Note: Stella Glow was only released in PAL regions in 2016, hence its placement on my GotY list.
Imageepoch's last, and probably their best, game. Stella Glow builds on the company's previous SRPGs, like Luminous Arc, and delivers a compelling story and engaging gameplay. While far from perfect, I thought Stella Glow had a lot of heart. Enhancing the power of each witch by diving into their hearts was a fun experience, as was utilising song magic and the other unique abilities of each character. If you're a fan of turn-based strategy and own a 3DS, don't miss out on Stella Glow.
I had high hopes for Stardew Valley, and they were all met or exceeded. I've clocked nearly 40 hours on my farm so far and I'm only just beginning my second year. Stardew Valley is what Harvest Moon has always tried to be, but never quite succeeds at — which is even more phenomenal considering Stardew Valley was created by just one man. The town is brimming with charm and things to do including mining, fishing, romancing, seasonal events, crafting and, of course, farming and animal care. I can't wait to spend more time growing crops on my farm.
Perhaps my biggest surprise of 2016. Other than watching a bit of the TV show as a kid, my experience with Digimon was extremely limited prior to Cyber Sleuth. The game gets off to a slow start, and at the beginning it feels like a poor-man's Pokémon. But, soon enough, Digimon showcases its own unique talents like flexible evolutions (and devolutions), a mature storyline, an interesting world and its addictive digital monster catching/collecting/train features. If you can stick out the first few hours and appreciate Cyber Sleuth as its own entity, there's heaps of fun to be had.
A close contender for my number one spot this year, Dark Souls III is the best game in the series since Demon's Souls. Which great level design, faster combat and the return of an MP bar, Dark Souls III is the perfection of the series' formula and a return to form after the mediocre second entry. I enjoyed every single minute I spent in the game, even when I died again and again. There's so much depth to the Souls games and I'm looking forward to my second adventure through its dark world. Just give the DLC a miss.
Another year, another Pokémon game at the top of my GotY list. Pokémon Sun/Moon is the best the series has had to offer in quite some time. It makes a number of small changes that the series has needed for years: the removal of HMs, freedom of multi-directional movement, a more engaging story and hundreds of other little modifications. There should have been more new Pokémon, but other than that, I have very little to complain about, even as a life-long Pokémon fan. If you're yet to try the series, or haven't caught any Pokémon in many years, Sun/Moon is a great place to start.
We didn't give Eiyuu Senki a lot of coverage here at RPGFan, even though it combines turn-based strategy and RPG elements. Eiyuu Senki has a ton of flaws, but I was addicted to conquering the world with my questionably dressed army of ancient heroes. The game literally asks you to conquer the world, primarily via force, and you can put together teams of real and mythological heroes to engage in a battle system that is part TBS and part traditional RPG. The story isn't a standout, and while most characters are pretty likeable, it's hard to take them seriously in their skimpy outfits. Still, Eiyuu Senki has charm and I enjoyed the thirty or so hours it took me to conquer the world.
While a slight step down from Heart of Stone, Blood & Wine is another exceptional adventure for Geralt to undertake. In a vibrant and beautiful countryside inspired by medieval France, Blood & Wine delivers another edge-of-your-seat story, a great script and the same great gameplay we love from The Witcher 3. If you enjoyed the main game, buy Blood & Wine — you won't be disappointed.
Heart-stopping moment after heart-stopping moment, Uncharted 4 is the pinnacle of modern video games. A superbly written script, delightful characters and perfected action-adventure gameplay makes Uncharted 4 possibly one of the most flawless video games ever released. I loved every single second of it, and if you've never tried an Uncharted game, you're doing yourself a disservice. I'd recommend you start at the beginning, though, because there's a lot of character development that will give the events of 4 more meaning.