Top 10 Games of 2016 You Won’t Want to Miss

top 10 Games of 2016 you won't want to miss

We are barely into the new year and the upcoming games of 2016 already promise a fantastic year for us gamers. Whether you play strictly console or prefer a good indie game on the PC, there is sure to be at least one upcoming game release that you are counting down to. Today I thought I would share 10 games of 2016 that I am super excited to play, and that you need to add to your 2016 gaming budget.

Check out the Top 20 Most Anticipated Books of 2016 too!

Legend of Zelda WiiU

If you know me at all, you know I am not exaggerating when I say I almost cried from excitement when Legend of Zelda: WiiU was announced at E3 2014. I have played through Ocarina of Time so many times that I honest to god have almost every second of the game memorized up until the Spirit Temple (I’ll admit Jabu Jabu and the Ice Caverns remain a bit hazy). Navi saying “Hey! Listen!” has been my text tone for almost 2 years straight, and I wake up to the Geurdo Valley theme in the morning. I even have the Wind Waker WiiU gamepad because I bought the bundle. Basically, Zelda is kind of my shit. And while Skyward Sword was a genuinely great game, I am going through LoZ withdrawals from not having a new game to play. That (hopefully) ends this year.

Okay, so Nintendo has not announced an official release date just yet, but the game is expected to drop this year, so until I hear something explicitly to the contrary, I’m calling Zelda WiiU a 2016 release.

*EDIT: Explicitly to the contrary has been confirmed. Zelda WiiU will be a 2017 release, because Nintendo likes to watch me suffer.*

For those of you who haven’t been stalking the updates at every turn, the next Zelda game is going to be open world- similar to the Elder Scrolls franchise. Miyamoto and the developers have said that the game will keep traditional aspects of the Zelda games -an in-depth storyline, complex puzzle solving, and of course similar fighting mechanics- but players will have more freedom to decide where they will go and what order they will complete important tasks in. You can see from the photo that the game is going to be absolutely stunning visually. The art style of Zelda WiiU seems to be mixing the realism based style of Twilight Princess with the bright design and coloring we saw in Skyward Sword; and the results are kind of breathtaking.

Personally, I have a theory that the game is going to be a prequel to Skyward Sword (which was a prequel to Ocarina). I won’t delve into my reasoning here, maybe I’ll write a post dedicated to it if there is any interest, but I will say that I have no doubt that this is going to be an amazing addition to the already timeless franchise. If you have not already, watch the E3 2014 announcement of the game, and the gameplay preview to get an idea of just why I am so excited about this game.

Horizon: Zero Dawn (PS4)

Before Horizon: Zero Dawn was announced, I had been pretty content with my PS3. I had no real desire to get a PS4 because none of the PS4 games struck me as something worth buying a $350 console to play. Then Horizon: Zero Dawn was announced at E3 2015, and I instantly knew Sony had won. And I’m not the only one. Horizon: Zero Dawn has become one of the most talked about upcoming PS4 games of 2016, and for good reason.

Badass female protagonist? Check.

Beautiful artwork? Check.

Thorough and complex world building? Check.

Horizon: Zero Dawn takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where, as far as we can tell, machines have become living creatures that roam the ruins of human society. They share the world with the surviving human tribes, who hunt the machines for survival much like pre-historic humans hunted wild animals. Like Zelda WiiU, Horizon: Zero Dawn will also be an open world game, meaning players will essentially have free reign over how to approach the game and the story. As far as I can tell no definitive information has been released about what exactly the game’s storyline will be, but everything I’ve seen so far leaves no doubt in my mind that it will make for a fantastic playing experience. Honestly, I am willing to bet we see this game on the list of potential Games of the Year for 2016. But don’t just take my word for it, watch the game play trailer and see for yourself.

Oxenfree (PC and Xbox One)

best indie games of 2016 oxenfree

As an avid Steam gamer, there is nothing I love more than a solid indie release, and I have a feeling that Oxenfree is going to quickly become one of the must play indie games of 2016.

Oxenfree is a supernatural thriller that follows a group of teens camping alone on a secluded, ex-military base island, who accidentally open a spirit rift linked to the island’s mysterious past. It is a decision based adventure game, meaning the choices you make impact the course of the story. As the developers explain on the game’s Steam page, “How you deal with these events, your peers, and the ominous creatures you’ve unleashed is up to you. YOU determine every aspect of Alex’s story while exploring Edwards Island, uncovering the base’s dark past, and changing the course of your friends’ lives.”

