It’s that time again! Somehow 2017 is almost over, and even though I was looking for it all 365 days seem to have snuck past without me noticing them. Cheeky little bastards!
For this site it has been another great year thanks to you guys. The daily views have gone up further, I’ve been fairly happy with the quality of my writing and more and more opportunities have arisen, which again is all thanks to you, dear readers! Without you guys popping on to read the words that my untalented brain and hand come up with I’d never get to check out so many games or test out loads of cool accessories. You are amazing, and I’m so, so grateful that you keep coming back. I love you all.
But let’s get on with this list, shall we? As always there are going to be titles that I’ve missed, partly because I’m a PC/Xbox One gamer, and largely because there are a lot of games and not enough time to play them all! And please keep in mind that while I do try to buy games that I don’t get sent to review, I’ve barely got enough money to look after myself and feed my own Pepsi addiction. What this means is that lots of games flew by me, either because I couldn’t afford them, didn’t have time or just didn’t have the right console. Sorry, Breath of the Wild. And sorry, Hellblade.
Before we get to the main ten games, here are a few random awards.
The Comeback Kid
Two years away did Assassin’s Creed: Origins a lot of good. I’m still far from convinced that it’s a good Assassin’s Creed game, but taken on its own merits it’s a wonderful adventure. The lavish reproduction of Egypt is a joy to explore, the side-missions have more narrative context, Bayek is a fun lead character and the extra emphasis on RPG-style leveling works well.
The Game That I Reviewed Kind Of Negatively But Played Lots of Anyway
I’m fully expecting a lot of people to be shocked by this, and that’s completely valid given how I had a lot of issues with it in my review. I am, of course, speaking of Star Wars: Battlefront 2, a game that despite its many problems has thus far absorbed some 60-hours of my life via its multiplayer. With the microtransaction system currently offline I’m mostly ignoring the naff progression system in favor of simply having fun shooting other people in one of my favorite ever universes. The maps tend to funnel people into mosh pits of chaos too frequently and there is still not a heap of content, but somehow I’m enjoying myself.
The Game That Let Me Down
I don’t often get disappointed by games because I try hard to go into them without any prior hype or even knowledge so that I can take them for what they are. However, as a massive Mass Effect fan who had sunk hundreds of hours into the original trilogy, I was incredibly excited about Mass Effect: Andromeda. Oh man, was I let down. It’s not a bad game, but given how beloved the prior games are (except, y’know, the third one) being simply okay isn’t…well, okay. It lacks the story-telling prowess and character building that made Mass Effect 2 so brilliant, and the maps feel like they’re filled with generic stuff to do. Perhaps worst of all is that the poor reception of Andromeda means we may never see another game set in the Mass Effect universe.
The Game That I Never Want To Play Again
Lemuria: Lost in Space is bloody horrible and might just be more boring than listening to a vegan talk about how they’re a vegan. It was janky, poorly written nonsense with gameplay mechanics that were almost painful.
The Game That Bored The Crap Out Of Me
The Raid: World War II is about a bunch of mercenary soldiers stealing Nazi gold and ruining Nazi operations at the behest of the Allies. On paper it sounds awesome, but in execution it’s just bloody boring. The shooting is mediocre, the enemy A.I. has the brain-power of bricks, the levels are boring, the mission designs are incredibly generic and….look, there’s just nothing interesting to be found. Nothing. Zilch. Nadda.
The Game Where I Got To Shoot Nazis In The Testicles
A niche award, yes, but nevertheless Sniper Elite 4 deserves the honor. With larger levels and the ability to decimate internal organs via a gloriously gory x-ray cam Sniper Elite 4 kept what made the previous games fun and just did it all better. It’s not a hugely innovative sequel, but frankly, when I played it I wasn’t expecting one, I was expecting a lot of Nazis to die via satisfying sniping mechanics.
The Pointiest, Clickiest Point ‘n Click Game
Thimbleweed Park does not even attempt to claim that it isn’t a pixel-fuelled nostalgia trip down memory lane, albeit with a few small modern design concessions along the way. Its retro aesthetic hits the nail on the head, it’s puzzles are solid and entertaining, it’s story is quite fun and the characters are interesting and likable. That’s a hell of a package.
The Top Ten Games of 2017
(As enjoyed by me)
Potentially one of the most beautiful games in years, Cuphead is a gloriously nostalgic side-scroller that loves to make you bleed out of every orifice. It’s not the hardest game I’ve ever played, but it is bloody challenging and rewards pure skill over anything else. I’m only just gotten around to picking it up (thanks, Steam sale) and haven’t even finished it yet, which also means I probably won’t be reviewing it, but I’m having heaps of fun with it so far. And good grief does it look and sound amazing! The old cartoon vibe has been recreated faithfully, right down to the wonderfully smooth and bendy animations and the incredible music. The presentation almost bleeds the love and devotion of the people who have slaved away to create it. It’s a passion project and you can feel it in every single moment.
