This was a much crazier year than last year. When I had to make my top ten last year, I had only played a total of thirteen games all year. That’s how games I don’t even particularly like, such as Pokemon Go, made it on to my list. This year, I’ve played over thirty. That means that not only did I have to make way more cuts, but there isn’t a single game on here that I didn’t love. That’s better if you ask me.
Before we get into the list proper, I want to do a few honorable mentions.
First up, Fire Emblem Heroes. If there was an award for game that I just can’t seem to stop playing, this would be it. I’ve never really goten into mobile games, but this one has really gotten its teeth into me. The gameplay is very fun, even if it is simpler and on a smaller scale than a normal Fire Emblem game, and it’s great for in short bursts. And although the game does utilize microtransactions, it awards the player with the paid currency at a rapid enough rate that it never feels like it’s that big of a deal. It can still be pretty frustrating when you don’t get that Spring Lucina that you’re really hoping for, though.
On the completely other side of things is Xenoblade Chronicles 2. I’ve really loved what I’ve played of the game so far. The characters are a ton of fun and the world is massive and just begging to be explored. Unfortunately, I simply haven’t had enough time to really get a good enough grasp on how I feel about the game. If you’ve read my first impressions of the game, I’ve only played like an hour or two past where I got there. It’s very possible that this game could have made my top ten if I had just played more of it.
Similary is our third honoarble mention, Nier: Automata. I finally bought a PlayStation 4 this year! On Black Friday, I decided to pick up some of the games that I missed out on due to my lack of a console, including Nier. Things seem really cool. I love the look of the game and the combat is fun and not overly complicated. I’ve heard a lot of things about the story in this game, and I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve seen so far, but I just haven’t had enough time, so I haven’t seen what makes this game truly special just yet. I’ll get to it though, I promise!
And finally, I really want to give a shout out to Yono And The Celestial Elephants. Although very simple, Yono has a lot of heart, and I absolutely loved my time with the game. I was hoping it would make it onto my list, but it’s just been too crazy of a year. If you have a Switch and want to support a cool little indie game that I haven’t heard a whole lot of buzz about, please check out Yono.
Alright, without further ado, here’s my ten favorite games of 2017.
#10: Destiny 2
I loved the original Destiny. In fact, it was my personal game of the year that year, although that was before I had a blog and was simply posting lists on Giant Bomb. I loved the combination of really solid Halo-style shooting and the more Diablo-esque loot mechanics, but I wasn’t crazy about the barely coherent storytelling. Destiny 2 fixes my problems with the first game by including an actual, easy to follow story. Unfortunately, it’s not that interesting, but it’s still a step up. With gorgeous visuals, the same solid gameplay, and a much improved story, Destiny 2 does not disappoint.
#9: Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle
If you told me last year that a Rabbids game was going to be one of the ten best games of 2017, I’d never have believed you. Mario + Rabbids was one of the worst kept secrects of this year, and like most people, I thought the leaks seemed real dumb. But, when it was properly revealed at E3, I was blown away. Mario has a gun? Luigi is a sniper? And this game is basically Xcom? I’m completely sold. And it turned out to be a great little game. It does ramp up the difficulty a little too hard around World 3, at least for my tastes, but it never stops being a super satisfying strategy game.
#8: Sonic Mania
Once again, if you had told me last year that a Sonic game would be one of the ten best games of 2017, I’d never have believed you. I was always a Nintendo kid growing up, I didn’t get a Sega console until the Dreamcast, but I played a lot of Sonic games at friends’ houses. Although I don’t hate 3D Sonic games, I have much stronger feelings about those old Genesis titles. Sonic Mania feels like what I remember those games feeling like, which as it turns out, is way better than what those games actually felt like. Stunning visuals, blazing speeds, and all three characters you’d want to be in a Sonic game, Sonic Mania is a dream come true.
Oh and as a random mid-list honorable mention, Sonic Forces isn’t great, but I sure do love how dumb it is. Both Sonic games this year were worth playing but for very, very different reasons.
#7: Persona 5
Like Xenoblade and Nier, I haven’t finished Persona 5. But unlike those games, I’ve poured over sixty hours into the game and have a pretty good idea of how I feel about it. I don’t have a ton of experience with Shin Megami Tensei games, and this one is not my favorite (that would be this blog’s unofficial mascot, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE) but I’ve loved it all the same. Most of the characters are great, which is important for a game that requires you to spend a lot of time hanging out with them. Also, this is one of the most incredible looking and sounding JRPG I’ve ever seen and heard. It’s not perfect, however. I love that it tackles much more adult themes than you’d expect from a game about high school students with weird demon summoning powers, but I feel like the execution is a little more comic book villainy that I would like. But that’s a small complaint in an otherwise great game. It’s possible if I knew how the game ended, this game’s placement on the list could be very different, but as of right now, it’s my seventh favorite game of the year.
