As 2016 draws to a close, we at Gamasutra thought it would be fun to ask developers which games stood out to them the most this year.
These can (and often are) games that they especially enjoyed playing, but more importantly, they're games that these developers thought did something interesting, influential, or otherwise notable in terms of design.
What follows is a succinct list of 5 games from 2016 that Square Enix Montreal creative director Teddy Diefenbach played and thought other game makers should study.
Diefenbach is best known among some for his work on Rad Dragon's (yet) unreleased heist adventure game The Moonlighters, and to most of the industry as a designer and programmer on Heart Machine's Hyper Light Drifter.
After that game launched earlier this year he was recruited by Square Enix Montreal, and is currently working on a new project.
2016 was a garbage year, but holy hell was it a good year for videogames in the face of today's world. Here are My Top Five:
#5: Final Fantasy XV by Square Enix
Like it is for many, Final Fantasy is in my blood, so I have STRONG OPINIONS about the series. I was really dubious of the bro-trip, but so far, it's a refreshing turn for the series, when the typical party don't really bond all that much.
Finally we're getting our Shepard/Garrus date in a Final Fantasy.
#4 Uncharted 4: A Thief's End by Naughty Dog
Where 3 felt like an incomplete finale, 4 feels like a true close to the main arc of Nathan Drake & Co. While the combat was still a little frustrating for me at times as it often has been, this story brought it home for me. And the ending. UGH. More games with so much care given to their ending, please.
#3 Quadrilateral Cowboy by Blendo Games
The beauty of small indie games is how they allow individual creative voices to rise to the surface. Brendon Chung (Blendogames) is one of the strongest voices we have in games right now. I was fortunate to watch this game develop, and am inspired by its unique brand of world building and living space.
#2 Overwatch by Blizzard Entertainment
I don't play online shooters. Ever. I quite after Gears of War, after spending an entire night failing to get a frag. But Overwatch is playful where other shooters are brutal and surgical. A deep game, with great diverse representation, and brilliant game and visual design.
#1 Firewatch by Campo Santo
Subtle, gentle storytelling about characters that feel real and relateable. Plus it's one of the most visually stunning games I've ever played. If Hyper Light Drifter loses every "Top 2016 Indie Games" list to Firewatch, it will be an honor to lose to this treasure.
Hungry for more 2016 best-of? Gamasutra published its Top 10 Game Developers of 2016, Top 5 Trends of 2016 and Top 5 Events that shaped the year. Gamasutra contributors also each wrote up a personal top-ten list -- and you can read them here: Kris Graft, Alex Wawro, Bryant Francis, Katherine Cross, Chris Baker, Alissa McAloon, Chris Kerr, Phill Cameron, and Brandon Sheffield.