Brendan’s Top Ten Video Games of 2017

In Video Games by Brendan ArmstrongLeave a Comment

The last but surely not the least of our personal top ten lists of the year. Here is Brendan’s Top Ten Video Games of 2017. If you would like to view other content click below:

Honourable Mentions:

  • Nioh: A dark souls “clone” though it may be, Nioh forges its own identity with super tight combat and unique fighting styles. Nioh feels like a fresh new entry into this genre, one that will make going back to the souls games far more difficult.
  • Horizon Zero Dawn: feels like the ultimate “ubisoft open world” experience. A game where even climbing “towers” is it’s own unique challenge, it’s hard not to see just how much love has been poured into this. Oh and it looks absolutely phenomenal.
  •  Resident Evil 7: After years of disappointing resident evil entries, Capcom has chosen to follow modern survival horror trends while being as faithful as possible to the series’ root.

Brendan’s Top Ten Video Games of 2017:

10. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

Hellblade achieves something I have yet to see in a game before. Both technically beautiful and telling a fantastic story. Senua, your avatar, suffers from schizophrenia. I have never felt like media portrays mental illness as effectively as Hellblade. Constant whispers from all directions are ceaseless but overall effective. The entire experience gave me a deep empathy, not only for Senua and her quest, but for those who struggle with this illness every single day.

Hellblade is an absolute achievement, a first in what I can only hope is the beginning of a new “AA” trend.

9. Prey (2017)

Prey

 

I have always been a big supporter of the original Bioshock, from the twists to the atmosphere, everything about it sticks with me to this day. This year’s Prey is the closest I have felt to the original Bioshock in a long time. Prey, however, sets itself apart with a unique and creative take on combat and horror. Prey builds a world I want to explore, with a spin on the classic “trapped in a space station with Aliens” tale that keeps you engaged from beginning to end.

Prey is no Bioshock, but what it brings is, in its own right, absolutely worth your time.

8. Divinity Original Sin 2

A superb follow up to the first Divinity:Original Sin, this kickstarter game has improved upon my every criticism. Like the first, DoS2 is both technically and visually impressive. However, the story, characters and world all feel so full of life thanks to the character origin stories and the better quality of writing on the whole.

Brimming with quality content, DoS2 is the best Western RPG I have played in a very, very long time.

7. Night In The Woods

Night in the Woods - Best Video Games of 2017

My “Important to play” game of the year. A night in the woods explores themes I have yet to see explored in games. Mae (the protagonist) is not at all likable at first, one of those “oblivious to the struggles of others” type of people. However, with her you will explore deeper into themes of identity, mental illness and the hopeless cycle of poverty all culminating in a journey of self-reflection for the two of you.

Night in the woods has superb writing and a world built so lovingly you are bound to fall in love with it.

6. Doki Doki Literature Club

Best New Character 2017

Having played games for my entire life, very little surprises me anymore. Doki Doki Literature Club is by far the exception. Posing as a light, hearted Visual Novel, DDLC leans heavily into the genre’s tropes, setting your foundations of expectation, all to shatter everything you think you know in one critical moment. At this point things continue to spiral further and further out of control. If this sounds at all interesting to you, do not read any more. Just go play it, it’s free after all.

For me, Doki Doki Literature Club is a personal story as much as it is a game. This is one visual novel I will heartily recommend to all gamers, not just fans of the genre. Leave your expectations (and sanity) at the door.

5. Nier Automata

 

Personally, I no longer have the time to play through games multiple times. Nier Automata changed that for me this year. After playing through once and being satisfied with my purchase, Nier just kept going, getting more and more insane over time. Having now completed the story, I can say that Nier Automata had my favourite story this year. While I never fully felt I was grasping what was going on, the absolutely phenomenal soundtrack and platinum quality combat meant that it never really mattered. You can get as much out of Nier as you want to put in. I am of the firm belief that not all games need to be accessible, and Nier Automata is the best example of why. The payoff is certainly worth it.

Nier Automata is an experience. A fusion of Platinum games, Yoko Taro and Keiichi Okabe was always going to be an insanely wonderful blend, but Nier Automata still managed to blow my expectations out of the water.

4. Persona 5

Persona 5 was the only game I played for 3 months straight. Persona 5 came out at the same time as Nier and Horizon this year, and while I promised myself I would balance my time between the three, this 100 hour experience just would not let me go. All of your favourite Persona staples are here, a great cast, a story full of twists and turns, capturing and fusing personas and an amazing, unforgettable soundtrack. However, it is what Persona 5 does with these parts that make Persona 5 such a standout this year. Every piece of this game just oozes style. The menus, the way personas are captured through interrogation, the way you execute personas to fuse them. It is all so thematically appropriate but visually stunning and cohesive in a way that really resonated with me.

Persona 5 may not be my favourite Persona game of all time, but I can say that it is the most visually stunning and technically impressive Persona yet. The most stylish game not only of the franchise, but of the entire year in gaming.

3. Super Mario Odyssey

This is the best Mario game since Super Mario Sunshine. Super Mario Odyssey is polished, and the more I played the more I realised how much you appreciate this. The new capture mechanic felt like a gimmick at first, but the more I played the more I felt myself excited to see what I would be capturing next. This all culminates in the final level which feels almost like an homage to Halo. Yes, there are some forgettable levels. Yes, some of the moon’s are uninspiring to collect. Yes, some of the art feels strange with Mario in it. But did any of this affect my Joy? Not at all.

Super Mario Odyssey feels like a return to form for Mario. With Odyssey, it’s not about what you can capture, it’s about the possibilities that open up once you capture something new. Mario Odyssey indulges the player to play the way they want, embracing the possibilities their new mechanics allow for. When people ask me what a game looks like when it is “fun”, I will point to Mario Odyssey.

2. Hollow Knight

Hollow Knight is the best indie game I have played this year. With hauntingly beautiful art accompanied by an often solemn but equally beautiful soundtrack, the world of Hollow Knight kept me coming back even more than the game itself. It is a testament to this game that even my wife, who is by no means somebody who enjoys games, enjoyed me playing this if only to catch a glance at the art and hear the music every so often. What really stands Hollow Knight out from its “Aesthetically beautiful indie game” piers is that the combat and gameplay itself is very tight and well thought out. The game is brutal and often challenging, but it is always “fair” which, in today’s age, is exactly what I expect.

Hollow Knight is another notch in the belt of “Games are art”, but tight gameplay and a surprisingly melancholic but engaging story elevate this above the rest. Hollow Knight is beautiful in every sense of the word, it is not a world I want to leave behind.

1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild

best looking video games of 2017

 

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has changed not only the direction for Zelda, but gaming as a whole. In a time of “Open World” fatigue, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild managed to outclass them all, not by being perfect, but simply turning up player freedom to 11. The world of Breath of the Wild is beautiful visually and technically amazing. The fact that this massive game can run so well on the Switch in both docked and undocked mode is a real marvel. The soundtrack no longer has the memorable jaunts of past entries, but now exists as a kind of living entity, that subtly accompanies the visual design of the world to enhance it, rather than trying to overshadow it. On the surface, combat is simple. When I began to explore deeper however, a whole new world of possibilities opened for me.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is my game of the year. In a year filled to the brim with great games, Breath of the Wild stands tall above the rest. The beauty in this world, the creativity the mechanics encourage, the exploration, the music, everything culminates into a game that is just an absolute pleasure to experience. I look forward to what comes next for Zelda.