The year is coming to an end, so we’ve rounded up our contributors to give us their picks for the Best Games of 2017! A few were in line with their most anticipated game for the year, and some have added new titles to the list, but we all agree that 2017 was a pretty good year for gaming. Tune in for the latest episode of Not Enough Enough Resources for more talk on which game takes home the crown this year.
Cuphead (Xbox One/PC)
Ryan M. Holt
I was completely blown away by this game, not for it’s cutesy, 1930’s cartoon aesthetic, but because of the challenge. By mixing elements of hardcore platformers like Super Meat Boy, bullet hell shooters such as R-Type and the boss battles of the Mega Man series, Cuphead threads the line of frustrating and great game design.
While it is punishing, it isn’t unforgiving in its design. The difficulty causes you to die a lot, but because everything is incredibly well telegraphed, it never feels like the game is completely unfair. It might take players 10-12 attempts to beat certain bosses, but each time you’ll get closer and closer, bringing a huge grin to your face when you finally do land that final blow.
Then there is the wonderful art style. Everything from the jump, hit, special attack, and yelling flower are hand animated in a frame-by-frame style, then digitally colored. Speckled throughout the game are old film imperfections, like frame tearing and line scratches that are super imposed on top of all of this animation, creating a visual style unlike anything seen in gaming.
Cuphead is a master class in pattern recognition and perfect execution, and its quirky animation style means it will be remembered for years to come. In addition to that every version of Cuphead comes with a duplicate copy on both PC and Xbox One, meaning it will never get phased out thanks to hardware limitations. As an added bonus, save data is kept on Microsoft’s back end, so you can continue progress across platforms too!
Final Fantasy XV (PS4)
Final Fantasy XV, hands down, was the top contender for Best Game of 2017 for me. I had been tracking the development of this since it was Versus XIII, and still set in the same world as Lightning, and after many years of changes we got this absolute masterpiece. The first thing you see starting up this game is a promise – “A Final Fantasy for first-timers and fans alike”, and it delivers on that. Hardcore fans found many small nods to the past of the series, even down to how the prologue loading screen is a rehash of the very first Final Fantasy’s text scroll. New players would be introduced to the grandiose nature of Final Fantasy worlds and characters, while still being generally rooted in a reality they’re familiar with and a simpler, to-the-point gameplay style leaving all the turn based, extreme grinding and hardcore min-maxing behind. Those things are still present post-game for the oldschool FF crew as well.
It seemed like the Internet was stormed by pictures and memes of these four new friends, each bursting with personality (or lack thereof becoming a personality, Noct) and unique yet blended traits from the archetypes of classes Final Fantasy created in gaming. It also felt fresh every time I returned thanks to the constant DLC stream supporting it. Usually I’m not a big fan of that, and I was especially worried for this FF considering how bogged down in product placement it can be, but the extras we got are spectacular. It almost seemed like it was due to fans every time, as we got things that were never mentioned like the off-road Regalia or the Comrades multiplayer expansion, releasing this holiday season, making a nice bookend.
All in all, it was way, way more then what I hoped for, and at a perfect time in my life personally. Being able to fall into that world, driving around with the boys, listening to the music of past Final Fantasy games…just made for even better new memories to go with those songs I’ve been listening to for years. I am so excited to create my own character soon, even though Prompto was already scary close to who I am, I had friends who thought I DID create him in-game. I have absolutely no idea what kind of Final Fantasy could come next, but if it’s going to outdo XV, it’s going to have to be absolutely insane on every single level, because XV takes the trophy in all technical areas. I have yet to replay it since they changed some story elements, so it might even be tops in that area now. Definitely one of the best of the year.
Horizon: Zero Dawn (PS4 Exclusive)
Out of all the games I’ve played this year, Horizon: Zero Dawn left the greatest impression on me. Maybe it was the power of Aloy, played by video game voice glitterati Ashly Burch, or the sense of mystery and wonder infused in the combined world of machine and nature, but I just couldn’t get enough.
Thank goodness for the recent Frozen Wilds DLC which sucked me right back in, and felt like a full-fledged adventure that was worth my time and money. Every side quest in the game feels relevant to the story and builds upon the world, which truly feels alive. Also, I spent at least 2 hours in the photo mode alone.
Kudos to you, Guerilla Games!
For me, game of the year this year is definitely Horizon: Zero Dawn. As a parent to young children, it’s hard to find the time or energy to stick with a game, but this one makes me want to put in the effort. From the engaging story, to the complex female protagonist, excellent voice acting (Lance Reddick!), and good variety of gameplay I can’t wait until the young ones’ bedtime every night so I can get back to that world. If you haven’t played this game yet, you’re missing out.
Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Wii U/Nintendo Switch)
I’ve played every single Zelda game I’ve got my hands on, so I was really excited for Breath of the Wild after a mediocre experience playing Skyward Sword. BOTW returns to form in some ways, but deviates completely from the mold in others. I freaking loved the free-roam overworld, a beautiful canvas of wilderness clustered with settlements and villages that captures a refreshing sense of adventure. The gameplay was smooth and intuitive, and I enjoyed every aspect from taming wild horses to cooking delicious meals to getting into epic fights with wild beasts. Where the game falters is in the repetitiveness of the shrines and the almost identical mechanics in completing the Divine Beasts. However Breath of the Wild isn’t held back because of its shortcomings. It stacks up well against other Zelda games, and every fan will feel a reinvigorated love for the franchise after playing for just a few hours.
Mass Effect Andromeda (PS4/Xbox One/PC)
Mass Effect: Andromeda was the epic RPG that I needed in my life this year. Filled with incredible worlds that you can travel to and explore. ME: A gave me so much to do that at times, it was overwhelming — but only because I’m a completionist who can’t not do side missions. I was invested in a new story that sprinkled in bits of what came before in the Mass Effect games but so organically that it gave way to something entirely new. I chose to play as the fem-Ryder and customized her to my liking and found myself a space fling in Peebee and an interspecies relationship with my new space boyfriend, Jaal.
Mass Effect: Andromeda is a lot of the same when you go in and play all the side missions, but I didn’t mind because I had fun. I loved being immersed in that world and getting to experience far away galaxies that we may someday get a chance to visit and explore.
NieR: Automata (PS4/PC)
It’s a rare treat to play a game like NieR: Automata, that expertly blends a moving story, wonderful characters, quirky humour, smooth gameplay, and deep philosophical themes. The way the game plays with expectations is brilliant, from switching up genres on a whim to using its multiple endings to craft a complex, layered story like few other games out there. It’s a gorgeous game, and the soundtrack is one of the industry’s best.
At it’s heart, NieR: Automata is a game about being human, and all the beauty, ugliness, laughter, tragedy, and complexity that comes with it.
I’ll be honest, I’m a bit late to the Persona series. I always knew of their existence but never quite knew what they were about and just from screenshots, never seemed like it would be my kind of thing. Persona 5 was the entry that finally grabbed me. It’s distinctively stylish look drew me in, and I gave it a shot. Boy, am I glad I did. Sporting one of the most memorable video game battle themes in recent years, Persona 5 has some serious personality and depth to top it off. Playing out like a dark and twisted heist tale with Pokemon-like elemental strategy, getting to know it’s large cast of characters was a true joy. Some of my favorite aspects of the game were its life-sim aspects; Deciding how to spend your time outside of class and dungeons requires you to really become good at time management to build relationships with the characters you are especially fond of. It’s a unique and masterful dynamic that manages to hold up over its long time to completion. For fans of RPG’s, this is one that sits comfortably up there with the best.
Super Mario Odyssey
A lot of hype was surrounding Super Mario Odyssey leading up to its release. Having been teased alongside the Nintendo Switch itself, many fans were both surprised and excited (and a little confused) at the mash-up of different world aesthetics shown off. Dinosaurs? A realistic looking City? However, I think I speak for the majority when I say that once we got our hands on it, any doubts we might’ve had swiftly melted away. With the inclusion of new mechanics, like Capy’s possession ability and all the new moves that come with that, there are a lot of new ways to traverse each creative new world. By the time the credits rolled, I was more than satisfied with my time with the game and its fantastic ending– Then there was SO MUCH MORE TO DO. It seems with each new 3D Mario title, Nintendo sets a new bar for the platforming genre and this one is no exception.
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy (PS4)
I just had to cap off this year’s list with Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. This was the game I was most looking forward to this year and I was not disappointed. The Lost Legacy has a rich story with tight action, lush and stunningly detailed scenery, and features two strong-willed female characters from the franchise. Yes, Nathan Drake was missed, but I didn’t have time to dwell on that because I was too busy having a damn good time playing. This game doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but does experiment with a more open-world design that certainly sets it apart from the other Uncharted games. My partner is Indian, so he watch me play and really enjoyed the lore and detailed storytelling. It’s through the story that Lost Legacy addresses some of the blind spots from previous games – most notably in its resounding message on understanding your heritage and preserving culture (you know, instead of blowing things up and pillaging all the time.) Naughty Dog continues to come to the table with great gameplay and solid story content, I wouldn’t pass up The Lost Legacy this year.