Happy New Year, everyone! We have high hopes for 2018, and happily it’s starting well with this, a list of the top 50 games of 2017 as decided by you. Thank you so much for all of your votes. Now, enjoy!
50. The Sexy Brutale
What we said: “The Sexy Brutale isn’t quite an unqualified triumph – the puzzles are a bit too gentle towards the finish, once you’ve got the layout down pat, and the story ends with a slightly graceless dollop of extended exposition. But it’s a dazzling show of how a game can benefit from taking time seriously, and a tale of bloodshed that is as gripping as it is ghastly.”
“It’s a close one but the 80’s retro isometric gameplay, great story, gameplay that builds on itself and a brilliant alternate ending makes this the sleeper hit of the year,” says Tmcd35, kicking us off with style.
“A cleverly crafted puzzle with story and atmosphere to match captivated me like no other game in long time,” writes BF. BF also wrote ‘cleverly’ as ‘cleaverly’, which, given the murderous nature of the game in question, may have been a pun that we have just ruined. Apologies BF! Every five o’clock we are asleep in the conservatory so you can kill us then and be done with it.
49. Middle-Earth: Shadow of War
What we said: “And so Shadow of War ends up the very epitome of the difficult second album. A lot has been added in order to scale it up for a full blown sequel and much of it has been implemented with style and aplomb. As fun as the core is, however, it is often overshadowed by an onerous and self-indulgent story. What should be the game’s crowning feature is instead reduced to an undeserved supporting role, like an exquisitely carved plinth groaning under the weight of a gaudy bronze bust of an elven wraith who’s looking very, very serious indeed.”
“I know I’m playing this wrong,” says Devox. Honestly, mate, it’s needs must when the devil drives around here. “My personal duel with Bruk the beastmaster unfolded over four separate encounters and ended with the erudite little bugger getting his head lopped off. I get the nagging feeling I may have killed off the Orcs’ very own Einstein but it remains the best two hours of gaming I’ve had this year.”
48. Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy
What we said: “I don’t think these will ever be first-tier platformers – compared to what other developers were doing back at the same time, even the best Crash level feels a little shapeless and lacking in imagination – but they’re clearly great memories. And the N Sane Trilogy delivers the memories intact.”
“Best reboot,” says Checkerboard_Master. Wait until 2019, buddy. They’re bringing Prison Break back and it’s starring Helena Bonham Carter. (They aren’t.)
47. Little Nightmares
What we said: “This is a potent contribution to the thriving genre of philosophical platformers, a startlingly odious horror game, and an almost mocking subversion of Tarsier’s work for Media Molecule, creator of LittleBigPlanet. It’s a rebuke to the sentimentality with which childhood is regarded in many other games, though you could argue that it veers too far the other way, into ghoulish voyeurism – a reminder that if to be young is to have the world at your feet, it’s also to inhabit a realm of giants.”
Adampoole’s verdict is in: “An amazing, Gothic-themed side-scrolling 3D indie game that was lot of fun with a really interesting story, great graphics, animation that resembles stop-motion and a game that I’ve replied more then once since it’s so fun.”
“What it lacked in length it made up for with memorable moments. Perhaps not exactly treasured memories though.” That’s the excellently named StuftCrust leaving us hanging. Did you know they do a new stuffed crust with hot peppers in the cheese? Memorable moments for sure! (Not exactly treasured memories though…)
46. Call of Duty: WW2
What we said: “Call of Duty WW2 is quite the package. By returning the series to its roots, Sledgehammer has made the series feel relevant again. There’s a stunning-looking campaign that’s the most enjoyable single-player since Black Ops 2, a smartly retrogressive multiplayer with some enjoyable add-ons, and a game that looks like it’s going to earn every bit of its inevitable commercial success. Call of Duty WW2 isn’t just a throwback – it’s the best entry in the series for quite some time.”
“An absolute blast with friends,” says Fushimi. “And it doesn’t even need a motion control gimmick or anything like that to achieve this.” Yeah, this was actually Fushimi from 2016 writing about last year’s number 46, Overcooked. The comment works so well for COD we’re leaving it in.
What we said: “Supergiant Games’ Pyre is, like all of their prior games, just sumptuous. But while I loved Bastion and Transistor, thought the art was beautiful and six types of jaw-dropping, Pyre – Pyre is something else. Pyre, with its surreal designs and otherworldly colour palette, made me catch my breath in places, made me ache in the way that you sometimes do when you’re in the presence of Good Art. Which sounds pretentious, but hey I stand by it. It is Dante’s Inferno by way of Jean Giraud. It’s an operatic underworld myth.”
“Amazing characters! Colorful stunning world in 4k. Enjoyable new ballgame. A true gem.” That’s Cthun’s take, but it’s worth remembering that Ross Kemp also speaks with this rhythm, so Cthun may be one of Kemp’s (many) Eurogamer alts.
