Best Games Of 2016: Syrup Edition Part 1

Hey everyone, Syrup here! I know we’re into Feburary now and 2016 is long over, but I felt like I should go back and talk about my favorite games of the year! Now, this isn’t going to be a top-ten list or anything of that latter. This is due to the simple fact that I don’t think I’ve played 10 games this year. As much as I’d love to do top 5, I decided on talking about each one individually and then saying which one was my favorite at the end. Rules for the list are as follows:

  1. The game has to have come out in Canada/America in 2016. If it came out in another country a few years earlier, but just came to Canada in 2016, then it is still eligible.
  2. This list is exclusive to games I’ve played in 2016. Don’t expect too many AAA games on this list as I sadly never played a lot of those this year.

And without further adieu, let’s get started!

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Sure is 90s in here…

5089 An Action RPG:

This is probably going to be the most obscure game I talk about on this list! 5089 is an Indie game that released on Steam in 2016. Despite it’s ugly graphics, I was drawn into the concept of this game. You a robot landing on the planet Xax in order to destroy an evil overlord AI. All of your allies from 3089 are gone, and you must partner up with much more pessimistic robot allies in an attempt to destroy the evil purple robots and liberate the planet.

It isn’t the most original concept, but it works. The game itself has graphics that look like they are out of the 90s. Everything looks like it was made during the mid to late 90s, just when developers were figuring out what they could do with 3D graphics. Despite it’s dated presentation, it really is a fantastic game!

You explore a giant open world that is procedurally generated. It stretches on forever, and it reminds me a bit of how older games like Arena and Dagerfall handled their open worlds. What makes this game so great is it’s open nature, plus how it allows you to tackle the various enemies and obstacles you’ll face. Want to blast your enemy with a gun? You can do that! Wanna be a guy who runs around bashing enemies with a sword? You can do that! Wanna right around on a hoverboard? You can do that! The game allows for many cool things to do, such as crafting, piloting vehicles, acquiring armies of allies, or just exploring this neverending landscape.

The freedom in this game is intoxicating! I plan on making a skate-park for my hoverboard after beating the game, and then just skating it up. The game allows for two players, which is fun, but feels like more of a novelty. The game also has mod support, but since so few people play the game there sadly isn’t a lot of mods. The game itself is pretty cheap, I got it for about six and a half bucks. The game is normally on sale for 8 dollar and 8 cents Canadian, and I think it’s worth every penny! Just be prepared for slightly floaty controls, awful graphics, and a game that doesn’t provide in-depth tutorials.

Dragon Ball Fusions:

Amazing game! Fun, simple, entertaining, and very enjoyable! Sure, the game is easy but it’s fairly enjoyable. The game is a turn-based RPG set in an amalgamated version of the Dragon Ball world. All the timelines and continuities have fused together, creating a strange world where you and your best friend Pinich must explore and obtain new allies. The best part of the game is fusing party members together. Counting fusions and generic characters, there are about 600 characters in total. The game has 98 characters from the show, while most of the guys here are new characters.

It’s still got a healthy number of memorable characters, but lacks a lot of my favorites like Garlic Jr. and Bojack. It gets weirder when you realize that Garlic Jr’s Deadzone attack is still in the game. Despite certain characters being noticeably absent, I still loved it! It’s got a simple pick up and play vibe to it, despite the fact that most fights have a tendency to drag out for far too long. It sucks that too many fights rely on how fast your characters are, speedy characters rule this game. Still, it’s a fun and simply experience that I think everyone can enjoy.

Odin Sphere Leifthrasir:

I never played the original Odin Sphere, but when I heard the original game was not only being remade, I jumped at the opportunity to play it! Weirdly though, this game was released on Vita and with a physical release no less! I was honestly surprised to see physical releases for Vita, since 90% of their games are often released digitally. But yeah, the game itself was amazing!

The game revolves around this little girl reading five different stories. Each story focuses on a different protagonist, but they all take place in the same world and at the same time. You’ll usually get an entire character’s story when you play through, but to get the full experience of the game’s story you need to play through with all five characters’ story. And they all play differently! Each character has it’s only skill tree that allows you to tailor-make each character to your preference.

