Gaming had a heck of a year in 2017. Thank goodness, cause basically everything else was trash. Games were so good! I’m going to tell you about a few that I liked. Let’s say…10-ish? Sound good? Cool. Let’s get it.
Actually, before we start, I have to give a special shoutout to one game that didn’t make my top 10. That game is Cuphead. Yes, it finally came out! Cuphead is very much not my kind of game. I have little patience for platformers, and I don’t play games for difficulty. HOWEVER, this game is, hands down, the most stunning game I’ve ever seen. If you haven’t seen this thing in motion on a 4K HDR TV, you are missing out. It will blow you away. It didn’t make my list, but it is the first game I’ve played in forever that makes you want to call people over to look at it. Okay, now it’s on for real.
1. What Remains of Edith Finch – Hoo boy. This one will get you! It’s the story of a character returning to her family’s longtime home. She walks through the individual rooms, each with their own theme and decoration, and we learn the stories of each of the house’s former occupants. The gameplay sequences are varied and largely spectacular. One second you’re playing as a shark, then you might be in a comic book, or working a monotonous job at a fish factory. The stories are just wonderful, even the ones that will break your heart, and there are a couple of those, let me tell you. Edith Finch is just such an achievement in design and in storytelling. It gets in, tells an amazing story, then gets out. You can complete the entire thing in about 2-3 hours. It’s the best time I had with a game in 2017.
2. NieR Automata – I don’t even know where to start with this one. It is…something. I had never heard of NieR, never heard of NieR creator, Yoko Taro, never heard of Drakengard, until this year when everyone started raving about NieR Automata. I had no idea what I was getting into. I can barely even talk about it, because all of the best moments need to be experienced, not spoken about out of context. It’s a very sci-fi sci-fi game. Aliens, robots, androids, space, etc. But man, the story they tell. MAN. The game has 26, I believe, endings. To complete the story you have to play through the game three times, but each time is a little different than the one before it. IT GOES SOME PLACES! Oh, and the soundtrack. The music in NieR is spectacular. I could talk about this game for hours, but only to someone else who has played it. You should play it. We should talk.
3. Wolfenstein: The New Colossus – Speaking of going places, this game starts places. The intro for Wolfenstein is utterly insane. And then they somehow manage to ratchet up from there. If you weren’t aware, Wolfenstein takes place in an alt-history where the Nazis won WWII, and then took over the world. While the first game took place in Europe, this game is set entirely in the US. If the actual gameplay was a little better, this might have been my #1 this year. As it is, just put it down to the easiest diffculty setting, dual-wield some gigantic shotguns, and mow down a couple thousand Nazis. But we’re here for the story, and for me personally, it delivered in spades. There are so many phenomenal moments throughout the game. It does a wonderful job of developing its characters, and for a game that is primarily about killing Nazis, it does really well in the quiet moments. It also does an amazing job of telling a complete story while still leaving things open when they (hopefully) close out this trilogy.
4. Horizon: Zero Dawn – Horizon coming in at 4 on this list just shows you how strong of a year 2017 has been for games. I wrote a review of it back near release, and I called it one of (maybe the best) my favorite video game stories ever. I also praised the visuals as some of the best I’d seen. All of those things are still true, and it STILL came in at 4! I love Aloy as a character, I love the world they’ve built, and I love how much depth they created. It’s such a great story. Ashly Burch does a tremendous job of carrying Aloy, who, in turn, carries the story. It’s remarkable. I spent many hours in this world, finished every sidequest, found every collectible, and would still go back for more. It’s also visually stunning. A definite system seller for the PS4 Pro.
5. Assassin’s Creed: Origins – After the opening few hours I was almost ready to put this one down and walk away. I’ve played every mainline Assassin’s Creed game, with the exception of Liberty. They took a year off, which was much needed, and they drastically changed the combat system here. I cannot overstate how much I hate the new combat. I HATE it. I’m 40 hours in and I still hate it. Every instance of combat feels like a chore. The tools are there, so it’s probably just that I suck at it, but still I don’t feel like I’m ever in control. HOWEVER, I freaking love this game. It’s my favorite AC ever. Outside of combat, everything else is better than it’s ever been. The world feels real and vibrant. The stealth stuff is so much fun. And Bayek, oh my sweet large boy, Bayek. Bayek is a brilliant character. Well-written and rich. Voice actor Abubakar Salim is a lot of why. He is spectacular. Bayek is so deep and complicated, and Salim brings him to life in front of your eyes. The only video game characters I can think of that I’ve ever loved this much are Tali, from Mass Effect, and GLADoS, from Portal. I love this game.
6. Prey – There have been so many stories written this year about the “death of the single-player, narrative-driven game,” but there sure have been a lot of incredible ones this year. Prey isn’t generally the kind of game I like. It’s not super scary, but I definitely jumped a whole bunch, and I HATE jump scares. It’s not a traditional survival horror game, but it does have elements of the genre’s trademark scarcity. In the end, I just bumped the difficulty down to easy and went through to absorb the story. It’s so rich. Every email, every document, every little thing you find helps to build the narrative a little bit more. It draws you in a little bit more. It’s another vibrant, lived-in world, in a year full of vibrant, lived-in worlds.
7. Super Mario Odyssey – 2017 needed this game. I have never been a big fan of Mario games. I guess that’s my big gaming confession. I don’t necessarily love Mario OR Zelda all that much. Sorry. But this one got me. It’s so much fun. It’s so bright. It’s so fun. It’ll make you feel good. What more reason do you need to play this gem? Make yourself feel nice, play some Mario.
8. Refunct – I bought this game on whim just last week for something like $2. What a great $2 to spend! It’s a peaceful platformer. It’s really short, I beat it the first time in around 30 minutes. It has this really chill, tranquil soundtrack. There’s no combat, no enemies, no violence. I’ve gone back and beaten it another 5-6 times since. It’s just so…nice. It feels good, it has really simple mechanics, but it’s just no…peaceful. I just love it.
9. Destiny 2 – Anyone who has talked to me in depth about gaming in the last couple years knows how I felt about the first Destiny. In that I really didn’t like it. There’s just enough different about this one that it sucked me in. I don’t play multiplayer games, because I don’t like playing with other people. Thankfully there’s enough content here to make playing alone worth it. I dropped about 30 hours into this one, felt like I got my money’s worth, got a character up to 290-something Light, then walked away. Had a great time with it for those 30 hours! It still has a lot of off-putting systems, but it’s worth your time.
10. Everybody’s Golf – This game made me remember how much I enjoyed a good golf game. Man, I cannot even calculate how many hours I spent with Tiger Woods from 99-04-ish. This one is the best one I’ve played since then. Pretty much it on that one!
All in all, it’s been a spectacular year in gaming, and I am so glad I got to be here for it. I can only hope 2018 is half as good.