2017 brought with it so many quality gaming experiences across each and every platform, so much so that many people have claimed it to be one of the all time greatest years to be a gamer, period. I definitely played my fair share of games throughout the year, so today I’d like to talk about the ones that really stuck with me.
Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep 0.2- A Fragmentary Passage was a short and sweet prelude to Kingdom Hearts III that was included in the Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8: Final Chapter Prologue compilation.
Aqua is one of the coolest characters in the entire series, and piloting her through the realm of darkness was a ton of fun. The general gameplay is a big step up compared to previous entries, and feels a lot closer to something like Kingdom Hearts II, plus the game is absurdly gorgeous. A Fragmentary Passage was just a taste of what we can expect from Kingdom Hearts III, and it got me even more excited to get my hands on it.
Snipperclips was a fun, but really challenging puzzle game released around the launch of the Nintendo Switch. Although I rarely get to enjoy them these days, I absolutely love couch co-op games, especially ones like Snipperclips that really test the patience (and trust) that you have in your friends and family.
Naughty Dog is one developer whose games you can never really go wrong with, and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is no exception. There’s no Nate, Sully or Elena this time around, as players follow the escapades of Chloe Frazer and Nadine Ross.
Lost Legacy isn’t as consistently impressive as some of the previous Uncharted games, but its high points are just as high. Gunplay is tight, traversal is nice and comfortable, and the handful of setpieces are among the best in the series.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild gets an honorable mention mostly because I’ve yet to finish it. Having said that, I absolutely adored everything I played. While I didn’t think much of the story, and I detested the weapon system, being able to go essentially anywhere I wanted to in a vibrant open world was more than enough to keep me engaged.
Much like Breath of the Wild, Nier Automata is another game that I loved, but never quite got around to finishing. I enjoyed the story to an extent, and I loved every minute of the hack and slash gameplay that Platinum Games has staked its name in, but the relatively empty feeling open world hampered my experience a bit. Having said that, I still think everybody should give this game a shot, as it really is something special.
Without further ado, these are my 11 favorite games from 2017!
#11. Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash
What’s not to love about a game like Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash. In addition to having costumes and skill cards that are totally unlockable in game without having to spend a dime, there’s also tons of sexy, busty and scantily clad shinobi schoolgirls to play as.
On a semi-serious note, Peach Beach Splash was some of the most mindless fun I had with a game in 2017, and I mean that in a good way. Leveling up my skills and weapons was really satisfying, and seeing their new effectiveness in combat was even better. Plus, ya know… busty shinobi schoolgirls…
#10. Splatoon 2
With a few exceptions like Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and Kid Icarus: Uprising, I don’t generally get too into online multiplayer games, but Nintendo’s Splatoon 2 is another one of those exceptions. I gave the game’s single player campaign a shot, but found it to be extremely boring, as the whole time I was playing it I was thinking about getting in another match of turf war.
The game is such a perfect “pick up and play” experience. Turf war matches only last about three minutes, and as such I would always find myself trying to squeeze in just one more round before I had to go to work, bed etc. While the game does have its share of quality of life issues, I was often having too much fun splatting dudes with my custom little squid kid to care.
#9. Doki Doki Literature Club
My experience with visual novels up to this point has pretty much been limited to the Danganronpa franchise, but Doki Doki Literature Club may have made me a fan of the genre. I can’t say much about the game without spoiling it, and seeing as how the best way to experience the game is to go into it completely blind, there’s no way I’d give away all of its secrets here. What I will say however is that the game is well worth your time, plus it’s totally free to boot.
#8. Crash Bandicoot N-Sane Trilogy
I grew up with the original Playstation console, but most of my time spent with it was on Goofy’s Fun House and the Spyro franchise. With the advent of the Crash Bandicoot N-Sane Trilogy, I’m finally able to experience the platforming escapades of Sony and Naughty Dog’s orange marsupial.
The compilation got quite a bit of flak for its high difficulty upon its release, but I found most of the challenges presented by the game to be tough but fair. Crash and Coco felt awesome to control, level design was consistently challenging and rewarding, and it was fun and refreshing to play such a unique platformer, as well as filling in a sizeable gap in my career as a Playstation fan.
#7. Golf Story
I love my Nintendo Switch, I love golf and I especially love RPGs, so it should be no surprise that one of my favorite games on the Switch in 2017 was Sidebar Games’ debut project, Golf Story. This quaint little indie game kept me thoroughly entertained for hours on end with its charming and genuinely funny dialogue, super tight golf mechanics, and intense rounds against other aspiring golf champions.
#6. Battle Chef Brigade
I’ve been watching the Food Network ever since I was a kid, and I’ve always been a huge fan of shows like Iron Chef and Chopped. But I never would’ve guessed that Adult Swim Games would bring us the most accurate video game depiction of these shows in the form of Battle Chef Brigade.
Equal parts side-scrolling beat em’ up and match 3 puzzle game, Battle Chef Brigade is easily one of the most unique and inventive games I’ve ever played. Going out into the field to gather monster parts and plants to cook with, making sure each dish has a balanced flavor distribution, all while battling the clock made for some of the most genuinely tense gaming I’ve ever had.
