Games I completed in 2017

Big list so far this year; after the relatively small number of games finished in 2016 I decided I would work on my backlog and particularly see how many games I could finish in January.

Bit of a mixed bag with some genuinely awful stuff I managed to suffer through and some absolute classics.

List items

  • January - 4/5

    A good, solid, varied campaign, going from rail shooting to tank control to contesting points through to stealth. I think it takes you through pretty much everything you'd need to be able to handle the major points of multiplayer. Shooting in a Battlefield game remains as fun as ever and the weaponry isn't as much of a restricting factor as you'd think for the era - the only exception being the fact that with one exception there is no real way to kill someone remotely without making a loud noise. My only issue would be the usual with BF - sometimes checkpoints are a bit far apart.

  • January - 4/5

    Very good campaign. Gears was always at its worst when it was taking itself too seriously so having the main characters a bit more aware that people with no necks chainsawing monsters in half is not terribly realistic works a lot better. PC port works well, too - being able to aim with a mouse makes the enemy feel a lot less bullet-spongy to me than the 360 games, massively speeding up what felt a bit stodgy before.

  • January - 3/5

    Not bad. I like the little quick missions that you do to unlock stuff. Lots of little niggles and weird decisions that bring it down though.

  • January - 3/5

    Was a lot of fun til about 2/3 the way through and then the AI just couldn't keep up. The game structure feels a bit too randomised and free to play for a game which is supposed to be something you buy, too. At the price of "part of Origin Access" it's fine.

  • January - 1/5 [PS4 version]

    Barely works a significant part of the time. Some really fun and cool ideas ruined by the tracking. Even in a pitch black room! I'd love to try it on Vive but I don't have the space or money.

  • January - 3/5

    Loved the racing. Huge, beautiful world with loads to do. The F40 with 4WD upgrade is probably still my favourite car in a driving game. My issues are these:

    - The PC port is terrible. Still stutter city.

    - The game's goals feel too much like they came from an algorithm rather than being something that someone planned out.

    - The sense of progression that was in Horizon 2 that game from touring around the hubs is gone.

    - The final showcase was fucking shit. There's a slang word in Japanese, 誰得 - daretoku - which is a shortened version of the sentence "who the hell would get anything from this".

    What is it with me, 2016 and disappointing sequels that end badly?

  • January - 4/5

    Really solid action RPG. Shows its age both technically and in terms of design but I played through it pretty much in one sitting. Hub level design was impressive. Recommended!

  • January - 1/5

    It's frustrating that this should be so much worse than Guardian Heroes with the main planner being the same guy responsible for it. I'm not convinced there's any sense of balance, the levels are insanely short (so you end up talking more than fighting, even in a 3 hour game) and there's only 1 campaign - turns out that you get the achievement for clearing the game with each character just by playing the very last level, which has no fighting in it anyway! Extra marks for the completely insane interface where they literally have you hitting F5 to cycle through display modes to show the (minimal) stuff on the 3DS version's second screen.

  • January - 3/5

    Good shooting with some super fun weapons. Looks fantastic with hundreds of bolts and shots flying around during hectic fights. Those Clank sections, though... I'm hoping they make another as I think with a development schedule not based around a film they could really nail it. Though Sunset Overdrive was one more iteration away from being really good, and I'd prefer another of them, I think.

  • January - 2/5

    It's still based on the SM4 engine which is fun enough but there are too many faults to recommend. Firstly, there are far too many instant loss conditions around the middle of the game which results in something often infuriating to play (I literally got spotted by an enemy that warped in from somewhere else at one point, instantly failing the mission I was on). Secondly, there's too much bumph in there - bits where you walk 15 seconds to another cutscene, short bits of text to bridge cutscenes, having to go back to town to increase your level cap, stuff like that, and that's not even including the fact that about 50% of the battles feel like filler.

    Most of all, though, the story and characters just didn't do it for me. I think it's clear it's not written for me as a non-Japanese man; the story of Yukimura Sanada is one which I realise is important to anyone who wishes to understand the Japanese character, it's still not one I enjoy. It isn't helped here by the fact that Yukimura as a character is still incredibly boring and passive in everything he does - which I assume is part of his appeal to the sizeable female audience of the Musou games (the same applies to Zhou Yu in the Three Kingdoms games). Where this game goes even further off-course for me is the way the relationship between Yukimura and Chacha (culminating in the story's end), as well as the way Sasuke is included.

