Great Games I Played in 2017
2017 was an absolutely enormous year in terms of video games and video game releases, probably one the biggest and best years that gaming has ever had. With that being said, it’s that time again for me to list off some of the greatest ones I played and enjoyed in the year just gone. As usual there are some things to note before the list starts:
-There is no limit to the amount of games on the list. It isn’t a countdown of any kind.
-The list is subjective. Some people will most likely not agree with some of the choices I’ve made, these are games I enjoyed personally.
-Classic Games of the Year are for games that are deserving of a high praise that were released more than 5 years ago. A ‘regular’ Games of the Year section covers games released within the last five years. It is also possible to have more than one entry for each category in these two.
-Games are listed under categories for consistency.
-In brackets next to the title are the version or versions I played. The game may be available on other formats but I am only mentioning the version I played for consistency.
-There are likely going to be spoilers! Please be aware of that before continuing.
-Some words may be spelt differently due to living in different regions.
-I didn’t play every game released this year, only those played are on the list.
With all that said, it’s time to mention the games themselves, since this is what the list is all about.
Remakes, Ports, Rereleases and Remasters
Pokémon Ultra Moon (3DS)
Pokémon is notorious for remaking a superior version of it’s past games within the following year or so, and I’m not deceiving myself here, I know this is the case for this game. But at the end of the day, it’s still a solid game and it does add new content. The amount of new content added is something I would consider middling. On the one hand, what’s new is generally really well done, especially the post game story. On the other hand, is it different enough? Some of it certainly is, especially the things that come later on in the game, but earlier on you’d be hard pressed to find too much that is different, and as a result it can feel like a bit of a chore to play the main story over again at times. And there’s no denying that Rotom was made worse- it gives you a hint that you probably don’t need after every battle and quite often after many other actions too, which in turn blocks the map screen. While not a deal breaker, how this got through without annoying anyone on the testing or QA teams is beyond me.
That being said, Rotom aside, there is a good lot to see and do here. And the story has been changed quite a bit as well, more so towards the end as mentioned. And it gets more exciting towards the end as a result of that too. So ultimately, the question of it being worth playing again is a yes in my book, and while it can take a while to find the bulk of the changes, this is ultimately a superior version of the game. If you don’t own the original Moon, it’s safe to just jump straight to this one. If you have played the original though, then how desperately you want to see the differences should determine if it’s worth it to you or not.
Disneyland Adventures (Xbox One)
One of the best games for the Kinect on 360 has been remastered for Xbox One, and it was a pleasant surprise that it did. And the game has had enhanced graphical output too, and seems to be a bit smoother in how it runs. And with added controller support, anyone can enjoy it regardless of whether or not they have a Kinect now too.
There is a bit of acknowledgement needed though- some games become a lot easier to play with a controller than they are with a Kinect. And furthermore, a lot of the game limitations start to show as well. That being said, it is nice to be able to explore Disneyland and see what it has to offer, and to be able to do so anytime. And there was a lot of effort put into trying to capture a Disney magic here, and it does show for sure.
And as an additional bonus, the developers have indicated that they might be willing to add new content to the game to make it more up to date as well, should the game be successful enough to do so, meaning there is a chance that more content and updates to fix limitations could be on the way.
And finally, character creation is very limited. You can’t even change the characters eye colour as far as I’m aware. That being said though, the developer may just also add that in an update one day, so while the game is good with some limitations now, it has the potential to become something truly special. And it’s no doubt a great game for young children as well.
Lego Harry Potter Collection (PS4)
Like many people, I’m a huge fan of Harry Potter. And unlike many people, I’d never actually played a Lego game before. So when this released, and at a very good price, I decided to give it a try and I’m certainly glad I did! This game is a collector’s dream! Collecting everything that the game had to offer, both in forms of Lego and Harry Potter. And the worlds were fun to explore as well, seeing a new kind of charm to the Harry Potter story. And Both Years 1-4 and 5-7 are in the collection, making for quite a fair amount of good gameplay. The missions are mostly faithful to the series as a whole, but some new twists make things interesting to see, and are sometimes funny as well. The games struck the right balance between taking things seriously and making things light as well. This is an absolute must for fans of Harry Potter and Lego games alike.
Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy (PS4)
The three most widely acclaimed Crash games in one collection, all remastered to look prettier and just all around be more modern. Without a doubt this collection is amazing, and it gives hope that perhaps more collections like this could come in the future, for other games and franchises that might need them. And on top of that, grievances with the first game have been fixed and replaced with a much more solid save system and the ability to use the control stick as well as the D-Pad, which is something the original first game sorely needed in both cases. And the cut level, Stormy Ascent, was also added in as DLC so the players finally get to play it. And maybe I’m crazy, but I didn’t find that level as hard as people say it is… but I did thoroughly enjoy it.
Crash 2 in this collection, unfortunately, has had an added issue- the ice physics. For whatever reason, they just don’t work as smoothly as they did in the original game. This adds difficulty to the levels for sure, and whilst added difficulty isn’t a bad thing by itself, when it’s caused by a game mechanic seemingly being insufficient, it does sap enjoyment. My favourite of the trilogy on PS1 is my least favourite in the remaster as a result of this unfortunately… and to make matters more intriguing Crash 3’s oil physics didn’t have this issue at all for it’s remaster. But I’ve bashed on this issue long enough, as aside from this the games are wonderful to have, an all in one of some essential PS1 titles.
And there’s extra content too, Coco is now playable in every level in the first two Crash games and time trials have also been added for every one of these levels as well. This is well worth playing, and it released in a year where so many other good 3D platformers did as well. Fans of platformers could rejoice all year, and this is definitely one of the reasons why.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Skyrim VR (Switch and PS4)
Skyrim… one of the best WRPGs that’s ever been made, and all these years on it’s still going strong. Having now had a number of re-releases and updates, the latest two were ones I wanted to get.
