Open up my eager eyes.
2017 was an interesting year for games. If I’m being honest, compared to last year, it was slightly disappointing. Sequels and remakes are more apparent each year that goes by and either fail miserably or only live up to be “not as good as the original”. However, in the midst of mediocre games, there was a handful of incredible, notable ones, both originals as well as predecessors.
10. Danganronpa V3
It was tough to decide if I even wanted to put V3 on the list. There were numerous things I disliked about this game, but there were also some really fantastic aspects of it that surpassed previous games in the series. Most of the negatives were related to things outside gameplay like character personalities and especially the ending. However, the wild storytelling itself is what truly puts it on my top 10. The mystery of the trials, intense executions, twists, turns, and polishing of the trial minigames really make my heart flutter with excitement and make it notable, but I will still yearn for something better.
9. Emily is Away Too
I’m not gonna lie; I wasn’t greatly impressed with the first Emily is Away, so I didn’t expect much from the sequel. It was short and there was nothing particularly stunning about it, other than the fact that the story was a little depressing. One of the best things about Emily is Away Too was the creator’s ability to push his goal of the original game in a much more accessible way. The game immerses you into the world of early 2000s, expanding from the Windows ’95 sounds and graphics by allowing the player to change their desktop to one of the classic wallpapers from that era, saving chat logs to your actual desktop, bringing back early Facebook, Google, and—my personal favorite—early Youtube (with fully working videos!) 2017 was a year of nostalgia for video games, and I think Emily is Away Too does the best job of capturing those feelings from our younger years.
8. A Mortician’s Tale
I’m such a sucker for smaller indie games like A Mortician’s Tale. It was short and simple yet unraveled such a beautiful tale of the social aspects of working in a funeral home. Most of the story relied on reading the character’s emails, and in those emails you get to experience the real emotions of clients, your long-distance best friend, and coworkers. What broke my heart was the slow crumble of the family-owned funeral home as it’s bought by a large corporation and how it negatively affects the feelings of your clients. This game did a great job of de-stigmatizing the lives of morticians, and that’s something so rarely touched on that I can truly appreciate. Not to mention the art in this game is very cute, covered in such a soft lavender color. It’s a fantastic game for when you need a relaxing, little distraction.
7. Doki Doki Literature Club
Doki Doki Literature Club appeared out of nowhere as a sort of satirical view on the typical dating sim. I came into the game knowing already that there was something messed up about about it, since the game was causing quite a stir on my Twitter timeline, but I never anticipated the creative use of creepy graphics and storytelling that would come about. Unfortunately, the “delete this file” bit is a bit overdone at this point and only caused some eye roll. Other than that flub, I’d take my morbid “waifus” over those charming pigeon boys of Hatoful Boyfriend anyday.
6. Sonic Mania
Sonic Mania blends every enjoyable feature from old school Sonic games to create a modern masterpiece. It simultaneously captures the feelings from playing Sega Genesis as a child and introducing a new game, which takes some skill. It also pulls in a bit of Puyo Puyo for one of the boss battles, which, after the release of Puyo Puyo Tetris earlier in the year, I have to give some applause.
5. A Hat In Time
I was pleasantly surprised by A Hat in Time, especially after playing the Kickstarter disappointment that was Yooka-Laylee. The biggest difference between the two was that AHIT actually accomplished bringing back N64-esque platforming with proper controls and enclosed levels. I was mostly impressed with it, between the uniquely colorful worlds and the stories that were told through each one, particularly in Dead Bird Studios and its incorporated noir train mystery. This is definitely in my library of feel-good games due to its bright and cheery atmosphere, even in the darkest and creepiest of levels.
4. Night in the Woods
Many games in 2017 aimed to fire up your nostalgia, but NITW handles the “right here and now” recreation of today’s struggles that is feeling misunderstood and confused. Mae’s issues with college and living in the past when it came to her relationships with her pals and hometown was deeply relatable. I’m very thankful this game came out when it did because it helped me feel not so alone. I feel like the hype for it has died down immensely in the past couple of months, which is a darn shame, but it still has such a special place in my heart.
3. Breath of the Wild
I get why this was a letdown for a lot of people, but for me it was everything I could have wanted in a Zelda game. In my opinion, exploration is essential in a game like this, and BOTW kept me busy for hours trying scope out every unfamiliar area I can find or easter eggs and other collectables I could dig up. As you can imagine, I’m still hunting for Korok seeds. Every bit of landscape is beautiful, Zelda herself is smoking hot, and the shrine puzzles are a refreshing stop in between your main adventures. I’m baffled that there’s still so much to do, and I have zero complaints about any of it.
2. The Sexy Brutale
I haven’t been able to stop thinking about The Sexy Brutale since I first played it. Being a murder-mystery game, it was bound to be in my top favorites, but it was more than that; the use of time travel and location in this game is just too brilliant to pass up. While you are solving the mystery of a murder, you can hear the sounds throughout the day of the separate homicides happening throughout the mansion, something that was eerily fascinating to me. The stylized designs and cartoony movements were also particularly endearing. In the end, The Sexy Brutale leaves you with an emotional twist to conclude the reasoning behind the unusual deaths. The entire game was unpredictable, satisfying, and kept me eager to progress through the story. To top it all off, its jazzy soundtrack is to DIE for.
1. Super Mario Odyssey
Ever since E3, I’ve been excited for Super Mario Odyssey, and boy, did it live up to all of my expectations. I can’t get over all the little details, not only in the textures of Mario’s clothing, but in the gameplay itself. The little homages to previous Mario games brought the biggest smile to my face, especially upon seeing the Mario 64 skin. I think the New Donk City festival was the cherry on top to the amazing use of nostalgia, though. I haven’t played through anything that gave me goosebumps like hearing Jump Up Super Star above rushing through the classic Donkey Kong event and seeing the fireworks light up the sky. The vast amount of moons scattered throughout the beautifully crafted levels left so much to do even after finishing, which makes it such a powerfully replayable game. There’s just too much to note about how wonderful the Odyssey experience was for me.