Oh, man. What an effort it was to get this list together. This year, we accumulated our writer’s favorite games and discussed, as democratically as possible, exactly what belongs in a top 10 video games of 2017 list. After an evening that can only be described as a disorganized dumpster fire hell-scape, the end result is a mostly great compilation. Witness and subject your ears to this debate of the year on our final What the D-Pad gaming podcast for 2017 on Twitch, YouTube, iTunes and Soundcloud, followed by our staff’s favorite games and honorable mentions in this list here.
Doki Doki Literature Club: DDLC works not just as game that breaks the fourth wall, it also is a testament to the power of a fan base, and reliable word of mouth. While you’ve likely heard by now that the club isn’t all it appears, how that manifests and how far down the rabbit hole it goes is well worth discovering exactly what your friends are talking about. – Travis
Divinity Original Sin 2
Injustice 2: A perfect example of a developer beating all the odds set against it; including by its own publisher. Between microtransactions, a too-early announcement of a season pass, and another dark take on the DC Universe, Injustice 2 didn’t stand a chance right up until it delivered in every way a fighting game should – even overcoming the poison of loot boxes. – Travis
Ghost Recon Wildlands
Pokemon Ultra Sun/Moon
Middle Earth Shadow of War
Uncharted the Lost Legacy
Nioh: Some may have seen Nioh as just a reskinned Dark Souls clone, but I for one am ecstatic that such an exciting formula for games has resonated so much that other studios are adopting it, and then adding to it to projects in new and interesting ways. The Souls-level challenging enemies and level design are here, but so is an exciting and fluid combat system, where every weapon has three stances for varied usage, and timing ‘ki’ pulses to restore endurance and continue your onslaught becomes so second nature, you begin to really feel like a well-trained samurai. And if that weren’t enough, the beautiful and dark imagining of feudal Japan and Japanese folklore are worth the ticket of entry alone. – Alex
Metroid Samus Returns
Friday the 13th The Game
(*Sigh*) #10 Animal Crossing Pocket Camp – iOS, Android
I had to endlessly berate the other editors and TYF staff to get this on the list. That’s because it may feel like a joke entry, but I’m being dead serious here: no other game in 2017 has brought me more consistent joy than Animal Crossing Pocket Camp.
It’s not a flashy game – indeed it’s very simple. You own a campsite, there are tons of friendly animals out there, and you want to build up the former, and befriend the latter. But I’ll be damned if it doesn’t put a smile on my face every time I pick it up. The distinctive cutesy Animal Crossing aesthetic is suited perfectly to a mobile game, allowing you to pull out your phone and escape to another more adorable world during those brief periods of time when the dreary mundanity of life seeps in. Waiting at the doctor’s office, doing the laundry, trying to unwind before bed – all of these moments are now enriched by the fun fluff of catching butterflies, talking to a Texan penguin, and building a rock stage for a bunch of dogs.
More than that, it echoes the real-world communal bonding I haven’t experienced since the height of Pokemon Go. Everyone with a phone can get in on it for free, and everyone who has it can laugh over the stuff they’ve built or which animal is their favorite. There’s no toxic fanbase; there’s only people having a good time together.
I think too often when we consider which games should be considered “the best” we focus too much on serious debates of artistic merit and complexity of mechanics that we lose sight of what games really are: ways to pass the time and bond with other people. Animal Crossing Pocket Camp does both in a pure and wholesome way, and in a year as stressful and tense as 2017, I am incredibly thankful for that.
– Alex Suffolk
#9 Resident Evil VII: Biohazard – Capcom – PS4, PSVR, PC
“The Dulvey Haunted House is decrepit, dirty, and dark. For those who played the original Resident Evil and explored the Spencer Mansion, you could appreciate the vast difference. Whereas the Spencer Mansion was elegant and pristine, this house was in shambles and falling into disarray. It’s almost as if we experienced the aftermath of what this outbreak inflicted on this property. While smaller in comparison to the Spencer Mansion, this house still held many hidden rooms, puzzles and extensions to neighboring guest houses and buildings. The location felt lived-in and utilized the effects of light/darkness – when the power went out, the scariness was heightened during gameplay…
It’s an atmospheric thriller meant to push you further into the evil when all you want to do is hide. Capcom took the series back to the drawing board and brought back what made the original games so great. In essence, it’s fear and horror. The spooky locations, first-person perspective and terrifying environment makes this a scary adventure.” – See more from our review by Justin Carreiro
#8 Sonic Mania – SEGA, PagodaWest, Christian Whitehead, Headcannon – PS4, XOne, PC, Switch
Sonic has most definitely been in a rough spot for the last decade, and that’s an understatement. 3D Sonic games are very rarely received well by the community and critics, and after the god-awful travesty that was Sonic Boom, many were doubtful that the franchise could ever come back. Sonic Mania has done just that, however, and by revitalizing Sonic by bringing him back to his roots the result is a game filled with classic, high-octane blasts through bright, crazy levels. Coming in #8, this game earns its slot by bringing us back to the days of hedgehog glory, and reminds us of the games that made him the fastest thing alive, while still standing as its own independent game. Due to mixed reviews for Sonic Forces, Mania hasn’t entirely revitalized the franchise, but it’s definitely a great big step in the right direction.
