Dani Parras (@DaniPlayerOne on Twitter) is in the compliance testing business over in Liverpool, and is also a Director, Community Manager and PR for Speedruns Español (@speedrunsespanol), where he's setting fast times for a range of games including Super Mario World and The Secret Of Monkey Island. You can see him in action on Twitch.
The year 2016 is coming to an end, and I feel kind of sad about it! I’m one of those guys that feels that the industry is growing more and more each year, providing us with good amounts of impressive games to play. As a speedrunner, I do get stuck easily with a handful of old retro games and sometimes it's hard to get me out of that environment and actually play any modern games. 2016 has been successful in doing that and I’ve enjoyed dozens of titles from across practically all platforms.
Another remarkable fact about 2016 is the absolute absence of Wii U games from my top 10. Anyone who knows me knows that I love Nintendo and their games. This year I must admit that Nintendo did not release anything worth putting in a top list. I’ve only enjoyed one of their releases and consider another one just about worth playing, and that's Pokken Tournament and Star Fox Zero respectively. I hope next year’s Top 10 will include some awesome Switch games.
But now, let’s get to business! Here you are my top ten games for this truly amazing year 2016.
10 - F1 2016
I love Formula 1. With great passion. And yet, it hasn’t been easy to put a F1 game on a Top 10 list in the last few years. Now the time has come. After lots of years of waiting, this year’s iteration for the sport is truly an amazing one. We have been finally rewarded for our patience and we have been able to enjoy the career mode at last, since we lost it for some reason last year. F1 2016 is, finally, the game the fans wanted, with the game modes that we enjoy.
In addition to career, we have been able to enjoy the multiplayer aspect of the competition safe from the internet’s “crazy drivers”. Long story short, we won’t ever again fear other drivers crashing their cars into ours just because they are losing. Now, our cars won’t collide in those situations and I’m thankful for that, even though it may seem unnatural at first. If you like hard driving games, you totally must give this title a try.
9 - Pokémon Go
It would be impossible for me to make a Top 10 without mentioning this amazing game. Catching pokémon has been part of my life for the last solid 15 years, making me more and more interested in the franchise every year. This means that when I saw the trailer for Pokémon Go some time ago I fell in love with the idea. Catching pokémon in the real world? Bring it on!
This game is not only worthy of being on a Top 10 just because it is a game and it is about pokémon. It is also on here because of its excellent social aspect. In my particular case, I recently changed the city I live in, and Pokémon Go has been the perfect excuse to go out, socialize and discover hidden parts of this new city. I cannot wait to see what Niantic has in mind to expand this game even further in the future.
8 - UnEpic
This title feels kind of like cheating, but I will speak a bit about it anyway, since it has been released on PS4 and PS Vita this year. UnEpic is a Spanish game, set in a fantasy castle, and is one of the most fun games I’ve ever played and is definitely worth the time and reduced price it has. The plot revolves around Dani, who is teleported to an RPGish castle while he is using the bathroom in a Dungeons & Dragons sort of game.
Yes, the plot is silly, as is the rest of the game, but that does not mean that you won’t have a hard time beating it. In fact, if you’re brave enough to play this on hard difficulty, you will find that UnEpic is a great challenge, expecting you to always equip the best gear for each situation. Go play it!
7 - Trackmania Turbo
If we spoke before about a great driving simulator with F1 2016, then I can’t complete this list without speaking about a great arcade driving game, and that’s Trackmania Turbo. If you are already familiar with the series, you know what I’m talking about. Crazy speed, 200 tracks, custom tracks editor, 100 player multiplayer, 4 different environments to drive; Never-ending fun in one of the biggest games in this franchise ever.
As you can imagine, a title like this is way more enjoyable with friends. The company knows it and they added a lot of local multiplayer game modes. That includes a local co-op mode in which 2 drivers will take control of a single car, Pacific Rim style. Will you be able to link your mind, hands and reflexes with a friend?
6 - Pokémon Sun/Moon
Big surprise for me, this edition of pokémon. As you can imagine, year after year the series has become more approachable to all kinds of people. Pokémon Sun/Moon is no exception and I believe that this title is actually one of the most friendly with newcomers. Surprisingly, it doesn’t mean that it is awfully easy. In fact, the fights and strategies we have to develop to keep getting stronger and advance in these games have been tweaked and adjusted and it feels like a fair challenge. Then again, Game Freak has been able to create a series of games easy enough for players to enjoy and really hard to master at a competitive level. The new additions, game modes, creatures and everything, makes this title one of my favourites this year, without a doubt. And you know, you gotta catch ‘em all.
5 - Darkest Dungeon
Forget about dungeon crawling. Forget about mighty heroes. Forget anything you thought you knew about RPGs. Darkest Dungeon is a game about surviving, about taking your chances and about being aware that getting out of a nasty situation alive is way more reward than the treasure itself. In Darkest Dungeon we have to endure and survive brutal dungeons with our warriors, plague doctors, and so on. They will lose their sanity, become afflicted with diseases… but if you’re lucky enough, they will become righteous and feel like no-one (or nothing) can stop them.
