2017 will go down in history as one of the best years in gaming, without a doubt. The top 10 (or 15) games ahead all define a year filled with great surprises and unforgettable experiences. Maybe we got immersed in Hyrule once again; maybe we fought against unspeakable horrors in a dilapidated mansion run by crazy hillbillies; maybe we turned gravity on its head; maybe we played a few of the most difficult games of the year that weren’t made by FromSoftware; or maybe we were moved by a tale of overcoming personal tragedy – but the most important thing is that we got to experience all of that and more in this astonishing year of gaming. So without further a due, let’s get into my personal top 10 games of the year, starting with five honorable mentions.

Side note: Keep in mind, these are all my personal picks, and entirely my opinion. The 15 games mentioned here are all winners in my eyes, and they represent the best of the best for me in a year crammed full of games. Many might not agree with a few choices and placements, so I must stress again, it’s all just my opinion. Do you have a top 10 games of 2017? Feel free to share in the comments below!

 

Honorable Mentions

Sonic Mania

A good Sonic game is a dime a dozen now in the franchise, which is unfortunate considering the high status of this beloved blue gaming mascot. Sonic Forces did an admirable job of combining the old and new formula, but it didn’t make the most remarkable impact either. 2017’s Sonic Mania, on the other hand, threw the new formula out the window entirely to start anew, delivering one of the most nostalgic gaming experiences I’ve had all year. The game is a love letter to the glory days of Sonic the Hedgehog, building upon the mechanics of the classics while giving it a refreshing new spin, so to speak. The only problem is that it isn’t anything groundbreaking or ‘new’, and falls a bit on the easy side, but for classic Sonic fans, this is everything you could ask for and more. Sega’s blue speedster is finally back.

Read our review here.

 

Gravity Rush 2

While the first Gravity Rush mostly slipped under the radar because of its underwhelming launch on the doomed PS Vita, Gravity Rush 2 didn’t hesitate to make itself known with a wider release on console. The game is a direct sequel to the first, so fans familiar with its story and bizarre, gravity-bending gameplay should feel right at home. For those who aren’t really familiar with the series, you’re in for a treat. Gravity Rush 2 is by far a superior sequel, and does enough to keep newcomers updated while introducing us, including fans of the original, to everything new the game has to offer. Gravity-shifting is more flexible and fun, and the controls are gratefully tweaked for more responsive inputs; a problem which stilted the first game. It’s one of the most ingenious releases of the year, and worth its relatively cheap price point now.

 

Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy

Vicarious Visions’ remake of the iconic original Crash Bandicoot trilogy was masterfully handled, even down to the wonky controls of the first game. The IP isn’t in Naughty Dog’s court anymore, but the series feels remarkably fresh and exhilarating as ever through this remaster. The collection features all three original Crash games released for the PlayStation in one superb package, and it delivers all the nostalgic thrills you could ask for. The downside to this is that it unfortunately harbours the same poor mechanics of the 90s, including some puzzling camera angles and cheap controls that were the cause of many rage-inducing, mistimed jumps, but as a whole, it simply works. The inclusion of Coco does little to really add to the experience, but that’s not why we’re here. We wanted Crash Bandicoot back on PlayStation, and we got it in the best possible way in 2017.

Read our review here.

 

Yakuza 0

As the prequel to the Yakuza series, Yakuza 0 is easily one of the best Yakuza games in years. Kazuma Kiryu returns alongside fan-favorite recurring character, Goro Majima, in their earlier years, exploring where everything went wrong between the two while diving deep into the initial phases of the notorious yakuza. The game is littered with tons of interesting (and sometimes comical) activities and side quests on top of its already lengthy main story, so expect to be drawn into the underbelly of Japan for at least 50-60 hours. The amount of freedom that the game grants players is unparalleled, and makes use of its massive customization options and quirky nature to set it apart from its predecessors – but is also kind of held back by its lack of focus too. Nonetheless, Yakuza 0 is a triumphant entry in the series and one that takes Yakuza back to its shining glory.

Read our review here.