You really need to give this game a shot.
Divinity: Original Sin 2
It’s not a good year if there isn’t at least one huge RPG attempting to ruin your entire social life, and this year it was Divinity: Original Sin 2, a sprawling game packed with interesting people, enjoyable quests, great combat and outstanding world building. Over the course of the year I’ve spent dozens and dozens of hours simply playing around with the systems, seeing what the game will do when I kill a certain character or try using the absurdly fun teleportation gloves.
Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus
Under the Bethesda banner two old franchises have been reborn anew in the form of 2015’s awesome DOOM and Wolfenstein. Having proven successful with their reboot of the Wolfenstein series MachineGames came back this year with a bonkers follow-up that leaps madly between being serious, dramatic and dark, and being utterly daft. Somehow it works, and the gameplay itself is heaps of fun. The level design could do with some work, but regardless of that I enjoyed every minute of my time as badass BJ Blaskowitz, whose insane adventure through Nazi-occupied America is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea.
By the way, this was in the running for the “Game I Got To Shoot Nazis in the Testicles” but the fact that Sniper Elite lets you do it in slow-motion with x-ray vision clearly gives it the edge.
Pinball FX3 is less of a game and more of a platform for its many tables. IN its most basic form you only get a few pinball tables to play around with, but the initial download is completely free and if you’re anything like me you’ll be hooked on posting high-scores after the very first game. Following on from my review I’ve picked up numerous new tables, although I have found myself wishing that you could purchase them individually rather than having to buy a pack of them.
Let’s be clear: Injustice 2 contains microtransactions where you can spend real cash to purchase loot boxes. That’s an issue, but the game is so generous in its loot boxes that you can entirely avoid ever spending real cash, with gear for characters being handed out to you all the time. The point is I’m willing to forgive the game’s transgressions because it has Harley Quinn fighting Superman, Hellboy punching Batman in the face and Multiverse mode, a never-ending galaxy of matches against the A.I. using variations with the rewards being even more loot for your fighters. I’ve sunk a lot of hours into chasing loot, completing challenges and mastering characters, and I’m looking forward to finding the time to jump back in again.
Middle-Earth: Shadow of War
Jesus Christ, another game with microtransactions on this list. I feel bad for including them since I stand firmly against the use of microtransactions in premium triple-A titles, but this list is also supposed to be about the games I’ve enjoyed the most this year and the truth is Shadow of War’s Nemesis system has given rise to some of my cherished memories of the year, including one Orc who just kept coming back from the dead whom I actually sort of miss now that he’s actually gone. Despite the issues the game has roaming the landscape in search of new Orcs to murder or enslave is quite a bit of fun, and I found myself lulled into a sense of contentment by simply wrecking camps and taking on big, bad Orcs.
Hand of Fate 2
It’s a game about playing a game that contains mini-games. Got that? Nah, me neither. The point is Hand of Fate 2 takes the ideas of the original game and improves on them in nearly every respect, crafting a hugely enjoyable adventure that has you exploring realms made up of cards. The steady accrument of new cards to add to your personal deck is surprisingly addictive, and I found myself always pushing forward to see what else the game had in store. The addition of interesting gimmicks and fun mini-games rounds off the package nicely. Absolutely worth a play.
Last Day of June
A simple, charming game that likes to punch you right in the feels repeatedly. Although it contains no dialogue, its characters communicating entirely through gestures and little noises, I felt immediately connected to protagonist Carl who has lost his wife in a car crash. Now stuck in a wheelchair he discovers that through his wife’s old art he can revisit the past, and try to desperately stop the accident from ever happening. It’s an emotional adventure with simple yet fun gameplay, engaging characters, lovely visuals and story that constantly had me wondering if a happy ending was possible.
Battlestar Galactica: Deadlock
Can we all just take a second to appreciate how bloody awesome the rebooted Battlestar Galactica series was? Sure, it got a bit crazy in its last season and that ending still leaves me confused and wondering if I liked it or not, but the first three seasons were some stunning television. Deadlock doesn’t exactly expand the Battlestar story but it does provide some really entertaining turn-based strategy antics mixed with some light management as you build and maintain fleets of ships! And at no point do you have to spend ages trying to remember who the hell is a Cylon and who isn’t.
A sneaky one this because really Stardew Valley has been out for ages, but since it arrived on Xbox earlier this year I’m going to count it. Yes, this was the year that I discovered being a farm owner is oddly relaxing and surprisingly satisfying. It begins so simply; a few crops here, a bit of monster slaying and mining there, but then it grows with new things popping up just when I thought I’d found everything of interest. There’s a gentle puzzle in growing your farm and creating a daily routine where your virtual avatar wakes up and then does the rounds by collecting eggs, watering crops and more. And then there’s the joy of exploring the local town, making friends and expanding your house. More importantly, it’s very, very relaxing.
Categories: Opinion Piece