No character is like the other one. Cornelius is swift and fast on his little rabbit feet and attacks quickly, Oswald is a shadow knight and can take on a berserk mode, and Velvet fights using a series of traps. Each character in unique, and has their own individual story that connects with the other ones. Couple this with some amazing graphics, fantastic soundtrack, and enjoyable gameplay and you have one of the best videogame remakes ever made! It’s less like a remake, and more like a sequel. So much is different or enhanced, that it feels like an entirely new game!

Final Fantasy Explorers:

Out of all the games I played and enjoyed this year, I’d say this one is the least in terms of quality. Still a great and enjoyable game, but it definitely has problems. It’s a game set in a fantasy world, not unlike those of most Final Fantasy games. You are an Explorer, a warrior sent out into the field to gather items, slay monsters, fight bosses, and all that jazz. The game has an MMO-like quality to it, what with its focus on exploration and grinding.

Unfortunately, the RPG elements that make Final Fantasy great kind of water down this title. While this was a game I immensely enjoyed this year, it’s slow pace and lack of a satisfying ending or plot really bogged down my experience. Couple that with an excessive amount of grinding, a world that only opens up to you bit-by-bit, and strange difficulty spikes and you have a very flawed game.

However, I still stand by the opinions I made in my review. It’s fun, despite its repetitive nature. It has nice graphics and a fun system that allows you to change your class at will. The many classes add so much variety to the game and allow for a lot of unique party builds when playing online. The game has a good mix of different weapons to use, as well as a pet system allowing you to bring monsters with you.

In all honesty, this game had a fair bit of good content, despite its many flaws. It’s weird that this game seems so lacking when compared to its competitors. There isn’t a whole lot to do in town, and your character doesn’t even have a house! I guess he just lives on the street or something. I recommend this game if you’re looking for something a bit different than your average Monster Hunter clone.

Conclusion of Part 1:

This is only about half of the games I plan on talking about. I still haven’t talked about Dragon Quest VII, Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth, God Eater Resurrection, and Monster Hunter Generations yet! Expect the next part in a few days to a week. After I discuss the last few games, I’m going to choose which game I feel was the best this year. Until then, have a good one everybody!

Top 5 Open-World RPGs that are better than Skyrim

We are reaching that point where Elder Scrolls VI will be released, the followup to the nearly five-year-old game known as “Skyrim”. Whether you like this game or not, you must admit that it was popular on release. Not only did it make a crap ton of money and several internet memes, but it also started this craze of people trying to make open-world RPGs for themselves. These games garnered mixed results, but some were fantastic.

This new breed of open-world RPGs along with the old ones are examples of great ways to design and make a game. So, I thought why not talk about 5 RPGs I find to be better than Skyrim? After all, when Elder Scrolls VI gets released, it’ll probably get everybody making these games again anyways. It happened with both Oblivion and Skyrim; the popularity of these two games created a huge demand for better and more impressive games of this genre. So, without further adieu, on with the list.

Before we delve into the list prior, let’s go over some rules:

  1. Only one game per franchise.
  2. It must be open-world and an RPG.
  3. The game cannot be developed by Bethesda, due to this list comparing non-Bethesda games to a singular Bethesda game.
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Sir Not-Appearing-On-This-List (Image property of Piranha Bytes)

5. Avernum: Escape from the Pit

I only discovered this game just last year, but it has quickly grown into one of my favorites. This was one of the first games I ever reviewed on this blog, and I feel it’s time to discuss it once more. Escape from the Pit is the remake of a remake of an old 90s computer RPG. The game plays like a combination of Skyrim and Fallout 2. You have the old-school strategic combat and wordy story-telling of an old Infinity Engine game mixed with the open-world exploration you’d find in something like Skyrim.

Unlike previous Spiderweb Software games, you can pretty much go anywhere you want. The map is continuous and you can travel to any location you want to visit right out of the gate;.Of course, the game will lock you out of certain areas, or have monsters too strong for you to risk visiting that area. Some areas you won’t be able to access until later, but you do have a great variety of locations to adventure around in at the very start.

The game is turned-based and strategic, requiring you to known the strengths and weakness of each individual character. Building your character properly is the name of the game and creating a truly great party can be an arduous task. Still, it’s fun to craft a great team of adventurers and have them travel across the vast countryside to defeat evil.

