2016 has been a fantastic year for anime and games, at least that is my opinion. This year has produced two anime that have worked their way into my top 5 favorites, and this is the first year in a long while that has had me continuously returning to a game for longer than a month.
Some stipulations that we observed: The picks for the categories did not have to release/debut in 2016, but must have been played/viewed in 2016.
Without further ado, let’s get to the goods!
Top 5 Games of 2016
One of the more beautiful games of 2016, this puzzle game impressed me with its variety, vastness, and ingenuity. From basic puzzles to puzzles that leave you teetering on the edge of insanity, The Witness does a superb job of presenting a game with layers of complexity that it will guide you through, if you let it. What makes this game such a treat to play is that not only are you presented with traditional puzzles, but the entirety of the world around you is full of a variety of environmental puzzles. A tree in a building may help you connect a line, the Sun and the shadow it casts may give you information on how to complete a section of the map. It can be overwhelming just walking around, unsure if a low hanging branch is part of some complex puzzle that will open a door close by, but I absolutely loved the challenge that this game presented. Unfortunately, my computer had a meltdown that required me to do a fresh install of Windows, erasing my save, and when I tried to start playing it again, I came to realize that my computer is now unable to handle the game. I plan on returning to this game when I get a better PC, and continue to try to uncover the secrets that this game keeps.
Hitman was a complete surprise to me. Leading up to its release I heard mixed remarks about the game with a lot of worry revolving around the fact that the game was to be released somewhat episodically. I had never played a Hitman game previously, so I decided to pass on it. I listen to various gaming podcasts, and two in particular (Giantbomb and Idle Thumbs) would contain stories of the INSANE stuff that you can do in this game. I decided that I had to play this game, just to see what the hell they were talking about. As the name of the game implies, you are a hitman named Agent 47 and each map that they released would have someone who you were required to assassinate. What makes this game so incredible, and what made me purchase the game after to listening to these stories on the podcasts, is that how you decide to perform your assassination is entirely up to you. You can be straight-laced and play it like you would a James Bond game OR you can decide to do things in a way that will leave you crying from laughter. The replay-ability of this installment of Hitman is extremely high, and with a second season of DLC on the horizon, I look forward to discovering what other dumb and fun ways there will be for me to complete my missions.
Life is Strange
I played the entirety of this game early in 2016, just after its fifth and final chapter was released. I wrote a review, so you can see my full thoughts there, but the TL;DR is that I loved this game. It was mechanically interesting and unique, having played no other game like it previously, and while it did have some story issues and a rather disappointing conclusion, they journey was absolutely, 100% worth it. Every chapter end left me with my mind blown. The soundtrack is fantastic, the animation is great, the characters are well made and acted, and the story is enthralling. I encourage everyone to try this game.
Carlos’s persistence paid off. His tantalizing posts in our Discord about these awesome new ship-girls that he got with adorable designs slowly drew me in until I decided to just give in and sacrifice my life to KanColle. I have only been playing for a few months now, but it took no time at all for my completionist mentality to kick in, making me want to collect all of the girls in this game. I’ll be honest, I hate the RNG aspect of a lot of this game. It’s frustrating and it doesn’t take much for me to become irrational and angry when the game decides to work against you. Everything else is a lot of fun, though. There are hundreds of girls to collect in the game for your fleet, each of them with their own unique and wonderful personality. The game is very interesting mechanically with the variety of maps, equipment, ship types and enemies. The maps are structured in ways that challenge you to think, and when you successfully beat a map, the feelings that fill you up are fantastic. There are quests to keep things fresh and interesting and there are a number of events every year that will net you rare ship-girls and present unique and interesting challenges. KanColle took our Discord by storm this past year, and if you want in on the fun, just ask and we will get you hooked up!
Overwatch came out of nowhere for me. I’ve never played any of Blizzard’s other games, but all of a sudden my Twitter and Facebook feeds were full of people talking about the game. I had dabbled in League of Legends a bit previously, but this was the first Hero based game that I truly played and I was instantly hooked. The first character I played was Mercy because she was hot and blonde and I liked the idea of being a healer. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but came away from the first game thoroughly impressed with how much fun I had running around healing people, not firing a single shot. I tried a bunch of the other Heroes to see which ones clicked with me and once I settled into a groove with the game, I found myself playing a lot of Mercy, Mei, and Junkrat. Every Hero has unique abilities and those were the three characters that really clicked for me. I love the art style of this game, with both character and map designs being insanely detailed. The amount of love and care that the Overwatch team at Blizzard put into this game is apparent. There are a couple of different game modes, the two primary being a payload delivery mode and a point capture mode, and while I was worried that those two game modes wouldn’t provide enough variety to keep me interested, I find myself unable to stop playing. The game is just a lot of fun and getting a group together and executing plays and tactics is a blast. With new content being regularly delivered and mini events popping up every few months, I see myself playing this game for a long time to come, and that is why it has earned the spot as my top game of 2016!
