The Action Adventure genre is a bit of a go-to grab bag, these days. They can be broad open world games or feature hours of shooting your way through enemies on a linear path, they can give you the most cursory of motivations or develop characters with real depth.
One thing’s for certain, that PlayStation fans have had it good for the past twelve months, with three of the five games on our list for Best Action Adventure being PS4 exclusives.
Square Enix bagged a spot on our shortlist with its bold new take on Hitman, immersing players in a wondrous world of assassination. It’s fair to say that, coming out of the blocks, Io Interactive had the odds stacked against them. Despite proffering some interesting ideas, Hitman: Absolution wasn’t a particularly memorable outing for Agent 47 and there were also concerns that the reboot would also be fumble when trying to nail the episodic format.
Instead Hitman flourished, as if finally realising its full potential. Each episode became its own miniature event with just enough time in between for players to peel pack the layers and uncover their secrets. Like several of our favourite games from 2016, Hitman is more of an expandable platform rather than simply being a boxed product and one Io has already committed to supporting in 2017.
Watch Dogs 2
You might think someone had lost their mind for speaking highly of Watch Dogs 2. The first game made a lot of promises and delivered on few of them, resulting in an engaging, if generic and rather lifeless, adventure experience. It would be easy to expect a sequel to follow in those footstep, but boy, oh boy does Watch Dogs 2 manage to subvert that expectation.
Everything you had hoped would be in the first game, actually is in the second. Much deeper and flexible hacking of phones, security systems and vehicles brings a whole world of strategy and engagement that we haven’t seen in any other open world game. Even better, this game feels so separated from the usual Ubisoft open-world formula, with a lack of mandatory tower captures and a variety of unique side activities. It’s the game that keeps on giving, and after such a stellar performance, it’s a franchise that absolutely deserves to stick around.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Uncharted has always built itself around three core pillars, two of those being action and adventure. It’s the video game equivalent of a blockbuster movie franchise and was one of the first to utilise performance techniques that are now commonplace throughout the industry.
Uncharted 4 feels like a culmination of all that hard work, with Naughty Dog closing the book on a decade long journey – not just for them, but one of gaming’s most beloved group of characters. Sure, the team over indulge in some parts, though this does little to diminish the balance between exploration and heart-pounding action.
Delivering set piece after set piece, it’s the quintessential game to whip out when in the company of lapsed or non-gamers. There’s a certain joy in playing a sequence in such a way that they may as well be watching a movie.
The Last Guardian
After being stuck in limbo for years, The Last Guardian arrived only earlier this month, snatching a top spot with its feathered, paw-like talons. Remnants of its earlier PlayStation 3 build give it some rough edges, though these do little to diminish Fumito Ueda’s vision.
This is a vague, yet enchanting tale of a boy and his beast that unspools through the heart-warming interactions between its lead “characters”. While many have criticised Trico’s cumbersome response to players’ commands, they’d be fooling themselves in thinking that wasn’t a deliberate design choice. It’s risky choices like these that make The Last Guardian stand out among the heavily focus-tested games some publishers foist us with on annual basis.
2016’s winner of Best Action Adventure is:
Runners up in alphabetical order:
- Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
- Ratchet & Clank
- The Last Guardian
- Watch Dogs 2