Earlier this year, I swore to complete at least 30 games from my backlog.
I did. In fact, I beat more than 30 games. Some were great, others were not-so-great. Let’s talk about the best of the best.
I’d like to name three games as honorable mentions this year. First, Nelly Cootalot: The Fowl Fleet, which I reviewed for MonsterVine, is a hilarious adventure game I adored.
Second, Muv-Luv, which I just finished and will review soon, is an enjoyable visual novel that left me looking forward to the final (and, by all accounts, fantastic) part, Muv-Luv Alternative. Alternative is due out next year.
Finally, World of Final Fantasy deserves a mention because it would have won a spot on this list if I’d finished it yet. I thought I was nearing the end the other day, but it’s not over yet. I’m still loving every minute of it.
That’s it for the honorable mentions, so here we go: the best of the best, the top five games I played in 2016.
Probably the most divisive of the games on this list, Xenoblade Chronicles X is exactly the sort of game I should consider lackluster: it has a fully open world and is driven more by exploration than its story. I dislike open worlds and play RPGs for their stories.
Yet Xenoblade Chronicles X won me over. As I explained in my review, it managed its open world in such away that I enjoyed it. After all the exploration was a key part of the plot.
And while the story might have been the strongest by RPG standards (not to mention that William Birkin bit), the worldbuilding was fantastic. I loved meeting different alien races and watching the city transform as they became our allies, and there were some really funny moments.
If you’ve avoided Xenoblade Chronicles X because of what people say about its story, but you like science fiction, you might want to reconsider. It’s really a fantastic game.
Kingdom Hearts won a spot on last year’s list, and when I moved on to the Kingdom Hearts 2.5 Remix, Kingdom Hearts 2 won itself a spot on the list as well.
Kingdom Hearts 2 did everything I loved from Kingdom Hearts and Re: Chain of Memories, but did it better. (Aside from the structure of the levels, since I preferred the less linear worlds in the first game.)
I love the original story content. It has original story content galore.
I loved Ansem. Xemnas is even better. (Sorry, Ansem.)
I loved Organization XIII. Turns out several of them were mad scientists.
You can check out my review for my full thoughts on Kingdom Hearts 2, but suffice it to say I would play it again in a heartbeat if not for my massive backlog.
(Except the Tron Light Cycle section. *shudder*)
Not only is 2016 the year in which the first Ace Attorney takes place, it also saw the release of the fantastic sixth entry in the series, Spirit of Justice.
Available only from the Nintendo eShop, Spirit of Justice divides its time between Phoenix Wright in the distant Kingdom of Khura’in and Apollo Justice back at the home office. While jumping back and forth between protagonists could be tricky, it handles it well and delivers both a compelling story and several interesting cases.
For me, its story and humor fell short of Dual Destinies, but it had several welcome gameplay improvements. Take a look at my review, and then head to the eShop to buy Spirit of Justice.
(Come on, Capcom, let me have a localized Great Ace Attorney on my list next year! …Or Investigations 2.)
Steins;Gate is one of those games that makes it difficult to talk about how awesome it is without spoilers, but the praise I showered upon it in my review should have made its presence on this list a foregone conclusion.
I enjoyed it from the start. The protagonist was a nut who considered himself a mad scientist, the supporting cast was entertaining, and it was an enjoyable little story.
Then I reached that moment. If you’ve played, you know the moment I mean.
From then on, I remained glued to my Vita until I reached my first ending, and I immediately wanted to see the other endings after that. And when I finally reached the true ending, well… all I can say is that the pay-off was worth the work needed to get there.
Steins;Gate is brilliantly written. It’s emotional. Intense. Fantastic. It could easily have claimed the top spot on this list…
Here we go, the #1 game I played in 2016…Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep could probably have predicted this one.
Everything about Birth By Sleep made it a delight to play: the story, the characters, the gameplay, the mini-games (and by that I really mean the Command Board; if Square Enix wants to turn mini-games into mobile games, why haven’t they released a standalone Command Board game?)…
And of all those things, the story stands out the most. I especially enjoyed Terra’s story. While I got my share of laughs out of Terra trusting Disney villains, I’ll also defend him for that. He’s not stupid, and he’s a good character.
…but of course, I love my villains, so the standout character of Birth By Sleep was Master Xehanort. It took me 75 hours to beat Birth By Sleep, and I would have happily played another 75 hours of Master Xehanort manipulating people and ranting about darkness.
If you’re a Kingdom Hearts fan, you need to play Birth By Sleep. (If you’ve only played the numbered titles and plan to go into Kingdom Hearts 3 without knowing who the sinister gentleman pictured above is, you really need to play Birth By Sleep.)
Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep was the most fun I’ve had with the Kingdom Hearts series so far, and it was the most fun I’ve had with any game in 2016.
Xenoblade Chronicles X, Kingdom Hearts 2, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice, Steins;Gate, and Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep are the five best games I played in 2016.
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