The Best Games of January 2016
Game reviews and scores aren’t the only way to determine if a game is right for you. You could find a trusted site or reviewer and get their insights, but most of us prefer our family and friends’ recommendations. That being said, I’m always interested in reading what the “critics” have to say about media. I regularly visit Rotten Tomatoes for summaries of movie & TV reviews. In some cases, it might influence my viewing decisions, but usually I’m just curious what people are saying about a movie or show I’ve already seen or am planning to see.
The same thing applies to games. While review scores shouldn’t be the only factor in a purchase decision, there are some positive things to garner from reading reviews. What are the major gaming outlets saying? What games have I ignored that might be worth looking into?
Metacritic takes a collection of scores from a wide variety of outlets and assigns each game a score average. Does that mean that a game with a Metacritic rating of 80 is a better game than one with a 70 rating? Maybe – but not necessarily. In my experience, however, I tend to agree (within 10-15 points or so) with most Metacritic scores.
When they released their list of top movies, music, and games for January 2016, there were a few surprises. Let’s take a look at what the top 5 games were for each platform in the month of January!
Best Playstation 4 Games – January 2016
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody: The Witness was the highest-rated PS4 game in January with an average score of 87. With the buzz around this game, it wouldn’t surprise me if it remains in the conversation when Game of the Year talks start up in 9 months or so. By most accounts, Jonathan Blow and his team have absolutely knocked it out of the park with this game.
Life is Strange (Limited Edition) came in 2nd place with a score of 85, followed by This War of Mine: The Little Ones (82). These are both games that I really want to play, so keep an eye out for my thoughts on those games in the coming weeks.
Rounding out the list, we have The Banner Saga (port of the PC/iOS strategy RPG) with 79 and Klaus with 78. Overall it was a solid month for Sony’s console, highlighted by the instant GOTY contender: The Witness.
Best Xbox One Games – January 2016
Microsoft was lighter on game releases this month, but they still had a solid list. All signs point towards a future release of The Witness on the Xbox One (CELEBRATE), but for now, it’s a console exclusive for the PS4. When it does make the move, I would fully expect it to review with similar scores to the PS4 version.
For January, Microsoft’s top-rated game release was Life is Strange (Limited Edition) with a score of 85. What’s that? You don’t see it on the list of best games? Well, that takes us to the most glaring flaw of the Metacritic formula. Most review outlets’ scores for this game were attributed to the PS4 version of the game, so it was given an “official” ranking in the Metacritic database. The Xbox One version is identical in content and quality, but it only was attributed a handful of “official” reviews, so it’s aggregate score wasn’t included in the list. It’s an oversight by Metacritic, so for our purposes: I’m including it!
The other games to highlight here are Oxenfree (78) – a beautiful little game that deserves attention – and Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India (67). Check out my review of Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China for an idea of how India’s experience is likely to play out. Why do I highlight those two games? Easy. Because I want to play them! Soon!
Best PC Games – January 2016
What a great month to be a PC gamer! It was another month of getting the best of both worlds in regards to console exclusive games. PC owners have access to just about every top-rated game that came out this month.
There was essentially a 4-way tie for best games in January on the PC. The Witness was the most-talked-about release, but Pony Island and Darkest Dungeon have had absolutely rave reviews pouring in. Additionally, PC gamers now have access to one of the best exclusive Xbox One games in Rise of the Tomb Raider. If you have a PC capable of handling modern games, it’s been a great month of gaming for you. One thing to note here: Life is Strange was one of the top 2 games for the major consoles last month, and it landed in 5th place for PC’s best games list. That’s a sure sign of an incredibly strong month for the platform.
Best Portable Games – January 2016
The Vita and 3DS had a combined 3 games released in January.
Fortunately for owners of these systems, they were quality games! Due to the lack of competition, they were also the best games. The 3DS has an absolutely stellar 2016 games calendar, and things got off to a solid start with Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam and Final Fantasy Explorers.
The Vita continues to be a great place for RPG’s, indies, and classic games.
This month, the system saw the release of Atelier Escha & Logy Plus: Alcehmists of the Dusk Sky. It was rated as a 75 on Metacritic, but its title scored an A+ in my heart. (Read that game name out loud right now. I dare you.)
Best iOS Games – January 2016
Last, and certainly least, are the best iOS games from this past month. The scores on these games are ridiculous. I’m curious to hear from some of you on these games. Have you played them? Are these scores legit?
Crashlands has an eye-popping 99 rating on Metacritic, with Dungelot: Shattered Lands (88), Punch Club (85), and Momoka: An Interplanetary Adventure (84) not too far behind. The list is rounded out by Lost in Harmony with a score of 75. Not a bad list at all if you find yourself gaming on your phone or tablet.
What do you think of these Metacritic ratings? Do review scores impact your buying decision? Are there any games on these lists that you are now interested in because of the scores?
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