Game of the Year
1. Rocket League
"Someone made a game about playing football with cars, and I thought that game looked pretty silly - something I'd try for a few hours perhaps, and then never touch again. But after playing it for 300 hours or so, I think it might actually be the best game I have ever played. It's wonderfully simple to grasp how to play, but the skill ceiling is endlessly high. Normally that would put me off completely, but in Rocket League's case, failing is often as fun as succeeding, and as you learn from your mistakes, you see yourself slowly becoming better, and eventually you are pulling off stuff you once marveled at when other players did it. Simply put, the game never fails to entertain and amaze me, not least because I often surprise myself in terms of what I am able to do, but also because I can always laugh at myself when I fuck up. Rocket League is the game I've played and enjoyed far more than any other in 2016, and an easy pick as my GOTY."
"The only thing wrong with this game is that it's not called DOOM 4. I couldn't have imagined a better sequel to my favourite 90s FPS games. The gameplay is fast and furious and forces you to be on the move constantly, the weapons are amazing (the Super Shotgun being the best one, of course), the enemies are varied and move around the environment constantly to pursue you, the level design is great, the secrets are fun to find, and overall this is just an utterly superb singleplayer campaign from id software who should once again be considered the masters of the genre."
3. Titanfall 2
"I can't recall having played a better paced campaign since... the first Portal, maybe? The game is short, for sure, but not a minute is wasted. There's some great ideas and gameplay gimmicks in here that other games would have built their entire campaigns around, but Titanfall 2 confidently catapults you from one exciting scenario to the next before repetition sets in. The multiplayer is great, too - it's nice to have a properly fast-paced multiplayer FPS with wall-running and mechs. My only real complaint here is the completely unnecessary grind that seems to make it into pretty much every multiplayer FPS."
4. Stardew Valley
"I always liked the concept of both Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing, but could never get into them as I felt they either put too much pressure on you to do certain things within a time limit (in the case of Harvest Moon) or had too much aimless wandering and not enough goals to work towards (in the case of Animal Crossing - which also had that thing where time in-game passes in realtime... fucking awful idea if you ask me). Though it is obviously more inspired by Harvest Moon, Stardew Valley feels like the perfect middle ground between these two: There's loads to do, but you're never put under pressure to do one specific thing. I cannot think of a more pleasant, relaxing game to play. It's the perfect antidote when you get stressed out by the more challenging or competitive games out there."
5. The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine
"CD Projekt Red brings back the classic expansion pack that actually, you know, expands significantly on the main game rather than the barebones DLC packs that are predominant today. Blood and Wine might not bring much new to the table in terms of mechanics, but Touissant is a wonderful - and massive - new area to explore, and in terms of quests and content in general, the expansion is basically of the same high standard you'd expect after playing the main game and Hearts of Stone."
6. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
"This might have a pretty disjointed structure if you follow the main story (which I found confusing and boring), and it has some of the most unlikeable characters of any game in recent memory. But the level design is absolutely stellar. Prague certainly surpasses the hub worlds in Human Revolution with its intricate design, filled with hidden routes and ways to get around that you'd easily miss if you don't explore the environment, and some pretty great side missions. The individual levels in the main story are of a generally high quality, too, and on the whole I'd say this is the Deus Ex game I've enjoyed the most since the original."
"I'm not actually far enough into Tyranny to properly evaluate it, but what I have played is promising enough that I'm putting it in my top 10. I really like the premise of being a kind of fantasy version of Judge Dredd who works for an evil cunt that has taken over the world. The idea has been executed quite well with the focus being on choices that affect your reputation with characters and factions who each have their unique world views and perspectives on how you should do your job, rather than generic good/evil/neutral choices. The game might lack the exploration of larger areas that Pillars of Eternity had, but on the other hand, this allows for a more focused game that gets you to the best bits fairly quickly without a lot of downtime in between. Looking forward to playing it some more."
8. Total War: Warhammer
"This is one of my favourite strategy games of the last few years, which is quite a bit of a surprise to me since I know virtually nothing about Warhammer, had little interest in playing the game, and always thought the various historical periods that each Total War was based on was a big part of the appeal of these games. But the Warhammer setting proves to be one of the best things to happen to the series: The difference between factions is the main thing that makes it so great, whether it's the unit variety (which makes battles more tactically interesting than previously) or the unique ways each faction plays on the strategic map. In addition to that, the game has been nicely streamlined, cutting some of the tedious stuff from previous entries (like naval battles, and there is generally less micro management on the strategic map - less time is wasted, and each decision matters more). The end result is possibly the best Total War yet."
