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Game of the Year 2017

2017 has come to an end so its time to look back on our favorite experiences of the year. Below is a written version of our video feature which can be seen HERE:

List items

  • If you took some time off from the Assassin’s Creed series, Origins is a hell of way to come back. It’s still a massive open world game, so in some respects you know what you’re getting. A lot has changed under the hood, however, with new combat mechanics and a loot system. These aren’t all great, some of the changes lifting almost entirely from other games like Dark Souls and Destiny, but they help to make the experience feel fresh. Origins also benefited from an extra year in development and that time shows through in the side quests and auxiliary content. These feel less like filler meant to pad out a giant map and more like little vignettes that help paint a greater picture of the world. Speaking of the world, Assassin’s Creed has always specialized in realizing historical time periods and Origins is no different. The game’s version of ancient Egypt is both beautiful and alluring. That, coupled with more attention paid to the ancillary activities makes Origins a no-brainer for anyone looking to lose themselves in a game for a few hundred hours.

  • Strategy games are my bread and butter and they don’t get much bigger than Total War: Warhammer 2. Its got a huge campaign with a more well-defined end goal in mind, it has cooperative and online multiplayer components, and eventually even got an update linking the maps and armies of both the first and second games for an enormous new campaign map. Total War: Warhammer II is one of the few games I actually want to play the campaign multiple times because it's factions differ so wildly and the difficulties options help make subsequent playthroughs feel unique. It's crazy that in a genre that often seems to be declining not only did we get a sequel, but a strategy game of unrivaled scale, complexity, and quality.

  • There is an ever-growing list of games kept on my PC for the purposes of impromptu local multiplayer sessions. Duck Game, Towerfall, Jackbox Party Pack, and now I’m proud to add Crawl to that library. Its one of the few couch games that works just as well with 2 people as it does with 4. While everyone else is making Smash Bros clones, Crawl set out to make something unique. It switches seamlessly between competitive and cooperative gameplay, has elements of rogue-like games, and a light progression system which helps incentivize hours and hours of play. I’ve played Crawl on airplanes, I’ve played Crawl in hotel rooms, and you can bet Crawl will make an appearance at get-togethers this holiday season.

  • Ninja Theory may be known for making a very specific type of game but even within those confines you could see them probing the boundaries of narrative and performance with games like Enslaved: Odyssey to the West and DmC: Devil May Cry. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice shatters those boundaries and delivers an unrivaled experience. Somehow, Ninja Theory successfully navigated the minefield that is the taboo subject matter of mental illness and did it with incredible grace. Ninja Theory have been perfecting their use of motion capture technologies over the years and this game represents the pinnacle of that technique. All of that would be for nothing if not for amazing performances turned in by the entire cast but especially Nicholas Boulton and Melina Juergens. The game isn’t perfect: it does fall back on a few tired tropes and feels overlong in a few sections but these are easily overlooked. In fact, the only reason this game isn’t at the top of this list is because its so haunting that its difficult to want to go back to but if one of the biggest problems with your game is that it’s too affecting, you know you’ve done something right.

  • [GOTY] What Remains of Edith Finch is a diamond forged from distilling the best aspects of independent game development into a tight package. Its short but dense. It's dark but not oppressive. It looks and sounds spectacular. And like the other top contender on this list it shares in a mature, cinematic presentation that most of the medium is still figuring out. What gives this game an edge over Hellblade is just how easily digestible it is. Clocking in at under 3 hours and with no mechanics meant to tax your intelligence or dexterity, What Remains of Edith Finch practically begs you to see it all in one sitting and revisit it as often as you’d like.