A new year, a new website, and a new Cream of the Crop? Man, I’m redefining what it means to make New Year’s resolutions by spoiling you all silly with this overload of “newness.” Before we delve into what 2016 holds for video games though, I look back at the previous year and feel it was short as a whole, but when I separate particular parts of it, it seems much longer. Evolve, Dying Light, and The Order: 1886 came out in February? It feels like they came out in late 2014! And this feeling of past events seeming closer or farther away than we realize? That’s something I’m always fascinated by, which is something I happened to read about recently in a newsletter penned by Margaret Manning Shull, who asks, “How is it that our subjective experience of time is so different from what our watches and clocks objectively mark out for us, second by second, hour by hour?” Like everyone else has said and always will say, there’s no definitive answer to explain this. Therefore, “what seems most crucial for our lives is the significance of events that happen in time, moment by moment, hour by hour, and day by day.”

So instead of waxing philosophical, let’s talk about vidyas, which are all that matter in life, anyway.

As I’ve stated in past entries, Cream of the Crop is about the 10 titles I’m looking most forward to for the rest of the year. To give you a better picture, let me explain my self-imposed rules…including some new ones.

  • No CotC will be published after January.
  • The order of the games is tentative. What’s represented reflects only my immediate opinions on what I’ve included, and while I may regret not changing some things, I refuse to alter the list in any way after publication.
  • There will only be 10 games mentioned. No runner-ups or honorary mentions. I know I’ll be excluding games that will have you shaking your head, but just because I’m “excited” for something here doesn’t mean I’ll end up liking it more than another game I didn’t add to or put low on the list. For example, “Cream of the Crop: 2015” had Bloodborne in 7th place and Star Wars Battlefront in 1st place. Which do you think I liked way more and made my game of the year?
  • If a game has been previously mentioned in a CotC but didn’t release that year, I will not include it the top 10 list for the following year even if it would normally qualify. This avoids possible repeats that detract from the originality of each yearly article.

Yep, that last rule was a tough one to instate because it means I cannot put Rime, Quantum Break, The Legend of Zelda Wii U, or Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End on this year’s list. You see, something like Uncharted 4 would certainly be top-tier, but as I previously explained, I want to maintain originality and surprise you with a fresh selection of games.

Let’s take a look at them.

Title: Firewatch   –   Genre: Adventure   –   Developer: Campo Santo   –   Publisher: Panic

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Linux, Windows, Mac   –   Release Date: February 9, 2016   –   Trailer: Click Here

Alcohol issues. Marriage woes. A life falling apart. Henry is a man on the verge of the breaking point, and he just wants to get away from it all. While running away from one’s problems is usually the wrong way to solve your problems, he might actually find the solutions after all. Upon moving away from his Boulder, Colorado to Wyoming, Henry happens to secure a job as the fire lookout in the Two Forks Lookout Area, and it’s all thanks to Delilah…who might or might not have been drunk when she hired him. Despite this mistake, he’s ready to prove himself to his seasoned counterpart, who also watches the wilderness from her own lookout tower.  And he needn’t worry…there are many opportunities for him to do that during a hot, dry summer with this occupation.

With no one but Delilah to talk to over a walkie-talkie, you must guide Henry through this small section of Wyoming to protect nature from the elements and foolhardy people. But this is no simple task, for you must decide how you deal with particular encounters with countless dialogue trees that you can choose between or ignore at times. While you will be interacting with the occasional strangers, there’s a veritable isolation since you seem to never directly see anyone or anything, and this is especially true for Delilah, who you will be talking with the most while asking for information, receiving advice, or just making small talk. Your relationship is entirely built on these conversations, and your responses will determine how you are viewed by Delilah and others. Juggling with this while navigating and exploring the open fields of this massive, rocky, forested terrain will not only put your personality and morals to the test, but also your heart and soul.

