Hardware Unboxing: Scuf Gaming Controllers for Xbox One & PS4
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Game Review: Thimbleweed Park (Switch)
Game Review: Paper Wings (Mobile)
Game Review: Human Resource Machine (Mobile)

Game Refraction’s Best of 2016: Games

Kyler’s Top Games of 2016

I mostly do reviews for Anime for the site, so I don’t get around to playing all the new releases like some of the other journalists. Of the games I did get to play this year, here are the ones I most enjoyed playing, whether I played for a couple of hours or 50 hours. I’m sure a lot of people will cover many of the “Triple A” titles, and I did play a few of them myself, but I didn’t get to spend as much time with them as I would have liked due to work or Anime. I play my games almost exclusively on PC, and some companies use the Early Access feature on Steam to allow people to play for a long period before release. Thus, I’m only mentioning games that have reached a full release during 2016 and are completely out of Early Access. Here are my Top 5 games of 2016:

3. Overwatch

A heavy hitter for multiplayer competitive eSports, Blizzard launched this title and secured another recognizable intellectual property for years to come. It’s fast-paced, competitive, and can be just the thing to get back into that FPS competitive groove. I never played it without having a few friends around to help with the teamwork aspect of the game, but getting into a match with similarly skilled players is fast and simple.

2. Dragonball Xenoverse 2

Maybe it’s because I had several friends to play it with, or because a lot of the dialogue is still cheesy, but Dragonball Xenoverse 2 stood above other titles this year for sheer multiplayer enjoyment. It starts out easy but as you progress the game gets much more challenging and rewarding. It essentially turns Dragonball into a RPG.

1. Fire Emblem Fates (Birthright/Conquest)

I’ve only been a fan of the Fire Emblem series as far back as few of the DS versions. I’m not a huge fan of perma-death for characters in these games, as each battle requires absolute perfection. However, the last few installments have given options to ignore the perma-death aspect, much to the dismay of some hardcore fans, and have given me free reign to play the game with some forgiveness. The dialogue, story, and gameplay are a driving force for this series and deserves its recognition as one of the best Strategy RPGs since Final Fantasy Tactics in my eyes.


 David’s Top Games of 2016

While I’ve played more than my fair share of games this year, choosing 3 wasn’t as easy as you might think.  I chose my 3 based upon the fact they came out in 2016, and how much time I’ve continued to sink into them.

3. Endless Space 2

While not a full release in 2016, this Early Release Alpha on Steam captured my attention after seeing it at PaxWest 2016.  It is a lot of fun, and with the plans the developers have in store for it, has the potential to become a really fulfilling game after the next few updates.  More species, races and the addition of Multiplayer are still in the works, along with the smooth game play, gorgeous graphics and galactic map, I am looking forward to many more hours of gameplay from this title.

2. Fractured Space

While not my first battle area style game, Fractured Space offers something unique in the form of gigantic space ships battling it out in space.  The graphics are beautiful, and the detail on the ships are amazing.  While still in early release, and with many updates still planned, Fractured Space has a lot of potential.  One of the favorites friends and I play together on a regular basis, Fractured Space is sure to continue to grab out attention.

1. Skyrim

While Skyrim Special Edition/Remastered Edition was released late in 2016, I started playing the original game again late this year.  Having discovered mods with Fallout 4, the amount of Mods available for Skyrim is insurmountable.  You can mod basically every aspect of the game, and tweak it to your preference.  For this playthrough, I’ve gone the route of as much immersion that I possibly can, with the addition of a few tweaks and additional armor sets.  The Skyrim Unbound mod allowed me to disable everything relating to the Dragonborn, and play as a character without ties to the main storyline.  The possibilities have been endless.


Jenn’s Top Games of 2016

3. Pokemon Go

This game took over the world in the summer, leading to some fierce competition, but also an epic game to bond over with friends and strangers alike…while also getting out of the house. This game was so exciting to play because of the integration of live landmarks as gyms, Pokestops and camera view of Pokemon spotted, allowing for every gamer to feel like they were literally on a Pokemon adventure, hunting wild Pokemon just like in the TV series. While the game required a lot of grinding to evolve Pokemon and to hatch eggs, it was still very much worth your time in the end result of getting an even cooler Pokemon.  The pure disadvantage is that if you don’t live in a big city, or don’t travel around a lot, your types of spotted Pokemon are very limited. While the excitement behind this game has died down in the last few months, it is still a fun little mobile game to play when out doing things, simply to see if you can still find one of those rare Pokemon finds.

2. The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim Remastered

Already over five years old and still one of the most in depth game I have played. Skyrim itself was a game that had a huge sandbox of adventure packed into it, allowing each player to experience the game in their own unique style of gameplay and character development. Bethesda made a fantastic decision to remaster the game and re-release it to new age systems to allow for both dedicated fans, who perhaps don’t always blow the dust off of the old systems anymore to play, and for a new age of gamers to have the opportunity to experience its glory.  The added feature of mods being allowed to be applied to the game has enhanced gamer experience, wherein many gamers can now mold the game into one that is unique to their imagination. Modifications have allowed such things as new lands to be coded in, realism living concepts to characters, and enhanced graphic developments. This game will definitely be one that continues to be on the top of the gaming list for years to come.

