Release Date: January 24, 2017
Resident Evil 7 is the latest installment from the long-running juggernaut of a franchise that has kept Capcom, alongside some of their other IPs, in the top tier of video game developers for a couple of decades by now. After the horrific mistake that was Resident Evil 6, Capcom decided to take the series somewhat back to its Survival Horror roots, and the end product was the enjoyable, fresh-but-nostalgic experience that this game represents.
One of the multiple reasons which made Resident Evil 7 so enjoyable for almost everyone was how the developers actually accomplished the hard task of satisfying both sides of the fanbase. Not only does Resident Evil 7 try to please its relatively new fans that have been around ever since it became a shooter, it also takes into account the hardcore, original fans of the series that loved the Survival aspect of the first couple of games, which is what differentiated these titles from the rest and made Resident Evil the pioneer for its genre.
Accomplishing what I mentioned above is already an incredible feat, but the developers didn't stop there. For Resident Evil 7, Capcom used a first person perspective, and honestly it was a brilliant decision. By doing so, they added an element to their already existing formula which not only made the game feel fresh, but it also entices modern gamers that haven't tried out the series before to actually give it a chance. Talk about not alienating anyone!
What I'm trying to tell you is, it doesn't matter if you like horror games as a whole, if you like shooting stuff, or if you simply like a good scare. This is a great game you should try. Resident Evil 7 is such a smart move by Capcom, getting the franchise back on track after what seemed to be a pitfall towards failure.
Release Date: March 3, 2017
Back when Ocarina of Time was in the works, Shigeru Miyamoto said that he wanted the focus of the game to be the opposite of what the recently released Super Mario 64 currently was. While Mario 64 was all about the perfect feeling of controlling Mario's every step first and foremost, the world was the focus in Ocarina of Time - the feeling of a living, breathing, humongous world full of character, charm, and tons of stuff to do. Why I start out this entry by writing this is because funnily enough, I feel they've come the closest to both of these goals with Mario's and Zelda's respective Switch releases. Mario's probably the best controlled video game character I've ever experienced in Super Mario Odyssey, and exploring the larger, more involved world has never been as interesting as in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Traversing the world is really something that's never been as enjoyable once I figured out a few of the game's quirks and gained some upgrades to both Link and his equipment, but I'm gonna go back to the distinction at the beginning of this text. Sure, Link controls better than he has in the past, but it's not his controls that makes moving around as fun, it's the fact that the rules of the world - and the design of the world itself - has been designed with such detail and care that I barely know where to start.
Take for instance, you're chased by a group of enemies and you're out of weapons? Throw a bomb to blow down a tree trunk to hit them instead. Or, lift up a giant metallic box, freeze it in mid air, and let it fall down on the unfortunate enemies below. Can't solve a puzzle with electric currents in one of the 120 shrines scattered throughout the world? Drop metallic items to act as conductors instead. Can't climb up a high mountain before your stamina runs out? Create a fire and ride on the gusts of wind! All of these are possible and what you do in these environments is basically limited to your own imagination and creativity. And that's just you affecting the environments personally.
I didn't even mention the weather cycle, or how it affects the game to the point that puddles show up in crevices during rain, only to dry up when the sun arrives. How using a huge rock and Octo balloons can essentially create your own private airship, using a Korok leaf to fly around in the world. Everything co-exists in this game to create a wide open world where everything feels like an actual wide open world.
There came a point when I was shield surfing on the edge of a cold, snowy mountain range to catch a giant flying dragon, chased by a moose and three bokoblins on horses, bombarded with bomb arrows. I was twisting and turning over the snow-covered tundra and desperately trying to get a moment when I could jump in and glide in the dragon's gusts of wind so I could get that final armor upgrade I wanted at the moment, and I realized that I didn't care how many times the game had frustrated me up until that point.
And believe me, this game has been frustrating as hell to me in so many ways that doesn't involve traversing and interacting with the world itself. It's something that I'd love to discuss in more detail, but...this entry's long enough already.
Because at that moment I was so engrossed with the world Nintendo built up for Breath of the Wild that any of my gripes didn't matter.
(For the moment)
Release Date: March 7, 2017
NieR Automata has rightfully been included on nearly every 2017 GOTY countdown, and has such been subject to an extreme amount of hype. As a critic who is known to hold contrarian views regarding a lot of AAA titles, it is rare that I say a game as hyped as NieR Automata deserves every bit of it. The first NieR title was a strongly ambitious title with a powerful story and writing but with gameplay that was merely "okay". The often cited reason was that the developers were not given enough funding to fully achieve the vision set forth. NieR Automata is what happens when Yoko Taro is given a AAA budget and is allowed to go all out.
