My Year in Gaming: 2017

Ask pretty much anyone who plays games, and they will tell you that 2017 was one of the greatest years in gaming ever (see also 1997 and 2007. Apparently 7 is good each decade.). One of the most enjoyable consoles ever debuted in the Nintendo Switch, Indie games started making their way into the mainstream, and an astonishing number of AAA titles delivered on their incredible promise (sorry Mass Effect: Andromeda). Let’s be honest. We desperately needed games to be this outstanding and distracting this year as the world sort of turned into a giant dumpster fire. But that’s ok, because when this world got terrible, you could always escape to Hyrule, Pelican Town, or the Mushroom Kingdom.

This past year also marked a new step in my gaming journey as all the amazing content out there combined with my software job made me start working on my own game development. So as I begin the journey of building my first game, I thought it only right to commemorate my year in gaming that brought me to this point. That journey is represented in two parts – games I played that were released before this year and games I played from this year including my Top 10 games of 2017. I hope you enjoy my ramblings (and some terrible trophy screenshots from the much less screenshot friendly PS4. I swear this will improve in the future.).

Games Released Prior to this Year

Final Fantasy XV (PS4)

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My Certificate of completion from the end of 2016. I’d finally stop another 60 hours or so later.

My gaming year started by digging in to the hours upon hours of post-game content in one of the strangest but most endearing games I have played in a very long time. I loved the Final Fantasy series as a kid/ teen. (Spoilers) I was traumatized for at least a week when Sephiroth mercilessly killed Aeris in FFVII and spent days chasing after rumors of ways to bring her back. I spent countless hours playing the crazy addictive card game in FFVIII, and I powered through the worst voice acting ever from Tidus in FFX because Blitzball freaking rules.

After revisiting and accomplishing my life’s goals (Gold chocobo!) in the PS3 release of FFVII a few years back, I was anxiously awaiting the long overdue release of FFXV, and it did not disappoint. The story itself is a disjointed mess. Half the time, I only knew what had just happened thanks to load screens detailing the story. The combat system was pretty repetitive and could devolve into hours of mindless smacking something until it went down (I’m looking at you, adamantoise), but I couldn’t care less. The crazy ambitious world of FFXV was made only more beautiful by how flawed it was. The thrill of going on a roadtrip with your K-pop band friends and camping out and cooking something absurd to prepare for a big fight was like nothing I had experienced in a game before. Throw in a crazy Matrix inspired final boss fight and then unlocking a flying car in the post-game, and you have a title that will forever remain with me for the amazing (foodie pictures), the weird (cup o’ noodles!) and the terrible (the excruciating platformer dungeon – Pitioss Dungeon).

The Bioshock Collection (PS4)

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The Bioshock series has long been an intriguing dystopia that I never could find the time to finish. I would get super immersed in this insane Ayn Rand fever dream, but something would always pull me away from the game for too long that I could never get back into it. This year, with the release of The Bioshock Collection, I finally had a chance to explore Rapture and Columbia properly. To my delight, the world’s themselves hold up surprisingly well (even if the combat feels a little strange now). It’s a journey I’m glad I finally took, but not one I am looking to go back to anytime soon mostly because I’m sad no one said “These vigors are giving me the vapors” at any point in the three games.

Life is Strange (PS4)

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It’s a shame 23 year old me didn’t have a chance to play this game in-between my 80th and 81st viewings of 500 Days of Summer. Had it not been for its free month on PS Plus games, I never would have given this game a second thought, but the quirky Telltale games meet time travel meets Indie movie (complete with emo soundtrack) vibe was a nice week-long distraction even if I quickly found myself tiring of Chloe’s crap.

Game of Thrones: A Telltale Game Series (PS4)

Speaking of Telltale games, the following month on PS Plus had the Game of Thrones Season for free, so I gave it a shot. I was thoroughly entertained for about an episode. It was interesting being in that world and interacting with the heavy hitters from the show, but time after time, the game repeatedly crushed you, making it so that neither choice you could make resulted in anything remotely good. Sure this might be in the spirit of the show, but it wasn’t what I was looking for in a gaming experience.