Having Skyrim on the Switch so it can be taken anywhere is wonderful, as well as the new Joy Con controls which make lockpicking fun again, and archery/magic casting have an interesting new twist with aiming. On top of that, the Switch version is a nice looking game. While a lot of people say it comes between the original version and the Legendary Edition remake, it is actually closer to the Legendary Edition remake in terms of looks and feel. And it plays just fine- well, as fine as it’s expected too considering Skyrim is notorious for bugs and glitches. And most of them made it over to the Switch version as well, the only fixes that I’m aware of were also fixes made for Legendary Edition. So, as always with this game on any version, make sure to save often.
And also on the Switch version, there is the convenience of Amiibo functionality, which can also add some exclusive Zelda items- the Master Sword, Hylian Shield and Link’s outfit from Breath of the Wild.
And non-Zelda Amiibo can still give treasure drops for things such as money or materials as well, and sometimes other miscellaneous things.
Now for Skyrim VR- it certainly does impress scale! Something I never noticed before but is very clear here is that characters do tend to have different heights. And looking up when inside buildings or dungeons gives them a whole new depth that makes things very interesting to see and do.
As for how it controls though, it does take adaptation. Even with a standard controller it might be necessary to go into the options menu and mess with the settings until you can find something you’re comfortable with. And I don’t have Move controllers so I can’t comment on them, but general consensus seems a bit mixed from what I’ve seen online. But just to experience the world of Skyrim in this way, regardless of controller choice, is amazing.
There are some caveats though. There is no third person option in Skyrim VR. So that might not be the best news for everyone. And you have to be sure to calibrate the VR to your eyes in the Playstation Options Menu before playing too, although that’s not a fault in as much as a caution of something to do first.
And again, save often! Bugs are also abound in this version.
But with children being child height, some characters being surprisingly tall, being able to look around corners and just look around you in general, this is certainly an amazing experience. I’m even willing to forgive the lack of visible body in first person due to how much else it gets right in VR.
One thing I’m not fond of isn’t a fault with the game, but rather an enemy. Giant spiders in VR… whilst not as bad as I expected, it’s still something that isn’t easy to face…
But still, being able to pretend to poke Nazeem in the eye is kind of fun. Twisted I know, but anyone who’s played Skyrim would know why I just suggested that.
And third party love for Nintendo just keeps coming!
I was very happy to see that one of the most solid, fast paced shooters is now on Switch and not only being able to take it anywhere is amazing, but just how well loved this port of the game is too. Almost everything from the original is here and completely intact, the only missing thing being the ‘Snap Map’ mode, which while disappointing it’s not there, isn’t something I used as much as I thought anyway so it isn’t a huge issue that it’s not there.
But the blood, gore, single and multiplayer aspects are all intact as they ever were, and the lighting is intact as well. The only major loss here is resolution, but it looks fine in handheld mode and is certainly still a good game regardless.
One issue has repeated itself though- the controls. Once again there isn’t a scheme that fits me perfectly, and since I can’t use a menu to change button functionality for the Switch itself, I had to settle with a ‘good enough’ control scheme, which is still a bit awkward. But that aside, DOOM is still one of the best FPS games there is in recent years, and it being on the Switch is a very good thing.
L.A. Noire (Switch)
Certainly an interesting game this one. On the Switch, it has an entirely touch screen based control scheme if you’d prefer, but it also has benefits of the Joy Con controls and even supports the Pro Controller for those who just want a ‘regular’ experience.
Some of the detective work can be fun to do as well, as looking around for clues, and reading the suspects to see if they might be lying or telling the truth is interesting. And to see a recreated 1940’s central L.A. was very nice as well, even if some cars and some songs on the radio actually came later than the game’s setting.
But there is one simple thing with this game unfortunately, and that is that it can become repetitive quickly as even though places and names might change, methods of solving cases can often remain the same, or similar, and that can feel like a grind. Thankfully some driving and shooting sections break it up a little, and the final mission deviates the normal gameplay altogether.
And also due to the setting, the game isn’t always easy to play. Discrimination for race and gender are very prominent in and throughout the game, which makes liking characters very difficult to do. But, to go back to good notes and reasons why this is on the list, characters are amazing in how they look and feel. The technology of capture from Depth Analysis really does show through, and shines through as well. Expressions, subtle movements, twitches, and even things the cast may have done inadvertently are all captured and projected amazingly here, even all these years after the game’s initial release. The cast aren’t just playing the characters, they essentially are the characters, and this is something I’d definitely like to see more games do in the future.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Switch)
The original Mario Kart 8 was one of my Games of the Year when it released, and here we have an improved version with almost everything the original had and more. New characters with the Inklings, Dry Bones, King Boo, Bowser Jr. and Gold Mario, new car parts and a revamped Battle Mode.
And that’s why I said almost everything the original had. While Battle Mode has new stages and more modes, and is a wonderful time, there is no way to access the tracks used in Battle Mode originally, however that’s not necessarily a complete bad thing as in the original game Battle Mode wasn’t very well received, so Nintendo wanted to make amends. Still, Yoshi Valley and Toad’s Turnpike could be interesting in the new battle modes I think.
And if there’s something this game does a lot of, it’s content. With every track back, plus the new modes, more car parts and more characters, this is pretty much a must have racing game on the Switch.
Metroid Samus Returns (3DS)
This game was difficult to place. It’s only here because it’s technically a remake of Metroid II: Return of Samus. But even then, this game does a lot differently from the original Metroid II.
For starters, combat now uses a melee system which adds a new strategy for taking on enemies- some can be stunned to make life easier if you counter them while others it’s a necessity to being able to conquer them. And upgrades now stack, which is just lovely as it prevents unnecessary backtracking. There’s also some new puzzles about, and the environments have been re-imagined wonderfully. And the finale has been completely re-worked now as well, but that’s all I’ll say to avoid major spoilers.
And another credit to the game, the developers knew what they were doing. The controls were pretty much perfect and everything felt like it should in a Metroid title. I wouldn’t mind seeing other 2D Metroid’s being redone like this.
New Games, Classic Games and Sequels
Everybody’s Golf (PS4)
Character customisation. That is a very nice thing to see in most games, but here it goes above and beyond what many people would probably expect many games to do. It goes further than some MMO’s do in this regard. It’s a very diverse and versatile system, and you can pretty much make anyone you want, adult, child and more. You can clothe them as you like, and even set their voice and swing styles. Such a good degree of creativity available. Some options do have to be unlocked (including child, elderly or other body types for some odd reason) but at the end of the day, the degree of freedom you’ll be able to have and who you can make is absolutely astounding. And of course, there’s a golf game in here too.
