Being a smaller game site is both a blessing and a curse. While you don't often get large reviews of major games, you really grow to appreciate the lesser blockbuster games that get a sentence and a half mention on those larger sites. I'm on the record in saying every game I've put on this list I've enjoyed just as much, or sometimes even more than the titles you'll find on a lot of "best of 2016" lists. If you haven't had a chance to try these out, make it a priority!
Platform: PS4, Xbox One
This game is hands down the best couch co-op experience of 2016. You and a friend (you can play solo but you will break down and cry in frustration) are sent back in time to the early 90's restaurant boom to improve your cooking skills in preparation for a giant spaghetti monster apocalypse. Each level has you cooking meals, cleaning dishes, and dodging obstacles as you work to improve your star rating enough to continue throughout the game.
This isn't one of those games where you can just say "you do your thing and I'll do mine" as obstacles and chaos will frequently force constant communication between the two of you to make sure you guys complete the level! It's tough, but it's not going to be one of those games where you end up yelling at your friend because they suck...you just try again and hope for the best!
Paladins: Champions of the Realm
Look, Overwatch isn't for me...but I'm all about Paladins. The game weathered the Blizzard smear campaign and is still thriving in its FREE open beta. If you're someone who walked away or grew tired of Overwatch for whatever reason, this game could be for you.
The major differences you'll notice are maps are set up to rely on more team action, horses are used to expedite getting back to the point, and cards can be used to customize and further buff the champion abilities you use.
The game just hit 5 million players and is still alive in an Overwatch obsessed gaming community for a reason. I've sunk about 35 hours into the game and just achieved enough rank to hit competitive a couple days ago so believe me when I say you won't have to worry much about people playing the objective. The community is serious about this game!
Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One
If you're looking for a game that will make you feel as though you're a superhero with ultra fast reflexes, this is it. If you've seen trailers for Clustertruck and thought, "there's no way it's THAT difficult," you're wrong. It IS that difficult, but retry after retry, you get a bit better. Pretty soon you're parkouring and diving off trucks midair, whilst spiraling through a windmill and avoiding blasts from alien lasers. Yeah...you do all of that.
They also keep adding free content and what's not to love about that?!
It's so hard to give an accurate review of Tyranny because this game is so detailed and complex I can describe an experience that is completely opposite from what you experience in your game. Do you like games where every decision you make affects your outcome? I'm not talking about The Walking Dead decision tree where every decision leads to two paths...I'm talking about EVERY decision impacts your relationship with someone in the game.
What is consistent is that you are the "Fate Binder" for the evil lord Kyros and must declare his edicts across the land. You can play evil and just, or rule with an iron fist. This is a game for the person who likes Baldur's Gate or deep RTS RPG's and is willing to dip long hours of gameplay into an immersive experience unmatched by any game this year. It's seriously impressive how much work went into making this game!
Platform: PC, Xbox One, PS4
This one is also an RTS RPG but not nearly as complicated...and an amazing story. I've been absolutely shocked at the lack of coverage of THQ Nordic's The Dwarves as I have yet to find a stronger storyline in any game released so far in 2016! I wrote a review on it a couple weeks ago, and I'm still making my way through this rich universe based off the German best-selling novel of the same name. Clever narration, great cinematics and addictive and easy to master gameplay have this one at the top of my list for 2016...and I don't think I'll be putting this one away anytime soon!
This game will make you love Dwarves and absolutely hate elves.
Master Of Orion
Last but certainly not least is a turn based strategy game sitting in the shadow of Civilization VI for the better part of the year. Master Of Orion has been around just as long as the Civ series, and had they released their rebooted franchise any other year but this it'd be the talk of the town. Take everything you love about the Civ games and add Space, real-time RTS (or auto) space battles, and a massive map of planets to conquer with AI that's actually competitive and you have a game that you'll actually enjoy without a few patches. As much as I want to go back to the Civ series I can't after playing this game...I just love it too much.
I'm sure you had your own picks for the year as well...so feel free to share them in the comments below!