Abzû (PS4)

Last up in the free PS Plus games I got into, Abzû offered a super tranquil 2 hour experience that can be described as controlling a scuba-diving robot in some cool, colorful ocean exploration. It was perfect for relaxing one afternoon, but that’s about it. As soon as I was done, I never thought back on it.

NBA 2K17 (PS4)

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From punched-in baby’s face to lazy-eyed weirdo to something resembling a human!

Given that I am 5’4” and have roughly the athletic prowess of an agile artichoke, I have always gravitated toward My Career modes in sports games. NBA 2K17 provided a pretty entertaining season of one featuring the worst face-captures ever, a half-baked story, and my 5’5” (sadly you can’t make them smaller) point-guard somehow winning the MVP, a title, and averaging a triple double as a rookie. Throw in having to make such difficult decisions as should I hang out with Boogie Cousins or go to a photoshoot, and you have all the drama you’ll ever need from a sports game.

The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+ (Switch)

Ahh, those first few months of Switch ownership where there weren’t very many games available, and I found myself paying $40 to buy a several year old game. The game itself is actually pretty fun if also excruciatingly difficult at times. I’ve played probably 10 hours of the game, and have yet to win a round. Some crazy thing always happens whether it’s a weird power-up (or down in some cases) or being unlucky and facing an overpowered boss at the least opportune time. If you’re looking for a Zelda clone whose DNA was spliced with poop (that’s not a criticism, there is literally poop throughout the dungeons) then definitely check this game out, but maybe go for a cheaper PC version.

Wolfenstein: The New Order (PS4)

I remember simpler days when making a game about killing nazis wasn’t actually controversial, but here we find ourselves in a new stupid world where nazis are an actual thing again. Prior to starting the latest Wolfenstein, I thought it’d be a good idea to go back and play the game that rebooted the series several years ago. The New Order consists of two wildly different experiences. The first is a corridor shooter that seems from a different time. The second is a stunning and engrossing story about forming a badass resistance squad and being nazi-stomping terminators. Do yourself a favor and put the game on easy. Then blast through the nazis like the superhuman badass you want to be, so you can quickly get to the good story stuff.

Little Inferno (Switch)

Yet another in the line of games I bought to have something other than Zelda to play when I got my Switch at launch, Little Inferno was actually a super endearing and crazy weird experience where you basically set toys on fire inside a fireplace. While this seems like it would get old quickly, discovering the odd combos needed to advance and uncovering the strange post-apocalyptic story behind it all was definitely worthy of a few hours especially at the discounted price-tag.

Cave Story+ (Switch)

From what I can remember, this Metroidvania game featured a war between androids and rabbits or something along those lines. The story was without a doubt one of the more amusingly batshit crazy ones I encountered this year, and while fun, the gameplay definitely felt like it was 10 years old (as it was). Similar to The Binding of Isaac, I’d recommend checking out the far cheaper PC version to the Switch one.

Wheels of Aurelia (Switch)

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Have you been looking for a game that combines road tripping with commentary on fascism and abortion laws in Italy in the 1970s? If so, then seek professional help, but also this is the game for you. While pretty out there from a traditional gaming perspective, it is actually worth a few playthroughs to try to collect as many of the wildly different endings that you can get (each takes only 15 minutes or so). There’s a lot of clunkiness in-between, but you won’t forget your few hours with this game that maybe tried to accomplish more than it did.

Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove (Switch)

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Note: I am trying to jump on that hoop not murder the small child.