44. Gravity Rush 2
What we said: “Gravity Rush seemed like an oddity on Vita, but then, the entire Vita was an oddity, wasn’t it? On the radio friendly unit shifter that is the PS4, however, Gravity Rush 2 still seems wonderfully unlikely and out of place. What a strange delight.”
“This is the perfect game for swooshing around and taking pictures,” says Rabbinash, and they are bang on. Gravity Rush 2 rules. That Treasure Hunt mode, eh? Ecco agrees. “Like falling into a Ghibli anim again, and just keep on falling. In love with this broken but colourful world.” Srsly, dig this game out again and give it a spin.
43. Injustice 2
What we said: “Despite annoyances with the gear system and the loot boxes, Injustice 2 is a huge amount of fun. There’s tonnes of stuff to do, it looks the part and the new fighting mechanics serve a purpose while deftly avoiding adding complexity. Injustice 2 is also a game I thoroughly appreciate for the lovely little touches. I appreciate that NetherRealm has put frame data into the move list. I appreciate there are character-specific tutorials. I appreciate there’s a tournament mode that lets you battle offline with no progression or rewards. I appreciate how over the top the supers and stage transitions are. And I appreciate the character’s eyes seem to look in the right direction. In short, Injustice 2 is the complete fighting game package, and it’s one I hope other developers in the genre take notice of.”
“Great game,” says the fickle MattMattMatt, adding, “I was a Marvel fan until I played this game.” We were Marvel fans until someone made us watch The Winter Soldier. But then we watched Justice League and now we don’t know what to think.
42. South Park: The Fractured but Whole
What we said: “South Park: The Fractured But Whole is an RPG with tangible qualities and enjoyable passages, but without the bite or imagination you’d expect of the name. For anyone who grew up with the TV show, there’s still some thrill to be had in simply walking around that familiar town, rubbing shoulders with its famous denizens and savouring the feeling of having an episode play out around you. But these were qualities of the last game too, and they have that bit less impact the second time around. Ubisoft San Francisco’s rebuilt combat system goes some way to push back the sense of deja vu, but it entirely can’t shake off the suspicion that this is a sequel which exists because its predecessor was so popular, not because its creators were brimming with more ideas.”
“Had me in stitches from beginning to end,” says Warmonkey (a war monkey sounds like it could have a few people in stitches itself). “Combat is also much improved over the first one.”
“This was possibly the best 20 hours of gaming I had all year,” says KlingonDouchebag. “The Stick of Truth *might* have been funnier, but Fractured but Whole is a far better game. While it remained a turn-based combat, it was vastly improved over the predecessor with a movement grid that added a fair bit of strategy. The extra time Ubisoft took with this title was well used.”
41. The Evil Within 2
What we said: “The original Evil Within was hailed as a sort of alternate-history exercise, a game from a timeline in which Shinji Mikami carried on working with Resident Evil after shipping the revolutionary fourth instalment, released when Resident Evil itself was deemed to be at low ebb. Though far from a deranged new breed of monster it was an intriguing mutation, blurring Resi 4’s pace and direction with the cerebral menace of a Silent Hill. The sequel is another curious outgrowth, but its changes and additions often feel more wayward than fascinating, and in key respects – the story, certain levels, those niggles in stealth and combat – it falls rather flat. Still, there are chills and spills enough here to sate most patrons of the bloody arts. Whether a third game is warranted at this point is another matter.”
“Wonderful, annoying, brilliant, frustrating,” says Raybagslfc. “Just like real football.” Okay, that’s from PES and last year’s list again. Sorry!
Here’s Splayer88 instead: “I don’t expect it to be on many persons’ lists, but I had a lot of fun with TEW2. The open world sections really worked, stumbling into a building only to be trapped by a shrieking ghost. These diversions worked even in a horror game that so usually rely on tighter control of your path.”
40. Wipeout Omega Collection
What we said: “When WipEout clicks – when the track falls away in perfect tandem with the bassline, sending your stomach turning as if a Mitsubishi Turbo has just spun into action as you take your first step onto the dance floor – there’s nothing else like it, and given the premature demise of Studio Liverpool it’s quite likely there’ll never be anything like it again. There may well be other, better futuristic racers out there – but there are none that can boast this much style.”
“Perhaps in a year with (seemingly) more retro releases than before this shone for bringing back the excitement of playing Wipeout for the first time,” says Danarcade. “The perfect synthesis of gaming and clubbing.”
39. The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim VR
- Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
“I had never thought that I someday would love Skyrim,” says CellarDoor81. “But in VR it’s a blast.”
Kopykatt was similarly enthralled. “Yes, I’ve played it to death a hundred times before but that sense of immersion and scale is simply phenomenal in VR. Try to play until my stomach won’t let me.”
