There’s been many memorable moments in 2016. As the world falls apart around us, we at Factory Sealed keep the comedy gold going. I mean, who could forget that time that Tom had a smooth area, Eric’s ridiculous, over-the-top contest announcement voice or that time we all drove everyone noots when playing DRIVERRRRRR 24: Life Simulator?
Hey, remember that time Jess was on the show once? Me either. Oh yeah! She did show up once, although everybody thought was Scarlett Johannsson. If she was dead.
There’s so much nonsense happens on Factory Sealed, sometimes it’s difficult to remember we actually play games sometimes (we do, honestly. Well, Jess doesn’t. But most of us do). It’s been an interesting year for the old games in 2016; while we dabble in the world of retro for Factory Sealed, many big releases this year have been released, including some which have been in development since time began.
Last year, myself, Eric, Jess and Tom all decided to take a new spin on a game of the year list. While we do outline games released in 2016, these lists are also based on the retro games we played this year, those gems that we may have missed, re-experienced and just straight out had a blast with as we played through them during the course of the show.
As you probably gathered, since you’re reading these words, this list is the same thing as last year! All that remains is for you to strap in your Jock Buns, raise your pinky firmly in the air and shout ‘Wot?!’ occasionally as you read the entries to yourself.
I don’t even actually own Overwatch. Weird, right?
I know – but I did however play Overwatch to death when the PSN kindly had it for free for a few days and I finally bought into the hype. Only reason I haven’t yet bought it for myself is because the Christmas season is coming up and it make a neat little present from some kind soul.
Originally this game completely whizzed past without me giving a flying fart. I saw articles and reviews praising it, but somehow managed to ignore all of them, writing it off as just another multiplayer shooter.
Then I played it. I played it some more. And some more. I tried all of the characters. Before I knew it, hours had gone by and I was having an absolute blast.
Update: Since I wrote this back in December, I’ve bought Overwatch!
And it is as supor as I thought. I’m constantly playing it; despite telling myself that I’ll be done after the next match, it’s simply not enough. The depth of the characters and the team dynamic make it one of the best shooters I’ve played in ages.
9. Salt and Sanctuary
Salt and Sanctuary owes a lot to Dark Souls. In fact, it basically is Dark Souls, but condensed down neatly into a little 2 dimensional package.
Although it released this year just before Dark Souls 3 landed, looking back, I remember Salt and Sanctuary a lot more. Filled with clever design, a dangerous world of nasties and some extremely deep mechanics, Salt and Sanctuary may be like Dark Souls, but also put its own stamp on the genre at the same time.
Some of the bosses are a particular highlight – I remember fighting a life-size tree made of men (cunningly title the Tree of Men), an undead pirate and cursing the game into oblivion when dying at the hands of the final boss for the eighteen millionth time.
Unfortunately the Salty Sanctuary passed by a lot of people – it arrived with little fanfare and deserves a lot more attention than it actually got.
Despite having perhaps the most annoying control scheme in the history of games ever, Landstalkorrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr has to make the list.
I think perhaps the reason I added it to the list is that I was the only person on the crew who actually managed to finish the damn thing. Yes, I, Sir Daniel Fortescurtis, tackled the ins and outs of the dreaded forest maze, mastered the art of actually walking through doors and defeated the evil King Nole’s deadly castle of ridiculous traps.
However perhaps my most fond memory of the game comes now from playing the game itself, but from the video we did where Tom spliced together all of our reactions to the first half an hour.
You need to see it for yourself.
Yep, we finally got round to playing Banjo Kazooiee for the show this year! About time, right?
A personal admission from me on this one – I’ve never actually played through Banjo Kazooiee before. I have, however, played Banjo Tooiee almost to death. So it was with great joy that I took up the first game in the series; twas time to find out what all the fuss was about.
Turns out that the fuss was well founded – Banjo’s first adventure is a lovely old time. It’s aging a bit nowadays and has some rock-hard collectibles to grab, but I personally loved the world design, the seamless switching music and pecking anthropomorphic beehives to death.
