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Peter Glagowski's personal picks for GOTY 2017

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GAMES!

2017 may be over, but it won’t be forgotten. While 2016 had a collection of some decent enough titles, everyone brought out their A game this year. While I’m still not quite sure whether these games are as important as years past, in the here and now, 2017 was a total blast.

So for once in a long time, I’m actually able to make a top 10 list! Hooray! The one caveat I have to mention is that I’ll only be including games that originally released in 2017. That sadly means Yakuza 0 won’t be on my list, despite it receiving the highest score from me on Destructoid for the year. It first released in 2015 in Japan, so it gets disqualified for my list. With that being said, definitely play the game because it is amazing.

To me, these ten games represent the best that you can get for your money. If you walk away disappointed, hopefully you’ll learn something about yourself or your interests from checking these titles out. I know more than a few of these games got me to reevaluate what I hold dear about my favorite hobby.

10: Old Man’s Journey

I’m a sucker for stories about dealing with loss and regret. Old Man’s Journey follows the titular Old Man as he travels home to reconnect with the family he once turned away. The man felt his life was stuck in a rut and that his true calling was the sea, so he packed up one day and left his wife and child behind. Too late, did he realize, that his real joy was family life.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve made similar mistakes in my life that have caused anguish on my heart. Sometimes what seems like the best answer is just a temporary fix and you end up regretting what you’ve done. Old Man’s Journey shows that it is never too late to turn back and start again, a lesson I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life. It also has some neat puzzles that make interesting use of the environments.

I guess good gameplay is important, too.

9: River City Ransom: Underground

Next to platformers, beat-'em-ups are some of my favorite old-school games. The pure joy of running up and punching someone in the face was so exciting as a child that it eventually got me interested in martial arts and Eastern philosophy. You also can’t beat the joy of just kicking the shit out of a digital punk to cool off steam.

River City Ransom: Underground may be a bit more complicated than it needs to be, but the game perfectly captures the essence of what the original title was going for. It also blows up the world to a massive degree, provides four-player co-op and has a surprisingly deep combo system. Mix that with some great music (either the original soundtrack or the new one) and very bright, colorful graphics and you’ve got a recipe for one of the best beat-'em-ups ever made.

8: Sonic Mania

Color me surprised with this, but Sonic is still good! I had been getting more and more excited as the August release date rolled up, but I really wasn’t prepared for how great of a game Sonic Mania was going to be. Christian Whitehead, PagodaWest and Headcannon all should be given medals for their treatment of this once proud series.

The only downside would be that Sega seemingly didn’t believe in Mania, since eight of the 12 zones are remakes of past games. While everything is well designed and differently laid out, the original zones steal the show and highlight just how well the team really understands what made Sonic click. If Mania becomes the new norm for Sonic moving forward, then you can consider me a Sonic fan once again.

7: Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment

This one might be cheating a little (since it is DLC for the base game), but Specter of Torment was the expansion I was looking forward to the most. Specter Knight was my favorite from Shovel Knight and getting to wield his scythe was a dream come true. The slower pace of the game also felt incredibly different to how the previous two campaigns for Shovel Knight worked, so this was almost like discovering an entirely new entry from Yacht Club Games.

The only thing that stopped me from truly loving this was what the difficulty balancing was basically non-existent. Specter Knight is too good, so you can constantly spam his downward dash and bounce off enemies like no tomorrow. None of the bosses acknowledge Specter’s new abilities, so the game comes off feeling a little half-assed. Even so, a half-assed Shovel Knight is still better than most indie platformers, so I really can’t complain too much.

6: High Hell

I’m honestly surprised that more developers haven’t tried adapting Hotline Miami to first-person before this. High Hell takes all the ferocity of Dennaton Games’ kill-a-thon and dashes in even more ‘80s excess to create the Die Hard of video games. Every single level is a different skyscraper and somehow that makes logical sense for an evil drug corporation.

The best thing about High Hell is that the game is short enough for the gimmick to never wear off. This isn’t some deep FPS like the games of old, but it does just enough new and clever to make for an interesting little trip that is well worth checking out. You can also try to best the thing in 15 minutes, so speedrunners should have a blast.

5: STRAFE

Upon release, most people wrote off STRAFE for failing to live up to its marketing. I can’t say that the comparison to old-school FPS games helped, but STRAFE was a surprisingly great take on making Spelunky first-person. It certainly had a lot of rough edges (namely enemies shooting through walls), but the game had some great foundations and felt like a real accomplishment to finish.