38. Hollow Knight
What we said: “Developer Team Cherry has announced that the Nintendo Switch port of Hollow Knight, its beautiful bug-themed Metroidvania, will now release early next year.”
Does praise come higher than this? “The closest thing to a Souls game in 2D, and one of the best Metroids not called Metroid, this bug-based expedition into the subterranean unknown is a formidable, punishing piece of work, with a polish and attention to detail that outstrips many big-budget releases.” That’s the Xagarath verdict and we’re sold.
37. Night in the Woods
What we said: “For the most part, though, Night in the Woods is a triumph, comparable to Gone Home in mood and thrust, but with a delicacy and a humour that is all its own.”
This game has been on my radar for as long as I can remember,” says Piphodgkinson. “The art style alone made me incredibly excited for it and I’d watched the trailer countless times. With such high hopes for it I was fully expecting them to be dashed, and tentatively expected it to be more style than substance. I couldn’t have been more wrong, the use of adorable animals as cast members is a complete contrast to the serious and moving story they partake in, I wouldn’t have connected to the story as strongly had the cast been human (as strange as that sounds). The game deals with heavy topics such as depression and growing up and is rare in most media that never attempts to offer an answer to the questions its posing. At the games conclusion I felt the lead character had a long way to go but actually, that’s fine. It’s a game about small steps.”
36. Thimbleweed Park
What we said: “It works, though. All of it. And while the overture might be rough, the rest demands attention. Confectioned by the virtuosos of yesterday, Thimbleweed Park is surreal, silly and sinister.”
“Joy from start to finish,” says Bliprunner. “Partying like 1989.”
“A throwback to the days of yore when pixels were great,” says 43n1m4.
35. Total War: Warhammer 2
What we said: “So, yeah, Warhammer 2 may be Total War evolved to near perfection, but for now the epic PC translation of Warhammer Fantasy Battle is incomplete. Like the halflings from a parallel universe being lead away from Osgiliath towards Mordor, much about the future is uncertain and the final Warhammer episode could just as easily be a fitting climax as a painfully over-extended epilogue. Maybe it doesn’t really matter, because right here, right now – and, yes, even without upgrade or add-on – Total War has never looked or played better.”
“It is not for everybody, but Mortal Empires is the best TW experience that CA has made,” says Villanelo. “If you add that the game fixes most of the things that people didn’t quite like in the first one, I think this is a contender for best Total War game ever.” Villanelo had more to say, but our spreadsheet cut them off. Google Docs, eh? It’s not for everybody.
34. Ghost Recon: Wildlands
What we said: “Wildlands is that familiar glossy contradiction, the “gritty” quasi-realistic open world blockbuster – a work of great craft and care that’s also a work of macabre war tourism, wowing you with its geography even as it casually up-sells the bankrupt fantasy of playing global policeman.”
“Visually the best game I have played all year,” says AgrippaA1. “The Bolivian landscape is one of the finest examples of an expertly crafted environment I have ever encountered in gaming.”
33. Nex Machina
What we said: “Follow me on this one: Nex Machina feels like less like a game and more like the happy, diabolical result of a seance. One night, in the dark of a Finnish winter, Housemarque summoned the devil. And the devil was Eugene Jarvis.”
Poggins: “Just really good innit?” Poggins is right, everyone. Listen to Poggins.
“Out-Battlegrounds Battlegrounds and the building adds some great unique elements of its own,” says Bemani. “Free-to-play has never been better.” Meanwhile, TapsaKebab says, “Your list is lacking quite a lot of good and important games! For instance, Elite: Dangerous released this summer on PS4 and you failed to include Statik, both of which would’ve definitely been on my top list this year!” The more we think about it, this isn’t really a comment about Fortnite, but it’s in here now and it’s staying.
31. Stardew Valley (Switch)
What we said: “Farming, fishing and mining: it’s possible to fully dedicate your new life to any one of these pursuits.”
“Digital crack,” says RunningMan.
Yodi, we’re not printing your comment, but we have called the police.
30. Dishonored 2: Death of the Outsider
What we said: “In general, Death of the Outsider occasionally feels like a Dishonored 3 that hasn’t quite become flesh and perhaps, never will, going by sales of the second game and of Arkane’s most recent immersive sim, Prey. The trading of fixed upgrades for the flexibility of bone charms, streamlined energy system and dialing-back of Chaos/Order seem a foundation worthy of a grander tale, one that tugs a little harder on some of the dangling threads here – Billie’s ability to listen to rats, for example, a promising rewrite of the Heart of Dunwall narrative mechanic that never really goes anywhere, or the mournful profundities of Dishonored’s whales, which are referenced but not dwelt upon in the final area. There have been far, far worse finales, though, and erasing the god whose mystical gifts create the framework for a game of this sort is quite the way to drop the curtain. If only every series could meet its end so boldly, not simply raging against the dying of the light but taking a knife to its own shadow.”