What strikes me most about Firewatch is that it strives to achieve what Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture accomplished. Your attachment to the characters isn’t built on how they physically convey themselves or look, but on how they are present themselves with their voices alone. You could say Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons does the inverse by relying entirely on physical displays of affection and friendship without any comprehensible dialogue. Either way, utilizing single channels of character development is a major challenge for story writers and game designers, but Firewatch looks to take every advantage of the power of audio to immerse players in Henry’s every deed and word to discover his fate after the challenges he must face.

Title: For Honor   –   Genre: Action, Swordfighting/Melee Combat, MOBA (?)   –   Developer: Ubisoft Montreal   –   Publisher: Ubisoft

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows     Release Date: TBA 2016   –   Trailer: Click Here

You know how everyone has had eternal debates over if pirates or ninjas would win in a fight? Did you ever watch the Deadliest Warrior TV show that pit history’s greatest combatants against each other in hypothetical showdowns? Now we can argue all over again about stuff like this with For Honor, which has knights, vikings, and samurai meeting one another on the battlefield. But instead of defending your choice warriors with words, you’ll decide their worth with skill.

It’s a game that’s…it’s not easy to classify. With several characters to choose from each faction, you enter multiplayer combat from a third-person perspective and fight other players with a unique control scheme that’s all about your weapon’s position, which is dictated by the direction you’re holding the right analog stick in. Creative director Jason Vandenberghe came up with the idea when he was undergoing German Longsword training, which he calls “Art of Battle.” It replicates elements of swordfighting and looks far more believable than most video games that portray it. You visually analyze which stance players are in, can fake a move and attack from another direction, attempt to block or counterattack in a split second, and so forth. This isn’t a game where you simply swing a weapon and determine its power by holding down the attack button for a certain amount of time. There’s far more strategy to your movement, timing, and swings. This mechanic could lose novelty quickly, but I choose to remain optimistic about it.

But if that’s not enough, there’s more backing up the gameplay’s depth with secondary abilities called Feats available for the different factions, which was demonstrated in a trailer when a samurai summoned a storm of arrows on some advancing knights. Characters will also excel in areas more than others with stats and unique abilities (attack, defense, etc.) to suit other playstyles, which makes me think of them as classes akin to Champions from League of Legends in a lighter sense. Speaking of MOBAs, one of the modes shown so far is like a hybrid between that genre and a “capturing three zones” mode from shooters like Call of Duty or Battlefield. The objective is to capture and hold zones, obviously, but you also have minions on both sides that advance or retreat depending on who’s winning. There are sure to be more modes announced in the future, but in the meantime it’s best to watch the gameplay for yourself to see what For Honor is about. With a single-player campaign in the works, gorgeous animation, and more news to come, I’m praying that Ubisoft won’t rush this game out the gate or plague it with bad microtransactions. It looks brutal, exhilarating, and highly promising, and I can only hope it stays true to my impressions whenever I get my hands on it.

Title: The Witness   –   Genre: Adventure, Puzzle   –   Developer: Thekla Inc.   –   Publisher: Thekla Inc.

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows, iOS   –   Release Date: January 26, 2016     Trailer: Click Here

If you were to think of famous game designers out and about today, one of them just might be Jonathan Blow. Like many brilliant creators, his attitude and ideas may be a bit perplexing sometimes, but you can’t deny that he has shown his knack for genius with Braid, which is interestingly the only game to his name that he’s published. A lovely art style, somber narrative, and brilliant puzzle-solving mechanics involving the manipulation of time are what made Braid one of the earlier games in the burgeoning indie crowd to gain widespread praise and recognition. You’d think he would’ve finished another project by now since this was back in 2008, but Blow’s next title, The Witness, has been in development for over seven years since it was announced in 2009! The reasons for these delays involve hiring a team to help realize his vision and hardware limitations on the PS3 and Xbox 360, but I have a gut feeling that the true culprit is that Blow is a perfectionist. In his case, that might not be a bad thing. He puts all of himself into his work and it shows, and in a matter of weeks, we’ll find out if that has been worth the wait for his next, long-awaited project.

