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Pixelkin’s Game of the Year 2016

Posted by | Feature, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One | No Comments

Rather than settle on one game of the year, here at Pixelkin we feel like every one of our writers brings a unique perspective. Therefore our most prominent contributors have made their game of the year selections. Our hope is that these recommendations give you an idea of the great games of the year in all of our eyes.

Nicole’s Pick

Event[0]

I’ve been playing games my whole life and have been writing about them for more than 10 years. While there are many games that are great at what they do, it’s a rare occasion that I see something completely new. Event[0] is one of those games. Though the story isn’t that different from other AI gone wrong games like Portal, the gameplay is not only intriguing, it’s a lot of fun. Rather than listening to the  AI spout information to you, in Event[0] you have the chance to interact with that AI, whose name is Kaizen.

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You use terminals throughout the environment to converse with the Kaizen. Very little direction is given in regard to what you should ask or say, so the conversations end up being unique to each player. And besides that, they can be very amusing. This is impressive given that even modern RPGs that are focused on choice only have a few canned responses. In Event [0] those responses are nearly limitless.

Kaizen is arguably one of the main characters, if not the main character in the game. Heck, he’s one of the most interesting characters in any game. You can’t proceed without his help and many times you’ll have to be nice to him to get him to help you. Kaizen is a witty and somewhat moody character. Many times I tried multiple approaches to see what he would say and it was endlessly entertaining.

Lots of games that are trying something new with their gameplay end up falling into a hole where the game falters in other aspects in order to accommodate that gameplay. Event[0] keeps an entertaining story and other types of gameplay intact while adding in something new. This game hasn’t received the kind of attention that it deserves. It’s unique, amusing and fun. That’s the reason why it’s my favorite game of the year.

Eric’s Pick

Stardew Valley

My game of the year came as a complete surprise. I knew I’d love Overwatch, XCOM 2, and Civilization VI. I’d never given much thought to sim farm games like Harvest Moon, but I ended up sinking over 70 hours into this charming, pixelated adventure.

stardew-valley

Stardew Valley plays like a love letter to 90s JRPGs, localized entirely within a single town. There’s so much to do in and around Pelican Town it’s often overwhelming, especially since the game takes place in a strict day/night cycle with real seasons. Explore the mines to defeat monsters and find treasure. Socialize with townsfolk to earn rewards, and maybe even a spouse. Fish, explore, trade, and participate in seasonal events. Each day brings a wealth of important tasks and new possibilities.

Stardew Valley is so much more than a farm sim, yet the farming portion is also immensely satisfying. There’s a wonderful balance between scrapping enough money to buy just a few seeds, to eventually turning your land into a well-oiled brewery or animal farm that makes more money than you know what to do with. It’s a great experience with a catchy soundtrack, surprisingly poignant writing, and some of the best pixel art I’ve seen. Stardew Valley deserves all the praise and accolades for being this year’s big indie success, and my favorite game of the year.

Stephen’s Pick

Overwatch

The time has come to bid farewell to one heck of a bad year. 2016 wasn’t very good for much, but we did get some amazing video games. Nicole, our fearless leader, asked me a few weeks ago to think long and hard about what my personal game of the year should be. I had a lot of options, because I played a lot of very cool video games. But, at the end of it all there is only one game that stands out as “the best” and that is Overwatch.

overwatch-screen

Overwatch is a brilliantly designed game that is possessed of a level of polish that is rarely seen in games today. Every minute detail in that glorious game is treated with care. You can feel the energy that went into development just like you can feel the excitement in a match rise naturally as it reaches its crescendo.

It isn’t just the details that make the difference though. Overwatch has managed to prove that an online multiplayer shooter with no single player campaign to speak of can be successful. And it achieved this goal by having an amazing set of characters that are well balanced against each other and all but forcing players to learn to play all of them in order to excel at the game. In most multiplayer games players are expected to select a “main.” This is the character you focus all of your effort into learning. With Overwatch the game forces you to learn all of them the same way you would learn the nuances of different weapons in other shooters. This would be bothersome if it weren’t for the fact that all of the characters in this game just so freaking COOL!

Speaking of characters – The world is a scary place and there are a lot of people who are more scared by people who are different from them. Overwatch doesn’t do that. It celebrates a cast of characters that celebrate diversity more than just about any game to have come before. If you have doubts, then look at the character select screen and take a look at all the different nationalities, body types, and genders represented. Its impressive, but what makes it better is that nothing feels forced. All of the characters are complete and well rounded. No one is the “token” anything. This is a great feeling when it feels like the celebration of diversity is being squelched elsewhere.