Shovel Knight might be one of the most perfect games I have played this year. Unlike Isaac and Cave Story, I fully endorse spending a few extra bucks on the Switch version of this game. Treasure Trove comes with 3 full games (and a fourth to be released for free shortly) that are all beautiful takes on the Mega Man platforming formula. This game controls and looks perfect, and Shovel Knight deserves his place among gaming icons. Similar to its Mega Man inspirations, the game can be bruisingly difficult, as, at one point, I was forced to dock my Switch out of fear that I would throw the console across the room during the Boss Rush battle in the New Game+. But those couple of nights of frustration were worth it as the payoff for accomplishing such a Herculean task felt amazing. If you have a chance, I highly recommend checking out the story behind the making of Shovel Knight in Blood, Sweat, and Pixels by Kotaku’s Jason Schreier to make you love the game even more. This is definitely a game I can’t wait to go back to. P.S. Spectre Knight is the best of the 3.

Bastion (PS4)

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2017 was the year I got super into Indie games (thanks mostly to the Switch). After playing the breathtaking Pyre (more on that in the games from this year section), I decided to check-out the other two games from Super Giant – Bastion and Transistor. Of the three games, their first work, Bastion, just might be their masterpiece. It turned out to be one of the best ¾ overhead action games I have ever played thanks to a myriad of cool weapons that can make multiple playthroughs feel like unique experiences, the most detailed and amusing narrator to ever be in a video game, and a perfect ending with one of the more difficult decisions you’ll ever have to make in a game.

Transistor (PS4)

Fresh off my time with Pyre and Bastion, I couldn’t wait to get in to the world of Transistor. On its surface, there’s a lot to love about Transistor including some stylish graphics, a talking sword (definitely use your controller’s speaker for this), and a special combat system that’s basically using computer programming to plan your attacks.  But I just couldn’t truly immerse myself in this world and found myself anxiously waiting to reach the end without any desire for a second playthrough like with Bastion. It was definitely an interesting experience, but not one that will stay with me.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Switch)

There was a brief period of time right after finishing up Code School while looking for a job that I played Bethesda’s other well known series – Fallout 4 for about 8 hours a day. I played that game so much that Google thought I lived in Boston from all my searches related to the game (I’m not kidding. This seriously scared the shit out of me when I saw that). So, when I heard that one of the supposedly greatest games of all-time, Skyrim, was coming to the Switch, I decided to give it a shot.

At first, it felt like nothing more than a less advanced version of Fallout 4 (it is quite a bit older) crossed with Game of Thrones. Those first few hours were rough, and the game definitely showed its age. Then, something magically clicked around hour 5, and the next 30 hours or so of that game were some of the most fun I’ve ever had immersing myself into a fantasy world. The joy of Skyrim isn’t the overly convoluted main storyline, it’s writing your own story. Nothing highlighted this better than my experiences with the College of Winterhold (think more serious Hogwarts sans Quidditch).

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That’s a damn hero horse right there.

After a few hours masquerading as the standard warrior hero, I decided to specialize as a mage, so I visited the College to learn more magics. After completing a quest, the town was under attack by evil spirits ,and me and my horse (Horsey Fantastico) found ourselves in the thick of things defending the villagers. My horse bravely gave its life to save those villagers, and I emerged with a new purpose- vengeance. Instead of sleeping like a normal person would have at this hour, I was on a mission to take down the evil Ancano who ordered the attack. At last, several hours later, I found myself victorious over him and crowned the Archmage of the college. It’s ridiculous, but it’s one of the most amusing experiences I have had playing a game. Sure, the game can get repetitive and overly tedious at times, but I will never forget the sacrifices my horse and I made to protect the school of magic.

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I made it, Horsey Fantastico. I made it!

Star Wars Galaxy of Heroes (iOS)

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My Jedi squad is about to lose this battle, but I don’t care. Jedis are the best. Period.

