Games came out in 2017.
I did not play most of them.
In the spirit of keeping it on the level with y'all in 2018, this is a site run by a group of friends, who don’t have all the money to buy all the games, so we each have our methods to what games we get and how.
I get stuff that is either a must-have (to my tastes), or an indie game (usually cheaper), so there are a ton of AAA titles not on my list because…… I didn’t wanna pay to play.
It’s a touch of quantity over quality for me. I want to find those diamonds in the rough (or that's how I'll frame it anyways).
Maybe I’m that guy who only listens to indie music - “No, I didn’t hear the new TayTay album, but Musk Parasyte released a probably-top-10 all-time power-lute album….”
Anyway, this list is a reflection of that - I played a ton of games, but not a ton of them captured my attention for any number of reasons, but these 5 really got me from beginning to end.
5. TINY METAL
A love letter to Advance Wars; if that was the description I gave you, then TINY METAL is exactly what you think it would be - a turn-based strategy game, played out on a grid. Characters carry the same cutesy/anime aesthetic, just moved from 2D pixels into the polygon 3D world. It’s all set to the same rock-paper-scissors game strategy, where every unit has it’s strengths and weaknesses against one another and it’s up to you to ensure you’re using the units in the right way.
Yes, it’s all very formulaic, but they did exactly what they set out to do - fill the niche that is Advance Wars. It being on a Nintendo handheld only adds to the nostalgia - well, that handheld being the Switch (you may begin to notice a trend after this).
4. Floor Kids
This game comes out of left field - announced just prior to PAX as a Nindies title, the hand drawn graphics and hip-hop beats meant I was already 80% bought into the game, but once I tested it out at PAX, I was instantly sold.
After speaking with the team a bit, I learned that this title had actually been in development for a few years as a mobile game and had been making the rounds at mobile game shows, but they had teething issues with assigning dance moves to touch-screen controls.
In stepped Nintendo, providing a lot of exposure to the game, and solving one of the core issues - the team was to develop for the Switch, meaning they could use a common controller layout (there goes that Switch again, bringing the heat).
I love every bit of the game - the art, the Kid Koala beats, the whole thing reminds me of why we loved video games to begin with.
3. Battle Chef Brigade
We have followed this title for 3 years or so, which means I feel a small bit of satisfaction upon it's release.
I've fawned over the title many times here, from it's multiple game types rolled into one, the hand-drawn art style, and it's ambitious world building and story telling.
Like Floor Kids, this was also to become a Nindies title and find itself on the Switch upon release (dat theme tho). For me, it's release delivered on everything the game had promised and then some. Yes, there are some technical quirks in the frame-rate department, but it never deterred from the experience and beauty of the game.
Few titles push me to see them through to completion anymore; this is one of those titles, and it is a must-play in my opinion.
*It is also my indie game of 2017.
2. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Zelda games hold a special place in my heart. From the very first entry, I've played and loved every entry. Each release was essentially the catalyst for my purchase of the newest Nintendo Console (since I could afford to buy them myself anyways).
It's the exactly reason why I don't own a WiiU.
It was the entire reason I bought a new Switch, which was the best gaming purchase I made in 2017 (4 Switch games in a row? Boy did that pay off).
The game was as different and epic as everyone told you it was. An open world, vibrant and varied, inviting you to search every nook and cranny for it's secrets. Exploration and freedom was the main theme, pushing you to continue into new lands and experiences. In a way, it's probably the closest thing to a sequel of the original Zelda on the NES - it doesn't hold your hand or tell you where to go, it's up to you to figure it out.
So why #2 and not #1?
It has everything to do with expectations.
While I love the new approach that allows for total freedom of exploration, the LoZ series is known for it's tight, engrossing narrative. Normally this is done through a very linear experience that has you go from one dungeon to the next, using your newly acquired skills/equipment to conquer the next dungeon and get a new skill/equipment - rinse/repeat. That tight narrative is lost in an open world. It may be unfair, but if there was a team that would be able to incorporate the two, I would have believed it to be Nintendo, so there was a minor disconnect there. I acknowledge that it's totally biased, and I'm okay with that. It doesn't diminish the game in my eyes, it just was different from my expectations of both the game and the development team.
Smaller things like the soundtrack missing it's iconic tracks, and how simplistic the final boss actually was are smaller things that I didn't really notice until I had finally finished the main story line and spent 60+ hours exploring the world - that is to say, it was an epic game that everyone should play, it just missed the mark slightly for me in the tiniest of ways.
(I'm basically the Russian Olympic judges)
Going back to that idea of expectations - I think NieR had the advantage here in that I had none. I didn't even buy it when it first came out - I waited until it went on sale and picked it up on a whim because I usually love Platinum Games titles, so I figured this one would be enjoyable.
Those expectations were blown out of the water in every way.
Yes, it was a Platinum Games title, so you had some crazy melee fighting with the trademark Bayonetta "Witch Time" dodge mechanic (also seen in Vanquish, Metal Gear Rising, Transformers: Devastation) so I'm on board immediately.
PG even showed some cool touches of creativity by making portions of the game play different from the rest - you will find a 2D platformer, a top-down SHMUP, and fishing (always a plus).
Those technical aspects were all executed very well, and while the graphics weren't next level, they were adequate and in no way detract from the experience.
I want to add that, in addition to that experience, the soundtrack is some next level ish. Some wonderfully crafted music was written for this game, and the techniques run the gamut - from simple guitar tunes, to full electronic dance beats, to haunting pipe organs, to full orchestral symphonies accompanied by a choir.
It's not just the music, but where it's used and how it's used. You may hear familiar tunes throughout the world, but small changes may be used to convey a sense of innocence, or calm, or danger. It's an amazing touch that really vaults the game in a way few others ever have.
So it was a very solid game, but that doesn't even tell the whole story. The big deal here is..... well, the story.
It starts off pretty straight forward - you are a battle android; the last line of defense for humanity's remnants which have taken refuge on the moon, and your task is to cleanse the Earth of the alien robot invasion.
You meet other androids and robots scattered throughout the game in various states of mind or disrepair - both as enemies and allies - and begin to learn what motivates these characters; learn of their stories and experiences, sometimes first hand, as you play as a few different characters through the game.
Some robots have found a way beyond their programming of defeating the androids and seek their own way of life. Some robots seek a deeper truth in philosophy, or in beauty, or in family.
Some androids have gone rogue. Some androids have secrets.
So that straight forward story line takes a couple turns and begins asking questions. Questions like - what makes a human? Could the human experience be experienced by something other than a human? Are machines capable of love, empathy, sadness, or hope? What pushes us forward, knowing that futility is the most likely outcome?
It was an experience, wrapped up in a wonderful game, and it's my Game of the Year for 2017.