    One other thing - if this and the latest Atelier are indications of how Kocmo are going to use PS4 Pro hardware then I think I'll be starting to mess around with my display settings for their games in future. It uses an extremely ugly reprojection method to make it look kind of like 4K, except there are miscoloured pixels, dot crawling and the like all over the place. It's extremely ugly and seriously harms the framerate. You might ask why I'm looking at individual dots; to that I say "why the fuck else would I have bought a TV that can display them?"

  • January - 4/5

    You know what? I liked this quite a lot. Sure, it feels low budget a lot of the time but the people who made the game did well in not trying to over stretch themselves. Instead they created something that works for the relatively short (by modern JRPG standards) 20 hour story. They have a good stab at making every area have its own little story; they don't quite get there but it's close enough. Actually, I think that covers most of the game. I enjoyed the battle system too - though I was able to trivialise standard encounters pretty easily the boss fights were well balanced and exciting to the end. Good stuff, and I'm looking forward to seeing what comes from Tokyo RPG Factory next.

  • January - 4/5

    Not sure why I left this so long, I was right at the end as it turns out. Really good sequel, fixes most of the problems from the first game. The only real issue I have with it is that the player characters' attacks don't feel like they do enough damage for the most part. The personality and variety makes up for it, though.

  • January - 5/5

    Just great stuff. Not the longest game ever made, but clearly designed to within an inch of its life. Barring the (short) cutscenes lacking a skip function, there's really hardly an idle second in there. The map isn't quite as clever as Xanadu Next though!

  • January - 2/5

    A succession of 'bits of business'. A few made me laugh, a few more took me by surprise. In spite of the number, it's short enough that it's worth playing and finding out for yourself but the hit rate was a bit low for me.

  • January - 3/5

    Not bad. Didn't have much of a 'feel' to it though - felt very flyaway with little impact. Weapons felt very inconsistent and swapping was a fiddle. Some good ideas in it though, and though it generally petered out there was a fun encounter in a factory.

  • January - 3/5

    Fun little God of War clone. Marlow's much easier to get on with than Kratos ever was, though there's a lot of glitchiness in there. My controller would often just start vibrating and never stop for a while. Some fun little minigames in there too - they keep it varied enough over the 5-6 hours.

  • January - 4/5

    Great but short adventure. Properly takes advantage of the touch screen for some excellent item manipulation. Like the first, my problems remain that the game itself is only a few hours long, and that sometimes it's a little too eager to reveal hints.

  • January - 5/5

    No idea why I dropped this halfway done. Fantastic fun, and a great head-on collision simulator. Firing cars at the enemy doesn't get old at all! Really liked the way it combined video with realtime graphics for the cutscene stuff too. PC version's a bit 2011 though, little bits of weirdness.

  • January - 1/5

    What an irritating game to play. Dreadful soundtrack when it remembers to play. Horrible scan line effect (?) over the screen that you can't turn off. Everything requires way too many hits. Gravity gimmick fucks with your controls. Most annoying final boss I've ever played - that includes the one at the end of Axiom Verge. And just way too easy - neither you nor your enemies do anywhere near enough damage so the whole thing is just incredibly sloppy. Thankfully over in less than 4 hours. My wrist is aching from all the rapid pressing of the attack button you have to do.

  • January - 4/5

    And that's 20! I think this is a game which really wants you to play it in the way they've thought of. Fighting with the camera and controls is constant to the point where in some cases it was actually faster to me to fling myself to my death and continue than to try and climb down from Trico. But when it works, it works brilliantly and the Trico itself is something which anyone who has ever had a pet can really latch on to, I think.

  • January - 4/5

    Much better than the demo suggested. I think the big issue is that it was a sequel to a pretty by-the-numbers Monster Hunter clone, albeit one which was massively streamlined. This game takes that streamlined style and puts it into an open world; completely inappropriate for a Vita game but it fits on PS4. I really enjoyed the trips into the Oni territory, mapping the area out and aiming for the save point. I'd certainly play another - the combat itself is still great. I played throughout as an archer and the increased speed of the game meant that I was constantly shooting bits off enemies, which certainly didn't get old during the 25 hour campaign.

  • February - 2/5

    Rated as a single player game. Short, irritating to play, limited selection of weapons and skills. Clearing the story seems to give you a new run which has things like quests and weekly missions unlocked; obviously this is designed as a multiplayer game which you roll through multiple times. Once you're in a group I can see things like low health and ammo counts mattering less and the satisfaction of concentrated fire on groups of enemies will increase.

