What a Season What a Season!
In a year plagued with uncertainty, toxic discourse and quite frankly, some (very personal) highs and lows, my one constant has been video games. 2017 for games has been like a bowl of fried rice at a Chinese restaurant that has infinite refills. I’m not even sure if such a thing exists, that’s how good this year has been! Side note: If such a thing DOES exist please inform me immediately.
Every time one good game demanded my attention, three more would tug on my undergarments. Not only have I played more games this year than in any other year of my life, but I experienced feelings and admiration for certain titles that I didn’t know were possible. For all the madness in the world this year, video games have left an indelible mark that will spark discussion for a very long time. Bring it on 2018, and give me more games on the Switch!
So, without further ado, here is my Top 10 list for 2017… With a few honourable mentions.
Honourable Mention #1 – Cuphead
Cuphead is a game that I showed my father as soon as he returned for Christmas. Its visuals, music, and the general tone are unlike any game I have ever seen, and certainly any boss rush game that (I believe) exists. Not only that, but its ingenious boss design, tight gameplay, and satisfying challenge stand on its own and only strengthens this beautifully priced package. Due to its nature as a boss rush game, it just couldn’t compete with 10 other titles I played this year, but I’ll be back.
Honourable Mention #2 – Everwing
Everwing is a game that no one will be talking about this festive season, but in just a few weeks this year, it has given me a lasting memory of surprise and hilarity. For those of you who don’t know what Everwing is, it’s a free high-score game on Facebook Messenger. You move the character from side to side as you float up and shoot floating demon thingies, collect eggs that hatch into dragon friends, and send your characters off to complete quests. On top of that, what truly brought me on board was the ability to form (effectively) clans in messenger groups, to work together to chip away at raid bosses. Everwing doesn’t have any microtransactions, and honestly, has no right being as good as it is. It perpetrated a euphoria among my friends and me, that dominated our discussion topics and left a lasting mark on my experiences this year. Everwing is so fucking stupid, and it’s great!
Honourable Mention #3 – Skyrim
You can just read my article about Skyrim on Switch. It’s so great. I love it… It’s 2017 and Skyrim is relevant again, what am I even saying? Crazy.
Honourable Mention #4 – Doki Doki Literature Club
Doki Doki Literature Club is great. If I was doing a top #11 it’d be in there, but alas, I am not and it was a difficult one to cut. There is so much in this game beyond a graphic novel that begs you to sleep with cute anime girls. Just play it, and keep playing after the first ‘event’, it’s only just beginning.
And now, my top 10 games of 2017!
#10 – Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is the first of its kind. Even though the last third of my playthrough was wrought with frustration and tedium, its ability to tap into the frightening realities of mental illness throughout the game, sets itself apart from every other title this year. If you’re willing to push through the repetitive combat, and the slow finale, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice has some truly special elements.
#9 – Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds
At first, I wasn’t sure whether this would even make my top 10. But when I dug deep, I realised just how much fun I had with the game this year. PUBG distills everything I loved about my experiences from DayZ and ARMA III into a consistent, functional and bite-sized package. PUBG triggers every emotional response my brain can muster, and keeps tempting me to come back to it. If only my friends felt the same way… Indeed, I can’t wait to see how the industry as a whole, continues to adapt to this new style of multiplayer shooter.
#8 – Super Mario Odyssey
I was never big into Mario. I watched my sister play Mario 64, and I played a bit of Super Mario World when I was younger, but I was always more of a PlayStation kid. In fact, I’d hazard to say the only reason I was actually excited for Odyssey was due to its release on the Switch. So, thank god it’s a good video game because I fucking loved every second of it. Each world, moment and activity, filled me with OH so much joy. From the ridiculous cap humour, to the ingeniously designed worlds, Super Mario Odyssey is a game that can be enjoyed on every level. It can wind you down, or provide a satisfying challenge. Though, it’d probably be a bit higher on my list if some of the boss fights were less repetitive, and if a couple of the worlds didn’t seem as dull. Ultimately, after seeing credits, I haven’t had a big desire to head back in, and that’s why it has slotted in at number eight.
