DYEGB’s Sleeper Hits of 2017

DYEGB’s Sleeper Hits of 2017

Sometimes games can creep up on you. You may have played the genre a million times, seen the premise coming from a mile away or just have that cold cynical gamer heart that struggles to enjoy anything, but then a wild title appears and its charm is surprisingly super effective. These are some of the best moments, because when expectations are low/non-existent, the mind is setting itself up to be blown. So what left the DYEGB crew pleasantly surprised this year?

Runners up:

Black Mirror

When THQ Nordic announced Black Mirror earlier this year, like everyone else I assumed that it was a video game adaptation of the popular British TV show. Wrong. Unbeknown to myself (and apparently many others), Black Mirror is in fact a remake of the point-and-click video game series that has existed since 2004. Now I’m quite a point-and-click fan myself (Broken Sword is one of my favourite video game series), but given THQ Nordic pretty much stealth released the title back in November without any real marketing it made me expect the worse. Surprisingly, Black Mirror is an interesting and engaging experience despite its technical shortcomings. DYEGB rating: 8

Death Squared

Developed by Australia’s very own SMG Studio, Death Squared is an up to four-player cooperative puzzler that challenges you to get all four individually coloured blocks to their designated point without perishing, which is easier said than done. The campaign is narrated by a disgruntled yet happy-go-lucky tech company employee and his AI companion Iris, who combine for some quality banter at times. It’s been a long time since a puzzle game has captivated my attention span, and even though Death Squared can be quite challenging at times, it can be as equally as rewarding. If you haven’t played it, do it. DYEGB rating: 8.5

Sleeper Hit of the Year: Get Even

Get Even was first announced back in 2013 and after several delays the psychological thriller-cum-first-person shooter from Bandai Namco and Polish developers The Farm 51 finally released this past June. After attending a preview session for the title earlier in the year I was keen to go hands-on with the final build, and it did not disappoint. Get Even’s strength is that it crafts an incredibly tense and immersive atmosphere with an engaging narrative thanks to its mental asylum setting and well-written and well-voiced characters. A frontrunner for GOTY up until a juggernaut released late in the year. DYEGB rating: 9

Runners up:

Assassin’s Creed: Origins

Okay, so, before everyone goes to flame me about enjoying Assassin’s Creed games, I just need to disclaim one thing. Yes, I am a massive fan of the Assassin’s Creed games (and yes, I do mean that I have enjoyed ALL of them), but that does not mean that I approach these games with rose coloured glasses on. I can most definitely admit that a lot of the Assassin’s Creed games have been massive flops, but that also means that on the flipside, I can praise the hidden gems of the series. This is where Assassin’s Creed: Origins comes in. For those unaware, Assassin’s Creed: Origins is the latest instalment to the Assassin’s Creed series, and takes place in Egypt during the Ptolemaic period. This game immediately had me interested when I saw when and where it would be set, and upon playing it, I couldn’t be happier. The team at Ubisoft had finally reworked key gameplay systems (I’m looking at you, subpar combat system), a change that should have been made eons ago, and for that, I hail this game one of the most surprising of the year. DYEGB rating: 8.5

Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy

Wow, looking back to the beginning of the year, I never thought that I’d be writing about a mobile game. But alas, here we are, with yet another surprising game. For those unfamiliar, I am madly in love with the Professor Layton game series, and puzzle adventure games in general, so it’s no surprise that I splurged on purchasing this title. Now, splurging for me doesn’t necessarily mean spending $30 on a video game, but when I considered that this was a mobile game at the time (it is now available for the 3DS), $30 was quite a steep price. Upon playing the game however, I realised that the price was most definitely worth it, and I am honestly considering purchasing it a second time for my 3DS because I am just that in love with it. DYEGB rating: N/A

Sleeper Hit of the Year: Bendy and the Ink Machine

I am such a big fan of the horror genre (and continuously browsing through new releases on Steam), so it’s no surprise that this quirky title piqued my interest. For those unfamiliar, Bendy and the Ink Machine is an episodic survival horror game in an art style similar to that of Cuphead (think cute-but-creepy, old-school cartoons). The game (created by a small team of just six people known as TheMeatly Games) immediately hooked me in after playing through the its first chapter. I was both curious and terrified, and just couldn’t wait to see what the rest of the game’s chapters had to offer. It is safe to say that this little gem is now definitely one of my favourite games of all time. I don’t know what it is exactly that has me so madly in love with it, I guess it just has a certain charm to it that seems to draw me in consistently. DYEGB rating: N/A

Runners up:

Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy

I always knew that I was going to enjoy the HD remake of the first three Crash Bandicoot games, but I didn’t realise I’d spend hours upon hours scouring each level for all the secret areas and hidden gems, a task which eluded me as a child.  A lethal mix of “I know I can do this if I just try harder” and pure, uncut nostalgia definitely turned this from a good game, into one that took me by surprise. DYEGB rating: N/A

Yakuza 0

For some reason, I totally missed all of the Yakuza games when they first rolled around. I didn’t really have any interest in playing the origin story of franchise hero “KazumaKiryu” until Kieron sat me down and almost forced me to play it. I’m really glad he did because what I discovered was a quirky, classically Japanese beat-em-up with a crazy sense of humour and an amazing karaoke mini-game. Colour me excited for the rest of the series! DYEGB rating: 7.8

Sleeper Hit of the Year: Resident Evil 7

The most unique gaming experience I had this year would definitely have to be playing Resident Evil 7 with my PSVR. I’ve been a fan of the series since the early days but with all the recent flops and an overarching narrative that would make even Kojima scratch his head, I had started to lose faith in the old girl. When the announcement came that it was moving to a first-person perspective with full virtual-reality support I was cautiously optimistic, but swiftly found myself totally immersed in the claustrophobic, gore-filled nightmare. The return to the series’ survival horror roots and a cast of seriously messed up characters (not to mention a beautifully derelict mansion) turned this into a truly awful, glorious experience. I hadn’t felt that uneasy playing a game since reaching the hospital in Silent Hill 2 and turning it off for two years. DYEGB rating: 9

