Marcel’s Dtoid 2017 Yearbook of Games

This match is about to get red hot

2017 may collectively become known as the simultaneous best and worst year of the past decade. While the lineup of games throughout the year hasn’t been this strong since 1997, the real world has also been a shit show. There were dozens of games that prove Japanese devs aren’t out of touch with making good-ass games, here in the United States we’ve seen political division, societal restlessness and disillusionment, many beloved celebrities and public figures passing on, and several disasters both man made and natural.

On one hand, looking good Joker! On the other hand, half of my state went up in flames. One man lost his home to a Northern California fire, only to lose the home he moved into to another fire in Southern California. That’s rough buddy!

So many of this year’s games are amazing, it’s difficult to choose based solely on their merits. Instead, I will categorize each game as a what each game means in the larger context of the most important time of life: high school. If Persona taught me anything, it’s that high school is an important time for growth and development, and everything you do during it can never be changed.

The following two games were close calls for my GOTY pick. Ultimately, I had small, wriggling complaints about them, plus they were experiences I didn’t feel compelled to play again any time soon. Nioh however is a game I consistently played endlessly all year, optimizing builds, learning combos, and continuing the tale of William Adams through its DLC. I think it’s certainly fair to call it a Souls-like, but it would be an incredible disservice to leave it at that label. This is a Team Ninja game we’re talking about. Nioh is all the challenge of the modern marvel that is Dark Souls with the combos and combat of Ninja Gaiden and something reminiscent of character action from the likes of Devil May Cry or Bayonetta.

It also helps that Nioh is dedicated to ancient Japanese history, which is something I think we don’t get enough of. While there are demons and larger-than-life samurai warriors, the backdrop of Nioh is based on true-to-life Japanese history like the last great general, Sanada Yukimura or the fabled black samurai referred to as Yasuke. But at the end of the day, I pick Nioh as my own GOTY because every weapon offers something fun and unique, while the levels are compact challenges filled with loot that can drastically change the way you approach combat such as fighting in critical health for extra damage, focusing on specific skill attacks, or doing increased damage from behind. Especially if Bloodborne is your jam, you owe it to yourself to try Nioh.

NieR: Automata was actually the game that sold me on the idea of buying a PS4 over an Xbox One. This game oozes cinematic and visual style, from the uniforms of YoRHa, to the contrast of the bullet hell against the environment, to the impressive soundtrack with great tracks like “Weight of the World” or the classic NieR theme.

Everything about NieR feels like an earnest reflection of a man’s love for making video games. Sure, the far corners of any particular map feel really empty and low-res, and the first two routes explore the same story from the two different perspectives of partners who are mostly together, and combat never really evolves or grows from switching weapons like from previous Platinum Games, but dammit if NieR isn’t just an incredible story with a lot of soul, despite it being a game about androids.

For me personally, I felt so choked up and inspired by the final ending of Automata that I consciously decided not to play it again. There have been a few games before which attempt to break the fourth wall and reason that if you restart the game, you’d be restarting the fate of its characters. But to me, seeing 2B and 9S at the end of their story truly made me feel like I wanted to leave them in peace.

Persona is known for its demon summoning mechanic, for its waifus, for its stories, and for its turn-based combat. But Persona also has a large contingent of fans who praise its incredible UI. We oftentimes don’t think about UI, unless it’s terrible. But it always seems like Atlus and Persona make UI design almost a central aspect of the game design documents. The sleek red and black emphasis from the menu is prevalent everywhere. The main character is a prominent part of many menus as arrows and stars bombard you with visual stimulus.

Just opening the menu is a mini surge of exhilaration even though you’re getting away from the action. And don’t even get me started on the characters, because everyone has their favorites and bar fights have been started over favorite characters. The story drags on a bit in the third act, but I have equal praise for nearly every aspect of the game, from the jazzy music, slick art and UI, and memorable characters, to the battle system with some serious spring in its step. Even if you don’t like JRPGs usually but can play other RPGs, I think you have to give this JRPG a shot.

I like Zelda. It’s kind of the comfort food of action-RPGs for me. The scale is grand, the fantasy is hard, and the routine is formulaic. Almost every time I play a Zelda game, I know what to expect, even when it surprises me. That’s why Breath of the Wild was an exciting game for me. It is almost unlike any Zelda game before it, becoming something else entirely. It still feels like Zelda, there is still a huge sense to the over world, and direct combat is simple but somehow exciting.

The open world is sure to frustrate and annoy a lot of people. There are always detractors who aren’t fans of open-ended design. But something about exploring the world of Hyrule felt so much more intuitive and fun than other games with similar open worlds. Maybe it was the gliding, maybe it was the shield surfing, or maybe it was the sense of speed on horseback, but Breath of the Wild is better about getting me to travel the world rather than quick travel like I was with Skyrim.

Every time I catch TheBlondeBass talking about Mario Odyssey, he just won’t shut up about the problems he’s got a beef with it. Yeah, I’m calling you out Bass, I don’t care about your tiny nitpicks! Though it’s that much more forgivable in context with how much you love A Hat in Time. But for me, Mario Odyssey took every good thing I’ve liked from previous Mario games and cooked it to perfection in a culmination of all of Nintendo’s Mario recipes.

The open worlds from Mario 64, the segmented challenges from Sunshine, the concise level design from Galaxy, all stir fried in a pot with the wrinkle that collecting the power moon does not drop you back to a starting point, but rather lets you continue on, easily fueling an easy and addictive snowball effect to endlessly playing Mario Odyssey.

Cuphead is in vogue right now. An indie game with an infinite amount of polish, as seen in its laborious animation, combined with the tiresome difficulty meme of it being just like Dark Souls. JUST LIKE FUCKING DARK SOULS.

If there’s one thing I’ll always attempt to do no matter the context, it’s the perfect run. With a game as difficult as Cuphead, with as much pattern recognition and timed DPS racing, I’ll always go back to a fairly completed stage like Beppi the Clown or that devious undead train in order to see how much faster and how much less damage I can complete the level with all my knowledge and reflexes I’ve attained since passing that boss the first time.

I think we as the Internet love talking shit on Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite while Injustice 2 has done such a good job and even has all the hype behind it with guest characters like freaking Hellboy and the Ninja Turtles thrown into a DC world, and yet nobody ever talks about this damn game.

As much as I hate NetherRealm Studios’ style of combat with its fixed attack strings and making everything safe with its copious amounts of meter gain, its always worth my time, praise, and meter to whip out a boxing glove arrow that’ll send Superman flying backwards full screen.

I’ve only recently started playing the latest entry for Splatoon. But I know that the music is good and have already played enough to know it’s as good as ever. This pick is a total throwback to when I put the first Splatoon on my GOTY list in 2015. It’s strange getting right back into the head-to-head multiplayer when I thought it was easy to get burned out on constant losses, but the music is indeed so effective that it just pushes me through to play more. And there’s also Splatoon 2‘s Salmon Run, so you can try you hand at working towards a common goal instead of getting blown up in spawn.

Marcel Hoang
Local contributor responsible for duties such as engagement, power bombs, cblog promotions, community engagement, and memes. I like fighting games, you scrub.