The Witness is another puzzle game, of course, but it’s no ordinary puzzle game. You’re isolated on a mysterious island where human architecture seems to perfectly coincide with nature, and small sections of the land appear strangely divided by different seasons and biomes that are mere miles apart. You know absolutely nothing about why the island is like this or who you are, so all you can do is explore to uncover what secrets this place holds by trying to unlock the entrance to the island’s ever-looming mountain, which holds the key to all your questions. What you’ll come across on this journey are beautifully tailored environments housing 650 puzzles in total that involve drawing lines in mazes from their entrances to the endpoints, but as I’m sure you guessed that it’s not as easy as it sounds. Some mazes will require you to draw specific pathways and have rather peculiar obstacles and twists to overcome, which not only challenges your common sense, but also your observational talents and deductive reasoning as you analyze patterns, shapes, and clues in the game’s very architecture and layouts, which will provide the answers you seek in myriad forms.

As many have already said, the game looks to take what Myst did for the adventure and puzzle genres by recapturing its wonder and magic in a new light. I can feel this as a possibility when I study the island Blow and his team have created over the years. Every nook and cranny must have purpose. Every puzzle looks meaningfully crafted and placed. Every voice recording, however obscure, has to contain single words that mean everything to discover what the story could be about. I may have rarely played adventure games like Myst, but I know that Blow’s game will make a major impact come later this month, and I want to experience that by solving his brilliant brainteasers.

Title: Death’s Gambit   –   Genre: 2D Platformer, Action-RPG   –   Developer: White Rabbit   –   Publisher: Adult Swim Games

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows   –   Release Date: TBA 2016   –   Trailer: Click Here

When I first heard about Death’s Gambit from E3 2015, there was something about it that forced me to keep it in hindsight from then on. Over time, I’m glad I’ve done that because it’s risen to be among the ranks of this list. While fledgling developer White Rabbit may be new to the scene, the combined inspirations behind its game and how they coalesce seems ridiculous, but the gameplay indicates otherwise. You play as a man who was on the brink of the afterlife at the hands of an immortal being, but Death himself offered to put you in a state called “Undeath” if you were willing to destroy those who have escaped his bony clutches for far too long. You accepted, which sets you on a Dark Souls and Shadow of the Colossus-inspired adventure in the form of a pixelated 2D platformer.

It sounds crazy, right? Death’s Gambit mimics Dark Souls with a similar leveling system, checkpoint system, punishing combat, multiple items and weapons with varying stats to equip, and even a nonlinear open world where you decide where to go. FromSoftware may be a blatant inspiration to this team, but they take Shadow of the Colossus’ boss fights and interpret them in their own unique ways as well, since you’ll be scaling giants with a grappling hook while navigating perilous platforms as smaller enemies assault you. So how did they accomplish the visuals required for a game that sounds so ambitious? See the pixelated backdrops and environments for yourself and you’ll be impressed by how well they stand up with their excellent composition and guiding art style akin to Superbrothers: Sword & Sorcery. In combination with the fluid animation, White Rabbit has some serious talent in its art department for sure, and that might just be a complement I’ll throw at the composer, too, since the game will have a classically-rendered soundtrack instead of a 16-bit one.

This is definitely going to be something that will fly under everyone’s radars, but Death’s Gambit has a special appeal to it I can’t help but gravitate toward with its mix of exploration, role-playing, and action elements that will hopefully slay expectations.

