OPINION: Top 10 Video Games of 2017 & Everything Else I Played.

Well shit, I was so stuck on finishing a healthy amount of my backlog that I only completed ten games from 2017. One of them is just DLC from my GOTY last year (Dark Souls III) and I barely like number ten at all! Why didn’t I play more 2017 games? I beat 17 other games from my backlog this year (see the list below the Top 10), played Dota 2 for about 2-3 hours a week, and I’m currently about 20 hours into Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition while also 10 hours into Persona 5. My greatest regrets this year were choosing to beat Sonic Mania and the Ratchet & Clank remake instead of Nier: Automata, and I regret not having played Mass Effect: Andromeda yet because despite all of it’s flaws I enjoy the Mass Effect world, plus I paid full price for it and shelved it immediately. Keep in mind I’m limited to a PS4 Pro and a moderately powerful PC. As strong as Nintendo games look, the Switch is not yet worth it’s cost and I don’t see a long life for the system. Similarly, I have no interest in buying an Xbox because all of the games are workable on my PC. I did however purchase an SNES Classic Mini which I have played exactly once! If you want to buy it from me, send me an e-mail.

 #, Title (Studio, Platform)  Description of Suggested Greatness

10. Sonic Mania

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(Headcannon/PagodaWest, PS4)

Rating: 3.0/5.0

Fuck! Whatever, this was supposed to be goddamn Cuphead but I never finished the game. I’d honestly rather talk about Cuphead here so yeah, Cuphead is great. Sonic Mania? Not so great! Good, and a nice return to the style of my favorite video game when I was like eight years old. But hey folks let’s just let all of our nostalgia die along with the horrendous traditions of white privilege, sexism, racism, religion, pandering to oppressive corporations, winter holidays, and living life without a bidet! I enjoyed this game for at least an hour and finishing it was a slog through bland and unfinished level design. Some of the level gimmicks were great but overall this shows that it just wasn’t worth it to keep asking for this game since 1996. This is only here because I only finished 8 -real- games that were released in 2017 and I needed 10.

9. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

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(Ninja Theory, PC)

Rating: 3.0/5.0

I’ve been living with chronic depression since about age seven and playing video games almost exactly as long, so anytime I have the chance to play a game that deals with mental illness in a respectful way I jump right in. While I do have issues with some of the puzzles, the timed mechanic of things, and the lack of certain explanations I did find Senua’s story touching and disturbing at the same time. The combat is basically Infinity Blade, and lacks enough nuance to avoid repetition becoming dull but the experience as a whole is succinct and very well polished. As an experience this was memorable but I felt like the more I read about it, heard folks sort it out in podcasts, and thought about it myself Hellblade lost a little bit of it’s visceral luster over time. I’ll never get over how cool the ‘voices in your head’ are in this game.

8. Dark Souls III: The Ringed City DLC

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(From Software, PS4)

Rating: 4.0/5.0

Dark Souls III was this huge undertaking for me as I first played it during a home renovation. I got the Platinum while I was negotiating my divorce last year, and by the time this second DLC came out I’d moved to Seattle and was already on New Game+7 (I had beaten the game 6 times with the same character, each time the game gets harder). The Ringed City is fan service and innovation in equal measures, it attempts to tie up every meaningful loose end that it can and the whole thing ends with two of the most amazing boss fights from the series. Beating the final boss, then going back for the optional Darkeater Midir dragon on the hardest possible difficulty, mostly solo, was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done in a video game and the perfect way to say goodbye to Dark Souls.

7. Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age

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(Virtuos Games, PS4)

Rating: 4.75/5.0

The Playstation 2 was home to the peak of JRPG creativity and presentation before the art-form largely died a slow death on PS3 and Vita. This has long been one of my favorite Final Fantasy games outside of the 2D ones and I couldn’t wait to replay it in HD after finding Final Fantasy XV way, way too similar in structure and far lighter in actual content. I spent a ton of time with this game thanks to the fast-forward feature for grinding and such, I explored more places than I’d ever seen in the game and I found new appreciation for the story. This is easily the best remaster Square-Enix have outsourced yet and it reminded me of how much I love JRPGs and gave inspiration to continue to play Persona 5 into 2018 despite it’s high time investment.

6. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

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(Machine Games, PS4)

Rating: 3.5/5.0

The moment I finished watching the reveal trailer for this latest Wolfenstein game I bought The New Order and The Old Blood and played them both so much that I managed a Platinum trophy for each. I must have replayed each level in both games a minimum of 5 times doing everything. This cursed my enjoyment of this game because The New Colossus doesn’t entirely hold up by direct comparison. The second game has inferior shooting, confounding level design, and plot twists that are sometimes more shocking than they are meaningful. It plays out like a Watchmen style visual novel and for all of the amazing beats in the story the gameplay itself resembles Doom (2016) in that you’re forced to run around guns blazing to alt-metal guitar chugging rather than use the stealth tactics that made the first game in this reboot so amazing.

