It’s pretty often you see Game of the Year articles right about now, but I knew I was under the wire and wanted to share some games you may have overlooked in 2017. We still have time to correct some experiences you’ve missed out on, so let’s do it! Here are my five favorites of 2017.
Now, a gentle little disclaimer here before we jump right in — I played a lot of games this year. Heck, probably more than I have in the past two at least. After another final check, I have averaged between PC, PlayStation 4, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo Switch and mobile — your girl here has played (not to completion but two hours minimum) well over 200 games in 2017. Could I list every single one I enjoyed? Sure, but I doubt anyone wants to fund the server we’d have to start hosting the pages containing that kind of list on. While there are dozens of other games that I would’ve loved to have put in a further expanded list, these are my top five. Want more? Come ask me on Twitter.
5. The Forest (Steam Early Access | PlayStation 4 in 2018)
Granted, this game is still in Early Access, but it has been in development for quite awhile now. Why so long? Why are we just now inching closer to a full release date? Should I not count it because the full release of the title isn’t out? No, because the story is finished and now is just the final polishing and the story was not completed until this year and set free onto unsuspecting players. In truth, I’ve had this game for two years now and hadn’t touched it until a friend asked me why, knowing my love for survival games and atmospheric titles. This got me to install it and nearly 100 hours later, I’ve beaten it and have herded dozens of other folks into its story. It starts innocently enough with you and your child taking a rather lengthy flight. Things pop off before you know it with a plane crash that has you see your child get knocked unconscious next to you all to wake up with a man covered in red gathering your child up and walking off of the wreckage with your offspring. Good thing you’re a survivalist because in this new world, unaware at all of your surroundings, you will need to survive in order to find your kid and just who the person in red is.
And trust me, it’s a doozy of a story.
The Forest comes out on PlayStation 4 in 2018 once the final release launches as well on PC and there will be no shortage of people absorbing this one same as I did and sherpa’ng their friends through it as well.
4. Friday the 13th: The Game (PC, Xbox One & PlayStation 4)
I had written (and edited out) a paragraph in defense of my including Friday the 13th because I know people want to come for me based on their gripes with it — I really, really enjoy this game. I know, I’m sorry but that’s the last apology you’re getting out of me. GUN and Illfonic wanted desperately to relay an experience that entertained them and that’s what they’ve done. They took not just the idea of surviving against Jason as the base of the game itself but also what it would be like to be Jason against a handful of scared yet scrappy teens. If you’re not up to the task as either, good news, you can experience watching a Friday the 13th movie as it is played out literally before your very eyes. Spectating at the end of a match, whether you died or survived, puts you into the seat to change camera views and essentially watch a horror movie take place in front of you. Get paired up with the right folks and your time will be full of laughs and screams or you can head into the new Offline mode and practice being Jason for a quiet afternoon of following hapless counselors around an adult-free environment.
I hate to say it, but the game is fun on a dozen levels. Perk systems, unlockable characters and gear round out a simplistic concept and make it worth the grind. Word to the wise, however, bring your friends into this game. I’d love if the developers would add different party customization so you could create a party with folks that are for seeking out the right kind of players for the experience you want. Perhaps we’ll see that in the future. Upcoming modes include one where you can remove Jason from the equation because one of the Counselors is a budding psychopath themselves and its up to you to find out which one of them it is. Crazy, right? It’s creative and its why I love this game.
3. Persona 5 (PlayStation 4)
You can go ahead and act like you’re surprised. Everyone who has laid their hands on Persona 5 has enjoyed it because it revolutionized how we look at current roleplaying games. It includes so much of that Japanese mirth and interest we have in the day to day lives over there but adds some chaos. Adult themes run rampant due to how these teens handle the grown-ups surrounding them and just where the terror may come from. With that, you have to not only handle your day to day life as a student but also dig into the tactics of dating, fighting and saving the day. It’s stylized beautifully and nobody but Atlus is giving us something like this right now. If you weren’t into Persona before 5, you will be after it. Give it a shot.
2. Battle Chef Brigade (PC & Nintendo Switch)
Generally, if you mention a game has cooking in it — I’m interested. Mostly because of the creativity it makes to turn a game about something like cooking into a video game that has rules, objectives and difficulty. Then, you throw other elements into that cooking game and I become even more possessed by its charm. However, I had no idea what Battle Chef Brigade would end up being when I first heard about it. Mix one part matchy-matchy puzzle game with one part brawler and toss a heap of Iron Chef into it and you have a game with a story so involved and visuals that will stun you as if they were ripped right from the cleanest cut anime. The voice acting is stellar, the animation is tight and the gameplay has so many elements that you can’t put it down. It’s perfect on your monitor just like it’s perfect on a handheld device like the Nintendo Switch and it will absolutely be the time of your life.
1. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (PC & PlayStation 4)
Perhaps I’m desensitized by now as a gamer or perhaps it just comes from a place where I’ve had a lot of experiences in gaming, but it’s not easy to shake me to my foundation now. I realize setting myself up like that was kind of asking for a game to come along that would and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice delivered. The game came out this past summer thanks to Ninja Theory, makers of games like Heavenly Sword and Enslaved: Odyssey to the West and that should’ve tipped me off. Ninja Theory knows what they’re doing when it comes to story and they pride themselves on their attention to detail with their visuals but this game? This game right here? It is so much more.
I refuse to spoil it but if you’re interested in a game as a single player experience, something that touches on mental illness so respectfully all while giving you a compelling story aside from the one aspect of it that made the most headlines — grab this game. I’m actually going to discuss more about this next week in its very own feature, but do yourself a favor and get a decent pair of headphones and tuck away a few hours and get into Hellblade. You’re going to be incredibly glad you did.