Our highest review scores of 2016

N++

Release date: Aug 25, 2016 ▪ Developer: Metanet Software ▪ Our review (92%)

A refined action platformer with tricky, floaty jumps, 1,125 levels and a level editor—so there's no risk of being left wanting. Shaun has played over 300 hours of the original PS4 version, and put another 20 into this new PC release. "In some ways N++ feels like the end of the action platformer, like an exhaustive final document, a catalogue of its emotional highs and lows," he wrote in his review. It's safe to say he liked it a bit.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Release date: Aug 23, 2016 ▪ Developer: Eidos Montreal ▪ Our review (88%)

Andy wasn't super impressed by the story, but Mankind Divided's detailed vision of a future Prague, new augmentations, and level design earned it high marks. "Everywhere you look there are sentry turrets, security bots, criss-crossed laser tripwires, and patrolling guards," Andy wrote. "Getting inside, stealing the particular item you’re looking for, and escaping unseen was hugely satisfying."

F1 2016

Release date: Aug 18, 2016 ▪ Developer:  Codemasters ▪ Our review (87%) 

After last year's disappointment F1 2016 deserved some skepticism, but Codemasters came through—F1 2016 is "the most well-featured, authentic recreation of Formula One ever created, and it’s a genuinely good PC port," wrote reviewer Sam White. Better physics, better AI, and new details hoist it above the series' previous missteps.

Overcooked

Release date: Aug 3, 2016 ▪ Developer: Ghost Town Games ▪ Our review (86%)

If you need to test your friendships, Overcooked is the game for you. A top down co-op cooking game, Overcooked places up to four players in crazy kitchens and throws an endless series of dishes their way. Getting a high score requires close, coordinated teamwork, but the moment communication breaks down, things can get messy. Tom calls it, “the perfect balance of chaos that can be conquered with skill,” and “hands down one of the best couch party games ever made.” Overcooked is a guaranteed recipe for fun. And disaster. And absolute despair. If you have the company, don’t miss it. 

Abzu

Release date: Aug 2, 2016 ▪ Developer: Giant Squid ▪ Our review (88%)

James calls Abzu “an expertly directed psychedelic marine tour without a single UI or text prompt telling you where to go or what to do, purely driven by curiosity.” You control a diver and explore big, colorful underwater scenes, interacting with a wide assortment of sea life while unraveling a quiet story with an environmental message. Accompanied by an inspiring score from Austin Wintory, Abzu is an easy emotional journey to recommend.

Starbound

Release date: Jul 22, 2016 ▪ Developer: Chucklefish ▪ Our review (84%)

According to Chris, Starbound is the charming and deep space exploration sandbox we were promised during its prolonged Early Access phase. It’s not perfect, lacking in combat systems and it’s still pretty cryptic, but “Starbound is otherwise a great pleasure, full of verve and laden with seemingly endless diversions and self-directed projects that you can lose yourself in for hours or days at a time.”

Lovely Planet Arcade

Release date: Jul 22, 2016 ▪ Developer: Quicktequila ▪ Our review (84%)

The follow-up to the great Lovely Planet, Lovely Planet Arcade strips the Y-axis from its precision, small-level shooting, meaning you can't look up and down. It's very different from its predecessor, but the essence of what makes it fun is still there: "the thrill of executing prescriptive shooting challenges with nearly zero room for error," as James put it in his review. 

Furi

Release date: Jul 5, 2016 ▪ Developer: The Game Bakers ▪ Our review (86%)

Furi has "a ludicrous premise, strenuous combat, loud neon synth jams, and saturated color palette"—but also restraint, says James. A series of bullet-hell hack n' slash boss fights train you in simple combat techniques:  slash, parry, shoot, and dash. Some bugs and difficulty spikes held it back a little, but Furi is still one of our favorite surprise hits of the year.

Hearts of Iron 4

Release date: June 6, 2016 ▪ Developer: Paradox ▪ Our review (88%)

You’ll find some cracks in the simulation, but how could there not be a few holes in such a sweeping, complicated scenario? Hearts of Iron 4 is “a beautiful, thrilling wargame” that presents the entire globe as it was at the outbreak of World War 2—and everything that happens from there is up to you and the AI.

“The AI may not always be sensible, and maybe combat doesn't always seem quite historically accurate,” wrote Rob in our review, “but then, you might be playing a version of World War 2 where Italy broke away from Germany to create a new Roman Empire with Yugoslavia, and the Soviet Union was plunged into civil war and Stalin was deposed by 1942.” 

Overwatch

Release date: May 24, 2016 ▪ Developer: Blizzard ▪ Our review (88%)

A great team shooter that emphasizes positioning, teamwork and tactics over agility and marksmanship, but still leaves room for players to grow in the latter department. There are still character tweaks to be made to ensure they’re continuously viable and fun and all create interesting dynamics, but it’s the sort of game you could tweak forever. Overwatch can't replace Team Fortress 2 for us, but it’s certainly recaptured the experience of getting a bunch of friends together for night-long sessions of the current top shooter. Competitive mode is out now, and we’re keen to earn some golden guns.