2017 marks one of the most astounding years of gaming. We were gifted sequels, remakes and whole new worlds to explore. The most amazing part is how many of these are good and how many of these are touching perfect. With so many to choose from it was difficult to narrow down this list, but I picked the games I played that stood out the most to me and will last in my memory in the coming year.
Monster Hunter Stories
My monster hunter fix for the year, till I get my hands on Monster Hunter World. The cute endearing spin-off brought a new aspect to the large world of monster hunting with the riding of monsters with a more defined plot. The biggest joy of the game was collection my favorite monsters like they were Pokemon to battle with me. Hopefully, there are still more Stories to tell in the future.
Battle Chef Brigade
An indie title with a lot of charm that has me itching more. More story, more characters, more world-building, and more dishes to make. The game is a mix of RPG story with Tetris/Puyo style puzzles and some action. The overall format is you play as a Chef attempting to join the Battle Chef Brigade. The competition is about using a specific ingredient and pleasing the judge. It requires hunting down the ingredients and then bringing them back to the station to cook. The ingredients have Earth(green), Water(blue), and Fire(red) orbs that need to be matched in rows of 3 to level up and increase the quality of the dish to outmatch the opponents and meet the judge’s taste.
Final Fantasy XII Zodiac Age
The main reason I dropped this one into an honorable mention is due to it being a remake. I have a good bit of nostalgia for the game and was happy to have a remake. I still would not consider this one of the best of the franchise. I find it memorable for scenery and some of the characters. The gambit battle system gave a different strategy to the game that I found challenging, but still interesting. My prior experience required a plethora of grinding that was not as present this time. Maybe I’ve gotten better at playing the game or it was better balanced to avoid sharp spikes of difficulty.
Gravity Rush 2
This game was the first one I had to look forward to this year. I had just finished the first Gravity Rush a few months before this game was announced. The control of gravity felt better and with new additions to Kat’s abilities to combat the new challenges. I got a lot of enjoyment out of this game, but also a good bit of frustration. It took some gambles with the changes introduced and not all went over well.
10. Hellblade Senua’s Sacrifice
The game may have released without much notice by some. The game caught me from the trailer. The experience of the game is unlike what I had expected in both good and bad ways. The game has a huge focus on Norse mythology, drawing me in enough to buy books on the mythology to learn even more and see if it actually was accurate to the mythos, it is. The sound design is the true star of this game and should be experienced with headphones. Whispers and shouts of voices flood Senua’s ears coming in on different sides and angles. It plays with the mind and mysticism to tell a story. The story itself is largely linear. The few choices are more about which will be done first. Combat is not a constant they act as hurdles to solving puzzles and boss battles to cap off a section of the game.
9. Evil Within 2
The original Evil Within had a share of mixed with some loving it, others hating it, and the majority still confused about the story they just play. Evil Within 2 return players to Sebastian Castellanos, the main character of the first game. He must re-enter the system called STEM. This time with a motivation to save his daughter that has been forced to become the Core of the system. The story and gameplay are fleshed out far better than prior. The game contains open sections for exploration that offer side content and missions. This exploration can be up to players on how they tackle it and if they’re up for risking their current resources for the potential rewards. The upgrade system is better handled by separating the weapon upgrades and Sebastian’s physical upgrades. The story is overall better paced and hosts a plethora of transitions that play with the space of the areas. One issue I find is that it does not address all the unanswered questions from the first game, but maybe it was better off for it.
8. Hatsune Miku: Project Diva Future Tone
This game is my addiction. Starting it with one small free demo with only 2 songs is where this rhythm game got me. After playing those 2 songs at least 20 times over I cracked and got every song pack and all the DLC that came after. I now have over 300 songs to play through and I have yet to get through all of them. Each song plays like a music video of sorts with button prompts appearing over the dancing Vocaloids and image in the background. After getting past the slight learning curve and the chaos of the music video behind the prompts I found a collection of favorites that I return to an attempt to perfect them. Even after getting perfect I drift back to them just for fun. It earned a permanent spot on my PS4 for amount of fun it brought me. I still return to this often planning on playing 1-3 songs and end up playing so much more for longer than I should.
7. Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia
Thank you for restoring my love of the franchise! I will be transparent, I despise the Fire Emblem Fates games. I had loved the series for years and played each installment that made it to a Western release, but Fates had left a bad taste for any game coming after it. When this one originally announced I was afraid that it would be a similar experience. Some of that fear subsided when I heard it was a remake. There were lingering doubts due to the prior remake of the series Shadow Dragon had been all around unremarkable and short. Ultimately I was proven wrong, Fire Emblem Echoes offers a uniquely engaging experience. The two separate paths that follow two protagonists with their own set of companions to fight with. New characters and mechanics, such as Dungeon exploration, were added to the remake to both bolster the origins of the game, but also expand the franchise as whole. It still has a hit or miss quality among some fans.
6. Danganronpa V3 Killing Harmony
The visual novel series takes it to the extreme with this third installment of the series. Entering the Killing Game with a new set of 16 high-schoolers with their own Ultimate abilities. They are now motivated to kill their fellow students in order to escape, but they must also get away with their crime to be rewarded. This game retained the over the top anime-esque style of the franchise with some foundation of common sense that could be considered lacking in prior games. Each trial made sense as all the evidence came together. Even more important is that each lost character felt like a loss. Having played the prior games I went in aware that not everyone would survive, but this game did better in establishing the characters and making me hope that they could make it to the end. When one was lost it made an impact on me as a player to feel a despair as the story instilled despair in the characters. That impact made it an overall more memorable experience and shined a new light on this series.
5. Super Mario Odyssey
Blasphemy! Mario should be #1 on this list! Wait this is my list… Fake outrage aside let me explain my reasons for not putting Mario Odyssey higher on this list. A long-awaited format to the franchise, Mario Odyssey returns to the groundbreaking roots of Super Mario from the Nintendo 64 era. The open exploration through multiple different types of worlds is fantastic. There are hundreds of collectibles to hunt down allowing for hours of playtime even after finishing the story, maybe even too many depending on your preferences. The game gets to that deep nostalgic feel personally. Mario 64 was the first game I ever played from the franchise. If I was still that young kid just opening the gates into the world of video games then this could have been my number 1. The matter just is that I’m not and my preferences towards games have changed over the years. Mario Odyssey is still amazing and one of the few platformers I have touched this year, but the story remains generic with a new aesthetic to make it different on the surface.
4. Splatoon 2
It was a fight just to get this game. Multiple times I was faced with the eshop crashing as I attempted to buy this game along with 100s of others on the release date. I had never touched the first game but found enjoyment out of Splatoon 2 that I had not expected. There are a couple factors to this, first being the Splatfest events and updates to the game. These events encourage even casual players to return to the game for a weekend to fight for a side; Ketchup vs Mayo, Werewolf vs Vampire, Sci-fi vs Fantasy, and the list continuing to grow. The game is continuing to be updated and worked on with multiple levels, weapons and even new customization for your Inkling being added since release. Next is the Salmon Run! Sick of fighting against other players in Turf War or Ranked Battles? Then fight alongside other players in a boss rush mode. The goal is to defeat the bosses and gather the quota of eggs through 3 waves. The last big factor is that I had multiple friends playing it and helped me in reconnecting with some even in a small way. My best experience with this game is playing hide and seek, tag, and goofing around just with friends in our own private room.
3. Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
It is difficult to praise a game that has already fostered so much praise since release. Yet another long-awaited title for those eager to explore another version of the classic story. This time the story takes a backseat. The open-world exploration makes the game less about finding where to go and more about just finding something new. Who cares about defeating Ganon when there are mountains to climb and Trials to tackles? Breath of the Wild allows for players to explore at their own pace and discover things in a different order. I made my way to Lake and found the Zora area first, a friend of mine traveled to the desert and seeing Gerudos first. It gave a freedom to players. Now if the weapon drops did not break after 3 swings it would be perfect.
2. Persona 5
It was almost a struggle to wait for this game as long as fans did. Years that were tampered with Remakes and Spin-Offs to keep the Persona brand alive in the mind of gamers. This is the game we were all waiting for and it was worth it. The new central plot is not about finding a serial killer or climbing a tower, but stealing hearts. The story is told by first showing us the future before letting us play to that point. A game that spoils itself basically, but still offers a few twists to keep players on their toes. The biggest fault I find in this game is the less than memorable cast of characters. Maybe we were saturated in the casts of Persona 3 and Persona 4 that the introductions of Persona 5’s cast could not shine through.
1. Horizon Zero Dawn
Horizon Zero Dawn brought players to a new post-apocalyptic world. The narrative gave a balance of taking us on the journey of Aloy with her struggles and teaching us as players the history of the world. Aloy is an amazingly strong female character with plenty of independence and ability to handle what gets thrown at her, but still showing a few understandable flaws making her a more believable and unique character. The visuals of the world are a contrast with the vegetation and nature engulfing buildings and machinery. The “monsters” of the game are not wild animals but wild machines. This choice provided another contrast of the technology of the machines against the more primitive hunting of the tribes. I am a sucker for contrast, both the visual and story contrasts of this game give me chills of joy. The range of weapon that can be acquired allow for players to develop their own style for handling the situations that come, maybe preferring more of a stealth approach or going all out from the start. There is some struggle with the AI to be had, but I cannot deny how eager I am to know more about this world.