6: Uncharted 4
Is there any game developer out there more consistent than Naughty Dog for delivering quality games? For my money, nope.
Uncharted 4 was a serious loveletter to a character Naughty Dog had been with for years, pushing the envelope further than ever before and delivering a technical masterpiece that has to be truly played to believe.
With wider, more open environments similar to the Last of Us, ridiculous, OTT scenes, better climbing mechanics and Naughty Dog’s trademark excellent character development, Nate’s final Naughty-Dog helmed adventure is well deserving of the ridiculous amounts of praise it received.
A special mention also has to go to THAT scene where Nate and his wife Elena play through Crash Bandicoot. Twas a delightful homage to Naughty Dog’s beginnings and tickled my nostalgia bones splendidly.
Although technically not a retro game (although it’s made to look like one) Undertale blew me away when we played it for the show.
A suggestion from long-time listener and all-around good egg Matt Earney (who also joined us for the show), Undertale is a mish-mash of classic RPG tropes, genuinely witty dialogue and inventive game design that flips conventions on their head constantly throughout your time.
It’s hard to pinpoint all the moments that made this one stand out so much – whether it was the ridiculous skeleton brothers and their obsession with spaghetti, the fact that you could not actually fight anything and play the game being nice or the reveal at the end that EXP is an acronym for execution points, dished out every time you mindlessly murder something.
Genuinely brilliant stuff and an absolute blast to play. Thanks for the suggestion Matt!
4: Silent Hill 2
Despite what Eric will tell you, playing on easy does count. Particularly when you were so pants-wettingly terrified of playing a game beforehand.
Yes, I will be the first to admit I am a huge, huge nancy when it comes to survival horror games. I don’t understand why people like to be scared by things, as I prefer listening to the comforting sounds of the traffic passing through the road in the middle of my house, rather than pooing my knickers.
So, when the promised challenge of playing Silent Hill 2 for the Halloween show rolled around, it’s safe to say I wasn’t looking forward to it. To try and drive me on and play the game, Eric made me a bet; if I finished it, he would pay the amount I actually paid for the game.
Thus began a quest – a quest to not only prove to myself that I could do it and play through one of the most famous horror games ever, but – more importantly – a quest to go ‘ner ner ner ner ner’ to Eric Pederson after I’d finished it.
Amazingly, after around an hour of gameplay, jumping at every noise, something clicked in my brain. I asked myself, ‘what, really, are you scared of?’ and somehow, through sheer mind over matter, I got all of the way through Silent Hill 2, rolling the credits and even filming myself doing so to prove it.
I am extremely glad I did; while yes, Silent Hill 2 can be scary, it’s unnerving world and intriguing mysteries are certainly worth experiencing. I never, in a million years, thought I would rank a horror game so highly, yet here I am, doing so.
I’m extremely proud of myself for getting through this one and despite his endless taunting, Eric shall never take this achievement away from me.
Also, have you seen Mary? She’s dead.
3. Chrono Trigger
We didn’t play it for the show (as Eric and co already did that) but I felt the time was right for another playthrough of the classic RPG Chrono Trigger.
I love Chrono Trigger. It is hands-down one of the finest RPGs ever made and even after multiple playthroughs over the course of my gaming career, returning to the adventures of Chrono, Marle, Robo, Frog and the others remains as great as it was the first time I played it.
If you’ve never played this one before, I gave it a hearty recommendation. A great battle system, rewarding time-travelling mechanics, wonderful characters and a world filled with goodies await you, all wrapped up neatly with multiple possible endings.
Chrono, this year, got me through the slight gaming drought that always hits towards the end of summer. I had a great time playing it once again and it is, as always, deserving of a spot on my list of games of the year.
2: Dark Cloud 2
Just pipped at the post by my top game of the year, Dark Cloud 2 nearly, but didn’t, continue the theme of my game of the year being an Eric Pederson recommendation.
Last year I awarded the top spot in my list to Rogue Galaxy, a great, great RPG which Eric had been pestering me to play for years. This year, he continued this by badgering me to play Dark Cloud 2.