Top 5 Anime of 2016
It was a real struggle choosing between Flying Witch and New Game for the fifth spot on my list here. Both are fantastic, but I decided to go with Flying Witch because I feel it deserves its recognition and I know New Game will be getting a lot of love elsewhere. It’s a slice of life full of wonderful moments, and one of the most relaxing shows I’ve ever watched. You can read my full review on it here, but Flying Witch charmed its way into my top 5 with fun characters, wonderful art, and its relaxing vibe!
The synopsis of Erased talked of time travel and a murder mystery, and I was hooked as soon as I started watching. Watching this week to week was both a treat and torture. The suspense that they would leave with at the end of an episode was intense, but it made the next weeks episode that much more enjoyable. Erased handle emotion very well, with many moments in the show leaving me on the verge of tears, if not outright crying. Not everything was perfect. The villain wasn’t fantastic, the story could get a little convoluted, some things were left unexplained, but all-in-all when the show was over, I was very pleased with Erased and how it ended. I look forward to purchasing and watching the show again, this time dubbed!
Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash
High fantasy is one of my favorite genres after Romance and Drama. Grimgar of Fantasy Ash presented to me a very realistic and brutal picture of what it would be like to actually live in a fantasy world where you have nothing and you have to do whatever you can to survive. Yes, the main characters of this show are from another world. I vehemently disagree with the notion that this is another “trapped in an mmo rpg” anime, but while it perhaps unnecessarily relies on that to set up its story, the meat of the show is what makes Grimgar fantastic. Killing isn’t easy, even when its goblins, because death means its over. For anyone and everyone. And that fear drives goblins and humans alike to struggle to survive. So due to it’s heavy story, beautiful art, and having my favorite character from all of the anime in 2016, Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash secured itself a spot in my top 5 anime of 2016.
ReZero was looking like it was going to be my runaway pick for best anime of 2016, but then season 3 of Haikyuu happened and it ended up barely edging ReZero out for the top spot. I might as well call this pick 1B, because I loved EVERYTHING about this anime. The double length first episode sank its hooks in me with its beautiful fantasy world, a gorgeous lead female character in Emilia, and a charismatic main character in Subaru. The twist at the end of the episode cemented it. This was truly one rollercoaster of a ride with highs as high as the mountains and lows bringing the most potent despair I have ever laid witness to. Subaru’s journey is brutal and at times hard to watch, but that made me love this show even more. I don’t like dark things. I actively avoid dark anime. ReZero gets VERY dark and I was completely enthralled. The characters in this show are absolutely fantastic. Rem is one of the better female characters I’ve seen, though Emilia stole my heart, and Betelgeuse was the best villain this year out of all the anime I watched by a long shot. Subaru gets insufferable. The plot may seem to stagnate part way though to some. It’s all for a purpose, and I implore you to watch this anime. It came out of nowhere for me, and I know consider it one of my top 5 favorite anime.
We were blessed with technically two seasons of Haikyuu in 2016. The second half of the second season finished in the winter season and then were gifted the 10 episode third season this fall. It’s hard for me to express how much I love this show. Haikyuu is intense. Perhaps it’s because I love sports, but the matches in this show are incredible. It is easy to get caught up in the emotions of the show and I often found myself running around pumping my fist or holding my head in shock due to events that take place in the show. The writers did a phenomenal job of making every single character important. Everyone has a role to play and they get the time needed to make an impact on you. Because of this, Haikyuu boasts some of the best character development that I have ever seen in anime. It’s not often that I end a show having no characters that I dislike, but I can’t think of a single character that I have any amount of distaste for. So bravo to you Haikyuu, you impressed me in multitude of ways and secured yourself as my favorite anime of 2016 and a spot in my top 5 favorites.
That’s it! That’s the year for me! I’d love to hear your thoughts on my picks and please share yours!
Stay tuned for more Year in Review posts later this week!