GOTY 2016: Danny Nijssen's Picks
Danny Nijssen (@DannyNijssen on Twitter) is a close friend of the site and Gaming At Rob's regular now living the life out in San Francisco. He's a PlayStation gamer through and through, the results of which are clear to see in his PS4-heavy list.
Oh boy, 2016 has flown by! Maybe it was my move to the US and the excitement of living in a new country, or maybe it was counting down the days for the 13th of October to arrive so I could immerse myself in PlayStation’s Virtual Reality, one thing is for certain: 2016 brought us some great games!
Although I miss not being able to join the GoPlayThat crew during our regular Gaming At Rob’s nights, I did manage to play a fair number of games this year. It was tricky putting this list together as there were so many good games but also so many cool new experiences. For example, SuperHyperCube and Batman: Arkham VR would have fitted in well as some of the better PSVR experiences. But ultimately these are the games I enjoyed the most this year and that I have the fondest memories of looking back at.
10 - The Last Guardian
It took a while. But it’s out! As a fan of ICO and Shadow of the Colossus, I am really enjoying this game. Yes, (camera) controls can be wonky and directing Trico can be challenging but to me the latter is part of the charm. This is a bird-dog-beast-thing that really feels like it has its own personality. Its animations are amazing and he just looks adorable. Some of the set pieces in this game are great and memorable whereas some of the puzzles or sheer lack of understanding of where to go next can be frustrating. Overall, this is a good game and from glimpses of comments online I understand that the ending is what really makes this game stand out. However, at the time of writing this, I have not finished it yet. Who knows, maybe it would have ended up higher on my list if I would have completed it in time but I guess that is what you get for letting me wait for 7+ years!!!!
9 - Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration
As someone who only owns PlayStation hardware, Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics had me waiting for this one almost an entire year – not cool. The 2013 reboot was very high on my GOTY list that year (it might have been #1 actually) but this follow up did not stand out as much as that game did. It might be my own doing because I kinda rushed through it as PSVR and a load of other big releases were going to be coming out the weeks following this. In any case, this really is a 2015 game, but still a great game and definitely worthy of a spot in my top 10.
8 - Robinson: The Journey
As mentioned before, there were plenty of great VR experiences to come by this year. With the release of all major headsets, this was the year in which VR really kicked off. Having tried numerous games on the Rift and Vive, and owning a PSVR with a library of way too many VR games, I found that Robinson is a game that really showcases the immersion it can create.
It is an exploration game (dare I say, a No Man’s Sky done right!?) that puts you in the body of a young kid named Robin who crash-landed on a dinosaur planet. Unlike many other short “VR experiences”, this is a multi-hour game in which you try to uncover what happened and continue the search for other survivors whilst being accompanied by your Wheatley-like robot buddy.
Even for a VR title on the PlayStation, the graphically less capable headset, the game looks really impressive. The sense of scale you get is magnificent and some parts will even give you that feeling of vertigo – in a good way! Although, with its first person movement-like stick controls, this is not a game to show people as their first VR experience as it will likely make them sick. Once someone is more comfortable with VR and their brain/body have adjusted (they do, you get used it), it will be fine. It did not make me feel nauseous at all, whereas my wife apparently did, although that did not stop her from petting dinosaurs and spending the better part of an hour in that gorgeous, mysterious world.
7 - INSIDE
This game is weird. And very good! The puzzles are great with plenty of “wtf?!” moments which keep you intrigued and wanting to continue to play. It is a fairly short game and so is this paragraph because I don’t want to spoil anything in case you haven’t played it. If you haven’t, just go play it. It gets weirder.
6 - Battlefield 1, & 5 - Titanfall 2
I love a good first person shooter. This October we got two! A week apart from each other!
I am putting these two in the same bucket as my story on both games is pretty much identical; In the months before release I played the multiplayer beta for both and absolutely loved them. BF1 went back to that great old-school battlefield-feel (battlefeel?). Whereas, as a PlayStation fanboy, I never played the first Titanfall and loved climbing on and destroying Titans in TF2’s beta. The fast paced action and the Titan combat were a nice change over the more technical battles in BF1.
Once the games released I delved into their campaigns; BF1 is a visually stunning, emotionally loaded heavy hitter right off the bat. It tells some great war stories that make you think about what happened so many years ago. I also love how it was segmented over five separate vignettes that took a couple of hours each. Each time, it was like finishing a small game on its own. TF2’s campaign on the other hand tried some really cool innovative things. Your conversations with your Titan friend are pretty neat and the gameplay is just solid, good fun.
Having finished both campaigns, and now two months after the release of both games, I still have them waiting on my HDD to be booted up so that I can play more of their multiplayer. The reality is that the folks I used to spend many hours on the battlefield with are all in the EU time zone – boohoo.
4 - Thumper
This game is a trip! I have only played it in VR and it is just intense. The developer’s self-proclaimed genre of ‘Rhythm Violence’ is definitely fitting.
With high speed you, as a metallic looking beetle (the bug, not a Beatle from that ‘60s band – still odd), go down this track with trippy surroundings and you have to hit buttons in time to pass through obstacles and hit turns that are queued with the music noise. Gradually you have to do more actions and it gets more and more insane. Also, you do not have control over the speed – you just go. Fast.
3 - Overcooked
Overcooked reminds me of those many hours of local multiplayer fun I had at Gaming At Rob’s. My colleagues and I spend many hours after work preparing soups and burgers in this game. It almost suits well as a team building experience where you learn to work together and get coordinated.
It definitely gets most fun when you have four people join in and manage to split your chopping, cooking, serving and dishes duties accordingly - until those trucks split up or that earthquake happens…
It is very easy to pick up, even for those who never play videogames, and I look forward to playing more of it during the holiday break with family. I might need to try that two people on one controller set-up...
2 - Ratchet & Clank
I am pretty certain I played the original back in the PS2 days. I definitely played multiple Ratchet & Clank games on PS3, mainly because of their clever subtitles: Up Your Arsenal, Size Matters… come on!!! Brilliant!
Anyway, they released too many. I got a Ratchet & Clank burnout, to the point where this game was announced and I thought as much as “meh.” But then, when reviews were talking about it being like playing a Pixar movie and it only being $40 (minus a 20% Amazon Prime discount – I know, I am cheap), I decided to order a copy.
What a great remake! This is the most video gamey video game I played this year; Such old-school fun! As with most Insomniac games, the weapons are quirky and fun. Upgrading and toggling between them is a breeze and approaching combat situations with multiple weapon choices adds strategy. That tricky final boss though… I still get pissed off just thinking about it.
1 - Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
To ensure that I was all caught up for this year’s release I replayed the first three Uncharted games when they were re-released as The Nathan Drake Collection late last year, and oh boy, we have come so far since Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. That game looked great for its time but it is just extremely frustrating with how many bad guys were hiding in that bloody jungle.
Uncharted 4 is an amazing looking game - the team at Naughty Dog sure knows how to push a console’s capabilities. The story is good and the acting in this game is so well done and believable. It just feels very natural, unlike anything I have seen in a videogame before, or movie for that matter. The gameplay is well balanced and the scenes are diverse enough to keep things interesting (no more murdering an unlimited supply of crooks – well, to certain extent at least).
Although that spin-off was announced on PSX this year won’t be the same without Drake as the main lead, and I am sad to see the series come to an end, I am excited for this talented studio to try new things. Such as a sequel to The Last of Us?! Who asked for that? That game was perfect on its own!
GPT crew, thank you for inviting me to put this list together and congrats again on your 24h live stream a few months ago – it was a blast watching you guys act like idiots as per usual. Miss you!