GOTY 2016: Jon Nowak's Picks

Jon Nowak (a.k.a. Hamster-X3 on PSN) is a friend of the site and hardcore Trophy Hunter who's spent his time mostly on PS4, racking up a troubling number of Platinum trophies. He's currently at 114 and started the year with "only" around 30, and takes well-earned breaks from gaming to cycle long distances around Madrid.

 

10 - Dead Synchronicity: Tomorrow Comes Today

The complete edition (and port) for PS4 came out a few months ago (originally released in episodic format for PC throughout last year) and it just blew my mind. I can sum up Dead Synchronicity in one word: Disturbing.

Set in a sci-fi wasteland you’re tasked with helping some people around you while basically trying to survive. You will run into all sorts of nightmarish characters and settings filled with violence, conversations about sexual assault and/or murder (all part of the dystopian world the game is based in).

It’s a very strange take for the classic point and click adventure game (extremely dark) but I think it works really well and I hope to see more games take this approach.

If you’re into weird/abstract games this one’s for you!

 

9 - Overwatch

I feel like Overwatch has to be on my list mostly due to the ridiculous amount of hours I put into it during the first couple of months after it released (I’ve completely stopped playing it). It’s a very fast paced game with great characters and it’s simply tons of fun. Although the novelty wore off pretty fast for me (still not 100% sure why) it absolutely deserves a place on my top 2016 games.

 

8 - DOOM

I (like many of us over 30’s gamers) grew up playing pretty much every id Software game out there, be it Castle Wolfenstein, Quake or Doom (also Dangerous Dave and Commander Keen!!!) and had been looking forward to this game for years; it did not disappoint! DOOM is a perfect reboot and a beautiful return to fast paced action of the earlier games in the series (unlike the terrible survival horror style of Doom 3) and incredibly gory “glory kills”. id Software really hit it out of the park with this one and to quote Pete Hines from Bethesda Softworks: “If you’re not into violent, bloody games… DOOM’s probably not a game for you.”

 

7 - Virginia

Virginia is a small and short indie game that simply blew my mind. It’s basically a point and click adventure but you never feel fully in control of the decisions and story progression, it’s more like you’re just tagging along for the ride, and oh man, what a ride that is! I won’t say any more in order to avoid spoilers (pure story based game) but the platinum trophy description for it says it all: “I never made decisions. Things always came up and made them for me.”

 

6 - Far Cry Primal

I’ve always been a huge fan of open world games (I’ve played through every single Assassin’s Creed game at least twice) and Far Cry Primal was a breath of fresh air - even if it’s only because of a new setting - and I thoroughly enjoyed it. A made up caveman language, interesting characters, pets, a cool (although rehashed) map and plenty of mammoths, what’s not to like?

 

5 - Day of the Tentacle Remastered

If you know this game then you know why it’s on this list, if you don’t know the game then stop reading right now and go play it! Re-playing this brilliant adventure with the added bonus of a better interface was absolutely priceless for me and it should be the same for you! (After all, how many games do you know that have a 10/10 rating on Steam? xD)

 

4 - Batman: Arkham VR

Most people wouldn’t qualify this as a “game” (it really is just a “VR experience”) and that’s the main reason it’s not higher on my list, but this is the absolute best VR title I’ve played and for one big reason: It really made me feel like I was Batman, and be honest, you don’t know a single person that doesn’t want to be Batman!

If there’s something that a VR game must be, in my opinion anyway, is immersive, and that is one thing that Batman: Arkham VR has absolutely nailed from the moment you boot it up until the moment you take the VR headset off. I won’t spoil it and simply say that if you haven’t tried it (or tried VR at all) I can’t recommend this enough.

 

3 - Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Nathan Drake… need I say more? 

Okay, okay, I’ll say some more: Nathan Drake! 

Now, joking aside, A Thief’s End is a perfect ending for a perfect saga. Set 3 years after the story of Uncharted 3, an already “retired” Nathan Drake is pulled back into action by the return of his brother and off they go to find Libertalia in the hopes of getting their hands on the long lost treasure of Captain Henry Avery, do you really need a better set up? If there’s one video game character that I will sincerely miss it’s Nathan Drake. <3

 

2 - Battlefield 1

The Battlefield series is, without a doubt, the thing I’ve spent more hours on than anything else over the last 11+ years (starting specifically on the 5th of August 2005, the day I bought Battlefield 2 for PC, on which I spent over 4000 hours spread out over 6 years). From the early days of 1942, Vietnam and BF2 through BF3, Hardline (meh) and BF4 these games have brought lots of joy (and LOTS of nerd raging) to my life, making this an absolute MUST on my top games list.

The huge change in setting (WWI) from previous games was something that I think worked out really well, a lot better than I thought it would. The new Operations game mode (pretty much the only one I play) is incredible and it brings a small element of “story” to multiplayer matches.

Battlefield 1 is intense, exciting and simply FUN! It’s a game I’ll be playing for MANY hours over the next few years.

 

1 - Firewatch

Now, before you pull out your pitchforks and torches and tell me I should have asked for my money back after I finished the game, let me try to explain why Firewatch is one of the best games I’ve played in a very long time and trust me (you can ask my wife) I game a LOT. Despite the fact that this is a “walking simulator” (not that this means it’s a bad thing) I can honestly say that it’s been years since a videogame really made me think about something deeper <insert emotions here> and more significant than simply whichever story the plot revolves around.

Firewatch made me feel what it’s like to be isolated and, more importantly, accountable for my actions. For a video game to actually make you feel things is quite the achievement (if you ask me) and it’s something I’d expect from a good book, not so much a game. This is a game that has beautiful environments, an incredible script (worthy of a movie) and an ending that is quite easy to interpret in many different ways which, unfortunately, made most people dislike it.

I can’t really go into details about the game, as everything I’d say would be a potential spoiler, but what I do know is that I’ll definitely replay this game a few more times (I have yet to try the free DLC) and I hope to find new details, hidden messages and, yes, emotions in every playthrough.

P.S. The Firewatch PlayStation theme is the best one out there! 

 

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