I decided that for my last post of 2016 I would do something a little different. Normally December is filled with top ten lists. Everyone does them for everything, and they are endless. I find them quite entertaining, but I really didn’t think I could fill a top 10 list for games, books, films, and TV.
Instead what I decided to do was to pick ten things that I enjoyed in 2016. They aren’t in any order of priority, they aren’t based on anything other than the fact that I discovered them in 2016, and I enjoyed them. There will be some books, films, games, TV shows, and maybe even something else. This has been a shit year for planet earth, and humanity, but there’s been some good things. Let’s get to it shall we.
Finding games I really enjoyed this year was tough, but Doom shot to the top of my list out of nowhere. I’ve played Doom reboots before and been thoroughly let down by them, but this one was incredible. Doom combines all the flavor of the classic shooter with modern day mechanics, and rounds it all off by looking amazing, and having the best game soundtrack of the year.
Doom has amazing level design, awesome gun play, fantastic visuals, epic music, and it even has a half decent story. I loved every minute of Doom’s campaign, and enjoyed myself playing around in multiplayer, and the snap map (level editor). This game has a lot to offer in the box, and if aliens came to Earth and asked me what a first person shooter was, this is the game I would give them. If you haven’t played it, but you have played Overwatch, Battlefield, Call of Duty, or Titanfall, then go out and get this game.
10 Cloverfield Lane
This film has an interesting development history and started out as a small standalone film. Once it was picked up by Abrams, and Bad Robot, it became part of the Cloverfield universe. I can only assume that the Cloverfield name is going to be used to loosely collect a bunch of films together with similar themes, like a modern day Twilight Zone cinematic universe.
I remember seeing the trailers and getting excited at the prospect of a new cloverfield movie. I was a fan of the first, especially all the viral marketing they did. While this one had a more traditional approach to publicizing the movie, there was still a lot of unknowns. What made me enjoy the hell out of this film was not the connection to another film, but just the quality of the movie itself. This is a cracking film that’s well shot, tightly written, and wonderfully acted. This is an intense film which really kept me gripped from beginning to end.
I went into this having no idea what to expect, and I came out of it thoroughly satisfied, and impressed. If all the Cloverfield titled projects turn out this good then we are in for some great films down the road.
United States of Japan
I loved this book. It’s dark, gritty, full of action, and suspense. It’s also told from the perspective of a game developer which was refreshing, and for me, very relatable. It’s a fantastic read, and a great successor to Man in the High Castle as a story about Axis occupied America. The writing is sharp, and witty with great characters, and world building.
This is one of my favorite books of the year, and I can’t say enough good things about it. Luckily I have already written a full review of the book so if you want the details go and check that out. If you want the quick version, just go and buy this book. You will not be disappointed.
I am a huge CRPG fan. I have been playing them since my earliest days of gaming that I can remember. They will always hold a special place in my heart because of the epic adventures, and grand story telling found in them. When a new one comes out, it’s a big occasion for me. They don’t come along all that often, so when Obsidian (the team that brought us Pillars of Eternity) decided to make a new one, I was ready to play it.
Tyranny is unlike any CRPG I’ve ever played. It’s told from the perspective of the bad guys in a world shattered by war and conquest. This game is fantastic in every way possible. It has all the qualities I expect of a good CRPG like amazing isometric visuals, great combat, deep customization systems, and an awesome world to explore. What makes Tyranny stand out though is the story and presentation of the narrative. Playing as the bad guys is an awesome new perspective. It allows for really interesting role playing choices that didn’t exist in traditional fantasy storytelling.
Tyranny is a huge game that takes well over 50 hours to properly complete, and I couldn’t get enough of it. If Obsidian make a CRPG every two years for the rest of time, I’ll be totally fine with that.
The Rise of Io
It wouldn’t be a list of things I enjoyed without at least one book by Wesley Chu. After a little break from the Tao series with some awesome time travelling, it felt so good to be back with the Quasing, and Prophus.
The Rise of Io is the first book of a new trilogy and features a whole cast of new characters. I loved the continuation of the story as things have changed a lot since the last book. The new characters were great, but I got stupidly excited to see some familiar faces show up.
Chu’s writing is always fun to read, entertaining, and thoroughly engrossing. If you haven’t read any of his work I would suggest you give him a try. He’s easily one of my favourite authors writing today.
I saw a trailer for this game and knew I would love it. Once I got hold of it I didn’t put it down. This game gripped me like no other game in 2016.
Darkest Dungeon is a turn-based rogue-like RPG. It’s incredibly hard, it’s got great visuals, and audio design. It’s got a such a cool art style, and the entire game is steeped in Lovecraftian goodness.
This game has tested me, and frustrated me like only a souls games has before, but due to how slick, and cool the combat is I just couldn’t stop playing it. If you like turn based combat games, or games filled with fantasy, Lovecraft horror, give this one a go.
Kubo and the Two Strings
There were a lot of good animated movies this year, but Kubo and the Two Strings stood out above the pack to me. I went to see this on a whim, and I had no idea what I was in for, but I was so glad because this film is incredible. It’s a beautiful movie from one of the best animation studios in the world, (it’s a shame they can’t put them out as fast as the other studios) demonstrating some of the best stop motion I’ve ever seen.
The film is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen, and it tells a fantastic story, with voice acting by some really good actors. I enjoyed the adventure, which was accompanied by a pretty excellent score. There is nothing I disliked about this movie, and it holds up to multiple viewings with ease.
Despite Pixar and Dreamworks releasing some great films, Kubo and the Two Strings was not just my favourite animated film, it was one of my favourite films of the year. Watch it!
The fact I liked this wasn’t a surprise to me or anyone that knows me. It’s written by one of my favourite authors, Dan Abnett; It’s set in turn of the century, rural England; It involves mysterious aliens that have heat rays that come out of walkers that look like lamp posts; and all of the characters are talking animals. It’s War of the Worlds meets Sylvanian Families, and it’s fucking awesome.
I loved this comic so much. It’s full of great dialogue, and character building, but it’s sprinkled with some incredibly drawn violence. The only thing I can fault about this series is that there’s only two volumes. I could read this stuff forever, it’s so entertaining. It’s a charming little story brilliantly told, and beautifully realized.
If you read one graphic novel in 2016, I would suggest it’s this one.
The last quarter of 2016 saw a whole bunch of sci-fi movies come out. They were a mixed bag, some being great, and some being pretty bad. Arrival sits at the top of them all. It’s a clever film, which looks at humanity through a very interesting lens of communication and language.
I really enjoyed this film, and the cast are all great. It’s a wonderfully acted film, but for me it’s the writing that really shines through. This sci-fi leans heavily on its story and characters, not on the special effects.
Arrival was also directed by the guy who is doing the Bladerunner sequel, so it was relieving to see yet another great film from him.
This is the only TV show on my list, but it’s also the only TV show that utterly entertained me all the way through, and blew my mind in places. It has the slickest intro of anything I’ve seen this year. It’s utterly gorgeous to watch, with great direction, great visuals, and amazing effects. It’s got a great story line, and the characters are so diverse, and interesting that I was happy to follow along with all of their arcs.
The stand out though has to be the legendary Antony Hopkins being his usual mix of charming, and terrifying. I could watch him talk rhetoric for hours and never get bored. I love this show and I can’t wait to see what season 2 has to offer. If you like the Wild West and creepy androids, give it a watch.
There we have it, a list of things I liked in a year that most people consider to be one big, long garbage fire. I hope there were things you enjoyed during the year of celebrity genocide. I’d love to know what they were if you feel like telling me in the comments.
See you all in 2017!