The first game that came out on console in 2017 was Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Future Tone for the PS4 on January 10. It was received pretty well as it was met with a solid 84 Metacritic score yet it was but a mere speck in what was one of the best gaming years in recent memory. One might say Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Future Tone was the calm before the storm because what followed soon after was a seemingly endless onslaught of critically acclaimed titles. I, sadly, did not get to experience Hatsune Miku’s latest epic entry but I did play quite a few from this stellar year of gaming and these were the ones that impressed me the most.
5. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
Capcom took a risk with Resident Evil 7 by subverting expectations and pulling away from the run and gun, action-y trend the series was lumbering in for so many years. Instead, they brought us a methodically paced, Texas Chainsaw Massacre-like atmosphere, and a first-person perspective that truly brought the horror and guts to the forefront. From the moment you step into that creaky, old mansion, the game grabs you by the skull and never lets go. It’s a thrilling, visceral experience that at times made me squeamish but also made me pump my fist whenever I made it through a terrifying ordeal.
The Molded was not my favorite enemy to fight in Resident Evil 7. They were quite a chore and although they delivered a sense of haste and panic, they ultimately became a tired roadblock that got used far too many times. There were more compelling encounters to be found throughout the game and so the The Molded fell rather flat. In fact, just randomly bumping into the wheelchair bound granny was enough to make me jump out of my seat and she doesn’t really do anything.
Bloodborne’s Orphan of Kos almost broke me. Dark Souls III’s Darkeater Midir nearly broke me. Demon’s Souls’ Maneater made me question my own mortality. Nioh, however, actually broke me. After multiple stabs at Yuki-Onna and failing miserably, I actually stopped playing Nioh and took an extended break to gather my thoughts. I tried to rationalize, “Maybe this boss is broken?” I felt threatened by this boss and how it was impeding my progress through the story.
I remember a few days later picking up the controller and just tried again for the heck of it. I got her down in one try and it was one of the most satisfying moments in my gaming experiences. I was calm, collected and precise with my stamina and attacked conservatively and used my Spirit Guardian as my health dipped dangerously to 15%. I stayed on that battlefield for what felt like 20 straight minutes of jubilation. I didn’t want to leave.
3. Horizon Zero Dawn
Despite not winning any awards at The Game Awards, Guerrilla Games’ opus, Horizon Zero Dawn, is a masterpiece that works on many levels. From the lush open world to the intricately designed machines, there’s no game out there that looks as good as Horizon while at the same time achieving what Horizon is doing. The Frozen Wilds added an entire new region to the game and felt like a true addition to the world. Part of what makes Horizon so great is that it so fun to pick up and play and explore the world. Whether you’re someone who likes to set traps and observe from a distance or someone who likes to get up close and personal and swing away with your spear, Horizon rewards you for trying new things and encourages you to explore.
Everyone has fallen in love with Aloy, an impressive feat by Guerrilla Games, creating a character that is not only likeable, rootable, but also a woman whose strength is not defined by her muscles or tough quips. Aloy is strong-willed and a tremendous hunter but she is also vulnerable and is dealing with a huge loss all while serving a purpose greater than herself. It’s a story of self-discovery and it’s a story commitment that stays on point to the very end. Bravo Guerrilla, bravo indeed.
2. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
This is true exploration. I often boot up Zelda and just walk. I have never not found something interesting along the way and that speaks volumes for what Nintendo has been able to accomplish with this game. Maybe there’s a chest tucked away by a ridge patrolled by enemies or perhaps there’s a shrine I completely missed. It’s almost therapeutic, traversing this beautiful open world without a care in the world.
The combat is always exciting and unpredictable due to the limited lifespan of the weapons so I’m always on edge when I’m in battle. One of my favorite activities in Zelda is cooking, which I did not foresee at all. I am literally Cooking Mama whenever I have a couple of recipes and resources. I have such a good time cooking up a storm that I sometimes forget what my main quest is. Where is that Zelda Cooking Game spinoff Nintendo?
Honorable Mentions: Super Mario Odyssey, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, Pyre.
1. Persona 5
The sequel to my favorite JRPG of all time has now become my new favorite. Persona 5 is bursting at the seams with style, from the menus to the combat, it’s always a party when you play. Although it starts off slow, like Persona 4, it really picks up once you get to know the cast of characters and the overall arching story that connects everybody to it. It’s no coincidence that I often catch myself singing the opening theme, the soundtrack is just that good.
Persona 5 tackles some pretty dark themes and it is often shocking the twists and turns the game takes when you least expect it. We waited a long time for Persona 5 and we’ll likely wait even more for the next one but I have to say it was well worth the wait. Persona 5 is the best game of 2017 and one of the best JRPGs I have ever played.