This game has been my mobile kryptonite for two years now. Right around the time The Force Awakens came out, I was looking for a Star Wars game to play on my phone, and this was shiny and new. It had everything I could want – turn based RPG style combat and all of my favorite Star Wars heroes. Now, I don’t even want to know how many hours later (daily challenges!), I find myself part of a pretty badass guild (shoutout to AxM Syzygy) with a chat app on my phone for coordinating Raids and Guild Wars and no end in sight. Despite my love of the game and my guild and the crazy experiences (like finding mercenary help in a player called Keytar Hero to help my first guild finish our first Heroic Rancor Raid) and the fact that I’ll probably be playing it for at least another year, I cannot recommend anyone pick up this game. It’s the biggest time sink ever. Save yourself. Also- Jedi Squad for life. I don’t care what the current meta is.

Games from This Year

Best of the Rest

1-2-Switch (Switch)

Despite being a pretty big Nintendo fan since I knew what video games were (I remember being 4 and watching my grandfather play Zelda on NES and trying to absorb how it all worked), I never was a fan of the Wii because it all seemed like one big gimmick. 1-2-Switch, is, thankfully, the sole gimmick game of the Nintendo Switch. It’s serviceable for a couple of hours but once you’ve played each game two times or so it loses steam. It’s nice for introducing people to the Switch but not for a whole lot else.

Resident Evil 7

I still worry that rabid zombie dogs will jump out of any large window that I pass by thanks to the original RE. I probably beat RE2 10+ times and had the entire map memorized to get the most optimal times (gotta unlock that rocket launcher), and I even enjoyed the action-centric RE5 starring Chris “These Pythons are Sick” Redfield. So I was excited to hop in to the updated first-person world of RE7. Sure as hell this game has one of the creepiest atmospheres of any game I can recall, but given the crowded gaming lineup and my general wussiness, I gave up after a couple of hours. I would love to revisit this game for some proper scares once my current catalog is depleted.

Injustice 2: Gods Among Us

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Wait. Your mom’s name is Martha too?!!?

Outside of Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo and the original Mortal Kombat games, I haven’t ever been a huge fighting game fan. I decided to take a gamble on Injustice 2, and I’m glad I did. To start, it contains a far better story than any of the recent DC movies (and not a single monster that looks like poop!), and the story-mode that has you switching to a different character every couple of fights remains entertaining throughout as you learn the ins and outs of new heroes. There are also tricky daily challenges to keep the game going. If you’re into fighting games, definitely check this out, but if you’re not, this will eventually lose its appeal. Also, focus on the Flash or Harley Quinn as they’re the most fun and electric to play as.

The SNES Classic

I got to Target an hour before they opened to procure my SNES classic, and was so happy that I did. Aside from having a blast talking to all the Nintendo fans waiting in line for their chance to hold the latest precious, these games really stand the test of time. Currently, I have only spent maybe 15 hours with the system, but they were incredible. Destroying my coworkers in Street Fighter 2, unlocking the hidden worlds in Super Mario World, and playing the GOAT Metroidvania game of all time – Super Metroid were all worth the relatively cheap collection that I hope to revisit again soon. While it’s a great joy-bomb of nostalgia playing on those classic SNES controllers, eventually you will find yourself wishing these games were on the Switch so you could just play them wherever.

Madden NFL 18 (PS4)

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Texas forever, Street. Texas forever.

Every year I tell myself that I’m not going to buy Madden, and every year I find myself downloading it on launch weekend to get a quick season in. As far as the actual football goes, this was perhaps the most polished version since the Michael Vick PS2 days. I had a lot of fun playing my Super Bowl winning season as my Saints, but I didn’t find myself inspired to come back for a second season. The true star of this game is the new Longshot mode that features a fresh take on Career Modes where you spend about 4 hours trying to get you and your best friend drafted in a beautiful hybrid of Friday Night Lights (it even stars Jason Street himself!) and a Telltale game. I highly recommend treating it like a movie and finishing it in one playthrough. That experience alone is worth the price of admission, and it makes this year’s model far more than just another roster update.

Puyo Puyo Tetris (Switch)

puyo
Yes, this will somehow result in a game of Tetris.

