The 2016 Action Game of the Year
2016 was a good year for the vaguely defined "action/adventure" genre. The venerable Hitmanfranchise got a new lease on life with an experimental episodic format that ended up being a winner, while indie standouts like Hyper Light Drifter proved that some of the most interesting experiences continue to come out of smaller studios.
Here are the action games we found to be the best of 2016.
Though it contains many of the trappings of a first-person shooter, Superhot is so different from a typical FPS that it's a better fit in the Action category. In Superhot, time only moves when you move, allowing you to take your time and plan your assault on each level deliberately as events slow to a crawl around you. The game takes this simple idea and delivers on it at an incredibly high level.
Our review of the game called it "an absolute joy to play," and it's worth a look even if you aren't typically a fan of shooters, as the time manipulation at the game's core makes the whole title a strategic experience that feels unlike anything you've ever played before. The game is likely to get even more buzz now that it's making the leap to some virtual reality platforms, but the core experience is worth playing all on its own.
Runner-Up: Ratchet & Clank
If you have a PS4 and are looking for a colorful and exciting action romp that doesn't involve bloody murder, it's impossible to do any better than Ratchet & Clank. Whether you're a long-time fan of the franchise or a total newcomer, the game does a great job of presenting a sort of "greatest hits" of the series while still standing as a totally new and special game all its own.
In days past platforming action games like Ratchet & Clank were common, but these days they're few and far between. We called it a "must-play" for PS4 owners in our original review, and now that the game is available for a significant discount that's more true than ever.
Runner-Up: Dishonored 2
Dishonored 2 won the Action/Adventure category at the 2016 Game Awards, and it was a strong contender for us as well. Our review called it "better than the original in every way," and now that a few PC updates have smoothed out the early technical issues it's a great time to dive in if you haven't done so already.
Dishonored 2 works well as both a stealth and a supernatural action title, and it rewards and encourages repeated playthroughs in a way few titles can manage. It's a game full of bold design choices, from its distinctive visuals to boundary-breaking puzzles that allow you to skip major sections of the game. It's a tight experience from start to finish with surprises at every turn, and absolutely one of the highlights of the action scene in 2016.
Winner: Uncharted 4: A Thief's End
Uncharted 4 was a big winner at the Game Awards across a number of categories, and a vocal online contingent has argued for it to be the overall game of the year. Our review called it the best game in the Uncharted series, and it's both one of the best games on the PS4 and a strong reason to buy that console in the first place.
Uncharted 4 does absolutely everything well, with a compelling story, entertaining gameplay, next-level acting and presentation, and a multiplayer scene full of remarkable fun and surprising longevity. It's a great send-off for Nathan Drake as a character, if that's what it really turns out to be, and it's a tour de force from Naughty Dog that shows what a studio operating at the top of its game can do with this generation's console hardware.
Congrats to Uncharted 4!