This is part of Kill Screen’s list of the best videogames of 2016. To see the rest of the list, check out all the other parts.
12. The Last Guardian
You don’t mind when Trico delays the journey to splash in a puddle. This large mythic fusion of cat, bird, and dog is the most lovable videogame companion yet—both daft and majestic. Tasked with escaping a megastructure made of carved stone and rickety wooden plinths, the boy and Trico learn to cooperate, but also to care for one another. They climb up high and fall back down, over and over, participating in a thrilling drama punctuated by epic heights and the occasional stroke under the chin.
By Chris Priestman
11. Hyper Light Drifter
What Hyper Light Drifter “does” is simple: it stitches a Zelda-style world with a taut combat system and paints the whole thing in lurid pixel art. Why it works so well is a different story. It’s a game of details; of anime-scale apocalyptic signifiers like ruined giants and massive beating hearts, of the plaintive and swelling strains of Disasterpeace’s music, of characters who speak in painted images, not words. Hyper Light Drifter makes you an outsider in its world; it’s confident you’ll want to discover more for yourself.
By Zach Budgor
In the pastel mountains of the beautifully stylized Shoshone National Forest, a story born from the loneliness and austere beauty of Campo Santo co-founder Sean Vanaman’s Wyoming childhood plays out. Firewatch isn’t the first game to have all the hallmarks of great writing—humor, pathos, a compelling enigma. But the first game from Campo Santo was special because it dared to do something so few games do: it treated its players like adults, resisting the easy closure of a happy ending.
By Roy Graham
9. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is a gift from the JRPGods. Like someone up above gazed down and said, “What do you want in a JRPG?” And the world answered back, “A Shin Megami Tensei game with all of Persona’s social sim elements, but also dungeon crawling, Fire Emblem fan service, and Idolmaster character drama!” Tokyo Mirage Sessions is a much-needed breath of fresh air in a year of repeated disappointments in the genre (looking at you, I Am Setsuna and Final Fantasy XV). It’s the type of JRPG that, contrary to the traditions of its namesake series, is never a chore to play. No dungeon crawl is a slog. No sidequest feels needless. Tokyo Mirage Sessions is a beat you’ll want to dance to all night long.
By Caty McCarthy