WitnessPoster

01 THE WITNESS

After creating one of the titles to lead the front of indie gamers back in 2008, Jonathan Blow took all of his money and invested it in ‘The Witness’. And it’s a true labour of love. It’s easy to play half an hour or even three hours of this ‘Myst’-style atmospheric first-person puzzle game and to give it a nod of respect but decide it’s not for you.

But this is a game that if you give it the time and faith it deserves – pays off in a snowball effect. Choosing to only centre on one format of puzzle; mazes, Blow has explored every asset of how to play with that restriction and slowly you’ll begin to realize that the flaws you first placed upon the island are intentionally there to create puzzles and patterns all around you, as the game affects your brain into noticing the interactive relationship of connectivity in your environments and the key word – perspective.

It gets under your skin and you’ll find yourself, even a full year later, walking around in real life and noticing patterns and beauty in the world around you. Which is a truly remarkable and wonderful thing.

This is, make no mistake, a game that will put most players off. But it is one of the finest creations in the mediums history and I cannot say more good things about it.

02 DARK SOULS III

The world’s most infamously difficult game is back after From Software deviated with last years PS4 exclusive ‘Bloodborne’. And it feels amazing. Controversially this is my favorite
‘Souls’ game yet, with gorgeous designs, satisfying animations, the trademark nuanced tactical gameplay and a world and story that enthralled me. This game is not for casual gamers and it’s a war of attrition, but the satisfaction of completing it is amongst the highest I’ve had from any media entertainment.

03 UNCHARTED 4 : A THIEF’S END

The final chapter in Nathan Drake’s saga is a fitting end to one of the greatest series of all time. The voice acting, script, graphics and animations are world-leading, as always. The set-pieces are bigger yet more personal than ever. And the ending may not be what everyone wanted or expected, but it’s smart, beautiful and moving. A simply fantastic game (but only play after you’ve completed ‘2’ and ‘3’).

04 INSIDE

From the makers of ‘Limbo’ comes this unbelievably atmospheric title. It’ll confuse you, it’ll enthrall you, it’ll creep you out, it’ll scare you, it’ll potentially frustrate you with it’s ending, but despite purposeful ambiguity (or perhaps because of) – this is one of the best experiences I’ve engaged with in a long, long time. An absolute must-play.

05 WORMS W.M.D

One of my personal favorite games of all time returns at last with a version that plays to the artistic and mechanical strengths of its predecessors. This is the best iteration in a decade and I’d put it higher up this list if it didn’t feel wrong placing a fairly unchanged formula from the 90’s above the new titles.

06 STREET FIGHTER V

Overlooked by most this year due to its launch build being acceptable only to pro-players. I’m not a pro-player, but as even then it was impossible to deny that this is technically the greatest 3D fighter of all time. More features have since been added and while it’s not the big return that ‘IV’ was, it’s a stunning evolution.

07 STARDEW VALLEY

This little indie farm-sim came out of nowhere and word quickly spread of how addictive and charming it was. I waited until it hit consoles to play, and it’s a title to lose your life to with a great 16-bit art style.

08 FORZA HORIZON 3

An incredible sprawling world, generation defining graphics, every racing play style you could imagine and spades of style. Make no mistake, this is the best racing game on current gen hardware.

09 OVERCOOKED

THE couch-co-op game of the year. Simple, hilarious, perfectly nuanced, stuffed full of joyous details and brings a room together. Only play with a friend or two or three.

11 JOB SIMULATOR VR

My personal favourite VR game to return to again and again. Purposefully silly and a complete joy to interact with, this is a title that shows off just how successful and engaging PSVR can be.

10 THE LAST GUARDIAN

After almost ten years, the successor to ‘Shadow of the Colossus’ finally emerged and . . . it feels old. If this is your first game from the studio then its magic may still capture you. For me – it proves to be a gorgeously designed world with a very stale set of mechanics. But no-one makes games quite like them, so it’s still special to me.

12 VIRGINIA

This very special hidden title nearly passed me by as the front cover looked low-grade. But don’t be fooled. It has the most involving and unusual game narrative of the year and while flawed – pushes boundaries with how we can digest story in our medium.

13 SUPERHOT

Coming out of nowhere was this brilliant, stylish puzzle-shooter, that is more like playing chess than a regular FPS. Time only moves when you do, as you piece together how to make your way through each small environment.

14 FIREWATCH

One of my most anticipated games, that ended up disappointing me on my first run through due to its clumsy opening (a controversial opinion I know) and decidedly cliched finale. But the world, characters, design and atmosphere are absolute wonders. A flawed gem.

15 TITANFALL 2

Released within weeks of established franchises ‘COD’ and ‘Battlefield’, it’s a criminal shame this series doesn’t get the attention it deserves. The best fast-paced competitive FPS on the market and this time bolstered by an enjoyable, albeit old-school campaign.

16 BATMAN : ARKHAM VR

The VR experience to showcase to everyone with beautiful graphics, and multiple play modes stuffed full of VR-awe and only a smattering of frustrating moments.

17 SUPERHYPERCUBE

A true diamond in the rough amidst the PSVR launch line-up of games. A new form interpretation of ‘Tetris’ that is so simple and so engaging and (best of all); ONLY works in VR.

18 DISHONORED 2

This is a stellar sequel to a stellar original and most people would place it far higher on this list. Stunning art design, smooth gameplay, great characters, but for some reason it just couldn’t grab me.

19 NO MAN’S SKY

The most anticipated game of the year turned out to be a huge disappointment for most players. I feel the world was a little hard on the developers, but the game itself neither satisfies my single player or multiplayer needs, instead focusing on the worst of both worlds for my personal tastes.

20 WATCH DOGS 2

An assured, bright, vibrant San Francisco is the real draw for this ‘GTA-clone’ sequel. It’s a great world to explore but the characters are annoying and if you’re a genre fan – then you’ve done it all before.

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