Best of 2017

Unlike lists from previous years, when I would type out my thoughts of each game moments after completing them, I’ve decided to save my thoughts for the end of the year instead this time, memory be damned.

The reason behind this somewhat drastic change is my desire to clean up my backlog, which, in previous years, would be set aside for newer releases. Unfortunately, but fortunately for my wallet, that means my list is rather bare of heavy hitters this year. And not only that, I didn’t exactly keep an open mind to including “older” games since it is called “Best of 2017” after all.

Should this trend continue, I may include the more standout “older” games, like Lost Odyssey, mixed in for future lists to at least hit a limit of ten best games “of (current year)” along with an explanation and a rating, of course. For now, however, enjoy my indifference to some free-to-play games.

Relevant platforms I have access to:

  • Android phone
  • Apple tablet
  • Nintendo 3DS XL
  • Nintendo Wii U
  • PC
  • PlayStation 4 Slim
  • PlayStation Vita
  • Xbox One

Notable new old games I played:

  • Assassin’s Creed Rogue - 360 (2014)
  • Blue Dragon - 360 (2007)
  • The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena - PC (2009)
  • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc - VITA (2014)
  • Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls - PS4 (2017)
  • Destiny - PS4 (2014)
  • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided - PC (2016)
  • Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn - PC (2013)
  • Forza Horizon 3 (2016)
  • HuniePop - PC (2014)
  • Knack - PS4 (2013)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D - 3DS (2011)
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD - WIIU (2013)
  • Lost Odyssey - 360 (2008)
  • Mafia II - 360 (2010)*
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor - PC (2014)
  • Mirror’s Edge Catalyst - PC (2016)
  • Mortal Kombat X - PC (2015)
  • NieR - 360 (2010)
  • Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors - NDS (2010)*
  • Ratchet & Clank - PS4 (2016)
  • Resident Evil 6 - PC (2012)
  • Shadowrun: Dragonfall - PC (2014)
  • Shantae: Risky's Revenge - Director's Cut - WIIU (2016)
  • Star Wars: Battlefront - PC (2015)
  • SteamWorld Dig - PC (2013)
  • Steins;Gate - VITA (2015)
  • Street Fighter V - PC (2016)
  • Super Mario Galaxy - WII (2007)
  • Super Mario Galaxy 2 - WII (2010)*
  • Tales from the Borderlands - PS4 (2014)
  • Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege - PC (2015)
  • Warframe - PC (2013)
  • The Wonderful 101 - WIIU (2013)

*Games that I watched a playthrough of instead of playing through myself due to frustration partway through (Mafia II) or realizing I have an unideal version (999).

Notable pre-released games and add-ons of 2017 I played this year:

  • Besiege
  • Forza Horizon 3’s “Hot Wheels Expansion

Games that didn’t make the cut:

  • Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp - I didn’t care enough.

Games I meant to get to but couldn’t:

  • Yakuza Kiwami - It’s surprising to feel like we’re being swamped with Yakuza games but it is nice to know that there’ll be more of these going into the near future. Unfortunately, I think only one Yakuza game is enough for me per year.

“Oversights”:

  • (Great Switch Game) - I don’t have a Nintendo Switch.
  • Assassin’s Creed: Origins - Alex mentioning that this game has elements of “Witcher” had me intrigued, but his mention of “Destiny” made me wary.
  • Cuphead - While its artstyle and animation are sights to behold, I’ve never found myself interested in actually playing it.
  • Destiny 2 - I abandoned my playthrough of the first Destiny very quickly and decided to return to their last non-Destiny-related game, Halo: Reach, and promptly missed Bungie working on Halo.
  • Injustice 2 - Like all fighting games, I never really spend enough time with them to make their prices at release worth it. From what I’ve seen of the story mode and cosmetics business, it looks really good for people like me.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - Instead of getting the Wii U version, I might as well wait until I get a Switch and get that version instead.
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda - Despite being a fan of the trilogy, I’m disappointed to hear that this is a mess through and through. I will likely get it in the future when issues are ironed out to sate my curiosity.
  • PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds - While fun to watch, I’d rather play it with a group, which I don’t have.
  • Prey - I’ll get it down the line.
  • Resident Evil VII - I don’t consider myself a big fan of this series or genre even, but I wouldn’t mind playing it in VR when that becomes more advanced and available on a more open VR-capable platform.
  • Wolfenstein: The New Colossus - My platform of choice is unfortunately not up to snuff currently, so, hopefully, any issues people are having now are ironed out by the time I upgrade.