 

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

This one is bound to set off a few alarms, but allow me to explain. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a phenomenal game, and one of the best selections on the Nintendo Switch right now. It revamps the Zelda formula is mostly all the right ways and succeeds in building a compelling, artfully designed, and immersive open world for players to explore. It’s an impeccably crafted and highly enjoyable game, but personally, it didn’t leave as great of an impact as I hoped it would. It could be due to the fact that I only played the game later in the year after constantly hearing it be one the best games ever made. I’m not usually one to be swayed by public opinion and would rather just let the game speak for itself, but even then, it missed a few marks. Breath of the Wild does a lot right, but also has a few flaws that hinders the experience – mainly the durability of the weapons that got fairly annoying after a while. Would I still call it one of the best games of the year that you should definitely play? Absolutely, but personally, it didn’t quite reach masterpiece heights for me. At the same time, I can totally understand why many gamers might adore it.

Read our review here.

 

10. Super Mario Odyssey

The list kicks off with Super Mario Odyssey, Nintendo’s latest offering in the Mario universe (Marioverse?). Super Mario Odyssey is easily one of the most delightful, lovingly crafted gaming experiences of 2017. The ingenuity behind the series never fails to impress me, and Nintendo somehow manages to bring the Italian plumber to life again without making it feel like a forced rehash. There’s enough new ideas here to warrant extensive playtime, not forgetting the amazing locations and clever platforming sections implemented into the various environments that should hit that nostalgic sweet spot. I didn’t quite get the same thrill as the first time I played Super Mario Galaxy, for example, but it does prove to be a very worthy first addition to the original Mario games on the Switch. It just makes me all the more excited for what the future holds for Mario games.

 

9. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is a behemoth of a first-person shooter. Bethesda’s and MachineGames’ bloody, bombastic, Nazi-slaying bullet rain sequel is every bit as satisfying as it sounds. However, The New Colossus is not only barrels of fun and wonderfully challenging from a gameplay perspective, but it also surprisingly delivers one of the most emotionally poignant campaigns I’ve played all year, giving weight to our main protagonist, BJ Blazkowicz, in some truly unexpected ways. It’s also one of the best looking and best sounding shooters of 2017, and really emphasizes the punch that your weapons pack as you blaze through legions of enemies with all the conviction of a fan blowing red paint against a wall. That’s not to say it isn’t hard, though, as the game does include some hefty challenges, but you’ll be so invested in the story, characters and gameplay, that you’ll forget all about it. It’s fun, addictive, and fast-paced; everything that ticks the boxes for what makes a great modern shooter to me.

Read our review here.

 

8. Horizon Zero Dawn

When we talk about games in 2017 that really landed with a big bang, you have to bring up Horizon Zero Dawn. Guerrilla Games, who took a break from the deteriorating Killzone series, have certainly outdone themselves in creating one of a gorgeous open world games of the year. The world is incredibly dense and populated with inventive, mechanical monsters that resemble dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures, as well as the few survivors of this new machine era. Aloy, the main protagonist, is not exactly the most compelling character ever, but her determination and gripping backstory really drives home the emotional aspects and major story beats of the game – which are all excellent, by the way. Couple this with an assortment of hunts, activities, and side quests amidst a sprawling, truly epic world, and you’ll find Horizon Zero Dawn to be well worth your time.

Read our review here.

 

7. Prey

My friends and I like to jokingly refer to this as the Half-Life 3 we never got. Arkane Studios’ reboot of Prey is undoubtedly divisive as the game twists conventions to either spectacular or confusing degrees, but it maintains an incredible atmosphere and sense of disjointedness throughout. Everything in the game, from the level design to gameplay, reflects a more cerebral approach to first-person shooters than anything we’ve seen before. It stitches together plenty of ideas from Half-Life, Deus Ex, BioShock, and System Shock, yet manages to create an amalgamate fever dream of those. The final package is a game that I don’t think I’ll forget anytime soon. As I mentioned before, some of these concepts and ideas may be too daring, outlandish, or arguably artsy in some cases for players, but in Prey’s attempts to be something different, I personally think it succeeds on all levels. I find it more and more difficult to recommend Prey as it’s one of those rare games that I cannot possibly judge if people will take something away from playing it, but I can wholeheartedly say it’s the finest first-person shooter of 2017.

Read our review here.

 

6. Nioh

Ever since Dark Souls inexplicably created a new sub-genre in gaming, we’ve seen plenty of developers attempt to tackle similar gameplay mechanics to varying results. It seemed all you needed to do was slap a stamina bar on top of fragile health pools and high damage outputs for enemies to make something that resembled FromSoftware’s trendsetter. However, Team Ninja actually gets it right with Nioh; a ‘Souls-like’ experience that can proudly stand on its own. It takes all the elements that worked in Dark Souls and combines them with Ninja Gaiden’s stylish flare and dazzling visuals to create a game that surprised me as much as it almost made me break my controller. As you might expect, it’s no walk in the park, and the game can severely punish you if you slip up, but this clever little element serves as the greatest success to Nioh and FromSoftware’s catalog; the difficulty is a damn steep learning curve, but once you master it, you’ll find a stunning, truly addictive game hidden beneath.

