I can’t believe it but here we are at the end of 2017. I have had a great year playing some interesting and exciting games. A few of the games were very frustrating with their respective flaws, but entertaining nevertheless. Overall on a personal level, my year went very well. We suffered some hardship at the start of the year but we endured. I mention these things because gaming helps me to cope. I am video games help everyone in their own special way. This year I was able to relate to a lot of games released, and without further adieu, here we go…
This game is very frustrating and irritating. I feel like the game is cheap and a waste of time to a certain degree. At the same time, it is one of the most creative experiences in gaming I have ever had. Fashioned after a classic cartoon, Cuphead really brings back good memories of the animation many of us grew up watching. It also features tight and responsive controls which is a must for a game of this caliber. I can appreciate the hard work that MDHR put into the game. I admire the risk the developers took to follow their dreams. It makes me think about how I have decided to pursue career goals instead of sitting back waiting for an opportunity to come to me. Cuphead can be fun despite the brutality you must endure and I look forward to seeing what the creators have in store for the future.
9. Batman: Telltale Series
I have a hard time making crucial choices. That is why I think that I don’t do so well with the Telltale games. The decisions can get brutal, but I try my best to do what is right for everyone involved. Kind of reminds me of being a husband and father. A family looks to the head to make the best decisions, and it can be a tough job. But someone has to do it. Playing in the shoes of Bruce Wayne and Batman is a daunting task. Telltale once again forces you to make impossible decisions and suffering the consequences can be crushing. But it feels like I am Batman when I play the series. Some of the most stressful tasks is having the challenge of managing Bruce Wayne’s life. The Telltale Batman series proves this developer can truly deliver on the properties they touch.
8. Horizon: Zero Dawn
Here is a game that was a very pleasant surprise. I thought I had a pretty good idea of what the developer, Guerrilla Games was capable of. Horizon proved me wrong though because I thought for sure this was going to be another first-person shooter. Another Sci-Fi universe where we see the gritty realistic shooting, but what we received was much better. It is also nice to see such a diverse cast of characters in one game. The main character, Aloy, is a strong lead that I loved from the very start. When I can develop an attachment that quickly then I know I am in for a great experience. It gives hope for the future of games where we get to see the opportunity for variety and uniqueness. Sometimes the action combined with the control scheme was a little frustrating, but overall Horizon is a complete package worth the investment.
7. Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Not since the Wind Waker have I played a Zelda game that felt like something new. At the start, it almost has the feel of a Zelda we have all seen before. Stepping into that vast world though, you get the immediate feeling that this is a whole new adventure. The real value for me came from the solitude the game brings. I have always felt that games in the genre need to have towns and parties to travel along with but that is not always the case. It was nice roaming the landscape alone. It made me feel like a real adventurer actually. It still feels like Zelda though and that is what makes it very special. I am glad to see something different come to Zelda.
6. Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age
In 2006 the PS3 was making its way on the scene. It was getting so much attention that great PS2 games were getting overshadowed. One of them was FFXII. Final Fantasy IX and XII are my absolute favorites. It is nice seeing the additions to visuals and gameplay. It doesn’t feel like a rushed remake. Trophy support and additional game flow options added some extra flavor to an already quality game. Playing it again brought back a lot of great memories and made me very nostalgic. I find myself hoping to see many more HD upgrades but I know it isn’t realistic. I am thankful for this remake and will make sure I get the most out of this masterpiece.
Supergiant Games is an amazing developer with some weird far-out ideas……and that is totally awesome. From day one I have had a hard time wrapping my mind around Pyre, and I still find myself having to think about what the heck is going on. Is it an RPG, a strategy game, can the rites be considered a sport? But that is what makes it so great! It is something different. Pyre is one of the reasons that I enjoyed gaming in 2017. There were a lot of new and unique experiences that came during this year, and Pyre was at the top of the pack in my opinion. I appreciated the character interaction and feeling as if I really held their fate in my hands. I don’t feel that I play the sport (Rites) very well, but it is still a lot of fun trying to experiment and feel like an actual character in the game.
