Frankie's Top 10 Games of 2017
2017 has been one of my favorite years in gaming in many years. Not only were there tons of incredible games to play, but I actually played a large majority of the titles I wanted to! I found myself with a list of completed games totaling nearly 30 titles! It’s been several years since I last accomplished such a feat. With that being said, it was really hard to whittle this list down to just five favorite games like most of my fellow Short Pausians are planning to do – so I’ve compiled a list of my top 10 games of 2017 instead!
10) Horizon: Zero Dawn
Platform: PS4 | Developer: Guerilla Games
I didn’t find myself head over heels in love with this game in the same way many others have. It’s a fantastic game with some insanely fun gameplay, but the story just didn’t quite do it for me. Despite that, the world was very fun to explore and Aloy’s abilities and weaponry made tackling the robotic dinosaurs inhabiting the world an absolute blast. While the story didn’t exactly blow me away like I had hoped it would, it was still very enjoyable and uplifting to watch Aloy triumph over the many challenges she faced throughout my time in her shoes.
9) The Surge
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC | Developer: Deck13
Completing either a Souls or a Souls-like game has been a goal of mine for a few years now. I’ve always been on the outside looking in with these kinds of games as they require a great deal of time and patience – two things I have very little of most days. 2017 brought developer Deck 13’s sci-fi take on the Souls-like formula with The Surge, a game which I had the good fortune of reviewing for the site! This was the first title that really made me happy with my PS4 Pro purchase. The option to play this game at a rock solid 60 frames per second made the moment-to-moment action feel frantic and fluid as I progressed through the Creo facility. Adding a Dead Space-esque dismemberment system to the mix kept combat interesting as I waded through the various enemies and larger-than-life bosses I encountered on my journey. It feels great to have come out on the other end of one of these titles (with my controller intact!), and I look forward to finding the time to tackle the DLC in the coming months.
8) Halo Wars 2
Platform: Xbox One | Developer(s): Creative Assembly/343 Industries
Games that resonate well with me in genres I don’t typically dabble in tend to stand out over other, more familiar genre experiences (like Horizon in this case). Halo Wars 2 is the first RTS title I’ve played in about 15 years, and boy did it suck me in. Playing cooperatively with Brent was fun, but the game really dug its claws into me when I went back to finish the campaign on my own. Learning the roles of my various troops and how to best utilize them in combat quickly made the game infinitely more enjoyable for me, as Brent and I often relied on brute force to push our way to victory prior. Some story beats are misfires but, overall, I found myself engaged with the tale being told here as Cutter’s squad took the fight to Atriox and his troops. Even if you want to resort to the brute force method like I did early on, Halo Wars 2 is worth a play through for the story alone. Much like The Surge, I can’t wait to find some spare time to tackle the Awakening the Nightmare DLC!
7) What Remains of Edith Finch/Last Day of June
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC (Edith Finch)/PS4, PC (Last Day of June) | Developers: Giant Sparrow (Edith Finch)/Ovosonico (Last Day of June)
Any time I saw any pre-release footage of What Remains of Edith Finch, I was always left baffled. “Why would I be controlling a tentacle?” was one of the most vivid questions I remember pondering after one of the trailers that released last year. It wasn’t until Bender began singing this game’s praises that I finally decided to dedicate a night to seeing what Edith Finch had to offer. Now, you may have noticed that I’ve included The Last Day of June with this as well. These games aren’t necessarily one and the same, but both left a lasting impression on me with the stories they told. Both games offer an incredible journey, but share a common theme in that sometimes, no matter what you change or overcome, you can’t alter your fate. Both titles are sure to invoke “the feels,” but you’ll be glad you experienced the stories they had to tell.
6) Mages of Mystralia
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC | Developer: Borealys Games
After hearing Bender talk about his experience with this game at PAX South, it immediately found itself on my radar. Zia's journey was an enjoyable adventure as she grew into her role alongside her fellow Mages. Boasting a complex yet fun-to-experiment-with spell-crafting system and a colorful world full of danger with which to test out those spells, it's hard not to fall in love with Borealys Games’ debut title. Mystralia was one of those games I had a hard time putting down as I was playing through it, and I found myself in awe of some of the spells you can create. Presenting a fine mix of challenging puzzles and beautiful areas to explore, I'd be willing to bet you won't regret giving this underrated gem a chance.
5) The Sexy Brutale
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC | Developer(s): Cavalier Game Studios/Tequila Works
A murder mystery title set in a casino mansion with a colorful cast of characters that you have to figure out how to save...I think it's easy to see why this would have been appealing to me! Players take on the roll of Lafcadio Boone as he attempts to prevent the horrific murders of a group of guests that were invited to a masquerade ball at The Sexy Brutale Casino. Tequila Works really helped Cavalier Game Studios bring this game’s beautiful world to life as they signed on to help design The Sexy Brutale’s gorgeously dreadful world. Each room has a life of its own, so you’ll want to search every inch of for clues and collectibles. The twisted story serves as the cherry on top of this absolutely delightful experience as you uncover the truth behind not only the death of each guest, but some secrets buried deep within the mansion as well. This was my first ever 1000GS title on my Xbox, and one of these days I intend to run back through the game on the PS4 to add that Platinum Trophy to my collection!
