It is almost Christmas and I note there is the Christmas sale on Steam. Means it is the time of the year to get computer games for dirt cheap. Here are my recommendations for best games of 2016 to help guide your holiday choices. All the games here are PC and IOS games: I enjoyed Overwatch on XB1 but wasn’t infatuated with it and I’m still working my way through Final Fantasy XV on PS4 but they didn’t make my top games.
Stellaris: One of my most treasured gaming memories was playing Master of Orion 2 on an ancient PC in the basement of my parent’s house on summer break. I feel like I have been chasing that memory my entire gaming life. I finally caught up with it with Stellaris. Not every design decision works in this game and like all Paradox Interactive products, it is a toybox which gets dramatically better and more complex with every expansion. But Stellaris manages to pull you in to its galaxy of galactic exploration, warfare and intrigue. It reminds me of the old TV show, Babylon Five. It has sunk its teeth in and I imagine like PI’s other game, Crusader Kings 2, I’ll probably be playing it for years.
Endless Legends: I liked Civilization 6 – I got a solid month of enjoyment out of it and then put it back on the shelf and haven’t thought much about it. I first played Endless Legend in 2014 and picked it back up again with its latest expansion and the magic is there. Endless Legend is what would happen if you mixed Civilization 6 with Skyrim and a great Science Fiction novel. There really is nothing like this game out there and with five expansions and a bunch of DLC (all dirt-cheap right now on Steam), now is the time to pick it up. Amplitude, a French studio, is one of those studios that dares to put out radical new ideas. There first game, Endless Space, was an interesting failure. This one is a knock out of the park and a better game than Civilization 6.
Rimworld: A newer game and like personal favorite, Cataclysm Dark Days Ahead and Crusader Kings 2, it works best as a story creator. This game is what happens if you dumped a bunch of toons from ‘The Sims’ onto an alien world and told them to get to work. The graphics are simple but the underlying game systems are a complex web of survival and relationships. Get one of the variables wrong and the whole colony can descend into cannibalism and flames. It is one of those games where failure is fun and you revel in the chaos as everyone dies in interesting ways.
Pathfinder Adventures: I have grown to love collectible card games but interestingly, Hearthstone really doesn’t do it for me. Pathfinder Adventures did click and has become an addiction. It can be frustratingly random – you get through a game well played only to lose in the end because the dice rolls go against you. But it has that ‘one more click’ factor which brings me back for game after game. Unlike a lot of IOS games, it doesn’t try to steal your wallet. You can pay one price and get all the content. Also, available on PC but honestly, this is the perfect tablet game.
Sentinels of the Multiverse: Another collectible card game but much different than Pathfinder Adventures. There isn’t any random dice rolls here – it is all strategy and playing your cards in the right order based on the situation. It is a superhero game – those are always welcome – and they have several expansions out with several more funded. I love the game because with all the expansions, there is an endless array of possible matchups which delivers a unique experience every single game – none of them play out the same way. Pathfinder Adventures is a more addictive game, but Sentinels is the more complex and thoughtful game. Available on IOS and PC though like Pathfinder, enjoyed best on tablets.
Other ‘Best of…’ articles for 2016: