Another year has come and gone, and so has many amazing games. Game of the Year lists become harder and harder to create each year, as the competition becomes more fierce and releases become much more widespread throughout the year. I long for the days when only a few months of the year I would need to open my wallet for the big releases. Now it feels like I am being crushed by my ever growing shelf of AAA games.
As I grow older, free time in my life becomes less and less feasible. In fact, so many great games released this year that I didn’t get the opportunity to play everything I wanted to – even the ones I’ve already purchased. While I am sure that games such as Assassin’s Creed: Origins and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus are beyond amazing, I probably won’t get the opportunity to play them until the new year.
While this list may not line up with critical hearsay, these are the 5 games that spoke to me the most in 2017, leaving a lasting impression that I will carry with me long after the year has ended.
Agents of Mayhem
Some games come into your life at just the right time. While they may not be the best on the market, they just scratch an itch that you didn’t know you had. Agents of Mayhem was one of those games for me. While the game play can become somewhat repetitive over time, the combat, humor, and bombastic destruction kept me coming back for more.
The story is a lampoon on 80’s cartoon villains with the desire to take over the world. The only ones that can stop them is a ragtag group known as the Agents of Mayhem (the Agents even have their own theme song). With the ability to switch between 12 different agents, all with their own weapons and powers (or more if you buy the DLC), it’s up to you to bring down the evil criminal group known as LEGION. Created by Deep Silver, the company behind the Saints Row series, it’s over-the-top attitude is unlike anything else you’ll play this year. More importantly, it filled the huge Crackdown-sized hole left by Microsoft earlier this year.
The Evil Within 2
Anyone that knows me, knows that I am a huge fan of horror games. Back in 2014, when I heard that famed Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami was coming out with a new game in the genre, I was more than excited. I couldn’t wait to see what he could do with The Evil Within. Since I remembered enjoying it at the time, I tried to go back and replay it before the release of the sequel. Lets just say, it didn’t hold up nearly as well as I’d hoped. Thankfully, The Evil Within 2 does everything a good sequel should.
The main issue I had with The Evil Within is that it felt like a hodgepodge of many different horror tropes mashed together. What I absolutely love about The Evil Within 2 is that it feels like it’s finally found it’s own identity. It understands the world its created around itself and uses it to its full advantage. While the game still heavily relies on stealth mechanics, the environments are more vibrant, leaving the dreary world of the Beacon Mental Hospital behind. The game also now features a new crafting system, meaning that anything you pick up is now valuable (you can even craft when a workbench isn’t near by – at the cost of more resources). It’s worth nothing that this was played on an Xbox One X with a 4K TV, and it is absolutely gorgeous. If you love horror games, or just want a game that looks great on your 4K set, this is definitely a game worth playing.
Resident Evil 7
I don’t know if it’s the first-person perspective, or that Resident Evil has left the generic zombies behind, but Resident Evil 7 is absolutely terrifying. Maybe it was a reaction to the extremely popular PT demo from a few years ago that took them in this direction, or maybe they just felt it was time for a pivot, but whatever it was, I am happy to see a fresh take on an well-worn series.
From the moment you turn on the game, you notice something’s different. The infamous STARS agents and Raccoon City are nowhere to be found. You will be playing as newcomer Ethan Winters who is looking for his wife Mia in the swamp lands of Dulvey, Louisiana. While exploring what appears to be an abandoned home, you run into the beastly Baker family. Without spoiling anything, lets just say they aren’t the typical family down the street. As you learn more about this reprehensible family and their ways, you will be pulled in by the amazing graphics, voice acting, and haunting atmosphere.
If you’ve jumped off the Resident Evil series bandwagon in the past, this is a great opportunity to hop back on.
I knew from the moment I first laid eyes on Little Nightmares that I would enjoy the game, but little did I know how much I would absolutely fall in love with it. Up until a few months ago, this was my dead-set Game of the Year for 2017. While many may see it as a horror game, it’s more of a modern twist on a fairy tale. However, the more you dig into the story and the many conspiracies floating around the internet of what it actually means, the more you realize in the end that it is entirely up to your own interpretation. This mystery is one of the many reasons I love this game.
When the game opens, you wake up as Six – a little girl in a yellow raincoat. She must find her way through a giant floating island known as The Maw, if the wants to secure her freedom and livelihood. Along the way, Six is confronted by many different abominations. None of them are scary, per say, but just off-putting enough to leave you feeling slightly unsure of your eerie surroundings. This creeping feeling will grab on tight early in the game and never let go.
The Game play is very similar to games like Limbo and Inside. It’s full of puzzle solving and platforming, a genre not too frequently used when dealing with horror elements. While the graphics won’t blow your socks off, the atmosphere is what makes this game so special. The DLC for this game is still releasing into next year, and I can’t wait to dive back in to this wonderful, ghoulish world.
As mentioned earlier, it would take something truly special to knock Little Nightmares off my “Game of the Year” pedestal. Cuphead didn’t just knock it off the pedestal, but obliterated it into a million pieces. Cuphead is not only my favorite game of the year, but may be my favorite game of this entire generation.
Cuphead is a game created with pure love and passion by Studio MDHR. Started back in 2010, the Moldenhauer brother decided they wanted to make a game based on 1930’s animation. While they could have taken the easy route, they decided they wanted the game to be genuine to that era. Each animation was meticulously hand drawn frame by frame. You will not see another game like this for awhile, if ever again.
Outside of the animation, the music also pays homage to the bygone era. Composed by Kristofer Maddigan, nearly 3 hours of original swing and jazz tunes fill your ears as you take on the games many bosses and platforming stages. The music is so great you can even buy the soundtrack on vinyl. It’s a good thing the music is so catchy and wonderfully made, as you will be hearing it over and over again as you die repeatedly to the games ambitious bosses.
When it comes to game play, Cuphead is a tough-as-nails platforming with run-and-gun mechanics akin to games like Mega Man, Contra, and Gun Star Heroes. You will see the death screen over and over again, but it never feels unfair. With the games perfectly sized hit-boxes you will always know why and how you bit the big one. In some games, death can feel like a chore, but it Cuphead it’s almost rewarding. After every death you receive a line showing you how far along the boss battle you had ventured. While small, this mechanic really gives it that “just one more try” mentality.
Every once in awhile a game will release where you feel “that game was created just for me!” For me, Cuphead is that game. I love it so much that I am working toward 100% on everything the game has to offer (only one boss left to beat on the hardest difficulty – so close yet so far). Cuphead is, without a doubt, the best game on Xbox in 2017.
So, what games did you enjoy the most in 2017? Do you share any of the same games on my list? Let me know in the comments down below! 2017 was amazing, and I can’t wait to see what 2018 has right around the corner!