2017 - My Top Ten

I'm posting a little early this year, just to get our annual ritual out of the way. 2017 was a great year for 30-100 hour epic games that I don't have time for, there were surprisingly few 5-10 hour games that caught my interest. But the big ones that I did make time for were genuinely amazing, superlative experiences.

(LATE EDIT: Added "Night in the Woods". Removed "Picross S" since its only technically a new game.)

Also, bonus list!

"The Best Old-Ass Games I Played for the First Time in 2017"

  1. Mega Man 2
  2. Shinobi 3
  3. The Revenge of Shinobi
  4. Castlevania (NES)
  5. Mega Man 3
  6. Gunstar Heroes
  7. Rolling Thunder (Arcade)
  8. Yars' Revenge (2600)
  9. Major Havoc
  10. Splatterhouse (Arcade)
  11. Shadow Dancer (Genesis)
  12. Ninja Gaiden (NES)

List items

  • What is left to say about this game? If you’re on this website checking some random dude’s GOTY list then you either loved playing this game as much as I did or you’re sick of people gushing over it. Maybe both.

    In any case, it’s probably the most I’ve enjoyed a Zelda game since “A Link to the Past”, and the most fun I had exploring an open world in years. Whatever frustrations or misgivings I’ve had with the game are thoroughly overshadowed by its strengths. Its gorgeous to look at, a joy to explore, with deep systems to learn and master. Its the best game I played all year.

  • Hollow Knight clicked for me on every level. I love the combat. I love the art-style. It has the best music I’ve heard in a game this year. I love the background lore, and the way its slowly revealed to you over time.

    What I love most of all is that its open-ended. Most modern metroidvanias lead you by the nose to the next upgrade. They become very rote: get the new upgrade, revisit the old areas for secrets, move to the next area, repeat. But Hollow Knight isn’t like that at all. Once I reached a certain point, I opened my map and realized I had roughly eight different directions I could potentially explore. I’ve seen videos on YouTube showing how I could have gotten the upgrades in a totally different order and had a different experience. That world map is BIG. Almost too big. This is a long, meaty game and it maintains its high level of quality right up to the very satisfying end sequence.

    If I would criticize anything, it would be that the game does have a bit of a slow start. It requires a lot from the player and won’t be for everyone, but I haven’t enjoyed a metroidvania this much in a VERY long time.

  • The main campaign is freaking incredible. Nintendo at its best.

    And now, after seeing the credits, this has become a perfect 'comfort food' game. I have no burning desire to 100% this, but whenever I have a shitty day I'll load it up and get 3 or 4 or 40 moons. I'm taking my time to savor it.

  • I didn't get so crazy into PUBG as some people, but I put a good 20 hours into it and upgraded my PC because of it. Its tense and exciting in a way no other multiplayer game has been for me. Every kill is the best thing ever. Hopefully they sort out this cheating shit soon and optimize the performance a bit.

  • I've yet to beat this, but I'm thoroughly impressed so far. They really nailed the look they were going for and the level of challenge is just about perfect for me.

  • This is a very late entry (1/3/2018): I avoided playing NITW for a long time because it looked like some uber-cringey Michael Cera bullshit. But its really not like that... Its somewhat twee, but it mixes the twee with grungey real-life shit in a way that feels genuine and refreshing.

    As much as I was impressed with the writing and the aesthetic, I was even more impressed with the design. I've been gradually losing interest in Adventure games lately, but NITW represents a fresh modern direction for the genre. The daily trips into town, the side content hidden at the edges here and there, the nightly outings and the mini-games all provide good variety and a solid sense of place. I'm excited to see how NITW influences the Adventure genre going forward. I've had enough pixel-art throwbacks and Telltale clones.

    I thought this would be higher up on my list, but the ending felt like a whiff to me. Good endings are hard to make, I ain't mad, but the last hour or so dampened my enthusiasm quite a bit.

  • A really solid metroidvania. Its not too short, its not too long. Its got that old Diablo-style loot grind going for it. And the art-style is really charming with characters that grew on me. Great soundtrack too.

    (Can we come up with a better name for this genre please? "Metroidvania" is too many syllables. What if we called them 'Troid-likes or something?)

  • This has come a long way since its Early Access launch (three freakin' years ago). Its not perfect, but I chopped a man's head off in mid-air while riding a motorcycle... For me that's a pretty good Saturday.

  • A great story and a very unique use of the medium.

  • Awesome sense of speed. Finally something to scratch that F-Zero itch.