The story of NieR Automata is not only immensely compelling and entertaining, but it also contains far more thematic depth than I was lead to believe was allowed in AAA titles. I grew a strong connection to not only every main character and the main plot, but even the side quests and side plots lent a lot to the world of the game. Hell, even reading the bestiary on the fish you've caught is made interesting due to how well they fit the backstory of the game. Yes, you read that correctly, after close to three decades, there is finally an RPG where fishing is not only remotely fun, but enjoyable.
On top of this, the gameplay is fast paced and intense like one would expect from a Platinum Games title, but the RPG elements are even implemented in ways that reward smart equipment choices and chip setups. The music is powerful and soul piercing, and the overall atmosphere of this title gripped me so strongly that I tried to squeeze every possible second of gameplay out of this game as possible, and it has become the first game I have ever gotten that elusive platinum trophy for. NieR Automata is among the best game releases in one of the best years for gaming, and that should say enough as it is.
Release Date: August 8, 2017
Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice is a game developed by Ninja Theory and released on August 8, 2017. The game, inspired by Norse and Celtic mythology, tells the story of Senua, a Pict warrior who has to make a journey to Helheim by fighting off the otherworldly entities in order to rescue the soul of her dead lover Dillon from the goddess Hela.
What makes the game so special is that it acts in parallel as a metaphor for a character's struggle with a condition known as psychosis, which Senua suffers from and believes to be a curse. An entity known as the Darkness, which Senua is haunted by, represents the hallucinations and delusional beliefs that people experience; the Furies represent the auditory hallucinations, which people describe as the "voices in my head"; and the flashbacks represent memories of love and the trauma and loss of close loved ones said people describe while in their suffering. To properly represent psychosis, Ninja Theory worked closely with neuroscientists, mental health specialists, and people suffering from the condition, which comes not from symptoms but "from the stigma, isolation, and mistreatment that comes about from the rest of society," according to the development team. The game feels like it pits you in the role of a psychotic person, which it tells you what it's like to be, like an experience.
This depiction of psychosis in a very real sense, combined with the voice acting and performance captures (done superbly by video editor Melina Juergens), and live action performances by other actors, is what motivated the game to achieve commercial and critical success; and it went on to achieve a number of awards and nominations, including The Game Awards 2017, in which it won Best Audio Design, Best Performance for Juergens, and Games for Impact. Overall, Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice is a game that addresses the issues of psychosis while delivering a positive message on the importance of the acceptance of loss and on how to overcome in times of distress.
Release Date: August 15, 2017
The release of Sonic Mania had made my year in 2017. Not only was it the game that allowed Sonic fans and new players to experience a new game which looks and feels like the original Sonic games made between 1991 and 1995. but it had also brought back a kind of nostalgia that many first generation Sonic fans can relate to, to be given to the new generation of fans. There have been many other Sonic the Hedgehog games during the last decade. However, many thought they weren't holding the bar to how the games looked and played or when they weren't well noticed. Sonic Mania's development was also in the spotlight for being directed by Christian 'Taxman' Whitehead, who is known in the Sonic community for the smartphone ports of Sonic 2 and Sonic CD but also noticed for taking decisions like adding the original hidden and unfinished content which was found in the originals, since he thought this content should have been released to begin with. The development of Sonic Mania was great when the news of the game being developed was announced. Sonic Mania's footage took what the original Sonic games were like from the Sega Genesis collection and pushed the limitations further in a game which could have been found on something like the Sega Saturn.
Sonic Mania allows you to play as either Sonic, Tails or Knuckles. With a new set of enemies that Sonic and his friends encounter, many of the levels in the game are a mix of previous Sonic levels rehashed and improved. Other levels are often fully built from uncompleted, unreleased levels from previous Sonic games which were found in those games' data. Meanwhile, some levels are original, made exclusively for Sonic Mania. The game also has low polygon 3D special stages where the characters have to chase a UFO for the chaos emerald. These stages looked like they could have been found in a game for the Sega Saturn which feel like another treat. Sonic Mania also features an opening introduction animation that made headlines, let alone treated players who've owned and played the game, as it felt like a video which came straight from the 90s. Either way, the entire game feels freshly packed with early 90s Sonic nostalgia and brought in that feel into 2017 as the game was released. I thought that was an interesting way to enjoy the year in gaming. I certainly had fun. Sonic Mania was released on Steam, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in August 2017.
