Video Games, I Played Some In 2017

2017 didn't always allow me to play as many games as I wanted. I got engaged, bought a house and had a myriad of other life events both good and bad happen to me. It was a year of high highs, and pretty low lows. It's like we're adults now or something. Despite it being a fairly busy year for me I did play a few new games, so here are some that I really liked, in no particular order.

List items

  • I just started digging into this during the last week of December and it has quickly reminded me that I enjoy the occasional real time strategy game. I'm a casual RTS player at best, I mostly enjoy the feeling of building a big army and sending the entire thing at my enemy's base. I also got a Corsair Lapdog near the end of the year, so I'm now playing RTS games on my couch on a 65 inch TV and it's pretty sweet. ALL UNITS.

  • I've only played about an hour and a half of this so far, but I was so struck by this game in that time I felt it was worth mentioning. The puzzles and combat seem a bit tedious, but the visuals and especially the sound design are phenomenal. I put a 1080Ti in my PC this year, and Hellblade runs pretty smoothly {and beautifully) at 4K. The game's content has inspired some debate but few games even attempt to deal with mental illness in a remotely serious manner so I think it's admirable they tried. Very curious to see where it goes once I get around to finishing it.

  • A short and beautiful puzzle game with some unique design. There isn't a lot to say about this one other than it looks great and the puzzles can be very satisfying. Even though I definitely solved a couple of them by just moving stuff around until something happened.

  • It's not Wii Sports, but forcing your friends to stare each other in the eye and milk an imaginary cow is pretty fun. A solid party game for first time Switch players.

  • The gameplay gets a bit repetitive pretty quickly, but I have enjoyed it in short spurts. Also, the whole thing is a Metal Gear Solid spoof which is pretty great. The writing is genuinely funny and the simple game mechanics make it a light, easy thing to pick up and play for 20-25 minutes at a time.

  • Can't say this struck me as hard as it did for some, but I really enjoyed my time with it. At times whimsical, others poignant, others sad. It's a solid story that should not be missed. And who doesn't want to become a shark and roll down a mountain slamming into trees along the way?

  • The original version of this game came out a few years ago, but it only got released in North America in 2017 so I'm counting it. PPT can be played as a totally competent version of either Puyo Puyo or Tetris (it's way better than that recent Ubisoft Tetris game) but where this game shines is in the combination of the two properties. Forcing the player to switch between playing both games every 30 seconds is a frantic and fun experience.

  • Splatoon was great, Splatoon 2 refines it and makes it better. Salmon Run is a pretty solid new mode, and the regular multiplayer remains as fun as ever. Having Splatoon in your pocket wherever you go is a pretty cool thing that you can do now. The Switch is great.

  • Destiny 2 is a great game, and improves on Destiny in many ways. I played a lot of Destiny, and was expecting to dive into the sequel in the same way, but the game prevented me from doing so. Despite being better than its predecessor in many ways, I didn't feel the same drive to keep playing it like I did with the first. The ramp to levelling up and getting good gear was made so short and quick this time around, it felt like they didn't want you to keep coming back to it. And I'm fine with that, gives me time to play more games. I'll check in whenever expansions come out, but I doubt it will pull me back in like the original did. And that's probably a good thing. I thought this might be a Game of the Year contender for me but it didn't quite hit that mark. Still great, just not 400 hours great.

  • Cuphead makes me exhausted, the gameplay is so intense I need to take a break after each encounter. As such I haven't put much time into it, only beaten a couple of the bosses so far, but I will come back to it. The art and the music are so phenomenal it's hard to believe it's actually a game, even when you're playing it. Truly an achievement in art and animation. And made by a couple of Canadian devs!

  • When I first saw footage of this game I was so excited to play it. I don't care about golf, but I can get down with a golf video game occasionally. Combining that with an old school RPG sounds like a perfect way to spend my time. However, I found that it got repetitive pretty quickly because, shockingly, in a game called Golf Story you play a lot of golf. All of the quests and puzzles are completed with golf. Then, they want you to actually play in a tournament occasionally as well. As a result It's taken me months to even put 4-5 hours into this game, short sessions are the way to go I think. I will definitely finish it though. I promise Golf Story, I will beat you.

  • What a weird thing right? How does this exist? Not only is it weird to see Mario and the Rabbids in the same game, but it's a turn-based tactical shooter. Like, seriously, what? AND it's good? Wow. Like a lot of Switch games I found this one best played in short sessions, too many battles or puzzles in a row and they become annoying, but I am excited to see where the game goes from the relatively early place I left off.

  • I was almost ready to be done with this series after Uncharted 4. I enjoy these games very much, and 4 was phenomenal, but I was a bit tired of the formula. Then Lost Legacy came along. Like many of the games on this list I haven't had time to finish it yet, but I've loved what I've seen so far. The visuals are top notch as expected from Naughty Dog, the characters though, were wholly unexpected. I've liked Chloe and Nadine from their appearances in previous games, but their relationship in this game is great. The banter is funny and touching, and hearing them crap on Drake is entertaining. Pumped to see the conclusion to this one and hope these characters get more stories in the future.

  • I went into The New Colossus half-expecting it to become my Game of the Year. I'm surprised to find that not the case. The story, characters, social commentary (particularly fitting in contemporary America), and world remain amazing. There's nothing quite like it in games these days. It is at times brutal and gut-wrenching, yet lighthearted and hopeful. It's a powerful story. The part that dragged it down a bit for me was the gameplay. I just didn't enjoy playing The New Colossus very much. I wanted to see the story, and read every note and newspaper article I could find, but unfortunately I had to play missions to be able to do those things. When just running and shooting Nazis in the damn face, the game can be pretty satisfying, but the stealth mechanics and level design I found to be just, poor. Both problems I didn't have with The New Order. I got lost in levels, and almost immediately botched every stealth encounter. To the point where I stopped attempting to go in quietly. If you play the game, put it on easy, shoot everyone in the face and take in the ridiculous, touching, heartbreaking and horrifying story in all of it's glory. As Jeff Gerstmann once said, sometimes people need to be reminded that Nazis are supposed to be on the wrong end of the gun.

