What a year 2017 was. There were so many great games. So many that I had trouble getting to all the ones I really wanted to play. I had to stop playing multiplayer games for the last 2 months just to get through my list. And just in case I wasn’t having enough fun trying to get time to play with all the rest of life’s trials, there’s always computer issues. I like to think of myself as a competent person with computers, but I’m also cursed, so favorite franchises go unfinished at the time of this article. I will get them done though. So without further ado, here’s the list of JB 2017.
10. Splatoon 2
I played more of the single player game on Splatoon 2 than most. I liked the adventure. I’m still not sure what the story was, but I did know to ink everything. The various guns in the game were really creative as well. It was only a couple of weeks that the crew played multiplayer but it was enough to have a fun time. You didn’t walk away from any sessions with stories though. Part of that was the speed the other problem was the game didn’t let you have a squad together until you passed some arbitrary level they had decided on.
9. Nier: Automata
I don’t think I can be completely fair to this game yet. This game is a slog for the first 10 hours. The fighting is slow half the time, traveling through the game is slow, and the story is either slow or bonkers. I get hints that something amazing is coming soon from this game, but if they wanted me to stay entertained it needed to happen sooner. This game ends a bunch of times. I’m still on the first play through, which I have been told is slow and makes no sense until after the other playthroughs. The character design is great, the music is awesome, and the big fights are incredible. So let’s leave this one alone and let the finishers talk about it.
8. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Senua is insane. Seriously. She hears voices. So throw on some headphones and hear the voices around her, of course. I was never sure if they were being helpful or just assholes and that was pretty cool. This game probably gets my vote for audio of the year, and there are some great soundtracks for competition. The story is pretty fascinating as well. I’m halfway through this short game and I want to finish soon.
7. Hollow Knight
Beginning as nothing with nothing and no narrative could be a bad sign when starting a new game. In Hollow Knight’s case, it's just the start of the evolution. In a few short hours, there’s a town with people, more people spread throughout the game, some sort of story, and all these things in the inventory. This game is equal parts character and world evolution. The deeper I take my little shadow, the more interesting the world becomes, and the more interesting the places I already visited become. It’s like bringing the world back from the dead. Even the map grows with the character. Exploring the world fills in the map you find from some dude that is an idiot. Go home, your wife is bored! (sigh “Bapa nada”) Sorry lady, I’m just here for the legend on your map.
Hollow Knight is a really pretty game. Each hand drawn area I explored brought new hand drawn enemies and obstacles that fit perfectly. New areas always introduce a new game mechanic to learn, as well.
6. Super Mario Odyssey
When Mario shows up on a new console you know something good is happening. In this case, it is a zombie Mario being manipulated by a mind controlling hat creating nightmare situations by entering the minds and bodies of every enemy and friend foolish enough to not wear some secure headgear. Imagine experiencing the memories of your foe every time you enter their body...shudder. I liked this game.
Many of the abilities gained from the enemies where a lot of fun. The most fun was hunting goombas to stack them in an ever increasing pile of goombas. Is it too much to ask for a level with hundreds of goombas just so I can be all of them as one goomba tower?
5. PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds
A storm is brewing on this site, and it is forming around the game few know as PLAYERUNKNOWNS BATTLEGROUNDS. Yes the title is all caps, yes this guy no one heard of before put his name on it, and yes it is about the most generic game title since Tank. Is that 3 strikes or one? Somehow someone started playing this game and showed it to the world with all of its glorious physics fuckery and everyone on the planet shit themselves with joy.
If you’ve been in a coma for the last 9 months because you were struck by a subway train, I’ll try to catch you up. First, you and 100 other people load up on some deserted island while waiting for the real game to start. Someone throws a Molotov cocktail into the densest area of people waiting and watches as they burn alive. Meanwhile, other people are trying to climb on top of a crashed airplane, while the rest are grabbing weapons off tables and shooting everyone in the face at point blank range. Then everyone is piled into a single plane and flown over the map while everyone talks shit to each other until they jump out. Then the game begins.
There is a lot of excitement in this game. The looting can get pretty intense if you land in a busy area. I still drop into the school when I’m playing solo so I can try to get a better murder reaction time. Vehicle physics is still a highlight to this game. Who doesn’t love launching hundreds of feet in the air off a bunny hill? The circle … that damn circle. If it weren’t for the collapsing circle of death, this game would be terrible. 100 people roaming around a map suddenly, desperately need to be in a smaller area. Then an even smaller area. Collapsing every few minutes until you are forced into an area with the remaining foes leaving one victor. Once you are knocked out there’s no waiting either. Start a new round and get back to murder as soon as you can.
This is a great multiplayer game. Every time we play there are plenty of stories. Plus, the effect this has had on the gaming community is real. Popular streamers get tens of thousands of viewers at a time on this game. Videos are released almost monthly with the weirdest, funniest, most amazing plays. There are already direct rip-offs of this game out there, and more are guaranteed.
