The Best Games of January 2016

The Cream of the Crop

As fans of video games, we're in a very fortunate position at the moment. Even though winter is supposed to be a slow period for new releases, we are being inundated with great games from all directions, and there's no sign of this changing any time soon. It got us thinking: what if, instead of highlighting one game as the best of the month, we showcased every game that won our hearts and minds?

So, after two years of celebrating one game per month, we at GameSpot want to showcase everything great that comes our way. It not only gives us the chance to recollect and highlight every game that we love, it allows us to create snapshots of the game industry's best work at a particular point in time.

Without further ado, these are our favorite games that came out in January 2016.

Jan. 5, 2016: Amplitude - 7/10

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Scott Butterworth, Amplitude Review - "The game is plenty demanding when playing solo, but when you add up to three other players, the action gets downright frantic. You can block opponents by diving into adjacent lanes, mess with your enemies by deploying special power-ups, and even partner with a friend for two-on-two battles. There's no online option, but the gameplay works extremely well on a shared couch. By focusing on Amplitude's exemplary gameplay--thereby shifting the focus away from its somewhat lackluster music selection--multiplayer extends the game's long-term appeal."

Jan. 12, 2016: That Dragon, Cancer - 9/10

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Justin Clark, That Dragon, Cancer Review - "More than it is any sort of game with a victory-state, or a satisfying climax, That Dragon, Cancer is Ryan and Amy’s abstract, dream-world document of the continual search for, if not their own grace, then at least respite for themselves and their lost child. As such, it’s hard, bordering on impossible, to judge as a game in the strictest sense, even under looser Gone Home/The Beginner's Guide terms. It has no need or interest to entertain anyone who plays it. The existential terror and disorientation of the experience has no real satisfaction, just the hope that expressing it can let its creators lift the burden. There are no Achievements, no points to be gained. There is only the ability to weave and work abstractly through the pain of its creators as they did, the interactivity of the medium allowing them the freedom to craft often virtual cathedrals to stand in monument of it."

Jan. 15, 2016: Oxenfree - 8/10

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Alexa Ray Corriea, Oxenfree Review - "Oxenfree is more than a ghost story with a Freaks and Geeks-like coating. It's a tale of coping with loss, broken relationships, and the inflexibility with which teenagers deal with sudden change, all layered under an alarming paranormal encounter. I left Oxenfree feeling hollow and strained, emotionally spent yet excited to play again and uncover more of the mystery. It doesn't hammer you with platitudes about friendship and loss, but hands you a knot to untangle that rewards you at every success with an emotional gut punch. It doesn't ask you any big questions, and certainly isn't easy in relenting its answers; Oxenfree just is what it is, a big little game about the all-too-human inability to let go of what hurts us."

Jan. 19, 2016: Resident Evil 0: HD Remaster - 7/10

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Peter Brown, Resident Evil 0: HD Remaster Review - "Zero bears the hallmarks that made the original Resident Evil enjoyable. At a glance, it looks impressive, with some expertly composed shots and highly detailed environments. Some issues from the original persist, reminding you how far controls in games have come since 2002, but they are temporary frustrations that fade once you find your footing and continue your journey. You may tire of the formula by the end of the game, but with Wesker at your fingertips, don't be surprised if you find yourself eager to sprint through zombies and decapitate them with energy blasts. It's just crazy enough to work."

Jan. 20, 2016: Homeworld Deserts of Kharak - 9/10

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Daniel Starkey, Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak Review - "Homeworld was always about loneliness. It was always about clarity and focus. Kharak isn't new in that regard, but it is special. It shows us that when you get things right -- and excel -- that formula isn't easy to exhaust. Kharak does its part to add to that, though. Its use of voice acting and efficient visuals is a brilliant addition that's far from superficial. It helps narrow the scope of what you need to manage, so that it can load you up with as much as your brain can handle. It’s a fast, daunting experience that's tough to shake, making Kharak as intoxicating as Homeworld has ever been."

Jan. 26, 2016: The Witness - 9/10

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Mike Mahardy, The Witness Review - "The Witness is one of the most challenging games I've ever played. During my playthrough, I experienced confusion, uncertainty, and mental exhaustion as I tried to understand this game's intricacies. At times, I considered giving up. The Witness makes few attempts at handholding, opting instead to convey its mechanics in subtle, cryptic ways as you struggle to make sense of it all.

But when you do persist, frustration gives way to gratification. This is what makes The Witness special. Unlike many puzzle games, it doesn't just make you feel intelligent--it begins on the assumption that you are intelligent. It trusts that you are a perceptive human being, capable of patience and critical thinking, and it rewards you for using both."

Jan. 26, 2016: Final Fantasy Explorers - 7/10

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Alexa Ray Corriea, Final Fantasy Explorers Review - "Final Fantasy Explorers is an homage to the series in the vein of Final Fantasy XIV; a world of reverential cameos and winking allusion glossed with the series' staple tone of wonder. The sheer number of quests and the complexity of customization will keep you busy for hours. If you like that sort of thing, that is. Even though its economy leaves a bit to be desired, it's not clunky enough to dissuade you from working hard to earn items and craft your ultimate armor. Because while Final Fantasy Explorers isn't a true Final Fantasy game, in a sense--it's more a Monster Hunter clone with a touch of Destiny than anything else--it still hits the sweet spot by sending you into a strange new world against magnificent creatures and impossible odds."

