Back in 2016 I looked at all the year-end lists and didn’t see many games I had played. For 2017 I decided to try to stay current and play the big games as they came out. This year was jam packed with quality games, which made this goal difficult. In addition to the plethora of games on platforms I own, the Switch launched this year with plenty of cool exclusives that had to pass me by. I still got to play plenty of brand new games, which I have narrowed down into a top 5 from this year.
- Horizon 0 Dawn
An example of great video game craftsmanship. Everything from combat mechanics, character design, world building, and story work towards creating its specific kind of experience. The most notable and praiseworthy aspect lies in environmental design. HZD features the most gorgeous vistas presented in a video game that I’ve ever seen. I can see myself revisiting this game just to reenter its world.
The game that should have been title Psychoshock. Prey is a fantastic sci-fi immersive sim taking place entirely on a research space station orbiting Earth. This game presents an intriguing scenario, hands you an assortment of tools, and then lets you tackle its obstacles in a variety of ways. Stealth, hacking, combat, psychic powers, whatever, it’ll probably work. Prey’s plot also has some memorable twists. Unfortunately, this game flew under most people’s radars. If you like Deus Ex, Bioshock, or Dishonored, you owe it to yourself to check out Prey.
- Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds
When I first started playing PUBG, it was solo only. The game was neat, and kinda fun, but wouldn’t have broken my top 5. My girlfriend told me she wanted to start playing, so I got it for her for Christmas. Playing it together was some of the most fun I’ve had in a long time. Eventually more friends joined our group and it became even more fun. An advantage PUBG holds over our usual group competitive multiplayer games, MOBAs, is the lessened sting of losing. In PUBG losing is the default. Its more about the journey, and what happens between the jump and when we inevitably die.
- Nier: Automata
Simply a beautiful game. The storyline is the main draw here. A tale about humanity through the lens of robots. It reminds me of my favorite episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, those where Data learns something new about what it means to be human. Gameplay mechanics are fun as well, utilizing genre twists like in the original Nier. Nier Automata’s soundtrack stands above anything else I’ve heard in video games(other than maybe the original Nier.)
- Blades in the Dark
BITD is the game that finally made me love tabletop RPGs. I’ve tried to run a few different games, mostly Dungeons & Dragons and Ryuutama. Running these games was difficult for me because it was hard to find the time for planning, and I’m getting bored with generic fantasy settings. BitD came along this year with rules focused on improvisation and an interesting setting different from most tabletop RPGs. BitD shifts most of the plot direction onto the players, the role of the GM is simply to react to their actions. Coming up with ideas on the fly is easy because the rulebook fleshes out the setting so well. I also watch a lot of crime dramas, so the scoundrel theme is easy for me to adapt to (if you aren’t, don’t worry, the book helps). Overall, a great game, and my go-to campaign RPG for the foreseeable future.