Then developer Pixel Titans decided to take all the complaints to heart and iterate upon their title. Now when you boot up STRAFE, you’re greeted with something far more polished and with more of the old-school charm that the marketing kept playing up.

I mostly like how skilled based the combat is, even if the AI is pretty brain dead. When all was said and done, I had spent around 24 hours trying to actually reach the ending and I can’t say I regret any of it. The game occupied me for a long-ass time and I still look forward to playing it. What more could you want?

4: Nioh

I’m a big fan of the Souls games and I really like Eastern mythology, so Nioh is a match made in heaven for me. Combining all of the best elements of From Software’s classic games with a dash of Ninja Gaiden, once I started playing Nioh I couldn’t stop. I got hooked despite some pretty unspectacular level design and really shoddy side quests.

The story didn’t make a lick of sense, but its focus on using historical figures to craft an interesting setting worked wonders for keeping me engaged. I started researching Japan’s history and learning more about our world all because I was slicing up giant rock centipedes in a dark cave with a real guy. That is just plain awesome.

3: PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds

Most people are sick of hearing about PUBG, but I’m still constantly thrilled by this game. I had long given up on multiplayer gaming due to the most popular titles being some form of Call of Duty, but then came this surprise indie hit that took the gaming sphere by storm and got me sucked right back in. Now I want to PWN noobs all damn day!

All joking aside, the pseudo-rogue-like nature of PUBG allows for a tremendous amount of strategy in each match. No two games play out the same and the randomized nature of your loot means you need to learn each weapon to have any success of making the top 10. Teaming up with friends is also a real treat as is watching streamers take out fools and scope out the map for you.

I think that whole social element is what makes the game really shine. Even without it, though, PUBG is the best attempt we’ve ever seen at the burgeoning “Battle Royale” sub-genre of games. I’m sure it will eventually be bested, but it rocks too hard right now to be written off.

2: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

If you know anything about me, you won’t be surprised by the next two picks. I’m a massive Zelda fan, so clearly Breath of the Wild was going to be in the top of my list. I didn’t expect to like it as much, considering it throws out a lot of the old Zelda formula, but BotW is a classic through and through. The huge open world is always a joy to explore, but the way in which all of the game’s various systems coalesce makes for a really unique take on open world games.

BotW also made me rethink what I loved about the Zelda series in general. While great dungeon design is still my number-one aspect, I also really love the sense of adventure that these titles usually have. BotW has that in spades and getting to do anything in whatever order I please makes for a compelling reason to restart on a whim.

Is it the best game ever made? Absolutely not, but it is one of the best examples of how to treat your players like adults. Hopefully the next entry fixes all of the core design issues, because I’m already salivating for a brand new, massive Hyrule to explore (or possibly a new kingdom!).

1: Super Mario Odyssey

What can I say, I’m predictable. Mario was the first game I ever played, so I’m always on board for a new entry in the series. While Odyssey doesn’t redefine what makes Mario special, it provides possibly the best control scheme in the entire series. The return to the smaller-scale open-world design from Mario 64 is also very welcome after 15 years of absence.

The sheer variety in level design is the biggest strength for Odyssey. If you don’t like one level, the next one is sure to be more up your alley. Even if the bonus content is a little lackluster, the abundance of things you can do in each level makes up for any weak spots. You’re constantly being rewarded just for playing the game, which is sadly becoming rarer in this age of DLC.

Speaking of which, how novel is it that you can unlock new costumes for Mario without spending actual money? I mean, you can do the same for Link in Breath of the Wild, but why is that such a hard concept for modern games? Can’t we just go back to simpler times when unlocking things meant playing a title instead of opening your wallet?

There were some games I didn’t get around to playing this year (like NieR, Hollow Knight and A Hat in Time), but I definitely had a great time with most of the games from 2017. Sure, there were some duds like Valkyria Revolution, but for every bad game there were roughly five good ones. You can’t complain when such a large number of quality titles were coming out on a near weekly basis.

Here’s to 2018 and hopefully another year of stellar classics!

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Peter Glagowski
Peter GlagowskiAssociate Editor   gamer profile

Plucked right from the DToid community (formerly KingSigy), Peter is an aspiring writer with a passion for gaming and fitness. If you can't find him in front of a game, you'll most likely find hi... more + disclosures


 


 


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