Title: Dark Souls III   –   Genre: Action-RPG   –   Developer: FromSoftware   –   Publisher: Bandai Namco

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows     Release Date: April 12, 2016      Trailer: Click Here

You know what Dark Souls is. I know what it is. Everyone knows what it is! You can’t go anywhere on the Internet these days without hearing a mention of FromSoftware’s modern legend of a franchise. Indeed, I’ve played all of the developer’s games since Demon’s Souls…except I have only gotten through Bloodborne. Now, I know that’s awful, but for some reason it hit the right spot with its difficulty to the point where I didn’t give up after making no progress. I plan to go back to the other titles, of course, but they’re time investments, and Bloodborne was an exception for me because it was so engrossing with its world and fast-paced, offensive combat. So yeah, I love all of the games. There ain’t anything stopping me from picking up Dark Souls III.

Instead of needlessly explaining the game’s iconic mechanics and design, I’ll mention some of the fresh details on what makes the third Dark Souls different. From what I’ve read about the convoluted lore and speculation, the world is being overcome with death and decay as magic and humans are slowly fading away. Your job is to keep the flame alive, as it were, by creating (not reigniting) bonfires across a land called Lodeleth. No one knows for sure (I’m probably dead wrong even about the simple details), but Miyazaki himself says this will be a “turning point” for the series, whatever that means. Anyway, there’s a magic system akin to what we saw in Demon’s Souls that will be returning with a mana bar and all that jazz with spells. Combat will be a bit more reminiscent to Bloodborne’s speed yet retain the pinnacle strategy of defense. There’s a new mechanic that will allow you to use “Battle Arts” (don’t get that confused with For Honor!) that are essentially special, beefed-up attacks that consume your stamina and mana. Other than that, there will be tweaks to things like Durability (with weapons that won’t break in seconds like in DS2) and level design that aims to be more claustrophobic and twisted.

Before it comes out, I have to at least get through Demon’s Souls or the first Dark Souls to prepare my body for more self-inflicted torture. If I’m willingly scouting out bosses to slaughter me countless times and dying to devious traps that will have me putting my hands on my hips and happily saying, “Oh, Miyazaki!” through gritted teeth, that’s something I need to mentally prepare myself for come April. Lord have mercy.

Title: Mirror’s Edge Catalyst   –   Genre: Action-Adventure   –   Developer: DICE   –   Publisher: EA

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows   –   Release Date: May 24, 2016   –    Trailer: Click Here

Mirror’s Edge was so close to being more than it was. Lackluster close-quarters combat, a bland story, and finicky controls prevented it from becoming a near-perfect hit, but it’d be a lie to that it still wasn’t a hit. The first-person parkour, gorgeous aesthetic design and colors of the city you explored, the protagonist Faith…ah, so many decided to look past the game’s issues to find the beauty residing in it. While I’m less forgiving, I can’t help but love it in more ways than I disliked it, and that’s what has bugged me for years. Mirror’s Edge was one of those titles that only had to fix its major missteps with a sequel to be something utterly phenomenal, much like what happened with Assassin’s Creed and Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune and their masterful follow-ups. Miraculously enough, DICE might just replicate this pattern by giving the series an appropriate reboot with Mirror’s Edge Catalyst.

There aren’t many specific details thus far, but the basic ones give me hope that big concerns will be addressed. DICE has acknowledged that the series is about traversal first and foremost, so the gameplay is being redesigned to be more intuitive and fast-paced. Guns are being completely cut out since they stuck out like a sore thumb in the first game, and close-quarters combat is being restructured and deepened so it flows naturally with and complements traversal. As for the world, it takes many aesthetic cues from its predecessor but will branch off with an open world that can be explored at your leisure between story missions with environmental puzzles and running challenges to take on. How’s it a reboot though?