Why it’s better than Skyrim: Avernum’s open-world is far more fun to explore than Skyrim. There’s a lot more unique occurrences and strange enemies to encounter. One minute, you can be running around collecting fungus and the next second you’re in a cave filled with friendly talking spiders! The game has a unique lore and great concept. In Skyrim, you are in a snowy fantasy-land being torn apart by war. It is fairly by the numbers. In Avernum though, you are underground in a large winding cavernous continent.

You either escape, or get killed by the various beasties crawling through the underground. In Skyrim, you escape from prison and are free for most of the game. In Avernum, the entire landscape is a prison! You are an outcast, forced underground because of minor crimes against the empire. And your fight to escape the underground is more engaging than most things in the game.

4. Fantasy Life

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It looks like a dumb kids game, but trust me it is awesome. (Image property of Nintendo and Level-5)

Some may argue that I’m cheating by putting Fantasy Life on this list, but this game technically is a sandbox game with an open-world as well as being a RPG. This game takes place in the fantasy land known as “Reveria”. You play as a completely customize-able character who is ready to get his first job, known in this universe as a “Life”. You have 12 different jobs to choose from, be it something predictable like as wizard or something more obscure like an alchemist. My personal preference was for the blacksmith class, since I was able to make all of my own equipment.

You don’t have to feel like you’re forced to be a single class, either. The game allows for you to switch your class while in-between story missions, so you can experience all the game has to offer. The open-world is small at first, but it opens up as you progress further in the story. The farther you progress in the campaign, the more areas you’ll be to explore. You never really feel like you retreading too much, plus you can take airships and other types of travel to areas you’ve already been to.

Despite the fact that you have to beat the main-quest to unlock all the game has to offer, you still have great control over what you can do. The game is very non-linear when it comes to its explore-able world, which is always a welcome change of pace. There’s plenty of monsters to encounter, items to craft, and a large variety of things to do. Get bored with one job? Try another! The sky’s the limit as far as what you can do in the game.

Why it’s better than Skyrim: Unlike Skyrim, you never feel overwhelmed by the large world presented before you. You access new areas by playing through the main campaign and they are always a joy to travel through. Areas can offer new enemies or even special events, such as meeting a talking sword. Once again, I find the side-content to be more entertaining here than in Skyrim. This is due in no small part to the amazing writing.

The game features punchy dialogue and like-able characters. On top of this, things that I do in Skyrim just feel better when I do them in Fantasy Life. Customizing my home is more fun than in Skyrim because I have a larger degree of control over how it looks. Exploring the world is also more fun due to the vibrant colors and adorable monster designs. The main thing that I find better than Skyrim is that it feels more difficult and rewarding to be a jack-of-all-trades. In order to level certain skills in Fantasy Life, you need to be a certain job to do so. And each job brings with it’s own challenges, making it satisfying whenever you master a specific job.

3. Kingdoms Of Amalur: Reckoning

I can tell already that everyone reading this going to think I’m crazy for liking Amalur more than Skyrim, but I can’t deny that I had way more fun with Amalur than I ever did Skyrim. The game was more colorful, as were the character designs. It offered a larger open world, even if some of the activities in said open-world were kind of lame. It had a fantastic combat system, despite the fact that the game was extremely easy. In all honesty, it offered an experience that wasn’t like a whole lot of other open-world games.

The game takes place in the fantasy world of Amalur, where you play as a being who was mysteriously brought back to life. Gifted with the power to alter fate in any way you deem fit, you are sent on a quest to triumph over a dark power. It’s a fairly generic plot, but some of the stuff it does is pretty unique and interesting. The game also boasts a lot of customization. You can choose from various skills and abilities for your primary character and create a character that fully fits your preferences.

Why It’s Better Than Skyrim:  The game boasts combat is that much more satisfying than Skyrim. There is no more “Stand here and smack dude with sword” type moments. Combat involves a lot of quick movements and special attacks, trying to find that right moment to strike the enemy. I also like the World Of Warcraft-esque designs of the armor. Skyrim’s choice in armor felt a little generic at times. In Amalur, I felt the armor boasted more fantastical and colorful designs.

The game might be easier than Skyrim, but I found it to be a lot more fun. And while the side-quests falter in comparison to some of Skyrim’s quests, it’s still worth playing if you’re looking for a fully customizable experience. The character customization tops Skyrim, and allows you to create a character that is completely different from any other player. It may not be as engrossing as Skyrim at times, but it makes up for it with a lot of heart and very fun gameplay.

