This year was a genuine joy for me in regards to gaming. I played some great indies, enjoyed some stellar open-world RPGs, tried a JRPG for the first time, and bought a Switch, bringing me back in touch with Nintendo. From innovative indies like Snipperclips to much anticipated AAA titles like Destiny 2, gamers of all sorts had more options and opportunities for both unique and tried-and-true formulas in gaming this year.
In reflection of a year well spent, I present a very brief post of my top 10 favorite video games of 2017. I debated briefly whether to compile a list of “favorite” or “best” and ultimately decided that I’d rather share the joys of gaming than to necessarily debate the “best” games of 2017.
I hope you enjoy, and please feel free to share in the comments some of your favorite games of the year!
10. Everybody’s Golf
At the start of 2017, I never would have thought that a golfing game would end up on my list of favorites. But I guess there’s a first for everything. Everybody’s Golf offered some of the most fun I have had with a video game. It manages to find a balance between arcade and simulation while offering plenty in the way of singleplayer and multiplayer game play. The customization is amazing, the courses are challenging and fun, and playing with friends is a blast.
9. Emily is Away Too
I’m sure the inclusion of this indie on any end of the year list is a surprise, but to me, it was truly a gem. Emily is Away Too manages to capture the highs and lows of being a teenager in the 2000s while articulating a range of emotion. To dismiss this title as simply a “visual novel” is to deny the form its depth. The nostalgia-factor and experimental narrative easily earn it a spot here.
8. Sniper Elite 4
Hands down, Sniper Elite 4 is the most technical shooter I played this year (and the first I completed in the franchise). It offers an enjoyable campaign with a variety of levels/maps that leave plenty of room for challenge after the story is complete. The objectives and stealth are satisfying, a range of creative approaches may be applied to each scenario, and sniping Nazis never gets old.
7. Super Mario Odyssey
An infusion of new and old combine to make Super Mario Odyssey a joyous time stomping and possessing bad guys. It’s been a long time since I’ve really enjoyed a platformer, so this one released at a good time. Admittedly, I am nowhere near finishing the game. I’m taking my time with it because 1) it feels like a sin to rush a Mario game and 2) I initially struggled with “getting” into it, and so I don’t want to diminish the magic. I’ve played enough to see how delightful this 3D Mario game is, and I look forward to diving in more fully over the winter break.
6. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is a solid and addictive shooter. Sporting quality level design, fast gun-play, and an absurd yet engaging story, WII is everything I expected from the franchise and more. The cast of “good” guys and gals is lovable and the villains utterly despicable. Fighting Nazism within the emotional and thematic context the game creates leads to an exceptional first-person shooter experience.
5. Assassin’s Creed Origins
Assassin’s Creed Origins has successfully brought the franchise back onto the rails. Ubisoft notably raised the quality of the story, the game’s mechanics, and the world. With improved combat and a protagonist with a personality, the game held my attention long enough to platinum. While Black Flag holds a special place in my gaming heart, Origins represents one of the better open-world games that released this year.
4. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild brought me back to my childhood and entertained me for hours. While weak on urgency and narrative at times, the open world calls out for exploration. Around nearly every corner is something to be discovered or completed. The characters are crazy (in good ways), the combat is generally enjoyable, the music is fantastic, and the cooking is 10/10. Need I say more?
3. What Remains of Edith Finch
The experimental narrative elements at play in What Remains of Edith Finch deserve recognition. It is by no means a perfect project, but the way the game stretches and manipulates narrative results in both captivating sequences and gut-wrenching moments that won’t readily leave players. It has been aptly described as a roller coaster of emotions, but as much as the game makes you feel it makes you think. For me, part of the game’s beauty lies in what players can think and feel, what they can experience, in light of the game’s mechanical limitations (looking, walking, interacting with objects). When I reflected on the ways it challenges player expectations and expands narrative experiences offered by games, I couldn’t leave it off this list.
2. Horizon Zero Dawn
Despite some initial hesitation on my part, Horizon Zero Dawn quickly stole my heart. I was captivated by the fiery Aloy and by the lore of a world overrun by monstrous robots. Taking down the mechanical monsters was both exhilarating and satisfying, and the sense of urgency provided by the narrative kept me playing to answer the world’s questions. HZD offers much gaming goodness to RPG fans in terms of the densely-populated world, distinctive enemies, story, and characters–a genuine job well-done by Guerrilla Games.
1. Persona 5
Persona 5 takes the spot for favorite game of 2017 for several reasons, the most paramount being that Persona 5 is near perfect. Atlus took such care with this game, and it immediately shows. Everything (story, characterization, world, music, combat, etc.) down to the animations shows the passion that went into this game’s development. The only critique I can offer is that Persona 5 has a slight issue with pacing in the final quarter of the game. The game offers quality and quantity, humor and darkness. The thematic range coupled with the outstanding gameplay make Persona 5 a game I will be thinking and talking about for a long time.
- Uncharted: The Lost Legacy (Good. Solid. Just not incredibly spectacular)
- Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle (Unexpectedly enjoyable. Perhaps one of the better Mario games in recent years. I need to get back to this one.)
- Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (Haven’t finished this yet. I’m finding it mentally draining and slow-going, but that’s the point, right?)
- Destiny 2 (Sports a story-driven campaign and the gun-play is fun.)
- Stardew Valley (Just kidding…But seriously, what do you do with a game that released on a new console, the Switch, and is just as awesome as it was the year before?)
- Star Wars Battlefront II (I know I’ll get slammed for liking this one. It’s certainly not perfect, but without the blasted micro-transactions and afk-farmers it’d be a 8/10 for me. It could have been great. Smh, EA..)