There have been some truly awe inspiring video games released in the first half of 2016, although it seems to us that a fair few of them flew under the radar
Sure, you’ve got your triple-A titles lining your shelves, but there have been some incredible, ‘smaller’ games this year that probably passed you by.
Here are some of the best video games released in 2016 so far that you might have missed.
Yeah, we’re just going to go ahead and say it: Pony Island isn’t a game about rainbows and unicorns, despite its fluffy title.
Pony Island is in fact an old arcade game haunted by some kind of spirit, and when you decide to interact with the game in order to find out more, it initiates a platforming adventure that’ll weird you out, but leave you satisfied nonetheless.
That Dragon, Cancer
Despite the heavy subject matter, That Dragon, Cancer is just as inspiring as it is heart-breaking, and is largely considered to be an ‘exploration’ video game, which makes sense.
Ryan and Amy Green made the game, basing the story roughly on their experiences raising their terminally ill child, Joel.
You’re going to have to try and hold back those tears.
This ominous adventure title has atmosphere in spades.
The murky graphics give the impression that we’re playing a horror game, which makes sense, as the plot revolves around a group of naive teenagers organising a party on a remote island (screams trouble).
Developers Night School Studio have taken the classic template for horror movies (high school kids set up a party) to create a total atmosphere of impending dread – and it’s never been as fun.
You wouldn’t think an adventure game set in a crimson rendition of the Wyoming wilderness circa 1989 could be so beautiful, would you?
But Firewatch is that beautiful, combining awe-inspiring scenery with a deeply immersive story.
You play as Henry, a fire lookout in a sprawling National Park. After noticing signs of unusual happenings in the woods, a compelling mystery deepens.
Time only moves when you move in this ingenious title, so you’ll probably imagine that your slo-mo techniques will help you breeze past bullets no problem. But you’d be wrong.
Superhot has you face wave after wave of innumerable, armed foes, so you’d better get your aim right.
And trust us: it’s harder than you think it’s going to be.
Remember FarmVille? Well, apart form the ridiculous wave of game requests and the “wait 43 days for your barn door to be built”, Stardew Valley is pretty much the same idea.
If we’re being honest though, it feels more like Harvest Moon than anything else, which is a good thing.
No prizes for guessing what off-beat sports-demolition session Dangerous Golf is all about.
If you’re not too into golf, do not fear however, because most of the gameplay consists of watching your explosive ball tear through the unconventional ‘courses’.
It’s like Burnout’s ‘crash mode’. With balls.
The once proud Cairn empire sits in the middle of two great, warring celestial forces, both of which seek to capture and use humans for their own fiendish gains.
You play a survivor, and together with the straggled remnants of humanity, you must discover a way to revive the future of your race in the centre of a world marred by evil powers.
As you can imagine, this action RPG is pretty dark.
Enter the Gungeon
Your objective here is to raid an ancient castle, and recover the legendary gun held in its deep dungeons (hence the GUNgeon).
It’s as simple as that; no nonsense; just a straight forward dungeon crawler. Where the enemies are giant, sentient bullets. Nice.
There’s a great deal of randomness thrown into the level generation, so each time you go in, it should (I repeat SHOULD) be different. Fantastic fun too.
Stephen’s Sausage Roll
Sadly, this isn’t a game about a Gregg’s employee named Steve. And you better get your thinking cap on too, because Stephen’s Sausage Roll is a puzzle game. And a damn fine one at that.
The objective of each level is to grill each sausage to perfection by moving it over to the fire, which is much easier in print than it is in reality.
Yes, you might well go crazy with puzzle rage, but you’ll definitely enjoy that descent into madness.
Hyper Light Drifter
Heart Machine have led the indie-game charge with the completely 8-bit rendered Hyper Light Drifter, proving there’s nothing wrong with a good old retro adventure every now and then.
It’s a 2D action-RPG, likened by many (including the lead developer Alex Preston) to the classic SNES games of the past, which are probably like dinosaurs to most people now a days.
But this ain’t no relic. It feels fresh, exciting and cool.
Salt and Sanctuary
It’s another side-scrolling action-RPG! But this one’s so compelling and intense it hurts.
You’ll hardly notice the hand drawn visuals on screen, because the gameplay is so immersive you forget you’re even on a console.
If you’ve played Dark Souls, you’ll feel right at home with this one. Something of a ‘clone’, it nonetheless stands on its own two feet as a terrific experience.