2. Dragon’s Dogma

Capcom is a hit-or-miss game company, when compared to how they used to be. There came a time where Capcom could literally do no wrong and almost every single on of their games ended up being classics. Heck, even if one of their games sold badly, it would still remain a classic. While things have changed since then, the 2012 release of Dragon’s Dogma brought back this dynamic of Capcom being a powerhouse.

Dragon’s Dogma is an open-world RPG like few others. Boasting a combat system similar to Dark Souls, and a fantasy world filled with freaky monsters, this game is truly a sight to behold. You play as a human who has his / her heart torn out by a dragon. Surprisingly, this doesn’t kill but instead transforms you into “The Arisen”. You can now call upon extradimensional human-like beings known as “Pawns”.

You are then thrust forth into an open-world that is populated with humans and scary giant monsters. The game features your typical swordplay and sorcery, but spices it up with challenging boss fights. There are certain bosses that come out at night and some bosses that have special abilities, such as turning you to stone. It’s an unforgiving world, where you have to master the challenges put forth before you.

The game features a pretty good story, which takes you all over this unique fantasy world. You uncover the mystery of the Arisen as you grow stronger and gain new abilities. You acquire new pawns along the way, along with taking on terrifying new bosses. While I haven’t played the expansion pack, I can definitely say that this game is worth your time.

Why it’s better than Skyrim: I like this game more than Skyrim due to a multitude of reasons. This includes have much better bosses, and the ability to battle them in such a fantastic way. The game’s pawn system far outmatches the companion system in Skyrim. I grew attached to my pawns, even though they were mostly interchangeable. And I didn’t grow this attach through backstories or intricate quest-lines, I grew attachment to them by fighting alongside them and having adventures with them. I generally felt that this game satisfied me more than Skyrim ever did.

1. Fallout: New Vegas

Fallout is a series I love immensely, and there are few games in the series that have entertained me quite like Fallout New Vegas has. I may be cheating by putting this on the list, as it is technically a Bethesda game. However, this game was only published by Bethesda, the development of the game was headed by Obsidian. So, I’m bending the rules a bit with this entry. It boasts a vast open-world, a ton of various weapons, and a post-apocalyptic land beset by marauders and monsters. The game thrusts you into this world armed with nothing but a gun and some starter equipment. Playing like a combination between a first-person shooter and a RPG, the game puts you up against mighty opponents such as Super Mutants and Deathclaws.

The game includes the normal game, plus an extremely hard version called “Hardcore Mode”. In this mode, all of your teammates can die and every threat you encounter is much stronger than they are in the base game. While the game is prone to the occasional glitch, I found my gameplay experience to be fairly stable. This was due to most of the bugs being patched out over the year, creating a satisfying experience overall.

Fallout New Vegas boasts a ton of very unique and memorable side-quests, as well as a very entertaining main-quest. There are so many secrets and Easter-Eggs contained within this massive world as well, adding even more to this expansive universe. Unlike Skyrim, this game presents a world that will knock you down and kick you while you are on the ground. You play “The Courier”, on his quest to find the man who nearly killed him. It’s definitely a satisfying story, complemented with fun gameplay.

Why it’s better than Skyrim: I like this game more than Skyrim due to the amount of really good side-quests, as well as a very entertaining main quest. This game has so many things going for it, things Skyrim takes for granted. Each town and city in New Vegas has their own opinion of you, which is shaped by the way you behave. In Skyrim, each city just fines you for your crimes, as opposed to having your behavior shape the reactions of these cities.

New Vegas also boasts some great expansion packs, some of which make Skyrim’s expansions look like crap. I loved Old World Blues and Lonesome Road, to me these far outclass the expansions Skyrim gave us. New Vegas also presents its characters in a more realistic fashion than Skyrim. People will behave in ways indicative of their personalities, and will even take drastic actions depending upon your own decisions. It creates this awesome experience that had me engrossed far more than in Skyrim.

So, that’s my list. Keep in mind, it is just my opinion. If you believe that none of the games measure up to Skyrim, than I respect that. I know not everyone will agree with my list, but I hope those that do give these games a shot. They are really fine games on their own, even when not being compared to Skyrim. I may redo this list in the future, after playing more open-world RPGs. I have yet to thoroughly play Gothic 2, or Witcher 3. For now though, I hope you enjoy the list I have presented. Thanks for reading and have a great day!