Games, eh? They’re all loot boxes, overpriced season passes and massive overworld maps pockmarked with too many icons and too few ideas. Amiwrite? Right?
No! I mean kinda, but also, not really. Sure, there were lots of disappointments in 2017, and if you’ve fallen away from games, there’s been plenty of reasons to stay away. Beyond the media campaigns and gamer rage though, there’s been tons of amazing releases that even an old grump would love. Or at least ten anyway.
Pyre manages to combine tactical NBA jam RPG gameplay with a beautiful graphic novel about creatures trying to escape purgatory. Apart from being Graphically pleasing, the weird gameplay is surprisingly compelling and the visuals are beautiful, if occasionally a bit hard to decipher, but it’s the astounding soundtrack by Darren Korb that really earns it a spot on this list.
Absolver felt more like a proof of concept than a full game, but despite that it held enough original ideas and a deep enough combat system to earn a spot on this list. There’s nothing else quite like it.
8. Yakuza 0
Yakuza 0 is a great entry into the series, trimming off some of the rough edges and more esoteric story elements of 5, while really going for it with the zany humour. It’s maybe a bit lighter in tone than the other Yakuza games,but even though I felt the ending was a bit weak, there’s enough genuinely bizarre moments to keep you amused throughout.
7. Horizon Zero Dawn
A really beautiful game with an interesting world to explore and great enemies. The story is by-the-numbers and the late-game revelations are undermined by the ending, but I never got tired of shooting robot dinosaurs with a bow and arrow.
6. Super Mario Odyssey
This brought back memories of Mario 64 for me, and though I liked the Galaxy games, I felt like they were composed of small playgrounds rather than places. Odyssey feels like a fun filled world tour of weird stereotypes reflected through a Nintendo fun house mirror.
5. Evil Within 2
After I finished Evil Within 2, I began to realize how much fun I’d had. It’s schlocky B-movie stuff, with cardboard characters and a cliche plot, and there’s even some repetitive and featureless tunnels halfway through game that really drag the whole thing down, but despite that the game is punchy enough to dismiss it’s shortcomings. It’s not over-long or over-difficult; it’s pacey and tough but never frustrating, and there’s some weird and brilliant monster designs. And a lot of…yogurt…stuff? Not bad considering the first game was awful.
4. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
This will be the Zelda that will be studied in game design classes the most from now on, and that’s saying something. Nintendo somehow solves almost every problem associated with open world games in the biggest, openest wordlest game ever.
3. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
As an old, jaded gamer myself, I often read game reviews that use the word “visceral” and roll my old, jaded eyes, but in RE7, the word is justified. Some of the enemies and environments in this game made me feel genuinely queasy. It’s astonishing that Capcom retained the original feel of the first Resi game and combined it with modern horror gameplay conventions, but even more impressive is how they made something better than either. The best Resident Evil and also the best horror game I’ve ever played.
Very good game. Great story. The best lore. Completing Automata gains you membership into Yoko Taro’s world.
While Cuphead is a beautiful synthesis of period appropriate hand drawn animation and music, the finely tuned difficulty is just as much of an achievement. This is a game where I failed repeatedly, where I felt absolutely sure I would never progress, and yet even in failure I was engaged. And those victories – those sweet victories! No other game took me to such highs in 2017. Cuphead is a masterpiece now and it will be a masterpiece in 20 years. It’s not perfect, but I wouldn’t change a single thing about it. Not. A. Thing.