In Part II, we take a look at the games that didn’t quite make it big, and the lesser known ones that arguably deserved to make it big
We can fill this section with only one game, and it would be enough. To say that one would be hard pressed to find many admirers of No Man’s Sky would be a gross understatement. The general feeling towards the game from the community can be most accurately described as revulsion. The reason for this is rather obvious; it’s one thing for a game to suck, it’s entirely another thing if the developer actively deceives audiences time and again, and the game still sucks. Apparently, Hello Games didn’t get the memo that everything they claim about the game would be recorded and viewable forever on the internet. It seems that half the time Sean Murray was just winging it when asked about the game’s details. Players should’ve spotted the red flags in his interviews, where he was excessively vague about the game’s plot and mechanics. When it was all said and done, every developer knew that procedural generation wasn’t enough to carry a game on its own.
Unlike No Man’s Sky, Mafia 3 didn’t receive widespread hatred. But it came pretty damn close to it. The game was carrying the illustrious Mafia moniker with it, which demanded excellence. Instead, we got a broken piece of mess, with flashes of brilliance. On the technical front, it had issues with frame-rate, textures and loads of bugs. It was lacking in the very aspect that made Mafia such a unique experience: polish. Even the game design was uninspired. Repetitive missions, both main and side ones, meant that players quickly got bored with it. The only thing keeping people engaged was the plot, and luckily for Hangar 13, it was the best of the year. We’ll still include it in the missed opportunities column, if only to underscore that mediocrity isn’t enough for a Mafia title.
In the sea of heavily marketed titles, one has to develop something special to stand out. This section would, thus, be dedicated to indie games. Probably the best of the lot came right at the start. SUPERHOT was a breath of fresh air, especially in the crowded and stale first-person shooter genre. In many ways, it is the quintessential indie game: innovative, minimalistic, and concise. Another first person game, if you could call it that, was Firewatch. Opinions are divided on this one; fans call it a vehicle for an ingenious plot, and critics label it as just another walking simulator. But one thing’s for certain: it got people talking about it.
Virginia was another such polarizing title, releasing at the end of 2016. That too was primarily a storytelling experience, with a mystery at the heart of the game. Oxenfree accompanied SUPERHOT in January, and held more than its own. The art direction was especially praised, as well as its 80s inspired soundtrack. Finally, we had Obduction. This first person puzzle game is as much of an Unreal Engine 4 showcase as it is a finished title. Again, the gameplay elements are debatable, if not completely non-existent. Looking at its Metacritic score, however, one would think it went down better than most similar games.
We’ve already talked about The Witness already in Part 1 of this article, but it is worthy of a mention here as well. The same goes for Inside, which is developer Playdead’s second outing, following the success that was Limbo.
So, there you have it. 2016 was full of twists and turns, it had its highs and lows. But ultimately, we will remember only the good times, and think of No Man’s Sky as the price paid for something like Uncharted 4 or Dishonored 2. We hope every gamer ends the year on a positive note, and look forward to 2017 as an even better gaming year.
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