Last year has been a great time for gaming, I got to play quite a few remasters of my favorite old games, I’ve gotten to play a new console I didn’t think I’d own, and I’ve gotten some great games that I didn’t think I’d fall in love with. And though I loved this past year in gaming, I know that with Kingdom Hearts III coming out this year, 2018 will be my best year for gaming (though my first game review will probably be Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth- Hacker’s Memory).
Anyways for 2017, most of my game reviews this year have been JRPGs, so most of my list will be from that genre. First though, I’ll start off with honorable mentions, games that I haven’t played, but have watched gaming Youtubers or friends play, because I’m a broke grad student. Let’s begin.
This was a game I hadn’t heard of, it went under my radar until I saw CoryxKenshin play it. I thought that it would be more cutesy despite its title, but instead I saw a game that was intense all the way through and was a wonderful addition to the horror/ thriller genre. The aesthetic of the game was phenomenal and the, let’s call it, use of side scrolling along with 3D areas for additional depth in exploration made this game way more than I thought it would ever be. It’s a game that entertains without blatantly shoving a story in your face and is a fine example of necessary ambiguity.
Evil Within 2
When I first watched the original Evil Within, I hadn’t thought much of it until whoever I was watching at the time reached the spider lady. That was when panic set in. So when I found out that a sequel was coming out I couldn’t wait. What we received was a more challenging game that fleshed itself out and allowed the players a wide open city structure to explore. This game focuses more on the main protagonist, Sebastian, and shows his backstory, focuses on aspects of his life we mainly saw in journals during the previous game. This game amped up the elements its predecessor thrived on, and over all made for entertaining let’s plays.
Doki Doki Literature Club
At first I didn’t even want to put this title on the list, but based off of how much I’ve watched people play this game and how much I’ve recommended it to friends who don’t even really play video games that much, this game had to make the list. My discovery of this game started with randomly watching a video from Indeimaus. Just like him I had believed this game to be a cute visual novel/ date simulator. Knowing Indeimaus’ content I had assumed that maybe it was just a difficult simulator, the game might have made it more challenging to attain the hearts of your potential suitress, but there’s a certain point in this game where there’s a twist and it’s so unpleasantly pleasant. It’s a refreshing breath into the genre. It takes your expectations and slams them on their heads in a way that smashes a dissonant cacophony of beats into what was once pure. And the pressure of both of these forces clashing makes a gem of a game that’s narratively enthralling, intriguing, and disgustingly twisted. I’ve watched multiple Youtubers play this game since my first watch and I’ve seen them all become affected by the mind games this title can do. And I can say that even with the bevy of horror game playthroughs I watch, I never thought that a dating simulator would cause me to have nightmares. I recommend for you to play it blind if you want to try it out.
Now to the games I actually played.
#5 Pokémon Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon
This game was a surprise, not in that I didn’t think the game would come out, but rather that I didn’t expect it to be so good. Generally when it comes to these advanced editions of Pokémon titles, I don’t really expect much, especially with these newer generations. Most of my hype in Gen 7 had waned, but this game, even if only for a brief moment re-lit the hype I used to have. Previously underappreciated characters were given proper character development. Certain trials became more interesting. There felt to be more of a challenge in the gameplay and there were attempts to make this game more immersive along your journey. Along with the features from the main storyline the additional after game narratives helped make this game a proper send off for the DS/3DS generation of Pokémon, and makes me look forward to the Switch titles.
#4 Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep–A fragmentary passage
Though this game suffered from having slower fps than the other title on the packaged disc (if you played on PS4 and not PS4 Pro), KH0.2BBS essentially served the purpose of being a sample for Kingdom Hearts III, and if there’s anything I’ve been waiting patiently for (besides someone who will actually like me~insert single woes here~) it’s been Kingdom Hearts III. This game showed how much graphics could improve in a couple of months and presented us with more of Aqua’s story, specifically what she’s been doing in the Realm of Darkness. This feature, though short, was entertaining and had a suped up combat system that made me desire KHIII more than ever (even though the combat had felt kind of floaty, with the implementation of 60fps for the base PS4 version, this game could’ve been amazing. and from what I saw of PS4 Pro gameplay, it looked pretty great). Once I beat the game, the last cutscene gave me a first class ticket for the hype train where every day is just anticipation for my dearly beloved KHIII.
#3 .hack//G.U. vol. 4// Reconnection
I never wrote a review for this title, but I was busy with grad work while I was playing this game (just in case you didn’t know, I schedule my work around playing video games and not vice versa, so let’s say workloads catch up to me). After replaying the first three volumes in the .hack//G.U.// Last Recode, I finally started to play this last segment of the tetralogy. This game on a narrative aspect was compelling, character driven, and made me fall more in love with the series, but overall it was a flawed game. And while playing the game I understood that the flaws were what made the series great. The cheesiness, the dumb humor, the graphical limitations, were all made for an idea of what an MMORPG would look like. As I looked at the end of “The World” and what it meant to the characters, the “players” of this game, I saw that this was the most proper of send offs for the first JRPG series I had ever beaten (back when this game was originally a trilogy), and I’m unable to say that I didn’t get a bit misty eyed as I too said farewell.
#2 Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Before playing this game, the last LoZ title I had played was Twilight Princess and I hadn’t even completed that. For a while I had feared that, as much as I enjoyed the character designs for the LoZ series, maybe the games just weren’t suitable to my tastes. But then I played this game. And though the narrative takes a back seat to exploration and general freedom, I’d like to say that I was thoroughly pleased with this game, so much so that I had spent eighty-five hours on just main storyline shenanigans. There was something pleasant about discovering new landmarks and figuring creative ways to expel foes before me. And it was just the point that the game was challenging, but not enough so to force my hand and resort to ceasing play. Every bit of the ride no matter how complex or puzzling was a grand ol’ time and a wonderful breath…of the wild.
#1 Persona 5
So we all knew that P5 was going to be my top game of 2017. I haven’t played it in a few months, but that’s because after beating it twice I felt the need to take a break before burning myself out. When I first encountered this game, this epic I hadn’t thought much of, I was a bit off the heels of Persona 4 (I had played it on PS2 during my junior year of undergrad for the first time). I saw that the game was announced and since I enjoyed P4 quite a bit, I of course wanted to play the follow up, it’s just that it wasn’t a must need game. I would treat it like P4 and eventually play it. But then I saw the opening to P5, “Wake Up, Get Up, Get Out There” and it was wavy. I started looking at gameplay at it got wavier. All of a sudden the “Take Your Heart” Edition was in my pre-order Amazon queue. I didn’t believe that I’d fall for a game so fully, spending ten hours a day on it till I finished, but I did. I became invested in the characters, swam amongst its meme-able culture, and have spent days listening to its OST. I became obsessed with the gameplay and trying to schedule a perfect run was a delightful stress. I’d sit around and spend hours on trying to make Persona fusions. This game became my life, and it was an enjoyable time that I don’t regret, so for me this was my game of 2017.
That’s all I got folks. I hope this new year will be just as dope as the last. I leave you with one of Persona 5’s OST tracks (it’s lowkey heat). Later days.