Video Games of 2016

What a year for gaming. I tried to take advantage whenever I could to get a chance to game and I was able to do a nice mix of newer and older games. I also made a bit of a dent in the list of games I got as part of a Humble Bundle. Well, let’s get into it.

Civilization VI (27 hours)

Another five years passed and so and so another entry in the civilization franchise was released. This time they made what is probably the biggest change in the series thus far, they exploded the cities out onto multiple tiles. That really revamped the planning and for once I couldn’t just make every city make all the same improvements. I’ve enjoyed it and hope to get more time with it in 2017.


XCOM: Enemy Within (25 hours)

A fairly robust to a great series. It was fun to go through the XCOM experience understanding how it works and, therefore, making less mistakes that compound out over time.

Torchlight (23 hours)

I set out to try and see what the whole Diablo craze was about. I found it a bit repetitive and I’m not sure if I’ll get back to it. It also had only the barest bit of story so there’s not even that to drag me back in.


Civilization V (17 hours 30 min)

Knowing that Civ VI was coming out in 2016 meant I limited my Civ V play so that I could spend more time playing other games.


Spelunky! (5 Hours 47 min)

It’s happened so many times – Dan talks something up and I just don’t get it. Sometimes it’s just hard to convey something with words. Ali G sounded horrible, but was great stupid-funny. And the same was the case with Spelunky. It just sounded like something I’d hate. But then I played it and it was a blast! And I got further addicted to rogue-alikes.


Contraption Maker (5 hour 30 min)

If I’d discovered this game before the kids, I probably would have beat the whole thing. It combines silliness and dad-jokes with puzzle solving. It’s right up my alley. But I’m also glad I didn’t get to it until having the kids because it’s a ton of fun playing with Scarlett. I’m sure it’ll be even more fun when she’s able to contribute solutions.


Vertical Drop Heroes HD (5 hour 25 min)

After Spelunky! I was perfectly primed to enjoy this game. And I did. I originally intended to rotate playing it with other games and I wound up just making excuses for why I should be playing this game instead.


Civilization: Beyond Earth (3 hours 45 min)

I think a lot of what was special about Civ VI got its start in what the team did for their spiritual successor to Alpha Centauri. That said, I got the game in a Firaxis Humble Bundle a little too late – as the father of 3 kids – and I just don’t enjoy the game mechanics as much as I do in the main series.


Civilization III (2 hours 15 min)

Not only was 2016 the year of Civ VI, but it was also a milestone anniversary year for the franchise. So I had an overly ambitious plan to play from III (the first game I legally own) onwards. I do intend to continue in 2017. We’ll see what happens to that.


Team Fortress 2 (2 hours)

If I were forced to choose one game to play forever, it’d be Civ. But if I could choose 2, the second choice would be TF2. But I don’t have to choose and there are so many games I own that I haven’t even played yet (thanks to Humble Bundles), so TF2 gets neglect. They changed this up this year for the first time in a LONG time. Now there are tiered matches and leveling up and all kinds of stuff. 2 hours isn’t enough to tell if I prefer the old method, but what I don’t like is that it dumps you out each time so it takes forever to play (vs staying on the same server with map changes) and time is important to me since game time is limited.


Dear Esther (2 hours)

I’d heard about this game for a long time. When I finally played it – it more or less lived up to the hype.


New Super Mario Bros Wii (2 hours)

Unlike the Mario games I cut my teeth on as a kid, this one lets everyone play together. So I thought it’d be a better experience for playing with Scarlett. Unfortunately she’s not quite there yet. Then again, I got my NES when I was 5 or 6 and each year makes a huge difference in what kids are capable of.


FTL (1 hour 15 min)

Just wanted something to play while I was visitng the in-laws (plus played it while reviewing the Steam controller).


Always Sometimes Monsters (1 hour)

This game probably leads to something profound. But I just didn’t have the patience for it.


Unholy Heights (1 hour)

I thought I was going to love this game, but with an inability to understand what I was doing wrong leading to an inability to progress, I gave up on it after an hour.


Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life (1 hour)

Danielle and I were obsessed with this game during our undergrad years. Danielle ended up min-maxing it even though I don’t think she finished it. I got caught up in trying not to fail out of college and ended up not playing that much. But now I can enjoy it with Scarlett.


FF Tactics (52 min)

I’ve had this game for about 15 years when I bought it as part of a PS1 sale at Best Buy when I got all the FF games I never played when they first came out. I am enjoying the game but haven’t been able to give it the time it needs.


Pixel Piracy (45 min)

I just did not find this fun. People into the mincraft look might enjoy it.


Chromagun (38 min)

The premise was fun. I might give it a chance if I feel like playing some physics puzzles.


Atom Zombie Smasher (33 min)

As someone who’s pretty sick of zombie-everything, this ended up being a lot of fun. It’s definitely a game I’ll revisit at some point.


Eurotruck Simulator 2 (30 min)

After the Giant Bomb guys kept talking about the (Insert Geographic Region)-Truck Simulator games, I thought I’d give it a chance. I don’t think it’s my cup of tea, but I could definitely see how it would be a pretty relaxing time for some people.


Cook Serve Delicious (30 min)

Not much new to say here, just playing a quick round.


LA Noire (30 min)

Dan got me this in 2015 or earlier (I can’t remember) and I finally put it in to play. The driving drives me batty, but I could potentially grow to enjoy the game. I’d like to get back to it. Time will tell if I can.


Paragon (30 min)

I wanted to check out a MOBA and this one came with the nVidia 1000-series cards. (Or at least some credits for fake in-game money) It was fun, but the time requirement for a match means I’ll not get back to it until my kids are much older, if ever.


Botanicula (30 min)

It’s a beautiful game and the puzzles are fun to solve, but it just didn’t grab me.


Cthulhu Saves the World (26 minutes)

I think my nostalgia for the 16-bit era RPGs just isn’t strong enough to get me to put the time into these games. I thought differently after To the Moon, but it’s just not really there for me. I *might* get back to it, but don’t get your hopes up.


BloodRayne: Betrayal (23 Minutes)

A return to beat-em-up platformers that has lovely animation, but I just don’t care to spend time on it.


Gwent (21 minutes)

Reminds me of when I played Magic: The Gathering in middle school. I could potentially play a lot if I had the time.


Back to Bed (20 minutes)

This game has an aesthetic seemingly inspired by Salvador Dali, but has gameplay akin to a game of Lemmings if it were 3D and only had one lemming. It was fun, but I think I’ve had my fill.


Awesomenauts (16 min)

My actual first MOBA, but so unmemorable, I completely forgot I’d played it.


Rhythm Heaven Fever (15 min)

Unfortunately no video footage here. I was just trying to show Scarlett the depth of games here, but the fact that I suck at the golf game kept us from going any further.


Game of the Year

I think this is the first year I didn’t have a strong, standout contender for game of the year. If you take a look at the games I enjoyed most you can drop the list to a top 3 of Dear Esther, Vertical Drop Heroes HD, and Civilization VI. Interestingly, I think Civ VI is the only game on the list that actually came out in 2016. However, If I discount Civ VI due to the incredible amount of work yet to be done (while the core mechanics are great, the AI has much work to be done), I end up with two wildly different games. I think VDHHD gave me more joy while DE was more of a game that blew my mind. I’ll give it to Vertical Drop Heroes HD merely because it’s not only the most fun I had, but the game I want to return to most in 2017.