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January 11th, 2017

Penguin DT's GOTYs 2016!

What am I doing right now?

Work continues on the final boss; Now I'm working on the effect layers – overlay effects like lights and rendering masks for reflective surfaces. Once those are done, I can finally re-assemble all this into an in-game entity.

So, yup. I'm still sadly on this hush-hush work streak I can't write about in fear of spoiling things. However, I am considering turning this whole ordeal into a time-lapse video similar to the Mecha-Penguinator one. Naturally we'd release this after the release of TAGAP3, giving everyone enough time to see the boss for themselves first.

But now, to the main programming...

Penguin DT's GOTYs 2016

Time for yet another round of Game of the Year awards, Penguin DT style! And what a year this was for gaming – there were so many great titles that I haven't gotten to all the must-play titles yet! Seriously, with TAGAP3 and all, there are several great games I didn't manage to get to yet. But hey, time to pick our favourites from the ones we did get to play!

Best positive surprise:

FarCry: Primal

(runner ups: Battleborn, Ratchet & Clank, The Technomancer)

The fact that something so daring that FarCry: Primal not only exists, but does so in an established shooter franchise, is nothing short of mind-boggling in a positive way. I went into it expecting a simple and cheap-yet-delightful gag-of-a-romp in style of BoodDragon, but boy was I in for a surprise; Primal is a full, well-thought-out experience filled with wonderful moments and fun characters.

I can't stress enough how atmospheric an experience FarCry: Primal is. The moment you descend into the wild forest at night for the first time, armed with nothing but a bunch of wooden sticks while every bush rattles with life... it's something else. Toss in wonderful audio, from the Wenja-speaking tribesmen to Jason Graves' truly primal score and you have a winner.

Best soundtrack:

DOOM

(runner ups: Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Rad Rodgers, No Man's Sky)

Oh my, this year was filled with great soundtracks, so many I had trouble keeping up with them all! Deus Ex: Mankid Divided's cyberpunk soundscape from Michael McCann and Sascha Dikiciyan is brilliantly atmospheric, Andrew Hulshult's neo-retro Rad Rodgers soundtrack is catchy as heck and the divisive No Man's Sky's score from 69daysofstatic is perfect stuff to relax to.

But – fortunately or unfortunately – I didn't have to choose between those three; Because Mick Gordon's DOOM is not a soundtrack, but a force of nature. It captures the brutally direct, hard-hitting blast-o-thon that is DOOM in a perfect way on audio. I mean just listen to it!

New favourite addiction:

Limited Run Games

(runner ups: DOOM Arcade Mode, Levelling up Toby in Battleborn)

Almost every year, something truly addictive creeps up onto gaming scene. You know what I'm talking about; Something so fun that you can't stay away. Last year introduced us to Lego Dimensions, so how about this year?

In addition to DOOM, my new biggest obsession is something called Limited Run Games. LRG is a company with a very specific purpose; To give limited physical editions to indie games that were released only digitally – often complete with soundtrack CDs! As a game and soundtrack collector I can't help but to love it!

I can't get everything they release – I mean I have TAGAP3 to budget as well – but holy heck do they have an amazing output. I actually intentionally avoided them for a while, since I knew I'd get hooked... but then they released physical copy of Shadow Complex. You know, one of the best games of all time and the main reason why TAGAP3 has Metroidvania elements?

Yeah, couldn't avoid that, could I? And now I'm hooked. All hail Limited Run Games!

Best of Backlog:

Wolfenstein: The Old Blood

(runner up: Batman: Arkham Knight)

Unlike with the previous years, I focused mostly on new releases – or new re-releases – so I went through only a couple of backlog entries. Don't get me wrong, I have plenty of them, but I had too much fun with select new releases to take them for a ride.

I guess my pick isn't surprising to anyone. I already praised Wolfenstein: The New Order to high heavens last year, so naturally Wolfenstein: The Old Blood would follow. And it's pretty awesome ride, working as a prequel to the first one. Pretty much everything that made The New Order great is back, from the choose-your-style approach to shooter gameplay to fantastic world-building.

From the two, I like The New World a tiny bit more, but if you liked that one, The Old Blood is a must play.

Timo's GOTY 2016:

DOOM

(runner up: Pokémon GO)

Come on, it's DOOM; Do I need to write up a justification for that?