“It’s more Dishonored, sure,” says Timur, and we suspect a twist is looming. “But what a joy to spend more time in what is surely the most sumptuous and richly realised world in games. The weary, melancholic humanism framing of the setting means I’d gladly play another ten Dishonored games.”
29. Mass Effect: Andromeda
What we said: “[A] labyrinth of drudgery and obfuscation.”
“I really enjoyed it. I got to the party a little late, so maybe most of the issues had been ironed out, but other than the relatively weak ending that won’t be finished on screen, I experienced very little to complain about.” Given this is Robthehermit speaking, we’re surprised you got to the party at all mate. Ohhhh, unless Robthehermit is an instruction?
What we said: “Arms hits home, a glorious sucker punch from a Nintendo that’s now more confident than ever to move away from its staples and spring a surprise. This is a mad, brilliant dance of a game, and one whose tune I suspect we’ll be humming along to for some time yet.”
“This was initially a three way tie between Horizon: Zero Dawn, Mario x Rabbids and this, but I’ve honestly had some of the most fun with Arms I’ve had in years.” This is good to hear, LudusSolers. “It says something about the quality of games this year that I’ve struggled to choose a top 10 let alone a top 5. Arms is surely deserving of a bigger audience but it has the misfortune of being sandwiched between Mario Kart, Mario Odyssey, Splatoon 2 and Zelda: BOTW. Do yourself a favour and play this now.” Amen!
27. Life is Strange: Before the Storm
What we said: “Against the odds, with a different team, different engine, different actors and different mechanics, Deck Nine has crafted an experience that feels authentic and heartfelt. Awake doesn’t give us many clues as to where the story will go next episode and beyond, but it certainly ensures we’re all aboard and along for the ride, wherever Chloe and Rachel take us next. Arcadia Bay, it feels hella good to be back.”
We’ll let Bc1261 handle this: “Doesn’t even matter if Episode 3 is good or not; the writing in the first two games was exceptional. It feels so alive. Daughter’s soundtrack is amazing. Such an emotive game.” Testify!
Also: “Very sceptical of why this game even needed to exist after the beautifully self-contained first game, but by the end of the first episode it was clear. A wonderfully heartbreaking tale, with possibly the best two leads in gaming. Sorry Pricefield.” Nice, Mccloskey.
26. Xenoblade Chronicles 2
What we said: “Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a crunchier, more chaotic proposition than the rest of Nintendo’s recent output, then. Monolith Soft either doesn’t have the resources or the relentless tenacity to explore every one of its game mechanics with the rigour and finality of Nintendo EAD. But while the game’s individual components are far from pristine, in combination they prove irresistible. And as with Rex, it is to the wrinkles and idiosyncrasies that we are ultimately drawn, and ultimately convinced.”
“Made me enjoy a new genre,” says VoodooGibson, and we’re leaving it at that because that is just brilliant stuff and wonderful to hear.
25. Forza Motorsport 7
What we said: “If you’re a regular player of Turn 10’s racing games, your first reaction to Forza Motorsport 7 is likely to be: what’s new? After a rare stumble with the slender and skittish fifth game, this most consistent of series hit its confident stride again with the highly polished Forza Motorsport 6, and you’re forced to wonder what this sequel could really bring to the table. The initial impression is: not much.”
Rogueywon: “Yes, it’s a bit clinical. Yes, it’s evolutionary rather than revolutionary. But my god it’s good. A vast game, whose range of cars and tracks puts the competition to shame and whose mid-realism optimisations make for the perfect pad-play racer. Unfairly caught up in the lootbox controversy due to some cosmetic design choices the game remains, at the time of writing, free from microtransactions.
24. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
What we said: “There’ll be arguments about what’s a fitting price tag for what is at heart a port, but all that’s moot in the face of what remains one of the most exquisite video games in recent years. The detail, the care and the craft on show amount to a package that feels luxurious, a feeling only emboldened by this deluxe edition, and the few tweaks made here underline its brilliance. There was some debate when it originally came out about whether Mario Kart 8 was the best in the series – with Deluxe, that’s now no longer in doubt.”
“It seems like a small thing. BUT to be able to take this game anywhere with you is HUGE,” says Epcotman. (Maybe leave it out at funerals?) “I can’t believe that in just a few years we’ve gone from this being a TV game to a handheld. It perfectly captures the magic of Switch. Still a brilliant, timeless game that now seems to have been perfected.”
23. What Remains of Edith Finch
What we said: “This is studied, careful world-building and storytelling, and the spell it succeeds in casting is quite unlike that of any game that has come before.”