#7 – Splatoon 2
It might seem a bit silly to some that Splatoon 2 is above other games on this list, but this is MY GODDAMN LIST! There are so many little things that piss me off about this game, but at its core I just love splatting some thick paint on fools. The music is great, the vibrant colours and aesthetic are gorgeous on the Switch, and I still hop on consistently to play a few games. The campaign is fun, Salmon Run is weirdly awesome (although I wish I had more friends), and the multiplayer is so devilishly addictive. I just love Splatoon 2 man.
#6 – Night in the Woods
Look, look. Gregg rulz, ok? I played this game because I felt I had to for Game of the Year deliberations, but I’m so glad I did. Night in the Woods doesn’t give screen time to a character that doesn’t deserve it. Somehow the developers at Infinite Fall made me care for, love and despise aspects of these relatable talking animals. It’s funny, sad, true, and so well made. I love Angus so so much. Those nightmare scenes can fuck right off though.
#5 – Steamworld Dig 2
SteamWorld Dig 2 was a gamble for me. I hadn’t played any of the SteamWorld games before, and I wasn’t sure if I was really in the mood to play a Metroid type game. But hey, it was on the Switch, so I bought it. Every aspect of this game I loved; the world design is fantastic, the small dungeons are satisfying, the upgrades are meaningful and the story is charming. SteamWorld Dig 2 is a beautifully crafted game that made me sad to finish it. I’d probably start over again if I didn’t have so many other games on my damn conscience!
#4 – Nier Automata
Nier Automata made me reflect on topics that I didn’t realise I cared about. It is a tragic tragic story on so many levels, but ultimately it instills hope, and does it in a way that is only achievable in video game format. Given how much I loathed the combat, world traversal, and general UI, the fact that Nier Automata was undoubtedly my 4th game of the year is a bloody huge commendation on the title’s story and characters. Also, my morning routine consists of waking up, and playing the Nier Automata OST on every sound system in the house. It’s hard to ask people to invest 30ish hours of their time into a game that they will probably find annoying in a few different ways, but please do yourself a favour and play Nier Automata.
#3 – Assassins Creed Origins
I said it once in my feature article, and I’ll say it again here, Assassin’s Creed Origins has renewed my faith in the series. Origins made me want to explore; it contains substance that Assassins Creed games have never had before, and it stands alongside other greats of the genre such as The Witcher 3. The upgrades are meaningful, and once you get a feel for it, the combat is refreshing and satisfying. Not to mention the entertaining and world-bolstering sidequests, along with a character that actually has some depth. If you’re a fan of the Assassin’s Creed games, and want more of the same, don’t venture down this path. However, if you’re looking to rekindle your love for the franchise, and be excited for its new direction, play Origins. Fair warning, the first 3 hours are quite boring!
#2 – Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
Never before have I seen a more thought-provoking game about killing Nazis. Whether or not it is capitalising on this racially charged year doesn’t matter, Wolfenstein II successfully depicts the terrifying racist underbelly of US life, and makes you believe in their alternate reality. It deals with character development in a way I haven’t seen before, and sheds light on the fact that big Marquee titles can actually present a message greater than “Evil vs. Good” or “There’s bad on both sides”. It mines these gems, whilst maintaining a hyper-realistic setting, and a uniquely ridiculous cast of characters and set of moments. The gameplay is objectively where the title falters the most, however, if you start and finish on the easiest difficulty, you’re sure to have a blast!
#1 – Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Zelda: Breath of the Wild came at a time in my life when I was desperately searching for an escape. Usually, I need objectives, targets, and icons to carry me through an open-world game. But not Zelda. Breath of the Wild tapped into a side of me that I didn’t know existed. It made me want to explore, to experiment, and to set my own goals. The only previous Zelda game I have played is A Link Between Worlds, but I can unabashedly say that Breath of the Wild has become one of, if not my favourite, game of all time.
Beyond my initial addiction of 80 hours, I’ve continued to revisit, restart and complete elements of that world whenever I’m bored, or just want to experience a pallet cleanser. It is so dense and tempting at every corner, and the design of the environment is so fleshed out, that upon every discovery, there were another five things I needed to do in my eye line. And there’s still so much I want to do, between 100%’ing it, to completing it in Master Mode along with all the expansion content, I’m not sure when it will end for me, but I do know that day will be very sad.
Thank you for such a great year in video games 2017! I’m sure to be picking my way through your backlog over 2018.