I personally really love these decision based games, and they seem to be becoming more and more popular lately- some noteable examples being Sony’s Until Dawn and Square Enix’s Life is Strange. One thing I will say is, at least in those two games, the decisions did not have as great an impact on the game as I would have liked, so I am anxious to see how Oxenfree uses this mechanic.

I am also a pretty big fan of these sorts of artistically designed indie games; I love seeing how the artists and developers choose to portray the environment visually, and from what game play I have seen, Oxenfree appears to be another beautifully designed indie game.

Check out the official announcement trailer and get ready, because Oxenfree will be available for online download on Steam starting January 15!

No Man’s Sky (PC and PS4)

best indie games of 2016 no man's sky

Of course we have to talk about No Man’s Sky, which is perhaps the single most talked about and eagerly anticipated indie game, like ever.

No Man’s Sky is a universe sandbox and exploration game, and it is about as open world as it gets. There is no storyline, the universe is infinitely generated, meaning you will never run out of new systems and worlds to explore, and you might even be the first to discover one, everything in the game is destructible, and to top it all off there are no loading screens; game play moves smoothly from one environment to the next with no interruption. Crazy right?

One thing I really love about this game is that the developers took an artistic approach to the design rather than a realistic one, which is the route most space exploration games prefer to go. Instead of being dark, almost all of the released game play is bright and colorful. You really have no idea where you will find yourself next or what the next world will look like.

This is a game that really speaks best for itself, so I’m just going to insist you watch the game play from E3 and leave it at that. No Man’s Sky is (at last) scheduled to release in June.

The Witness (PS4)

best indie games of 2016 the witness

Here’s a unique concept: open world puzzle game. Yeah, seriously.

I admit I was a bit skeptical when I first heard about The Witness. I absolutely love puzzle games, but I was not sure how well the concept would transfer to a full scale, open world gaming environment. As it turns out, it does so beautifully.

The Witness requires players to pay close attention to their surroundings in order to determine how to solve the puzzles before them and progress through the game. According to the developer, you are able to complete each region of the island in any order you choose, and you are free to leave a puzzle unfinished and come back to that region later if you get stuck.

I’m not entirely sure what the story line for this game is, but I am never one to turn down a gorgeous puzzle game. How about you? Watch the trailer and decide for yourself! The Witness is set to release on January 26.

Unravle (PC, PS4, Xbox One)

best indie games of 2016 unravel

Of course I have to mention the game that stole the heart of E3 2015 viewers everywhere. Unravel is an adorable- and likely to be an emotional- physics based puzzle platformer where you play as Yarny, a little doll made of red yarn. At first it actually reminded me a bit of Little Big Planet in a way, though it quickly became clear that this game has an entirely different approach to the concept. According to the game’s creative director, Martin Sahlin (the most precious person to ever present at E3),

In this game you are the red thread that runs through someone’s life, trying to tie all their missing pieces back together.

From what I have gathered, Yarny’s adventure takes him through the life of the old woman who made him, though I’m not sure exactly how or why. Regardless, it is pretty clear from the start that this is going to be one of the more emotionally trying games of 2016. Another thing that really grabbed me and many others is just how beautiful the game is. Unravel offers the sort of stunning scenery we normally expect only of a AAA game, but all the creativity and uniqueness that has led so many of us to turn to indie games over the past few years.

The Unravel E3 2015 presentation was without a doubt the most endearing presentation ever given at E3. Sahlin was so nervous, but so excited to be able to share the game he and his team had put so much heart into. I cannot say enough about how badly you need to watch the E3 showcase to get the full effect of why so many of us are so excited about this game. While it has no official release date, it is expected to release later this year.

Firewatch (PC and PS4)

best indie games of 2016 firewatch

Firewatch is a first-person mystery game set in the Wyoming wilderness, where your character, Henry, has taken a job working as a fire lookout. Your only human interaction is with your supervisor, Delilah, with whom you communicate periodically via a handheld radio. You are supposed to stay in and around your lookout tower for the most part, but soon strange things start happening in the wilderness around you, drawing you out of your tower to explore in hopes of figuring out what exactly is going on.