Links of interest:

FINAL LIST

List items

  • As a player who jumped into Yakuza with the fourth game, heading all the way back to this new beginning with a focus on fewer playable characters, it allowed for more personal backstories of these two eventual titans of the series to come to light. While their origins greatly differ, they’re pulled into the fate of an empty lot whose owner is unknown.

    Unlike the other Yakuza games I’ve played (3,4, and 5), having only two playable characters felt just right. Playing as one character for around ten hours then switching to a new one three or four more times after greatly diminished the momentum of whatever contrived plot would bring all these characters together for the climax when only about two of them really mattered in the end. In 0, however, slowly uncovering the importance these two characters are to this empty lot kept me wanting more without making me feel like I’m starting from square one one too many times by shifting between just the two two steps at a time.

    Even though the series is spearheaded by the virtuous-to-a-fault Kiryu Kazuma, the banished one-eyed gangster Goro Majima stole the show. Since I’m only a recent Yakuza fan, deeds leading up to Majima’s legend were unknown to me but his stage presence obviously called for a respect I was uncertain of. While 0 isn’t a treasure trove of his accomplishments but his dedication to the yakuza cause, understanding why he is how he is brought his character into a light I wish we could explore even more.

    4/5

  • I think the real wonder behind this game is how much it actively deters players from going beyond the first ending. Much like the first NieR, one playthrough leads to a very unfulfilling yet totally expected and warranted conclusion for the main character, but it leaves a lot of questions raised unanswered. Unless the player knows going in that the first ending doesn’t explain the full story, whether it be by a friend recommending them to “get to ending E” or that they know what narrative tricks Yoko Taro likes to pull, those who can’t stomach mediocrity rightly leave unsatisfied. But I think that’s the intention.

    I’m not a longtime fan of Yoko Taro having only seen videos explaining another series’ story he was involved with and just played through NieR earlier this year, but it’s obvious he likes to toy with the people who plays his games. Unlike with Automata, I could only tolerate the first few minutes of the second playthrough of NieR before I gave up and instead watched someone explain what the hell’s going on in the rest of that game. While I don’t believe Automata’s story surpasses the lengths its predecessors go, it succeeds with its cohesive presentation (note: I’ve listened to two day’s worth of GOTY podcasts at the time of this typing).

    What’s most astonishing to me is not only the music but the overall use of audio in Automata. Fading in elements of a track isn’t new and neither are chiptunes, but specific moments, big or small, stuck to me thanks to its beautiful yet sorrowful soundtrack. Much of which is cleverly used to indicate the actions your character is doing from wandering into friendly encampments to the hacking minigame along with the odd conclusions of some side quests, they’re hard to imagine without the music.

    4/5

  • Even though I waited literal years for this game, I can’t help but to mention my lingering disappointment. It’s a weird thing to type out considering, overall, I loved the game. It brought advancements and more in the fusion process from Golden and possibly the groundwork for thematic dungeons from Q, natural improvements to the Persona formula. There are these small things, nitpicky things, that made me wish it was kept even longer in the oven but even then I can’t imagine things changing for the better.

    First off, some translated text can come off as unnatural and off-putting and, even during a rather revelatory discussion among antagonists, unnecessarily wordy and complicated. It was as if they didn’t believe the player could put things together themselves through a more concise manner. Second, surely I can read a book when I’m tired, cat. Perhaps school kids have it even harder now and I’m out of touch. Lastly, Ryuji.

    Despite these shortcomings, Persona has always been consistent in creating memorable characters and mixing up catchy music, and 5 has them in spades. From a washed up politician to a girl who plays a tabletop game I can never ever imagine understanding in my lifetime, their small arcs encapsulate the overall theme of the game: being a slave to modern society. And the music, while my heart still prefers 3’s hip hop soundtrack, the move to jazz is a welcome one.

    All in all, I think 5 delivered exactly what I wanted, for better or worse. I can’t say I prefer this to 3 or 4, the other main Persona games I’ve played, since their foci are different enough that I can still imagine playing the older ones and enjoying them. Of course, there’d be some annoyances when it comes to fusing and the like, but what really reins me back in are the characters. In the end, that’s all that really matters to me.

