Welcome to the end of the decade; the end of the 2010s; Al at Decade’s End. This is a miniseries where I celebrate the past ten years in video games, starting by talking about my favourite games from each year, and ending with the end-of-year extravaganza for 2019! The games I talk about here might not necessarily be the best of the decade, but they sure left the best impressions on me for one reason or another. And so, without any more delay, we begin our look at 2016!
Out of each year from this past decade, I would have to say that I had the most difficult time nailing down my favourite game for 2016. I didn’t get many opportunities to play the big ticket releases of the year like Doom, Dark Souls III, or Stardew Valley. I was all aboard the Overwatch hype train, but after some time I realized that the game wasn’t for me. Instead, I opted to play some lower profile releases that filled some of my niches. Well, those games and Pokemon Go, because that was a thing in 2016. In the end, my favourite game of the year was an indie title not unlike others I’ve already discussed. My top game of 2016 is Enter the Gungeon.
Enter the Gungeon is a fun roguelite dungeon crawling adventure where nearly everything in the game is themed after guns. Gungeon’s narrative hook is a pretty simple one, it follows a number of adventurers as they delve into the infamous Gungeon in order to find a gun with the power to kill their own past. There’s really nothing else to it. The game boasts classic pixel-based art style, but the visual themes in Gungeon are what set it apart from the rest of the pixel art games out there. When I say that nearly everything in the game is themed after guns, I’m not kidding. Nearly every single weapon is a gun of some kind, nearly every single enemy is either a bullet or uses guns in some capacity, bullet casings are the primary currency, and blank rounds are an important resource. Oh, and because we need more guns and bullets, Enter the Gungeon is also a bullet hell game; a type of game where the screen will be filled with enemy projectiles that require higher than average reflexes to reliably dodge.
I mentioned that Enter the Gungeon is a bullet hell. This also means that it is balls to the wall hard. This isn’t one of those games that promises a relaxing, mindless romp through a dungeon. Gungeon is a game that demands a lot from the player, which makes it so satisfying to progress throughout the floors. A typical Gungeon run will have you going through floors looking for better and better guns to use, with a boss fight at the end of each floor. Controls are intuitive for both controller and mouse & keyboard, and everything feels super responsive, which is so important for a game like this. Most guns have limited ammo, so making each shot count is important. However, there’s another resource called Blanks, which can be used to clear out all projectiles on the screen; perfect for when you’re overwhelmed and need an out. The guns themselves are extremely varied, which is part of what makes the game so addicting. Every run you’re going to get a gun that plays completely different than the last run, like an AK-47, a t-shirt cannon, or even the famous Mega Buster of Mega Man fame. Honestly the guns are the most fun thing about Gungeon, which is great.
Enter the Gungeon is a game that’s familiar to me due to my love of roguelite dungeon crawlers cultivated by The Binding of Isaac, but it has a lot of unique stuff to offer that if you’re a fan of the genre and for some reason haven’t tried the game yet, just do it. Gungeon is cheap, and it’s worth the time and effort to get good at it. It’s also my top game of 2016.