GOTYs with great OSTs, too
Listen, I don’t have anything against PUBG, other than maybe the name is too long and obnoxious and the abbreviation is equally frustrating to say, I just don’t….care about it. I don’t even own the game or have any desire to. I’ve played Fortnite‘s Battle Royale mode, and it was a cool way to kill an evening with friends, but after that single play session, I’ve uninstalled and never looked back. Plus, PUBG looks horrible for colorblindies like myself (maybe the desert map helps with this?).
Anyway, enough about that, I’m here to talk about the good shit of 2017. It was a pretty great year for me, overall: I earned another teaching degree, I ran my first marathon, got engaged, and played some incredible video games.
Before we get into it, a few caveats. As much as I’d like to be the People’s Champion, I have not played enough of games like Hollow Knight or NieR: Hakanumatata to place them on a list like this. I’m loving the early goings, but only have a collective few hours between them. The same can be said for Xenoblade 2. I did play What Remains of Edith Finch but did not find it particularly noteworthy. Sorry!
Here are my favorite games of the year, along with some of my favorite tracks from their respective soundtracks.
Sonic has always been my guy. I feel as if most people my age latched on to some ’90s icon while growing up, whether it was Mario, Sonic, Ristar, Aero, or Marc Andreessen. I’ve been a diehard Sonic fan forever and have been through all of the well-known growing pains since the beginning. Sonic Mania is the first real step forward in quite some time.
It’s a 2D Sonic game that hits all the right notes. Sure, it plays it a bit safe at times, but even when it takes a leap of faith or does something unorthodox (like that one boss, you know the one) it just freaking sticks the landing. Even the bonus 3D zone feels fresh and exciting as if it were seamlessly plucked from Sonic’s heyday. This game was made for people like me, and I can’t get enough of it.
Super Mario Odyssey
I don’t know that I have much to say here that hasn’t already been said, really. This game elevated itself to a whole new level towards the very end of the “story.” The moments leading up to the credits, and then directly after the credits, are my top gaming moments from this year, bar none. I’m closing in on getting every single last moon and showing no signs of slowing down. I just love everything about this game.
Zelda: Breath of the Wild
This is my Game of the Year, easily. This isn’t an ordered list, but BotW was just unlike anything else. I am vehemently against most open world titles, yet here I am, with an open world title as my GOTY. I simply cannot spend enough time in this world, exploring every single nook and cranny. In fact, I get frustrated with every other game that doesn’t include a parasail to make elevation changes 100,000 times easier to explore. Again, nothing to add here that others haven’t said a million times over. Zelda is better than it has ever been, and once again re-invented a genre.
To be honest, I wasn’t all in on Persona 5 early on. Persona 4 is easily one of my favorite games of all time, and the sequel simply didn’t capture me in the same way from the get-go. But oh man, over time, I grew to love everything about it. Well, except Mementos. I get why it’s there, but I hated every single time that I had to waste a day and explore it. But the blending of JRPG and Social Sim has never been better, and many of my weekends were dominated by Persona 5. I would go out on my weekend run (I was training for a marathon), and come back feeling drained. So I would just grab a Gatorade, plop into my Bunjo, and boot up the PS3.
Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy
Fuck this game and everything about it.
Path of Exile
Path of Exile came out in 2013, but with the release of the expansions Fall of Oriath, which more than doubled the amount of story content, and War for the Atlas, which completely revamped the end-game content, this more than deserves a spot on this list. It also released on consoles, and it’s not completely terrible! I likely spent more time in PoE this year than I did when it first released; I fell in love all over again. A few friends and I dove deep into the mechanics and really got swept away. We even randomly selected skill gems and challenged each other to build a comprehensive build around them. Even now, as I make my way through the game once again in the newest Breach League, I find myself discovering new things that I absolutely love. I don’t think I will ever grow tired of trying to build an elaborately precise passive tree for wacky builds that I go for.
Tooth and Tail
This game would make this list if it were solely a single-player game, but the fact that it has great multiplayer is a cherry on top. I loved the campaign to bits and would recommend it to anyone, RTS fan or not, who enjoys a well-crafted story alongside simple, yet diverse mechanics. It’s an approachable RTS, which is generally considered an oxymoron in the genre. Pocketwatch Games has again delivered a game that I love and will continue to bust out at couch co-op game nights.
Divinity: Original Sin 2
If you don’t see Divinity: OS 2 on another list, it’s likely because they didn’t play it. I have yet to meet a person who has played this title that doesn’t gush over it. It’s an incredible improvement over the already incredible previous title in almost every way. There is so much to do here, yet never quite feels overwhelming. I just bought Divinity 2 for a friend of mine, and we are beginning our cooperative campaign as I type this! I’m eager to jump back into the world and experience it from a new angle (as I play all sneaky-beaky like). And maybe, just maybe, I won’t sabotage everything in the first town.