Read our review here.

 

5. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

Ninja Theory is a true underdog in the gaming industry, and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice proves it. This unassuming indie-game, part hack and slash, and part action/adventure, goes the extra mile to stand above its genre counterparts. This is all beautifully and tragically illustrated by the main character, Senua, and her dwindling mental status. The deeper players venture into the heart of the game, the more Senua slowly begins to fall into madness, and this regression is turned into an amazing gameplay mechanic (which I will not spoil). For an independent game, Ninja Theory have certainly brought a level of quality and attention to detail only found in triple-A titles, and much more. The story is so incredibly moving, that I found myself in tears and almost distraught by the end of my 7-hour journey. I can only describe Hellblade as powerful, and I take my hat off to Ninja Theory. I’ve almost even forgiven them for DmC: Devil May Cry.

Read our review here.

 

4. Cuphead

Side-scrolling platformers have mostly dominated the indie space, but only the few great ones tend to make it to the top. Cuphead has made it to the top and somehow launched itself into orbit. Featuring one of the most unique art styles I’ve ever seen in gaming, Cuphead boasts tremendous visuals lifted from 1930s animation, and even more incredibly, each frame in the game is completely hand-drawn. This devotion to the craft alone would probably earn it high accolades, but Cuphead goes a bit further and also gives us a game that’s both brutally challenging and very entertaining. The combination of all these great elements earns it a much deserved spot on the list of the best games of 2017, and thanks to its design, a much deserved spot in my heart.

Read our review here.

 

3. Nier: Automata

It’s hard to imagine that a sequel to the mildly underwhelming Nier would be anywhere near as great as 2017’s Nier: Automata. As a prime example of sequels not only done right, but exceeding expectations way beyond what is necessary, Automata builds on its predecessor by not really being anything like it all. The combat is as frenetic and fast-paced as the original, but this sequel tries to tell a deeper, more philosophical story that covers themes of existentialism and what it means to be human – something I honestly did not expect going into this. Nier: Automata is immaculately crafted, an absolute pleasure to play, and most of all, involved me in something far greater than simply interacting with a game. It left a lot to think and talk about, and with games heading in a multiplayer-focused future, this is a very welcomed slice of masterful storytelling and action.

Read our review here.

 

2. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

Gamers will fondly look back at 2017 and pick out one specific horror game that single-handedly redefined the entire genre. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is Capcom’s reimagining of the popular survival horror series, which prior to this, had suffered a major identity crisis and had forgotten its own roots (only so many memes can be made about Chris Redfield punching boulders). Resident Evil 7 boldly sets the series back on the right, terrifying path by harnessing its survival horror elements. The results are, quite frankly, fantastic and unexpectedly scarier than I anticipated. It’s easy to see how Kojima’s P.T. may have indirectly influenced the game, which makes it all the more enticing given that it’s the closest we’ll ever get to playing Silent Hills. Resident Evil 7 is a masterpiece of modern horror and a damn fine reminder that the genre still has some solid legs to stand on.

Read our review here.

 

1. Persona 5

The number one spot of 2017 came to a close tie-breaker between Resident Evil 7 and Persona 5, but I had to step back and ask which game was the more fulfilling experience as a whole. I also like to look back on the previous years and pick out one game that defines that particular year for me. Last year was a close race between Final Fantasy XV and Doom, but the former came out on top because of the emotional attachment I had to it. The same can be said about Atlus’ Persona 5 for 2017, one of the most rewarding gaming experiences I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing. This isn’t just thanks to a thick, compelling story that took me around 100 hours to complete (and then replayed again), but also because of its unique style and ultra-addictive structure. From its characters to the slick, graffiti-inspired design of the UI, everything screams youthful energy, motion, and enthusiasm the likes of which I’ve never seen captured so perfectly in a game before. Persona 5 is an experience that I will always come back to, and in such a crowded year of excellent games, this reigning champion truly deserves the accolades. Also, that soundtrack, though…

Read our review here.