What do a talking tree, bioterrorism, a plumber, a red-haired archer that isn’t Merida from Brave, and Nathan Fillion have in common? They’re all parts of my favorite video games this year!
Let’s dive right in! Here are my best of the best from 2017:
It’s common knowledge that the portly plumber is known for pedigree platformers (say that ten times fast), but Nintendo raised the bar to an almost unbelievable level with Super Mario Odyssey. The many different worlds actually feel like… Well, worlds, each a huge sandbox with dozens of secrets to uncover and goodies to find. And using your cap to control/possess enemies, something I was worried would get stale quickly, feels fresh and awesome the whole way through thanks to the huge differences in gameplay it allows. No two enemies play the same, and it adds even more to an already great platformer. Super Mario Odyssey has turned my high level of skepticism about the Switch (and Nintendo’s future) around completely, which a testament to the pure, simple fun it is.
The people at Telltale Games have the unrivaled ability to create great stories that match the tone and characters of the universes they adapt, and Guardians of The Galaxy: The Telltale Series is my favorite one so far. Brilliantly meshing the comics and movies into one world leads to the best adventure the Guardians have had to date. Star Lord and his crew are as great as they are in the movies, but the story in Telltale Games’ adventure far surpasses the MCU’s (Marvel Cinematic Universe). And Telltale’s signature decision-making gameplay has never been stronger. There were times I almost felt cheated because I was berated by members of my team for doing right thing, but then I realized that it’s just like life: Sometimes doing the right thing doesn’t always feel right. I laughed, I cried (only once!), and I befriended a space worm. The total Guardians package. Also, the MCU seriously better villains like Hala the Accuser.
In my opinion, the survival horror genre had been going downhill since 2011. After many games that were more frustrating than scary (like Outlast and Alien: Isolation), a few only mildly creepy ones, and the cancellation of Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro’s Silent Hills, I was wondering when I’d play another game that would really, truly scare me. Then along came Resident Evil 7. I started it up late at night with the lights off and my headphones on… A decision I regretted very quickly. With its eerie setting keeping me on my toes, an engaging story that got me invested in the characters, and a family of antagonists about as friendly as those lovely folks from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, I was freaking out through almost all of my first play through. Capcom has brought the “horror” back to survival horror.
Destiny 2 improves upon and fixes the issues of the 2014 role-playing shooter in almost every aspect. Story? There actually is one, and it’s great thanks to some awesome characters (fans of Nathan Fillion are definitely in for some fun) that you’ll be rooting for. Gameplay? Somehow it’s even more fluid and satisfying. Loot drops? The endgame activities almost always feel rewarding, much more than most games! And its weekly activities that continue bringing my fellow Guardians and I together have already created quite a few of the most fun and gratifying gaming experiences in recent memory! Bungie doesn’t do anything really groundbreaking or new with Destiny 2 (which is why it’s in second place), but it’s certainly everything I’d hope for in a sequel. It’s bigger, builds on what made the original great, and will certainly keep me hooked for a long time. Bungie continues to expand the franchise they left the gaming juggernaut Halo for, and I couldn’t be happier with the result.
As a diehard fan of the Killzone franchise (seriously, I have a collectible Helghast helmet in my bedroom), I was pretty bummed when I learned Guerrilla Games was putting the franchise on hold in lieu of a new IP. Going from a first-person shooter with space Nazis set in a dark future to a gorgeous, open-world action adventure with giant robot dinosaurs (how had a “Jurassic Park meets Terminator” video game not been done before?!) set in a post-post-apocalypse earth? That’s a huge shift, and risk, for a developer that had been single-mindedly focused on only one series and genre for two and a half console generations, but holy Hell did it pay off. Horizon Zero Dawn is the most beautiful game I’ve ever played hands down, and it meshes the hunting/crafting and “animal” mechanics of games like Far Cry with the intense underdog action, rewarding exploration, and character-driven story of ones like Uncharted and Tomb Raider to create something so much more than the sum of its parts. Honestly, I’m glad that Guerrilla didn’t go back to Killzone, (one of my favorite game series) and decided to expand their… Horizons… by creating one of the greatest games I’ve ever played.
And I’m going to say this one more time: Giant. Robot. Dinosaurs.
Well, that’s it for my top video games of 2017! If you liked what you read and want more, like my top movies of 2017, follow me and some other awesome people on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and/or middleofrow.com