Release Date: September 8, 2017
Capcom makes another try at a Monster Hunter spinoff, this time combining Monster Hunter and Pokemon. This turn-based Monster Hunter Lite RPG is set in a semi-open world of chibi versions of traditional MH monsters, in a variety of environments from grasslands to jungles to deserts to volcanoes. This is Monster Hunter with a twist, you can steal eggs from monster nests and raise tame monsters from the eggs. Monsters can be ridden, fight battles with you, and have abilities such as climbing, flying, breaking rocks to reveal entrances to caves, etc. Pokemon-like, you want to collect a large stable of creatures to provide a range of abilities to your party.
MH Stories is a combination of hunter-game and RPG, you collect resources to develop weapons and armor, but you also level up yourself and your creatures through experience points. Combat is turn-based Rock-Paper-Scissors where your attack and defense are strengthened or weakened depending on the opponent's choice of attack. Technical beats Speed, Speed beats Power, Power beats Technical. Monsters also have special attacks based on their species and element.
Serious multi-thousand-hour Monster Hunter devotees might be offended by the trivialization of the franchise, but might also be amused by chibi versions of their favorite monsters, and by the idea of galloping across prairies astride a Velociraptor or soaring the skies aboard a tame Rathalos. The previous Monster Hunter spinoffs, the Monster Hunter Diary series combining Monster Hunter, Animal Crossing and Patapon remain obscure, but MH Stories seems to be selling well and I imagine that many people who download and play the demo will end up buying the full game. I did.
Release Date: September 15, 2017
After the release of Metroid: Other M, Metroid Prime: Federation Force, Metroid fans slowly lost hope of an actually good Metroid game. Will Nintendo let the series join in the pile of unused IPs such as F-Zero and Golden Sun? That question was answered by none other than Metroid: Samus Returns, a remake of Metroid 2. After the game was announced at E3, along with Metroid Prime 4, fans cried tears of joy at the franchise's true return. No more frustrating plots, no more Adam, and no unnecessary changes. Metroid: Samus Returns is just good old Metroid goodness with a few new things added here and there.
Like I said, Metroid: Samus Returns keep things familiar with a few added content. For example, Metroid: Samus Returns adds a melee attack similar to one of Samus' combo attacks. With this melee attack, Samus can parody an enemy's ongoing attack while also dealing critical damage. You might think this can break the game, but it actually doesn't. To balance it, the game's difficulty has increased from the original. This may sound good to veterans of the series. But it can, however, scare off players who wants to get into the series. With that said, I recommend beginners to play Zero Mission or Fusion for the GameBoy Advance first. Heck, Super Metroid can be a good start.
The presentation of this game is fantastic. While some fans are bumped out that the game used 3D graphics instead of sprites, the game still looks pretty good. A bit pixelated admittedly, but that's mostly due to the 3DS' limitations. The music, however, is AMAZING! Never mind the fact that the game's music is mostly remixed from Metroid 2, it's great! I recommended a listen.
Metroid: Samus Returns is a great return to the franchise's 2D roots. Not only this is a good Metroid game, it's also a good 3DS game overall. If you want a challenging metroidvania game on the go, give Metroid: Samus Returns a try. You'll might be surprised with what you'll experience.
Release Date: October 17, 2017
Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth is a role-playing game developed exclusively for the Nintendo 3DS. The story revolves around Yggdrasil Tree, and you only have one goal in the game: reach the top of Yggdrasil. There are some complexities during your journey, but your main goal won't change. Atlus develops EO5 in simplistic way so that the story looks pretty plain. However, when I did a little research of its previous games, it seems that the developer intends to maintain the uncomplicated stories over the series. I'm the type that prefer the contents of the game over the stories, but you probably have different thought.
EO5 doesn't have a lead protagonist. You are the founder of your own guild, and then you have to recruit several guild members. There are four races in the game, and they have their own innate classes, for a total of ten classes. Each class has their own strength and weakness, so it's better to build up a good combination that complements each other.
Once you've recruited guild members, you are ready to begin the first journey. If compared with most of RPG games, EO5 has one unique aspect: you need to draw your own map, so grab your stylus and draw the maps on the touch screen as you progress through new areas. Since you'll visit each area, known as labyrinth, multiple times, you have to mark every important objects so they can be found easier during subsequent trips. The game provides some tools to draw your maps and put on necessary tokens to distinguish one from the others. Drawing maps can be quite difficult as you need to travel to every corner of the field, but it's quite fun.