4) Middle-Earth: Shadow of War
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC | Developer: Monolith Productions
I was in awe when this game was revealed earlier this year. I always figured Shadow of Mordor would get a sequel, but I wasn't expecting it to launch so soon after being revealed! Shadow of War took the foundation laid by its predecessor and dialed it up to 11 as we got new areas to explore and conquer, along with more tools added to the groundbreaking Nemesis system that Monolith introduced in Shadow of Mordor. Accompanying this welcome growth is an epic story that sees Talion question his involvement in Celebrimbor's grand plans to take down Sauron. Shadow of War possessed everything I hoped for in a sequel to one of the best games we saw in 2014. While the transition from the breakneck pacing of Act 3 to the total grind session of Act 4 may have sullied my final impression of the game (and that’s why the game sits at the bottom of my top five instead of near the top), Shadow of War remains a title I still play today as I'm in the midst of finishing Act 4 and cleaning up any remaining trophies I’ve yet to earn. I didn't get the chance to try for the Platinum with Shadow of Mordor, but I'm well on my way to earning it here with its worthy sequel. Don't let the scare tactics around Shadow of War’s loot boxes stop you from enjoying one of the best gaming experiences of 2017!
3) The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Platforms: Switch, Wii U | Developer: Nintendo Entertainment Planning & Development
Like many, I was extremely excited when my Amazon package containing my shiny new Nintendo Switch and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild arrived on March 3rd. Horizon: Zero Dawn was pushed to the backburner, and I had literally completed The Witcher 3 that very morning, but that didn't stop me from immediately plunging myself into the massive world encompassing Link's latest adventure. Breath of the Wild is a very challenging title as you try to wrap your head around the stamina system, your weapons breaking at any moment, and the breadth of secrets scattered around the world for you to uncover. Bender, myself, and our good friend JD (from the Play and Listen Gaming Podcast) chronicled our (mis)adventures through the game with our “Playing By the Hyrules” spoilercast series of discussions, edited and assembled by Bender himself. This was the first Zelda game I'd seen through to completion, and it represents one of the most satisfying notches in the game completion belt for me this year. It's a must-play title should you have found a Switch under your Christmas tree this year. It'll start out pretty tough, but if you give it the chance and time, the payoff is worth the dozens of hours you'll sink into exploring and seeking out shrines on your journey to defeat Calamity Ganon.
2) Yakuza 0
Platform: PS4 | Developer: Sega
Ever since I dabbled with Yakuza 5 on the PS3 a few years ago, I'd been interested in playing through the series. With the earlier games in the series rooted on the PS2 and costing a pretty penny, it seemed out of my grasp at the time. Fast forward a couple of years, and a prequel title in Yakuza 0 is brought West alongside the announcement of a remake of the first Yakuza title. Everything was “coming up Milhouse” as they say, so I happily took the series plunge with Yakuza 0 and dove into the gritty Tokyo Yakuza scene to learn the origins of series protagonist Kazuma Kiryu and the loose cannon Goro Majima. Yakuza 0 proved to be the perfect jumping-in point as I brawled my way up the Dojima ranks and soaked in as much of the story and world as I could. Side missions proved to be a goofy distraction as Kiryu and Majima found themselves in some ridiculous situations that ranged from fending off zombies attempting to attack a pop sensation, to arranging food for a video shoot. I thoroughly enjoyed my introduction to the series, and I can't wait to tackle the rest of the franchise as I prepare for Yakuza 6's arrival in March!
1) Battle Chasers: Nightwar
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC | Developer: Airship Syndicate
I can honestly say I wasn't expecting this title to capture my heart the way that it has. Those who listen to our podcast know that I've had some heartbreaking times with this title; my save file was corrupted nearly 40 hours in as I was making my way through our review copy on the PS4. While I was upset that I wouldn't have a complete review ready for when the embargo lifted, I didn’t suddenly love the game any less. After my save file issue, I shrugged, began a new playthrough, and continued to love my time with Airship Syndicate's love letter to the JRPGs of yesteryear. Nightwar is in many ways the complete package for me. Joe Mad's unique art style shines through while players traverse the game's procedurally generated dungeons and tackle some epic and challenging bosses throughout. Paired with a great cast of characters, an epic soundtrack, and addictive gameplay, Battle Chasers: Nightwar takes my top spot and “Game of the Year” nod for 2017.
Honorable Mention - The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC | Developer: CD Projekt Red
I typically reserve this spot for either a remaster or a game I’m currently playing that’s so damn good that I know it likely would have been a contender for my year end list had I finished it in time. This year, however, I felt it was only fair to shine a light on The Witcher 3, an incredible game I experienced for the first time in 2017. Back in 2015, as you all know, we here at Short Pause were all knee deep in Destiny and conquering the challenges that came along with the House of Wolves expansion – namely that tough bastard, Skolas. My work schedule also left me in a position where, unless I was on “staycation,” dedicating the proper time to Geralt’s last adventure was going to be a tough task. As luck (I guess you could call it that) would have it, 2017 presented me with an opportunity to really dive into this game, and I took it. It’s rare that Play & Listen’s JD is right about anything when it comes to games I’d like, but holy crap, The Witcher 3 is quite literally the best time I’ve had with a game this year and, as far as single player adventures go, it's the best game I've had the pleasure of playing this console generation.
That's a wrap! 2017 has been filled with fantastic games, and it was hard to whittle down this list. I've still got a stack of games like Super Mario Odyssey, The Evil Within 2, and Xenoblade Chronicles 2 to tackle as we roll into 2018. I'm quite proud of the titles I was able to complete this year, and I love that I had a difficult time narrowing down my list of the best this year had to offer because of all of the great games I had a chance to play in 2017. 2018 is shaping up to be yet another exciting year, and I'm looking forward to sharing my most anticipated titles with you all in the coming weeks!