4. Assassin's Creed Origins
Origins is the game that gets the Assassin’s Creed series back to the days when it was a lot of fun. Bayek is a likable protagonist. As I ran through the first town, I wanted to stop and talk to everyone just because they were all so happy to see me. There was no time for that though, this friendly guy had to murder people. And when you finally get your man, you get a cutscene with a death as brutal as it is intimate. This friendly guy bashed someone’s face in with a golden orb. Bayek is great.
What may be the most amazing thing is that he isn’t the best. His wife is. Aya is a fiery character. When she jumped into the game I just wanted to see more of her story. Which you get to do. I have not progressed far enough in the story to load up her gameplay, but I am definitely ready.
As Bayek, the ever increasing body count leads to some special attention. When the first hunter arrived in the game I didn’t think much of him. I kept my distance and watched him roam around for a bit. There was something ominous about the horn sound as he got close though. Then my son insisted on me attacking him. So I leapt into action, and immediately regretted it. I found out this guy was 7 or 8 levels above me, and when I hit him the tiniest of slivers came off his meter. I thought, maybe I can still take this guy if I just take my ti … oh, no, I’m dead. That guy took me out with 2 hits. So we won’t be following my son's advice for awhile. I will murder that man though. Out in the open for everyone to see like a friendly guy should.
Another thing to like about this game is eagle bro, Senu. Always flying over head and ready to tag enemies and track their movements. I am now able to call him down and attack people in the face. They call that a distraction. I call it hilarious. Here’s some schmo minding his own business on guard duty, all of a sudden, EAGLED!
Overall, this game hits all the notes I want from Assassins. I look forward to playing this to death.
3. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Horizon and Zelda have one really large thing in common and that is the size of their worlds. This one is so big I’m not sure I saw half of it. Judging by the number of shrines I found, probably not. The puzzles in the shrines were tons of fun. They weren’t overly challenging but they could take time to get through.
The environment played a huge part in this game like no other I have ever played. Every weapon was made of some special piece of glass that looked like metal or wood, but was actually Samuel L Jackson’s cane in Unbreakable, so don’t expect to ever feel like a total badass. I got to the point where I ran past all the bad guys more than I fought them because “screw you, this thing has fire!” Each area had weather and man did it affect you! Lightning attracted to metal weapons, cold and hot weather had to be dealt with using proper clothing, a whole mountain on fire. If you didn’t have the proper attire for the elements there was always Chef Link to the rescue. If it moved you could cook it. There was a lot going on in this game.
If I'm being honest I enjoyed the story in this game. No I didn’t care about the mute, the asshole bird man, or the whiny can’t-do-my-job princess, but I did like the story. I was curious about finding the memories to piece together what happened the first time all these weirdos fought Ganon. It wasn’t the kind of story you reflect on during the credits, and the ending felt like someone realized they needed some kind of resolution as they were stamping the pictures onto the boxes before shipping.
2. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
Nazis … in America? Oh, hell no! Give me dual weapons and a magic Jewish suit of armor because I’m going ashore! In a game where you murder all the Nazis one might assume the story was a place the game designers skimped on. And that would be wrong. I haven’t hit the credits yet and everything about the story is flawless. You love every character all the way down to that piece of shit Chocolate Shake Nazi Captain. Things happen in this game that other games wish they could do. Then there’s the parts where other games are happy to let Wolfenstein have that for themselves, and all it makes me want to do is murder more Nazis.
The day will come where Terror Billy and I reunite to finish the job and it will be glorious. What I will have to do is set a lot of time aside for it. This game is not nice to you. I like a challenging game and I even used to dare games with that hard setting at the start. This one made me feel equal parts badass and hopeless loser. I like the guns in this game, but they feel a little bit weak...perhaps because the monster of a Nazi I had to kill needed more bullets, which is understandable. You are supposed to feel like a crazy murder machine and I can’t do that crouching behind a lectern hoping no one sees me before I snipe the commander so he doesn’t call in the magic endless wave of soon to be dead people.
1. Horizon Zero Dawn
Horizon really surprised me. The first trailer I saw I asked why in the hell would someone make a robot dinosaur? I got that answer and a lot more from this game. This huge world with a surplus of varying terrains and beasts would be fun without a story, and it has one of the best this year, too. I enjoyed getting to know Aloy and discover this world with her. The game mechanics felt so good that I felt like a total badass at times and then the game would give a less than friendly reminder that I am tiny and soft and everything else will shred me.
Something I haven’t heard many mention for this game is the fantastic sound design. Every creature has its own noises which meant getting to know them was the difference between dodging a huge ball of fire or starting over. Just getting close to bots changed the sound of the game, to this tense subtle music that still gets me amped up just thinking about it.