Ben's 5 Favorite Games of 2017
2017 for me will be defined not by the games I did have a chance to play, but by the ones I didn't. Nier: Automata, Gravity Rush 2, Nioh, Resident Evil 7, Yakuza 0, Persona 5, What Remains of Edith Finch, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, and Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice are just a small taste of the games I didn't have the chance to experience in 2017. In the case of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Pyre, and Injustice 2, I barely touched these, failing to spend enough time to even formulate an educated opinion on any of them one way or another. By all accounts, 2017 was an historic year for gaming, and I've come to terms with the fact that I'll remember its history as playing out before my eyes while I watched as a mostly innocent bystander on the sidelines. 2017 will haunt my backlog for years to come -- there's no question -- and I'm hoping, pledging to do better with the titles that 2018 has to offer. So while I may not have played many of the past year's heavy hitters, I still spent a fair bit of time gaming in 2017, and had a ton of fun in the process. So with that said, in no particular order, here are five of my favorite gaming experiences of the last year.
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC | Developer: Bungie
Part of the reason I didn't get to sample as many of 2017's biggest offerings as I would've liked is because I spent much of the year playing Destiny in one of its various forms, and I'm ok with that. From celebrating my time with Destiny 1 by participating in the "Ages of Triumph" at the beginning of the year, to jumping into Destiny 2 at midnight on September 6th, to diving head first into its first expansion, "Curse of Osiris," in recent days, I poured dozens and dozens of hours into Bungie's shared world shooter in 2017, spending a good chunk of my allotted gaming time with the title (much the same way I have the two years prior). Destiny 2 is by no means a flawless game; my issues with the title have been well-documented on our podcast and across the internet as whole in recent months (I share many of the same concerns the community at large harbors, specifically with regards to the endgame and its rewards). That said, it's a game I don't regret playing as much as I have for a single solitary minute. It's still the best console shooter this gen, with the best gameplay, the best gunplay, and the best "feel" of any FPS around. Cooperative play remains an incredible experience, and with the promise of continued evolution and changes based on fan feedback, Destiny 2 is a game I'll be playing incessantly for a long time to come. I, for one, can't wait to see what's next for the title!
Platforms: PS4, PC | Developer: Housemarque
It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of developer Housemarque. I've closely followed their meteoric rise to prominence and modern career -- from Super Stardust HD to Matterfall -- and I've spent dozens and dozens and dozens of hours addicted to their unique brand of arcade action over the course of the last 10 years. So it should come as no surprise that I fell head over heels in love with Nex Machina when it released last summer. Blazing fast action, super tight twin-stick gunplay, addictive score chasing mechanics, a pulsing techno soundtrack, all of the usual Housemarque suspects are here. While a few more play modes would have been nice, the arcade mode is infinitely replayable and the subtle tweaks to the tried-and-true Housemarque formula make this a familiar-yet-unique member of the developer's legendary pantheon. This is a must-play for arcade action fans.
Platforms: Xbox One, PC | Developer: Studio MDHR
I'm kind of cheating with this one. While I really enjoyed the time I got to spend with Cuphead in 2017, I've recently picked the game back up early this year in an effort to finish what I started months ago. Cuphead is just so damn good. The run-and-gun gameplay is polished and smooth, the bosses are incredibly fun and intricate with a plethora of interesting mechanics to contend with, and the soundtrack is one of the year's best. Oh, and it doesn't hurt that the hand-drawn, old animation-style graphics and presentation make this one of the best looking games I've ever played. Add in an upgrade system that feels just right for this kind of game (not too complicated, not too simple) and an addictive grading system to master throughout each of the game's devilishly tough stages, and you've got a game that's tough to find any faults with. It's crazy to think I ever put this game down to begin with! Bravo Studio MDHR!
Super Mario Odyssey
Platform: Switch | Developer: Nintendo Entertainment Planning & Development
Mario has always been my favorite Nintendo mascot, so when it was announced that he'd be returning to the Switch in a classic 3D adventure along the lines of Super Mario 64 or Super Mario Sunshine, I was pumped! Where Super Mario Odyssey excels is in its sense of adventure and exploration. Each level is an intricately designed sandbox full of wonder and discovery, and you never know what you're going to find around the next corner. It's amazing how many different mechanics and gameplay experiences Nintendo was able to cram into each of the game's distinct environments. While I don't know that Super Mario Odyssey is the transcendent or transformative experience some have made it out to be, there's no denying that it is an exceptional 3D Mario game. With 999 moons to collect, I've got a lot more to see and do before all is said and done. It looks like I'll be on this odyssey for a long time to come!
Platforms: PS4, PC | Developer: Thunder Lotus Games
Sundered is an incredible blending of the Roguelike and Metroidvania sub-genres, and -- in my humble opinion -- it's by far the most underrated game of 2017. While Sundered may throw you for a loop at first with its degree of difficulty and relentless enemy hordes, those that stick with the game. learn its nuances, and let it dig its hook into them are in for a hell of a 2D action-platformer experience. Combat is a fluid, almost Dark Souls-inspired ballet of attacks and dodges, the power-ups are fun to use and pair well with the combat system, bosses are absolutely massive and fun to take down, and the game's sprawling skill tree legitimately makes you feel like you're getting stronger with every skill point you spend. I also love the game's "Resist or Embrace" mechanic, allowing players to enhance their abilities based on how they decide to play the game. To top it all off, the game is drop dead gorgeous. Just as Cuphead excels with its unique graphical take on an old early 20th century cartoon, Sundered's phenomenal hand drawn art is a sight to behold in motion. Animation is fluid, and the creature design is amongst the best I've seen in recent memory. Sundered really is a twisted Disney animation cell come to life. While technical issues rear their ugly head from time to time, they're a minor gripe in the grand scheme of things and don't take away from the fantastic experience this game has to offer. If you missed Sundered amidst the shuffle of incredible games released in 2017, do yourself a favor and make it a priority to experience one of the best Metroidvania titles we've seen this generation. Play this game!
That's it! While 2017 was a banner year for video games, I'm equally as excited for all of the wonderful looking titles on the docket for 2018. It's a great time to be a gamer! What did you, fair reader, think of my list? Sound off in the comments below, and let me know your favorite games of 2017!