Nioh filled a void in my figurative gaming soul
Crafting a personal Game of the Year list is one of my favorite holiday traditions. It’s my chance to get weird and profess my love for several projects that might not be all that popular, and give people a window into how I spend my time. Much of my schedule is dedicated to working on assignments and sifting through new releases each week, but there’s a handful of games I keep going back to — whether it’s by myself, with friends, or with my lovely wife.
Here are some of my favorite things from 2017.
I won’t talk too much about Nioh as we covered it so intensely that it would be hard to share something new about it. Well that, and giving you the ol’ cliche Souls comparison isn’t something I really want to bore you with — even if I’m going to kind of do it anyway.
As I’ve stated many times, From Software, the creator of the Souls series, has had an impact on me since I was a child. They’ve been in the industry for over 20 years, creating engrossing experiences like King’s Field before they pivoted into Souls — an almost Kojima-like Metal Gear phantasm that’s attached itself irreparably to the company for better or worse. These grimdark RPGs have helped me escape during some tough times, so when there’s not an active Souls game out, I’m always looking to fill my time with something that comes close.
Team Ninja knocked it out of the park with Nioh, and I’m thankful for that.
Gravity Rush 2
It feels like every year I pick Gravity Rush in some fashion. In 2016 I kind of cheated with Gravity Rush Remastered, but in 2017 I got a full-on sequel to gush about. By the time this massive year blew by there weren’t many people who were sweet on it, but I didn’t forget.
Kat and Raven deserve more games and a bigger place in the Sony universe. I just hope people support them before they’re gone forever.
Fortnite: Battle Royale
This is one I got into later in the year (and relatively late into its life-cycle), and I regret not fighting for it more as a Game of the Year nomination.
Although the art style of the PVE mode that launched earlier this year turned me off from it, the Battle Royale portion really found its groove, and to me, is basically the core soul of the game now. The construction element just adds so much to the endgame, as final bouts are less about camping or waiting for the most opportune moment and more about prepping for doomsday with an elaborate base or bunker. Its world is also lovely, and its emotive locations call me like a Siren’s song even if I know there’s going to be 20 other players competing over that one common rifle in Dusty Depot at the start of a match.
Don’t get me wrong I still play PUBG (its desert map is fantastic), but I find myself gravitating to Fortnite on a regular basis.
Oh hey it’s another VR game on an annual GOTY list! Burn it with fire!
So VR still hasn’t caught on to the point where everyone has it in their home. Who would have thought that $300-$700 hardware that not everyone can physically utilize, or run without a capable gaming PC, wouldn’t have flown off the shelves (this guy)?
But as much as the concept of VR adoption can be admonished, I’ve been sold since day one of the Oculus Rift. While my go-to was Superhot VR when it came to showing off the Rift to friends, it’s now been augmented by Robo Recall.
The shtick of pistol whipping robots, grabbing bullets out of the air with your hands, throwing pistols on the ground, and ducking/shooting independent guns in different directions is something I’ve wanted to do since I was a starry-eyed child watching action movies on the living room floor. The incredible Oculus Rift Touch remotes make all of this possible, and I still play Robo Recall weekly.
Not for a high score, or because there’s even a ton of content to work through — just because I want to feel like John Wick for 30 minutes.
As I’ve said elsewhere, the figurative Switch marquees were adorned with “Mario” and “Zelda” so consistently that almost nothing else had a chance to shine. Even at the launch of the system there was “everything else” and “Breath of the Wild,” but Snipperclips got a lot of play in my household.
It’s not just cute, it’s tough. Figuring out puzzles with multiple solutions often involves working with different parts of the brain, and putting my head together with my wife to discover some of them was a treat. There were levels that I only could have beaten with her by my side, and once all of that clicked Snipperclips instantly earned a spot on my top 2017 list.
SteamWorld Dig 2
Here’s another game that has a spouse-heavy reason for its inclusion.
It’s tough to get my wife to play through something in marathon form. She enjoys games, but like most people she likes frequent breaks (and her sanity), so it’s a really rare occasion when she wants to experience something non-stop. That happened when SteamWorld Dig 2 launched a few months ago, and we embarked together on a journey, side-by-side, with her on the TV on PS4 and me with my Switch tablet on the couch.
It was a magical journey, rife with comparing loot, discussing the best upgrade combinations, and those pesky last few challenge room locations. We even finished the final secret challenge together.
Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood
There are certain games that are kind of always going to make their way into my routine, and for the past several years, Final Fantasy XIV has been there.
The Stormblood expansion has been fantastic so far, re-invigorating the game after a rocky late set of updates in Heavensward. Seeing the new jobs of Red Mage and Samurai work their way into the mix has been lovely, and the injection of a new “Ultimate” raid tier that only a small percentage of people can see, much less complete, has made for an intriguing last few months.
My raid group is ready for the next set of challenges, but no one is going anywhere until then.
The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game (LCG)
I try to have unconventional stuff on my list from time to time, and this is my token entry for 2017.
I got into this one a little late. How late? Well try six years. I only started to play Lord of the Rings LCG (read: Living Card Game, where cards are doled out in specific box sets rather than randomized booster packs like CCGs or TCGs) in earnest a few weeks ago, when Fantasy Flight Games sent me the core set for research after unveiling the digital edition for PC.
At this point I’m pretty much hooked. As a huge Tolkien fan going in, I was prompted to re-read The Silmarillion, re-watch all of the extended editions of the films, and drop everything I’m doing to learn Elvish (I’m finally dedicating some time to it). The LCG mostly takes place in the 17 years between Bilbo’s 111th birthday and when Frodo leaves the shire (TA 3001-TA 3018), but there are also kits that allow you to play through The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy proper. It’s still being supported after all this time and just got a new expansion, so you can’t really yell at me for tacking it onto a “2017” list (you might anyway!).
At some point I want to experience all of it, whether it’s with a friend, my wife, or by myself. The whole co-op PVE RPG card game aspect really speaks to me in the same way that MMOs do — almost nothing makes me happier than teaming up with people for a common goal.
That’s kind of how I view 2017 as a whole. We all kicked ass and played video games.