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Entertainment Fuse’s Game of the Year 2016: Allie’s Top 10

"A list for the indie and mobile game lovers"

And so 2016 comes to an end. It’s been a strange year of gaming for me. Coming up with this list made me realize I haven’t played a single AAA title that came out this year.  Nope. 2016 has been Allie’s year of iOS and indie games. So if you’re looking for something to play off the AAA-path, then check out some of the titles below!

10. Kentucky Route Zero: Act IV

Developer: Cardboard Computer
Release Date: July 19th, 2016
Platforms: Windows/Mac OS

After a two year wait, my favorite American magical realist game finally released its next act this past summer. While some thought Act IV of Kentucky Route Zero was the weakest act so far, I have to disagree. I loved traveling along the Echo River by ferry, meeting the new cast of characters, and watching creepy VHS tapes… Kentucky’s atmosphere remains incomparable to any other game out there, and the game’s dialogue is on point. It’s embarrassing the amount of screenshots I took playing this game just to hold onto its words.

9. Burly Men at Sea

Developer: Brain & Brain
Release Date: September 24th, 2o16
Platforms: Windows/Mac OS & Android/iOS

Now it’s time for a game based on Scandinavian folklore! Burly Men at Sea is probably the most charming game to come out this year. You play as three burly men, who set off to sea in search of adventure. Along the way, they come across mythical creatures including trolls, nymphs, and a kraken. While each adventure is short, there are branching paths meaning there’s lots to discover. Also, you will want to keep playing just to take in the storybook feel of this game. The art style simple, but colorful. And the sound design is just…!!!! All the sound effects are made using a cappella voices. Seriously this game is absolutely lovely. If you’re looking for a “quiet adventure”, Burly Men at Sea is it.

8. Headlander

Developer: Double Fine Productions
Release Date: July 26th, 2016
Platforms: Windows/Mac OS/Linux, PS4, Xbox One

I have a bit of a crush on Double Fine, so naturally a Double Fine game had to be included in this list. Headlander is a Metroidvania-style platformer set in a 70s sci-fi influenced world. You play as a human head in a space helmet that can take over the bodies of robots by taking off the heads of said robots and “landing” your space helmet head into their bodies. There’s also a dance button (or a “boogie button” if we want to be alliterate). Not only does your head have special abilities, but the different robots also have their own special capabilities. Sometime you will need to take over the body of a dog to fit into small places, or maybe you need a certain color robot body to get past security. Headlander is a bizarrely funny game that I can’t get enough of.

7. Pony Island

Developer: Daniel Mullins Games
Release Date: January 4th, 2016
Platforms: Windows/Mac OS/Linux

Speaking of Bizarre… I don’t even know how to begin describing Pony Island. You start the game thinking you’re playing a cutesy pony arcade game, but then you very quickly realize you thought wrong. Nope. This is demonic game that wants your soul. Pony Island uses a simulated operating system that you hack to fight off satan. If this game sounds super strange, that’s because it is. It’s hard to find the words to describe it. I don’t know if the words I need even exist to be honest.

6. Accounting

Developer: Crows Crows Crows & Squanchtendo
Release Date: October 18th, 2016
Platforms: HTC Vive

For those of you who have access to an HTC Vive, this is probably the best game out there. As someone who suffered through accounting in college, I can tell you this game is the real deal. All the number crunching, spreadsheet making, report stapling is AMAZING. Though the best part about this game is that 95% of the previous sentences were LIES.  This game is nothing like IRL accounting and if you’ve ever wanted to play a xylophone made out of human bones and love the TV show Rick and Morty go pay $800 for the Vive and buy this game for free, because getting decapitated is FUN.

5. Hyper Light Drifter

Developer: Heart Machine
Release Date: March 31st, 2016
Platforms: Windows/Mac OS/Linux,  PS4, Xbox One, Ouya (lol)

Hyper Light Drifter is another game on my list that we had to wait 2 years for, but it was most definitely worth it. This 2D action-roleplaying game is as gorgeous as it is challenging. And thank goodness for that. It’s hard to rage quit a game set in such a lush world. You go from wanting to throw your controller out the window to “oh pretty tree!” with in milliseconds. The only negative bit I have to say about HDL is that there are times where I wish text was used to tell the story. The environments are so beautiful, and you stumble upon such amazing yet tragic sights, that I just want to know what happened instead of it being kind of vague…

4. Mini Metro

Developer: Dinosaur Polo Club
Release Date: October 18th, 2016
Platforms: Android/iOS

OK, so I’m sort of cheating with this one. Mini Metro was released back in 2015 on Window, Mac OS, and Linux. However I didn’t play it then, and I played it on my iPad, so I get to include it on this list, because I said so. So there. Also building subway maps is the greatest. And calming. And nice? This game is just really nice? The sound design is so gentle, and I’m obsessed with all the different track colors (St. Petersburg probably has my favorite color palette, that red……). Of course the game does get kind of tense when your stations start getting overcrowded and there’s nothing you can do about it, but you don’t get angry. It’s lovely.

3. Reigns

Developer: Nerial
Release Date: August 11th, 2016
Platforms: Windows/Mac OS & Android/iOS

Whenever I describe Reigns to someone, I usually describe it as Civilization stuffed into Tinder. You play as a king, who makes decision by swiping left or right. And it’s mad addictive. I can swipe left and right for hours on end, as I try to balance the church, population, military, and treasury of my country. However, if I focus too much of one part of my kingdom, or forget about another part, a riot happens, or I choke on my dinner and die. But no worries. You’re meant to die a lot in this game, and as soon as your current monarch dies, you start playing as the next one. Essentially the game never ends, and there are little goals you swipe to hopefully achieve. It’s perfect for long plane rides. I killed 3 hours on a plane once just playing this game.

2. Firewatch

Developer: Campo Santo
Release Date: February 9th, 2016
Platforms: Windows/Mac OS/Linux,  PS4, Xbox One

Funny story. Before I actually played Firewatch, I somehow got it in my head that this was supposed to be funny. Well, when I went to PAX this year and met one of the game’s lead designers, I decided to tell him “Oh, I hear your game is pretty funny.” And he gave me a weird look, then turned his attention elsewhere. Yeah. Then I actually played Firewatch, and realized how wrong I was. Oops. BUT! I loved the game nonetheless. It probably has one of my favorite game endings ever. And the dialogue makes my ears sing with joy. Speaking with Delilah over the radio as you traverse Shoshone National Park feels so natural, yet frantic as strange things start to happen. Just so you know, fires are the last thing you’ll be worrying about in Firewatch. And it’s not funny. At. All.

1.  Oxenfree

Developer: Night School Studio
Release Date: July 14th, 2016
Platforms: Windows/Mac OS/Linux,  PS4, Xbox One

So…… Oxenfree. I love this game. After finishing it, I listened to the soundtrack for a solid two weeks straight. In fact, I’m listening to it as I write this. The radio mechanic, the dialogue (seems to be a theme this year), and the art are all just absolutely wonderful. This is another game I continuously took screenshots of. Also, tears in the time-space continuum caused by radio waves are pretty freaky. I had plenty of “Oh SH–” moments when Alex’s friends became possessed by the weird radio spirits. And the time-loops… those were always freaky. However, even as all the weird scary stuff happens the game remains grounded in reality, so none of the supernatural time-travel stuff feels convoluted.  Probably the reason I enjoyed this game so much actually. That and the soundtrack. Have I mentioned how good the soundtrack is, and the dialogue?? The game nails being a teenager without drowning in stupid teenager drama. It’s great. Dare I say perfect? It’s my number one game of 2016.

 

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