Sage's Top 25 of 2016 - Part 1 (25-16)

In my opinion, 2016 has been a killer year for games. After Overwatch won Game of the Year at the 2016 official game awards, the shop has been buzzing with what their personal favorite title of the year was and I honestly have a very hard time answering the question myself. I feel like for the first time in a couple years I consistently had a game (or 6) in the works, with a constant stream of games to look forward to. Unfortunately, this style of gaming can leave some games unplayed, and there is more then a few games in 2016 I wish I got to play but couldn't due to little things like time and money. Regrets aside, I decided to make a list of my personal top games for the year of 2016 after some serious thinking! Keep in mind, this is a list of MY personal top games, as I mentioned, there's so many games I missed out on (I don't even have Pokemon Sun yet!!). So without further ado, I'm happy to present my first 10 games in my top 25 games of 2016!

25) One Piece: Burning Blood

I'm a pretty big fan of One Piece in all of its forms (manga, anime, games, etc) so I was pretty hyped for Burning Blood for a while before its release in April. At its core Burning Blood is a surprisingly complex fighting game with some pretty cool mechanics. However, due to the lack of content (especially if you don't have a buddy to play with), it's hard to recommend this game to anyone outside of the One Piece fandom, but if you are a fan, Burning Blood it is definitely worth playing.

24) Pokken Tournament

I wish we lived in a world where I could put Pokken even higher on this list. I had pretty high expectations for Pokken - I mean on paper a "Pokemon fighting game with Tekken gameplay elements" sounds like the stuff of dreams. Unfortunately, Pokken fell short in a few places, however, this didn't stop me and my friends extracting a lot of fun out of the title. In fact, I got pretty addicted to playing the online Ranked mode, grinding away with Sceptile. I'd probably still play a bit here and there if I still owned a Wii U. Overall, I played a good amount of Pokken and I think it's not terrible for what it is, but it's hard not to imagine what it could be.

23) Mafia 3

I wrote a full review on Hangar 13's open crime game back in October, so if you're interested in a more thorough examination please check out the post! Overall, Mafia 3's world building and character development are definitely it's strongest assets, but its willingness to explore and touch on social issues makes it a game I'll remember for a long time.

22) Fire Emblem Fates

 I had a ton of hype for Fire Emblem Fates, in fact possibly a bit too much. The previous game in the series - Fire Emblem Awakening was one of my favorite tactical RPGs of all time. Fates improves on the series in a lot of mechanical ways, but I think the characters of Awakening will always be a stronger point for me. Fates was an excellent time sink, and a lot of fun to discuss with fellow players, but it didn't hit the same highs that Awakening did back in 2012. To anyone who was not aware, Fates was released kind of in the style of a Pokemon title - with multiple varying editions. I was pretty engrossed in the plot of Conquest, but I wish it allowed to grind a bit, where I felt the exact opposite about Birthright.

21) Darkest Dungeon

Darkest Dungeon is one of those games that quickly enters you in a love-hate relationship, and is at its best when you're getting your ass kicked. This game is brutal and sometimes feels downright unfair, and was easily the most difficult game I've played all year. This isn't necessarily due to game mechanics, but due to the mental strain of staying positive and not deciding to quit while trying to maintain your party. Darkest Dungeon is an old school dungeon crawl style game utilizing multiple systems, with the most stressful one ironically being maintaining the stress of your party. Darkest Dungeon is an excellent singular experience but I couldn't recommend it to anyone not looking for a challenge.  

20) Grand Kingdom
Probably the last game people would expect to see on this list because..well nobody knows about it. Grand Kingdom is a tactical turn based JRPG that pulled some really positive reviews in Japan, praising the game's combat depth, art style and online capabilities. However, Grand Kingdom suffers from some of the problems a lot of these titles have - it's a total grindfest. If that's your thing, Grand Kingdom awards you with end game god units and gear to match. I would recommend Grand Kingdom to fans of the genre, even if it may wear a bit thin after a while. 

19) Gears of War 4

Ironically enough, I went out and bought an Xbox One almost exclusively for this game, being a massive fan of the original trilogy. Like I said, in my opinion, 2016 was such a great year for games and with that being said, Gears landed in the 19 spot for me. With The Coalition picking up the franchise, I expected a multitude of changes, and sure enough there are plenty. Some of these are welcome but unfortunately some new mechanics/gameplay elements are simply frustrating, especially in multiplayer. Horde mode proves to be a ton of fun (check out Enrique's Horde Guide), just like always, despite the new (and pretty oppressive) loot system. Multiplayer tends to be a gnasher-filled romp of toxicity, which honestly isn't much of a change either. The campaign is an action filled thrill ride with a lot of highs, which is fantastic. I was glad to see The Coalition is capable of picking up this world where it left off and creating a story that manages to not be an awful experience for the fans of the original games. I can see myself playing a lot of Gears in the future, but honestly mostly just for Horde mode with my buddies. 

18) I Am Setsuna

Oh boy, I Am Setsuna's development diary is almost as intriguing as the game's plot. So back in 2015 Square Enix revealed they created a game development studio entitled "Tokyo RPG Factory" with the sole purpose of "reclaiming the legacy of JRPGs that had once made Square a beloved household name." I Am Setsuna is the debut title from the development team at Tokyo RPG Factory, published by Square Enix. The bad news is Tokyo RPG Factory reported a 244 million yen deficit, but the good news is I Am Setsuna is actually a very well crafted title. I Am Setsuna explores the theme of sadness and sacrifice and shows a great understanding of what made Square Enix so successful at one point in time. While the game is heavily inspired by games like Chrono Trigger and early Final Fantasy titles, I Am Setsuna is unique enough to stand on it's own, with an unforgettable art style and master-crafted characters. I think the reason I Am Setsuna was not as successful as it could have been is due to the mainstream audience simply not being interested, as well as sub par marketing. I only hope to see Tokyo RPG Factory create more fantastic titles in the future.  

17) Battleborn

We have collectively touched on Battleborn multiple times over the year, and I honestly feel like I've said everything I need to say about the game in a past article. Battleborn is a blast, characters are dripping with personality and the PVE maps are a refreshing break from this year's multiplayer focus. However, it feels like Gearbox set themselves up to fail, trying to go head-to-head with Blizzard's titanic fanbase and hype for their own FPS Overwatch. Despite the games' differences, players made a choice and that choice was Overwatch. I still implore you to give Battleborn a shot, as I wrote in my above post, the community can be incredibly welcoming. They just want to play their game!

 I seriously can't even talk about this game without talking about the intro cinematic. Best Intro 2016.

16) Kirby Planet Robobot   

Planet Robobot is everything that a Kirby game needs and then some. Nintendo's cute little pink ball...creature's latest game is full of 3D puzzles, colorful and spirited level design and pretty awesome boss fights. The introduction of "mechs" into the world of Kirby seems odd but it's perfect, taking Kirby's trademark absorption ability up a notch by allowing his mech to do the same. Planet Robobot is incredibly easy, but sometimes that's completely fine.  

My next post will be 15-6 and I'll probably end up writing a bit more for each. Thanks for reading and look our for Part 2! 
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