.
I played Harvest Moon as a kid to imagine life as an adult. Forza Horizon 3 is, at its core, an opportunity to drive exotic cars, lemons, and everything in between through a gobsmackingly beautiful re-creation of Australia. But given my dream car and the open road, popular adult games 2016 are the last thing on my mind. Can we nominate a game twice? In February, I praised Superhot as the rarest of things: a truly original first-person shooter.
Superhot alone deserves a place on this list. This month, though a spin on Superhot was released for the Oculus Rift and its Touch motion controllers. Of course, the actual act of exploring could be tedious at times. I spent countless hours mining rocks for fuel, searching for rare minerals to upgrade my gear, and fighting annoying pirates in the wilds of space.
The lows could be very low — being stuck in a cave for hours, spending days following a path to nowhere — but for me, the highs made it worth it. But it won me over by being such a brilliant — albeit flawed — pairing of subject and form. There was the central conceit that adorable supernatural creatures are hiding all over your neighborhood, and the rare-object-collecting mechanic that kept exploration feeling fresh.
But it was one of the most interesting gaming experiments of the year, and I don't regret a minute of it. Dishonored 2 wasn't a long-awaited cult game or an indie darling or a hot new e-sport. But it was a solid, mature, often delightful sequel to one of my favorite blockbuster games of the past several years. It took the original Dishonored 's sneaking-and-magic formula, its unique fantasy setting, and its meticulous level de, then added new powers, a new location, and some intriguing gameplay experiments that are mostly pulled off incredibly well.
It calls back to the classic '90s immersive sim formula without being derivative or burdened by nostalgia, while creating puzzle-box worlds that are fun to come back to again and again. Firewatch was released in by a small team of talented creators. It tells the story of Henry, a man lost in this history of his own life, who takes a job as a fire lookout in the Shoshone National Forest.
He is an everyman with a tragic past: a beloved wife suffering from early-onset dementia. His poorest choices are the decisions of the player, who dictates his interactions with his coworker Delilah, the nuances of his conversation, and the paths that decide his future. But Henry, like Delilah, is relatable for his averageness. He can be cold, he can be foolish, he can be dishonest, but mostly he can just be human. We see the same in Delilah, a character who hides popular adult games 2016 and perhaps drinks too much to cope with the hardships of her own life.
Firewatch is about messy people. The questions of its story stumble by the end, but it has more to offer: a rare, thoughtful dive into dysfunctional relationships. They drive around in a big, black luxury car listening to music together. They fight together, and share meals, and go camping. Inside does more in just a few short hours than most games can manage in considerably longer. The spiritual successor to cult hit LimboInside tells the story of a young boy who delves deeper and deeper into an ever-evolving mystery involving a strange factory and disturbing experiments.
It plays like a simple side-scrolling adventure game, where you can run, solve puzzles, and are constantly moving to the right. Yet its sense of mood is unparalleled, creating an ever-shifting sense of dread and curiosity. Before Dishonored 2 enthralled my stealth-loving and puzzle-solving obsessions, I was playing the new episodic Hitman. I got into the classic assassination franchise late, having started back in with Hitman: Absolutionand I was enamored by the intricate level de and the borderline absurd level of replay value and variation.
Instead of a series of well-deed sandboxes in a start-to-finish storyline, the new Hitman gave us monstrous playgrounds each with hours of exploration and only a thin connective tissue strung between them. One of six levels dropped every month from March to April, and then again from August to October. In total, the game delivered six locales as wide-ranging as a hotel resort in Bangkok to a Paris art museum to a state-of-the-art medical facility in Hokkaido, Japan. Each level is filled with these secrets to find and, if you can excuse the flat and accent-free voice acting, rich storylines that make this perhaps the most modern, politically-aware Hitman game to date.
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