It plays as an arcade style golf game, so the buttons tapped to swing and hit method, and hope you can land where you’re planning to do so before the swing, so basically like Mario Golf for comparison. And the golf game on offer here is really good too. The courses have a good amount of variety to them, and selecting clubs and balls can offer strategy.
Only one major negative comes to mind, and that’s that the DLC is overpriced for what it is. That being said though, the game is an online heavy game in terms of how it’s designed. But even then it’s entirely possible to play offline and still have a good time with it too. A fun game, and an amazing character creation system that more games need to take notes from.
Final Fantasy XV (Xbox One)
A bit later than many when starting this one, but I must say that FFXV has been an amazing game to experience. A lot of Square Enix RPG’s don’t appeal to me too much normally, due to using unnecessarily big numbers in combat to indicate health and damage, but thankfully this game accompanies it with a health bar, and even better, the combat is a unique real time combat that flows. Turn based isn’t something I have issues with, but for longer games a system that doesn’t get designed around grinding works better, and it absolutely nailed it in this title. And combining freedom to explore and find things, and a story that works around the characters without feeling like an afterthought, and some great DLC, and this was definitely a very worthwhile time. Despite being a big investment to play, it never felt like it dragged on, which is something I credit to the combat system being in real time yet a unique experience.
It’s hard to talk about this game without spoiling anything, so I’ll just say this much in terms of the story- the lore is something that’s clearly had a lot of time put into it. And it won’t always go as the player may want it to, but in a good way.
Cuphead (Xbox One)
At first, I was disappointed with the game- not because of the art or the aesthetic or anything, but rather because I’d been expecting a platformer. While there is a degree of that in the game, it is mostly a big boss gauntlet. However, once that concept settled on me, the game was no longer disappointing and instead became quite interesting to play. It is a tough game, but it isn’t typically unfair. The most unfair it will be is not knowing what the signs of certain attacks are the first time playing through, but once you know the signs, any attack can be avoided.
And the game controls very solidly too. I did have to customise the controls to my liking (make them a more traditional layout for the abilities) but since the game allows that it was no issue. But every move is solid and responsive, and once everything is down pat for the player, everything is achievable.
And the art style and 1930’s cartoon aesthetic was certainly a joy to behold as well, it felt like an early Disney cartoon with some darker sides to it. But everything fits so well for the game, and the accomplishments feel so real when you finally do pull them off.
Gravity Rush 2 (PS4)
The freedom of gravitational movement in the last game amazed me, and it was certainly good to see it back again in this game. And this game is a bigger instalment, and one that pays off wonderfully too. The game also expects the player to have played the previous game, so that might be a bit off putting for newcomers. But once the game gets going, it plays as well as the last one, and everything feels right to do, be it flowing gravity and changing it to move around or even just some side-quests with either brand new or returning familiar characters. Part of it feels like an extension on the first game, but there is enough new here that the game is definitely a sequel and not just an expansion under guise.
But there is one thing I feel needs to be mentioned. The framerate isn’t as smooth this time around, and I don’t know if that’s because the game is a lot bigger or if it just wasn’t optimised. But regardless of that, the game is a blast to play.
But I should mention there are times when the game has a fair bit of blood in it too, which could be startling since it’s in cutscenes and can’t be induced while playing, but one moment at the start of the credits can be quite startling due to that.
The Walking Dead: A New Frontier (Xbox One and PC)
Telltale’s episodic adventures continue, and this time it’s mostly told from the perspective of new faces. Javier, and those closest to him. And as usual, the story is not the happiest one there is out there, with plenty of deaths, betrayal and emotion throughout it. Clementine is also back, but this time her story is semi-sidelined as we only get glimpses into her past or meet up with her along the way. It’s enough to show what happened to her and what she’s been up to since season 2, but it felt like this season was more a carrier for her story once next year’s ‘Final Season’ comes out. But for Javier and those around him, it introduces a new story, and one that proves, time again, that a human being is its own best friend and worst enemy during the apocalypse. Javier’s actions can even ultimately determine who lives and who dies, and also can determine something else quite deep, but I won’t spoil it here as I thought it was a clever way of doing things and being well done as it was, it’s best left a surprise.
Another new Nintendo IP, and another one that’s focused on creating a community around it, especially in the online world. The game itself focuses on a competitive fighting sport that is like boxing with a twist, with the Arms your character wields being able to stretch and reach the opponent from far away. It’s a concept that works and I can imagine a lot of people enjoying this in a competitive manner. There is also single player, but not a lot of it, it isn’t like Splatoon where single player adds a lot. ARMS simply is what it intends to be, a fighting game that’s intended to be enjoyed by multiple people. And the characters leave me with mixed feelings too. Some are great ideas, but others just don’t seem to carry the Nintendo Charm that well.
However, there are bright sides to the game that put it worthy of a recommendation from me and how I play games. First of all, the motion controls are fun to use once you’re used to them, and it can be just a bit of good fun being able to do the motions and have them lead to actions on the screen. That’s something I loved about the Wii too, so being able to see it here again is great. And secondly, the game knows that there are people who play for fun as well as competitively, so the game allows itself to be customised to be enjoyed by either group of people.
If unsure about this one, I would say to wait for a sale, but if you love online competition then this game has you covered.
Splatoon 2 (Switch)
A wonderful sequel to an already wonderful game. And it seems that the developers went with full community involvement in shaping the story as well, as the outcome of the final Splatfest in the last game probably determined certain character roles in this one.
The single player mode has been quite improved, as although it’s about the same length as in the first game for a first playthrough, it does a lot more in terms of level design, challenges, music and storytelling than the first game did. And while it won’t win awards, the story was better than many other shooter stories go, and does have personal touches for fans of the series.
