It’s that time of year again…
2017 has been a monumental year in gaming. We’ve seen the release and massive success of the Nintendo Switch, an impressive launch for Microsoft’s Xbox One X system and we reached the apex of the widely controversial loot box debacle.
But what it all boils down to – as ever – is games. 2017 has arguably been one of the most incredible years in gaming history in terms of the sheer number of critically acclaimed games. It’s certainly hard to imagine how 2018 will compare, but I look forward to seeing what developers have in store for us in the months to come.
In the meantime, I’ve listed my top 5 games of 2017 below. Keep in mind this is my personal opinion, and there are still many games I’ve yet to get around to playing. Disagree with the list? Let me know what your top games of the year are!
5. Metroid: Samus Returns (3DS)
Nintendo well and truly dropped the mic during their E3 Direct when they announced that Metroid Prime 4 would be arriving on the Switch at some point in the future. It’s still a way off, so in the meantime they launched a remake/reimagining of Metroid II on the 3DS called Metroid: Samus Returns.
I must admit, I went into this with slightly dampened expectations. After the beautiful pixelated entries on the Game Boy Advance, this new 2D adventure looked a bit dull in comparison and was created by a team whose previous 3DS title – Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate – was met with mixed reception across the board.
Thankfully, MercurySteam defied all expectations by delivering a game that proudly stands among Nintendo’s best Metroid titles. It effectively evolved the classic gameplay mechanics to include a pinpoint aiming system and a parrying ability to allow quick-fire kills against multiple enemies. Add in some additional difficulty levels (you’ll need the Metroid Amiibo for the hardest setting), and Metroid: Samus Returns is easily the strongest 3DS title of the year.
4. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (PS4)
In the months following its release, it’s easy to forget that Resident Evil 7: Biohazard actually came out at the start of 2017. But in that time, it’s remained one of the strongest titles of the year, and easily the best survival horror game in quite some time.
After the poor critical reception of Resident Evil 6, Capcom went back to basics for their next title and moved to a first-person perspective, putting the player right in front of the horror. This is taken to the next level if you have access to PlayStation VR – sadly I didn’t, but the game is nevertheless a triumphant reboot for the struggling franchise.
Resident Evil 7 plays host to some of the most iconic enemies in recent years: the Baker family. Jack and Marguerite Baker stalk the player throughout the environments, and with weapons and ammunition scarce at the best of times, it can create some truly terrifying encounters. The sustained threat recalls earlier titles in the series and reminds players of why the franchise is held in such high regard.
Players can look forward to new content for Resident Evil 7 releasing on 12th December 2017 which will see the anticipated return of veteran character Chris Redfield, along with an expansion on Zoe Baker’s storyline.
3. Persona 5 (PS4)
After the magnificent Persona 4: Golden on the PlayStation Vita, there was no doubt in my mind that Persona 5 would be an excellent addition to the enduring franchise. I wasn’t prepared, however, for just how invested I’d become in the adventures of Ryuji, Morgana, Takamaki and more in their efforts to steal the hearts of the corrupted adult figures in their lives.
Persona 5 naturally expands on the series’ familiar elements whilst adding in a few new ones. Gone are the boring procedurally generated dungeons from Persona 4: Golden, replaced instead by fully featured environments based on the twisted desires of their owners. Exploring these is a joy, and the battles have been streamlined to utter perfection, displaying style and substance in abundance.
Fans of the genre have no excuse not to experience the delights of Persona 5 – it is the best JRPG in 2017, and quite possibly one of the greatest of all time.
2. Super Mario Odyssey (Nintendo Switch)
I – among many others – was delighted to hear that Mario’s first outing on the Nintendo Switch would return to the open-ended environments last seen in Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario 64 before it. After a few iffy entries to the series, Super Mario Odyssey is a triumphant return to form for the beloved plumber, displaying beautiful design and gameplay ingenuity around every corner.
Although the plot is largely the same as previous outings (Bowser’s captured Peach again – surprise!), Mario games have never really been about the plot. There’s a compulsive need to scour every inch of the levels for the collectable moons and purple coins, and with the addition of multiple costumes and accessories for the ‘Odyssey’ ship, the game can easily last upwards of 50+ hours for the average player, which is truly remarkable for a Mario title.
It’s hard to imagine where Nintendo can possibly take the series from here, but with Super Mario Odyssey, Nintendo fans have got one of the most ingenious platform games in history. You must play this game.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo Switch)
Did you really think it would be anything else?
Breath of the Wild is the absolute pinnacle of Zelda games. It’s a complete reinvention of the series, taking Link on an epic quest across the massive open world of Hyrule. Everything you thought you knew about the series can be thrown out the door – instead of the linear adventures of previous entries, you can take on this adventure in any way you see fit. Do you want to follow the general storyline? You can. Fancy heading to the far corners of the world? Sure thing. How about heading straight for the final boss? You got it – good luck though!
Drawing inspiration from western developers, Nintendo have gone above and beyond expectations to reinvent how we see open world games. You can go anywhere, and it feels like you can accomplish absolutely anything. It’s pure gaming perfection, and quite possibly my favourite game of all time.