– Timo

Petja's GOTY 2016:

XCOM 2

(runner up: DOOM)

Larger scale strategy and close combat tactics combined with excellent design and gameplay choices work brilliantly in this sequel.

– Petja

Jouni's GOTY 2016:

DOOM

(runner ups: Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Battleborn, Mirror's Edge: Catalyst)

Is anyone surprised about this pick? Anyone? Thought not.

What is there left to say about the comeback of DOOM? It's honestly, without a scent of hyperbole, the best game I have ever played. It took the original, ran with it, amplified it and turned it into a pure adrenaline rush from beginning to end. It's metal as hell, brutal beyond belief and leaves you screaming for more.

So, welcome back, you blood-red, chubby Cacodemon you! Please, bring your friends soon!

Honorable mentions

So many games and so few prizes to give away; Each of these games is as worthy a visit as any of those mentioned above;

  • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (Eidos Montreal / SquareEnix)
    I almost feel sorry for Deus Ex having to go head-to-head against DOOM, as most other years it would've been my clear GOTY. It's one darn smart action-stealth thriller with brilliant world-building and a great score. If you like Deus Ex or other 'immersion sims', do yourself a favour and give the new Deus Ex a go.

  • Dishonored 2 (Arkane Studios / Bethesda ZeniMax)
    Speaking of great world-building, Arkane Studios' follow-up to the great Dishonored needs to be mentioned. I found myself exploring the city of Karnaca for hours on end, just soaking in the rich lore and atmosphere. Combine that with the all the variety of ways you can approach each missions, I'm sure I'll be replaying this one soon enough.

  • Battleborn (Gearbox)
    Sadly known to many as 'the game with the most unfortunate launch window ever' (released within weeks from both DOOM and Overwatch), I find Battleborn to be the best of the so called 'hero shooters'. The characters are more to my taste, it has an in-game story for context and you can play it as a single player game. And of course it has Toby. Toby is the best. Toby is life.

  • Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration (Crystal Dynamic / SquareEnix)
    Only reason I didn't nominate this one anywhere is because I don't know how to classify it. It's technically a re-release of an older game, but since it used to be a Microsoft exclusive, to us PS4 gamers it was new. Well, either case, the game is great, building cleverly upon the foundations laid out by the reboot. I can't wait for more adventures from the modern Lara Croft!

2016 games in the to-play cue

These games are on my to-play list, but since I didn't get to them yet, I can't valuate them for our GOTY awards. That said, expect to see some of these next year in 'Best of Backlog' category!

  • Final Fantasy XV – This is what I'm playing right now.
  • Batman: The Telltale Game Series
  • Titanfall 2
  • Lego Dimensions: Year Two

Most anticipated games of 2017

There are tons of interesting games incoming this year as well. Here's a bunch we are looking forward to;

  • Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice (Ninja Theory)
    Returning from last year's list, Hellblade was pushed to 2017. But oh boy, every video Ninja Theory puts out makes me even more excited about it. As a semi-audiophile, the way the sound is handled alone makes me giddy. This will be something else!

  • Strafe (Pixel Titans / Devolver Digital)
    Another delayed returnee from last year, Strafe now has a publisher and is aiming for a bigger release. And I still keep playing the Speed Zone speed-run demo semi-frequently. It's so good.

  • Prey (Arkane Studios / Bethesda ZeniMax)
    It may not be the Prey 2 we all wanted, but it sure is Prey we didn't know we wanted. Knowing how insanely good Arkane Studios is at world-building, I can't wait to witness how they approach alternate reality hard sci-fi setting of Talos I. Throw in score from Mick Gordon of DOOM fame and we're destined for a winner.

  • Mass Effect: Andromeda (BioWare / EA)
    If it has even a fraction of the goods the previous trilogy had, it'll be winner. Well, we'll see soon enough!

  • Space Hulk: Deathwing (Streumon / Focus Interactive)
    This looks like a simple-yet-polished, atmospheric shooter in a universe I love. Though the game is out now on Steam, I have to wait 'till later in 2017 for the console version – my PC just can't handle new 3D games.

  • Call of Cthulhu (Cyanide Studios / Focus Interactive)
    Please be good. Please be good. Please be good.

Phew, that was a hefty update! Congratulations to all the winners!

Until next time,

Jouni Lahtinen, the head penguin