GOTY 2017

Man, there were a lot of really fucking good games that came out in 2017. This list is my favourite games from the year, but there are plenty more that would almost certainly have made a top ten in any other year and even more that I just didn't play, or didn't play enough of to give them their due. I want to give honourable mentions to Prey and Thimbleweed Park, both of which narrowly missed my list.

List items

  • Divinity: OS II is a fucking excellent game that is completely up my alley. It builds off the great turn-based combat system of its predecessor in which different status and environmental effects interact in very cool ways, making you constantly strategise new ways to use your characters powers and abilities to their greatest effect without leaving their weaknesses open to attack. What it does so much better than the first Original Sin is pretty much everything else - the characters are diverse and interesting in ways that avoid many traditional fantasy tropes; the world and its history are incredibly fleshed out and engaging in a way that makes me want to dig into the older Divinity games (whereas the previous game left me completely cold and ultimately didn't hook me enough to finish that game). Thematically the game raises a lot of questions about the nature of gods, power and its use, what sacrifice is worth in pursuit of a greater good; heavy subjects that are handled with finesse by some really great writing. I could go on a great deal more about the many things this game does right, but I think it will suffice to say that this is a damn-near perfect CRPG.

  • Hellblade is an incredibly ambitious game that I admire a great deal. It is not a game without flaws. The combat while fun, is pretty shallow and did not hold my interest to the end of the game, the enemy design is very limited and repetitive and the puzzle design, while thematically consistent, was occasionally a hindrance to my engagement, frustrating me in a way that made it harder to push through to the rest of the game.

    Everything Hellblade does is in service of telling a story of a young woman struggling with mental illness (psychosis, I think primarily), told through a lens of history and mythology. It utilises numerous technical and mechanical effects to reflect symptoms of Senua's state (perhaps most notable is the use of binaural recording for the voices she hears). The game deals with the stigma of mental illness and the way those suffering from mental illness are more vulnerable to abuse, but ultimately the game is about learning to stop fighting against your demons and instead come to terms with them and try to live with them.

  • Bombastic, pulpy insanity, supported by a solid, well-written, meaningful emotional core. Also fuck Nazis.

  • I don't play multiplayer games. PUBG got me to spend quite a lot of time (albeit nowhere near as much as many, many other people) playing an online shooter and probably the same amount of time again watching other people play it. Most of my time was spent in solo and adored the sense of prolonged tension, cut by short bursts of intense action. The game changes dramatically between modes and the ways you have to strategise to succeed.