This is an oddly hard confirmation to find, but Design Director Erik Oeldahl told IGN during Gamescom 2015 that the team “basically took the things we really liked about the first game. Faith, first and foremost, the first-person free-running gameplay, and also the aesthetics, which we’ve built on, of course. But it’s a reboot.” This goes for the story as well, which takes place in a nearly identical world where corporations rule and privacy is a privilege of the past. In the city of Glass, everyone is fed with promises of entertainment to keep them happy and obedient, but Runners like Faith revolt against this kind of society and dream of making people rise up to fight for their individuality and rights. Rather than feeling like a tale that takes place in the middle of things, Catalyst will be an origin story for Faith that shows her rise to prominence. “We’re telling Faith’s origin story, so the events of the first game actually don’t really exist. Maybe they will at one time in the future.” I think it’s a perfect decision given the mediocre tale of the first game, giving this reboot a chance to redeem what it started and then some.

Title: The Last Guardian   –   Genre: Action-Adventure   –   Developer: Team Ico, SCE Japan Studio, Gen Design   –   Publisher: Sony

Platforms: PlayStation 4   –   Release Date: TBA 2016   –   Trailer: Click Here

It’s always a sad state when a game like this suffers from development hell. With countless delays, rumors on cancellation, creative standstills, and hardware woes, it seemed Team Ico would never complete this, which needed to see the light of day. However, alongside the miraculous announcements of Final Fantasy VII Remake and Shenmue III, The Last Guardian had a fresh gameplay trailer shown during Sony’s E3 2015 conference. Now, when something like this has had such a tumultuous development, it’s not hard to imagine that it might actually be terrible upon release (looking at you, Duke Nukem Forever). But The Last Guardian looks as incredible as it did several years ago by jumping to the current console generation with improved physics and graphical fidelity to boot.

There aren’t that many details on the game to expound upon that haven’t been tread already. You play as a boy accompanied by a giant, mythical creature named Trico, who’s composed of various body parts like an ancient, Chinese dragon, but still resembles a dog overall. The main objective is to navigate this ancient, stone city overcome by plant life, and the way the creature and boy help each other is an intriguing contrast to Ico. Instead of you defending your AI partner, you must command your AI partner to protect and assist you in solving puzzles and navigating areas. You’re the dependent character this time, but you’re far from passive since you must help Trico by feeding him and healing his wounds. Taken as a whole, the relationship between this boy and his animal looks to be as touching – if not more than – the bond between Yorda and Ico.

But this is information straight from the developer. There’s still little word or footage that shows much of this in action, but after personally playing Ico and Shadow of the Colossus a couple years ago, it seems impossible that Team Ico would put so much time into a project unworthy of its track record. I have faith that everything will turn out right in the end for The Last Guardian, but the question remains…will we find out this year? If Final Fantasy XV is releasing this year, well, anything is possible.

Objection, DrJ!
AHA! You got me! I included this in my 2012 article at number nine, so have I contradicted my own rule already? Just to clarify, I said I will not include a game that was on the list in the previous year. I said nothing about anything beyond that, which is certainly a unique case for The Last Guardian since I mentioned it four years ago, so it’s time to bring it back.

Title: DOOM   –   Genre: First-Person Shooter   –   Developer: id Software   –   Publisher: Bethesda Softworks

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows   –   Release Date: TBA 2016   –   Trailer: Click Here

Even though the first-person shooter genre is undoubtedly one of my top three favorite genres, I must shamefully confess to having not played the original DOOM. Yes, I need to do that! But I know I don’t have to wonder if I’ll like it or not. It’s fast-paced, gory as heck, contains a diverse arsenal of awesome weapons, feels snappy and satisfying…what’s not to love? At least I got to experience a form of it with the classic Wolfenstein 3D and the modern Wolfenstein: The New Order. If my review isn’t any indication, I adore the latter game and think it’s one of the best first-person shooters to hit the market in years, so even though the new DOOM likely won’t have a deep story and characters behind it, it’ll make up for this entirely with the central focus on gameplay. You. Kill. Demons. And boy is it going to be messy, fast, brutal, and fun as heck.