1. Reigns

Card based gaming has been very popular this year, and this game took full advantage of this concept. Reigns gave you a fictional world wherein you ruled as a King for a pre-determined time, making decisions based on individual cards (people requesting or providing information) that would cause you to make decisions that would alter the fundamentals of your kingdom.  Sometimes it was the church…sometimes the people….sometimes the army… and sometimes your treasury.  Ultimately though, you would die a great death. Sometimes you would make one aspect too angry and you would have a horrible death, but then sometime you would make an aspect too happy and you would still suffer death.  Like once, I had so much money and my people held a great feast and I died choking on my food and no one saved me because they were all too drunk to notice….bah! Once in a while you would die, but it would be a grand one where you would be rejoiced. This game is ultimately addicting and as you progress from King to King, you learn more techniques on how to manipulate your resources and how to answer certain requests to further your reign. Just remember to avoid the Blue Mushroom….


Andrew’s Top Games of 2016

3. Prominence Poker

Poker, a game associated with the wild west and has had a renaissance in the last 10 years. This is your standard poker game but it has its charm. You can play tournaments, head-to-head among other modes. While you can play against AI in the story modes the true meat lies in playing online against real human opponents. That way you can really hone your skills to see if you could stack up in the real world. As you level up you’re given an option to join an affiliation based on the suits of the cards. Whether it be clubs, hearts, diamonds, and/or spades. As you build your bankroll you can also buy clothing, tattoos, along with table items and other things in order too customize your character. This isn’t a poker simulator of all simulators but it is quite enjoyable and as of right now its free to download.

2. Stardew Valley

Where did the time go. One night and 4 hours gone just like that. The popular PC hit made the jump to console on December 13. Stardew Valley is a sim game of farming, mining, forging, and even cultivating friendships to the point where you can marry the person you choose to love and eventually having a kid with said person. Stardew Valley is a basically Farmville on steroids and does it so well. It really eases you into it and everything is connected in some way. You start with some basic tools and a packet of Parsnip seeds. It is then up to you to clear your overgrown farm that you inherited from your grandfather. You can plant the seeds and grow a crop that you then sell to make money to buy more seeds and grow better pay off crops.  While your crops grow you then have the option of working on the relationships with the townsfolk of Pelican Town, go into the mines and face the dangers within to mine treasure such as copper and gold. Or even go to the community centre and work on bundles. You can even fish if your heart so desires. All in all this game is extremely addicting and as you forge ahead to see what you can grow and harvest or mine just remember to check the time every once and a while.

1. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Remastered (Xbox One)

5 years later and still addicted. With the remastered version comes better graphics, god rays and mods, now I’ll never beat the game. Skyrim is one of the biggest RPGs still out there. The depth of choice you have is massive from the 10 species you have to choose from to what skills you’ll specialize in. Will you be an Orc blazing a path of destruction with you berserker rage and two-handed specialization or will you be Altmer (high elf) with the extra magicka to burn or shock your enemies into dust with destruction powers? You could also be a sneak thief Khajiit that nobody would ever see while you rob them blind. That is only scratching the surface I’ve put over 200 hours into this game and I still find new things to do and that’s before introducing mods to the console versions. You can build your house, adopt children, get married become a vampire lord, the possibilities are endless. I can’t say enough about this game except you need to buy it and play it. Remember, watch your knees, you’ll never know when an arrow can be shot into it.


Jeff’s Top Games of 2016

 3. Tales from the Borderlands: Complete Series – Xbox One

This past April saw the physical release of my favorite Telltale game thus far; Tales from the Borderlands. I am a big fan of the existing Borderlands series and was interested in how Telltale would adapt the first person shooter franchise to their choice-driven and character heavy style of gameplay. What Tales from the Borderlands is, first and foremost, is one of the best-written games I’ve played in quite some time. I was always laughing as the game is consistently funny, charming and filled with some of my favorite Borderlands moments ever conceived.

2. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End – PS4

The Uncharted games have been some of my favorite experiences in modern gaming. The role of Nathan Drake is easily influenced by so many different characters from across vast mediums, but there is just something so original with how Nolan North brings him to life. Uncharted 4 is the finale to the Nathan Drake story and wraps up in a way truly fitting for this legendary franchise. Uncharted 4 is visually impressive, packed full of fantastic set-pieces and unforgettable characters.

 1. Life is Strange: Complete Season 1-5 – Xbox One

Life is Strange, as I stated in my review is “an emotional look into growing up and having to deal with choices that can affect our lives and those around us, and is one of the best experiences I have ever had, no matter the medium.”  As Max, you mysteriously gain the ability to control time, and with it, choose to intervene and change the outcome of certain events. These interventions have drastic consequences that lead to some incredible drama and great storytelling. Life is Strange was released back in 2015 through an episodic release, but this past January’s collection is budget priced and one of my favorite games ever made.

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