  • So joyful, pleasant, and potentially one of the best Mario games. The platforming mechanics feel sharp, couple that with the gorgeous and goofy world designs Odyssey is an absolute thrill to play. I doubt I'll ever go back and get all of the collectable moons, but damn did I love this game. Now to try to get that catchy theme song out of my head.

  • I had heard a lot about this game, and was fully expecting to enjoy it, what I wasn't expecting was for it to hit me as hard as it did. I couldn't put the game down, even put in a couple of 3-4 hour sessions, which I rarely do anymore. I could write about this game for a long time, but I won't. I will say that it has some of the best written characters I've ever seen in a game. So honest and relatable. Mae is a fascinating main character. At times I hated her, partially because she isn't always a good person, partially because I know I've done some of the same things she has. These cute cartoon animals not only have jokes and gags, but also painful conversations about their lives and arguments with their parents about dropping out of school. All while they struggle to find their place in a world that isn't always on their side. Oh, and also they're getting wrapped up in a Lovecraftian cosmic horror, it seems like this game was made just for me. I've been thinking a lot about NITW since finishing it. Few pieces of art have stuck with me like this. The animation is simple, clean and beautiful, and I've had the soundtrack on while writing this GOTY year list because it's damn catchy. Go play NITW, you won't regret it. Also Angus rules.

  • I'll be honest, I haven't finished most Zelda games. For some reason, I've never felt the same draw to the series that many others have. BOTW changed that. Nintendo has made a masterpiece. A beautiful open world with nearly boundless freedom to play the game how you want. An utter joy to experience, I'm very much looking forward to digging into the expansions and running around Hyrule some more. There isn't much to say about this game that hasn't been said on every video game website in the world. I think pretty much the only thing that kept it from being my GOTY was that I had pretty high expectations going in. One of the downsides of listening to gaming podcasts and visiting gaming websites regularly I guess.

  • ----POTENTIAL SPOILERS----

    Okay....

    You good with that?

    Alright.

    I can't say I was excited to play Automata originally. Hearing that you need to beat a game 5 times to see the "true ending" is a bit of a tall order. Especially for someone who has an ever decreasing amount of free time to play games. And hearing "it's okay at first but it gets really good about 15 hours in" is a bit of a turn off as well. I was always of the mind that it shouldn't take that long for a game to get good. Automata definitely challenged a lot of my hang ups around these ideas.

    I'll say I found myself disappointed at first, hearing that the game was so amazing over and over again from seemingly every person on the internet I felt a bit let down. The story didn't seem particularly original. Sad androids, questioning the nature of existence. I get it, I've seen Blade Runner, Westworld, Star Trek and Ex Machina, and you know, every other sci-fi thing with androids in it. It was the characters though, that pulled me through. With each "ending" I became more attached to them and wanted to see how their stories would play out. Also, "endings" is a bit of a misnomer, you don't have to replay the entire game each time to see them all. Some sections are repeated on the second run, but are seen from another character's perspective, so it's not so bad.

    The whole thing, endings A through E took me about 35 hours and I was enthralled by the end. I never thought an old school dual joystick shooter sequence where you control a ship and shoot lasers at the names in the end credits of a game would give me such a profound emotional experience. I cared more about 2B, 9S, A2, Pascal, and Pod 042 than I would've thought possible at the beginning. The gameplay isn't terribly exciting, the side quests can be a grind and the world is mostly empty apart from all of the invisible walls. My time spent was made worthwhile by the characters though, and their journey, and the music, oh, the music. It's a bit hard to recommend Nier: Automata to someone without spoiling the story while trying to explain why it's great. But hey, put it on easy and it's only like 35 hours, what's the big deal?

  • For most of the year, Horizon was going to be my GOTY. I was so blown away by the graphics, art design, world and characters that I thought it was going to be a definite thing. Now I see it as a bit of a four-way tie between Horizon, Nier, Night In The Woods and Breath of the Wild. That being said, I can't say enough good things about Horizon. It was a game that took me by surprise. During a time when everyone was talking about Zelda and how amazing it is (and it really is) I felt like HZD was being ignored. Like I was the only one in the corner talking to everyone and no one about how good it is.

    From the opening hours playing as a young Aloy learning to hunt, to the game opening up to the wider world and the mysteries therein I couldn't get enough of it. I rarely fast-travelled, wanting to spend as much time as I could walking around in the stunning world Guerrilla created. I loved Aloy, she's smart, loving and funny but tough when she needs to be. And she also loves calling people out on their bullshit, which I admire.

    The machine hunting remained mostly satisfying for the duration of the game, even though by the end I was often just killing the machines with fire arrows because it was easier. I spent about 80 hours in HZD, finishing every side quest, finding every collectable (which I rarely do in games) and constantly fiddling with the photo mode trying to catch every beautiful moment. HZD doesn't change much in terms of the structure of most open world games, but I felt it was paced so elegantly. There were just enough of each repeatable event that I never got tired of them. One more hunting ground and I may have been out though.

    I recommend HZD to pretty much everyone I know that plays games. I loved the characters and the story. And I'll be digging into The Frozen Wilds soon and expect I'll enjoy my return to Horizon very much.

  • Honourable Mention: I don't do dating simulators, but Dream Daddy is pretty awesome. Funny and heartwarming.