Jan. 29, 2016: This War of Mine: The Little Ones - 7/10

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Justin Clark, This War of Mine: The Little Ones Review - "Having the soul of a child hanging in the balance every day in this game changes the tone of many of the day-to-day activities, especially scavenging. If you’re reduced to two survivors living in a house, and the adult has to scavenge, there is an emotional cost, and it has to be made up during the day, which is not always an option. The incredibly nuanced AI successfully makes these children feel real, instilling real emotion when you make tough decisions."

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GameSpot has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to toxic conduct in comments. Any abusive, racist, sexist, threatening, bullying, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable behavior will result in moderation and/or account termination. Please keep your discussion civil.

Avatar image for ranbla
ranbla

You know there's a lack of real news material when sites start churning out "Best of" and "Top X" articles. That or they're just being lazy. Of all the the useless things one could write about, these types of stories are rock bottom crap. It's a purely subjective article with zero useful information.

But that's par for the course around here.

Avatar image for Gamer_4_Fun
Gamer_4_Fun

Great time to be a PC. Gamer. I am getting XCOM 2 tomorrow, then Homeworld and after that, Rise of the Tomb Raider.

Avatar image for Zloth2
Zloth2

For PC Gamers, Dragons Dogma: Dark Arisen wins for sure. Pretty good port of a really good game.

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benleslie5

I still need to play That Dragon, Cancer been hearing good reviews. Surprised that Lego Avengers didn't make it on the list

Moderator
Avatar image for hermitkiller
HermitKiller

Kids I understand steal torrents, but grown ups??!!!

It makes me ashamed to be a pc gamer, amongst those thieves :(

Avatar image for themanitou23
TheManitou23

@hermitkiller: I agree. A bunch of cheap skates. And anyone who argues that 'oh not everyone is rich and can afford t...' please shut the **** up. it's an entertainment medium that people put effort in to. you don't NEED to steal it so that your family survives. I have a friend who I'm ashamed to say hasn't seen Star Wars 7 yet because there isn't a good bootleg on the internet... Truly taking being a cheap shmuck to pathetic levels when you cant "afford" a 6 dollar matinee. (HE can)

Avatar image for Stebsis
Stebsis

@themanitou23: It also doesn't hurt if they "steal" it. If someone can't afford it and they pirate, the end result isn't any different from him not pirating it and not buying it, there's still no money that could be traded. Stealing and copying are entirely different things anyway, it's not even illegal in some countries.

Avatar image for hermitkiller
HermitKiller

@Stebsis: Do you even hear what you say???!!!!!!

Basically you're justifying piracy??!!!

No wonder pc gamers are considered as pirates.

I bet you're one of those who "testplay" games before buying them (yeah right)?

Please don't let me interfere your piracy.

Avatar image for aigis
aigis

Is gotm gone? cause this is kinda a cop out answer

Avatar image for hermitkiller
HermitKiller

I just build myself a beast rig and thanks to pc pirates, I get no sequel for The witness.

I'm f*cking pissed to those torrent leechers.

Buy your goddamn games, damn it.

DEVS NEED THE MONEY!!!

Avatar image for keech
keech

@hermitkiller: Right It's all the pirates fault. It has absolutely nothing to do with Jonathan Blow openly saying he doesn't like the direction Microsoft has gone with their very insular and close off network model and heavy restrictions and guide lines they impose on indie developers.

This also ignores the fact that The Witness has already surpassed Braid in terms of comparable sales figures, and years ago Blow stated that Braid made him "quite a lot of money."

Avatar image for Phooey442
Phooey442

@keech: People like to think pirating hurts the industry, but it accounts for less than 0.001% of sales. Which is laughably negligible. But they will believe anything.

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Stebsis

@hermitkiller: You do know that The Witness sold extremely well?

Avatar image for JamesJoule
JamesJoule

@hermitkiller: lol ... you really think pirating is the reason for console exclusivity ??

dont be so naive... they ofter the devs money and support they otherwise wouldn't get to release their game on one or two platforms only

pc exclusives like civilization v sold tens of millions of copies !!!!

Avatar image for deactivated-58ce94803a170

@hermitkiller: Its free advertising mate.

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FBohler

Mostly indies and ports. I couldn't care less.

Avatar image for themanitou23
TheManitou23

@FBohler: You realize this is GameSpot of San Franciso, CA? They very nearly gave Gone Home The best game of all time award. You really can't expect any more from these Anita Sar. Supporting hippsters. It's unfortunate that they seem to have more stake in portraying their own egos as radical feminists and supporters of gay rights and insulting the immature neck beard peons they perceive their audience to be, than informing said audience of worthwhile videogames. JMO.