And the online multiplayer returns, this time with more weapons, better designed maps so far and more to most likely come, more character customisation, at least with hairstyles, and more than just going against another team. Salmon Run has been added, and this allows you to play a co-op mode that is similar to Zombies from Call of Duty. Except Salmon Run has an end goal, and an ending to each game can be achieved if all players work together. It’s a fun mode, which leaves me wondering why it’s only available to play whenever Nintendo dictates it to be. Missed opportunity to get people playing more often.
However, as much as I love this game, there is something that needs to be addressed, an ‘elephant in the room’ if you will.
And that is the warning message that sometimes appears when you get disconnected. That message is highly accusatory that the issue has to be your fault, and I would also say is a medium level of threatening about actions being taken against the player if it continues. It shocked me badly when I first saw it, and I can only imagine how upsetting this message would be for children who get it, especially if the disconnect issue wasn’t their fault in any way. And most of the time that’s the case as it is, if a match gets disconnected it seems to usually be on Nintendo’s end, because the signals from other players as well as yourself appear to be strong and fine right before a disconnect. And upon checking connections and even testing other Switch games it turns out to be fine as well. So my two things would be that Nintendo needs to upgrade the servers they have for the game, and they need to change the message. If can leave me as an adult shocked in a bad way, then for children it could only end in tears, and lots of angry parents.
Which is a pity because I really do love this game and think it deserves to be here otherwise.
Sonic Mania (Switch)
Well, this is certainly something that worked out well. Letting fans program and make a Sonic game (albeit fans who are developers) and having it turn out as great as this one did. Huge props to everyone who gave this a chance to be made, and to the developers for making it. This game feels like a sequel to Sonic 3 and Knuckles, and in terms of the timeline it is, despite being made all these years later.
It feels and plays like a 2D Sonic game that could’ve been developed for the 32X add on, and that is not a bad thing at all. Graphically and sound wise it just matches what I imagine to be a 32X feel.
All the returning zones have their first act as an amalgam of the first two acts from their original game, and the second act as something new in the theme. And the new zones that have been added fit right in as well. I’d go as far as to say that some of the new zones are among my favourites in the entire game, especially Press Garden and Titanic Monarch Zones.
This game is a blast to play, and a very rewarding experience as well if everything is sought out by the player.
And for those who like the old school look, there are two different CRT filter options that can add to the experience as well.
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle (Switch)
This was certainly an interesting game. Admittedly it took some time to get into, as the gameplay isn’t exactly of a genre I play too often, so it meant a lot of things were different, and not always in a good way. But underneath all this is a rather unique experience, and once I was able to adapt to this new style of playing, the game became a lot of fun to play. It certainly is interesting to see Mario wielding a gun! Or to have a character in the game swear occasionally (censored but obvious what’s being said). But the soundtrack had some amazing sounding songs, courtesy of Grant Kirkhope, and despite being quite unusual of a game for me, in the end once everything clicked it felt right. And the final boss was really enjoyable to fight as well, it felt like it fitted right in with the game and was worthy of the Mario name.
And as a side note, the Rabbids were made less annoying apparently. I can’t really say as I’ve never played a Rabbids game before, but I never found them annoying in this game myself, so if that’s something that has you worried, well, hopefully that eases your mind.
Snake Pass (Switch)
This game certainly has a unique take on gameplay. It’s a 3D puzzle game in which you navigate by slithering around as a snake, including climbing around things and trying to make gaps without being able to jump. It can take quite a bit of adaptation, but once you get an idea on how the physics work it becomes relaxing.
The soundtrack was composed by David Wise, who is one of the best video game composers ever (or maybe I’m just a fanatic) and his style certainly shines through while playing the game. The only music complaint I have is that there isn’t enough of it in the game.
And that leads into something else as well- the game is quite short. When it looked like there’d be more to still come, it suddenly ended. Which is a pity, as the game could have easily had at least a few more levels, and more music to go with them too.
But I understand that the developers were ‘testing the waters’ with this new IP, so perhaps a longer, more intricate sequel will come in the future?
RPG Maker Fes/Fez (3DS)
Regional spelling differences there, but the game itself is the same either way- a fantastic game making tool that allows people from the world over to make RPG’s. While not as fully featured as something like VX Ace or MV, it is featured enough that you can make almost any story that you wanted to- within reason. Strong language, sexual content and such will probably get the game removed, and you can only select premade character and world sprites, but other than that you’re free to make whatever you want, and being able to do so on 3DS allows it to be a ‘make it anywhere’ kind of experience. No doubt it takes hours to make a game, and make it right, but being able to see other people’s creations and the effort they put into them can be inspiring for you to do the same.
Sol-Feace (Sega CD/Mega CD)
When people think of the Sega CD add on (or Sega Mega CD add on as known over here), Sonic CD is probably the first game that comes to mind. However, there were other good games for it, and Sol-Feace is one of those games. Despite the somewhat unusual seeming name, the game itself is a 2D space shooter, and a very solid one at that. Not much else that can be said about it really, and it does suffer the fact that there are a lot of games like it in existence. However, I gave this one a go and recommend a play as the Sega (Mega) CD doesn’t a very large selection of titles that are classics, and this is one of the few it has that deserves to be played.
The Last Guardian (PS4)
This is one of those games that’s made to be experienced for everything it offers. It tells a story, and takes you on a journey, but it’s up to you how you experience it and feel about the experience itself. The game relies heavily on a desire to bond with and love animals, and in using this desire it creates quite a unique experience.
Trico is the animal in question, and despite being a fictional animal it moves in very much a realistic way. And it’s hard to tell exactly what Trico is based off, but it’s most likely based off several domestic mammals in the way it moves, and perhaps a heavy winged bird of some kind for flight.
And Trico definitely has the ‘droopy dog eyes’ which make it very appealing to look at. And no doubt about it, whenever you see Trico walking up to you from a distance, it feels like a loyal pet coming over to you so it can be with you.
The game is tied to Trico and how you feel about it. And in that sense, it is quite an amazing experience to play and go through. It would be spoilers to explain every detail of this, as this is a game that needs to be played to be fully understood.
