DYEGB’s Games of the Year for 2017

DYEGB’s Games of the Year for 2017

2017 may well go down as one of the best years in modern gaming, with a veritable barrage of top-notch titles coming thick and fast from both the AAA and indie sector. Whether it was clever innovation or just thoughtful iteration, 2017 took no prisoners in terms of the quality experiences it provided. Bank balances were decimated and social lives left dying in the dirt; it was just a good time all round. But which titles do the DYEGB crew think should be crowned ultimate mega premium lucky number one Game of the Year? I’m glad you asked…

Oh boy. A year as packed with must play titles as 2017 doesn’t come along so often. It’s been a banner year for epic single-player experiences especially, with a charge led by mostly by PlayStation and Nintendo. It’s strange that in a time when many feel that online-focused players have never been treated so poorly (see: loot boxes), that fans of a good ‘ol basement shut-in, Dorito and Red Bull-fueled, 80-hour RPG-fest have been given so much to work with. Picking just three top games for the year was incredibly difficult for me, and it pains me to not highlight some of the incredibly enchanting, affecting and downright amazing experiences that I’ve had in the last twelve months, but that’s just how it is, so here are my top three picks for GOTY.

Runners up:

Persona 5

Persona 5 is a game that is cooler and more stylish than any game could hope to be. If video games were fictional characters played by Ben Stiller, Persona 5 would be Derek Zoolander and every other game would be Walter Mitty. If video games were consumer-level indoor cooling solutions, Persona 5 would be a Dyson and every other game would be a friend gently fanning you with a copy of Better Homes and Gardens. If this game were just the disgustingly funky soundtrack and unnaturally good menu design alone it’d still be a contender for GOTY, but it also happens to come with a deep and engaging RPG-visual-novel hybrid that is easily the best in the series. DYEGB rating: 10

Super Mario Odyssey

This is peak Nintendo. The Switch has been the company’s saving grace since launching in March, and that is thanks in no small part to the strength of its first party lineup. Breath of the Wild was the first half of a 1-2 punch right to the gonads of the industry, and now Super Mario Odyssey has finished the job. Finding a balance between pleasing long-time fans and finding room for innovation and surprise can’t be an easy task, but it’s a feat that the teams at Nintendo seem to be able to pull off without breaking a sweat. There is not a single moment that I didn’t have a huge grin on my face while playing this gorgeous, exciting, wholesome, joyous game. DYEGB rating: 10

Game of the Year: NieR: Automata

I came into NieR: Automata expecting the same strange, obtuse and esoteric experience that I had with NieR: Gestalt/RepliCant and for the most part that’s what I got. What I didn’t expect to find was a game that went beyond simple subversion of the medium and truly married gameplay and storytelling in a way that no other game has ever managed. To play NieR: Automata is not just to understand its themes and messages in its cutscenes and incidental dialogue, it’s to feel them in every mechanic and every design. It’s very rare that I have the patience to play through a game to completion more than once, but with Automata I felt I couldn’t truly appreciate Yoko Taro’s masterpiece of art without seeing all 26 endings. Oh, and the soundtrack. Astonishing. DYEGB rating: 9

Runners up:

Horizon Zero Dawn

The year kicked off with this fantastic adventure game from Guerrilla Games, and it was certainly a hard one to beat. A beautiful world, a deep and intriguing premise and a strong protagonist made this one a joy from start to finish.  I feel like the game is an excellent survival handbook for when society eventually falls only to rise again as primitive tribes surrounded by angry robot dinosaurs. GG, Guerrilla Games. GG. DYEGB rating: 9.3

