As December rolls in, signaling the beginning of the end to another fantastic year in gaming, we begin to reflect upon our favorites of the year. While AAA blockbusters like Uncharted 4 and Overwatch make room on their shelves for their impending Game of the Year Awards – and many other awards – let’s take a look at a couple of great games that may have flown under the radar this year.
10. Ratchet And Clank (PlayStation 4)
Ratchet and Clank is a considerable notable name, but after 10 yrs, multiple different consoles and a few questionable games (and a movie for that matter), latest iteration in the franchise may have flown in under the radar for a lot of gamers. The 2016 platform shooter re-imagines the adventures of Ratchet and Clank and their band of colorful characters, taking elements from the original and expanding upon them to make the franchise better than ever.
9. Song of the Deep (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows)
Developed by well-known company Insomniac Games (Resistance, Ratchet & Clank, Sunset Overdrive) Song of the Deep follows a 12-year-old girl (Merryn) who crafts a makeshift submarine to search for her father who went missing while fishing. The 2d side scroller requires players to aid Merryn by solving puzzles highly dictated by the effects on objects under water. The tranquil underwater experience falls at a price point of $15 and is one of the many great games buried under a retail-dominated market.
8. Unravel (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows)
Unravel follows Yarney, an adorable apple-sized creature made of red yarn, as he unravels and ravels himself amongst platforms to solve puzzles. Yarney and company are one of the many games that fall victim to the early February release date, leaving gamers to question if it might have come out last year.
7. Mirror’s Edge Catalyst (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows)
During its initial release in 2008, Mirror’s Edge became all the gaming community could talk about, with innovative first person platforming integrated with unique combat, fans couldn’t wait for a sequel. After years of speculation, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst quietly released last June with the same positive reception of its predecessor, but simply lacked the notoriety of the original.
6. Abzu (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows)
Coined as the spiritual successor to Journey, Abzu was developed Squid Studios, a company made up of notable members of the aforementioned breakout 2012 indie game. The game allows players to explore the deep blue sea, gallivant through immense schools of fish, vibrant coral reefs and befriending – and riding – majestic creatures (Shoutout to Sharkie!). While the previous reputation certainly helped the team market Abzu, many seem to unfairly compare it to Journey, setting the bar impossibly high for the studio’s first game, thus hurting its acclaim.
5. Firewatch (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Linux, Macintosh operating systems)
One of the breakout indie games of the year, Firewatch has quietly been nominated for multiple Game of the Year awards by critics. Published by Campo Stano, the game puts players in the shoes of Shoshone National Forest lookout Henry as he explores the park and solves the mystery surrounding it. Initially announced in 2014 and slated for 2015 release, the first person adventure game may have flown in under the radar with an early February release.
4. Oxenfree (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Linux, Macintosh operating systems)
A supernatural mystery graphic adventure game (say that five times fast), Oxenfree follows Alex, a teenager who is visiting an abandoned island for an overnight party. With engrossing artwork and an enthralling script, this narrative-driven experience is a must play for anyone who loves strong story. The format and short runtime might turn some away, but the multiple endings and unique paths toward them are more than enough to make up for it.
3. The Witness (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, iOS)
First person puzzle games have been coming out of the woodwork ever since the success of Portal was released as a part of the Orange Box in 2007. The Witness manages to put a distinct spin on the somewhat stale genre, providing elaborate maze-esque puzzles alongside stunning visuals to make a standout game. Another victim of the January release, The Witness has slowly gained ground, almost managing to outsell the first year sales equivalent of the company’s (Blow) previous indie darling Braid.
2. That Dragon Cancer (Microsoft Windows, iOS, Ouya, Macintosh operating systems)
Easily the most uniquely (and coolest) titled game of 2016, That Dragon, Cancer is also one of the most heartwarming/painful. The game is inspired by two of the game’s creators (Ryan and Amy Green) and their experiences raising their 12-month old son. A combination of an early year release and PC exclusivity might have hidden this gem from many, but I implore you to play this heartfelt experience and not to let if fly in under the radar.
1. Inside (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows)
So here you are asking, how can a game nominated for so many different awards be the most underrated/unknown game of the year? The answer is that, just like Limbo, Inside is one of those games that is so good that simple recognition and acknowledgment isn’t enough, this game is amazing. The story and the world are captivating and beautiful without ever uttering a word, as players follow a young boy traversing a strange and terrifying world that constantly tries to kill him. There is no wasted space in Inside, and despite an odd ending, the game truly deserves to be talked about more than the trivial amount of discussion it has generated thus far this year.
Regardless of your opinion on the order or games not on the list that should be, I highly recommend each game on this list. Coupled alongside the notable releases of 2016, the games that fly under the radar are another illustration of how video games and the industry manage to improve every year!
For more information regarding these games and other 2016 releases be sure to check back to the site. And don’t forget to share your own top 10 list in the comments below!
Andrew has been in love with video game ever since his brother was forced by their parents to let him watch him and his friends play games like Goldeneye and Super Mario 64.