#7 Night in the Woods – Alec Holowka, Infinite Fall – PC, Mac, PS4
Many games are fun, and due to the nature of immersion, there are some games manage to stick with us for a long time, longer than even the most emotional of filmmaking. Very few games feel nearly as resonant as Night in the Woods. The trick is that what will resonate with you may be different from what I ultimately pulled from the game; because NITW isn’t trying to make a bold statement or thesis. It is very much a game about a cast of characters, and who they are, and the core cast just so happens to be a bunch of millennials. As Mae continues to acclimate to the podunk small town she thought she had left behind, it’s pretty much impossible to not feel a sense of familiarity; especially if you happen to be the age group of many of us writers on The Young Folks (since, y’know…). This hell year that was 2017 often felt particularly like an assault on our age group, and Night in the Woods ends up being a hand reached out in support. A bit melancholy, a bit hopeful, and whether on purpose or not, carries the message of “We see you, you’re here. As long as you’re here, it can be better.”
– Travis Hymas
#6 NieR: Automata – Platinum Games – PS4, PC
Yoko Taro: international man of mystery!
I love NieR: Automata. Even after one of gaming’s best years since 2004, with hit after hit and the beckoning of Nintendo’s second golden age, I find my mind wandering back to a wonderfully janky character action game from early in the year. NieR Automata is my pick for the “Little game that could” award for 2017, a glorious gem of a game that (even though the PC port is unpatched damn near 10 months later) holds up to everything that’s come since. Automata is jam packed with everything you could hope from a Platinum Studios X Yoko Taro collab: fantastic, stylish action, a deep and messed up story, and honest to god 26 endings. The breakneck pace in which the game throws curve balls at you is relentless, with the first major twist coming just after the tutorial, and the game switching genres on the fly. One minute, Automata is a third person action game, next it’s a bullet hell shooter, then again it’s a platforming racing game and even sometimes its a fishing game. Throw in a DLC in which you fight a tag team of Platinum and Square Enix’s CEO’s (That’s real, look it up) and NieR Automata has a little bit of something for everyone.
TL;DR: PLAY NIER AUTOMATA. BECOME AS GODS.
(P.S. Square, for fucks sake, patch the PC version already.)
#5 Wolfenstein II The New Colossus – Bethesda Softworks – PS4, PC, Xbox One
When it comes to FPS games, I’m not that difficult to please. As long as the guns are destructive and fun, and I feel accomplished after each mission, I consider it to be As Advertised. However, whenever I pick up a Wolfenstein game, I know that I’m going to be blown out of my seat and addicted to it from the opening credits to the very last second. In the newest addition to the long running series, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, everyone’s favorite American badass BJ Blazkowicz is back to continue his rebellion against the Nazi regime following the events of The New Order. This time he has help in the form of some of the strangest and best characters I’ve ever seen in an FPS game. Where this game thrives is its perfect mix of fast-paced violent action and movie-like cut scenes that are as much fun to watch as the game is to play. The story can be completely unrealistic and silly at some points, it does take place in a world where the Nazis won WWII, but the way the game treats these silly and shocking moments is what makes it such an enjoyable experience. I couldn’t recommend this game more if I tried. If you’ve ever wanted to experience a quirky, pulpy, cult action movie like it’s a video game, that’s exactly what you’ll get to do with Wolfenstein.
– Tyler Carlsen
#4 Horizon Zero Dawn – Guerrilla Games – PlayStation 4
Guerrilla Games developed the most technically tight and polished game of 2017. Period. Take any screenshot of gameplay in the vast open world of the future and you will witness one of the most lifelike pictures digitally created in a video game platform. Luckily, Guerrilla pairs their quality workmanship with one of the most fascinating post-apocalyptic stories I’ve experienced in my lifetime. Aloy guides the way with her confidence and no-bullshit attitude that makes her a true 21st century heroin. Her journey is filled with true emotions; heartbreak, sadness, loss, but also joy and wonder at the surprising revelations exposed along the way. There are no easy answers in the story and not all of them are satisfying, but nor are they trying to be. Guerrilla has crafted a narrative that is meant to frustrate and astound us at the same time. That may seem like a contradiction, but the experience still feels right. This is a development team that pinned their vision on a white board and executed it on every level and I applaud them at every turn. Archery combat is made authentic for the first time. Enemies are balanced and incrementally challenging. Horizon: Zero Dawn is a worthy challenger to Uncharted 4 as the single best Playstation 4 exclusive game on the market today, it’s a must-play, trust me.