Resident Evil VII: Biohazard

The excellent Resident Evil 6 was always going to be hard to top. Oh wait, that game was terrible. Resident Evil VII: Biohazard cropped up at the start of the year, and despite the weaker final parts of the game, it’s a title I look back on fondly. Fans wanted an RE game that returned to its survival horror roots, and in a rare move, Capcom listened. It cleverly sidestepped the story bloat that the RE series had acquired and simply gave us a creepy setting inspired by redneck horror to immerse ourselves in. Very few horror titles manage to be genuinely unnerving, but several times in REVII I found myself pausing in the inky blackness of a dark threshold, having to reach deep to find my tiny girl balls and press on.  DYEGB rating: 9

Game of the Year: What Remains of Edith Finch

Only now that I am picking an indie title as my Game of the Year while drinking an obscure craft beer out of a mason jar as I pen this on an electric typewriter that fits snugly into the organic leather pouch on my penny-farthing do I realise I’ve become a bit of a hipster. I promised my friends and family that Melbourne wouldn’t change me, but the artisanal moustache and elaborate collection of beard oils I am cultivating are a mockery of that promise. Still, there’s no denying that walking simulator What Remains of Edith Finch is one the most thoughtful and well-realised releases of the year. Even just writing this now and reflecting on the Finch family plight evokes a depth of feeling that few works in any medium are able to inspire. But don’t take my word for it, take the words of the review that I wrote:

While a strong vein of tragedy weaves its way through the Finch’s lives, their experiences are less about wallowing in the sadness of death, but rather taking solace in the miracle of having lived at all. As a father and human being I experienced everything from soul-crushing sadness to moments of sheer elation. It is a testament to creativity, wonder and imagination, an interactive piece of art that isn’t really a game, but paradoxically couldn’t work as anything else

DYEGB rating: 10

I don’t care if it’s too early and I don’t care about microtransactions, 2017 has been one of the best years in the history of video games with a wave of masterpieces. This is the first year in a while, where I have had multiple favourite GOTY titles. I couldn’t even fit all my favourites on this list. While NieR: Automata, Zelda, Wolfenstein II and Hellblade were instant classics, we will be here all day talking about how great this year was. So I have decided to talk about these three.

Runners up

Horizon: Zero Dawn

Horizon does so much right. A refreshing new and exciting IP with lush green mountains, robotic dinosaurs, bows and arrows and deep lore pulling together themes of religion, race and culture while also creating a very likeable protagonist on a very mysterious and revelatory adventure. It is arguably the prettiest open world game with gorgeous visuals and rock solid performance. The combat is also incredibly deep, smooth and varied, creating one of the most cinematic, intense and fun combat styles in recent years. Everything about this game is so cool and I can’t even go into detail on any of it without a tl;dr  reply (from Matt Harris). DYEGB rating: 9.3

Super Mario Odyssey

Until Super Mario Odyssey, I was of the opinion that Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2 were the closest to flawless a game could be. Well, Nintendo once again showed they are still able to outdo themselves, and created one of the greatest Mario games of all time. The sense of freedom, personality, expert level design and masterful mechanics are at the foundations of what a video game should aspire to and Mario nails it. There are countless moments where the game just makes me smile, like games did when I was a child. It also makes every other 3D platformer look like a joke, so maybe that’s why I’m smiling? DYEGB rating: 10

Game of the Year: Persona 5

Persona 5 absolutely consumed me. After having such a blast with Horizon and Zelda, I wasn’t prepared for what this work of art had in store for me. I had to fly up to Darwin for work for about a month in May this year so I thought it was a good opportunity to bring my PS4 since I wasn’t going to be doing anything else there (other than occasionally swimming with crocodiles). After just a few hours in Persona 5’s world, it was all I could think about while I was there. The engrossing plot line, the memorable characters, the sassy combat, the addictive gameplay loop, the phenomenal soundtrack and the delicious art style made Persona 5 more than just the sum of its incredible parts. It’s brimming with confidence and personality and it doesn’t care what you think. Prepare to hate your current life, and get sucked into this one. DYEGB rating: 10

