#10: Yooka-Laylee (PS4)
Yooka-Laylee is a Kickstarter backed 3D platformer created by Playtonic Games, the remnants of the famous gaming company Rareware. The game hoped to recapture the feeling of classic games like Banjo-Kazooie, Super Mario 64 and Donkey Kong 64. Sadly, multiple controversies and a lukewarm critical response caused Yooka-Laylee to go under the radar.
And to that I say; as long as you liked Banjo-Kazooie, you will like Yooka-Laylee. Critics were underwhelmed with the spotty camera, potentially off-putting voice "acting", and the fact that it just wasn't as good as Banjo-Kazooie. But Playtonic struck back with a major patch shortly after launch that fixes the camera, voice acting and fixed the game's balance. And these changes proved fruitful, as the Nintendo Switch port (which launched in the post-patch state) was fairly well-received by critics. The game is colorful, hilarious and has the same platforming and minigame focus that you remember from Banjo-Kazooie, just now with a shiny HD coat of paint.
#9: The Surge (XONE)
The Surge is a hard game, and it is an Action-RPG. Therefore; The Surge is sci-fi Dark Souls.
You could not be any more wrong. The Surge may be a sci-fi Action-RPG from the creators of Lords of the Fallen, which was a blatant Dark Souls rip-off, but The Surge deserves to be judged on its own merits. And if you take a look and play it, you will probably like it. The combat is methodical and tactical, giving you time to play out precise strategies based on the enemy you're facing. The loot system will prevent you from getting tired of the same old weapons. The games combat also has a twist; you can target specific limbs on an enemy, like V.A.T.S in Fallout 3 and 4. The game may have been held down financially by its similarities to Dark Souls and frustrating boss fights, but The Surge may be what you need if you want an Action-RPG, without the gothic medieval setting.
Cosmic Star Heroine is absolutely phenomenal. It's an indie turn based RPG, which may sway you initially, but what's underneath the generic sci-fi surface is an engrossing RPG that kept me entertained from the tutorial to the ending credits. The games premise is simple; you play as the government official Alyssa and her crew, who are being hunted after discovering a dark conspiracy.
So in typical RPG fashion; you travel across the land, defeating enemies, hording items and defeating giant bosses until you save the day. What separates Cosmic Star Heroine from the competition is the games engrossing combat system. It manages to be different without being overly complicated, unlike a certain other underrated RPG this year. *coughCaligulaEffectcough* The games soundtrack is stellar as well, and the game features a large variety of memorable tracks. Not to mention, the game can be played on the go, with an upcoming Playstation Vita port coming this year.
#7: ARMS (NS)
ARMS is the exact type of innovative and creative experience that you'd expect, it's just a shame that games like Breath of the Wild, Mario Odyssey and Splatoon 2 took the spotlight. If Splatoon flipped the team based shooter on its head, ARMS flips the fighting game genre on its head, and then proceeded to throw the genre out and redo it the way that no one has done before.
Using the Joy-Cons to punch your friends in the face is just as satisfying as Wii Sports Boxing was, but this time Nintendo cranked up the insanity, with crazy character designs and over-the-top special moves. What made ARMS a sleeper hit was the games lack of content at launch, which turned away buyers, and which ironically was the same issue people had with the original Splatoon. But now that the game has been fleshed out and balanced, I can safely say that ARMS is one of the most innovative and fun titles on the Nintendo Switch.
#6: Flinthook (PS4)
It really feels like every year, I take notice of a new rogue-like game that consumes my life for the whole rest of the year. With great titles like Nuclear Throne and Enter the Gungeon, I have always had my old faithful rogue-like. This year, Flinthook took that honor. Unlike most other rogue-likes that take the form of top down shooters, Flinthook is a 2D platformer. Luckily, the controls are tight, music is on point, and the Captain himself has enough abilities to make each run feel different. Flinthook is a difficult but rewarding platformer that shouldn't be missed by fans of games like Mega Man.
Does anyone remember this game? It was a total commercial flop, despite initial praise from critics and players alike. And after a month, Lawbreakers was left in the dust, and that's just shameful. Lawbreakers is exactly what I needed. It's an intense shooter with a high skill ceiling, beautiful graphics, a ton of original class designs that don't fall into the line of "Sniper, Medic, Tank" that so many other hero shooters didn't get right, and it had free content updates.
If you haven't gotten into Lawbreakers, don't pass on it. It will give you the same adrenaline rush that games like Quake Live and Team Fortress 2 gave you. Its just a darn shame that the game turned out the way it did, financially.