– Grant Johnson
#3 Persona 5 – Atlus – PlayStation 4
Persona 5 is a youthful power fantasy that couldn’t have come at a more relevant time; with egotistical narcissists and sexual predators in positions of power across the world, I’m sure some of us wouldn’t mind changing some corrupted hearts (and I know of someone whose palace is definitely a golf course). Persona 5 gives players the power to take out their rage on the corrupted adults that run our society.
In Persona 5, you are a high school student who is thrown into a new school and also happens to develops powers to battle evil forces. Along the way, you gain friends and allies to help fight the warped desires of influential adults.
Persona 5 redefines the Japanese RPG genre. Every aspect of the world feels inhabited and incredibly detailed. Instead of having to trudge through similar dungeons, each level has its own identity to complement its villain’s personality. You dive into the minds of narcissists, gangsters, and emotionally vulnerable characters to fight grotesque monsters and solve unique puzzles.
But what makes Persona 5 so addicting is the daily life segments. While you may be a Phantom Thief by night, you still have to maintain good grades and a social life. There comes a specific element of strategy when deciding how to spend your limited day. You can study, go to work, or hang out with your friends. It all depends on you want to level your character. And since it’s highly unlikely that you’ll complete everything on the first run-through, it gives the game a high replayability value.
Even though there is a lack of nuance or a grey area in what constitutes good and evil, Persona 5’s story is still powerful. We have all taken this journey with Joker and his friends. We have been stressed about finals, texted during class, and tried to balance work with a social life. You feel for the main characters and the expectations that are put on them. In 105 hours, I laughed, cried, and rooted for these kids who reminded me of myself. I’ve never felt like that in a game before, and I highly doubt I will anytime soon.
#2 Super Mario Odyssey – Nintendo – Switch
“Defining Super Mario Odyssey is somewhat of a complicated task. The game is very much a successor to previous large scale 3D Mario titles, particularly the legendary Super Mario 64, as the game’s world is made up of many diverse environments designed to feel even larger than they are. In that particular regard, Odyssey is what 64 feels like in your memories. The better comparison might be the Switch’s other golden child The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild; in so much as both titles are fundamentally about taking the base mechanics of their respective franchises and expanding them to massive proportions. Each then focus on rewarding the player through exploration and experimentation…
This is a Mario game where ambition and talent come together to make a rich and rewarding experience from start to whenever you feel like you’ve explored enough. A wonderful bookend to the Switch’s first year.”
#1 The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – Nintendo – Switch, Wii U
I’ve gotten a lot more critical of this game in the time since I gave it a glowing 9.5 review just after launch. It was a result of those highs feeling still fresh from a massive, sprawling Zelda adventure on a new Nintendo hardware still being fiddled with. It was a breath of fresh air to have that once in 6 years opportunity again, let alone be able to take it with me wherever I wanted. While I have some harsh criticisms of Breath of the Wild’s mechanics in retrospect (and I only make them in hopes that they’ll improve the next Zelda experience) I began to reflect on my first experiences with this game. When you first step into Breath of the Wild there is this aura of mystery and surreal feeling when you are introduced to this new, desolate Hyrule. The game presents to you a large plateau to explore: to find nooks and crannies, seek out treasures, knock down some goblins, and before you know it, you realize it was simply a tutorial and the scope of the map is far, far greater in scale than you imagined, even with all those trailers and game play evaluations. For the first time since the original Legend of Zelda, the experience was truly your own, and while the narrative took a backseat in this title, the legacy of this new Link, his own narrative, was that oral history of your gameplay, talking to friends, streaming online, however it was you shared your adventurous tales. In the way people once discussed hidden secrets and surprises on the NES version of Hyrule, friends met certain challenges where I did not, but I also happened upon the Lost Woods, and within, the secrets of the Master Sword, before most people I knew realized it was even on the map. It takes a very personal journey into the unknown, and by nature of its design, makes it a social experience to tell grand tales of the monsters you defeated and the weapons you reaped as reward. It’s the first time where a Zelda game has ever felt derivative of game styles other than another Zelda game, but, in true Nintendo fashion, it takes the overdone open world sandbox adventure and optimizes it to near perfection. I can only wish there was more of it…
– Evan Griffin
Did your favorite games make our list? If not, tell us in the comments, or tell us on Twitter, or ask for an invite to our Discord server to be a part of the TYF Gaming community! We wish you a Happy New Year with many happy returns to your save files this holiday.