2017 was a wild year for games. Virtual reality received a bigger push, microtransactions reached a peak, and Nintendo made a glorious comeback with the release of the Switch. Popular series such as The Legend of Zelda, Resident Evil, Persona, Wolfenstein, Uncharted and Assassin’s Creed all received new entries that were met with critical praise, while many indie developers also prospered with success. Here are my five favourite games of the year 2017.
5. Cat Quest
In Cat Quest, you play as an anthropomorphic feline that must rescue his sister after she is catnapped by an evil dragon lord. Along the way you’ll perform quests and clear dungeons as you level up. The game exists as a homage to classic adventure RPGs that feels very reminiscent of popular series such as The Elder Scrolls and The Legend of Zelda. Its cute aesthetic and simple-but-satisfying combat makes it a game very worthwhile for those who enjoy pick-up-and-play RPGs in short bursts. It’s a suitable title for the Switch and I’m glad developer The Gentlebros understood exactly how to design action in a game like this.
4. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
When it comes to arcade racing games, many folk will recall Nintendo’s popular Mario Kart franchise as their most beloved. Time and time again it has proven to be both an excellent party game as well as a decent racer for solo play. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe ports the already popular game from Wii U and brings it to Switch with some much needed improvements like an improved battle mode and the ability to carry two items at once. Releasing almost two months into the Switch’s lifetime, it remains a large reason for the console’s success.
3. Serial Cleaner
While we have countless retro games that take us back to the ’80s and ’90s, it feels like the ’70s is often left out in the cold. Serial Cleaner takes the top-down rush of Hotline Miami and hands it over to Pulp Fiction’s Winston Wolfe. Clean up crime scenes by disposing of bodies, removing evidence and mopping up blood; Serial Cleaner takes the very best visuals from that era and provides a solid stealth-puzzle experience for the players who want something new out of the retro genre. Plus the music is kickass.
Darkwood may have been my favourite horror game of the year, and almost the best horror I’ve ever played (if Silent Hill 2 and Alien: Isolation didn’t exist!). In Darkwood, you are lost in the woods and must find a way back onto the road while at the peril of whatever monstrocity the world throws at you. While having the visuals of a dark fairy tale, Acid Wizard Studio designed the game to be an experience that terrified you from its atmosphere rather than loud noises and jump scares. It’s not for the faint of heart, but will delight anyone looking for a new horror game.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
The game that made most people’s GOTY lists and you can’t doubt why. Breath of the Wild is Nintendo’s ground-breaking response to the popular open-world formula seen in adventure games over the last two decades. In true Nintendo fashion, the game borrows mechanics from other successful games in the industry but improves upon them in unexpected ways. From climbing any surface to experimenting with combat in new ways, there’s always something new to be done in this game. It is a uniquely crafted experience that proved a series can evolve over three decades and still remain both accessible and popular with both fans and newbies alike.