Runners up:

Resident Evil 7

I’m not the type of person that dabbles in the genre of horror too often, but Resident Evil 7: Biohazard had me intrigued the moment it was announced. The return to the franchise’s survival horror roots paid dividends, with Resident Evil 7 providing a remarkably tense but rewarding experience, while also encouraging me to further dip my toes in the genre of survival horror. Negativity has plagued the Resident Evil franchise ever since Resident Evil 5 released, so it’s nice to see Capcom bring Resident Evil back in a way in which fans have been demanding, it was a pleasant surprise for myself personally, and it’s a game I’m sure to play again. DYEGB rating: 9

Everybody’s Golf

I would never have envisioned myself writing a piece in which I cite a golf game as one of my favourite games of the year, but alas, here we are. Everybody’s Golf is a game I found so enjoyable it offset my real-life distaste for golf. The gameplay is simple to learn yet extremely difficult to master, making it a game I’ve constantly returned to throughout this year. Everybody’s Golf also invites the player to free roam its numerous golf courses, where you can interact and play a couple of holes with other online players. You can even drive golf carts and go fishing, need I say more? Everybody’s Golf is weird and wacky and not the sort of game I envisioned myself loving as much as I did, I highly recommend you check it out. DYEGB rating: 7

Sleeper Hit of the Year: Sonic Mania

For those of you that are unaware, I am unabashedly a huge Sonic fan. Not a Sonic fan blinded by his love for the blue blur, but a realist Sonic fan, one that can openly admit that most of Sonic’s games are as enjoyable as Big the Cat’s voice. If the internet hasn’t already hammered it into your brain already, most Sonic games aren’t great, but one of the anomalies to this mindset released this year, in the form of Sonic Mania. Sonic Mania is essentially a ROM hack of the Genesis/Mega Drive era of Sonic games, handcrafted by fans of old-school Sonic. It’s a game that utilises what worked in prior games, while also implementing new mechanics and flair to make it clear that it’s a new experience. Sonic Mania is a love letter to the fans of 2D Sonic, made by the fans of 2D Sonic, and I can’t help but be surprised by how good the game was. DYEGB rating: 8

Runners up:

Friday the 13th: The Game

Friday the 13th: The Game by all metrics should not exist. A game based on a film IP that faithfully reproduces the kind of crazy situations you’d expect from the movies? It just doesn’t happen in the game industry. Sure, it had its problems – but it didn’t stop the game from being genuinely fun to play. A complete surprise by any standard. DYEGB rating: 7

Sonic Mania

Now, Sonic Mania. A surprise? Why? Because it’s a SONIC GAME that is ACTUALLY GOOD. I am a long time Sonic fan, so disappointment comes easily to me – but they somehow managed to reproduce some of the magic from the old days. It’s Sonic doing what he does best: running to the right and jumping on stuff. Keep it simple. DYEGB rating: 8

Sleeper Hit of the Year: ECHO

ECHO caught me completely off guard. In the space of 24 hours, I had become aware of it, played it and come to be entirely enamoured with it. Its haunting atmosphere, sparse (yet impactful) narrative and genuinely spine-tingling gameplay managed to introduce me to an experience I had never encountered before. If you haven’t played this game, give it a go as soon as you can – it’s not even expensive! DYEGB rating: 9.5

Runners up:

Sonic Mania

Anybody who’s moved out of their parents’ rock knows that Sonic games tend to blow major chunks. Sonic Team’s doing something back there, but nobody’s brave enough to open that door and find out. Meanwhile, Sonic fans (and platformers in general) got a breath of fresh air from a previously unknown pair of developer teams. The resulting product was the best Sonic game since Sonic CD. What’s new about Mania? Absolutely nothing, and that’s great. It’s a no-nonsense 2D Sonic that’s a damn solid game and absolutely a great place to start if you’ve never played the series before. Please, SEGA, if you’re reading this: Put 3D Sonic away. Take him out to the back shed and Old Yeller the poor bastard. DYEGB rating: 8

Tooth and Tail

The Real-Time Strategy genre is one that’s grown increasingly niche in the past few years. The gated community, the rise of more accessible games, and the difficulty of innovation were blights on a once-dominant genre. Not even Starcraft pulls in the players it used to. It’s in this market that Tooth and Tail rose its furry head. Micromanagement being non-existent in the game solves two problems: accessibility and experience. When the average dude plays an RTS, they want to play pretend at commanding an army. They also don’t want anything getting in the way of that, like APM bullshit. Tooth and Tail provides both of these gifts to the RTS newbie in spades. It’s certainly not the best RTS on the market, but it’s something that’s different yet still engaging – and that’s what the RTS needs in 2017 and beyond. DYEGB rating: N/A

Sleeper Hit of the Year: Metroid: Samus Returns

13 years is a hell of a long time between games. Traditional Metroid games – that is, 2D exploration platformers – are in the same boat as the RTS. That ‘80s Miami yacht that has a lot of very angry fans on it, each clamouring for what little coke’s on board. Samus Returns was like a new bag of the coco, straight from a Cuban dinghy. Samus Returns was a solid game brought to us by a former mobile developer in Spain with little other AAA experience. A labour of love enabled by the benevolent hand of a publisher that gives a power-armoured shit. I was pleasantly surprised by my time with Samus Returns, and it’s easily the best game that the 3DS got this year. With almost no big releases confirmed for next year, it may just be the 3DS’ last great title. DYEGB rating: 8

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