Kennyd1 got on very well with the Finches: “The real successor to Gone Home, a ‘walking simulator’ that uses really imaginative gameplay to make you feel close to characters long dead and to the tragedies buried deep within. Superb.” It really is! Go and play it!
22. XCOM 2: War of the Chosen
What we said: “If you enjoyed what Enemy Within added to the previous title, you’re in for a treat. War of the Chosen makes the last game’s expansion seem meager by comparison. And I bloody loved Enemy Within.”
“First there was XCOM 2, and now there is another one. Of it.” That’s Misterhands checking in. But this one isn’t done until we’ve heard from ChairmanPow and you all know it: “No one does expansions quite like Firaxis. Such a huge improvement on an already fantastic game. Could well have been XCOM 3.” Phew!
21. Gran Turismo Sport
What we said: “Let’s not forget what’s been lost for the series’ PlayStation 4 debut, though. There’s none of that old scope, and only a fraction of the old madness that made Gran Turismo so endearing. There are no lunar rovers, no 19th century single horsepowered wagons and not even anything by way of an open wheel racer to be found in its car list at launch. Yet, conversely, this is possibly the most focussed, directly enjoyable game Polyphony Digital has put out since the heady days of Gran Turismo 3. Racing improves the breed, industrialist Soichiro Honda once said, and Gran Turismo Sport is proof positive of that.”
Sukiwondercat was won over: “The most I’ve enjoyed a GT title for years and a real return to form. Online works brilliantly and I keep going back to it. Looking forward to more content and the further support it’s also likely to receive. Sounds and graphics absolutely fantastic.”
“The king is back, nuff said,” concludes AdamNovice.
20. Splatoon 2
What we said: “So yes, Splatoon 2 is more of the same. It’s a lot more of the same, seeing how it folds in all the improvements and additions that were introduced to the original over time and gives returning maps a significant makeover. It’s going to be a lot more of the same – with the potential for some new surprises – given how Splatoon 2 is going to benefit from the same steady roll-out of new weapons, maps and modes. By any reasonable measure, this is a better game than its predecessor, and not just on quantity alone. It no longer benefits from the shock of the new – for that, you have to look towards the outstanding Arms – but it’s most definitely an improvement on what remains one of Nintendo’s finest games in many a year. It was only inevitable, though, that this one was never going to feel quite as fresh.”
We have scanned Avaloner’s thoughts on Splatoon 2 and they have not angered us: “Better than the original in every way and excellent post-release updates. The festival events are a brilliant idea which more games should copy.” They really should.
19. Destiny 2
What we said: “Perhaps we’ll have to wait for an expansion or – gulp! – Destiny 3 for Bungie’s Halo killer to achieve true greatness.”
“I didn’t realise the pleasure feedback loop of incrementally better loot, I do now.” This is Modhabobo speaking, incidentally. “I never played the original but this is the only online shooter I’ve enjoyed with friends since Left 4 Dead 2 which is high praise from me.” (Still Modhabobo.)
18. Mario and Rabbids: Kingdom Battle
What we said: “On first sight of that leaked artwork, with Mario frowning and pointing his shark-nosed blaster into the camera, many wondered why Nintendo would ever have said yes to the pitch for Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. It seems like such a risk. Even setting the guns and the wobbly tone aside, the Rabbids are not Sonic, and XCOM is not the Olympics. The game’s director Davide Soliani says that Rabbid Peach just made Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto laugh, and it’s true that character embodies a winningly silly sense of fun that permeates the game and is hard to resist. But Miyamoto will also have seen a game put together with great imagination, wit and prudence that makes its chosen genre easier to get along with while also refreshing it; that is at once simple and sophisticated; that fits clean and clever concepts together until they add up to a great deal more than the sum of their parts. And that man knows a beautifully designed video game when he sees one.”
JamesTFender screeches in with this: “Surprisingly amazing crossover made with evident passion and reverence for the series.” Cannot argue with that, Mister!
Staying with the theme of surprise, Discaddict was similarly confounded, taken aback and benumbed: “Surprise of the year, great tactic mechanics, easy to handle but very deep. A lot of humour. A proof that IPs thought for a Nintendo console are better than just a port of multiplatform games.”
What we said: “Nioh isn’t a masterpiece then. It’s not quite fresh or original enough to be. But it is a return to form for Team Ninja, a studio many feel had lost its way after the departure of its founder Tomonobu Itagaki in 2008. Nioh’s loot-heavy hack and slash doesn’t fire on all cylinders – though to be fair its aims seem more singular than that of its competitors – but it’s a refreshing reminder of just how thrilling a solid Team Ninja combat encounter can be. Primarily single-player games are on the decline right now, but Nioh is a strong argument for the merits of this withering form.”
