Overlooked games of 2016

Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun

Developer: Mimimi Productions | Buy it: Humble Store, Steam, GOG

This one only just came out, so it’s borderline qualified, but I wanted to make sure Shadow Tactics doesn’t fade away amid the excitement of a new year of games. Jody praised Shadow Tactics’ compartmentalized stealth puzzles in early December, and if you have affection for the Commandos series that began in the late '90s, this is right up your alley. —Tyler Wilde

Lovely Planet Arcade

Developer: QuickTequila | Buy it: Humble Store, Steam

Lovely Planet Arcade distills the twitchy, reactive thrill of first person shooters into a series of short shooting galleries. It goes even further than its predecessor, Lovely Planet, and removes y-axis aim entirely. Armed with your cloudstick (imagine if Doom’s shotgun ejected hugs instead of slugs) you’ll need to shoot bombs before they hit the ground and armies of devious green men before they shoot you first. Most levels require a bit of trial and error with little room for experimentation, but discovering the route and nailing it feels as good as any killstreak Quake can muster. —James Davenport

Samorost 3

Developer: Amanita Design | Buy it: Humble Store, Steam, GOG

Samorost 3 is a surreal adventure game full of strange diversions. Here’s one such diversion, as described by Andy Chalk in our review: “I crept up behind a glowing, golden gazelle, leapt upon its back, and went for a wild ride along the side of a mountain. After it bucked me, we both went back to our business as though it had never happened, and all I had to show for my efforts was another achievement.” Great stuff, right? It also has one of our favorite soundtracks. —Tyler Wilde 

Book of Demons

Developer: Thing Trunk | Buy it: Humble Store, Steam

Book of Demons is an action RPG similar to Diablo, but put on rails. You can only walk down specific paths in a series of randomly generated dungeons, and all the movement and most of the combat is just done through left clicks. In fact, the game can basically be played one handed, making it a fun way to zen-out and kill some undead. That being said, the combat can be surprisingly nuanced with a fun variety of enemies—some of which can’t be killed with just rapid clicking—and card system that governs items and abilities. Book of Demons is still in Early Access, getting its first new class last month, so there’s a lot more to come for this game. —Tom Marks

Yankai's Triangle

Developer: Kenny Sun | Buy it: Steam 

A simple puzzler with mesmerizing sound and visual effects. It's not about difficulty, it's about experiencing the triangle dimension. Know triangles to know thyself. —Tyler Wilde

Hover Junkers

Developer: Stress Level Zero | Buy it: Humble Store, Steam

With VR headsets well out of most people’s budgets, we didn’t dedicate a lot of time to covering VR exclusives in 2016. It was a choice between games we know millions have access to, and games only a small subset of PC gamers can even try. But that means we, like most people, surely missed some great VR games.

One game I did enjoy a lot this year was Hover Junkers. It’s pretty simple: you have a gun, you’re on a hovering barge, now steer the barge while running around its deck shooting other people on other barges. I would be out of breath by the end of a match from all the ducking and dashing (and my general lack of fitness). My favorite part is how reloading is handled through gestures—spinning my thumb on the Vive controller to twirl a revolver’s cylinder and then flicking my wrist to slam it shut is the most satisfying reloading I’ve done in a game. Unfortunately, Hover Junkers is multiplayer-only, so your fun is dependant on someone else deciding to play a VR game at the same time. —Tyler Wilde

Creepy Castle

Developer: Dopterra| Buy it: Steam

With all the love Undertale got the year before, I was surprised with by how many people passed by Creepy Castle. An adventure game with old school graphics and a charming sense of humor, it reminds me a lot of Undertale without feeling like it’s ripping it off. Creepy Castle was published by Nicalis, the same studio that publishes The Binding of Isaac, so it’s got a reliable name behind it. The aggressively retro art style will probably put some people off, but there’s a deep and fun game hidden beneath that’s absolutely worth playing. —Tom Marks

Beglitched

Developer: Hexecutable | Buy it: Humble Store, Steam

Beglitched is a charming match-three puzzler set inside a computerverse that very quickly reveals itself to be smarter and more complex than you'd expect. Every piece on the board has a different effect when matched, like earning money to buy items or building up the energy to take more moves. Some board pieces give you clues to where your opponent's avatar is hiding, somewhere on the board, and they'll regularly move and attack, so triggering the right matches at the right time is key. And there's another puzzle layer on top of that one, with the overworld playing out like Minesweeper. The real draw of Beglitched for me, though, is its setting, a network of message boards populated by fun and cute characters. If you, like me, spent much of your teens making friends on internet forums, Beglitched will give you the warm and fuzzies. I've never played another puzzle game with so much heart. —Wes Fenlon

Stephen's Sausage Roll

Developer: Increpare Games | Buy it: Humble Store, Steam

The hardest puzzle game I played last year was about cooking sausages. Stephen’s sausages, I guess, though I don’t know why I’m doing him any favors after he designed the most infuriating possible way to cook sausages. On a small grid, you, fork in hand, must roll sausages over grills in such a way as to cook each section once—and only once—without rolling them off the grid and into water. These aren’t the kind of puzzles you can solve by mucking around until something works: I have to sit and stare at the stupid sausages working out every move I'm going to make, then try and fail, and then sit and stare some more. It’s not hard to imagine why difficult sausage puzzles in a (charmingly) ugly $30 game didn’t make for a hit, but I like it more than The Witness. —Tyler Wilde