These are just a few of the reasons that Overwatch is a must play game. No excuses people. Go grab it and enjoy!

pc-gaming

Pixelkin 2016 Holiday Guide: PC

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Great for All Ages

 

armello

Armello
Armello is a complex, but really good digital board game. I found it satisfying to simply play against AI characters, but multiplayer was fun too. There’s no chat, so you don’t have deal with any objectionable behavior from other players. The developers recently released an expansion pack that adds more characters that you can play as. I really liked this game and very much recommend it for someone whose looking for a strategic board game experience, but can’t get the friends together to have one. Though you could all play Armello together from any location.

burly men at sea

Burly Men at Sea
It’s the perfect type of game to simply relax with. The dialogue and the sense of humor were great. The burly men, themselves are pretty entertaining, but some of the other characters were even more so. My favorite was the grim reaper. Burly Men at Sea is funny, fun and short. Typically short games aren’t well-liked, but the length is perfect for what it is. It’s easy to pick up, play through making different choices and put down again. The art style fits perfectly with the whimsical charm of the game, and the whole package makes for a really great gaming experience.

civilization v

Civilization VI
Civilization VI is the perfect next step in the series. It’s got a great amount of changes that improve the gameplay, while still feeling like the same game at its heart. This is a must-buy for existing Civ fans. If you’ve been wanting to dip your toe into the turn-based strategy genre, you can’t really find anything better. Just be prepared to tell yourself, “just one more turn” over and over and over.

epistory

Epistory: Typing Chronicles
It’s a captivating indie RPG that uses all the right tools to create an enjoyable experience. The fact that your typing skills will gradually improve is just a bonus to enjoying a nice story and a beautiful world. If only Kiki had ridden a giant paper fox.

fifa 17

FIFA 17
FIFA 17 is a gorgeous game that includes all of the football action that fans of the sport would expect. This is a must own for fans.

flat kingdom

Flat Kingdom
The wide variety of different types of platforming, the fun art style and the solid mechanics make it a worthwhile play. Additionally, there are a decent amount of collectibles and bonus quests to keep the completionist occupied for at least a little while.

 

four sided fantasy

Four-Sided Fantasy
Four Sided Fantasy is not for the faint of heart. This game is hard. Even when you think you’ve got it, there will be a a new challenge. The developers have said that one of their inspirations was Portal. I love Portal. I played a ton of Portal, but this game is way more difficult than Portal, at least for me. But I love that it’s difficult. There are times when I want a game I can easily move through, but other times I want to be challenged. This game is a great challenge.

 

hearthstone

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
This game has been out for awhile, but it’s got a thriving community that continues to grow.

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Industry Manager – Future Technologies
Industry Manager – Future Technologies was really fun. It still seems weird saying that. I enjoyed the ability to micromanage every detail of the company I created. I got lost and had to stop myself, or I would have played much, much, longer. If you like games like Sim City or Civilization, you’ll probably enjoy this. It has the same type of complex gameplay, but in a new way.

karma incarnation 1

Karma Incarnation 1
Karma is a journey through a gorgeous world. The psychedelic visuals and interesting character designs make it stand out in the crowd of point-and-click adventure games. Even with the frustration some of the puzzles muster, it’s still an experience worth taking a look at.

kerbal space program vehicle assembly

Kerbal Space Program
The soft music and cheery Kerbals help keep you calm, even when one minor mistake causes catastrophic results. As complex as the science gets, Kerbal Space Program desperately wants you to succeed. For once you’re not racing toward galactic conquest or defending against alien invaders. You’re reveling in the simple joy of applied learning and scientific discovery. For Science!

lego star wars: the force awakens

LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Besides the main gameplay there are gazillions of characters, vehicles and other collectibles to find through out the game. That’s the same tried and true formula that has been working in LEGO games for more than 10 years. At the end of the day it is a LEGO game and it’s Star Wars. That’s all you really need to know.

planet coaster

Planet Coaster
Planet Coaster includes all the amenities you remember from the theme park genre – guest AI, advanced coaster construction, thematic pieces and scenery, and being able to ride everything – and then improves them all with a very user-friendly interface and seamless sharing integration. The gameplay is more intuitive than ever without losing any of the key features that make the genre so compelling. Planet Coaster is absolutely the RollerCoaster Tycoon 4 you’ve been waiting for.

Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 trouble in zombopolis: part one

Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2
Overall, Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 is a ton of fun, just like the first one was. The tagline for the game is “Bigger. Badder. Bigger.” I usually find taglines like these to be a little bit too much bragging, but in this case, the tagline is completely fitting.

Seasons After Fall

Seasons After Fall

Seasons After Fall is captivating and challenging. If you’re a fan of puzzle platformers like Ori and the Blind Forest and Unravel, you’ll likely find this game to be a similarly enjoyable way to spend a few evenings.

song of the deep

Song of the Deep
Song of the Deep isn’t the deepest Metroidvania I’ve played, nor even my favorite underwater game (look up Aquaria). The game makes up for its light, simple combat with fun, varied puzzle designs and a beautiful world to explore. Song of the Deep has a satisfying challenge curve that remains fun for its 10+ hours, and the grand story will keep you invested in Merryn throughout her journey.

stardew valley

Stardew Valley
Stardew Valley is like a love letter to 90s RPGs. I could easily see myself playing Stardew Valley for months to come as I rotate my seasonal crops, upgrade my gigantic farm, and start a family. Even if you’re not a fan of the farming genre, Stardew Valley will make you one.

