Games frOm The Year 2017

This year, I played many games, beat only a few, and still have only a handful. While it's been a banner year for video games, I've slowly come to the realization that either I have a very specific taste for what I like in games or I simply do not enjoy gaming as much/in the same way others do. I either missed many of the big hitters, or I was just not interested enough in them to get them, and the ones that I did try out I largely found myself not enjoying them as much as many other people seem to be.

I don't typically talk about gaming online, or talk with other gamers for a variety of reasons. I questioned whether or not to even write a GOTY list this year. Ultimately I did play a lot and I did enjoy most of it and I'd like to at least sort my thoughts and put them out there.

I'll start with a few words on some of the games I put a bit of time in, but either didn't stay with or don't have overly strong feelings about:

Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus- I rented this from Redbox not long before writing this. I remember beating The New Order and liking it okay, but beyond that I can't really say much about it. TNC's biggest strength is in it's writing, which I really enjoyed for the most part. The gameplay can be hit or miss, but I seemed to have an easier time with it than others have. Maybe because I played it like an FPS Dishonored? I think DOOM kind of ate it's lunch, but it's still worth playing.

Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star- I actually bought the Collector's Edition for this because I'm a fan of the Fate franchise (more on that later). Honestly, the game itself is basically a sub-par Dynasty Warriors with some pretty ugly graphics at times along with a questionable art style. The story is okay if you enjoy fanservice, but beyond that I don't think I'd recommend it to anyone but the most diehard Fate fans. The Tarot cards that came with my edition are kinda cool, I guess.

Tales of Berseria- I love the Tales series, but some of the recent entries have been hit or miss. I actively hated Zestiria, and when I learned that Berseria was going to be connected to it I was worried. Luckily, it is different enough from it's predecessor, and has some genuinely interesting characters. I kind of lost interest eventually, as the plot really wasn't holding me and the gameplay still wasn't really clicking in a satisfying way. I hope to come back to it at some point.

Yakuza 0 and Yakuza Kiwami- They're Yakuza games. They're good. You've probably seen the Beast in the East series if you're reading this. I will say, I don't think I liked the way you use money instead of experience points in 0 but that's a very small problem compared to everything else. Kiryu is still #1 video game dad.

Horizon Zero Dawn- Another rental. I was curious about it, but wasn't entirely sold. Honestly? I think I got my fill from the short time I spent with it. I didn't really like the combat or the stealth elements. Or the open world mechanics. Or... Well, I can see why people like it, but I don't think it was for me, to put it simply. Maybe I'll give it another try somewhere down the line.

Akiba’s Beat- I bought this because Akiba's Trip was a silly little game I enjoyed spending time with. I think Beat might be a technically better game, but to me it just felt like a bargain bin Tales game with some nerd culture humor sprinkled on top. I sold it off.

Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2- I'm not really much of a fighting games guy, to be honest. I've always respected them from a distance, and dipped my toes in a few titles from time to time, but I've never really gotten deep into them. Rev 2 is maybe the closest I've gotten to flirting with the idea of going deeper on fighting games. Not only is it still an amazing looking game, but the fighting is fun and the tutorial is one of the better ones I've seen. I'm still nowhere near what you might call "good", but I did get to a point where I was doing stuff that made me at least feel like I could be one day.

Monster Hunter Stories- I decided to try to learn a bit about Monster Hunter after the announcement of World, and this happened to release to fairly positive feedback around the time I did. It's got a cute style, and has a neat balance of a more casual Pokemon-type game with what someone like me might mistake for Monster Hunter. I enjoyed catching monsters and customizing my character, but eventually the Rock, Paper, Scissors combat and repetitive gameplay loop wore me down and I had to put it away for a bit. It's still installed on my 3DS and I intend to go back to it soon.

Divinity Original Sin II- I don't... Really have much to say here. I picked it up thanks to the hype train, but I haven't put a huge amount of time into it. It seems a bit overwhelming for me, but I'm going to give it another try at some point. I know my brother seems to love it, which is kind of crazy considering hes the type who usually only plays games like Overwatch and LoL.

Fire Emblem Heroes- It's a mobile game. It fits in nicely with my schedule. I've played a few FE titles, but I've never been a huge fan. Still, this thing seems like a really well done adaptation of that sort of game.

Doki Doki Literature Club- I don't really want to say too much about it, even if you've probably absorbed most of it through osmosis by now. It's worth a playing, I think. It's a fairly short game, but if you give it some time to simmer I think it has a greater effect. I know it managed to get me to think about it a lot, which is more than I can say for most of the other games I've listed.

And now, on to the 5 games I decided to give special attention to. They aren't necessarily listed from Best to Worst, or Least Favorite to Favorite or anything, but if that's something that matters to you then you can read the numbering however you want:

List items

  • This is the big one, and the main reason I was conflicted about my gaming this year (as well as this list). I'm going to start by saying there is a reason I have it here. It does some great things, and it is overall not a bad game. That said, I don't think I liked it as much as everyone else seems to have.