Sl0thp0pe weighs in with the pharmacist’s take: “Definitely more than just mephedrone for Soulsborne addicts – although I’m starting to worry about what I might do to get From Software to finish their next game. It was fun, challenging, played lovely but its limitations means that while it scratched the souls-itch, it never quite satisfied enough.”
16. Sonic Mania
What we said: “Mania takes everything that was memorable about Sega’s pioneering 2D platformers – that joy in momentum always teetering on the brink of disaster, the deranged magnificence of those levels, the mournful bassnote as poor, faithful Tails stampedes into all the traps you’ve just triggered in passing – and rejuvenates it, to the point where you can only put down the pad in astonishment. Sonic the Hedgehog happened, everybody. He’s supposed to be all washed up – gaming’s Birdman, a balding, leather-jacketed C-lister they wheel on whenever some Mario crossover finds itself short on backing characters. How the hell is this possible? It’s possible because for a small group of dedicated aficionados, the blue blur’s halcyon period never ended. What’s old has become new, and Sonic is once again the star he was supposed to be.”
RobtheBuilder here with a message in which creation and destruction are evenly balanced. (Well, he is a builder.) “This games proves what we all knew anyway. Sonic Team should be disbanded, but now we have someone to hand it over to.”
Meanwhile, Flanderosa reckons: “Just so great to see Sonic back in a good game, but Sonic Mania surpassed all expectations by not merely being a re-tread, but incorporating interesting ideas and reminding you why playing Sonic’s 2D games was so much fun in the first place. The re-imagined classic zones were brilliant, but arguably the new zones were even better. The music is absolutely wonderful too. Fan-service doesn’t come much better than this.” Flanderosa, are you Gregg Wallace? Is this another of his alts?
15. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds
“240 hours of fun I’ve had alone and with friends in this gloriously janky and unfinished masterpiece,” says KD. “Superb gameplay (Xbox One X) makes this my new go-to online shooter,” says Breach. “Nothing more to add to what’s been said already,” admits Y2Rich. “Made the genre mainstream and easily the best multiplayer game I’ve played this year.” WHAT ABOUT ARMS.
14. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
What we said: “A smaller Uncharted doesn’t mean a lesser one, and that even in a series known for its excess, less can be more. And Nate? To be honest, I didn’t really miss him.”
“Amazingly it worked, even without Drake!”, says 13Rovers. “Best Presentation,” says -Unknown-, whose presentation isn’t bad either.
“Another great adventure in the Uncharted series though the later and more linear sections worked better to me,” says Adrianholmes. Nobody seems to have written about this one at length, so let’s move on?
13. Yakuza 0
What we said: “Yakuza 0 is, in many respects, the end of an era – and a heck of a finish it is, too.”
Hey! It’s Navi! “The best game in the series and the best point to start playing this wonderful series.”
“Made me cry manly tears of enjoyment,” says Gintoki. —____— says: “I’m a complete newcomer to the series and absolutely fell in love with this. Is stylish. It’s cool. It’s also incredibly silly, bizarre and politically incorrect at times… While I don’t appreciate every game under the sun getting remastered for the umpteenth time, I so would get the parts of the series I’ve missed (already got Kiwami, looking forward to 6 but I can’t help I’m missing a bit” of the story if I skip all the other games).”
What we said: “Hellblade is a remarkable game. Despite some frustrations in execution and some design decisions that are likely to drive some players away, Hellblade is a superb exploration of mental illness told with poise and poignancy.”
LFace has this to say: “Very atmospheric and intriguing story with tight gameplay controls and stunning visuals. An excellent single-player game that made you think differently.” GamerEd says: “Hellblade was a wonderful game, with a wonderful story behind its development. Breathtaking visuals and animation work were carried out on a shoestring budget, putting the so-called ‘AAA industry’ to shame. A melancholy game ended up nonetheless uplifting and life-affirming by the end. Ninja Theory should be truly proud of this achievement which has meant so much to so many who suffer. ” And that is very hard to argue with.
What we said: “As a result, Cuphead is as frustrating as it is exhilarating. There are Dark Souls-esque moments of extreme elation. But Miyazaki’s series balances its brutality with moments of serenity and downtime, and pushes players forward with an alluring sense of constant acquisition (of both fine-motor skills in the hands, and ever-stronger weapons in the inventory). These traits are missing from Cuphead, for which the only route to progress is Karate Kid montage-style training and perseverance. The result is a curious combination: a wondrous, everyman style with a dizzying, elitist substance.”
Elchongo is feeling a bit mixed about this one: “The art style is full of charm, the gameplay is boring as hell but just so much dedication to the detail is something to appreciate.” Cosquae feels much more positive: “Trying something new by going back to something old is a hard trick to pull off well, but the effort put in to this game shows and the tortuous difficulty adds the cherry on top.” (This also explains why it’s so hard to make Bakewells at home.)
