GOTY 2017

Like every year, I'm still in the middle of a lot of games but these are my top five favorite titles I played to completion from this year. I decided to keep my list short this year because I didn't finish that many games but also because these were the titles that really resonated with me and that I got the most emotionally invested in. Almost every game I played this year could have been number one on any other GOTY list but some of them didn't even make it into my top five. Just goes to show what an amazing year for games 2017 has been.

Also, if you are interested in seeing my previous GOTYs, here are the links to my past lists:

List items

  • Breath of the Wild is the number one game I played this year with a bullet. I enjoyed exploring the open-world, experimenting with its improvisational gameplay and simply learning the stories behind the game’s many NPCs. But the reason the game has stuck with me all year is simply because Breath of the Wild was one of the few games I played with my whole family. I was playing the game on my new Switch and my brothers were playing alongside me on the Wii U. We’d share tips with each other and exchange crazy stories of how we had defeated an enemy or discovered some cool secret. For a good two or three months it was the only game we played or talked about. It was one of the funniest times I’ve had playing a game in a long while.

  • When I was a kid, the Sonic franchise was an obsession. My older brother owned a Sega Genesis and Sonic 2 was the very first video game I ever played. My sister collected the Archie comics. We watched the Sonic Saturday-morning cartoon show together. Sonic was even the first character I taught myself how to draw. I couldn’t get enough of the blue hedgehog. But, as I got older and the quality of the games got worse, I completely lost interest in the franchise. However, Sonic Mania comes along and embodies everything I once loved about Sonic. Sure, the older graphical style and the return of classic zones made me nostalgic, but it isn’t just fans service that makes Sonic Mania so great. The returning levels are remixed in intelligent ways, the music is fantastic, bosses are creative and fun, all the new content is super well crafted, and the gameplay is a perfect recreation of the Genesis titles. I was literally screaming at how awesome Sonic Mania was while I was playing it. It has been so long since I felt this good about a Sonic game and it sort of reminded me why I love the old series and, in a way, why I love video games.

  • Ys has always been a franchise I’ve wanted to get more invested in but have never truly been able to love. I liked Oath in Felghana but every entry I played after that never really clicked with me because they either felt too antiquated or, in the case of the modern titles, too bloated with boring stories and tedious systems. However, Ys VIII has been the entry in the franchise that has truly made me love the series. Everything just fits together so nicely and the sense of progression I felt exploring the uncharted island and growing the Castaway Village was immensely satisfying. Similar to my experience with Trails of Cold Steel last year, Ys VIII has made me a fan of the series and, even with the game’s stall translation, made me become attached to its world and characters.

  • Super Mario Odyssey is a well-worn topic and I don’t have much to add to the commentary going on around the title. I loved the game’s wacky tone, there are some amazing moments in the story and the simply act of controlling Mario is a huge treat. But what really got me was honestly the final post-game challenge on the darkest side of the moon. After completing a grueling obstacle course that tests everything you’ve learned in the game up to that point, Mario Odyssey thanks you for playing the game and Cappy tells you how much he has enjoyed his adventure with you as you climbs to the location of the final Moon. It was really heartwarming and it genially felt like Nintendo was thanking me for enjoying the game so much. The feeling I got from that moment really summarized what I liked about the game, it was a sincere feeling of love from the developers that embodied every aspect of the experience.

  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2 ended up being the video game equivalent of comfort-food for me. Sure the battle system is a bit overwhelming at first, the story is full of your standard JRPG tropes and the English voice acting is awkward at times but for every problem I had with Xenoblade 2 I found three or four other qualities I loved about the title. Everything about the game exudes an enthusiasm that becomes contagious and over time the gameplay systems, story and even the voice acting grow on you. Playing Xenoblade 2 just made me feel happy and I would often find myself thinking about the game whenever I wasn’t playing it. I understand why the game may turn off some people but everything just clicked with me. Also, in an odd way, it was nice to play an JRPG that was “only” 60 hours long instead of the over 100-hour epics I had been playing lately (I’m looking at you Persona 5 and Trails of Cold Steel).