Amidst all the controversy and bullshit we have witnessed this year, it is undeniable that 2017 has housed some fantastic games. Just in the first four months alone we saw some incredible titles. I was kind of overwhelmed with the high standard that games were being released at. It really made me think that the year was going to be mostly good releases. I was wrong in thinking that, very wrong, but I was still able to play more incredible games than usual. So here we go with my top three:

Runners up:

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

What can I say? MachineGames gets me and my love for killing Nazis. Blood splattering everywhere, robodogs, excessive swearing; it was made for me. But on a more serious note, at a time where 90% of releases nowadays are (bad) open world games, a linear and story-driven FPS was a nice break. I found the story engaging, level design was awesome and the performance was great without having a major compromise to the visuals (thanks to id Tech and Vulkan). It was everything a majority of the AAA gaming industry doesn’t stand for – quality and honesty. DYEGB rating: 9

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

Hellblade was a game that looked great, played well and had such a good narrative to boot. It also made some really interesting design choices in regards to the way it handled audio. This is a game I would recommend only playing with a headset on as you are doing yourself and the game an injustice without it. This game not only gets ranked highly because of how good it was, but what it represents: honest gaming. DYEGB rating: 9.8

Game of the Year: NieR: Automata

This game… my god, this game. NieR: Automata came out of nowhere and dazzled me. I had not experienced such brilliantly nuanced writing before this and I have struggled to fall in love with anything else in 2017 quite as much as this title. This is one of those games that you must play through a couple times to truly appreciate the brilliance of its writing and once you begin to understand the characters’ motives more, it fleshes out the earlier context and gives the whole experience an beautiful sense of depth. Coincidentally, the game also features an amazing soundtrack. I haven’t heard a musical score ever approached in the manner that PlatinumGames approached NieR: Automata’s score with. A beautiful game, plain and simple. DYEGB rating: 9

Runners Up:

Horizon Zero Dawn

My journey with Aloy captivated my heart and I poured my soul into completing this game 100%.  Horizon Zero Dawn has every element you want out of an open world, third person, action role-playing game: a multitude of weapon upgrades, a plethora of enemy types and a gorgeous story led by a loveable heroine. This masterpiece PlayStation exclusive would be like if The Witcher, Assassin’s Creed and Tomb Raider had a baby but it does well at still being incredibly unique in its gameplay. DYEGB rating: 9.3

Uncharted: Lost Legacy

As a self-confessed Uncharted die-hard fan I am probably slightly biased in this choice, however despite my fervent love for Nathan Drake and his crew I went into this game a little sceptical. This is the first Uncharted game that has not featured the smart-mouthed hero Nathan Drake, but thankfully it stuck to the tried-and-tested Uncharted forumla. I’m talking about climbing, falling, scaling, running and gunning, solving puzzles and hunting treasure like only Uncharted can. It also features the most breathtaking visuals I’ve ever seen. Nadine and Chloe make a loveable duo with the same quick-witted banter we are used to in the series, and witnessing their chemistry throughout their Indian journey made the game a delight. DYEGB rating: 8

Game of the year: Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

Before watching the credits roll in Senua’s Sacrifice, I hadn’t been left so breathless and shaken by a video game since I finished Bioshock Infinite all those years ago. Hellblade is inspired by Norse mythology and follows our titular tortured heroine on a journey to Helheim to reclaim the soul of her dead lover. It is a journey of self discovery, as we piece together Senua’s past and unravel her psychosis to find out just how we ended up here clutching our partner’s dismembered head on our belt. Ninja Theory have created a masterpiece with the most incredible sound engineering I have ever encountered. This game is a dark psychological adventure that has the quality of any AAA title combining elements of puzzle, horror and action, and couldn’t come more highly recommended. DYEGB rating: 9.8

How did we do? Anything you think we missed? Let us know in the comments what your games of 2017 were.

WellPlayed is a small collective of avid Aussie gamers who after many years of devouring gaming-related news have decided to venture out on their own and present their spin on the gaming world.