    I did beat it. I guess with this, I have to specify: I saw the real, final, ending. I chose the correct answer when prompted. I also played on Normal difficulty for most of my time, and honestly found it pretty simple. Maybe a bit too simple.

    I made a post on these forums back when the demo originally released (https://www.giantbomb.com/nier-automata/3030-49998/forums/demo-on-december-22nd-1805312/?page=1#js-message-8496254)saying that I didn't really enjoy actually playing it. I did end up buying the game obviously, but... Honestly, I still kind of stand by how I originally felt about it. Playing on Normal I felt at times almost like I was playing a Dynasty Warriors game, and when I did try bumping it up to a harder difficulty all it really did for me was bring the problems I have with the gameplay to the forefront. I'm not a fan of the camera, or how it is tied to your ranged weapon.

    I'm not a fan of getting attacked by while still suffering from cutscene paralysis. I'm not a fan of getting attacked by some invisible force either offscreen or newly loaded into the world. I'm not a fan of bullet hell games. When you get to the part of the story where you control 9S, I originally loathed the fact that I was simply going around and holding Triangle to jump into one of 6 or 7 different bullet hell maps to defeat everything, but then when you get away from him I ended up wishing I could just go back.

    You could say that I did not enjoy playing Nier Automata.

    I love the soundtrack.I love that it sets a specific tone from very early on and not only manages to stick with it, but it does some awesome stuff along the way. The world is interesting, and it does have a neat take on AI and humanity.

    I don't hate 2B or any of the characters, but... Well, let me start with the story. It certainly goes some places, and it's definitely a wild ride, but it honestly didn't really hit me the way it was probably meant to. Maybe it's because I'm familiar with Nier and Cavia games, but I was kind of expecting things to turn out the way they did, and often found myself calling plot twists long before they ever happened. I didn't hate it, but I look back on it, it just feels kind of flat. Which is more or less how I feel about the characters. I don't hate 2B or 9S, but I don't really care about them much either.

    It's real difficult to write about Nier Automata, because it sounds like I think it's a garbage pile. I really don't feel that way! I finished the game, after all. I still own it. I'll probably go back and replay it at some point. I just... I dunno. Nier Automata is kind of a perfect metaphor of how I feel about my gaming habits in 2017, I suppose. I liked it, but I'm frustrated with all the things that keep me from loving it.

  • Persona 5... I'll start off by saying that, no, I have no finished this one. It's another complicated matter, which is why I put it here. Like Nier, I don't think it's a bad game at all, but I do feel like there are a lot of little things that keep me from loving it.

    As far as the Persona series goes, I've beaten 4 and played the Vita port of 3 a decent amount. I loved 4 a whole lot (surprise) and I'd rank it among my top PS2 games of all time. Persona 5 coming out two console generations later was a big deal, and I wasn't going to miss it for anything.

    It's a game that looks and sounds phenomenal. It has an overabundance of style and character that most other games would kill for. Everything from the characters themselves to the UI elements oozes this same flair. Even the battle system fits in, with it's fluidity and improvements over Persona 4. It's definitely my JRPG of the Year.

    Of course, I have issues with it. I don't like the characters nearly as much as Persona 4. Morganna is not only as annoying as he's made out to be, but his constant insistence that you go to sleep is a symptom of an annoying habit where the game will spend large chunks of time prohibiting you from doing anything. The way dungeons work this time means that you pretty much need to dedicate two or more days to completing it this time around. This, coupled with the fact that there is an actual timer displayed that always shows you how long until the next serving of story always made me feel like I never had enough time to do anything. Even when I had a full month of ingame time to just hang out. That's more of a personal preference, but it affected my experience nonetheless.

    In the end, I just kind of got burnt out a bit and put it down before moving on to other games. I'm going to go back and finish it at some point, because I think it deserves as much.

  • Stardew Valley was my GOTY last year. I love Harvest Moon and games like it, so it's kind of a no brainer that I'd pick this up. Story of Seasons, for anyone who doesn't know, is essentially the Harvest Moon series without the right to actually use the Harvest Moon name. It's complicated. All the old standbys are still in there, as well as some fun new additions.

    While I'd still argue Stardew Valley is a more impressive game, Trio of Towns at the very least shows that the original still has some fight left in it. It's got customization elements, multiplayer, a robust cooking system, and even a rudimentary quest system. On top of all that, the three towns from which the game's name comes from are all fairly large in their own right and each features a unique culture and cast of characters to spice things up.

    It still suffers a bit from the problems that have seemingly plagued the series for a while. Namely, there is a fairly lengthy bit of time where you are essentially locked into a tutorial, and you'll find yourself running out of things to do fairly quickly. There's a 'part-time job' system that tries to fill the gap by offering incredibly simple tasks such as "water these two crops that are next to each other" and "deliver this package to someone" in order to give you an opportunity to kill some time and make a bit of money, but it gets pretty repetitive pretty quickly.