Little Nightmares (PS4)
This game piqued my curiosity when I first found out about it, and I was glad to play it upon release. Even though the camera is at a distance from the player, it creates a horror atmosphere quite well. And it portrays the horror both towards you and about you- and whilst a shorter game it’s very effective at doing that. You play as Six, who is presumably named after her age, so that gives an impression of things being even bigger still. And the ‘nightmares’ are very real in the context of the game. A fear of strangers, fear of the dark, fear of ghosts and the unknown are all played into effect, and none of it is a dream at any point.
And I wish I could say more, but it would give too much away about the game. But I will finish on this note- the game is not for the faint of heart.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (PS4)
Taking inspiration from the cancelled P.T. was the right choice for this game. It’s still very much Resident Evil, but the move to first person forced cases and scenarios which would not be as effective if the game was third person. And on top of that, it’s probably the first entry in the series which has ever had me on edge. I always saw the series as an action series, and while there is action here, it is much more toned down compared to past Resident Evil titles, and it works out really well, as the fear these games are supposed to induce is a lot more present than it ever was. Things can startle a lot more easily, and for the first time in the series history, there are paranormal things that aren’t explained away as a virus. Namely ghost sightings, and although only viewed in a tape flashback, they are a very welcome sight, as they show the series isn’t afraid to deviate from using viruses to explain all the horrors that can be encountered.
And combining that the game takes place in a house, it can feel eerie or like something might be around at any time.
And sometimes there are monsters (for lack of better word) around too. And you won’t have a gun all the time, but you probably will have one a lot of the time… but surprisingly enough this doesn’t necessarily instil confidence. Ultimately it may not be as scary as games like Condemned or Outlast, but it comes close enough and is a direction I like that the series took for this entry. Sometimes things being simpler is more effective, and this game demonstrates it well, both for the player and the series it’s a part of.
LittleBigPlanet PSVita (Vita)
The PlayStation Vita was a system that, while it had good efforts behind it and all, ultimately didn’t last too long due to its lack of popularity. And even though it might not have been the most popular system, it was still a good system that had good games on offer. Namely this one, for example.
LittleBigPlanet PSVita is exactly what one could hope for in the series. My only other experience prior to this was LBP3 on PS4, but that helped me to thoroughly enjoy this iteration. It might not be quite as good as the latest game, but that’s not a fault that can be pinned on this game itself. It tries hard and succeeds at being a fun platformer title on the system, and it even tries to utilise both the touch screen and the touch sensitive area on the back of the system. Whilst neither of these are as responsive as they should be, at least the game tried and isn’t held back by these things not working completely as intended.
Don’t get me wrong, they do work- there’s usually a delay or the features aren’t as sensitive as they should be. But the game does showcase that Vita’s features were able to be implemented without being detrimental to the game, as another game I’ll mention later on didn’t quite do as well in showing.
But at the end of the day, it’s LittleBigPlanet and it’s portable. It may not be the title many fans of the series would first think of, but it’s still a good time and one I’d recommend.
Life is Strange: Before the Storm (PC)
The first game in the series was an interesting adventure with gameplay elements from The Walking Dead and, by a lesser extent, Gone Home. Before the Storm is the prequel to that game, made by different developers on a different engine- yet it’s so much like the original Life is Strange in all the right ways that it doesn’t even matter. This serves its purpose and more- which is to elaborate on the past of certain characters from the first game, but it also plays out with things to fascinate you in other ways.
And much like the first game, it often has you playing from what is essentially inside the characters mind. In this case, dreams for the most part, recurring dreams one character suffers due to a tragic incident from the past.
And also much like the first game, a lot of the stories and happenings are very realistic, and could easily hit hard for some people. Who and what to trust, and how you feel about characters around you often will play into your mind as you progress through the episodes.
Just as a side note though- I would recommend playing the first game before this one, even if this is a prequel in setting. The reason why is because certain things are spoiled in this one from the first game, especially after the credits roll.
South Park: The Stick of Truth (PC)
I’d never experienced anything South Park before I played this game. All I knew in terms of what to expect is being told the kind of show it is, and I expected that to carry over to the game. So, in some ways, I have a love-hate relationship with the game. I know it’s a satirical series, and therefore game, but some things certainly go too far or push into uncomfortable territory. And yet, I found myself otherwise enjoying the game, to my own surprise.
The biggest thing I loved about this game was the combat- it is very Paper Mario inspired, and I love that! Paper Mario has always had a special place in my heart, and to see this game using it as inspiration for the combat just felt wonderful, as the similarities aren’t just there in show but in feeling to use and play with as well. Combat was pretty much perfect for me as far as turn based combat goes, and while the game is essentially pretty easy in combat, it also meant that there was no grinding or fighting situations that felt impossible, nor was there time lost to getting through the game. And with exploration leading to some nice surprises game wise sometimes, it was a much better experience then I expected.
I will admit that there were some things that were uncomfortable for me, but I won’t go into too much detail on that or the list will become a rant, and it’s arguments or feelings that hundreds of other people could word way better than I could anyway. But aside from those things, there is only one other downside I can think of- some things become permanently missed if you progress too far. Which is a bit disappointing, but with online guides they should still be obtained. Or just getting lucky and finding everything at the right time.
As a side note, due to the high amount of certain humour, I’m surprised the game wasn’t called ‘The Stinky Truth’…
Oh, and I should mention that I played this on PC due to my country restricting some of the content, so I played this version to be able to get that content back into the game and to also open up more character customisation options at the start. A sad state of affairs when you need to mod the game to get it back to what it should’ve been. And furthermore, most of the cut content for my part of the world was less offensive then a lot of the things that got left in. Probably to the surprise of nobody…
South Park: The Fractured But Whole (PC)
I guess the New Kid stuck with me. As I got this game as well, and… it does some things right that Stick of Truth didn’t, but likewise Stick of Truth also did things right this game doesn’t.
First of all, the positives- character creation is much more enhanced (and controversial no doubt) and this game wasn’t censored at all where I live, so I didn’t have to mod it to get the full experience. And while there certainly is still content that was uncomfortable, generally there was less of it this time around and the game is also one of the most progressive I’ve ever seen when it comes to choosing several profile options for your character. Gender, sexuality, religion just to name a few are options you’ll run into and they all have a wide variety of choices that I’ve never seen in any other game before now. A lot of games could do with this flexibility, letting you make the character that you want to make.
