My original shortlist for Game of the Year 2016 consisted of 34 games. Obviously that’s a few too many to make the top 20 cut, so I’ve compiled some of the games that didn’t quite make the list into a separate list of honourable mentions, which you can find below.

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VA-11 Hall-A

Developer Sukeban Games
Publisher Ysbryd Games
Platforms PC
Release Date June 21, 2016

Probably the best cyberpunk bartending simulator ever, VA-11 Hall-A (otherwise known as Valhalla) doesn’t feature a whole lot of interactions. But what it does have is a lot of heart. It’s set in a futuristic world under the oppressive rule of corporations, but none of that matters to you. All you’re trying to do in Valhalla is mix some drinks and chat with the quirky, incredibly endearing cast of characters that come your way and try not to laugh so hard milk starts shooting out of your nose.

Check out Gary’s review of VA-11 Hall-A here.

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Valley

Platforms PC (reviewed), PS4, XBO
Developer Blue Isle Studios
Publisher Blue Isle Studios
Release Date August 24, 2016

Screenshots and words can’t really do Valley justice – only the sheer thrill of playing it and exploring its world can convince you of its worth. It’s basically the game that modern day Sonic wishes it was. You’re given access to an experimental suit that propels you forward at exhilarating speeds, with a little jumping and swinging thrown in for good measure. The story and music are pretty cool, but what you’ll remember is the sheer excitement of getting to throw yourself around it’s gorgeous levels at top speed.

Check out Gary’s review of Valley here.

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Mad Games Tycoon

Platforms PC
Developer Eggcode
Publisher Eggcode
Release Date September 13, 2016

I tried my best to steer clear of all the things that I generally speak out against while creating my development studio in Mad Games Tycoon. I lost an entire four-day weekend building Jerobolod Productions from a small, trend chasing indie dev studio to the biggest, most successful producer of JRPGs on the planet. And when I say I lost an entire weekend, I mean I literally played Mad Games Tycoon every waking moment over the course of four days.

Check out Gary’s review of Mad Games Tycoon here.

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Battlefield 1

Platforms PC, PS4, XBO
Developer EA DICE
Publisher EA
Release Date October 21, 2016

By the time I had made my way through Call of Duty and Titanfall 2 my other commitments pulled me away from getting to try DICE’s latest entry in the Battlefield series. I should have found the time, as Battlefield 1 delivers the best campaign the series has ever offered. While that’s not a particularly high bar to clear, I enjoyed the small vignettes that highlighted different stories during World War I. The multiplayer is also good.

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Superhot

Platforms PC, XBO
Developer SUPERHOT Team
Publisher SUPERHOT Team
Release Date February 25, 2016

Time only moves when you move is, it turns out, a fascinating concept for a first-person shooter. Freezing time to contemplate your next move and using that mechanic to dodge bullets are addictive mechanics. Some of the challenges the game throws your way are a delight (the four guys in an elevator level is a highlight), and the ways you can make your way through each level are a ton of fun. As is seeing your playthrough at full speed after each level. Superhot the most innovative shooter I’ve played in years.

Check out Gary’s review of Superhot here

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Ratchet & Clank

Platforms PS4
Developer Insomniac Games
Publisher Sony Interactive Entertainment
Release Date April 22, 2016

The return of Ratchet & Clank shows us just why Insomniac’s oldest franchise has survived as long as it has. It’s one of the best looking games on PS4, looking like a playable Pixar movie, and has a perfect mix of third-person action and platforming. The game also showcases one of Insomniac’s greatest strengths – its weapons. Ratchet & Clank is stuffed full of the best weapons pulled from the series’ 14 year history. Its sense of fun is infectious and it’s an absolute blast to play.

Check out Gary’s review of Ratchet & Clank here.

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XCOM 2

Platforms PC, PS4, XBO
Developer Firaxis
Publisher 2K Games
Release Date February 4, 2016

While I gave XCOM 2 a (rightful) kicking at the time of its release for being full of bugs, the core experience was still quite addictive. While I didn’t love some of the changes that Firaxis made over Words About Games’ 2012 game of the year (especially those bloody mission timers), I can’t deny that the core gameplay that made Enemy Unknown such a great game is still intact in XCOM 2.If you’re a fan of the series, the genre or sci-fi in general, you’d be unwise to skip over this one.

Check out Gary’s review of XCOM 2 here.

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Virtual Reality

This entry goes to a series of games, rather than simply one. 2016 saw the release of three major virtual reality headsets to consumers. While both HTC Vive and Oculus Rift are excellent headsets, it was Playstation VR’s robust library of games that drew me in and provided an excellent showcase of what virtual reality can be if it continues to receive support. There were a lot of good experiences and great games to be found on Playstation VR in 2016.

It allowed me to live out a childhood fantasy in Batman: Arkham VR, let me scare the piss out of Tom with Kitchen, put me in the cockpit of mech-powered sports action in RIGS: Mechanized Combat League, let me pilot future tanks in Battlezone, gave me a fascinating new perspective on point-and-click adventure games in Wayward Sky, taught me what it was to “job” in Job Simulator, immersed me in a God game like never before in Tethered and much, much more. Here’s to seeing where PSVR will take us in the year to come.

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Binaries

Platforms PC, PS4, XBO
Developer Ant Workshop
Publisher Ant Workshop
Release Date April 4, 2016

Binaries was probably the most annoying game I enjoyed in 2016. This colour coded puzzle game frustrated me to no end as I tried to guide orange and blue to their respective goals through a ton of deviously challenging levels. I threw a few tantrums at the unfairness of the game after losing track of blue for a split second while I tried to navigate a tricky section as orange, only to find out that blue just exploded in a spike pit. I was always back for more, however. It’s aggravating by design, but also deeply addictive, with a slick design and some really clever mechanics.

Check out Gary’s review of Binaries here (Words About Games were provided the game for review purposes)

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Yomawari: Night Alone

Platforms PC, PSV
Developer Nippon Ichi Software
Publisher NIS America
Release Date October 25, 2016

Yomawari: Night Alone is a brilliant horror game that doubles as my favourite PS Vita game of the year. Its horror is driven by its insanely creative monster designs that terrified me and stuck with me long after I was done playing. The creatures alone make Yomawari an incredibly haunting experience, but the gameplay plays its part too, creating an atmosphere of extreme tension as you try to guide a young girl through a nightmare world in search of her missing sister and dog. Even playing this game in public during the day time creeped me out far more than it should have.

Check out Gary’s review of Yomawari: Night Alone here (Words About Games were provided the game for review purposes)

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