 5. The Surge

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(Deck 13, PS4)

Rating: 4.0/5.0

I put off playing The Surge for months as I beat Horizon, Prey, and finished Nioh‘s DLC because when it came out it seemed like the mainstream video games press was nonplussed by it and compared it to Lords of the Fallen (which was mediocre). Well, no surprise that most folks were wrong. Sure it needs more variety but as a 15-20 hour Dark Souls-style game that uses mecha-style science fiction in a botched corporate terraforming plot. The combat is fast like Bloodborne and tactical in a very pleasing way. Working towards upgrades while moving through the excellent self-looping levels is a gameplay loop I can always get behind and The Surge does it better than most.

4. Horizon: Zero Dawn

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(Guerrilla Games, PS4)

Rating: 3.75/5.0

Horizon offers an interesting take on the third person open world  genre by combining Far Cry’s jungles, Tomb Raider’s traversal/combat and Last of Us style on-the-fly crafting  with storytelling very similar to the original Mass Effect trilogy. While it might sound like a mess these things work together wonderfully in a relatively bug-free world populated by interesting robotic beasts, compelling NPCs and a story that is ultimately satisfying until they throw a bone out there for a sequel. I kinda feel like my review and score took the bullshit ending too much into account. It is also probably the most visually appealing game I’ve ever played.

3. WipeOut: Omega Collection

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(EPOS Game Studios, PS4)

Rating: 4.0/5.0

Yes, two remasters and some DLC on my 2017 list. It can’t be helped. It wasn’t that it was such a slow year but that it was a year where I prioritized the games I’d already bought over the ones I wanted to buy next. WipeOut: Omega Collection takes the PS3 WipeOut games and pairs them with remastered versions of the Vita games and gives them all new music and 4K capable visuals. These are my all time favorite racing games and I’ve spend countless hours zipping through these tracks online and against AI. It is relaxing, has bumpin’ tunes, and the best feeling racing/combat of any series including Mario Kart (which is for fucking babies!).

2. Prey

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(Arkane Studios, PS4)

Rating: 4.25/5.0

Prey would be my number one album of 2017 if I hadn’t spent about 300 hours playing the number one game. Everything about Prey appeals to me from the revisionist history space station disaster to the psychological thriller aspects of the story. The immersive simulation/first person RPG genre has never felt so good with equal parts Bioshock, Deus Ex, and System Shock influencing its design. By the end of the experience I felt this is basically the best metroidvania of the last decade and haven’t stopped thinking about the game since I finished it. It was really hard to go play Wolfenstein II after this, because you have such insane freedom by the end of Prey that other games just feel limiting and old fashioned.

1. Nioh

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+ Dragon of the North, Defiant Honor, & Bloodshed’s End DLC

(Team Ninja, PS4)

Rating: 5.0/5.0

I was a Nioh fanatic from the moment I fired up the first Beta test. Once the game was released I was playing it 4-5 hours a day even when I didn’t necessarily have the time to do it. On days that I worked I’d get home at 10pm and play until 2am, I completely gave up playing Dota 2 (hard habit to curb, for me) and got lost in Nioh’s levels for hundreds of hours. There is an incredible amount of content here and your first playthrough could reach 80 hours even if you avoid grinding out loot and just go for collectibles and finishing every available challenge/level. Oh, and then there’s three giant DLC packs to play through which add tons more content. Nioh always has more to do, it is incredibly deep as an action RPG to begin with but there are copious co-op modes, PvP fights, a clan system, it reminds me of playing Diablo II back in the day where it seemed like I could play it with friends endlessly. It outdoes From Software at their own game while improving upon the failings of the Ninja Gaiden series tenfold.

So, wait if I barely played ten games in 2017 what was I doing with all of my time? First of all games take a long fucking time to finish. Secondly I was playing games from my extensive backlog! I looked over at a shelf full of about 30 games that were still shrink-wrapped and I realized I’d basically bought a ton of games in 2016 and then spent 6 months playing nothing but Sega Genesis games on an emulator. Obviously not a bad choice but I really only finished Dark Souls III and the PS4 version of Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin, though a few of these games I’d mostly finished in 2016 as I played them off and on. So here is a list of the games I played and finished in 2017, that should more than make up for the lack of games actually released in 2017. This is the most progress I’ve ever made in my backlog in one year. They’re in order of how good they are.

  1. Bloodborne + DLC (Finished Platinum trophy)
  2. Witcher III: The Wild Hunt (no DLC yet)
  3. Wolfenstein: The New Order (Finished Platinum trophy)
  4. Dishonored: Definitive Edition + DLC
  5. Wolfenstein: The Old Blood
  6. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
  7. Lords of the Fallen
  8. SteamWorld Dig
  9. Final Fantasy XV (Finished Platinum trophy, no DLC)
  10. Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor + DLC
  11. Rise of the Tomb Raider
  12. Doom
  13. Transistor
  14. Ratchet & Clank
  15. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
  16. Star Ocean: Integrity & Faithlessness
  17. Dota 2 (2900+ matches to date, and about as many hours…)

 

And here are the new additions to my pile of shame. A short list of 2017 games I didn’t have time to finish or play before the end of the year:

  • Persona 5 (Currently playing. 10+ hours)
  • Cuphead (Currently playing on PC. 2nd world.)
  • Nier: Automata (Unopened)
  • Battle Chasers: Nightwar (Unopened)
  • Assassin’s Creed: Origins (Unopened)
  • Dishonored: Death of the Outsider (Bought with Dishonored 2, playing that first)

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