This title (an indie game, by the way) has the absolute right to be in my personal top 5 of the year. Great graphics, great mechanics, such an amazing performance and voice acting. Welcome to a world that looks like its inside Lovecraft’s worst nightmares.
4 - Overwatch
Yup. Sorry not sorry. Not higher. Not lower. 4th position for Overwatch is great after considering my list, the way I enjoyed games this year and how good are they. For me, playing games with other people is usually more entertaining than playing by myself. Or maybe multiplayer games are the only ones I can play talking to other people, since I hate being talked to while living my adventures in a single player mode. In any case, Overwatch is AMAZING!
This title would win the award of “Shooter I actually played on a console” if that existed. I hate shooters on console. They are just plain bad. But, surprise surprise, I couldn’t have access to a proper PC for a solid 3-4 months so I got an extra copy of Overwatch for my PS4 just because I missed playing it too much. Oh boy! Best decision of the year. One of the best things about Overwatch is that you have plenty to do that is not shooting each other in the face. That is amazing for a player like me, who is not able to play shooters properly with a controller instead of a mouse and keyboard. The other amazing thing about this game is the fact that there are plenty of heroes that do not rely on aiming to shoot people in the face when you need to, like Symmetra.
All this said, after playing both PC and PS4 versions of the game, they feel like different games themselves. Heroes will behave a bit different on each platform, some will be easier to play and some will be harder; In any case, you will be able to find someone to play with on either version, so give it a try right now. Well, not right now, finish reading the Top 10 at least!
3 - Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
We reach the Top 3 of this list and I have to say that it’s been a difficult path to follow in order to be able to sort through all of these amazing games. Uncharted 4 is a game about… well, the easy thing to do here is to say that this is a game about a modern Indiana Jones going on an adventure. But no, this is a game about emotions, friends, love… and yeah, also adventures and puzzle solving. The human aspect of this new Uncharted adventure is the key point for it to be here. Having the chance to play this title this year has been amazing and I’m desperately looking for some free time to play it again.
Uncharted 4 is one of those games that makes you forget the fact that you’re holding a controller, that all the action is just inside a TV. It becomes real and makes you the real protagonist of the story taking place. Very few games can be described this way and I couldn’t be more happy about having experienced it.
2 - Final Fantasy XV
I am one of those weird ones that never grew up playing Final Fantasy. As I became an adult, I played some of the non-numerical ones, such as Crisis Core, Dissidia or War of the Lions and I became captivated by the worlds they displayed in front of me. So I decided to play some more! Played 1, 2 and 3, and then Final Fantasy XV came out. I wasn’t going to buy it, because I had plenty of the series pending but I went to the cinema to watch the IGN live presentation of the title and then the “Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV” movie. After that, I kind of needed the game. As soon as you boot it, you are informed that this game is both for newcomers to the series and for old school players. And that is right.
I do not want to spoil anything, but I can share some statistics with you. When I reached 30 hours played I hadn’t got out from the 3rd chapter yet. That should be enough to give a little perspective of how big this game is. And this game, as I said with Uncharted, is not only about slaying monsters and levelling up. This game is about friendship, and I want to be friends with ALL OF THEM. All of the four main characters are amazing and have something that makes them unique.
I am aware that hardcore Final Fantasy fans might not love this game because of how much it changes from the traditional series. For me, someone that is still discovering this universe, this game is just so amazing I can barely describe it with words. They did a great job. They did add so many little (and big) things to the game, things that they did not have to, but they added them anyway… I am so glad they did, I find joy in every single little aspect of this title. Go play it. Please.
1 - Dark Souls III
I was expecting this game for some time now. I love the series, I love the design of this saga, I love the mechanics and I am so bad at playing them. Like, really bad. I do not know what is the magic of Dark Souls III, but I managed to beat it. Not only beat it, but also kill all the bosses in it and play through the DLC.
I do not believe that this game is particularly easy (although, there are elements in the game that makes it easier, like millions of bonfires) but I did it and I travelled through it. What I like to think is that From Software has done a great job teaching me how to play their games. I’m mature enough now to take on the challenge and emerge victorious. If we talked previously how some of the games in this Top 10 are about emotions, this one is just about overcoming your fears in order to succeed.
One of the facts I love about Dark Souls III is that it is fair. If you die, it is just because you suck at it. There is no cheating from the game to make you fail. This also works in the other direction, as if you win, you won because you did good. The game does not adapt to you. The world you live in is brutal and shows no mercy, and it never will. The feeling of reward that you get from beating this game (even sections of it) is something I have never experienced in other franchises. Sure, it feels good to beat any game. Beating Dark Souls is different. You get up, yell at the TV and breathe again after 10 minutes struggling and fighting a boss. That is priceless and hard to find anywhere else. Thank you, From Software.