We’re barely into the new year, but I’m already super excited for the 2016 release lineup. Puzzle games, platformers, bold stylization, and Batman all have a special place in my heart, so I present to you here my completely biased list of games that you, like me, should be counting down the days to. I was especially glad to note that almost all of these games will be available on Xbox One, since I feel like its 2015 lineup was a bit lackluster. And look! Some of these will be available for Mac, too!
Without further ado, here is my countdown to my most anticipated game of 2016.
7. The Witness
The trailer for The Witness makes the game look as if it will be a relaxing stroll through a lush, unpopulated landscape where you can examine abandoned technology at your leisure. However, if we have learned anything from Jonathan Blow’s previous work on Braid, a beautiful setting does not an easy or frustration-free experience make. Developed by Thekla, Inc., this third-person puzzle game will be released on January 26 for PC and PS4. A later release is planned for iOS and other undisclosed platforms.
6. Hyper Light Drifter
I like to feed my eyes a steady diet of beautiful, brightly colored games, and Hyper Light Drifter checks all the right boxes. Heat Machine’s 2D action RPG will likely present a challenge, so I recommend playing alongside a family member or friend. That way if one of you gets frustrated you can switch off who’s playing instead of throwing your gaming machine out the window. It can be a great bonding experience! Look for Hyper Light Drifter in the Spring of 2016, when it will be released for PC, Mac, Xbox One, and PS4.
Robots? Check. Female protagonist? Check. Mysterious, desolate world? Check. Though ReCore looks action-packed, this game of adventure and companionship looks like it will be family-friendly enough to play with your kids if you so choose. Developed by Armature and Comcept, and published by Microsoft Studios, ReCore will be out in the latter half of 2016 for Xbox One and Windows 10.
4. We Happy Few
Unlike Recore and all of the other games on this list (well, with the likely exception of Telltale’s Batman) We Happy Few is decidedly not kid-friendly. If you feel like simply reading dystopian novels such as “Brave New World,” “1984,” and “A Clockwork Orange” isn’t enough to effectively drive the point home, I will gladly point you to this upcoming title from Compulsion Games, the studio behind the beautiful, haunting game Contrast. Actually, I’m going to point you there even if you wish you’d skipped the dystopian unit in modern literature altogether, because this game looks incredible. We Happy Few will be out sometime in 2016 for Xbox One, Windows, Mac, and Linux.
So I know that Obduction, like The Witness, is an atmospheric first person puzzle game set in a seemingly empty world, but I had to include both of them. They both just look so good. I have many fond memories of playing the Myst games when I was a kid; of sitting in front of the computer with a couple friends, filling notebooks with scribbles and charts in an attempt to puzzle our way to the end. Cyan Worlds looks like it will be continuing that legacy with Obduction, so I recommend grabbing pens, some paper, and a couple buddies and settling in for a brain-bending good time.
A 2D action platformer in the style of old cartoons from the 1930s? Sign me up! The playful style, theme-appropriate jazz soundtrack, and the optional co-op mode make this a great choice to play with another human being whose company you enjoy. Developed by Studio MDHR, Cuphead will be out sometime in 2016 for Xbox One and on Steam for PC.
1. Batman Telltale Games Series
Ok. I’m going to be honest. What do we know about this game so far? Next to nothing! All we know is that it will be a Batman game series made by Telltale Games. I mean, we don’t even know the official title yet. But that certainly isn’t going to stop me from being super stoked about this. Telltale makes fantastic story- and character-driven games, and I believe that their take on Batman will be no different. Now that the Arkham series is over (a tear trickles silently down my cheek) I can’t wait to see what direction we get to see Batman go in next. This one isn’t so easy to play directly with another person because the main mode of gameplay will likely be quick dialogue and action choices, but I enjoy comparing my playthroughs of Telltale games with friends’ playthroughs to see how our different choices affected the story’s outcome.