It’s getting harder to track playtime than it used to be. I feel like most games used to give you the full stats breakdown but this year I’m basing most of these on gut feelings. The biggest guestimation is for Dragon Quest Builders which I’ve pegged at 95+ hours. The only stat the game tracks is “days passed” which I timed out to be about 10 minutes. Time stops during dialog scenes though, as well as when you’re in any of the menus and at the beginning of each new chapter until you progress to a certain point. For a game with a restrictive inventory system there’s loads of time spent juggling items, using up materials and deciding what to throw away. What kept me going for 95 hours? Look for my Top Five of 2016 post coming up.
Surprisingly, 2nd and 3rd place are tied at 91 hours between Ace Combat Infinity and Starbound. Having picked up a more reliable slim PlayStation 3 I felt like I could push the hardware with months of non-stop, repeatable Ace Combat action. It’s a free-to-play amalgamation of the series’ greatest hits and it became my new Spelunker World for most of 2016. I checked in daily to use up my free “fuel”, running missions and racking up rewards to pump into the gargantuan upgrade system. Aside from October when I was totally absorbed by Dragon Quest I think I kept at it almost every day from July through December.
Starbound’s time was much more concentrated around its launch in late July. After 4+ years in the making I was ready to dive into the spiritual follow-up to Terraria with Katy at my side, crafting and exploring our randomly generated galaxies. One of the few games I played on Xbox this year was Dead Rising 3 (ironically, in the same year they announced and released a brand new sequel) in which I racked up a reasonable 40 hours. It was a good balance of traditional Dead Rising race-the-clock quests with some forgiving modern concessions. It was a fun and frivolous romp and most of those hours were spent hunting down the array of collectibles in the game.
Back on PlayStation 4 again is Let it Die with 36 hours, an impressive feat considering I only started it in December! It’s peculiar style, crafting system and punishing multiplayer invasions have me ready to throw myself against its challenges most evenings. A single run at the tower usually requires 60+ minutes and with only a sneaky way to “pause” the action it’s demanding and captivating. More often than not I come back down the Tower of Barbs with my heart racing but ready to do it all over again. It’s the most harrowing grind I’ve ever experienced in a game and it’ll probably last well into 2017.
Honorable Mentions go to Spelunker World which was still going strong through the end of May. It doesn’t have an hour counter though so there’s no way to tell how much time I really spent. My guess would be well over 10 hours, if not 20 or more. Also without a counter is Big City Stories, the free-to-play SimCity lite that I loaded up for between 5 and 30 minutes most days. It’s hard to tell if I put in a lot of time or just played it for a lot of days. The Witness also lacks a counter but I can’t even guess at this one. There were probably hours spent staring at the screen and doodling out solutions in a notebook. I even cut out little Tetris pieces to help brainstorm new solutions outside of the game. It probably makes it into the top five but when it was expanding my consciousness I definitely wasn’t thinking about the time.