Avatar image for Kiyosuyo
Kiyosuyo

@FBohler: Tell me about it. Explorers was a massive disappointment. Absolutely 0 story whatsoever. It's just grind quests and fight bosses, and that was the best release of the month, IMO.

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HermitKiller

The witness sequels were ruined thanks to pc pirates :(

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itchyflop

@hermitkiller: sorry im not a pc player, what witness sequel are all talking about? weve only just got witness on the console market, have you guys had it ages?

thanks :)

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Phooey442

@hermitkiller: Keep being a sheep and believing that nonsense.

Avatar image for JamesJoule
JamesJoule

@hermitkiller: get your numbers straight .. they sold more on pc than console ... and many other games and pc exclusives sold millions of copies on pc far exceeding that of consoles ( civilization... starcraft... Skryim and others )

Avatar image for beantownsean
BeantownSean

@hermitkiller:

Last I looked at Steam Spy, the Witness PC was selling just as well as PS4. Last report was 5million in profits.

If you don't have anything good to say...

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SaturatedButter

Witness would have to be the best of these. It's overrated though.

Avatar image for deactivated-57d0fe42747d9

...but what was the Game of the Month for January? That's what I wanna know...

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GH05T-666

@plastiqueworld: Maybe the highest score = The Witness / Homeworld / That Dragon Cancer?

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Leboyo56

It might be very lacking in originality, but I had a blast playing the varied amount of cool modes in Hardware: Rivals. I like how leveling up doesn't take forever in that game. It was overall a good, reasonable addition to PS+'s line-up of free games. Though offline and campaign modes would have been appreciated, and it sucks that it launched with only five maps I believe. But I can imagine myself coming back to this game every once in a while for the rest of this year.

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regulas

Isn't it a bit early in the year to have a story like this?

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Alurit

@regulas: read the title again. you read best game of 2016 instead of best game of january, 2016. although they did miss a comma

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varmintx

@regulas: Yes, they should obviously post a best games of January story in July.

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Buddy_the_Drac

Hm, no Darkest Dungeon? I think it would have been a good game to include on this list.

Avatar image for deactivated-58183aaaa31d8

@buddy_the_drac: Probably because the game has been in early access for a while now most people don't think of it as a game from this month.

Avatar image for Renunciation
Renunciation

RABI-RIBI. Released on Steam January 28th.

Most fun "Metroidvania" game I've played in years. Yes, that includes Ori and the Blind Forest as well as Axiom Verge -- not that I disliked either of these games, but Rabi-Ribi was just damn fun.

It's worthy of a review, Gamespot! Go, go!

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brn-dn

I don't like this, go back to the best game of the month. It's easier to narrow down a definitive GOTY that way.

What you should do is have an official winner (probably The Witness for this month) and then have a runner-up, then list the rest of the games that were considered.

Avatar image for Hurvl
Hurvl

@brn-dn: I like it this way better. You get a better grip on the best games of the month and can easily read through what makes each of them good. This article gives you more info than reading the summary of each review and it's all on one page.

A 7/10 game can still be very enjoyable and this format shows you that there are plenty of games you might want to play. It doesn't matter which one is the ultimate best, because games are so different and this section highlights games from different genres.

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aigis

@Hurvl: just pay attention to reviews when they come out... gotm had more competition and was interesting

Avatar image for Hurvl
Hurvl

@aigis: I don't care about these particular games, but I like to maintain a general knowledge even on games I'm not interested in, so these summaries are great in that respect. They seem different from the review's summaries, so they're a good complement. They could also serve to refresh my memory.

Avatar image for hystavito
hystavito

@Hurvl: I can't decide if I like this or not. I wasn't a big fan of game of the month really, but this kinda seems like taking the easy way out rather than being forced to make a choice. My first thought when I read the title was they're doing this so they can highlight That Dragon Cancer without causing a stir with the many people who would consider it only a mediocre or worse game. Now I don't literally mean they got rid of their game of the month for that one game :), but that's the feeling I got about the overall concept. They want to be able to highlight unpopular games that they feel are important for whatever reasons but they don't want to say any other game is better than those "special" games.

So I don't know, it feels like a cake it and eat it too kinda thing. Thing is with the game of the month they could still do a longer piece and cover all the contenders in detail, but then there's still that pesky issue of saying one is better than the others :).

Avatar image for Tiwill44
Tiwill44

Nothing for me, unless you count Metal Gear Online on PC... but that game becomes non-sense after a while. I mean there's a class that can become invisible and just run towards you and fulton you instantly, it's stupidly broken. And getting stunned / tranquilized is just not a fun mechanic. I don't think I'll ever go back to it.

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YagerMyster

edited

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GoodGamesGuy

@7tizz: all you play is the X1 and that's your game of choice? Kind of strange.

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tom_cat_01

psssst... Gamespot... on your homepage, underneath the title of this article, it just says "placeholder"..

Avatar image for deactivated-58ce94803a170

Hands down Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam, this is not even a debate worth having. This list is embarrassing, gg Gamespot.

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GoodGamesGuy

@mesome713: ...no