Mike Drucker is a Giant Bomb contributor, comedian, and television writer. He's written for The President Show, Adam Ruins Everything, Bill Nye Saves the World, The Tonight Show, Late Night, The Onion, and Nintendo. His podcast, “How To Be a Person” can be found on iTunes. You can follow him on Twitter @mikedrucker and watch him on Twitch under the surprising name "MikeDrucker."
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It's customary to say what a great year 2017 was for games. And it was! Or, 2017 was so awful for everything else that we finally realized, “Video games! Not bad!”
I wanted to do something a little different for my list this year. I figure everyone is going to pick the same 15-20 games for their “Best of the Year” lists. Those games are good and worth all the attention they get, but there are a lot of other games that are just under GOTY, but still worth your time.
That said, here are my actual Top Ten Games of the Year:
- Horizon Zero Dawn
- Injustice 2
- Sonic Mania
- Night in the Woods
- Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
- Persona 5
- NieR: Automata
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
- Super Mario Odyssey
You already know those games. You already love those games. Hey! We agree!
So here are my other top ten favorite games of the year.
Gonna put a lot of trust in you by letting you know I didn't see The Mummy in theaters.
I don't know if it was the combination of going to the movies costing money and me not wanting to see it, but the screening just never materialized. So how loyal is The Mummy Demastered to the original? I've genuinely got no fucking idea. I'm sure it's spot on. Or totally different! Because *close to your face* it. Doesn't. Matter.
The Mummy Demastered is like WayForward got challenged to a bet to see if they could take the most toxic property and turn it into the best possible game. It's a simple Metroidvania, but that works for it! Rather than adding ton of bells and whistles, it strips it down to its bare components and makes a breezy one-afternoon game.
Ignore the license. Get this game. It's fun. No, really. It's fun.
I know you're still not going to get the game, but you're really missing out. It's good.
West of Loathing is funnier than anything I'll ever say, do, or write, including the things you hated I did. Maybe I've also got mixed feelings about them. Life is a nightmare that way.
West of Loathing is a comedy RPG, which, I know, I know. Half of Steam is now comedy RPGs in which sex is awkwardly discussed one way or another. But here's the good news: This isn't a sex RPG you feel bad for buying in the middle of the night when you're drunk and I'm talking about me. It's extremely funny and the stick-figure aesthetic ironically makes the game look and feel more unique than most titles out there.
Like The Mummy Demastered, West of Loathing is easy to pass up on a quick glance, but give it a shot. It's got some of the best writing this year. Also isn't another sex RPG which I install and uninstall every time I get lonely.
8. Duck Season
Jesus Christ, Duck Season. Without spoiling it, this game fucked me up real good.
Duck Season is ostensibly a VR experience in which you're a kid in the '80s renting 8-bit NES-like video games and playing them in your living room as your mom goes about her day. And then it gets weird. And then it gets dark. And then it fucks you up emotionally.
While it's not as good as Resident Evil 7, the amazing way the game twists nostalgia into fear and dread tapped into something deep in me. One of my favorite feelings in a video game is dread--that an artificial experience can make you feel actually worried about what will happen next.
Duck Season also reminded me of why I love VR. It would've been fine as a normal game, but the element of getting lost in nostalgia, looking around your environment, and not wanting to turn your head when you hear a sound all feel much more poignant immersed in a headset.
7. Superhot VR
Superhot VR is a John Wick simulator.
Whereas Superhot was a fun puzzle shooter, Superhot VR makes you feel powerful. Dodging bullets and using what's in your hand to deflect feels so much more natural in virtual reality (barring PSVR controller tracking issues, that is). The puzzles are just as hard as the original, and the “cyberpunk hacker” theme fits well with the headset.
Also, look at that fucking screenshot. That's what we told ourselves virtual reality would look like in the future. And now guess what – it's what virtual reality looks like NOW. We got it! We got blocky, polygonal VR! And those polygonal bad guys killed your dog, so you know what to do.
Not really; there's no dog killing. I lied about that. But still, good game!
I'm a Nintendo fan boy and I made fun of this game when it was announced! I was such a prick about it! Oh, man. I made fun of the theme, made fun of the Rabbids, and made fun of a guy who cried because he cared about his game so much. I was such an idiot about this game, and I don't know why.
Because it's good. And not just “Oh, that's weird; it's good.” It's actually legitimately one of the most fun strategy games of the year. And challenging. I had assumed the simplified stats would've dumbed everything down. Instead, it just makes things reliably hard for everyone.
Also, the theme oddly works? Mario's powers make sense for Mario, Luigi's for Luigi, etc. And seeing Mario fire a fucking gun is something I didn't know we needed. Yeah, yeah, the Rabbids are still awful and really try hard to ruin the experience to the best of their (I'm guessing) French ability, but I mean, life can't be perfect.
What would a coastal elite's video game list be without an artsy walking simulator?
What Remains of Edith Finch is such a strange, beautiful game. I know a lot of people don't love these types of games because they don't necessarily have a “skill” that you “play” and “enjoy.” But I've been to Sleep No More repeatedly, each time paying American money for the experience. So experience games are my thing. Why am I defending this to you? Why am I so defensive in general?
In the game, you play a woman returning home and exploring her family's strange history. If you didn't like Gone Home because it felt mundane, Edith Finch is the weird solution for you. And if you did like Gone Home because exploring creepy houses is fun, Edith Finch is also the weird solution for you.
As with any story game, it's hard to describe why I liked it without spoiling major plot points, but the game starts weird and really goes for it in a nice, tragic way. And it won an award at the big Games Show Thing! That's something!
How much time have we put into this? Why have we put so much time into this?
It's a game that turns the clicker genre into a weird sci-fi story. Your obsession with making money turns into an obsession with figuring out how the game works, which turns into an obsession with figuring out what you did wrong to ruin everything.
Can't really explain it better than that. Get it on your phone. Kill a plane ride checking your paperclip production rates and hoping you can get enough Yomi to improve your stock market value to eventually become a war machine.
3. Yakuza 0
SEGA. You guys. Stop marketing this game as a drama. Like, I get that it is a drama? And it's got a lot of Japanese crime story elements? And that those elements are kind of serious?
But the game is so weird and so fun, it should be marketed as a batshit experience. The bars, the karaoke, the fighting, the SEGA in-jokes, it's all so fucking strange and fun. Don't let the serious box art or failure of the marketing distract you. This is a game to play with friends watching, ready for the mundane and the violent and the weird to collide at random moments.
And good news! If you've never played a Yakuza game, you're good to start with this one (hence the 0 in the title). It's essentially the beginning of the story of the series... I think until I'm told I'm wrong by a commenter who's very angry with me.
Arms at number two? That's a stretch.
Putting a game as good as Divinity: Original Sin II in my top ten OTHER games feels like an insult to how good this game is. At the same time, it felt like one of the few heavy hitters that we all talked about for five minutes and then forgot during the onslaught of other, bigger games.
Divinity: Original Sin II is as close as I've ever felt to a live roleplaying game. A lot of RPGs say you can do anything. And I know what they mean: You can rob anybody or fight anybody or climb any mountain, even if it breaks the story. And that's great! It really is.
But with Divinity: Original Sin II, story-breaking ideas don't just work--the story adjusts to make them work. The sheer variety of who you can be, what you can do, and even how people react to you makes every play-through feel like an entirely different run.
The game is dark and funny and weird and mean and you'll do idiotic things that pan out, which is what gaming is all about.
That and being a horrifying skeleton monster whose mask hid her dark secret as she seduced her way across the land. Yes, yes, that is me. Good.