Unravel EA Access

Unravel
Unravel is beautiful. While its story isn’t spelled out very clearly, there is a strong sense of family and love that connects each scene. I think it would be a really nice game for a parent and child to share because of the lovely settings and warm atmosphere. Plus, if you get really into it, you can try making your own Yarny as an art project.

 

Great for Older Gamers

1979

1979 Revolution: Black Friday
1979 Revolution: Black Friday is a game that gives you an enjoyable story with plenty of twists and lots of great characters. But perhaps the best aspect of the game is the potential it holds for using a game to teach real history to its players. I’m hoping iNK Stories can take me somewhere else in the future.

batman

Batman: The Telltale Series
This is a classic episodic story done in Telltale’s tried and true method. Not all of the episodes have been released yet, but the one’s that have are great.

battlefield 1 logo

Battlefield 1
Battlefield 1 stands out from the crowd of recent science fiction based shooters. It is a must own for anyone who enjoys the genre, but has been hungry to put down the laser rifles and charge into the war zones of the past.

BioShock: The Collection

BioShock: The Collection
What is there to say about this one? It’s and HD compilation of all of the BioShock games, as well as all of the related single-player DLC. If you were a fan of the originals, this is a great way to experience them. If you haven’t played them, they are well worth picking up.

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Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is pure fun. Fans of the series should buy this one right away. You will not be disappointed. Everyone else should, at least, look into buying this game as its price drops because the single-player campaign is excellent.

event [0]

Event[0]
Event [0] is not only really fun to play, it’s also so different from anything else out there right now. I thoroughly enjoyed my conversations with Kaizen, especially the non-sequiters that had nothing to do with my progress. I could’ve sat at my desk and chatted with him all day. The game has a wonderful sense of humor and breathes new life into all of the HAL 9000-like plots floating around the game world right now. Event [0] rises above the rest with original gameplay that kept me enthralled and wanting to come back for more. I highly recommend it.

firewatch

Firewatch
In summary, I loved this game. I don’t usually consider replaying something the minute I put it down, but I’d like to spend more time with Firewatch. It’s worth every minute.

gears of war 4

Gears of War 4
Gears of War 4 is an example of a game doing one thing and doing it extremely well. I think you would be hard-pressed to find a shooter that’s more polished than this one. The depth of the story was surprising to me and is actually more interesting than you’re standard sci-fi fare. Straight-up shooters aren’t really my thing, but I enjoyed playing the game. If you’re a big fan of shooters, then you’ll definitely want to give the game your attention.

overwatch

Overwatch
Overwatch is an amazing game and is a worthwhile addition to anyone’s library. This is especially true if you’re a fan of competitive shooters. This game is going to be a big deal for a very long time and it will definitely be worth it to jump on the bus with the rest of us.

oxenfree

Oxenfree
Oxenfree was a really enjoyable game to play. It stood on the edge of horror without falling in, yet maintained its suspense far better than most horror games do. Oxenfree is many things: charming, eerie, poignant, and, most importantly, worth your time.

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Titanfall 2
Fans of the original Titanfall should grab this game as soon as possible. It is an upgrade in almost every way. Otherwise, I would only buy it if you were interested in playing the multiplayer. The single player campaign is a lot of fun, but it is really short. That makes it hard to justify a full price game.

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The Turing Test
The Turing Test is great execution of first-person puzzling. The rate of difficulty rose at a good pace and the puzzles were not only complex, they were satisfying to complete. I really enjoyed the game despite the fact that I couldn’t get comparisons to Portal out of my head.  But then, there are a lot worse games to emulate than Portal.

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Watch Dogs 2
I came into Watch Dogs 2 with a skeptical mind because I’ve been burned by Ubisoft hype before. Fortunately, all of my concerns faded away quickly as I was whisked away to a virtual San Francisco to live the life of a hacker vigilante. I may be finished with the game, but it has definitely left its mark on me. Watch Dogs 2 is, unquestionably, one of the best games I have played in a very long time.

world-of-warcraft-legion-review

World of Warcraft Legion
World of Warcraft has been around for a long time, but with the release of Legion, a new expansion pack, the game has been revitalized and might be attractive to lapsed players as well as new ones.

xcom 2

XCOM 2
Despite some technical difficulties, XCOM 2 is a dream come true for turn-based strategy fans. Thanks to the new resistance angle I felt far more invested in the story of rebellion. Expanded customization options helped me love and cry over my beloved soldiers more than ever. As a sequel it improves on every aspect while keeping the soul of the franchise intact.