2017 will go down in history as one of the greatest years for video games ever. Unfortunately, I was unable to get around to many releases that I know I’m going to love (ahem Evil Within 2, Nier), but the games I did play left such an impact on me.
Prepare yourself for a couple of unconventional choices, and settle in for my personal favourite games released in 2017.
#10 – Tekken 7
I have a uhh…. Strange relationship with Tekken, mostly stemming from the early titles’ reliance on creepy FMV cutscenes. However, over time the series has become my preferred fighting game franchise, due in no small part to the completely over the top storyline and ridiculous soundtrack.
Tekken 7 is my favourite instalment in the series so far, combining tight, beginner friendly controls with all the modes you’ve come to expect from a modern fighter. Top that off with a testosterone-fueled climax that puts Metal Gear Solid 4’s finale to shame and you have one of the greatest fighting games of all time.
#9 – PaRappa the Rapper Remastered
I recognise it’s a bit odd to have such a simple remaster on my list of favourite games of 2017- But gosh darn it, I dare you to play PaRappa the Rapper without smiling.
At first glance, it may appear to be a dated precursor to Rock Band and similar rhythm games, but Parappa ain’t one of your grandaddy’s rhythm games. Here, simply hitting a button in time with the on-screen prompts might just get you to scrape through to the next level.
In order to be the coolest rapping pup on the block the player is asked not only to press what’s on-screen but also improvise and create their own funky rhymes in time with the tunes. It’s really strange, but that’s what I love about PaRappa. Can you name any other game about a rapping pup struggling to profess his love to a sunflower? It’s the kind of quirky, creative game that just wouldn’t be greenlit today. I love it.
#8 – Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy
Crash Bandicoot has been a part of my life since before I can remember. The N. Sane Trilogy is the best way to complete each of the games. removing much of what makes the originals difficult to revisit. Yes, there is some jankiness to the platforming and I’m not sure if they’ve recaptured the unique atmosphere the originals had, but Crash excels in its simplicity. I love 3D platformers and after a bit of a hiatus, 2017 had quite a few good ones. But where Yooka-Laylee fails with its giant, empty levels, Crash succeeds with tight levels packed full of secrets and clever design.
With the runaway success of the N. Sane Trilogy lets hope we see the return of the 3D platformer- Perhaps a certain purple dragon?
#7 – Kingdom Hearts 0.2 -A Fragmentary Passage-
Included with Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue (I know. The names are super dumb) 0.2 is to Ground Zeroes what Kingdom Hearts 3 is to The Phantom Pain; a vertical slice of a long-awaited game. If this was done to assure us that yes, KH3 is on its way. And yes, it is going to be good, it succeeds perfectly.
Before booting up 0.2, Kingdom Hearts 3 was a far-off dream. In my mind it didn’t exist, it would never live up to expectations, but upon starting 0.2 all my minor quibbles disappeared. The combat was challenging, character models looked much better than the trailers made them out to be and all my fears of Kingdom Hearts‘ Osaka team carrying the weight of a mainline title disappeared. Kingdom Hearts 0.2 restored my faith in the future of the franchise.
Kingdom Hearts 3 is slated to release this year, let’s make it happen, Square Enix.
#6 – Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
I will admit, my experience with Resident Evil as a franchise is limited to the earlier, more slow-paced entries. So I was a little concerned that without having played the more action-heavy Resi 5 and 6, this new release was going to feel less impactful, maybe even derivative of the classic titles still fresh in my mind. Boy, was I wrong!
In a post-Amnesia landscape where horror games consist primarily of running and hiding, Resident Evil 7 is a breath of fresh air. Ammunition is scarce, enemies are relentless, and additional playthroughs reward you with new weapons and harder difficulties. Resident Evil 7 grounds a series that went off the rails and is a suitable jumping on point for anybody remotely interested in the franchise.
#5 – Life is Strange: Before the Storm
The original Life is Strange holds a very special place in my heart, but I never really enjoyed spending time with Chloe. Too often it felt as though the developers wanted me to care for this character who I found brash and cruel. Before the Storm does a brilliant job of taking the criticisms levied at Chloe’s character and explaining the motivation behind her decisions.
However the most compelling facet of Before the Storm is the Laura Palmer-esque Rachel Amber and her bond with Chloe. The way that their relationship can play out differently depending on the decisions you’ve made feels believable and allows us to see a gentler side to Chloe. It’s more Life is Strange and that’s great, but it won’t be winning over anyone who didn’t enjoy the first game.
#4 – Night in the Woods
I’m keeping this short as I’ve already compiled my thoughts on Night in the Woods here, if for whatever reason you don’t feel like reading the full review, don’t sweat it. Just know that Gregg rulz, ok?
#3 – Super Mario Odyssey
I can’t say I enjoy a lot of Mario games. I enjoy Super Mario World quite a bit, but I find the New Super Mario Bros. bland and uninspired, even relatively well-liked instalments like Galaxy or 3D World just don’t do it for me. The sandbox-style Super Mario 64 and Sunshine though? Love them.
Everything about the way Mario moves through environments, the way he picks up momentum, to the often encouraged sequence breaking is 3D platforming perfection. It’s no surprise that Odyssey was my most anticipated Switch title and that it lives up to all my expectations.
#2 – The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Breath of the Wild didn’t grab me on release, and for much of 2017 I shrugged it off as another overhyped open world RPG. In fact, something you may have noticed about my GotY’s is that (for the most part) they’re all rather linear, contained experiences. For the longest time I thought the industry’s shift to making every release a grand, free roaming open world was just another trend, and that just like denim shorts, they too would eventually carve out an audience of their own and leave the rest of us to enjoy our anime bullshit.
In my mind, Breath of the Wild is the perfect open-world game, ditching the waypoints and missions we’ve grown tired of over the better part of the decade. Traversal isn’t treated as a chore here, something designed to pad out gametime, but instead serve as its own puzzle to be solved. Every quiet moment, even traversing barren plains is brought to life by a hidden shrine or korok puzzle. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a title that values your time, and taught me how to enjoy open world games.
#1 – Persona 5
The years leading up to the launch of Persona 5 were perhaps the most excited I’d ever been for anything. From the first gameplay trailer I caught in an Atlus livestream way back in February 2015, I was enraptured by Persona 5’s style. It wasn’t the Persona 4 Volume 2 I was hoping for, it was something better, a breath of fresh air.
I was so in love with this new direction in the franchise that I watched that first trailer over 100 times, easy. For once Persona wasn’t the “Poke’mon/Life-sim” game I begged friends to try on Vita. It was a tour de force that demanded your attention. It might not have been the dramatic shift I thought it would be for the series, but that didn’t matter. Persona 5 managed to improve on everything established in 3 & 4 in ways I didn’t even know I wanted and painted a fantastic world filled with characters I adore.
The overarching plot wasn’t perfect and the translation could be hit-or-miss, but when all is said and done, I won’t look back on Persona 5 and think of all the hours I spent fusing stronger demons.
I’ll look back on Persona 5 and think of the message it’s trying to tell, and of what it meant to me in 2017.
Well, those were my favourite releases of 2017! I didn’t get around to playing a lot of the games I intended to, and I feel awful for leaving Uncharted: The Lost Legacy off because it is objectively better than most of the games on this list, it just didn’t have the same impact on me that these did.