Everyone else is doing these so I guess I could do one, too.
This list is by no means comprehensive. I caught up on a lot of 2015-2016 games this year, and I missed a lot of releases I really wanted to get into. My list is also very biased this year toward triple-A releases, and I would love to talk about why before we get into it. Feel free to skip this if you want and scroll down.
1. I Have a Connection.
I’m rather infamous around Halifax because I sell stickers at conventions, and you can also get them at local business The Last Game Store. If you live around here, it would mean a lot to me if you could support them!
The stickers are pretty popular, so I often don’t bother asking for cash. I just go ahead and trade them for games. This way I get new games pretty easily, although I do tend to prefer old things that I need to fill out my collection.
2. My Computer Sucks.
I say this with all the endearment in my heart since my wife bought it for me, but it was an emergency purchase when my previous laptop died and it doesn’t keep up very well with modern games. This makes me more inclined to pick up games on my consoles when possible (PS3, PS4, Vita, 3DS)
3. I Still Buy A Lot In Steam Sales.
…Because it’s cheap. But I can’t pick up ones that run in 3D because they strain my poor laptop. Playing Firewatch early in the year was an Ordeal. I’ve been sitting on a copy of The Witness that I have no faith in this machine to play.
So yeah! That’s why I have a lot of triple-A games on this list. So here are my top ten 2017 games in no particular order:
This is on everyone’s top ten list, with good reason. The further removed I am from the game the more I think about it’s flaws, but it was so interesting and enjoyable anyway that who cares? It was great and everyone should play it. You can read my more expansive post on it here.
Mass Effect: Andromeda
This was probably the most underrated game of 2017. The amount of wank and fan-entitlement involved that ended up discouraging sales all across the board makes me dig my heels in as a fan of Andromeda. Mistakes were made by the development team that I believe they have suffered for, much more than they deserved. Andromeda is fun, hilarious, and I thought I wrote a blog post on it but I guess I didn’t? It’s been so long now that I’m not going to, so here’s my take:
It’s a good Bioware game. It’s better than Inquisition, imo. They use a similar engine that Andromeda built its story around in a more organic way than in Inquisition, and it works. The narrative constantly reminds you that you were in the right place at the right time rather than being the special hero, preventing the White Savior complex to settle in on what is tied to being a colonial narrative. The colonial narrative allows things to settle into a modern colonialist wet dream, which tells me that 1. the writers knew which parts were troublesome and 2. wrote around them in such a way that tells me they knew what they were doing while I imagine EA breathed down their necks so they couldn’t make a game as ethically interesting and uncomfortable as Dragon Age 2 ever again.
Please play it.
This game blew my mind so well that I just haven’t written a post on it at all. Danganronpa is difficult to recommend at times because it’s troublesome and problematic but jesus I love the hell out of it. DRV3 was the mic drop at the end of a trilogy and while I’m sad to see it go, I can’t wait to see what Kodaka does next.
I think I was too shook by the finale of this game to have much to say about it, and now I wonder if I missed my chance to write something big. I might like to write a big thing about all the Danganronpa games at some point.
Dishonored: Death of the Outsider
I actually just finished this yesterday and I just want everyone to know how much I love this series. What it lacks in narrative it makes up for in enjoyable gameplay and luxurious worldbuilding. And then they gave me a game where I just got to play my beloved Billie Lurk.
Dishonored is an interesting series that started as a weird one-off that went in a different direction with morality, a more law vs chaos than good vs bad. While the first game suffered a bit with not understanding how to separate those concepts, the DLCs and subsequent games learned their lesson. The Arkane Studios team also took criticism to heart, and while the original game featured a lot of men (and at least one horrifying non-lethal plot for a female character) continued on to make up for it with Emily Kaldwin and Billie Lurk as the title characters. They included women everywhere, queer people, and non-binary people as well. Arkane does good work, and everyone should play Dishonored.
While I was pleased enough with this game to write a glowing review on it, I am surprised constantly with the fact that it doesn’t haunt me as a narrative in the same way the other Persona games did. Still, it was fun and slick enough that I’m looking forward to see what sort of effect it has on future JRPGs.
Night in the Woods
The Last Guardian
Since it came out at the very end of 2016, I think The Last Guardian missed a bunch of game-of-the-year lists because a lot of people had already made their lists when it was released. Although it gets a lot of credit simply by being made by the team behind Shadow of the Colossus, I’m afraid that people are letting this beautiful game fall to the side. Don’t let it pass you by! Here’s my post about it in the wee days of 2017.
Umineko no Naku Koro Ni
I haven’t played this game since it’s been officially localized by MangaGamer, but I am a huge fan of Umineko and I think it deserves attention. This year they released the answer arcs, thus finalizing the series in the west.
Every year in October, the Ushiromiyas unite for a family meeting. In October, 1986, there is a horrible massacre that takes their lives. Umineko is a Visual Novel explicitly, in that there are very few choices or interactive moments. Instead it uses the art form to help craft a narrative with support by images, music, and video. The real interactivity of the reader is to try to figure out who the murderer is as it happens, over and over and over. I’ll always argue that at it’s core, Umineko is about toxic patriarchy. Also included are non-heterosexual romances, and trans and non-binary characters.
Doki Doki Literature Club
DDLC seemed to be one of the big hits in the Visual Novel scene this year, even though there were a LOT of visual novels out. I have a blog post in me about this game. I enjoyed it, but I see people lauding it for things that I don’t think it deserves. Subversive horror isn’t new to this genre.
What makes DDLC stand out is how Dan Salvato uses the Ren’py as a canvas. I’m not sure I’ve seen anyone puppetmaster things like this before. He makes it look easy.
Over My Dead Body (For You)
Over My Dead Body (For You) is a bit out of my wheelhouse. It’s a puzzle game, and without a strong narrative, it’s not usually my jam. However, I did play it this year, at a local game developer meetup, where the devs would not tell me what the answers to puzzles were when I got stuck.
It’s a slick game where the concept is well-thought out and smoothly implemented, although my brain is so far from the type that can build puzzles that I’m more impressed that such a tiny team was able to put this together, and so well.
So yeah, there’s my top ten list for the year with tiny reviews of things I didn’t bother with on the blog proper. I’ll probably write a personal year wrap-up at some point soon too. In the meantime Happy New Year, everyone!