    One thing that is unforgivable, though, is the lack of pause playing solo. Good job that with one exception there's absolutely no death penalty apart from having to beat the enemies in the area again since the last checkpoint.

  • February - 4/5

    57 hours and done, after a monster 9-floor final dungeon. Some serious hack and slash action, with the same amount again (actually probably more) waiting in the post-game. In lieu of an impressions post I thought I'd do a plus and minus here. Minuses first:

    - The tempo is a little uneven; animations occasionally take too long, casting in menus is stilted and friendly buffs appear one at a time.

    - There's no backlog which makes some moves' outcomes a little confusing (and makes it hard to work out which new enemy just one-shotted your maid).

    - There's no avoiding it - the artwork is completely unsuitable for outdoor play, in spite of it being a Vita title, and is enough for people to understandably be turned away from the game. I know it'd cost more, but if they wanted to go that extreme with the fanservice I would have really appreciated a content lock to tone things down and allow me to take it out and about.

    Pluses:

    - Fantastic audio. Great soundtrack (albeit low bitrate) and some high quality voice acting makes the game feel a lot more expensive than it undoubtedly is. The cast have a lot of character and the main character is surprisingly likeable.

    - Much of the game is nice and fast. Movement's quick, loading is minimal - transitions into battle are instant which really makes a mimic a big surprise.

    - Map design is OK but map variety is great. There's loads of map squares to fill in, including loads of optional/unlockable areas.

    - The game balance gives a surprisingly good feeling of progression. Many's the time I've felt like my team's really settling in and then a new floor will make me have to re-evaluate some things. Lucky you can change classes without too much difficulty.

    - The game advancement and battle systems are top drawer. Aquaplus, in spite of being more known as a VN studio, have put a lot of ideas into the mix - clearly they have plenty of fans of the genre on staff, helped out by RPG vets Sting. My favourite is the implementation of the Maid class; games have had supporter classes before but this is the first one I've genuinely enjoyed using, and definitely the first which has felt essential in a party. The berserker sub-classes are also a lot of fun as you desperately try to balance survivability with offence (while pumping skill points into your healer's resurrection skill...)

    Overall, I'm really looking forward to the sequel in April. I've still got a foolish hope that there might be a clean version but I know that's not happening. As a result, I can't really recommend this to many people; it's definitely a case of looking it up and seeing if you would be comfortable with it.

  • February - 2/5

    Was looking like a 2 for most of it, but it improved. Disappointing stuff; I have the same problems with this as I did with Titan Quest. That is, it's designed too much towards the endgame. The first 3/4 of the game is a slow, irritating slog with weak skills up until the point you realise that the game massively penalises you for having more than one skill at a time. Following that it became fun enough, if simple. A bigger issue is the loot - I was using multiple level 10 items from Act 1 right up to the final Act and in general it never felt like it dropped anything I wanted. As much as people complained about the at-a-glance numbers in Diablo 3, it's nice to be able to tell quickly whether something is worth keeping or worth trashing. There are also far too many bitty little weapon bolt-ons crowding out your inventory space. Overall, I'm sure this gets very fun later on but in the end I had three skills on my character and for a game I've spent 20 hours in that's far too little.

    edit: On further reflection, it's still a 2. I'm never going to play the multi.

  • February - 3/5

    Fun little (very) low-budget Ys clone. Good equipment progression, surprisingly good moveset and a decent soundtrack as well as the usual Touhou "something is happening but it's not *that* important really" light plot. Only really let down by a lack of challenge for most of the game (only one boss really made me have to think about playing like a Ys game) and some samey maps. The "look at all these weird effects we can do now" blur and lighting effects are a bit weird too, occasionally getting in the way.

  • March - 5/5

    Just brilliant. I finished the story but there's so much left to do. Any complaints would be largely nitpicking given how well the whole thing fits together. And it's portable too!

    edit: Game timer function just kicked in. "Over 50 hours".

  • May - 5/5

    Brilliant. I've always been put off by the shoddiness of Yokoo's games before but with that mostly gone I was able to appreciate what he was doing properly. An amazing climax.

  • [Switch version]

    May - 5/5

    Aside from a few tech issues it is the best, most complete Disgaea. I only wish there was more voice acting in the DLC stuff as Disgaea's story is best when read by a group of people who sound like they're having enormous fun for the whole time.

  • May - 4/5

    A good example of how limiting scope can help you get over a budget. Nothing revolutionary, but I enjoyed the focus on empathy and understanding in the story, and the three main characters were very well done. Not for everyone, though; the camera's leering got a bit much at times.

