2017 In Review

It's that time of year again where we look back at the year and the games we played. Once again I'm going to be talking about the games that I played on my own time. This is not a retrospective on the podcast nor is it a review of games that launched this year. Although, this time all the games on here did launch this year with one exception. This article is about games that I personally played. This year I'm adding a category, but we're going to get to that in a minute.  Onward!

If you've been listening to the podcast, you’ll notice that this has been a very strong year for games, and games for me in particular. I found games in genres I'd historically hated. Now, I'm disqualifying Dokkan Battle from this article as, while I very much like playing the game, I don't feel good about it being in this type of review.

Best Game:

My personal best game of 2017 has to be Persona 5. This game does everything right. Great characters, good plot, rewarding gameplay. If you own a Playstation 4 get this game. This is actually one of the games that helped me realize that in order for a game’s story to be really successful, it  has to incorporate characters that the player cares about and gets invested in. Tales of Berseria also did this and, while I thought it was a strong contender, the gameplay loop of Persona 5 was so much stronger. It’s been a long time since I was able to sit down and play an RPG all the way through. The part that the game really gets right is that the player is never forced to help their teammates and those same teammates aren't really asking for the player's help; the writers made me want to help them regardless of gameplay benefits. Also Mokoto Niijima is best girl.

Honorable Mention: Tales of Berseria and Super Robot Wars V.

Biggest Disappointment:

Recall this category isn't calling the game bad, just not what it could have been.        It’s an easy call here. I bought this game at the same time I picked up the best game of the year: Mass Effect Andromeda. This game actually works really well in its mechanics. Entering and exiting a planet is annoying due to unskippable cutscenes, but that can be overlooked. The problems with this game are attached to a misunderstanding of what made its predecessors good. It honestly would have been better with more emphasis placed on exploration and setting up settlements. I was only able to set up a single settlement in more than half a day's play. Most of the planets in the game are set with only a brief scan and moving on. This makes what should be a vast world and galaxy into a small boring area.

But Mass Effect 2 did the same thing, so what saved it? Simple: Characters. Mass Effect Andromeda is rehashing old character tropes that any gamer has already seen and they do nothing to make the player want to engage with them other than perhaps remembered love for previous characters. Better characters wouldn't have saved this game from the rest of its poor writing, but it would have helped considerably.
Most Interesting:

This was a difficult choice between Dark Souls 3 and Cuphead. Eventually I had to go with the new game that wasn't part of a series: Cuphead. Man, I don't even know what to say about this one. Sharp controls, fun gameplay, amazing art style.. I have very little to say about it other than that it’s well worth a play. If you like difficult games or side scrolling shooters, this is definitely a game to try.

Honorable Mention: Dark Souls 3

Lastly, we have a specific category for a game that sets high on the list of games for me. Seldom does a game come out that I genuinely hate. There are games I don't like and games I think are bad. Games I hate are an entirely different thing. Enter Breath of the Wild. It’s been a very long time since I had a really good hate for something. And almost never has it been quite as justified. As the lone member of the podcast who doesn't worship Nintendo I'm in an awkward position. Pointing out flaws that would be deal breakers in any other game that are explained away and ignored and this one is no exception. Looking at the things that could make a game good (not even touching great), it falls short. Story? Nothing players haven't seen before. Characters? There are characters in this game? News to me. Gameplay? Getting around the map is fun with the climbing and gliding mechanics. That said, there’s nothing of interest on the map, especially with regards to the dungeon areas. Combat? Not so much. I like difficult games (see Dark Souls and Cuphead) but this one just doesn't do anything. The single worst weapon and armor system I've ever played with isn't as high an accomplishment as it sounds. I've played a lot of games with such systems but this is an area where Nintendo got too cute and dicked around with a solved formula. My cohosts praised the game unequivocally leaving me as the lone dissenter pointing out flaws. There's an article on the site that goes into more detail on the game but it will stand as my pick for 2017's most overrated game. And given the amount of praise hurled at it, the game managed something I didn't think would ever happen: it surpassed Halo 2 for most overrated game of all time. Incredible.

Zach out.