Game of the Year Awards 2016

Once a year we all like together and argue like it’s the end of the year and the arbitrary title that wins each category truly matters. We even added a new section this year! Throughout all the pain and anguish that comes with buying as many titles as you can a few gems stand out from the rest and provide countless days of fun and that’s what we are here to celebrate. So, without further ado, here’s our Game of the Year Awards for 2016.

Game of the Year: Dark Souls 3 (by that guy that isn’t Scotch Rat who loves Dark Souls 3, Stoogie OB.)

The Souls series officially came to an end in 2016 and Dark Souls 3 was definitely a fitting one. As a newbie, Dark Souls 3 was a daunting experience at first. However as you plough through, you become more drawn into the world and the quest of The Ashen One. Never has a game ever gave me the “I’ll do it next time” attitude more than Dark Souls 3. No matter how many times you die (my record being 45 times in a row against the Nameless King), you always come back ready to take another beating. The Bosses are a challenge, but oh so satisfying. A beautiful soundtrack accompanies your attempts at conquering this fallen world and plenty of nods to fans of the originals. Dark Souls 3 is an absolute masterclass of gaming, and a fitting end to one of gaming’s greatest.

Best Console Exclusive: Gears of War 4 (sent to us via carrier pigeon by our favourite writer with internet problems, Hutch.)

Pay attention, 343 Industries, because The Coalition have a lesson to teach about continuing a ‘finished’ series. Gears of War 4 takes place years after the original trilogy ended and introduced us to a host of new characters, enemies, locations and factions. We join JD Fenix and his friends Kait and Del as they embark on a perilous journey to rescue Kait’s mother from the sinister Swarm. Yes, they may just be a new Locust Horde but the struggle feels like a continuation of a war you thought you’d ended. With excellent cameos from some series favourites, a script and acting that blows most of the original trilogy away, more over the top weapons than ever before and an ending that left me clamouring for more, Gears of War 4 was one of the finest titles of 2016.

Best Soundtrack: DOOM (from the boy raised on guns, guts, and the occasional gimp mask, Scotch Rat.)

For many gamers DOOM (2016) was a superb return to form with a stellar Singleplayer campaign bolstered by an arguably shaky Multiplayer component. And will most likely take a spot on quite a few Game of the Year lists. For us though, it was DOOM’s soundtrack that grabbed our admiration. Mick Gordon’s amalgamation of industrial metal and electronic synths creates an almost visceral and tactile feel as the player charges a room full of demons, gibbing to their heart’s content. This mixture in style and tone brings a whole new life and meaning to the DOOM franchise, creating a whole new vibe whilst keeping the familiarity of the original DOOM (1993) in check; a fantastic addendum to an already phenomenal game. There were plenty of games in 2016 that showed great promise in terms of having a great soundtrack but ultimately DOOM’s brutal riff emerged triumphant.

Best Digital Release: Firewatch (by that Dolphin guy on Twitter, @PsychTyson.)

In a particularly strong year for games with a heavy focus on dialogue and narrative, Firewatch manages to stand above them all in 2016, thanks to an intriguing storyline, exceptional voice acting performances and one of the best backdrops for any game this year in the stylised take on Shoshone National Forest. It’s difficult to know where to start, when explaining why it’s the best digital release of the year. For one, it might just have one of the best openings of any game I’ve ever played, building an evocative picture of the protagonist’s life through nothing but the use of the written word. Thanks to the aforementioned voice acting and a great script, the relationship between the game’s two main players is perfect, no matter what route it takes. The environment – all sunsets, burnt ochre and pastel colours – is absolutely stunning. Despite being fairly easy to see coming, the game’s emotional gut-punch towards the end literally left me speechless. And the ending perfectly encapsulates my feelings throughout – a heady mix of uncertainty, guilt and hope.

The fact that all of this is available to you right now for less than twenty quid makes this an absolute no-brainer.

Editor’s Note: Like we seriously fell in love with Firewatch, it scored 9. Twice! (Xbox One and PS4)

Best DLC: Destiny – Rise of Iron (by that guy that won’t shut up about Destiny, Esler.)

It’s difficult to pick one individual piece of DLC at this moment in time. Gaming as a whole is gravitating towards either the Free to Play market or games are slowly becoming a service with monthly updates and free characters being added. Although here at ReadersGambit there was only really one contender; The Rise of Iron. Destiny is a long term favourite of our and one of those games we can never truly bring ourselves to clear from our HDDs, probably due to its increasing file size when it comes to downloads. It’s hard to estimate how much time we have all lost aspiring to be more than a Young Wolf, but it could very well draw close to 1,000 hours across all of our resident Space Wizards.

Best Remaster: Odin Sphere (a cherished contribution from our very own antagonist, The Super Serious Anonymous Contributor.)

If we’re talking great remasters, then I believe there can only be one 2016 title that really deserves that award. The purpose of a remaster is to breathe new life into an old release, and improve on it. None do this as well as Odin Sphere Leifthrasir. While the original looked great, the improved framerate and vibrancy of the colours goes a long way to make a beautiful game more visually pleasing. The combat has had an overhaul, and has become more sophisticated than its PlayStation 2 counterpart – drawing from Vanillaware’s experience with Muramasa. Characters are also now more unique than before, and there’s even new zones added.

Liefthrasir has successfully improved on almost every area that the classic had room to improve on, and it’s wonderful. It’s hard not to fall in love with Odin Sphere all over again.

Biggest Let Down: No Man’s Sky (a man that’s well known to finish in 2 minutes, Jonathan.)

“One Man’s Lie”, it’s not the most balanced argument, but it does summarise the situation around No Man’s Sky’s release and the ridiculously high expectations cultivated by both Sony and Hello Games.

No Man’s Sky promised you the chance to explore infinitely diverse planets full of infinitely diverse wildlife. Once you were done naming all of your unique creatures you’d then be able to fly off Into space and take part in large-scale galactic warfare. Then, when you’d crushed your enemies and seen them driven before you to a background of the cries of their women, you could meet up with a friend and do some hand-in-hand exploration.
Then came launch, and expectant gamers sharply discovered that most of these promises had been broken, and the ones which hadn’t been broken were heavily exaggerated. Unique wildlife turned to hideously malformed abominations, planets were just different coloured rocks and the multiplayer that Hello had spoken of weeks before launch was completely non-existent.

Would recommend Sony and Hello Games’ New Year’s resolution be ‘No more porky pies’

Best Art Direction: Oxenfree (another contribution from that editor/writer that won’t shut the fuck up, Esler.)

I had high expectations for Oxenfree, perhaps unreasonably high, earlier in the year. It looked great and the very premise of exploring this gorgeous abandoned island with some quirky teens really caught my eye. Unfortunately I didn’t gel with Oxenfree at all, but one thing that did sit with me was the art style. Oxenfree’s soft colour palette and eerie atmosphere are clear and prominent throughout the entirety of Oxenfree’s campaign. From the mystical realm that communicates with the teens to the tiny fire flickering in the night they all sit around there is so many scenes to gawk at. It’s been a great year for smaller games that make excellent use of colour and art direction, but very few come close to the atmosphere chosen by the Oxenfree team.

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