Our highest review scores of 2016

Samorost 3

Release date: March 24, 2016 ▪ Developer: Amanita Design ▪ Our review (87%)

The greatest work so far from Czech indie studio Amanita Design. It’s a point-and-click adventure, but puzzles aren’t as important here as imagery, metaphor, and surreal weirdness. “They're also so surreal that when I did something right, it was sometimes impossible to tell exactly what I did, or why it was right,” said 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.” 

Out of the Park Baseball 17

Release date: Mar 22, 2016 ▪ Developer: Out of the Park Developments ▪ Our review (89%)

There’s no baseball management sim that comes close to the batting average of Out of the Park Baseball, and while it may not feel like a complete reinvention of the series, it’s still the best in the business. In our review, Ben says, “A wealth of up-to-date licences and attribute ratings make OOTP 17 an essential purchase for the devoted player, while newcomers will swiftly grasp, and love, its relentless brilliance.” 

Day of the Tentacle Remastered

Release date: March 21, 2016 ▪ Developer: Double Fine  ▪ Our review (87%)

Day of the Tentacle is great. Day of the Tentacle Remastered is that great game, remastered, and is also great. It holds up over 20 years later, and the modernization gives us an appealing opportunity to take another trip through time. “You can still play your old copy in DOSBox or ScummVM, of course,” noted Andy in our review, “but if you want a more streamlined, modern experience, with some fascinating insight into how the game was made, the remaster is worth investing in.” 

Superhot

Release date: Feb 25, 2016 ▪ Developer: Superhot Team ▪ Our review (84%)

Time moves when you move in Superhot, a shooter distilling its mechanics into a polygonal portrayal of bullet-time. It doesn't take long to complete, but clearing a level without dying in a single hit is a challenging demand of mental forethought echoing the zen-like state of FPS professionals. A VR version of Superhot for the Oculus Rift is in the works, so you can make those Matrix moves in your living room without looking too ridiculous (or maybe not).

Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc

Release date: Feb 18, 2016 ▪ Developer: Spike Chunsoft ▪ Our review (86%)

As a visual novel, Danganronpa's length is matched only by the ridiculousness of its premise. That 15 of Japan's most gifted students could get trapped into playing a murderous game of "Guess Who?" by a mechanical bear is certainly a very anime concept. But through that goofy setup, Danganronpa takes a dark turn and displays a real gift for taking absurd characters and making them endearing—which makes it all the more gut-wrenching when they inevitably die. There's a reason that in our review, Andy said, "the story is so compelling that I barely noticed that all I was doing was clicking through lines of dialogue." 

Firewatch

Release date: Feb 9, 2016 ▪ Developer: Campo Santo ▪ Our review (85%)

Great dialogue, excellent voice performances, a minimal soundtrack, and some beautiful visuals brought real life to this first-person adventure game. Set in Wyoming, you play the glum and haunted Henry who is spending a secluded summer as a firewatchman. While the conclusion of the story doesn’t live up to the compelling setup, the believable relationship between Henry and Delilah, another park ranger, more than make up for it.

XCOM 2

Release date: Feb 4, 2016 ▪ Developer: Firaxis ▪ Our review (94%)

Sid Meier once described a game as a "series of interesting decisions." And in our review, Tom said that "XCOM 2 is the purest expression of that ethos that Firaxis has yet produced." From the moment you first take up arms against your alien oppressors, XCOM 2 hits you with a relentless barrage of choices so jaw-clenchingly difficult you're going to need a cigarette after each one. The lives you sacrifice for the greater good will be etched in your mind, and the temptation to reload an old save will be overwhelming. If you can resist and embrace consequence, XCOM 2 will transform you into a grizzled commander through the fires of conflict.

The Witness

Release date: Jan 26, 2016 ▪ Developer: Thekla, Inc. ▪ Our review (89%)

The Witness is brilliant in its simplicity. It speaks in a language without words, but uses shape and form to impart philosophical ideas that will change the way you see its world. Repetition is a stern yet fair teacher, and engaging with that silent discourse as a student begins to unravel the relationship entirely. But The Witness can also feel frustratingly vague. As Edwin said in our review, "what it ultimately seeks to offer is a vantage point, a perspective on life's mysteries, rather than answers." But even if you don't like the answer, The Witness proves questions are worth asking.

Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak

Release date: Jan 20, 2016 ▪ Developer: Blackbird ▪ Our review (90%)

To take Homeworld and put it on the ground seems “almost sacrilegious,” wrote Rob Zacny in our review. But it works. “It's not only a terrific RTS that sets itself apart from the rest of the genre's recent games,” he said, “but it's also an excellent Homeworld game that reinvents the series while also recapturing its magic.” Deserts of Kharak is both approachable—less about production, more about tactics—and another example of all the life still flowing through the RTS genre.

Darkest Dungeon

Release date: Jan 19, 2016 ▪ Developer: Red Hook Studios ▪ Our review (88%)

Darkest Dungeon is cruel, probably too cruel. It's a dungeon crawler that doesn't deal in stats and loot alone but also trades on the mental well-being of the heroes you send into its festering crypts. But these heroes don't return stronger for their troubles; they come back battered and broken, a liability you're much better off dismissing. Beneath all that doom and gloom is an innovative take on turn-based RPGs that weaves the positioning of party members with an unconventional class system, that inspires experimentation despite the constant dread of what will happen if you fail.

The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human

Release date: Jan 19, 2016 ▪ Developer: YCJY ▪ Our review (90%)

Our reviewer loved how Aquatic Adventure “fast-forwards through the Metroidvania template, stripping it down to its most essential parts: exploration, atmosphere, and player growth”. It’s an underwater take on the classic genre, where you putter around gorgeous pixel-art environments, collecting upgrades, taking out challenging bosses, and try to decipher how earth’s oceanic apocalypse came about. You also get to swim out of a giant sea worm’s ass, a necessary experience. 

Pony Island

Release date: Jan 4, 2016 ▪ Developer: Daniel Mullins ▪ Our review (91%)

Pony Island is so dependent on its little self-referential gimmicks that it’s hard to explain without giving it all away. In a sense, and because there’s a pun to be made, that makes it a one-trick pony, but it does a great trick. One of its pranks near the end of the game is so devious we won’t likely forget it soon. If you like Undertale or The Stanley Parable, you’ll probably enjoy Pony Island.