What fascinates me about DOOM is that it sounds like an entirely new game from the impressions I’ve read on it while remaining completely loyal to its legacy. Why? It’s likely because it has been so long since we’ve had something like the classic DOOM that in this day and age, it makes the 2016 revival seem like a revolt against modern shooter sensibilities. In other words, “everything old is new again.” There’s no ADS, no reloading, no cover, and no mercy. It’s all about speed and being trigger-happy because you have to constantly be on the move, access your weapon wheel quickly (it only slows down time when you’re selecting weapons) and assign relevant weapons as “hot swaps” on the fly, and execute Glory Kills, which are indulgently gory melee attacks you swiftly do without ruining your killing spree’s pace. Another new element being added is a skill tree applied to your character, who can apparently receive boosts in speed, defense, power, and whatnot that’s intended to develop varying playstyles. The level design sounds exquisite with great attention put toward verticality and nonlinear paths to get to the main objectives. The sound effects are crisp and cringe-worthy (in a good way), the music is appropriate heavy metal composed by Michael John Gordon (who did an unbelievably good job on The New Order’s score), the art direction is disgustingly amazing…this is DOOM for another generation.

With arena style multiplayer in tow and “SnapMap” tool that allows players to build their own maps, id Software might make as much of a splash as they did back in 1993 in a new kind of way. By bringing the first-person shooter to its origins, this elder developer will show the kids how it’s done, and if there might just be a surprisingly good story and characters, I honestly won’t be prepared for how much I might be praising id Software sometime later this year.

Title: Yooka-Laylee   –   Genre: 3D Platformer   –   Developer: Playtonic Games   –   Publisher: Playtonic Games, Team17

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U, Windows, Linux, Mac   –   Release Date: TBA 2016   –   Trailer: Click Here

I’m a sucker for 3D platformers. I grew up on them, so how could I not be inclined to have a soft spot for them? Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon. Those game series were my jam back in the day, and they still hold up well, particularly with their respective sequels. It’s why Knack placed so high on my list back in 2013, and while it turned out okay (in a nutshell, I’d give it a 6.5 out of 10), I nevertheless enjoyed how the game was a true callback to the 3D platformers of the 90s, especially to Crash Bandicoot. Speaking of the 90s, one of the genre’s kings was Banjo-Kazooie during that decade. Who hasn’t played that, right? Well…I haven’t, but I don’t have to glance at it twice to tell you I would love the collect-a-thon gameplay, environmental puzzles, and wonky characters. So can you imagine my reaction when original members from developer Rare formed a new studio to helm a modern throwback to 3D platformers called Yooka-Laylee? I couldn’t believe what my eyes were seeing earlier last year; it looked like everything I wanted from a 3D platformer, so you’re darn right if you assumed I threw money at it on Kickstarter.

You play as the strangest pair of individuals, except it’s not a bear and a bird this time. It’s an iguana and bat! With their combined abilities, they can do “sonar blasting, tongue whipping, sky soaring,” and more according to Playtonic Games, which I’m sure will include turning invisible and executing tail spin attacks among other crazy moves. The game’s point is to solve all sorts of those classic types of environmental puzzles and platforming challenges as you not only unlock new worlds with “Pages,” but also expand on current ones depending on how much you do in a given location, which I’m sure will be an incentive to do since you can unlock skills called “Play Tonics” along the way and discover Arcade machines that transport the protagonist duo into retro-themed blasts to the past. This progression actually reminds me of the Spyro games, which let players move on when they unlocked a certain amount of gems/orbs/eggs (depends on which game we’re talking about!), but they could opt to stay longer in a world to find new levels and unlock more goodies when stumbling across strange timed trials, silly games, deviously hidden collectables, etc. With Yooka-Laylee, it all takes place in a comparably fantastical world with an equally charming soundtrack and characters that are sure to awaken the kid inside you.

