Ground Punch’s Best of 2016 – Game Awards

Pokémon Sun and Moon rewrote what many consider to be a tired formula. They do away entirely with gyms and the traditional format that you’re used to with Pokémon. Instead, there are multiple challenges with totem Pokémon, and once all of the challenges are completed on one island, the island Kahuna must be bested in order to progress. Furthermore, it does away with the awful HM system in favor of the great Poké Ride system where players can call upon a variety of Pokémon to help them overcome the obstacles in their path. Last but certainly not least, there are new Alola forms of old Pokémon allowing for fresh takes on nostalgic Pokémon. All in all, this leads to a revitalization of a classic yet addictive core that adds up to a great game that caters to both veterans and newcomers at the same time.

Written by Nikhil Chowdri

The entry point for Zero Time Dilemma is, admittedly, much more costly than other participants in “Best Handheld”, not only in 2016, but honestly among any year. With some games, you don’t necessarily need to play the games that came before it, but with Zero Time Dilemma, it’s quite detrimental to do so. This includes both Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors (999), as well as Virtue’s Last Reward. Oh, you also have to have the willingness to read through philosophical bits about topics like anthropic principles, the Prisoner’s Dilemma, and butterfly effect. But if you’re fan of time-travel, and are willing to embrace those (and more) philosophical quandaries, Zero Time Dilemma will provide not only the “Best Handheld” experience in 2017, but also one of the most intricate narrative experiences as well. Zero Time Dilemma, much like Uncharted 4, is the true sum of all previous efforts. Zero Time Dilemma learned from previous titles in the Zero Escape franchise, and adapted those lessons into a completely bonkers, but devilishly crafted adventure game for the ages.

Written by Kevin Atteridg

When Severed was first announced, I was more than skeptical of the first-person, touch-based, dungeon crawler — but I was very, very, wrong! What struck me straight away about Severed was its dire tone, as the game sees a young handicapped girl (her left arm has been amputated) navigating a dark, dank, and dreary world, on a desperately doomed mission to save her family. Drinkbox Studios perfectly captures this tone with the game’s dulcet soundtrack and fantastic, yet haunting, art style. It was this unexpected, evocative atmosphere, that made me quickly start paying attention to the then Vita exclusive, but Severed is far more than just an exquisite tone piece – the great gameplay is what makes Severed one of the best experiences of the year.

Severed’s gameplay revolves around exploring three dungeons/temples, solving puzzles, and battling a variety of monsters. The game’s fights revolve around slashing (swiping with your finger) enemies, with each enemy having their own defences and weak spots, requiring you to slash enemies at just the right time in just the right place, creating battles that are all about timing, and making the most of certain windows – it’s a concept that is so beautifully simple, and yet builds towards rewarding complexity. Excellent implementation of touch controls makes these battles fun, and late-game encounters will see players pitted against hoards of enemies carefully selected to complement one another, culminating in some truly frantic battles. Post battle you then need to sever the limbs of your fallen foes to upgrade your stats and the cool-down abilities you receive as you go through the game – a constant reminder of the dark tone I mentioned earlier. When considering all that Severed has to offer, short though it may be, the game is quite simply a must-play!

Written by John Bennett

Runners-Up: Avengers Academy, Disney Crossy Road, Senran Kagura: Estival Versus, The Trail, Valkyrie Drive: Bhikkuni.

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