Games were one of the few things I enjoyed in 2017, a year of nightmare levels of fear and overwhelming feelings of inadequacy. At times I asked myself, "why are you playing games? Why aren't you doing anything about all of this?" I'm not going to lie here, I feel guilty. I've been sitting here playing video games while the world is drowning and burning at the same time. The least I can do is point people to some of the best video games of this year so that they might have a reprieve from the hell we now live in.
Before we go any further, I need to present a list of games I haven't played. My list might include games I haven't finished but the following is stuff I might have liked but didn't touch:
- Gravity Rush 2
- Yakuza 0
- Night in the Woods
- What Remains of Edith Finch
- Guild Wars 2 Path of Fire
- XCOM 2: War of the Chosen
- Dream Daddy
- Getting Over It
- Tekken 7
- Monster Hunter Stories
- Dead Cells
- Hollow Knight
Okay, I think that's it. Oh god...I don't think I'm ever going to catch up. Fuck. THIS CANNOT CONTINUE! THIS CANNOT CONTINUE! THIS CANNOT CONTINUE!
Oh shit, was that a spoiler? Well, you're about to find out!
20. Project Cars 2
You aren't going to see GT Sport on this list. I love racing games and I love GT but, Project Cars 2 is the most realistic driving I have ever experienced in a video game. I also prefer its career mode to GT Sport's online motorsport focused direction.
19. Resident Evil 7
Rarely do games scare and disgust me. RE7 did both. I played the entire thing in VR and had nightmares for a few weeks after playing it. I kinda hate the game for doing that to me but I cannot deny that it is one of the best games of this year.
18. Fortnite Battle Royale
I enjoyed the PvE Fortnite stuff long before the battle royale thing came to be. At first, I was skeptical due to the amount of time I spent on another battle royale game. Long story short, I came to love this mode for its more relaxed take on a traditionally stressful genre.
17. Battle Chef Brigade
I don't know what I expected of this game. Whatever it was, I was pleasantly surprised when I picked up Battle Chef Brigade. They made a game that fuses three genres I'm not well versed in but does each in a way that opened my eyes. I'm about three-quarters of the way through the game but I am very excited to finish it as soon as I'm done writing this.
16. Nex Machina
Housemarque seems to always be on lists that I write. I adore Nex Machina thoroughly. Music, design, style, gameplay...it does things that I like a lot. This is exactly what I'd imagine a modern arcade game to be, and no wonder. Fucking Eugene Jarvis worked on this motherfucker. I can't wait to see what Housemarque does next.
15. Steamworld Dig 2
I need to preface this with the fact that I didn't play the original. The only reason this game isn't higher on my list is that I didn't care for the story. However, the gameplay loop of digging around and selling what you find as you make your way toward objectives is one of the most addicting things since Stardew Valley. The tools you unlock along the way are pretty rad and encourage backtracking to explore previously unreachable locations. It's a shame that there are other games I need to play, or I would totally go back for additional runs.
14. Divinity Original Sin 2
HUGE DISCLAIMER: I have not even come close to finishing this game! Although I think my 10-15 hours with it have been good enough to put it up here. I'm in love with the combat system and the cast of characters is a lot more interesting than the first Divinity Original Sin. I'm also suuuuuper interested in the game master mode. Maybe 2018 will be the year where I write an entire campaign for that game.
13. Uncharted The Lost Legacy
Y'all probably think I'm tripping to let this game slide out of my top ten. Here's the thing, 2017 was a FANFUCKINGTASTIC year for games. I didn't know that I needed another Uncharted Game. I never thought we'd see Chloe Fraser again. I'm glad that both of these things happen. The Lost Legacy might be my favorite Uncharted game.
12. The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild
Y'all are gonna hate me for this but, well...fuck you.
As much as I wanted a follow up to the original Prey, I cannot fault Arkane for starting over. Prey is one of the most underrated games of the year. I've only heard a few people talk about it with the reverence I have for its systems and environment. Again, another game that in another year, I would have played multiple times.
10. Player Unknown's Battlegrounds
Murder is fun. Murder on an island with 99 other people? That's fun too. PUBG is intense to say the least. I can't remember a multiplayer game that gave me as much anxiety as the closing moments in a match of Battlegrounds. Being my first battle royale type game, I was bewildered but, after playing with an awesome community of supportive players I have grown accustomed to the sweaty palms and shaking body experience of playing that game.
