Our editors and contributors choose their favourite games of 2017.
By all accounts, 2017 was an exceptionally strong year in gaming. From Nintendo’s re-emergence on the console stage to strong exclusive showings across all platforms, we all had plenty to play and enjoy. Here are This Old Neon‘s team’s picks for Game of the Year.
Drop by our community forum to tell us about your own favourites!
Tales of Berseria
January – Bandai Namco – PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4
2017 was a great year for games. I’ve played quite a few new ones that I loved, but Tales of Berseria stands out to me as the best. This was one of the strongest Tales games ever released, with an engaging story, strong characters, and set in a world that I loved to explore. Velvet is not seeking adventure or heroism as previous Tales games’ protagonists often are. She is seeking revenge, and this change in approach unfolds wonderfully throughout the narrative. I’m still playing it despite its having come out way back in January.
Fire Emblem Heroes
February – Intelligent Systems / Nintendo – Mobile
When Nintendo revealed Fire Emblem Heroes, my expectations were low. It looked shallow and stripped-down, but the tactical combat seemed like it could fit the mobile format, and I enjoy the brand, so I gave it a chance when it launched in February. It’s fun to collect random characters, increase their levels, and assemble teams to overcome some of the game’s more difficult strategic challenges. Intelligent Systems has been dedicated not just to adding characters to summon, but to introducing challenging new battles and updating game modes to keep things interesting even for players with well-rounded stables of powerful characters.
Given the recent hullabaloo about microtransactions, it’s worth noting that Fire Emblem Heroes is a Gacha game; it’s inherently predatory. It’s also surprisingly generous to those who keep their wallets closed and instead choose to enjoy what’s provided free.
Night in the Woods
February – Infinite Fall / Finji – PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Night in the Woods is a game about people, in which college dropout Mae tries to reconnect with her family and friends and get her life back under control. It’s set in a small, Rust Belt town where the bear down the road becomes a fleshed-out character with a past and a unique personality within a few in-game days. While Night in the Woods can be cheerful and fun, some of its themes like domestic abuse, poverty, and mental health issues aren’t. Thanks to some excellent writing, the game manages to strike a tone that makes all of this work, sometimes hitting very close to reality. In the end, Night in the Woods is a game that I will remember for quite some time.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
March – Nintendo – Switch
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild truly is a breath of fresh air, not only for the series, but the genre. The game musters a sense of freedom that hasn’t been felt since the original The Legend of Zelda on the Nintendo Entertainment System. It is a great feeling to be able to climb up a mountain, look down at the world, and then sail down to your destination. After so many hours trekking across Hyrule for shrines and Korok seeds, I honestly feel like I know the world like the back of my hand. Nintendo managed to create an open world that feels alive—a world made for discovery. Breath of the Wild is a phenomenal experience I won’t soon forget.
April – Atlus – PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4
Persona 5 launched at a time when I was fully prepared for disappointment. It followed the sublime Breath of the Wild by only a month, and the memories of a very disappointing fifth entry in another of my favorite series—Metal Gear Solid—still lingered in my mind. Ever faithful, I maintained my Premium Edition pre-order and decided to give Atlus the benefit of the doubt. They rewarded me and all fans of Persona with a new standard-bearer for the series in nearly every regard. Designed (rather than procedurally-generated) dungeons eliminate late-game fatigue. A lovingly-crafted red-and-black aesthetic draws wonder to game assets as mundane as loading screens and menu panes. The plot and tone strike a nice balance between the moody blues of Persona 3 and the sunny jubilation of Persona 4. Shoji Meguro has composed another OST of tunes I’ve found myself shamelessly listening to à la carte. Persona 5 is a home run for fans of the series, and its streamlined mechanics make it easier than ever for newcomers to jump in. Just don’t forget to Take Your Time.
June – Housemarque – PC, PlayStation 4
Earlier this year, Housemarque surprised me with Nex Machina, a project co-created with Robotron 2084 legend Eugene Jarvis. Laser-focused and relentless, Nex Machina evokes the controlled mayhem and claustrophobia of Robotron and packs it with challenges and secrets. This is a wild, intense game, but each run reveals something new to strive for next time, honing your runs and increasing scores. Optional though they may be, I haven’t been able to ignore the constant risk/reward opportunities presented because they elevate the whole experience and feed into its addictive nature. I hope to beat this one (1CC, of course) by 2084.
Super Mario Odyssey
October – Nintendo – Switch
Super Mario Odyssey seamlessly incorporates the fantastic elements from previous entries, and then adds so many more creative innovations that I could not believe how the developers did it. I found the difficulty curve to be perfect: easy enough to get me comfortable with the controls and expectations, but then increasingly difficult if I wanted to get more moons than just the minimum to advance the story, all the while being extremely fair. The controls are precise, the graphics are detailed, bright, and colorful, and the gameplay is perfect. Some noteworthy additions are the 2D retro sections, the way the capture mechanic allows the player to manipulate space in each kingdom, and the richness and diversity of the kingdom environments. I smiled the entire time, and with nearly 1000 moons to collect, I plan to smile for a lot longer.
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All images courtesy of their respective publishers.