The game has a gorgeous hand drawn 2d art style, and the voice acting is pretty good as well, with special mention going to protagonist Mina Han’s voice actress, the absolutely amazing Erica Mendez (who also voiced Akko from Little Witch Academia and Ryuko from Kill la Kill). Battle Chef Brigade is such a cool addition to the Nintendo Switch’s already impressive library, and easily one of my favorite titles the little hybrid system has to offer.
#5. Horizon: Zero Dawn
What do you get when you take a meticulously crafted open world, storytelling on par with titles from Naughty Dog and top it all off with intense combat scenarios not unlike those found in games like Monster Hunter? The answer to that question is none other than Guerrilla Games’ Horizon: Zero Dawn.
I’m typically not a fan of open world games, but there were so many cool locales to unearth in Horizon that I was hooked from the start. Exploration aside, my favorite part about the game was the dozens of mechanical creatures that threaten protagonist Alloy during her journey, as well as the dizzying array of options that players have available to them. Every Playstation 4 owner should have this game, as it is just as good and often better as offerings from Guerrilla’s first party siblings.
#4. Super Mario Odyssey
Super Mario Odyssey may not be my number one personal game of the year, but I’ve gone on record as saying I believe it was the best game released in 2017. Nintendo is the Disney of video games for a reason. Just when you think their ideas have become tired and stagnant, both companies give you something that reminds you just who you’re talking about.
Every single part of Super Mario Odyssey, from the control, level design and aesthetic is so lovingly crafted, and the developers at Nintendo crammed secrets into every corner of every kingdom.
I’ve been playing Mario games since I first picked up a controller, and it impresses me to no end that Nintendo is still able to put the overall clad plumber into such fresh and exciting experiences. Playing Super Mario Odyssey made me feel like a kid playing Super Mario World for the first time again, and it will always get endless praise from me for that achievement.
I’ve talked a lot on this blog about how much I love animation, especially Disney. I’ve also talked about how much I love those challenging, “get good” style games that reward the player for mastering mechanics its mechanics. Studio MDHR’s Cuphead is the absolute perfect marriage of these two passions, and I love it endlessly so because of this.
Challenging but rewarding games need to accomplish two things in order for me to love them. One of these things is having extremely tight and reliable controls, and the other is tough, but fair boss design. Cuphead does both of these things in spades.
Everytime I died on a platforming challenge or boss fight, I knew exactly when and where I messed up, and this really encouraged me to get back in there and try again. In a year that wasn’t so jam packed with amazing games, Cuphead would’ve easily been my personal Game of the Year, but there are just two more titles that managed to rank above it.
#2. Sonic Mania
Sonic Mania encapsulates pretty much everything I love about the blue hedgehog. The music, the visuals, the promotional artwork and trailers, the animated sequences; Sonic Mania is one of those games that I would just play with a big ol’ goofy grin plastered onto my face the entire time.
I’m still not quite ready to say definitively, but it is probably the best Sonic game ever made. It takes the best parts of each of the original classic games, fleshes them out with levels both new and old, and throws in a few fresh ideas for good measure. I can’t wait to see what Christian Whitehead, Stealth and PagodaWest Games come up with for the inevitable sequel, and I really hope Sega and Sonic Team take the leash off and just let their creativity run wild.
#1. Persona 5
My Game of the Year for 2017 is none other than the stylish and cool Persona 5. Coming from acclaimed Japanese developer Atlus, Persona 5 is a incredibly deep and polished experience all the way through.
Persona 4 Golden is one of my favorite games of all time, but even I have to admit that Persona 5 is a better experience in almost every aspect. The thing I’ve always said about Persona 4 Golden is that high school and social life parts of the game were incredible, but the role playing game parts were totally serviceable, just nothing too special.
Persona 5 completely changed this for me in every possible way. Combat is so much deeper this time around, as the player is given many more options to both attack and change strategies on the fly. In addition, your confidants, Persona 5’s version of social links, yield incredibly useful gameplay benefits this time around, with being able to romance your waifu of choice being an added bonus (Makoto and Hifumi are the only right answers).
My only major complaint with Persona 5 is the narrative. It starts incredibly strong, and I think the pacing and moment to moment story beats are much better told in comparison to Persona 4 Golden, plus the themes the game tackles are surprisingly adult. But the latter third of the game makes some questionable story decisions and felt a bit rushed at times.
Although I have issues with the game’s narrative, the characters arcs are just as strong as they were in the previous Persona title. This extends not only to your party members, but to almost all of your other confidants. Each of them has their own interesting set of problems to deal with, and it always made me genuinely happy to see them reach a satisfying conclusion.
I love Persona 5 as a gaming experience, but I also love the conversations it has spawned between me and my close friends. We talked consistently throughout the year about story opinions, discussed battle strategies and even debated waifus and best girls (I’m fed up with the slander of the Persona 4 girls by the way). I haven’t had these types of discussions with my friends since probably middle school, and it was such a heartwarming experience to have them one more time.
2017 was an unforgettable year for gaming, and 2018 is looking to be pretty exciting in its own right with titles like Dragon Ball FighterZ, Marvel’s Spider-Man, a new Tomb Raider, and of course Kingdom Hearts III. I’m looking forward to these games and many more, and I hope each of them ends up being as special and memorable as my favorites from 2017.