And here is where I mention what Stick of Truth did right that this game did… well, not wrong per se, but not as well. And that is combat. Here’s the combat is on a grid based system, and while still turn based and even having some essence of the Paper Mario style, due to the grid it’s just not as exciting. It isn’t bad as such, just not as good as it could’ve been had it stuck to combat conventions from The Stick of Truth. But, at the very least there is room for new strategies and a different approach sometimes, so I can’t fault it for trying something different on that front.
So, between this and Stick of Truth, it’s hard to say which is the better game overall. There are things that both do well, and both don’t do as well at. But at the end of the day, I still have a kind of love-hate relationship with certain aspects of satire the games used. But I must give credit where credit is due- it does a good job of making you think.
Just a starting note before we move onto these ones- these are games that still have merit, but they also had aspects which made them just not quite good enough for the other categories. And again, these are opinions of mine, and some people would no doubt disagree.
Call of Duty: WWII (Xbox One)
This game was promised as ‘boots on the ground’. Well, I must ask- what boots? You’re a floating camera again! Rather than do what the last two games did, and actually give you a presence in the game world, this time you’re back to just being floating arms holding a gun. I know a lot of FPS games have always done this, but considering the last two games gave you a visible lower body, there’s no reason why this one couldn’t. It just feels lazy… which is a shame as a lot of other aspects about the game clearly weren’t. The campaign is a little more Hollywood then realistic, but at least it actually gave some interesting moments still.
Then comes multiplayer, which is the same as it has been for a while, minus the fancy movement and, again, minus the existence of your lower body. But enough on that, I just found the mode to be less exciting this time around, perhaps the removal of the fancy movement revealed a bit too much here… and it was odd that when playing offline with bots you can no longer disable instant respawning. This was never an issue until now… hopefully it can get patched.
Credit for the multiplayer though- at least it allows a good amount of character customisation, probably some of the best COD has had to offer yet, so that’s definitely a bonus.
And then Zombies… seems like playing offline doesn’t play all the story for some reason. Again, hopefully something that can be patched. And playing a scare chord on every third or fourth zombie I see isn’t scary- it’s annoying!
However, all that said, there are also some really well-done scares in Zombies, such as crows suddenly flying out of a bush for example. I see a lot of potential here if the issues could be patched out.
And the same goes for the whole game really. Patching out some rough issues and bringing back the visible body and shadow off it would probably do wonders for the game, at least for me personally. But that’s not all, there’s also the game feeling, for lack of better words, disconnected. It was like there were different teams working on the scripts for each mode, then different teams making the gameplay and so on. That’s normal for many games, but when it feels like none of the teams spoke to each other much… it just feels like everything is a bit disconnected, even if the truth is the complete opposite of what it feels like. And it’s quite a pity really, as this was the same studio that worked on Advanced Warfare which added a lot of new things that worked.
Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Uncharted: Lost Legacy (Vita and PS4)
As much loved as this series is by many people around the world, including myself for some other entries, these two entries don’t quite match up for me. I know a lot of people love them though, so just remember- this list is subjective and the opinions shared are my own. They’re just my own opinions, and NOT facts.
And now with covering myself out of the way, onto the games themselves.
Starting with Golden Abyss, it certainly had a lot of potential. A fully fledged Uncharted game on the Vita was definitely something that could go well, and it should’ve. The gameplay is solid, and the whole experience feels like it does from the adventure and chasing alternative history side of things. But there are just a few things that hold it back for me.
First of all, some of the Vita features are forced onto you. Sure you can turn off motion aiming and anything else that might get in the way, but you can’t turn off motion controls for leaping from one grabbed area to another. This means having to position the Vita while moving around some areas and that get’s annoying, especially if you’re seated somewhere that you can’t move around much or are lying down.
And using the back touch pad to row a boat sounds like it would work, and it actually should work, but here it just doesn’t work that well. And once again Nathan Drake was a hard character to like, and even his friend Sully got turned into a sex joke making character for a good portion of the time you’re with him.
But to mention a positive note, the touch screen puzzles work really well in this game, and the story can be fascinating when it’s not grating the annoyances of hard to like characters.
The reason this is still an honourable mention though is because, despite my issues, there were still the good aspects of the game, and they’re stronger than the bad ones. It’s just that the bad ones still stick out too much.
And now to Lost Legacy, which was actually quite difficult to place either in this category or in the New Games category. It was close, but ultimately it just falls short. There is still more good to this game then Golden Abyss though.
The world is a very realised world, and it certainly has that interest in alternative history flowing very well. The biggest problem is that it feels like it should’ve been part of Uncharted 4, like a DLC for that game rather than something standalone. And on top of that, Chloe is no more likeable than Nathan Drake was, so the change in character didn’t do a lot to change how disconnected it can feel to play as the characters. Although at least Chloe did say some funnier things, such as blurting out ‘Bum!’ at one point.
As a result of these things though, the game felt more like overpriced DLC than a new game, and that’s what’s holding it back the most for me. It’s good, great even maybe, but not excellent.
Sonic Forces (Xbox One)
And here is a game that I wished I could put in the new games category, and it even feels like something that could make it, but it falls short due to some issues.
Namely, the game is quite short and not particularly memorable. Which is a real pity, as the game had a lot going for it. The soundtrack was good, the idea behind being able to make your own character was excellent, and very well executed too, probably the highlight of the game. But to have the story seemingly rush towards the end and then spend five of the game’s levels at the end made things feel unbalanced, almost like the story was rushed in a time limit so the game would be released. And for all the grinding you’d need to do to get everything across several custom characters, there’s just not enough content to justify the time it would take.
Again, it’s a pity, because given more time and care, this game could’ve been something very special. It’s a good game, but not a lot more than just good.
Classic Games of the Year
Super Castlevania IV (SNES and SNES Classic)
To me, Castlevania is an action series with a horror setting. And it seems as though the developers of Super Castlevania IV may have felt that way too. Everything from how it plays, to it’s awesome soundtrack just works with that kind of genre placement on the series. I also really liked that this game was a linear game too, it just worked better I think. And the freedom to move the whip around is certainly entertaining and a surprising amount of freedom in that too given when the game was released. And while it doesn’t take full advantage of what the SNES could do, it probably didn’t need to as what it does do looks and feels just right for it.
