2017 was an excellent year for games.
Early on, Resident Evil VII came out and brought the series back from life support. Two months later, the Switch launched, bringing with it the genre defining Breath of the Wild. The rest of the year brought games that were just as excellent: Mario + Rabbids, Horizon, Battle Chef Brigade, Persona 5 and more blew up the scene. By all accounts, 2017 was one of the best years for video games ever.
Of course, more games were released than can take our “Game of the Year” title, and everyone is conflicted. That means we all get to share our own personal choices with you, our readers. So without further ado, here are my top five games of the year for 2017.
5. Cuphead (Xbox One, PC)
Cuphead is a tiny little indie game that released in September last year after years of teases and development. For anyone unaware, Cuphead is primarily recognizeable because of its art style, calling back to cartoons from the 1930’s.
Beneath the stunning art is an incredible shootem up. Most of the levels pit players- either in single player or local coop- against daunting but cartoonish bosses. The remaining levels are traditional sidescrolling levels where the player runs, jumps and shoots.
Cuphead has a place on my list because it delivered on its promise after being pushed off for such long periods of time. The game looks great, but it also is harboring an incredible boss rush and combat experience.
4. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (Switch)
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is the first Switch game to make my list, but certainly won’t be the last.
Xenoblade is an incredible follow up to the Wii U’s Xenoblade Chronicles X. The games do not have any narrative connection (that I am yet aware of), but are tied together through world building and combat systems. This is another sprawling and immersive JRPG, and deserves a spot on the shelf of any JRPG fan.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 comes in at number for because of the sheer vastness of the world. There are innumerable things to do: You can salvage treasure, developt towns and continents, collect and level up weapons, interact with party members, go on side quests, progress the main quest and much more. The list really goes on forever.
This game captures the magic of the series, while bringing the game to a new Nintendo console in the first year of its launch. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a game that I will be playing for a long time.
3. Super Mario Odyssey
Now, if you’re reading this with any type of aprehension because Mario didn’t crack my top two, that’s fine. I expect that response.
Odyssey scratched an itch for me that 3D Mario games have not scratched since Sunshine. The game is a great testament to what a 3D platformer can accomplish. The rich, open worlds, strong mechanics and whimsical music are just three of my reasons for including the newest Mario game. Digging deeper, you find loveable characters, tons of custimization and hundreds of stars, err, moons, to find.
There is a great lot to do in Odyssey, and even though the game isn’t a sprawling RPG, the game will keep you busy for weeks. I didn’t play any other game for two weeks after booting this one up. I wouldn’t trade those minutes for any other game, and it is great to know that there is more to return to.
2. Resident Evil VII
Here is the true dark horse on my list. A game that came out in the beginning of the year was overshadowed as the year went on. Soon the Switch released with Zelda. Horizon came out, making a splash on the Playstation. Meanwhile, the Capcom game returning to horror fell by the wayside.
When this game launched. I played straight through at least six times. I played through taking my time, I speed-ran through the game, I got every single trophy and went back for more. I knew every line of dialogue, know all of the shortcuts for traversing the Baker mansion and I even had strategies for how to best maneuver the ship at the end of the game.
This game has incredible asthetics, impactful music, chilling moments and downright terrifying enemies. I honestly cannot say enough positive things about this game. The first person action doesn’t take away from the game’s roots, and by the end, the over the top action that Resident Evil has always been known for makes a triumphant return.
If you haven’t picked this up yet, do it. Even if you aren’t a longtime fan of the series, this is truly one of the biggest winners of 2017.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Yes, my true game of the year is one that has taken the honor on a number of lists. I feel the need to point out that the margin by which Zelda edges out RE7 is so tiny, that an NFL officiating crew would need to use an index card to measure the difference.
BOTW changed the genre of open world adventure games. Players can go absolutely anywhere they wish. The only restriction is the weather, Link’s stamina and Link’s health. When this game dropped, it was the only game I played for a good deal of time. So much has been written and spoken of in this game, that anything I write will be adding to the voiceless noise.
This is the game of the year. Go play it.