Inside the labyrinth, gathering spots such as fishing and mining points can be found. These places yield loot that can be gathered in a certain interval. There are also some areas that may trigger events. These events can only be triggered once, and they'll get recorded to your Adventure Log once completed. Of course there are rewards for clearing these events.
About battles, EO5 employs a turn-based strategy system. You can bring up to five party members, and it's highly recommended if you fill up the slots, as less members are likely to cause more troubles. You have to select an action to every party member, the enemies also do the same, and then the order of every command will be determined by their speed stat and skill's speed modifier.
Outside of the adventure, Iorys will become your resting place between trips. There are also missions and requests, which can only be triggered after meeting their requirements. Missions are mandatory to be done, but requests are completely optional. However, even though requests are considered extras, they act as good sources of items, loot, and EXP. Therefore it's better to clear all of them as soon as possible.
Atlus did a good job for the graphics, but this game lacks cutscene. As I've said above, this game has very simple story so they didn't need to work on cutscenes. Labyrinth looks good with 3D models; most of the previous installments of the series only have 2D models. However, your party's visual output is unseen on the screen. This game utilizes first-person view when traveling in the labyrinth and also engaging random encounters. When battling monsters, only the enemies and the animation of your skills are displayed on the screen. But personally I don't care with those graphics. The complexities when building party and exploring the labyrinth are enough for me to enjoy this game.
The last aspect to take into account is the audio. Most of the dialogues are text-based, so don't expect many voices will be heard in this game. However, the voice actors have done great job in delivering each character's personality. Sound effects are also well done, although I think some a few of them are too loud if I increase the volume while others are too low when I decrease it. You'll spend most of your time in the labyrinth, so you'll be hearing labyrinth BGM a lot. However, one dungeon has a few floors, so you'll hear the same music for indeterminate time until you unlock new dungeon. Battle theme, especially boss battle theme, are absolutely fantastic. That's magnificent pieces done by Atlus.
Overall, EO5 is a marvelous game. Its outstanding value is the mechanics. Since you can build your party members as you want, there are vast amount of party combinations in the game, and of course every player has different favorite classes. Story, graphics, and audio may have a few flaws here and there, but I care about game's contents more than the other aspects. I'll expect great things from Atlus in the future.
Release Date: October 27, 2017
Mario has never controlled as well as he's been in Super Mario Odyssey. He might even be the best controlled character I've had the pleasure of experiencing in any video game I've played over the last odd nineteen years of gaming that made up my life. And the feeling of controlling such a fluid version of an iconic character across imaginative empty worlds would've honestly been enough for me to place this game as one of the most fun experiences I've ever had in gaming - and Nintendo being Nintendo, filled the world with stuff to do.
Super Mario Odyssey constantly rewards you for doing what's the most fun in the game - exploring. No matter where you go - or how you get there - Odyssey has some sort of reward for you. Purple coins for souvenirs and new outfits, a way to possess a creature or a piece of the surrounding using Mario's new buddy Cappy, a huge stack of coins after using Mario's mobility to reach a place you earlier thought was inaccessible, or one of the 880 - technically 999 but eh - Power Moons needed for progression throughout the game.
While all the different kingdoms you visit throughout the world are familiar, they feel completely fresh in how they deal with them - do you want a Lava Kingdom completely made of food, a Wooden Kingdom mixed with steam - punk, or essentially New York City in the 70's, complete with realistic humanoids? Super Mario Odyssey's got your number. It rewards you for using everything you can to look through every nook and cranny in each of the Kingdoms you visit, and whenever it starts feeling stale, it keeps on surprising you with just how many Moons you missed the first time through.
But what makes this game the absolute biggest joy I've experienced in gaming for years boils down to the controls, and how many different ways you have available to explore the world. If you don't want to possess any creatures, you could start playing around with all of the various maneuvers Mario can do to create spectacular acrobatic movements all over the place to get the various available moons in unintended ways. It's been a long time since merely the act of movement intrigued me in a game, and yet in Odyssey I swoop through worlds like crazy, trying different things just to see what I can get away with.
Add the pick up-and-play mechanics of the Switch as a console, and you got the most accessible, yet advanced Mario game that just about anyone can enjoy on their own merits. Sit down and get five moons, stay for an hour and get fifty moons. Turn into a goomba to not slip on ice, or use the ice physics to slip around like crazy, making the craziest movements to skip half the place. Explore in the normal Mario outfit, or in a white top-hat and a lab coat.
Jump into the game, or Jump up, Super Star.
Yeah, that's just about the lamest ending to this entry possible. Fight me.