The legendary David Wise and Grant Kirkhope are helping with the music. Character designer Steven Mayles is ensuring there’s a large cast of unforgettable personalities. Man, there are very experienced people contributing to this project. As I sit here thinking about it, I have a stupid grin on my face because this game is going to be a bundle of pure joy, irreverent humor, and bizarre creativity. It’s unreal to see something like this today, which – based on its massive success on Kickstarter – will hopefully spark a renewed interest in this dormant genre and be a sign to publishers and developers that says, “Hey, yeah, people really love these kind of games. Make more of them!” Now we just have to cross our fingers and believe Yooka-Laylee will somehow stay on schedule for release…

Title: Dishonored 2   –   Genre: Stealth, Action-Adventure   –   Developer: Arkane Studios   –   Publisher: Bethesda Softworks

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows   –   Release Date: TBA 2016   –   Trailer: Click Here

“The years are long, but it’s always good to see a familiar face.”

Dishonored was probably my favorite game in 2012. The stealth gameplay, while lacking fun, alternative options in contrast to the violent gameplay in retrospect, was a blast for me to stick to since it tested my willingness to refrain from using most of my gadgets and abilities that compromised stealth and my innocence. Attempting to find other means to achieve my goals required taking the longer, harder route around danger to succeed in my missions, and that honestly felt awesome to do, especially when I completed the game without killing a soul or sounding a single alarm (with plenty of save reloads to ensure that, I’ll admit). Why? The gameplay felt incredibly satisfying both ways; the dreary, lore-rich world and cartoony/oil painting-like art direction captivated me as I snuck around Dunwall; the atmospheric sounds and music perfectly complemented the mood; I found the characters an intriguing sort that, while a bit underdeveloped, I wanted to learn more about, and much more. I doubled down on my thoughts about Dishonored recently when reviewing the passable Definitive Edition, but in doing so I still loved the core game, but couldn’t shake that it needed improvements to the main plot’s originality, the illogical morality system that condemned killing even if it were justified, and balance between making stealth as fun as combat could be, since the latter affords more abilities and items to use. Anyway, it’s been three years since Dishonored. A sequel looms on the horizon.

What I do know is that it takes place about 15 years after the first game, which means Corvo isn’t the only character you can play as from the start. Princess Emily is an option as well, who has been gifted with the same type of powers as her mentor by the Outsider. I don’t know how I feel about choosing between two awesome characters, but going back to the premise, somehow she and Corvo have been cast out of Dunwall and must seek to redeem themselves on the island of Karnaca. The setting itself (inspired by cities in Spain, Greece, and the like) looks like a great change of pace from Dunwall since it’s brighter and more colorful, but still retains that great, underlying gloom and doom that coursed through the veins of its predecessor’s world. And Arkane Studios has said it’s seeking to make this one feel more open and natural so you can approach situations in even more diverse manners. There will apparently be a third moral path to choose from alongside high and low Chaos, Emily will exhibit new powers and variations on existing ones much like with Daud, and other than that…there’s not much else.

I’m kind of anxious since we’ve heard nothing about the game since E3 2015, but I’m absolutely positive we’ll see gameplay at this year’s E3 and a more specific release date. Lastly, allow me to give an example. Mirror’s Edge had big problems, but its successor could fix them all to craft an astounding game. Dishonored, however, was already a wonderful game on its own. If Arkane Studios listened intently for constructive criticism, it’ll be well on its way to releasing a surefire candidate for game of the year.

Those are my picks for the year! This was quite something to hammer out over several days of pondering and editing, but it marks a haphazard yet enthusiastic return to stretching my own style of writing once again.

So. Let me have it. Are you disgusted I’m not hyped about Final Fantasy XV or Deus Ex: Mankind Divided? What games on this list surprised you? What games are you looking forward to this year? And if you have a top 10 list, which ones would you have to painfully leave off? (I’m sorry, Pokken Tournament, Gigantic, etc.) If by happenstance you can spare a moment, I’d love to hear from you.

And as always, thank you very much for reading!


The pictures are screenshots from trailers and others are from the developers themselves. For the latter, all belong to their respective creators with the exception of my own editing.