2017 has been the year of massive peaks and valleys. From predatory game development trends to innovation and creativity, gaming is a bit of a wonderful mess right now. But, despite the turbulence, there were also some seriously fabulous games released. These are a few of my favorites.
Large overlooked and passed over for better known (and frankly understood) games, NA pushed into new territory with an intriguing story that unraveled into an existential nightmare, while also tiptoeing around the ideas that we’re really all just the same on the inside. The game really begins after you finish the first playthough, with new game + features completely rewriting the game and how it’s played, revealing more story and features upon each completion. Packing a huge amount of endings, an amazing, surreal surroundtrack that’s won several awards, and fast and furious gameplay that’s a cross between Bayonetta and Nex Machina, there really is nothing out there quite like it.
Another overlooked title buried under the bones of larger games, Prey takes the first person genre and slows it down a bit. Set in a space station that’s on a path of destruction, the game wades methodically through twists and turns that make you question what it is to be human, and what the consequences of becoming something more can be. The game allows the player to explore, solve environmental puzzles, and make decisions that have a large impact on the game itself. It doesn’t hurt that the game allows the players to utilize interesting powers and weapons, like dart guns that can manipulate touch panels and switches from a distance, and glue guns that can freeze enemies or create climbable surfaces to reach higher up locations. It’s a slow, moody game that can become a bit tense, but fans of games like Fallout or Dishonored should definitely take a look.
A game I didn’t expect much from, Sonic Mania takes the original trillogy and remixes them in fantastic, interesting ways. It adds new bosses, new mechanics, and adds entirely new areas to old levels, while introducing new environments for the player to explore. The controls are tight, the performance is great, and it’s just a blast to play. There are even some great, nostalgic throwbacks to other games in the series, and some of the bosses are just genius, but I’ll not spoil those here. It’s short at around 6 or so hours, but it’s priced right and every minute is well engineered. If you ever liked sonic in the past, this is the one to play.
Zelda: Breath of the Wild
The game everyone has talked about, and it definitely deserves it. This game is all about exploring and doing, whatever. Most of my 40 hours of so playing BOTW was simply me be distracted by all the fun and interesting things I kept finding on my way to accomplish the games handful of objectives that actually make up the main game. The world is designed in a way that it captivates and catches your attention, with distant structures purposefully placed and molded to draw you in. Even after my initial play through, there is a huge amount of things to discover, I’m still learning about things I can do, like creating an angry mob of chickens to take down my enemies, turning a metallic boomerang into a deadly magnetized saw blade, or building my own custom hover craft from items I pieced together from the environment. If you’re not playing this, you should be.
Super Mario: Odyssey.
Pure, childlike, glee. That’s how you sum this game up. It’s energetic, creative, and constantly throws a new game play mechanic to the player to be toyed with. The world is a massive sandbox of interactive objects and NPCs that mix and meld in ways that can only be described as exuberant. The music changes and harmonizes while you interact with the world, and the new cap mechanic that allows you to posses enemies with unique powers and abilities really keeps things mixed up and interesting. The entire game revolves around the interactions between the player, these abilities, and the objects within, making it a gigantic play room. The controls are tight, the worlds are unique, although I would have liked to have seen more, and the game doesn’t end after the credits roll, easily making this the longest, more unusual Mario game I’ve ever played. It’s the most actual fun I’ve had in a game in many, many years, and this alone makes it one of my favorites this year.
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
This one isn’t being talked about anywhere, and I’m not sure why. The story is great, the graphics are beautiful, and the characters constantly banter and argue in ways that blend their personalities, the environments, and the challenges of the game in ways that I’ve never really experienced in a title. The gameplay is purely uncharted, but with a more open world design that should have took the series to a new level, but a change in main protagonists and a shorter overall playthrough time paired with a full $60 dollar price tag likely resulted in the game not garnering the attention of the previous tittles. However, it can now be found for under twenty bucks, making it a steal, and the characters employ a level of depth and realism that wasn’t expected. It’s an absolutely beautiful game, and the world and story are definitely both worth exploring, especially if you’re a fan of the series.
A combination of Metroid, Castlevania, and Dark Souls, the fairly challenging Hollow Knight deserves attention or it’s sprawling world, exceptionally tight controls, and eerie but entrancing art style. It’s not for gamers who don’t like to backtrack, get lost, or over come challenges, but for those who are into such trials and tribulations, it’s an excellent romp through a world that seems as alien as it is unique.
Wrapping it up
So, those were my favorite games of 2017. Some of these you’ve likely heard of, some of them you haven’t, but they all represent games as I feel they need to be, unique, engaging, and above all, fun. If I had to pick one as my absolute favorite for the year, I’d have to say Zelda just for how it entranced me with it’s world, without worrying about story, rhyme or reason. It’s just a fun, unique world with enough variance in it’s gameplay to keep me coming back, exploring, and discovering.
What were your favorites this year?