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My Ten Favorite Games of 2017 (and five more I wish I'd played more)

Below you'll find my ten favorite games of 2017, and five more than probably would've made the cut if I'd just played them a little more.

List items

  • If you had told me at the start of 2017 that a janky-ass military shooter would be one of my favorite games in a year with a new Zelda and the best Mario game since the N64 days, I would've laughed in your face. But I just can't stop playing this game. I've started getting up early in the morning to play a round or two before work, because the adrenaline rush of that chicken dinner is more invigorating than any cup of coffee could hope to be.

  • I'm not sure if another game has ever brought me the amount of pure joy that Super Mario Odyssey did. I had so much fun exploring every nook and cranny of each world, seeing all the silly dumb shit you could do with Cappy, and having my nostalgia bones every so gently tickled without ever feeling like I was being pandered to. If you weren't smiling throughout the entirety of the New Donk City Festival, you don't have a soul and I feel sorry for you.

  • Perhaps my enjoyment of the game was enhanced that I played it in front of a live audience during breaks at work, hearing them laugh every time I yelped loudly at a jump scare, but Resident Evil 7 is my personal favorite game in the franchise. I think they did a wonderful job of capturing the overwhelming dread and panic of the original PS1 games without outright aping them. It's a huge step in the right direction for a series that spent a decade leaning too far towards the action side of the genre after RE4.

  • Night in the Woods spoke to me in a way games rarely are able to. The game follows Mae, a 20-something college drop out struggling with depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem who returns home to find how her friends, family, and hometown have changed. Anyone who spent their 20s struggling with who they were, who they used to be, and who they wanted to be (i.e. literally everyone) will likely find this story incredibly relatable. The fact that the characters are anthropomorphic animals is simply secondary to the the characters themselves and the story being told. Everyone had a friend like Gregg who enabled your basest impulses no matter how irresponsible. Everyone had a friend like Bea who was forced to grow up way too fast and resented your ability to stay a kid just a little longer than they did. At its core, Night in the Woods is just a game about change, and that's something we can all identify with in one way or another.

  • Breath of the Wild is a fantastic game that I'm still getting enjoyment out of, but a lot of the systems really drag it down and kept it from climbing higher on this list, kind of the way the rain in BotW keeps you from climbing up surfaces. I also hate weapon durability in general. It's a shitty mechanic. It sucks in Bethesda's open world games, and it sucks here. Still, BotW is still an amazing game and a must-play for any Switch owner.

  • I had low expectations for Origins, and it blew them out of the water. Easily one of the strongest entries in the series, with the best story and protagonists since the Ezio Trilogy. The combat is far more engaging than the Arkham-style stuff from the past decade's worth of entries and the world is beautiful and full of different unique quests and activities. I don't love the loot system, mostly because it feels a little half-baked. But overall it's a great entry to the franchise and hopefully the changes in Origins will be built on in the future.

  • Cuphead is a perfect example of a game that is supremely hard without ever feeling unfair. Every time you die, you know it's your fault. I've spent over an hour on one boss, and kept plugging along because I knew I was just a mistake-free run away from that feeling of pure elation.

  • Edith Finch is like Gone Home on acid, and I promise that's a massive compliment. Every vignette is wildly different, and the tragedy of each story resonates incredibly well. Folks love to talk about the cannery sequence, but my favorite remains the interactive horror comic book.

  • I really wish I could've put this higher. Wolfenstein II is a great game, but it could have been so much better. Its strength is in the moments, and to its credit, there are a half dozen moments that could be in contention for the best moments of this generation. But the actual playing of the game? It's fine - shooting Nazis in 2017 is about as cathartic as it gets - but if had even half the speed and viscerality of last year's DOOM, it'd probably be sitting in my top three instead of riding the bottom.

  • Considering my professional history with the Match 3 genre, I'm massively surprised that I loved this game as much as I did. Battle Chef Brigade reminded me of an important fact: Match 3 games are actually really fun when they're not purposely designed to fuck you over and make you spend money.

  • HONORABLE MENTION #1: Madden 18 doesn't really do anything terribly different than last year's game. Outside of MUT Sqauds (which is a blast), the modes remained largely unchanged. But something about Madden 18 just clicked with me in a way that I did not expect. Every August I buy Madden, and by October I've usually bounced off of it out of boredom or frustration. But here we are at the start of February and I'm still playing it almost every day. It just isn't all that fresh or original, so it couldn't break into the top ten.

  • HONORABLE MENTION #2: I really love what I've played of Nier: Automata, but I just haven't had the chance to really sink my teeth into the game and its various endings.

  • HONORABLE MENTION #3: I played the absolute hell out of this game at launch, but balance and server issues started to drive me away. I'd like to get back to it though, as it at least sounds like the server issues have been mostly resolved, and Ubisoft continues to support the game fairly well, rolling out new characters and maps.

  • HONORABLE MENTION #4: People have spent years telling me that I should play this series, based mostly on my love of Shenmue. They were right. I just wish I'd spent more time with it. My backlog is so jam packed at this point that I might just experience the game via Giant Bomb's playthrough.

  • HONORABLE MENTION #5: The first hour or so of this game gave me some real BioShock vibes, and I'm excited to get back to it. But it's been so long since I played it that I'll probably have to restart just to remember where I am and why I should care.