2017 was a crazy year for gaming, with tons of great games coming out, as well as the release of a new Nintendo system, the Switch. There were amazing games in nearly every genre, from RPG to action adventure to platformer. But out of all these titles, what are the five best games of the year? Narrowing the list down to five was difficult, as was deciding the order, and this speaks for the quality of last year’s line-up. In any case, here is our top 5 games of 2017.
Horizon Zero Dawn
After working on the Killzone franchise for more than a decade, Guerrilla Games took on an ambition new project: an open world game set in the far future where primal civilization lives along advanced machines. Horizon Zero Dawn, after long anticipation launched in early 2017, and to great success. A great story, believable characters, stunning visuals and addictive gameplay made for a near flawless game. It was also a technical marvel: a vast open world with gorgeous graphics and a stable performance.
Persona 5 tells the story of an unlikely group of kids living in Shibuya as they rebel against power abusing and manipulative adults. Forming a group called The Phantom Thieves, they infiltrate cognitive worlds in a different reality, the Metaverse, where their opponents’ distorted desires come to live. The group has to overcome the obstacles in their way by appealing to their hidden powers, Personas, born from their rebellion. This lengthy RPG is an extremely stylish, entertaining and touching game confidently oozing quality. An intoxicating concoction of exciting turn based battles, bold music, humor and character building. It’s a game that demands your patience, and then wholly rewards you for it.
Super Mario Odyssey
It’s not often we get a brand new Zelda and Mario game in the same year. Super Mario Odyssey is the first sand box Mario game since Mario Sunshine. The main feature that sets it apart from other games in the series is Mario’s new ability to change into almost anything he encounters in the world. Simply by throwing his cap at it, Mario can change into a goomba, a koopa or a boo. But he can also turn into more unexpected things such as a giant letter M, a slab of meat and a zipper. Yes, you can turn into a zipper. Each of these have their own unique ability that is needed to traverse the world, collect otherwise unreachable items or find hidden paths. Another neat addition is the ability to purchase all sorts of items, stickers and souvenirs to decorate your airship, the Odyssey, but also costumes for Mario, ranging from a Luigi colored suit to a samurai outfit, and everything in between. The game plays like a dream and is chockfull of inventive ideas and addictive gameplay. Easily one of the best games of 2017!
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Nintendo made a bold move by rethinking what Zelda is about, and departing from the structure of past console Zelda games. Did it pay off? Certainly! Breath of the Wild is all about exploring a grand, exciting and often dangerous open world, without relying on handholding or artificial gateways. That is not to say the game is perfect, and at times the enjoyment is held back by some baffling design choices (including not being able to climb when it’s raining, meaning you just have to wait until the weather clears up). And while the open world and player freedom is a welcome new direction, at times it would have helped to provide a little more direction and story context so you have at least some idea of what you’re supposed to be doing to advance the game. Nevertheless, this certainly seems like the way forward for the series, and with some adjustments the next installment can only get better. The sense of adventure and exploration as well as the distinctive atmosphere make for a truly great experience that can’t be missed.
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
Naughty Dog delivers yet again with another great entry in the Uncharted series. What originally started out as DLC for Uncharted 4 eventually became a stand alone game with a commendable 8 hour story mode. Taking place after the events of A Thief’s End, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy follows the adventures of Chloe Frazer and Nadine Ross as they go after the Tusk of Ganesh in the Indian jungles. Of course they get some fierce competition by a charismatic yet maniacal villain. The game has all the strong points we’ve come to expect from a Naughty Dog game, an interesting story, a cast of likable characters, beautiful environments and spectacular set pieces, coming together in a mixture of exploration, puzzle solving, platforming and combat. A little more condensed than Uncharted 4 (and only taking place in one general location), the game certainly stands on its own.
The Yakuza series has always had just moderate succes outside of Japan, but not because it lacks in quality. With Yakuza 0 we are taken back to the 80s during Japan’s financial boom. As a prequel to the franchise, you play as both a young Kiryu Kazuma and Goro Majima, in two different storylines that converge at some point. The story and characters are gripping due to great performances and well made cinematics, and like earlier games in the series, there’s tons and tons of content. There are side quests to complete, minigames to get lost in, and elaborate subquests that have you manage a real estate firm and run a hostess club. Truly one of the highlights of the series.