9. Life is Strange Before The Storm
Much like The Lost Legacy, LIS: Before the Storm is a game I didn't know that I wanted but turned out to be something greater than it's predecessor. I know, the business around the whole voice actor strike and scab labor is shitty. Even so, the game itself is fantastic. It told a story and laid bare a theme that is often ignored in video games. That is, the fact that you are sometimes dealt a shitty hand and have to make a choice you don't want to. You have to commit and live with the consequences. This game benefits from being a prequel because knowing what eventually happens to these characters provides a complexity to the decisions you have to make. The relationship between Chloe and Rachel is something beautiful and to know that tragedy is around the corner is enough to make an emotional man baby like me have to take a walk after completing episode three.
Religious basketball. How much more do I need to say? The blending of sport and visual novel is unique and works with this fabulous cast of characters. The story and the world are beautiful and tragic. The art is so good that I would put it on my wall even if I hadn't played the video game. Also, religious basketball.
7. Persona 5
My first Persona game. The game that makes me want to play more Persona games. The game with such great style that people COSPLAY THE FUCKING MENUS! My favorite bits were becoming better friends with people. My least favorite bits were the penis monsters. The most uncomfortable bit was finding out the teacher was a maid and a romance interest!!! Like, that's illegal yo. I remember a full month I dedicated to playing Persona 5 and I have zero regrets. If it weren't 100 hours long, I'd play it again right away. Maybe when I retire...who am I kidding? I'll likely have to work until I die. I hope that I at least find my IRL Makoto.
6. Doki Doki Literature Club
This game is not what you think. It is not what I thought it was. This game is dressed up in innocence and turns you inside out. I don't want to say too much because I think a lot of people slept on the game and should go into it with no expectations. It opened my eyes to the darkest parts of myself and dismantled my emotional and mental health.
5. Wolfenstein 2 The New Colossus
If there is one thing I wanted to do in 2017, it was kill Nazis. Thankfully MachineGames provided the Nazi killing experience I needed. Although, to say it's just a Nazi killing romp would be a discredit to the incredible moments and character building in that game. They somehow made BJ a momma's boy who just wants to find peace. They somehow turned an execution scene on its head. They somehow made sense of a pregnant woman gunning down a Nazi Dog Machine while it is raining blood. The number of times I paused the game because I was in utter awe and needed to process what the fuck was happening is just too much for me to count.
4. Horizon Zero Dawn
I like robots and I like dinosaurs. Aloy is great and finding out exactly who/what she is, well that's something special. The world of Horizon has a lot to say just by looking at it. Speaking of looking at the game, Horizon has the BEST photo mode of 2017. I'm constantly amazed at what people have been able to pull off. I'm even more dumbfounded that this was made by the creators of Killzone! Horizon is a game I want sequels to. I want to learn more about the different tribes. I want to see how humanity is growing in other parts of the world. I want to see what Aloy does next. I want to find Sylens and find out exactly what the fuck he is up to. Even though the story wraps up most of the questions it asks, I still want more.
3. Mario Odyssey
Mario is up here because the game put the dumbest smile on my face while playing it. This is my favorite Mario game, hands down. Each world has its own personality and style that I like! If it weren't for Wolfenstein, I'd say this game has the best moments of 2017. Some of the things you Capture...I don't think Mario will ever be the same. This is definitely my feel-good game. The game that I run around, collect moons, and try to forget about my depression.
2. Hellblade Senua's Sacrifice
As far as characters go, Senua is my favorite character to emerge from the hellscape that is 2017. The performance by Melina Jurgens and the audio design sells this character better than anyone else. Sure, maybe the combat isn't great but some of the scenes and sequences are simply awe inspiring. For me, the game was much more than "go here, fight these dudes, solve a puzzle, etc.." It was a character study. It was an exploration of who Senua is and what she is dealing with. Her struggle with grief, guilt, and mental illness is presented in such a personal way, enhanced by the revolutionary audio tech. The message of self acceptance is powerful. The message of letting go of guilt and grief is powerful. Hellblade is a game I will revisit many times throughout my life.
1. NieR Automata
I have been screaming from the top of my lungs that robots are cooler than zombies and it appears that in 2017, games answered. I have never played Drakengard or the original NieR so I had literally no reference or expectation. In fact, looking at the game I thought to myself, "what is it that people love so much about this game?" In short, it far exceeded the hype I was hearing. I would go as far to say that this might be the best story in video games and one of the best stories of the modern era. Since finished endings A - E, I haven't been able to stop thinking about the many questions that game asks the player. What makes us human? Why would robots want to become more human when there is so much evidence of it being a bad idea? Between Pascal and the reveal of why 2B is so cold toward 9S are some of the most heartbreaking things I've had to witness...and these are ROBOTS AND ANDROIDS!!! Seeing how the pods change after choosing to network is also EXTREMELY GOOD! NieR Automata acknowledges that despite all our efforts, being human means that we are subject to the barriers of language and interpretation. Communication is imperfect and we are never truly "connected." This game made me a believer in Yoko Taro and I will play everything he makes from now on.