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Best of 2017


This is a list of video games that came out in 2017, arbitrarily ordered from 1 to 10. These games are beautiful in their own way - just some more so than others.

A sympathising pat-on-the-back for those that didn't make the list. These include games like Tacoma (which is this year's illustrious Eleventh Game), Destiny 2, Golf Story, What Remains of Edith Finch, and Cuphead. You were just not lovely enough; sorry, gang. There's also A BUNCH I didn't play this year. I look forward to playing those games in 2018/never.



List items

  • Is there a point in fawning over Zelda at this point? Probably not. Does it have issues? You bet it does! At the same time, Zelda completely reinvents the incredibly played-out genre of open world games. The original Zelda back on the NES was an adventure. You had no idea where to go once you left the cave at the beginning. From there, you were left to your own devices. I thought that kind of simple adventure was left in the pre-internet days, but Nintendo have returned to the original ideas behind one of their most beloved series, and they made an absolute triumph. Considering the last game in the series was Skyward Sword, a game which had an unbelievable poor sense of pacing, Breath of the Wild is long-overdue needed breath of air to one of my favourite series. Also, see that mountain over there? You can climb that thiiiiiiing.

  • This game. This thing. A hundred hours of running, gunning, looting, driving and dying. Does PUBG annoy me sometimes? It sure does. Can it be boring for 10 minutes.. an hour... four hours at a time? Yeah, it can. That, however, undersells the beauty of Brendan Greene's Fun Time Shoot Island. The idea of a hundred-person game where everyone-fights to-the-death-until-one-person-is-left standing is a fever dream I would've had when I was 13. Now, it is a very real thing and it absolutely wondeful. No game is like PUBG (well, bar the many, many clones on their way). When I think back on my time with PUBG, I remember a series of moments clear as day: like the time I snuck behind a squad who were attacking my team, and I burst into their room with a storm of shotgun blasts. I got three kills for my troubles, and I felt like A TRILLION DOLLARS. PUBG will rub your ugly face in the dirt, and have you ravage hundreds of houses while you're shooting the shit with your buds. But when it's on... no game can come close.

  • Mario Odyessy is distilled joy. I want to give it a big hug. While there can be an argument against the sheer number of moons in its worlds, I personally think that it is Odyessey's greatest strength. There are just evertwhere, and it makes the player explore every nook and cranny of the kingdoms. I found 800 of the fucking things, and I loved doing it. Mario Odyessy is Nintendo going back to the sandbox-structure of 64 and Sunshine, and updating and refining that formula. Unsurprisingly, it's an utter delight, and would be GOTY in any other year.

  • You could write so much about Nier, so let's keep it brisk. Nier is down at number four this year, and frankly in most other years it would probably win. I'm also not certain whether this should be fourth - I feel like Automata is the kind of experience that will stick with me for some time. That love took some time to develop, mind you. While I enjoyed the decent, if a bit flat, gameplay up through route B, it wasn't really until the back third that I started to fall for Yoko Taro and his mad vision. Nier does things that few other video games go anywhere near. The trope of "what really makes a human human" is not unique to Nier. Nonetheless, nothing I've played/watched has ever explored the depths of this question like Nier has. I also think that even sells the game short, as it noodles around with a plethora of philosophical and sociological thoughts by the time the credits roll for a FIFTH time. It reminds me of Undertale not just in some of its thematic elements, but also in that while Undertale was not my favourite game of... 2015? *quick Google* 2015, it has stuck with me in the years since. I think Nier will be the same way. Its not perfect -- nothing ever is -- but games would be better if we had more ambitious gems like Nier Automata.

  • Persona 5 is a game that disapoints me in a lot of ways, and yet it is still a game I really enjoyed. It is no Persona 4 - that it not to say 4 is a masterpiece, but it's not far off. P5 continues some of the annoying trappings of the series: overly repetitive social links, a complete mismanagement of queer and/or marginalised characters, some frustrating combat, and an over-reliance on the hokey "it was an evil god all along!!!" final act twist (that's an SMT trapping, but it sucks) That said, I think Persona 5 moves the series forward. It has a great cast of characters, a terrific sense of style, and my favourite soundtrack of the year. And yet... most of the dungeons range from repetitive to annoying, and while that cast of characters are charming, they lack the enduring appeal of the P4 cast. So yeah, P5 you didn't clear my extremely high expectations, but you're still very, very good.

  • Dig 2 is one of those games I find few flaws in. Plays great, looks great, sounds great, it isn't too long or too short. That's a good video game-ass video game. Even the story is a bit of fun.

  • Splatoon is fucking great. I skipped the original, so I was clapping my hands in joy when I played a bunch of 2 this summer. It has got some *interesting* ideas for how a multiplayer game should function for sure - it is a potent mix of Good Nintendo and Bad Nintendo. Ultimately, though, when it comes time to hop in and paint some fools, it's a absolute blast. There's also many fashions to wear, and you'll pry my squid Yeezys from my cold, dead hands.

  • Gregg rules ok. Night in the Woods is a slow burn. It doesn't reveal much about itself until about halfway through. That main plotline, with it's various twists and turns, was MIA during the first 2 or 3 hours. In the end, though, I realised the main plot is not the draw here. While it is perfectly reasonable, the true stars here are your cadre of animal buddies. NITW has a tremendous cast, from toe to tip. It is also the funniest game this year, and is the best attempt I've seen at angst/humourous teen chat in a game. Night in the Woods is like a warm bath, expect for the fact that it's about depression and the destruction of late-capitalism.

  • Some stuuuuuuuuff happens in Wolfenstein II. Did I enjoy playing it? Christ no. I didn't even especially enjoy playing The New Order, and this is a downgrade on that. Instead, it's the moments and characters that matter with Wolfenstein II. While many other games on this list lean into characters and plot, Wolfenstein does this while also leaning into the shooty-bang fun of a good ol' fashioned video game blockbuster.

  • While this year was jam-packed with great games - it was also full of many flawed ones. Of course every game tends to have flaws, in any given year, but it feels especially true true this year. There are a number of games on here I have a major grip with, while also loving everything else it does. Some of this comes from how the industry is moving. With your capital-B, capital-G Big Games, things are incredibly safe. While Call of Duty, Assassin's Creed, Shadow of War may be solid experiences without major flaws, they're also just boring. Even a game like Horizon, which does plenty of new stuff, can't but help but feel a bit dead. To that end, most of the games I loved this year took risks, and while they didn't always work, there are already so many well-playing, polished video games out there that are also boring as hell. The first case here of the former is Pyre. I don't really enjoying playing the "game" part of Pyre (it is very easy to cheese your way through) but everything else the game does is very appealing to me. Supergiant create a sense of place that few other developers can match, and Pyre is no different. Unlike their last two efforts, Pyre is a game about the friendships you make across an ensemble of characters. Pyre has a great cast of characters, and the difficult choices you make for these wandering chum make for a deeply charming and interesting game.