    5/5

  • Like last time, I experienced much of what the main character goes through through another person’s videos but saved the final episode’s choices for myself to decide and experience. Despite the slew of things going against this prequel series, I had this feeling I was going to like it. There was a lot of ground to explore in Chloe and Rachel’s past relationship, and even with their fates in mind, you knew their relationship was special and I think they illustrated how magnetic Rachel’s personality is very well.

    From the get-go, Chloe is already heading out to a dangerous venue for enjoyment, alone and angry from her father’s ill-timed passing. Unlike Max, she doesn’t have any supernatural abilities that can take advantage of people with information she couldn't have known without asking but she can certainly sass others into getting what she wants. However, she can get into situations where words aren’t enough to defuse someone’s violent intentions. And here is when the mystical Rachel Amber enters stage right and swoops in to save the day. Suffice it to say, from here on out their relationship blossoms as they cope with each other’s hardships of loss and deceit that they can’t help but rely on each other.

    In a short span of time, their relationship is thrown quite literally into a fire and Chloe can’t help but be pulled into the mesmerizing blaze that is Rachel Amber’s life. I can’t say I approve of how quickly threads are resolved, perhaps it was due to budgetary reasons or simply because of the smaller allotment of episodes, but I was left underwhelmed and questioning the reveal of a specific character’s true motives that could’ve been easily avoided entirely. Either way, what left the biggest impression on me was the side stuff you could participate in and journal entries that just relished in Max’ absence.

    4/5

  • *SPOILERY*

    Aside from the rote story and poorly presented and heavily implicated revelations, the world of Horizon as told in text was what interested me most. A former age being consumed by the general laziness that comes with the reliance and advancement of technology somehow seemed too real of a possibility. Who would’ve thought that leaving everything to robots wouldn’t be such a good idea, especially when you reach a point when maintenance becomes an automated process.

    For the most part, due to the nature of open world games, I could play this on autopilot and not worry too much about the fine details during side quests and miscellany, or perhaps lack thereof. While the character models were alarmingly detailed, I couldn’t help but feel uneasy when they moved their faces and sometimes even clip into themselves. In a way, I got into thinking that perhaps everyone was a robot and that these bad facial animations were paving their way into a huge meta revelation. Unfortunately, it was not to be.

    When I finally decided to mainline the game, some of the main quests turned into long boring lore dumps that amounted into many “no shit” moments peppered with annoying encounters with human enemies. Unlike them, robot enemies provided challenging yet tiresome encounters that went on for far too long. It can be difficult discerning their weaknesses amidst combat so I eventually committed to brute force while keeping specific parts of their bodies in mind.

    Forgot to elaborate on this but no comment is necessary: https://files.catbox.moe/exvcwv.mp4

    ^Link is clickable in top section^

    4/5

  • I still haven’t played Final Fantasy XV proper, but I have seen the movie, the anime, played the Platinum demo, and have played this small beat-’em-up game, which is largely fine for what it is.

    As told by the father of the FFXV protagonist, as presented in 2D pixel art, is his recollection of a time when his kingdom was under attack by monsters and how he and his boys took care of it. That’s about it.

    3/5

  • A bite-sized Fire Emblem seems like something I would want, but I feel like we’re already swamped with bigger Fire Emblem games thanks to Awakening’s popularity. I still haven’t finished the two other campaigns of Fates and would like to get Shadows of Valentia as well.

    The simplifying of the Fire Emblem formula does wonders for the setup process but, for me, that was a big part of the regular games and you have no direct control over it in Heroes. Support conversations are non-existent and the story is as barebones as can be that, aside from waifu collecting, there’s really no pull for me to come back to it in a more meaningful way than collecting daily rewards.

    3/5

  • While the basic premise of training a Magikarp to jump really high is already bonkers, the small training segments and random events that can occur while tapping through were oddly charming, but become repetitive very quickly. The rest of the game is just rubbing your finger to eat all the food teleportinginto this pool of filth your Magikarp is swimming around in or tapping other pocket monster buddies to do something once per few hours at a time and repeat.

    I’ll admit that I spent way too much time with this game by completing every jump league and gaining way too much jump power beyond its usefulness. Pro tip: just uninstall it.

    2/5

  • I thought there was going to be more to this when I started it up, but all I could do was jump and shoot. And by “jump and shoot,” I mean mash all the buttons until you get all the achievements.

    1/5