  • [PS4 eX+ version]

    May - 4/5

    I still think this game has some plotting and scripting flaws but they fixed a lot of them in this PS4 remix. The 1080p60 and extra cutscene skip modes really helped push the improvements to someone who played the original as well. Really looking forward to going through Ys VIII again in just three days now.

  • May - 5/5

    A real labour of love; normally that comes with a caveat but I don't think there is one in this case. Every inch of this looks fantastic and the extra frames of animation (and doubled framerate) make what was previously a pretty slippery game easy to navigate even for someone who is normally allergic to platformers. It's absolutely the kind of thing that's perfect for the Switch too - though it was quite short I really appreciated being able to take it with me without having to mess around with save files or anything like that. Super vibrant on the Switch display. Maybe a little expensive if you purely think about games in pounds per hour of gameplay but it's a really premium quality piece of software.

  • May - 1/5

    Holy shit, what a mess. Chapter 13 is what brought it down to a 1 for me - and apparently that was after improvement! Genuinely irritating to play with a floaty, unclear battle system and an awful camera. Fails to work either as an open world game or as a linear one. I didn't really like any of the characters, half of the story's emotional beats didn't feel earned and there were occasions where I genuinely felt like information had been kept from me so I'd need to watch the film thing or other cross-media stuff. The ending video was shocking quality too, just macroblock city. I'm sure the PS3 games had better quality CG. Watching the credits shudder along against a blank screen, I don't think it was worth waiting for the promised performance patches on PS4 Pro either.

    I might actually be angrier after finishing this than I was after finishing Ryu ga Gotoku 6, and that game ruined characters I'd known for over a decade.

  • May - 4/5

    Now, let me preface this by saying that if you don't really 'get' clickers then you might have issues with this. This one's a good one, though, and one with an actual story/ending, a few laughs and some good audio. On a side note, what is it with low interaction games and great music? Magic Potion Explorers springs to mind, with its Yuzo Koshiro-style trance tunes. The Steam store description calls it 'an experimental piece of interaction' which is a bit wanky but don't hold that against it too much. I enjoyed the prototype on the web and £2 is probably about right for something which I largely let click itself away in an afternoon.

  • [PC port]

    May - 4/5

    The port isn't perfect - I found myself second-guessing why I died half the time (being one-shotted from full health by basic enemies, instantly going into emergency time, things like that) yet found some of the sequences way too easy - but it's still a great game. Just sliding and diving around, popping enemies in slow motion feels perfect and I'd love more. Shame I can't compare my score with the PS3 version!

    [note: this was pre-patch so it turns out I was taking multiple times more damage than I was supposed to due to a bug]

  • June - 4/5

    I can see where people are coming from when they say that it's a bit short on single player stuff, but that didn't stop me spending three hours this morning alternating between Treasure Battle and Training with forum posts open on the other monitor. The fighting feels really good and it runs well on PC. I gather they increased the input buffer from 5 to 8 frames - as a VF player this has made it feel much, much less stiff than previous games.

    My biggest issue is the loading times; even on PCIE SSD they take about 5 seconds longer than they should. We're a long way from DOA2 loading the next stage while the previous one's win pose is still up.

  • June - 4/5

    Lots of niggles but overall really good. Shows how much satisfying combat and a likeable main character, as well as a solid 'real' actor like Lance Reddick, can help an open world game out. Lame sequel tease at the end though.

  • July - 2/5

    I'd actually forgotten to post this one; I finished it back in April. I thought this was a big disappointment. I'm not sure if it was how much the DRPG genre has moved forwards on Vita since the original (completing Refrain and Dungeon Travellers didn't result in positive comparisons) or if it was just weaker but it just ended up being a chore to play. Pretty impressive work given how much animation etc you can skip. I'm only a few hours from getting the platinum but I just can't be bothered.

  • August - 4/5

    Falls away a bit at the end (what's going on with the last area?!) but overall really strong. Great audio. The speed setting really makes it work.

  • August - 4/5

    I've got quite a lot of niggles about this but man, it's such a good idea to combine an idle game with a more active one and it gets so close. Great soundtrack too.

  • [Black Mesa section - full game as of mid-2017]

    August - 3/5

    Since they delayed Xen to December I decided to just go through. Ultimately, though it looks nicer, I think the new stuff they added mostly detracts from the game. Shitty little jokes that make you cringe (especially near the beginning), unsatisfying new puzzles and most of all the whole physics system. You're just constantly getting caught on stuff, bits of detritus often obstruct when you're trying to do something like activate an object and the way it handles stuff like getting out of water just isn't very good. Pretty much everything that's good in it is stuff from the original.

