Big, little and a few in between
For gamers, 2016 presented a rich and often maddening variety of experiences, from the first real consumer-ready virtual reality titles to increasingly slick mobile games that were every bit as worth our time and money as console entries.
Here are the top five games this longtime gamer and sometime-gaming critic played this year — with an equal amount of honorable mentions at the bottom.
1. Uncharted 4: A Thief ’s End (PS4) It’s easy to deride the annual avalanche of sequels in gaming, which hints that the industry is as creatively bereft at the upper levels as it is experimental in the trenches. But look closer and you’ll find as much wit, nuance and fearlessness in certain AAA (or big-budget) titles as you will among indie developers — with Uncharted 4 as a prime example. The incredible visual polish and sturdy platforming/combat is the obvious draw here, but impeccable writing and imaginative scenarios (both plot- and gameplaybased) were an unexpected delight from the ostensible final
entry in this cinematic adventure franchise.
2. That Dragon, Cancer (PC, mobile) The tiny, Lovelandbased developer Numinous Games released what will be seen in hindsight as a turning point for all video games, but for now is simply an achingly emotional, relatively niche game about a Christian family whose son has terminal brain cancer. It’s not the typical subject matter in gaming — nor does That Dragon, Cancer unfold in expected ways — but it’s easy to think that anyone who has played this relatively compact, third- and first-person exploration title was
EEdeeply affected by it (if not shattered and gently rebuilt).
3. Abzû (PS4, Xbox, PC) With a score by Colorado’s own award-winning composer Austin Wintory and gorgeous, color-saturated visuals that delight at every turn, Abzu is a light and linear exploration game in the style of thatgamecompany’s Journey and Flower. You’re a swimmer in a vast but sleek ocean and your only job is to relax and enjoy the sights while you get to your destination via a variety of environments, each more delightful than the last.
4. Super Mario Run (mobile)
The fearless, emotionally wrenching game That Dragon, Cancer follows a Colorado family’s struggle with their child’s brain cancer diagnosis. Provided by Numinous Games
The adventures of Nathan Drake and crew continued in 2016's gorgeous, surprisingly affecting Uncharted 4: A Thief's End.