We don't make the laws, we just abide by them: we picked these games, and now they're 100% officially the best things that ever existed. That's just how it works.
It's a heavy responsibility, but it's one we shoulder. Someone has to decide which games are the best of 2016, and as ever, that someone is us. We didn't set out to be tastemakers. We didn't choose to be arbiters of taste. We didn't vote for the legislators who ruled that as soon as we name our favourite games of the year all other games burned, their creators flayed, and anybody who disagrees with us locked up by the Thought Police. But here we are.
It's a shame to think that as soon as this article goes to print all the other many excellent games of 2016 will be total rubbish, and you won't be allowed to like them any more. It's heartbreaking. But we're only the tool of the will of the people. We only do what is right in this five part series, which today covers The Indies That Delighted And Charmed Us.
If you haven't yet been put in jail for disagreeing with us, you can come back tomorrow and see yet another collection of VG247's Game of the Year Awards games which are, according to the most sacred and rigorously upheld of international laws, the very best that have ever been made.
Madly loved by: Steph
An adorable, utterly addictive game which allows one to live vicariously through the character they have created. Growing crops, raising livestock, riding their horse across the countryside, fighting monsters in the mines, fishing for a sea cucumber someone wants to put under their pillow, the ability to befriend a wizard with a secret illegitimate daughter in town and a nasty witch for an ex-wife. Plus, you are allowed to date every eligible singleton in town.
You are allowed to date every eligible singleton in town. Do you woo just one, or become the harlot? I chose the latter, because that's how I roll. 10/10 would date everyone in town again.
Do you choose to marry the tortured writer who lives a solitary existence in a one room, ramshackle house on the beach? Or the vapid, beefcake obsessed with sports? The daughter of the town drunk who prefers diamonds over pink cake? Or the lovely red-headed artist whose ex-girlfriend you punched in the face, much to her embarrassment? Do you woo just one, or become the harlot of Stardew Valley? I chose the latter, because that's how I roll. 10/10 would date everyone in town again.
In the end, I will likely end up with Elliot because we both have unmanageable hair. I pity both of our future children, because that's how many the game spawns. Just imagine fighting baddies in the mines, gathering ore and trying to get out of the place before 2am hits and you collapse in exhaustion - only to wake up having given birth to your first sprog. It should be interesting.
Because of all this and more, Stardew Valley is not only one of the best games of the year, it's perfect fodder for fan-fiction, more so than LotR. I adore this game. Its soundtrack is amazing, and it has the best fishing mechanic of any game I've ever played. It was released for PS4 and Xbox One this month, and has been available on PC since February. Do yourself a favor and pick it up. You won't regret it.
Named as beloved by: Sherif
If you had asked me the week before Furi came out if I was going to try it, I would’ve shown you a big smirk. If you know me, you’ll know I don’t like boss gauntlet games, and Furi is absolutely a boss rush game. Yet I could never get its bold look out of my head, so I thought I’d give it a try, seeing as it was free on PS Plus that month.
The second I beat the tutorial boss, all my preconceived notions about boss rush games vanished. I no longer cared what Furi was, I just wanted to keep playing it.
The second I beat the tutorial boss, all my preconceived notions about boss rush games vanished. I no longer cared what Furi was, I just wanted to keep playing it. Furi’s unique mechanic is a hybrid of melee combat and bullet hell shooters. The interplay of these two very different genres somehow brings them closer together to form a holistic, near perfect structure. It’s this cross-pollination that carries it throughout, without ever allowing it to become drab.
This presentation is further elevated with the help of a thumping, eclectic soundtrack, as if the game is setting its own beat, sometimes literally. But there’s more to Furi than just a mashup of genres. It’ll get under your skin, it sure got under mine.
I found myself making a note of the different attacks one boss I was stuck on used. I would glance at this piece of paper every time one of its new phases kicked in. The last time I did something similar was - surprise - after running into some pretty tough Dark Souls 2 bosses for my then unbred hands.
This was the first time since then that I felt the same adrenaline rush as I white-knuckled the controller, determined not to miss a single parry, before eventually claiming the victory with much HP to spare. That a game can send me down this rollercoaster of emotions is rare. For it to come from a genre I thought I could never appreciate, is a true testament to its focused, unwavering design.
Given the glad eye by: Brenna
In case you're wondering why a game as short and deceptively simple as Inside took Playdead six years to make, there are two reasons. The first is that this is the kind of developer so detail-oriented that the soundtrack was created with the aid of a real human skull. The second is that it is as close to perfect as anything can be in this wretched universe.
Its size and its familiarity may have made it easier for Playdead to ship Inside in such a faultless state, but that doesn't change the fact that nobody else ever seems to manage it.
Building on Limbo's foundations, Inside deserves especial praise for this perfection. Its a game that has been polished, but not in the frictionless, focus-testing way. Its size and its familiarity may have made it easier for Playdead to ship in such a faultless state, but that doesn't change the fact that nobody else ever seems to manage it. With so many years to work on it, the temptation of feature bloat and content padding must have been extraordinary, but it was resisted. The platforming is forgiving and fluid. Puzzles walk that careful tightrope between logical and mysterious. More of this please, games.
But really, it's the creeping atmosphere, the minimal narrative, and the dark spaces in between which your brain strives to fill in that make Inside so very special. I played so many amazing games this year that I found it really hard to narrow things down to just three (and I'm grateful to my darling colleagues for picking some of my other favourites so I could skip them). Normally I look at those games I spent the most time with, but that measure fails to account for the impact Inside had on me in the few short hours I spent on two playthroughs. This is a game I still often think on - and then I look around me, and wonder who I can tell about it before I burst.
Come back tomorrow to discover three more games you are now legally obliged to like in preference of all others, because we said so.