4. A Night in the Woods
How is it that a game featuring anthropomorphic animals living human lives can reach me emotionally is beyond me. A Night in the Woods features characters that have found themselves reflecting on the past as young adults. This is something that happens to me a lot at this point in my life. I have great memories but I also have some very painful regrets. This game manages to capture all of that while making sure it continues to feel like a “game”. The game tosses some awesome mini-games your way that seem to come out of nowhere while giving dialog choices that can have a strong effect on relationships between the characters. It is almost as if I was playing a cool minigame collection with relationship management on the side. I actually found myself thinking about the relationship I have with my family and friends after playing this game. Although there is a creepy story within the game that entertains, it is better to look into the deeper emotional aspects of this game. Once again, a tremendously unique experience.
I absolutely loooooooove “nosey” games. I like poking and prodding into the lives of others….only in games though. Gone Home, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, and What Remains of Edith Finch (mentioned below) are some of the best experiences I have ever had. I enjoy the mystery, suspense, and tragedy that are featured in the new “walking simulators” in games today. Tacoma makes it feel even more mysterious and creepy with the setting in deep space. It is quiet, tense, eerie, and I love every moment of it. It is nothing short of amazing that games like this can keep me on the edge of my seat despite not featuring heart-pounding action. The anxiety and tension in Tacoma are palpable. Tacoma, in my opinion, should definitely get a live-action adaptation. Over the years we have seen that space is an awesome setting for tragedy and mystery. Tacoma succeeds in building a space story I will remember for quite some time.
2. Witcher 3 (DLC included)
The Witcher 3 is the best game I have ever played. There, I said it. I can’t list everything I loved about this game and the world I explored for well over 100 hours. I know, I know, this game is not a 2017 release, but I played it and its DLC this year. It was such an amazing experience I had to include it with my picks. Usually, a game will excel in certain areas and come up lacking in others. It is difficult to fault the Witcher 3, or it’s DLC with anything. From character development, plot, gameplay, relationship building, friendship management, and much more, this game has it all. I felt like I was a part of Geralt’s world and wanted to literally jump in the screen to visit. That would be terrible though because this fantasy world is crawling with werewolves, dragons, trolls, lizard men, and a plethora of awesome creatures. Oh, and a lot of humans are cool too. But it doesn’t stop there. As a monster hunter, you have to study your prey and even track it. Yes, the main character is a monster hunter by trade. I find it so crazy that your character has a job that doesn’t feel trite. So many games (Fable, I am looking at you) have tried jobs but it never succeeds. Like so many other aspects of this game, it felt like it mattered. Every word, every swing of my sword, every dialog choice had meaning and consequences. The world was so interesting and varied. I can’t stop talking about how awesome the frickin’ Witcher is!!!!!!!!
1. What Remains of Edith Finch
The Witcher 3 is one of the very best gaming experiences I have ever had, but What Remains of Edith Finch came to the forefront of my mind. Without hesitation, I know this game made a huge impact on me in 2017. As you grow older, have children, and try to make a decent life for yourself, you start to think about your mortality. Am I living the best life for myself and my family? What name am I making for myself? This seemingly cursed Finch family tell an amazing story. Each family member’s demise is presented in such beautiful poetic macabre. Some stories make you snicker, some will leave you pondering your own life, and just about every short story will bring a tear to your eye. It hurt playing this game. And I can’t fail to mention that this game also features one of the best lead characters ever. Edith is as strong as they come, as she is the one who has to traverse the mythological home she has inherited by default. I struggle accepting death. I don’t grieve well and that bothers me. I recently lost a very dear aunt and it isn’t easy to talk about. My wife tries to encourage communication but I can’t get past the lump in my throat or icky feeling in my stomach. This game actually encouraged me to look at death in a new way. We have to focus on the story and not the inevitable end of one’s life. What Remains of Edith Finch helped me to embrace death better and that is an amazing feat for a video game. Yes, video games are indeed awesome.
I said it once and I will say it again, this has been an awesome year for games. It wasn’t full of mega-blockbusters, but it contained a lot of surprise hits for me. As we go into 2018 I have a lot to look forward to, but it will take a while to make me forget about 2017’s gaming experiences. By all means, share your top 10 in the comments below. I look forward to reading all about your choices.