2017 has, arguably, been one of the best years in gaming. I am indescribably delighted to have started the KAIDO Cast this year, and have an outlet for my opinions on a few of the greatest games in the last decade. Big developers and publishers have taken interesting risks have excited and teased audiences for what is to come. Indies continue to make unique experiences we never knew were possible--in some cases, even pick up the slack where AAA outlets fail to pull the industry forward. From console to console to PC there is something for anyone to enjoy. 2017 has found its place in gaming history as a time to remember for playing.
But, the best experience I had in 2017 was…
1) What Remains of Edith Finch
What Remains of Edith Finch secured its spot here by enrapturing me in its story and setting unlike any game this year. From the moment I saw the comically large, storybook, house this game ignited a desire to play and explore a space; in a way I was desperately searching for. I didn’t know, at the time, how affecting the story crafted by Giant Sparrow would be, but What Remains of Edith Finch is one of the most powerful games I have ever played. The way the developers use the visuals to convey the story is a cut above what is expected. The way they make Edith’s story feel so personal, and almost voyeuristic at times, while not feeling cheap, is impressive. The team’s ability to make an, overall, cohesive game that feels great to interact with, and can tell its complete story in one sitting, is to be praised.
2) The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
We are no strangers to Open World games. We have seen roughly two thousand in the last five years. You could say that there is even some Open World fatigue at this point, and you might ask how to make the genre feel new again, or how to bring the genre back to what it was always meant to be. Never fret, Nintendo is here to answer the call.
I never would have expected to see such a mature take on the Open World genre from Nintendo. Breath of the Wild turns away from the archaic mainstays of Open World games in favor of true exploration, discovery, and personal growth. The design of Zelda feels in opposition to the hinderance AAA games put on themselves, which is the idea that every gamer must see every part of the game. Breath of the Wild relies on the players desire and curiosity to guide them through it’s gorgeous world of mysterious ruin. Every part of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild feels natural, unlike the structured facade that Open World games have become.
3) Puyo Puyo Tetris
It’s the best version of Tetris out there, and I played more of this than I did most other games this year.
I enjoyed Hellblade for the powerful story of acceptance and perseverance it told. Every play session left me exhausted, much like in the same way a horror game would, and this is due to the impactful performance by Melina Juergens. She embodies the character of Senua very believably; creating an arch that is difficult to watch at times.
Hellblade doesn’t deliver as an action game, but I found it more enjoyable to view it as a Strollplaying Game. I was interested to see the sinister environments as I progressed--opposed to the bland fighting sequences. Overall I was moved by the story of Hellblade, and I am glad I was able to experience and “enjoy” the game.
5) Injustice 2
Injustice 2 rekindled my interest in DC superheroes in a way Hollywood has failed; seeing the conflicting factions of Batman and Superman’s creation was very interesting. Successfully nailing the story and characters pushed me to continue playing past the story, and find my rhythm in fights. Netherealm has made another fighting game in the style I like. The combo system is more akin to putting in cheats, rather than the, arguably, more natural system of Street Fighter. With the addition of gear I also had a desire to customize my favorite fighter (Robin) and show him off in multiplayer. In the end, Injustice 2 is one of my favorite fighting games to date.
6) The Norwood Suite
Every few years a game that is so “out there” releases and, despite its look and feel and gameplay, wows most people that play it. The Norwood Suite fills that gap for 2017. The best description of this game was given by my very own co-host, and the person who referred The Norwood Suite to me, Dave. He describes the society that has taken over the hotel in the game is very knowing and they seem to have an understanding that you don’t, and this makes them seem cool or superior. This game acquires much of its style from its music. Each track is driven by very familiar drum fills, but the melodies and rhythms are so alien sounding to me; they come off as sly or cool, and made this album a necessity for me.
7) Super Mario Odyssey
The tale of Super Mario Odyssey is one I wish I could hear more. Nintendo shows a exciting teaser trailer at E3 2017 that presented us with nearly all the mechanics in the game and the great style. Then, once October 27th (International Games Appreciation Day “IGAD”) rolled around to releasing Odyssey, we were all able to enjoy everything promised and showed. By far the best 3D platformer this year, Super Mario Odyssey stole the show and deserves the applause all the way through the 500 moon mark.
8) Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
Wolfenstein had craziest story this year, full of interesting characters and outlandish moments. Coupled with the fact that BJ Blazkowicz is also, now, one of the most interesting characters in an ongoing gaming series, Bethesda and Machine Games continues to do great work with their properties. The only thing that holds this game back is lackluster mechanics and gameplay. Being that Bethesda also published DOOM last year, I would like to see those team work together to make Wolfenstein’s gameplay as interesting as DOOM’s.
9) Ghost Recon Wildlands
I understand that Ghost Recon Wildlands isn’t going to get a lot of love--as far as Top 10’s go--but it is the second best open world game this year. I understand that Horizon and Nier also released in 2017 (I also didn’t play enough Assassin’s Creed), but the freedom of Ghost Recon is unparalleled in those games. Although it isn’t near the level of Breath of the Wild, I respect the game letting me decide what I want to do in the playground that has been crafted. It is a beautiful playground as well; Ubisoft’s open worlds become more detailed and real with every passing year. Along with the game comes some of the worst dialogue I have heard in a military shooter, but if you mute the chatter, you are left with a good soundtrack.
10) Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds
It is hard to discount Battlegrounds for what it has done this year. It is currently the biggest game in the world, and I had decided to check it out once the buzz was to loud to ignore. As you could have gathered from the rest of the list, I am not a multiplayer gamer (I played Ghost Recon Wildlands exclusively singleplayer) and I loved my experiences in Battlegrounds. There is no attachment to anyone in the game due to such a high player count, and the tension makes this game at least worth a try.