I had a master plan when this game came out. This was going to be the game that convinced my wife, Robin, that she secretly loved video games. Sure enough, she thoroughly enjoyed her time in the crazy Puyo Puyo Tetris hybrid, but it also brought out the alpha competitor in her and made her fairly angry whenever I beat her. Aside from a wonderful versus mode, the story mode is also worth a look and features one of the most insane stories as the worlds of Puyo Puyo and Tetris collide (and there are talking genius dogs).

The Sexy Brutale (Switch)

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Despite having the worst name of any game ever, The Sexy Brutale features one of the coolest gameplay mechanics with its Groundhog Day meets Clue gameplay. You play as a hotel patron stuck in a time-loop where you investigate and stop the guests from being murdered. Each guest’s story is compelling, and there are several breathtaking musical sequences that are among the most captivating of the year. Be warned that there are occasional horrible load times when going between rooms, and some of the murder puzzles are a little too time sensitive (so much so that you may need a guide for about half of them). Overall though, this is a truly unique title that you shouldn’t miss, and it’s an experience that will haunt you for days.

Cat Quest (Switch)

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It’s a game featuring adorable animals, terrible feline related puns, action RPG elements, and a war between cats and dragons that costs only $12. How was I supposed to resist? By the time you’re in full knight’s armor flying above the Catpital casting spells that cause spikes to entrap your enemies, you’ll be glad you gave the game a look. My only real gripe is the lack of a good quest tracking system as the increasingly ridiculous quests can be hard to keep track of since they are all multi-part and require some leveling up before you can tackle the next objective in each quest tree. Fortunately, the devs have been adding fresh content fairly regularly, so it’ll hopefully have quality of life improvements like that in the near future.

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle (Switch)

Has any game gone from laughing stock to critical darling quite like Mario + Rabbids? What at first looked like a quick money grab featuring knock-off Minions turned into a surprisingly deep strategy game featuring your favorite Mushroom Kingdom residents packing heat. The mix of exploration and battles is perfect for quick 20 minute sessions that will keep you playing and mixing up teams to find the ultimate deadly combo for a long time.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Switch)

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Me briefly schooling my coworkers on the GOAT track – Excitebike.

Shortly before moving away from Houston, I spent almost every night playing Mario Kart 8 on Wii U with my friends and former roommates Kevin and Dennis. It is the perfect Mario Kart evolution featuring updated versions of some of the greatest courses of all time while also containing the most fluid vehicles in Kart history (Yoshi cycle for life). There’s a lot of depth here, and while best enjoyed with friends, it also plays beautifully for a single-player racing game. I highly recommend time trial mode during long flights.

The Top 10

10. Golf Story (Switch)

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I would 100% play the spin-off Galf Story.

What an unexpected and absolute gem Golf Story turned out to be. Imagine taking a 16-bit RPG and having everything revolve around a simple yet surprisingly complex golf game mechanic, and you get Golf Story. I spent about 15 hours playing this game mostly on planes, and it was the first time ever that I was sad when my flight was over because I just wanted to keep playing. This is a perfect encapsulation of why I love the Switch so much. It’s a new and exciting game heavily influenced by the 16-bit games of generations past with tons of quirky humor and lighthearted side quests to keep you going for a longer time than its discount price tag would have you expect.

9. Gorogoa (Switch)

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I would gladly start a new career consisting solely of making GIFs out of this beautiful game.

This is the epitome of a game that I wish I could forget about just so I could experience it for the first time again. Its creator spent 7 years hand drawing these mystifying puzzles, and it was time well spent. I downloaded this game in bed early one Saturday morning and then spent the next few hours anxiously awaiting Robin to wake up so I could show her all the beautiful things that had been making me gasp and say “Holy Shit” for the past few hours. I definitely recommend playing this game in only one or two sittings so your brain can get in the proper puzzle solving mode.

