Six Overlooked Games of 2016: These RPGS deserve more attention from gamers

With 2016 over, we have a lot to look forward to, especially in the gaming industry, however I think it’s also important to look back at what has happened. I think it’s good to learn from your mistakes, but more importantly, learn from your happy accidents.

Quite a few best of 2016 lists are coming out, and they are full of good games. “Overwatch,” “Dishonored” and “Dark Souls” are all great games, but everyone knows about those. The following list is of six games that are underrated and fairly unknown.

The first entry on this list is a bit of a cheat. “The Witcher 3, Blood and Wine.” Yes, yes, “The Witcher 3” is an insanely popular game, but as the hype of last years game of the year died down, something brilliant dropped onto the scene.

“Blood and Wine” is only a DLC addition to the already brilliant RPG known as “The Witcher,” centering around a sword-fighting beast hunter that has to save someone close to him. “Blood and Wine” is both a very different and very similar experience to the base game, the strangely beautiful, realistically medieval landscape in the base game being traded for an almost fantasy like one.

Though the world is beautiful, sadness and darkness merge with the humor and happiness, becoming closely related and almost identical. The main character is brought to this land of roller coasters to seek out a monster within it, something unknown who has been killing trusted nights and other important people.

The mystery and intrigue forms an interesting plot for “The Witcher,” and the tight gameplay forms a near-perfect combat system. It’s bloody, it’s deadly, and it’s quick, yet also dark and mysterious.

The DLC not only holds up to the rest of the game, but in some ways exceeds it, providing fun for hours. It’s content is likely more fleshed out than many full priced games, and being the last occurrence of the long-loved main character, Geralt of Rivia, it is necessary for any fan.

Each engaging session that you play is almost bittersweet as it is one session closer to the end of the game, which is actually a pretty good thing.

The second entry has only technically come out this year because of it’s massive, game changing updates. “Crypt of the Necrodancer” is a fairly standard RPG where a girl goes to save her uncle, yet rather than fighting monsters like a regular RPG, you have to move in perfect time with the beat of either their preset songs or an mp3 of your own.

This is excruciatingly challenging for those who have little sense of rhythm, but for those who play music or have a natural sense for beat, it can be very easy. The game relies heavily on the recognition of patterns, and the ability to think quickly, while also strategizing, forming an almost turn based combat style.

The dark stone dungeon floors light up with color as the tempo increases, and like a disco, the girl and monsters dance around, battling with flashes of light and baited moves. It’s a niche game, but the dancing mechanic creates something new and interesting that would be interesting to explore in further titles.

Another of these games is “Darkest Dungeon.” Living up to it’s name, “Darkest Dungeon” is an extremely dark game, it’s bleak concept based on trying to scrounge up enough money to live while hiring mercenaries to seek out the long forgotten treasures deep underneath an old castle.

In the descent to find the treasure, the mercenaries must fight deadly creatures and countless horrors, their in game sanity meter slowly waning until the hired blades are so crazy that they are hurting more than they are helping.

The challenge of getting through these sprawling dungeons only increases as time goes on, running out of torches and food until they are reduced to cold husks.

Though the game is slightly depressing with a bleak plot, the almost gothic art style is beautiful, and the almost pet-like attachment you grow to the mercenaries you hire makes losing them all the more impactful.

The payoff you receive when completing a dungeon or saving one of your favorite characters is massive because of the steep difficulty curve.

This game does one thing very well — forming attachments to characters and not being afraid to kill them off.

“Fire Emblem Fates” is another game that is criminally underrated, even though published by Nintendo. Though the game is targeted at teens, the adjustable difficulty settings can make the game challenging for small children and expert strategists alike.

Much like “Darkest Dungeon,” the player controls several heroes that must take turns to fight an enemy AI; however, unlike the previous game, the soldiers are viewed from a top down perspective and are outnumbered at least 2-1.

The challenge presents itself in a head on assault, the tough enemies charging in as you are forced to outgun and outmaneuver their seemingly endless ranks until you secure the upper hand and try to vanquish your foe.

Playing on the harder difficulties makes the game brutally unforgiving, making the player analyze the battlefield like a chess match, and sometimes make tough sacrifices to keep key fighters alive.

Yet during downtime between fights, the extremely well written cast of 51 characters comes to life and has discussions. These characters form relationships and camaraderie based on how they’re played. For example, if two characters constantly protected each other in battles, their relations would improve, making them closer and even making them fight more strongly together.

This strength can manifest in different ways, the characters becoming best friends or even getting married. Yet again, depending on the difficulty setting, you can lose your units; however, with the beautifully dynamic relationship building mechanic, the deaths become all the more meaningful.

This can add to the story, but most players avoid their favorite character’s deaths at all costs. Though the pre-set story can be almost hilariously dramatic at times, the game manages to give an unexpectedly compelling experience.

An extremely controversial game that many looked on with disdain was “Firewatch.” The game was masterfully crafted in terms of story and mood, but the gameplay was rather lacking. Labeled by many as a walking simulator, “Firewatch” takes place in Shoshone National Forest, where Henry, the main character whose wife recently befell tragedy, is assigned to a tower that overlooks the forest, so that he can make sure fires do not rage out of control. While it starts as an escape to nature, Henry quickly becomes attached to the beautiful landscape and his fellow Fire Watcher, Delilah. There is no specific goal to the game besides enjoying the story and building your relationship with Delilah and the land, which makes many not even consider it a game. While the gameplay isn’t exactly the most enjoyable, and players often find themselves lost in the massive park, the brilliantly structured and well executed story is amazing, and the voice acting is some of the best gaming has seen in a long time. As you delve deeper into the game, more and more threads become untangled, and the plot takes several interesting twists, making the seemingly boring game shine only brighter. If it can be considered a game, then “Firewatch” is a brilliant and beautiful one, definitely worth checking out.

Finally, “Hyper Light Drifter” also deserves a spot on this list. With the increased popularity of pixel art, and a more retro design, “Drifter” takes it’s art to the next level, the vibrantly colored, well shaded, yet somehow retro looking art probably the best we’ve seen. The game is an action RPG with a quite vague, almost interpretive story. You play as some kind of alien swordsman with the ability to blink, or teleport, very short distances. With very little other intelligent life forms and almost no allies, the game instills a sense of the player being the last bastion of intelligent life. The world is beautiful, yet slowly becoming slightly overgrown, the amazing almost neon wall designs slowly turning greenish grey as roots and moss cover them.

With hordes of enemies blocking you, only one direction can be taken: forward. As you unlock other directions and get more clues in the story, more and more enemies come, and the fights become a difficult struggle of blinking around the map and attacking in almost a guerilla warfare type fashion. Unless you like the vague kind of plot structure, story is not the main goal of “Hyper Light Drifter,” and neither is the character development, because the main character has little to no dialogue. However the insanely catchy gameplay and the stunning visuals make the at times frustratingly difficult game worth playing. Color is bound to flicker and flash upon the player’s screen as he or she flits around like a humming bird using the blink ability like an almost neon blue sword slashing through the ever colorful rooms and paths.

Though these games can be enjoyable to most people on a surface level, many people use entertainment as an escape, a much needed commodity in 2016. In these trying times, with the future looking somewhat bleak, these overlooked beacons of hope can give gamers just enough energy to push through. Most of these games can be located at store.steampowered.com, and those that can’t can be found at Gamestop.com.

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