This is it! We’re coming to the end of my first full year of doing this blog thing! To finish off the year I thought it might be interesting to take a look back at 2016, and discuss my top 5 innovative games. I’ve discussed a lot of games over the course of this year, but there have been a few gems in the list that I think deserve a little more special recognition. So in no specific order, here’s my list of the top 5 innovative games of 2016!
The Mr. Robot app was really a surprise hit. This app received some minor media coverage, but really it snuck it’s way out onto the app store with very little fan fair. In “Mr.Robot:1.51exfiltrati0n.apk” you’ve found a hacker’s phone, and the app itself pretends to be a sort of chat software. Over the course of the next couple days, you’re introduced to different characters, conversations, and interesting moral choices. While simplistic in it’s approach, the Mr. Robot app leverages simple mechanics with a player’s pre-existing understanding of social media. On top of that having to wait in real time for a character to respond to you, gave the game a dynamically different feel… truly integrating itself into your daily habits. If you haven’t had the chance, and even if you haven’t watched the show, I assure you that this is a real treat.
Virginia was another game that surprised me this year. Within Virginia you play as a young FBI Recruit on their first real assignment. While you’re investigating a missing persons case, really the game establishes itself in the relationship between you, your partner, and the agency. Virginia stood out on so many different levels… first of all having a young non-white female protagonist, no dialogue in the game, unique visual style, and cinematic transitions that we would normally associate with a movie or television… all add up to a truly unique and memorable experience.
I know that my next choice is a pretty stark contrast to my other selections this year, but The Division is definitely worth noting on this list for one reason… the Dark Zone. While many of the shooting mechanics of the Division can be attributed to other shooters, where I see the Division as being innovate was in the creation of the “Dark Zone.” If you’re unfamiliar, the Dark Zone is a full PVP zone. Where players can cooperate or compete for loot, that they then have to “extract” in order to own in the main game. The fact that players are always unsure of how other players are going to respond, if people are going to attack them to try to steal their loot or actually cooperate, creates many tense situations. I’ve been in many unsure moments where you have two groups of players looking at eachother, weapons drawn, waiting for someone to make the first move. These moments are unique, and completely player driven...which is pretty special.
No Man’s Sky
Love or Hate No Man’s Sky, it deserves to be on a list like this one. While other games include many of the same elements, No Man’s Sky is one of the first to combine these experiences together. The ability to jump into a procedurally generated solar system, seamlessly land on a planet, explore, and take back off into space is a pretty awesome experience. While the game may still be lacking in some areas, it continues to improve and build upon itself. I can’t help but wonder what the game will look like in another 6 months, but for now No Man’s Sky is definitely one of my top innovative games of 2016.
I really had a hard time picking my final entry into this list, and Dishonored 2 really came as a late addition. Dishonored 2 is an action/stealth game, taking place in a Victorian-esque steam punk world. You play as a supernatural assassin, and players have the choice of playing as one of two protagonists. Dishonored has always been known for providing it's players with a variety of gameplay options and scenarios, but Dishonored 2 has gone above and beyond in creating massively different feeling levels as well. While every level allows for a lot of player choice, I've found that every level feels decidedly different. There are different enemies, items, and at times mechanics change drastically... and I have to adapt. In games like these it's very easy to fall into a routine, and Dishonored 2 really breaks it's players out of their comfort zones. Dishonored 2 teaches it's players to become as flexible as their chosen protagist, and it's a truely rewarding experience. I really don't want to give anything away, but I would highly encourage a playthrough.
It’s also worth giving both We Happy Few and The Long Dark are honorable mention on this list. While I didn’t add these games, because they are still in mid-development, I think they should be on everyone’s radar in the coming year.
Thanks again to everyone who's been reading this year and for all of your support! I hope that this blog was able to add something special to your year, and we will continue to looking interesting gaming trends in 2017!!
Happy Holidays and Happy New years!
I make games, I play games... and sometimes I have some thoughts about that.