2016 was a solid year for entertainment. Television, movies, and video games all had a great deal of wonderfully made works showcasing a wide swath of styles, genres, and themes while also introducing new installments in classic franchises and completely new IPs that will definitely be a framework for future games.
The difficult thing in keeping up with pop culture and entertainment, of course, is wading through the overwhelming number of releases coming to any and all platforms every day. Because of that, things often fall to the wayside, so I’m happy to point out some great gems of 2016 that shouldn’t be missed.
Cooperative games are at their best when they mix chaos and teamwork in a satisfying way, and Overcooked is a prime example of this. Having to work together while juggling dinner orders, moving stages, obstacles, and time itself. It’s a brilliant game that beat out a lot of the other things I saw at E3 for one of my favorites of the year.
Mother Russia Bleeds
Mother Russia Bleeds is disgusting. It’s a clever cooperative brawler in a similar vein to Streets of Rage, only covered in a thick layer of blood, sweat, and grime.
Mechanically, it’s fairly basic--each of the four brawlers have punches, kicks, and throws--but there’s so much personality present throughout that it becomes a dynamic and visceral game. Pixels shudder with madness and twisted creatures look on as you attempt to escape a testing facility with the help of psychotropic drugs.
Valhalla (VA-11 HALL-A)
Valhalla is a neat experience showcasing the strength of narratives that don’t rely heavily on exposition. As a bartender in a dystopian cyberpunk world, you make drinks for patrons while also engaging them in small talk and learning about the world. It’s interesting to immerse yourself within a game’s fiction without ever stepping outside, and Valhalla’s strong writing is ultimately what makes it stand out. Read our official review to learn more.
Reigns is one of those rare games that expertly utilizes the touch screen capabilities unique to smartphones. Mixing elements of social media sites and narrative-based RPGs, it tasks you as a ruler of a kingdom to make decisions that will impact you and your subjects by swiping left or right to select different options. A lot can go wrong very, very quickly in Reigns, and the fun of it is found in attempting to keep everything balanced while also serving your best interests. It’s brief, fun, and intensely engaging.