8. Steamworld Dig 2 (Switch)

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From Cave Story to Axiom Verge, there is no shortage of Metroidvania games to play, but Steamworld Dig 2 just might be the height of them all. Combine the tried and true Metroidvania style with a digging/mining experience, and you get a fresh take in one of the more beautiful recent 2D worlds. The story itself features 6-8 wonderful hours, and there are an additional 6-8 to be spent finding all the secrets throughout the game. If you haven’t completely fallen in love with it by the time you find the jetpack, then something is wrong with you.

7. Pyre (PS4)

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The best description I saw of Pyre was Oregon Trail meets Dungeons and Dragons meets NBA Jam. This beautiful Indie from Super Giant alternates between interactive novel and thrilling high stakes matches with unbelievable ease. I found myself heavily invested in these characters and truly torn by the central mechanic of the game (Spoiler Alert). By winning matches you can liberate your characters from the purgatory-like underworld you are stuck in. Do you sacrifice your top players to give them a better life? These stakes made every match feel all the more exciting, and will make the game stick with you for a long time after you put it down.

6. Nier: Automata (PS4)

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Once you get past the awkward cosplay-ready character models of Nier, you will find yourself enthralled by an absurdly amazing combination of gameplay mechanics that effortlessly and intuitively flip between open world exploration, side-scrolling, bullet-hell piloting, and 16-bit hacking. The story of 2B and 9S is essentially the most Metal Geariest Metal Gear game of all time, and it will have you hooked the entire way. It’s a game that demands to be beaten multiple times (at least 4), but, thankfully, changes in perspective between each playthrough add welcome variety that keeps it fresh for the 30+ hours you’ll spend to get the true ending. There are so many brilliant moments (Spoilers) that will stick with you from Pascal’s Village, to an all robot take on Romeo and Juliet that Baz Luhrmann could have never dreamed of, to a beautiful sequence where you’re trying to guide your character while your systems are being overtaken by a computer virus. But perhaps what will stick with you most of all is the haunting soundtrack that I could listen to for days (well that and being able to drift while riding large animals. Who am I kidding? That alone should make it GOTY).

5. Horizon Zero Dawn (PS4)

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Perhaps the prettiest game I have ever played, HZD could have just gotten by with its central conceit of kill robot dinosaurs with the ultimate video game bow and arrow, but it didn’t stop there. It features one of the most immersive stories as you control the outcast Aloy on a quest to find her place in society and discover how this post-apocalyptic world came to be. This game features some of the best voice acting (I mean, come on, they even got the guy from The Wire), and the only audio logs this side of South Park: The Stick of Truth worth listening to. Combine all that with above average quest system where everything is typically not what it seems, and you just may experience sensory overload. What’s even crazier is that this is the first game in this story. I would normally expect these polished mechanics and this astoundingly realized world to be part of an established series, but they managed to hit it out of the park on their first try and create a universe that I can’t wait to come back to.

4. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch)

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A great summary of me and the Nintendo eShop this year.

I cannot think of a better launch title for the Switch than Zelda. It took everything we loved about decades of Zelda and turned it upside down by giving you seemingly unlimited freedom. I remember being on my second temple on the Great Plateau and using the frost power to lift a gate up by creating an ice pillar in the water and eliciting an audible “shit that’s cool”. Similar to what I said about Skyrim, this is a game about the stories you make and the adventures you have. The entire world is a playground, and it’s up to you to make the story.

For a lot of people this story is the endless sense of exploration and adventure. It’s seeing a mountain in the distance and deciding you want to find out what’s at the top of it. It’s seeing a small island on the map, piloting a makeshift sailboat to it, and discovering the craziest challenge featuring one-eyed giants and a lack of resources imaginable. Every shrine, every hill, every secret served a beautiful purpose. You were never disappointed when you spent an hour traversing the unknown, and you often forgot about the overarching story entirely for days on end. It was the most perfect representation of Hyrule yet, and it was the ultimate vessel for showcasing the power and intimacy of the Switch. That being said: Korok seeds suck.