“Art, design, sound,” says The_massive, and it’s hard not to suspect these would work quite well as Trio lyrics. “Tight gameplay with that right kind of challenge that keeps you playing through the losses.”
What we said: “There’s the sense, at times, that Prey is another jumble of exotic raw materials thrown into a Fabricator, a button’s touch away from brilliance. But if the chemistry between powers, terrain variables and opponents may fall short of Arkane’s best work, the setting’s gravity and the charm of certain individual systems are enough to pull you through to the finish. The new Prey began life under a cloud – to be specific, the cloud kicked up by the demise of its Human Head predecessor – but in Talos 1, Arkane has fashioned one of the greatest virtual environments, as ornate and soggy with hubris as BioShock’s Rapture, yet far more open-ended. And in the mercurial applications of Mimicking, recycling and the Gloo Gun, there are tantalising hints of something arcane indeed.”
“Sleeper hit Prey got a rough start, and by the time they fixed the issues with controller lag everyone had moved on and it was left rotting in the Bargain Bins of everyone’s attention. The story, atmosphere, and world style was simply breathtaking, the tension left you on the edge of your seat (sofa), and the story was engaging and really placed you in the protagonists body and soul. Such a clever game! Really wished it had sold better.” Us too, Carlo.
9. Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus
What we said: “The New Colossus is a game that straddles moods and periods, buffoonery and biting insight, cartoon villainy and insidious real-world malevolence.”
Ptb4Life says: “New Order took me by surprise. With a fantastic story and set of characters, and fun gameplay. New Colossus improved on all of that for this fantastic sequel.” What else? “Running around with a shotgun in one hand and a laser gun in the other has never been more fun,” says Chrismaynard.
8. Divinity: Original Sin 2
What we said: “There’s such a wide range of influences visible in Larian’s work. Ultima and XCOM are the obvious ones, but there are other moments, such as when you’re breaking into a house or searching for a hidden hatch to the basement, that the game suddenly feels more like Thief or Dishonored. The game foremost in my mind while playing, however, was The Witcher 3. This isn’t because of the setting or Divinity’s similar ponderings over morality. It’s because I thought it would be many years before I played another RPG that was even close to being that rich with choice and charisma. Original Sin 2 has made me question that belief, and I don’t think I could give it a higher accolade.”
“Classic RPG that manages to improve on an already fantastic game in almost every way,” says Leben. Despite the handle, Triprunner advocates taking it nice and slow: “70+ hours in and still going. No RPG since the Witcher 3 had me so involved and willing to see it through to the end without rushing.”
“A masterpiece,” says Mcgoals.
7. Assassin’s Creed Origins
What we said: “Fostering proper stealth in a game’s design is a bit like trying to grow your own coriander.”
“Breathtaking visuals and atmosphere,” says Zipparo, getting to the heart of exactly what makes this piece of virtual tourism so special. “I hate Assassin’s creed,” says Jjsuperbadger, “Yet so far I’m loving this. Purchased on the cheap to see what my One X would do and it’s just sumptuous sun-soaked fun.”
Darren has props for Ubisoft: “A genuine surprise. The longer development cycle clearly did this game a big favour because just when I thought the Assassin’s Creed games were becoming boring then Origins arrives and proves to be exciting all over again. Gorgeous setting and an absolutely huge world to explore; this is easily my favourite game in the franchise to date (sorry Black Flag!). Well done, Ubisoft!”
6. Resident Evil 7
What we said: “But at heart it’s a fairly pedestrian species of bogeyman – a series of peekaboo jolts and serviceable gun battles strewn across a sumptuous, cohesive environment, constructed with no shortage of craft but not a whole lot of real imagination. Those doors may unnerve at first glance, but once you’ve acclimatised to Resident Evil 7’s tactics, it seldom gives you much reason to be afraid of what lurks beyond.”
Supertitsmagee is a fan: “A reboot done right. The switch to first person was a genius move. Mixing the old with the new flawlessly. Binged on this like a Netflix Original.” You mean Chef’s Table, right? The Alinea episode gets terribly real.
MDL199 is more measured in their praise. “I miss the old characters and lack of connection to the previous titles but still a good game.”
5. Nier: Automata
What we said: “There’s nothing else quite like it – and that includes the original Nier.”
Juliet – like a lot of you – properly loves Nier. “It shocked me beyond belief that a small game like NieR would ever get a sequel, I was even more shocked to discover how good it was. Platinum Games have managed to turn Yoko Taro’s imagination into something beautiful and full of depth and emotion. Many games have made me cry but no game has had a lasting impact quite like NieR. Aside from the story the combat is an utter joy. I can’t recommend this game enough.”