  • August - 5/5

    It's Sonic! Proper Sonic. Definitely one to come back to again.

  • [Act 10 complete - full game as of mid-2017]

    August - 5/5

    Fantastic. Best action RPG I've played in ages. Simultaneously feels like a sequel to Diablo 2 while adding its own flavour and play style. Once a character build starts to get going a few hours in I think the game really gets its hooks in. As a summon-based character, getting the achievement for having 60 minions out at once was pretty funny!

  • [Vita Evolution version]

    September - 4/5

    Slow start, but picks up a lot. The high speed auto mode they added with this version helps a lot - took about 15 hours off my clear time compared to when I went through on PSP! Really benefits from full voice, particularly with Takehito Koyasu as Olivier and that final scene.

  • September - 5/5

    My favourite game of last year, but better in every way (except convenience).

  • September - 3/5

    80 hours. Should have been closer to 50, I think. With battle system/XP gain tweaks it could easily have been that, too. Lots of good character moments and an overall great battle system but a weak main story, an initially unlikable protagonist and some problems still not fixed from the previous version bring it down.

  • September - 4/5

    Ends a bit abruptly, but great until that point. Perfect fit for the Switch.

  • October - 4/5

    Most polished and fun Musou game I've played in years. Story doesn't hang around too long, lots of stuff to do in history mode, runs great docked. Only real issues are probably that often enemy commanders have a lot of HP and there are too many sword-wielding Lords.

  • November - 3/5

    Was vacillating between 3 and 4 but that final encounter makes it a 3. The combat's pretty flawed; I think others have been through it but the feedback on being hit is awful (for some reason I'm reminded of the old 90s Tekwar game), the player's too fragile especially in the first two thirds of the game, you get the fun upgrades too late and it's very difficulty spikey. There don't seem to be as many opportunities for stealth kills as previously (or I'm just less patient). It also seems to be missing a level or two as it just kind of stops.

    On the flip side, when you have enemies in front of you the dual wielding is still really fun, the upgrades are really nice when you get them and the heaviest weaponry has a good kick to it. The story and setting are the best part of it, simply because it's clear that the game is ready and willing to surprise you and anything can happen, both in terms of plot and setting. I can definitely say that there are some genuinely surprising parts and the story goes some places that you couldn't ever guess. Lots of shocks, lots of laughs and multiple cutscenes that I'll remember for a long time coming. I really hope they get to continue this as being able to start at full power from this and then carry on should help a lot with the problems I had with this one.

    The PC port is pretty glitchy in parts. On a 1070/7700K setup I've had multiple crashes, sky box corruption and large explosions basically turn large parts of the screen black. This is with the latest Nvidia drivers, too. At least they sorted out the loading, though, as restarting is just a few seconds on my PC. I hear it's still pretty lengthy on console but a fast SSD seems to do the trick this time. It ran fine in terms of framerate but full-on graphic artefacting is pretty rare for an Nvidia card on an id engine.

    The credits music is fucking awful as well.

  • November - 4/5

    Story's boring, characters are irritating but I can just turn off the sound and play. The gun handling is so good it feels like I'm cheating, the grenades have the exact right trajectory and getting around feels great. The PC version is pretty good - I had a couple of issues with framerate which were fixed with resets and one mission glitched out on me but overall it was a nice smooth experience. Just playing through the adventures on a map is really fun, dipping in and out of public events. In many ways for me it's the proper expression of what Borderlands promised. The original had disappointing solo play but I was much more satisfied with this one.

  • November - 5/5

    Was able to finish this on the train. Just really great all the way through; smooth, responsive and full of imagination and fun. The setpiece before the end was so good.

  • November - 2/5

    Up until about the last 30 seconds it was a 5. After 110 hours you just don't do that; it feels like Falcom have broken a fundamental promise which is made when a game is released. That little taunt at the end didn't help.

    Right now, I'd probably say don't buy this game until they have released the next one.

  • (Switch version)

    November - 4/5

    Good port, runs at 60fps. Finished on a plane, the soundtrack means it's a great 'plugged in and shutting out the world' game.

  • December - 5/5

    Amazing port of a classic. It's missing one or two things but the whole package works so well together and the plot is wonderfully crazy. Best ending sequence in the series too.