Chaos;Child is visual novel that originates from the same series as Steins;Gate, which could be considered one of the most acclaimed and famous visual novels of all time. Chaos;Child is not directly related to Steins;Gate, but fans of one will surely love the other. Surprisingly, this game was originally released in 2014 as none other than an Xbox One exclusive, which was only released in Japan. And they still somehow had the funds to make another sequel in the series. To avoid any spoilers, I'll only talk about the very basics of Chaos;Child.
The game is a mystery visual novel that takes place in Shibuya, and the main character, along with several other high school students (what's with Japan and high-schoolers?) who survived a deadly earthquake. But now, a mysterious killer has been murdering people left and right, and its up to the player to unravel the mystery. Chaos;Child has a unique mechanic as well; to branch off the story at several points, you must choose to experience a positive delusion or a negative one, or to stay in reality. The game, much like Steins;Gate, takes a while to get going, but once it does, you will be holding your controller until the credits roll.
Friday the 13th got mediocre reviews and the servers were extremely spotty at launch, not to mention it only had a month of breathing room on consoles before the more well-known Dead by Daylight came in to compete. And after playing both games extensively, I can safely say that both games are very rough around the edges technically, but they are such exciting and adrenaline filled multiplayer games that you can't go wrong with either one. (Dead by Daylight launched on PC in 2016, disqualifying it from the list.)
If you have a team of buddies and a party chat open, Friday the 13th is the absolute top of the line. Having to survive a murderous psycho with your friends, while one of your friends is hunting you all, its one of the best times I've had gaming in years. Even when you're playing with strangers, the constant back-stabbing and 5 minute friends you'll make are worth sifting through the toxicity. Hell, I've met a ton of friends solely through this game and Dead by Daylight that I talk to on a regular basis. Friday the 13th is rough; but its the experience you'll get while playing, that's why I recommend it to anyone despite the negative reviews.
The gravity bending Kat returns; in this sequel to the 2012 Vita cult classic Gravity Rush. And by god, Gravity Rush 2 deserves so much more praise than it got. So many superhero games try to focus too much on the story. While having an interesting story is important, the main focus of a superhero game is to play as a superhero; and that is exactly what makes this game so great. Flying around the map, doing side quests and dropping innocent civilians into the void is super relaxing, and the campaign and mines are there to provide some much needed action.
Gravity Rush 2 has a ton of things that make it a must-play exclusive, but the real draw here is just how beautiful the game is. The world is so colorful, the action is so flashy and the art direction is unique. Instead of bright, in your face colors that cel-shading will normally bring, Gravity Rush uses cel-shading to give a serene, natural beauty to the world, while also giving it a cute Japanese style. If there's one game to pick off this list, its this one; if you buy Gravity Rush 2, you won't regret it.
Danganronpa V3, simply put, is a masterpiece. This murder mystery visual novel is pretty darn long, but it never felt like it was wasting time. The characters, atmosphere, Ace Attorney style investigations and class trials, and the intriguing mystery story all made Danganronpa V3 a truly special experience. Like Chaos;Child, as its a visual novel, I don't want to spoil the plot, and the synopsis honestly does the game a disservice. To sum it up, it's a death game where you have to kill a classmate without getting caught to escape, and as the player character Kaede Akamatsu, you have to expose the truth of each murder case, leading to your friends and classmates being executed in a personalized Saw trap.
The game is brutal, hilariously inappropriate and light-hearted; but underneath the wacky sociopathic bear Monokuma's jokes and insults lies a depressing and complex story. If you haven't played any of these games yet, start with the first two games on Vita and PS4, as this one will spoil at least the first one. And lastly, avoid TVTropes, forums and Youtube until you're done with the main story. So sit down, go to the virtual service of your choosing and buy this game.
So that's the list. While having two visual novels might seem like overkill, let me reiterate that they are both stellar experiences. So in a year where the heavy hitters kept coming and coming, step back and enjoy a couple of these. I'm aware mixing in controversial games like Lawbreakers and Friday the 13th might give you some suspicion of the legitimacy of my opinions, but I promise both are games that I couldn't recommend more.
This is my first Top 10 list, so any suggestions of word choice, or comments on what I have done wrong with the list would be appreciated as an amateur.
To end the list off, here are a few honorable mentions:
- YS VII (PS4/Vita)
- The Evil Within II (PS4/XBOne/PC)
- Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime (NS)
List by Killzonegaming (01/10/2018)
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