A definite highlight of the year, and perhaps the best Castlevania game that I’ve played (not that I’ve played many, but still...)
F-Zero (SNES and SNES Classic)
One of Nintendo’s most beloved IP’s, and seemingly also one of the most forgotten ones too, the very first game in the series is, for all intents and purposes, a game that was meant to showcase what the SNES was made of. But it did more than just that, and for me personally I think this may be the best F-Zero game of them all. Don’t get me wrong, F-Zero X and GX were great games and captured a brilliant sense of speed, and the GBA games are great entries too, but this one captured me unlike any of the other entries did. With a great soundtrack and fun racing that feels like you have control yet things can quickly go wrong if not careful, it was probably the most fun I’ve had in any F-Zero game.
Now, if Nintendo considers bringing another entry to the series, that would be good. F-Zero needs more games.
Games of the Year
Yooka-Laylee (Switch, Xbox One, and PS4)
Yes, I really did play those three versions, and also have the PC version to play at any time I desire. I love this game, I really love this game. I’m also a proud Kickstarter Backer for this game as well, and it did not disappoint at all! Playtonic is a team that consists mostly of ex-Rare developers who set out to make a game that captured the magic of 3D platforming, like many games they made on the Nintendo 64 did. And as far as I’m concerned, they well and truly succeeded. Playing this game exudes a kind of euphoric bliss, a nostalgic childhood joy that matched how I felt playing those old games from when I did as a child. This game is a shining example as to why holding onto happy memories from those times matters, as when something comes along and matches it, what we get is something that’s truly special.
I will address one thing, and that is the fact that the game wasn’t as well received by many as it clearly has been by me personally. I can’t say for sure why that might be. Perhaps some people were expecting exactly Banjo-Kazooie with two new characters. The game is clearly inspired by the Banjo series, but the name of the game is Yooka-Laylee, so it still needs its own identity. But to each their own at the end of the day, I knew from when I first played it that this game was going to be one of my games of the year, and much like the Nintendo 64 Classics it captures the essence of, it’s one that can be revisited again in the future and still be a fantastic time to play- I did play it three times this year after all!
I’m not entirely sure of the how and why this game came to be something that was decided to be created, but I am certainly glad it did. With three great composers who worked at Rare (Grant Kirkhope, David Wise and Steve Burke) and several of the artists, game designers and developers who had experience behind other classic games, this one too was sure to be a classic as far as I was concerned before it released, and upon release that certainty was cemented, it became the classic I expected, and the game I expected. It even exceeded expectations several times. I am sincerely hoping that the game gets a sequel and becomes a series.
A Hat In Time (PC)
This year just gone was certainly the year of the 3D platformer, and here we have another one! A Hat In Time is often stated to be Banjo-Kazooie inspired, but I would think of it as more inspired by Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine and Psychonauts. That being said, it matters little in that respect as it was one of the best games I played this year! Hat Kid is an interesting protagonist in that she’s a very capable character, yet there are certainly aspects of her that indicate she’s a child. She’s quite innocent in many ways, and can be quite childish at times too. For example, if you leave her standing idle, she starts playing with toys. Even making them kiss, before realising that she might be seen and quickly putting them away.
The worlds and many of the levels within the worlds are quite unique, and while Worlds 1 and 3 hold everything in the same open world for the most part, World 2 has you go through a few different levels that match the setting. It’s a good variety, and flows well. And World 4 is one giant open world that has several themes to it, and while it sounds overwhelming if approached methodically it is a great world to see and explore as you want to.
And all this is accomplished with the different hats and badges that can be acquired over the game which grant you extra abilities or change what ability certain buttons might do. It sounds complex but it really isn’t, and that works in the game’s favour.
And there are also Time Rift levels, which are linear stages with the challenge to get to the end, and they call upon your skills at platforming to be able to get through. While not as hard as other games out there, they keep the game fresh and flowing. And on PC, through Steam there are mods for more Time Rift levels, and even open levels as well as hats and badges.
Here’s hoping for more adventures from Hat Kid in the future.
Super Mario Odyssey (Switch)
I’m sure this was a predictable entry as being a Game of the Year, but honestly, it absolutely deserves it. Mario’s move set is quite large and diverse, more so than it seems at first. There are many methods to approaching things, and there are many Power Moons to collect- so many that it’s quite amazing that they were able to fit so many objectives across the game. Mario has always had great experiences with open world 3D platformers, and Odyssey is by far one of the best examples of this. Between having many open worlds and goals, there is a lot to see and do.
First of all, the worlds themselves. It wouldn’t be fair to reveal them all, but every Kingdom, as they’re called, is unique, and has its own little tricks, traps and wonders to discover. Sometimes something might seem innocent but it actually hides a secret, while other things might be more obvious that there’s a way to earn something from going to it for a visit. Puzzles are well integrated into the worlds as well, and there are 2D platforming sections that manage to fit into the worlds without breaking the flow. But every world is open, and even the smallest of the open worlds in Odyssey are far more open than any level from the Mario Galaxy games. There are so many things in each world that I wish I could talk about, but it is really better to be experienced then have it told to you.
And of course, there are the Power Moons themselves, and the challenges presented to get them all. So many different Power Moons, literally hundreds of them, it really is a blessing that you get a checklist for each world on the ones you do and don’t have. But not only that, while some are easy to find or figure out, others can be tucked away in hidden corners or from tricky puzzles. And some Power Moons can be earned in more than one way, the means of approach really does matter for a number of them. And out of all the Power Moons in the game, there are only about three or so that feel obnoxious to get, which considering we’re looking at hundreds Power Moons is an incredible feat for only such a small number to feel that way.