After it was heavily discounted on the PSN, I bought it finally, keeping it in library for the traditional summer gaming drought. I started playing it and didn’t like it that much; combat felt stiff, enemies were extra tough and the storyline wasn’t the best.
Then I played some more. The storyline picked up, the mechanics of how to fight fell into place and I unlocked the best part of the game – building stuff. Yes, in Dark Cloud 2 an essential part of your progress is making towns in various locations, building houses, making chimneys, placing carts and other things to build up the world. It’s a lot of fun, especially as you unlock bits by playing through dungeons.
Another of my favourite elements of Dark Cloud 2 was the Spheda minigame (think golf, with portals). Despite being rock hard, it’s a good time. I managed to do a shot where I bounced the ball off about eight walls and get it into the portal, which amazed me, if nobody else.
I also had the joy of playing through the game with Eric. Despite his love for the game, he’d never finished it! This was the first time he’d finished the game in his storied gaming history and I’m proud of the progress he has finally made.
If only we could get him to open Kingdom Hearts 2 now.
1: Final Fantasy XV
Ten years. That’s how long it took for this game to come out. Ten. Years.
As I may have mentioned on the show (just once or twice), I’m a huge Final Fantasy fan. As such, waiting for XV to finally release was a long, torturous process. It took so long, it surely couldn’t live up the hype, right?
Wrong. XV is great. At the time of writing this, I have clocked in 54 hours of gameplay in this huge, sprawling and highly detailed world.
Admittedly the storyline is a jangled, rushed mess, but there’s so much extra to this game that I really don’t care. Combat is an absolute joy and isn’t just holding down circle and square; the fishing minigame is ridiculously addictive and I’ve rarely seen a game with such a cast of believable characters with genuine relationships.
The post-game content is equally superb; despite finishing the storyline at 30 hours, I’m still going strong and have a huge amount to still see and do. XV may be a bit of a departure from Final Fantasy games of the past, but it is still worthy of the name.
Honourable Mention: Indigo Prophecy (Fahrenheit)
Award Winner – Most Intriguing Concept which Disintegrates into Batshit Mental Nonsense
Although it can’t, in any way, make my favourite games of 2016 list, I had to still mention this absolutely absurd game.
Beginning with an intriguing, sort-of supernatural murder mystery and literally ending with the Apocalypse, matrix fights and sentient, purple AIs, Indigo Prophecy is a laughable, loveable mess.
I ended this game for the show and was just left utterly, utterly baffled by the time the credits rolled. It’s like they just gave up halfway through.
If you love playing Simon Says, weird bugs which make no sense, creepy guys in raincoats and sexy time with dead peeps, you’ll love this one.
Additional Honourable Mention (for all the wrong reasons): No Man’s Sky
Award Winner for *FART NOISE*
What a load of turd.
Never before have I taken a game back to the store the day after its release. With No Man’s Sky, I had to.
Talk about a game not delivering on its promises. Yes, you may be able to see the universe and explore a quitillion planets, but what’s the point when there is absolutely sod all to see on them?
If you love walking, managing your inventory space, shooting rocks and…not much else, do enjoy yourself.
God, remembering it is just making me annoyed. So, so pants.
BONUS – Game I Played Way Too Much This Year (BLOPS 3)
I played an almost embarrasing amount of COD in 2016.
Despite it not being my favourite game, the lure of unlocking new skins, potentially new weapons and other assorted useless nonsense hooked me, line and sinker. I’ve played it so much this year, I’m completely burnt out on the COD front and am not even getting Infinite Warfare.
I don’t know why I played it so much – I suppose, well, it is because it’s fun to do. Given the hours upon hours I’ve played it, I couldn’t not put it on the list.
I also don’t know why I’m writing this like I’m ashamed. Call of Duty games sell so well because they’re fun to play; it may be the same old same old most years, but it’s still got a lot to offer for anyone, regardless of whether you like the single player, multiplayer, zombies or whatever else they throw in.
Don’t judge me, kay?
Thank you fellow Factory Sealors for reading my thoughts for this year.