3. Stardew Valley (Switch)

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You just get me, Penny.

Sure, I know this came out in 2016 on PC and other consoles, but it was so good on the Switch (and I hadn’t played it anywhere else) that it earns a spot here. At first glance, this farming sim might seem like the most boring and simple game ever. But spend a few hours with it and suddenly it becomes clear that this game that was lovingly handcrafted over 5 years by a single developer (again read Blood, Sweat, and Pixels) is one of the deepest and most remarkable games you will ever play.

Like several of the games lovingly mentioned before it, it’s all about making your own story. What will your farm focus on (Brewing and Cheese over on Kennair Farms)? What villager will you start a relationship with (Penny)? Will you get a dog or a cat (Maggie May the Dog)? Just try not to cry after the town reacts to saving their beloved community center from the soulless Joja Mart. I have so far spent 70 hours on this game, and I can easily imagine spending another 30. This is the perfect game for playing while watching TV (seriously made some terrible NFL games a lot more bearable this year), and the quick start ability of the Switch is perfect for getting another quick day or two (or 10) in before bed. In a stressful overall year, playing Stardew Valley was a guaranteed way to relax.

2. Persona 5 (PS4)

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Via IGN

Persona 5 is the JRPG to end all JRPGs. This was my first foray into the Persona series, but after hearing my friend Trey extol its virtues, I quickly found myself having lapped him in the game (yes, by beating it and starting a New Game+ I was able to lap someone in a JRPG). Balancing your high school social life with the swashbuckling heart-changing world of the Phantom Thieves is a thrill, and it presented me with one of the few times that I felt a game was worthy of a second play-through to see all the storylines I missed the first time through.

The combat is a delicious mix of standard turn-based JRPG fare and Pokemon (gotta catch all the Personas) that never gets too monotonous thanks to the many detours into your social life. My only real gripe lies within some of the individual story arcs. I love all of the characters to death (yes, begrudgingly even Ryuji had me by the end), but they become oddly different during their individual relationship arcs where super badasses like Makoto (the true waifu for the game) and Ann lose all the development they’ve been going through and can become one-dimensional characters who are back to being unsure about themselves. But in the grand (100+ hour) sense of things, these are minor gripes for one of the most stylish games out there. 100 hours in, you’ll still find yourself joyously dancing along every time that awesome post fight victory soundtrack kicks in.

1. Super Mario Odyssey (Switch)

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The exact feeling I got every time I played this game.

Delightful. Just god-damned delightful. Super Mario Odyssey, without a doubt, put the biggest smile on my face of any game this year. It was the perfect culmination of decades of Mario. It both honored the old with its heavily Mario 64 influenced gameplay and the magnificent 2D sections, while ushering in the new with open-world elements, the possession mechanic, and fun social challenges like the RC car and jump rope events.

Unlike the Korok seeds in Zelda that quickly got boring and repetitive, I never found myself tired of finding more moons (610 and counting!). This game features some of the greatest level design out there as each world feels both massive yet accessible at the same time, and the world brilliantly expands in the post-game so much so that you’ll spend more hours playing after you’ve beaten it than before. (Spoilers) Experiencing the masters course in verticality that is New Donk City and the pitch perfect 2D lead-in to the concert reward as the culmination of your efforts is far and away my favorite gaming moment of the year. Additional treats like possessing Bowser during the game’s climax and the single most masterly platforming hellscape featured in The Darker Side of the Moon help cement this as my GOTY and make it worthy of being discussed as one of the premier games of all time. 30+ years in, the plumber has still got it.

That’s it (just 5500 or so words) for my discussion of gaming this year. I hope you enjoyed it, and congratulations if you made it all the way through. I can’t wait to see what 2018 has for gaming from year 2 of the Switch (please give us a virtual console) to me getting started building my own game. It should be another great one.

2 thoughts on “My Year in Gaming: 2017

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