Mario himself is interesting in this game too, with a diverse move set that can carry you a longer way or to greater heights than initially expected, the Kingdoms are there to be explored in as many ways as are possible. And many people are showcasing speed runs of the game in ways unexpected, or even achieving seemingly impossible jumps, which just goes to show the abilities that Mario’s moves can grant you. On top of that, there are many hats and costumes that Mario can acquire throughout the game to be worn, and while some do serve purpose to unlocking Power Moons, most of them can just be worn for fun or as a preference. I can only imagine the hours I’d put into this as a child, changing costumes and making up stories while I play using just my imagination. If you have children that also do things like that, then this game is definitely one they’d enjoy, well beyond just the levels and challenges on offer here.
And this game also does something that I wish more games would do more often- it has a dedicated Photo Mode. You can enter this mode at any time, so Mario could be in any position of movement or you could just go for a landscape shot, or anything really. Funny shots are also achievable and on top of that, the fact that it can be done anywhere at any time just leaves a huge opportunity for a wonderful collection of photos. Adding in filters, and plenty of them too, gives even more creativity for the final touches. Want it to look 8-bit, 16-bit, hand drawn, Greyscale or many other options, it’s all there. Photo Mode alone can give hours of enjoyment to this game.
And with Nintendo recently announcing a Balloon hiding update for the game, which will act like a challenge to find Balloons in a time limit, the game is likely to offer challenges for a time to come, with these ones being player made it can be expected that several will be quite devious.
You can almost never go wrong with Mario though, for many games the series has held itself high and done itself well. Odyssey is another shining example of that. Odyssey isn’t just another game, it’s another wonderful Mario game that’s made challenges and changes that many games will be inspired by for a long time to come.
The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild (Switch)
And here is the other predictable entry as being a Game of the Year, but once again one that absolutely deserves it. Link can jump! And no, that’s not the solitary reason for this being a GOTY, but rather just one of the many little things that adds in together to make a game that’s very well worthwhile to play. A lot of little things just work so well for this game, whether they’re things that the series has needed for a while (the afore mentioned jumping being an ability to have as standard, as well as ragdoll physics and real-world physics being strongly present in the game) or whether they’re things that the series has introduced for this game in particular (reliance on cooking to get better health items with buffs for example).
But there is so much more to this game then can ever be put into words. So here’s just some things that I feel need to be mentioned.
First of all, the world is open, and massive. And you’re free to approach it however you wish to do so. It is possible to go straight to the ending. But you might also want to look around and explore for a long time, or at least visit some important locations. Or you might find yourself messing around in a particular area. It’s all up to the player how they want to play. And due to the size and construction of how this world works, no two players are going to have an identical experience, everything the player experiences will come down to how they approach what they want to do.
And Link has the ability to do many things that can allow for this world to be experienced and explored, but the most prominent one to mention right now is probably the ability to climb. It is an amazing ability in this game. Whether climbing a tree to get a high up fruit, a cliffside to get a better view, or a building to try and find another way to approach a challenge, so many things can be climbed upon and I honestly can’t think of any other games that give the same degree of freedom with climbing alone. And those are just some base examples...
And the game is open on there being multiple ways to approach the situations it presents you with as well. While there are a lot of ways this can go for a lot of things, I’ll give one basic example.
If you stumbled on a group of enemies, you could just charge in wildly with the sword. Or you could choose to take them out with a bow from a distance. Or, you could push a giant boulder down a hill and have it roll into them. Perhaps you could shoot the nearby explosives and have that get them. Perhaps using Magnesis on the nearby metal crate and dropping it on their heads. You might combine two or more of the above. Or maybe there’s another way to take care of them still? One by one? As a group? At this point I imagine the idea is pretty clear, for this one example scenario there are multiple ways to approach it.
The game also gives you ways to find your own fun as well. Perhaps there are minigames around the place, but with a little thought there are plenty of things to do that might not be as obvious. Again I’ll provide an example.
You’ve stumbled upon a large boulder. But rather than pushing it down the hill nearby, instead what you decide to do is cast Stasis on the boulder. Then you hit it with your weapon a number of times, and then jump into the boulder to grab onto it. Then as soon as Stasis breaks, you and the boulder go flying. In this alone you could try to get a far distance, or see how long you can hang on before Link gets rolled over by the boulder.
Again, this is one example but with some thought and creativity there is more to do than meets the eye sometimes.
And a lot of thought on how things can go has definitely been put into the game. Sometimes incidental occurrences can lead to unexpected results. One of my friends told me about such a thing. He’d been riding his horse and carrying a torch at the same time. The wind blew embers into the horse and the horse caught fire. None of it planned nor expected, but it happened.
And, much like that instance, sometimes discoveries about certain things in the game are just serendipitous. And when they’re found, it can feel amazing. Or, well, perhaps more terrifying in the instance my friend had since it was his only horse.
I haven’t even scratched the surface of what this game offers, but I don’t want to make this entry go on for an excessively long time either. If you love exploration, you’ll love this game. If you love freedom, you’ll love this game. And of course, if you like the Zelda series you’ll probably love this game too.
So whether you’re shield surfing, going out looking for shrines or trying to carry a snowball to Death Mountain to throw it into the lava, this game isn’t just big in size and scale, it’s also big in opportunities. If you play this game, make the most of it. A very deserving Game of the Year right here, and a very fitting game to send off the Wii U and welcome in the Switch.
2017 was an absolutely huge year in gaming. It was the year of 3D platformers, the year of a new system launch with the Switch, and a year of hit after hit, especially for the Switch but all systems got a lot of great titles. It was just amazing how much this past year gave the gaming community, and it isn’t likely that it will be matched any time soon. At least it seems that way. But Nintendo have suggested wanting to sell double the numbers of Switch systems that they sold in 2017. And luck alone won’t do that, so just what are they planning to be able to reach that number? We’ve already had a bunch of unforgettable hits from them this year, so perhaps there is something special on the way. Or a number of somethings special?
And no doubt the other companies will want to keep up as well. So despite the likelihood of this many great games in a single year not being as high as 2017 was, there is most likely going to be a continue in the quality of games being released. It’s an exciting time to be a gamer, no matter what systems or games you choose to play. I have no doubts that there is plenty more enjoyment to come for us all. And on that note, here’s to a great 2018, both in gaming and outside of it too.
Posted by Peridot Heart
on 12 January 18 at 15:07
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