I love Arms. It’s so different from other fighting games, featuring characters with long stretchy arms throwing punches at each other. The art is great with some wonderful characters with tons of personality. Frequent updates kept me coming back to see what had been added, including entire characters and stages, all entirely for free. Online matches, which is the main draw of the game, can be whatever you want them to be. Party mode is laid back and just a good time, where ranked more features some of the most intense one on one fights I’ve ever had. It’s a shame Arms has been largely overlooked, because it’s great fun.
#5: Metroid: Samus Returns
Can you believe they finally made a new Metroid game? Samus Returns is everything you want from a Metroid game. Large, sprawling 2D maps, weapon upgrades, and tons of those scary jellyfish things return along with a new melee attack that drastically changes the action. Like Zero Mission before it, Samus Returns takes an old Metroid game and modernizes it into something much more than the original.
#4: Splatoon 2
It’s easy to look at Splatoon 2 and feel like it’s just an updated version of the first game. The core gameplay is the same, a lot of the old weapons, modes, and maps are back, and the primary progression is largely the same. However, it features a much better single player mode as well as a new horde mode called Salmon Run. Its online features still have plenty of room for improvement, but the core game is still so much fun that it’s hard to be too mad about it. I hope that a third game in the series will take more chances, but right now, I’m super happy with a significantly improved version of the first game.
#3: Resident Evil VII: Biohazard
I was pretty worried about this one before release. I love Resident Evil, but the sixth game was such a bummer that it was hard to be too excited by the idea of a seventh. Plus, they put out a demo that just wasn’t very good. But, I’m a huge fan and I had to see what they did to my beloved horror franchise this time,so of course I bought it day one. Turns out, this game is incredible. Much like Resident Evil 4, VII has connections to the previous games, but also serves as a great jumping on point for new players. At first glance, the gameplay seems very different from what the rest of the series has featured, but pretty quickly, you’ll find that it’s actually a modernization of the classic Resident Evil formula. You’ll have to find specific keys to open up doors and solve really obscure puzzles. There’s even a remake of the classic shotgun puzzle from the first game. Hopefully, Capcom isn’t too discouraged from how poorly the game sold, because this is a great return to form for the series.
#2: Super Mario Odyssey
When a new Mario game suddenly appeared in the Switch’s reveal trailer, no one really knew what to expect. It was easy to assume that it would be something fairly linear, as the last truly open-ended Mario game was Sunshine back on the GameCube. Surprisingly, Odyssey doesn’t just take inspiration from 64 and Sunshine, it surpasses them in every way. With some of the most creative objectives I’ve ever seen in a 3D platformer, to the largely hands-off approach to directing the player to them, this game is incredibly fun and constantly rewarding. There’s also just a ton to do in it. I’ve spent quite a bit of time with it and haven’t even gotten half of the total Moons. Super Mario Odyssey is a game that’s going to stick with me for a long time to come.
#1: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
When this game wasn’t #2, you had to assume it was going to win. Breath of the Wild is a triumph in every possible way. It finally shed away the tropes that had plagued the series since Ocarina of Time, like linearity and holding the player’s hands as much as possible. In a lot of ways, it feels like a new take on the original Legend of Zelda. You tackle the dungeons in any order, including going straight to the end if you really want to. The only thing keeping you from the end is your own desire to collect items, upgrade your health, and just see what’s out there. And there’s a lot to see.
I’ve heard a pretty constant complaint that the dungeons were underwhelming, and I couldn’t disagree more. Sure, there’s only four real dungeons, plus another added in DLC, but I found them to be some of the most satisfying parts of the game. They all feature one core puzzle mechanic, and figuring out what causes what to open up and advance through never stopped being great.
On top of those dungeons, there’s 120 mini dungeons, called Shrines, which I hunted down and completed every single one. I don’t do that, ever. Even in big open world games like this, I tend to mainline the story with the intention of going back and checking out the other content some time down the road, and then almost always never get around to it. That just wasn’t true with Breath of the Wild. I never wanted to stop playing this game, and when I would periodically check in on this game throughout the year, it just reinforced my feelings for it. 2017 is one of the best year’s in the history of video games, and Breath of the Wild is unquestionably my favorite game of the year.