Plenty of agreement. Almost at random, here’s Yazu13: “Nier: Automata is a breakthrough moment in gaming. I can only recall one other game that married its gameplay, soundtrack, and story so effectively together to deliver such a masterclass gaming experience, and that would be Undertale. This is high praise considering how Undertale shook the gaming world, but comparing this game to it is far from unreasonable. Yoko Taro will go down in gaming history as one of the greatest directors of his time, alongside titans such as Hideo Kojima and Shigeru Miyamoto. Nier’s balance of fluid and effortlessly stylish combat, haunting and evocative musical accompaniment, and brutally resonating, emotional storytelling is a recipe for one of the most compelling experiences in all of gaming.” Man, video games are brilliant.
4. Persona 5
What we said: “Persona 5 is unconscionably sublime. Every beat, every subtlety, every movement of the camera – it all translates into a kinetic masterpiece, strung together with the best visuals this side of Atlus.”
Juliet again: “This game took all the best elements of the previous and refined to make a game that feels slick from start to finish. Everything flows beautifully and feels like less of a grind than usual. The overall story is great and it has the most likeable party since Persona 3. Except Ryuji. F*** him.” Steady on!
“Fresh, fast and slick, Persona 5 is a JRPG delight,” concludes Darkphoenix. Hopefully a Mystery Men reference?
3. Horizon: Zero Dawn
What we said: “Horizon Zero Dawn is a work of considerable finesse and technical bravado, but it falls into the trap of past Guerrilla games in being all too forgettable. For all its skin-deep dynamism it lacks spark; somewhat like the robotic dinosaurs that stalk its arrestingly beautiful open world, this is a mimic that’s all dazzle, steel and neon yet can feel like it’s operating without a heart of its own.”
Royben-ami: “Putting aside the outstanding combat, the robot dinosaurs and the gorgeous graphics, what makes this GOTY is one of the best sci-fi stories ever written for a video game.” Crabclawhands: “If the AI was much better this might have been top for me, but luring 50 bandits to the same murder bush is ridiculous. It looks staggeringly good in 4k HDR, the quality of the story really surprised me and kept me playing. Aloy is a well written and acted protagonist. So close to being an all time classic.
I have more! Suhawk75: “Gorgeous, engaging, fun, challenging new IP.” MG1: “Best implementation of the genre’s strengths, amazing technical quality, and good story.”
2. Super Mario Odyssey
What we said: “There is nothing like a new Super Mario to remind you that there is no other studio that can make games like this. Jump on a tomato in the Luncheon Kingdom and watch how it splats out into a sizzling hot pool of sauce; ride a Jaxi, a stone steed as fast as a rocket, and watch the way it scrabbles frantically at the ground as you try to rein in its boundless speed. Then release it – whee! The happy revelry that has gone into the making of this nonsensical world is infectious, while the return to the open design of Super Mario 64 has freed all that gleeful energy in a sloppily explosive burst. To many people, Mario is video games. To play Super Mario Odyssey is to remember why that is.”
“Return of 3D Mario games. Yippee!” says Apmusson.
StormbringerN wants to make this universal: “Super Mario is not the definition of magic but the definition of health. To be able to fully understand and feel joy out of things.” Indevelopment has some stern words for other Mario games: “Put the fun back into Mario. Where Galaxy tries to crush the player, Odyssey gives a helping hand.” And Gormster keeps it short and sweet: “Compulsively joyful.”
1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
What we said: “It’s hard to overstate the courage and conviction with which producer Eiji Aonuma, director Hidemaro Fujibayashi and their team have rewritten their own work, and the size of the risk Nintendo has taken with a beloved property. Breath of the Wild isn’t just the most radical departure from the Zelda tradition in its 30-year history, it’s the first Nintendo game that feels like it was made in a world where Half-Life 2, Halo, Grand Theft Auto 3 and Skyrim happened. It’s inspired by those greats and others, but it doesn’t ape them any more than it rests on its own laurels. And if we’re talking inspirations, we have to recognise one game above all others, an uncompromising adventure from 1986 that dared to take gaming off the rails, that put a whole world beyond the TV screen and invited the player to explore it: the original Legend of Zelda.”
Gormster again, because they nail this: “As I’ve grown older it has become increasingly easy to ‘see the strings’, so to speak when playing games. I see a world themed game, instead of a believable world. I expect the usual limitations. Not so with Breath of the Wild.”
Fourwisemen is similarly delighted: “I got lost and I was happy to get lost knowing that whatever path I took I’d find something to surprise me.”
Greyfox6568 brings us home: “WOW, finally Nintendo made a better gave then A Link to the Past. This is definitely the best game of the decade and maybe the best game ever made. Every aspect of the game is a joy to play, this is pure gameplay perfection, this game corrects all the minor things that are wrong with open world games. I don’t think I’ve ever had more fun in my life.”
2018 has a lot to live up to, then. Only in terms of video games, granted. Happy new year all!