9. Shadow Complex Remastered
"I guess I had forgotten how great Shadow Complex is, because I didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did when playing through it again. I feel it's one of the only metroidvania games that really gets what's great about these types of games. Specifically, the level design in Shadow Complex is 100 times better than what I've seen in other indie metroidvanias, and some of the upgrades you get, like the foam gun, are ridiculously fun to use and make it easier to progress in a non-linear fashion. The only thing it's really lacking is a decent art style and a more atmospheric world, but I do enjoy the sillyness of the storyline. Plus, I like the way enemies go flying when you punch them in the groin."
10. Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen (PC)
"This was my first time playing Dragon's Dogma (other than a demo on 360). I liked the combat a lot (especially when playing the rogue/archer type classes) and thought the pawn system was a breath of fresh air when it comes to RPG party mechanics, even if it could get a bit frustrating at times when the pawns did stupid things like pick up a useless rock or whatever. I was properly addicted to the game for a while but did eventually grow a bit tired of it - I feel the game world was perhaps a bit sparse in terms of unique locations as eventually I just felt I was trudging through the same areas and fighting the same enemies over and over. Still, the game deserves major credit for the unique mechanics it introduced as well as the combat, which is much better than what we see in the majority of RPG's."
11. Enter the Gungeon
"One of the more enjoyable roguelikes I've played. It takes the basic structure of The Binding of Isaac, but adds combat that is actually good, making it a far superior game. It's tough as nails, but it's fun finding all kinds of insanely powerful weapons and just unleash hell while trying to dodge bullets. Where the game falters a bit is in terms of pacing, as I feel there is a bit too much traipsing back and forth between empty rooms to make sure you've searched everywhere and found every chest possible on the current floor. The game would've benefitted from putting a bit more pressure on the player (like the time limit in Spelunky, or the way levels are pure combat arenas in Nuclear Throne, meaning you are never safe until the level is finished since enemies can hunt you down whereever you are), but still, Enter the Gungeon is very enjoyable as it is."
12. XCOM 2
14. Enderal: Shards of the Order
15. Grim Dawn
17. Devil Daggers
18. Pac-Man 256
Soundtrack of the Year
S1. Stardew Valley
"Love this soundtrack with its simple, but varied and memorable tunes that made me feel quite nostalgic at times. It's yet another impressive aspect of Stardew Valley's development: Usually when you hear of these one-man projects, they got someone else to do the art and/or music. Not in this case - Eric Barone did everything himself, including this rather wonderful soundtrack."
S2. Enderal: Shards of the Order
"Very impressive stuff. Some of the tracks reminded me of the music in Morrowind, but Enderal's music definitely has a style of its own. I like that it's generally more subdued than the bombastic soundtracks you get in many RPG's."
"The music in DOOM will blast your ears off. It fits the intensity and brutality of the gameplay perfectly. Something you might not notice when playing, but is worth looking up, is how It adapts to the rhythm of the gameplay."
Visuals of the Year
V1. The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine
"Witcher 3 is still one of the best-looking games out there, and Toussaint, with its more vibrant colours, delivers a visually nice contrast to Velen and Skellige."
"The visuals in DOOM are overall superb, but special mention goes to the animations. Ripping a demon's face in half has never looked better!"
V3. Rocket League
"I didn't play a lot of visually dazzling games in 2016, so I'm just going to put my favourite game in here. It's not Witcher 3 levels of technical and artistic wizardry I guess, but it does look quite nice for a game that doesn't have much going on visually other than cars chasing a giant ball."
Writing of the Year
W1. The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine
"Not quite as compelling as Hearts of Stone and the best bits of the main game, but the writing and storytelling in this expansion is still head and shoulders above most games out there."
"As you'd expect from Obsidian, this is a pretty well-written game with an interesting world and characters, and the lore is presented in a convenient way (basically by hovering your mouse pointer over key words during dialogues) that doesn't bog down the pacing of the story with too much lenghty exposition."
"A compelling ghost story, but what's particularly impressive here is how well the dialogue is written and the way it flows naturally by letting you interrupt the other characters."
Great year for gaming overall. I only wish I had played the new Hitman as it looks pretty amazing and everyone seems to like it, so it would probably have made it onto my list.