I am seriously so excited about this game. The environment is gorgeous, the premise is both interesting and mildly creepy, and who doesn’t love a good mystery adventure game? From what I’ve read, it also looks like Firewatch is at least partially decision based; I do not know to what extend it impacts the story, but it looks like your choices can impact your relationship with Delilah, the only human contact you have left.

Firewatch will be available on Steam for online download starting February 9. Check out the videos on the Firewatch Steam page and just try to tell me you aren’t interested in finding out what is lurking in the forests. There is no doubt in my mind that this is going to be one of the best indie games of 2016.

The Solus Project (PC and Xbox One)

best indie games of 2016 the solus project

Here is yet another of the many fantastic upcoming indie games of 2016. From what I understand, The Solus Project can be best described as an Elder Scrolls-esque survival game set on an alien world. You are stranded and alone on an alien planet, doing everything you can to survive long enough to get a message out for someone to come rescue you.

I will admit I don’t actually know a ton about the mechanics of the game. I was hoping it would be a survival game similar to Subnautica, with the crafting mechanism, but it does not look like that will be the case. Nonetheless, I am never one to turn down a unique survival game.

From what I have read, it seems that the biggest threat on your new home is not necessarily other inhabitants, but the environment. Conditions change overtime and you have to be prepared for them if you hope to survive long enough to (presumably) be rescued, which I assume is where the real strategy of this game kicks in.

Rather than being an unrestricted survival game, The Solus Project, does indeed have a linear storyline to guide players through the game, meaning that unlike many survival games such as Don’t Starve, there is an end game to shoot for. As a science-fantasy fan and writer myself, I am always eager to see what type of story games like these decide to go with, and that is probably what I am most excited about for The Solus Project as well. Plus, for a terrifying and mostly deadly alien world, you have to admit it is kind of beautiful. Explore the world of The Solus Project for yourself by checking out the trailer and game play videos.

Night in the Woods (PC and PS4)

In this strange, yet charming upcoming indie game, you play as a cat named Mae who has returned to her hometown after dropping out of college, only to find that things have changed in the time she’s been away.

Home seems different now and her friends have grown and changed. Leaves are falling and the wind is growing colder. Strange things are happening as the light fades.

And there’s something in the woods.

I had to watch the trailer for Night in the Woods a few times before I was able to really make a decision on it, but the more I watched it the more excited for it I became. It actually kind of reminded me of the Gravity Falls opening if any of you watch that (and if you don’t, what are you doing with your life?) I think this game is going to be particularly awesome for people like me, who normally avoid horror games as a result of being a huge freaking pansy. This game definitely has a creepy vibe, but it does not look like something that is going to be traditionally scary- lots of jump scares and such- which makes it possible for people like me to play it without wanting to cry.

Night in the Woods is definitely a bit different, but that is what I really love about indie games. They take risks and go in directions that your typical AAA games won’t, which is why I think this will be an interesting game of 2016 to watch for.

Hellblade (PC and PS4)

best indie games of 2016 hellblade

The final game of 2016 I want to share with you all is Hellblade. This game is your typical action adventure game, but with a twist; it is told through the lens of a heroine suffering from mental illness. Initially I was a bit worried about this game, as I was concerned that it might take a stereotypical approach to individuals with mental illness. The more I looked into the game however, the more hope I had that Hellblade might very well be able to start some important conversations among the players. In fact, something particularly awesome about this game is that it is actually being supported by Wellcome Trust, an international charity organization aimed at increasing public understanding of health issues.

From what I’ve read, the developers worked with psychologists to not only present Senua’s mental illness accurately and respectfully, but to develop the game in a way that enables players to better understand her experiences. This may of course be triggering to individuals who suffer from mental illness, but I suspect it will also offer some interesting and important perspective for players who have never experienced it before in their own lives. I am really looking forward to seeing how the game combines the world in Senua’s mind with the world she is physically traversing, something we get a good preview of in Hellblade‘s official announcement trailer.

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There you have it; my top ten games of 2016 that you will not want to miss out on. I think it is pretty safe to say that 2016 is going to be a particularly fantastic year for indie games. If you normally stick to AAA games, I really hope you will consider giving some of these  indie games of 2016 a chance; I have found that many times indie games have something special to offer that you just don’t find in many AAA games these days.

Have I convinced you to give any of these a looksy? Or are there any that you are excited for that I didn’t mention? Tell me all about them in the comments!

XOXO

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