We think many people will look back on 2017 and think that it was a pretty golden year for games. With AAA titles really hitting their stride at the mid-point of the console generation, 4K gaming taking off, indie titles serving up a number of surprises and the phenomenal success of PUBG and other battle royale games, there’s been plenty to write about.
However, the rise of loot boxes has even made mainstream news sites, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that in 2018 and beyond, either the scope of many games may have to reduce, or the cost of games has to rise to make the risks financially viable for even big publishers.
Having said that, it’s been fantastic to see a number of franchises get back to their best, perhaps most notably with Assassin’s Creed, and only a few games (Need for Speed Payback and Mass Effect Andromeda amongst others) disappoint in a year which has seen a rich vein of releases. As ever, there’s a backlog for me to get through over the festive period, and I’m looking forwards to picking up AC and South Park, both of which scored fantastically well from Joe when he reviewed them.
As ever, each of our main writers have listed out their own personal top five games of the year – enjoy and please leave a comment if you disagree!
5. Resident Evil VII (Joe)
Much like its zombie foes of yore, Resident Evil is back from the dead. RE7 did the impossible this year and cleared its name, a mean feat considering how muddy that name had gotten in the last decade. With a brave but ultimately brilliant switch to first person and a reinstatement of series staples RE7 was at once an old friend and something terrifyingly new.
If you had the stones to brave this one – be it in front of a TV or from the inside of a VR headset – my hat goes off to you – Resident Evil 7 was the rebirth this series desperately needed, and one I can’t wait to see iterated upon.
5. Dirt 4 (Ian)
It seems like Codemasters have a bit of a stranglehold on my top 5, with F1 2016 making the cut last year. But the British developer seemingly has a talismanic ability to develop simply excellent racing games to the point where most of the competition seems unnecessary. F1 2017 was an excellent update, but it was mostly smart iterations, whereas Dirt 4 expertly blended some of the more hardcore elements of Dirt Rally with some of the more accessible parts of the previous generation of Codie’s rally games.
With cross-discipline racing and a random track generator, it’s a hugely generous game too in terms of content. Oh, and it looks awesome too.
4. Nier Automata (Joe)
The original Nier was a game I loved but never recommended to people – it had an incredible story but was a janky mess when it came to gameplay. For the surprise sequel, Nier Automata was handed to action-game-masters Platinum games and, thanks to their phenomenal design, Nier became a game I was shouting at people to play. I’m thrilled to see how well it’s done, as creator Yoko Taro deserves every success that comes his way.
The man is a visionary and Nier Automata may be his best yet – if you haven’t already tried this bizarre sci-fi hack-n-slash RPG featuring 26 different endings and a cavalcade of emotional gut punches , what the hell are you doing reading this article? Go fix that oversight right now!
4. Torment: Tides of Numenera (Ian)
Torment is a bit of an RPG classic, and Numenera is one of my favourite pen-and-paper RPGs, so it’s not much of a surprise to see this making my top 5! But with some expertly written science fantasy, systems that allow for stealth and talking as well as brute force, and a surprising amount of replayability, Torment: Tides of Numenera is a genuinely excellent RPG game in its own right.
Few other games have made me laugh as much or kept me as engaged by the different story threads, whilst the mechanics of the tabletop game also translated excellently to console.
3. Super Mario Odyssey (Joe)
Super Mario Odyssey is a treat from start to finish. Featuring Nintendo’s boundless imagination and endless flair for fun gave this title a spot on every Game of the Year list out there, but it’s the wonder and surprise that awaits players around every corner that ensures it will be remembered for many more years to come.
It’s strange that in a game where you often leave Mario behind, possessing and playing as anything you can throw your hat at, Nintendo have found their richest vein of pure Mario goodness. Months on I’m still playing this one, and I foresee myself coming back to it for the foreseeable future.
3. PLAYERUNKNOWNS’ BATTLEGROUNDS (PUBG) (Ian)
I can’t see PUBG being off too many GOTY lists, despite technically not being out yet (although by the time of this article’s publication it will have technically made 1.0 on PC). The combination of scavenging, making your way across the vast map and the ever-encroaching blue walls of death make for a tense and exciting experience unlike any other.
Sure, there’s bugs and glitches, especially on console, but when you’re camped out in the top 10, panicking about where the other players are, hoping to get that chicken dinner, it’s a super feeling.
2. Hollow Knight (Joe)
Holy cow, this might just be the Metroidvania to end all Metroidvanias. I only recently got round to playing Hollow Knight, an indie darling which released early in the year that had previous passed me by, but I’m so glad I didn’t miss it entirely. Hollow Knight is a beautiful, atmospheric, melancholy romp into a dark-fantasy world of bugs and spirits and, after a week of nearly solid play, it rocketed into my favourite games of all time.
It’s full to bursting with sprawling areas, heartbreaking story beats and incredible boss battles that had me screaming and whooping in equal measure, and for 15 euro it’s got to be some of the best value for money I’ve ever gotten from the medium. I urge anyone with the slightest interest in the genre to play this one right now – you’ll thank me later.
2. Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus (Ian)
Another year, another single-player focused shooter from iD makes my list – who’d have thought?! Wolfenstein: The New Colossus is stupendously silly, but has a remarkably close-to-the-bone plot that takes some pokes at the Trump administration whilst at the same time having you nuke Roswell, kill your racist old dad, watch Hitler piss himself, see your own execution and go to space.
Wolfenstein would have been an easy no.1 if the game itself was as good as the story. The shooting and gunplay are excellent, but it’s just too hard a game overall, even on the easiest settings.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Joe)
I didn’t want to say it back in March when I reviewed Breath of the Wild – it felt too fresh, my feelings weren’t to be trusted – so I restrained myself. Now, nearly nine months on, I can say with perfect, earnest clarity: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is my favourite game of all time.
2017 has been one of the best years in gaming for as long as I can remember – to think that phenomenal titles like Persona 5, Nioh, Destiny 2, Yakuza 0 and Horizon, to name but a few, didn’t make the cut should prove how ridiculous the competition has been. But, for the entire year, Breath of the Wild sat effortlessly at the top of the heap, unchallenged.
I’ve never felt so free in a video game before, so rewarded for my curiosity and so engaged in adventure. For a series that has always struggled with open-world game design I’m still floored by how masterfully BotW bucked that trend, and the industry at large will never be the same after Hyrule proved how to do things right. It’s not a perfect game, and since playing another two hundred hours since my review I’ve accumulated a laundry list of things I’d love to see done differently in a sequel, but in the face of everything that Breath of the Wild nails, they just don’t matter. This is the bravest and best game Nintendo have ever made, and I love it.
1. Super Mario Odyssey (Ian)
Super Mario Odyssey is the first Mario game I’ve completed since Mario 64 (when I was also 13 and had much more time on my hands!). It’s the finest looking, playing and performing 3D platformer to be released since… Mario 64 for that matter.
Whilst it doesn’t help redefine the genre in the same way 64 did, Odyssey still has plenty of tricks up its sleeve from a gameplay perspective, and it really uses the Switch Hardware to the max as well.
With improbably precise controls, humourous moments and the most interesting story that a Mario game’s ever had, Odyssey is a well-deserving winner this year.
This is the very first time that 2 Nintendo games (both on the Nintendo Switch) gets the GAME OF THE YEAR award! Hope you liked our GOTY list and see you again in 2018!
The GamerKnights Team
Bjorn, Ian & Joe.