With the release of the Mini NES, it's clear that retro games are all the rage these days. However, when it comes to buying games as gifts for your friends and family, no one will be complaining about receiving one of the best games to come out in the past year.
This Gift Guide will include indie games and AAA titles alike, so no matter what your price range is, you'll be able to get the people you care about some truly spectacular games. I haven't played all of these titles myself, -- I'm only one person -- but due to each game's popularity and reviews, they speak for themselves.
All Ratings are based off of each game's Metacritic Score.
In terms of pure fun, there are few games which can match Overwatch. No, it doesn't have a story, that's left to external material like web shorts and comics. It doesn't have any sort of single player campaign, but it will be a long time before you become tired of the modes the game does have to offer.
In addition to the addicting normal matches, which I'd dumped over 300 hours into, there are also the game's new modes, such as 1 on 1 matches, 3 on 3 elimination matches, and a variety of 6 on 6 matches with special rules.
The game is bright, colorful, and its cast of characters are all incredibly diverse and lovable. Overwatch is my all time favorite FPS, and I can't recommend it enough.
Overwatch is available for PC, Xbox One, and PS4.
Pokemon: Sun & Moon
Whether you know a long time Pokemon fan or someone who was introduced to the franchise through Pokemon Go, any owner of a 3DS will be happy to get the newest installment in the franchise as a gift.
With over 100 new Pokemon, and a slew of new features, Sun and Moon have breathed new life into a franchise people have long decried as stale and repetitive. I'll be picking up Moon for myself soon, and I can't wait to play the latest game in my favorite RPG franchise.
Pokemon Sun and Moon are available for the Nintendo 3DS.
Buy It: Steam
Retro inspired games may be common, but Owlboy should most certainly not be lumped in with the rest. This game has been in development for almost a decade, and while people have been hoping Owlboy would be something special, no one could have anticipated how emotional an experience it is.
With one of the best soundtracks to come from an indie platformer, due in part to being done with full orchestral music, solid, if not revolutionary gameplay, beautiful sprites, and a story which will make you laugh, cry, and feel genuine hatred, Owlboy can be enjoyed by anyone. If you know anyone who's a fan of either retro games or games with deep plots, this title will make a perfect gift.
Owlboy is available on Steam.
Street Fighter V
Buy It: Amazon
Capcom isn't the most popular game developer and publisher these days, but that doesn't mean they don't still make great games. Street Fighter V was a bare bones game at launch, but even then, the core fighting mechanics were some of the best to ever grace the franchise. And since then, the released DLC has made the game a complete package, definitely worth your time.
You shouldn't be getting this for someone just because they enjoy Super Smash Bros. though. While this game can be enjoyed casually, only dedicated fighting game fans will get the most out of it. It may have taken awhile, but Street Fighter V is now one of the best games on the fighting game scene.
Street Fighter V is available on PS4.
Buy It: Steam
In complete honesty, this was not a game for me. However, for the many people I know who are fans of simulator games, this has been one of their favorite titles to come out in 2016. According to them, and the tens of thousands of fans who've reviewed the game on Steam, this is one of the all time great farming simulators.
And part of the reason why players feel that way is because in addition to have crisp pixel art graphics and a smooth interface, you do so much more than just farming in Stardew Valley. There's mining, fishing, foraging, and even combat. For someone who just wants to escape from the stress of the real world, this indie title is perfect.
Stardew Valley is available on Steam.
I've never played a game quite like Oxenfree. With the exception of its expansive decision based conversation system, it plays like a fairly standard adventure game. However, there's nothing standard about this title's story and atmosphere. Starting with the latter, the visuals are minimalistic and striking, and the OST, which is purchasable on its own for $9.99, is positively haunting.
Both of these aspects contribute to the story, which manages to be both an homage to class 80's horror movies, as well as a deep insight into the nature of grief. For more details on the story, I highly recommend that, AFTER you play the game for yourself, you read the article I've linked to here. Oxenfree is far from being appealing to mainstream audiences, but fans of horror and philosophy will love this strange and wonderful experience.
Oxenfree is available on Steam and PS4
Dark Souls 3
Dark Souls 3 may be the continuation of a series, but you shouldn't be turned away if you haven't played the other games, as the stories are unrelated. Nor should you be turned away by this game's incredible difficulty, as, much like its predecessors, it is an incredibly frustrating game at times. For while it may be hard, it's still incredibly satisfying to eventually overcome the hurdles put in your path.
I started off with mentioning the two things which may make you, or someone you know, hesitant to play Dark Souls 3, because once you do sit down and play it, you'll realize it's one of the best action RPGs of this generation. It does everything the first two Dark Souls games did right, and just adds onto it.
Dark Souls 3 is available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
Buy It: Steam
Do you like crazy, over the top action? Do you like the idea of blowing things up with your best friends? Are you a fan of classic run and gun games like Contra and Metal Slug? If your answer to any of these questions was yes, then Broforce may just be the game for you.
There really isn't anything too complex about this one. This is a game designed to just let you have a good time shooting things alongside three of your best mates, and be as "Manly" as humanly possible. The imagination that must have gone into creating Broforce must be commended above all else. After all, most of the designs in this game look like they're from the cover of a metal album.
Broforce is available on PC, Mac, Linux, and PS4.
Civilization VI may not have gotten the same overwhelmingly positive response from fans as its two most recent predecessors, but it's still a worthy entry in this phenomenal turn based strategy franchise.
This title preserves the glorious presentation the series is known for with superb graphics and an equally brilliant score. More depth has been added to the gameplay than has been seen in any other Civilization title, and while that's great for veterans of the franchise, it may be a bit intimidating for newcomers. As such, I recommend this as a potential gift for fans of strategy games, be they real time or turn based, and fans of the Civilization series.
Civilization VI is available on PC and Mac.