    The main 'goal' of the game (as much as these games have set goals) is to increase your relationship with the various towns, and help them grow alongside you. The tasks themselves were fairly easy (ex: ship 20 crops to the Western town), but I enjoyed having something to focus on while farming. They also have their own cultural festivals, and they even make a point to showcase that each town has a specific way of greeting people. It's kind of a nice touch, and it helped make the three towns distinct.

    It's a pretty chill game to play, and one of the few I have installed on my 3DS. I played through a little over a year ingame, and got married before taking a break. They recently released some DLC for it that adds a bunch of stuff, and I'm excited to jump back in... Eventually.

  • Fate/Grand Order originally released in Japan in 2015, but this year marked it's official release in North America. Yes, this is a mobile game. Yes, it is an anime gachapon game. Yes, I've spent money on it... But I really enjoy playing it. If anything, Fate/GO may be my most played game of 2017.

    For anyone who may not know, the Fate series is originally based off a visual novel that revolves around the idea of summoning historical and mythical characters as Servants in order to do battle. The mythical King Arthur is undoubtedly the most notable and recognizable character the series has. She's also a woman. That happens a lot.

    I've played a decent amount of games this year, that much is true, but I've been finding it harder and harder to sit down for more than an hour or two to play them. It's not just that I've gotten busier as I've gotten older, but also a waning ability to sit and stay focused on something like a video game for an extended period of time. That's where Fate/GO comes in.

    Because of it's nature as a mobile game, it's not really intended to be played for long periods at a time and so it is designed specifically to offer up bite sized bursts of gaming. I'll wake up, load Fate/GO, do a quest, then start my morning. Before work, I'll do another quest or two. Before bed. In the bathroom. So on and so forth.

    The gameplay is card based, and does in fact feature a variety of characters who are assigned a rarity, can be upgraded and enhanced by sacrificing other cards, and are obtained by interacting with the Gacha system. There are three types of attack cards: Buster, Arts, and Quick. Each character is assigned a certain amount of each of these cards, as well as their own unique skills that can be triggered. In combat, it is up to you to combine these cards, their types, as well as the characters and their skills and types, in order to complete quests.

    It does have a storyline, and while it suffers from having to shoehorn in combat in nearly every scene, it is actually fairly well written. For a Fate game, at least. If involves travelling to different time periods and areas of the world in order to fight and befriend the characters that show up there while righting whatever wrongs are messing with the timeline. I'm a sucker for that stuff.

    I'm not going to say that Fate/GO is a GREAT game, but it is kind of the game I needed. I've played a lot of it, I'm going to continue playing it, and I enjoy my time with it. So it's getting a place on my list.

  • If you had asked me last year if I liked Assassin's Creed I would probably scrunch up my face and say "I guess?". I was a HUGE AC fan back from the beginning, and I'd still count AC2 in my top 5 games of all time. I bought the Ezio trilogy release, even. I have a a statue of the Black Flag protagonist in my game room, as well as an actual pirate flag from that same Collector's Edition. I was in deep. At least, until Unity.

    I'm not going to say the franchise hasn't been without it's flaws for some time. Trust me, I know. But it all came to a head around the time Unity released. Ever since then, maybe even slightly before it, I was falling off the series. I played the games that came out for varying amounts of time, but even with Syndicate (which was hailed as a turning point for the series), I just never really got back on board. But where Syndicate failed, Origins has succeeded. Overwhelmingly so.

    It's hard to describe Origins, because while it is still an Assassin's Creed game at it's core it is so far and away different from everything that came before it that it almost seems unfair to compare it to them. You're still doing parkour and climbing tall buildings (and it's more fluid and responsive than it's ever been). You're still playing as a modern day person who is experiencing a historical time period (and it's more unobtrusive and out of the way that ever). You're still assassinating (though now it's more of a part of your skill set than the focus). The open world is vast, and while there is stuff to do and collect out there, the days of a map screen filled with two dozen different icons clustered together are gone. So far, I have yet to see one tailing/eavesdropping mission.

    The combat system has been changed completely. Now, it's getting compared to games like Witcher 3 and Dark Souls. At first, hearing these comparisons, I was hesitant. It feels like everything is Dark Souls now, and trying to cram some of that into Assassin's Creed seemed questionable. So instead of that, I would compare it to something like Metal Gear Solid V. While Phantom Pain may not be the greatest MGS game ever made, it changed the gameplay the franchise is known for greatly and ultimately came up with something that I would still consider one of my favorite stealth action games ever. Origins does the same thing, except instead of sniping people with a Reznov you're doing it with a bow and Predator arrows.

    I think Bayek is a cool video game dad and I want to spend more time with him. I enjoy the Ancient Egypt setting, even if it's set during the declining years of it's prominence. I really enjoy how Ubisoft has introduced even more fantastical and mythical elements in the story instead of trying to play it as straight as possible. I've spent more time exploring the map and using the Photo Mode to take pictures than I probably have doing actual assassinations.

    It's a beautiful game. Not just visually, but what it's done for the franchise. I can only hope that this is proof that Ubisoft is listening and learning from it's mistakes and that AC has a bright future ahead of it. Assassin's Creed Origins may very well be my favorite game of 2017.