Release Date: December 6, 2017
While I enjoy games across many genres, there are certain types of experiences and design philosophies I've grown to enjoy. Games with minimal inputs. Games with clear objectives. Games that test your comprehension and mastery over environmental physics. Games that involve some form of grappling mechanic. Games that provide an outlet for improvisation without hard-lining you into a single solution. Games that allow you to fail, yet allow you the courtesy to try again without permanent changes to the world or regression to a previous state. Games where the environment isn't mere set dressing, imbuing every surface with meaningful interactivity and purpose.
Getting Over It may achieve each of these which is uncommon, however what ultimely makes it my game of the year is something rarer still; Getting Over It is a game that managed to change my mind.
Specifically, I'm shocked to find I really enjoyed a game where its method of control served as its prime source of difficulty; something I'd previously considered a cardinal sin in game design. A game being frustrating to play shouldn't equate to a game being challenging in my opinion (let alone fun), and more often than not enduring such tortures just never seem worth the effort. Yet the emotional support system feuling Getting Over It; the humor, the words of encouragement, the traveling music, the continuity amidst setbacks, the knowledge that mistakes are expected, the acceptance of personal failures, and ultimetely the shared pain of others experiencing the same; was so effective, organic and motivational in its delivery that ultimately, the entire experience just... worked. I could Get Over It after all!
We like to think there are things that should and should not be done in game design, and while no game is made to appeal to everyone, Getting Over It serves as a wonderful reminder that any idea (even historically bad ones) can still lead to an enjoyable experience in the hands of the right developer.
And that concludes Part 2 of our list. 2017 was without a doubt one of the best years for gaming, setting the bar high for the upcoming releases in the years to come.
Before proceeding with the Honorable Mentions, I would like to mention everyone involved with the making of the list. Special thanks to all of these awesome people: ZeoKnight, BlueGunstarHero, angeldeb82, QuickSpinsZero, dancer62, Iyamtebist, 91210user, SpirtualCrystos, The_Mighty_KELP, LoneCourier2281 who is the original director of the project, and Emi3280 (yeah, I'm including myself too).
Next section by: angeldeb82
Before we leave, I'd like to close out the list with the Honorable Mentions of 2017 games that didn't make the cut. So, for all of you fans who didn't see the game listed in these two Top 10 Lists, these Honorable Mentions are for you. Let's hope your favorite games are on there; if not, then let me know in the comments section. ;)
(In no particular order)
Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp (October 25, 2017)
XCOM 2: War of the Chosen (August 29, 2017)
Puyo Puyo Tetris (NA: April 25, 2017)
South Park: The Fractured but Whole (October 17, 2017)
West of Loathing (August 10, 2017)
Thimbleweed Park (March 30, 2017)
Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy (June 30, 2017)
Nex Machina (June 20, 2017)
Nioh (NA: February 7, 2017)
Wilson's Heart (April 25, 2017)
Star Trek: Bridge Crew (May 30, 2017)
.hack//G.U. Last Recode (November 3, 2017)
Lone Echo (July 20, 2017)
Call of Duty: WWII (November 3, 2017)
Fire Emblem Heroes (February 2, 2017)
Monument Valley 2 (June 5, 2017)
Divinity: Original Sin II (September 14, 2017)
Halo Wars 2 (February 21, 2017)
Total War: Warhammer II (September 28, 2017)
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle (August 29, 2017)
Star Wars Battlefront II (November 17, 2017)
Tooth and Tail (September 12, 2017)
Friday the 13th: The Game (May 26, 2017)
Life Is Strange: Before the Storm (August 31, 2017)
FIFA 18 (September 29, 2017)
Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 (NA: September 12, 2017)
Forza Motorsport 7 (October 4, 2017)
Little Nightmares (April 28, 2017)
Injustice 2 (NA: May 16, 2017)
Hollow Knight (February 24, 2017)
Prey (May 5, 2017)
Mass Effect: Andromeda (NA: March 21, 2017)
Assassin's Creed Origins (October 27, 2017)
Night in the Woods (NA: February 21, 2017)
Horizon Zero Dawn (NA: February 28, 2017)
Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana (NA: September 12, 2017)
Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony (January 12, 2017)
A Hat in Time (October 5, 2017)
Middle-earth: Shadow of War (October 10, 2017)
Tekken 7 (WW: June 2, 2017)
PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (December 20, 2017)
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy (NA: August 22, 2017)
Arms (June 16, 2017)
Snipperclips (March 3, 2017)
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (October 27, 2017)
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (December 1, 2017)
We all hope you enjoyed reading the list. Have a wonderful day!
List by Emi3280 (04/10/2018)
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